Council business as usual

Editorial column, Jan. 9, 2006
Council business as usual

The current council has been seated for more than a year. After Council Member Frank Ury on Jan. 3 dressed down the Planning Commission, isn’t the council overdue for review?

Individual council members have made deliberate choices not to work together. Standard fare includes personal attacks and outbursts. While the council is supposed to direct city staff, the opposite is often true. Staff members – who were neither hired nor elected by residents – make decisions and direct the council. Is this anyone’s idea of representative or open government?

At the Jan. 3 meeting, Councilman Ury took it upon himself to outline the council’s 2006 goals, using the big screen for a PowerPoint presentation as if he were speaking to his underlings at his sales job. Mission Viejo isn’t a corporation, and Ury isn’t the boss – which is obvious when his motions don’t get a second. Ury criticized the Planning Commission for lack of accomplishment and complained he has “no one” on the commission to advise him on traffic matters. Whose fault is that? Why doesn’t Ury replace his “green building” appointee with a knowledgeable person who actually adds value to the commission?

A recurring voting pattern followed MacLean’s proposal to form an ad hoc committee regarding the city’s affordable housing goals. The Planning Commission had been directed by the council to work on affordable housing, which it has done for 2 1/2 years. In a rare lucid moment, Council Member Trish Kelley suggested on Jan. 3 that the ad hoc committee should include representatives of both the Planning Commission and the council. Council Members John Paul Ledesma and Gail Reavis indicated their support for Kelley’s concept – at least not to cut out the Planning Commission altogether. Kelley next voted against her own idea, as if to distance herself from Reavis at any cost. MacLean’s proposal passed 3-2, with MacLean, Ury and Kelley voting yes and Ledesma and Reavis voting no.

Here’s the rub. MacLean and Ury have revealed their intent to bring a large affordable-apartment project into the Technology Center, which is along the freeway and south of Oso. While Kelley has promoted herself as an advocate of Capistrano USD schools, her vote on Jan. 3 opened the door to more apartments, more low-achieving students and more overcrowding of classrooms in the Capo district. Kelley is willing to sacrifice the quality of education in Capo schools just to avoid voting with Reavis. Before running for office in 2002, Kelley fought against apartment complexes in the same part of town. Things have changed.