McCarthyism in San Clemente?

San Clemente still embroiled – You’re a Jerk, and I’m not

In response to Jim Cogan’s letter, (San Clemente Times, Vol.3, Issue 45, Nov. 6-12, 2008)
Mr. Cogan is a wonderful writer. His eloquent, articulate and image-evoking pen is no doubt the reason he is so revered. Writing style aside, his robust command in communicating a message is equaled by few, particularly in the hack-ridden “letter to the editor” arena. I may not always agree with his position, but I delight in his wit and rhetoric.

Comparing Rick Collins effort to enlighten San Clemente to McCarthyism however, is farfetched. The tactics may bear similarity, but certainly not the motivation. A recent newspaper article publishing an email thread proving councilman Wayne Eggleston was less interested in due process than a business owner’s rights was reason enough to question his integrity.

Planning commissioner Brenda Miller, a fervent Charles Mann supporter and intimately involved in the anti-measure C effort and Mann campaign, exercising illegal behavior could be seen as an example of corruption and cronyism. The Mann campaign website proudly displays an image of Mann and Eggleston smiling near the Marine monument in the pier bowl. Mr. Mann’s attempts to mislead the residents of San Clemente on the measure C ballot arguments were well documented.

The problem was that the Pacific Golf rezoning issue made Charles Mann a rockstar. Save San Clemente Open Space, (Mann, Jim Smith and Gary Hopp) set up a perfect Davy and Goliath scenario and Pacific fell full-force into the trap. I mean how hard is it to vilify a “Los Angeles” developer. That said, it was important to loosen the foundation of what could be perceived as a collusive power grab in city hall. The only way to broadcast that message effectively was with a broad stroke in a grand gesture. That’s precisely what Mr. Collins did. You may not agree with Mr. Collin’s but there is truth in what he says, and if at the very least it leads you to pay closer attention to what takes place at 100 Avenida Presidio, it was worth it. Sorry Mr. Cogan for the poor grammar.

San Clemente: Congratulations Bob, Jim and North Beach

The highly emotional, and sometimes controversial November 2008 elections in our Spanish Village by the Sea are behind us, FINALLY!

City council incumbent Jim Dahl and newcomer Bob Baker narrowly beat Steve Knoblock to nab two city council seats.  Measure W (North Beach Project) was approved by 53.4% of the vote.  Measure V (open space initiative) was a clear winner.

This political season was once again rife with vehement disagreement and biting criticism.  Opposing sides accusing each other of deception and fact distortion.  Apparently it’s not enough to simply disagree on an issue in today’s political climate and sort things out with intelligent thoughtful debate.  One group here in San Clemente finds it necessary to exaggerate certain aspects of an issue, and when that doesn’t work, they simply use their own math and spend tens of thousands of dollars to saturate the landscape with their skewed message of divisiveness.  Self-proclaimed defenders of posterity, employing questionable tactics in an exercise of ruthlessness.

One Notable event this cycle includes Save San Clemente Open Space stalwart and planning commissioner Brenda Miller being popped for illegally removing anti-Mann/Baker signs.  Ms. Miller was a fervent opponent to Measure C and intrinsically involved the Save San Clemente Open Space activities with Charles Mann.  Obviously, Ms. Miller was also involved with Charles Mann’s bid for a seat on the city council.  I remember Ms. Miller from the referendum petition drive in the summer of 2007 and a wave of suspicion washed over me upon learning that she had been chosen to be a planning commissioner for the city. Her recent actions in the removal of legally placed campaign signs is unacceptable and her next official move should be resignation of her position.  It would be the honorable thing to do, however honor is an unpracticed trait in the crowd she runs with.

Poor grammar aside, my heartfelt congratulations to Barack Obama, and the democrats, Jim Dahl, Bob Baker and the supporters of Measure W.  My intentional omission of Measure V is predicated on the opinion that the spirit behind it was purely for campaign purposes.  This assertion is supported by the actual text of the measure itself.  Upon close inspection of the document there is overwhelming evidence that it simply has no teeth, no current application and most likely will be shelved and forgotten.

Residents First?

Are the residents really first? or is it just another political slogan?

Can Mann be trusted?
Can Mann be trusted?

City council candidates Charles Mann and Bob Baker regularly reference their participation in Save San Clemente Open Space (SSCOS), a group formed to stop the rezoning of 50.5 acres at Pacific Golf and Country Club. Candidate Mann is a founder of SSCOS, however Mr. Baker originally was a supporter of Pacific’s plan to convert 9-holes of private recreational open space into 224 single family homes and Golf Villas.   Actually each of the founding members of SSCOS signed petitions in support of the project initially.  One of the SSCOS founders (a real estate developer) even demanded right of refusal on two lots or houses.  When contemplating casting a vote for someone to represent my best interests as a resident of San Clemente, I’ll consider those who come closest to my views on civic issues.  But first I need as best as possible to develop a level of trust for that individual, which includes gaining a sense about one’s ethics, honesty and overall character.  On the national level we have a plethora of media reports as well as sites like factcheck.org and snopes.com to monitor the veracity of statements made by the candidates, and stories or accusations related to them. On the local level it’s more difficult to determine who to trust.

