Full Audio – December 4 Tapo Street Grant Meeting

Today, I received a lawsuit threat from Ted Mackel for posting the article referencing the timeline of events related to the Tapo Street renovation grant dispute. Check back later for the screen capture of the lawsuit threat letter that was delivered via Facebook. This is important to note because it explains why the article was edited shortly after it was published.

For clarification and full disclosure, I’m providing a full, unedited segment of audio. The video embedded below is the full audio of the meeting that took place at City Hall on December 4, 2012, between city officials and a group of citizens. It is over an hour long, but I encourage you to listen to it in full so that you can draw your own conclusions.

For your own copy of the audio CD of the meeting, write to City Clerk, City of Simi Valley, 2929 Tapo Canyon Road, Simi Valley, CA 93063, and request a CD of the meeting between Doug Crosse and the City Manager held on December 4, 2012, pursuant to the California Public Record Act. Give the City at least 10 days to respond.

(Mitch Green has provided a cliff notes summary of the meeting dialogue which can be found here.)

Redevelopment Grant Timeline of Events

The events of the Tapo Street redevelopment grant issue that have played out during the course of the last election and finally concluded with the business owner returning the grant funds involve a series of letters, information requests and other maneuvers. Mitchell Green, former 2010 City Council Candidate, published a detailed account of how things went and when. He allowed me to republish his post here:

For a time line refresher, Kelly Kolarek’s letter to the editor of July 27, 2012,

http://www.simivalleyacorn.com/news/2012-07-27/Letters/Candidates_not_fit_for_council_seats.html

Doug Crosse announces his suspension of his City Council campaign on August 10, 2012, citing Mr. Kolarek’s “attack letter,”

http://www.simivalleyacorn.com/news/2012-08-10/Letters/Behavior_is_an_election_question.html

September 5, 2012, Doug Crosse files his government claim against Steve Sojka for “cell phone reimbursement misuse” and also files his first public record act request with the City requesting documentation of only the K & J Auto Facade Renovation Grant information.

October 1, 2012, Doug Crosse makes his second Public Record Act request, this time authorizing Scott Santino, Bob Huber’s 2010 campaign manager to pick up the documents from the City.

October 4, 2012, the City prematurely denies Doug Crosse’s government claim regarding Council Member Sojka’s cell phone reimbursement, after sending the small claims matter out to a private firm for an unnecessary opinion costing the City $2,622 in the process at $285 per hour legal billing rate. Which makes no sense when under the Government Code the City needed to do nothing and the claim would have been denied by operation of law with no expense to the City and no conflict of interest to the City Attorney, but the, Doug and friends might not have had enough clown time if the matter had run its proper course. This is a key point of perhaps improper government collusion and, in my opinion, a key weakness as any discussion, communication, e-mail or other correspondence regarding any of this by the City Attorney to anyone but the internal City Attorney’s Office, outside retained counsel for the specific matter, or to the entire City Council in closed session is NOT protected by attorney-client privilege and IS subject to disclosure through the Public Record Act. Unless, of course, a personnel action were to result. Or worse. And guess what folks, you can’t delete e-mails from the City’s hard drive, you can only remove it from visibility. But its still there . . .

October 10, 2012, Doug Crosse files his Grand Jury Complaint with the Ventura County Grand Jury.

October 17, 2012, Doug Crosse holds his TEA Party meeting where he openly brags about the City Attorney calling him to discuss his and the TEA Party’s claim against the City, and he jokes with her about speeding up the denial so he can get on with his lawsuit against the City. Which, remarkably, is just what happened. (Remember, I never would have done this in the 8 years I supervised the civil defense for the City – this is just unheard of). Council Member Mike Judge also attended this meeting.

Also on October 17, 2012, Doug Crosse acknowledges his co-conspirators in his Grand Jury Complaint stunt, as follows,

“Guys like Scott Santino and Ted Mackel don’t get involved in these type of things, my good friend Louis, uh, Pandolfi over there, don’t get involved in things like this except for one reason and that is, we want to hold our government accountable.” Doug Crosse, October 17, 2012

[Editor: speculative remarks removed]

Also on October 17, 2012, Louis Pandolfi posts on Facebook the following “poll”:

“1. Did you vote, or would you support, condominiums in the hills at the gateway to our community, at the Happy Face location?
2. Are you in favor of disbanding “our Police Department, firing our police officers and contracting with the County.”

Then, on October 22, the Robo Calls happen with the following script (notice the quotes and then check again Louis Pandolfi’s “poll” above):

“Dear Neighbor, I’m really concerned about crime in Simi Valley. Did you know that Steve Sojka running for City Council may want to shut down “our police department, fire our police officers, and contract with the county?” Imagine wanting to shut down our fine police department? This is the same Steve Sojka who gave $70,000 of our tax money to a friend and campaign supporter to remodel his used car lot, a matter now before the grand jury. Sojka voted for condominiums in our hills at Happy Face. Sojka talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. Its time to get rid of Sojka before he really hurts our community. Thank you. This message is paid for by Justice Political Action Committee.”

