Response to Firefighter Endorsement Editorial

I’ll admit, I didn’t anticipate much of a response to my most recent commentary. Evidently, I struck a nerve.  That wasn’t my intent.  To be fair to all candidates, I’ll post the Bob Huber Campaign’s official response and also clearly indicate that Steve Sojka’s Campaign has no interest in commenting on my editorial.  That said, here is their response and additional clarification from me.

In fairness to our brave Firefighters we must respond to the article posted by Mike Chandler on www.votesimivalley.com June 17, 2010.

Chandler Comment 1: “The Ventura County Firefighters Association did not conduct any interviews. They simply selected Bob Huber as their candidate to endorse for Simi Valley Mayor. ”

This is totally inaccurate as Bob Huber was interviewed at the Firefighters headquarters in Camarillo at length by the Firefighters board members asking numerous detailed questions.

When people or organizations endorse candidates, the key component for endorsing a candidate is their record of service.  The Firefighters when they interviewed Bob Huber were aware of his long term record as a leader in public safety supporting Firefighters including the following:

  • Bob Huber is the key leader in building the state of the art Fire, Sheriff and Police Academy to ensure best trained fire and police officers in the United States serving our community.
  • Bob Huber is former District Attorney known as a tough prosecutor putting criminals behind bars.
  • After the Virginia Tech tragedy, Bob, as College Trustee, initiated the installation of the “Emergency Response System” at all three colleges in order to protect our students.
  • Bob Huber has faithfully served continuously as a Ventura County Judge Pro Tem since 1981.
  • Bob Huber is the former member of the Ventura County Criminal Justice Planning Board.
  • Bob Huber is a Charter Member of the Simi Valley Police Foundation Roundtable.

Bob Huber is current Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Ventura County Community College District and has worked closely with the Firefighters since he was elected in 2004.  The Ventura County Firefighters are trained by the Ventura County Community District and Bob Huber has been a staunch supporter of high caliber training for our Firefighters.  Additionally, Bob Huber has strongly supported the adequate funding and building of the new state of the art Fire, Sheriff and Police Academy where our Firefighters are being trained.  This modern Academy is currently being constructed at the Camarillo site of the Fire Academy.

Firefighters endorsed Bob Huber for election as Mayor of Simi Valley because of his long – term record of supporting our Firefighters and other public safety personnel for the protection of our citizens.

Chandler Comment 2: “Though I don’t know for certain, I have to assume that Mr. Gallegly’s influence inspired the Ventura Firefighters Association to endorse Bob Huber.”

If you go to Bob Huber’s website – Huber for Mayor.com – you will see that twenty-three current or former public officials have endorsed Bob Huber to be the Mayor of Simi Valley.  These public officials include not just Congressman Elton Gallegly, but also the current State Senator and immediate past State Senator, the current State Assembly Member and immediate past State Assembly Member, three former Simi Valley Mayors, current School Trustee, five former School Trustees, the four College Trustees that serve with Bob Huber and the former immediate past College Trustee from our area.

Firefighters endorsed based on a long, solid record by Bob Huber of leadership and public safety and not on other endorsements.  To say otherwise is to insult the integrity of the Ventura County Professional Firefighters Association.

Chandler Comment 3:  “In past elections, the Ventura County Firefighters Association has endorsed Steve Sojka for Simi Valley City Council.”

Attached is Steve Sojka’s Endorsement page from his 2008 City Council race.  There is not an endorsement by the Ventura County Professional Firefighters Association on Sojka’s 2008 website.

Bob Huber received the endorsement of the Ventura County Firefighters Association because of his substantial credentials and his history of working with Firefighters and public safety for many years.

Now, to clarify my position, because it really is simple and by no means meant to put anyone on the offense.

If I was incorrect regarding the past endorsement of Steve Sojka of the VCPFA, then I’ll admit here that I was wrong. I conduct a lot of my searching in internet archives after candidates tear down their websites.  If I pulled inaccurate data, then I’ll admit my mistake and apologize to my readers.  On everything else, I stand firm.

[UPDATE: The VCPFA donated money to the Steve Sojka for City Council Campaign in 2008, 2004 and 2000.]

