Why I Support Scott Blough

I’m not in the business of editing or censoring Mitch’s articles (the adjustments marked “Editor’s Note” in his previous article are not my edits). But we differ on our positions on Scott Blough’s candidacy and I would like to share why.

When I first learned that Scott Blough was running for school board, my immediate thought was to be cautious and reserve my support. I had concerns, but since I’ve never had a chance to share those concerns with Scott, I won’t share them here. They were related to the last school board election.

When a personal issue came up with my kids and their school, I went to Scott Blough for assistance because I knew he had conducted extensive research on Simi schools. Scott already knew that I was reserving my support, but he agreed to help graciously. He helped guide me through a difficult process that resulted in my son’s enrollment in one of Simi Valley’s best elementary schools. The fit was perfect and has continued to be successful for my son. Scott never asked for anything in return, and I appreciated his genuine, no-strings-attached assistance.

I usually focus my attention on the City Council race, but this time I’ve been focused on the school board race. I’m invested in the success of our local schools. I’ve decided to vote for Scott because I believe he’ll listen to me when I have something to say and take my call if I want to express concerns. He has the support of others in the community that I respect, many of whom are Simi Valley Education Foundation members, and that’s very meaningful to me. I believe that he’ll focus on the needs of parents, students and teachers, and be open to all opportunities to address the district’s severe financial issues.

I’m voting for Scott Blough and I hope that all of my friends and family who may feel otherwise respect my decision.

As an added important note, this was Scott’s response regarding a negative POA ad. I received Scott’s response to the ad well before seeing the ad itself. In fact, he published this response on Thursday night:

Early in the campaign, I signed a clean campaigns pledge. Most politicians sign it to hold their opponent accountable. However, it places on us the obligation to hold ourselves to account as well.

This acorn newspaper ad in tomorrow’s paper was neither paid for nor produced by my campaign. However, it promotes my name as a preferred campaign choice.

Let me be clear- I reject this ad. We do not need to tear down our schools to fix them. We need to work together to help our schools.

This ad is negative. It sucks.

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Lucy and Charlie Brown, Not Necessarily A Love Story

Scary Clown 2014

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been a touch quiet of late with my writing, but things are now resolved. By that I mean the robocall lawsuits stemming from the dirty politics of 2012 have been settled and put to rest. And while we may never know who was really behind that cowardly act, I can state that those most vocal in their hurrah’s over their First Amendment right to be politically dirty and cowardly have been XXXX, XXXXXX and XXXXXX [Editor: Sorry Mitch, too risky!].

And in my humble opinion, those same individuals were the ones responsible for the robocall. It may have taken two years and nearly $180,000 to reach that conclusion, but if nothing else, we can all say that the First Amendment works both ways and it is not defamatory to state one’s opinion.

Just my opinion, of course.

As for the $180,000 figure? That may be “a touch more” than the number the robo apologists are touting with their fake check in Barbra Williamson’s most recent dirty mailing, but then again, I don’t work for free either.

So as to Babs’ mailer. She claims Becerra “double dipped” for taking the pay and benefits that he earned as a Council member. But didn’t Babs take the pay and benefits that she earned as a Council member for 20 years? Was Babs double dipping too? Or did Babs just make that story up to flesh out her flyer?

Babs claims Becerra payed $100,000 as a result of the lawsuit. I should know, the real check was drawn from my attorney client trust account. On this I can clearly and unequivocally state that Babs is out right lying.

Babs claims Becerra was “struck down” by the Superior Court for “obstruction of free speech” of Simi Valley residents. So, so wrong. First, those in Simi Valley responsible for the robocall (see my humble opinion above as to who I think played a role [Editor: Sorry again Mitch!]) never had the courage to step forward and claim their role in this dirty cowardly act. The defendants were a Torrance based political consultant and his business, even though the Torrance defendants did get an assist in their defense from local criminal defense attorney Cindy Pandolfi, wife of robocall court watcher Louis Pandolfi. The Superior Court ruled plaintiffs did not have standing to bring their claims of an illegal robocall, that only the state or federal Attorney General could bring those claims. A technicality. And, the Superior Court did not rule that the robocall wasn’t illegal, either.

