DA Reviews Takasugi/SVPD Issue

The VC Star is reporting that District Attorney Totten is reviewing the allegation that the Simi Valley Police delayed the Takasugi fraud investigation until after the Mayoral election. Of course, the suggestion here is that Takasugi’s former partner, Mayor-elect Bob Huber, was protected by the SVPD by this move.

As someone who was outspokenly against the Bob Huber campaign in the final months of the campaign cycle, I immediately took notice when these headlines appeared. However, there are two things to consider before rushing to judgment: 1) what is motivating the attorney to make those statements and 2) how normal is a 3 week training period for an investigator (the official cause for the delay of the investigation).

Regarding the attorney who made the allegation in court, Roger Stanard, he’s probably quite effective at his job. If an attorney can identify a situation like the Takasugi and Huber relationship, as well as the heated election for Simi Valley Mayor, it won’t take much time for him to determine that he benefits to make an issue of it. He can comfortably make the accusation and know that the sensitive topic of our election will result in headlines which could easily result in an investigation or review by the DA. This is just cause for a continuance, where the attorney can have more time to prepare, or better yet, leverage all evidence obtained by a police investigation that is suddenly pushed forward due to public pressure. So far, this only tells us that the victims in this case have a very skilled attorney.

Keep in mind, the attorney was armed with the details of this case since June, but waited until 2 weeks before the election to file the crime report. It’s a fair bet that he knew what he was doing..

On to the other point, there are plenty who believe the Simi PD’s explanation that the investigator was in the middle of 3 weeks of training is just an excuse. It’s actually quite believable that training is something that causes unwanted delays from time to time, and it’s very believable that this is something that can continue to happen in the future. To better understand, you need to consider the basis of the Simi Valley POA contract dispute. Although I don’t know the finer details, I do have some insight at a high level that I’ve put together from input from both sides of the dispute.

Our City believes that the Police Department should implement mandatory rotation of job specialties. For example, a homicide detective might rotate into a position as a fraud investigator after a set period of time. This would give the detective multiple skills and provide redundancy and backup in the department. However, the department looks at this unfavorably. For them, it prevents them from sharpening their skills to the finest because they are effectively switching jobs. They require training on every rotation. Some detectives look for careers outside of the SVPD because of this.

Here’s the inside story on the delays in the Takasugi case. A seasoned homicide detective recently retired because he didn’t want to rotate. Another homicide detective was recently promoted. This opens two homicide positions. There are two “white collar crime” detectives, one of whom recently left, also due to the unfavorable position on rotations. The other took one of the open homicide detective positions. This new homicide detective is important here, so remember him as I continue.

With homicide partially covered, a new detective was needed to cover the now open white collar crimes investigations. The new “white collar crime” detective is a newly promoted patrol officer. This case goes to him. As a new detective, he needs to lean on someone with the expertise in cases like these. The new detective’s mentor? That would be the new homicide detective mentioned above, recently moved from his previous “white collar crime” position. Unfortunately, he was in training, in two different schools in fact. One of them was for investigating homicides.

The training situation is true… not an excuse. And it’s reflective of a serious problem in our department. Blaming either the City or the PD for the problem seems much less relevant to me than fixing the problem.

Regarding the Takasugi case, regardless of when the investigation starts, should have started, or if it has already started, everyone agrees that there appears to be a crime that has been committed. Since a criminal report has been filed and an investigation is about to happen, it’s almost a sure thing that justice will be served and he will be arrested. As to whether or not Takasugi will be indicted, that will be up to the District Attorney. And as far as whether or not Takasugi will suffer civil damages, my suspicion is that Attorney Roger Stanard will be very effective at making that happen.

Peter Carrube – The Smartest Man in Simi Valley

Peter Carrube is a local businessman, martial artist and self defense instructor in the City of Simi Valley. He’s been vocal throughout the course of the many local campaigns. His reason is always clear: he cares about Simi Valley. What follows is an exact quote that I read from him on Facebook. He posted it days ago, but I just read it today.

