‘Encinitas Silver Anniversary Blues’ simply the product of exaggerations

(Editor’s note: Encinitas Deputy Mayor Jerome Stocks asked for the opportunity to address some of the assertions made in Andrew Audet’s column, “We’ve got the Encinitas Silver Anniversary Blues,” which ran in the June 3 edition of The Coast News. We have printed Mr. Stocks’ comments as they were provided to us.)

Audet writes: “We got 44 acres, We got an old vacant lot we can’t use, We got these 44 acres, We got this $46 million dollar contaminated lot we can’t use, We ain’t got no park or no band for our 25th birthday, We got us the Encinitas Silver Anniversary Blues.” As Encinitas approaches its 25th birthday, residents aren’t listening to the city’s song, painting a rosy financial picture, and instead are singing The Encinitas Silver Anniversary Blues.

My response: The Encinitas Community Park property can and will be used, and will cost $21 million, not $46 million to purchase. The payments on the loan do not add to your property tax bill. They’re just a line item expense out of the city general fund. Mr. Audet is probably adding the interest and principle times the 30-year payment schedule to get to the misleading number. Furthermore, the city is going out for bids to construct Phase One of the park before the end of this month.

Audet writes: The city’s finances are judged by what can be seen. What residents see is a 44-acre vacant lot that we can’t use, bought in 2001 costing nearly $46 million dollars with total interest and fees. In 2008 it was reported the park would cost another $36 million to build and $500,000 to operate.

My response: Mr. Audet again repeats false claims regarding the park. Furthermore, the city’s budget should be based upon the audited results of our balanced annual budget, not the status of any one project.

Audet writes: That year, the city only had $9 million for construction and last week, the city said it has $172,000 to operate the park in late 2012. If finances are great, why hasn’t the park been built? If finances are good, why is the operating budget going backward? The park cleared all hurdles and could have been built two years ago. Mayor Bond, Deputy Mayor Stocks and the council promised us Phase One and have delivered Phase None.

My response: This statement singles out Bond and I in a ridiculous manner, and I can’t figure out any logic in his assumption regarding the operation of the park. The number was logically reduced because the park would not be operational for the entire fiscal year. Additionally, the city pays about the same $500,000 to operate the Community Center, so hanging that number out without reference is, again, misleading.

Audet writes: It looks like Bond, Stocks and the council spent all our money. The city finance department says they have money but the council’s actions say otherwise. Stocks is trying to sell the parks naming rights. Some are saying maybe Stocks can sell the naming rights to the new library to pay for the shoddy HVAC system and to the future Olivenhain fire station residents want because the city can’t deliver timely services. Councilwoman Teresa Barth said the skate park and dog park need sponsors, and Councilwoman Kristin Gaspar is talking with a group called “Patrons of Encinitas Parks.” If the city didn’t have the money to complete the park when they bought it, the residents should have been told.

My response: Again, this statement singles out Bond and I in a ridiculous manner and makes ludicrous assumptions regarding the naming rights. It’s the same policy the city has for our library and Community Center, as well as placing names on park benches. It’s not because the city is broke.

Audet writes: After spending $46 million with nothing to show for it, the council seems to be saying they need a sugar daddy and a financial bailout to fund the park. Some fear everything in Encinitas is for sale.

My response: This is another reference to the $46 million, which is misleading and incorrect. Was the price of your house the purchase price, or the addition of all your payments over the 30-year mortgage? Encinitas won’t have spent $46 million for another 20 years as we haven’t yet sent in 30 years worth of payments.

Audet writes: Stocks recently suggested auctioning off the “Surfing Madonna” to whoever raises the most money. Self-reliant taxpayers who want control of their own park are asking, “where’s our money, where’s our park, who’s our daddy?” What’s next, the Hall Property park bake sale?

My response: This singles me out for a unanimous City Council consensus decision.

Audet writes: The Silver Anniversary Celebration Committee presented a budget of $5,750. Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan said, “the Silver Anniversary only comes around once.” Residents are concerned there’s no money to pay a local band. She suggested the committee work to stay within budget and asked council for a contingency increase of $1,750, if needed, saying the 25th anniversary “needs to be as special as our history.”
In denying the $1,750, Bond said, “staying within the budget is appropriate.” Stocks said, “give us the bare essentials” and Gaspar asked, “why are we paying for a band?” saying the committee should seek volunteers.
Houlihan thought the city should support residents and pay local musicians. Gaspar thought local musicians should support government and play for free. Is it the role of government to serve the people, or should the people serve the government? All five council members supported working with volunteer groups. The penny pinching of the council is notable. A few years ago Stocks and the council increased pensions and raised city salaries.

