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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
April 12, 1999
There is a tired cliche that refers to the pot calling the kettle black, and it is exactly this that comes to mind over the uproar over the Oceanside Mayor's, Dick Lyon, confidential meetings with Alamin Inc. This is exactly the same sort of clandestine relationship that the City has been conducting with Manchester Resorts of San Diego.
Last week, as reported on the front page of the North County Times, "Oceanside's four City Council members expressed outrage and disappointment after learning of Lyon's secret meetings with Alamin Inc. officials." Keeping Oceanside residents in the dark, in this case regarding Manchester Resort financial matters, seems to be acceptable to councilmembers, but as soon as they are left out of the loop fur begins to fly.
For over a year now the city has been negotiating in closed door sessions with Doug Manchester, to lease public parkland for a privately owned hotel. The Beach front property in question, is restricted by deed from such an arrangement. Granted, risking $100 million dollars is serious business, but far from surprising. In the current goldrush Oceanside public officials have been willing to risk more than money. Why should the mayor be any different.
At risk is the same coastal environment Doug Manchester wants to sell to tourists at a nightly rate. The question I keep asking myself is that if Manchester Resorts is the boon to Oceanside's economy as proposed, why on earth would the Mayor entertain the idea of risking such a large amount of money. Perhaps he knows something about the Manchester negotiations that is prompting him to look for other forms of income.
Another question Oceanside residents should ask themselves is what sort of negotiations need to be done out of the public eye. If Manchester has nothing to hide, why all the secrecy? The parallels between Alamin Inc. and Manchester requiring covert transactions should not go unacknowledged. In their lust for tourist dollars are city officials risking existing city funds?
What exactly is being promised to Manchester Resorts, and what prevents them from publicly disclosing details of the deal? Could it have to do with development loans and tax credits? Are fees being waved, and infrastructure being publicly funded for a private enterprise. In other words, is the proverbial fox negotiating with the proverbial chickens? Thirteen months of wheeling and dealing and all the public has seen are pretty pictures of virtual reality produced my Manchester's propaganda machine.
In September, the exclusive negotiating agreement with Manchester expires, and by that time an Environmental Impact Report should be completed. What then? Will anything be able to stop the development juggernaut currently underway? The Citizens for the Preservation of Parks and Beaches are certainly doing all they can to stop the senseless destruction of coastal resources better left intact.
Having recently read that the League for Coastal Protection and The California Environmental Law Project are waiting in the wings, I can tell you, sooner or later, residents will get full disclosure. Although it's not as if they don't already have a clear idea of who is is working for whom. And why
Who is kidding who? Shady dealings are synonymous with Oceanside, and the only people professing outrage at Mayor Lyon's misplaced trust, are those individuals who have the most to gain from his being singled out from an otherwise uniform city council. Let's face it folks the campaign season has begun in Oceanside.