MAYOR ABED’S STORMWATERGATE

Mayor Abed paved his half acre site on Grand Avenue and then moves to comply with Stormwater regulations only AFTER State regulators found out about it!

Leaders lead by their actions as well as their words.

Mayor Abed regularly rails against water quality and environmental laws.  There have often been concerns about Mayor Abed’s lack of understanding and commitment to water quality and environmental laws — as well as his failure to comply with environmental water quality laws on his Grand Avenue paving project.   It has now been confirmed, through a series of emails, that his own project failed to comply with environmental laws and is currently subject to an on-going investigation.  This evidence of his clear disrespect and commitment to  our important water quality and environmental laws should be of concern to everyone in our region.  It also puts into question his emphasis that everyone must operate within the “Rule of Law.”

Here’s what happened:

At a City Council meeting on January 12, 2011, the Mayor shared his attitude about stormwater regulations and his misinformation that “mother Nature’ can deal with all the pollution that is discharged to our local waterways at a Council meeting.   As I stated back in July, the agenda included an item on Stormwater Mitigation. At the end of the discussion, a City Staff member explained to the Mayor and City Council …If there’s redevelopment of a site, say a parking lot, it’s the 5,000 square foot trigger, then they would have to address [stormwater issues]. (The Mayor’s project is 4x that size at 20,915 square feet.)

After she finished, Mayor Abed spoke: For me, I’ve seen this several times. It’s another mandate…the EPA has a history of over regulation.  He went on to say that this regulation would mean ” . . . more staff time, more monitoring, more compliance issues . . . the most cost effective way is mother nature, that will take care of it without regulation without paperwork…”  As we will see, he took that idea to heart when he paved his own half acre property on Grand Avenue.

In July of this year, the Mayor noted at a Council workshop how inexpensively he had paved one of his properties at 540 W. Grand.  Some people wondered if that $25,000 price tag had included the necessary environmental review so I decided to look into the matter.  The resulting blog post on July 17 —  Did Mayor Abed’s paving project adhere to City Stormwater Mitigation Requirements? — questioned why the Mayor’s project did not have to comply with the standards in the important stormwater permit.

Turns out, according to regulators, he did have to—but he didn’t.  And, now the city staff have convinced the regulators to take an easy approach with the Mayor and allow him to come into compliance voluntarily—only after the fact of the noncompliance was discovered and exposed.

Mayor Abed’s apparent lack of appreciation for the important role the stormwater pollution permit has in cleaning up our local waters is enough reason that he should not be the Mayor any longer.  That he, himself, does not comply, is the final straw.

Even if you don’t care about the environment, please consider that those who don’t play by the rules create unfair competition with those law-abiding businesses who take on the extra care—and cost—of doing what is required.  Something Mayor Abed calls “The Rule of Law.”

TIMELINE of Events

January 12, 2011 Escondido City Council meeting. Mayor Abed says that mother nature, not regulations, should take care of pollution but votes for regulations.

June 18, 2014 City Council meeting — Mayor Abed talks about his paving project in a public forum and how inexpensively he succeeded in paving the lot and asking for additional projects like this.

July 17, 2014  Escondido 2014 post: Did Mayor Abed’s paving project adhere to city stormwater mitigation requirements?

July 18- California Regional Water Quality Control Board emails the City of Escondido, forwarding a copy of the 2014 post to the City and asking for information on the project.

July 30– City staff responds by email, claiming the site did not need to comply as they had found aerial photos showing it was previously paved

August 1—Water Board email raises more issue about the site.  Showing that it was unpaved as of 2010, that the city’s SUSUMP requirements were in effect in March of 2008, that the regulations applied to a parking lot larger than 5,000 sf, and a request regarding why the Low Impact Development Best Management Practices would not apply here.

August 14- City staff email repeats claim that the site did not need to comply because they continue to maintain the property was previously paved, but that the Mayor had agreed to do a BMP plan any way–voluntarily.

