“If you’re not inside you’re outside.” So says millionaire investor Gordon Gecko played by Michael Douglas to Charlie Sheen’s aspiring young stockbroker Bud Fox in the movie “Wall Street.”
Gecko goes on to say that his riches are the result of insider influence and friends in high places rather than honest hard work. In Gecko’s world a merit based economy is for suckers.
Citizens like you and I have been left on the outside looking in. Insider access has corrupted the process. People who profit from new laws are helping to write those laws. Public unions influence pension laws; drug companies influence health care laws; bankers influence banking laws. These special interests help elect candidates, and in return get influence. The fox is in the hen house, and crony capitalism is alive and well.
I think insider access is threatening the process in Encinitas to “update” our governing document called The General Plan.
For those unaware, the council has said they want to “update” zoning that defines land uses. For the most part the current General Plan allows for small two-story development, and most residents like it. New zoning has the potential to encourage high density mixed use development, increase traffic and destroy community character.
The “update” process could result in millions of dollars of profit in “up-zones” being given to a lucky few at the expense of the community.
Last week the council appointed a committee called the Encinitas Review Advisory Committee (ERAC) to help write the “updates.” It did not escape my attention, nor should it yours the ERAC Committee includes many members who might benefit financially from the “updates.” It is my opinion that ERAC members who are going to profit by looking after their own private interests rather than the public interests should recuse themselves from the decisions they might profit by.
We don’t need a General Plan Update written for developers by developers. Claims that the city needs insiders to write new zoning laws is false. Conflicted parties should not write laws they might benefit from. It looks to me like Mayor Jerome Stocks and the council has appointed ERAC members who will give them the results they want.
The process of appointing ERAC members has raised questions. The council initially said ERAC applicants would be heard at a public hearing. The council then cancelled the hearings. Why? Many of the appointed ERAC members supported campaign efforts to elect Mayor Stocks and Deputy Mayor Kristin Gaspar.
Though only a week old ERAC is already under a cloud of suspicion after residents learned Mayor Stocks, Deputy Mayor Gaspar, council member James Bond and council member Mark Muir appointed a person to represent New Encinitas despite that person living in Old Encinitas. Not surprisingly the person they appointed over other better-qualified applicants was their campaign supporter.
The council could have appointed any number of residents without a conflict of interest, but chose not to. One resident who applied and was not appointed is Olivier Canler. Canler along with 330 other New Encinitas residents have launched an informative website called savenewencinitas.com.
In appointing ERAC the council said it would be a committee representative of the people. Instead ERAC looks like a committee representative of the campaign supporters of Stocks, Gaspar, Muir and Bond.
Insiders have been given a seat at the table. Residents are on the outside looking in.
I wonder what Gecko would think?