I just wanted to point something out that I’ve witnessed during these past few months of this campaign season… First of all, I concider myself to be friends with both the candidates for Mayor, Mr. Bob Huber & Mr. Steve Sojka. I like both …men. I agree & disagree with both men and I find each to be true to their convictions and to the love for our fair city. I’ve shown up at both their events, shake both their hands, speak highly of both and am honored to call each of them my friend. What I have not done is tell anyone which of the two I will be voting for. In return, it is true I have not openly shown support for either man but well, my reasoning will explain why. I have watched as friends of mine, who were friends of each other, just turn bitter to each other, after showing their support for the opposite candidate. I have seen this to be true in many cases. This campaign has changed a lot of relationships and I find it sad and a little silly. Just because we support one over the other, it should not change the way we feel toward each other. My secretive political decisions have saved me from such an ordeal and well, I do not regret my tactics. I will vote next week, for the man I feel will do our city best but I was not willing to sacrifice my friendships, simply to let everyone know of my decision ahead of time. With or without my open support, the outcome would be the same. When this election is over, I only hope bygons will be bygons and my mutual friends of these two friends, will find a way to get back to being friends.

Peter’s statements are dead on. From business leaders to bloggers, this election has been divisive and nasty, causing many, including myself, to lose their way. I believe its true community leaders like Peter Carrube who will inspire everyone to focus on the future so the healing can begin. Thanks Peter.

Good luck, candidates.

New Sojka Fan Video

I wish that I had the guts and determination as a highschool student that Kyle Quiroz displays so effortlessly. He put together another video in support of Steve Sojka for Mayor. In this one, he’s written some new lyrics, worked on some choreography, and edited together a music video with family and friends, with an appearance from the Mayoral Candidate.

Huber’s Campaign

In February of this year, Bob Huber announced his candidacy for Mayor with one caveat. According to the article in the Simi Valley Acorn…

What may be surprising is the caveat that comes along with his candidacy. He said he would not run if Paul Miller decides to run for reelection. But Huber hinted that he didn’t think the current mayor would seek a fourth term.

“Many people are under the impression that Mayor Miller is not going to seek reelection,” Huber said. “If he chooses to retire, I will run, and should he run again, I will support his reelection.”

Despite taking a position to support Mayor Miller should he run again, political opportunity eventually struck and Huber’s position flipped. Now he claims the Council consists of failed leadership, “reactive” behavior, and believes Mayor Miller and the Council have been asleep at the wheel. When the Council asks Huber where he’s been during the so-called passive years, he and his supporters take offense. But in Huber’s own words, he’s been a proactive adviser to our leadership for quite some time:

“But with the state taking more redevelopment funds, revenues down and economic pressures on the people of Simi Valley, I realized I could no longer sit on the sidelines and quietly advise city and community leaders. It is time to step up.”

Bob Huber believes our City and its leaders require an overhaul and he believes he’s the man for the job. He doesn’t seem to understand much about the landfill expansion, but he’s quick to publish fear-inducing ads about it. He promises more jobs with E-Verify, though with no audit program, no plan for enforcement and no way to produce measurable positive results. He disregards the fact that our City produces a balanced budget every year despite economic challenges because it doesn’t fit with his campaign message. It seems like he wants us to vote for headlines and sound bites.

I have a real concern for this City and I want the best for it. I believed in Bob Huber several months ago. Though I disagreed with him on the effectiveness of his E-Verify proposal, I believed his heart was in the right place and that he was truly in it for the City. I had many long conversations with his strongest supporters to make sure I made an informed decision on who to vote for. Ultimately, I believe a few of his supporters and some members of his campaign misled me and let me down. Shortly afterward, his campaign launched their aggressive anti-City Hall slams that, when closely examined, are blatantly misleading and sometimes outright false. I now believe Bob Huber is NOT in it for the City but is in it for himself. I cannot support such a candidate in good conscience no matter how much momentum he may have among the people I look up to and respect as community leaders. That’s a fact that I’ll get a lot of flack for admitting.