August 26- City email reports the Mayor has hired a contractor to develop the plan

Sept 23-  Water Board investigation email refutes that this was a ‘simple resurfacing project of an already paved lot’, requests to interview the Mayor’s contractor, and informs the city of its staff recommendation to elevate this issue to a formal enforcement action and offers the city an opportunity to provide any additional information that would show the lot had been paved. (The address of 540 has been transposed to 450 in the email but it is the same site.)

September 25- City staff email asks the Water Board to pursue voluntary compliance instead of formal enforcement and admits that “the reality is that City staff has not been able to confirm from the information available whether or not the site was entirely paved beneath the dirt surface at the time the parking lot was re-surfaced.”  The Mayor is given the opportunity to “core” the parking lot to show there was asphalt paving underneath the new paving but the Mayor does not.  City staff asks for leniency saying this a property owner that “unknowingly” violated the requirements — in spite of the fact the Mayor had been at the meeting in January of 2011 that discussed just such a project as his parking lot.

Sept 26 -  Water Board email reports that staff has been authorized to draft an Investigative Order and suggests a meeting on the BMP plan when submitted.

October 9 — Councilman Masson’s firm, Masson and Associates, SCAN0003prepares a Water Quality Technical Report for Mayor Abed.  Its purpose is to “. . .describe how the project will minimize the short and long-term impacts of receiving water quality.”

October 16—Oversight meeting is held

October 21 — Water Board email tells the city the Compliance Oversight Group will hold off on the formal order while they monitor the projects of the parking lot compliance.  The email notes concerns and questions about four other properties in the city of Escondido regarding compliance with the MS4 permit.

Oct 28-  Water Board staff email states that this is an “ongoing investigation.”

I will wrap this up with the Mayor’s own words (2 1/2 minutes) on Stormwater regulations as he articulated them on January 12, 2011.  I can only assume that when it came to the water pollution from his project, he decided to just leave it to Mother Nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Paper” endorses Olga Diaz for Mayor of Escondido.

I am published in The Paper most weeks.  Editor Lyle Davis contacted me last year and asked if he could post one of my blogs most weeks and I agreed.  He picks the post, publishes it in his newspaper and pays me a nominal amount.  He and I have many political differences though we do agree on some issues.  And here’s one.  Today, exactly one week from the November 4th election, Lyle endorses Olga Diaz for Mayor of Escondido in the newest edition of The Paper with an article entitled It’s Time for a Change.  I encourage you to click on the link and read the whole endorsement; I have chosen a variety of quotes for this post.

Lyle Davis is conservative.  I would say very conservative.  So why does he choose Olga Diaz over Mayor Abed?  Here are some excerpts:

He [Mayor Abed] is given to embellishing many of his statements with something other than facts.

. . . Sam is also a control freak.

But to accomplish that [not using reserves to balance the budget] he . . . closed the East Valley Parkway Library, cut back on recreation facility hours, including swimming pools during the summer months and has had a major impact on popular programs such as Tiny Tots.

Lyle Davis states . . . I cannot in good conscience endorse Mayor Abed . . . Weighing the two candidates the choice becomes an easy one . . . We thank Mayor Abed for his years of service . . . however The Paper is proudly endorsing Deputy Mayor Olga Diaz. . .

I applaud Lyle Davis for stepping outside of his party predilection and supporting Olga Diaz for Mayor of Escondido.  That people from the left, right and center can come together behind one candidate shows just how able Olga is to bring disparate parts of the City together — and that’s who we need for Mayor of Escondido.

 

 

Measure G — The Charter City proposal — separating fact from fiction.

I will be voting yes on Measures E and H, but I will be voting against Measure G — The Charter City proposal. I believe it puts too much power into the hands of the City Council Majority (that’s three people) while offering no real gains for the residents.  I have written about this over the last year, but thought those who were new to 2014 might want to take a look.

I want to start by clearing up some confusion I have heard from people “on the street.” Charter cities and Charter schools have nothing to do with one another.  The word “charter” simply means they have been granted the power to operate under the terms of a written document. Aside from that, they are totally unrelated and Charter schools operate the same way no matter the status of the city in which they are located.

