The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Op-Ed: RSF Board Should Not Limit Free Speech

At the June 19th and July 3rd RSFA meetings, during member input, one of the unsuccessful candidates for the board proposed some dramatic changes to how campaigns are conducted for the RSFA Board. I was at those meetings and heard his suggestions – they reveal much about how this candidate and his PIC backers view governance in RSF.

In addition to suggesting limits be placed on campaign spending, this former candidate, who happens to be a psychiatrist, said “the board should review all campaign materials before being distributed,” and further, that the board “should have the authority to disqualify a candidate who violated [his prescribed] code of conduct.”

I was shocked to hear that someone was advocating this level of authoritarianism and restrictions on free speech in this day and age. First, what happens when the Board decides to censor and/or edit communications in violation of the Davis-Stirling Act, like they did to folks this last election? Second, how could we stand for something so directly in conflict with the 1st amendment right to free speech protected by the US Constitution?

Allowing our board to disqualify candidates is a power reserved for overzealous totalitarian governments. How can someone running for our board propose such a radical position in a free country like ours?

Further, all campaign money spent for Ann Boon and Kim Eggleston was private money, not RSFA dues. The board should concern itself with how RSFA money is spent, not how people chose to spend their private money.

Beyond the political, practical, and philosophic reasons for maintaining the freedom of speech, it is peculiar that this unsuccessful candidate was part of the group of folks who distributed a nasty and defamatory letter about Ann Boon earlier this year. In fact, the candidate’s wife specifically refused to retract her signature from that malicious letter. Then, supporters of this candidate sent out a nasty letter about Kim Eggleston, which contained private information about him and his ex-wife, including their social security numbers. Why didn’t he make his plea for civility at that time?

How does someone like this think they have the authority and legitimacy to create a “code of conduct.”?

If folks like this ex-candidate want civility, the first step is to lead by example. Perhaps he could simply apologize for the awful letters about Ann, Kim, and Kim’s ex-wife.

Without such a retraction, the pleas of this psychiatrist sound like nothing more than someone who needs a bit of self-reflection before he continues this perilous path of self-promotion.

Finally, during PIC’s rein of this community for the past 20 odd years, RSFA bylaws have been modified to benefit the incumbents, legal fees spent to protect their power, and dues spent on poor investments like the Osuna Ranch. It should be no surprise that many members were and are motivated to spend money on campaigns to ensure board members are elected who will be fiscally responsible and fair to all members. Do we really want to create laws that protect Board members from being accountable to these members?

Thomas Edison famously said, “Discontent is the first necessity of progress.”

We don’t need to restrict the private right of free speech. We need to know how and for what purpose our public funds are being spent.

Let’s move forward from the campaign and focus on the important work we have ahead.