Citizen Ann Romney Makes Surprise SD City Council Appearance

The Libertarian Lass, Gayle Falkenthal The Libertarian Lass, Gayle Falkenthal 18 Comments

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The unassuming blonde woman with her hair pulled back filled out the required form to address the San Diego City Council during the non-agenda public comment period on Tuesday. She stepped to the microphone for her four minutes of time to address members about an issue not on the docket. She was slotted in right after the gadfly going on about Solyndra.

She only used a little more than two minutes. Stating her name for the record gave her away to the handful of people present, or watching on the City’s cable TV broadcast of the meeting: Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, now a resident of La Jolla, a suburb of San Diego.

The first shoutout I read came from Rostra contributor Diana Palacios via her Facebook page: “Ann Romney came to council and spoke during non-agenda public comment. So random.”

Romney took issue with the process the City of San Diego currently uses to publicly notice development projects to members of the community. She had done her homework. She cited several instances where the information the city issued was misleading or inaccurate. Noting that she “and my husband, Mitt” strongly support transparent government and public participation, she urged councilmembers “to make sure that stronger protections are put in place so that in the future, permits are processed efficiently and correctly and the public is afforded the proper notice and opportunity to be heard.”

Just another day at another municipal government public meeting, one that would have gone completely unnoticed except for the political celebrity status of the speaker.

Political observers, wonks and wags immediately started buzzing about Mrs. Romney’s appearance, her careful preparation, and her matter-of-fact appearance. Other than receiving a polite “Welcome, Mrs. Romney” from Council President Todd Gloria, no special treatment. She spoke as an engaged citizen about a civic issue, nothing more.

Afterward, Councilmember David Alvarez, who’d also given Mrs. Romney a shout out on Twitter, told me she was “well-prepared,” though he wondered who all the people were with her. This is a bigger compliment than it seems if you’ve spent any time listening to speakers at local political meetings.

The calls began on social media: “Ann Romney for Mayor!” Or at least City Council. Only a few were tongue in cheek.

For those who would like to see Mrs. Romney’s comments in their entirety, the City of San Diego posts all of its City Council meeting broadcasts online in archives. Click on this link to access the video. Fast forward to the 34 minute mark and look for the involved citizen in the white shirt and black glasses.

Apparently the Romneys finally got the OK from a City hearing officer on May 31 to bulldoze their La Jolla oceanfront property at 311 Dunemere Drive and remodel it, increasing the square footage from 3,009 square feet to 11,062 square feet. It looks like the Romneys are finally getting their car elevator. After all the hand wringing over their plans, this one sure flew by under the radar.

In the end, what does this little celebrity sighting teach us? All politics is local. It was strangely charming to see Mrs. Romney step forward in the spirit of unadorned civic engagement to speak on a local issue of concern. No handlers, no image consultant. Just her two minutes at the microphone like any other citizen willing to come downtown to City Hall on a Tuesday morning, along with the guy ranting about Solyndra and the rest of the bananas in the bunch.

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Comments 18

  1. If you’re one of those nuts, who believes in the concept of private property ownership, that was painful to watch. I can only imagine how hard the collectivists will make it for Encinitas property owners now that Prop A passed.

    “Everything is everybody’s business”

  2. How do we get the Libertarian Lass to do a full interview of local resident Mrs. Romney?

  3. “If you’re one of those nuts, who believes in the concept of private property ownership, that was painful to watch…”

    Not sure what you mean by that, Brian. For example, should it be possible for someone to open a pig farm next to my house? After all, it’s his private property.

  4. “For example, should it be possible for someone to open a pig farm next to my house? After all, it’s his private property.”

    Michael’s response was so much better but you’re giving me an opportunity to demonstrate how ridiculous Prop A (and other attempts at direct democracy) really are. Prop A ALLOWS for that pig farm to go next to your property if 50% plus 1 of the voters approve it. All the pig farmer would need to do is to call for a special election and get about 7% of the voters to the polls.

    You won’t get an argument from me that local governments shouldn’t have limited police powers but look at how crazy this has become. Mrs Romney is dealing with three different jurisdictions to raze and build property–property she owns. Many regulations contradict one another (in this case–the same jurisdiction’s) and the property owner is stuck in a maze.

