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.
CIG was formed on Jan 23, 1997 after the city broke an established housing cap with a zoning change to build 741 apartments north of Crown Valley Parkway. That development decision ignored petitions containing 7,000 signatures of residents opposing the project. Leading that drive was local resident Dale Tyler.
One of the achievements of a CIG subcommittee was our effort to promote economic development to "retain, sustain, and gain" business in Mission Viejo. To that end we created a web site that readers can still access... www.missionviejobusiness.com. We offered to share the web site with the city, including our offer to grant them full edit authority and yet, even after our cordial city hall presentation, they chose not to utilize it.
You see, watchdogs, or as some like to call those who object to city mismanagement, “activists”, “naysayers”, “nattering nabobs of negativity” or “gadflies” are labeled as such in order to paint them as the bad guys in the black hats while our leaders have big white hats.
In his March 2, 2004 article on our offer to share the business development web site LA Times staff Writer Dave McKibben quotes me as saying that, "people always suspect we're being too negative,” Gilbert said. "We're trying to do some positive stuff. There's no hidden agenda." CIG, with around 30-40 members, continued as a watchdog organization until 2004.
Our business website contains a history of the city, including a virtual tour and business contact information. The volunteer team responsible for creating the website were residents Alan Pilger, Cathy Schlicht, Norm Rosenkrantz, Joe Holtzman, Dale Tyler and myself.
For several years we offered free access to the website at city council meetings, yet our offer fell on deaf ears. So, last year, Council Member Cathy Schlicht and I joined the new Mission Viejo Chamber of Commerce where we joined the Ambassador Committee. We offered the Mission Viejo business web site at their meetings as well as to the Chamber president. Sadly nothing happened. However the city, being aware of the positive site, created their own version by copying our format. Further, they permitted a private Farmers Market access to the city web site while ignoring our non-partisan effort to promote our business sector, simply because we are community watchdogs.
City staff may cringe when we expose waste and abuse of taxpayer monies. But they cannot silence us, which no doubt frustrates them. One person, and certainly a group, can make a difference if you engage in the sharing of information.
Larry Gilbert, a retired electronics industry executive, has lived in Mission Viejo since 1977. He is an elected board member of the California Alliance to Protect Private Property Rights. Larry is also a former Board Member of South Coast Christian Assembly church and leader of their Senior Ministry.
Questions? Comments? The CCS wants to hear from you! Contact Mission Viejo Contributing Editor Steve Magdziak at: (949) 441-0499.