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Del Mar takes a stand on some federal, political issues

DEL MAR — In an effort to reiterate Del Mar’s “commitment to basic constitutional and human rights” and pursue state-of-the-art programs for addressing global warming issues based on science, council members adopted a resolution with a 4-1 vote at the Dec. 19 meeting.

Councilman Dwight Worden proposed the declaration to, “reassure our residents and visitors where, as a city, we stand on these issues and whether, and to what extent, our city government will participate in some of the controversial programs that are under discussion at the federal level.”

Worden stated in a memo that he was motivated by talks at the national, state and local level about what programs and policies — such as Muslim registries and rounding up and deporting undocumented immigrants — “may or may not be promoted by the incoming administration.”

“In this context it seems appropriate that Del Mar reaffirm its commitment to certain basic principles,” he wrote.

He described the declaration as “pretty straight forward.”

It states Del Mar will not participate in any registry or listing of Muslims or of adherents of any other religion or in identifying or rounding up undocumented people.

Additionally, the city “will continue to support and encourage diversity” and “respect, and protect where needed, the rights of its residents and visitors from and against all discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or age.”

It also states Del Mar will continue to address climate change, sea level rise and other environmental and social issues based on the best available science and not on partisanship or ideology.

“I tried to keep it as nonpartisan as possible,” Worden said. “There’s nothing in the resolution that talks about taking positions versus the federal government. It’s all directed at Del Mar.

“I tried to make it local,” he added. “I recognize that these issues are politically charged. There’s no getting away from that. … I’m hearing from constituents that do want to be reassured where … our city stand(s) on these issues of the day.”

Worden further described the resolution as tame, directive and not inflammatory.

“This was my attempt — perhaps not as successful as some of you would like to think — at just being as clear and direct as possible,” he added. “We will not do roundups. We will not do registries. It’s not advocating Democratic policies. Those should be universal, American policies.”

Councilman Dave Druker supported the resolution but questioned the timing and whether the council should be weighing in on federal topics.

“I would caution us to be very, very conservative about weighing in on … national issues,” he said. “Consistently I have not been in favor of those types of actions. People did not vote for me because of my political leanings and/or thoughts on other issues beyond local issues.

“I wish this had been brought to us later rather than today,” Druker added. “I think in spirit I definitely approve of what you’re talking about and what you’re trying to do.

“It’s just a highly politically charged environment today and I think people will see us doing this in response to political action,” he said. “I know you want it to be nonpartisan. Unfortunately there’s a nexus here that makes it very much partisan.”

Druker said he thought Del Mar residents overall would “overwhelming support” the move since nearly 70 percent did not vote for President-elect Donald Trump.

Although Mayor Terry Sinnott’s signature will appear on the document, he did not support it.

“I have no concerns about some of the basic subject matter that Dwight has outlined,” he said.

“But this particular item worries me a great deal. It’s very damaging to the spirit of cooperation and accomplishment for this council and Del Mar.”

Sinnott said, in his opinion, the resolution is “very political and represents the liberal, Democratic position on federal issues.”

He asked if council members would be willing to add to it conservative issues such as Del Mar support for enforcement of existing federal laws, options to improve education, balanced budgets, reduced regulation and investments in infrastructure.

“Why does this resolution only mention liberal left issues?” he asked, adding that he doesn’t oppose climate change or support rounding up undocumented immigrants.

Sinnott said the resolution also uses Del Mar as a “political grandstand trying to indicate that all of Del Mar is aligned with these left, or liberal, ideas.”

“Now that’s not wrong but … it lumps everybody as being the same … and I think we have a lot of difference of opinion in different areas,” Sinnott said, adding that none of the issues have been discussed or debated in the city.

“To my mind we don’t have these issues in Del Mar now,” he added. “We don’t have, or ever contemplated, a registry of registering Muslims. Del Mar has no ability or resources to conduct identification and roundups of undocumented persons. We just wouldn’t be doing this.

“We have always supported and encouraged diversity,” Sinnott said. “We do not condone discrimination in any way. We are already pursuing a climate action plan.”

Sinnott also questioned Worden’s need to “reassure” residents.

“To my mind, our residents are not snowflakes needing therapy dogs and coloring books,” Sinnott said. “They do not need to worry that the sky is falling. If you are a left or liberal Democrat you will still be able to pursue your liberal positions though national forums. You have all those rights.

“And in my recollection you didn’t see some of us who are more on the right side asking for resolutions from this council when (President Barack) Obama was elected,” he added. “I respect Dwight and all his skills. I respect the position of all the … letters that we received. But I feel this is too much of an in-your-face politics and does not represent the feelings and desires of a cross section of Del Mar.

“The assumptions that all people feel the way I do I think is myopic and misguided,” Sinnott concluded. “We should focus resolutions on Del Mar-specific problems. This will only further split the community.”

“I think the timing of this is totally appropriate,” Councilwoman Ellen Haviland said. “This is what’s of concern to many people now and may not be as much so months down the road.”

She said she believes the resolution is “exactly what a lot of people are looking for and hoping to get from their elected officials.”

“I think we can all agree that the issues that were brought forth nationally … were very different than what we’ve had in typical election cycles and I think this is addressing that difference,” she added. “I don’t think it’s trying to pit Democrats versus Republicans. And I think it’s important that we let the rest of the community know the values of our city and this is a safe place.”

Worden said he received about 40 emails supporting the idea and two opposed to it. Twenty-three of 25 emails sent to the city also support the resolution. No one spoke publicly at the meeting.

Resolutions generally express the official opinion or position of a legislative body. They are not laws and can be rescinded.