A Tranquil 'Town Hall' Greets Leaders

LA MESA -- The La Mesa City Council took its annual Town Hall meet and greet away from City Hall and out among the neighborhoods on Thursday evening. Considering the relative warmth and amiability they encountered at Rolando Elementary School, the civic leaders may want to hold more of their meetings here.
Gone were the sometime cranky regulars at City Council meetings and the often confrontational tone that has marked the recent bi-monthly council meetings at the Allison Avenue arena. There was laughter among the council members and more listening than speaking from the dais.
Perhaps this is why U.S. presidents use foreign trips to escape Washington from time to time.This La Mesa foreign affair was the first of two Town Hall meetings the council executes each year to develop grist for its day-long strategic planning workshop in March. If Tuesday night was any indication, that March meeting should be a snoozer.

One by one the residents who braved weather about as bitter as it can get in San Diego, rose and raised issues so familiar, city staff could have had answers on cue cards.One resident suggested wealthy residents be tapped to finance construction of a local gym for youths on Baltimore Drive where the proposed Park Station project is proposed.
City Manager Dave Witt explained that very kind of youth project, being financed by such donations, is underway just a few blocks west at La Mesa Middle School.
In fact, Jerry Fazio, chief fundraiser for this new Boys and Girls Club, was in the audience handing out T-shirts to the council members to signal the start of the wider, public portion of the $9-million fundraising campaign.
Fazio told the audience the campaign's board had expanded as fundraisers will now be seeking donations from throughout the community to bolster the large donations recently given by Ron and Mary Alice Brady. The campaign board includes Councilman Mark Arapostathis (displaying t-shirt above), Police Chief Ed Aceves, City Manager Dave Witt, Brian Marshall, Superintendent of La Mesa-Spring Valley School District, as well as NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton, a La Mesa native and Helix High grad.

A number of residents of the city's West Side neighborhoods raised concerns about traffic racing through neighborhoods or clogging streets around local schools during pick up and drop off times each day. There was concern raised about the city's modest homeless population, though the concern was for the homeless, themselves, not any menace they posed.

Even when Councilman Ernie Ewin (right) elicited comments  about what some in the past have considered an annoyance -- police helicopters droning overhead at times -- these more crime-conscious residents seemed to quickly support  the cost-benefit analysis offered by the police chief.

One public servant in the crowd whispered "if these are our problems, we must be doing okay.''

In closing statements, Councilwoman Ruth Sterling agreed, offering this encomium-filled synopsis of the evening: "We have a good police force, a good Fire Department, a good Public Works Department, a good staff.'' No one -- including the civil servants in the audience -- was disagreeing.

The council holds a second Town Hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. February 18th and Northmont Elementary School.




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Tags: City Council, Ed Aceves, Ernie Ewin, Government, La Mesa Today, Mark Arapostathis, Ruth Sterling


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Comment by David Smyle on February 7, 2014 at 12:47pm

Cranky regulars?  Don't you mean concerned citizens who actually care whether the City goes into the toilet?  Nice choice of words Chris.  Maybe we didn't show last night to the other cranky citizens who can't make the meetings a chance to speak.  Maybe there was no TV coverage so us Crankies could get the coverage needed at this meeting?  Maybe there was no need for us to repeat was has already been said so recently.  Maybe it was just cold and rainy and we didn't feel like it.  Maybe we melt in the rain?   Go ahead and make something up.  You usually do rather than report and stick to the facts.

Comment by Mark Cavanaugh on February 7, 2014 at 12:40pm

I think you are it Gene.  Everyone else knows what a self promoting hypocrite he is and only pops out once every four years when he needs to kiss a baby and get re-elected.  Most of us know him for laying face down in his own puke in the gutter drunk, getting the employee who drove his drunk butt home fired, running up enormous amounts of unnecessary travel, taking credit for all the grants obtained by staff, calling his fellow council liars, calling citizens names who don't agree with him, running up the unfunded pension liability to over $34 million even after promoting the .75% tax increase would fix everything, playing the politics of destruction game, ignoring businesses, carrying out personal vendettas to try and get rid of the merchants assoc and the list goes on.  I really don't have enough time to list everything but suffice it to say, the Mayor has worn out his welcome (several years ago).  As it was once said, a man has to know his limitations and you have to know when to just walk away like an athlete retiring after many years in the league.  Now, it is like fish starting to rot.

Comment by Esteban Camisado on February 7, 2014 at 9:17am

no cranky people

"can't we all get along"? --rodney king

Comment by Gene Carpenter on February 7, 2014 at 8:07am
Interesting there is no reference to our "elected" Mayor nor is there a photo in this article that includes him. I guess our Mayor, Art Madrid, was not present, otherwise one might construe this article to be disrespectful of the position the voters of La Mesa put him in. IMO there has been a lot of that going on and I'm getting a little weary of not reading or hearing from anyone but his detractors in this "La Mesa Today" venue.
Is there anyone else out there that values our Mayor? I know I do!

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