Notice the near exact wording between that Louis Pandolfi uses on October 17, 2012 in point 2 and the Robo Call Script? The 12 Magic Words Gate? Perhaps just a coincidence. Also, there is no Justice Political Action Committee, which makes this Robo Call illegal on its face. And, as there is only one used car lot in Simi Valley, with the implication that because it is “now before the grand jury” that it “really hurts our community” the tie in also makes it actionably defamatory and qualifying for punitive damages in its very face. That is, if the identity of the Robo Caller participants is firmly determined to the satisfaction of a court of law.

October 24, 2012, Barbra Williamson and Mike Judge hold a press conference calling on the City to investigate the grant authorized by Steve Sojka and Glen Becerra.

October 29, 2012, Doug Crosse waives his broom in City Council chambers, giving proper witch hunt imagery to his political stunt.

November 1, 2012, the Ventura County Grand Jury announces that it is declining to investigate the complaint prepared and filed by Doug Crosse and endorsed by the Simi Valley Moorpark TEA Party. Grand Jury foreman Jay Whitney later spoke with the Ventura County Star, where he “characterized the letter as essentially a form letter, saying it should not be interpreted as meaning that the jury made any findings as to possible criminal violations with the grant.”

November 19, 2012, City Council on motion by Barbra Williamson, directs City Staff to meet with Doug Crosse to discuss his concerns regarding the K & J grant. On November 20, 2012, Doug Crosse in an interview with the Star, states that he hopes the meeting will be open to the public. “ “I will cooperate in any way I’m able to,” he said. “I’m glad that at least it’s moving in some direction.” He added that he would like his meeting with city staff members to be open to the public.”

On December 3, 2012, Assistant City Manager Brian Gabler informs Mr. Kolarek’s representative that they are not welcome at the meeting as it is “not open to the public.”

On December 4, 2012, Doug Crosse, Ted Mackel, Tom Mackel, Louis Pandolfi, and Barbra Williamson met with City Manager Laura Behjan and Assistant City Manager Brian Gabler, and instead of discussing the City’s procedures as was the basis of the motion passed by the City Council, a member of the group instead implies Mr. Kolarek committed fraud while others demanded additional documentation not authorized by the Participation Agreement, which demands were promptly adopted by City manager Behjan. Note: this paragraph was edited to emphasize that not all members of the group accused Mr. Kolarek of fraud after I received a threat of lawsuit. The individual heard prominently suggesting fraud was Louis Pandolfi. The audio of the meeting and the lawsuit threat will be posted later today for full disclosure and clarification.

On December 6, 2012, Assistant City Manager Brian Gabler writes to Mr. Kolarek and on behalf of the City, adopts the demand of the TEA Party group, demanding the documents from Mr.Kolarek that the TEA Party group demanded from the City on December 4. Mr. Kolarek, through representatives, declines to participate.

On December 17, 2012, Jared Held, TEA Party Vice President, posts on Facebook copies of K & J Auto business checks with bank name, address and account numbers unredacted. The City later confirms that it erroneously released copies of the checks to Doug Crosse in violation of its own policies.

On December 19, 2012, Mr. Kolarek chooses to return the grant money.

And yet, the TEA Party continues its attacks.

This concludes Mr. Green’s remarks and I appreciate his permission to repost this content.

Grand Jury Tea Party Meeting – Audio Review

It’s a certainty that the next City Council meeting will involve several public statements regarding a grand jury complaint filed by Doug Crosse of the Simi Valley Tea Party regarding an accusation of inappropriate handling of a project in relation to the Tapo Street Facade Renovation program. I’ve received requests to post commentary on this subject but haven’t because I do not have all the data. For people interested in learning more, listen to the highlights below and consider attending the City Council meeting on Monday, October 29th.

Regarding the audio, note that Penal Code 623, which pertains to unauthorized recordings, has an exception for public meetings, sub (c ). The meeting was announced on Facebook as a Tea Party meeting, press conference and public information session.

In the embedded audio below, Doug Crosse discusses the nature of the grand jury complaint and what compelled those who helped him to get involved. At this meeting, it sounds like hard copies were shared with those who were interested.

In the audio below, Doug Crosse indicates that he hopes for Council Member support on the issue, suggests that the issue could impact who people choose to vote for in the upcoming election and Council Candidate Eric Halub offers commentary.

In the audio below, the position on the issue is clarified, Doug Crosse expresses his desire to have this handled as a Tea Party matter, discusses the importance of the timing of the issue, and the issue is approved as a Tea Party matter.

To hear the highlights above in context, the complete audio is available below. It is over an hour in length:

Again, I have no inside knowledge of the program (which is now officially a dead program with the loss of the CDA), but I believe Council Members are involved in the application process only. Once an application is approved, the management of the process from beginning to end is handled by the Assistant City Manager’s office. I could be wrong, but that was my understanding.

