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Community Commentary

Who would you choose?

Recently, there was an opening on the city of Encinitas’ Environmental Commission. Here is a brief summary of the qualifications of three of the primary candidates, using actual quotes from their applications (published online). Take a look at their experience and the viewpoint/vision of each. Then, ask yourself: “Who would I choose to fill this position?”

Candidate A
“I have lived in Encinitas for many years.
“I have 10 years experience as a Planning Commissioner.”
“I am a good team member, cooperative and have strong leadership abilities.”
“I know the commission needs to work toward supporting the policies of the City Council.”
“It is important to protect & preserve our environment and I have experience & understanding in what are feasible actions that can be accomplished in a reasonable timeframe.

Candidate B
“The past twenty plus years of my professional life have been devoted to the environmental field working in collaboration with local governments, businesses, military, private sector companies, community and non-profit groups in the areas of solid waste and recycling, sustainability, environmental education and outreach.”
“I am currently a self employed environmental advisor. Major current projects include the creation of a Green Team Block Leader Program for 12 cities in San Mateo County, conceptual planning of exhibits and interactive learning activities for the Shoreway Environmental Education Center, San Carlos, CA and acting as the in-house recycling expert for a sustainable packaging company.”
“The Environmental Commission has already developed a sound vision that is consistent and compatible with the overall General Plan. What I’d like to accomplish, if appointed is to help broaden the visibility of the Commission’s hard work and promote, encourage and engage a higher level of community involvement. I can bring my marketing communications expertise to create/enhance social media, encourage local businesses and neighborhood groups to identify/act as ‘environmental ambassadors/champions’ and encourage more pro-active public education.”

Candidate C
“PhD in Public Policy: MBA with a specialty in sustainability”
“37 years of work experience spanning government, industry, and academia, including 17 years at NASA and NOAA working on environmental programs and 13 years at UCSD including serving as Assistant Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Executive Director of the USCD Environment and Sustainability Initiative and the Sustainability Solutions Institute; and teaching graduate classes on corporate environmental strategy.”
“I want to support efforts to create and protect a healthy economy that respects and helps sustain a healthy environment without which we cannot prosper. I want to be part of a constructive Environmental Commission that listens to the citizens, elected officials, staff, and the business community and offers realistic and effective strategies to achieve the triple bottom line of people, planet, and prosperity.”

Now that you have read the qualifications of the candidates above, who do you think should fill the position? Why? Who do you think the majority on our city council actually chose?
ANSWER: The majority of three on our city council — Jim Bond, Jerome Stocks, and Kristin Gaspar — chose Candidate A, without any explanation as to why. Note: Candidate A’s application statements are reported in full.


Encintas Serfs August 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Candidate A is Alice Jacobson, Candidate B is Betsey Meyer, and Candidate C is Lisa Shaffer. Mayor Bond, Deputy Mayor Stocks and Gaspar could care less about our community’s Environmental Commission’s work. The most talented candidates with something to volunteer for our community are passed over for a political PLANT, Alice Jacobson.
Shameless puppets.

katecontinued August 22, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Alice Jacobson couldn’t even provide a truthful life story related to the environment when she spoke before city council. She told a tale of her mother being into recycling before it was popular. Does Alice think we’re stupid? Everyone in their 60’s whose parents were not the wealthy elite and grew up in the US experienced the great depression. Nobody wasted anything. Silly old woman, also said her mother didn’t let plastic bags in the house when she was growing up. Well, of course not. They didn’t exist until the 1980’s. No, we aren’t stupid. But Alice, ask Alice what other insights she has on the healthy ecosystems in our community.

Expertise Needed August 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm

I have nothing personal against Alice Jacobson wanting to support Bond, Stocks and Gaspar though her political donations on their behalf. What I disagree with, is her being used as a pawn, shifting from the Art Council to the Environmental Council, for no other reason than to deprive the opportunity of one of the 2, eminently qualified candidates, to serve on this important commission.

Council majority’s placement of a person, who has no background, nor interest in this important area, shows hostility towards the health, safety and survivability of our rare biodiversity and natural resources, and potentially, Encinitas residents themselves.

The inconsistent treatment of dangerous green house properties is a notable example. The only thing that they have in common is that they have been up zoned, to maximize the greatest density of housing units at the risk of local residents and future owners.

A local family near the Hymettus green house was needlessly poisoned, when the developer grating the site did not follow safety procedures. Where is the oversight, when mitigation is granted by Planning, yet no criteria for performance is provided?

Instead of taking this terrible event as a learning opportunity to find out how to prevent this from happening again, Planning still allows for some projects to bury contaminated soil on site, yet has other builders haul it away. Such decisions must be supported by data, and the performance of the projects must be managed with sustained oversight and accountability.

There has been little to no measurable information to inform these decisions—only Scott Vurbeff and Pat Murphy chanting subjective language like, “this can be mitigated,” or “the contamination is not significant since it is recreational contamination.”