Myth #1  If it is not written in the Charter, then the City can’t do it.  Another observation is that the Charter is an empty document.  So let’s look at the words of the Charter itself:

Section 101. Powers

The City shall have all powers that a City can have under the Constitution and laws of  the State of California as fully and completely as though they were specifically enumerated in this Charter. The enumeration in this Charter of any particular power, duty or procedure shall not be held to be exclusive of, or any limitation or restriction upon, this general grant of power.

I think it is pretty clear, right?  This paragraph says  Just because it’s not written in the Charter doesn’t mean the City won’t take all the power it can — the “general grant of power” which covers everything considered a “municipal affair.”

Myth #2  If we had been a Charter city they wouldn’t have taken our Redevelopment money.  Now this is usually said in a vague way, like “the State steals our money” but then they refer to the tens of millions of dollars that were lost.  Well, the fact is EVERY city in California that had redevelopment funds — Charter or not — had those funds taken away. Being a Charter City would have made NO DIFFERENCE and that will hold true in the future it the State determines funds are a “statewide concern.”

Myth #3  The Charter cities will win their case against prevailing wage on appeal and then we’ll save 30% – 40% on our construction projects.  If this case is appealed — and we don’t even know that it will be — it will be in the courts for awhile and it is not likely to be overturned, so we might just want to hold off. In the meantime, we might want to wonder why appointed Councilman Masson said that as a Charter City we could save “30% – 40%” when those in favor of Charters never quote a number that high.  I also found it interesting to learn that when the City of Carlsbad was asked about savings as a Charter City not paying prevailing wage they said this:  “We have found savings to be hard to ascertain. Bid prices may be lower on the front end but there is some suspicion that the total project costs may impact initial savings (change orders, costly project delays, more labor by city employees, etc.”

Myth #4  The only reason the Charter failed in 2012 was because it included Districting. There is absolutely no information that backs up that claim.  The Charter failed by 5 points and no one has brought forth any concrete data on any specific reason why except that the voters did not want it for Escondido.

This Charter does not put more power into the hands of the residents, it puts more power into the hands of the Council Majority.  This Charter does not protect the taxpayers, it opens us up to more lawsuits, more legal fees and more money spent every time the Charter needs amending.  The proponents of the Charter have not shown me any significant benefits to becoming a Charter city and the risks are many. I will be saying NO to the Charter by voting, NO to Measure G. I hope you will do the same.

Does this year’s ballot have you intimidated? Don’t worry.

I’ve talked to people lately who are intimidated by the ballot.  They’re not quite sure what to do about some or all of the propositions, have no idea of who to vote for judges, superintendents and some other offices.  Now I know this will make some people cringe, but I want to let all those folks know that you don’t have to vote for everything.  If you want to just vote for Mayor of Escondido you can.  If you just want to vote for Mayor and Council member (if you’re in District 1 or 2 their names will be on the ballot) you can do that too. Now I certainly urge everyone to vote on Measures E, G, H (I’ll be voting yes on E and H, no on G) and to take the time to consider all the other candidates and propositions.  But if you can’t or won’t or don’t, vote what you can. (I got a good deal of information from the The California Voter Information website, you can reach their FAQ here.)

If you’re voting absentee — and want to see your vote in the first Election Night results — mail it back by Wednesday October 29th.  If you miss that date, get it in so it will arrive at the Registrar of Voters on election day.  If you miss that deadline too just bring the ballot to any polling place in San Diego County on the 4th and they’ll accept it.  Cal Vote notes that . . . thousands of Vote-by-Mail ballots don’t get counted because they arrive late, or the voter failed to sign the outside of the return envelope (which election officials use to verify the voter’s signature), or the signature on the envelope did not sufficiently compare to the voter’s signature on file with the county elections office. So make sure you do those things right and then make sure you put a stamp on the envelope — ballots don’t get delivered for free.

