January 10, 2010

Endorsements and the Rexford Recall

The Rexford recall gang has a full page ad in this week's  Poway News Chieftain.  The ad says, "Add your name to the list of thousands of Poway residents and business owners including Sharon Cafagna, Mayor Don Higginson, Councilmember Merrilee Boyack, Sue Herndon, Chic Hume, Nazem Agha, Steve Vaus, Howard Lomas, Bill Racicot and others who support the Recall of Rexford and the election of a replacement."

My first thought when I saw this ad was,  "Who is paying for this?" My second thought was who in the samhill is .....well, let's just say I wasn't familiar with at least one of those names. But google is my friend and now I know who they are.

The recall group has  opened an office on Poway Rd and is sending out paid signature-gatherers.
It's crunch time. They have about 3 weeks to go and I don't think they have enough signatures yet.
The signatures are due Feb 10th, but in order for them to be counted and certified for the June election, they need to get them in around the end of January. A financial report is also due at the end of January, but it will only include expenditures through Dec 31st, so we may not know who is paying for the ad, the little office the group has opened on Poway Rd or the paid signature-gatherers until the next reporting period.

In the last few weeks, councilmember Merrilee Boyack has come out of the closet and exposed her rather significant role in the recall. Around Christmas, she sent out an email telling folks that she had set up a Kool-Aid booth a recall table in front of her house. And, if people couldn't make it to her house to sign, she'd send her son over to their house to get their signature. Could he be one of the paid signature-gatherers? Not that that would be illegal, or anything. But it would be interesting to know.

During the public comment portion of last Tuesday's city council meeting, Vaus and Boyack performed a little one-two punch on Rexford although Rexford had already wisely left the room before Vaus spoke.

During the public comment period, Steve Vaus, the leader of a movement seeking to have the 69-year-old councilwoman recalled from office, said the evidence is overwhelming that she demanded a firetruck be stationed near her home during the fire even as other Poway homes burned.Rexford has adamantly denied the claims in the past.“I recently got a call from someone you spoke to shortly after that 2003 fire,” Vaus said. “And way back then, you told the truth. You told that person you asked for a firetruck and got it — in fact, they said you took great pride in having a truck at your house. Do you remember that conversation?”

Like well choreographed kabuki theatre, Boyack then spoke her lines.

“I was the person that spoke to Mr. Vaus about that. Within a week of the Cedar fire, I was having a conversation with Betty and she personally told me that she had gotten a firetruck to protect her home and her neighborhood. I’ve been surprised that she has denied it. That makes no sense to me because she told me she had done that. … I know that to be fact.”

Rexford's husband then went berserk and called everyone a liar. Mayor Higginson (who recently revealed that he enjoys the the recallers livening up boring city council meetings) was obliged to tell Paul Rexford to sit down and STFU or he would have him kicked out.

I suspect the recallers are trying to poke a stick in Betty's eye and provoke a response so they can get a little attention in the press.  Maybe smoke out a few recalcitrant folks to sign their recall petition.

So, exactly where do I stand on the recall?

I did not support Rexford for re-election in 2006. I would love to see someone else on the council. Not just anyone, mind you, but someone who reaches out to the whole community, not just to one or two people or special interest groups.  The recall is also the best opportunity to get a fresh new face on the council. That is something I think Poway desperately needs. Despite my hope to see Rexford (and pretty much everyone else on the council) replaced, I will not join in the recall.

It's not because I'm opposed to recalls. I'm not. In fact, my husband and some of my friends were involved in a recall of Cafagna and Higginson some years back. The primary issues of that recall were a proposed amphitheatre in the industrial park and higher flood insurance premiums for the Pomerado Rd residents.  When those two issues were hot, the signatures poured in. When the council axed the amphitheatre and solved the insurance problem, tempers cooled and the recall drive fizzled.

