Sunday, November 7, 2010

Congratulations to the Winners

A hard fought election on all sides reelected Don Higginson and John Mullin and introduced a new face on the Council, Dave Grosch.  About half of the voting population made it to the polls, which is not too bad in a midterm election.

An Analysis of the Election

John Mullin secured his position by about 1500 votes, which was the largest vote difference between any of the candidates.  John has been effectively running for this office for almost a year and was able to procure nearly 4 times the money as his nearest competitor.  Being able to effectively raise money is a key element to political success.  It should be interesting to see if John's process streamlining suggestions wind up leading to the de facto elimination of the "Country" for large parts of Poway, or truly remove some of the inefficiencies in the Poway City bureaucracy.  They may very well do both.  I suspect that the devil will be in the details.  Regardless of the directions that John will push, I have seen that he is extraordinarily skilled in the process, and I suspect that he will be one of the most effective Councilmen Poway has seen in a long time.

Don Higginson fought off a very tough challenge by Nick Stavros.  Higginson won this election by about 1000 votes, which is near the smallest margin of victory (by percent) that a Poway Mayor has faced in potentially its entire history.  It is good to know that a large part of the voting public took the time to actually form an opinion on the candidates as such participation and thought is key to the success of any democracy.  It is my hope that Don will be able to see the merits behind some of the criticisms and make changes where possible.  Don appears to me to be a smart man spends a good deal of time promoting Poway.  I think he will likely keep things running as they have been in the past.

Dave Grosch garnered about 1000 votes more than Carl Kruse thus replacing him on the Council and bringing a very needed skill set to the City Council.  I think what sets Dave apart from Carl is that Dave is a finance guy, while Carl is a banker.  Both skill sets are valuable to have in a governing body, but I think that finance is a more important background than banking.  I think that a finance guy takes a look at the numbers and sees where there can be cuts to reign in the expense side of the equation.  I like the saying that "it's not how much you make; it's how much you spend."  I also think that Dave's election has made Boyack's and Cunningham's voice on the Council much stronger than it was before.  This diversity of voices can only help ensure that the residents voice is heard more by the Council.  Dave's margin over Pete Babich was very small, about 140 votes.  Pete's very structured and organized problem solving processes would also have made him a fantastic Councilman.  I wish there were 6 seats on that Council as Poway could really have used Pete's skills.

I met all of the candidates prior to the election and I think that there are all good people.  Poway is lucky to be in such a situation when all you have to do is look at the skills and directions that the Council takes in the past to see if you want the different people to move it into the future.  When the issues take center stage, and not personalities, government runs better for the people.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why Voting in this Local Election is Critical

Vote for Babich, Grosch, and Stavros

The upcoming election for your Local City Council is the most important and pivotal one in Poway's history.

(But before we begin note that once you have finished exploring the site, or before, be sure to take a look at the other blogs on the right side of the page.  They contain well researched opinions and observations of long-term Poway residents.  Excellent and insightful reads for all)

This election is critically important because the next group of leaders will determine the direction of the new General Plan Update.  Mullin, Kruse, and Higginson, make up the three "incumbent" candidates while Babich, Grosch, and Stavros make up the group of challengers.

At issue is that Higginson's cabal is makes up a voting block for developers, while Babich, Grosch, and Stavros represent the interests of the Poway population as a whole.  Both Mullin and Higginson are the pro-developer's candidates.  Higginson has always viewed the General Plan as something to be used when it suits his short term agenda, or it affects his base (North Poway) voters, and to be ignored whenever else it gets in his way.  Higginson will often tell people that he is running because of the lost "experience" that the City has had because several former council members are no longer serving, as well as the loss of a long term City Planner.  This is bogus.  Higginson is running because the people who thwarted his expansionist ambitions are no longer on the council.  The loss of the City Planner means he will have time to mold the new one into the image he desires.  Sadly, this image is of a Poway split between the City in the South and the Country in the Very North.

