An Evening Of Pot And Pot Shots

LA MESA -- Tuesday afternoon's gathering of the La Mesa City Council was, from a purely news perspective, a pretty light gruel.

Local proponents of medical marijuana came in with enough signatures to force a referendum in 2014 and featured a talk by local canabis supporter Vey Linville (see photo above), speaking with the aid of oxygen, adding that "I drink canabis medicine so I can breathe.''

What followed was a long, drawn out discussion that led to the legal inevitability -- that there will be a public vote on the issue in 2014.

But at this first meeting after the 2012 election, local politics watchers might easily have been convinced that they were watching the first events of the 2014 mayoral campaign. At this meeting it was open season on Mayor Art Madrid.

In fact, the marijuana vote was a harbinger of how the rest of this meeting would go. Council member Ruth Sterling, who had begun the meeting shyly expressing shock at being the highest vote-getter in the recent election, led a 4-1 vote that rejected Madrid's stated desire to have a full analysis of the issue conducted by the city's attorney before deciding whether to approve the vote.

Then for the rest of the evening, the council and a series of speakers, raked Madrid over the coals for a variety of issues that generally might be described as Madrid acting independently from his council.

Local residents Kevin George, Scott Kidwell, David Smyle, Bill Jaynes and Craig Maxwell -- all outspoken critics of Madrid -- trotted to the microphone to talk about an item put on the agenda by City Councilman Ernie Ewin, one of the two council members often rumored to have mayoral ambitions of his own.

The item ostensibly had to do with Ewin seeking legal guidance from City Attorney Glenn Sabine on the legal distinctions between mayoral proclamations and declarations, but the real issue was Madrid's actions which his critics saw as a sneaky "end run" around the council's desire to stay out of the "Fair Trade" debate.

More than a year ago, the council had voted 3-2 against a Madrid effort to officially declare La Mesa a "Fair Trade" city. Two local women had been working for months to teach La Mesans to buy products that have been certified to having been obtained through a process that treated and paid the product's original producers fairly.

Though the city support would only be symbolic, the idea raised the ire of a number of local people who didn't like the proposal or didn't think the city should be weighing in on subjects it had little hope of truly influencing.

Facing similar hesitancy around the country, the Fair Trade organization changed the actions required to make a city worthy of the "Fair Trade" label. Rather than requiring an official vote of the legislative body, the group said a declaration of support from the city's mayor would suffice.

Madrid readily complied and, much to the chagrin of his detractors, encouraged Fair Trade USA to declare La Mesa a "Fair Trade" city, something his own council was unwilling to do.

Sabine, the city attorney, acknowledged that the mayor, in fact, has the right to make any declaration or proclamation he deems worthy, but that that alone didn't make it an "official act of council.''

And Madrid encouraging "Fair Trade" to make the official declaration on its own set off the fireworks among each of a series of speakers who have come to be seen as a choir of Madrid haters.

"The mayor's declaration may be legal,'' said Kevin George, ''But it was clearly an effort to thwart his council's action. He treats La Mesa like it is his own town and we just happen to live here.''

Craig Maxwell, who lost in his race against Madrid two elections ago, was still fighting his opponent. Giving  his remarks a title -- Common Sense and Decency -- the book store owner said "Art didn't like the result and he found a clever way to do an end run, undermining his own council.''

Maxwell again went on to compare this injustice to the injustice done to his parents some years back when the family's property was taken under eminent domain by the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

"How much did they get for it?'' local resident Dexter Levy interrupted from the gallery, stopping Maxwell's saga in midstream.

Madrid actually came to Maxwell's aid, telling him he didn't need to answer that question. He didn't.

After the public was done pillorying Madrid, his council members continued it with Sterling casting about trying to come up with an answer to what she described as "this mess Art got us into.''

Sterling said she wanted Sabine to send a letter to Fair Trade USA telling the organization the council did not vote to declare La Mesa a "Fair Trade'' city and to caution them against using the city's seal for any purpose.

The council avoided a vote on Sterling's effort by simply agreeing to let Sabine draft a letter the council members can consider sending after the next meeting.

The effort to rein in Madrid then continued as Ewin continued his quixotic but increasingly humorous effort to find the signed softball and plaque that was given to the city a decade ago by the triumphant La Mesa Senior Olympics Softball Championship team.

Madrid has said he had no memory of the award, but Ewin displayed on the meeting overhead a photo showing Madrid receiving the awards.

After Tuesday's meeting, Madrid was asked if night's like this ever made him feel like it is time to give up the post and retire?

"Not at all,'' he said, adding this had the feel of a campaign kick-off. 

Madrid, who has been mayor for more than two decades, said he intends to stay until he can get a new City Hall built and he won't be discouraged by criticism from a small group of men whose political acumen was displayed when they backed Laura Lothian in this year's council campaign. Lothian came in last.

"There's just five of them,'' Madrid said. ".  . . Neanderthals.''






