Commission Mulls Seeking Sanctions For Lothian

LA MESA -- Sometime during the Clinton Administration the era of the endless campaign became part of national politics. As subsequent presidents have learned, the next election begins the day after the inaugural balls.

La Mesa may have joined the game this year.

Tuesday evening at the city's Parking Commission meeting the commissioners took steps to reign in one of their own -- Parking Commissioner Laura Lothian, who the majority of the members feel is acting more like a candidate for the 2012 elections than a responsible member of the commission.

The board, reacting to recent public writings by Lothian, asked City Attorney Glen Sabine to attend the commission's August meeting, to discuss whether the commission can pursue sanctions against Lothian.
According to Parking Commission Chairman Jim Wieboldt, at the heart of the commission's concerns is section 2E of the group's bylaws which require commission members to refrain from taking public positions on issues before they come before the panel for official consideration.

Lothian, who ran unsuccessfully against Mayor Art Madrid in last year's elections and has talked about running for a council position in 2012, has recently begun penning pieces on a corporate website criticizing her fellow commissioners and announcing her views on issues before they are officially heard. Specifically, she recently announced her opposition to using parking meter funds to build public bathrooms in the downtown "village'' portion of La Mesa because she feels they will attract more homeless to the area.

Lothian said this morning that she doesn't believe she is doing anything but exercising her First Amendment rights.

"Wieboldt tried this two years ago and the City Attorney told him he was trying to limit my rights to free speech,'' Lothian said. "I don't see what could possibly change this time around. I am simply writing what I've stated publicly at the last few meetings.''

Lothian said she has watched the Parking Commission's bank roll rise up to as much as a million dollars in recent years "and I haven't seen one dollar spent to improve the appearance of this city. It's a travesty and I think people should know about it.''

Lothian's recent writings also included criticism by name of Wieboldt, who has announced his candidacy for the 2012 council elections.

"It is not her criticism of me that is at issue,'' Wieboldt said Tuesday. "I can take that. But if you want to run a campaign, run your campaign. She was not put on commission to pursue her own ambitions and ignore our proper role. I have never used this position for my own personal ambitions and neither should she.''

The Parking Commission has been at the center of tensions that sometimes rise between the city and downtown merchants, some of whom believe, like Lothian, that parking money should be used to beautify the streets with improved landscaping and increased cleaning.

The commission has traditionally limited its use of the parking funds for capital improvements -- like the proposed public bathrooms -- rather than more transitory efforts like flowers and routine maintenance.

Public bathrooms have long been on the list of downtown merchants, many of whom run businesses with bathrooms that can't meet the federal disability requirements for public use.

But recently, Lothian has raised concerns about what she says is a burgeoning number of homeless in La Mesa and she has added management of that population to litter and graffitti as issues on which the city needs to improve its performance.

The commission and city staff are considering adding public so-called "Portland loos'' to two locations downtown, but a public hearing and vote has not yet occurred.

All Parking Commission decisions -- including one to censure or remove one of its members -- eventually go to the City Council for final approval or disapproval.  



Views: 77

Tags: City Attorney Glen Sabine, Government, Jim Wieboldt, Laura Lothian, Mayor Art Madrid, Parking Commission


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Comment by F Foont on July 21, 2011 at 9:42pm
Lothian doesn't know what she is talking about.. She sits on the parking commission and is presented with all of the information yet she doesn't even know that the parking meter money paid for new landscaping, new lighting fixtures, new signs, new paving of cracked and deteriorated parking lots, etc. and she wants to be on the city council??? She can't even keep track of what's going on with the parking commission she supposedly "serves" on.
Comment by Deena on July 21, 2011 at 9:31am

Chris, Chris, Chris!  I'm amazed yet again at what angle you write your stories.


This one item you address wasn't even discussed at the meeting.  It will be on the August agenda.  There was no discussion at the July 19 Parking Commission meeting.


I like the way you attacked/accused Laura Lothian of campaigning -- while including Jim Wieboldt's campaign in a neutral light....both got mentioned and you purposely biased Laura.


There were three subjects talked about at the meeting. 

1. Portland Loo locations -- this brought a couple people in the audience because they didn't want a port-a-potty (no matter how chic the name) in front of their establishment.  The information shared at the meeting was that a port-a-potty could fit at the Train Museum location but could not fit at the Allison Bus Stop -- don't you think people would want to know that?


2. Parking Report - as long winded as it was, there was some valuble information you could have shared with your readers -- namely that during the week of May 16, parking officials did a count of how many cars were parked in the municipal lots and on the streets (excluding LMBlvd.) every two hours everyday.  That extremely heavy task provided info that there is ample parking in these areas all day long.


3. The Parking Structure Feasibility Study. 

Another subject that people have been interested in seeing.

In short, I'd like to see La Mesa Today be a reporting tool that doesn't take sides.  As it is now, La Mesa Today is joked as a "Telegram!  Telegram From City Hall!". I challenge you to change that appearance.

Comment by Irving Schwartz on July 21, 2011 at 3:18am
Corporate website?  Mr. Lavin, didn't you once work for a corporate newspaper? In any case, if we ever get to the point in this city where expressing one's opinion gets you "sanctioned," then we might as well move to the old Soviet Union.


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