Opinion/Letters to the Editor February 2021
Feb. 18 issue:
Importance of music in our community and during Covid
I am writing to persuade you and remind you of the importance of music in our community and especially during Covid! Music can be extremely beneficial to one’s health! Playing an instrument is highly important because it reduces stress, produces patience and perseverance, develops music appreciation, and playing music cultivates creativity.
Studies show that people who listened to relaxing music have significantly lower levels of cortisol which is the stress hormone. Playing an instrument requires persistence and perseverance because practicing an instrument helps one understand where one needs to improve. Over time this constant correction allows one to keep playing an instrument even though it is difficult at first. Playing an instrument improves hand- eye coordination and helps keep your brain malleable from continuous learning. Finally, playing an instrument develops music appreciation because one is exposed to different types of music styles and various musical composers.
I have been playing the baritone saxophone for two years. I have played the piano since I was six-years-old. Torrey Pines’ music program is a great resource for local attending high schoolers to further their music development. I have had a wonderful experience at TP’s music program and appreciate the support I’ve had from Torrey Pines and from Ms. Gelb.
Please support your continued learning by listening to music, trying to learn or continue playing an instrument, and by supporting your local music programs and events.
Boy Scouts 765
Feb. 25 issue:
Council actions have a cost
Last week’s Del Mar Times carried a report that the new Council majority (NCM) fired Del Mar’s recently hired City Manager, “CJ” Johnson.
CJ is well-liked in the community, and a highly respected city manager. She was hired last February by the “Old Council Majority” (OCM) under Mayor Ellie Haviland. She just finished her first year on the job when the news of her firing broke. Now, the question is why? There were no indications of any problems in CJ’s administration. By all accounts, she was preparing to remain in Del Mar at least five more years.
The Municipal Code allows the City Council to terminate employment of a city manager for any reason, or no reason. It takes just a majority of three votes. Yet responsible city councils know how difficult it is to replace city managers. If problems develop, efforts are made to resolve them before resorting to employment termination.
Months of effort by the OCM and several thousand dollars went into recruiting and hiring CJ. That investment is now forfeit. And tens of thousands more dollars will be paid to CJ under her employment agreement.
In her statement on the City’s website, Mayor Gaasterland states, “CJ skillfully led the organization with competence and the highest integrity.” Why then this sudden dismissal?
Similar questions were raised last month when Mayor Gaasterland announced the City had hired special legal counsel, at a cost up to $20,000, to explore ways to get around its obligations under the affordable housing plan approved by the State in 2013, when the City’s 5th Cycle Housing Element was approved. The OCM and staff spent years conferring with developers of the Watermark Project for inclusion of a substantial portion of the City’s required affordable units and design issues.
But when the necessary zoning and community plan amendments were presented for approval by the Council last October, Councilmembers Gaasterland and Druker demurred, provoking a non-compliance letter from the State. Mayor Gaasterland then claimed she and Councilmember Martinez would find “other ways” to meet the City’s obligation. But the hiring of a special counsel suggests that isn’t going to happen.
Meanwhile, because the City is in non-compliance, the Watermark developer has exercised its right under State law to proceed to develop the project “by right,” entitling the developer to build to higher densities and bypass discretionary review by the City.
Such precipitous and reckless actions by the NCM have a cost and, since coming to power three months ago, appear to be the new “norm” for the NCM. Eventually, the City and its residents will have to pick up the pieces - and the bills.
Council should look out for interests of all voters
Del Mar’s new Council majority is clearly struggling to handle the difference between campaigning and governing.
Glib campaign slogans get votes but are not effective when it comes to the detailed and complicated work of complying with local and state requirements.
Rail tracks, affordable housing, short-term rentals, and many more issues require experience and expertise which our city staff can give but it does not satisfy NIMBY and anti-government forces, some of whom helped elect these Council members. So, instead of owning their limitations and educating their constituents, they throw red meat to them with actions that further complicate matters and put the city’s well being in jeopardy.
They force out the City Manager, bypass the Assistant, ask the City Clerk to do two jobs, put intense pressure on overworked and underpaid city staff, squeeze time deadlines, defy state requirements, and top it off with another special election campaign (just what we need,more fear mongering and sloganeering).
Del Mar cannot afford more political gaming. The potential consequences from the state are financial, legal, and loss of local control on important land use decisions.
The city has very competent staff members and lawyers. The new council majority must learn to respect this expertise to help guide good decision making. We need them to look out for the long- term interests of all the voters, not just the loud ones.
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