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Mayor Wants to Promote Agendas Without Council Majority Approval

Scott Kidwell: “The real problem is when an elected official does things out of view of the public and other elected officials.”

To the editor:

There is some lively discussion happening on the site [, Nov. 29, 2012], but I thought I would instead write directly. 

Both the Fair Trade Town and fracking issues are not really about fair trade or fracking. They are really about the same core issues—process, open government and transparency.

In both cases, the mayor wants to use the influence, power, finances and name of the City of La Mesa to further or promote political agendas that he personally agrees with regardless of—or without the approval of—the majority of the elected council.

In the past, there seemed to be a unwritten “wink and nod” approval between elected officials for any and all travel. They would budget some money without detail beyond “travel” and as long as it met the bare minimum standard of having even a highly remote connection to specific local city operational business, it was not a problem and no one asked about it.

And in particular, a review of the mayor’s travel over the past several years shows he was attending many events and signing documents with at times only the slightest mention to the other elected officials and the public at large, particularly when it was a political or social issue. 

One can make arguments either way as to the issue merits of what the mayor has done in the past and what he will want to do in the future. The real problem is when an elected official does things out of view of the public and other elected officials.

In this city, a mayor is one of five co-equal elected officials when it comes to city policy. No one official can unilaterally decide to officially represent the city on any policy issue, even one I might agree with.

With public funds becoming ever more scarce, with the increase in the availability of electronic conferencing, with a real need to eliminate unnecessary travel costs, with the need to have open and robust public discussions on policy and commitment before actions are taken, and with the need for increased public confidence in their elected officials—I believe it is time for comprehensive travel policy reform in La Mesa.

Scott Kidwell
La Mesa

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