Thursday, June 30, 2011

Put the Surfing Madonna at the library!

... an excellent suggestion from Logan Jenkins.

The only obstacle is council egos. Jerome Stocks and Jim Bond are the reason the Madonna was removed from its intended location at the gateway to Moonlight Beach. Jerome Stocks' and Jim Bond's egos are the reason the library may be denied this beautiful gift.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Whole Foods block party

Good people and good eats. Come on down!

North County Times tries to create racial discord over Surfing Madonna

After the Surfing Madonna saga is all over except for the decision on the final location, suddenly the North County Times is very intent on stirring up racial controversy. Today's Jim Trageser column:

Brown power was nowhere to be found in North County during two of the bigger stories of the last month.

In Encinitas, the art snobs were tripping over themselves to embrace the so-called "Surfing Madonna."

Completely absent from the entire conversation about the illegally placed mosaic was the viewpoint of Mexican-American Catholics.

The Virgin of Guadalupe, on which the "Surfing Madonna" was based, is perhaps the most prevalent symbol of Latin American Catholicism and Mexican national identity. Since we had a white artist using a Latino icon to make a political statement on the U.S. side of the border, questions of artistic legitimacy and cultural appropriation should have been part of any discussion over the "Surfing Madonna."

That they were not is a mark of how little weight the Latino point of view receives, even in supposedly "progressive" circles, like Encinitas art galleries.

Nevermind that Latinos were well-represented among the thousands of people coming to admire the Madonna, or that no Latino groups have protested against the Madonna, or that the Catholic church in Encinitas, which presumably counts a large number of Latinos in its membership, issued a statement of support for the mosaic.

But it's not just today's column. June 17th had another hit piece that went out of its way to find Latinos who didn't like the Madonna:

An informal survey of local Catholics and Latinos found varying opinions on the nationally talked-about mural that appeared mysteriously on a railroad bridge support along Encinitas Boulevard in late April. And if not all Catholics and/or Latinos interviewed were offended by the depiction of an icon they see as a representation of their faith and Mexican heritage on a piece of political art (the mural contains the phrase "Save the Ocean"), the opinions offered were a far cry from the near-universal acclaim that has greeted the mural in artistic circles.

The reporter finds an Escondido priest who gives a lukewarm statement against using a religious image for an environmental message, and an employee at El Callejon who agreed with removing the mosaic. I can only imagine the leading questions he used. Why not interview some of the Latino Catholics who regularly stopped by the Surfing Madonna?

The content of the NC Times' articles is odd enough. But why now? If there were a legitimate issue over Latino Catholics being offended, shouldn't this have been news in April and May as the Madonna was in the local and national news almost daily?

Qui bene? The two politicians with egg on their faces over the Madonna are Jerome Stocks and Jim Bond, who have a vivid imagination when coming up with reasons the mosaic must be removed. They claimed everything from structural damage to the bridge, to a wave of copycat public artists, and, yes, that Catholics might be offended. The North County Times editorial board is known to be sympathetic to Stocks and the council majority. How better to help him clean up his PR mess than legitimize his ridiculous position with a few made-up articles?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Oceanside sissies ruin midnight baseball tradition

Our northern neighbors aren't representing the region very well.

Baseball fans in Alaska were fuming after a traditional midnight game, held every year without lights during the twilight hours of the summer solstice, was postponed for the first time because a visiting California team complained it was too dark.

The girly men of the Oceanside Waves went on to lose when the game resumed Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Surfing Madonna to come down

It was too good to last, as long as Jerome Stocks and James Bond have their say.

The Surfing Madonna mosaic will be removed from the train bridge on Encinitas Boulevard “as soon as possible,” and the artist will pay for it, and more.

That’s the crux of a settlement announced Tuesday between Surfing Madonna artist Mark Patterson and the city of Encinitas over what to do with the unauthorized but beloved stained-glass mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe on a surfboard.

The haters won, but at least Encinitas will always have the Surfing Madonna in a new location. Mark Patterson had been resigned to moving the Madonna recently, in light of the traffic risk of admirers stepping into the street. And I don't think the money will hurt too badly for the former Microsoft employee and longtime Leucadia homeowner. I get the feeling he's OK with this. And I look forward to his next project.

Let's honor the Surfing Madonna by tossing the haters out of office in November 2012.

Happy 50th Jeanne Reeves!

Olympic medalist and coach of the Encinitas Wave volleyball team.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Have housing prices hit bottom in Encinitas?

