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After 35 years in public education as a high school English teacher and university administrator, I began my second life as a freelance writer, winning San Diego Society of Professional Journalist awards for my opinion columns in the former San Diego daily North County Times and the San Diego Free Press.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Carlsbad City Council "Very Unfamiliar" with Lagoon Mall Review Process

Time for Mayor Hall to Step Down?



Three days after the San Diego Registrar of Voters announced the defeat of Carlsbad's Measure A, Mayor Matt Hall was interviewed on KUSI. When asked how he and the city Council would deal with the fallout over an issue that had been unanimously approved by the Council before the people said no and called for a public vote, here was his reply:

"The city council, our role, is to process projects. And obviously there's more than one way to process a project. We're very knowledgeable about the CEQA way of doing things (the California Environmental Quality Act). Mr. Caruso chose to use the 9212 Report, which the city is very unfamiliar with. So part of the difficulty was trying to work our way through a 9212 Report and get clear understanding. Most of the people I've talked to leading up to this, that was their biggest concern, that there was this sidestep of CEQA. And I think that's one of the things we really need to look at. And I know, from my personal belief, that anybody coming forward that want to use a 9212 Report I would say, (long pause, nervous chuckle) not my idea..."

Let's take a closer look at what Hall said. To say that the role of the city Council is, "to process projects," suggests a clerical, rather than a leadership responsibility. That's an easy excuse for what he agrees was a bad idea, the sidestepping of CEQA. It was a clerical error. Nothing more than a Council vote typo!

Hall's excuse calls to mind Bart Simpson's standard way of escaping responsibility for his dirty deeds. "I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it, and I won't do it again." It would be funny if it weren't for the $750,000 taxpayers paid for a special election and the community divisiveness caused by a mayor who refused to listen to the people.

If the mayor is more than a visor-wearing, sleeves-gartered clerical bureaucrat, what are his duties, job description and mission? The city's website has a detailed list of qualifications and duties of city employees, including City Manager. What I couldn't find is what the mayor and city council are held accountable for, rather than meeting regularly. Nor could I find a City Council Mission Statement. Oceanside has one, as does San Marcos. Vista has a description of the Mayor and City Council's duties. The City of Carlsbad has a fine Mission, Vision and Values Statement, but no explanation of how the Mayor and City Council are expected to practice them.

And this time around they seem woefully out of practice. Their blind support of Caruso's lagoon mall campaign reveals how they skirted city organizational values.

Stewardship: "We responsibly manage the public resources entrusted to us and provide the best value to our community."
So why did they agree to pay $750,000 for a quickie special election in February, instead of $35,000-$50,000 to place it on the ballot of either the Primary or General Election?

Empowerment: "We help people achieve their personal best by creating an environment where they feel trusted, valued and inspired."
Tell that to the long line of residents attending the August 25 meeting, waiting to explain the shortcomings of the 9212 Report, expressing outrage for avoiding state and local environmental reviews. Without even allowing a 30-day delay for further consideration, the council voted unanimously to approve the project.

Tell that to the hundreds of citizen volunteers carrying "let the people vote" referendum petitions while being harassed by the developer's paid operatives.

Tell that to the recipients of a developer's mass mailing, graced by the smiling faces of the five council members, urging voters not to sign the referendum, with a mail-in form to city hall attached, demanding their names to be removed if they've already signed.

Communication "We communicate openly and directly. Promoting engagement and collaboration makes our organization better and our community stronger."
Tell that to Cori Schumacher, who spoke in opposition to a February special election at the November 17 meeting. Mayor Hall ordered the assistant city manager to provide an on-the-spot rebuttal of her presentation, a first in interrupting a line of speakers at a Council meeting to allow time for a mayor's rebuttal.

Mayor Hall now promises to reach out to those "in the middle or opposed" to the project to see what they want to do next. It's too late, Mayor Hall. Begin with an apology, then step down. The people of Carlsbad deserve more than a self-described project processor for their leader.

14 comments:

  1. Excellent article about the latest antics of the Carlsbad city council in this debacle they started by supporting an outside LA billionaire developer over the citizens of Carlsbad. It is time to hand them their hats and hopefully, the members of the city council will step down . . . or at least the mayor who may have cajoled the others into supporting the developer ought to resign quietly.

