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 and 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


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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Last Recreational Open Space in San Clemente, PLEASE!

Charles Mann and the group “Save San Clemente Open Space” want you to believe that Pacific Golf Club represents the Last Large Recreational Open Space in San Clemente. The city of San Clemente has one of greatest percentages of open space in all of California. Do you know how many cities there are in California? They will say anything, meaning they lie like crazy, to get your support.

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MANN LIED – (submitted Dec.8th, 2007)

I’m going to shoot you in the face. I’m going to kiss you in the face. I only changed one word. Mr. and Mrs. Jones your daughter is dead. Mr. and Mrs. Jones your daughter is alive. Again, only changed one word. Charles Mann claiming victory after being ordered by Judge Warren Siegel to change 12 of 13 points in his “No on C” argument is ridiculous yet totally predictable. He and his golf buddies have been manipulating the media since they began their faux-environmental group in January of this year. This time they were called to the carpet and lost. How arrogant do you need to be to walk out of a courtroom after being handed your lunch and say you won? If you’re reading this, and you know Charles Mann, then you know what I’m talking about. Oh, by the way, Judge Siegel only changed one word in his ruling on 12 of 13 points, from innocent to guilty.

Jim’s Up To His Old Tricks Again – (SCTimes Mar. 22-28)

If you read the San Clemente Times “Letter to the Editor”(Mar.15-21, Vol. 2, issue 11) entitled “unplayable lies” by Jim Smith and you’re not a golfer, you didn’t get his attempt at being clever. Once again, just as with the flyers he and his clan littered your doorways and windshield wipers with, the half-truths and misleading statements came spewing forth like the projectile spittle of an onion-nosed, overzealous timeshare salesman. Mr. Smith stated that Pacific Golf has been open every day since July, 1988, and that one of the previous owners never filed for bankruptcy. Relevance please? Michael Rosenfeld didn’t file for bankruptcy either. But he did promise to keep the course open for the members, like Jim Smith who is a member, while he prepared a plan to make the club financially solvent. Mr. Smith stated that Golf Investment LLC does not own or operate any other golf courses. Golf Investment LLC is a limited liability company created specifically for Pacific Golf Club. The majority of the management team at Pacific has worked the better part of the last two decades for major “Golf Course Operators” and private golf clubs, mostly in California. Mr. Smith also has an LLC in which he operates just one business (which incidentally is not a golf course). Mr. Smith cited several clubs as examples of successful clubs he termed, “non-18 hole” business models. Of the courses he listed, all but two have hotels, homes, golf villas or condominium real estate attached. Only one has 27 holes, home of the Masters Tournament, Augusta National. If you visit his website,, and read through the FAQ’s it becomes quite apparent that saving open space is not his objective. Hopefully, experienced golfers and all the citizens of San Clemente will recognize this ruse for what it is, a plain old lie.

Madness in San Clemente

There are no bounds to the insidious acts of the politically motivated. I respect those who are true to their convictions. I respect an honest and passionate viewpoint and an intelligent argument. But I object when a group misleads and manipulates to accomplish their own selfish objective. When has the protection of a Private Golf Course ever been an environmental issue? How is it that a group of residents, who are not members of the club, have become embroiled in saving a small parcel of land that they can’t use and can’t see?