This is my story – the real story about your City government and elected officials. You be the judge.
Nothing is more important for keeping a government in check than a well-informed electorate. Elected officials work for you, not the other way around.
I am familiar with the laws against defamation — libel and slander. To not tell the truth would be morally reprehensible and legally expensive. Rest assured that what I share with you here, which you will find shocking at times, is all true as I would not want to subject myself to lawsuits for defamation. In fact, I promise and declare, unequivocally, that the statements I make in this letter are to the best of my knowledge, true, correct, and accurate as of August 21, 2016, and are either factual and supported by evidence, or I have reasons to believe their truthfulness based on my personal knowledge and experience. More than 100 links to various documents and articles support my statements.
Since my election in 2012, I have desperately tried to change the culture at City Hall so that “We, the people,” are represented, not real estate developers, county agencies and political party wannabes. Because of that, I have taken many stabs to the back, and my character assassinated by the very people I share the City Council dais with. Yet I am undeterred to serve you.
I have been true to the promises I made when I sought this office.
I am the only Council member with a perfect attendance record – because I take seriously my duty to you, my oath, and the honor you have given me to serve you. I am the first and only Council member in the history of Lake Forest who doesn’t take a salary, retirement benefits, etc.
Among my successes, despite often being in a minority, are:
Ended each fiscal year with a budget surplus
Enacted requiring a vote by a “super” majority to increase taxes (which I introduced)
Cut City Council members’ reimbursable personal expenses (which I introduced)
Implemented measures to ensure government transparency (which I introduced)
I’ve also championed many common sense initiatives that have been voted down by the Council majority because these initiatives were contrary to their self-serving interests. These common sense initiatives include, but are not limited to:
Code of ethics for Council members
Ban Council members from taking corporate money
Require Council members to disclose financial ties to City contractors and lobbyists.
Require electoral districts for council members so all areas of the City are represented.
Election of mayor by voters
Real term limits for Council members: Two four-year terms per lifetime (instead of the approved six four-year terms in a 26-year period).
In the November election, you will have the final say – your vote.
When you look at the body of my voting record – including many measures of good public policy in which I was defeated by the City Council majority – it’s clear that I am on your side. I will always be on your side. My hope is that you make an informed decision when you cast your ballot in November and elect your representative based on voting records and facts. There has been a lot of mud-slinging in my direction the past few years, and my aim here is to clear the air.
There are two council seats available in November 2016 belonging to Dwight Robinson and I. The first time I met him, in 2010, Robinson introduced himself to me as “Scott Voigts campaign manager.” We were elected in 2012 but we have represented two different ideologies. I have done my best to represent all the people of Lake Forest, to listen to their concerns and to not shy away from the discussion of their problems. I wanted to talk about Saddleback Ranch Road because it needed to be discussed and fixed sooner rather than later. Robinson, along with Scott Voigts and Andrew Hamilton, would not even provide one vote of consent among them that would have allowed us to discuss the subject at the next Council meeting. It was after that failure to consent that Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton became subjects of a recall that was supported by thousands of voters.
Robinson’s Inaction, Broken Promises
The needlessly contentious issue of Saddleback Ranch Road has been one of the many differences between Robinson and me. In 2012, Robinson’s platform was establishing a Traffic Commission, addressing pension liability among City employees, and reducing school class sizes. (You can see his 2012 ballot statement here.)
So, after we were elected and sworn in, I waited for him to introduce these three proposals to the Council because they were his platform; instead, he remained silent as he was prone to do. Finally, I’m the one who proposed his campaign promises and was stunned by his response.
Even though he campaigned to open more schools and to “lower class sizes” as a means to get elected, when Robinson wouldn’t broach the subject, I finally brought before the Council the matter of Lake Forest having its own school district so that we residents could have control over class size and everything else that impacts our children’s education. Districts with 10,000 to 15,000 students, which would have been our case, tend to be more successful than larger districts. But Robinson, even though he had promised to seek smaller class sizes, sat silent along with Scott Voigts, Kathryn McCullough and Peter Herzog. My proposal died. Today, we have classes that have up to 37 students, which is nearly twice the state’s guideline of 20 students per class and some of our children must attend school in Mission Viejo. Becoming a school district is a 10-year process, but it won’t happen until it actually begins; a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. That first step is to have the discussion.
Even though Robinson’s campaign promise to “create a Traffic Commission” helped him get elected, he refused to bring it before the Council. Again, I finally introduced it and brought it to a vote, but Robinson voted against it, as did Voigts and McCullough. Remarkably, this was a second major issue on Robinson’s platform that he actually worked against, an empty promise he had no intention of delivering.
Even though Robinson’s platform included addressing pension liability, I patiently waited for him to introduce the subject for discussion and vote but he remained silent. When I finally gave up on him and brought up the pension liability in relation to both the City and Orange County in mid-2015, Robinson was unconcerned and called Jim Gardner and me “imbeciles.” This was another empty promise that Robinson had no intention of fulfilling. He simply used these promises to garner votes.
So even though he campaigned on a Traffic Commission, smaller class sizes and pension liability, Robinson didn’t bring any of them before the council; instead, within about 30 minutes of taking office, the very first thing he proposed was approval of the rezoning of the Foothill Ranch Auto Center so that developers who contributed to his campaign could build townhomes there. That’s where his heart was, not with fulfilling the promises he made to get your votes.
While campaigning in 2012:
- Robinson promised to be a hero for children, but after getting elected, he voted to establish fees for their use of Lake Forest’s taxpayer-funded Sports Park.
- Robinson promised to require competitive bidding for the City’s contracts, but after he was elected, he voted against competitive bidding for the City’s largest annual contract, $14 million.
- Robinson promised to protect taxpayers from pension debt, but after he was elected he never made such effort. When I brought up this subject in mid-2015 (and had support of Jim Gardner), Dwight Robinson called the two of us “imbeciles” and said my “math was wrong.” Here, you will see what I wrote subsequent to Robinson’s name-calling, which proves my math was spot on and my concerns valid. In Terry Sforza’s May 2016 article describing the dire situation with unfunded pension liabilities countywide, it’s clear that these unfunded costs are equal to $134 per household in the best-case scenario, and $524 in the worst case; this equates to a hidden liability of $4.02 million or $15.72 million for Lake Forest.
- Here you can see more of the same empty promises made by Robinson just to garner votes to get elected.
