By Derek Reeve, San Juan Capistrano City Councilman
I read with interest the column by editor-turned-paid-lobbyist Jonathan Volzke entitled, “My Turn: From Out of the Election Season, Changes and New Insights Emerge” in the January 25 edition of The Capistrano Dispatch.
My first thought was it is true—Jonathan Volzke is running for City Council in 2014. Oh, he may deny it, but this is San Juan: if you want to keep political secrets here it is best you move to the desert. You certainly do not proudly adopt the pre-election strategy of current council members by changing your political affiliation all the while preemptively attacking your grassroots opposition and inadequately justifying your failed policy positions.
Notable in the article was that Volzke focused his attack on just one of the Political Action Committees involved in our city council election. Ironically, it was the only grassroots PAC made up of San Juan residents: Citizens For Sensible Development (CFSD).
Volzke implied some type of nefarious action by CFSD because they spent only a modest amount of money to send out three mailers about his lobbying firm’s clients during the last election.
I likewise was curious about who was behind CFSD, until I received a phone call from an individual who identified himself as being affiliated with CFSD. In fact I learned that CFSD was made up of average San Juan residents, as opposed to the organization Volzke defends, “OCTaxPAC,” whose members include dishonest politicians, big money and lobbyists. People affiliated with CFSD appeared fed up with the good ol’ boys ramming debt, traffic and the unnecessarily expensive Ground Water Recovery Plant down our throats.
If Volzke had done his homework he would know CFSD had already filed their required final disclosure long before it was due, and that they spent about $5000; a reasonable amount for three mailers.
What Volzke hypocritically failed to question was the third party expenditures on behalf of his clients. Before the election OCTaxPAC had already reported $9,500 in expenditures, nearly double what CFSD spent in total.
OCTaxPAC is the political action committee of the OC Taxpayers Association, a misnomer if there ever was one. The group likes to portray itself as a taxpayer protection organization similar to real taxpayer protection organizations like Howard Jarvis. However, OCTaxPAC routinely takes positions that actually increase taxes.
OCTax PAC is a who’s who of major power hitters in Orange County. Notable members include the Rancho Mission Viejo Company and SDG&E. In fact Jonathan Volzke’s employer, Roger Faubel, served as president of OCTaxPAC. Faubel also signed its campaign filings and OCTaxPAC still shares his address. It is no surprise that OCTaxPAC took a very active interest in our last city council election, spending nearly $10,000 supporting Sam Allevato and Virginia Kerr.
So, let us connect the dots: Jonathan Volzke works for Faubel, has SDG&E as a client, and is courting the Rancho Mission Viejo Company. I can see why he failed to mention the PAC that he is tied to.
Jonathan Volzke also declared his advocacy for raising your taxes. He offered two examples of taxes that he supports: the Riding Park purchase which increased your property taxes to buy property that we are restricted from using, and OCTA’s Measure M sales tax increase, although since OCTA is his client it is no wonder. For the record, I opposed both tax increases.
As for the Riding Park, for now let me just say that in my opinion, the taxpayers were defrauded in one of the worst land deals in the modern history of Orange County.
In regards to Measure M, it was sold as an allegedly “temporary” sales tax increase to improve traffic throughout Orange County. At least that was OCTA’s campaign promise. You may have noticed new irrigation pipes covering the hillside on the west side of San Juan above the Shea Center. The hillside is being weeded and landscaped with native plants, paid in large part by your Measure M tax dollars and enthusiastically supported by Jonathan Volzke. You may ask, what does gardening a hillside that is nowhere near a street or freeway have to do with traffic mitigation? Ask Jonathan Volzke, because I have no idea. Those of you paying huge water bills know that watering this entire hillside will not come cheap. However it is your money paying for it, so I guess Volzke’s position is: What does it matter?
Did I mention that the OCTA is a Faubel client? In fact, Supervisor Pat Bates just announced that the OCTA is giving $108,000 of your tax dollars to Faubel, and by extension Jonathan Volzke, for work on the I-5 / Ortega interchange project.
As we shall see, the power elites of San Juan will respond to this article with indignation and personal attacks against me for speaking the sad truth about Jonathan Volzke. He used to be a newspaper reporter, one who printed the facts about issues in San Juan. Now he is just another paid lobbyist and aspiring politician who pals around with the political power elites of Orange County in order to raise your taxes and wastefully spend your money.
Derek Reeve is currently serving in his first term as a City Councilman.