Blog Archives

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.

Team Tustin Continues to Sling Mud

Team Tustin is at it again, slinging tons of mud at their percieved enemies while hoping some of it will stick. The name was adopted by Tustin City Candidates John Nielsen, Allan Bernstein and Chuck Puckett to show they are united in their campaign for the three Tustin City Council  seats up for grabs in November. The “Team” recently debuted new yard signs around town, showing the three in ballot format with check marks next to their names.

Last week, a mailer denigrating opposing candidates Tracy Worley-Hagen and David Waldram was mailed to Tustin Voters along with another mailer touting Team Tustin’s virtues. Both mailers came from a shadowy organization with the homey name of Tustin Residents United. We wrote about that piece here and showed the organization is merely a shill for the Orange County Business Council who, through OCBIZPAC, donated $10,000 dollars to TRU. They were the only donors to the organization, who shares an accounting address with Nielsen, Bernstein and Puckett. So, even though the mailer has the standard disclaimer about independent expenditures, it doesn’t take too much to connect the dots and see where this came from. If you need a pointer, however, just check Nielsen’s website which lists his many business endorsements and his fiancial forms which show large numbers of business donors.

The Team is apparently pretty worried about Worley-Hagen and Waldram, however. Two more hit pieces were sent to Tustin voters this week. The first one was a general mailer to all households, aimed at Tracy Worley-Hagen, and is full of the typical half-truths and outright lies one expects to find in a hit piece. In speaking with Worley-Hagen about the allegations, she says two of the allegations concerning dinners were cleared with the FPPC as an oversight in accounting. She corrected the paperwork and paid a small fine.  All councilmembers are given “police like” badges, so we don’t know where that came from. Perhaps Nielsen can explain it because he has probably been issued at least one as well. Oh, and did he return his councilman’s badge when he received his mayor’s badge? We’re betting not.

The other hit piece was apparently mailed only to Tustin Republicans and included the “Liberal Agenda” of the Worley-Waldram team. The piece likens them to the Obama administration and calls Waldram a public employee union member. Waldram is a union member and a public employee – with the Tustin Unified School District. His benefactor, as they call it in the mailer, is Tustin Unified School District Board Member, Lynn Davis. Davis is called out as being behind multi-million dollar lawsuits against the city. I suppose that is true, as he has probably voted in the lawsuits between the city and the school district over grading and the Heritage School property.

For their part, Tracy Worley-Hagen and David Waldram are running a clean campaign and have refused to engage “Team Tustin” in their mudslinging tactics. Both are running on a fiscally conservative platform and a promise to bring sanity and civility back to the city council dais. That is something we would like to see and something Nielsen, Bernstein and Puckett don’t seem to be interested in.

The good news is, you only have ten days before the elections and the end of the political scheming for another couple of years.