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Mayor Madrid Calls Councilmember Ewin 'Liar,' Fueling Public Feud

In a prepared statement read at last week's council meeting, the mayor admonished his fellow councilmember, claiming he is "mired in political games and personal vendettas."

Originally posted Feb. 21, 2013

For months, the rift between Mayor Art Madrid and councilmember Ernie Ewin has become more evident – and more public. At countless meetings in the second half of 2012 and on into the new year, the two men have publicly disagreed, and in some cases, been outright contentious, on a variety of issues.

From a lost softball and plaque, to opinions on "fracking," to responsibilities and requirements for city-related travel, Madrid and Ewin have lobbed shots back and forth across the dias.

Their spat reached a head at the last city council meeting on Feb. 12, when Madrid read aloud a prepared statement (see below) claiming Ewin lied on multiple occasions, and made a motion to table three "council-initiated" agenda items that were brought forth by Ewin. The motion was defeated 3-2, with councilmembers Ewin, Arapostathis, and Alessio voting no.

Ewin responded to a Patch query for reaction on Thursday evening, saying via email: "So seems to me that Art is always entitled to his own opinions, and the 'entire City Council' has spoken by their subsequent votes on items – some even 5-0 – on topics easily from 12/11/12."

"I 'join' a great group of citizens and elected officials who have been called out publicly by Art," he said. "I've seen it from my council days during 1985-90 and 2002-13. When he does it to me, I just consider the source. When done to members of the public, I see it as bullying. This current behavior/banter is no more than Art calling himself out by example. Interesting leadership style!"

The following is Madrid's statement, verbatim, provided to Patch by the Mayor himself:

"My discussion points are all germane to the appointment process and related issues. Frankly, I debated about making these comments, however, after much thought I've concluded that this candid public discussion is long overdue.

There comes a time in everyone's life when one is forced to speak out. For me that time is now!

The specific resolution regarding council member appointments to outside boards or committees states that those appointments will be made at our first council meeting in January of each year. At the January 8, 2013 council meeting, nominations of individual council members for outside boards were made, discussed and voted on. Each nomination recommended was unanimously approved, 5-0.

Two weeks later, a council initiated item was placed on the January 22 agenda by Mr. Ewin, calling for the removal of the mayor from the two boards he was appointed by the council on January 8, with no explanation, reason or good cause given.

He just wants the mayor removed.

Because I couldn't attend the meeting on the 22nd, to participate in those discussions, I specifically requested a continuance of those items. A request for continuance of any agenda item by any council member is a normal practice and always honored.

I informed the city manager, city attorney and city clerk of my desire to have these items continued. I informed the vice mayor that he would be chairing the meeting on the 22nd, and requested that all council-initiated items be continued to the following meeting where I would be present.

I spoke with Mr. Ewin, regarding his council initiated items and asked to have them continued, and he agreed.

On Monday, January 28, 2013, while reviewing the recorded proceedings of the 22nd meeting for the purposes of evaluating the interviews of candidates applying for city boards and commissions, I was stunned to see the specific items I requested to be continued were under full discussion by Mr. Ewin, and he concluded with a motion to remove the mayor as the primary member of the Wastewater/JPS board "because he couldn't serve as the alternate."

Again, no reason, explanation or due cause given to justify the mayor's removal from that board; if Mr. Ewin can't serve as the alternate, he should resign so we can appointment his replacement. As a matter of fact, we don't need an alternate.

I want to address Mr. Ewin's goal to overturn the mayor's appointments made on January 8. There is something deeply troubling when a councilmember will do what ever he deems necessary to overturn a council decision that he doesn't like or agree with.

There is something deeply troubling when a councilmember uses these council chambers as his bully pulpit to reward or punish anyone he deems deserving of his praise or wrath.

There is something deeply troubling when a councilmember thinks he is above the law and attempts to impose his views, values and biases on all city council issues or city related matters.

There is something deeply troubling when a councilmember challenges the entire city council's authority, responsibility or wisdom for making any decision he doesn't agree with.

And there is something especially troubling when a councilmember openly lies at a public meeting and thinks nothing about it.

