The Coast News Group
Councilwoman Cori Schumacher said Noel and Linda Breen have launched a campaign of “bullying, outright lies, projections and manipulations" against her. Courtesy photo

Private feud between city official, resident goes public

CARLSBAD — A disagreement between a city official and a resident has unfolded on social media and captured the public’s attention.

The spat began last summer during the general election but gained significant traction after Carlsbad Councilwoman Cori Schumacher published a Facebook post on April 17 regarding alleged “attacks” from Linda Breen, a former candidate for the City Council.

“After a year of constant public attacks, I want to take a moment to make something very clear,” Schumacher wrote. “I have tried to ignore a series of attacks that began during the campaign season and has persisted past this point.”

Schumacher said the Breens have launched a campaign of “bullying, outright lies, projections and manipulations” following her endorsement of Barbara Hamilton during the 2018 general election.

Hamilton defeated Linda Breen to claim the District 1 council seat.

Supporters applauded Schumacher for defending herself from perceived transgressions initiated by the Breens.

But others chided the councilwoman, suggesting her social media comments were “inappropriate” and “distasteful.”

Schumacher did not respond to requests for comment.

The Breens said they are in disbelief that a public figure would so brazenly attack private residents. 

The simmering discord boiled over Schumacher “called out” Noel Breeen during an April 14 Town Hall meeting. 

The Breens said Schumacher’s public attempts to humiliate them sends a negative message to residents.

The Breens said they were blocked from Schumacher’s personal Facebook page.

As a result of online harassment from Schumacher’s supporters, the Breens have decided to leave Carlsbad.

Noel Breen acknowledges that he’s made a lot of people upset, but draws a line with public officials.

“Donald (Trump) uses his personal Twitter and it’s pretty unprecedented. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Noel Breen said. “We used to be one of them. The message she’s sending is, if you make her mad enough, she’ll embarrass you in public … and put you on blast. They know what they’re doing.”

Schumacher stated the attacks “are couched as issues-oriented, but they are driven by personal animus that stems from a vindictiveness tied to feeling entitled to my support for a candidate during the last campaign season.”

Schumacher further alleged that Noel Breen was ready to “initiate a vendetta.”

“It is crystal clear Ms. Breen remains very unhappy about my endorsement of Ms. Hamilton. As she said in her letter, ‘I deserve the Democratic endorsement, and you know I do. I also deserve your support,’” Schumacher wrote. “I am hoping that with this post, folks who have seen this play out over time will understand the Breens’ behavior for what it is: revenge for not supporting Ms. Breen.” 

Schumacher later addressed Linda Breen and others who questioned her statements regarding Community Choice Energy.

In another Facebook post, Schumacher suggested an alternative energy program could generate $200 million in revenue for the city, although the feasibility study projections were much lower.

Schumacher cited a KPBS story where Gary Sabalea, a consultant for EES Consulting who conducted the study, said a joint-powers agreement with Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar and Oceanside could be a $200 million outfit in the future.

Noel Breen said this isn’t the first time he has been critical of Schumacher’s remarks on financial matters.

The Breens said that during her mayoral campaign, Schumacher claimed an Australian battery farm could generate roughly $450 million a year and suggested Carlsbad could follow suit.

Another example came during the Jan. 8 City Council meeting after Schumacher claimed SANDAG had an $18 billion deficit before changing the estimate to $18 million.

Schumacher later “clarified” her previous statement, settling on a deficit between $15 billion to $18 billion. 


Alan November 5, 2019 at 10:47 pm

If you like bat-sh** crazy drama, you can entertain yourself here or watch a soap opera. But the real news is really about the issues that just don’t hardly get into the media. All of which paves the way for bored and ignorant voters and mindless distracting drama that even terrible candidates can and will be nominated and elected. Everyone deserves better than that

Noel Breen August 21, 2019 at 3:13 pm

As a matter of transparency the author above neglected to note she administers a FB group that for some reason considers itself in some form of competition with the pages I’m involved with. Research and review will also indicate that the author is a prolific social media warrior for Councilwoman Schumacher as well as Ms. Hamilton.

Jan Neff-Sinclair May 2, 2019 at 10:58 am

The fact that there were 600 views of this article but only one “Like” before the web site was updated might have something to do with the fact that it seems rather biased against Councilperson Schumacher. And the disagreement that unfolded into a spat is not news to local social media fans. It has been going on since before the election was even held.

It is also not the only such disagreement that has served as long-term fodder for self-serving blogs. When someone is deemed to have done something to offend Noel Breen, he will talk about it on social media for months after everyone else has lost interest. Look at the size of his facebook groups compared to comparable ones without all the negativity and constant attacks. If anything, the unique campaign tactics promelgated by the Breens would have made for a better story. Noel Breen is extremely articulate and expresses his insults in quite a varying and sometimes entertaining vocabulary.

