Huber Sign Stakeout Gone Awry

For months, we’ve heard stories about lost campaign signs with some subtle and some not so subtle finger pointing toward the supporters of opposing campaigns. Last week, I posted an article about a property manager taking down Bob Huber’s signs claiming proper permission was not obtained. This week in the Simi Valley Acorn there’s a report of a police stakeout on a Bob Huber campaign sign at the McDonald’s on Yosemite Ave. where more signs were disappearing. The results of the stakeout concluded the signs were being removed by a McDonald’s employee:

Like clockwork, at 4:30 a.m. a man removed the signs—including ones for council incumbent Glen Becerra—putting them in the back of his pickup truck.

When Arabian confronted the man, he discovered he wasn’t a thief, but a property maintenance worker, clad in a McDonald’s shirt.

Though permission to post the signs had been granted, this worker was apparently just unaware.

It’s the nature of the crime that prompts a stakeout by the Simi Valley Police. The dollar amount of the damage combined with the identifiable pattern of the crime offers an investigator an opportunity to solve it. The signs were apparently expensive and enough were stolen to qualify this as a felony.

Santino said it’s been frustrating to see sign after sign taken down. At $65 a piece, it easily adds up to felony theft, which requires $400 or more in damages.

“We knew we were going to lose signs, but the frequency and the vast amount has just been a huge surprise,” he said. “In my opinion, some of our signs have been systematically removed because they don’t want our message out there.”

Though Santino didn’t say it, Huber’s supporters have insinuated that Sojka’s camp is behind the thefts. Sojka, who has also had dozens of signs removed, said that is “totally out of line and unfair.”

Naturally, the question I asked when I first heard this story was were they expecting to find a Steve Sojka supporter creeping around at night stealing their signs? I may never get a straight answer to that question. I can tell you that a few evenings ago, a Huber supporter was discussing his stolen signs on Facebook and is suggesting that his opponent’s supporters are the perpetrators.

And just when you think it can’t get any uglier, the phrase “inappropriate use of resources”  is heard. The Acorn article goes on to discuss the fact that an outspoken Huber for Mayor supporter volunteered to conduct the stakeout, and that his salary range and overtime pay resulted in a relatively expensive night.

Read the article at the Simi Valley Acorn by clicking here.

Was the stakeout a success? That may be a matter of perspective. The signs will likely stop disappearing now that the truth is revealed. No one pressed charges. And if you were hoping a Sojka supporter would be caught and arrested, then this was a stakeout gone awry.

As an added note, I also think City Manager Mike Sedell shows good judgment by choosing not to investigate this until after the election. While it’s easy to draw the conclusion of a conflict since the detective who chose to conduct the stakeout is a known Huber supporter, Sedell opts not to make it into an election issue. I appreciate that he can make that decision despite being a frequent target of criticism by Huber supporters.

Huber Didn’t Do It

Even though I’ve been on the receiving end of venomous badgering by Huber supporters, I do feel inclined to answer those who have submitted links to the Ventura County Star article regarding Russell Takasugi who works with Bob Huber. Huber isn’t the one being accused of theft, his associate is.  Earlier this week, Huber took proactive measures to distance himself from Takasugi. According to the article:

Huber said Monday that he was “shocked” at the allegations and needed time to look into them. By Wednesday, Huber had dismantled the Huber & Takasugi website and issued a statement announcing the dissolution of their business relationship.

“I have informed Russell that our formal relationship has ended immediately,” Huber said. “Russell’s actions and decisions are not those I can approve, condone or accept.”

Huber said he and Takasugi were in an association, not a partnership, meaning they kept separate trust accounts, files and clients. Huber said his name was not on the trust account in question.

“Russell has numerous cases and clients, most of whom I do not know about,” he said. “He has his clients and I have mine.”

