Mayor Madrid Had 'Authority' to Sign Fair Trade Commendation for La Mesa

A commendation declaring the city a "Fair Trade City," was signed on Oct. 12 by Madrid, with no council vote or consultation.

In October 2011, the La Mesa City Council voted 3-2 against a resolution to make La Mesa the first "Fair Trade Town," in Southern California. One of its two proponents was Mayor Art Madrid.

Now, almost a year to the day, it looks as though the city is on its way to getting that distinction, with Madrid spearheading the effort, seemingly on his own.

On Oct. 12, the mayor signed letter of commendation (see attached PDF) urging the national Fair Trade Towns USA organization to grant La Mesa that status. It was a move that, according to Madrid, he had full "authority," to do, despite the fact that the city council was never consulted or voted on a resolution.

In an interview with East County Magazine (ECM), Madrid said: “Yes, I issued the commendation because it was warranted and I, as Mayor, had the authority to do so. As the Mayor, and after consulting with the City Attorney, it is within my authority to issue such a commendation, and I did.”

The letter was taken by the La Mesa Fair Trade Committee to a national conference in Chicago last weekend, where, according to the group's website, the city was "given the long awaited certificate declaring La Mesa a Fair Trade Town. Plans are in process for a formal presentation and celebration involving La Mesa residents and city officials," the website stated.

Fair trade is used to describe a system of exchange that promotes social justice, environmental sustainability, and paying farm workers a reasonable and fair wage for their services.

Some have questioned the validity of Madrid's play.

Scott Kidwell, one of the members of the La Mesa Citizens Oversight Group, sent an e-mail to the City Clerk, the City Attorney, and councilmembers Mark Arapostathis, Ernie Ewin and Ruth Sterling. The letter asked many questions about how the commendation was prepared, approved, and provided to the La Mesa Fair Trade steering committee.

"Since only the Mayor signed the document, it is not on city letterhead, it was not presented at a properly noticed public meeting, it was not voted on and approved by the city council and it was not offered to all other council members for signature, am I correct in stating that this commendation represents only the individual and personal opinion of the Mayor and was not/is not an official action or position of the City of La Mesa?," Kidwell wrote.

See also: Shopping guide for stores that carry Fair Trade products

Madrid justified his actions, telling ECM, "like climate change, several of the councilmembers never consider the long term impact these issues will have on our community or society in general.”

He also shot back at Kidwell's claims.

"The laws of California allow the Mayor specific authorities and all the sections of our codes cited in Kidwell’s email confirm that authority," Madrid said. "They know squat about democracy."

Nancy Ryan, one of the co-chairs of the steering committee, told ECM that she is happy the city finally has fair trade designation.

"With [designation] comes recognition for our city, both locally and across the U.S.," Ryan said.  "It will also be a boost to our local merchants. Most importantly, it signifies that consumers are aware of Fair Trade and have the opportunity to purchase products that will result in fostering social, economic and environmental justice in our world."