Not only does the article appear biased in favor of the Breens, the details seems to be written that way as well. The incident at one city council meeting where Councilperson Schumacher was correcting herself but is referred to as ‘clarifying’ [author’s quotes, not mine] regarded a major serious misstep on the part of SANDAG. The amount in question was not known by the mayor during that meeting either, and he was a member of SANDAG when the financial projection malfeasance occurred. I usually feel that when one has to stretch that hard to make a point, it probably is not a very valid one.

Encinitas Dad April 30, 2019 at 9:05 pm

Skim Ms. Breen’s letter above for the frequency of the words “I” and “me.”

It says something about a prospective public servant when they don’t talk about the issues and the citizens as much as they talk about themselves.

It’s not my town, so I didn’t follow the election or the candidates, but it appears superficially that Carlsbad voters may have done themselves a favor.

Linda Breen April 30, 2019 at 1:54 pm

As one of the subjects in this article, I would like to clarify a few things. I do not have a social media army to defend me, I have only the truth. I also have the First Amendment. I would not characterize this issue as a “private feud”. Rather, a public official has chosen to use her official Carlsbad City Councilmember Facebook page to personally attack a private citizen, as a direct result of a relatively benign public comment to the Council on April 16. I sincerely doubt that anyone who chooses to listen to the tape of my public comment could honestly characterize it as “brutal”, which Schumacher has done. Those who value the First Amendment should find this situation to be deeply disturbing, regardless of their opinion on Schumacher or the Breens.

I have addressed the city council twice in recent months. First, a few months ago when Council Member Schumacher falsely accused the city manager of improperly approving a $5000 project grant (due to her confusion about whether the amount of the grant needed to be under $5000), I defended the city manager and the electric vehicle proponents, who had cancelled their event after Schumacher’s attack. Second, after Schumacher put forth claims of a $200 million windfall for Carlsbad and an individual wrote expressing skeptism, Schumacher called him out by name in her townhall meeting, at which he was not even present. In response, I spoke to City Council, expressing concerns that Schumacher’s financial claims would undermine public confidence in the project, and I expressed my opinion that calling out a constituent for topical questions and criticism is inappropriate for a public official in a public event.

As a result, less than 24 hours after I spoke, Schumacher “blasted” me using her official facebook account, taking a private email out of context, and her social media army chimed in with condemnation, including false accusations from individuals I have never spoken with. A woman I have never heard of claims I was rude to children during my campaign, and I do not believe there is any basis for this whatsoever. I have volunteered extensively with children, and I am uniformly polite and kind to them. In addition, an employee of Representative Mike Levin claims that I shouted at his interns more than once, both before and after the primary. I never shouted at his interns, and I do not believe I have even ever spoken to them. Both of these claims on Schumacher’s facebook page are patently libelous. Multiple individuals chimed in, asking how they could “stop the Breens”. We should all be deeply concerned about what would be involved in “stopping” someone, who had chosen to comment at a city council meeting.

I would ask Schumacher’s supporters to refrain from harrassing or endangering me and my family. Indeed, we have a home in another area and will be spending more time there. We should be able to question and criticize our city leaders without the level of vitriol that has been seen in the last week. Questioning our government is an essential element in keeping our democracy healthy.

For the record, I never asked Schumacher for her support in my campaign, and the full text of my August 2018 email to her confirms this. I did ask Schumacher to step away from her support of a dirty, negative campaign which repeatedly broke the “clean campaign” pledge that each candidate had signed. Schumacher reneged on her previous unsolicited offer to support me, and then she broke her word to me, to remain neutral in my race. The choice of Schumacher’s supporters to call me a liar is unfortunate and incorrect. I am including my unredacted email below for completeness. Honest readers may be able to judge whether Schumacher’s post gave a fair summary of my email.

To:Cori Schumacher,Cori for Mayor
Cc:Linda Breen

Aug 1, 2018 at 6:01 PM

Dear Cori,

I wanted to clarify a few points. I regret that I was not able to be convinced to accept an alternate set of facts, and my departure earlier today was not due to anything more or less than my distress you would make that attempt. Indeed it’s a time for truth.

In our previous conversation you stated clearly that you would remain neutral in my council race because you are unable to support a Republican per party bylaws. I confided in you that I would seek party support, and next thing we know Barbara Hamilton is presenting herself as a Democrat. That very fact is not only cynical and hypocritical, but represents a personal betrayal of trust. You may feel my distress is just due to an unnecessary betrayal of someone who has worked hard in your cause. It is also the betrayal of causes I have worked for years to advance in Carlsbad and other areas, and through a lifetime of commitment to the Democratic party and progressive values. To answer your inquiry of a few days ago, I am running for the right reasons. As of writing I am the only candidate on the ballot who has stood for the causes you espouse.