If you’re voting in person — find out where your polling place is ahead of time by going to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters site.  (If you are not familiar with the location and may be short on time election day, please go out over the weekend and find it.)  On Election Day, November 4. the polls will be open from 7am to 8pm — try to get to the polls earlier in the day.  The last thing you want is to get stuck at work or have a problem so that you miss voting altogether.  (And did you know that . . . California law requires that employers give their employees time off to vote in statewide elections if employees do not have time to vote outside of their normal work schedule but voters must ask for it at least two working days in advance. The law provides for a maximum of two hours of paid leave for the purposes of voting. So If you work some crazy schedule, let your employer know this week that you will need time off to vote — and that it is state law.)

If you are nervous about voting, you can get help.  Here’s what it says on the California League of Women Voters website.

ASSISTANCE: You may bring one or two people to help you vote or you may ask a poll worker for assistance. No one may tell you who to vote for. You may ask for help using the voting machine, reading the ballot, and marking the ballot.

MISTAKES: If you make a mistake on your ballot you may ask for another one.

PROVISIONAL BALLOT: If the poll worker will not let you vote and you believe that you are properly registered to vote and want to vote at the polling place where you are, demand that you be given a provisional ballot so that you can vote. 

PRIVACY: No one has the right to see how you voted or to ask you how you voted. You may put your marked ballot into the locked box yourself.

I hope that all registered voters in Escondido cast their ballots.  The last Mayoral election in 2010, a third of the registered voters did not vote.  Let’s do better this time.  Make sure your family and friends either get their absentee ballots in on time or that they show up on election day.  And for those who think a few votes don’t matter, in 2010 Lori Pfeiler was defeated by Ed Gallo by just 43 votes.  That means if just one more person at each polling place had taken the time to come in and vote for Lori Pfeiler, she would have been elected to the Council in 2010 — changing the dynamics of the body for at least four year.  So does your vote count?  Hell yes.

 

 

 

Do you recognize this dog?

Please help us find the owners of this dog….small, white, very clean, friendly, loves to ride in car, female, found on Vista Rocosa in Lomas Serenas last night and almost was hit.  Kind friends keeping her for now but an interim foster parent would be helpful if possible.

Please contact Melinda at 858-945-2803 or email mbritt11@cox.net

PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD  This little girl wants to come home

a dog

Past Mayoral endorsements from the Union Tribune.

Doug Manchester, a developer known for both his wealth and conservative politics, purchased the Union Tribune in 2011 and has been a champion of conservative politicians — recently endorsing Mayor Abed.  I was curious to see what the paper’s Mayoral endorsements had looked like in previous years and tracked down the last two which you can read in full if you click on the highlighted text.  Here’s the parts I found refreshingly level-headed.

In 2006, the UT endorsed Mayor Lori Pfeiler.  Here’s part of what they had to say:

The mayor’s time hasn’t all been rosy. She often flies in the face of a council majority [Abed, Gallo & Waldron], that would rather make headlines than progress — calling for common sense while others divide the community.
     Pfeiler was sensible about keeping Palomar Medical Center in Escondido and allowing it to build a new hospital at the Escondido Research and Technology Center — keeping that valuable community asset and the jobs it creates in the city.
    She was also a voice of reason when it came to the city’s recently passed ban on renting to illegal immigrants. While presiding over contentious meetings, Pfeiler kept her cool and explained that the city can’t afford to fill in for the federal government.

In 2010, the UT endorsed Daniels, Pfeiler and Barron in Escondido.  Councilman Daniels was running against Councilman Abed, Tom D’Agosta and Joe Bologna.  Mayor Pfeiler left office and then decided to run for City Council; she lost to Ed Gallo by 43 votes.

Daniels is a centrist and we believe that is what Escondido needs – someone who will represent all of the residents, and with a pragmatic approach. . .
     The city’s demographic shift continues and with it the need for sensitivity and understanding on the part of officeholders and staff. . .
     But Escondido does not need a return to the days of apartment rental bans, overnight parking permits and riot police at City Council meetings, the era when Waldron, Gallo and Abed controlled the council. . .