Image of late council member on banners is causing stir

ENCINITAS — The Arts Alive banner exhibit, which started with the intentions as a tribute to the late city council member Maggie Houlihan, who passed away from cancer in September, and was one of the town’s biggest supporters of local artists, has become mired in controversy.
Danny Salzhandler, coordinator of the project, said DEMA got pressure from elected officials not to put the banners up. A call to the City Manager’s office was not returned.
“We had a banner with Maggie’s picture at the street fair (in November),” he said. “Apparently some people saw it and thought it was political,” he said. “But everybody knew about it, it was even in the paper,” Salzhandler said.
Salzhandler said more than 100 banners with a sketch of Houlihan on the backside of the banner were given out to participating artists weeks ago. “A situation that started with the best of intentions and now it’s turned into a real bad scene,” he added.
DEMA sent a letter to the artists last week asking them to return the banners. DEMA has also pulled the permit from the city to hang banners along Coast Highway from La Costa Ave. to Cardiff’s restaurant row.
“A lot of the artists have already started them. Sponsors have already paid for a four month program. Getting new banners ordered in time won’t be possible,” Salzhandler said.
The Arts Alive banner exhibit is a joint effort by the 101 Artists Colony, DEMA, Cardiff 101 Mainstreet and Leucadia Mainstreet. In its thirteenth year, Salzhandler said the participating artists are an exceptionally talented group.
Salzhandler said he is disheartened and surprised by the recent events surrounding the banners.
When asked if it was appropriate to put the image of a politician on city owned property Salzhandler replied, “She’s certainly not a political figure anymore.”
Laurie Michaels and her husband, Harry Couglar were among Houlihan’s many friends who raised money through t-shirt sales to fund the banners with the councilwoman’s image. “We are stunned,” Michaels said. “We did this as a tribute.”
Michaels said placing the sketch of Houlihan’s image on the banners makes perfect sense. “This (Arts Alive banner program) was one of Maggie’s favorite community arts programs,” she said. “We’re all perplexed.”
“We voted as a board to pull our permit in response to a request from the 101 Artists Colony so they could submit their own permit request,” said new DEMA board of director’s president Treggon Owens. “We asked the city in a letter on Dec. 6 to pull our permit,” he said. “We want to push the city forward and do things that make the city better,” Owens said.
“I never expected to have this kind of reaction to having the picture of a woman on a banner,” Salzhandler said. He’s hopeful that the new permit will be approved in time for the Feb. 4 unveiling. “I thought Encinitas had more character than this, and I guess I was wrong.”

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  1. Perplexed & stunned says:

    I read about the banners having this late longtime councilmember being acknowledged by citizens weeks ago.
    I thought it appropriate. I am confident that this honor would be offered to any council member is a similar situation. It would be very wrong to anyone to attempt to stop this honorable gesture because of politics. How would any of the surviving council members feel if, after their death, politicians objected to citizens honoring them? This should not be political.
    It is ugly to read that this is happening. I have read that the city rejected the permit for Maggie’s Celebration of Life tribute, when all knew she was leaving us soon.
    It would be a embarrassment for our community if the city handels this permit in the same callous, meanspirited manner.

  2. Leucadia Liberal says:

    The article should have mentioned that the "elected officials" mentioned in the piece is really City Council member Jerome Stocks who, because of his nasty disposition, fears for his re-election in 2012. He is running the city as his own kingdom and it has to stop.

  3. lonejack says:

    Evil bunny, I like your name :)
    Check your facts before you post.
    The permit that was approved by the city did not have Maggie’s image on it.
    Could it be that the Maggie artists fans were trying to sneak it by the city getting a permit without her image thus falsifying the permit?
    They knew they had no shot at getting a permit with her giant face on it, so they put put her face on afterward?

    Propositions are not people, they are political, don’t want them on the public light poles either.
    Maggie is very political and is really the crux of this whole next election as in her appointed person , her husband, her manager, all invoking Maggie’s wishers and for her supporters to carry on her legacy.
    Very cool if you’re a Maggie supporter. Not so cool if you are not. Not on the public light poles.

