Lawsuit fizzles

There’s not a whole lot about the complicated legal process regarding the robocall suit that I feel I have a firm grasp on. I will say that I was hoping the identities of the robocallers would be confirmed on the record. Those close to the story already know the culprits. During this process, their emotions have ranged from angry defiance to fear to outward joy, and during the fear phases, they discussed it and ratted each other out through the email forms, anonymous tweets and other formats. A brave lot… In short, most know who they are but a few were hoping (for once) they might actually get their names attached to their anonymous messages. No such luck this time.  They love their city and they love their political positions… anonymously.

When the court determines that a message is protected by the first amendment, then there’s no further interest in pursuing the identities of the anonymous culprits. That’s the only message to take away.

I plan to do myself a favor and ignore the City Council campaigns this year (except for Barbra Williamson’s, which will play out like reality TV) and maybe some year we can restore civility to this process. Maybe someday it won’t be such a heinous fight. Until then, I’ll continue to receive my bi-annual threat of lawsuit from people who wine about vexatious litigation and launch attack campaigns with fake Facebook accounts.

Robocall Story Moves Forward

The robocall story continues to progress, believe it or not. Of course, I’m not allowed to talk about what I know. There’s no legal obligation preventing me from talking about these discoveries, but in order to get updates I’ve been asked to keep these findings confidential which drives me a little crazy. These are important facts that people need to know. People will learn them in time, but my patience is wearing thin.

As milestones have been reached and new information has come to light, I’ve found the whole situation to be more and more troubling. Those behind the robocall are firm in their belief that what they did was right. They are certain that what they did was for the benefit of Simi Valley. Yet they continue very desperately to hide their identities and steadfastly refuse to admit the robocall script contained misleading statements and falsehoods. The time between the date of the robocall to now, with all of the discoveries, has completely shaken my belief system. THESE are the people behind it?? Despite disagreements, I always assumed these were people who were just exceedingly passionate. But they’re really just sneaky liars.

This fight will carry on beyond the June court date for the robocall lawsuit. People will celebrate the upcoming news, but I won’t. I’m sad. This will distract from the elections and shake things up even more. Every election, I think I’m going to rekindle my own passion and cover this stuff more in depth, but I know now that I won’t. Instead, I’ll be immersed in stories about sneaky liars who despite their best efforts and lots of money to stay hidden, are now genuinely fucked, and I’ll hope things settle and get better for our community in the next two years.

Simi Valley still deserves better.

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.

Sneaky Robocall the Last Straw

Robocalls and lies are a common occurance in this election. And the funny thing is the people behind them truly believe THEY are the good guys.

The robocall that several Simi voters received included a distinct lie about Sojka disbanding the police department. Sojka indicated firmly that he would never pursue dismantling the police department. So who was behind the deceptive robocall?

Listen to the call again by viewing the video below. Pay close attention to the words in the script and follow along with the screen capture of the discussion online. This casual poll came from a close associate of Council Member Barbra Williamson.

Maybe this is just a coincidence. If it is purely coincidental, will we ever know who’s behind this? Considering the deceptive nature of the robocall and the culprits’ efforts to stay hidden, we may never know for sure. I’ve drawn my own conclusions and I know who will NOT be getting my vote.

Huber Robocalls!

Uh oh. The Facebook and blogging community is buzzing about the dreaded political “robocalls” or automated phone calls with political messages. These robocalls are coming from the Bob Huber for Mayor campaign. As you might expect, the public responses in the online community are negative.

I haven’t received a phone call yet and I’m wondering if I will.  I recently refreshed my entry in the federal “do not call” list. I’ll be curious to see if these phone calls cross reference the federal do not call database. I’m actually not clear on how that works and what the obligations are for those who make political ad phone calls.

These automated phone calls are made using an auto dialing service that delivers recipients of the call a recorded message, in this case a message about Bob Huber’s bid for Mayor of Simi Valley. These services are meant to handle large volumes of dial out phone calls to specific blocks of numbers, sometimes as wide as a single area code, but can be limited to area codes and prefixes. Some services provide a way for recipients to “opt out” of receiving further phone calls from the originating dialing party — reports are that Huber’s phone calls do not offer an opt out option.

If you can say that campaign signs being posted at the four month mark is disrespectful to the community, what can you say about robocalls with no opt-out choice?