San Juan Capistrano

Judge Restores Newspapers 
to City Property

By Kim Lefner

Despite three council members’ attempt to ban the Community Common Sense from city-owned property, an OC Superior Court Judge recently ordered that newspapers be temporarily restored pending a full hearing on the matter.

“The people have the right to read and access newspapers on public property,” stated OC Superior Court Judge James Di Cesare in response to an application for a Temporary Retraining Order filed by attorney Wayne Tate who is representing the Community Common Sense (“CCS”). The judge directed the attorney representing the city, Philip Kohn of Rutan & Tucker, to work out a mutually agreed upon location with CCS for placement of its news racks or, said Judge Di Cesare, “I’ll do it for you.”

Mission Viejo

“Art Program” Deserves Closer Scrutiny

By Don Wilder

I have been a resident of Mission Viejo since 1970 and have lived in the same house since then except for a several year hiatus that ended when I returned last February.

Among some of the changes I have seen on my return are kiosks, sculptures and public “art” at several places around town. While appreciation of “art” is very subjective, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, this beholder sees little beauty and has little appreciation for much of what has been installed in our city and passed off as “art.”

San Juan Capistrano

Letter to the Editor
Recall Rumors: 
Setting the Record Straight

I am one of many volunteers collecting signatures to recall Councilman Sam Allevato. I am encouraged to report that about 8 out of every 10 residents I talk to have signed the recall petition. I have also heard several false rumors circulating about the recall, and I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight.

Rumor #1: Everyone will be able to see my signature on the petition and know that I signed it.

FALSE. OC Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley has confirmed that signatures on recall petitions are confidential and that the signer has a constitutionally protected right to privacy. If anyone tells you that the public will be able to see your signature, they are not telling you the truth; please notify the OC Registrar of Voters at: 714-567-7600.

Rumor #2: The recall will cost $100,000 and is too expensive.

REALITY: The recall will cost approximately $93,000 which amounts to about $5 per resident. This is peanuts compared to the MILLIONS of dollars that Sam Allevato has cost us in irresponsible votes resulting in overcharges on our water bills, his insistence on continuing to run the Ground Water Recovery Plant which we cannot afford and in unnecessary legal fees.

Rumor #3: The recall will be held too close to the regular election; we should just wait.

REALITY: Sam Allevato is not up for re-election in November 2014. We residents deserve to be represented however, the current council majority is comprised of three council members who repeatedly vote to benefit special interests such as big developers who increase our cost of living and decrease our quality of life through more traffic and strain on infrastructure.

Unlike Sam Allevato and his supporters who are spending tens of thousands of dollars to insure that he holds on to his $360/month council position (ask yourself why), the recall group is comprised of residents who are all unpaid volunteers. We don’t have the deep pockets of developers and special interests; we are just average residents who love our town enough to try and preserve it. But we need your help! If you agree that our town is worth saving, please join us by collecting signatures from your neighbors, friends and family. Contact us at: www.RecallSam.com .

Christie Smead
San Juan Capistrano

Mission Viejo

Resident Activists Serve Vital Purpose 

By Larry Gilbert

In my opinion, voters in every city can and should hold local governments accountable. The following illustrates why this is so important.

During the 2002 council election in Mission Viejo, city watchdogs succeeded in removing the mayor and mayor-pro-tem. As this shock and awe was occurring and, with no discussion or approval by the Planning Commission or City Council, members of city staff authorized Granich Construction to perform what they called clean-up of "illegal dumping" below the Curtis Park ball fields.

San Juan Capistrano

Letter to the Editor

The cost of bad decisions

I have watched with dismay too many council decisions that have cost us millions in legal fees over the years. The latest is the council majority’s approval of the Mercado Market when they knew it did not have enough parking. The council majority has proven that they will not stop one minute to consider the potential cost of a lawsuit. Take note of the Mercado fiasco the latest among many, several of which are listed below:

1. Mercado Market approval which violated city zoning - LOST. Decision upheld on appeal. Legal fees to be determined but backs up the basics of poor decision-making by the council majority.

2. CCS Newspaper Ban / violation of First Amendment rights to free speech - LOST. OC Superior Court judge restored newspapers to public property pending further judgment(s) with potential to lose so many more taxpayer dollars. There are Legal fees to be determined but estimated at more than $10,000 so far.

3. CTA lawsuit against city for illegal water rate structure - LOST. An OC Superior Court judgment also awarded $200,000 in legal fees to CTA attorney thru 9/30/13, not counting the fees paid to the attorneys representing the city, estimated to be hundreds of thousands of taxpayer’s dollars.

San Juan Capistrano

City Hall’s Water Workshop “whitewash”; 
a costly PR event without answers

By Melissa Kaffen 

After attending the “Water Workshop” orchestrated by the city to allegedly answer questions about water produced by the Ground Water Recovery Plant, I came away with more questions than answers.

The event was coordinated in an “exhibit” style format, where you had to go from table to table to ask questions of employees at each “exhibit station”. Unfortunately, this format shielded questions and answers from the public rather than informing everyone at once. The answers I did get were lacking, which left me with the following unanswered questions:
  •  I understand that although we paid to build our Ground Water Recovery Plant (GWRP), we are only leasing it. Why?
  •  Who actually OWNS the GWRP? (I already know the answer to this; although we paid to build it, it’s owned by the San Juan Basin Authority).
  •  Is it true that the “Emergency water” from the plant will also serve three surrounding towns that pay none of the construction & maintenance costs?
  •  Isn't the GWRP defined as a “Regional Water Facility? If so, why are SJC residents shouldering the entire cost of a “regional” plant? 
  •  Wouldn't it be considered financial misconduct for any former or current member of our city council to ligate us to pay the entire cost of a Regional Emergency Water Facility? And if so, who made that decision?

Mission Viejo

The Not-So-Free Freeways, Part 2


By Ed Sachs

Compliments are in order for the eleven members of the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) who listened to both the corridor cities and voters of Orange County, and elected not to bring toll lanes to the 405 freeway, but rather to add one “free” lane in both directions to the 405 between Costa Mesa and Seal Beach. Votes against adding the free lanes were Spitzer, Harper, County Supervisor John Moorlach and Seal Beach Mayor Gary Miller. Construction begins in 2015 and could be completed by 2020.

The vote taken December 9, 2013 affirmed “Alternate 1” which expands the freeway by one lane, fulfilling the promise made to Orange County voters when they approved the Measure M half cent per gallon gasoline sales tax increase.

San Juan Capistrano

CR&R Contract Amendment: An Attempt to Avoid Prop 218?

By Clint Worthington
                                                         
       CR&R was back in front of the City Council at the December Council meeting. This time City staff stated the main reason was to eliminate the “evergreen” clause which allows the continual renewal of the CR&R contract without the contract ever going out to bid. This clause has allowed CR&R to serve as the City’s trash hauler since 1997 without ever having to bid for the multi-million-dollar-per-year contract.

It is worth noting that CR&R paid the City Attorneys to rewrite the amendment to the contract. Now if CR&R is paying our City Attorneys to do the work, whose best interests do you think will be represented - CR&R’s or the residents’? A review of the amendment might help to answer that question.

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