Despite the current state of affairs, the City Council will find a way to move forward

San Juan Capistrano City Councilman Roy Byrnes. Courtesy of the city of San Juan Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano City Councilman Roy Byrnes. Courtesy of the city of San Juan Capistrano

By Roy Byrnes, San Juan Capistrano City Councilman

Let’s not overreact to the present City Council emotional fuss. Local government, including police and fire protection, continues to function normally. Potholes in our streets are undisturbed and safe drinking water is readily available—if you don’t mind the price. My advice is: Let’s all cool down and relax. Active disagreement is not necessarily bad. In fact, the vigorous clash of competing ideas has been at the core of democracy since ancient times. We can have disagreement about ideas, i.e., policy—not personalities.

It’s well known that I’m critical of the city’s groundwater recovery plant, otherwise known as the water factory. It is too costly, too unreliable and not appropriate for a community of this size. But, I’m ready to change my view when someone presents convincing, contrary facts. Nevertheless, the GWRP concept is an alluring idea, so long as one is prepared to ignore its cost.

The upcoming recall of Councilman Sam Allevato is sure to strain our best intentions. In perusing a local newspaper’s recent article, I learned that anti-recall elements have hired David Ellis, the formidable professional public image-maker known as “the fixer.” The news article said: “Ellis’ presence in a town the size of San Juan indicates Allevato’s supporters may be concerned about the attempted recall.” The idea of highly paid, professional “consultants” manipulating our town’s elections bothers me greatly—smacks of “Chicago-style politics.” When a notorious hired gunslinger comes galloping down Main Street, I start to wonder.

So, I guess that political mudslinging may continue awhile longer. Please keep calm. Remember that those who sling mud lose ground. Democracy requires that we evaluate issues more carefully. For example, are you aware of any other city anywhere that seeks to self-manufacture two-thirds of its drinking water? Have you ever heard of a government agency that defies a lawful order of a state court?

Answers to these questions may raise your distress level, but I assure you that our municipal life will continue. Our community isn’t completely reliant on anyone who sits on our City Council. The strength of this community is in its civil involvement, pro and con, as well as our unique heritage. In my 42 years of involvement, I’ve seen San Juan Capistrano survive much worse than our present sad civic leadership. This political season will pass, and inevitably, we will come together to celebrate that which we all treasure.

So, dear fellow citizens, please don’t despair. Chin up! All five of your City Council members will find a way to march on together. Ultimately, we’ll build a stronger, better San Juan Capistrano.

Roy L. Byrnes, M.D. is a 54-year resident of San Juan Capistrano. He was elected to the City Council December 2012 and currently serves as chair of the city’s Housing Authority. Byrnes previously served on the council from 1972 to 1976, including two years as mayor. From 1959 until his retirement in 1994, Byrnes was a certified pathologist, working with physicians, clinics and hospitals in Orange County. Byrnes was also an associate clinical professor of pathology at UC Irvine.

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comments (2)

  • Well said!

    I’d suggest we take it one step further.

    Let’s leave the personal attacks and name calling at the curb, take the “opinions” and “best guesses” and leave them at the door ~ and focus on the FACTS, which are, oddly hard to come by.

    I think constructive debate is one of our nation’s best tools, but only when factually based. For instance the word “RELIABILITY” seems to have different meanings to different people. The majority of the city council and the utilities director seem to think if some measurable water came out of the plant during the month, it’s “reliable.” Yet, when I see the (constantly stepped down) production goals the plant is STILL not making on any basis – I think “totally unreliable.” And that’s not even talking about the costs.

    So, after we’ve invested nearly a decade and tens of millions of dollars, can we please get a public definition of what the universal goals, costs, and what, exactly, “reliable” means? Then, let’s RESPECTFULLY debate what our options are and what course to steer rather than go through this back door, back room, spin central style of management! I say if you can’t produce the facts to back up your claim ~ don’t make it!

  • Well said, Dr. Byrnes…well said.

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