Escondido, CA

Council member Masson responds to criticisms from opponent

Deputy Mayor John Masson, who is running for reelection to the Escondido City Council responded this week to some points that were made by his opponent Nicole Downey in our interview with her last week.

“For the record,” Masson said, “I’m a proud Republican but nobody tells me how to vote on anything. I think I missed one ECCHO meeting and don’t recall ever seeing her at the meetings. I don’t recall seeing her at council meetings advocating for her ideas for the community.”

Masson says that he too is willing to meet with anyone from any side. “I’ll speak and/or meet with anyone- Republican, Democrat, Independent, etc. Interesting how, neither Nicole or Vanessa have ever reached out to meet with me to discuss ideas or issues.  All of the sudden they have the answers?”

Masson defended the city’s programs to deal with the homeless. “Regarding the homeless, we’ve done a great job with the limited resources that we have. We also have lots of affordable housing when compared with other communities. Our increase in homeless is a direct result of poor legislation from Sacramento: AB109 and Prop 47.”

Masson flatly denied Downey’s comment: “There are a lot of businesses on Grand that are putting for sale signs. Even my opponent John Masson’s commercial property is up for sale for $2.8 million.”

Masson told The Times-Advocate: “Regarding ‘my’ commercial property… I don’t own the property, I’m just a renter. My Dad owns it with two other partners and one of them wants out and is not willing to be bought out by the current partners. Her insinuation that it’s up for sale because everything is so bad is ludicrous.”

He also criticized his challenger’s suggestions for dealing with vacancies. “Her answer to vacancies is tax residents and property owners of vacant commercial buildings?”

 He added, “With regard to graffiti, we have a robust graffiti abatement program that has been very effective. We continue to put more resources toward this program as they become available.”

Regarding Downey’s assertion that the city is aiming to force out the Escondido Community Child Development Center by raising its rent,  Masson responded: “I have donated engineering and surveying services to the Escondido Community Child Development Center. The City is not trying to force them out. Our strategy is to bring our leases closer to market rate. We try to balance the lease rate/subsidy with community benefit while at the same time maximizing the return to the City.”

The Times-Advocate encourages a robust debate among candidates or supporters for city offices or any offices that are within our service area. We will sit down any candidate any time before the election, as well as do follow up stories on issues that are brought up.  

2 responses to “Council member Masson responds to criticisms from opponent”

  1. I’m an advocate for Vanessa Valenzuela. But when I appear at Escondido City Council meetings, my comments are personal and don’t represent opinions of any other organization or individual, unless stated otherwise. I am a member of Escondido Chamber of Citizens ECOC, but only seldom make comments at Escondido City Council to represent ECOC concerns, usually about Escondido’s fiscal policy and practices that often cause adverse fiscal impacts on existing residents and taxpayers in Escondido.

    When Masson claims decisions by City Council always have ‘community benefits’, they just make vague statements about ‘bringing higher paying jobs to Escondido”, that are never measurable. Even if they are measurable, the fiscal benefits are never measured in a fiscal analysis that authentically analyzes cost/benefits in a genuine objective study. Studies by Escondido’s short list of economic experts are often based on premises that contain false assumptions, or rely only on ‘self reporting’ by City’s most successful partners (like Dave Feruson), or those who receive subsidies at extreme cost to existing taxpayers and ratepayers in Escondido.

    Survey pols prepared by marketing consultants retained by City of Escondido or Chamber of Commerce are often based on phone surveys, taken by up to 400 targeted individuals chosen by City of Escondido. Therefore, data collected during City’s ‘survey pols’ are not objective, and results only reflect a predetermined desired outcome. City officials have refused to publicly release statistical details or raw data, or identify who is allowed to respond to the questionnaires , or how the survey group is selected. It’s skewed.
    not taken to ask for public feedback from Escondido’s population , unless respondents are preselected businesses, or Chamber of Commerce members who promote incumbents. The ‘survey pols’ performed by consultants retained by City, or Chamber of Commerce don’t reflect adverse fiscal impacts of Escondido’s policies and practices, from those which represent the 98%.

  2. At Escondido City Council meeting 09 18 18, during my 3 minute comment under Oral Communications before mtg adjourned, I requested a Public Workshop as soon as possible.

    I described the purpose of a Public Workshop is for a formal public dialogue to inform public about Escondido’s policies and practices, especially when City Manager determines what items will be placed on Consent Calendar for future Escondido City Council Agendas. Current policy/practices exclude public entirely from that ‘process’.

    After my oral comment (less than 3 minutes), there was Council discussion and comments by 4 Council members prolonged the meeting before adjournment with extensive remarks by Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Morasco and Ed Gallo. They insist the fast-lane approach is necessary to accomplish Escondido’s ‘vision’ they see is a necessity. They claim Consent Calendar items only apply to routine matters, or to take actions on projects already discussed and agreed upon during Closed Session.

    But THAT process excludes the public entirely, and THAT’S the rub, the conflict . Speaking of conflicts of interest, during Council comments on Agenda #5 (pulled by the public before I arrived), there were extremely disturbing comments shared about ‘parking deficiencies’ in Escondido’s Downtown, and GALLO confirmed that City’s most recent Downtown Parking Analysis indicates there are only 105 street parking spaces in Escondido’s entire Downtown Area (excluding public parking lots).

    The conflict with Agenda #5 is City’s APPROVAL ACTION authorized demolition of Public Parking Lot #1 (Maple Street), and proceed with TERMS of premature PURCHASE Agreement , for construction of high density condos that were streamlined through City’s internal approval process which also EXCLUDED the public.

    Olga’s comments during Agenda #5 shared (for first time in public), how City’s ‘refresher training’ for all City Council members, and all appointed Boards and Commissioners about Conflicts of Interest, based on updated laws in California that apply to decision making at every level of Escondido , as a General Law city.

    So, it’s a very good thing that ALL members of those performing public service from Mayor Sam Abed, and Escondido all City Council to be accurately informed by Consultants retained by City of Escondido (public expense that is justified), to explain details about decision making ‘in the public interest’ is supposed to occur, and training sessions are structured to apply specifically to Escondido, and to have this intensive training be mandatory , with attendance certification by senior City staff, all Department heads and project managers, and implemented in each Department. That’s a really good starting point in 2018, and one that I strongly support.

    I wonder WHY it took THIS LONG ? WHY wasn’t this automatically applied every year since …. let’s say a decade ago, since 2008?

    The Public Workshop I requested in near future should inform the PUBLIC about Citywide training and certification (terms of employment), and also inform public how ALL public employees, and all appointed Commissions, Council Subcommittees, Boards, and Volunteers also receive training to explain details about scope and scale of various categories of decisions … Discretionary (public hearings), Current Business, to the last category of CONSENT Calendar items, and the narrow scope of projects that ‘belong’ in the Consent Calendar category.

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