Sour grapes anyone?
Tuesday’s (03/04) “Matters From The Audience” found the Mayor and City Attorney spouting sour grapes over the recent loss handed to them by the California Fourth District Court of Appeals in the Vargas v. Balz litigation.
In response to a closed session item reviewing the case, Brea resident Connie Lanzisera (click to read transcript) clearly laid out the reasons why Council should slam the door on this and put a stop to the runaway legal expenses. In brief, they are:
- The appeal was neither moot nor frivolous. Though the election had passed, the larger legal issue remains and the law deserved to be clarified for elections officials state wide. The city’s objection was dismissed and the appellant’s claims confirmed.
- The court ruled that the City Clerk violated election law, twice. Any doubt that there were unlawful acts committed has been removed by a panel of judges.
- The court’s opinion pointed out that the city refused to follow the law, ignoring requests to correct their offense at a point where resolution would have cost the city nothing. This brings into sharp focus the arrogant disregard for the law that seems to have become an embedded part of city management.
Lanzisera closed saying, “We can think of no rationale that would justify the city to pursue a further appeal.” I agree wholeheartedly.
In response to Ms. Lanzisera’s comments, City Attorney Markman (click to read transcript) praised the judicial system then immediately said it was wrong.
Markman, though unable to produce evidence supporting his position, once again pretended that the City Clerk acted prudently. He forgot to mention she was operating under instructions from him and/or City Manager O’Donnell.
History proved otherwise.
Council Member Moore stated, in the special meeting Markman mentioned, his discomfort with delegating writing duties to Schweitzer and Murdock (who had already, prematurely, prepared arguments laced with character assassination) and giving up his right of review and approval. He abstained when the matter came to a vote. Simonoff was out of town but had registered his objections to what had already been penned.
Not long thereafter, Moore came out in favor of Measure U – The Open Governance Act and opposed Measure T – which, amongst other things, imposed salary limitations for Council and senior staff.
Clearly there was never unanimity within Council, precisely the illusion that was perpetrated by instructing the Registrar of Voters to print on all election materials the signatory implying that arguments and rebuttals against the measures had the support of the entire Council.
If this isn’t illegal electioneering, what is? How does the FPPC miss something like this?
Precisely the issue addressed by the Court of Appeals and why they thought it best to clearly warn election officials that this sort of behavior, long prohibited by law, will not be tolerated and may be litigated after the fact.
Markman still ranting.
Markman contended that the city defended in good faith (while running up a $200,000 legal bill) though he completely dodged having had multiple opportunities to settle the matter outside a courtroom and for zero cost to tax payers. He did admit that he never thought the money was well spent.
Maybe if he had given Council one chance to wade in with their opinion, we wouldn’t have flushed so much money down the drain.
In typical “ready, fire, aim” style, fueled by his embarrassment I’m sure, Murdock interjected, “Mr. Markman, to clarify, who filed the appeal?” Markman named Vargas and, again hinted at proponents of the measures.
Murdock then added, “And that appeal was filed after the election was long over, correct?” Again attempting to misdirect the public into believing the appeal had been moot though the Fourth District Court of Appeals clearly thought otherwise. A complete smoke screen and sour grapes again!
Adding insult to injury.
One must remember Murdock repeatedly reminded voters of candidate Vargas’s “costing the city so much” during the campaign, when it turns out the city bears the blame for driving up legal fees.
Line this up with Murdock getting sanctioned and fined $2000 by the FPPC (California Fair Political Practices Commission) for his undisclosed leadership of the Breans Against Measures T & U PAC.
I find this sort of behavior childish, sociopathic and vindictive. The unabashed willingness to spread half-truths and outright deceptions, to unfairly drag an opponent’s name through the mud, has become commonplace in the political arena.
Markman puts a lid on Murdock’s cheeky comments.
Markman, “We raised the point of mootness with the Court of Appeals… they didn’t agree. We’re not going to sit here and retry it or whine about a court decision in this system.”
It’s a very rare moment when Markman and I are in synch. This was certainly one of them. Putting Murdock in his place will go down as one of my favorite Council moments.
I’m hoping Markman also had the good sense to point council away from perpetuating this in any way. This is the epitome of a lose-lose situation and we can ill afford continued expense or public embarrassment.