Tom Foolery or Public Service? You Decide

DUI

Hello Simi Valley!

It looks like the current election season began on July 14, 2014, at least for the Simi Valley City Council race, and already the muck is flying about! And who would expect anything less than dirt and skulduggery from our fine citizenry? And to think, those who love to heap the dirt the farthest and highest somehow think they can keep credit for their mischievous glee hidden from the rest of us. As if being a scum raking bottom feeder might interfere with their claims to “pillar of community” standing?

Now, we here at Vote Simi Valley understand that during a hard fought campaign the stuff can hit the fan and the fan can cause some unintended splatter, but if you’re going to throw the muck at the fan to begin with, you should get credit for your wonderful deeds. No need to hide under rocks! Come out from the shadows!

An example of the first round of muckery is the anonymously sourced posting of the Sojka dui video on the afternoon of July 15, 2014 by Hews Media Group, begging the question, just where did they get the video? Hews Media Group’s principle, Brian Hews, has stated, “We will not reveal our sources.”

Fair enough.

The El Segundo City Clerk’s Office, on the other hand, has no problem informing who requested the video and when they sent out the video. In fact, as a governmental agency, they are required by law to disclose who requested the video.

It turns out that on March 26, 2014, the City of El Segundo received its very first request for all information regarding the Sojka arrest from none other than Simi Valley resident Tom Mackel.

Fight On Tom!

Mr. Mackel presented a second request to the City of El Segundo for information on Sojka on June 18, 2014, again on July 2, 2014 and again on July 9, 2014. It would appear that Mr. Mackel hit the jackpot when the City of El Segundo released to him a copy of the dui video on July 15, 2014. And of course, that would be the same date that the dui video was splashed far and wide throughout the electronic frontier.

Now, it may only be a coincidence that Mr. Mackel had the only copy of the dui video legitimately released by the City of El Segundo as of July 15. And it may only be a coincidence that the dui video hit the street running on July 15. That is not to say that Tom Mackel is responsible for releasing the video to media and others for posting on Face Book. No, why Mr. Mackel’s computer could have been hacked or his wifi could have been tapped. In fact, Mr. Mackel may merely have been obsessively intent on obtaining copies of the Sojka material just to fill out his own personal archive of responses to public record act requests.

Nonetheless, Tom Mackel clearly deserves the credit for doggedly digging for that video and being the first to be rewarded with its receipt from the City of El Segundo on July 15, 2014.

Hurray Tom! You were the first!

And I’m sure its only a coincidence that the very same video was splashed far and wide later that day with the source kept anonymous.

[Editor's Disclosure:  Mitch represents a lot of people through his law practice in Simi Valley, to include Steve Sojka and Glen Becerra on matters not related to the dui video]

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The Arrest Video

A video is circulating right now that shows Councilmember Steve Sojka being arrested on a DUI charge a few months ago. The video was acquired by Hews Media Group, submitted by an anonymous source. Since the arrest, Sojka has plead no contest in Los Angeles court and was subsequently sentenced to three years probation and required to participate in an alcohol abuse program.

Things like this shake people up and can polarize a community. Even sharing this video has the potential to spark an ugly debate and get people fighting. I sincerely hate that. But pretending it didn’t happen is foolish. These things matter to our community.

During Steve Sojka’s 2008 campaign for City Council, I didn’t feel like he and I were on the same page. He reached out to me on a personal level in 2010 during his campaign for Mayor and we spent a good deal of time talking to each other and getting to understand each others’ positions, and getting to know each other in general, something that meant a great deal to me. I hope that he is able to take this situation and turn it into something positive by teaching the youth in our community that even the most caring and cautious individuals can make mistakes that have dire consequences and that the risks aren’t worth it.

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Mike Judge’s Campaign Kick-off

If you’re looking to actually “re-elect” a candidate to the Simi Valley City Council, then you might want to take a look at Mike Judge. Council Member Judge officially kicked off his campaign tonight at the Junkyard Cafe here in Simi Valley.

Mike addressed the crowd and expressed his desire to be re-elected to the City Council. He wants to continue his work on the Council and focus on a few important key items. Among those key issues are continuing to explore a community liaison program with the police department and strengthening economic development, particularly the business community.

You can learn more about Mike Judge and his City Council campaign on his website at judgementsv.com.

Mike Judge - Campaign Kick off Mike Judge Campaign Kick-off

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Elect or Re-Elect? Words Matter.

A couple of years ago, Barbra Williamson was quoted in the paper as saying the following after she filed a complaint about Keith Mashburn regarding his ballot designation of “retired fire chief.”

“You’ve got to play on a level playing field,” she said. “Everybody has to play by the rules. I know there are people upset with me—so be it. I’ve never been one to shy away from a problem.”

Right now, Barbra Williamson is asking people to “re-elect” her as a member of the Simi Valley City Council. She’s doing so with the “Re-elect Barbra Williamson” materials that she passes out at events like the Simi Valley Street Fair, on her campaign website and while walking precincts to talk to voters. The problem with that is that she is not a sitting councilmember. Per California law, only an incumbent can use the word “re-elect” to describe their actual re-election effort. Doing so otherwise is a violation of California Elections Code section 18350.

“I have no ill will toward Keith Mashburn; I’ve known him for years and years and years,” she said. “I think he’s a good person. I think when he put down ‘retired fire chief’ that he knew it was slippery slope and that he even had reservations about it.” – Barbra Williamson, 2012

Likewise, I’m sure Barbra knew it was a slippery slope to use the word “re-elect” and fully appreciates this coming to light so she can address it appropriately. Right? Right. Of course, failure to comply and update the campaign and associated materials is more than just a violation of California Election Code, but it also serves to mislead voters. This campaign will be a critical one for Barbra because it’s her attempt to earn back her seat on the City Council after her two year hiatus. But as the 2012 robocall indicates, misleading voters is ineffective. To assist in this process, I have informed the Ventura County DA, the Simi Valley City Manager’s office, and the Secretary of State Elections Office, among others, all of whom can provide oversight to ensure that voters have a fair chance of knowing who the candidates really are.

In the 2012 election for City Council, Barbra Williamson was defeated by Keith Mashburn, who received 16,800+ votes to her 14,800+ votes, with Steve Sojka taking the top number of votes and being re-elected. Back in 2008, Steve Sojka was easily re-elected as the top vote-getter, with Barbra being re-elected with 22,900+ votes to challenger Mike Judge’s 13,500+ showing at the polls. If history tells us anything, it’s that Barbra has no hope of defeating Glen Becerra’s anticipated numbers this election and that she’s hoping to oust Mike Judge, repeating her success in 2008. His showing as a new candidate in 2008 was impressive, but this time he’s returning with a lot of new support and as an incumbent, which, despite arguments to the contrary, matters to the Simi Valley electorate. She will need to campaign hard this time around, and with more than just a “re-elect” word-play trick up her sleeve. This city is full of surprises, so we’ll see what happens in November. More to come later on the Barbra Williamson campaign…

DISCLOSURE: I was once a very enthusiastic supporter of Barbra Williamson but did not support her re-election in 2012.

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Robocall Story Moves Forward

The robocall story continues to progress, believe it or not. Of course, I’m not allowed to talk about what I know. There’s no legal obligation preventing me from talking about these discoveries, but in order to get updates I’ve been asked to keep these findings confidential which drives me a little crazy. These are important facts that people need to know. People will learn them in time, but my patience is wearing thin.

As milestones have been reached and new information has come to light, I’ve found the whole situation to be more and more troubling. Those behind the robocall are firm in their belief that what they did was right. They are certain that what they did was for the benefit of Simi Valley. Yet they continue very desperately to hide their identities and steadfastly refuse to admit the robocall script contained misleading statements and falsehoods. The time between the date of the robocall to now, with all of the discoveries, has completely shaken my belief system. THESE are the people behind it?? Despite disagreements, I always assumed these were people who were just exceedingly passionate. But they’re really just sneaky liars.

This fight will carry on beyond the June court date for the robocall lawsuit. People will celebrate the upcoming news, but I won’t. I’m sad. This will distract from the elections and shake things up even more. Every election, I think I’m going to rekindle my own passion and cover this stuff more in depth, but I know now that I won’t. Instead, I’ll be immersed in stories about sneaky liars who despite their best efforts and lots of money to stay hidden, are now genuinely fucked, and I’ll hope things settle and get better for our community in the next two years.

Simi Valley still deserves better.

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Anti-Recall Website Entertains

School Board Trustees and targets of a proposed recall question whether or not Dan White is fit to sit on the board citing his handling of the recall process. But I question their suitability, citing their inability to operate an anonymous website successfully without revealing their identities or effectively managing their content.

In an effort to clean up their act, anonymous board trustees have removed the personal attack content from their site, having recently been outed as the owner’s of the website. I’ve chosen to memorialize that content here. Recently, they also removed a list of names of recall supporters along with content suggesting they’re financially connected political conspirators. School Board Trustees naming various parents, citizens and Ed Foundation contributors is not helpful to their cause.

I had the good fortune of finding this screenshot of the content they removed. Click to enlarge it.

Removed Content from Anti Recall Site

More than one individual is responsible for reserving domain names for the group’s anti-recall online efforts. The primary domain name and associated website is hosted at GoDaddy.com, but the alternate “.net” and “.org” websites, for some completely bizarre reason, are hosted elsewhere, containing an outdated mirror of the website’s content and my source for the screenshot above. Hiring a web developer should be in their future. (Note to Arleigh: contact me for referrals.)