My response: Houlihan and Bond voted the same way on pension increases, so why are they not credited? There was not a plan put forth by Houlihan or Barth (or, for that matter, by Mr. Audet) at the meeting or since to show why adding $1,750 to the committee recommended budget was the correct amount to add.

Audet writes: In 2008, lacking confidence in Stocks and former Mayor Dan Dalager to represent the city before the Coastal Commission, the council paid a lobbyist $25,000 to lobby for the very same park the city now can’t afford to build.

My response: This is another incorrect statement. Dan Dalager testified successfully before the Coastal Commission. I was there. He repeats the incorrect assertion regarding building the park.

Audet writes: More recently the council hired a new city manager for close to a quarter million dollars and gave an outgoing city manager an extra $8,300.

My response: This is an irrational connection between things not related. The new manager is to be paid $210,000 per year, not a quarter million.

Audet writes: For many, $1,750 for a local band seems modest, 30 minutes of the high priced lobbyist’s time or a day-and-half of the extra pay that Stocks, Bond and Gaspar approved for the outgoing manager. It seems, in Encinitas, there is taxpayer money for special interests, but little money for taxpayers.

My response: Again, there was not a plan put forth by Houlihan or Barth (or, for that matter by Mr. Audet) at the meeting or since to show why adding $1,750 to the committee recommended budget was the correct amount to add.
And I still don’t understand why Barth made the budget recommendation she did as chair of that committee, then voted against her own recommendation.
Thank you for this opportunity to respond. Weekly newspapers like The Coast News can play an important role in building a sense of community. And while a variety of opinions and perspectives can breed healthy debate, incorrect, extremely slanted, and/or misleading data can also harm healthy public discourse.


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  1. needed hazmat suits says:

    Mr. Stocks has conveniently forgotten the soil contamination on the Hall property. If he had stayed for the last item on the Council agenda on Wednesday, he would have learned the health effects of the toxic pesticides on neighbors. So if the toxic soil doesn’t make the children sick, the vehicle fumes will ruin their lungs.

  2. anonymous says:

    While some of the comments regarding Jerome Stocks below have drifted into the realm of personal, many people are angered by the ceaseless revisionist interpretation of situations, which most citizens never wanted, yet which we will be paying off for the rest of our lives–only so that he can hold office.

    A Few Examples:

    1. Pension and pay increases for city employees and himself, and an attempt to increase Phil Cotton’s pay by 11% in 2010 in order to spike Mr. Cotton’s pension before he left– the disapproval of which, Mr. Stocks has labeled and published in a similar type of forum as here as "niggardly" behavior.

    2. Forcing the position for the widening of I-5 beyond what is projected for our needs now or in the future based upon flawed and inaccurate information. On NPR today, the radio announcer discussed statistics furnished from SANDAG up through 2009, which demonstrated that contrary to Mr. Stock’s position that we needed this expansion to address the growing traffic jams, drivers time spent in traffic jams in 2009 was about ½ of what it had been about 10 years ago due in part to an increased use of public transportation. Is it that he is unable to interpret10 years of trend data from the organization that he leads, or is he a disingenuous?

    3. On the topic of SANDAG, both Stocks and Gaspar commented publically that Stocks was elected head of SANDAG in a unanimous vote, failing to mention that Stocks was the only person who applied. This is really embarrassing since he boasted about this as a position of distinction, when nobody else wanted the job—perhaps because everyone else who could have had it DID know how to interpret the trend information mentioned in #2.

    4. The purchase of the Hall Property with borrowed money when it was proven to be a toxic site through lawsuits. There are those who would say that the former owners should have been fined for the clean up or have paid someone else to take it off of their hands. How can anyone claim that this was a good decision when we still have not paid for it, and it was purchased at the height of the real estate market?

    5. His position to disregard Judge Casserly’s decision that public records pertaining road repairs must be turned over at once. That case that City Attorney Glenn Sabine lost has already cost us $80,000. Stocks and the majority voted to appeal this case and spend more of our money on a futile appeal. What is contained in there that is so threatening?

    6. His mockery of leaders in the local environmental movement such as environmental attorney and former Commission Elizabeth Taylor, for presenting a comprehensive environmental plan. Her reward was for Gaspar, and Stocks to label it as “lacking in focus.” Maybe they think of a 2 hour presentation as unfocused because they define a transfer of a job through default to the sole applicant as “a unanimous election.” On Wednesday, they filled the spot on the Environmental Commission with a woman who had abandoned a position on the Art Commission and said that she did not have any content expertise in the area of environmental science, instead of selecting from 2 different well-qualified applicants who have shown a record of commitment and passion for Environmental Science, and work professionally in the area.