After I helped you with the 2016 election,
you offered to endorse me if I ever ran for anything. I never asked you for help. But I did not expect to be opposed by you or your team, and I do not deserve your opposition. When you spoke for the endorsement of Democrats for Equality, you said one reason you
are running for Mayor is to make a space on Council for a Democrat. And then you turned around and are helping an inept Republican candidate over a progressive, in Carlsbad’s only Democratic-leaning district. You certainly told me you could not support Barbara Hamilton because she is a Republican. Now Barbara is presenting as a Democrat. That is a betrayal of more than a person. It’s a betrayal of principles you are campaigning on. In our previous meeting, you also accused me of running for the wrong reasons, because your “mystery candidate” has deeper roots in the community and is a stronger candidate than me. That is also patent BS.

I am running because I am needed, and I am the best candidate. Barbara has never to my knowledge taken any political stand whatsoever, except for opposing development in her own personal backyard. Not only do I have deeper roots in Carlsbad than Barbara, I have a stronger professional background, I am a stronger public speaker, and I do not need to sport a scrubbed Linked In profile. And I have real experience as a business owner with employees, who built a business from nothing; Barbara is a consultant.

As recently as the Encinitas/North Coast club meeting on Saturday, you went on and on about how we have to elect Democrats in Carlsbad. Again I call B.S. I can only conclude that you are choosing not to support me because you want a lap-dog, or someone approved by some small sorority run by “Mean Girls.”

I am disappointed in your personally breaking your word to support me, and in your betraying my campaign information to my opponent. But I stand on principle. I am the only candidate who stood against Measure A, the only candidate who has worked for single payer healthcare, who campaigned for Dave Myers and Genevieve Jones-Wright, and who has repeatedly spoken and written and appeared in support of immigrants and against family separation. I am the only candidate who has shown any indication whatsoever that I will stand against the Trump agenda. When we take a stand, sometimes we make enemies. But in today’s environment, we need people who take principled stands, rather than blank slates.

Having observed your votes on Carlsbad Council, I believe I would still vote with you most of the time. That is because I will always vote my conscience, and in support of my constituents and according to my strong principles.
However, your betrayal of Democratic principles in support of your political ambition has deeply disappointed me.

On a personal note, the choice of your political allies to try to create a narrative that I am only running because my husband told me to, is both sexist and pathetic. It is despicable. My husband preferred that I not run for office, because he is aware of how deeply flawed the local leftist political structure is. If you or your allies continue to sabotage my campaign in an “Unkind, Untrue, and Unnecessary” manner, you may just find his opposition to your campaign very powerful.

I deserve the Democratic endorsement, and you know I do. I also deserve your support. I am not asking for your support, but I am asking you to stop opposing me, and to ask your allies to stand down. The underhanded attacks are unacceptable, and I do not deserve them. And Carlsbad does not deserve to have the best candidate be sabotaged.

In any case, your attempts to discourage me from running for office have failed. I am staying in the race, and I am a strong candidate. Game on.

With deep honesty and concern,

Linda Breen

Christine Bevilacqua April 30, 2019 at 7:51 am

The Beeens’ self centered negativity and continued nastiness has been very sad to watch. Ms. Schumacher is a dedicated, hard working public servant who has tried to deal with these people in a professional, rational manner to no avail. The Breens basically ran themselves out of town. Bye Felicia.

Doug Taylor April 30, 2019 at 4:28 am

The article closes with what appears to be a rather lame smear on Schumacher:

“…during the Jan. 8 City Council meeting … Schumacher claimed SANDAG had an $18 billion deficit before changing the estimate to $18 million. Schumacher later ‘clarified’ her previous statement, settling on a deficit between $15 billion to $18 billion.”

During the meeting, Schumacher said this (see “Schumacher wins Hall’s SANDAG seat,” Coast News, Jan 11, 2019):

“The previous relationships are different now,” Schumacher said. “What it’s leaving us is with an $18 billion deficit. It was an accounting error that executive director at the time hid and the board members at SANDAG at the time supported that executive director instead of asking hard questions.”

According to several sources that is a correct statement, although Schumacher technically should have said “projected deficit” rather than simply “deficit.” (See “Audit Reveals Tough Decisions Coming at SANDAG,” Voice of San Diego, July 30, 2018.)

The author doesn’t say where or when Schumacher gave an $18 million estimate or where or when she changed it back to $18 billion. I wish the author would clarify this because it sounds like the $18 million estimate could just have been a slip of the tongue on Schumacher’s part. Regardless, I don’t think it warrants calling her out — her original figure was correct as well as her clarified figure.

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