    This is why I like HOA’s—they are private entities, acting as stewards to private property, with a pre-defined charter to be read prior to purchase.. One could solve a lot of environmental problems, zoning problems, traffic problems, and quality of life issues with a bunch of competing HOAs versus the “everything is everybody’s business” model.

    Property provides order–THAT much we know already.

  5. The guy above has posted before. He’s real. Maybe we should ask what the relevance of a year-old pre-election anti-Mitt blog is to the post above. Nutbag alert.

  6. One part of the story caught my interest. Two parts, actually.

    1. Is it true that in public comments in SD city council meetings, the speaker gets FOUR minutes? “Normally” no govt body that I’m familiar gives more than three. Many limit speakers to two minutes (I think the city used to have that limitation in the past).

    2. Is Ann Romney really ” . . .now a resident of La Jolla . . .”?? If so, that would mean that the Romney’s substantial income is subject to our anti-rich California income tax – BY FAR the highest in the nation. At 13.3%, our CA tax much higher than Taxachusetts, which has a flat income tax of 5.5%.

    Gayle, perhaps you could get back to us with the answers to those two questions.

  7. Richard,

    Does California tax capital gains and carried interest the same as ordinary income? If not, the Romneys probably have little to worry about.

  8. Richard,

    It’s been a while so my recollection may be off, but isn’t the 4 minutes something Dick Murphy instituted, along with trying to move public comment to the end of the council meetings?

  9. I just watched the video.

    She spoke just after Al Strohlein and just before Jarvis Ross. Two perennial gadflies who use public comment to grip about the goings on at city hall (or at least that’s how the UT describes public comment).

    As to her comments, it seems they have their permits in hand and can proceed with the remodel. However, I’m wondering if some project opponents are threatening legal action to stop the work and / or seek monetary damages with a claim along the lines they were not notified of public hearings about the project. Romney’s appearance may well have been coordinated by her attorney to protect their legal position, and to put the city on notice that any noticing errors are its fault.

  10. ** Does California tax capital gains and carried interest the same as ordinary income? If not, the Romneys probably have little to worry about. **

    GOOD QUESTION, Hypocrisy. You won’t like the answer. Well, actually, you WILL like the answer, but probably are now sorry you brought it up.

    All income in California is ordinary income. Dividends, capital gains, whatever. For the Romney’s, that means all income above $1 million is taxed at 13.3%.

    Moreover, because their income presumably is above $2 million, starting in 2013 they can’t write off 80% of state income tax on their federal tax returns — a HUGE net tax increase for our truly rich Californians.

    Let’s hope Mitt Romney is as dumb as the Democrats claim, and has switched the family’s legal (tax) residence to California. We need to confiscate his income!

  11. Thanks for the response. I didn’t mean to throw out a “red herring”; just trying to figure out what the issue is here. I have to admit I don’t know the specifics of the Romney’ s issue(s) with the planning/permitting process. Were they seeking a variance? If so, it looks like it was accepted, correct?

    In regard to HOAs, I understand your point, but I doubt the Romney’s could go from a 3000 sq. foot house to a 10,000+ square foot house if they were in an HOA. So maybe it’s better for them that they aren’t in one?

  12. “In regard to HOAs, I understand your point, but I doubt the Romney’s could go from a 3000 sq. foot house to a 10,000+ square foot house if they were in an HOA. So maybe it’s better for them that they aren’t in one?”

    That’s a GREAT observation. Sure they could, if the HOA specified its limitations in the CC&Rs and the remodel met it . We are prone to think of HOAs as meddlesome, micro-managing, self-governing agencies of tract homes/condos in San Diego County but they are used in AZ, NV, and other states for more than just the planned developments.

    An HOA can pre-define just about anything in its CCRs

  13. One interesting aspect seldom considered. If the Romney’s “gut and amend” their home, it’s going to establish a MUCH HIGHER cost basis for the property — which means they will be paying much higher property taxes annually. Isn’t that a good thing?

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