A Glance at the 2015 City Council in Gridlock due to Special Interests and a Voting Bloc
In 2015, I continued losing battles, and early on, it became painfully clear to all what many had suspected — that Robinson, Voigts, and Hamilton would be a voting bloc.
Indeed, since the very first Council session of the then new Council term in Dec 2014, Robinson, Voigts, and Andrew Hamilton (elected in Nov 2014 and sworn in at the first session in Dec 2014) have been voting in lockstep continuing what Voigts and Robinson did in 2013 and 2014 (i.e. bloc voting), as detailed previously further above. The only difference was that in 2015, rather than my losing 1 to 4, which proved to be the norm in 2013 and 2014, with the election of James Gardner in Nov 2014, who like me is also financially and politically independent, Gardner and I lost 2 to 3 in 2015 and a new norm was established, 2 to 3 (2:3).
The first thing Robinson, Voigts, and then newly-elected Andrew Hamilton did in Dec 2014 was that they changed Council policy aimed at precluding me from automatically becoming mayor in 2015 setting the Council agenda for the year while they made Voigts eligible for mayor and voted so accordingly.
The second thing they did was that they changed Council policy and began requiring that three (rather than two) council members must consent before an item may be added to the agenda for discussion and vote. In other words, Robinson, Voigts, and Hamilton created a mechanism in which a voting majority would rule what appears before the Council and what does not, what may be even discussed and what may not even be mentioned. If this is not a betrayal to representative democracy and democratic values, and a slap on all those thousands of voters who elected Gardner and me, then nothing is.
Robinson, Voigts, and Hamilton voted in lockstep (as a bloc) in 2015 to give us what we did not want or need, to deprive us from what we as a community deserve to have, to stop common sense reforms to ensure transparency and accountability, and worse to not even allow discussion of many things.
By way of example:
December 15, 2015– Bloc vote to approve rezoning nearly 6 acres of land allowing Meritage build even more new homes in Lake Forest in spite of community protest.
Imagine 5000+ homes and not even one new school, not even one new arterial road, while it is certain that water and power rates will escalate sharply because of new additional demand by the 20,000+ new residents, and worst of all with no consideration for additional law enforcement to ensure public safety. By the end of 2018, we are now destined be the most populated city in South Orange County.
The question is why would those who swore to protect us ended up betraying us time and time again. The short answer is money.
Meritage Real Estate spent thousands of dollars to help elect Voigts and Hamilton in November 2014. In doing so, Meritage funneled money through a Political Action Committee called Restore California, and worked in concert with then Mayor Dwight Robinson to help elect the pair. The real estate developer was successful and created a majority-voting bloc on the City Council in order to get their projects approved. The vote rezoned land to residential, despite the City’s GENERAL PLAN, and Meritage made millions literally over night (just by the sheer value of the newly rezoned land).
At that same council meeting on Dec 15, 2015, Councilman Robinson admitted, after his repeated earlier denials, and after relentless questioning by me, that he (Robinson) indeed worked with Meritage and the Political Action Committee Restore California in 2014 in efforts to help elect Voigts and Hamilton and create the majority-voting bloc of Robinson, Voigts, and Hamilton, as it had been alleged for over a year.
December 3, 2015– Bloc vote to prevent parting ways from the inhumane treatment of animals in the hands of the Orange County Animal Care (OCAC) and study alternatives for Lake Forest to have its own Animal Care.
Adding insult to injury, to appease the Orange County Board of Supervisors, Robinson, Voigts, Hamilton in fact approved paying the Orange County Animal Care $1,000,000.00 to help the agency build its own facility (at the expense of all those who call Lake Forest, Foothill Ranch, and Portola Hills home and the dismay of all those who were present). This organization has been cited numerous times for its inadequate and inhumane treatment of animals. This agency has a 40+% KILL RATE, which rate is many times over than other agencies in the same field.
Nov 3, 2015 – Bloc vote to prevent appointment of a qualified and certified Lake Forest resident applicant to the Vector Control Board. Instead, Scott Voigts nominated himself to this paid position and voted along with Hamilton and Robinson to appoint himself even though he (Voigts) has NO QUALIFICATIONS for the job.
Oct 20, 2015– Bloc vote to prevent discussion of creating election districts so that every part of the City would have representation on the Council. Today, some of what used to be El Toro, and the entire Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills are NOT represented on the Council.
Oct 3, 2015– Bloc vote to prevent discussion of Saddleback Ranch Road and the fiasco created by the construction company who had contributed to their campaigns.
July 21, 2015– Bloc vote to prevent establishing an ad-hoc committee on public safety and to audit (for the FIRST time ever – in twenty plus years) the Orange County Sheriff Department contract. This was while the contract price was increased by almost $1,000,000.00 in a single year (2015-16) eating up 40% of the City’s budget and while crime in the City was on the rise and in fact, 2015 ended showing a 30% increase in crime in the City. They rewarded the OCSD nearly $1,000,000.00 for its inadequate policing.
June 16, 2015– Bloc vote to prevent seeking competitive bids on Police contract.
June 2, 2015 – Bloc vote to prevent seeking reduction in the costs of tree trimming worth tens of thousands of dollars.
May 19, 2015– Bloc vote to approve rezoning commercial area to residential, allowing Baker Ranch to build several hundred new homes in Lake Forest in addition to the thousands already approved.
April 7, 2015– Bloc vote to prevent allowing AgeWell Services to operate from City Hall (at no cost to taxpayers) to provide “Meals on Wheels” to Lake Forest’s nearly 100 senior citizens who are effectively stranded, unable to drive, and live alone.
Feb 3, 2015 – Bloc vote to prevent banning contractors, real estate developers, and companies who do or want to do business with the City from giving money to or doing “favors” for Council members. These votes show a gross disregard by Dwight Robinson, Scott Voigts, and Andrew Hamilton for the well-being of all those who call Lake Forest, Foothill Ranch, and Portola Hills home and an unconditional appeasement and commitment to home builders, County agencies, and big money.
I submit to you that Robinson, Voigts, and Hamilton are guilty of dereliction of duties they swore to fulfill.
This is about us, our family, our way of life, and our future. This is not about them or their special interest. We deserve better.
You, the voter, will the judge when the time comes – no doubt about that. For the sake of your family, yourself, yours and your family’s way of life, and the future, PLEASE vote informed. Don’t vote based on disingenuous smiles and insincere handshakes.