What’s Going On In La Mesa Politics?

 This will be an eventful year. A small band of political activists is drafting a surprising coda to the city’s centennial. Their mischief pushes the notion of voter sovereignty into the balance for the first time in the city’s history. 

 After nearly 25 years of failed experiments elsewhere, the flawed and still unproven notion of term limits is making an appearance on the November ballot in La Mesa. The initiative to add a term limits ordinance to city law follows a pattern well-established elsewhere: a few determined activists, clever language, an imaginary peril and deep pockets. 

 To see how that pattern plays in La Mesa, we can follow the money.   

 According to the initial Form 460 disclosure documents required by law, almost 97% percent ($9,748) of the financial contributions to the local term limits committee came from a single, sitting council member and her family.

 The signature gathering work was performed under contract by a professional political firm in La Jolla. The firm paid $1.25 to $1.50 for each signature, for a total of $8308 of the Committee’s initial budget. The activists’ claim that this was a “grassroots” effort is pure fiction. 

 Can you recall even a mention of term limits for La Mesa until this paid-in-full campaign started flogging the notion? The “people” did not clamor to have this regulation imposed on them and for good reason – they still cherish the right to freely vote their choices.

 The reality is that term limits are political junk food – they look OK, but are toxic to the body politic in the long run. Why? Because they do swift and enduring damage to our citizens’ most sacred right: the ability to exercise an unrestricted vote.

 The case for term limits relies on bunk history, acceptance of fantasy claims and a large dose of wishful thinking. Little wonder that term limits experiments have already been repealed or repudiated in six states. In La Mesa, there is no credible case for term limits at all. 

 What is going on then? 

 Well, some folks from the same small circle behind term limits are also advocating that the City Clerk position be removed from the ballot and filled by appointment. From ballot to government billet as it were. And these busy souls are now on record with the next goal: to make the office of mayor an unelected position that would rotate among members of the Council.

 Together with term limits, these proposed actions would result in three consecutive smackdowns of La Mesa voters. It appears we are about to experience an unprecedented, coordinated, and well-financed assault on the fundamental freedom of city voters to elect public officials of their own choosing. This is a cheerless prospect, with negative consequences for all of us.  

 Voting for civic officials is about more than strict accountability. It is about an engaged citizenry, a sense of ownership and community ties. These direct, familiar connections between citizens and city leadership help make La Mesa the special place that it is. To diminish them is to erode our civic culture. Given the rifts that divide our country today, does anyone seriously think that’s a good idea? And to what end? 

 La Mesans will likely see through this ill-considered, short-sighted demarche and preserve the integrity of the electoral process. We respect majority votes; we are wary of gimmickry. And perhaps most importantly, we prefer to vote our consciences freely – unrestricted by city ordinance, no matter how well-financed. We can start by defending our freedom to choose, with a firm No! to term limits.

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Tags: Government, La Mesa Today, Term Limits

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Comment by Ernest Ewin on July 26, 2014 at 4:11pm

Well 61 comments, and we are not even talking about common core here...what is fact vs. opinion?

When I returned to the La Mesa City Council in 2002 after being gone since my term ending in 1990, my perspective of politics had lost the hope and dream that electeds always make the best choices for the citizens to a perspective of what can we change vs. what needs to be changed via legal due process. Compromise always helps.

In La Mesa, a very self-serving ethics policy had been introduced...complicated, being used as "I gotchas" leading up to an election. In 2003 from 6 pages it was reduced to the "Golden Rule". Is that simple statement now just ignored... by citizens, the Council and ???? 

Whether it has been effective really falls to those are involved in our political/ community leadership (to insure Health and Public Safety in our great city). Do as I say vs.what I do--- not  by example- is poor leadership. Do I call you names if we simply do not agree? if you only have 12 more years to live, how would you spend them??? Can/should  the La Mesa City Council be a council of one or Five... all votes need to be 5-0 ? 

So, a group of citizens decide to put it -TL's to a vote. And that is a problem because? Everyone can comment and should on this issue because we are still free to do so. How much of what we learned when we were in elementary school- and believed was the process for political change now think the process has been tainted? What do the young students believe- what they were and are taught or what they read or see the "adults" doing? How many of you have been elected officials and wrestled with the choices/decisions?

