It was a full house on Thursday 29 September at the Pins and Pockets Entertainment Center in Lake Elsinore for the State Of The City Address which was gracefully opened by the dazzling voice of Val Geason who sang the national anthem.
The evening was initiated by Kim Cousins, CEO of the Lake Elsinore Chamber Of Commerce, who described Lake Elsinore as the action sports capital of the world.
People in the back dealt with low microphone volume and unreadable font on the slideshow.
Mayor Brian Tisdale presented the Lake Elsinore Good News Show, praising the city as paradise on earth, governed by 5 angelic council members and managed by the god Grant Yates who performed countless miracles.
What should have been about "the state of the city" was completely highjacked by the upcoming elections. The focus was not on the state of the city but on the council members.
Mayor Tisdale portrayed himself and the council members as "The Dream Team". Are they trying to make residents think they are a group of irreplaceable superheroes who do good for the city like no other could? Will they soon unveil a golden statue of themselves? Think! Would self-confident council members who have something to show for feel the need to call themselves "The Dream Team"? That says it ALL!
Grant Yates was accredited with Temecula's success, although he was deputy city manager overseeing decisions made by city manager Shawn Nelson. The mayor said Yates, who was brought over by Tisdale as a friend favor, is the driving force behind our city's success.
Is that success measured by the amount of trash, unlawful dumping, homeless camps, drug addicts, murders, drug dealers, abandoned shopping carts or unreadable $237,000 signs over Interstate 15?
Most of the problems the city could not solve have magically been solved in the run-up to the elections. What does that tell us?
The mayor said the city was different 4 years ago with an interim city manager and council members who did not see eye to eye. "We were rudderless," he said. (A rudderless ship can drift in the right direction while a ship with rudder can sail in the wrong direction.)
Tisdale thanked Barbara Leibold for 18 years of excellent legal service and advice to the city. (One wonders why council members fought the California and United States constitution, against her advice, disrespectfully wasting close to $250,000 of taxpayers' money on legal fees.)
Mayor Tisdale said financial reserves are healthy after refunding or issuing $180 million in bond dept since 2014 and reducing debt by $34 million. Revenue is to increase by $40.4 million. This fiscal year, $53.6 million will go to 34 improvement projects, including upgrades to all five interstate interchanges, the expansion of Camino Del Norte, reconstruction of Gunnerson Street and improvements to 30 miles of road lanes. Over recent years, $2 million was invested in the Diamond Stadium, $3 million will be spent on new seats and repairs. $183,000 will go to the senior center and $330.9 million to 58 improvements projects over the next 5 years.
Obsessed with quantitative growth, council members think the solution is building more homes and parks. Nine model complexes, 15 housing tracks, 125 single family units and two community parks (Rosetta Canyon Sports Park, Summerly Park) are being built. Construction on Serenity Park starts soon. Lake Elsinore grew from 26,000 residents in 1998 to 61,000 today. Little effort goes into cleaning and safety, with an average of 3 police officers and 2 traffic motor cops on duty.
$14 million will be blown on La Laguna campground despite lowest lake levels since 1993, algae toxins and Tisdale's warning city income cannot keep up with cost and maintenance. The campground should generate an annual income of $1 to $2 million based on a worst case scenario of 40% annual occupancy (it was 5% last summer). It should encourage investment and development. This was said of the Diamond Stadium that did not turn a profit in 23 years and needs $500,000 out of the city fund each year to pay back the loan. The same will happen with the La Laguna campground.
The city finally admits the homeless affect businesses and residents' quality of life. They occupy 51 parcels that are regularly cleaned while nothing is done to prevent dumping. Homeless are removed and return the next day. Dumping resumes the day after cleaning. Code is only enforced on easy targets, taxpaying homeowners. The city, now searching a longterm solution for the homeless, has done nothing but kick the can around.
Tisdale announced a new shopping cart ordinance to address abandoned carts. The mayor came a long way since not understanding something could be done and saying, "What do you want me to do, run after shopping carts all day?"
The mayor had a political agenda, asking to re-elect Magee, Manos and Johnson (who was absent), saying the council is "a tight team". Is this the reason for the lack of healthy opposition as the little clique of cronies votes almost everything unanimously and nobody is held accountable for costly gaffes? "With the election around the corner, I hope that our community recognizes the importance of having a highly functional team to serve for the foundation of our future," Tisdale said. He also urged voters to re-elect Melissa Melendez, Kevin Jeffries, Jeff Stone and Ken Calvert and to support a $105 million general obligation bond to create long term funding for schools.