Huber hired Takasugi as his law clerk 27 years ago. Takasugi began having ethical problems with the state bar in 1996, records show. A total of five complaints have been filed against him, several for failure to act competently. The most recent complaint resulted in Takasugi being placed on a two-year probation that began in June 2009, according to the bar.

Huber said he was aware of the disciplinary problems but hoped Takasugi had learned his lesson.

If something shady were happening under Huber’s nose and he simply turned a blind eye, then I’d say we have an election worthy issue. To me, this seems more like a partner or “associate” gone rogue and getting caught screwing up at a very bad time. Huber was smart to drop his relationship with Takasugi, and tearing down the website is actually the responsible thing to do. For Huber, I think this issue will be dead by tomorrow.  Probably not so for Mr. Takasugi…

Read the full article by clicking here.

Sojka Proposes Freeway Improvements

Candidate for Simi Valley Mayor Steve Sojka is proposing improvements to the 118 freeway, according to the news on his website this morning. Sojka is proposing landscaping improvements on the primary freeway and the on and offramps. This is another of Sojka’s Quality of Life improvements, and another that makes use of Community Development Agency funding rather than tapping into Simi Valley’s general fund.

The detailed release is as follows:

Mayoral candidate blasts state’s ability to maintain the Ronald Reagan Freeway to Ronald Reagan’s standards

SIMI VALLEY – Simi Valley City Councilman and Mayoral candidate Steve Sojka today announced an ambitious public-private partnership proposal for beautification of the Ronald Regan Freeway (118) over the next 12 to 18 months. The program will have minimal direct cost to Simi Valley taxpayers, and will result in landscaping and other improvements along the freeway corridor including its on- and off-ramps.

Councilman Sojka will present details to the Simi Valley City Council at its meeting on Sept. 20, and ask for the Council’s support to direct staff to develop a comprehensive plan to bring back for Council approval.

“My vision is to create a scenic green corridor along the entire Simi Valley portion of the 118 Freeway by developing a collaboration of public and private partnerships that will enhance the aesthetics and improve the image and quality of life for all of Simi Valley,” Councilman Sojka said. “These improvements could be funded through Community Development Agency funds, Adopt-A-Highway proceeds and volunteer projects by Community Service Organizations with minimal cost to Simi Valley residents. My goal is to complete this ambitious project for the immediate beautification of the 118 freeway.”

Steve Sojka is Simi Valley’s representative to the Ventura County Transportation Commission. With VCTC, Sojka has worked in collaborative efforts to bring much-needed traffic and transportation corridor improvements to his hometown of Simi Valley.

These improvements include the 118 Freeway widening, the Madera Road-West City entrance improvements, the Erringer Road bicycle lanes-landscaping project between Royal Avenue and Fitzgerald Road, and the brand new Bus Facility CNG fueling station.

Councilman Sojka recently met with California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and City officials to develop Sojka’s plan to beautify the 118 freeway through landscaping and maintenance with public-private partnerships.

Steve Sojka has been a Simi Valley City Councilmember since 1998, twice served as Mayor Pro Tem, and is currently running for Mayor. For information about Steve Sojka for Mayor, visit www.sojkaformayor.com or www.facebook.com/sojkaformayor.

Arroyo Project Milestone

The Sojka for Mayor campaign recently posted an update on their website and Facebook page regarding the Arroyo Project. Brian Dennert recently posted about this topic on his blog after interviewing Steve at his Casino Night Fundraiser.

According to the article on the Sojka for Mayor website:

The Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District has received an $802,000 Proposition 84 grant for upgrades to the Arroyo Simi Greenway, officials announced Wednesday.

The district will use the grant to pay for the first phase of improvements — a cooperative effort that involves the district, city of Simi Valley and Ventura County Watershed Protection District.

The upgrades will include 2 miles of new paved trails, 17 new trail entries and installation of signs, benches, bicycle racks and educational exhibits.

The grant from the California Natural Resources Agency was announced at a news conference on the Arroyo Simi attended by park district, city, county and state officials.

