OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Posts Tagged ‘Kathryn McCullough’

Lake Forest Approves Invocations At Meetings

Posted by Former Blogger Chris Emami on March 19, 2013

I just finished watching the Lake Forest City Council meeting and watched them approve invocations at their meetings. The thing that struck me was how civil the speakers were on both sides of the argument. Usually I see the meetings where the “In God We Trust” and “Invocation” discussions can get extremely heated. Kudos to Lake Forest residents for not making viewers uncomfortable. I will cut to the Councilmember comments noting that the public was split on the issue although I would say a majority off individuals were in support of invocations at meetings. Speakers were passionate but respectful of each other.

100px-LakeForestCitySeal
Dwight Robinson talked about how he did his homework on this issue before hand and came to the meeting prepared to listen to speakers from the community to help him make his final decision on this issue. He did note that he was supportive of an invocation at meetings at the previous City Council meeting.

Peter Herzog in my opinion was definitely the most negative of all the speakers both in the public and Councilmembers. He appeared to attack the public speakers that were from churches, claiming that they obviously support invocations at meetings. He also decided that the “In God We Trust” slogan behind the dais should be taken down based on the fact that faith was never a part of the discussion when the Council approved the placement of that slogan. I guess he is a bit grouchy still with his pending legal issues after being arrested recently. Just as a reminder of what the DA released recently:

LAKE FOREST CITY COUNCIL MEMBER TO BE ARRAIGNED FOR DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL

NEWPORT BEACH – A Lake Forest City Council member is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow for driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content of .18 percent, more than twice the legal limit. Peter Alan Herzog, 57, Lake Forest, is charged with one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of alcohol and one misdemeanor count of driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or more with a sentencing enhancement allegation for having a blood alcohol level of .15 percent. If convicted, Herzog faces a sentence ranging from probation up to six months in jail. He is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow, Thursday, March 14, 2013, at 8:30 a.m. in Department H-8, Harbor Justice Center, Newport Beach.

At approximately 8:15 p.m. on Nov. 17, 2012, Herzog is accused of making a left turn from Portola Parkway onto Lake Forest Drive and driving on the wrong side of the road. The defendant is accused of driving over the center median to get back on to the westbound lanes. Herzog is then accused of making a wide left turn from Lake Forest Drive on to Regency Lane and hitting the right side of the curb. The defendant is accused of crossing into the opposing lane of traffic swerving back and forth across lanes until he arrived at his home.

Motorists reported the driving to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, who investigated this case, and arrested the defendant at his home. The defendant is accused of displaying objective signs of intoxication including bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech, strong odor of alcohol, and unsteady balance. At approximately 10:30 p.m., the defendant is accused of having a blood alcohol content of .18 percent.

Deputy District Attorney Joe Koller is prosecuting this case.

###

Adam Nick talked about his experiences with religion and government do not mix very well citing mass executions that took place at 6:00 sharp everyday. He mentioned that people do care because the council chamber is full. He claimed that he “thought it would be a cold day in hell before he agreed with Peter Herzog on anything.” He said that he researched the word invocation on a couple of online dictionaries and was somewhat unclear as to what he learned from this. He talked about his love for the people of Lake Forest and wanted to stress that he felt it was important to find common ground.

Scott Voigts explained that he was a man of faith and was very proud of his faith. He stated that he supports all residents that have a faith of any kind along with those that have no faith. He talked about the use of invocations in Congress among other places. He notes that he does not support putting any faith in front of any other kind of faith. He noted that only 8 other Cities in Orange County currently do not have an invocation at their meetings.

Kathryn McCullough who was the obvious swing vote and talked about the diversity of opinions from members of the audience. She talked about concerns she had with the item because she has remembered 2 things that happened to her personally. 1) The pledge of allegiance at another City Council meeting where 75% of the people refused to participate. 2) At another meeting they were honoring some of the officers that had died and during the National Anthem certain Councilmembers/Mayors at the event were chatting. She did state that she did not support the actions of those individuals but discussed the rights of those individuals. The overall point she is making is that by supporting invocations at the meetings it is not forcing people to pray. She does not support staff being involved in policing the issue. She passed around a peace coin to her  colleagues on the City Council. She stated that the initial motion made by Scott Voigts and Dwight Robinson would not garner her support the way it was stated.

Scott Voigts made a motion to support alternative #2 a choice that would allow invocations at council meetings that rotate and do not adhere to any particular faith. The motion was seconded by Adam Nick I believe. Watching the meeting was extremely difficult because the camera did not zoom in on the Councilmembers, I was literally watching the meeting from the top corner of the room.

The final vote as stated before was 4-1 (I think) with Herzog dissenting. I might be wrong on the vote margin because they went through the roll call vote very quickly and it was very hard to hear whether Herzog said aye or no.

