At last week’s Encinitas council meeting Mayor Jerome Stocks and Deputy Mayor Kristin Gaspar hoped to pass a change in city policy that would have installed Gaspar as mayor for a two-year term without a vote of the people. I expect these types of power grabs from third world dictators not in my own backyard.The attempted power grab began in February, when in a questionable procedure, Stocks made a motion to change the policy that limits the mayoral term to one year with a policy that guaranteed Gaspar would be installed as Mayor for a two-year term. Normally, a new proposed ordinance is prepared in a staff report but that did not happen. Stocks made his motion after public testimony had been closed, meaning there could be no public debate of his motion that night.
Stocks placed the new ordinance on the consent calendar for adoption. As the motion had been approved by a 3-2 council vote in February, Stocks and Gaspar figured they had the numbers to pass the ordinance regardless of what the public thought. They were wrong.
Last week an informed public showed up and pulled the item from the consent calendar. The action meant residents did not give their consent and reopened the motion for public debate. Some 12 speakers addressed the council in opposition and not a single resident spoke in favor.
Encinitas City Council candidate Tony Kranz said the original motion “Had been pulled out of thin air.” Cyrus Kamada said the council could not “Redefine the meaning of an election after it has occurred”; and Sandy Shapiro said the proposed new ordinance was “Poorly crafted unless it is deliberately done to bias the selection.”
Forced to explain their positions, Stocks interrupted un-elected council member Mark Muir when Muir mentioned an alternative motion, telling Muir his motion was “not on today’s agenda.”
When an audience member noted Stocks was out of order Stocks became flustered. When Stocks asked Muir if he wanted to make a motion to accept the ordinance Muir said “No.” Stocks said, “So that’s not a motion.” Council member Bond then asked Muir “Did you make a motion to bring it back?” Before Muir could answer, Stocks responded, saying, “He’ll do that at the end of the meeting.” I can’t imagine Muir felt good having Stocks speak for him.
Ignoring the public speakers and his colleagues, Stocks said he wanted to “Adopt the policy tonight.” His position was met by boo’s from a nearly packed city hall, to which Stocks said he would be happy to clear the room. Stocks rapped the gavel, calling for a recess and he and Gaspar left the dais together.
Upon returning Stocks lectured the public on decorum and said it was his hope the ordinance would be accepted immediately. Stocks never called for the vote because he did not have the numbers and no action was taken.
Councilmember Teresa Barth followed Stocks, calling the motion undemocratic and thanking the public for speaking.
Gaspar followed Barth and rather than address public comments, chose instead to let loose a verbal attack on Barth as being the cause for Gaspar’s negative portrayal in the media and local blogs. Gaspar is unwilling to recognize that her negative portrayal is the result of her voting record. She has regularly supported bigger government and special interests over the recommendations of citizens.
Our Founding Fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence that “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” They wanted government to serve the people, not themselves. When elected leaders are rattled, they often make the right decision.