Under Paul Miller’s leadership as Mayor, I believe our City has a lot to be proud of. I believe we are fiscally stable despite outside economic challenges. We have a community where we can safely and comfortably raise our children. We do NOT have a Mayor who has conducted “secret” backroom deals, or one who refers to our city as “America’s Dump.” I feel that Huber’s message is that a vote for Bob is a vote for sending Paul Miller into retirement as a Mayor who dropped the ball, and that’s a message that I reject without hesitation.

Bob Huber’s $30,000 Loan

Bob Huber loaned his campaign $30,000 today. Deb Holler included a $1000 contribution. This brings his grand total of contributions from his personal finances and immediate family to $42,000. Most candidates don’t raise that much from their fund-raising efforts throughout the course of their campaign!

One can only assume where that money will go! More local television ads? More newspaper ads? More mailers? More robo-calls? Election day is just days away and it looks like Bob Huber is planning an expensive few days leading up to the vote!

This is fascinating to me to say the very least. Only a couple of years ago, campaign finance reform was discussed as an important topic leading up to future elections. Who cares about campaign finance reform when you have the means to toss $42K into your own campaign coffers?

Watch out, Sojka! Huber’s richer than you!

Huber’s Simi Valley Lawsuits – How Many?

As election day draws closer, the letters to the Editor of the Simi Valley Acorn are heating up. The letters regarding the Mayoral race were squeezed into a single entry in the Letters section in the online version of the Acorn this morning.

The letter that startled me this morning is pasted below. The basic summary is an accusation that Bob Huber has filed multiple lawsuits against the city, as many as 10 lawsuits according to this letter. Admittedly, I was aware that one or two lawsuits existed, but I was taken aback when I read the letter this morning. I have been unable to find any solid data to prove or disprove the claim.

The unedited letter that was published in the paper appears below:

Regarding the letters on Oct. 9 from the two widows supporting Bob Huber filing the lawsuit against the city of Simi Valley, while I sympathize with their position to back Huber’s opinion of the lawsuit he filed against the city, it does not justify that lawsuit. Nor does it present justification for the other nine lawsuits Bob Huber has filed (and lost) against the same city he wants to be mayor of.

Bob Huber, our former city councilman, has filed 10 lawsuits against the city of Simi Valley over the past 20 years, an average of two per year—including the case referenced in the Oct. 9 letters where a bicyclist lost his life in an unfortunate accident with a motorist. A jury did not believe there was any liability on the part of the city.

For the other lawsuits that Bob Huber filed against the city of Simi Valley over the past 20 years, the same conclusion was reached. He lost. They were unnecessary lawsuits that cost Simi Valley taxpayers who knows how many thousands of dollars to defend.

I’m saddened by the case referenced in the Oct. 9 letters where a bicyclist lost his life in an unfortunate accident with a motorist. To the widows—I, along with the members of our community, am terribly sorry for your loss.

The lawsuits Bob has launched, and lost, against our city have had nothing to do with anything to make Simi Valley a better place—they appear to have one purpose only—to enrich Bob Huber.

The changes to that roadway were planned before the mishap and would have happened regardless of whether or not the lawsuit was filed.

Take the proven and successful track record of our current Simi Valley leadership team, then compare it to the documented litigious history Bob Huber has against our city, and it becomes crystal clear—there is only one candidate involved and interested in improving the Simi Valley quality of life.

Bob Huber is not worth the risk. The city of Simi Valley cannot afford Bob Huber’s leadership.
Don Norris
Simi Valley

Bob Huber’s Landfill Mythology

Click here for thoughts on the Bob Huber for Mayor Campaign

One of the unfortunate facts about politicians is the way they count on the electorate to cast their votes based on mythology over facts.  And there’s no better way to mythologize an important issue than to publish an ad with a dramatic headline.  A politician counts on the headline weighing more on voters than the content itself. Take Bob Huber’s ad on the landfill expansion, complete with “trash can” bullet points, that reads “Welcome to Simi Valley, Home of America’s Dump,” an unusual headline from a candidate hoping to be Mayor of Simi Valley.

