Is Mission Viejo City Manager Wilberg worried about MacLean RECALL?

Mission Viejo City Manager Dennis Wilberg

Around 6 p.m. last night I received two phone calls from volunteers actively engaged in the RECALL of Mission Viejo City Councilman Lance MacLean. The request was for me to come to our city library and video our city manager as he was intimidating signature gatherers by his presence. Following is a “press release” which I just received:

Press Release

City Manager Harasses Recall Volunteers

July 9, 2009 – On Wed., July 8, two recall workers said City Manager Dennis Wilberg harassed them in front of the city library. The incident occurred when two female volunteers were asking Mission Viejo residents to sign the petition to recall Councilman Lance MacLean.

Wilberg is among a handful of people including MacLean who have either harassed volunteers or made threats of violence against those gathering signatures. Wilberg first interfered with the recall on March 27 when he allegedly harassed a signature gatherer in front of a grocery store. Wilberg is not a Mission Viejo resident, and city employees are legally prohibited from becoming involved in a recall or other city election.
On July 8, Wilberg walked near the volunteers, who were standing in front of the library. According to the workers, he sat on a bench within a few feet of them. They said he was watching them while he held what appeared to be a BlackBerry phone. The city issued him a BlackBerry for use in official city business.

One of the recall workers said, “He was sitting so close to me that I was uncomfortable, and he was acting like a stalker. I thought he was recording my conversation with a resident, and that’s when I asked the other volunteer if we should call the police.”

The other recall worker responded, “I walked behind him to see if he was recording or texting. When I came face-to-face with him, I recognized him as Dennis Wilberg, the city manager. I confronted him by saying, ‘You have reached a new low, Dennis.’ He said, ‘I’m just sitting here.’”

The recall worker continued, “Wilberg wasn’t just sitting there, he was harassing us and trying to intimidate us. After I picked up my phone and made a quick call, I told him, ‘I just called Larry Gilbert to come down here with his video camera.’ Wilberg immediately got up and left with another person. For him to act like he’s recording what we’re saying is ludicrous. We have a flyer we give to people we talk with, and the charges against MacLean were published in a newspaper. It’s not a secret.”

The volunteers particularly noticed Wilberg’s rapid departure when he thought he would be photographed. They said they had already photographed and videotaped Wilberg when they were discussing whether or not to call the police.

MacLean and his supporters have used bullying and intimidation to interfere with signature gathering. Threats made by MacLean supporters have been reported to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. Recall proponents say they will make a public records request to capture Wilberg’s use of his city-owned BlackBerry to determine if he was using it for illegal purposes such as involving himself in the recall.

Recall spokesman Dale Tyler said, “This is the second time the city manager has apparently used his office to interfere with the recall. With the new evidence of a video and the use of city property, his involvement is undeniable. Surely the city manager knows what happened to Supt. James Fleming when he interfered with a recall in CUSD. I don’t understand what he thought he was doing by sitting there, other than to attempt to intimidate the volunteers gathering signatures.”

Tyler announced that the signature drive is nearing completion with 47 days remaining to finish the job. Approximately 9,300 valid signatures are needed by the Aug. 25 deadline.

For information, call Dale Tyler, spokesman for the Lance MacLean Recall, (949) 360-1717.

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