Mullin makes no qualms or excuses about his membership on the Board of Directors of CALPASC.  This is primarily a lobbying organization, which represents the interests of the Construction industry.  This group has used secret backroom dealings to successfully lobby the State Assembly to pass a pair of laws which reduce the legal liabilities of certain groups of subcontractors working on construction jobs.  He ascended to this position at CALPASC after his supporters essentially bought the seat in the special election.  (He outspent his nearest opponent ~3:1 and gained the office by a margin of 104 votes.  Something less than 0.4% of the electorate)  And his supporters are a who's who in San Diego construction.  Mullin knows that there are major limitations to construction in Poway, as dictated by Poway General Plan and that the City Council is technically required by law to follow said plan.  But not so much the City Staff.  As such, Mullin has proposed to "streamline" the process of urbanizing Poway by transferring the authority to start building projects into the hands of the City Staff.  The very same group that is born and bred to Build, not to follow the General Plan.

Kruse is not a real candidate.  Besides flitting from one position to another by "appointment" he has no real independence.  His sole purpose is to make sure than the building out of Poway does not occur near Green Valley, where he derives his political support.  In exchange for this, Kruse is a Higginson vote, all the time.  He will second any motion to get the process moving and make up the 3rd and final vote in a block that renders each of the other two Council Members irrelevant bystanders.

Despite this Current CRISES of Leadership, Poway is Phenomenally Fortunate to have Three HIGHLY Qualified Candidates to Put Poway Back on the RIGHT Course.

Pete Babich, Dave Grosch, and Nick Stavros are each long term Powegians who know that the "Country" in the "City in the Country" is not only under assault, it is meant for ALL residents, not just a select few elitists.  Each of the Challengers has extensive successful entrepreneurial small business sense.  Each know that to have a prosperous future as a City, Poway will need to maintain its unique character through a robust and consistent General Plan, and to focus on attracting "Smart" industries of the 21st century.  This means industries where the employees are highly skilled and want to live near where they work, and can afford to do it.  Not large box stores where the low wage work in imported from outside of Poway, and the workers cannot afford to do much for Poway but provide traffic.

These candidates are not beholden to the Developer's Special Interest Lobby, but listen to the residents.  These Challengers are the worst nightmare of the City Staff, because, unlike the current crop, Babich, Grosch, and Stavros, actually take the time to read the reports, not just regurgitate what the City Staff puts in front of their faces.

If you want Poway to turn into Mira Mesa, vote for the "Incumbents".  If you want Poway to remain that unique place in San Diego County, vote for the Challengers.  For all of our sake, I hope that you...

Tell your neighbors to Vote Out the Incumbents.

........Before its too late

Vote for Babich, Grosch, and Stavros

Why the Poway General Plan Matters more than Political Party

Vote for Babich, Grosch, and Stavros

The take home message of this entry:
It does not matter if your Council Member is Republican or Democrat if they build a freeway in your back yard.

What party is in power in Washington or Sacramento has relatively little bearing on your daily lives when compared to the local City Council.  Both parties are corrupt and will take more of your money, give it to their friends and supporters, and engage in boondoggles that waste our tax payer monies.  The parties are just different flavors of the same ice cream.  One is vanilla with chocolate swirls and the other is chocolate with vanilla swirls.  Although they both taste good, neither are good for your health.

What really matter to YOU is the Poway General Plan

Want to know why?  Go to the Poway Geographic Information Service (GIS) site here and look up your address.  That black line around where you live is the city's easement for roads, sidewalks, or whatever they want to do.  Those Zoning Definitions, ie RS-7, RR-2, OS-RM, etc. have real meaning as defined in the General Plan.  They say how much density can be put onto that parcel of land.  What the use is supposed to be.  This only has meaning if the City Council actually follows what is written in the plan.

This type of information found in the General Plan is used to make real financial decisions as to the value of a piece of property.  A piece of land sitting next to a OS-RM (open space) lot will be worth more than a lot surrounded by RS-7 (higher density residential), because the 1st lot has more of the "Country" feel.  All things being equal, someone will spend more money for the 1st lot than for the 2nd.  But imagine what they would think if the city then decided to not follow the General Plan and install tract housing on that open space park land lot?  People would flee Poway and property values would plummet because there would no longer be any predictable rules.  Poway would become like many small shanty towns in Mexico that run by who you know in power and how much you bribed them to do what you wanted.

