The crack that divides two political factions in San Juan Capistrano creviced deeper at Tuesday’s City Council meeting as members threw accusations of dirty politics and possible violations of law at each other.
“It looks like it’s election time in San Juan Capistrano,” noted Councilman Roy Byrnes.
Technically, it’s not, but a group is trying to recall Councilman Sam Allevato before the next regularly scheduled election in November 2014.
The first critical comments came from Councilman Derek Reeve, who complained about “push pull polling” phone calls local residents recently received which initially seemed straightforward but had an ultimate goal of swaying public opinion toward Allevato and against the recall group.
“This is in fact not a poll but is a scam and is designed to deceive,” Reeve said, adding while he’s sensitive to the pressures a recall campaign can bring upon a family, “I nevertheless put out a call to Councilman Allevato to halt these dirty tactics and condemn the use” of the push polls.
Allevato, however, said he had nothing to do with any polls.
“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Allevato said.
Meanwhile, Councilman Larry Kramer asked to put on the next meeting’s agenda recommendations from staff about how to analyze what appear to be two improprieties on the part of the two minority councilmen, Reeve and Byrnes.
The first he wanted investigated was Byrnes’ revelation last meeting about a vote he thought took place in closed session. The issue was whether city properties should host racks for local newspapers.
Kramer said that was a possible violation of the Brown Act, the California law that governs what can and cannot be discussed behind closed doors.
He also wanted city staff to give guidance on how to determine whether it is a conflict of interest for Reeve, an attorney, to represent the paper fighting to get news racks on city property.
Kramer said he either wanted the city attorney, an independent investigator or even the grand jury to look into the alleged improprieties. He said a letter written on behalf of the Community Common Sense newspaper making demands of the city manager was “totally a matter of conflict of interest as well as unethical.”
Reeve went ahead and voted for Kramer’s motion to agendize the topic.“I dare you to censure me. I dare you to report me to a grand jury,” Reeve said. He voted in favor of Kramer's motion.