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Matt Gaffney, San Juan Capistrano
Last week, the Orange County Superior Court ruled that Mayor Pam Patterson and the City Council (Sam Allevato excepted as he was the lone dissenting vote) broke the law when they overturned the San Juan Hotel & Villas project. Damages paid from the city to Urban Village are expected to be greater than $5 million and as much as $10 million. That’s your money, folks. It will come directly out of your taxes. Think about that the next time you ask why there is no money to fix our town’s traffic problems or improve our parks.
Pam Patterson lied about the hotel project to get elected and we will pay for it. She and her colleagues will bear no consequences for their multimillion dollar deceit. There is nothing we can do about it now other than pay our share. However, the worst is yet to come. The Urban Village lawsuit was only the first of several suits the city is currently defending as a result of the new council majority’s arrogant and dishonest actions.
Next up is the Vermeulen lawsuit, with damages expected to be much larger than those associated with Urban Village. Backed by Kim McCarthy’s Common Sense hate rag, Mayor Patterson and Councilwoman Kerry Ferguson published information about the proposed senior community that was in direct conflict with published staff reports—including their now famous exaggeration of the project’s traffic by more than 2,000 percent. Once elected, they blocked the public vote they had promised during their signature collecting campaigns. Now a judge, rather than the voters, will decide the issue and determine how much of your money to give to the Vermeulen family.
The city is also being sued for the council majority’s water refund scheme, where funds were taken from the sewer reserves to pay for some of the liability created by Councilman John Perry’s lawsuit. The problem? Perry created more liability for San Juan Capistrano than he intended, and some residents’ lawyers were paying attention. The damages are again estimated to be in the millions.
Most recently, the city was sued for conducting elections in violation of the California Voting Rights Act. This case has a silver lining. Plaintiffs have offered to drop the case (which the city is expected to lose) if the city will simply conduct proper elections for all five council members this November. Mayor Patterson, Councilwoman Ferguson and Councilman Derek Reeve can stop this lawsuit by simply letting the voters decide if we still want them in office. It will be the first time since being elected that they could keep their promise to “let the voters decide.”