As to Robinson’s other votes in 2013, 2014 and 2015, 2016, you be the judge whether Lake Forest would be better off had Robinson not been on the Council, and for that matter Voigts (2013-16) and Hamilton (2015-16).
Robinson’s Political Gamesmanship
In his desperate attempt to dehumanize and marginalize me, a conniving and ethically misguided Robinson accused me of using a racial slur that he claims he overheard while walking past me in a parking lot, even though the two individuals I was speaking with declared publicly the slur was never used. Rather than confront me privately with what he thought he heard during my private conversation of which he was not a part, and ask if he heard correctly — as any decent and right-thinking person would — Robinson brought his claim before the Council when it suited his political agenda after more than a year. Ethically, what kind of person waits a year to address a grievance of such an awful nature? One who’s playing politics and waiting until a crony (Andrew Hamilton) is voted into office to secure a Council majority so the ambush can begin and I can be demonized based on his word alone. That’s the character of Robinson, and the character of Voigts and Hamilton who would act based on the sole recollection of Robinson of something he thought he overheard while walking past a conversation a year earlier.
To get the most value from his dubious action, I now have reason to believe that it was Robinson who planted an article in the Orange County Register to publicize a “censure” he orchestrated against me. I’m not sure if it’s still the case in 2016, but when Robinson and I were elected in 2012, Robinson had a friend on the editorial board of the Orange County Register; he had access to those who determined what gets published and what doesn’t.
The censure wasn’t reported right away, so I’m sure that Robinson made a phone call; a satellite of the Orange County Register, the Saddleback Valley News, reported on it nearly three weeks later and incorrectly reported: “At the request of Councilman Dwight Robinson, the council – including Nick – voted unanimously on March 3 to censure Nick.” The vote wasn’t unanimous, it was Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton who voted in favor of it, winning 3-2 – which is how the voting often turns out whenever it’s not unanimous. If the reporter had discovered the story on his own, he wouldn’t have made the mistake of reporting it was unanimous; he took a phone call from someone who fed him the information and aimed to inflict maximum damage to me.
Robinson continued to play his political games. After charges against me were dropped for supposedly stealing campaign signs (which also played a role in the “censure”), an online reporter interviewed me while I was negotiating heavy traffic in downtown Los Angeles and asked me how I felt. I told him that I thought Jess Rodriguez from the district attorney’s office was a “rogue officer” and explained the depth of the damage he had inflicted upon me with the following quote in its full context:
“He raped me. He raped my reputation with the force of the law behind him. This man, eight hours a day, ten hours a day, is sitting at his desk, and he can press a button and ruin peoples’ lives. To me that’s more dangerous than me getting raped in downtown Los Angeles.”
I immediately called the reporter back and said I shouldn’t have used the word “rape,” I should have used the word “violate.” He said that nevertheless I had said it and he refused to correct it. Nor did he provide, when he later wrote the story, an addendum that I had acknowledged that I had used the wrong word.
Clearly, my use of the word “rape” was not an intended affront to victims of physical rape, nor did I mean to equate what had happened to me with the everlasting hurt inflicted upon victims of sexual assault.
The saving grace is that I had told this to an online reporter and his article was not going to get much exposure.
Robinson insisted that I apologize and that I do it at a City Council meeting. I told him the article wouldn’t get much traction and any apology from the dais would bring light to my poor choice of word. He said it was “a matter of principle.” At the first opportunity, I apologized from the dais. This is the text of my apology:
“In reference to a recent online article wherein I was quoted, although I used the term ‘rape’ strictly in its meaning of a gross violation of rights, a friend of mine, who’s also a mentor to me, reached out to me, and I realized that some people – and in particular, victims and survivors of sexual assault and physical forcible rape – may think that I was and I am equating my experience with that of theirs. That certainly was not my intention. I deeply apologize.”
Next thing I know, the Orange County Register — which again did not even have a reporter at the Council meeting that night — had written an article about it titled, “Lake Forest Councilman Adam Nick apologizes for ‘raped’ comments.” I have reason to believe that Robinson, through his connections, was the reason for the article to have come about – all aimed at giving maximum exposure to my unfortunate choice of word in hopes that I would be demonized. This is the man who I thought so highly of that I referred to as my “mentor.” How wrong could I be?
After the recall of Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton began in January 2016, Robinson paid $5,000 to support an anti-recall campaign called “Nick is Nuts,” whose primary purpose was to discredit me and divert any attention from the reckless voting record and flaws of Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton. Don’t be hoodwinked by the Council majority’s fake “newspapers,” lies, half-truths, innuendoes, diversionary tactics, and character assassination of me.
After the recall ended, Robinson told the Orange County Register that he thought the “Nick is Nuts” campaign was “over the top.” Despite feeling this way, he waited until after the recall was over before making that admission; he waited until he got full benefit of the smear campaign.
Here are a couple examples of Robinson’s character. The day we opened our Sports Park, Robinson was mayor and said, to this effect, “Years ago I promised myself I would open a Sports Park without taxpayer dollars, and here we are.” Yet Robinson, who had been elected with me to the Council only 22 months earlier, had nothing to do with the concept, financing, design or construction of the Sports Park. Or, you can say that he had as much to do with any of that as I did – and that was absolutely nothing. The creation of, and paying for, the Sports Park was the result of efforts by the city manager and his staff, and particular prior Council members Peter Herzog and the late Richard Dixon. Robinson took credit for something he had nothing to do with.
Another instance that illustrates Robinson’s flawed character took place at a 2016 Council meeting when a sitting planning commissioner, Jerry Verplancke, came before the Council. He asked if Hamilton was responsible for a troubling statement that Robinson had actually made. Hamilton answered that he had not made that statement. However, Robinson, sitting between Hamilton and myself, did not have the honor to speak up and inform Mr. Verplancke of the truth. His silence was no different than lying by omission. Mr. Verplancke walked away thinking recall supporters had fabricated the quote. One headline referred to it as “A Misdirection Play in Plain Sight.”
Is Robinson in office to preserve your interests or to destroy me? Unlike Voigts and Hamilton, I have refused to be his puppet. For that, I have suffered from his slings and arrows. You be the judge of who has done right by you, him or me.