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  2. Agree Hall needs to take accountability. At times he came over as out of his depth, as the developers mouth piece. Not only did he vote on this, he actively campaigned for it, and therefore by result, against the majority of his citizens. He has failed, he has failed his city, and most he still doesn't get that he has judging by the glib manner and response on the KUSI interview. Start the healing, accept accountability and save us the pain and embarrassment of a recall campaign. This is not a simple as reaching out to De'ann at CNC and making up, many, many of us were out campaigning against Measure A and therefore Hall's agenda that only have lose affiliation to CNC. He needs to go

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  3. This really puts into words how we are all feeling. We were so belittled and shamed when we spoke out at the city council meeting. Then we were forced to endure the endless mailings with our city council's faces all over them campaigning for a project many of us knew was deceptive and wrong. We had no representation and it felt terrible. Now he wants to reach out.... will there be an apology? It will be telling to see if the council is willing to really listen to the citizens at the next city council meeting.

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  4. I see it? They could be in trouble and should be in trouble legally. Positioning as a non responsible, not really understanding the "measure", and not innocent of wrong doing! Not purposely handling city affairs illegally, just stupid. Can you go to jail for just being stupid without proof of a crime? That's their plan for safety?
    On the other foot, they did proactively participate in the shiw, ads, flyers, commercials, public appearances not to mention the non profit lagoon foundation participating. I think some justice of punishment should be coming to the bunch of them.
    They met in closed session with the attorney. Are they anticipating? Forming another plan to appear innocent by claiming they really didn't understand the report...we kept pointing out facts, many of them regarding irregularities of moving the measure and approval forward, they were rude, condescending, and yes they knew the path they were on. Again, this council thinks we are stupid don't they. Well, I hope you get what's coming for your actions.

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    1. I also don't believe he or any others will step down as that will look as he has admitted something wrong and would be a clear path for a lawsuit. I think claiming not understanding
      completely their path.

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    2. I also don't believe he or any others will step down as that will look as he has admitted something wrong and would be a clear path for a lawsuit. I think claiming not understanding
      completely their path.

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    3. I BELIEVE THE Mayor, Blackburn and whole lot of the lemming council should resign otherwise we will follow the money and find them accountable. Ignorance is no excuse when committing a crime and taking advantage of the public trust!

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    5. I am asking the same question. Saying that they didn't understand the 9212 is ludicrous at best. Hmmm. Isn't that the word Matt Hall used when De'Ann Weimer pointed out the issue of granting Caruso control of the property for 15 years in a debate? How many chances did the city council have to reevaluate their decision? I am curious where bad judgement end and illegal begins. I smell a rat, or two. Time to clean house.

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    6. I am asking the same question. Saying that they didn't understand the 9212 is ludicrous at best. Hmmm. Isn't that the word Matt Hall used when De'Ann Weimer pointed out the issue of granting Caruso control of the property for 15 years in a debate? How many chances did the city council have to reevaluate their decision? I am curious where bad judgement ends and illegal begins. I smell a rat, or two. Time to clean house.

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  5. Great article Richard. Matt Hall has shown his arrogance to his constituents over and over. I saw it on an interview with DeAnn Weimer on KOCT, his response to a high school reporter (http://thelancerlink.com/opinion-editorial/2016/02/16/carusos-modest-proposal) and in his recent interview on KUSI on 3/3/16. Ignoring his constituents at the 8/25/15 city council meeting is unconscionable. Not speaking out in outrage, when citizens of Carlsbad,(trying to get signatures for Measure A to qualify for the ballot), were followed and harassed by Caruso's hired thugs is unforgivable. Not accepting responsibility for his "lack of understanding of the 9212 report." Well, if all of us can read it and understand the 9212 report, then the mayor can. We need the mayor to step down.

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  6. I didn't read it=lazy.
    I didn't understand it=stupid.
    I think it's a great idea=complicit.

    We think you are incompetent, inept, out-of-touch, and corrupt. Time to go.

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