A decade ago, a La Mesa Senior Softball League team won a national tournament in Louisiana and made a triumphant return—presenting a plaque and softball to Mayor Art Madrid.
On Tuesday, Councilman Ernie Ewin called on Madrid to produce the souvenirs, since he said the team is hoping to use them in applying for exhibit space at the San Diego Hall of Champions in Balboa Park.
“Oh, the baseball,” Madrid said.
That issue—first brought up at the Nov. 13 council meeting—was one of several points of contention between Ewin and Madrid at a meeting that lasted a little more than an hour.
When Ewin asked Madrid if he’d found the plaque and ball, Madrid said no.
Ewin said the group may have access to a backup plaque and baseball from the San Diego Senior Games Association.
“Currently it’s in the process of being provided to the family of a deceased player,” Ewin said. “If they can procure that, that would help them in terms of their Hall of Champions application.”
Then began a minutes-long back-and-forth about the ball and council policies:
Ewin: “I think that it’s important, and I don’t want to be rude or inappropriate, but if any of us have the chance to receive something on behalf of the city, it belongs to the city. And I think there comes a custodianship assigned to that. If there’s anything else, or any other way you can check again, because I think this is important to the families to keep this as a memorial.
Madrid: “Well, Mr. Ewin, your comments are slightly askew. Let me just suggest that that picture that you showed at the last meeting, that presentation of the glove and the ball was made to the entire council. I have no need to go ahead and hoard that personally. All of those plaques (points to the wall) are presented to us individually or collectively. I do not know what happened to the glove or the ball that afternoon, that night, or the day after. So I contend that if I wanted to have a ball or have it autographed, I would go out and buy one.”
Ewin: “You’re missing the point.”
Madrid: “No, I’m not missing the point. The allegation is that I have the plaque.”
Ewin: “No, the allegation is not allegation. It’s the fact that it was given to you, and we need a procedure, which accounts for things that are given to the city, through any one of us, including you, so that these things don’t get lost.”
Madrid: “Well, I think we’re dealing in semantics. It was presented to me, in front of the council, as mayor, and everything goes right into the conference room, and it was left there. So end of discussion from my perspective. But I’m glad that you were able to find a backstop.”
The National Senior Games were held in Baton Rouge, noted Lawrence Blankenship, a manager and historian of the La Mesa Senior Softball League.
(The year was 2001, according to the National Senior Games Association.)
Blankenship told Patch on Wednesday night: “It was a one-time shot down in Louisiana” and not worth a Hall of Champions exhibit.
“I would not endorse it personally, because I don’t thing it’s that big a thing,” he said of the Baton Rouge victory. “And I think Art Madrid would probably feel the same way.”
Blankenship, who turns 89 in December and is the oldest player in the league, couldn’t recall when the plaque-and-ball presentation was made, but said: “It was a goodwill gesture that the city won down there. It was kind of a publicity thing. But I don’t think it was that big a game, though.”
He said “anything that would bring glory to La Mesa” is fine, but didn’t consider the 2001 title worth much, noting a player whose six titles were more worthy of recognition.
Blankenship’s theory is that Ewin is a friend of former senior player Jim Campbell, “and Jim Campbell might be the one pushing [the Hall of Champions] exhibit.”
But Campbell caused some hard feelings with the senior softball league, Blankenship said in a phone interview.
“He’s done nothing for senior softball,” Blankenship said.
Asked for further comment on Campbell and details of the Hall of Champions exhibit, Ewin said via email Wednesday night: “More to take place and be confirmed. At this point no one knows where the plaque with a signed ball was given to the city via the mayor is. As I indicated, there are some other options to be completed and secured before anything moves forward to the next step—which I am not driving.”
Earlier in the meeting, Madrid made a report on the National League of Cities Conference Nov. 28-Dec. 1 in Boston, which Madrid will attend.
At the Nov. 13 meeting, the discussion centered on Madrid’s declaration of La Mesa as a “Fair Trade Town.” That commendation, while within Madrid’s legal authority, sparked a debate on an individual’s (in this case Madrid’s) declarative power as it relates to being a representative of the city.
That theme continued Tuesday as Ewin said that since the council did not have time to review Madrid’s report before he left town, and perhaps give input or direction to him as the city’s voting representative at the conference, “that if there are any other resolutions that come up that your credentials allow you to vote on, you should track how you vote on behalf of the city and report back to us.”
Madrid agreed and went on to discuss his intentions to vote on the issue of “fracking,” a method of extracting natural gas or oil from the earth.
Madrid said that he as a member of the EENR (Energy, Environment, Natural Resources) subcommittee at the conference, he would like to see regulations put in to limit the environmental degradation of this process.
“Whether it’s accurate or not, or whether it’s a public relations ploy, we are projecting that we will be energy independent in the next few years,” Madrid said. “And if you look at the price of gasoline, I think that’s exactly what we should shoot for. But I think that in the course of addressing that issue of becoming independent, that we don’t destroy the environment to the degree that we end up saying, ‘what was the value of that?’”
Ewin then cut Madrid off, saying: “I trust that when you are talking about we, you mean we collectively, as the council.”
“No, I mean ‘we’ as a society,” Madrid replied.
“Well, then you need to talk to your council,” Ewin responded.
In other action, the council:
- Voted unanimously to ratify design review board reports making way for the interior renovations of Drew Hyundai (8850 Grossmont Blvd.) and Jack In the Box (5141 Jackson Drive)
- Voted unanimously to approve an MOU between the City of La Mesa and the La Mesa Police Officers’ Association.
- Voted unanimously to approve a plan to conduct an 800-respondent community survey about city services. The cost of the survey is $42,328. With only $30,000 budgeted for the survey in FY 2012-13, $12,500 will have to be appropriated from unallocated General Funds balance.
- And heard Supervisor Ron Roberts make a presentation about the county’s new Emergency Mobile App. The app provides real time updates and news on emergency situations that take place around the county, as well as provide tips on evacuation plans and emergency kit preparation.