Mr. Ewin lied when he cast his vote on January 8, in support of the mayor's appointment to two boards. Mr. Ewin lied when he agreed to continue his January 22nd council initiated items and then proceeded with their full discussion.

Mr. Ewin lied in his response to Ms. Sterling's question that he didn't know he was being appointed to the losan (sic) board, thus his reason for rejecting his alternate designation on the Wastewater/JPA committee.

And Mr. Ewin lied when he continued his public inquisition during two separate council meetings, demanding that the mayor produce a softball and plaque because they were to be used for the induction of a senior softball championship team at the San Diego Hall of Champions.

I made a specific trip to the Hall of Champion's facility, and no one there knew anything about a pending induction. I subsequently spoke with one of the administrators and after he stopped laughing, he assured me that no such event was ever discussed, pending and doubted that it would even be considered. Another example of political gamesmanship by Mr. Ewin.

These are but a few of Mr. Ewin's ongoing efforts to embarrass, humiliate or debase anyone he considers an enemy.

The practice of distraction is an old political ploy used by those who are continually trying to manipulate the operations of any organization, including a city, to avoid dealing with the real issues at hand or challenges before them.

The city and council have more important issues to deal with in 2013 than to be mired in political games or personal vendettas.

As I mentioned in my annual audit report on January 8, 2013, the number of major issues and challenges this council and city prevailed during 2012 was because we focused on running the city and didn't allow ourselves to be distracted by irrelevant or personal agenda issues.

We need to be mindful that of the real important issues on the council and city's plate this year, for example:

• A full economic recovery is nowhere in sight and we continue to have a protracted impact on this city which needs monitoring.

• The sequestering of the national budget, if not resolved by March 1st could lead to another recession, with its attendant problems which will certainly impact our city.

• For many national retailers, this is the time of year when they evaluate which of their stores they will keep open or close because of profitability. A recent Wall Street survey showed that eight national retailers have announced projected store closures. Four of these eight have stores in La Mesa: Best Buy, Office Depot, Radio Shack and Barnes & Nobel; collectively these four chains plan on closing 1,690 of their stores. While none of the closure locations have been identified, we can all remember the 2007 recession that saw the closure of five national brand stores here in La Mesa creating a loss of sales tax and jobs.

• We are currently facing an unknown fine by another agency, which can be in the 6 or 7-figure range.

• The settlement of a lawsuit involving a valuable city parcel is still unresolved and is keeping us from going forward with its development that would generate additional property tax dollars.

• The 50-year lease at the Grossmont shopping center is about to expire and its future direction is yet to be determined. Nevertheless, that needs to be on our radar screen.

• Plans to upgrade Collier Park are in the development stage and will require focus in order to move forward in a positive direction.

• We have just acquired a nearly three-acre parcel of valuable land at the corner of Waite Drive and Murray Hill. The development of this parcel as a park has been a long held goal of councilmember Sterling, but we will need significant financial and staff resources to move ahead with this project.

• We are moving ahead with improvements to our Vista La Mesa park facility which has serious flooding issues each time it rains, and we are also making the necessary park improvements at that location.

• Our 50-year-old community swimming pool is need of serious and major repair work. We just completed a costly repair of the leaking pipes, and our next challenge is its overall repair and the source of funding.

These are but a few examples and reasons why we must stay focused on these pending issues and stop the constant deceitful attempts to be distracted and create issues where none exist or are warranted.

There were no illegal actions taken or policy violations regarding the councilmember appointments of January 8, which justify the review or rescinding the mayor's appointment to the two outside boards.

And there has been no abuse, malfeasances or violations of travel approved budgeted resources by any councilmember or the mayor while on city related business, which requires travel policy amendments. Therefore I move that the three remaining council initiated items on the agenda be tabled."

