Letters to the editor: Aug. 19


Democracy is not a spectator sport

I never realized it could be so complicated. All I ever wanted was options: the option to feel as safe on my bicycle as I feel in my car. When I drive to work, or to El Camino Real to shop, or Leucadia to see a friend, I feel safe in my car. In my car, I feel welcome by the city of Encinitas. There’s a direct route taking me to my destination. Thank you to those who came before me who made that happen – because 100 years ago, we were just rolling hills of chaparral, with possibly a few dirt pathways for the lone automobile and the more common horse-drawn carriage.

I wish I felt as welcome and safe on my bicycle. I wish I had felt confident as a mother about the safety of our son when he cycled to school all those years. The half-mile trip to the high school was so unsafe that he carried a letter in his backpack explaining to any potential police officer that his mother made him ride on the sidewalk, due to the danger of the road.

But with miles and miles of paved roads in Encinitas dedicated solely to automobiles, and only a handful of bike paths designed expressly for cyclists – separated from rapidly-moving automobiles – it’s hard to cycle in this town with confidence that you’re safe.

It’s with those thoughts in mind that I approach every decision our city makes. I’m not advocating for paving every dirt path. I’m asking that we think of our walkers, cyclists, young people and old people when we approach any project – be it in Olivenhain or along the railroad corridor. I’m asking that we reflect on the current imbalance and work to right it.

And so here we find ourselves in an election year – with every statement made by a city lawmaker put under a microscope and scrutinized. If you lean in one direction, you’re apt to assume only negative intent from those you believe don’t represent your interests. And with that, I am saddened that the No Rail Trail folks have chosen to step away from the table. I understand in the big game of politics where they’re coming from – but in the small town of Encinitas if we can’t find a way to work together, to start assuming positive intent, and stop second guessing each and every politician’s move, we will never find the common ground that holds us together.

Encinitas is an amazing place – as the world changes rapidly, we must respond proactively. If you love our town, get involved and stay involved – pay attention and speak up. Because remember – democracy is not a spectator sport.

Judy Berlfein


Sick and tired

In reference to “teachers do not support Muir and Salazar,” I am so sick and tired of reading and hearing that decisions made by the San Dieguito school board or anyone for that matter, should have as its first priority “our children.”

What about common sense? Common sense is about everyone, including children. Children do not have to have new structures and new equipment to learn. If a child has a quest to learn something, teachers and others will make that happen for them. That child will get any books or equipment he or she needs. Even if no one helps them, a motivated child will seek knowledge out however they can. There are many examples of this. In a world of iPhones, texting and computer games, it is up to our teachers and parents to get children’s attention and spark an interest in learning.

All of us remember one great teacher who inspired our minds. Mine was Mr. Jordan, an English teacher at San Dieguito High in 1969. Mr Jordan would climb up on his desk and recite the witches in Macbeth as he stirred an imaginary caldron. He got everyone’s attention. San Dieguito High back in 1969 was anything but new. We didn’t care, school spirit reigned high and most of us had Mr Jordan.

I am tired of teachers or anyone using“children as our “first priority” as a sledgehammer to get things children do not really need. What children need and have always needed are dedicated teachers and involved parents.

It seems to me that Muir and Salazar have shown common sense in their decision to “thwart tax-payer-approved Prop AA school infrastructures.”

Good for them.

Cathy Staver


Aug. 12 letter was‘full of mistakes’

As a longtime Cardiff resident, I am tired of hearing a group of privileged Cardiff residents spewing misinformation and defaming Council members in an attempt to promote their own self-interest at the expense of the community. Specifically, I refer to the letter published on Aug. 12 about the Coastal Mobility and Livability Working Group (CMLWG). The letter is full of mistakes (intentional, perhaps).

The “No Rail Trail” group wrote that the Council “hired a consultant to review applications and select a group of qualified residents.” Wrong. The Council hired a consultant to do the Rail Corridor Vision study, and at Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer’s suggestion, asked that consultant to provide recommendations on a citizen group that would address the entire rail corridor. The city staff proposed to the Council that the same group provide input on two other studies related to parking and rail crossings. That’s how the CMLWG was formed.

The CMLWG is not about which side of the tracks the Coastal Rail Trail should be on in Cardiff. That decision was already made. Get over yourselves. It’s not all about you.

The “No Rail Trail” letter alleges that people were removed or added to “the list” through secret meetings. In reality, all Council members received a copy of all the applications for the working group, and a staff report with the consultant’s recommendations. As with any Council matter, all members are free to consult with any individuals or groups they find helpful, on any Council matter, whenever they want, as long as they don’t talk to two or more other Council members outside of the public meeting. As is appropriate, the Council deliberated in public after hearing from the public, and made a decision, in public, by majority vote.

In fact, the “No Rail Trial” group brags that they are being mentored by the Gaspars and some have donated to Kristin Gaspar’s campaign for Supervisor.

The list approved by the Council was not the same list proposed by Catherine Blakespear, as alleged. It reflects input from the council members who chose to engage in order to achieve better balance and make sure only Encinitas residents were included. Mayor Gaspar proposed that the Council accept the consultant’s recommendations, which included her mentor, former mayor Jerome Stocks, someone not known to have “collaborative capacity.” Her motion failed to achieve majority approval. The successful alternative motion was proposed by Deputy Mayor Shaffer.

So there is a seat at the table for the “No Rail Trail” group if they want it. If they prefer to threaten lawsuits because things didn’t go exactly the way they wanted, that’s their choice. The city and its plans will proceed without them.

Don Barth


How to choosea candidate

The 2016 election campaign is already underway in Encinitas. There is lots of buzz about who is running for City Council and for mayor. Sometimes it’s hard to know who would be the best candidate. Slick mailers, multitudes of yard signs and well-practiced sound bites can be persuasive for many voters, but they don’t necessarily lead to good governance. Getting elected requires a different set of skills than being a good Council member or mayor. I encourage voters to focus on what comes after the election, and ask questions like these when considering candidates.

For incumbents or those who are vying for a higher office:

How has your service on the Council made Encinitas a better city?

What did you say you’d do when you campaigned the last time? How well have you delivered on those commitments?

Have you displayed leadership skills in attracting support for your ideas from other Council members and the public?

Have you demonstrated integrity and collaborative capacity?

Do you treat all constituents with respect, whether or not you agree with their comments? Are you accessible to constituents who want to talk to you?

Are you active in the community? Do you show up at community events, not just private gatherings with your personal networks?

For first-time candidates:

Do you have a clear and compelling reason for wanting to run?

How have you been involved in the community? For example, are you involved in a public commission, neighborhood group, school organization or service organization?

Have you regularly attended Council meetings and city-organized workshops and events?

Can you articulate a clear position on key issues likely to face Encinitas in the next four years, such as housing/land use, transportation, rail corridor, sea-level rise and other climate impacts, etc.?

Does your lifestyle enable you to commit the time needed, not just for Council meetings, but also for serving on regional boards, attending conferences, community events and meeting with constituents?

At the upcoming candidate forums, ask tough questions. Ask whether a candidate most closely identifies with Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, and why. What model of public service and leadership will they follow? Encinitas is our precious community and we need to make sure we are doing what we can to sustain and enhance the quality of life we have all come to appreciate.

Lisa Shaffer

Shaffer is Deputy Mayor of Encinitas and is not running for any public office in 2016