May 14, 2009

Time to Stock Up on Popcorn

As a proud progressive (and a liberal) Powegian, I take umbrage at Mike Wasilevich's letter to the editor in this week's Chieftain:

Never has a news story been more striking to my concern for bad city government than April 30 announcement that Don Higginson is now the mayor of Poway.

God save this little republic called Poway.

Yes, he was impressive when he first started on his political adventure, but he has turned into a progressive (liberal) and that is not good for this city.

We claim to be in the “City in the Country,” but there are factions that want to be just like San Diego. Mr. Higginson would love to accommodate the hidden government.

Three cheers for Merrilee Boyack and her vote (against making Higginson mayor.) She is what I call a real Powegian

Mike Wasilevich 
Powa
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Geez, Mike, if you are gonna be that careless with your name calling, why not just go with "pinko commie"? I'm not entirely positive what you mean by "the hidden government", but for the record, progressives are the ones in favor of open, transparent government. And also for the record, it was a handful of local progressive Poway citizens that harangued, poked and prodded  a recalcitrant city council for the last 2 decades until the council finally agreed to televise the council meetings.  Before that, there was no verbatim, archived record of what happened at those meetings.

And if what you mean by "the hidden government", is that a lot of the city's business goes on behind closed doors, then I agree with you, Mike. It wasn't always that way in Poway. I remember Bob Emery telling developers to go "talk to the neighbors first " and then come back to the council seeking approval of their projects.  

Ha! That sure changed. When the city formed a redevelopment agency, the city became the biggest developer in town. And they don't seek no stinkin' neighborhood approval of their plans. The wheeling and dealing happens in private. Did you know that the Poway councilmembers have declined to approve an ethics ordinance requiring that they  keep a public record of who they are meeting with or what they are discussing? Usually, it isn't until a project goes before the full council for a final approval, that the public gets a look-see or a say. But, by then, it is too late. By then, the council members and the staff have already got their project shaped the way they want it, exclusive agreements are drawn up, ready to be signed, and the city manager has "briefed" all the councilmembers. Believe me, they already know where the votes are leaning, before any member of the public weighs in.

So, Mike, I am still baffled by your claim that Don is a "liberal" and that Merrilee is a "real Powegian". There are great differences between Merrilee and Don with respect to style, temperament, and religious fervor, but aren't their voting records nearly identical? Perhaps you could be a little more specific about what irks you so. And if, by some chance, you have gotten a peak behind the curtain of our "hidden government", well, I'm all ears. Just give me a few minutes to get the popcorn.




Update: (h/t to NewsFlash) for the following chart (click on chart to zoom in):

2 comments:

NEWS_FLASH said...

Mike Wasilevich has quite a black-and-white analysis of the recent Mayoral appointment in Poway. According to Mr. Wasilevich, “bad government” will fall upon Poway now that Higginson was appointed over his personal choice of damsel in shining armor, Merrilee Boyack. He also seems to think that Boyack as Mayor would eliminate Poway’s “hidden government”. Hmmm……

Assuming that he may be referring to transparency in local government, it’s time Mr. Wasilevich catches on to one of Poway's more "twisted" approaches to transparency avoidance ---- for which Boyack and Higginson are equally responsible. In order to avoid actual live telecasting and webcasting, Poway City Council (minus new Council Member Cunningham) approved the televising of its city council meetings and set aside plenty of funding for it ------ but then simply avoided actually doing televised meetings for as loooooooooong as possible.

Note that Poway City Council approved televising of meetings on September 20, 2005 (with great press hoopla) ------ but never began actually recording and broadcasting their meetings until March 6, 2007 --- a delay of almost 18 months. You'd think videotaping a meeting was rocket science!!!! This 18-month delay is especially questionable considering Poway's City Hall and Council Chambers are filled with all the latest hi-tech bells-and-whistles-type gizmos imaginable in their $25million building.

Those of us who keep a watchful eye on Poway City Council were wondering just how long it would take before "editing" and "censoring" (a la Nixon's deleted 18-minute tape) would occur with Poway's recorded meeting broadcasts. Well.... it didn't take long. The city's contentious April 10, 2007 meeting video-recording was "lost" and the cable channel time slots scheduled to show the April 10th meeting ended up rebroadcasting videos from previous meetings. Even Poway residents who went to the City Clerk to purchase a recording of Poway's April 10, 2007 meeting were told it was "lost". (The missing video-recording was subsequently mysteriously "found".) Interestingly, derogatory Council Member comments to public speakers at council meetings --- and other questionable statements made by Council Members --- are sometimes mysteriously "muffled" or seem to have odd audio overlaps with ambient noises, etc. which make them difficult to hear on the recorded video.

It is important to note that of all nine North San Diego County cities, the City of Poway offers the least transparency in viewing city council meetings. Poway offers neither LIVE broadcast via cable TV nor LIVE video web-streaming of its City Council meetings. See the attached chart which was researched and complied by the SOUTH POWAY RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION. Along with many other Powegians, this Poway group has been pushing for live meeting broadcasts via cable and/or live web-streaming of meetings for years.

Kinda makes one wonder...... what is it that the Poway City Council does not want the general public to see???

Hey, Mr. Wasilevich ---- You can kid yourself into believing that Boyack is soooooooo much better than Higginson all you want. But the fact is that they are both equally responsible for the lack of transparency in Poway in regards to meeting broadcasts. We haven’t heard either of them pushing live broadcasts forward. Don’t you think it’s time that Poway came out of the Dark Ages and joined the new millennium? ---- So that we can all keep an eye on that “bad government” stuff? The live meeting broadcast issue is, of course, in addition to many other Poway issues for which the Boyack and Higginson voting records are almost identical.

jeffswpblog said...

You write, "Usually, it isn't until a project goes before the full council for a final approval, that the public gets a look-see or a say. ... the council members and the staff have already got their project shaped the way they want it, exclusive agreements are drawn up, ready to be signed, and the city manager has "briefed" all the councilmembers. ...they already know where the votes are leaning, before any member of the public weighs in."I'm glad you wrote this. After attending or watching a few council meetings, this became apparent to me. It is obvious to the point of being embarrassing. It was obvious during the recent water workshops. I watched the consultant give the council his presentation and recommendations for water rates. The presentation was full of holes and begged for questions and clarification, but the council sat quiet. It sure looked like the council and staff were on-board with things way ahead of the meeting.

I don't like feeling like I'm being railroaded, but I get that feeling a lot lately.

I tell my friends -- The good thing about Poway is that you are close to the local government and can see it in action. But -- The bad thing about Poway is that you are close to the local government and can see it in action.