MV City Clerk refuses to challenge mayor Kelley candidate statement lies

MV. Where Integrity is on vacation

Does the Mission Viejo City Clerk have two  sets of guidelines in performing her duties as our Elections Official?

What a difference an election cycle makes. In the 2008 city council campaign, Karen Hamman, Mission Viejo’s City Clerk, accepted an email challenge dated Friday, August, 15, 2008 10:49 AM from councilman Lance MacLean.

Lance’s email opens “Karen, I Lance MacLean, as an individual resident of the city of Mission Viejo, am filing a formal challenge to you as the City Clerk, serving in the capacity of the official elections officer regarding the ballot statements submitted by Cathy Schlicht and Neil Lonsinger….” As Karen was going on vacation she turned Lance’s challenge over to our city attorney firm of RW&G which filed a Writ of Mandate with the city taxpayers paying their legal expenses related to some minor debatable points.

In the city blog entry of August 25, 2008 it reads: On Thursday, August 21, 2008, the Office of the Election Official, by and through her legal counsel, filed a petition for a Writ of Mandate intended to result in corrections to issues established by specified candidates’ statements.”
The MacLean objection to Neil Lonsinger’s statement is Lance’s disagreeing with what he described as “false and slanderous unsubstantiated claims and declarations…etc.”

Fast forward to Friday, August 6, 2010 when I sent an email challenge to our city Clerk with my first challenge against mayor Trish Kelley’s candidate statement.
On Saturday morning August 7th I added a second challenge based on the mayor’s falsely reporting of our city reserves.

That same day I received a response from our City Clerk stating that “I as the City Elections Official, reviewed the candidate Statements prior to my upcoming vacation and did not find the statements to be in violation of the California Elections Code.”

Let’s go back to the August 25, 2008 city blog article which reads in part that “The California Elections Code regulates the permissible content that may be set forth within candidate statements. The intent of the law and the duty imposed upon those officials responsible for the conduct of elections is to ensure that the voters are presented fair, accurate and relevant information to assist their voting decision-making. If prohibited or inaccurate information is presented in a written statement the elections Official, as the guardian of the voting public, must follow the statutorily defined judicial process to test the validity of the statements…” etc.

So we provide cover for incumbents when they go after challengers and retain our city council at taxpayer expense to oppose a few words yet refuse to go after the mayor’s false statements including financial data that is simply a lie. My challenge is backed up by financial reports from Irwin Bornstein, our Assistant City Manager/Finance Director.

My first challenge against the mayor’s statement related to her taking credit for saving the Casta Del Sol golf course from development even after Judge Luis Rodriguez acknowledged that housing could be built on part of the course but I will simply fast forward to an email response from City Manager Dennis Wilberg where on August 9th he writes “Larry, This is not a City matter. Karen Hamman has handled the matter in her capacity as the Election Official. Dennis.”

I recognize that any citizen can file a ballot statement challenge within 10 days. The difference here is that our City Clerk looked the other way when accepting bogus information from our mayor yet immediately passed the baton to our attorney in August 2008 when that challenge should have been filed and paid for by Lance MacLean, not the taxpayers of Mission Viejo.

And to repeat her August 2008 words where it reads that her responsibility is to challenge inaccurate information she elects to drop the ball even after I pointed out the discrepancy. Did the law change as it relates to the duties of election officials since the last election cycle?

And some question why many Americans are turned off by the political process.

Note: A few years ago, at the suggestion of our City Manager, Cathy Schlicht and I wrote letters of commendation for Karen which played a role in her being recognized by her peers as City Clerk of the year.

About Larry Gilbert