Secretive City Council buries report

Secrets destroy credibility. If Dr. Phil’s comment that people are only as sick as their secrets is true, then the collective being that is the Encinitas City Council is on life support — they are keeping secrets.
I believe the public has a right to see the reports their tax dollars pay for. Don’t you? In Encinitas, Mayor James Bond, Deputy Mayor Jerome Stocks and Councilwomen Kristin Gaspar and Maggie Houlihan believe government has the right to keep reports a secret. What do you believe?
In 2009, the city paid $96,000 for Nichols Consulting to produce a report on roads. In March 2010, the consultant delivered a completed report to the city. When residents asked to see a copy, the city denied the public access to it, labeling the report as a “draft.”
In the June 7, 2011 San Diego Union-Tribune watchdog report “Encinitas ordered to release road report draft,” Deputy Mayor Stocks was quoted as saying of the unreleased draft, “When you are constantly being questioned about why you are doing this it makes it a lot harder to move forward especially since the end result is not a dictate. The end result is a tool…so that’s why organizations, or at least government organizations, are very reticent to hand out their draft reports because they are a work in progress.”
If Nichols Consulting provided the “finished” report in 2010, why wasn’t it released to the public? If it was still considered a “draft,” what changes were made, and who was making them?
City Manager Phil Cotton was quoted in the Sept. 7, 2010 North County Times article, “Advocate sues over repair report,” as saying of releasing the report draft: “If we start handing out drafts, it really confuses the public.” What is confusing for the public is why the council won’t let citizens see a report their tax dollars paid for?
How can the public ask questions about how tax money is spent if they can’t read the report?
What is it Stocks thinks the public shouldn’t question? Stocks may not like being questioned by the public, but it is the public’s city hall, and the public has a right to read and question reports we pay for.
Schoolteachers make their students show their work to protect against cheating. We should demand the council do the same — show their work.
Taxpayers sued to see the report. Superior Court Justice Timothy Casserly then ruled May 24 that the city must release the report.
Rather than hold an open meeting, the council majority scheduled a closed meeting for 3 p.m. June 3, with only a 24-hour notice to vote on whether to file for appeal against the judge’s ruling.
Despite the short notice, outraged residents came to city hall. Mayor Bond noted the size of the crowd, saying that this was the most people ever to attend a closed meeting.
“The public deserves to hear your deliberations,” resident Tony Kranz said. Councilwoman Teresa Bath supported an open meeting. Gaspar told the public she was “not ready tonight” to have a discussion on access to public records. What did she think she was there for? The council then met behind closed doors, returning with a vote of 4-1 in favor of filing for an appeal.
I think the public has a right to hear, in open session, how their tax dollars are being spent. Bond, Stocks, Gaspar and Houlihan think they should hide those discussions. What do you think?
Founding Father John Adams warned that “‘liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.” The council majority is hiding that knowledge. They’d rather you not know. You might have too many questions. You might get confused. It’s their secret. We pay the price.

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Filed Under: Life, Liberty and Leadership

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  1. Not a Valley Girl says:

    I seriously wish that these council members, Glenn Sabine and Phil Cotton would stop being so condescending towards Enicinitas citizens. Their excuse that these drafts will ‘confuse’ residents is almost as deplorable as their overpayment of themselves.

    The confusing thing that we need to consider is how, in a town with such wonderful citizens, do we end up with this level of leadership that is focused on self benefit instead of service to the citizens who they represent.

  2. Rational resident says:

    The final report was released to the public long ago… Why isn’t this mentioned in this (yet another)misleading column by this guy???

    The lawsuit mentioned was over release of a "draft" even though the final document was available to the public. One would NEVER know this by reading this tripe.

    And hey, why can’t the public see the "drafts" of this column, or any other story in this paper?

    Hey Coast News, get real and get a fact checker, or get relegated to comic book status. Your credibility is seriously in question due to Audet’s ravings.

  3. Worth $80.000? says:

    So Rational’s point proves that they should have released the "draft." Why would they choose to fight this instead of just letting Kevin read the "draft" report? Not only that, but they are going to appeal it and cost us even more money when they lose.

    I understand that Kevin is fighting for democratic principles, accountability and a citizen’s right to know information that he has helped to pay for.

    Why are the council and the outgoing City Manager fighting so hard, and why are they prepared to spend money on this issue? This report is from a department that Phil Cotton used to manage in his old job. Did he misappropriate funds and is he trying to prevent a claw back on his pension, in the event that he was as controversial as a department manager as he has been as a City Mangager?

    It also appears that Glenn Sabine has convinced the council that they need to spend money that could be used for public good, to go instead to his law firm and him.

  4. city hall lockdown says:

    Yes, the actions of Deputy Mayor Stocks and City Manager Cotton and Mayor Bond and Councilwomen Gaspar and Houlihan are especially telling of their lack of respect for transparency in government. Sad, sad. Encinitas deserves better.

  5. Above the Law says:

    So much for Gaspar and Stocks claiming that they have to take down the Madonna since they do not want to use a selective application of following "the law."

    Why are they fighting so hard to hold back this information that they have already paid so much money to protect and which a judge has already ordered them to reveal?

    They are frightened of offending the religious sensibilities of a few people, yet they see nothing offensive about denying the entire citizen base the right to public information and to date, making us pay close to 6 figures so that we are not ‘cofused,’ and so that they can’let staff do their job.’ Aren’t you glad we have these Republican fiscal conservatives against big goverment looking our for our interests??

  6. Chubrock says:

    To be clear – our tax dollars (96k) went to a consultant. We were looking for their opinion and for insight, what we finally got access to was the citys "distillation" of that report. It is no secret who has their facts straight and who has the best interest of the taxpayers! Thanks for the coast news for running pieces that expose the waste of our local government.

  7. city hall lockdown says:

    The Council can do irreparable harm to the city if a majority vote yes on tomorrow’s agenda item #14 to change the purchasing and contracts procedures.

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