Category Archives: Recall Amante

Where Are They Now? Former Tustin City Manager David Biggs

A hat tip to our friends at The Liberal OC for finding this little tidbit of information.

It seems David Biggs, who had a stint as our former short-lived city manager, has resurfaced in Los Angeles County as the city manager for the industrial city of Carson.

If you remember, Biggs was hired after city manager Bill Huston retired. Huston, a mainstay in Tustin for nearly 30 years, was subsequently hired back on a contract basis after the Tustin City Council suddenly and without comment, fired Biggs. Biggs received a fat golden parachute, at city expense, and took a 3 month vacation before resurfacing in Carson. From the Lib:

Under one of those “whatever happened to…..” ideas, we decided it was time to look up former Tustin City Manager David Biggs who was dumped by the Republican council majority last Spring and given a taxpyaer funded $175,000 severance package — that was about nine months of unpaid salary.  Part of the severance package included a mutual “let’s not say bad things about one another” between Biggs and the Tustin City Council.

We’re happy to report, several months too late I’m afraid, that David Biggs landed on his feet at the city manager for the City of Carson; he started late September 2011 and, imagine this, is going a fantastic job in that city and for its city council and taxpayers.  Our sources in Carson say he’s incredibly professional, on top of every detail and city leaders in Carson are pleased with their good fortune.  In other words, thanks suckers (and suckers mean those members of the Tustin city council who voted to oust someone who is competent and professional).

So Biggs had a nice Spring and Summer vacation at the expense of Tustin Taxpayers, and found a great position with a city that values his services and his stewardship of city management.

Suffice to say, dumping a senior executive who left a good job for the one in Tustin after a three month stint, Biggs’ “separation” from Tustin smacked of politics from the Amante-led council majority.  Giving away six figures worth of city taxpayer money and hiring the old city manager back in an expensive interim position seems an awful waste of taxpayer dollars by a city council majority that bills
themselves as “fiscally conservative.”  And that’s because it was.

So, this begs the question, how long had Biggs been City Manager before he saw the writing on the wall? If you do the math, it was not long after Biggs was fired by Tustin that he was hired by Carson. Of course, his vacation was funded by Tustin taxpayers in another fiscally responsible move made by our mayor and council majority. One has to wonder, though, did Biggs see the writing on the wall early and decide to hedge his bet by applying to other cities? It sure looks that way. In any case, he took a nice taxpayer paid vacation and landed on his feet in a town closer to home. Oh, and we got stuck with Huston who managed to suck a few hundred thousand dollars of taxpayer money as an extra-help retiree before the Gang of Three had the good sense to hire Jeff Parker. Thanks, Jerry.

We join The Liberal OC in belatedly congratulating David Biggs for his plumb appointment with a city that, obviously, appreciates his talents. Let’s hope Jeff Parker has enough sense to continue to be a yes-man to Amante at least until Hizzoner leaves the dais.

Jerry Sends in His Shill

Well, I got about 3 minutes into the video of the Tustin City Council meeting Tuesday night before the first zinger came along.

It seems that it is not just Hizzoner, Jerry Amante, is the only one concerned over the many absences of Councilmember Deborah Gavello. As you know, Jerry has blasted Deborah for being a frequent absentee from city council meetings. He has taken time as Mayor as well as his comments at the end of nearly every meeting that Gavello has been absent to make sure everyone in the room knows she is gone. Gavello fire back a few times but, the Gang of Three on the right side of the dais have always made sure Jerry gets the last word in.

Now, it seems, even the citizens of Tustin are ganging up on Gavello. The first speaker out of the box was Tustinite, Pam Gooderham, who proudly stated she has been a resident for 12 years. Ms. Gooderham took a moment to tell the councilmembers that she understood how difficult it is to sit on the council and still be able to manage a life. She then proceeded to call out Gavello saying that, according to her calculations, she has been absent from city council meetings a total of 17 times. She thought that couldn’t be right so she re-checked her figures and it came out the same. She then went on to say how Councilmember Amante, who is the longest serving councilmember, has only been absent 3 times. She went on to say that, since 2008, all the sitting councilmembers combined did not have as many absences as Gavello. “So, that would put it into some kind of perspective for you”, said she. “Now, the reason doesn’t matter. When you’ve been absent 17 times compared to 8 by all the councilmembers combined, you should have stepped down a long time before if you can’t cope with the demands of the job.”

She went on to say how the other councilmembers have had to take on extra duties due to Gavello’s absences and that her being gone so much was a clear dereliction of duty. She also commented that a refund of salary should be due.

Wow, that was damning, huh?