The size of the roads, the density of the commercial and residential neighborhoods are all defined by the Poway General Plan.  Currently, this plan is designed as a slow growth plan that maintains the "Country" in the "City in the Country".  Right now, each of the candidates say that they will "Support the General Plan."  To say anything less is political suicide.

But HOW will they "support" the plan?  The Plan is currently due for it's update and the Higginson Cabal (Mullin/Kruse/Higginson) will either ensure that the "update" changes enough things to permit mass urbanization of South Poway so that almost anything stuck in North Poway would still seem like "Country", or they will leave so many loopholes in the plan such that any semblance of it being a "General Plan" disappears.  In either case, they will be "supporting the General Plan", but in both cases it is to the detriment of the residents.

Babich, Grosch, an Stavros, take a more conservative approach to their view of the General Plan to not only enforce what is written, but also what is the "spirit" of the General Plan.  They know that the General Plan is one of the few documents that stops outside pressure from the County and the State to take up the hordes of people banging at the gates, clamoring for cheap housing.

Without a strong General Plan, there is nothing to stop Poway from being paved over, and then, being a city at all really no longer matters, much less the party affiliations of the City Council.

Tell your neighbors to Vote Out the Incumbents.

........Before its too late

Vote for Babich, Grosch, and Stavros

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Poway Local Election has Gone NEGATIVE!!!

The Poway Local Election has gone NEGATIVE!
Come check it OUT!

See what everyone’s been talking about!

Here what people are saying!

“Dear lord, I had no idea the council stopped listening to the people!”
- Pollyanna Voter

“Arrrgh!  I’ve thrown away my vote!!  I did not find out in time!”
- Absentee Ballot Voter who did not find out in time.

“I knew there was a reason every Developer I know has been pushing the incumbents!”
- No Longer Naïve Voter

“Oh No!  I can hear the Bulldozers Now!”
- Person who has mistaken the dishwasher noise for that of a bulldozer

“Dang it!  I wish I had thought of going negative sooner!”
- Incumbent Supporter

“No!!! My Plans to Turn Poway into Downtown Mira Mesa Have Been Revealed!”
- Lord Voldemort

So Download the NEGATIVE Voter Information Guide (Page 2) and give it to all of your friends!  Even Better, Add a Dash of Positivity to your Proclivity and download Page 1 of the Guide for the Glorious Challenger Candidates!  People who can actually save the “Country” in the “City in the Country”!

Better yet:  Download them BOTH!!!


Tell your neighbors to Vote Out the Incumbents.

........Before its too late

Vote for Babich, Grosch, and Stavros

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Who's Buying the City Council?

Vote for Babich, Grosch, and Stavros

Saw an article in the Poway News Chieftain that did an analysis of the campaign funding thus far.  Looks like the race is being bought by OUTSIDE INTERESTS.

To highlight the relevant parts of the article:

Since the first of the year, and including costs associated with his June recall replacement campaign, Mullin has raised $24,324 and spent $21,603 — more than four times as much as challengers Pete Babich and Dave Grosch, who are...

For the recent two-week reporting period, Mullin listed 34 contributions, with nine coming from outside of Poway. Twenty of the checks were for $100. Among those were 10 from contributors listing real estate, contracting or construction as occupations. 


Kruse listed 10 contributions, five of which were from outside of Poway.
So it's pretty clear that for the people putting down the money, a significant amount of the interest is coming from outside real estate and commercial development in Poway.  And these are the just the people who volunteered to list their occupation.  Sources of non-monetary support, thus not on the Form 460 (or 700) DO NOT include "get to meet the candidate" events, hosted dinners, cut rates on campaign supplies, etc.  This election is being bought, old school style.  Mullin has raised 4x the money of the next closest candidate.  People don't drop that kind of cash for a local election and not expect something in return.  That "something" can be many things but it is NOT good governance for ALL residents of Poway.  Kruse is not far behind with Higginson.  The people who front the cash call the shots.  Like it or not, ethical as you want to be or not, little by little, brick by brick.  Rome was not built in a day, after all.