Consider what Councilman Gardner said: “Adam Nick has championed or wholly supported many causes including animal care, Sunshine Ordinance, campaign finance reform, Meals on Wheels, Saddleback Ranch Road, parking permit reform, real term limits, competitive bidding, curbing city official use of taxpayer funds for personal purposes, etc. Because he is outvoted, he normally loses on these causes, but he has been out there fighting for them. I can think of no cause Robinson has championed since being elected.”
Robinson’s 2016 ballot statement sorely lacks actual accomplishments, especially given that he had control of the Council for all of his four years. Here’s an analysis of that ballot statement, including his claimed accomplishments and his new promises for the 2016 election.
The Media Manipulating Public Opinion
The thread of the Orange County Register continues to be weaved relentlessly in this campaign against me. It began back in 2012 when I was a candidate and, without any explanation, was not endorsed by the newspaper; I believe it was Robinson who made sure of that. After my election as the highest vote-getter as a first-time candidate, and breaking the stranglehold that career politicians had on the office of City Council, the newspaper featured Robinson in an article titled “Lake Forest businessmen to sharpen their pencils at the dais.” He was quoted four times and I wasn’t quoted even once. The paper used four photos of Robinson, none of me.
The Saddleback Valley News erroneously posted on Sept. 26, 2014, that I was endorsing Andrew Hamilton. I contacted the reporter immediately and told her I had not endorsed Hamilton, that the article was in error, and that a correction should be issued. It wasn’t until a month later, four issues, that the correction took place; the record wasn’t corrected until Oct. 24, 2014, after most mail-in ballots had been cast, meaning those who may have voted for Hamilton by taking my endorsement into consideration did so under false reporting by the Register. Hamilton was elected by 431 votes, a mere 1 percent advantage, over Col. Thomas Cagley (ret.).
Within a few minutes of me informing the reporter that I demanded a retraction, an angry Hamilton called me wanting to know why I wasn’t endorsing him. About two weeks later, the sign incident took place.
The story of my “endorsement” of Hamilton was on the front page; the correction was on Page 6, the third item in a subhead to the “Briefly” column stuck in the lower right-hand corner dwarfed by an ad next to it – again, four weeks later.
Hamilton’s Deceptive Behavior
As to some of Hamilton’s mischievous behavior, I have reason to believe that it was Hamilton who, under a fake name, submitted a complaint against me to the State Board of Accountancy (CBA) using a photoshopped screenshot of a web page. Hamilton’s complaint to CBA, which was unfounded, was within days after the district attorney said it had no case against me in relation to campaign signs.
In yet another attempt to deceive residents and cast a negative light on me, I believe it was Hamilton who posted on his copycat Facebook page a picture of me that belongs to the Orange County Register archives that was taken several years earlier when I was there for an interview. The photo was doctored with the words “arrest booking photo” and “I stole my opponent’s campaign signs” while all along Hamilton knew that a) I was not even cited or ticketed for the incident as I had not done anything illegal, b) I was not arrested, booked and jailed, c) I was not even a Council candidate to have an “opponent’s” sign to “steal,” d) the charges resulting from the bogus investigation by the OC Sheriff’s Department were dropped by the D.A. when the facts came out.
All this reeks of desperation to hurt and marginalize me. Such chicanery becomes Hamilton, who seems to fancy himself a media specialist and who is very comfortable around fake web pages and video editing.
Hamilton has been an embarrassment to the office. He has been rude to public speakers at Council meetings, in a tantrum he ended a meeting abruptly with several items still on the agenda, and he engaged in activities that were nearly criminal. After the first recall was initiated, Hamilton began secretly filming individuals gathering recall signatures, then had the audacity to edit and splice their comments together in the most unflattering way possible as a means to embarrass them – or to somehow prove whatever perverted “point” he was attempting to make – and then post them onto the internet, specifically copycat Facebook sites that he created that were named the same as previously existing Facebook sites dedicated to the recall effort and to Lake Forest.
Imagine, the mayor secretly videotaping your spouse so he could embarrass her/him on the internet. And yet the Council majority that is so quick to criticize me didn’t say one word of complaint about Hamilton even though many people spoke before the Council denouncing Hamilton’s actions.
Council Majority Doesn’t Want Me on the Council
Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton don’t want me on the Council because I represent your interests, not theirs and not their corporate sponsors’ interests. As for “Nick is Nuts,” I am nuts: Nuts about Lake Forest, the place I have called home my entire adult life, where I work and own real businesses – no other Council member can say that. I remain determined to do all I can to make it the community you deserve.
These three councilmen, the Council majority of Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton, don’t want me on the Council because I expose them. They are beholden to corporate campaign contributors and have ties to big money. I’m not in the pocket of anyone, nor do I patronize politicians in higher offices for the sake of their endorsements and political and financial support. Their voting record is consistent: Every time a developer winks at them, they’re going to rezone the land and cram as many houses onto the property as the developer can squeeze, and nearly 100 percent of the time, Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton have voted the same regardless of the issue. They are the epitome of the term “voting in lockstep.”
Voigts Plays the Victim
When I tried to even the playing field for potential future candidates to the City Council, I wanted campaign signs to be posted 60 days before the election to allow the underdog to build some brand equity, but had to compromise at 45 days. After the meeting, I was upset because I didn’t think 45 days was adequate; Voigts told me, “Adam, grow up, that’s not for us,” meaning the rules don’t apply to us incumbents. The truth is that among Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton, there has always existed an attitude of entitlement, a perverted notion that they were above the law and could act with impunity.
Voigts is the worst offender of this sense of entitlement. He is notorious for posting signs illegally (i.e., earlier than the 45-day period, in illegal locations, etc.). In early October 2014, I had an associate remove three signs (one Voigts, one Hamilton, one Jose Vergara for a water district) that were in an illegal location and blocking drivers’ line of sight, a violation of City and State Code. I championed the City’s new sign ordinance and made sure safeguards were in place to limit the City’s liability risk, so I knew perhaps better than anyone what was legal and what was not. As such, I have had and continue to have a stake to see the ordinance enforced. A sheriff’s deputy saw me parked in a red zone while my associate removed the three signs and conferred with me for a minute or two while I remained in my car; when he left, there did not appear to be an issue. He did not detain me, nor did he search my vehicle, nor did he give me any kind of citation or paperwork. I asked my associate to place the three signs in a legal location up the street, near the corner of Trabuco and Lake Forest Drive, on his way home; I had possession of the three signs less than 20 minutes, and the following day (12:31 p.m., according to the timestamp) OCSD took a photo of the “stolen” signs in their new location. This is actual evidence, not political rhetoric.
