OC Political

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

Posts Tagged ‘Steve Baric’

Anaheim Court Case Aftermath

Posted by Former Blogger Chris Emami on September 5, 2012

OC Insider beat me to the punch but I wanted to follow-up a bit on the Anaheim court case and the aftermath from the judge’s ruling. The case itself had 2 major points that were being argued:

1) Steve Chavez Lodge was using the name Chavez to simply try to increase votes he would receive from the latino community. This part of the lawsuit would force him to change his name on the ballot to Steve Lodge.  (12:37 AM Nguyen correction: the legal point being argued is whether or not Lodge is entitled to his birth name of Chavez, based on whether or not he is known by that name.)

2) Steve Chavez Lodge cannot used the designation of retired policeman because he is currently employed as a businessman/consultant.

Chris Nguyen and I had discussed the case and we actually predicted the outcome being what it was. Lode was allowed to keep the name Chavez. However, he also was forced to change his designation to businessman because in order to be retired under election law you must be at least 55 years old.  (12:37 AM Nguyen correction: Lodge was actually forced to change it to businessman because he had “another more recent, intervening principal profession, vocation or occupation” as he currently works at Hill International as Director of Public Affairs.)

With all of the anger and negative press with the police my thought is that Chavez-Lodge might have actually benefitted from being placed on the ballot as a businessman instead.

I sent over 3 questions over to Cynthia Ward after the final decision in order to get her take on what could be considered a substantial victory for Chavez-Lodge:

1) You won the challenge of his designation, however, do you think it benefits him to run as businessman and not policeman considering all the tension with police in Anaheim?

I do not think it is the tension of being associated with Police work in general that would be a negative for Lodge, at least not associated with APD. After all, he did nail the public safety union endorsements, both Fire and Police, and they are likely to do plenty of mail reminding voters of his ex-cop background even if the ballot does not allow for the wording.

I think the law enforcement image Lodge needs to live down at this point is his own record as a Santa Ana cop. Plenty of blogs scooped me while I was embargoed, and have revealed public records showing Lodge involved in court cases not as an expert witness, but as a defendant, including an excessive force case in which the victim was awarded half a million dollars in punitive damages for injuries suffered while apparently being arrested for the heinous crime of jaywalking. That is going to be harder to live down than an association with cops in general.

I think a lot of Anaheim voters understand that while there are bad apples in every batch, in large part the APD is staffed with professional, decent people, trying hard to protect and serve, under a Chief that is greatly respected throughout the city. It may shock you to know that Chief John Welter is greatly respected in the neighborhoods like Ponderosa, where unrest has been kept to a minimum because the residents trust Welter, and when trouble broke with a Police shooting of a gang member, the residents fell back on that trust rather than follow the trouble-making team of Joanne Sosa and Lorri Galloway, who together with Yesenia Rojas appear to be largely responsible for riling up the Anna Drive residents and creating much of the unrest.

That is a long way of saying that I do not think Anaheim voters have a problem with APD or Police in general, but they are very suspect of anyone tagged with a “bad cop” label, and Lodge is going to have to live down the recent allegations on the blogs, which are certain to hit the papers, especially with the media attention he seems to have ginned up.

2) What is your take on the judge’s ruling to allow him to keep the name Chavez and adding the name Albert?

I have nothing but respect for Judge Charles Margines, I did some research on his work as soon as I knew we drew his courtroom, and he seems not only fair, but incredibly intelligent, and quite a bit witty. He not only refused to allow the last minute “evidence” that Lodge’s lawyer tried to present, he seemed to almost mock Baric for trying. Margines pointed out the absurdity of the argument that they “just received” these documents, asking why Mr. Lodge did not have his own personal papers ready prior to court. It was a really informative session to watch, I would actually go back to his courtroom just to watch him work, he takes no bull from either side.

The ruling ultimately came down to a recollection from the Judge’s own memory banks, which none of us could have foreseen. Lodge’s case had bounced from “it is the name on my birth certificate” to “I never legally changed my name to Lodge” (an oddity since he presumably has a Social Security number, Driver’s License, etc. in that name, but I digress) and finally landed on “I have testified in court as Steven Albert Chavez Lodge.”  Baric even argued that Lodge had testified before Judge Margines himself, although I did not see evidence that he provided a case number or transcript to verify that. But that last argument seemed to strike a chord.  It was Judge Margines himself that recalled Lodge testifying in his own courtroom years ago, and he believed it was as Chavez-Lodge.

Now, to be fair, recalling that a Police officer used a name once years ago while testifying in a Santa Ana courtroom as a Santa Ana cop may not establish that he is widely known by that name in the community in which he is now running for office. And again, Lodge and his lawyer did not produce the evidence of that, beyond a verbal statement. But the lightbulb went off over the head of a Judge I greatly admire, and I can respect that decision without argument.