Posted in Lake Forest | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

Lake Forest City Council Member Announces New Policy Of Appeasement

Posted by Greg Woodard on December 10, 2012

I went to last Tuesday’s Lake Forest City Council meeting to watch the swearing-in of the two newest council members, Dwight Robinson and Adam Nick.  Before the ceremony, I was treated to a clinic in how not to run a city.  The most contentious agenda item was the staff’s recommendation that the council repeal its ordinance passed last year banning registered sex offenders from public parks.  District Attorney Tony Rackauckas has spearheaded Orange County’s effort to get local cities to adopt an ordinance that bans registered sex offenders from parks.  Since last year, 15 Orange County cities have adopted such ordinances.

Unfortunately, not all of the cities have adopted ordinances verbatim to the county’s ordinance, which contains a mechanism that allows a registered sex offender to request a waiver from enforcement.  Lake Forest, for some reason, passed its ordinance without a waiver and they got sued by an anonymous plaintiff claiming the ordinance violates his constitutional rights (he says he served his sentence more than 15 years ago and is now married with children).  That leads us to Tuesday’s meeting.  During the public comment portion of the discussion, several people affiliated with California Reform Sex Offender Laws (yes, there is an organization out there advocating for the rights of registered sex offenders) testified, using the same “constitutional rights” buzzwords.  I will resist the urge to inform these folks of the numerous ways that our constitutional rights are properly regulated every day and just say that we agree to disagree.  One speaker from the group also compared their effort to repeal sex offender laws to segregation and the civil rights movement.  She then announced that in 30 years we may have a President who is a registered sex offender.  Janice Belluci, the President of the organization, told the council that she has two more plaintiffs ready to sue the city if it does not repeal the ordinance.

The Lake Forest City Attorney also chimed in on the existing lawsuit, as well as lawsuits that are pending against other Orange County cities.  He said that, while he did not like to disclose the city’s war chest for litigation, in this case he would make an exception.  He proceeded to tell the Council that defending the lawsuit could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.  In an OC Register article, the City Attorney also said that one of Belluci’s two plaintiffs is seeking $36 million in damages.

I will reserve my rant about City Attorneys trying to influence policy for another day, but suffice to say, all of this got the attention of outgoing Mayor Kathryn McCullough (she will remain on the Council for at least two more years, but her term as Mayor is up).  In a testy exchange with Rackauckas, who had come to encourage the Council to maintain the ordinance, McCullough cried foul on the cost of the litigation and challenged Rackauckas to agree to indemnify the city for all of its legal fees.  Rackauckas held his ground and shot back at McCullough that she knew that the DA does not indemnify cities.  Once the grandstanding ended, McCullough essentially announced to all present that the city could not afford to fight the lawsuit because of the legal costs.

The Council then took a vote with little to no comment from any council member (other than Scott Voigts), which was shocking considering the gravity of the action the council was going to take.  After outgoing council member Mark Tettemer tried, and failed, to pass off responsibility for the vote to the new council (he said he was not trying to avoid voting), the council voted 4-0, with Tettemer abstaining, to repeal the ordinance.  And thus apparently began Lake Forest’s new policy of caving to anyone who threatens or files a lawsuit against the city.  This is a monumentally bad policy for any council member to support, but to announce it during a public council meeting, as Council member McCullough did, strains common sense.

It looks like new Council members Robinson and Nick will have an opportunity to chime in on the planned repeal since there has to be a second reading of the repealing ordinance at the December 18 meeting before it can take effect.

Posted in Lake Forest | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The Lake Forest Sizzler Controversy

Posted by Former Blogger Chris Emami on April 27, 2012

If ever an issue existed that I never thought that I would have to post, this is the one. Apparently a Sizzler has caused a huge controversy in the City of Lake Forest.

Lake Forest Councilmember Scott Voigts has been on the right side of a lot of issues in Lake Forest and the Sizzler debacle is another one. Apparently Sizzler wanted to use an American theme to highlight the renovations of a restaurant along with an outdoor grilling area. Based on the sign ordinance on the books in Lake Forest the Planning Commission did not allow these specific requests.

Take a look at the article in the Lake Forest Patch here.

It appears that Councilmembers Scott Voigts and Marcia Rudolph joined with Sizzler in appealing the decision by the Planning Commission. According to this article in the Orange County Register here Councilmember Marcia Rudolph joined the other 2 Councilmembers in overturning this decision by the Planning Commission.

Sadly, Republican Councilmembers Peter Herzog and Mark Tettemer did not join their colleagues in overturning the decision. The Lake Forest Patch also provided a recap of the decision that you can read here.

Two letters representing different sides of this issue were submitted to the Lake Forest Patch on different sides of this issue:

Terry Anderson Lake Forest Planning Commissioner submitted this letter.
Scott Peotter Irvine Planning Commissioner submitted this letter.

The 3-2 decision by the council was a win for business friendly principles. Kudos go out to Republican Councilmembers Scott Voigts and Marcia Rudolph as well as Democrat Kathryn McCullough.

Posted in Lake Forest | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »