Anti-Strawberry Field Ballot Statement Rebuffed; Pro-One Survives


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Ballot statement against Strawberry Field site for Veterans Cemetery fails big.

SEE BIG UPDATE AT END!

You can find some interesting things in the results of ballot statement arguments and opinions that sometimes go beyond politics in ballots and elections alone.  For example, some basic premises of the ballot argument against the land swap that took the cemetery out of the ARDA site and placed it near a more visible and publicly accessible site were at the very center of this ballot challenge — and it went very well Team Strawberry and poorly for Team Toxic Waste.

I’m reproducing this communication as-is, with some purely typographic changes, from the email that they sent around yesterday.  It speaks for itself.

[On Thursday, March 29, 2018, “Strawberry Field Forever” wrote:]

FINAL RULING: Sandlin v. McLaughlin

“There is no give-away.”

Petitioners contend that the ballot argument that states, “Your NO on Measure ___ will STOP three Irvine City Councilmembers from giving away-… the 125-acre site in the Great Park . . .” is misleading. …..   based on this evidence, the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that the use of the term “giving away” is misleadingThe City of Irvine is receiving property in exchange for the property it is transferring.

“The city-owned ARDA-site is not ‘in the Great Park.’ “

RJN, Exhibit C, is the “City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis of Ordinance 17-09, which is not subject to a legal challenge. This analysis indicates that “Both properties are on the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro and are located near, but outside, the boundaries of the Orange County Great Park.”  … Exhibits C and H, establish that the ARDA transfer site is not in the Orange County Great Park. Thus, the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, the ballot arguments (RJN, Exhibit D) that refer to the ARDA Transfer Site as being in the Great Park are false or misleading.

Veterans cemetery at the city-owned ARDA site is not ‘state-approved,’ is not ‘construction ready,’ and cannot be built and maintained ‘at no cost to the city.’ “

…  the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that the term “construction ready” is misleading. ….   the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that the term “construction-ready” is misleading because the necessary funding to begin construction is not available for whatever reason. “Construction-ready” implies that construction can begin within a short period of time. Without funding, the construction cannot begin. Therefore, the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that the term “construction-ready” is misleading.

“The land swap involves the City and Heritage Fields El Toro, LLC; not Five Points or Five Points Communities.”

The court finds that Petitioners have established that Heritage Fields El Toro, LLC is the entity that is exchanging properties with the City of Irvine. (RJN, Exhibit F.) Thus, the court finds, by clear and convincing evidence, that the ballot arguments suggesting that Five Points Communities is the entity receiving the property is misleading.

Therefore, the court grants Petition for Writ of Mandate, in part, and orders Respondents to edit their ballot arguments as follows:

(1) Delete the term “giving away” as used in the “Argument Against Measure” (RJN, Exhibit D), and the term “giveaway” as used in the “Rebuttal Argument Against Adoption of Ordinance No. 17-08.” (RJN Exhibit E);

(2) Delete any reference to “at” or “in” the GreatPark;

(3) Delete any reference to “Five Points” or “Five Point” and replace with “Heritage Fields El Toro,LLC;” and

(4) Delete the word “construction” from the term “construction-ready.”

At the hearing on March 27, 2017, after receiving the court’s tentative ruling, the parties represented that they had agreed on the following modifications to the ballot arguments:

(1) The parties agreed to substitute the word “developer” in place of any reference to “Five Point;”

(2) After discussion with the court, the parties agreed to substitute the word “trade” for “giving away” and “giveaway;”

(3) The parties agreed to substitute the word “alongside” in place of any reference to “at” or “in” the Great Park; and

(4) The parties agreed to modify the introductory part of the first bullet point contained in RJN Exhibit D to read as follows, “Your NO vote on Measure will STOP three Irvine City Councilmembers from trading properties with a giant developer, including the 125-acre site . . . .”

The court requires the Judgment to be prepared in a form that will adequately advise the Orange County Registrar of Voters as to how to prepare the ballot materials at issue with respect to this Writ of Mandate.

UPDATE

A second decision,  the ballot label for the measure to be considered this June, came down yesterday.  Here if is, from the same source:

FINAL RULING: Gaido v. McLaughlin (Case No. 30-2018-00972013)

On February 7, 2018, Petitioner filed ….  challenges the Ballot Label  ….as partial, misleading, and inaccurate. (Petition, ¶¶ 37-47.)   Respondent contends that Petitioner has failed to show, by clear and convincing evidence ” . . . that the Ballot Label is false, misleading or partial.”

Therefore, the court grants the Writ of Mandate, and orders Respondent and Real Party in Interest to  rewrite the Ballot Label as stated in the “Second Alternative Ballot Label.”

Specifically, the Ballot Label should read as follows:

“Shall Ordinance No. 17-08, approving zone text amendments to allow for a and exchange agreement that facilitates

(a)     the allocation of development previously planned for the Bake Parkway Site to property near the intersection of Pusan and Irvine Blvd, and

(b)     the development of State-approved site for the Southern California Veterans Cemetery on strawberry fields located near the intersection of I-5 and Bake Parkway, be adopted?”

The court orders Petitioner to prepare a Judgment that is consistent with the above. The court requires the Judgment to be prepared in a form that will adequately advise the Orange County Registrar of Voters as to how to prepare the ballot materials at issue with respect to this Writ of Mandate. Petitioner is to submit this Judgment no later than April 4, 2018 at noon (12:00 p.m.).

Whatever it is that Agran crony Mary Ann Gaido was trying to accomplish with this challenge, it doesn’t look like she achieved it, because that proposed ballot label looks just fine from the perspective of Strawberry Fields Site proponents.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)