Publisher’s Desk Summer 2014

Bradley Wright, PublisherI once had an ethics professor ask me, “Why, Bradley?” This puzzled me. “What do you mean?” I returned. She looked me straight in the eye, “Bradley, it is a question—nothing more. Please give an answer.”

At this time in my young life, my professor was an extremely intimidating intellectual, and up to this point, she’d never challenged me during class. I pondered for a moment longer. “Because,” came my reply. With her own confused look, she said, “What do you mean?” “Professor, the question was asked, and answered; nothing more.” She thought about this for a second, before coming back with, “Exquisite!” We both laughed and knew that was where the questioning ended. She did give me an A in her class even though my average scores were in the mid-80s at best, saying my verbal abilities won her over.

Influential reasons for asking my own whys throughout life. And now I have a why question for one of our South Orange County communities.

The Fiesta Music Street Festival in San Clemente is wonderful, and I think the Chamber of Commerce does an excellent job with its special events calendar. My first question is in regard to alcoholic beverages sold at the street festival. Why are those sales and profits not publicly accounted for?
As taxpayers, our city is assuming a huge liability with the volume of alcohol that is being sold there, in open containers circulating within a two-block radius of Avenida Del Mar. Since this is where the event takes place, it’s really owned by our residents—taxpayers and voters of this lovely seaside community. The city uses our money to put on this event.

My second question: Why aren’t the city treasury and staff involved in the financial accounting of the street festival? I feel that the profits need to be publicly accounted for, since this is the city’s street, and all the residents and merchants are giving up access to it for an entire summer day. If every purchase of beer or wine was done through a debit process set up by the city beforehand, it would be easy to retain electronic records of sales.

There used to be a ticket purchase system whereby all the cash stayed central, and the consumer would then visit various booths to exchange tickets for alcohol. That surely made more sense than having each individual hand cash to any of several different people manning these booths, as is the current method of purchase. Who can account for all the different individuals accepting thousands of dollars in cash? No one can—it’s impossible.

Why would anyone not want to do the debit system, where every single purchase is accounted for? It keeps everything visible, so the residents and merchants of Avenida Del Mar understand exactly what the benefit truly is, of giving up their downtown for an entire summer day.

My next question as a resident, taxpayer, business owner, homeowner, voter and an individual who buys ink by the barrel, is the most important one. Since this is our street—the residents’ of San Clemente—why don’t we take the proceeds from alcohol sales and split them equally among four different beneficiaries: The Chamber, the Downtown Business Association (DBA), Casa Romantica, and the Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks & Recreation Foundation?

The DBA and local merchants surely need help in keeping their activities going, too. Events like Putting on the Glitz and the Classic Car Show are a true benefit to the community, very much similar to the Fiesta Music Street Festival. These are major attractions for our residents, taxpayers and true owners of the city. Let’s boost their marketing opportunities. Christina Carbonara is a great young leader of the DBA, who understands marketing and social media. Let’s share our natural resources—aka the STREET—allowing this community to create commerce and develop a budget for other folks and their special events.

We have one of the best downtowns in California. Tell me, who can boast a better Spanish village by the sea? The Casa Romantica is really an extension of our downtown and is absolutely the most beautiful, romantic landscape in San Clemente. This organization also has a new dynamic executive director, Berenika Schmitz, who is doing a fantastic job of bringing different activities, events, classes and concerts to the Casa Romantica. However, she’s dancing with pennies when it comes to marketing dollars.

Let’s arm these organizations with the ability to create more opportunities, with the Chamber as a conduit through the sales of alcoholic beverages on public property—property owned by us taxpayers and voters.

The Friends of San Clemente Beaches, Parks & Recreation Foundation is truly a part of every resident’s life in San Clemente. “Recreation is the worthy use of leisure time.” It all goes hand in hand: the Summer Concert Series (which hosts Bands to the Sand) as well as Toast to the Casa, Putting on the Glitz, the Ocean Festival, Classic Car Show and, of course, the Fiesta Music Street Festival. Let’s help promote this lifestyle for all our residents to enjoy.

Here, again, is where I use the lesson my ethics professor taught me so long ago, by asking… Why not?

To ask why, who do you call?

You may contact the City Council at (949) 361-8322 during regular business hours. Emails to the City Council are also welcomed and are monitored on a regular basis.

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