The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Op-Ed: A Vote for Transparency and Accountability

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I have been involved in public policy and politics for more than 40 years, beginning at the national level in 1974 as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department and continuing here locally when I moved to the Ranch 25 years ago. On a national and even a local level, it's not for the faint-hearted.

I'm reminded of the translated French epigram, "the more things change, the more they stay the same." Unfortunately, politics has always had a tendency to lead to divisive discourse and pulling people and communities apart, rather than bringing them together. That's one reason I like to focus on policy, and when people run for office, focus on the policies they advocate. 

Whether we are talking about traffic lights and roundabouts, cell and Internet service, or even the Covenant Club, I believe the process of electing members to the Board should remain cordial and focused on the policies candidates stand for.

I'm sure all running for the Rancho Santa Fe Association Board are good people with their own sense of doing what is right. However, I am supporting Rachel Laffer, Terry Peay, and Rachel Leheny for the Board, because they represent the people of this community who are committed to the most important aspects of good governance - namely, transparency and accountability.

Specifically, Rachel, Terry, Rachel and their supporters are committed to the following policies:

  • The Right to Vote on All Major Decisions. These candidates are dedicated to bringing all major issues to a community vote. The other candidates are supported by the same people who defend such actions as the Osuna purchase, which was done without input of the Finance Committee, let alone a vote by all members of the community. We do not want to go back to the days where all decisions were made by a "closed door" minority. We should not be governed by a secret society. Our Board must seek community consensus before taking action on any project and Rachel, Terry and Rachel will bring that to the Board.
  • Reasonable Spending Limits on Board Actions. Rachel, Terry and Rachel are committed to an open government, where everyone has the right to participate and know how their money is being spent. Nothing incentivizes poor governance more than an open checkbook. Right now there are no rules in our HOA handbook that require the Board to seek community input prior to signing a significant check. These three candidates not only support spending caps on Board expenditures made without a community vote, they want to make it the law. The other candidates have not committed to such a policy.
  • Accountability to the Community. Rachel, Terry and Rachel want to continue the momentum of the current Board and take action in response to the changing needs of the community.

The new Board that was ushered in two years ago:

  1. Increased voter registration by nearly 90%.
  2. Opened all CDRC meetings to all RSFA members.
  3. Instituted full accrual accounting practices (before there was neither a balance sheet nor an office CPA).
  4. Created an official RSFA website.
  5. Initiated state-of-the-art fiber technology to our community, which will be the FIRST in the nation to have this service and which The San Diego Union-Tribune has highlighted as a "groundbreaking success." 

The other candidates are supported by organizations which want to go back to the days where decisions could be made by the Board without financial accountability to the whole community. Rachel, Terry and Rachel are supported by members who want the Board to be accountable to ALL of the community.

In summary, I do not question that the other candidates are good, decent people with their own positive qualities. However, I fear, based on what they and the organizations that support them advocate, that if they are voted in, it will indeed be politics-as-usual and sound public policy will suffer. Let's keep the momentum going toward open, responsible, democratic policies that look to the future, not the past.

Please support Rachel Laffer, Terry Peay, and Rachel Leheny in this effort.

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