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.
Are the residents really first? or is it just another political slogan?
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.
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.
(CNN) — A retired CIA official has accused the Bush administration of ignoring intelligence indicating that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and no active nuclear program before the United States-led coalition invaded it, CBS News said Sunday.
Tyler Drumheller, the former highest-ranking CIA officer in Europe, told “60 Minutes” that the administration “chose to ignore” good intelligence, the network said in a posting on its Web site.
Drumheller said that, before the U.S.-led attack on Iraq in 2003, the White House “ignored crucial information” from Iraq’s foreign minister, Naji Sabri, that indicated Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.
Drumheller said that, when then-CIA Director George Tenet told President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other high-ranking officials that Sabri was providing information, his comments were met with excitement that proved short-lived.
“[The source] told us that there were no active weapons of mass destruction programs,” Drumheller is quoted as saying. “The [White House] group that was dealing with preparation for the Iraq war came back and said they were no longer interested. And we said ‘Well, what about the intel?’ And they said ‘Well, this isn’t about intel anymore. This is about regime change.’ ”
Drumheller said the administration officials wanted no more information from Sabri because: “The policy was set. The war in Iraq was coming, and they were looking for intelligence to fit into the policy.”
CBS said the White House declined to respond to the charge and that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said Sabri was just one source and therefore not reliable.
But Drumheller said it was not unusual for the administration to rely on single-source stories when those stories confirmed what the White House wanted to hear.
He cited a report the CIA received in late 2001 that alleged Iraq had bought 500 tons of uranium-containing compounds from Africa.
“They certainly took information that came from single sources on the yellowcake story and on several other stories with no corroboration at all,” he said.
Bush included the reference, which was attributed to the British and turned out to be false, in his 2003 State of the Union Address.
The CIA in 2002 had sent former ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger to investigate the claims, and he went public in July 2003 criticizing the Bush administration’s case for going to war in Iraq. The subsequent publication of his wife’s identity as a CIA employee spawned an investigation that resulted in the indictment of Cheney’s chief of staff and is still ongoing. (Full story)
“It just sticks in my craw every time I hear them say it’s an intelligence failure,” Drumheller told CBS’ Ed Bradley. “This was a policy failure. I think, over time, people will look back on this and see this is going to be one of the great, I think, policy mistakes of all time.”
The White House earlier this month reacted angrily to a report that Bush had cited trailers suspected as biological weapons labs as proof of the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after intelligence officials knew that the trailers were not part of a WMD program. (Full story)
“I cannot count how many times the president has said the intelligence was wrong,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.
He added that the administration has implemented reforms to make sure that “the executive branch and the Congress have the best possible intelligence as they move forward to deal with the threats that face this country and face this world.”
Another retired CIA official in February said the Bush administration disregarded the expertise of the intelligence community, politicized the intelligence process and used unrepresentative data in making the case for war.
In an article published in the journal Foreign Affairs, Paul R. Pillar, the CIA’s national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, called the relationship between U.S. intelligence and policymaking “broken.” (Full story)
In November 2005, CNN obtained a 2003 CIA report that raised doubts about a claim that al Qaeda sent operatives to Iraq to acquire chemical and biological weapons — assertions that were repeated later by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell to the United Nations in making the case for the invasion of Iraq. (Full story)
A day after that report surfaced, Bush gave a speech on Veteran’s Day in which he accused critics of the Iraq war of distorting the events that led to the U.S. invasion.
Bush said that “intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein” and that a Senate Intelligence Committee report issued in July 2004 “found no evidence of political pressure to change the intelligence community’s judgments.” (Full story)
The Silberman-Robb commission, which was appointed by Bush, also found no evidence that political pressure skewed the intelligence. But neither that commission nor the Senate panel addressed how the administration made its case for war.
Senate Democrats have pressured the Intelligence Committee to complete a second phase of its report that would focus on how the prewar intelligence was used by the administration, rather than how it was produced.
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. I 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.