LA MESA – Mayoral candidate Laura Lothian decided to respond, point by point, to a recent story posted on LaMesaToday.com by Art Madrid supporter Jim Wieboldt. Wieboldt’s original comments are interspersed with Lothian’s response:
An Open Letter to the Voters of La Mesa:
It's hard to believe that La Mesa is in another election cycle. Time flies when the city is run efficiently and in order. But Laura Lothian, a candidate for the office of Mayor of La Mesa would have you believe differently.
For several months, Lothian has been telling you the voter that the city is filled with trash, graffiti and dead flowers in city flower pots. This is very serious indeed. So let's take a closer look at Lothian, those issues and what she really stands for!
The trash that Lothian has been speaking about is apparently everywhere in La Mesa. In fact, Lothian provided a photograph of the trash along the south side of the SR125/SR94 transition. The photo showed clearly a lot of trash and debris on the side of the highway right of way, which is maintained by the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS). Further, the photo was taken of an area that is not within the city limits of La Mesa. Is it this a very large problem for La Mesa? Only if CALTRANS fails to police their right of way and some of that nasty debris blows across the freeway into La Mesa.
Daily, thousands of people who live in and/or visit La Mesa take this exit. Instead of drawing a line: this is my side of the room and that is your side of the room, I choose instead to improve entry into La Mesa by working with Caltrans to adopt this ramp. My way solves a problem. Your petty, sarcastic approach solves nothing.
Graffiti is another plague that Lothian has named as blight on La Mesa. One needs only to drive around La Mesa and see for themselves all of the various kinds of spray paint vandalism that exists. I did just that, and after nearly four hours, I found only two small instances of this urban art. On the other hand, a field trip through National City would reveal what graffiti really looks like and the extensive problem it really is in the South Bay and not in La Mesa. I might add that while Lothian cites this graffiti problem, she fails to cite examples or addresses where the graffiti exists.
Attached is a zip file of photos of La Mesa graffiti. All of these are located within four minutes of your business on Date Avenue. These tags are undeniable proof of gangs marking their territory. That you intentionally mislead La Mesans about this very real danger, especially in light of your police background and La Mesa ranking as the highest crime rated city in San Diego County, is irresponsible at best, immoral at worst. You can't fix a problem till you admit the problem. If you still cannot locate any graffiti, I'd be happy to provide you with a map.
And let us not forget the dead flowers in the city flower pots. Earlier this year Lothian touched off a firestorm within the La Mesa Business Community over the flowers. Lothian went around to the planters, photographed their condition, and then published an 11x17 color glossy poster showing the photographs and listing the name of the business where the planter was located. If that was not bad enough, Lothian indicated that the poster was authorized by the La Mesa Community Parking Commission. The Parking Commission then was approached by concerned business owners (Craig Maxwell et al.) about the condition of the planters. During that process, it was brought out that the planters were purchased by the city (more than twenty years ago) through an agreement with the La Mesa Village Merchants Association, that the merchants would be responsible for the maintenance and care of the planters. Lothian than announced that the Merchants were insolvent and could not afford to maintain the planters any longer. A charge that the Merchant's later said was false. Next, Lothian appeared before the city council to appeal to the city that they maintain the planters by using parking meter revenues to pay for their upkeep and maintenance. This, even after she brought the same motion to the Parking Commission earlier and was voted down. Lothian told the council that La Mesa would be much more beautiful with "Little Italy style flower pots".
For 10 years, the mayor has been trying to force a PBID or BID (business investment district) down the collective throats of the village merchants. Though you call it an "investment" everyone knows it's another TAX. A tax that will raise rents, raise the price of products and be one more business-hurting burden, which is why the merchants are AGAINST the mayor's plan. It is a fact the merchants let their gardener go because they couldn't afford him anymore. The cost of keeping him was 1% of what was in the meter money coffers at the time. The meter money is currently used for maintenance, like parking lot slurrying, which public works should be covering. My plan of using meter money to conspicuously beautify the village (power washing, plants, lighting) would attract shoppers and diners and fill commercial/retail vacancies. Because you and the mayor got your way, the village is dirty, there are over two dozen glaring vacancies (including our iconic clock tower building) and our flower pots are once again filled with dead or anemic plants, cigarette butts, empty plastic cups and trash.
I have spoken about the issues that Lothian is campaigning on, I wonder if Lothian will address these issues:
Lothian claims she is a Republican - a true conservative. But is she? The public records of the San Diego County Registrar of Voters suggest otherwise. Since November 3, 1998 there have been seventeen elections. Lothian's record shows she only voted in six of those elections. That's only 35%. And of those seventeen elections, she only voted once as a registered republican (11/02/2004). In fact, Lothian voted in the Gubernatorial Primary held on June 8 of this year as "No Party". Lothian also reveals that she is supported by the Democratic Party and that a fund raiser has been held for her by friends who live on Mount Helix under the title of "Liberals for Laura". How charming.
