Letter: Self-aggrandizing was Shameful not Public Participation

Lynn O’Neil, Dana Point

I agree with Harold Kaufman’s sentiments expressed in his letter to the editor about the City Council’s recent reorganization (“Council Reorganization Proceedings were Shameful on All Accounts,” Dana Point Times, Dec. 27-Jan. 2, Vol. 5, Issue 52). He should feel ashamed.

Ashamed of himself for criticizing residents, like me, for speaking up in the public forum about matters of public interest that involve City Council action. Ashamed for insulting members of our City Council, who have worked long and hard to improve our city with many demonstrable achievements.

Mr. Kaufman’s concern is that six people stood up in a public meeting of their city’s elected body and commented that “Lisa Bartlett and Scott Schoeffel have done a wonderful job and should be elected mayor and mayor pro tem, respectively.” I feel that he demeaned me and the other speakers, as well as council members Bartlett and Schoeffel, by dismissing honest civic participation as “orchestrated” and implying that public comment on city leadership is somehow unwelcome, unwarranted and unsavory.

Apparently Mr. Kaufman was not ashamed of the embarrassing spectacle created by other council members during the council reorganization discussion. These council members publicly argued amongst themselves about whose efforts over the past 12 months were responsible for reviving the expensive Town Center infrastructure project. But he should have been ashamed.

Perhaps Mr. Kaufman prefers to see infighting among council members and does not see any problem with them clamoring for public recognition and extolling their own perceived virtues from the dais.

I, for one, believe that behavior was disgraceful and has no place in our city government.

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One Response to “Letter: Self-aggrandizing was Shameful not Public Participation”

  1. Michael Frost
    January 5, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Hi Lynn, Betty and Harold,

    After reading the last three DP Times letters, I was obviously interested how community members could walk away with such different opinions on the re-organization of the council. I had the opportunity to log on to danapoint.org and view the actual December 3rd Council Meeting via the video link. (For other community members, the direct link is http://danapoint.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=314)

    For the record, I like to think of myself as an impartial community member when it comes to politics, friends with Ross Teasley all the way to Carlos Olvera. Actually voted for all the current council members, understanding each brings something unique to the table, and each prioritizes the issues within the community differently. (Which is fine by me)

    Let me first say, Harold should have more clearly defined that his issue is not with community members addressing the council. I have met Harold a couple times through community events and can guarantee that his opinion isn’t one of unwelcoming public comment. Obviously, the public comments sections within each meeting is the conduit for neighbors to speak to our council. As a member of the community input is welcome, and recognizing council members for good work is important. Overall, lack of clarification on this was a mistake from Harold. (In my opinion)

    Lynn and Betty, if you objectively re-read Harold’s initial letter you can tell it was certainly more directed at the council members who (“initiated”, “planned”, “orchestrated”) the public comments for a specific item. Which again is certainly acceptable and well within their rights, and within your rights to participate. Although, even you would have to admit it’s pretty unique for the mayor and mayor pro-tem discussion to involve public comments in support of specific members. Why? Well, if each of the council members had their constituents comment, the meeting would last quite a long time and we would end up with another mini election. It is more common for this to be an internal council dialogue and discussion among whom they believe should lead the council. But who knows, perhaps this will instigate a change in the council re-organization process and in the future each council member will ask for a group of their strongest supporters to engage the council.

    I did want to also address the follow-up discussion regarding the Towncenter “aka Lantern District”. Four or five of the speakers (not Mrs. O’neil) brought up specific accomplishments and attributed them directly to Lisa and Scott. Almost all of those were right on, including environmental progress, arts and culture progress, quite zone setup and an overall pretty damn good job. With that said, attributing the recent tangible progress on Towncenter and commenting that Lisa and Scott were responsible for that progress was just inaccurate. (Again, Lynn and Betty- that was not from each of you)

    I personally have never seen Scott, Lisa or Steven be dismissive of Towncenter, purposefully delay or purposefully direct resources elsewhere; however, they have not also lead the progress to get it started. (Which is fine, I tend to think it’s not one of their main priorities- which is OK, not everyone can be everything!)

    Nevertheless, I can’t blame Carlos and Bill for following up on the public speakers who asserted quite the opposite. One year ago, the Towncenter was dead in the water, with a lack of ownership or prioritization at the council level. Staff had never been directed to perform due diligence around financing options, nobody was reaching out to the larger private development firms who own vacant lots, nobody was reaching out to the existing business owners. Generally, the lack of background due diligence work (which did not require any funding) was not being completed. Both Carlos and Bill have gotten this specific project moving, and while you may disagree with them on other issues in the community, its’ pretty unfair and inaccurate not to attribute that accomplishment to both of them.

    Michael Frost-
    (Lantern Village Association)

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