Community Commentary: Council needs solutions

Community Commentary: Council needs solutions
Councilwoman Teresa Barth meets with a constituent following the city council meeting December 2011 that named Councilman Jerome Stocks mayor. File photo

(Editor’s Note: This is an opinion piece by Encinitas Councilwoman Teresa Barth following the Council’s controversial decision to appoint Jerome Stocks mayor instead of her. )

I have been passed over for the position of Deputy Mayor or Mayor for three years and been denied a position to affect change or implement any creative solutions unexplored by the majority.[amt_override] After more than four years the tactics used to stifle dissent are clear; like using a nugget of truth to misinform. It’s true, there are no formal criteria for the position of mayor or deputy.The past decades are filled with the ethical approach that each council member should be given the opportunity to serve in these positions. The criteria was simple — being elected to the council and sharing these roles. It was an expectation of professional courtesy and civil behavior.Yet this council majority had an “excuse” for breaking this tradition each year.In 2009, Dan Dalager nominated out-going Mayor Maggie Houlihan back to the position of Deputy Mayor claiming her chemo treatments meant she’d “missed out” on some of the mayoral activities. Yes, he used her cancer as an excuse.

However, Councilman Jerome Stocks was later quoted in The Coast News: “The bottom line is I wanted to send a message to Ms. Barth.” He went on to say . . . “Don’t be petty, don’t be rude and duck hard votes.” Yes, he spoke of petty, rude and ducking hard votes without a trace of irony.

Questioning the city’s open government policies (or lack of) is my job, it’s not petty.

Jerome Stocks is not allowed to define rudeness and expect to be taken seriously.

I have never ducked a vote but Kristin Gaspar can’t say the same.

Deputy Mayor Gaspar has recused herself repeatedly from votes on the Pacific View property because “she wasn’t on council when the issue began.” Using that reasoning she shouldn’t participate in discussions about the Hall property, the General Plan Update or numerous other issues. So who is ducking hard votes?
I am not alone in seeing the hypocrisy of their actions.

In 2010, the North County Times editorial board gave Bond, Stocks & Gaspar a “Reindeer Games Raspberry” for choosing petty politics over civility by failing to appoint me to mayor or deputy mayor.

U-T columnist and political writer Logan Jenkins gave Gaspar the “Bonehead First Play” award for “failing in dramatic fashion to live up to her campaign pledge to bridge, not widen, the bitterly personal schism on the council….She’s either naive or she’s secretly spoiling for a fight while pretending to be Ms. Sweetness and Light”

In 2011, the North County Times editorial board gave Gaspar a “Find a Better Excuse Raspberry” for her position on Pacific View.

North County Times columnist and political writer Tom Arnold made this “Christmas Wish” for me… “The ceremonial position of Mayor….I know they don’t like you, but hey, they need to take the high ground.”

Finally, I believe the North County Times Editorial Board summed it all up in the recent “So much for Democracy” raspberry they gave to the council majority… “the City Council majority devised a convoluted system that all but ensures Barth will not serve as mayor or vice mayor in upcoming years, either. The whole thing stinks.”

At last Wednesday’s council meeting my colleagues pretended that the process was “broken and needed to be fixed,” a bizarre statement considering they broke it. They have plans, I’m not included and neither is the public.

Teresa Barth is a two-term member of the Encinitas city council.


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