Sunday, February 27, 2011

Security Alert!

Quick! Somebody tell NCTD there are utility boxes on D Street that are not surrounded by chain link and barbed wire.

Prison chic

The front entrance to the Pacific Station condos.

Don't drop the soap!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Roll back the pensions!

Sacramento Bee:
California's state and local governments should roll back pensions for existing employees, dump guaranteed retirement payouts and put more of the burden for pension benefits on workers, a bipartisan watchdog commission said Thursday.

Any attempt to reduce pensions for current workers would prompt a legal battle royal. Still, the 12-member Little Hoover Commission concluded that government pension funds are in such dire financial straits that they'll never right themselves without cutting into benefits for those working now. The proposal wouldn't affect benefits drawn by current retirees.

While a couple of the council members gave lip service to pension reform during the campaign, none of them are doing anything about it now.

It's an easy problem for lazy politicians to ignore. While pension costs are currently eating up a larger share of the city budget every year, the real disaster won't hit the city for years -- well after our current council members have retired or moved on to better things.
Since reducing pensions for the next generation of employees won't cut costs in the near term, the commission recommended the Legislature pass a measure that lets state and local governments freeze the pensions of current workers and move them into a less costly hybrid system.

For example, a 20-year government employee planning to retire in 10 years at age 63 with 2.5 percent of salary for each year of service would keep the money built up under that formula.

But once the pension is frozen, the employee would move into a three-legged program that keeps a much smaller guaranteed pension, a professionally managed 401(k)-style savings account and Social Security benefits.

Ha! 2.5% at 63! How quaint! Encinitas gives its employees 2.7% at 55!

This pension freeze is exactly the right way to go. Current employees are not entitled to continue earning outrageous pensions for the entire rest of their career just because they happened to get hired before city leaders came to their senses.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stocks pitched hybrid puff piece to Logan Jenkins

Really? Jerome Stocks has nothing better to do than push self-aggrandizing stories to the local media? And he's got no accomplishments more boastworthy than driving a hybrid?

In today's U-T, Logan Jenkins admits that his silly "Stocks and Gaspar drive hybrids" story was spoon-fed to him by Jerome Stocks, who presumably wants to divert attention from real Encinitas news including Dan Dalager's guilty plea and Stocks' own approval of pension-spiking unearned pay for Phil Cotton.

Stocks may also want to divert attention from the growing state and national news on outrageous public employee union pensions, as he voted in 2005 to boost city worker pensions by 35%, meaning city employees will be able to retire at 55 and collect decades of high-five-figure or low-six-figure pay.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nancy Lee Ellis held for trial March 15

San Diego Reader:

On February 15, a judge ordered 64-year-old Nancy Lee Ellis held for trial on five different arson charges, four of which are felonies. Ellis is pleading not guilty.

Testimony at the preliminary hearing suggested that Ellis was agitated because the man she lived with, Robert Duell, was out of town at a film festival, and Ellis was denied an opportunity to accompany him. It was alleged that Nancy Lee Ellis drove her car to an apartment duplex on Regal Road in Encinitas, where a woman named Marianne LaPiedra lived. Marianne LaPiedra said she has been a “close friend” of Robert Duell since 1973.

Robert L. Duell appears to be a dentist with addresses in Laguna Hills and in Cardiff overlooking the lagoon. And he's been letting Nancy rot in jail for seven months because he's too cheap to come up with the $7,500 bail bond fee? Honey, he ain't worth burning a car over!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Smaller, cheaper, less desirable units selling best at Pacific Station

Interactive map here.

The unit numbers in red are the ones that have sold. The smaller units facing the railroad and over the loading dock are selling rather well. These units are generally 1 BR (600+ sqft) in the $300,000s and 2BR (900+ sqft) in the $400,000s. The units that are larger, quieter, or have better views are in the $600,000s and $800,000s and are not really moving.

My theory here is that small money is dumb. There are a lot of people who can qualify for a $300,000 or $400,000 loan and are desperate to buy something, anything, for whatever reason. Let's run the numbers.

Assume 1-BR at $350,000 with 20% down. Your loan is $280,000 at 4.75%. That will run you $1460 a month in mortgage alone. Your property taxes are $350 a month. HOA dues of $400 - $450, so assume $400 for the smallest units. That gets you to $2210 per month for a small one bedroom on the railroad tracks! You can rent closer to the beach for $1265.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

One dead after fire at 253 E. Jason Street, Leucadia, home of Keith E. Manigold

As of Sunday afternoon, no fire damage was visible on the exterior of the house, which was largely obscured from the street by hedges. One window appeared to have been boarded up for some time.

The home belonged to 86-year-old Keith Manigold, but officials have yet to name the deceased. Manigold was long-time Leucadia resident and a regular letter writer to the North County Times. I like the cut of his jib. He railed against George W. Bush not only for the usual anti-war, anti-Republican reasons, but also for an issue near and dear to my heart: the un-Constitutional McCain-Feingold law:
And in 2003, Bush violated the U.S. Constitution and killed freedom of speech and freedom of press during U.S. elections when Bush signed Arizona Sen. John McCain's BCRA [Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act] into law.

