By Thomas K. Arnold, city planning commissioner for Carlsbad, in the U~T San Diego
on January 13, 2013
Forget the legal matters concerning Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood’s threatened lawsuit against
his council colleagues for yanking him off the SANDAG board.
What the ruling conservative troika of Gary Felien, Jack Feller and Jerry Kern have done is
just plain wrong.
North County has never shied away from childish political games. In the game of musical
chairs that until last November was the way Encinitas decided who got to play mayor for a
year, the chair kept getting pulled out from the next-in-line council member simply because
the majority didn’t like her.
In Carlsbad’s 2010 mayoral election, the conservative candidate was targeted by a mailer
showing a burning house simply because he was in favor of pension reform for all city
workers, including firefighters.
And in the race for the 76th Assembly District seat just last November, one candidate
ruthlessly attacked another for nearly losing her home during the financial crisis.
But the shady goings-on in Oceanside have hit a new low. Like him or not, Mayor Jim Wood
handily won re-election, and booting him off the board is a slap in the face not just to the
mayor, but also to the voters of Oceanside who elected him to a third term.
The way the council went about this disgrace also is shameless. The first step came
last month, when they passed an ordinance giving the council the power to remove city
representatives to regional boards and agencies who were appointed by the mayor. The
ordinance, which all three conservative council members supported, also gives the council
the power to veto appointments the mayor makes and appoint someone else.
The conservative troika insists they were acting in the best interests of Oceanside, and that
Wood had to go because he simply wasn’t effective.
And yet everything I hear from sources close to SANDAG is that this simply isn’t true. Wood
also got high marks for working and playing well with others; heck, he’d even carpool to
SANDAG meetings with Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall, a conservative and good friend of Jerry Kern.
No, there’s really no explanation for what Messrs. Felien, Feller and Kern have done other than
spite, malice and dirty politics. I’ve always admired those three men and supported their political
platforms; they’ve consistently done what’s best for Oceanside, even if it was unpopular.
By dumping Wood, however, they’ve taken one giant misstep – and my hunch is that down the
road, in the next election, it’s going to come back to haunt them.