I am a true Republican. I have the endorsement of the Republican Party of San Diego, the La Mesa Taxpayer's Association, the pro-business political action committee Lincoln Club among others. I have been voting since George Bush, Ross Perot and Bill Clinton ran. You obviously take pride in alienating people. That I count Independents and Democrats as supporters is a feather in my cap and one I am proud of.
Where does Lothian stand on Alcohol and Drug use?
Two of Lothian's supporters (Maxwell and Council Member Ruth Sterling) have been quite vociferous in their constant cry of alarm over Alcohol use by the incumbent Mayor Art Madrid. But Lothian comes to the forum with dirty hands and needs to address why her home was used earlier this year for an underage drinking party which resulted in the arrest and conviction of her daughter for a violation of the La Mesa Social Host Ordinance and provided alcohol for more than one hundred underage drinkers. And does Lothian want to reveal the photographs of the crime in which hundreds of cups, more that twenty bottles of alcohol and several windows in her home were broken out? Where is Maxwell and Sterling's outrage over this incident? Maxwell wrote to the editor of the East County Magazine and accused the publication of using the power of the press to administer a political hit against Lothian about this very article. Last time I checked, Mayor Madrid apologized numerous times for his misstep, but Lothian has not even acknowledged nor apologized for the crime committed at her residence and continues to claim that this incident was just "a sophisticated little party".
LOTHIAN:My 19-year-old daughter is a mature, responsible, well-liked young woman. She has studied abroad, scored over 2000 on her SAT test, is a high GPA college student and has worked for top restaurants in the county for years. One couldn't ask for a better daughter. For her birthday, she planned a little party with her friends who are mostly in their 20s from work. One of her friends posted the party on Facebook causing people to crash the party and for it to get out of control.
This is where you go from mud-slinging to libel: NOT ONE UNDERAGE PERSON DRANK AND DROVE. The La Mesa police know this. No kids were arrested, including my daughter who abstained from alcohol. My daughter was not convicted for any crime: not an infraction, not a misdemeanor, not a fine, nothing. Not one single window was broken out either. In addition, my daughter reimbursed the police department from her restaurant wages and voluntarily spoke to the youth commission warning kids to NEVER host a party where minors are present and alcohol is served. She's a wonderful person who took personal and financial responsibility for her mistake. What you wrote is reprehensible and completely unacceptable.
: And drug use? Where does Lothian really stand on that issue?
In a recent interview with La Mesa Patch.Com, Lothian was asked about her position on California Ballot Proposition 19, the legalization of Marijuana. Lothian said in her response:
"I believe our current marijuana laws mistakenly and expensively fill our prisons with nonviolent criminals. Because marijuana is illegal, it creates a profitable enterprise for drug dealers and cartels. If we decriminalized marijuana and regulated it, violence might decrease in Mexico and America, our prisons might not be so full, and we could collect some serious revenue".
Doesn't Lothian know that in order to go to state prison you need to commit a serious felony? There isn't ONE offender in prison for possession of marijuana which is either an infraction or misdemeanor. More likely, offenders are in prison because of marijuana use, which is a gateway drug to more potent drugs which then wreak havoc in the community.
LOTHIAN: Criminalizing marijuana is costly and ineffective. l would rather have our legal system working on the John Albert Gardner and David Westerfield cases than pot smokers. The sixties were 50 years ago. Millions of people have tried or occasionally smoke pot and stopped there. Though I don't smoke pot and I never have, I know people who do and none of them use heroin, crack or meth. Even uber-conservative Sarah Palin supports legalizing marijuana. I also made it very clear in Patch I am against any pot dispensaries in La Mesa. All that said, I am not campaigning for legalizing pot nor am I all that pro legalizing pot, I was simply asked a question and answered it and you and my opponent keep trying to, excuse the pun, inflame people.
On November 2, 2010, we have a choice. Will it be alcohol, marijuana and some really nice flowers? Or will it be the men who have served La Mesa honorably for the last four years?
My choice will most certainly be Art Madrid for Mayor, Ernie Ewin and Mark Arapostathis
LOTHIAN:You can vote for whomever you like. One thing is certain. If Art wins, we can expect the next four years to be just like the last 20 years: consistent high crime, trash and graffiti worsening (these things don't fix themselves), pensions becoming more of a burden (this year, Art Madrid voted to lower city employees' benefits age from 60 to 55), continued Chicago-style intimidation policies, unprofessional conduct and persistent negative publicity.