Often, a press release in its basic form consists of the basic principles of who, what, when, how and why.  The press release I received regarding the Firefighter endorsement didn’t include the how, which allowed me to draw some conclusions.  I do not believe my conclusions were entirely false.  Steve Sojka was NOT interviewed.  The Firefighters Association didn’t interview everyone, they interviewed one person.  I assumed no interviews were conducted, but it was actually just one, which seems even worse.  Even though the Steve Sojka Campaign has no comment, I know he was not interviewed and that I am correct — only one candidate was interviewed.  This looks more like a favor than a result of due diligence.  Let me explain more.

The IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) donated to Congressman Gallegly in 2006 and 2008.  This information is available online (God bless the Internet – see my hyperlinked years).  Do you see the IAFF insignia in the VCPFA logo? There’s an existing relationship between these two parties.  With a press release that spawns questions, I’m inspired browse around to find these links. I’m not trying to pick a fight, but it looks obvious to me that Congressman Gallegly asked the association to endorse Bob Huber and he got it.

Representatives of the Simi Valley Police Officers Association recently had a meeting with Congressman Gallegly.  Would anyone be surprised if a press release comes out soon with another big Bob Huber endorsement?  Honestly, probably not.

And again, I’m not saying that any of this is dirty or wrong.  I raise the question because BOTH candidates have talked to me about endorsements but neither have given voters enough to chew on to make a solid decision on one versus the other.  THIS is why my site exists.  I no longer want this to be about who you know, who your friends are, how long you’ve lived in Simi Valley or what your city-centric nickname is or should be.  And candidates, neither should you.  All of the effort to pull in these endorsements SHOULD be (but likely never will be) a waste of time.

And another thing… Sojka supporters, I’ll cover more news on Sojka when his campaign sends me more news.  Huber supporters, forward your news to Brian Dennert as well.

19 thoughts on “Response to Firefighter Endorsement Editorial

  1. While both Steve Sojka and Bob Huber are both exceptional men, (Simi Valley would undoubtedly be served well by either candidate); I find it interesting that our Congressman has now chosen to wield his fading influence on the mayoral race in Simi Valley.

    It’s not a huge secret that Elton Gallegly has been offering up BIG ante and back room dealings to public officials in Ventura County – including the Union Bosses – to get their support of his BFF – Bob Huber.

    While I’m not a supporter of Huber nor a ‘Fan’ of Sojka, I have to wonder, why Huber? Why Now?

    With Mr. Gallegly in the twilight years of his ‘retirement tour’, is it really a stretch to imagine another back room deal in the making- Bob Huber as Elton Gallegly’s replacement?

    Huber got bored with being a City Councilman for Simi Valley. Huber got bored with being a mortician, Huber got bored with being an attorney… now he’s bored with the VCCCD Trustees. Once he’s bored with being mayor- what’s the ultimate feather in the cap?

    I’m sure we will be seeing more ‘premature’ endorsements for Huber. I’m predicting the Police or Teachers Union will be next. I hope that I am wrong, but one has to wonder – Why Huber? Why Now?

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  2. This is clearly Gallegly’s way to give Bob Huber 2 years as Mayor in order to pass the torch for a Huber congressional run.

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  3. James: I am surprised that after the clarification above you would cling to the notion that Rep. Gallegly exerted influence to force the endorsement. Both the candidates for mayor have credentials, and to suggest that the candidate with the endorsement could have obtained the same only with a push from the Congressman is silly. It is, however, not as silly as the notion of creating a pathway for a future congressional run. There is another official who I believe has that mantle, and that person has endorsed Mr. Sojka. Pollsters always ask what the person answering the poll thinks, not what they know. Maybe we can stick to that higher standard and get on with evaluating the abilities and ideas of the candidates.

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  4. It is pretty clear Gallegly is using his DC muscle in this mayoral campaign. Mike Chandler shows us the nexus between that federal firefighter union that contributes to Gallegly and the local union.

    Why_Now? is focused on the most important question. Why? It is no secret Gallegly is trying to retire and hand off the seat to someone he can control in DC. That is Bob Huber.

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  5. Hmmm … Articles like this raise many questions, among them, why is Huber in his campaign taking credit for saving the City financially after the “negative impacts” of Prop. 13? Right here he says Elton did it.

    Ventura County Star, January 12, 2009

    Gallegly honored for years of service;
    Guests have the opportunity to ‘roast and toast’ lawmaker

    By Michele Willer-Allred. Correspondent

    Rep Elton Gallegly was Biographies Plus News

    was put in the “hot seat” on Saturday night, this time from friends and colleagues who came out for a “roast and toast” for the congressman from Simi Valley.

