Escondido, CA

Letter to the Editor: WHY DID IT TAKE THIS LONG?

Editor, Times-Advocate: 

At Escondido City Council meeting on September 18, during my 3 minute comment under Oral Communications before the meeting 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 the public entirely from that “process.”    

After my oral comment (less than 3 minutes), there was Council discussion and comments by four Council members prolonged the meeting before adjournment with extensive remarks by the 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 the 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 Diaz’s comments during Agenda #5 shared (for first time in public), how the 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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*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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