by Dale Tyler
It is now one year after the stunning victories in the November 2002 election. The voters spoke loud and clear and we all hoped for a new day in the way Mission Viejo was governed.
Much has been accomplished since that day. The Sierra Recreation Center was saved from the bulldozers ready to flatten the building and fill in the pool. We erased the shame of having public facilities named after egotistical council members who voted on their own edifices. Citizens coming before the City Council are now treated with respect and their concerns are taken into account when decisions are made. The City Council saved the taxpayers $1.5 million, by reducing the subsidy for the Audi dealership in the south part of the city, marking a significant change from several years ago, when the city gave the same owner his full request for $2.1 million for the adjacent Infiniti dealership. The Council voted to cut the city budget by $2 million on an annual basis, including eliminating a dinner for city management and their spouses at one of the most expensive restaurants in town and cutting other ‘fat’ in the budget. New procedures have been put in place to make the city follow its own rules when building city facilities, including notices to neighbors and public hearings. They voted to close the money losing Potocki conference center. The City Council showed its support of citizens’ concerns about new overhead power lines in the northern and eastern parts of the city by sending a letter opposing the construction of these lines to Southern California Edison. Partly because of this, the PUC will hold a meeting December 18 at our city hall. Most recently, the Council voted to replace the City Manager, ending a long debate on how to change the entrenched bureaucracy.
There have been some disappointments. One newly elected council member, Lance MacLean, seems to have forgotten his promises of reform and appears to have joined the forces supporting the anti-citizen status quo. Some issues that should have been straightforward to resolve have been delayed, but overall progress is encouraging.
Overall, it looks like the promise of a new day for the citizens of Mission Viejo is close to being realized. However, this does not mean that we can stop being vigilant. Our duty as citizens is to be involved with our government and to speak up when we see something that could be done better.