  4. dolphineyes says:

    If Maggie were an inconsequential politician who never initiated much, always
    voted in lock step with the council majority, and rarely got out and mixed with
    the people, this wouldn’t be an issue. It’s precisely because she was so
    compelling as a politician and as a person that the mere image of her on a
    poster strikes fear and loathing among her detractors. This isn’t a matter of
    principle, it’s a matter of personality. The current council majority would
    rather use their power to suppress any suggestion of what Maggie represented,as
    though it never existed, just as they stocked the council chambers with Muir
    supporters from out of town, and just as they are rigging the mayoral rotation
    so that Stocks and Muir gain maximum visibility in their election years. Out of
    sight, out of mind they figure. Perception is reality. If people can’t see
    Maggie on a poster, can’t see Teresa in the mayor’s seat, then they won’t think
    of them.

  5. Figjam says:

    There are certainly times when you don’t want to commemorate a political figure–those who were in bad political odor or may have done unspeakable things (although that didn’t stop the apparatchiks from Lonejack’s country of origin, did they?). We’re not talking about a council member who lined her own pockets or got sweetheart deals from businesses wishing to forward their own interests in the city.
    Maggie Houlihan may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but she dealt with everyone fairly and didn’t stoop to the pettiness that so characterizes our present Council. She continued serving Encinitas to the end. Maggie always stood on principle, fought for what she believed in, did not take the quite personal attacks on her personally, and asked us to see the possibilities of our city.
    Honoring her through a temporary art exhibit, especially in a way that would have no lasting impact or imprint on the city, seems neither contentious nor particularly political. Only the petty rivalry of one Council member has made this possible. Spitting on the grave of a dead opponent is a new low.
    In the interests of fairness, however, we should think to the future how current Council Members should be remembered…
    The James Bond Memorial Public Phone in downtown Encinitas: one half of one cent of every dollar collected will be used for sand reclamation.
    The Mark Muir Fire Engine Number 4835: also called the "Big Mo."
    The Kristin Gaspar Burger at the Encinitas Cafe: a big, bright fluffy blonde bun with nothing inside.
    The Theresa Barth Wheat Germ/Spirulina shake at the Nirvana Cafe: doesn’t always taste great, but you know it’s good for you.
    The Jerome Stocks-Harold Stassen Memorial Insurance Information Booth at the forthcoming Walmart: an informative and interactive way to recall those who political careers went nowhere and yet dared to dream in the most mundane and conventional ways.

  6. gil foerster says:

    Maggie Houlihan was a sinew of the Encinitas City Council. Maggie and I did not always agree on every subject. We did always agree that greater Encinitas was and is a special and charmed
    community. Is it appropriate to put the image of a deceased politician on the backside of banners
    that may be hung from city owned property until they are auctioned, certainly. Would it be
    appropriate for some of the artists to design their banners so that the image was hidden, certainly.
    The Arts Alive banner program was one of Maggie’s favorite community arts programs. This certainly seems like this was done as a tribute to Maggie memory from the arts community. DEMA’s request that the artists return the banners has nothing to do with “pushing the city forward and doing things that make the city better.” I am embarrassed for DEMA and any elected officials that pressured DEMA not to put the banners up. I am embarrassed that a call to the City Manager’s office was not returned.

  7. nowoolovermyeyes says:

    Have we had enough of this tyrannical, treacherous council majority that is so petty and mean spirited that they would deny such an incredible community leader this much deserved honor even after her death? They haven’t just demonstrated contempt for Maggie. They treat residents who have a different point of view on any community issue with a palpable air of disdain. There is a special meeting Tuesday evening at 6:00 p.m. at city hall where they will illustrate their unrelenting stranglehold on our wonderful city. Be there and bring your friends to find out how city hall really functions. It’s a real eyeopener!

  8. sunsetlover says:

    I agree with “nowoolovermyeyes and with Gil.
    I hope these banners with Maggie’s image fly proudly as a tribute to a great lady.
    Let this be a constant reminder that the tyrants may run city hall at the moment, but they do not run the hearts and minds of the majority of the citizens of Encinitas who want to honor Maggie.

    When you see Maggie’s picture on the banners think of all the horrible stuff Danny, Jerome, and Jim and their henchmen did to her and remember what “Maggie would do.”
    Maggie supported open fair and transparent government and she worked for the people and animals, not the croony corporations. Maggie wanted us to elect Lisa Shafer and support Tony Kranz so we can end the tyranny.
    When you see her image, think of her wishes and work hard for them.

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