Months later, on Feb. 11, 2015, I learned from a reporter that I had actually been charged with a crime. The reporter had learned of the charges from a press release that morning from the Orange County District Attorney’s office. To know the full story, you must know this:
- Illegally placed signs are not protected by law; they are considered abandoned property and can be removed by anyone.
- No one from the D.A.’s office had ever contacted or interviewed me before they filed charges.
- Although the D.A. had not even contacted me, an OCSD investigator interviewed Voigts prior to the charges being filed.
- The D.A. filed charges on Feb. 11, 2015 even though the secret recording of me, at times by Voigts wearing a wire in concert with the D.A.’s effort to build a case against me, had not shown a shred of criminality on my part.
- It wasn’t until six days after issuing a press release, Feb. 17, that the district attorney mailed me the notice of charges.
If these facts alone don’t raise red flags and convince any objective person that these were trumped-up charges — a political witch-hunt — then I don’t know what would. I believe employees in the D.A.’s office were influenced by some of the Lake Forest Council members whose corrupt way of life I have relentlessly tried to change. I also believe those employees in the D.A.’s office were more interested in getting their names in the paper because it looks good on a resume – there’s nothing quite like the hype and publicity attached to charging an elected public official. They were not interested in the unadulterated truth because it wouldn’t have furthered their careers. The charges made the headlines, but dropping of the charges never even made the paper. The truth, often, is just not sexy.
I’m not the only one with a concern for the D.A.’s office; an independent panel investigating the district attorney’s office determined “… some prosecutors adopted … a win at all costs mentality” and that one way to change its culture was “… by not rewarding prosecutors with the ‘must win’ mentality with promotions.”
Has the media, which has cozied up to Robinson, played a role in this? Even as I asked for residents to wait for the truth to come out about the removal and relocation of the three signs, the Saddleback Valley News referred to the sign incident as “a rash of campaign sign thefts” attributed to me – which was blatantly false. The only “rash” in Lake Forest is bad public policy by Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton.
And They Call Me the Bad Guy?
This sign saga was a desperate attempt to marginalize and destroy me, and I have suffered ever since as my rivals perpetuate this lie that I somehow “stole signs.” They say over and over that I was charged with stealing signs, but they never say the charges were dropped because no crime took place, or that the signs had been moved to a different location within 20 minutes. They make me out to be a villain; however, a few weeks before he took office, it was Dwight Robinson who “deceptively” overloaded 758 cargo containers, put thousands of innocent motorists at risk, and had to pay a total fine of $64,402 after waiving arraignment for judgment while running his business.
Also, they don’t tell you that after the charges were dropped, I sued the deputy district attorney, Jess Rodriguez, for defamation and libel. My lawsuit, the news of which never made the paper to my knowledge, caused the D.A. to issue a public statement vindicating me, which read in part:
- Nick never admitted to the commission of any crime, did not enter a plea of guilty or no contest for any charge, and he has not been convicted of any criminal act.
- After the dismissal of the charges, Mr. Rodriguez communicated the matter to a news service agency. Regrettably, some of Mr. Rodriguez’s statements were misinterpreted, and the resulting headlines portrayed Mr. Nick as admitting to theft and attributing to Mr. Rodriguez innuendoes that suggested that Mr. Nick had admitted to the commission of a crime.
- Upon hearing of the incorrect news, Mr. Rodriguez promptly contacted the news service agency in writing to correct the inaccurate reporting and he apologized on at least two occasions for any confusion.
Let me make an important point here: I did not sue for money, either when I sued the D.A., or when I sued the City Council prior to my running for City Council. Remember, I was vindicated by successfully spearheading the change in the City law so that what happened to my business could not happen to other businesses in the future, and that was a unanimous vote.
When he had a chance, Voigts didn’t bother telling the truth to the sheriff’s investigator that he had placed his sign in an illegal location, so he lied by omission. From the Council dais, Voigts emphasized, “I did not wear a wire” in an attempt to frame me even though he had done just that, so he flatly lied. Let me say that with emphasis: He blatantly lied to the residents of Lake Forest while conducting the business of the City; he was on the job and the record at the time. Two weeks later, I produced the CD audio recording from the D.A.’s office and confronted Voigts with proof he had worn a wire and that he had indeed lied to the people he had sworn to protect. He said, “I didn’t know they were going to provide it to you,” and then left. Unlike Voigts, I did not make a public spectacle at a City Council meeting; I’m bigger than that, and I’m there to do your business, not my own. I could have embarrassed Voigts like he tried to embarrass me; I chose not to do so.
In spite of all this, Voigts persists in spreading the lie that I was somehow guilty of committing a crime when, in fact, it was he who actually committed a crime: He placed his campaign sign in an illegal location. Voigts wants to play the victim and politicize the issue to garner voter sympathy.
Remember, the incident took place during the 2014 campaign season. Here’s what the District Attorney Tony Rackaukas himself told the OC Register: “Particularly during campaign seasons, political candidates accuse their opponents of all kinds of bad and criminal things. They want to be able to say, ‘So-and-so is under investigation by the district’s attorney office.’”
To the detriment of residents, Voigts’ lies represent a safe place for him because he can control the message, and unless you’re in-tune with the inside workings of City government, you may think he’s telling the truth: He’s not. He spread the lie that I tried to bribe Scott Baugh, former Chairman of the OC GOP, who chastised Voigts and called his claim “astounding … to wrap the false fact about cash into a suggestion that Nick was trying to bribe me is compounded irresponsibility that may be defamatory.”
Even during a Council meeting, Voigts lied about me twice in a span of 14 seconds; he makes no effort to keep his facts straight, or to correct the record. He lies by omission, failing to reveal the whole story. When he was seeking campaign contributions, he told potential donors he was the mayor; he was not – certainly not at that time. A lie of omission, failing to reveal all the facts, is standard operating procedure in the Voigts camp. You cannot trust what he says to be true.
