Kirk Effinger: Because I said so

“Because I said so.” I think it’s safe to say nearly everyone has heard, and possibly used, this common parental pronouncement when asked to explain an action or request.

When it comes to his renewed zeal for a city charter Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, has been saying essentially the same thing when questioned about why it will be good for the city.

Abed, with the support of three of his council colleagues, has gone on record as saying the charter they have ordered city staff to draft without citizen input will go forward.

His effort falls woefully short when asked to explain exactly how this good will be achieved.

Effective leadership comes from convincing those you are trying to lead buy into your vision.

Accomplishing that requires a clear articulation of what that vision is, and how the goals you are trying to reach will be met.

Merely saying, “Trust me, I know best” is not leadership.

There is no better way to get the necessary buy-in from those you would lead than to include them in the process of mapping out and articulating the desired result.

Conversely, exclusion of constructive input is a recipe for suspicion and ultimate disaster.

There were two proposals with potentially far-reaching results for the city of Escondido on the ballot in the 2012 General Election.

One was the overdue and contentious General Plan Update for the city. Another was a plan to make Escondido a charter city.

While both initiatives had strong opposition from forces hostile to Abed’s council majority, one — the General Plan Update — won voter approval, while the other did not.

Admittedly there were probably a host of factors that contributed to this seemingly contradictory outcome.

But probably the biggest influence on the vote was the fact that, unlike the charter proposal, the plan update had extensive, detailed citizen participation and input.

It’s no secret I am a believer in charter cities. I have lived in one since San Marcos voters approved theirs in 1994.

To me the logic of a city exercising the maximum control of its own destiny rather than being dictated to by a distant legislative body is overwhelming.

For example, had the San Marcos been legally able to protect its redevelopment funds from Gov. Brown’s seizure and dissolution of redevelopment agencies, long anticipated infrastructure improvements that would pave the way for the Creek District to begin development — something its residents have been eagerly waiting for — would have been underway long ago.

While redevelopment was an area over which the city had no control, there are many others that give the city and its voters the flexibility to address their community’s unique needs, including how it generates revenue.

Many people in Escondido are asking questions about the sudden re-emergence of this charter idea.

Perhaps the most common question has been, “What’s the rush?” If the charter is a good idea today, it will be a good idea next week or next year, too.

I would add another question of Abed and company.

When it comes to crafting a charter, what’s wrong with citizen input?

Kirk Effinger was born in San Diego and raised in Southern California. He and his family have been residents of San Marcos for the past 30 years. His opinion columns have appeared regularly in the North County Times and, later, the San Diego Union-Tribune since 1995. He can be reached at kirkinsanmarcos@att.net or follow him on Twitter at @kirkeffinger

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