Now most politicians in such a predicament might attempt to put together some kind of distraction. Visits from celebrities, maybe. Or a parade. Or perhaps a candidate in jeopardy might actually come up with some kind of appealing new message, something that will get people looking forward, all the while praying that they'll forget the past. But never in my life of following politics have I ever witnessed a campaign that has actually come out and expressly forbidden any discussion of their candidate's record. And apparently Joe's supporters are prepared to back this up with accusations that those doing so are "being negative" or "stirring up hate and division in the community." Which, if you think about it, pretty much precludes any discussion of Mr. Mosca's time in office at all. Because there isn't much he's done that hasn't pissed at least some people off.
With Monday's post I apparently committed just such a crime. I discussed Mr. Mosca's decision to deny the citizens of Sierra Madre a vote on the Downtown Specific Plan, something that could have resulted in undesirable development way out of kilter with the character of our community had Measure V not remedied that breach. Joe had vowed to deliver such a vote when he was running for City Council, yet broke that promise within a few months of assuming the post. And I provided both a document and video showing this betrayal of trust in pretty unmistakable terms.
An irate reader calling herself (?) "sm citizen" took the time to send me an email on this very topic. And after a couple of lively sentences calling me all sorts of colorful and predictably uncomplimentary things, she went on to try and explain Joe's flip flop on the DSP vote. Here is the heart of this individual's explanation:
" ... what Mr. Mosca's vote was responding to was a discussion that came from him questioning if the proposal was in its final form and what process it had to go through to get there. It was explained to him that it was NOT in its final form and that it still had a process to go through before it would be ... a process during which it would be put to the scrutiny of the public and discussed (and) modified as they suggested. Some or all of the objections that the public had could be addressed and resolved during this process. At one point when one of the others at this meeting mentioned something you could see a realization come over Mr. Mosca and he dug deeper to have an understanding of it. When he got a true and complete picture of the situation and what still needed to be done before it would be time to vote on it, he decided that it was not the time that this was to be dine (sic). No one else at the meeting cared about that ... they were just all fired up and reactive. All anyone heard was Mr. Mosca's 'NO' vote and not what he said."
Of course, for some it is always about the process, and never the actual result. So I guess this is as good an explanation as any of why Joe might not want his DSP vote being discussed. Because if all someone can find to say in his defense is that people were distracted from the depth and caring of Joe's thought processes by his vote to deny the public a ballot that he had explicitly promised the voters when running for office, well, then that cause is as good as lost.
But being a reasonable person, I decided to try and share some perspective with "sm citizen." Here is what I had to say in response:
"When the voters in this city judge a candidate, and particularly an incumbent candidate, they look to his record. And an important part of his record is whether or not he kept his promises. And when it came to the vote on the DSP, perhaps the most important issue this city has faced in a decade, Joe broke that promise. And by not keeping faith with the voters he caused a lot of the grief you've described here. He must and will be judged on this ... This has nothing to do with "dividing the community" or "making people hateful towards one another." It is how adults make decisions in this world. Decisions based on a rational understanding of the facts and how they relate to the performance of an elected official. People believe their eyes, and know what they've heard. And to say an incumbent's record in office should not be discussed because it might make some people upset is absurd."
Now I must have made something of an impression on my new pen pal, because when the response arrived it was without any of the invective or unkind observations about my person that so distinguished her first email. And what it reveals is an attitude that so typifies the government uber alles viewpoint prevalent in California these days. Check this out:
"What was clear to me was that he was voting not AGAINST the voters' desire to vote on the subject, he was NOT trying to deprive them of what he promised them he would give them ... he was simply saying that it was not yet the time for that vote. The others, caught up in the fervor of the issue, were not looking at the whole picture, they did not listen to the advice of experts at meeting when they answered Joe's inquiries about whether the DSP was in its final form and thus did not consider what was the best way to approach the vote. They were just committed to an agenda and wanted to push it through even though it would have been wiser financially if they waited as Joe voted to do. Joe weighed the economic and practical side of it and said that when it was time, and if the people still felt it was necessary, he would give the people the right to have their voices heard."
How magnanimous of him. Now I need to reveal something to you, dear reader. It wasn't just two people who were a part of our email exchange. There were quite a few others CC'd to this as well. Many of them past or current contributers to the Mountain Views News. You see, I actually initiated this exchange, using an old e-mail list from my MVO days to do it. All in hopes of getting just the kind of reaction you're seeing here. And apparently one of those looking in decided she'd heard quite enough from my detractor. Here is what an annoyed Sierra Madre resident had to say in response to "sm citizen's" observations:
"Just for the record: Using the words in your statement -- especially the ones in bold -- 'Joe weighed the economic and practical side of it and said that when it was time, and if the people still felt it was necessary, he would give the people the right to have their voices heard ...' is a totally inappropriate statement, and denigrating to the folks in our community, and a political tactic that creates 'time' for loopholes to be developed (and hope people 'forget') which would confuse matters even more. Joe Mosca wasn't elected to dictate what the people in S.M. have the right to do. This is the United States. Why do some of 'our' politicians treat matters (and citizens) as if they're trying to steer the city government here towards a fascist regime?"
I couldn't have said it any better if I had a decade to do it. And, not completely surprising, "sm citizen" did not reply. And there the exchange ended.