Like Robinson, Voigts contributed $5,000 to the Nick is Nuts smear campaign against me as a means of defeating the recall that began at the beginning of 2016. Is it any surprise that there was so much deception, misinformation and outright lies? Twice they circulated a fake newspaper called the “Lake Forest News” that was filled with stories – mostly about me – with quotes attributed to unnamed sources. Why unnamed sources? Because the “quotes” were being fabricated by the likes of Andrew Hamilton and David Ellis, a Newport Coast political consultant with a history of smear campaigns who helped Hamilton get his job with the Mesa Water District in which he makes more than $209,000. Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton climbed into bed with the same “Dave Ellis” who tried to turn El Toro into an international airport, who played matchmaker between Merrill Lynch and county officials leading to the Orange County bankruptcy, and tried to sell the OC Fairgrounds to himself while he was head of the Fair Board. Almost all of the people Ellis helps get elected are pro-development. Does that sound familiar? An Orange County Register headline said of Hamilton, “Lake Forest mayor praises new developments in State of the City address.” Ellis has been described as “sleazy” and a lot of other things, and he’s the right-hand man of Robinson, Hamilton and Voigts, the one they entrusted to defeat the recall, the one whose lying, racist and hate-filled message they condoned.
On behalf of Robinson, Hamilton and Voigts, Ellis even published a story with a Foothill Ranch dateline that included a photo of a mother and daughter with the caption “Moms against the recall formed to warn community about Nick taking over the city,” but the photo was a stock image taken in 2012 in Asia and posted on an Indonesian medical site; there was no evidence that any mom in Foothill Ranch opposed the recall.
Another article claimed that, because of me, “The City was 41 days from losing its contract with the Sheriff’s department,” an idea that Robinson has thrown about publicly; it’s total nonsense: On the first page of the contract, where then-Mayor Robinson should have been able to see with his own eyes before he signed the contract, is the stipulation that if the contract agreement is not met it will be automatically renewed for an additional 60 days. So, if you ever hear someone tell you that Lake Forest was almost without police services for the Fourth of July in 2015, tell them it’s another message designed to confuse people.
Another one of their articles in their so-called “newspaper” says I changed my name seven times. If anyone can prove I changed my name seven times, I’ll resign on the spot. I changed my name from Nick-manesh (which means “good manners” in Persian) to Nick decades ago. With my father’s prior blessing and direction, I waited five years after his death to change the name he had given me, Afshin, to Adam, which I was called by many of my American and English childhood friends.
Can you tell anything about a person by who his friends are? David Ellis is the friend Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton turned to in an effort to pull the wool over your eyes to defeat the recall. Unlike the Council majority, who must fabricate their support, real people at your City Council meetings called them “local symbols of hate and cruelty.”
Heat of the Moment Comments
I am passionate about Lake Forest, where I’ve enjoyed living most of my life. I have little tolerance for those who try to steer it wrong or get in the way of helping it reach its potential. Because City Council meetings happen in an open, live forum, there are no do-overs. That said, I have said some things that might be considered uncouth by some members of our community.
I once called Dwight Robinson, Scott Voigts and Andrew Hamilton “degenerate pricks.” Despite the course nature of my comment, it reflected my feeling at the time – and still does today. Their lies, wanton disregard for residents’ safety and tax dollars in favor of special interests, secret videotaping, copycat social media profiles and posting thereon doctored video footages to “prove” their point, filing bogus complaints against me and my retail businesses in Lake Forest with various governmental agencies, and… make me sick. If you think “disturbed jerks” would have been more appropriate, then consider that my comment on the matter.
Once during a meeting, about three or so years ago, I asked then-Mayor Robinson to “put a muzzle” on former Councilwoman Kathryn McCullough, a comment which arose from Robinson’s convenient failure to stop McCullough from repeatedly interrupting me while I had the floor and was outlining policy aimed at preventing Council members’ personal expenses from being reimbursed by taxpayers – requiring actual receipts be required for otherwise eligible reimbursable expenses, following Federal guidelines for expense reimbursements, etc. Although all the other four Council members were going to be affected (FYI, I have never expensed anything — not even a dime), McCullough was the one who was going to be most impacted by my proposed policy because she abused the then existing 20+ year-old, lax policy the most. She continued interrupting me to a point that I uttered, “Dwight, put a muzzle on her.” I’m sure there are times when my colleagues, or those in attendance, would like to muzzle me. You should know that from that point on she did not interrupt me, and I got my policy underway to adoption that very evening.
I promised you four years ago that there would be no legal measure to which I would not go to protect you and your money — whatever it took. I was only living up to my promise to you, the taxpayer, when I resorted to using that verbiage.
Robinson and Hamilton love to bring up a comment I made in which I referenced the use of a machine gun. Here is the context: Two or three years ago, a public speaker came to the podium at a Council session and, not knowing any of the facts about or the basis for my lawsuit, which in fact resulted in the City changing its laws to the benefit of residents and taxpayers, he kept hammering at me. I could not speak about the lawsuit because the case was pending, however, I did not want him to think that I was dismissing his comments. In responding to him, what I should have said was, “When a taxpayer has a grievance with the government, he can file a complaint with the judicial system or resort to use of violence.” Except rather than saying “violence,” I said “a machine gun.” Dr. James Gardner, a retired professor of psychology who was not yet elected to City Council, called it “semantics” when Councilmen Robinson and Hamilton tried to exploit the comment by saying I had advocated violence, which they continue to this day – although they knew then and do today that I merely used a poor choice in my syntax and even though it has been two or three years since the incident.
Robinson, Hamilton, and their die-hard fans have never been able to, and cannot today, make one criticism of my policies and votes because unlike them, I have always voted with my conscience and to the benefit of residents and taxpayers. Robinson and Hamilton know it, so whenever they can, they regurgitate these quotes without context. This has been and remains to be nothing but their concerted effort to assassinate my character, their attempt to intimidate, and discredit me, and (in their mind) to eventually demoralize me to a point that I step down in despair. When they eventually came to the realization that it was not likely that their tactics were going to produce their intended result, the ringleader Robinson resorted to actually asking me to resign. Robinson did that once privately and twice publicly, which is on the record.
And They Call Themselves “Fiscal Conservatives”
Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton claim they are fiscal conservatives, but:
- They voted to spend $1.5 million on an update to the City’s General Plan – but they have never followed the City’s General Plan; whenever a developer has asked for a waiver or rezoning, they always grant the waiver.
- They have committed to spending unknown monies in the hundreds of thousands of dollars with Orange County Animal Care (OCAC) for criminally substandard, inhumane treatment of animals in the hands of that agency.
- They have committed to pay up to nearly a million dollars for OCAC to construct its own building in which Lake Forest will have no share of ownership.
