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.