So after 12 years -this time- I am not seeking re-election. 12 years the maximum amount of time this issue calls out for. Did I accomplish what I set out to do...Did I accomplish what you thought you wanted me to do?...and would I have been re-elected if I ran this November? ...am I your proxy?  

The more important question is does the elected official still retain the values and integrity you thought was there when you first voted for them...and each time thereafter???

So, please think about what & who you will support going forward as to how you approach this issue...perhaps by the Golden Rule and also this from the Boy Scout Law- A scout is Trustworthy; Loyal; Helpful; Friendly; Courteous; Kind; Obedient; Cheerful; Thrifty, Brave; Clean and Reverent.

Again, should your expectations be any less?  Ernie 

Comment by barry tarvin on July 26, 2014 at 10:34am

OK.

Remember, I was one of those 4500. In signing, I was not stating that I thought TL were good for the city, I was stating that I thought it was worth a vote. I am still undecided, and can guarantee that name calling, on either side of the issue, isn't helping either side get my vote. 

Comment by David Smyle on July 26, 2014 at 8:14am

Barry:

Many have not even read the term limits proposition to see what it says.  Currently, there are no term limits so someone could serve forever as long as they get re-elected which as an incumbent is not hard to do.

Our proposal would limit the "consecutive" terms to three and then you would have to take four years off before returning to potentially serve another 3 "consecutive"  terms hence the possible 24 of 28 years.  Our City Council chose to not put this on the ballot which is costing the CIty (your tax dollars) about twice what is would have if they just approved to put it on in the first place or have come up with their own modified version.

We need to spend the money because we took the money, time and effort to go out and get over 4500 signatures from registered La Mesa voters who also believe term limits are good for the City in order to put this on the ballot for all La Mesa voters to have a say and vote on it.

Opponents apparently don't like that the voters have a say in anything and think because we elect someone that they always have our interests in mind versus their own political or social agendas.

This would make sure we have a change every 8 years since there are two election cycles.

Comment by barry tarvin on July 25, 2014 at 8:21pm

If an elected representative can serve 24 out of 28 years, why do we need to spend all this money on this proposition?

BTW, I am on the Prop ballot petition. The person who collected my signature was not paid. 

I think it might be more productive if we didn't allow populist candidates to run. (I know anyone who meets the specs can run, which is great. I wanted all to know where I stood on LM elections.)

Comment by David Smyle on July 25, 2014 at 7:46pm

I called people whiners and I don't take it back.  24 out of 28 years is plenty of time to serve

Comment by David Smyle on July 25, 2014 at 7:45pm

If the people vote yes, then they want it.  If they vote no, then they don't.   It is that simple.  At least they get the chance to vote on it.  I guess anytime anyone puts something on the ballot from an initiative process or through a council vote, it will be a constitutional problem for those who appear to oppose this initiative.

Comment by Lisa Moore on July 25, 2014 at 7:41pm

Gene, I didn't think I was calling folks whiners and their thoughts stupid.  Sorry if you interrupted it that way and I apologize.  The posters I mentioned really had some thoughtful ideas as to what some of the problems in our city are and how they could be solved.  I agree with most of those solutions. 

Comment by Gene Carpenter on July 25, 2014 at 6:52pm
I'm with you Lisa up to the point when folks feel compelled to show their lack of boundaries by calling folks whiners and the thoughts they share stupid. I don't see that as a way to take the conversation and debate anywhere but down.
Comment by Lisa Moore on July 25, 2014 at 6:30pm

Thank you Barry for your post!!  This "discussion" I am sure will be longer than Art Madrid's term as our mayor!  Lots of sides have been taken and some of the posters have wandered down some interesting paths.  I read some things I agreed with and have a suggestion to Anthony, Don, Scott, David.....why don't you toss your hats into the mix for the Nov. election and solve some of the problems you mentioned that our fair city has.   Your names will be recognized, at least by the readers of La Mesa Today.  Some of you had good thoughts on the problems, and possible solutions to them. 

Comment by barry tarvin on July 25, 2014 at 6:04pm

Yo Don, I made that argument about 600 posts ago. Kinda  wish I hadn't because all this "discussion" is messing up my email.  (I know I can opt out, but that way I couldn't have made this last observation.) 

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