- They spend the taxpayers’ money for $350 per night hotel rooms, mileage on their personal vehicles, and frivolous expenses.
Council Majority Targets Children
By way of another example, Hamilton accused Gardner of “targeting Dwight Robinson’s children and their school,” which was total nonsense; on the original Lake Forest Town Square website, someone from the community mentioned the school in which Robinson’s kids attend; Hamilton made sure he got a screenshot before Gardner deleted the post and, to make his point, Hamilton posted it on his copycat site, thereby perpetuating the information he says created such a danger for Robinson’s children. Hamilton’s gross disregard for one’s children and willingness to play politics at all costs – his lack of ethics — is reprehensible.
And speaking of targeting children, Voigts went to Rancho Canada Elementary School and Serrano Intermediate School and handed out political fliers blasting me for proposing Lake Forest consider having its own school district, which would reduce class sizes and improve the learning experience for our local children. Again, Voigts was politicizing the opportunity. In fact, it was he who was targeting children, exploiting them by telling them to take the fliers home to their parents. Yet not a single word of criticism from Robinson or Hamilton was uttered, either in a professional capacity at a Council meeting, or in social media. They have been described as a “Gang of 3,” and it’s accurate: They have each other’s backs, no matter the gravity of the wrong one of them has committed. It’s an old boys club.
I could not have described them better than when I said, to their faces at a Council meeting, they were “morally bankrupt.”
Divisive Rhetoric and Lies
Not only did they attack me in their “Nick is Nuts” smear campaign, they branded everyone gathering signatures for the recall as suspected pedophiles; imagine your elected official condoning such a message. Deplorably, they treated an attack outside Stater Brothers as a joke by posting cartoons depicting recall supporters as “thugs”; without waiting for actual evidence, they concluded signature gatherers were at fault. Rather than calling for peace between the two sides as part of the civil process protected by the Constitution they are sworn to defend, they played the “blame game on social media” with outright lies. They politicized it rather than seeking the truth.
I have said over and over that everyone should wait for the truth to come out in due time. I said this about my lawsuit against the City Council in which the ordinance has now been changed so that what happened to me will never happen to someone else (and yet Robinson has called my lawsuit “frivolous,” a lawsuit he defended on my behalf in court on Nov. 8, 2012).
I said to wait for the truth to come out about the so-called sign theft, in which charges against me were dropped because no law was broken (other than by Voigts, Hamilton and Vergara for posting signs illegally).
I said to wait for the truth to come out following the physical altercation outside Stater Brothers, and video of the incident showed that the petition gatherer – actually characterized as a thug in their fake “newspaper” – was the actual victim, someone who Hamilton labeled as “part of the Recall assault team.” Robinson called the man who came to the defense of the victim “mentally unstable.”
The truth I promised did come out and I was vindicated each time.
Continuing the Cleanup
The cleanup at City Hall that I began in December 2012 can only succeed in full with elected officials who are willing to do what the people want. The current makeup of the Council includes a majority that identifies with big money, real estate developers, county agencies and politicians – all at the expense of unsuspecting and innocent Lake Forest residents and taxpayers. Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton do not represent you, they represent themselves and their cronies.
Unlike them, I live and work and own a real business (not in name only) in Lake Forest. I am on your side. The facts bear that out.
As I said earlier, this is my side of the story – the real story.
You be the judge.
What follows is a more detailed narrative of various subjects than what appears in the introduction above.
- Adam talks about the recall, generally
- Adam talks about “bankrolling” the recall
- Adam talks about David Ellis and the smear campaign
- Adam talks about the underhanded tactics to keep him from being mayor
- Adam talks about the “Gang of 3”
- Adam talks about the next super majority effort by Robinson
- Adam talks about the campaign sign saga
- Adam talks about the City lawsuit
- Adam talks about the lawsuit’s big picture
- Adam talks about financial prudence
- Adam talks about the Republican GOP’s lie-filled attack on him
- Adam talks about the validity of the recall
- Adam talks about the cost of a recall
- Adam talks about fiscal responsibility/conservatism
- Adam talks about his commitment to residents
- Adam talks about his voting record
- Adam talks about the election battle ahead
- Adam talks about himself – and you
- Adam talks about “Nick is Nuts”
As you are probably aware, a recall effort was initiated last December against
Lake Forest City Council members Dwight Robinson, Scott Voigts, and Andrew Hamilton (often referred to as the “Gang of 3”); the basis of the recall was their corruption, collusion, cronyism, unbecoming conduct, lack of compassion and phony conservatism. Basically, it was about ties to special interests and dereliction of duties.
Councilman Jim Gardner and I, who comprise the remainder of the five-member Council, supported the recall because we are on the side of the people. However, the legally registered “Committee to Recall Robinson, Voigts, and Hamilton” was not formed by either of us as the other three councilmen claimed and propagated. They manufactured many lies — this being one of them — and kept telling them. Gardner and I were not even on the recall committee, which was chaired by Leah Basile, a concerned homeowner.
It’s important to me that people know what prompted the effort to recall Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton, in what ways it was successful, under what pretext it did not obtain its main objective, how close it came, and what people should do now – such as staying informed and providing educated votes in the future.
The recall effort educated thousands of residents about what is taking place in their city. Unfortunately, not every voter was reached, but most of those who were agreed the recall was necessary and signed the petition.
For a recall election to be held, State law required 20 percent of the registered voters, or 7,882 in Lake Forest, sign the petition for each of the three councilmen subject to recall.
Although more than 8,000 signatures for each of the three were collected, nearly 25,000 signatures altogether, the authorities discounted a few hundred signatures because the signatures did not quite match the image of the voters’ signature on file, and a couple hundred signatures were discounted because the voters had moved. As a result, the finalized number fell short of the required threshold by several hundred, or a mere 15 percent.
The nearly 25,000 total signatures submitted exceeded the total votes received by the three councilmen in the election that put them in office.
Now, two things: One can argue that the recall effort failed. However, one can counter-argue that it did not fail; it brought awareness to thousands of voters in Lake Forest on the misdeeds of the three councilmen. The fact remains that in all, more residents wanted the three councilmen out than voted them in.
“Bankrolling” the Recall
Councilmen Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton formed a committee opposing the recall called “Nick is Nuts,” funded by Robinson, Voigts, the Lincoln Club of the OC Republican Party (even though City Council is a non-partisan body) and the Orange County Sheriff’s Association.