As a different article in this week’s paper indicates, Jim Bond and Glenn Sabine want to surround themselves with a staff that mirrors their own poor professional standards and lack of ethical behavior. Citizens expect for documents to be complete and accurate, and the continuous praise that is showed on staff who make mistakes and are encouraged to do bad work is outragous.

what happened to the family who was recently made ill, may never have had to happen with competent staff and a council majority that was not financed by, nor in continuous contact with developers, but instead was motivated decisions that were made for the benefit of ALL of the people of Encinitas.

Insulting August 23, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Not only was Jacobson the very least qualified, she did not get her application submitted prior to the cut off date. Worse than this us that the most qualified citizen for the commission, and chair of the commission, Elizabeth Taylor was removed by Stocks. He also removed Carolyn Cope, from the Arts Commission. Cope has been a vital contributor to the arts for many years and offered her talent and energy to many areas for the benefit of the community. Alice replaced her for three months and resigned to take Taylor’s position and other more qualified applicants who applied in time.
Stocks, Bond and Gaspar have again shown that they care for their political power far more than what is the best for our community.

Dadala August 23, 2011 at 4:51 pm

What you folks seem to miss is the important point that Alice has a track record of leadership, whether you like the organizations she had been in a position to lead, or not; the truth is, when the environmental left is seen in public, screaming at council or applauding diatribes from out-of-control city councilors, they do not appear to be able to seek consensus or keep control of their emotions, nor potentially to govern by anything other than envy or anger. Say what you want about Alice, but she always appears to be reasonable and well-thought in her decisions.
Alice is most likely now on the Environmental Advisory Committee because Jacy allowed the committee to drive off the reservation, lose complete sight of their directions from council to the point where they even got involved in her future compensation/contract with the City!
Minster is a handmaiden for the minority council people and he should put his money where his mouth is an run for office rather than wringing his hands, like a handmaiden if he is really upset about Alice.

Politics August 23, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Alice Jacobson has been put in the position by the 3-2 majority so the 3-2 majority can place her on council in order to keep the strangle hold on city politics. It is a calculated political move. It has nothing to do with what is best for the future environment of our city.
I agree with the previous writer.

Catwabbit August 24, 2011 at 10:20 am

And, so, what can we do about it???
The fix IS in!

Aladad August 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Ah yes! I see it. Once again … Dadala does not get it!
I read the piece carefully and found that the point was to ask the reader to exercise judgment on an issue decided by the City Council. Period.
Since Encinitas Serf charitably named the candidates —who were not named in the editorial— I endeavored to look them up on google, google.scholar, Mylife, and so on and so forth.
What I found is that Alice Jacobson has been and is, indeed an active civic leader in Encinitas, well attuned to working with the current city government, as she states in her qualifications, but utterly unqualified in matters dealt with by the Environmental Commission.
On the other hand, the other two candidates mentioned in the piece, Betsey Meyer and Lisa Shaffer, have impeccable credentials in that domain. With long-standing activity in these areas, they are both widely recognized leaders by any community-accepted standards. But the scope of their views, perhaps, is broader than the Council majority’s narrowly constrained opinions.
So the piece was obviously written to trigger a thought process on the part of the readers. The responses on the blog make it clear that it achieved its goal, including an agitated and nonsensical response from Dadala above.
Let me address some of the various extraneous, irrelevant, and offensive points raised by Dadala
First, no-one questions that leadership is great (and Alice Jacobson is a civic leader in a sense that everyone understands, as mentioned above,) as long as it leads in a demonstrably positive and defensible direction. Candidate A’s statement does none of this, other than a commitment to follow the Council’s lead, wherever it points to – and we all know where that is! As a result we the citizens are reduced to the exalted rank of lemmings following the Council off the cliff. I am not willing to accept that, of course.
Second, Dadala steps off the path by making the argument a political one, instead of a city and community welfare and wellbeing one. I don’t see anything in the piece that demonstrates that “Minster is a handmaiden for the minority council people.” I also do not detect any “hand wringing,” only an urging that readers exercise their own rational judgment, based on the data made public by the city. So this comment is gratuitous and therefore content-free, other than reflecting an effort to make the issue as political as possible. I have no idea whether Minster might run for Council, but I might support such a candidacy if it stands against the current idiocracy.