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Anti-recall Site Changes its Mind

UPDATE BELOW

The anti-recall site that opted to personally attack a private citizen who wrote several letters to the editor criticizing the school board has had a change of heart. They’ve decided that’s a bad move and have removed the attack content from their website. I’ve decided to memorialize the attack on this site as a historical reference. Here’s a screenshot. Click it to enlarge it.

Anti-Recall Attack Page

Attorney and blog author extraordinaire Mitch Green attended a public meeting last night about the recall, hosted by the Democratic Club with guest School Board Trustee Rob Collins. Regarding the meeting, and specifically the anti-recall website, Mitch Green said this:

… I can confirm that while Diane Collins was speaking at the Democratic Club on Wens, Oct 16, she mentioned she wanted to discuss the website. She then said, “Arleigh (speaking to Board Trustee Arleigh Kidd, present in the audience), do you want to mention it?” District Board President Rob Collins immediately cut off his wife and said, “Well, let me mention it, Arleigh really has nothing to do with it,” and then Rob abruptly changed the topic away from Arleigh’s involvement with the anonymous website and turning to Wayne Evans, also in the audience, gloated that Wayne may want to check out the website, because he, Wayne, was featured on the site.

Dave Goodwin, another attendee, had similar remarks:

At the Democratic club meeting, there was discussion about the anti-recall website, and a question about it came up. Rob Collin’s wife turned to Arleigh and directed the question to him for guidance. Rob Collins quickly stepped in and started stammering that Arleigh has nothing to do with the website. It was very, very obvious that he was lying. So much for transparency.

If it sounds like people are making assumptions, it’s because they are. No one has chosen to claim ownership of the website. People in the know regarding the site simply don’t answer when asked who is responsible for it.  With sleazy maneuvers like this, who can blame them? I hope for the sake of their cause that they can get it together.

UPDATE: As of 10/18/2013, the idiotic series of conspiracy themed “links” of named recall supporters to various elected officials through donation history has been removed. Evidently, the elected school board trustees who wish to remain nameless and anonymous have decided that character assassination isn’t the best strategy for making their point — but the damage is already done.

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A Smear Too Far

556920_497264096977712_385366256_nI’m going to go on the record here that I think the “status quo defenders,” aka the anti school board recall, have gone a little too far in its attempts to character assassinate local political activist, Wayne Evans.

Wayne, I’m sure, is more than capable of pulling up his big boy pants and defending himself, but I still think the status quo defenders have taken a step too far.

Now, I didn’t really mind when they posted stuff about me that was far from on target.  Heck, I found it amusing, to be exact.  The folks that wrote about me were clearly paid stooges who probably never met me nor read page one of my many blog columns.  So, they didn’t do their research and they are way off target and being as this recall campaign is going to be a long one, why correct them from their erroneous ways now?

But like with another more recently, they posted some things about me that may be wafer thin correct but clearly not the entire story.

So lets have at it, shall we?

This is what our friends at http://www.savesimischools-norecall.com/ have to say about me . . . ;)

“Recall Supporter-Mitch Green. See above. Green also was recently removed from popular Simi Valley Facebook site for repeatedly attacking Simi Valley Councilman Mike Judge. Green also served a 2 day suspension from his job as an attorney with the City of Simi Valley for conduct un-becoming a city employee. Also ran as democrat for Simi Valley City Council in 2010. Green, who is a lawyer, has recently been attacking the school district’s lawyer, Robert Thurbon. Do you think he’s angling to be the new school district attorney if the recall campaign succeeds? Only Green can answer that question, we don’t know.”

Now, on its face, there is a shred of truth to all the above.

I was kicked off the Facebook page Simi Valley Letters to the Editor, oh, maybe 4 or 5 times.  Maybe more.  One friend of mine was kicked off that page 11 times in one day.  So I have some catching up to do. What the heck, Letters to the Editor, or “LTE” for those in the “know,” is very right wing Republic Conservative, and I tend to be a little more on the Democrat conservative side.  And with a little “c” on the “conservative” at that.

And the reason that I was most recently kicked off “LTE” was not because I was “repeatedly attacking Simi Valley Councilman Mike Judge.”  On that count I was merely raising newspaper articles written about Mr. Judge and his sharing of the murder snuff porn flick, the one where the lady gets her head cut off on live video. Remember that one? [Which, as an aside, makes one wonder: Do the anti recall folks endorse misogynistic murder snuff porn?]

Anyhoo, the reason I was kicked off Simi Valley Letters to the Editor was because I posted the felony conviction for drug sales with weapons charges of a critic who, among other things, accused me of faking my military career (the one where I enlisted in the Oregon Army National Guard at age 18 as a private and retired from the Army Reserve at age 45 as a major, you know, that military career? All 27 years 16 days worth? ) and then insinuated that I had broken federal law regarding posing as a federal officer.  And then that same critic sent me a photo shopped document claiming that I had been convicted of some unknown felony in 1992, the same year I was admitted to the California State Bar after rigorous background check . . .

