The first City Council meeting of the year went well from a structural point of view. The new Mayor made very few fumbles and things went quickly now that Scott Voigts is no longer in the chair. But the content of the meeting was a little troubling. In a previous article we looked at the items that were not on this first agenda. More than a dozen important issues were left unresolved in 2013 and not a single one of them appeared in 2014.
SILENT BOB RETURNS
Readers of this column will recall that Dwight Robinson earned the nickname “Silent Bob” because he spent most of 2013 saying little or nothing. With what was happening in 2013, that’s wasn’t necessarily a bad thing given how many meetings went long beyond the normal closing time.
The first 2014 Council meeting started out with now Mayor Robinson making up for his past lapses, but when it came time for public comment, a resident of Foothill Ranch approached the dais, carrying one of Robinson’s 2012 campaign flyers, and asked Robinson a question – “You promised ‘to open more schools to lower class size’” he said reading from the flyer. “I want to know what you’re doing about that?” Robinson sat stone faced, turning a little red, but stone nonetheless. The resident asked again. Robinson refused to answer. The resident shook his head and took his seat.
BTW - I posted a copy of the part of the flyer referred to above.
For those of you who don’t recall, Robinson was a very strong supporter of the Brookfield and Trumark projects. Among other things, the project developers gave Robinson tens of thousands of dollars for his campaign, but didn’t offer any new schools for the City (Good for Robinson, not so good for the City). The result will be that their children will be squeezed into the existing school system. In fact, there are 4,500 new homes being built in Lake Forest, with some 6,000 new children expected to squeeze into the existing school system. So the Foothill Ranch resident had a meaningful question that will haunt us for years, as will Robinson’s broken promise.
MORE BROKEN PROMISES
The Foothill Ranch resident didn’t bring it up, but on that same campaign flyer was another one of Robinson’s campaign promises – “He wants to create a City Traffic Commission” was the tag line under his “Plan to Keep Lake Forest Moving”. It wasn’t on the agenda, but Robinson did bring up the topic of the traffic commission in his opening remarks. Apparently he no longer favors a traffic commission. Instead, he now favors a series of “educational workshops” in which City staff roam around the City telling people what the City is doing to relieve traffic. The assumption here is that if the people are told what’s being done they won’t notice that the traffic is bad and getting worse. While Robinson was sharing his grand vision I was reminded of a line from the Cat Steven’s song – “From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.”
“WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS A FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE”
The roaming traffic “educational workshops” are a part of Robinson’s plan to communicate with residents. It’s his top priority. He wants the City to do a better job communicating. No, he doesn’t want the City to do a better job managing the City, just to do a better job communicating. Hmmmm.
Mayor Robinson’s second priority, following better communicating, is to be more business friendly. Apparently the good Mayor means to be business “friendly” to all the businesses outside Lake Forest, because if you look at how much money the City of Lake Forest approved to spend on people and businesses in Lake Forest at the same meeting that Robinson shared his vision, you’ll find that only $68,519 of the $4,710,071 was actually spent in our City. That’s a mere 1.4%, which is the second lowest percent I’ve recorded to date (the lowest was 1.37% in November 2013). Before Robinson was elected, the City averaged about 4% to 5%, which was too low. Now that the “business friendly” Robinson has joined the Council, our percent is less than 2%. With “friends” like this, do we need “enemies”?
Tomorrow we’ll look at a few more things that came up at the first meeting of 2014. FWIW - "Silent Bob" is probably not the best nickname to use for our new Mayor going forward. I'll go back to calling him Mayor Robinson unless someone has a better nickname.