The deception employed by SSCOS was addressed when Judge Warren Siegel ordered Mr. Mann to modify the language in 12 of 13 points in the arguments against Measure C he submitted to be included on the Feb. 5th ballot.  Judge Siegel ruled that the text was “false and misleading”.  However Mr. Mann, in Orwellian political doublespeak, claimed a victory.  Two examples of unethical behavior from SSCOS include:

A founder of SSCOS attended and spoke at the emotionally charged Talega parents meeting regarding the Capistrano Unified School District boundary changes in Dec. 2007.  He told the parents that if Measure C passed, their children would have less chance of attending their neighborhood school, Vista Del Mar, because the proposed development fell within Vista Del Mar’s boundaries.  The allegation was false, children from the proposed development would’ve been slated to attend Clarence Lobo, and the man speaking was not a parent of school age children, nor a resident of Talega. An obvious use of deceptive tactics to take advantage of San Clemente resident’s emotions.

The superintendent at Pacific and his wife were enthusiastically involved in the attempt to educate residents during the referendum petition drive in the summer of 2007.  A neighbor and close friend was approached by an SSCOS founder as she left Wal-Mart and aggressively encouraged to sign the petition.  When the neighbor refused, citing her friendship with the couple, the man lied saying that the wife had already signed and the superintendent wanted to, but would be fired if he did. The neighbor knew better and left.

Switched positions mid-game
Switched positions mid-game

These two examples of questionable ethics were not isolated events, in fact they illustrate the standard operating procedure of the organization that candidate Mann lead.  Mr. Mann continues to mislead residents in his statements regarding Measure W.  Is this the behavior of a candidate you can trust?

Lastly, I am saddened when viewing the images of our wounded brave men and women of military who are risking their lives to give you the opportunity to choose this November.  But I am enraged at the dishonor shown these protectors of our quality of life by those who disregard integrity and choose to manipulate the masses for their own self-serving agendas. Please choose wisely in November.

David Kelsen,

Former Director of Food & Beverage

Pacific Golf and Country Club

San Clemente: Yes on Measure W

The Miramar theater
The Miramar theater

I’ve been staring at the embarrassing, dilapidated, health hazard we call the Miramar theater for several years now in the hopes that someone would either burn it down or blow it up. But then along comes The Lab. My first experience with the Lab was the Anti-Mall in Costa Mesa. The architectural design is artistic and smart, but besides that, there weren’t any mega-monopolistic corporate chains within smelling distance and the atmosphere was cool and relaxed. Upon initial earfull that the Lab was doing North Beach I immediately gained a historical perspective. Well that’s not true, but it did suddenly justify not decimating the Miramar. Why? Parking. You can wax nostalgic all day long, but if there’s no place to park, nobody’s coming. The passing of measure W validates the idea of a Miramar renovation. If you are a Miramar supporter, but against Measure W, then you are contradictory and therefore irrelevant.

Dave Kelsen
San Clemente Resident

TROLL SWILL

San Clemente City Council Candidate Crosby recently stated in the Sun Post News, “The streets of San Clemente today are a police state patrolled by sadists and thugs…”.  This remark makes two things very clear. 

1. Mr. Crosby has no clue what a police state is, and

2. He is short on aptitude and long on attitude, thereby eliminating himself as a potential candidate for anything, at least in my book.

In online forums people who spew this grade of swill are referred to as trolls.  There were no examples supporting the accusations made, nor were there any solutions offered other than re-instituting the city police force which merged with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in 1993. How well do you think Mr. Crosby considered the fiscal ramifications of that statement? I’m sure there weren’t any complaints against the SCPD in the 68 years they ran police services.  Please choose wisely in Novemeber.

David Kelsen

Technorati Profile

There’s an “I” in San Clemente

“The leaders spoke in warped, vicious hatred that disregarded the truth almost completely, while the majority of the ‘common folks’ who agreed spoke out of ignorance warped by the ravings of their leaders”. -W. Eugene Smith.

The action of the movement residents of San Clemente are currently witnessing is positive. The empowerment of the constituency really is the motivation behind the composition of our constitution. The intentions fueling the energy behind the popular political positions we’ve faced these last six months have been innocent, powerful, yet directed. Directed and manipulated by the leaders of each of these seperate conspiratorial factions. There was a pact, an alliance born out of a desire to win. A need to win above all else. Above truth, above fair-play, above common-sense, above everything. Vicious charges? Maybe. A team of volunteers on one side of an issue scour the city and illegally remove the legally placed signs of the opposition. “Merely playing the game” is a response I’m given. Although that game could result in negative legal repercussions. Words disquised as informational material are strung together to emphasize perspective, instead of educate. Opinion is counted as fact, and defended. I don’t believe our founding fathers intended decisions to be made by one insulated, independent head supported by a recruited band of ignorants, or the mal-informed, but they most likely suspected something of the sort would occur. And it has. We are so busy with our busy lives that we don’t read the too far past the headline. And we’re so weak, that if all our friends have been converted, we follow along to remain part of the group. Regardless of how we feel on the issue, regardless of how it effects the community as a whole. That’s not true of everyone, but you know someone where that applies. So what do we do? Just give up like the Game 6 Lakers? No, we move on. As a community we will benefit from the participation and engagement of our citizenry in the operation and direction of our city, but it is a double-edged sword. If there is a passion to involve oneself in a cause, nurture the passion with knowledge. Don’t turn a blind eye or dismiss the ill behavior of those with authority in your group, because you are then an accessory. We can build a path together, where honest debate and respectful disagreement can actually enormously enhance our returns, or we can follow the herd right off the edge of the cliff. Questioning authority is not contemptuous. But taking action without understanding is.

