Instead of predictions, please let me offer up some wishes for the new year.
A recent news report about the city of Vista mayoral election noted that a challenger, Councilman Cody Campbell, is taking on incumbent mayor Judy Ritter.
A third candidate who may also run was quoted as saying that the contest had become unusually personal and petty. “I don’t want to see it go the way of Oceanside here in Vista.”
Ouch. With the fact that Oceanside behavior has become a regional thing-to-avoid, let’s offer a wish list of things we hope do and don’t happen in 2014.
Stop The Mud
The mudslinging that was referred to in the introductory paragraph needs to stop. When Steve Jepsen returned as our city manager, Councilwoman Esther Sanchez came up with this cringe-inducing statement: “I have no confidence in Jepsen especially in light of causing the biggest scandal the city has had in recent history.” That acid-toss and Council member Jerry Kern’s occasional digs at civic groups, which come to speak at council meetings, need to end. I would humbly submit that both council members can win their cause without tossing toxic grenades.
Stop The Mud — Part II
When former Councilman Rocky Chavez ran for state assemblyman, he first had to make it out of a three-candidate primary. One of those other two candidates took a cheap shot at the third, saying the third had endured financial problems with her business. What a petty slime job! Rocky never got involved in the smear. On that issue alone he deserved to win…and he did.
Now comes word (from the L.A. Times) that our state senator Mark Wyland, who is termed out of office next year and can not run for reelection, is running for the state Board of Equalization, a low-key but well-paid elected position that is supposed to oversee state tax collection.
Mr. Wyland is running against another Republican, State Senator Diane Harkey of Dana Point. Wyland has taken the low road and is dragging Harkey’s husband through the mud. Is that all you got Mr. Wyland? May I remind you what happened in Rocky’s 2012? Character counts Mr. Wyland and so far all that many of us know about is that you slur your opponent’s family members.
The health care district which serves Carlsbad, Oceanside and Vista, and whose main job is to operate Tri-City Hospital, has managed to shed itself of embarrassing directors. Those elected officials reportedly illegally leaked confidential hospital business information, ran for office with a fake college diploma and exhibited outrageous behavior in board meetings. Those directors are no longer on the board and the jokes have subsided.
The district also fired its CEO Larry Anderson, five months ago.
But alas, the dysfunction remains. The hospital has lost public trust and its finances are in ruins: it had to put most of its $51 million of reserves down as collateral in order to get out from under an interest-only loan. That money is still in escrow. To the current seven Tri-City directors: Do not wait for a new CEO.
Please move towards merging the district with a larger health provider right now. Tri-City Hospital District’s days as a stand-alone entity are over. Its patient count, earnings and net revenue are in decline. It has lost public confidence. Let’s cut bait and let a more competent entity resuscitate our local hospital, which is in serious condition.
No more WalMarts
Although council members may not know it, having Oceanside become the most WalMarted city in California will surely have negative repercussions on this current council majority, which has been calling the shots for three years.
Oceanside now has four WalMarts. Please, let’s not pimp out our town for a fifth WalMart, and please, let’s get someone in the saddle in City Hall who can envision, and then realize, a bigger and better economic picture for Oceanside and commandeer some desirable new business into town. It ain’t happening now.
Let’s keep the ball rolling
The six years that Chief Frank McCoy has run the Oceanside Police Department is generally thought be constructive for our police force. The OPD does not have the reputation it had in previous eras when a handful of renegade lawbreakers with badges got away with everything but murder. Let’s hope the next chief selected by City Manager Jepsen can maintain the OPD’s professionalism and efficiency in getting the bad guys off the street.
Let’s also hope our water department continues to make headway as it increasingly produces its own water from underground aquifers. Let’s hope the El Corazon soccer fields are up and running as soon as possible, and that the city sticks with the spirit of El Corazon as it was crafted by years of public input and design.
Let’s hope the public has plenty of input on what happens with “Lot 23,” the crucial block north of the pier underpass and bounded by Cleveland Street and the railroad tracks. It will have underground parking and multiple stories and will have a huge impact on what Oceanside will become. How many stories? How many condos?
Everyone I have spoken with has panned the process of making Mission and Seagaze Avenues one-way streets as a pointless boondoggle and silly waste of money. I will wait until they are finished to see what the finished product yields.
But there is no way you can tell me that a separate plan to narrow Coast Highway from four to three or two lanes will be beneficial. Streets first and foremost are there to accommodate traffic, not to make us look quaint. Coast Highway in fact, needs to have more, not fewer lanes. Improved landscaping is fine. But reducing traffic flow capability on this crucial thoroughfare just to make us quaint is a failure.
Oceanside born and raised, Ken Leighton is an Oceanside business owner. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org