Send in the Clowns

The good news is the Tustin City Council will furnish me with four more years of free material to keep you entertained with.

The bad news is, of course, that “Team Tustin” appears to have won all three council seats up for grabs in Tuesday’s election. Without counting Nielsen who, as an incumbent was almost assured re-election, there were less than 600 votes separating the candidates. So, the “team” can hardly declare it a landslide victory. In fact the consensus is, had there been another candidate running to siphon votes from the three, at least Tracy Worley-Hagen would have seen victory.

With what looks to be a supermajority on the council, I expect businesses to be lining up to line their pockets with crony-cash from the city coffers. The folks in Old Town better shutter their windows and lock their doors. Our only hope is that former mayor Chuck Puckett will hold true to his promise to the community that he will do what is right for Tustin. If his recent comment, joining the podiatrist councilmember in calling for term limits on TUSD members is any indication however, I have a feeling the community is in for a rough ride for the next two years.

Team Tustin ran a particularly nasty campaign while working vigorously to keep the dirt off their backs. While Nielsen claimed to run an “honest” campaign, eight hit pieces reached Tustin voters making vast exaggerations and outright lies against both Tracy Worley-Hagen and David Waldram. All of the hit pieces were tied directly to Nielsen, Puckett and their podiatrist, Allan Bernstein through their campaign accountant in south Orange County. Following a convoluted money trail, we traced the money from a shell organization known as Tustin Residents United to various business lobbyists and the Orange County Firefighters Association. I guess you have to give something for a new fire station.

For Worley-Waldram’s part, they ran a completely clean campaign with two mailers that extolled their experience and their platform of ensuring a balanced budget, ending the strife between the city and the school district and restoring civility to the city council dais. “We ran a positive campaign and our supporters did a great job”, said Tracy Worley-Hagen. She said the numbers speak for themselves and the race was a close one. We agree.

One would think with Jerry Amante gone, things would return to some semblance of normalcy. Unfortunately, Hizzoner has been grooming his hand-selected lacky, Allan Bernstein, who appears to be cut from the same cloth. We hear he has a temper problem. I wonder if he has learned to yell at his wife on the front lawn like his neighbor? And, of course, John will most certainly still have Jerry’s hand up his backside to help him speak. At least they won’t have to worry about whether Jerry is drinking water at the same time, now. And, John won’t have to keep getting Al’s attention anymore as he will have Chuck and their podiatrist to keep the quorum.

Good luck, Tustin, we’re going to need it.

About Jeff Gallagher

I am a retired peace officer from the 2nd largest law enforcement agency in Orange County. I live in and love Tustin where my family and I have resided for the past 25 years. I am a highly moderate libertarian that despises hardcore Republicans, Democrats and anyone else who is not willing to compromise for the good of the people.

Posted on November 7, 2012, in elections, Local Government, politics, Tustin City Council and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Do you know when the new councilmembers get sworn in or take office or whatever it is?

  2. As a 35+ year North Tustin resident I really appreciate this blog for keeping tabs on everything happening around the city. I will also like to make sure that the archives of this site will be available to everyone in North Tustin as a cautionary tale the next time anyone starts talking about annexation.

  3. Informed citizen

    With the money coming from various special interests with their hands in our pocketbooks, laundered through one account after another, I am not sure your clown symbolism is most representative of reality. Puppets would have been better. Too bad the true residents of Tustin never got to learn who those puppet masters may be and what financial interests make many tens of thousands of dollars or more in contributions a good investment for them.

  4. Pray for Tustin! Money trails bring out the truth!
    They keep making bad decisions that affect me, my family and neighbors. I’m almost tempted to announce my candidacy!

  5. Jeff — I was close to signing a lease for a nice small office in Tustin but called the agent today to say I won’t be coming. I’ll pay more for space in Irvine because Irvine is only 60 percent crazy now, not 100 percent like your city. But I agree, you have fodder for the next four years. Wonder if Amante texts instructions to Dr. Allan on the dais regularly during meetings.

    • Don’t let the prospect of a local government dominated by clowns stop you. Our Town Tustin is a great place to live, work and shop regardless of which clown is running or which puppetmaster is pulling the strings.

  6. For me this goes far beyond who won and lost. In fact, at the beginning I was considering supporting either Nielson or Puckett with my third vote. Then the mailers started. What the mailers showed me was that Nielson, Puckett and Bernstein will lie, flat out lie to the residents of Tustin. I can support someone that I don’t agree with 100% of the time, but will never support someone who will so easily spread falsehoods about their opponents just to gain power. This election revealed the true character of all three. The simple fact is that they showed they cannot be trusted and that they are owned by special interests.

  7. I believe we need a referendum changing the election system in Tustin. I believe it is past time that a district system is put into place. Electing council members by district would give every section of Tustin ( southeast, southwest, legacy, central, and Tustin Ranch) a real voice on the future of our city. I hope we, at some time in the future, will be able to add a couple of slots for North Tustin.
    Add to the above a referendum to end pension and health benefits to elected officials in the city. The council is a “part time” job. That said, I would believe every council member has a real full time job that should be paying pension and health benefits. Council positions should not be used as a way to get taxpayers to pay these benefits.
    A third referendum should cover the mayors job and appointments to district boards (roads, water, fire,etc). All of these positions should be held for no more than one year of each members four year term. All jobs, especially those that put any money into the pockets of council members, should be rotated.
    The last referendum I would suggest is that former elected and appointed officials should not be able to lobby the city for ten years after they leave office. This should include any company they work for or have financial dealings.
    We have a unique city. It need to be protected from those that want to bring political machines and party politics to the local level.

    • I would not agree with your idea for a district system. That is divisive in a town our size that prides itself on community. Leave that to Anaheim.

      And, apparently, you did not scroll all the way down on the ballot where Measure HH took care of stipend, benefits and pensions for the Tustin City Council, something else you and I disagree about, only in that I would like to have seen an elimination of benefits and pension while leaving the stipend, which I think is necessary, intact.

      The law governs the rest, so we have little say about that. But, that means that, if you are in the majority, you will still get paid for your time as many of those appointments pay anywhere from $125 to $250 per meeting. Just ask Nielsen and Amante as they have made out like the bandits they are, bilking the taxpayer out of money while proclaiming to run clean billets. Huh.

      You can forget about a sunshine law in this city unless the citizens are willing to put a measure on the ballot. It sure won’t be this city council’s doing. Gavello tried and was lost, even by her so-called comrade, Gomez.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

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