Lastly, I do have concerns that a legitimate business will have its name dragged through the mud over an issue that might be politically charged. In the audio, Doug Crosse mentions doing research on the business from “both counties” (the business has multiple locations), suggesting he’s researching deeply into the business rather than just the business’s participation in the renovation program. The business owner was an outspoken critic against Crosse during his brief campaign for City Council.

I can’t offer a whole lot beyond that and really encourage those concerned to attend the next City Council meeting. I would like clarity and assurance, and I hope we can get it without smearing a good business in Simi Valley.

Barbra Williamson Responds to Doug Crosse

The one thing that anyone can count on is that Barbra Williamson is always willing to speak her mind. In response to the letter that is circulating from Doug Crosse regarding Mashburn’s ballot designation, Barbra Williamson had this to say:

Mr. Crosse needs to stop being such a cry baby and let Mr. Mashburn fight his own battles.

Mr. Mashburn’s own quote said he “reluctantly” used Retired Fire Chief, so he must have known at the get go he was on a slippery slope.  He just didn’t think someone was going to call him on it.

Mr. Crosse doesn’t have a problem with the designation because he supports Mr. Mashburn, however, it the shoe were on the other foot, he, Mr. Crosse, would be calling foul from the rooftops.

Again, Mr. Crosse needs to stop being such a cry baby and man-up.  No one thinks any less of Mr. Mashburn because he had to change his ballot designation.  He’s a hero.  He ran into burning buildings, we get it…I respect that as do many other people.

There is only one retired Ventura County Fire Chief and that person is Bob Roper.

And for Mr. Crosse to bring Ms. Argabrite into this discussion is shameless. If you want to take me on, that’s fine, but a defenseless staff person is pretty low even for Mr. Crosse.

Sometimes when I would walk into a restaurant or office the persons addressing me or introducing me would greet me as Ms. President (referring to the bank) but I never thought of using “Bank President” as my ballot designation…even though I was a Vice President for a local bank.

I could have taken the easy way out and not admitted that I was the person who called him on it, because the city did not release and does not release persons  who make the complaints…. but that has never been my style.

So, now I guess I can expect the wrath of god from Mr. Crosse and Sojka can relax.

Thanks to Barbra Williamson for her very candid and open response.

Doug Crosse on the Mashburn Ballot Statement Issue

Doug Crosse continues to speak out on the issues. A few moments ago, he shared the following letter with me that I believe he intends to send to the Ventura County Star for consideration.  This is regarding the previous article about Mashburn’s ballot designation:

SV City Councilwoman Barbara Williamson’s attack on challenger Keith Mashburn’s ballot designation was petty, personal and politically motivated. Keith started as a volunteer firefighter and over a 31 year career earned his way up to Deputy Battalion Chief and Lead Arson Investigator. For Ms. Williamson to use her influence over a fine city employee to change Mashburns requested designation of Retired Fire Chief is intolerable. It shows once again what many of us already know, there is no low that she wont stoop to protect her job and lavish benefits.

The irony and dereliction of duty by our Registrar of Voters sending it back to the Simi Valley Elections Coordinator for a decision is appalling. Mark Lunn VC Registrar of Voters is a former Deputy Chief for the California Highway Patrol. He listed his ballot designation as “Retired CHP Chief” NOT Deputy Chief in 2010.

No Ms. Williamson this was not an effort to “level the playing field”. It was just another in the growing list of thinly disguised shenanigans you’ve perpetrated to tip that field in your favor. You can add my name to the expanding roster of people who have lost all respect for you.

Doug Crosse

PS The use of the words under scrutiny in the headline distorts the story- fair would have been disputed, questioned etc.

Barbra Williamson is usually never afraid to charge ahead and express her opinion when she feels she is in the right, even if it’s possible that someone will have something to say about it. I spoke briefly with her about this issue and she indicated that she had no intention of hiding when the Ventura County Star reporter called her for clarification, standing by her original complaint.

If I hear anything from Councilmember Barbra Williamson regarding Mr. Crosse’s letter in response, I will share those details here.

Doug Crosse Opts Out

Doug Crosse has chosen not to continue to pursue a seat on the Simi Valley City Council. This news came on the same day that a letter was published in The Acorn in response to a Sojka supporter who objected to Crosse’s campaign website, in which Crosse replied:

As to Sojka sidekick and campaign chair Kelly Kolarek’s attack letter of July 27—that my concerns on this issue are untrue or exaggerated— the reality on the issue of the councilman’s behavior is well-known to be absolutely true to anyone who has served with him, attended or watched a council meeting since he lost the last election. Just ask them. It’s been all the buzz for two years.

On my being unqualified, I guess Kolarek missed my resume of qualifications plainly posted on my website.

Doug Crosse indicated personal and family motivations for deciding not to continue his pursuit in the election.