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Tags: Art Madrid, Craig Maxwell, David Smyle, Ernie Ewin, Government, Kevin George, La Mesa Today, La Mesa newspaper, Ruth Sterling, Scott Kidwell


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Comment by David Smyle on November 15, 2012 at 9:55am
From The History Channel Website:
Neanderthals may have died out some 30,000 years ago, but their legacy lives on in the genetic codes of people with European and Asian roots, according to research published in the July issue of Molecular Biology and Evolution. The study provides additional support for the theory that Neanderthals coexisted and interbred with modern humans—their close evolutionary cousins—before mysteriously disappearing from the fossil record. Last year, scientists reported that Neanderthal gene fragments make up 1 to 4 percent of the DNA in people outside Africa, meaning that most individuals alive today are part Neanderthal. For those who still think of Neanderthals as grunting, dimwitted cave dwellers, respect for humans' newfound ancestors may not come easy. In recent years, however, research has rewritten Neanderthal history, suggesting that these stocky hunters were more sophisticated than previously thought—and possibly just as clever as modern humans.
At birth, Neanderthals had brains similar in size to modern human infants, but by adulthood their cranial capacity was larger. Does this mean they were just as intelligent—or perhaps even more so? Archaeological evidence implies that Neanderthal tools were on par with those made by Cro-Magnons living at the same time. Neanderthals were likely rather innovative as well, fashioning musical instruments out of animal bones and experimenting with primitive herbal remedies.
Art, please pay attention to this paragraph.
Some Neanderthals likely ate each other—but so did some anatomically modern humans living at the same time. Archaeologists have excavated multiple sites littered with Neanderthal bones bearing telltale signs of butchery by their own kind. It remains unclear whether Neanderthals practiced cannibalism for ritual purposes or because desperate times left them with no other choice.
Comment by Scott H. Kidwell on November 14, 2012 at 8:52pm

I never run when heading for an evening out!

Comment by Kevin G George on November 14, 2012 at 3:04pm

Thanks Jimmy.

I don't really know what to make of the " political acumen" comment.

Evidently he thinks the object is to pick the winner.

We have quite a bit different outlook on endorsing candidates, we think that principle, ethics and consistency  might be factors in that choice.

But no one asked us... funny how that works.

And Linus, Neanderthals can't trot, we dragged our hairy knuckles the whole way.

Comment by Linus Ewell on November 14, 2012 at 12:46pm

I have absolutely no dog in this fight, but the article is so biased it cracked me up.  Did the speakers actually "trot" to the microphone?  If so, I'm sorry I missed that! 

Comment by Jimmy Sanders on November 14, 2012 at 12:11pm

Remember when Art got waxed by Dianne Jacob in the Supervisor race? And when Art supported Lisa DeJesus for city council and she lost? And when Art supported Krintin Kjaero for city council and she lost? And When Art supported Shanon O'Dunn for city council and she lost (twice)? And when Art supported Jim Wieboldt for city council and he quit? And when Art supported girl friend Debbie McIlravy for Grossmont Healthcare Board reelection and she lost? And when Art tried to get Ruth Sterling off the city council twice and she won both times?

Comment by La Mesa Citizen Oversight Group on November 14, 2012 at 11:05am

Owing to the many reports and comments put in circulation by the ignorant in relation to the rise and purpose of the La Mesa Citizen Oversight Group (LMCOG) we have determined it prudent to offer some information from our attendance at the recent conference of the IBON (International Benevolent Order of Neanderthals). Included is a photo taken during the breakout session on evolution where we are seen listening to a facilitator point out our path towards becomming fully sentient beings. Also included is a copy of one of the visual display slides used in the presentation and it was grunted we were about half way along with a few millenia yet to go to reach the top.

We have no expenses to report as we each paid our own way!

Comment by Kevin G George on November 14, 2012 at 9:15am

Ooops, " NEW bio pic".

The hair on my huge Neanderthal fingers interferes with the operation of my keyboard. 

Comment by Kevin G George on November 14, 2012 at 8:21am

Let's face it, I just wanted show of my do bio pic!

Thank God he didn't say my Mom wears combat boots.

And Art, just keep thinking there are only five of us.

Comment by David Smyle on November 14, 2012 at 7:33am

Really Chris, this is the story you got out of last night?  Again, nice job of sugarcoating the Mayor's end run   Lets start with the MJ issue first.  The Mayor lost 4-1 to not have a full analysis?  He lost 4-1 to not waste any money producing a report that has been done by numerous other agencies which the City attorney readily admits is available to them and to which he would summarize and since the report had to be done within 30 days of now, there is lots of time for this "legal" report to change with state and federal politics before the 2014 election when this would come to a vote.  Missed the point completely Chris!

As far as fair trade, I see you interviewed the Mayor so why didn't you asked him why he did the commendation and use the phrase that the FT group should officially declare La Mesa a Fair Trade town?

Isn't that the real issue, not how 5 neanderthals took the Mayor to task and exposed him for the fraud he is?  For once can you please try and be a real reporter and write the facts without making the Mayor look as good as possible.  He was indefensible on both issues last night but one would not think so after reading the above.  You had the opportunity to actually ask him why he went around the Council and did what he did out of Council Chambers but you didn't.  Shame on you Chris and shame on the Mayor for once again believing he is God.  Art should not talk about Lothian and her race.  Hey Art, weren't you the campaign manager for your girlfriend's attempt to get re-elected to the Health Care Board as an incumbent?  Oh yeah, she lost with three positions open!  Probably because people associate her with you.

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