San Juan Capistrano

Letter to the Editor
           The New City Council Challenge – Lead!

Amid accusations of empty paper racks, “jury-rigging” the election, and waiving letters from “more than 50 people, of which only 10 were against Larry Kramer’s appointment” Council Member Sam Allevato reaffirmed his strong commitment to the waning power of the “Good Ol’ Boys.”

He conveniently omitted the fact that all the newspaper racks outside city hall were bare, the letter campaign (which Commissioner Steve Behmerwohld accidently leaked was Allevato’s creation) was dwarfed by the recent election results of 9,288 votes cast for the three winning councilmembers compared to Larry [Kramer]’s 2,139 votes, trailing the lowest winner by nearly 1,000 votes.   

But the audacity of his claim of jury-rigging the election is truly a moment of “the emperor has no clothes”. Does he think we’ve forgotten his direct involvement behind the outlandish, ugly “Send in the Clowns” mailer and others like it? The phantom websites that spewed lies, hatred and personal attacks? The enormous amount of money from sources outside the city raised for his council majority ~ that in the end residents saw through and made no difference at all?

But he had a point. He has a different view than all of the other council members, and will continue to actively voice his opinion…which is how the best decisions are crafted, when all sides of the question are passionately and civilly debated. Barring the chance a council member turns off his microphone in the heat of discussion, the challenge for this new council is to truly lead by a new directive and policy. It’s truly a “target rich” environment demanding new pro-active rather than reactive courses. 

Case in point - while the Nursery land property will absolutely not be the future site of a Spieker development…what will it become? The site of a new hotel? Expanded Open Space to include more athletic fields and/or an aquatic complex? The site of a multi-use complex that could host better-attended city council meetings? All three? It won’t just be in the hands of the city council, but also commissioners, city staff ~ and us, the residents of San Juan Capistrano.

Lest you think the challenges are insurmountable, look at what’s occurred in just over 60 days by the growing involvement of “residents like us.” The city council’s request for applications for commission appointments ~ which historically has required extensions for lack of applicants, was flooded with many highly qualified ones. Dr. Byrnes will be smiling as he retires his council seat, knowing that his replacement was chosen from a host of very well qualified candidates. Whether you agree or not that John Perry is a natural extension of the intellect, decorum and experience that Dr. Byrnes’ has always represented, this is your chance to exercise your Democratic right to get involved; voice your concerns, ideas and thoughts!    

Even if we have the five greatest minds in history serving as Council Members, decisions made in a bubble will be infinitely weaker that those crafted from deep public discussion and comment. Good luck to the City Council, and to all of us!

Mark Speros
San Juan Capistrano

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