To this day (August 21, 2016), I have not made any monetary contribution to the Committee to Recall Robinson, Voigts, and Hamilton (hereinafter the Recall Committee) because I knew it would have been exploited by the three councilmen. And yet this did not stop them from concocting and shamelessly disseminating the lie that I was “bankrolling” the recall and spending up to a “quarter-million dollars” of my own money. Now that the Recall Committee has been dissolved (as of June 30, 2016), no one can contribute to it hereafter. All together, this simply means that for the duration this committee was in existence and I was accused repeatedly of bankrolling the recall, I did not contribute any money to it – not even a penny.
If this does not tell you the level to which the three council members would sink to protect their corrupt way of life, then I don’t know what will.
The Infamous David Ellis and His Smear Campaign
Andrew Hamilton has a history with David Ellis, the infamous Newport Coast political consultant who headed the Nick is Nuts Committee. Ellis has built a “sleazy” reputation through the years; he was on the wrong side of issues such as the OC Fair Board scandal, the OC bankruptcy and the El Toro Airport; it’s true, the three city councilmen got in bed with someone who tried to turn the former Marine Corps Base into an international airport with jets flying over our homes. This is the person they partnered with to defeat the recall.
To protect themselves, Dwight Robinson, Scott Voigts and Hamilton set up and used the Nick is Nuts campaign as a diversionary tactic. They accused me of having committed a “crime” of stealing signs while they fully knew I had not done such. They assassinated my character and reputation by telling lies, half-truths, rumors and innuendo; using hyperbole, fear-mongering and bigotry; and using their GOP relationships to plant articles in various media. Not once did any of the three councilmen address the complaints against them. Not once did any major media report on the ill they perpetrated, subjecting many residents to their unspeakable acts – whether that was Robinson bullying a grandmother and bringing her grandchildren to tears, or threatening a business owner who exercised his political preference by not supporting Robinson’s preferred candidate; Hamilton receiving numerous complaints for secretly videotaping recall proponents and trying to embarrass them online; or Voigts handing anti-recall fliers to elementary and middle school children with the message to take them to their parents, or his lying time and time again to the very people he is sworn to protect.
After their first fake “newspaper” littered the entire city with their nonsense and blatant lies about me – in which they did not defend any of the allegations against them – many residents united in their disgust and called the three councilmen “local symbols of hate and cruelty” over their “vicious and racist attacks.”
The Council majority in 2012 changed policy to prevent any newly-elected council member (me) from becoming mayor; two years later, when I would unequivocally be the mayor based on the 2012 policy, Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton changed the policy back to the original so they could vote amongst themselves to prevent me from becoming mayor, and vote one of themselves into the position. It is the mayor who sets the agenda deciding the session in which an item is discussed and comes to a vote, if it does at all.
Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton have all had turns at mayor, even though none of them received as many votes as I did in 2012; does that represent the will of the people, or is that dirty politics and cronyism amongst themselves in an effort to prevent my proposals from being discussed and stifle the growth that I strive to produce?
Together, Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton have forged a voting bloc that controls what appears before the Council and what gets approved and what doesn’t; if you don’t agree with them, your issue doesn’t have a chance because they so rarely vote outside the bloc. And they have proven they are willing to deceive the public to protect themselves politically.
“Gang of 3”
While the sitting mayor, Andrew Hamilton has done many things that show his true nature. Although he did not contribute financially to the Nick is Nuts campaign — unlike Robinson and Voigts — he was the day-to-day point man in the smear campaign to try to defeat the recall effort. He set up copycat Facebook pages with names identical to those belonging to Councilman Jim Gardner and Recall Committee Chairwoman Leah Basile. This was a blatant attempt to deceive those seeking information about the recall or about Lake Forest. Hamilton used the pages he created as a forum for displaying videos he created in which he a) secretly videotaped the recall supporters without their knowledge, b) edited/spliced the video in the most unflattering way possible, and c) posted the video on the internet in a purposeful attempt to embarrass the subject or make his perverted “point.”
While on the Council dais, Hamilton cuts off and talks over residents, and disallows laughter and applause when contrary to his views. He even ended a meeting abruptly – with no warning – with three items still remaining on an agenda. He had the audacity to come back at the subsequent meeting and tell residents they were to be quiet because he was there to “do the City’s business.” Yet Hamilton had walked away from the City’s business a couple of weeks earlier in a tantrum. It was not a surprise to me that more people signed a petition to get Hamilton out of office than voted to put him into office.
I have reason to believe that it was Hamilton who, under a fake name, submitted a complaint against me to the State Board of Accountancy (CBA) using a photoshopped screenshot of a web page. Hamilton’s complaint to CBA, which was unfounded, was within days after the district attorney said it had no case against me in relation to campaign signs. It reeked of desperation to hurt and marginalize me and continue the assault on my reputation.
I also have reason to believe that it was Hamilton who complained, under yet another fake name, to the City of Lake Forest that my Ethics Certificate had lapsed. Although this was true, I had mistakenly taken and verifiably passed the more robust course, Ethics Training for State Officials; within hours after the complaint, I took and passed the Ethics Training for City Officials. Instead of resorting to using a fake name and the ensuing theatrics — he had a friend appear at a Council meeting to chastise me based on my certificate not being current — Hamilton could have simply let me know one-on-one and I would have taken care of it just as I did.
Dwight Robinson is the vice president of a business at the Long Beach Pier, so his position on the board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District is one in which he can directly influence the success of that business. Robinson has shown avarice given the opportunity: His business was in violation of overloading shipping trucks, which not only provided him an illegal competitive financial advantage over his competition, but endangered the lives of thousands of commuters on roads and freeways and damaged the infrastructure; the defendant company waived arraignment for judgement and paid a fine of $64,402 (including restitution) for violations that occurred two weeks before his election to Lake Forest City Council in 2012 after admitting it “deceptively weighed 758 containers of grain.“
Robinson told the Orange County Register he thought the smear campaign against me was “over the top,” but he waited until after he enjoyed its full benefit before making such an admission even though he had many opportunities to do so when confronted by angry residents at Council meetings. Robinson, who has a degree in political science and is up for reelection in November 2016, is now distancing himself from the smear campaign solely for political reasons; he is shielding himself against the backlash given that thousands denounced his smear campaign against me.