Craig Maxwell November 01, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Art wanted it, so Art did it. That's business as usual in La Mesa. But I wonder if, give the media attention this has been given, the council will say anything? My guess is that, remaining true to form, they will not. And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is one of the--if not THE--biggest problem with La Mesa.
No Bad Government November 01, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Let me know where I can sign the petition
Things I Learned November 01, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Free pie? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBFardhKh34
No Bad Government November 01, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Correction, We are not a Fair Trade City. Only King Madrid says the FT organization can call us one but until there is nothing on official City Letterhead, we are NOT! King Madrid's piece of crap commendation which I could also type on my computer doesn't mean jack and is as phony as his residency at City Hall. It makes a difference because many of us in La Mesa don't want to be labeled, especially for a special interest group. As King Madrid would state, "we don't want to set a precedence". By the way Art, are you being inundated with requests from all over the City for Traffic Calming now that the Council approved the Serramar calming signs?. Oh yeah, that's right, you voted against that in your own development because you didn't want to set a precedent. Open mouth, insert foot.
Janet Mercer-Grey November 01, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Kevin George November 01, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Let me quote form the the mayors 2011 State of the City address: “Our future remains bright because our residents play an important role in every decision we make,” Evidently residents only play a role in decisions that Generalissimo agrees with, all others are subject to his personal vendetta until his opinion has prevailed. http://lamesa.patch.com/articles/mayor-sees-downtown-progress-in-2012-doesn-t-mention-pbid#pdf-8966248
Komfort November 01, 2012 at 09:33 PM
The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of La Mesa.
Saul Rubinowitz November 01, 2012 at 10:26 PM
Na Na Na Na Boo Boo, stick you head in Doo Doo! (Sorry, needed to get the attention of the bullies on this blog and this one worked when I was in grade school) Art made the right decision, all with in his role as Mayor. The Declaration he signed was completely different (Legally) than the 'Misinformed' council voted down last year. I you don't like it, you have 3 choices 1) Move to Jacumba (With all the other Tin Foil Hatters) 2) Get your J.D. and learn the law or 3) Run for office and make change from within. Your, La Mesa White Citizens Oversight Committee, is a cute little club, but all I have seen them do is complain, complain, complain. Think forward outside of your parochial vision of how the should be and think about what it can be for the kids we pass it down to.
Things I Learned November 01, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Things I Learned November 01, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Kevin George November 01, 2012 at 10:57 PM
You sound scared.
Komfort November 01, 2012 at 11:54 PM
"White club"?? David Schmidt is white, can he join or is he already a member? http://lamesa.patch.com/blog_posts/the-trial-of-the-invisible-hand-part-i
Things I Learned November 01, 2012 at 11:58 PM
The first rule of white club is you don't tell anyone about white club.
No Bad Government November 02, 2012 at 12:02 AM
TIL: I know not who you are nor do I care but besides watching way too much TV, you are brilliant and extremely humorous. Please don't move to Jacuma
No Bad Government November 02, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Hey Art: Can you write a commendation naming La Mesa a White Club official City. All races are welcome but we just want La Mesa to be known as a white club city because what harm would it do? White could mean white hair, white teeth, white anything!!! It would bring La Mesa lots of attention.
F. Dunn November 02, 2012 at 12:35 AM
God God, Saul, are you trolling with that name? The fat old white guys who rule this board and have nothing else to do but comment all day hate white educated women, so I can't even imagine what you're in for as a Jew. Please tell me your real name is, say...John Pilgrim.
Saul Rubinowitz November 02, 2012 at 01:37 AM
I Am scared! You know what happens when you get a bunch of angry white men together who feel "Their" way of life is being threatened............ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Meadows_massacre
Komfort November 02, 2012 at 01:47 AM
F Dunn would prefer it if Saul was not a "Jew." How offensive!
Things I Learned November 02, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Nancy November 02, 2012 at 02:45 AM
who keeps voting for Madrid? why is he still the Mayor...
Saul Rubinowitz November 02, 2012 at 02:54 AM
F Dunn is okay in my book. A light of reason in the otherwise drool laments of old white guys, who sit at home and wonder why their kids don't call them, so they take it out on this Patch. But I do prefer to be referred to as "The' Jew...........
No Bad Government November 02, 2012 at 02:57 AM
As an angry white man, I am offended by Saul's comments. Would it help if I was another color? I am 1/4 Romanian. Does that help? If I am Jewish, does that also get me some bonus points?
Deena While November 02, 2012 at 03:04 AM
I can't imagine it happening again...
Things I Learned November 02, 2012 at 03:09 AM
Janet Mercer-Grey November 02, 2012 at 06:01 PM
July 18, 2012 “I will insist that we still follow the current Brown Act guidelines and regulations," he said via email Wednesday. "Credibility is our mantra." Art Madrid
Things I Learned November 02, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Kevin George November 02, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Saul, now you sound scared AND angry. We don't want that. There is nothing to fear from us other than the sanitizing light of freedom and transparency. If I was planning on massacring your wagon train would I have my name and picture up for all to see? You are welcome to come and speak to us directly, our meetings are open to the public. Of course we will insist on using your real name and no disguises.
Things I Learned November 02, 2012 at 07:28 PM
You should not use fake names.
Craig Maxwell November 02, 2012 at 09:09 PM
I'm white but my teeth are greenish-brown. Can I get some free stuff?
Jimmy Sanders November 03, 2012 at 12:50 PM
What Happened to Madrid's ‘Germane to the City’ stance of 2008?


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