The County of San Diego AND the Developers that control it, have been gritting their teeth ever since Poway incorporated.  So much land.  So much money to be made.  Want to see the future of ALL of Poway if Mullin pulls a fast one?  Looking West to San Diego, across Pomerado while on top of the Rancho Arbolitos O.S. Neighborhood Park.
 There are even bulldozers in that one.  Waiting for November 3rd perhaps?

Homes look pretty nice.  See the 4-5 story apartment complexes (behind the front row) and town homes coming our way?  Get used to it.  You'll be able to drive from one end of to the other and into San Diego and not even tell the difference.  High density sprawl.  Homes that fall apart in a 5-10 years.  A developer's paradise.  Poway's nightmare.

Tell your neighbors to Vote Out the Incumbents.

........Before its too late

Vote for Babich, Grosch, and Stavros

Serious Choices for Poway

On October 19th, the Poway City Council tried to follow the rules by initiating a General Plan Amendment that would actually permit lights to be placed at the Arbolitos Sports Fields. While the council's attempt to actually follow the law is laudable, what is striking is the implicit threat of a lawsuit required to get them to take this course.  Sadly, the fight to insure that the city council represents the interests of all Poway citizen is not over yet, and will continue so long as a council is in place that chooses not to adhere to the standards and ideals of Poway, as codified in the General Plan.

The level of effort required by the citizenry to get this council to follow the rules, or at the very least listen to their concerns, is far too high. The people composing the current city council are not bad people, they are just not appropriate leaders for Poway, if it is to move forward as the city it was envisioned to be.

Mullin is ethically horribly compromised and has insurmountable conflicts of interest.  Higginson long ago lost touch with anyone outside of his base, and Kruse lacks any form of independence, choosing simply to vote with whomever appointed him. Never has the choice been more clear or serious.

A vote for the incumbents is a vote to change the city into Box Stores in the South and McMansions in the North.

A vote for Babich, Grosch, and Stavros, is a vote for better city governance that will maintain Poway as the City we know. Choose wisely, Poway.

If you want to get involved, download the Poway Voter Guide and print some out for yourself and give the rest to your neighbors.  Only if you get out the vote will you be able to maintain your quality of life.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Why This Election Is So Important - A Brief History

Vote for Babich, Grosch, and Stavros

Poway is not the mystical place of wonderful government and endless prosperity that people are led to believe.  It is a place that is wrought with an internal strife, hidden just beneath the surface, between County-driven expansion pressures, and resident resistance.  The City of Poway was formed as a result of this pressure from the County to turn what is now Poway into a high density housing suburb of San Diego County.  The population, at this time, was supposed to be in excess of 100,000 people.  All you need to do is exit the city to get an idea of what the County sees for Poway's future.

Endless rows of housing developments.
No Land.
HOA fees.
No Community.
No Peace.

Fortunately for us all, the residents then stood up to the pressure, incorporated a City, and fought hard to draft the Poway General Plan.  A sacrosanct document. This document has been the savior of the residents to the bane of the Developers.

Developers will tell you that the city is "built out."  That there is no place left to expand.  This is Delusional.  People generally believe them, but the developers who push this fallacy are wrong and they know it.

Drive west outside of the City.  Take a look around you.  What you are looking at, the rows of tract housing, the decimation of the hillsides.  What you are looking at is still not built out.  You are looking at the process of a city being built out.   With each passing year, the County looks east to Poway.  Looks to the open space.  Looks to the comparatively large lots of land.  The County, run by developers, see prime real estate.  They see gold.  Their gold.

Those "modern" houses they build in those tract homes.  Fancy floors.  New appliances.  Large garages.  Look nice on the outside.  Ever see one of them being built?  Been inside a structure?  Seen the utilities?  I have.  They last 5 or 10 years.  Fall apart.  Developers don't make money building anything that lasts 50 years.  You make money by the process.  Construction.  Demolition.  Not by staying power.