The Wall Street Journal has an article today titled, "How to Tell if Your Housing Market has Hit Bottom."

They profile a couple of solid markets, Cambridge, MA and Denton, TX, and find the three key factors are employment, rents, and foreclosures. How does Encinitas stack up?


Encinitas' unemployment rate is 7.3%, much better than the California rate of around 12%, and also better than the national rate of around 9%. Encinitas has good and diverse employment in the area, from UCSD to Qualcomm and biotechs, and business centers from Carlsbad to UTC and San Diego. Employment is a big positive for Encinitas' property values.


There's an old rule of thumb in real estate: buy when the prices are 10x annual rents, and sell when the prices are 20x annual rents. Sit down before you do the math on your house. Chances are your house value is at least 20x, if not pushing 30x, the annual rent. You could argue that coastal properties will always have a premium price-to-rent, but we're still pushing the boundaries. Price-to-rent is a big negative for Encinitas' property values.


If you're in the market to "steal one from the bank" as Jim the Realtor says, good luck to you. There are very few foreclosures in Encinitas (perhaps 1% of houses with mortgages went through foreclosure last year, judging from some mortgage and census data Jim helped me with), and the foreclosures that do come on the market generally attract bidding wars and sell for near retail price. The lack of foreclosures and the eagerness of investors and first-time buyers to snap them up are a big positive for Encinitas' property values.

On the other hand

The jumbo market seems to be drying up, and there's a lot of $1 million-plus inventory in Encinitas Ranch and Olivenhain. I wouldn't be surprised to see the McMansions dropping out of the low $1 millions cause squishdown on older houses in the sub-$1 million range.

But on the bright side

We've got prime placement for high energy prices. Our coastal climate minimizes heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer. We can walk or bike around town for shopping and restaurants. And if the price of gas gets really ugly, we're on a great public transit line in the Coaster.

Most importantly, this is a great place to live. Your house isn't an investment. It's a home. Whether you rent or own, stop worrying about property values, and start enjoying where you live!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Broke-ass Encinitas doesn't have money to build Hall Park

We can afford gold-plated pensions for city workers at 55, and we can afford to spend tens of thousands in legal fees for Glenn Sabine to fight the Public Records Act, but we can't afford to build a park for the kids.

A new city staff report declares that the city so far has set aside $9.8 million to turn the old Hall nursery property into a city park, but that's "well short" of the project's previously estimated price tag of $18 million.

And by "set aside," they don't mean what you or I mean by "set aside," i.e. "saved." They mean "borrowed." Do you say you've "set aside" some money for retirement if you take a cash advance on your credit card?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Michael T. Pines sues Carlsbad, Simi Valley, Newport Beach, San Diego County, and the State Bar


Read the filing here.
The financial institutions and their co-conspirator loan servicers, real estate investors, realestatebrokers, and attorneys(Collectively “Banks”) have turned law enforcement into criminals. Law enforcement knowingly engages in a common practice of violating the law.

People are being wrongfully evicted from their homes in the millions. Instead or protectingcitizens from this criminal conduct, law enforcement aids and abets it and even arrests the victimsinsteadof the criminals.

Plaintiff is a public figure and reputed to be one of theoriginal experts in foreclosure andrelated law and one of four attorneys that originated legal and public movements against the“Banks”.

He has been arrested on numerous occasionsfor perfectly legal activities and never prosecuted.

Plantiff was also the subject of proceedings by the State Bar which is corruptand conspiredwith the Banks.

Good luck with that.

Note: not to be confused with San Diego and La Jolla personal injury attorney Michael (no middle name) Pines.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Does Jerome Stocks still have political ambitions?

It's widely believed that Jerome Stocks has always aspired to higher office. It's a standard path to power: get on a podunk city council, schmooze with the county party establishment, and then cruise to a life of power and perks as representative of a safe district in Sacramento.

But as Stocks stumbled in recent years, that possibility seemed less and less likely. Always opposed by the greenie-preservationists of Leucadia and Cardiff for his pro-developer policies, he made new enemies among conservatives with his shocking vote for a 35% pension increase for city employees who can now retire very comfortably at 55 while the people paying the bills are forced to work into their 70s. That is certainly not going to play well in a Republican district in an era when pensions breaking municipal budgets across the state and nation are making headlines every day.