Then again, the robocall was yesterdays news.

Today’s news remains the upcoming election and the dirty road to Tuesday, November 4, 2014.

There seems to be much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands today about an advertisement the POA (Simi Valley Police Officers Association) put up about Simi Valley schools in the October 31, 2014 Simi Valley Acorn.

The ad asks the question, “Do Simi Schools Suck?” The ad then goes on to mention two school board candidates, Bill Daniels and Scott Blough. Fair enough. The impression is that the POA likes both school board candidates. And there is another full page ad in the Acorn, this one in color, again praising Bill Daniels and Scott Blough.

But what I find confusing is the strong denial of association with the ad by supporters of Scott Blough. There are many today who come out in defense of Scott, but crickets from Scott. Does Scott think Simi Schools Suck? Does Scott agree with the POA’s position? For that matter, what does Scott think, if at all? Or does Scott play both sides here, waiting to see which way the wind blows and then adopting the safe position?

I must say, I am not a big supporter of Scott. During the robocall case Scott came to my team to announce that he had received the robocall on his cell phone, which is strictly prohibited. The Friday night the week before plaintiff’s opposition was due to be filed against the motion to strike the class action complaint, Scott called me and we had a 12 to 14 minute conversation while I paced my garage. Scott told me how much he supported the plaintiff’s case against the robocallers, how he had received the robocall on his cell phone while he was sitting in his office at the bank, how he could deliver to me two other people who received the robocall on their cell phone, and how he would bend over backwards to make sure I had his declaration regarding receipt of the robocall on cell phones.

Excellent! I then proceeded to draft an outstanding opposition, putting in some 40 hours of work over three days, only to have Scott then incredulously proclaim to me three days later that I was trying to get him to perjure himself by signing the declaration that he had come forward to offer.

Imagine Lucy pulling the football from Charlie Brown at the last second.

And then I had mutual friends report back to me that Scott Blough was spreading the word that that I tried to get him to commit perjury. All over a story he either made up to begin with (i.e., receiving the robocall on his cell phone) or perhaps he just got cold feet. Or perhaps he was warned off. Who really knows?

If that was my only experience, I would say ok, Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be). But it is not.

In early August of 2014, I and two associates met with Scott at Friday’s on a Saturday afternoon. The meeting was to hear out Scott and decide if he was someone we wanted to support in the school board election. After some time I left my two associates and they were invited over to Scott’s house because Scott wanted to show them “something.” When there, Scott produced two highly confidential documents about another candidate and gave those documents to my associates. I am not sure why Scott gave away those documents, but it is clear the documents were of a nature that he should never have had possession.

Without going into specifics, the documents pertained to one candidate, and were of a nature that if released into the wild, may give the false impression yet another school board candidate had surreptitiously “back doored” the documents from his employer. The associates didn’t take the bait, didn’t release the documents into the wild and didn’t have anything to do with this heinous attempted smear. Rather, the associates contacted the appropriate authorities and the matter was, so to speak, “handled.”

My concern is whether Scott was Machiavellian enough to see the “two-fer” to be gained in smearing two candidates, perhaps at the last minute, which no amount of damage control could correct prior to the election. And then sitting back claiming that he had nuthen to do with nuthen and letting his apologists come forward to make excuses for him.

And yes, I did see the documents prior to them being turned over to the appropriate authorities and yup, Scott should never have been in possession of such confidential material.

So, once again, Scott’s involvement may have just been an innocent, easily explainable situation qualifying as “no harm, no foul.” Right?

And then comes the frosting to the story.

The one candidate subject to the confidential material had their attorney (no, not me) write a cease and desist letter to Mr. Blough having him refrain from further dissemination of the material he had no right to possess in the first place.

And as is his right, Mr. Blough had his attorney write back to the first attorney, claiming Mr. Blough was, in essence, a victim of dirty politics rather than a proponent of dirty tricks.

And the letter was signed, “Cynthia Pandolfi, Attorney for Scott Blough.”

