Huntington’s Shaw and Boardman cleared of frivolous cohabitation charges by FPPC.


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The Register was sure to let everyone know about the FPPC complaint against stalwart environmental-populist Huntington Beach councilmembers Joe Shaw and Connie Boardman (up for re-election) but I’m guessing they won’t be quite as Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to their exoneration, so it falls to me to let you know.

Joe had a feeling a few months ago that this would become an issue, and told me about it – because he noticed some anonymous Pedroza blogger was looking into his living arrangements – a year and a half renting a room from his fellow councilwoman Connie.  I THINK that anonymous chap wrote a story about it, but it seems to have vanished – he or she was suggesting this was an ongoing Brown Act violation – yeah, right, two out of seven councilmembers living together, give me a break.

Obviously this is the kind of thing that’s more useful to throw at a politician just before election time, in the hopes that it casts a cloud of suspicion over them.  And so that happened a couple weeks ago, to great fanfare from the anti-Shaw and Boardman corners of the internet.  This plaintiff (also a council candidate) contended that since Joe got a pretty good deal on the rent ($500) it constituted a GIFT that should have been reported, and also suggested that Connie could be using this “gift” to buy Joe’s votes (even though through the 8 years I’ve known both of them, they’ve agreed on 90% of issues.)  The highly excitable and poetic fellow continued:

“I think it is reasonable to (deduce) that the mere nature and proximity of living together combined with a landlord-tenant relationship creates a figurative organic petri dish environment that could have easily evolved into a fertile breeding ground for improper influence on each other’s decisions when voting on public policy issues… [Their relationship simply] “does not pass the smell test.

Well, the FPPC didn’t take long to toss that out.  As they wrote to this plaintiff Thursday:

“This letter acknowledges that our enforcement division received your complaint alleging the above-named councilmembers violated the Political Reform Act’s conflict of interest and gift limit prohibitions. After review by staff, it was determined that your complaint provides insufficient evidence of such violations and will not be pursued by our Enforcement Division.”

Obviously the FPPC lacks the finely attuned sense of smell and medicinal imagination of some in Huntington Beach.  There are many reasons, and a few big powerful forces, that want Joe and Connie (who call themselves Team Huntington Beach) off the Council.   And it’s funny, the three biggest are all from out of town:

  • Out-of-town developers who would like to be able to build condos and the like on the Bolsa Chica wetlands/mesa area and our other remaining open space, who have been repeatedly stymied by Joe, Connie, and two or three of their council allies;
  • The rapacious out-of-town mobile home park owners (eg Saunders from Newport, Kort and Scott from Buena Park) who already took out a full-page Register ad against the duo for considering rent-control action against their predations (much more to come on that this week);
  • Connecticut-based Poseidon Inc., frustrated at every step in their efforts to swindle the county by the new anti-Poseidon council majority, so different from their bought-and-paid-for predecessor councils.

And there are folks who actually live in HB – of varying degrees of honesty – who resent feeling that their pretty conservative town is being run by liberal environmentalists (as handy as those “liberals” have been at balancing the city’s budget and paying down its debt.)  They’ve talked themselves into feeling that they’re part of some revolution to “take back the city.” 

Dudes, you didn’t have it before.   Team Huntington Beach is PART of us taking back the city – from outside looters and despoilers.  I’m up for CONTINUING the revolution that started in 2010 and 2012 – because I remember what was going on here before.

This election’s Team HB – with the addition of the estimable and lovable Mark Bixby. Photo by ME!!!



About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.