I thought Stocks' political career had peaked here, until I saw this. The government unions are planning to achieve total supremacy over California government by electing pro-union Republicans in a few Republican districts. Already having all of the Democratic districts on their side, they would only need to plant union stooges in two Republican seats in each house to have the supermajority required to raise taxes to fund whatever union benefits they want. And who better to be one of those union stooges than someone who is already on record as a union stooge for a 35% pension increase? The unions can easily dump some of their considerable war chest into Stocks' campaign in the new open primaries. Against a Democrat and one or more true fiscal conservative Republicans, Stocks would easily come in the top two with heavy advertising support, qualifying him for the general election where the Republican always wins.

Unfortunately for Stocks, much of the Republican establishment, including Stocks allies Jim Bond and Kristen Gaspar, have already endorsed Sherry Hodges for the Assembly seat.

All of which is interesting prelude to today's Logan Jenkins column. Jenkins is known to be close to Stocks, and offers up this story of an unnamed politician:

I was talking with a North County pol, a Republican councilman contemplating an Assembly run, who was grousing that the San Diego [mayor's] race is going to suck up all the mother’s milk, leaving candidates like him begging for baby sips.

It’s not just money that’s going to be vacuumed up, he grumbled. Printer’s (and online) ink. Air time. Oxygen.

Sound like anyone you know?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Nancy Lee Ellis gets mercy

We've been following the sad tale of Nancy Lee Ellis, the woman who allegedly torched the car of a love rival in a late night drunken rage.

A few drinks can do a lot of damage. The fire spread to the carport, and then to the attached duplex where people were sleeping. Only by the grace of the Surfing Madonna (still a glimmer in Mark Patterson's eye) was nobody killed.

So arson of an inhabited dwelling is obviously a pretty serious crime. Nancy faced a serious risk of spending the rest of her life in prison.

But the Surfing Madonna smiled on Nancy once again. We're happy to report that she's reached a plea agreement where she'll get a two year sentence. She's already done one year in jail. With good time credits and California's prison overcrowding, she should be out in less than a year.

Dandelion Police come to Cardiff

Feel homesick for the homogeneity and conformity of California's planned communities like Irvine? Get bummed out by Leucadia's "funkiness?" Wish you had an HOA full of petty tyrants to tell your neighbors how to landscape and what color to paint their houses? Never fear: Encinitas introduces the Dandelion Police.

When the city passed its new fire clearance rules in 2007, many community members thought the new rules were overreaching and could be used by the city to force people to clean up bad landscaping. Locals recall Jerome Stocks saying, "We aren't creating the Dandelion Police."

Fast forward to 2011 in Cardiff:

Unsightly? Sure. Bad for neighbors' property values? Undoubtedly. But a fire hazard? Ha!

If you have a neighbor whose landscaping is not up to your standards, call Fire Marshal Robert Scott at (760) 331-7907.

Thanks to Anonymous for the story tip and photos. If you've got an Encinitas undercover story, please send tips to encinitasundercover -at- gmail -dot- com.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Leucadian Mark Patterson admits he's the Surfing Madonna artist

I knew it had to be a Leucadian!

Mark Patterson's attorney contacted the city after "Ark Patterson" was found written at the top of the mosaic by the city's hired art removal experts.

Thank you, Mark, for this wonderful gift to the city. Let's work for amnesty for both Mark and Mary.

Fox 5 interview with Mark Patterson here. Seems like a really good, genuine guy.

Quick! Label it a "draft!"

City's expert report will recommend keeping the Surfing Madonna.

Meanwhile, Jerome Stocks still thinks it's all about him.

“That just furthers my argument that a big part of this particular piece of guerrilla art was to put the establishment or the administration in a difficult place,” Encinitas Councilman Jerome Stocks said Tuesday.

Stocks, a former cartoonist [and current cartoon], has said that while he likes the piece, a religious symbol on public property invites lawsuits and creates a legal defense for graffiti.

At time of this post, Mr. Stocks' alleged cartoon artwork could not be located. However, the cartoon character "Eric Cartman" on South Park is reportedly based on Mr. Stocks.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The more you rub it, the bigger it gets

When I was a young miscreant, I had a fondness for a series of books called Truly Tasteless Jokes. These books were politically incorrect to the extreme, full of vulgarity and racial humor that would have you sent off to sensitivity training today.

