Dear members of the Encinitas City Council, City Manager, and City Attorney,
I have painstakingly reviewed the video minutes from your July 13th special meeting, and I have some questions for you.
(For the following, I will reference the video with time stamp markers. You can watch the video at http://encinitas.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=7&clip_id=1348.)
A few months ago, Councilmember Blakespear suggested a 15-member "citizens working group" for planning within our City's rail corridor. The City hired a consultant to select 15 people from the 40-plus applications that were received. The consultant did its part, and all applicants were notified of the final list several days prior to this Special Meeting by our Acting Director of Planning, Manjeet Ranu. Those of us at NoRailTrail were satisfied with this list as it seemed to be an even and fair distribution of citizens from our City.
Watching the video of the special meeting, it begins with City Staff presenting the Council's criteria for applicant selection and the already published list of the 15 selected Working Group members.
But, during the public comments, we quickly learned that Blakespear has worked with at least one other stakeholder group to create her own list of criteria and her own Working Group list.
Public speaker Kathleen Lees of Leucadia Town Council spills the beans at 06:55, "Leucadia Town Council reviewed all the applications for the working group and we wholeheartedly support the list Catherine has put together."
Question No. 1: Councilmember Blakespear, were any other groups asked to consult about this 'private' list? For the record, NoRailTrail has had a major impact in this issue and was never consulted.
Later in the meeting, Blakespear formally introduces her list (15:26), saying,"I've put together an alternate list based on different criteria."
After some back and forth with several council members, Councilmember Muir asks Blakespear if she consulted with any other groups about her list. At 24:25 Blakespear says "I was trying to avoid gossiping and lobbying. Last night I got an email from Kathleen Lees that said. 'We need to come up with our coordinated response.’ So I called her and I said I'm going to let you know who's on the list but it's private."
Question No. 2: Mayor Gaspar, you and Councilmember Muir seemed surprised by the introduction of the new criteria and list. Were you consulted about the Blakespear list? And, is our City now being run by making private back-room deals?
Question No. 3: Councilmembers Kranz and Shaffer, neither of you seemed surprised about the new list, in fact you both voted for it with little or no scrutiny. Did you know about this list prior to the meeting? Were you involved in the selection of the new list members?
Question No. 4: Councilmember Blakespear, the eight people who were picked by the consultant that you removed are listed below. Please explain why you believe each person needed to be removed.
Removed by Blakespear
1. Robert Stefanico — Encinitas Historical Society
2. Mary Anne Penton — Leucadia Town Council
3. Bob Gattinella — Encinitas Chamber of Commerce
4. David Painter — Cardiff Elementary Safe Routes to Schools
5. Barry Lindgren — San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy
6. Julie Parker — Cardiff School District
7. Jerome Stocks — Regional/Rail Planning
8. Richard Risner — Landscape Architect / No Rail Trail
The people Blakespear added to replace the above:
1. Chris Swanner — No Rail Trail
2. Jody Hubbard — Yes Rail Trail
3. Judy Berlfein — Yes Rail Trail/Bike Walk
4. William Morrison — Leucadia Town Council
5. Robert Hemphil — Engaged Citizen
6. Brian Grover — Traffic Commission/BIKE WALK
7. Greg Drakos — Planning Commission
8. Joy Lyndes — Environmental Commission
Note: The last three from Blakespear´s list were changed to ex-officio (non voting) at the end of the meeting by the rest of Council because they are City Commissioners. But their slots have not been replaced. Also, I have not listed the seven citizens who are in both lists.
Question No. 5: City Manager Brust, how much did the City pay for the consultant's time to create the Working Group List that was discarded by councilmembers Blakespear, Kranz, and Shaffer?
To conclude, I am deeply disappointed at the way this was handled, and I'm hoping my questions will be answered quickly.
Monday, July 18, 2016
Questions on Blakespear's Working Group Switcheroo
Cardiff's Julie Thunder in a letter in the Seaside Courier: