I have a question. What is wrong with a good old-fashioned argument on the merits of a subject? When did it become necessary to villanize those we disagree with? Must every debate in our city devolve into a barrage of personal attacks?
My questions are prompted by a recent mailer I received. “Mailer” is a polite word. This 4-page, 8.5 x 11 full color brochure is, in fact, a hit piece against the owner of the former Nissan site. I reviewed this brochure with pure disgust.
Let me be clear – I believe our City Council acted with careful consideration when they voted to deny re-zoning of this site from an auto use to general retail. I stand behind their vote.
My support, however, stops at this smear campaign. This brochure is simply an inflammatory hit piece with few facts and a lot of emotion. Some questions:
· What does the fact that Mr. Daichendt is wealthy and does not live in RSM have to do with anything? Do all of RSM’s business owners live in RSM? Does the In-N-Out Owner? Are the other business owners not wealthy?
· Changing the RSM Master Plan would forever damage RSM? Haven’t we already done that multiple times in the past 14 years? Retail area around library? Residential area along Antonio? In-N-Out??
· An empty auto dealership site is our #1 source of revenue? Really? What about Ford? Toyota? Honda? U-Haul is the #1 revenue source for the city?
· If RSM loses one dealership, other auto dealers will sell? We’ve already lost one auto dealership (Nissan). The other auto dealers need to cluster in one location to generate the synergy needed? How does this affect Toyota, the dealership that stands alone a few blocks away??
· If the city re-zones, “I will pay?” Really? Our city is so dependent upon this one site that re-zoning will cause the city to have to raise taxes to provide basic services? This does not say much for our city council’s money management especially when one considers that we are operating at a surplus now.
· The mailer complains that Mr. Daichendt has threatened litigation. Well, instead, he has opted to avail himself of the referendum system. Isn’t that preferable? I would much rather he put this to a vote of the general public especially during an already-scheduled election than drag our city through litigation.
· Who is Save RSM? The mailer provides no information about how it was paid for or by whom. Ironically, the address on it comes from Mission Viejo. Another “outside special interest?”
· Why is Save RSM so afraid of a general vote by the residents of Rancho Santa Margarita? How much money are they willing to spend to prevent a vote of the general public?
As anyone who knows me is aware, I love a good debate. And the zoning of this property is a great subject for a good, substantive debate. But that is not what this is. This is a bullying tactic and does not represent our city well at all. We can do better than this and we should. Ms. Gamble, Mr. McGirr, Mr. Beall should maybe step back and re-think their support of the Save RSM group.
As I stated, I support the city council’s vote on this subject. However, this hit piece and the recent signage littering my neighborhood have prompted me to decide to sign the petition if I am asked. And I’m signing it for no other reason than in the interest of fairness to Mr. Daichendt and the blatant attempt by Save RSM to bully him out of the neighborhood.