On the way home my husband and I were discussing the potential repercussions radiating outward beyond the campaign, had the Judge decided against Lodge. If Lodge had testified in court against a criminal, even once, as Chavez-Lodge, and had an officer of the court then ruled that it did not appear to be his legal name, the ramifications for opening case loads on technicalities may have been more than any of us bargained for. Given a choice between letting Lodge use the name he has requested, or potentially opening a Pandora’s Box of legal challenges in criminal court, he can have the name. Gladly.

It appears the “Albert” was added because the question of what Lodge calls himself was so completely up in the air, and the Judge may have wanted to cover all his bases. When asked what his client’s legal name was, attorney Steve Baric insisted it was Steven Albert Chavez, (no Lodge.) That got the Judge’s attention. Since so many options were presented about what Lodge calls himself depending on day and conditions, I think the judge threw it all onto the ballot just to be sure we got it all. Kind of like throwing pasta at the wall.

3) Will you still attempt to get Lodge to pay your attorney’s fees?

My attorney had included that in the original Petition as an option, should we prevail, and I have not discussed it with him yet. But unless I am mistaken, I think we split the decision equally. I certainly have no interest in being punitive, no matter what Lodge has said about me.

Honestly, I just want the nastiness to stop. This was never meant to be personal, I think people get very emotional when they hear the word “lawsuit” they think damages and awards of vast sums of money, and that is not what this was. The suit is the only mechanism for stopping the process of the City Clerk and Registrar of Voters from moving forward with the wording they are given by the candidates. As you know, once the filing period is closed even the candidates themselves cannot change the wording they have submitted, so a Petition to the Registrar and Clerk is the only way to challenge the system. These challenges are common; they happen all over the country in every election cycle, and they are usually handled without the toxic sludge that has been polluting the internet since this hit.

In fact, the case just ahead of ours was yet another Petition, in which a candidate in RSM was being challenged with the claim that they had used their ballot statement to disparage other candidates. If ever a case could become negative it would be that one, but it did not get the national attention we got because the candidate did not escalate the arguments into the public eye like Lodge seems to have done. I honestly wondered where the negativity came from, and then noticed that Lodge was accompanied to court by Dave Ellis. It explained a lot. So while I think we both came out equally, I suspect this is far from over, no matter where the attorney’s fees end up.

Posted in Anaheim | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Lawsuit In Santa Ana Over Term Limits

Posted by Former Blogger Chris Emami on July 10, 2012

According to the Orange County Register it appears that the City of Santa Ana is going to have a Judge determine whether or not Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez run for a 4th term. She is currently finishing up her 3rd term and needs a ruling quickly on this with filing opening up on Monday for this seat.

This lawsuit comes as a result of the passing of Measure D in Santa Ana back in 2008 which extended it from 2 consecutive terms to 3 consecutive terms a Councilmember can serve. Apparently Santa Ana has a rule that you must sit out 8 consecutive years after you finish your 3rd term (This seems extremely draconian compared to other cities).

It is important to note that the lawsuit has not been filed by Alvarez herself, but instead by Max Madrid a Parks & Recreation Commissioner appointed by Alvarez. Rancho Santa Margarita City Councilman Steve Baric (Vice-Chairman of the California Republican Party) is the attorney on behalf of Madrid on this case.

Based on the way Measure D is written the only change made to Section 401 of the Municipal Code was a simple change to simply the number of consecutive terms a Councilmember can serve. With no other changes being made by the measure it will make it tougher to argue a loophole.

The argument being made by the proponents of the lawsuit appears to be that with the passage of Measure D the term limit count on each Councilmember was reset. I will let you make your own judgement on the interpretation of section 401:

Sec. 401. – Qualifications of members.

To be eligible to be elected to the office of councilmember, a person must be a qualified voter and a thirty (30) day resident of the ward from which the candidate is nominated at the time nomination papers are issued as provided for in the Elections Code of the State of California, except that the mayor need only be a registered voter and thirty (30) day resident of the city at such time. In the event any councilmember other than the mayor shall cease to be a resident of the ward from which the councilmember (or, in the case of an appointee, the councilmember’s predecessor) was elected, or in the event the mayor shall cease to be a resident of the city, the office shall immediately become vacant and shall be filled in the same manner as herein provided for other vacancies; provided, that where a councilmember ceases to be a resident of the ward from which the councilmember (or, in case of an appointee, the councilmember’s predecessor) was elected solely because of a change in boundaries of any ward as in this charter provided, the councilmember shall not lose the office by reason of such change. If a member of the city council shall be convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, the office shall immediately become vacant and be so declared by the city council.

