San Juan Capistrano

Dirty Politics in San Juan
By Kim Lefner

A recent article in the OC Register entitled “The Fixer” by Meghann Cuniff, describes political consultant David Ellis’ often unethical tactics to get his candidates elected.

This article and others written about Ellis and SJC Councilman Sam Allevato’s campaign consultant Eileen Padberg predict a down-and-dirty fight by Allevato against residents running the recall against him.

One of the functions of these out-of-town political consultants is to marginalize the opposition by conducting “smear” campaigns. They target the average voter with glossy mailers attacking the opposition, often on a personal level. SJC residents received such a mailer last week, smearing those who support the recall of Sam Allevato.

Despite Allevato’s repeated denials about ties to Ellis, a recent Public Records Act request reveals that Allevato is indeed involved with Ellis, as he is with Padberg.

A Daily Pilot article from Nov. 24, 2002 about Ellis entitled “The Campaigner”, by reporter Paul Clinton reveals Ellis’ tactics;

As a political consultant…Ellis has long been a hot commodity in City Council elections...known as a freewheeling bomb thrower... his opponents often dread his aggressive tactics. ‘He pushes the envelope until it tears,’ said one source who requested anonymity.”
According to the article, the Newport Beach-based Ellis has “…perfected a... no-holds-barred campaigning style...for two decades…[and] promotes his candidates... using bulk mailers, phone blitzes, voter surveys and...other tools of the trade. With about $20,000 and the right candidate, Ellis can take you to the top.

"Politics is definitely a combat sport. I happen to be on the gridiron," Ellis said.

Allevato’s political consultant Eileen Padberg was quoted in the article, stating; “You get hired to do a job, you get hired to win for your candidate. It's a very tough business and you only get one shot [to win] ... It's not a business for the faint of heart."

A response to a recent SJC Public Records Act request offers a glimpse into the political tactics employed by Ellis, Padberg and Sam Allevato.

Mission Viejo

Charitable Giving - Your Decision or the City’s? 
by Steve Magdziak

Americans are reportedly the most caring and generous nation when it comes to charitable giving. In Mission Viejo, residents gave more to Race for the Cure than any other city in Orange County. That’s a good thing.

What’s not so good in my opinion, is when the city decides which charities are worthy of your tax dollars. More than 20 charities attended a commission meeting in MV recently, in a bid to get $75,000 of your tax dollars.

Some of the “needs” stated by the charities are questionable. One group for example, wants to give cell phones to homeless people that "live" in MV. Although I may agree with some of the services offered by this charity, are cell phones better than food and a roof? Could that homeless person be on illegal drugs?

Other charities stated that many MV residents are hurting for cash and that some cannot even afford clothing. If true, why then is the city giving the school district $800,000 of your tax dollars for an after-school program for Saddleback Unified K-6 schools? At an average attendance of 47 students per school (in 12 schools), that’s an estimated $1,400 per student. Our taxes already pay schools an estimated $12,000 per student per year; why isn’t the school district paying for “afterschool programs”? As a commissioner, I voted no on the $800,000 program. For that kind of money we could have had 2+ extra police officers, or rehabilitated 2+ parks or fixed sidewalks and roads.

San Juan Capistrano

                                                                          Guest Column
"Regionalizing" the Ground Water 
Recovery Plant
a Solution to an Expensive Problem
By Roy L. Byrnes, MD, San Juan Capistrano City Councilmember 

Our “water troubles” began about ten years ago when the City made the fateful choice to move away from the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), which had been our traditional supplier of water for nearly 100 years. Unfortunately, the City decided that we should obtain about 75% of our water by pumping the subterranean aquifer from the San Juan basin using the local Ground Water Recovery Plant (GWRP).

That was a bad decision and we've been paying a very high price for it ever since. Indeed, over the past 10 years, we've learned that the GWRP is more expensive and less reliable than MWD water. Looking to the future, the rising cost of electricity, plus the cost of 21 employees to run it, plus the maintenance and repairs, plus the expenses of installing recharge facilities, plus the construction of barriers to protect from ocean water intrusion - all these factors mean that the future operational costs of the GWRP will continue to outpace even the expected increase in MWD water costs.

What to do? Last month Councilman Sam Allevato suggested that the City should determine the costs and consequences of shuttering the “water factory” and stopping (defaulting on) the bond payments. Upon suggestion of the City Attorney, he withdrew his suggestion.

Mission Viejo

The Not-So-Free Freeways - Part One
By Ed Sachs

Toll lanes might be in your future on both the I-405 and I-5 freeways. The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is proposing a plan that would add a toll lane, convert an existing carpool lane to a toll lane, and create a 3-person “free” lane in both directions on our freeways. This, in fact, would kick out any 2+ passengers from the HOV lane.

Why are many of our elected officials so interested in taxing residents with tolls on the 5 and 405? We have already been taxed to build these freeways. In an article in the OC Register entitled, “Toll-lanes plan a theft of Measure M dollars”, former Costa Mesa Mayor Eric Bever writes, “The real plan, as outlined in the article and a map graphic in the July-August issue of Westways magazine, is to eventually have these toll lanes running throughout Southern California, on every Orange County “freeway.” The questions is, who made this plan - and why?

Recently re-elected to the 17-member OTCA Board is Mission Viejo City Councilman Frank Ury, who is also running for Orange County Supervisor. Mr. Ury cites threats from Caltrans as his justification for supporting the toll scheme. Let’s examine the accuracy of this alleged threat from Caltrans:

San Juan Capistrano

City Should Respect the Law

No one should have to file a lawsuit to get the city to comply with the law.

First it was the Capistrano Taxpayers Association’s lawsuit against the city to force them to stop illegally billing for water. The CTA won, but the city council majority of Sam Allevato, Larry Kramer and John Taylor voted to appeal the court ruling and ignore the court decision by continuing to bill the higher, illegal tiered water rates.

More recently, the CCS filed legal action to force the city to allow us to place our news rack alongside other news racks on city-owned property.

Newspapers have been distributed via news racks at City Hall, the Community Center and on other city-owned property for many years. That is, until the CCS put our news rack alongside the others. Within four days, a closed door meeting of the city council was called, newspapers were banned on city property, and the CCS was threatened with criminal prosecution if we placed our newspapers “anywhere on city property”.

The council majority of Sam Allevato, Larry Kramer and Mayor John Taylor have refused to take responsibility for the ban, but Councilman Roy Byrnes reported the vote in open session, stating that the council voted 3-1 to support it (with Byrnes opposed).

Mission Viejo


Mission Viejo

Hats Off to Residents - part II
By Larry Gilbert

In this continuing nod to the difference that Mission Viejo volunteers have made, I would like to acknowledge the (former) non-partisan Committee for Integrity in Government, or “CIG”. CIG was the brainchild of Brad Morton, a Republican and Milt Jacobson, a Democrat. Experience demonstrates that when an individual has an issue or grievance with government they might take an active roll until the fight is won or lost. Most of these citizens have a single issue and can be found attending city council meetings or writing letters to the editor to express their point of view.

Fighting the establishment is a long, hard battle. For those who may lose a specific fight the answer is not to disappear from holding our government accountable but rather to find or create a group of neighbors and friends with similar concerns. The benefit of joining other concerned citizens goes beyond fellowship; you also gain a priceless support system. There is strength in numbers and working together you catch the eyes and ears of not only the media but city council and staff who take notice of your activities.
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