Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Help STOP Safari Highlands Ranch: Support San Pasquale Valley Preservation Alliance.

From our allies at the San Pasquale Valley Preservation Alliance.  Please donate to them so they can protect the region for all of us!

Hello Friends,
SPVPA has come a long way. We started out as a small group of tenacious people with an idea about what community stewardship is all about. Since then, we have matured that idea into a non-profit organization pursuing meaningful outcomes throughout the San Pasqual Valley. We have learned so much and have expanded our reach in such a short amount of time. Without a doubt, our ability to affect change has not gone unnoticed and we do not plan to stop anytime soon.

SPVPA has been funded through the generosity of friends, family, neighbors and like-minded organizations. Some of you have given and continue to give substantial amounts and we are grateful. However, a team of lawyers, analysts and subject matter experts is only possible with substantial and ongoing funding. Not only is that team in place and actively working, it is growing. 

Many of you have asked how to help and the answer is simple: WE. NEED. YOUR. MONEY. Yes, we know how that sounds but the honest truth is that it will take money to win this fight and the fight is happening now. The draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Safari Highlands Ranch has been released and this is our chance to stop the annexation and prevent this beautiful, rural land from being up-zoning into urban sprawl.

All of us at SPVPA have, and continue, to contribute a significant amount of time and money to preserve and protect the San Pasqual Valley way of life. Now it comes down to you: What is that life worth to you? A dollar per day? A couple of lattes per week? Maybe a bottle of wine per month? Surely your quality of life has a price? How much are you willing to pay to protect it? Make a donation today and join the fight. 

The time is NOW. Use the purple button below to donate using our secure PayPal account. We are a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organization so your donation can be tax-deductible to you.

Together WE can Save San Pasqual Valley!
Word of mouth is powerful. Please feel free to forward this email to friends, family, coworkers and anyone else interested in preserving this important area. They can register on our website for the latest news & updates on Safari Highlands Ranch, as well as our Facebook and Twitter pages; links below.

Remember: SPVPA is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that depends on YOU, our loyal supporters, to enable us continue the important work of preserving and protecting the San Pasqual Valley. Please donate using the secure button below or you can send a check to our mailing address at the bottom of this email.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

For Fun this Weekend: Farm Stand West Fall Harvest Festival and Boutique

This weekend is the regular Fall Festival at our beloved Farm Stand West! 
Please check it out.
Saturday and Sunday, Oct 28 and 29th
From 10 am to 5 pm

Friday, October 20, 2017

Council Outsources Library: End 123 year tradition to make the Escondido Corporate Library

A very sad day for our city. 
Escondido City Council Breaks 123 Year Tradition of
Public Operation of Escondido Library, votes to Outsource Remaining Library
Council Votes to Export Tax Payer Funds out of state to LS&S corporation, hedge-fund

Escondido City Hall: For the second time, Mayor Sam Abed and the councilmen on the city council ignored the unanimous recommendation of Library Trustees and a petition from over 4,000 residents by voting to outsource the Escondido Public Library.  Over 125 people demonstrated outside of City Hall and attended the City Council meeting yesterday afternoon in opposition to a proposed contract to outsource the city’s sole remaining library to for-profit, venture-capital-owned library outsourcing company, LS&S.  Dozens of citizens spoke during the public comment period, citing concerns ranging from the length of the contract to the lack of specific accountability measures. Nevertheless, the City Council voted 4 to 1 in favor of signing the contract, with Councilmember Olga Diaz being the sole dissenting vote.
Diaz stated, “We will mourn the loss of what we had forever”.
Councilman Morasco abandoned his earlier opposition position and rejoined the rest of the Councilmen, locking the city into a 10-year contract with LS&S.
This is the first library in San Diego County to fall to the LS&S corporation.
This vote and the way it was promoted should be of concern to all residents of Escondido.  Relevant documents were hidden from the decision-makers, overwhelming evidence produced of problems at other LS&S libraries was discounted, and the Council ignored their own advisors, the Escondido Library Board of Trustees, in pursuing this path.
Concerns citizens voiced about the contract at the meeting included:
·         That allowing LS&S to manage the library with public funds without transparency is not supported by state law which states the Library Board of Trustees should manage the library.
·         The 10-year length of the contract. Originally the public was told this would be a 5-year contract.
·         LS&S staffing policies. One speaker read from comments of LS&S employees, who have complained about low and stagnant wages, poor benefits, and low morale. Another questioned how LS&S can make our library better using fewer, less qualified staff than we have now.
·         Questions about the accuracy of the calculation of the supposed financial savings.
·         Serious concerns about problems with staff and finances that emerged in Jackson County, OR, once LS&S (formerly LSSI) was bought out by a private equity firm.
·         Lack of specificity in the contract. One speaker, who said he worked as a specialist in contracting for 30 years, said he was alarmed by the lack of specific goals, objectives, roles, responsibilities, and tasks in the contract, and ways to measure if goals were met and tasks completed.
·         The failure of the contract to include the usual indemnification of the city against legal action and termination clauses that are clear and protective of the city’s interest.
“Even if some City Councilmembers are not opposed to the idea of outsourcing in general, this contract has so many problems and questions, it is their duty to think carefully and make sure our city isn’t being taken advantage of,” said Escondido resident Shelley Spisak. “It doesn’t seem like they have done their due diligence as our elected representatives.”
The flaws in the contract are significant. City Attorney McGuinness struggled to answer the most basic operational questions from Ms. Diaz such as how a complaint from a patron will be handled. The contract also uses tax dollars to pay a purchasing fee to LS&S and caps their expenses for energy to run the buildings. LS&S is also guaranteed a 3% increase each year of the contract, not to mention the considerable corporate profits which have been 30% of tax payer funds paid elsewhere.
A letter from Ms. Cathy Shaw, a current Board member in Jackson County Oregon, was rife with challenges her district was facing under LS&S, and warned “Think long and hard about this decision. Once made, the lack of transparency of the private equity firm will make a return to a community-held asset difficult to recreate. And if a decision of this magnitude is forced upon an unwilling and unreceptive community, the backlash may be swift and decisive.”
As one speaker testified in speaking against the contract, “If you do support this, remember we all sit at the table of consequences.” 
“Having lived through this experience, this is now about more than just saving the library, it is about saving Escondido from this failed leadership,” stated Laura Hunter, an organizer with Escondido Indivisible. “Our members will now look to the elections in 2018.”  
Litigation is also under consideration.  Any readers interested in donating to the Library Defense Fund should email


About Save Our Escondido Library Coalition: The coalition was formed by local Escondido community groups and residents in response to the City of Escondido’s move to consider privatization of the Escondido Public Library. The coalition seeks to educate themselves and the public and to provide a conduit for Escondido residents to voice their concerns.