    Several hundred guests came to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum to see Gallegly get ridiculed for fun and also praised for his work as he received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Boys & Girls Club of Simi Valley, which sponsored the event.

    The event was also a fundraiser for the club, and featured hip-hop dancers from the club’s elementary age and teen dance groups.

    The 64-year-old Gallegly, who was recovering from the flu, almost didn’t make it to the event.

    Gallegly received a standing ovation when he arrived late with his wife, Janice.

    During the roast, Ventura County Sheriff Bob Brooks talked about being Gallegly’s neighbor, saying his house looks like a shack compared to the Gallegly house that overlooks Simi Valley.

    “My day job is the sheriff of Ventura County. My night job is the security guard for the Gallegly compound,” joked Brooks.

    Brooks also chided Gallegly about his change in appearance since he became a member of the United States House of Representatives in 1987.

    “He was a lot taller and had darker hair back then,” Brooks said with a laugh.

    At one point, Gallegly was given a piece of glass in jest as a souvenir from Simi Valley’s Bottle Village, which Gallegly opposed federal funding to repair.

    While there were plenty of jokes, there was also much praise for Gallegly’s work. Gallegly is a former member of the Simi Valley City Council and became Simi Valley’s first elected mayor in 1982 before seeking higher office.

    Robert Huber, chair of the Ventura County Community College District Board of Trustees, served with Gallegly on the City Council. He credited Gallegly for making the city thrive after the loss of Proposition 13 tax money in the 1980s.

    “Through Elton’s steady hand, our city settled down and turned around,” Huber said.

    Gallegly was also praised for being a champion of the Simi Valley Boys & Girls Club for more than 30 years. During the early 1980s, Gallegly secured the land from the city to build the first Boys & Girls Club in Simi Valley and is credited for securing funding throughout the years for the club.

    “We all have a special charity. The Boys & Girls Club just happens to be my personal favorite,” Gallegly said.

    Robbie Callaway, founding board member of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, traveled from Washington, D.C., to Simi Valley to attend the event and praise Gallegly for his work in Congress for children and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

    “In D.C., lip service is common from politicians. For helping kids in this country, Elton is the one I turn to because he gets things done,” Callaway said.

    At the end of the event, Gallegly joked that his friends were “lightweights” in their attempt to roast him but thanked them for their praise, which he said was undeserving.
    “I can’t even remember a more special night than tonight in my career,” Gallegly said.

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  6. Interesting, in light of these Gallegly engineered ‘endorsements’ – long time City Councilwoman Barbra Williamson and Simi Valley Mayor Paul Miller, support Steve Sojka. This in spite of Gallegly’s strong arm tactics. Or, perhaps their support comes from their knowledge of both candidates. Both Miller & Williamson worked alongside Huber when he was on the City Council… back in the day, and with 12 year incumbent Councilman Sojka.

    It will be interesting to see who, if anyone else enters this race. But for now, it makes me nervous that Gallegly has chosen this candidate at this time.

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  7. A drumbeat theme has emerged that one candidate will be tarred with the notion that he is the (pawn, puppet, lackey…you pick) of another elected official. With “anti-Washington” sentiment running high, I suspect the broad brushing is intentional. I find it beneath local politics and something a certain failed candidate for clerk/recorder would do. I am torn as to whom to vote for and hope to have my vote earned by the candidate who has the vision, ideas and capability to do what should be done and stay out of those things local government should stay out of.

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  8. Tim: Gallegly is pretty popular at home, so your “theory” is pretty strange. The way this endorsement was obtained says to voters Huber can’t bring people together without using Gallegly to do it for him.

    What we need to figure out in this campaign is whether Bob Huber can run and lead his own campaign or will he need to call Gallegly at every turn?

    If Bob Huber can not be his own candidate, then voters need to know that if elected, the real power in the Mayor’s office will be in DC.

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  9. James, you said:

    “The way this endorsement was obtained says to voters Huber can’t bring people together without using Gallegly to do it for him.”

    I think that’s a broad interpretation and a misread of what I said. I’m hoping that’s not the conclusion you’ve drawn based on my post because if it is, I have serious regrets.

    I believe this to be an endorsement that Gallegly simply influenced (“influenced” being a word that bothers people, but meaning he simply asked the Association for the endorsement). I’ll need to see more Gallegly connected endorsements before I start agreeing with your position.

    Tim: you are the poster child for staying on target. I appreciate that. I’ll commit to getting back to the issues. Let’s see what else is going on with these candidates.

