Meet the new mayor, same as the old mayor

New Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara appears to have one trait in common with former Mayor Sam Abed. He won't answer questions concerning city government /File

Escondido Mayor Paul McNamara had his office this week announce a monthly meet-and-greet event called “Meet the Mayor.”

Just don’t ask McNamara about whether it’s appropriate for Escondido Assistant Manager Jay Petrek also to hold a second job as a San Marcos city councilman. Apparently, that’s where McNamara draws the line.

Just as former Mayor Sam Abed was renowned for not answering legitimate questions and shunning public scrutiny, McNamara seems to be following lock-step in his shady shoes.

The Grapevine sent McNamara, Vice-Mayor Consuelo Martinez, and council members Olga Diaz, John Masson and Michael Morasco  a series of questions on January 17 pertaining to Petrek’s double-dipping in government jobs in two adjoining, and possibly competing, cities.

McNamara and fellow council member have yet even to acknowledge they received the questions, much less responded to them.

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:

Wham, bam, thank you ma’am at SM Council

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.

Has anything changed in Escondido government?

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?

Meet the Mayor, fake or real?

For the record, McNamara’s publicly financed office sent out this information about the “Meet the Mayor” event.

Upcoming opportunities to meet the mayor:
February 20, 2019, 10 – 11 a.m.
Cute Cakes – 345 W. Grand Ave.
March 20, 2019, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Interfaith Community Services – 550 W. Washington
April 17, 2019, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
East Valley Community Center – 2245 E. Valley Pkwy
Additional meeting dates to be announced. For more information, contact Michelle Geller, Economic Development Manager, at or (760) 839-4587.

You can meet the mayor, but can you get answers to questions about city government; that’s the real question.

McNamara has been ducking the Petrek issue for three weeks now. Until he answers the Petrek questions, and establishes some accountability to the media and to Escondido residents, he is no better than the person he replaced Sam Abed, also renowned for ducking public scrutiny.

Meet the new mayor, same as the old mayor?

Time will tell.

Answer the people’s questions if you want to be a credible leader. And that goes for your little city council, too.

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