As in, an attorney for the robocall defense team, now just coincidentally representing “Lucy.”

Your conclusions may vary.

Enjoy your weekend.

PS: Wendy and I voted for Elaine Litster and Josie Hirsch.

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The Barbra Williamson Mistake

Debbie Thomas, Paula Cornell and Judy Pepiot have chosen to rescind their endorsement of Barbra Williamson. They are planning to mail a letter to Simi Valley women who previously received their first letter of endorsement. What follows is the text of that letter…

We made a mistake.

We love Simi Valley and in our effort to support qualified women to the city council we asked you to support Barbra Williamson as someone who would bring people together and work collaboratively.

We were wrong and we need your help to fix it.

We’re rescinding our endorsement of Barbra Williamson as a result of a vicious smear campaign she is running that smacks of Washington and Sacramento politics that has no place in Simi Valley.

We know that disagreements are part of politics. We know that different opinions are healthy parts of campaigns. We also know that personal attacks and destruction are ruining our ability to work as a community and we all need to stand up against it when we see it.

Standing up against this type of politics is what we’re doing now and we strongly encourage you to join us. The only way this behavior will stop is if we all take a stand.

We made a mistake. We were wrong. We’re embarrassed to have been fooled. Please help us make it right by rejecting the campaign attacks of Barbra Williamson.

There’s no place for personal attacks in Simi Valley.”

- Debbie Thomas, Paula Cornell and Judy Pepiot

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Women Displeased With Barbra Williamson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Women of Simi Valley Disgusted with Barbra Williamson’s Vicious Tactics

Simi Valley, CA (Oct. 30, 2014): Last month, Paula Cornell, Judy Pepiot and Debbie Thomas sent a letter to the women of Simi Valley urging them to vote for Barbra Williamson for the Simi Valley City Council. Today, in light of the disgusting and vicious hit piece Williamson mailed about City Councilman Glen Becerra, the three denounced Williamson’s tactics and urged voters to vote against her.

“Barbra Williamson surprised us all with a hit piece on Glen Becerra today that is reprehensible,” Cornell, Pepiot and Thomas said in a follow-up letter to the women of Simi Valley. “It is politics at its worse. It was meant to do harm to a city councilman who is highly respected in our city. Simi Valley deserves better and it deserves a City Council who can and will work together to continue doing what is best for our community.”

Cornell, Pepiot and Thomas are all involved in numerous volunteer roles that sustain and bolster the quality of life in Simi Valley. Each tackle their volunteer jobs by working with all sectors of government, as well as nonprofit groups, service clubs and the public. Over the years, they have had close encounters with almost everyone involved in Simi Valley’s decision-making processes. They endorsed Williamson because they believed the city needed a woman’s perspective on the City Council.

“We signed the original letter on the understanding that Barbra would run a clean campaign. Now we fear this may not be the last hit piece from her. Shame on Barbra for stooping as low as she did to say nasty untruths about a city councilman” Thomas said.

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Local Campaigning is Dramatic Everywhere

…not just in Simi Valley. I’m almost relieved!

At SCVTalk, the Santa Clarita blog covering local politics, Mike Devlin has an article published about a City Council candidate playing a little dirty with some volunteers supporting another candidate. It’s nothing too crazy, but it’s amusing to see it all play out — not just the incident itself which was caught on video, but the City Council Member denying it happened when confronted at a Council Meeting.

Read the full story at SCVTalk which provides excellent coverage of Santa Clarita issues with fresh content regularly. Check out the video below.

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Williamson Supporter Slams POA

I read a lot of positive letters to the Editor of the Simi Valley Acorn this morning, along with a few negative ones.  Among the negatives was a letter from a Barbra Williamson supporter with some commentary regarding the Simi Valley POA’s lack of support for her campaign.

So now let me get this straight. Barbra worked to get $100 million for Simi Valley, which included this shooting range for our police department, and yet the Simi Valley Police Officers Association isn’t endorsing her? What’s up with that? Maybe they like all that extra overtime and the comfy desk jobs.

To read the letter in its entire context, click here.