I'm glad Manigold lived long enough to see a bare 5-4 Constitutionalist majority on the Supreme Court strike a blow for freedom by declaring McCain-Feingold un-Constitutional.

And here's what he had to say about our council back in 2004. Looks like a great call with the benefit of hindsight.

Dump the incumbents in Encinitas

Encinitas voters! Dump council members James Bond, Jerome Stocks, Maggie Houlihan on Nov 2. They stifled public discourse on the Hall Park property, and sidestepped environmental studies on Hall ground poisons and spent millions on don't-work plans on rainwater runoff in Leucadia.

They spent money on frivolous trips to Japan and Washington, D.C. They, and the city manager, don't protect the city against environmental noise pollution caused by noisy parties, live bands and several restaurants that keep residents awake seven nights a week.

And Stocks sent out a notice that "Republicans support Republicans." That is a dirty political trick and disgraces a nonpartisan election. Dump J.B., J.S., M.H., and flip a coin on the rest.



Wife Frances V. Manigold died last year.

More at

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Regal Road arsonist Nancy Lee Ellis gets day in court

The sad story of the Regal Road arson began back in July, when 64-year-old Nancy Lee Ellis, apparently intoxicated and reportedly the odd woman out in a love triangle, tried to burn her rival's car. There were a few problems with this plan, the big two being that 1) the target car was in a flammable carport attached to a flammable duplex where people were sleeping, and 2) the getaway car was parked a little too close to the burning car.

Fortunately, no one was hurt as a dog woke neighbors who woke the residents in time to get out.

According to sheriff's records, Ellis has been in Las Colinas jail ever since, unable to come up with $75,000 bond, and has a court appearance Monday morning at 8:50 in Vista.

Six and a half months seems like a long time for a 64-year-old woman to spend in jail awaiting trial. Nobody would put up $7,500 for her bondsman's 10% fee? Despite the fact that her actions could have killed someone, I hope she gets probation and counseling.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Stocks, Bond, Gaspar approve Cotton's unearned paycheck

... which just happens to conveniently spike his pension for life.

Andrew Audet in the Coast News:
Denied a raise in 2010, Cotton resigned and began receiving a reported monthly pension of $6,454. Cotton had the good luck to be rehired as interim city manager by his friends at City Hall at a monthly rate of $15,000. His ability to “double dip” on taxpayers appears to have paid him $21,454 monthly or $257,448 annually. It seems the liberal spending of Stocks and Bonds made sure the position got a raise after all.

Opponents of big government spending were dumbfounded when Stocks, Gaspar and Bond placed special interests before public interests and approved Cotton the unearned “extra paycheck” he received in 2009 that “spiked” his taxpayer funded pension. Unlike his quarter million dollar deal which was voted on in public Cotton’s ‘extra paycheck’ was purposely kept from public debate and never voted on. The spin from Stocks, Gaspar and Bond is that 2009 had an “extra pay period” that supposedly happens once a decade. In liberally doling out our tax money the three want us to believe there were magically 54 weeks in 2009.

In justifying Cotton the unearned paycheck, the city attorney is quoted “if he worked the two weeks he should be paid the two weeks.” What two weeks? The two weeks never existed. Bond said, “He should be paid what he earned.” What Cotton worked was 52 weeks in one year. What Cotton had was a contract stipulating the “total annual base” salary he agreed to. What Stocks, Gaspar and Bond have given Cotton is an unearned extra paycheck exceeding his agreed to deal allowing him to spike his lifetime pension at taxpayer expense.

This whole "retire and come back as a highly paid temp" was just a ruse to get the raise and accompanying pension spike he wanted in the first place.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a city manager and city council members who were more concerned about managing the city well than lining their pockets and spiking their pensions?

Scott Bottolfson gets 5 years in prison

An Encinitas man who defrauded 30 people - mostly friends and family members - out of nearly $7 million through a 10-year investment scam was sentenced Friday to five years in federal prison.

Scott Bottolfson, 56, pleaded guilty last Nov. 30 to a single count of wire fraud. He apologized to his victims in a hearing today before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller.

On the same day, IndyMac's Michael Perry gets a slap-on-the-wrist civil charge for a much, much bigger fraud.

There are two kinds of justice: justice for the rich and politically connected, and justice for the little people.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Encinitas' $100,000 Club: Don Heiser, Talmadge Tufts, Darlene Hill, and Robert Romero

Cal Pension Reform has a database of retired government workers pulling in pensions of $100,000 or more. Surprisingly, Encinitas already has four of these winners of a life of luxury and leisure:
HEISER, DONALD$12,021.51$144,258.12ENCINITAS
HILL, DARLENE$8,433.21$101,198.52ENCINITAS
ROMERO, ROBERT$8,425.96$101,111.52ENCINITAS
TUFTS, TALMADGE$9,605.67$115,268.04ENCINITAS

I say "surprisingly," because Encinitas as a relatively young city has a relatively young work force. And the Stocks-Houlihan giant pension increase only passed a few years ago. We are going to face a pension tsunami of city employees cashing out at 55 and living lives of luxury on our dime for decades.