The Rexford recall is a whole different animal from that recall. In my opinion, the Rexford recall seems particularly vicious and personal. I was appalled when the recallers served Rexford with the recall papers in the home of her dying son, who was in hospice care.  That just crossed the line of human decency.  Steve Vaus also asked folks who supported the recall to send email messages to Betty while she was at her son's side. Really, couldn't it have waited a week or two?  Or was the intent to try to upset her at a very vulnerable time in the hope that she would hysterically resign and pave the way for the council to appoint a replacement?

Betty Rexford is serving her 16th year as a councilmember. When she ran for re-election in 2006 she was endorsed by a whole bunch of people and newspapers. The Poway News Chieftain endorsed her in 1998, 2002, 2006. Now they have asked her to resign.  Likewise the SDUT and North County Times endorsed her in 2006 (and other years) but have now asked her to resign. Did those newspaper endorsers not know Rexford very well when they endorsed her? How fickle to ask someone who really hasn't changed at all to step aside so an appointment can replace them after they told the voters to vote for this person 3 yrs ago. I think they need to check the quality control criteria in their endorsement departments.

Merrilee Boyack also endorsed Betty Rexford in 2006. Now Boyack says she had a conversation with Betty Rexford after the 2003 Cedar Fire and Betty bragged to her that she got a personal firetruck. She claims that Betty abused her position as a councilmember. And yet, Boyack asked the voters to re-elect Rexford in 2006, 3 yrs after the purported phone conversation. If Boyack thought Rexford had abused her position on the council, why did she ask the voters to re-elect her? That's not ethical.

Why has Boyack waited 6 yrs to make the conversation about the firetruck public? Was it something she never would have revealed, if, say, Betty had voted to make Boyack mayor instead of voting for Higginson to replace Cafagna? One wonders.

My personal opinion is that all those people (and newspaper editors) who successfully convinced the Poway voters to re-elect Rexford in 2006 should just learn to live with the consequences and be a little more careful with your endorsements in the future.

And speaking of endorsements, what's up with endorsing someone before everyone has had a chance to throw their hat in the ring? I mean, if you haven't seen all the candidates, and you are endorsing, then it pretty much looks like you are really shilling for that candidate because you have them on a leash and they are YOUR candidate, YOUR proxy, YOUR lapdog, YOUR protege. Whatever you want to call it, it is a signal to everybody that you expect to have power and sway over that candidate's decisions.

Last month, Carl Kruse, flanked by Bruce Tarzy and Merrilee Boyack,  announced he was going to run for re-election in 2010.

Kruse was appointed to the City Council in May to fill the remaining 18 months of Councilman Don Higginson’s term. Higginson had been appointed mayor that month to fill the vacancy created by the death of Mayor Mickey Cafagna in April.
At the time, Kruse said he intended only to serve for 18 months, but just weeks later, he said he wasn’t sure what he would do. Yesterday, during a news conference in front of city hall, Kruse said things have changed in the city and he viewed next year’s election as being pivotal to Poway’s long-term future.

My guess is that "what's changed" is that Bruce Tarzy is a little unsure that some known or unknown candidate, that he doesn't own, might get elected in 2010. So, just to be safe, he convinced Kruse to run despite the fact that Kruse's "not running" was a big factor in his appointment. 

Boyack also endorsed Kruse and Sabrina Butler (who was expected to announce her candidacy). But, lo and behold, things changed and Butler has stated that she isn't running and will not accept an appointment to the council.  In a very strange twist of logic, Merrilee also announced that she will not endorse Higginson if he runs. 

Boyack said she would not support Higginson's bid for re-election because he had said he would not run again after being appointed to mayor, and she wants to hold him to his word.

OK, let me get this straight. Carl Kruse is appointed to the council, based partly on his assertion that he will not run for re-election. Kruse changes his mind and runs for re-election.  Boyack endorses him. She doesn't "hold him to his word" because "things changed." But before Higginson can pull the same trick, Boyack announces that she will not endorse him if he does, because she wants to "hold him to his word." But Carl doesn't have to be held to his word because....because...because...why?  This is one I really, really don't get. If you do, please post a comment and help me out here.

