San Juan Capistrano City Councilman Roy Byrnes. Courtesy of the city of San Juan Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano City Councilman Roy Byrnes. Courtesy of the city of San Juan Capistrano

Roy Byrnes, San Juan Capistrano City Councilman

In recent years, our City Council has been tightly controlled by three men—the “Allevato Group”—consisting of John Taylor, Larry Kramer and led by Mayor Sam Allevato. This has done considerable harm to San Juan, including massive legal costs, as the “ruling threesome” have spent time and money harassing and disenfranchising the two minority council members—Derek Reeve and me.

Our City Council was originally formed as a five-person deliberative body to express the views of citizens in a fair and equitable manner. In 2010, Taylor, Kramer and Allevato formed a solid-front group that has ruled the decision process with an iron fist. This clique of three now tightly controls the council. The results are not good and disastrous errors are the result.

The strength of our form of government lies in diversity of expression as five different analyses are brought to bear on problems facing our community. This has been corrupted into a three-man rigid orthodoxy from which dissent is banished. Citizens cry out for reform. It is necessary to refresh the mix of members on the council.

Are Taylor and Kramer bad people in any way? Of course not. Kramer has spent much of his life in our nation’s armed services. That is commendable. However, when faced with a contrary opinion on the City Council, his first instinct is to destroy the enemy. This is appropriate in combat but does not work in the civil discourse of a deliberative body where the objective is to work productively with people who have differing views.

I’ve always felt that election politics in San Juan should be neighborly and amateurish with nobody spending much money or hiring political consultants (political “scum bags”) to dig up dirt on opponents. I was appalled to observe that when Taylor and Kramer first ran for office they introduced a new form of hardcore, political campaigning to San Juan. Each of these men spent over $50,000 to get elected with employment of professional political handlers who are skilled in manipulating the public.

This is all perfectly legal but it raises many questions.

Why would two men spend over $100,000 for election to a City Council that pays $300 a month?

When a candidate asks donors for that amount of money, might the contributors expect something in return? When Taylor and Kramer devote tens of thousands of dollars to their campaigns, doesn’t that slam the door in the face of well-qualified people who can afford less for a political campaign? When does an “ample fund” turn into pay-for-play?

I urge that the bid for re-election by the “Allevato Group” be rejected. It is time for a change.

Don’t despair. And whatever you do, don’t forget to keep laughing. Vote, you have six other choices.

About The Author Capo Dispatch

comments (11)

  • Well said, Mr. Byrnes! Grupo Allevato needs to be retired! Let them go ruin someone else’s special community. Your observations on the cost/benefit analysis of running are particularly relevant. Why, indeed, would anyone spend significant amounts of money on an election for a position that pays $300/month? That also begs the question of campaign finance disclosures for some of the other candidates running in this election. The ones with the most in donations seem to have NO public opinion on any of the issues. Isn’t that just a bit odd? One didn’t even bother to appear at the candidates night. Every voter should read all the letters in the “SOABOX”……

  • I think Mr. Byrnes suspicions were proven with the last city council meeting. Despite moving the meeting to a larger venue, every possible maneuvering trick available to the council majority was used to support their pre-approval of the Laguna Woods project. The speaker order was front loaded with pro-development speakers…anti-project speakers were timed while pro-project speakers where not. You could almost hear the council majority salivating about the tax basis this development would bring…damn the traffic, water availability or the crippling density foisted upon the residents, FULL SPEED AHEAD!

    After all, we NEED that money! Or do we?

    Councilman Kramer seems to thinks our streets are all perfect, so no need for any repair dollars to be spent there. Mayor Allevato feels “his” vaulted ground water treatment plant has allowed us to dodge any real drought bullet ~ present or future. And Councilman Taylor states that with the approval of downtown hotel, our downtown will be instantly revitalized. So why the eagerness to massively and permanently change this small town they claim to hold so dear?

    Their actions, like those of Captain White of the Titanic, may well be viewed in the same light. A long series of bad decisions that took something unique and precious and somehow managed to sink the “unsinkable.”

  • Are you not part of a “Clique” yourself? The three “minority” slate candidates of Pam, Kerry and Derek are running as a slate. Their campaign signs go so far as to feature all three together. I cannot imagine anything more “Cliquish” than that. So the choice in this election is do I want your “Clique” or the other “Clique”. For me that is an easy choice; I will not vote for anyone who aligns himself with Derek Reeve, a man who has used his public office to make disparaging statements about minorities and in doing so brought national attention and ridicule to this town. If you want me to consider voting for Pam or Kerry, then all of you need to distance yourself from Mr. Reeve. Show me you are independent, as the “Reeve Clique” is not one that I care to see in the majority.

    • Walter…..this is an open and free election. You are not voting for a slate or a “clique”. Each individual candidate expresses his/her view BEFORE the election, and you should vote for the candidate(s) that best express your feeling about the direction the council should take. Pam and Kerry have very specifically expressed their feelings about the major development proposals that can have a dramatic effect on the city. If you agree with their assessment, you should vote for them.

    • If you cannot argue issues, just lie and call people racist.

      • Patrick, you can’t bully people into voting for your candidates. The problem with your “Clique” is not the message, it’s the messengers. The ideas are there, but the presentation is so off-putting you turn people away. Perhaps you’ll wake-up some day and realize all this and do something about it. That would be nice, because this town could really use that.

  • Walter you’re the one bullying by calling people racist just because you disagree with them.

    • Patrick, You used the word racist. Then you say I am lying? Let’s allow Mr Reeve to speak for himself and people can decide if he is someone that shares their values and morals and whether or not he deserves to be in a public office where he represents all of San Juan’s citizens:

      Derek Reeve official remarks as a city councilman from a public city council session during a discussion about the city dog park: “I have two new dogs. I’m excited about a dog park. America and Muhammad may want to play with dogs … That’s right, I named my dog Muhammad.” This drew national news coverage and even Bill O’Reilly of Fox News called him a pinhead for saying that.

      Derek Reeve from his Twitter feed discussing the students he teaches, which like most embarrassing things said on Twitter, was grabbed by someone as a screenshot before he could delete it thus preserving it on the Internet for the ages … “Are my international middle eastern students less honest or just really bad at cheating?”

  • I’m not part of his campaign but he explained both, including in a flyer.
    “I never made disparaging comments regarding international Middle Eastern students. On one occasion I gave a final exam to 120 students. Thirty of these were international students from Saudi Arabia and UAE. Of these, ten were outstanding students. The other twenty blatantly and overtly cheated on the exam. It was so disruptive that the other students complained about it. The simple fact is, I was the most popular professor amongst international students and in particular Middle Eastern students who are both Muslim and Christian. In 2010 I even had a number of former students from Saudi Arabia volunteer with my campaign.”

    To me context is critical. And who cares about a dogs name !

    • I care, because it reflects on his character and his values and how he conducts himself as an elected official who is supposed to represent all of the citizens of San Juan. Perhaps we are not all as prepared as you are Patrick to accept his attempts to save-face with self-serving justifications. These statements do not require context, the plain meaning speaks for itself and for the man who made them.

  • Yes Reeve is awful. He offended ISIS.

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