New Esco leaders duck Jay Petrek questions

Meet the Escondido City Council, taking care of business: From left, Michael Morasco, Olga Diaz, Paul McNamara, Consuelo Martinez, John Masson,/Courtesy

(EDITOR’S NOTE: WHILE THE US  GOVERNMENT HAS RE-OPENED FOR THREE WEEKS, THE ESCONDIDO MAYOR AND COUNCIL PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY SHUTDOWN GOES TO DAY 20 WITHOUT ANSWERS. It is Wednesday, Feb. 6. The Escondido mayor, and four council members, have yet to answer, or even acknowledge, they received, the series of questions listed below. These questions were emailed and Facebook messaged to each of them Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019.)

This just in from the meet the new boss same as the old boss department, dateline Escondido.

One of the most highly touted election turnarounds last November ushering in a new, supposedly more transparent Escondido mayor and city council appears to have been a sham.

When asked a series of questions related to Escondido Assistant City Manager Jay Petrek’s recent appointment to a San Marcos City Council seat, no Escondido council member, or newly minted Mayor Paul McNamara, deigned to answer.

That’s NO Escondido council member, and the mayor, as in none, nada, what the little boy shot at, zero, or as Osric said when Laertes first fought Hamlet, “nothing either way.”

Judging from early results, Escondido voters who thought a change in city leadership might yield a change in city attitudes towards transparency in public dealings may be in for a bout of bitter disappointment.

So-called ‘new era’

Escondido embarked on what some called “a new era” on Dec. 12 when the newly elected McNamara and Councilwoman Consuelo Martinez were sworn to four-year terms, seemingly changing the council dynamic from four conservatives and Councilwoman Olga Diaz to a 3-2 supposedly “liberal” majority.

McNamara barely edged out incumbent Sam Abed while Martinez won in a landslide against longtime Councilman Ed Gallo. John Masson was the only incumbent to be re-elected in Escondido last November. John Masson and Michael Morasco were not up for re-election.

“I’d also like to thank all of the citizens and residents of this city who supported us and supported this change,” McNamara said during the inauguration ceremony.

Martinez said: “I want to make sure that all of my neighbors are heard, no matter what neighborhood you come from or where you were born and that no community gets left behind.”

Has anything actually changed, however?

From the Escondido Grapevine catbird seat, the answer is the same as the answers given Grapevine questions by the new mayor and council — NOTHING.

Answer the questions, please

For the record, say what one will about the San Marcos City council members’ selection of Petrek as their new colleague, San Marcos leaders didn’t duck questions, answering them in a timely fashion.

Escondido’s mayor and council members, not so much; even when given a 5-day window to address Grapevine questions about Petrek’s seemingly conflicting roles representing — with all due respect to the 1960’s Wrigley Doublemint Gum advertisements — two, two cities at once.

This is what the Grapevine sent around 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17 to Escondido council members and mayor through the city website email pages and to each Facebook account:

I’ve attached my Jan. 16 story about Jay Petrel (sic) being named a San Marcos councilman. He said he was advised before he applied it was OK to work for two cities at once by two Escondido city attorneys and the city manager.

My questions:

1. What are your general thoughts about this?

2. SM Mayor Rebecca Jones, and the SM council candidate questionnaire said the SM council job required “over 36/40 hours” of work. Do you feel Petrek can work “over 36/40” hours on SM duties and also work his Escondido job to the best benefit of your residents?

3. Did you know before Jan. 16 about Petrek’s SM application? Did he contact you before that about applying for the SM job? And if contacted, what did you tell him?

4. What do you feel about the possibilities Petrek will be asked to choose between loyalties should Escondido and San Marcos compete for any businesses, resources or otherwise competing interests between the two cities? Which city should he represent? What about recusals in either city?

5. Moving forward, your concerns or opinion about how he should represent himself in public about his dual roles, and whether he should keep dual compensations, for example, such items as car allowances, pension and other benefits?

Thanks in advance, and please send your answers to me at I would like to finish this story asap, but no later than 5 p.m. Monday, Jan. 21, 2019.

Those questions sound reasonable. They don’t pull any punches. Escondido residents deserve answers and transparency about what the Escondido mayor and council members knew about the Petrek double-dipping appointment and when they knew it.

After decades of cover-ups and questionable dealings in Escondido city government, Escondido residents deserve better.

Tell the people what you think about the Petrek affair, Escondido’s new Gang of Five; McNamara, Martinez, Diaz, Morasco and Masson.

As Sting and The Police once, so powerfully, said:

“Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you..”

We’re waiting for your answers.

Let the sun shine in…

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