I have spoken to Steve Sojka about the importance of Quality of Life issues in Simi Valley, discussing things like the Arroyo and freeway landscaping. With critical issues facing Simi Valley, he believes it’s important to share news about significant milestones like these in addition to other efforts, such as meeting with the surrounding business owners regarding the Farmers Insurance departure. As the Chair of the Arroyo Simi Greenway Improvement committee, Sojka is delighted with this accomplishment.

“The arroyo can truly become a valuable quality-of-life amenity for our current residents and well into the future for our kids and the next generation.”

The nice thing about this project is that it doesn’t burden the city’s finances. The funds for this project come from a grant specifically designed for public agencies to revamp their river waterways.

The grant from the California Natural Resources Agency was announced at a news conference on the Arroyo Simi attended by park district, city, county and state officials.

“We’re ecstatic about it,” said park district General Manager Larry Peterson. “This is a very big thing for us. I think it’s probably the largest competitive grant our agency has ever received in its 49 years.”

Peterson said that in addition to the grant, the park district and Simi Valley have each committed $100,000 toward the first phase of upgrades.

“It’s going to be a beautiful trail that will serve a lot of needs,” he said. “Phase 1 will be the next great step in this process.”

Bob Huber Leaks Site Discovered

In what has to be the most bizarre turn of events I could ever imagine in a Simi Valley election, I have discovered a website dedicated to revealing news about Bob Huber’s City Council career in a contradictory tone versus his current campaign messages. The site appears to be assembled over the course of several weeks and probably a work in progress.  The website’s RSS feed, meant for syndication of content in search engines and news readers, contains my domain name (votesimivalley.com) in several of the posts, putting it on my radar and setting off alarm bells in my head.

The content of the site varies widely, but the common theme is Bob Huber. Much of the content goes back as far as 1980 and attempts to contradict statements Candidate for Mayor Bob Huber has made either in press releases or in response to inquiries from me for VoteSimiValley.com.  For example, an article from The Simi Valley Enterprise newspaper in 1982 covers Simi Valley City Council Members traveling to Sacramento in response to budget cuts to city budgets.  The caption below the photocopied news clipping reads as follows.

Major Exaggerations – Financial Leadership 3

Bob Huber in his 2010 campaign likes to say that he already was a “leader” for the city through a financial crisis like today’s. This story shows everyone else on the Simi Valley City Council got involved – except him.

Further down the archive, readers will find a photocopied article from The Enterprise in 1980 where the City Council votes for a 9% pay increase. An article right beside it discusses a pay increase for the City Manager and the City Council, with the following caption from the author:

Major Exaggerations (An Ongoing Series) – City Budget

Hey, didn’t Bob Huber say in early 2010 campaign materials that the City struggled to balance its budget due to dealing with the impacts of the passage of Proposition 13?

Seems they had enough to give everyone a raise, including the City Manager.

Do you have questions about the origins of the Shop Simi Valley First program? Apparently, so does Mr. Newspaper Clippings. One of the earlier posts on the website shares an article regarding Bob Huber’s remarks in the City Council about Simi Valley being a great place to shop with this caption below the photocopied article from the newspaper:

This was the start of the first Shop Simi Valley program. It is interesting to note that even though it was suggested that the Simi Valley Chamber of Commerce be engaged with the process, Bob Huber insisted that only the City drive the program – and therefore only taxpayer dollars would be expended in the process. That’s not quite the “listening” we hear about during campaign time.

The commentary goes on, from comparisons to past moves up against campaign points like E-Verify, to unusual stories about office curtains being installed by outside vendors.  Huh? Yeah, that’s there too.

Yes, you’ll get the link… But I gotta ask, what the hell is this election turning in to? And who has this kind of time?

I will be requesting comments from both Bob Huber’s and Steve Sojka’s campaigns.

http://bobhuberleaks.tumblr.com/

From their About page:

We hope to open sunshine on the candidate Bob Huber for Mayor of Simi Valley. We are a group of concerned Simi Valley residents, who wish to retain anonymity for fear of employer retaliation.