OK, I will let you in on the secret. Pam Gooderham and Councilmember Jerry Amante appear to be good friends. Remember the Amante Recall? A pro-Amante site went up, apparently to combat those evil people who would recall Hizzoner? When we researched the site, it came up registered to Pam Gooderham. Gooderham was also named “Woman of the Year” by former Assemblymember and Amante Crony, Chuck Devore. Here is a piece from The Liberal OC, which printed an email from Pam Gooderham that also shows what a great cheerleader she is for Jerry.

From: Pamela Gooderham <email redacted>
Subject: Urgent
Date: Wednesday, July 13, 2011, 9:37 AM

It appears that the Recall folks are have a couple of mini rallys and are going door to door in Columbus Square in the Legacy. The overall development site is bordered by Edinger Avenue to the north, Kensington Park Drive to the east, Valencia Avenue to the south, and Severyns Road to the west.  

The two rallys are being held Wed evening (July 13th) and on this Saturday at the main Park/Courtyard in Columbus Square. 

Where there is no aspect of any malfeasance, as a club we are against the effort to remove a Republican Mayor, especially as Forbes has named Tustin as one of the top 25 places to live well and, unlike our neighbors, The City of Tustin has reserves and is in the black.

It is in our best interests to counter this effort. If you can help and team up with a buddy and get down to these rallys with counter signs it would be fantastic. All I did was to follow them and interject when they stopped someone and I respectfully asked the would-be signee to check out the facts before they signed as they will find that the accusations within the recall are false.

The people collecting the signatures should have the recall accusations AND the rebuttal from the person accused in the recall. If they do not have this ask them for their name, take a note of the date and time, and we can put in an objection. Also, people collecting the signatures have to reside in the city.

Ask they signature collectors where they live – take a photo of them with your cell phone. If someone not residing in the city has signed a page of signatures validating them and they do not reside in the city they do so on penalty of perjury.

If the balance of power changes in the City of Tustin from Republican to Democrat – we’re ALL going to suffer. They want to spend those fiscal reserves
and they will stop at nothing. The recall is false, and if they don’t have Mayor Amante’s rebuttal or the signature gathers don’t live within the city they are
cheating too.

We HAVE to stop this at all costs. Please would you form teams and help? Any questions call Pam on 949 XXX-XXXX.

So, we have here a woman who would stop at nothing to make sure those evil Democrats don’t get the majority. I would say this she did not come to the podium with clean hands or heart. In fact, the question must be asked, did Jerry Amante put Gooderham up to this? It is entirely possible that Amante is using allies like this to wage guerrilla warfare to ensure Gavello either loses the November election or better, chooses not to run at all. Don’t forget, Amante has two horses in the upcoming race, former Mayor, Chuck Puckett and Amante’s neighbor and supporter, Alan Bernstein. I am sure that Amante would like to push Deborah off the dais. However, this latest shenanigan only shows just how childish Amante has gotten with his disagreement with Gavello.

To her credit, Gavello showed restraint and did not say anything concerning Gooderham’s dissertation either then or after, during councilmember comments. We have a long time until elections in November. I have to wonder how many more of these antics the citizens of Tustin will have to suffer. Oh, and Pam, reasons for absences do make a difference. Perhaps you should ask Jerry.

Here’s Your Proof, Jerry

Jerry after the bath he took

Update: The video finally arrived on the city website. Barring any technical difficulties, you can see Ms. Keller’s remarks beginning at time stamp 32:55. We would post it here but we haven’t figured out how to pull it from Silverlight yet. -JKG

A hat tip to our good friends over at The Liberal OC who wrote a great article on Last Night’s Tustin City Council meeting.  Early yesterday, we had heard there would be a special speaker at the meeting. However, we wanted to wait until the video was up so that we could see it firsthand before writing about it.

By coincidence, the video took over 24 hours to appear on the city website. I say coincidence because the same thing happened a month ago at the city council meeting where Councilmember Deborah Gavello accused Councilman Jerry Amante of threatening to “take her down”, vowing never to work with her. She also, to her credit, offered an olive branch which Jerry promptly snapped in half and threw back in her face. Jerry publicly and adamantly denied making any type of threat whatsoever, saying that he only challenged her because of his sense of service. He also challenged Gavello to bring anyone forward that might have heard these threats (Dan Chmielewski from The Lib and I had a bet that the video might never show).

So, she did.

Shortly after that meeting, The Liberal OC wrote about how former Fullerton City Councilmember, Pam Keller, saw the video and decided to come speak at the next city council meeting. She was unable to make that meeting but her speech that she planned to make was published by several blogs, which you can read here.