One of the jokes I recall was this:

A third grade teacher came in to the room one day and found a drawing of a penis on the blackboard. She suspiciously looked at her students but didn't say anything. Instead, she wiped it away with an eraser. The next day, she came in and saw another drawing of an even bigger penis on the board. She frowned and erased it again. The third day, she came in and saw another penis drawn on the board. This time, it was huge, covering up almost half of the space.

She couldn't take it anymore so she screamed out to the room full of noisy children, "Why do you kids like drawing this penis on the board? And why is it getting bigger each day?"

Little Johnny then yelled back to her, "The more you rub it, the bigger it gets."

Our Madonna-hating council majority would be wise to ponder this parable. They could have passed (and still should pass) an exemption for the widely beloved art. The more they try to rub it, the bigger it gets. The public, locals and tourists and now local and national media, love it. The latest news is that the mosaic may be difficult, if not impossible, to remove. This after the city's own hired experts said, "Leave it alone!"

Were you never young, you cranky old bastards? Give in to art for once in your lives.

City's hired experts: Leave the Madonna where it is!


The Los Angeles-based art conservation agency, Sculpture Conservation Studio, on Tuesday began testing ways to safely remove the mosaic. Its workers told reporters standing nearby that they saw a name under the colorful glass but didn't know if it belonged to the artist.

The agency concluded in an earlier report that there is no better spot for the Surfing Madonna than under the overpass, protected from the sun and rain. The artwork is stuck to the concrete wall with a strong epoxy glue.

"Its lifespan here may be longer than if put elsewhere," the agency said in its report to the city.


Bond says the city does not want to be a "Gestapo" [...]

No one called you "Gestapo." You're the Encinitas Taliban. Get it right.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Maggie Houlihan joins the Dark Side

I knew Kristen Gaspar was a high risk to support the Jerome Stocks "Respect my authoritah!" regime, but Maggie Houlihan???

How can she possibly defend wasting more public money to appeal an obvious Public Records Act case over an old road report that can't possibly be anything worse than politically embarrassing? This isn't national security here.

Read all about it at Patch.

Tony Kranz calls for open hearing

From the inbox:

Dear City Council,

I'm writing to ask you to reconsider the need to go into Closed Session to discuss the appeal of the decision of Superior Court Judge Timothy Casserly in the Kevin Cummins vs. City of Encinitas case. The public deserves to hear your deliberations about whether to incur additional costs in an effort to deny the public access to public records.

If the City Attorney insists that something about the possible appeal must be discussed outside of public scrutiny, at least vote to open up afterwards and inform the public as to what your vote was and your rationale.

Here's a link that speaks to my request:

Thank you for your consideration.


Tony Kranz

Really, the public should be involved in whether public money should be used to keep the public in the dark about how public money is spent?

Respect my authoritah!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

City to waste more public money on futile legal appeal that public doesn't have a right to see public documents


First, what could possibly be in an old, draft report on road maintenance that the city is so terrified of the public seeing? Did they find Jimmy Hoffa's body under 101?

Second, did they not read Judge Timothy Casserly's ruling? He shredded their ridiculous argument that city workers should be shielded from public questions about public money. The Public Records Act is there for a reason!

While Glenn Sabine has apparently taken it upon himself to file an appeal, the council is meeting in a closed session tomorrow.

I hope Kristin Gaspar will honor her campaign promises about open government, break ranks with Jerome Stocks who seems to be on some Nixonian paranoid control trip, and put an end to this silliness.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jerome Stocks, there's a Mr. Kieffer on the line for you

The SEIU is seeking union-friendly politicians to run as "Republicans" in Republican districts and raise taxes against the will of the voters to support government worker pensions.

A short-term objective is to help persuade four Republicans to vote for tax extensions this year; a long-term goal is to elect moderate, pro-government Republicans in newly drawn districts in 2012 and beyond under the new top-two primary system, in which two members of the same party could face each other in a general election.

A draft of newly drawn legislative seats is expected to be published June 10.

Some are skeptical about the SEIU's ability to pressure incumbents to vote in favor of taxes this year.

"The threat from the SEIU is far less likely to result in Republicans going up on taxes this year than to result in putting Republicans in the Legislature next year who may vote for taxes," said Jon Fleischman, the state's most influential conservative blogger.

"But all Republicans should be concerned because I think it could be a very effective long-term strategy. They may find Republican candidates willing to raise taxes -- a former fireman or police officer who supports public pensions, and that would be unfortunate. To have a hostile force influence which Republicans get elected is not desirable but is a predictable outcome of Proposition 14."

Mark Muir is creaming his jeans right now.