A hat tip to our friends at The Liberal OC for breaking the story on John Nielsen’s pastimes around Our Town Tustin. Both the Lib and Our Town Tustin recently received a missive from an avid reader who told us that our good mayor has been busy stalking residents of Tustin. “The day before the elections he was stalking a friend and 16 year old son in their neighborhood, taking photos, scaring her son”, said the email. Of course, we follow the same journalistic tenets that Dan Chmielewski does in that we do not publish unsubstantiated reports without some kind of corroboration. So, I immediately emailed a request to the city for the police report or any writing that pertained to the incident.
Chmeilewski did one better by going to the Tustin Police Department and requesting a copy of the police report. They politely declined to produce it immediately, according to him, and told him they would send it along within the next ten days. Before Dan got back to his office, he received a statement from Paul Garaven, the Public Information Officer for the police department:
On the 4th of this month at 9:25 PM, we received a call of some suspicious circumstances and essentially the reporting party was reporting a suspicious individual parked in car in the 2500 block of Platt. The person in the vehicle was taking pictures of people outside of the address in the 2500 block. And when the reporting party started to approach the vehicle, the vehicle left the area.
So the reporting party got a description of the vehicle and license plate, and the plate came back to Mayor Nielsen. We took initial information report and a detective did a follow up report and spoke with Mayor Nielsen the next day. Mayor Nielsen said he was driving when he saw a light-colored SUV stopped in the road removing signs out of the ground. He followed the vehicle to the neighborhood because of his concerns about hundreds of political signs being removed in Tustin. He thought this person was removing political campaign signs. Neilsen told Tustin Police there was an incident of a someone in light colored SUV caught on CCTV (closed circuit televison) removing political signs. Tustin police did not see this video or have access to this video.
Upon further investigation at the residence near Platt, the signs that were removed were found to be real estate signs for an open house.
Lo and behold, just before 6 pm, the city clerk responded to my request by sending me the police report. The report clarifies that Nielsen was taking pictures of a man and his son who were putting away real estate signs int heir garage at home. It was evening and when the man attempted to approach the vehicle, the driver sped off. He caught up with the driver as he was trying to leave the gated community. The driver hid his face in his hands until the gate opened and then he drove off.
Fortunately, the man was able to get a description and a license plate of the vehicle which, it turned out, belonged to Tustin Mayor John Nielsen. Nielsen admitted to the act, saying he was concerned because there were so many election yard signs that had been stolen, he was thought this man and his son were sign thieves.
OK, but we have a couple of problems with that. For one thing, did Nielsen fancy himself a cop? He is, after all, a member of Tustin Police Chief Scott Jordan’s Police Advisory Board, a kingpiece of the Chief’s department made up of residents and business owners around town. Did he think his mayor’s badge, which he criticized former mayor Tracy Worley-Hagen of misusing, should give him special investigative powers? Or was he just too stupid to realize this guy might, fearing for his son’s life, pull out a gun and shoot him on the spot?
Raise your hand if you vote for option three.
Nielsen, throughout the city council campaign, billed himself as an honest, ethical person. The eight hit pieces that went out against his opponents and that were tied to him and his cronies says differently. He extols his business acumen and how he has balanced the budget without being truthful in saying he had to dip into reserves to make that happen.
He has also failed to be honest with his constituents about the relationship between the city and Tustin Community Foundation, an organization run by his now estranged wife, Erin. That has recently come back to bite him over the Wilcox Manor CUP application. You could, as the police department did, call this most recent incident a use of really poor judgment. But, the mayor playing policeman not only demonstrates poor judgment, it calls into question his ability to make sound decisions that would affect our community. At the least, it reflects our belief in the declining credibility of Tustin’s upstanding mayor.
John showed that an incumbent will win re-election regardless of the fact that he has more signs out around town than any other candidate and regardless of the type of mudslinging his crew has become so good at. With that feather under his cap, perhaps it is time for him to consider resigning from office. At the very least, he could start by resiging from Jordan’s Police Advisory Board. If he refuses to do so, Chief Jordan should exercise his authority under the policy that created the board where is says, “At the discretion of the Chief of Police a board member may be excused from further participation in the event it is deemed necessary for the benefit of the board as a whole.”
Do us a favor, John, and stop embarrassing the city.