    7. His position that the City could be sued for the well-loved gift of the surfing Madonna who bore the message, “Save the Ocean.” Obviously, these people who want to protect the environment, have access to actual accurate data instead of Mr. Stocks’ interpretations, and those who are concerned about how citizens will pay off these massive, unfunded, and mostly unwanted liabilities are the problem!

  3. Pleased reader says:

    It’s refreshing that Encinitas’ Deputy Mayor has the brass to call out Audet for his myopic, creepy attacks on common sense, Jerome Stocks, and James Bond.
    It’s sad the Coast News continues to allow the hack attack-monkey Audet to retain his platform for slanted attacks on honorable public servants.

  4. Just the Facts says:

    More revisionist history by Stocks:

    "And I still don’t understand why Barth made the budget recommendation she did as chair of that committee, then voted against her own recommendation."

    The staff developed the numbers not the subcommittee. Stocks jsut needed to take a swipe at Barth…typical bully boy.

  5. anonymous says:

    Anon 559,
    It sounds like its the Stocks’ supporters who are whining about the facts coming out.
    The reason this park is not open today is because the city hasn’t had the money to build it. It has been years since the city had no legal obstacles to construction. The city has been using faith based budgeting. See http://www.theleucadiablog.com/2010/09/faith-based-or-fantasy-based-budgeting.html
    The ultimate cost IS the ultimate cost, not bigger than the cost. No? Why argue that the ultimate cost is not relevant?
    On what date has the city honestly and openly determined what it can afford for a park? The city has been cooking the books for years. The road report shows that. The pension spin shows that. The years of the hall park construction cost cover up shows that.
    It would be easier to be glad about the purchase if they had not overpaid and had done their homework before buying it. Being glad they bought it should be balanced by how much the park will impact other important services like adequate fire protection or roads. How much is too much for a park, or does it matter?

  6. anonymous says:

    And…the cost of the street improvement necessary for public safety that the EIR site, are not mentioned at all. The plan is to build the park and deal with safe street after. That is not a responsible plan. Oh, and no costs mentioned for any landscape or buffer zones. And no cost or plans to deal with the toxic soil removal.
    Good stewardship? I think not.

  7. anonymous says:

    The next council election will be in November 2012. The terms of Stocks, Bond, and Houlihan are expiring. It seems Stocks will be the only candidate seeking re-election. Houlihan has health problems and Bond seems to be fading fast.
    Stocks, Bond, and Gaspar appointed Alice Jacobson to the Environmental Commission on Wednesday, and this was over more qualified applicants. This was a calculated move to position her for a council run in 2012. If Houlihan needs to resign, it is almost guaranteed that the majority will appoint Jacobson to finish her term. The fix is in.

  8. Bully or Baby? says:

    I notice that during meetings, Jerome Stocks is very complimentary of himself, yet he never misses an opportunity in his role on council to insult speakers or councilwomen, with whom he does not agree.

    Notice that in the response above, he is whining about his unfair treatment and how he is the target of anger in this town, when others like Bond, Houlihan and Barth are just as bad or are far worse. Does he really find this a constructive way to use this opportunity to communicate with the public and to improve his image?

    Instead of talking about how HE reads the Wall Street Journal, why doesn’t he demonstrate his understanding and reflect on topics therein, and write a responsee to an article that relates to a similar one in Encinitas? Instead, he uses space in the Coast News to talk about himself. Is this his idea of leadership?

    This is not a rebuttal to an argument; it is the ultimate in hubris!

  9. anonymous says:

    Audet didn’t write that Dalager did not lobby the CCC. Audet wrote that the city didn’t think Dalager could pull it off without hiring a consultant. Jerome says the statement is incorrect. It is not even misleading, but it is not complete.

  10. Watchdog5 says:

    The last time I looked the cost of my mortgage included the interest in addition to the principle. I would like to get the name of the bank Jerome uses to get a new deal. Last year the "power three" voted a demo contract on the Hall property and pushed some dirt around just before the election..got all the park supporters excited. "Oh, look we are starting on the park"…well we all have seen how that went. Now another election is approaching and "we are getting bids"….and we can push some contractors around until after the election and the property will sit again. I guess Jerome thinks we are all stupid…wait…maybe we are stupid….we keep electing him.

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