One of the great early founding fathers, John Randolph, described a rival politician this way: “He is a man of splendid abilities, but utterly corrupt. He shines and stinks like rotten mackerel by moonlight.” I think of that line when I consider the process that has given us Lilac Hills Ranch, and Measure B.
We see the image of the mayor of Chula Vista, Mary Salas on television, exhorting voters in South County and the rest of the County to vote to put a General Plan busting 1,746 unit uber development — far away from her — at the other corner of the County. Her reasoning is that it will give young people houses to buy. At an estimated $500,000-$700,000 a pop for one of those houses, the only young person who will be able to afford such a palace is Richie Rich.
We see the mayor of Escondido, the otherwise excellent leader and booster of business growth, Sam Abed, come out this week to urge that North County voters support Measure B, an initiative whose most prominent characteristic is that it’s an attempt by a developer to skip over all of the land use authorities and restraints that the County Board of Supervisors normally imposes.
We know that Abed opposes letting developers do end runs around the land use authority of the city because he and most of the rest of the city council vehemently opposed just such an attempt two years ago when developer Michael Schlesinger put Proposition H on the city ballot in an attempt to bust the city’s plan. What’s the difference here? Answer: it’s not in the city limits.
We have the opposite of NIMBYs here. “Put it in YOUR back yard!” they say. Let the rule breaking occur out of my sight. That way we can label it progress.
The process that has given us Measure B is composed of corruption, intimidation, obfuscation, mendacity, corruption (I mentioned that twice, didn’t I?) and now, sleight of hand.
It is a process that has seen the local Republican party bought for $50,000 in what we might otherwise call Clintonism if it were practiced by another party. You know — quid pro quo. Payola. Baksheesh. The normal off the menu price of 30 pieces of silver seems to be a victim of inflation, so $50,000 is about right.
I personally don’t give a fig about building big developments, as long as the law allows them and the owners of the land have gone about the normal process, like every other developer. What I object to is a series of glad-handing deals, wink and nods, “Hey, I’ll advance your career in county government if you help me, otherwise your career is toast!” I object to hearing public officials declaim with a straight face that putting 3,000 or 4,000 cars onto narrow, winding roads won’t actually cause traffic snarls.
Turn the whole county into a parking lot for all I care, just do it out in the open. Let everyone see the stinking, rotting mackerel ground up into grungy, grimy, gray bits to spread on canapes at dinner parties in South Bay, to be consumed along with a fruity Chardonnay by people in their fine homes way in the hills who sniff, “Why yes, we need more housing for young people. Where? Why out there, that-a-way . . . somewhere. Not where I can see it, certainly.”
In a sense Measure B is the national election writ small. The politics of Trump vs. Hillary can be boiled down in the simple proposition that the people in the big cities want to tell the people in the rural areas how to live — and they have the votes to do it.
It’s a crime that the Board of Supervisors, where at least three members come from the coastal cities can dictate how people in the country live. Yeah, I know. It’s democracy. So is it also democracy when two wolves and a sheep vote what to have for dinner.
So if you like your electoral dinner gamy and smelly to where you can see the stink lines rising off of it in the moonlight, then vote for Measure B. If you don’t, then you know what to do.