Mission Viejo

MV Resident Larry Gilbert
Voting Records Speak Louder Than Words

By Larry Gilbert

When election time rolls around, who do you vote for, especially when the June 2014 ballot has multiple candidates competing for the same seat?

One race that impacts all voters in south county is the replacement of Pat Bates, who is termed out as Orange County (OC) Supervisor representing the 5th District.

As a volunteer campaign consultant in local elections, one of the key points I share with challengers is to review the voting record of incumbents. Do they say one thing and vote another? Do they keep their promises and vote accordingly, even when they may not win over their peers on specific issues or do they simply “go along to get along”?
Our County is divided into 5 Districts with an average of 600,000 residents each. A few years ago a community leader created a website with a huge online database listing the key policy votes of every city council member in O.C. The votes were “graded” according to the impacts on personal freedoms, property rights and fiscal responsibility.

The task was huge. The website, entitled the “Liberty First” blog, monitored the votes of at least 172 elected council members; a difficult task as every two years some elected officials are replaced due to term limits, personal choices or being defeated in their re-election bid.

Some of the issues monitored and graded by the “Liberty First Scorecard”

included; opposition to redistricting, spending freezes, conflict of interest, hiring of lobbyists, property change approval, cost cutting measures, project bidding, slope zone ordinance, posting of salaries, red light camera ban, no-bid contract approvals, recall election, City Manager contract amendments, trash hauling bids and lifetime health benefits for part time council members.

The Scorecard graded the candidates for OC Supervisor based on three years of voting records (2009 - 2011) on impacts to personal freedoms, property rights and fiscal responsibility. The lowest score was Dana Point Council member Lisa Bartlett at 66%, followed by Mission Viejo Council member Frank Ury at 69%. The highest score was Laguna Niguel Council member Robert Ming at 96%. No voting record exists for Deputy DA Joe Williams as he has never been elected to a position.

Past actions are an indicator of future actions or in this case, future voting.

A good example of this took place on the evening prior to the successful recall of former Mission Viejo (MV) Mayor Lance MacLean in 2010. The MV council majority led by Frank Ury, amended City Manager Dennis Wilberg's contract termination severance provisions related to "misconduct." The contract provisions were part of the previous City Manager’s contract, and stated that the city manager could be terminated should he engage in "dishonesty, fraud, self-dealing, and willful misconduct committed in the performance of Wilberg's duties and responsibilities under this agreement." Every one of those causes was removed from the updated city manager contract. In my opinion, that anyone would object to these provisions speaks volumes about their character. As a result, Council member Ury received an “F” on the Liberty First Scorecard for his Feb. 1, 2010 vote eliminating these important accountability provisions.

As closely as I research candidates for my voter guides, it is virtually impossible to attend every city council meeting. I strongly urge voters to attend or watch online the voting in council meetings, along with the Open Session debate in order to "Trust, but verify" the actions of your elected representatives.

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.

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