To submit a document for public consumption, or for questions or comments, email to BobHuberLeaks@gmail.com.

Huber on Landfill Expansion

HUBER CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE START OF ANNEXATION OF WASTE MANAGEMENT LANDFILL EXPANSION LAND

Simi Valley….Today Mayoral candidate Bob Huber called for the immediate start of the process to annex to the City of Simi Valley the land to be used by Waste Management for expansion of their facilities and commercial development.

“For at least five years the City of Simi Valley has watched the process, yet has not taken any action to make sure the people of Simi Valley have a controlling vote on the use of this property,” said Bob Huber.

The proposed expansion of the Waste Management landfill would more than triple the number of trucks in our community, bringing trash and waste from Los Angeles, which is closing their waste facilities.  It will also develop homes, apartments, office buildings and strip malls.

“Simi Valley will shoulder almost the entire brunt of this expansion; it only seems reasonable that our leaders should ensure we have control over this process.  The city should have taken the lead, rather than allow Ventura County to control the process. Currently, the Board of Supervisors has the controlling vote on the expansion.  This directly affects the people of Simi Valley–not Oxnard, Oak Park or Ojai.  Yet, for at least five years our city leadership has watched the process instead of taking charge of the process,” noted Huber.

Huber said “The irony is that the city council wasted no time in pursuing initiation of the annexation of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library 3 years ago, so that the city could have its prized tourist attraction.  I believe the reasons for annexation of the landfill are as compelling and urgent as a Presidential Library. Most of our council members have said that Waste Management has been a great community partner, which is all the more reason that Waste Management would want to cooperate with any annexation plans.”

While the County Planning Commission will hold a hearing, and possibly a vote in January, this still needs to go to the County Board of Supervisors.  Huber asks that the Simi Valley City Council immediately start the annexation process, and have the City Manager send a letter to LAFCO (Local Agency formation Committee) to alert the County that the City wants to take charge of the final decisions that affect our community.  This is a lengthy process which should have started at least five years ago.  Still, Huber said, we have to start now, before final decisions are made and the people of Simi Valley and their representatives will not have the final vote on this project.

Finally, Bob Huber said, “Our city council needs to be pro-active, not wait past the last minute to act to protect the needs of our community.  This could be one of the largest projects affecting our City, and currently we do not have the decisive vote on it.”

Get a Haircut with Steve Sojka

Support Sojka for Mayor, get a free haircut on Sept. 14

Meet Simi Valley’s next mayor, get a complimentary haircut at Nioxin Hair and Scalp Spa at Simi Valley Town Center in unique meet-the-candidate event

SIMI VALLEY – Join Simi Valley Councilman and Mayoral candidate Steve Sojka at Nioxin Hair and Scalp Spa at Simi Valley Town Center on Tuesday, Sept. 14, and enjoy a free haircut with a donation to the “Steve Sojka for Mayor” campaign.

Take advantage of this unique meet-the-candidate event to sit down and chat with Steve about our wonderful community, while either waiting your turn or even while receiving your complimentary haircut.

“This is such a different type of event for a campaign, and I am honored that a local business has asked to host it for me,” Steve Sojka said. “I look forward to meeting with Simi Valley residents and doing something I enjoy best, which is conversations about our community.”

Steve Sojka will be at the Nioxin Hair and Scalp Spa from 3 to 6 p.m. Sept. 14.

Appointments are highly recommended, but walk-ins are welcome.

Nioxin Hair and Scalp Spa can be reached at (805) 306-1549. For information about Steve Sojka for Mayor, visit www.sojkaformayor.com or www.facebook.com/sojkaformayor.

Contacts: Steve Sojka, (805) 660-7695; Sarah Newcomer, Nioxin Hair and Scalp Spa, (805) 306-1549.

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