I'm not endorsing anyone for 2010...yet. I'm not "not endorsing" yet either. I'm going to wait until all of the candidates have announced and revealed at least a little bit about themselves and their philosophies. I'm really ready for some new faces on the council and I hope all the people who take the time and effort to run, get a fair chance to introduce themselves to the voters before the power elite throw their weight around by endorsing. I would also advise the voters to ignore the endorsements of those who change their minds a few years later and want us to throw out the person they told us to elect. Enough! Bring on the candidates and let us make up our own minds. 


NEWS FLASH said...

Betty Rexford may possibly have committed some transgressions (reference the recently settled lawsuit). We will never have a firm conclusion on this because the lawsuit was settled before it went to trial.

It is very important to note that it was the City of Poway which pushed for the settlement --- and was most anxious to keep this case from going to trial. A prolonged court case would have revealed how unjustly the City of Poway has been dealing with Poway residents and a lot of other city misdeeds as well. Councilmember Betty Rexford, who was also named in the lawsuit, felt that her name would be cleared if the true facts and details were revealed and reviewed in a fair court trial. Rexford did NOT want to settle and would have preferred that the case move forward and go to full trial. Sooooo…. One can draw conclusions from this that it was the City of Poway which most feared the ugly truths that would have been revealed in court – not Betty Rexford.

The bottom line for Merrilee Boyack has little to do with punishing Rexford and lots to do with Boyack’s own long-term political objectives. Boyack would have preferred that Rexford resign rather than go through a recall process. A resignation would have certainly made it much easier for Boyack to appoint someone to replace Rexford.

Boyack has made no secret of her intention to run for mayor in the next election. Thus, Boyack has a huge personal interest in trying to “clean house” regarding other Poway City Council members and potential future problems. It is disgustingly obvious that Boyack would like nothing more than to get rid of Betty Rexford. Assuming that Boyack wins the election, this would eliminate one huge potential thorn in Boyack's butt once she takes over as mayor.

So…. resignation or recall. Hmmm…. Either way, Boyack will do everything in her power to eliminate Rexford and slide her own hand-picked candidate into Rexford’s council seat. Sadly, political integrity, ethics, decorum and restraint have been completely thrown out the window in Boyack’s rush to bump Rexford off the Poway City Council.

One of my primary concerns regarding Merrilee Boyack is her adherence to --- what I consider --- hateful and bigoted principles. In 2008, Boyack was the REGION COORDINATOR for the PROP 8 (anti-gay marriage) campaign. No one worked harder to push for passage of this proposition than Boyack. No matter how you spin the fact that Boyack supported and pushed for PROP 8 passage – which eliminated civil rights for a minority segment of our society – hatred and bigotry are ALWAYS hatred and bigotry. Period.

I wish someone – ANYONE – would oppose Boyack in her upcoming run for Mayor.

Mary Lou said...

My assumption is that a recall works like this: People sign a petition,
NOT having to be for or against recalling a person, but JUST to "get it on
the ballet".. Often I sign those things only because it DOESN'T require me to
take sides. Then in the election, they vote "yes" or "no" on the recall and
also for a replacement if they answer "yes".. ?? OK. So here's what I
don't understand (following the quote below):

"Add your name to the list of thousands of Poway residents and business
owners including Sharon Cafagna, Mayor Don Higginson, Councilmember Merrilee
Boyack, Sue Herndon, Chic Hume, Nazem Agha, Steve Vaus, Howard Lomas, Bill
Racicot and others who support the Recall of Rexford and the election of a

It says all these thousands of people who signed "SUPPORT THE RECALL" and
"ELECTION OF A REPLACEMENT". Do all these thousands who signed this
petition actually support getting Betty out of there and will vote for a
replacement on the ballot, or did they simply sign "to get it ON the ballot"
without taking sides yet?? If the latter, then this ad was lying big-time.
Or were thousands of people deceived, thinking they were simply signing to
get the choice of Betty-stays or Betty-goes onto the ballot without taking a
side, or were their signatures indicating ONLY that they want Betty to go
bye bye and be replaced (as the ad says in so many words)?