“I” is for insolent

Aren’t safety, fairness and the pursuit of the ‘greater good’ the only reason to enact any law or ordinance? If Measure “I” (San Clemente) does not treat each of these Shorecliffs residents equally, then who does it serve? Being that California state law is based on precedent, this seemingly insignificant and isolated restriction does have a potential to inhibit some form of our freedom down the road. Shorecliffs Aerial ViewI understand how it got to the ballot, that is merely a result of overactive egos and lots of money in a small town. What I don’t understand is the myopic, self-serving attitude of those behind this debacle. Is it considerate to build a second-story that blocks a neighbors ocean-view? Absolutely not. Is it illegal? Absolutely not. Does removing the view lower your neighbors property value? Possibly. Is that potential loss mitigated by the upgrading of a neighborhood as a whole? Possibly. This mutant growth of “Me” generation ideology obviously feels that the whole world needs to be apprised of personal differences. Should we get in the middle of every fight between your kids as well? Measure “I” is a “Lose-Lose” proposition, regardless of the outcome. A “No” vote negatively impacts part of a neighborhood, sort of, meaning they still would have the freedom to build up to 25′. A “Yes” vote imposes a restriction on some of the houses in a neighborhood, but sets a precedent. Think about it people. And for those of you with 2-story homes and “Yes on I” signs in their yards, the “I” stands for insolent.

Dust Unsettled

Todays winners were yesterdays and will be tomorrows losers.

San Clemente, once a sleepy surf town at the southernmost tip of Orange County, California has become a hotbed of controversy. Neighbor against neighbor, children ordered to avoid their friends, grown people throwing feces at the house next door or committing misdemeanors in the name of politics. Not what you would expect in an otherwise small friendly town populated with college-educated professionals and business owners.

What Happened?

What is it they say about”One Bad Apple?” So many of us aspire, or pretend to aspire to the idyllic ideals of the 60’s phenomenon. We sell ourselves on the idea that we support and live by selfless priority. Our actions indicate otherwise. In fact, not many of us consider the greater good in daily decision making. If we did, we’d all take the bus or ride a bike to work. We’re extremely selfish in deed and dangerously manipulative in practice. Yet we want to think better of ourselves so we tout the ideals of an era that came as close as any to actually caring about global peace and the world as a whole.

Under the social microscope in relation to larger metropolitan areas, San Clementians appear to be small fish in a small pond.  Easily fooled by demagogues.  Yet more troubling through it’s transparency here is the apathy on one end of the spectrum, and blind faith on the other. Our forefathers risked life and limb so you could speak your mind. In fact, our soldiers are still fighting to the death so that you can choose between McDonald’s or Burger King.

Let me put it this way, our nation will fail if we, as it’s citizens do not participate. Our country was built on your right to choose. That freedom comes with a responsibility. If we are not willing to honor that responsibility, then we will most certainly lose. If you say “My Vote Doesn’t Matter”, then you are part of the problem, not the solution.

Here’s the dig. YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION!!!

Use your own eyes and ears to absorb the information.  Use your own mind to parse the data.  Trust your instincts.  The messages often are convuleted or corrupted by the messenger.  Get a sense about the messenger.  Manipulating emotion is standard business practice, designed to trick you into making decisions without actually thinking it out.  Don’t allow others to manipulate your emotions.  They know you, they know how to flip you, don’t let them.

POSTSCRIPT

Amazing ride. Protagonists, antagonists, passion, hostility, clandestine operations, derision, deception, “Spins”, petitions, court rulings, and finally a controversial ballot measure where 50% of the voters in the city participated in a Primary election. Any pollster will tell you that is a high percentage for any election, but particularly so for a primary. Ultimately there was a victor and the defeated. In the case of Measure C, San Clemente, what does the victory mean? You saved open space? You prevented traffic congestion? Maybe, maybe not. I wish that for just one election people would actually read up on an issue and not just the signs along the side of the road. A victory for the NO’s here means that the patch of dirt on Vista Hermosa/La Pata will remain so for many years to come, that a new Senior Center will not be built anytime in the near future, nor the wall necessary to complete the new fire station. Parents will still have to drive their sports playing children to Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo and San Juan Capistrano because the city they live in won’t accomodate them. We’ll stay the same, stagnant. We will have Charles Mann’s favorite nine-holes. Unless of course the club closes. Hooray.

WHERE WERE THEY??

The group “Save San Clemente Open Space” neglects to weigh in on a conversion of open space just two weeks after a locally publicized open space issue.

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