I would think Phil Cotton would be over $100,000 too, but he may hot have retired in time to get into this database.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dan Dalager pleads guilty

Single charge on the appliance deal. Misdemeanor, slap on the wrist, $1000 fine and probation.

No action apparently on the developer loan or the bank referral fees. Presumably DA Bonnie Dumanis is trying to bury those more serious issues as a favor to Dalager.

What kind of precedent does this set for the local Ruling Class? You might as well be as corrupt as you want, because even if you get caught you'll just get a slap on the wrist.

Bonnie Dumanis' office can be reached at 619-531-4040 or

Bilbray votes to extend PATRIOT Act

Obama wants it, Republicans want it... the PATRIOT Act is bipartisanship at its finest.

The PATRIOT Act was up for a 9-month extension yesterday. It required 290 votes to pass because it was under special "suspension" rules.

The bill got a huge majority, but failed to meet the 290 vote hurdle largely because of Democrats voting "No." But the Democrats aren't voting "No" on principle. They're voting "No" because they want to extend the PATRIOT Act for even longer, so they won't have to have an inconvenient PATRIOT Act vote before the next election.

Roll call is here.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Big Political Money in Little Encinitas

Kristin Gaspar raised $41,000 for a job that ostensibly is about potholes and parks.

That's far more than any candidate in Encinitas history. Barth came in second at $25,000. And that doesn't even include outside "independent" expenditures like the hit piece from the allegedly conservative Lincoln Club.

More on who the donors are in the comments here.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Taco Bell bites the dust

It's the Circle of Life. Haggo's begins, Taco Bell ends.

I suppose Taco Bell was doomed the moment Chipotle came in. I don't know how it outlived the Baja Fresh. And how does that Smell Crotcho by the freeway stay open?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Drywaller bandit John L. Oskam's local roots

The drywaller bandit has been identified as John Leendert Oskam, a 1989 graduate of Pasadena's John Muir High School. He appears to be the son of Leendert and Carol Oskam of Pasadena. Records show Oskam as the owner of the residence at 510 Avenue 64 in Pasadena, which he appears to have inherited/bought from his mother's living trust. He tried to sell the house, unsuccessfully, last year.

The drywaller bandit's bank hits were all in Pasadena, Oceanside, and Encinitas. The Pasadena heists were within 2 miles of his home. In addition to his Pasadena roots, Oskam and his parents are listed with residences on Mandarin Drive and Los Arbolitos in Oceanside. The Oceanside bank hits were within 1.5 to 3 miles of the Mandarin house. So Oskam appears to hit banks close to home, possibly so he can escape on foot or bicycle. That way nobody could spot a license plate on a getaway car.

Which leaves Encinitas. John Oskam has no apparent residential history near the El Camino corridor where he hit so many banks. But there is a Jacobus Oskam listed on Calle Violetas, near the intersection of Encinitas Boulevard and El Camino Real. Jacobus Oskam is the right age to be Leendert's brother, or John's uncle. My bet is that John Oskam was running to Uncle Jacobus' house when he was arrested yesterday morning.

UPDATE: Jim the Realtor has loan info on the two houses. He had plenty of equity!
A home seller who would rather rob banks, than lower his price!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

"Upscale" Walmart coming to Encinitas?

Have you seen this woman? Coming soon to a store near you!

The Internets are abuzz with rumors of Walmart coming into the old Home Depot Expo location in the El Camino Pension Revenue Corridor.

Look what Walmart (they've since dropped the hyphen) tried to do in Carlsbad in 2007:

Wal-Mart has purchased a 17-acre site at College Boulevard and El Camino Real in Carlsbad and hopes to build its most upscale store in the nation there, according to a company spokesman.
"It will be an absolute paradigm shift," said Wal-Mart spokesman Aaron Rios in an interview Thursday evening.

Wal-Mart, which has long sought entry into Carlsbad, recognizes that if it succeeds in building a store in the affluent, carefully planned community, it could not be a typical "big box" store, Rios said.

"We believe the community of Carlsbad would say, 'That's not for us,' " he said.


Most stores, for instance, sell wine costing between $7 and $25, while the proposed store would have bottles selling for as much as $100, he said. It would also offer a pricier line of clothing, such as the newly introduced George ME by designer Mark Eisner.

Well, the Carlsbad store doesn't seem to have worked out, probably because of political resistance. So they seem to have rolled down El Camino to anything-goes Encinitas.

There aren't a lot of People of Walmart in the geographic area this one would serve. We're surrounded by Walmarts all along the 78, and to the south there's one in Kearny Mesa. So this one would really only serve Del Mar to south Carlsbad. It may be the wealthiest Walmart territory in the country. If they're coming, I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see them try out a new upscale concept.

What kind of wine do you get for $100 at Walmart?

UPDATE: Yup, it's coming. No word yet on whether it will be "upscale."