A person who has served three (3) consecutive terms of four (4) years each shall be eligible for appointment, nomination for or election to the office of councilmember (regardless of wards represented by that person during such period) no sooner than for a term beginning eight (8) years after completion of that councilmember’s third consecutive full term.

Short or partial terms shall not be considered in determining eligibility for appointment, nomination or election. For purposes of this Charter, short or partial terms shall only be those where the councilmember was elected or appointed to replace another councilmember who left office before the latter official’s term expired. Any councilmember who assumed office at the beginning of a term and left office early for any reason whatsoever shall be deemed to have served a full term.

Interestingly this section also points out what will happen to Councilmember Bustamante should he be convicted of the crimes he has been accused of. My interpretation of the section is clear that once you have served three consecutive terms you are termed out. It is not up to me though, as we will have to see what the court says.

Posted in Santa Ana | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Rancho Santa Margarita Councilman Petrilla to Deploy to Afghanistan

Posted by Chris Nguyen on April 11, 2012

Jesse Petrilla

Jesse Petrilla

On Monday, Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo), a naval reservist, returned to the State Capitol from Afghanistan, and just one day later (yesterday), Rancho Santa Margarita Councilman Jesse Petrilla, a member of the Army National Guard, announced that he is being called to one year of active duty in Afghanistan, effective at the end of this month.

Last year, the Army sent Petrilla to Kentucky for four months to train on commanding a tank platoon.  Councilman Steve Baric wanted to leave Petrilla’s seat vacant during those four months instead of appointing a temporary replacement for Petrilla.  Councilmen Gary Thompson, Tony Beall, and Jerry Holloway wanted to appoint a temporary replacement for Petrilla.

In the midst of this controversy, Thompson resigned citing family health issues.  In the midst of the Thompson resignation, the council then appointed a permanent replacement for Thompson, bringing former Councilwoman Carol Gamble back to the Council.  (Gamble was a member of Rancho Santa Margarita’s inaugural city council until resigning in 2004 to care for her aging parents.)  The process of finding a permanent replacement for Thompson pushed aside the effort of finding a temporary replacement for Petrilla.

Assemblyman Gorell’s seat was held empty for a year until his return from Afghanistan, with little controversy.  In light of the controversy that occurred when the Rancho Santa Margarita City Council considered appointing a 4-month replacement for Petrilla, I think it would be most unlikely that the council would attempt to appoint a year-long replacement for Petrilla, instead leaving the seat empty until his return from Afghanistan.

Here’s Petrilla’s press release: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Rancho Santa Margarita | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

OC City Council Members Display Courage in Ending Outsized Benefits

Posted by Walter Myers III on March 30, 2012

If you don’t know about the the stand some Orange County city council members in various cities are taking against abuse of your tax dollars, then you will be happy to read a great article on Rancho Santa Margarita City Councilman Jesse Petrilla in the OC Register, which you can find at http://www.ocregister.com/news/petrilla-346622-benefits-council.html. Councilman Petrilla is demonstrating great courage in bringing the issue of outsized City Council benefits to the forefront. Few of us mind that City Council members get a reasonable monthly stipend for their service to their respective cities. It can often be long, hard, and thankless hours of work for those truly committed, so they deserve a token of appreciation from the taxpayers whom they serve. However, many City Councils across Orange County have taken advantage of taxpayers by voting themselves benefits that are only appropriate for full-time employees, particularly health benefits.

In my own city of Tustin, City Council members receive full healthcare benefits, which is perverse in my view because such a benefit can entice people to run for the wrong reasons. Yet Rancho Santa Margarita is particularly egregious, since benefits in excess of $65,000 not used during a term served can be placed in a retirement fund to be used later. This should have us all outraged, so kudos to Petrilla and also Mayor pro tem Steve Baric  for standing against such madness that would greatly benefit them financially. The purpose of being on City Council is to serve and to give back to the community, not to benefit financially. Both Petrilla and Baric  have voluntarily opted out of receiving all benefits, and are proposing that the entire City Council vote to officially end them, following the lead of the Orange City Council. The Orange City Council voted to permanently end stipends, healthcare benefits, and retirement benefits late last year. They are to be applauded for their courage as a council, and I would extend this as well to Councilmen Petrilla and Baric. Tustin would do well to do the same, and I hear there are rumblings this may happen.

On Wednesday, the Rancho Santa Margarita voted 3-2 to postpone action on ending council benefits (not exactly unexpected), so we will continue to watch this story as it develops and report back soon.

Posted in Orange, Rancho Santa Margarita, Tustin | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

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