Janet Mercer-Grey February 22, 2013 at 04:20 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zg0xBjegI7A
Craig Maxwell February 22, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Didn't you know? Art's no run-of-the-mill liar. No!--far from it. Why he's a member--uh, er, I mean, the PRESIDENT!--of the Pathological Liars Anonymous organization. Ya,...that's it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkYNBwCEeH4
Scott H. Kidwell February 23, 2013 at 12:31 AM
"There is something deeply troubling when a councilmember (sic) uses these council chambers as his bully pulpit to reward or punish anyone he deems deserving of his praise or wrath." Says Madrid Remember in 2009 when Mayor Madrid offered the power of his office to PFLAG Patty in an email stating: "Patty, our next city council meeting is this coming Tuesday, the 14th of July, starting at 4:00 in the afternoon. You and your friends and supports of PFLAG are welcomed and encouraged to come to express your feelings or reaction by Ruth Sterling. The comments or statements you are entitled to make will be made under the Public Comment section and each speaker has 3 minutes to express their views. There can be no response or debate to any comments made by the speaker because the issue(s) you will be addressing have not been placed on the agenda. As chair of the meeting, I will not allow any council member to respond, defend themselves or push back on the speakers. That is our policy. I will back that up with the city attorneys admonishment of any council member who wants to react to you and your other speakers."
Craig Maxwell February 23, 2013 at 01:39 AM
Art's history of dishonest hypocrisy go way back. Check-out this this knee-slapper from his campaign against Fred Nagel in '90. "If I am elected Mayor I will operate in a fashion of openness and one of mutual respect for the opinions of my colleagues, rather than trying to suffocate their views or intimidate them Madrid said, "I will be providing ethical leadership to the office."
Jimmy Sanders February 23, 2013 at 04:06 AM
That's funny! It seems like the mayor is always flapping his jaw during the public comment part of the meetings. Oh well, special rules for special people.
Darby Sometruth February 23, 2013 at 08:49 AM
Hey Madrid. Do us all a favor and resign and spare us the agony of having us listen to your self right righteous blabber about how transparent you are and forthcoming you have been in 22 years of bad City governance. Hearing stories about all your skirt chasing and public drunkenness is so much more interesting and is at least truthful. Calling Ernie a liar? Isn't that precious. You are the one who should be embarrassed. Taking all the plumb council assignments for yourself so you can get the largest fees to attend meetings like Sandag and Wastewater and you can pad your own pocket but I guess you need to since you are having financial problems. The reason you don't retire and take your City Pension along with your Telephone pension is you make more money with the almost free healthcare, $2,000 a month Mayor fee and committee meetings then you ever could with the retirement fee so you don't really care about your City pension. What Mayor in any other City spends all day every day at City Hall for a part time job? Poor Dave Witt having to have you sit right outside his door. We feel for you Dave. Must be hard to get anything done. Go away Art. The City needs a break from you.
Darby Sometruth February 23, 2013 at 09:12 AM
Ernie didn't go far enough. He should have called for your impeachment for running the City into the ground per all your above comments referencing all the City need for refurbishment and no money to do it with but wait, wasn't that what our .75% tax increase was for? You are the frickin liar Madrid!
Scott H. Kidwell February 23, 2013 at 02:27 PM
There is something deeply troubling when a councilmember (sic) challenges the entire city council's authority, responsibility or wisdom for making any decision he doesn't agree with.” Madrid says Remember in 1990 after being elected Mayor, one of his first acts was an attempt to reverse a vote of the city council on the Jackson Drive extension project from two months before where he was on the losing end on the vote.
Super Terrific Response February 24, 2013 at 12:26 AM
These two tired veterans of La Mesa's small pond politics should both be voted out of office next year. In fact, this city council has been in need of an electoral enema for years.
Scott H. Kidwell February 24, 2013 at 02:22 PM
“There is something deeply troubling when a councilmember thinks he is above the law and attempts to impose his views, values and biases on all city council issues or city related matters.” Madrid says Remember 2012 when Mayor Madrid went behind the city council’s back and provided a fair trade commendation and didn’t have the decency to tell the rest of the city council he had done it when he had the chance in an open council meeting. This was so the fair trade group could get the award presented to themselves and the city that he favored. But he lost in a 3-2 vote the year before on a proposal to favor that same group with a city resolution.
Deena While February 24, 2013 at 08:34 PM
Wow! Craig, that is priceless! Art actually said that? I wonder what happened? Cuz it sure sounds like he forgot that speech! Mutual respect? Intimidation? I hate seeing the numerous times a La Mesa citizen comes before the council to express a concern and then hear Art belittle them in his soapbox speech that always follows.
Things I Learned February 24, 2013 at 09:44 PM
http://splicd.com/i7tGEEWQIhQ/84/94
Craig Maxwell February 24, 2013 at 11:33 PM
"Priceless" is right, Deena. And, yes, that's straight from the tosspot pie-hole of the Grand Poobah himself. That's the thing about lies; they're so easy to forget. Thus the ease and frequency with which he hoists himself on his own petard. Great clip, Things. Exactly how Art views his own irreproachable, Imperial status.
Craig Maxwell February 24, 2013 at 11:42 PM
Oh, and Deena: just one more for the road... “I will insist that we still follow the current Brown Act guidelines and regulations," he [Art] said via email Wednesday. "Credibility is our mantra." Credibility is his mantra.
Scott H. Kidwell February 25, 2013 at 05:12 AM
Oxford Definition of mantra: a statement or slogan repeated frequently: Oxford definition of slogan a short and striking or memorable phrase used in advertising: or a motto associated with a political party or movement or other group:
Sherry Howard February 25, 2013 at 08:08 PM
Hey Art! Can I come to a city council meeting and recite ALL the lies you told in order to get re-elected? How about the one when you told my husband you would walk with him up and down University Avenue and discuss with the business owners all the problems they have been having? 'Memba that one? I got a lot of other examples too! They are both cut from the same cloth........
Janet Mercer-Grey February 25, 2013 at 10:06 PM
Hey, what about the time art madrid said Kristin Allessio bought her seat on the planning commission or when art madrid said Diane Jacobs had an I.Q. of 3 or when art madrid said David Allen was incompetent because of his bankruptcy or when art madrid said Jerri Lopez was racist?
Craig Maxwell February 25, 2013 at 10:26 PM
According to La Mesa Today editor Chris Lavin, those are "just things politicians say." Nothing to worry about--certainly nothing to criticize!--statements like those, Janet, are (according to Lavin), simply par for the course in learning what to expect from politicians. With "press coverage" like Lavin's, is it any wonder Madrid's emerged from puddles of his own vomit smelling like a rose?
Craig Maxwell February 25, 2013 at 10:26 PM
According to La Mesa Today editor Chris Lavin, those are "just things politicians say." Nothing to worry about--certainly nothing to criticize!--statements like those, Janet, are (according to Lavin), simply par for the course in learning what to expect from politicians. With "press coverage" like Lavin's, is it any wonder Madrid's emerged from puddles of his own vomit smelling like a rose?
Kevin George February 25, 2013 at 10:43 PM
Oh ya , the Lopez flap..........racist was his favorite in the late 80s. I was called a racist in 1988 because I contended that the trolley was going to screw up traffic on Spring street..........Thankfully I was wrong...... HAHAHAHAHA.
Komfort February 26, 2013 at 03:18 AM
Anyone else getting their comments rejected on the Academy Award thread?
Things I Learned February 26, 2013 at 04:49 AM
There comes a time in everyone's life when one is forced to speak out. For me that time is now! There is something deeply troubling when a commenter uses these comment sections as his bully pulpit to reward or punish anyone he deems deserving of his praise or wrath. There is something deeply troubling when a commenter thinks he is above the law and attempts to impose his views, values and biases on all article or Patch blog related matters. There is something deeply troubling when a commenter challenges the entire technical support team's authority, responsibility or wisdom for making any decision he doesn't agree with. And there is something especially troubling when a commenter openly lies in Patch comments and thinks nothing about it. Komfort lied when he/she/it said his/her/its comments were rejected on the Academy Award thread. Komfort lied when he/she/it asked if anyone else was getting their comments rejected too. I made a specific trip to Patch technical support, and no one there knew anything about rejected comments. I subsequently spoke with one of the administrators and after he stopped laughing, he kicked me out of his office and said I have a screw loose. The Patch and its commenters have more important issues to deal with in 2013 than to be mired in political games or personal vendettas. Just ask LG Joe. http://lamesa.patch.com/articles/weber-england-face-off-over-lemon-grove-sales-tax-debate-of-2010#comment_5121175
Komfort February 26, 2013 at 05:07 AM
Why didn't you post this on the Academy Award thread?
Things I Learned February 26, 2013 at 05:28 AM
My comment was rejected.
