New councilman sworn in amidst protest

ENCINITAS — The swearing in of the city’s first appointed City Council member was not without controversy. Approximately 100 protestors gathered before the meeting Nov. 9 to listen to speakers give a voice to the opposition to the appointment of former Fire Chief Mark Muir who will fill the remaining year of the late Maggie Houlihan’s term on the council. He retired as fire chief Nov. 8.A crowd of Muir’s supporters filled the council chambers during the protest, wearing stickers that read “Thank you Mark.”
Outside, Ian Thompson told the crowd that the council majority of Mayor James Bond, Deputy Mayor Jerome Stocks and Councilwoman Kristin Gaspar “hand-picked” Muir to “add strength to their numbers.”
He said that Houlihan’s vision of a balanced council could not be achieved with Muir as her replacement. Muir’s appointment effectively dismisses the constituency who voted for Houlihan, Thompson said.
Bruce Ehlers, Houlihan’s longtime campaign manager highlighted Muir’s political involvement in local campaigns, including support for Stocks and Bond. He said Muir’s level of activity was far greater than that of a regular citizen and was sometimes done during working hours as a city employee.
Ehlers referred to the mantra of “conflict of interest, cronyism and potentially corruption.” He said Muir’s activities were a violation of the city’s code of ethics that states in part, “City employees should refrain from participating in the election of city council members.”
Signs were dispersed throughout he crowd that read “City Hall Crony” with a picture of the rear end of a skunk, as well as “Dump Stocks.” Deputy Mayor Stocks made his way through the crowd as he listened to some of the comments before the swearing in.
“This is the beginning of the campaign season,” said a Muir supporter who asked that his name be withheld. “It’s going to get ugly, but Mark has a lot of support and a lot of friends.”
In fact, Muir’s wife, Maureen “Mo” Muir, a trustee on the Encinitas Union school board, took their son and another child out of the council chambers in the middle of the public speaker session.
At least one speaker publicly voiced his support for Muir’s appointment. Greg Barth, no relation to Councilwoman Teresa Barth, said that almost every recent conversation he had with neighbors regarding the appointment “came to the same conclusion that Mark Muir was the right person for the job. His intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the city government put him above other qualified candidates.”
Dawn Redman told the council that she voted for Houlihan. “I want my vote to count.” “This is not the city of Encinitas’ finest moment,” she said. “Please represent the constituency that voted for Maggie, please don’t let me down.”
Mary Oren said the appointment of Muir went against Houlihan’s last wish, referring to a video played in the council chambers after her death in which Houlihan endorsed candidate Lisa Shaffer. “The council denied Maggie her final wish, but I just don’t think it was too much to ask for you guys to respect that,” she said. “The person in her place could not be more different and that concerns me.”
Anne Omsted, one of the city’s former Mayors and Council members, welcomed Muir to the city’s “exclusive club.”
“After hearing all this tonight I have to say I am so glad you’re here and I’m not,” she said.
“I feel like I’ve kind of lost faith in the city council to make ethical and responsible decisions,” said Bobby Virk, a local business owner. “The best thing would have been to appoint the person with the second highest votes (in the last election). That’s the citizens of Encinitas speaking, not three people.”
Virk was among several new faces to the council chambers. “It’s a wake up call for the election next fall for people to be more informed about the city council and what they’re doing now,” he said.


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  1. Save Pacific View says:

    Bobby is right! An informed citizenry is crucial in today’s community.

  2. alfred s says:

    Stocks is rotten. Why people vote for this guy who pays employees millions of dollars in retirement benifits is beyond me. I say dump Stocks in 2012.

  3. NoTinCanMeat says:

    People should read he L.A. Times for awhile to see just how deep corruption starts – it is "small" now – but Encinitas could be the next Bell – just you wait and see. A "sleepy" small town with a disproportionately powerful ruling class – it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

  4. Bob Woodward says:

    You right, Bobby. We need transparency, like when a reporter covers a story and claims to be unbiased but then she and her boss put her own child on the front page holding a ‘dumpstocks’ sticker and don’t identify him as the son of the City Hall reporter for Encinitas that swears she is unbiased every week.
    That is the kind of transparency and honesty that the Coast News stands for right? And the publisher and entire staff know the young man, this wasn’t a mistake, they just thought they could get away with. Tucker belongs on the editorial page, not news and this proves it again.

  5. Wehtahnah Tucker says:

    @Bob Woodward:
    This reporter’s son is not the child pictured on the front page of the Coast News. If you attended as many City Council meetings as he does, you might be better able to recognize him. Attacking me personally and getting it so terribly wrong isn’t helping make your case that I am biased. It does show you aren’t paying very close attention. Any other evidence? If so, I suggest you write a letter to the editor and put your real name on it.

  6. Muir is gross says:

    Look at 3rd photo, everyone in is gross, Andreen, Muir, Bond, pasty corrupt people off to the spend our tax money on ruining the city along the way…

  7. A. Janssen says:

    Folks in Enc. will have to work hard, starting yesterday, to reverse the corruption, arrogance and money that continues to buy city council seats. The totalitarian reign of the current super-majority will continue the rape of Enc. with great satisfaction—-as councilwoman Barth is further marginalized and dis-counted. Don’t be surprised if the coming Nov. elections bring yet another power-hungry, developer-bought member to the already dys-functional city council!!

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