Those A/C units?  Lowest Energy Star rating you can get and still be Energy Star Rated.
Those Double paned windows? The Argon's gone in under 5 years. - The argon give the windows their insulation.  Dirty Secret of the industry is that there's no rule that says the Argon needs to last at all.
You pay an extra $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 to "upgrade" the design for items that haven't even been built.  "Upgrade" the refrigerator?  You could buy 2 on the open market at the "upgrade price."  HOA hooks you in to the options at the purchase time.  An extra set of doors before the frame is even laid?  Better open up your bank account.  Open it up wide.  Costs nothing extra to build.  Pure developer profit.
Frame are built to minimal standards, a nice cover is placed onto it.
You pay HOA fees.  Better be gone in 5 years because it's all downhill from there.
Look at the "pretty homes" in the Development tracts.  Not so nice, once you scratch the surface.
Coming here soon.
In short: Details.  The Details matter, because as they say:

"The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions."

Go North 200 miles.  I lived there for about 10 years.  That is built out.  Hills gone.  Replaced by roads.  Noise.  Pollution.  Wildlife consists of rat in the sewers.  Crime.  That is built out.  Poway is not built out.  Poway is ripe for takeover, and we have all but handed the keys to the city to the outside developer lobby.


The General Plan.

The Next City Council will oversee the next update of the Poway General Plan.  This is he only legal document that prevents Poway from becoming just another suburb of downtown San Diego.  Bending at that Council's every beck and call.  No independence.  No future.  Poway is at a terrible junction that will define its future and, sadly, has grown complacent with years of relative peace.

The Current Council members are a Developers' Dream Team.

Higginson. - 24 years on the council, the ultimate incumbent, has given him in-depth knowledge of the city staff.  Levers to pull, people to call.  The only people who could hold him back are gone.  Mickey Cafagna, the former mayor passed away, and Bob Emery retired.  Now Higginson has a chance to make is mark permanent.  He thinks that he's working for his North Poway constituents.  His constituents even think that he is working for them.  But everyone loses if the General Plan is weak.  If it is thwarted.  If it is cast aside.

Carl Kruse - a.k.a. "The Ever-Appointed" has never run for an election in his life, unless he was an "incumbent".  Never tested in the fire of a real political race, he moves from place to place, from position to position, by currying favor from those in power.  In exchange for an important seat, you've got a vote.  It's called "Kruse-Control."  A nice smile, a good handshake.  And the "Country" in the "City in the Country" will be just something you tell people about and they laugh.

Worst of all is John Mullin.  Nice guy but a Straight Lobbyist.  Sits on the Government Affairs section of the Board of Directors of CALPASC.  Got there when his seat was bought in the special election.  (Ever wonder why Betty Rexford was pushed so hard to get out of office? - Special Elections are cheaper to win)  This lobbying organization works to reduce the legal liabilities of subcontractors in construction jobs.  The lobby does good work.  Thus far, it's railroaded 2 laws through the CA State Assembly.  Effective at their job.  As of the writing of this post, Mullin has proposed moving large sections of the General Plan decision processes out of City Council control and into City Staff hands.

If John Mullin is elected, is Box Stores in the South and McMansions in the North.  Everyone loses.  All short term planning.  All sprawl.

For those of you who don't know, the City Staff is born and bred to expand a city.  To hell with the General Plan or whatever gets in their way.  They are not judged or promoted on following the long term General Plan.  They make their mark and name by short term projects.  Whatever it takes.  The City Council is supposed to be the check to that power.  But with the friends and supporters of the council being the people that the City Staff contracts to, or who financially benefit from the illegal permits they issue, that check is gone.  Public input is gone.  All behind closed doors.  Easy.

The current city council will tell you that they believe in the General Plan.  But this is only when it does not get in their supporter's way.  If they get a chance to rewrite it, it will be so full of loopholes that they will be right, and it never will get in their way.

Won't be the first time.  Won't be the first City to Fall.  This is how it happens.  This is what happened to LA.  Just SOP.

Vote for Babich, Grosch, and Stavros

Before it's too late.....