Jake Blues February 26, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Folks, something Art said should be first and foremost important over all the petty bickering comonly seen at LM City hall; "We need to be mindful that of the real important issues on the council and city's plate this year, for example" .... those items, please review, are the business of our City and should be primary above who has been or has'nt been appointed to what position. Frankly becoming an Appointee should be at the bottom of LM City councils concerns. IMHO, the important issues are the business of the city; Public Safety, City services (utilities), short and long term planning to proteect ourselves from possible ressesion relaps. Folks lets focus on the real business of our wonderful City and less on who's getting appointed, who looks better in the papers and lets protect our wonderful city of those who'd like to overbuild in the name of revenue and focus on keeping La Mesa the Jewel of the Hill's! Hey City Council! Do the right thing!
Kevin George February 26, 2013 at 06:37 PM
Jake, if the mayor really believed that the Council should concentrate on "what's on its plate" why does he constantly waste time on, global warming, fracking, plastic bags and Fair Trade proposals and spend so much time and money on junkets? You say "Frankly becoming an Appointee should be at the bottom of LM City councils concerns", and I agree wholeheartedly. I wish the mayor did. If you look into it you will see that the Mayor and the recently departed Mr. Allan were the only ones flying to Boston New Orleans and Yosemite on these junkets. He is the one injecting himself into those situations. http://lamesacitizenoversightgroup.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/la-mesa-city-council-travel-expenses-july-dec-2012.pdf La Mesa is on the verge of being sued over our sewer problems, we have a $35 million unfunded pension problem, the Village is falling apart while millions in parking meter money stands idle yet the mayor finds it appropriate to junket around the Country on our dime, wringing his hands about climate change and other such nebulous matters with other well established prigs.
Scott H. Kidwell February 26, 2013 at 10:32 PM
SD Metro Transit System has an annual budget over $225 million, SD Metro Waste Water has an annual budget over $750 million and SANDAG has an annual budget over $1.3 billion. These organization are run by boards appointed by the participating local agencies. These agencies also set regional policies and priorities in their respective areas of authority. You do not get to have a direct say of who sits on those boards that direct their activities as they are not directly elected to those positions. How is the representative from La Mesa voting on issues for those agencies? Do they represent their own views or the views of the council that approved their appointment? When was the last time we heard any substantive public discussion about SANDAG, MTS or Metro Waste water and what they do? Would even 1% of the population know where to go they you wanted to address the Board of Directors of one of these groups? These are the folks that will be telling you when or where you can or can't do all manner of things in the near future.
Mark Gregory Elliott February 27, 2013 at 06:52 PM
Isn't the City of La Mesa and its citizens tired of the antics and heavy handed approach Mayor Arty has been using for years?
Kevin George February 27, 2013 at 07:08 PM
Only the Citizens that are awake. When election time rolls around the rest look around, see that their house hasn't burned down and they haven't been robbed or raped, and decide the status quo is just fine. That's how incumbents stay in office, an incumbent has not lost a race since 1990. TERM LIMITS NOW!
Jake Blues March 02, 2013 at 06:56 PM
During our last election one of the cadidates knocked on my door to tell me why I needed to vote for him. He began to babble and I stopped him. I asked him what he thought we should be doing with the village? He stepped back a moment then I said from my perspective we need to stop trying to create another downtown SD but repair what we have and encourage small businesses. To leave the open parking areas we have alone so that when we have the large events there's ample parking, stop trying to overbuild downtown La Mesa. His response, "You don't want to vote for me" I said, EXACTLY! and closed the door. I have for a long time thought about running on a platform of small growth, to leave La Mesa the Jewel of the Hills, let it be the "Mayberry' if you will. I'm with you Kevin, the Mayor of La Mesa should focus on the City and set the climate change on the back burner. Lets worry about infrastructure such as sewer, refuge (Edco contract), Public Safety issues, the list is long. As for being an appointee on local boards of course its important but NOT at the expense of your job on the council. Too many politicians want to get appointed positions to improve their resume and move "up", frankly I only care about our City. I've worked for the County and work at the State. I've seen various levels of government and the appointees. Lets focus on La Mesa and less of the other stuff which will still be there later.. La Mesa NOW!

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