The Simi Valley POA has been very active this election cycle. They’ve endorsed Simi Valley School board candidates (Blough and Daniels) in addition to their endorsements for Council and Mayor. They’ve also made financial contributions to several Council candidates beyond the ones they endorsed.  Their motives appear to be in the best interest of the community, encouraging democracy and providing voters with more choices than just the incumbents. I applaud their efforts.

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Something About Elaine Litster, Candidate for School Board

homecoming

In the last few days I had the chance to meet Elaine Litster, candidate for Trustee on the Simi Valley School Board. I didn’t get to speak with her for long, but in the five minutes or so that we conversed she came across as very intelligent, well educated and approachable. And then she told me she was from Idaho and that was it, I was intrigued. You see, I am from Eastern Oregon and my dad and younger sister and her family currently reside in Boise Idaho. Eastern Oregon and Idaho border each other and the people there tend to be kindred souls, if not distant kin.

A day or two after we spoke I checked into Elaine’s background on the internet. That’s when I learned that she has succeeded in one accomplishment after the next since young adulthood. She obtained an Associates in Art degree in Interpersonal Communications from Ricks College in 1983, where she was also Homecoming Queen in 1982, causing quite a stir by landing in a helicopter mid football field. She was Miss Idaho National Guard and then Miss Idaho in 1983 and finished in the top 18 at Miss America 1984, the year Vanessa Williams won. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Economics from BYU in 1986 and later obtained her Masters in Urban Planning from UCLA.

Clearly she is well educated. But what has she done in education that may give her a background for School Board Trustee?

Her employment record shows that after college she worked as an Admissions Counselor at Boise State University (Go Broncos!), seven years as a middle school and high school teacher teaching choir, band and harp ensemble. Harp ensemble? It would seem I forgot to mention she is also an accomplished harpist who has played on stage at Carnegie Hall and she was at one time principle harpist for the Boise Philharmonic and she has appeared on camera as a harpist on day time television The Bold and the Beautiful (I was more into the Edge of Night).

Elaine has worked with the music department for Royal High School since 2007 classified as an “Assistant Coach.” She is past President of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Harp Society and served since 2008 as a Board Member for the American Harp Society Foundation. She was PTA President for Justin Elementary in 2010 to 2012.

In her personal life Elaine and her husband Greg have been married for 26 years and they are the proud parents of five children. Elaine and her family are active in their local church where Elaine works with a group for 12 to 18 year old young women and where she coordinates Sunday and mid week faith meetings. Quite the roll model she is for those young women, no doubt.

If you would like to learn more about Elaine Litster’s background, her goals and her stand on issues relevant to the Simi Valley School Board, check her out at http://electelainelitster.com.

I am sure you will be just as impressed with Elaine as I am once you’ve checked out her background and credentials. Myself, I think she is eminently qualified to be a Simi Valley School Board Trustee. Disclosure: I live in the school district and I know who I am going to vote for.

Mitch

PS: Elaine is the one in the middle wearing the crown as 1982 Ricks College Homecoming Queen. Nice Firebird!

 

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Lawsuit fizzles

There’s not a whole lot about the complicated legal process regarding the robocall suit that I feel I have a firm grasp on. I will say that I was hoping the identities of the robocallers would be confirmed on the record. Those close to the story already know the culprits. During this process, their emotions have ranged from angry defiance to fear to outward joy, and during the fear phases, they discussed it and ratted each other out through the email forms, anonymous tweets and other formats. A brave lot… In short, most know who they are but a few were hoping (for once) they might actually get their names attached to their anonymous messages. No such luck this time.  They love their city and they love their political positions… anonymously.

When the court determines that a message is protected by the first amendment, then there’s no further interest in pursuing the identities of the anonymous culprits. That’s the only message to take away.

I plan to do myself a favor and ignore the City Council campaigns this year (except for Barbra Williamson’s, which will play out like reality TV) and maybe some year we can restore civility to this process. Maybe someday it won’t be such a heinous fight. Until then, I’ll continue to receive my bi-annual threat of lawsuit from people who wine about vexatious litigation and launch attack campaigns with fake Facebook accounts.

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