Andrew Audet writing at Encinitas Beacon:
At the [March 12 City Council] meeting Mr. Vina invited the tax-raising specialist Lew Edwards to address the council on her process and services. During council discussion Ms. Edwards said most cities spend $100,000 dollars. When the council asked for a more detailed estimate of costs and scope of service, neither she nor Vina provided one.Excellent!
A Freedom of Information request revealed that just that morning Mr. Vina had received from Ms. Edwards a detailed email with the heading "Cost Estimates" that defined two proposals and had an estimate of $168,000 dollars, 68% more than the figure shared with the public. So why did Mr. Vina withhold the information?
Did Mr. Vina conspire with the contractor to mislead the council? In the email defining the cost estimate of $168,000 Ms. Lew recommended to Mr. Vina that they tell the council most cities spend up to $100,000. Why not just tell the council the proposed estimate?
That Ms. Lew was directing the city manager what to say is troubling. The city manager should represent taxpayers not contractors. One day after the emails were released Mr. Vina sent an email to all council members directing them to no longer discuss the tax hike by email. It seems there are things Mr. Vina would prefer the public not know.
On March 25 residents made a presentation to the council showing the emails that the city manager withheld financial information. The council took no action. In July the council gave Mr. Vina a job review in a closed session out of the view of the public. Before the meeting resident after resident asked the council to hold Mr. Vina accountable for his secrecy. The council took no action.
UPDATE: e-mails between Vina and Lew below the jump. I think we can safely assume the $77,500 option was never going to happen, because it ends at the time of ballot placement in July, and without Ms. Lew's services in persuading the public to vote yes, the whole effort would be worthless. And Ms. Lew was clear in the e-mail that $100,000 was the minimum that other cities spent, not that $100,000 was a valid estimate as the council and the public were led to believe.
UPDATE 2: The Internet never forgets! Thanks Anon 1:29! Here's what Barth wrote the weekend after the meeting (emphasis added, but red in original):
Fact Check: What we discussed was NOT to place a tax on the ballot but rather to understand the process and possible cost. The $100,000 was the estimated cost for research, polling, public outreach and the ballot measure.But who will Fact Check the Fact Checkers? I don't see anything on Lew's menu that would cost only $20,000. It's $25,000 just to sign her before she does any work! Who gave Barth that idea?
The purpose of the polling would be to get the public's input: Do they support a tax and if so for what purpose. It would cost far less than $100,000 and more likely around $20,000. Unlike the previous 'feel good' surveys the questions would be much more specific.
If polling showed there was strong support for the idea the city council would then have to vote to place a measure on the ballot. It would require a super majority of at least 4 votes. If the council agreed, then the public would vote on the measure. However, I doubt that would happen since Council members Gaspar & Muir have already said they would vote NO regardless of the public's opinion.
While you may not support the idea, a number of people I have spoken to say they would if it was for specific projects such as street improvements, more pedestrian RR crossing & quiet zones, open space and especially to purchase Pacific View. Others also told me they see it as a way to move these projects forward at a faster pace with everyone, residents and visitors who shop in Encinitas, paying for the improvements and it does NOT create any long term debt.
It is a topic worth discussing not just saying NO.