Chris Cruse said...

News Flash,
I think Rexford's political career is over whether or not she wanted that case settled or any number of other things. So that means that there is an open council seat available in Nov 2010 or June 2010 if the recall succeeds. The "powers that be" are already fighting over that seat.

It used to be that candidates would announce during the summer before a Nov election. Now, we are 10 mos in front of a Nov election and people are already endorsing candidates for that election, in some cases before the candidates have formally announced. I think they should just back off and let the people have a look at the candidates before endorsement season begins.

Merrilee has not formally announced her intent to run for mayor. Although the press keeps repeating that she is widely expected to win. Well I remember when Hillary Clinton and Rudy Gulliani were widely expected to be their party's nominees. Sometimes what is expected isn't what happens. I don't know that Boyack will run unopposed. It is still early. But I don't think she is trying to "clean house" so much as to shift power in her direction. That's not unusual for politicians. And in Poway, where the big power broker has always been the GVCA, this is an interesting phenomenon. My hope is that somebody who isn't owned by anyone, somebody who is smart, responsive and fair makes it on to the council this time in spite of all that. Am I dreaming or is there a chance?

Mary Lou,
A recall person stopped at my house and asked me to sign the petition on Saturday. He did represent that my signature would not indicate that I am for removing Rexford, but that I wanted it on the ballot where "the people could decide." So yes, what the recallers are representing and what Vaus is claiming in the ad (that signatures indicate a desire to have Rexford removed) are different.

jeffswpblog said...

This recall might be interesting if it wasn't so sleazy. It has exposed the petty nature of some of Poway's council, community leaders, and residents.

I too was appalled by how the recall "gang" exploited Ms. Rexford's stress and grief during her son's illness and ultimate passing. The grief from a loss like this can extend for months and even years; a person may not even be aware of it. But the recall gang continues to exploit any emotion from Ms. Rexford as weakness and a reflection of her inability to serve. It's all very sleazy.

It's true that many that sign the recall petition will do it simply to get it on the ballot to have an opportunity to vote for a replacement of their own choice. They may have not been a Betty Rexford supporter in the first place. They may not be as appalled by the actions of the recall gang as they should be.

If the recall vote is on the ballot, then regardless of how you feel about the recall, it may be important for you to cast your vote for a potential replacement. As a result, a recall vote will not be an accurate measure of how people feel about these charges against Betty Rexford.

It's all very sleazy.

Anonymous said...

I hate to burst everyone's bubble but most of us who live here know that this city is run by the Green Valley Civic Association and they run people and have the power to win. Until one can get enough voters to vote else wise, they will always control our city. It is a sad day in Poway.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that you and your arch-enemy (the GVCA) are united in your defense of Rexford - both for your own selfish reasons. It really is quite amusing...

Neither you nor the GVCA seems willing to look at what Rexford did and make a decision based on those issues. You have to position everything in terms of saving Rexford either to possibly block Walmart, or in GVCA's case, to give them their council access for their issues.

Your blog is full accusations and innuendo that are unsubstantiated. You (and those responding to your blog) are quick to smear people without knowing a small percentage of the facts.

You gotta love the internet. Any whacko that can type suddenly a journalist.

Chris Cruse said...

Anonymous, it is hard to see how you concluded that I am a "Rexford defender". I have been pretty outspoken about the fact that I did not vote for Rexford the last time she ran and that I would prefer to have someone else on the council.

I am critical of the recall. I see it as a political event. While the recallers may want to only look at the issue of what Betty did or did not do, I see a bigger picture and that is what I blog about.

My bigger picture includes what the city did and didn't do (there were more counts against the city than against the Rexfords in that court case), what different councilmembers did and didn't do and who is trying to gain advantage through the recall.

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