In addition, I will add the following personal observations:
The avatar “Dadala” selected by the writer is clearly a thinly veiled, frankly sophomoric (surprised?), utterly shameful, and somewhat insulting reference to a previous distinguished member the Environmental Commission, who, as it happens, did not cater to the Council majority during his tenure. In the historical words of Nikita Krushtschev, this is clearly “nyet kulturnyi,” but perhaps we cannot expect much better from Dadala. (Dadala, if you don’t get it, as you seem prone to, go ahead and google it!) I will sign my entry “Aladad” for obvious effect….and if challenged, I will be glad to give you my real name if you give me yours and your email address too! (a matter of cojones! …right?).
By the way, dear reader, you might google “Dadala” and get something right at odds with our writer above! ☺ Nothing to do with his annoying “humor.”
I do detect a tendency in Dalada’s agitated reaction and way-off-the-mark response, to kowtow to his puppet-masters. Basically, they are afraid that a strong, knowledgeable, community-based environmental commission might make their life, let’s say, a bit less comfortable, and so they direct their puppet to hold the fort…. and of course he obliges…
So now I go political too! So be it, I did not start it.
This is very unfortunate, but perhaps not surprising, and should be remembered at the polls.

Thanks Aladad August 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Thank you for the comment Aladad. I would also like to state that I respect Alice’s years of work in the area of providing assistance to the area’s underprivileged. Obviously, this is a place where she has demonstrated great passion, but I have heard that her time on the Planning Commission was a very contentious one.

I thought commissions were established as a link between citizens and the Council, and she stated on her application that the Environmental “commission needs to work toward supporting the policies of the City Council.” It seems to me that her approach to commission work is to enforce top down orders as opposed to listening to the needs of the public, and serving the citizens by addressing their concerns and issues and then taking them forward to the council in a bottom up, or democratic system!

We need people on the Environmental Commission who have the same passion in the area of the environment that Alice has demonstrated in her passion for assisting area low income residents. I would also suggest that working with low income residents is vastly different than representing Encinitas residents as a whole, since it is obviously much more complicated to help and protect people with many different needs and goals. We need commissioners who are informed on the serious local problems associated with how to safely convert agricultural properties into new homes or the park in Cardiff. We need people who are aware of how to protect local residents and future homeowners as these projects go forward.
The real reason that Alice Jacobson was voted into this position is because the Council Majority does not want to address environmental issues since they want to make it as profitable as possible for their campaign contributors to develop their projects as quickly and cheaply as possible—regardless of the residual impact of the contamination that we all know is there! As one of those council majority contributors who has also worked with developers, Alice already knows what to do to help get these projects pushed through.

So it must be clear to all that Alice was not appointed to enhance the Environmental Commission, but to derail it from its mission to protect our city and its people.

Dadala 2 August 27, 2011 at 1:20 pm

"But I have heard that her time on the Planning Commission was a very contentious one."
This is an interesting perspective. So, unless one is fringe, a fanatic, a ‘true believer’about the environment, one should not be allowed to serve on an advisory commission?
Appointing someone who indeed does know how things are developed, is a legitimate reason to have Alice on the commission. Your position appears to only value complete abandonment of any criteria save that of environmentalism alone; but without someone who knows clearly the financial value of things involved in the process; what things cost to make and make safe; you are left with a very narrow prism with which to see and value different alternative actions and investments on behalf of the community that is being served.
Was Alice moved from one commission to another for political reasons? Only Alice knows, but to imply that Alice’s previous service to one discipline (Housing) should exclude her Socratic skills for evaluating other disciplines (Environmental Science)is unsound; in reality, your argument is just as ‘political’ as you would have us believe Alice’s appointment is.
What you are REALLY saying is: we want one of our own on that commission. And there is an easy way to do that; get elected, or get one of your’s elected to Encinitas City Council. Anything else is just whining.
Otherwise, how do you explain the Environmental Advisory committee leading their first presentation to the City Council with ‘advice’ to the effect that their ‘facilitator’ Jacy, should be made an employee, rather than an independent contractor?
What does Jacy’s employment contract have to do with the environment? Nothing.
Maybe that’s ‘Why?’Alice was appointed?
Again, maybe not.
Will Minster run for City Council in 2012? And, if not? Why not?

inthemeantime August 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Isn’t Councilman Jerome Stocks a strong supporter to follow the Environmental Commission’s advice to add Jacy as an employee?

Real Encinitas August 28, 2011 at 5:33 am

In Dadala 2’s support of Alice Jacobson, he makes an arguement that environmentalism and financial interests must be at odds with one another.

Lisa Shaffer has stated that these two notions need not be exclusive of one another when good environmental practices are in place. There are still those who would pay more to have sustainability and clean practices, and in the larger context of the community, we all win! Who better to take this position than Lisa, who is a recognised leader in business, ethics, and environmentalism!

Alice Jacobson, The Encinitas Taliban and their developer backers on the other hand, are driven by "the financial value of things." They know the value of a dollar all right. They divert as much money as possible into their own pockets and leave the contaminated soil, the traffic and parking problems, and health hazards for local residents and future homeowners to deal with.

They get the money, and we get the liability, and Encinitas gets ruined! I agree that Alice has good evaluation skills to maximize short term profits for developers, but we need someone who can serve the entire community long term.

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