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  10. This is why Mr. Huber got the endorsement according to what I read…

    “The Firefighters when they interviewed Bob Huber were aware of his long term record as a leader in public safety supporting Firefighters including the following:

    Bob Huber is the key leader in building the state of the art Fire, Sheriff and Police Academy to ensure best trained fire and police officers in the United States serving our community.

    Bob Huber is former District Attorney known as a tough prosecutor putting criminals behind bars.

    After the Virginia Tech tragedy, Bob, as College Trustee, initiated the installation of the “Emergency Response System” at all three colleges in order to protect our students.

    Bob Huber has faithfully served continuously as a Ventura County Judge Pro Tem since 1981.

    Bob Huber is the former member of the Ventura County Criminal Justice Planning Board.

    Bob Huber is a Charter Member of the Simi Valley Police Foundation Roundtable.”

    I don’t Mr. Gallegly’s name or any other peoples names mentioned here other than Bob Huber. Sounds like Mr. Huber earned the endorsement based on his past and current accomplishments and to read it any differently just seems like grasping at straws.

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  11. matty: Wait a minute. You mean Bob Huber did not credit Mr. Gallegly in his press release? That settles it then, don’t it? Uh, no.

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  12. I did not see any mudslinging at all. The question remains, why did not the Association interview every candidate? And why make a decision many weeks before the filing period ends? The main subject here, the response, fails to adequately address this.

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  13. Stating your opinion based on the information in the article is not mudslinging. I do believe when POA members (as stated above) are meeting at Gallegly’s home and the Huber campaign credits Gallegly for influencing the recent endorsement, it raises leadership concerns for Bob Huber.

    Who is the leader here? Are people organizing around Bob Huber because of the Congressman or because of Bob Huber? So far, it sounds like the Congressman is the headliner.

    But, since we are on the topic of mudslinging, here is a better example from a Huber supporter on a previous thread:

    “Fortunately this around, WE the people get to vote, instead of the backroom deals that appointed Sojka and Foster.”

    This is a pretty serious smear as it claims illegality in the appointment process.

    Since the Bob Huber campaign is sending official responses to this blog, I noticed they did not officially repudiate this smear.

    Tim: Do you think the Huber campaign should officially reject those comments?

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  14. What is clear is that the Firefighters public employees union made an endorsement suspiciously and very early. What also is clear is Mr. Huber’s crutch of Mr. Gallegly. The fund-raiser at Gallegly’s house tonight for Huber shows just how hard they will work together to purchase the Mayor’s seat.

    This voter wonders, can Huber be his own man? And, why is a Congressman fiddling with a local municipal election?

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  15. Thanks, Mike C. I know very much about Elton Gallegly, thanks for asking.

    Let’s ask you something, since you disparaged my knowledge of Gallegly. When has Gallegly endorsed for Simi Valley City Council races?

    You can take your time doing the research, we can wait. The only one that comes to mind is for Glen Becerra in 1998. He does not get involved in Simi Valley elections – that is why this is different and interesting and, above all, something voters should be interested in.

    Sure, you could suppose the things you supposed all day long. Hopefully voters are smarter and don’t just suppose before voting. I have a feeling voters are smart and will figure it all out.

    Steve Sojka is endorsed by the current Mayor, Paul Miller, as well as the Mayor before that, Bill Davis, plus former Mayors Ted Grandsen (a former county Supervisor) and Ginger Gherardi, who served as Executive Director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission for many years. He also is endorsed by the entire current Simi Valley City Council, and most of the Simi Valley School Board and Park District.

    He’s also endorsed by so many local residents that it took an extra page for his website to list them all.

    Visit http://www.sojkaformayor.com to learn more.

    Or, just be plain ignorant and don’t do the research or ask the questions people are going to ask. And that is, why is Elton Gallegly diddling in this election?

    Which spurs the following, What does he want out of it?

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  16. Yo’ Mike C – perhaps you can help me understand why the Congressman has chosen to locate his business office in Thousand Oaks rather than Simi Valley? We really don’t want him here.

    Further, why is the Congressman opting to steer business AWAY from Simi Valley to Westlake Village…. including the company that I work for – (we relocated from Calabasas) and are looking to relocate again.
    Before everybody tries to slam me as being an ignorant, mudslinging Sojka Fan/Huber Hater (SHEESH!)… please be aware that I’m no longer a resident of Simi Valley.

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