The ad begins with a quote from the landfill taskforce that the landfill expansion will serve as a permanent barrier to White Face Mountain.  The landfill elevation already obscures the view of White Face Mountain when traveling on the 118 freeway from Moorpark into Simi Valley. When traveling at normal speeds, the view is obstructed for approximately 2 seconds.  That current obscurity will increase in height per the expansion.  White Face Mountain WILL NEVER BE HIDDEN from view for the City of Simi Valley.  For more perspective, the maximum proposed height of 1270 feet is actually lower in elevation than the upper half of Big Sky, and the mountains behind the landfill are approximately 1000 feet taller than the proposed max.

The ad indicates that Waste Management will triple the number of trucks.  That is incorrect.  To start, Waste Management will increase their total daily trips to the landfill by 70 from their current permitted count of 822.  This will bring their permitted count to 892 daily trips to the landfill.  The expansion authorizes the total number of trips to 1297, however that is over the course of their entire build out period and is representative of all of their divisions (i.e. dumping, green energy, recycling, etc.).  This does NOT mean that when the landfill expansion is approved, 1297 trucks will start climbing the hill every day.  Also, 405 of those daily trips represent Waste Management employees, as part of the expansion includes locating all employees at the landfill site.

The ad suggests that annexation must start immediately to authorize the City to approve the landfill expansion.  What the ad fails to mention is the annexation process takes approximately 3 – 4 years to complete, and during that time period as space becomes limited, Waste Management is already authorized to begin making use of land they own that is visible from the 118 freeway.  One purpose of the expansion is to allow for landfill operations to expand behind the mountains, out of view, while also providing for new facilities to park their trucks at the landfill location instead of the separate structure on Easy Street, ultimately reducing traffic on Madera.  Not to mention, Waste Management as the land owner MUST AGREE to be annexed and is unlikely to do so to enhance anyone’s political agenda.

The ad mentions that we don’t want Los Angeles trash. I suppose it would be ideal if our landfill contained strictly Simi Valley trash, but being a regional landfill, that’s not the case.  Suppose we insist that the landfill close when capacity is reached.  Then we will need our garbage shipped out to a landfill outside of our area, much like the Los Angeles trash the ad is referring to.  Packaging and transporting trash comes at a cost, a cost that would likely be passed to customers. Isn’t a better use of our time to approach Waste Management and request added benefits like discounted rates due to any measureable environmental impact of the expansion rather to insist that it be halted at a potential cost to residents?

Lastly, in a blatant attempt to stir emotions, the ad mentions that the City is carrying on “secret back room negotiations.”  This is nonsense.  As it stands currently, the City has practically no leverage for mutually beneficial “back room” negotiations.  Furthermore, City Council has committed to updating the public on record of the progress of their discussions Waste Management.  Due to the lengthy and complex nature of the discussions which involve detailed reviews of the environmental impact report, the discussions are NOT being held during public City Council meetings.  To date, Waste Management has met with all Neighborhood Councils, has been before the Planning Commission twice, been before the City Council twice, participated in many City Council meetings regarding the expansion, has participated in two draft  EIRs and has encouraged public commentary on both EIRs.  Where are the secret back room negotiations?

In an attempt to give his campaign a boost, Bob Huber hastily published this advertisement that serves to mislead and misinform the reader.  His suggestions would actually force Waste Management to begin dumping in areas that are visible to the freeway!  Finally, he is alienating a valuable member of our business community who has cooperated with City officials and landfill taskforce representatives voluntarily for several years.  This ad serves as an example of political mythology with the aim of striking fear in voters. It is the worst kind of politics.