So now you know.

And as to that “2 day suspension from his job as an attorney with the City of Simi Valley for conduct un-becoming a city employee,” OK, I called an opposing counsel “a joke.” And I was going to take my vacation at Burning Man the following month, and I didn’t feel like wasting my time with a meaningless writeup. The City Manager wanted my head, and the City Attorney was happy to serve it up.

But I did get some interesting press out of it. This is what the Ventura County Star had to say . . .,

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Judge won’t dismiss Simi’s settlement with former police officer

By Raul Hernandez

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A judge refused Wednesday to dismiss a $63,000 settlement the city of Simi Valley reached with a former police officer who claims he was sexually harassed by another male officer for five years.

After the ruling, and outside the courtroom, lawyers in the case and the former police officer engaged in a heated argument, pointing fingers and shouting.

Simi Valley Assistant City Attorney Mitchell Green in court had accused Daniel Gonzales of trying to change the terms of the settlement and now, “embellishing” his allegations with new and very serious criminal allegations against Officer John Samarin. Gonzales accused Samarin of sexual harassment, and later, accused his superiors of retaliation for reporting it.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” Green said, pointing his finger at attorney Samuel Galici, who is representing Gonzales.

When Green and Gonzales started arguing, Galici got between the two and shouted several times to Green: “You are not allowed to talk to my client.”

When Green got close to Galici’s face, Galici said: “Get out of my face, sir.”

“You’re a joke,” Green fired back, and left.

Galici, who filed the legal motion last month, claims the city breached its contract with Gonzales by telling an investigator working for prospective employers that Gonzales was fired for being dishonest.

Two jobs allegedly denied

That erroneous information has resulted in the denial of Gonzales’ job applications to work at two law enforcement agencies, despite ranking high as a candidate, according to Galici.

Green adamantly denied any wrongdoing by Simi Valley.

“They didn’t contact us, and we didn’t say anything adverse to them,” Green told the judge.

The court has no jurisdiction to dismiss the settlement, only to enforce it, Green said.

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Kent Kellegrew agreed with Green.

Galici is considering appealing Kellegrew’s ruling.

Gonzales began working in Simi Valley in 1992 and was assigned to patrol, the legal motion states.

He alleges in a declaration with his motion that Samarin began harassing him in the locker room in 1997 “with the apparent objective to get me to have sex with him.”

Gonzales claims he reported Samarin’s conduct to Sgt. Ron Chambers in October 1998.

“I told him how it progressed from him just calling out my name and saying, Hi,’ while he was either undressed or only had his underwear on, to where he was intentionally drawing attention” to private parts of his body, according to the lawsuit.

Green told the court that Samarin was engaged in “horseplay” in the Police Department’s locker room. Police superiors contend Samarin is a “kidder” and likes to play practical jokes.

Accusations disputed

Speaking to a reporter, Green said Samarin disputed the accusation that he tried to draw attention to parts of his body and insisted that he did not engage in sexual harassment.

Green added that Gonzales never said anything about the alleged crimes until recently, and an investigation found no basis for his allegations, which Green said were “outrageous” and “unforgiveable.”

Gonzales claims the harassment continued until 2002.

In May 2003, Gonzales was fired.

He contends it was in retaliation for opposing Samarin’s harassment.

According to Gonzales’ legal motion, the city agreed in 2005 to settle and determine that the allegations that led to his firing were “frivolous” and “unfounded.” Gonzales’ personnel file and documents relating to two Simi Valley Internal Affairs investigations on him were to be sealed, the legal papers state.

Gonzales claims he was denied peace officer jobs at the Oxnard Police Department in 2005 and the Ventura County Community College District in 2006.

‘Attorney says he’s disgusted’

In an interview after the hearing, Gonzales said some Simi Valley officers told an investigator that he is a dishonest cop, which he emphatically denies.

Green said he was very upset and “disgusted” that Gonzales had embellished his allegations by accusing Samarin of very serious crimes. Green said the accusations are totally without merit.

Gonzales said that before he was fired, he told Simi Valley police superiors about his allegations of harassment, but they did nothing about them. Gonzales said the Police Department still has not investigated.

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Wow, such heady days! Good times . . ., good times.

My point here is that if you have done anything remotely political, you might have some press in your background.  So what?

And to attack Wayne Evans for speaking out now about the school board?  What does that accomplish other than to show a juvenile mind set to warn others to shut up or the status quo defenders will try to dig up some dirt on you.  Calling Wayne out for things from another decade, in another state, is total bonkers.

But bonkers seems to be the only thing the status quo defenders have.

If you can’t beat them on facts, character assassinate.

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