View from the Bully Pulpit...
In an on-going struggle to maintain their grip on power, the City Council Meeting of May 17th provided yet another example of what happens when elected officials abuse their position.
During the council meeting, several constituents pointed out to Mayor Sam Allevato that he was once again in violation of a city policy that he voted to approve. City Council Policy #124, “The Role of the Mayor” states, “All Council Members, including the Mayor, shall not speak or write on behalf of the City or Council unless a majority of the Council has approved the position being expressed in a properly agendized meeting.” The Mayor’s most recent violation of the policy was in his shameless promotion of the “YES on Measure B” political campaign supporting the developer of the Distrito La Novia project’s wish to force a huge, high-density development on the residents of San Juan over the objections of thousands of residents. One resident remarked during Oral Communications that Mayor Allevato appeared to be a pitchman, “in effect…the head cheerleader at a campaign rally for the (Distrito La Novia) developer ARES (Advanced Real Estate Services)”.
Mayor Allevato recently took it a step further when he publicly denigrated resident John Perry, who is actively opposed to the Distrito La Novia development. Mayor Allevato publicly called Perry a liar and a hypocrite. We find Mr. Perry to be quite the opposite; we find him to be an asset to the community. Perry is the one who has extensively researched the Ground Water Recovery Plant operation, which ultimately helped to explain why we are being billed such outrageous amounts for our water. He also successfully pushed for an Ad Hoc Forensic Audit Committee to audit the Water Enterprise and the Redevelopment Agency, which have driven up our debt to obscene levels. We can see why Perry is a threat to Allevato and Freese, both of whom contributed to the estimated $150 million debt we have.
Sitting at the “bully pulpit” with Mayor Allevato is Councilmember Laura Freese who, as pointed out by another constituent at the council meeting, was paid by the city to have her business print material for the city’s 50th Anniversary Celebration. Freese’s defense is that she gave the city a great price, but clearly she missed the point. At best, it’s unethical to use city money to award business to herself when serving as an elected official who approves that expenditure.
We at the Capistrano Common Sense think SJC residents have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent. Maybe that explains why Councilmember Freese told me personally that she “hates” the Capistrano Common Sense. She has gone so far as to request that certain articles not be printed. One article in particular that she objected to contained information about city staff’s exorbitant wages and benefits, which amount to more than half our annual budget. When asked about it, Freese dismissed our concern, saying that the $324,000 City Manager Joe Tait needed “more time” to complete his re-organization of the city staff, which was supposed to be a cost-saving measure. Joe Tait is no longer serving as City Manager (he has now been awarded a $225 per hour city “consulting contract” to help expand our water enterprise that is $8.2 million in debt) and we find that staff payroll actually increased under his “re-organization”.
What a shame that as elected officials, Mayor Allevato and Councilmember Freese attack, attempt to silence, or simply dismiss those who disagree with or question them rather than listening to and addressing the valid concerns of their constituents. If you make the mistake of assuming Allevato and Freese represent your best interests when it comes to your quality of life, think again. Ask yourself what they have done for you. Look at your water bill, look at your property value, look at the debt they keep piling up and what they are wasting your tax dollars on. I’m proud that I’m not a member of their “insiders” club; I'm just tired of paying the dues.