By Jonathan Volzke
Just when you thought talk of the November election was over…
The votes are counted, the council seated and “freshman” Councilman Roy Byrnes has settled into his spot on the dais. But there’s still the matter of crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s.
The final campaign spending reports from the election, for example, are due to the City Clerk by the end of this month. We’ll be able to see how much money was spent, but most importantly, where it came from. I’m particularly interested in seeing who financed the anti-Allevato and Kerr flyers that kept popping up in my mailbox.
They were credited to the “Citizens for Sensible Development” with an address on Rancho Viejo Road. That group formed in an unsuccessful fight against the proposed Distrito La Novia development, but popped up again during the November elections.
I received at least three mailers from the group, with the scary “who really runs this town” theme. Maybe they got an amazing deal but it sure seems as if they got a lot of bang for their buck: by the second required financial reports, the group reported spending only $2,500 to mail multiple pieces throughout the city.
The group didn’t report donors, but one of the anti-Distrito leaders, Mike Johnson, came out early and said he was no longer involved in the group. Another individual involved early on was Jerri Mann, originally the group’s treasurer. Jerri Mann is the wife of Charles Mann, a San Juan Capistrano commercial property owner who lives in San Clemente. They were just sued in that city for allegedly tying two candidates there to money from a developer—a donation that was never made.
That case will be interesting to watch. Obviously, the rights of individuals to participate in the electoral process are important, as are First Amendment rights. But when does it go too far? I’m sure all candidates in the November election have plenty of examples when they think the line was crossed.
Another change from the November election: I’m no longer a registered Democrat. There are a few reasons I made the change, but nothing earth-shattering. I suspect I’m like most people and find myself bouncing between the party lines—agreeing here, disagreeing there. I voted for Reagan. I voted for Clinton. I found both to be more pragmatic than party-bound in their approaches to issues, and that’s what I appreciated.
But to my conservative friends, don’t rejoice yet. I registered as a “decline to state,” rather than a Republican. Nationally, I have some issues with the party, and locally, I’ll be looking to see how the GOP reshapes itself after the election. After attending a couple of the meetings in which they decided local endorsements, I’d rather they either solidify the process to really understand the candidates they’re considering, or just stay out of the non-partisan (as our council and school board races are) contests all together.
I didn’t agree at the local level with the furor over the word “tax.” By the end of the process, it seemed that anybody who’d supported any “tax” could not receive the endorsement. That didn’t make sense to me. Measure M is a half-cent sales tax approved by voters and spent on road improvements. I voted for that twice and would again in a heartbeat—few issues strike closer to “quality of life” than traffic. Same with our Open Space Bond. I voted for that and would again. Now, not all taxes are good taxes, of course. I’ve questioned the franchise fees/taxes we charge Cox Communications and other utilities. But Reed Royalty—a Capistrano resident who founded the OC Taxpayers Association (to learn more, visit www.octax.org)—has a simple test to determine “good” taxes from “bad” taxes. Simply put, if they’re transparent, evenly distributed, cost-effective and identified with the services they provide, they can be a good tax. He also notes “if” voters would approve them, they’re a good tax. Measure M and the Open Space Bond were voter approved, of course.
I was also mystified by all those who claim to be “conservative” who attacked the Rancho Mission Viejo development and others during the election. Aren’t property owners’ rights a basic tenet of conservatism? Chances are nearly everyone lives in a house that someone else didn’t want built.
Some bad, some good, in taxes and political parties. One other positive change from my switch in voter registration: I’ll now get all of the campaign mailers sent during elections.
San Juan Capistrano resident Jonathan Volzke is the founder of The Capistrano Dispatch and now works for Faubel Public Affairs.