So, Hizzoner must have thought he was off the hook and thought everything would die down. It might have, except Keller was intent on letting Amante know, up front and personal, just what she thought of him as she attended and spoke at last night’s meeting. Suffice it to say, the right side of the dais sat there in stony silence as Keller made her accusation, largely as it was originally written. Pam was eloquent and succinct in her gentle reminder to Jerry about their conversation three and a half years ago. When she was finished, there was light applause from the audience as Jerry’s mouthpiece, John said, “Please, let’s not have outbursts here.” I guess it is OK if you applaud for one of the Gang of Three but not if you applaud for the truth.

Jerry is supposed to be a lawyer. But, he has forgotten the first thing they teach you in lawyering school: never ask a question you  don’t already know the answer to. This episode has shown just how unethical and boorish our former mayor and city councilman is. We are fortunate that we have only a few more months of the blathering blabbermouth and he will be finished. Of course, the right side of the dais can always appoint him to a commission or committee or something so he can continue to keep his hand up the back of our  good mayor who will be happy to speak for him. Time will tell.

In the meantime, it was good to see that Deborah, who must have been feeling vindicated, took the high road and did not gloat. She should know that Hizzoner probably won’t let up and will keep the pressure on. Just the same, it is also good to know that there are enough political pundits out there who will keep any future political career he might have had in check. Maybe he can ask to be placed on the board of the Tustin Community Foundation where he can work his magic with John’s wife and the CDBG funds they claim they don’t manage for the city (hint, Erin, check the minutes of the last city council meeting).

What’s in Store for the Future

The king is dead, long live the king.

So goes the traditional saying when power is transferred from one monarch to another in the succession of heirs. In modern times, about the only thing missing is the bloodlines (although in some cases we are not so sure about that). In the last meeting of the Tustin City Council for 2011, Mayor Boss Tweed Amante handed over his scepter, uh, I mean gavel, to his heir apparent, Mayor pro tem John Nielsen. John, in turn, conferred princely status on rookie councilmember, Al Murray. This is an important step here in Tustin which, for the past two years, has had their own brand of tyrant ruling the dais.

Jerry has always had his fair share of problems ruling the middleclass here in Tustin. He was visibly upset when Deborah Gavello ascended the dais three years ago and had the nerve to challenge the right-wing noise over investments. Never mind the next most likely candidate would have done the same thing, the questioning of fiscal practices at Tustin Tammany Hall wound her up in the doghouse. She was stripped of virtually all committee and board seats and relegated to the far left of the dais, where her microphone appeared to have a special switch controlled by Jerry. And, Jerry did not mind spending taxpayer money on toys for the council while touting his fiscal conservativeness. He didn’t even mind that the money came from our reserves (reserves, smerves, let them eat cake). And, Jerry (along with his hatchetman…, er, person Elizabeth Binsack) hates Old Town. He went after residents there with a vengance that has continued most of the year while it gets sorted out in hearings. He refused to allow mediation and refused to settle.

But Jerry’s troubles ran much deeper. Last year, many citizens who were fed up with his brand of obnoxious behavior, banded together in an effort to recall the good mayor. And, although the Recall Amante folks made a great run, garnering thousands of signature, they fell short of the number needed and Jerry continued to rule. Jerry, who couldn’t tell the good guys from the bad just decided to call them all bad and falsely accused his arch-nemesis, Deborah Gavello, and a few others of being part of the recall effort. The recall folks have stated they will continue as a watchdog group for the city. That is probably not a bad idea.

So, what do we have in store for the future? John Nielsen must already step into a quagmire as T-Mobile has chosen to sue the city over the cell towers in Cedar Grove Park (and here we thought they were just going to take their ball and go home). He also has to contend with the current lawsuits between the city and the school district. Hopefully, he has something better to bring to the table than their recent lame attempt to settle. These lawsuits need to be settled and both sides need to quit spending taxpayer money on attorney fees. The grading permit issue may ultimately have to be decided by a judge. Both sides have valid points and, it may appear, conflicting law on their sides. That would require a judge to decide.

At least he has help. After a long search and a false start, the city council finally hired a new City Manager. And, aside from the shenanigans Jerry and his kids played with his pension, Jeff Parker looks like he may be a good fit for the city. The councilmembers, even Jerry, like him. He has great credentials and he has lots of experience. As we told him before, he just needs to lie low until Jerry departs next year. So, good luck to you, Jeff. You are going to need it.

Thinks have slowed down around Our Town Tustin. But, we are gearing up with new articles and lots of political discourse for our fair city. We recently sat down with the new Mayor Pro Tem, Al Murray, and will have an article out about his view on the city over the coming year. No, don’t ask. I won’t tell, other than to say that Al is nice guy and I like his views on our town. We are still working on getting an interview with our new mayor. Please, John? Al will tell you that I am real nice in person. In any case, congratulations.