A cursory review of Robinson’s voting record against my proposals in 2013-14 and also his record in 2015 clearly shows he is an obstructionist to my common sense initiatives. Is there anyone objective and ethical who doesn’t believe the Council should be more transparent, more ethical or not subject to special interest money? Based on indisputable evidence, Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton don’t believe in these principles.
Scott Voigts has a lengthy history of being less than truthful with the residents of Lake Forest. Gardner has documented these incidences, as has a journalist who noted Voigts told two lies about me in a span of 14 seconds at a Council meeting. All you need to know about Voigts is that, while sitting at the Council dais, he said during a Council meeting, “I did not wear a wire.” In fact, it was later proven he did wear a wire while trying to get me to tell him privately that I “stole” his illegally placed signs even though he knew there was no stealing. Lying from the Council dais should not be “business as usual,” but if Voigts can’t tell the truth to a room full of 60 people, why should 80,000 residents believe him?
Voigts had placed his sign in an illegal location obstructing drivers’ line of sight; under California law, such signs have no protection, are considered abandoned and can be removed by anyone. That said, had Voigts’ sign contributed to a traffic accident the City would have undoubtedly been sued and lost (perhaps in the millions of dollars); it would have been a disservice to the people of Lake Forest had I not removed it when I had the chance.
Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton are known around City Hall as the “Gang of 3,” but are they really a gang? Are they really a team that works together? The political action committee Restore California referred to Voigts, Hamilton and the appointed Councilman David Bass as a “team” in 2014 campaign literature. Restore California was funded by Meritage Homes (which had a project it wanted approved. After their election, Voigts and Hamilton joined Robinson in providing the three votes Meritage required for the rezoning of land to residential.
Writing text for Restore California was Robinson, who endorsed Voigts, Hamilton and Bass citing the need for “stable and responsible leadership at City Hall to continue building a brighter future for our city.” Of course, there’s nothing responsible about Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton’s lack of accountability when confronted with a recall effort – they refused to answer any questions and instead diverted attention elsewhere.
Not coincidentally, with Robinson having a friend on the editorial board at the Orange County Register, the Register endorsed Voigts, Hamilton and Bass based on false rhetoric.
- It said Bass worked successfully to locate the new sheriff’s substation in Lake Forest, although he had nothing to do with it – or he had as much to do with it as I did, which was nothing, nada, zilch, and neither did any other Council member.
- It said Voigts provided sound financial leadership to ensure the new Sports Park was built without additional taxes – or he had as much to do with it as I did, which was nothing, nada, zilch, and neither did any other current Council member.
- It said Hamilton was “improving traffic signal synchronization to reduce congestion on city streets” as a planning commissioner but he had nothing to do with that – it was an undertaking by the City staff.
Collectively, they were endorsed based on knowing that traffic was a problem, they wanted to have a balanced budget, and they knew growth creates more congestion. That describes every candidate and is hardly the qualifications for endorsement by a major metropolitan newspaper – unless someone knows somebody.
Although Bass was defeated at the polls by Gardner in November 2014, on his application to replace Peter Herzog (who had resigned), Bass wrote in December 2013:
“In order for the voters of Lake Forest to have the ability to see a ballot in November 2014 without an appointed person claiming as a position ‘incumbent’ or ‘council member’ I will, if appointed, commit to not run for election or re-election for the City Council position.”
Even though I was committed to representing the will of the people by voting to appoint the next runner-up from the election in which Herzog had won his seat, I wasn’t getting any support from the other three Council members nearly 4 1/2 hours into the meeting. Based on Bass’ written promise that he would not run, I agreed to compromise and cast my vote with Robinson and Voigts for Bass. Within six months, Bass had completed the bait and switch and decided to run with the power of incumbency. Bass even had the audacity to spell out his position as a “Councilman” on his yard signs (which I had not seen anyone do previously): “Elect Councilman Dave Bass, Lake Forest City Council.” Despite Bass’ unprincipled decision, Mayor Robinson still gave his full blessing: He endorsed Bass, contributed money to his campaign, campaigned for him, worked with the political action committee Restore California promoting him, and (I believe) was instrumental in getting Bass endorsed by the OC GOP and the OC Register.
Restore California, the PAC funded by the developer Meritage and Voigts’ boss Don Wagner with (I believe) Robinson writing the text, also ran a hit piece against Gardner saying he had a “failed record” when actually all Gardner had was failed attempts to break into the ranks of the Council which Robinson himself had not been able to do until he received help from developers and outspent almost all the rest of the candidates combined.
On Election Day in 2014, Robinson made no fewer than six posts or updates on social media promoting and endorsing Voigts, Hamilton and Bass. Voigts and Hamilton won, ensuring Robinson maintained a Council majority.
Don’t lose track of history. Remember, the Council members who provided the necessary votes for the rezoning of land and approval of the Meritage/Restore California project were Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton, who had been so interconnected before the election.
Yes, there is a Gang of 3 and it would have been a Gang of 4 had Bass been elected, which Robinson desperately tried to make happen. He wanted a super majority – and it takes a super majority to raise taxes and fees for rate-payers.
The Next Super Majority Effort
I believe Robinson is again trying to create a super majority – this time by throwing his support to a candidate who has lived in Lake Forest for 39 months (as of August 15, 2016), Francisco Barajas, whom he, Voigts and Hamilton appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission in February 2015. Here is his Parks and Rec application; it’s almost identical to his Planning Commission application in which he says his goal is “ensuring that we continue to maintain a healthy level of growth” (answer 16).
Barajas has had eight different jobs/internships since 2009, and has never made a motion in his capacity as a commissioner through August 2016; he has missed more meetings than the other four commissioners combined, including the first one after he became a Council candidate. He has, just like Robinson had done earlier, voted to increase fees at the Sports Park.
Barajas has worked and campaigned for Voigts, and has been endorsed by Hamilton, according to his ballot statement.
If you want the Gang of 3 to become a Gang of 4, vote for Robinson and Barajas.
The Sign Saga
The “sign saga” has taken on a life of its own. You may want to read this one paragraph and decide the rest of this section isn’t necessary for you to read. The sign saga came about because I had someone remove a total of three campaign signs that belonged to Council candidates Scott Voigts and Andrew Hamilton and their friend, water district candidate Jose Vergara. The three signs were posted illegally for multiple reasons (the most pressing of which was that they were in the line of sight of drivers). In California, anyone can remove an illegally posted sign — in this case, located at an intersection. The rest that ensued was politics at its worst played by some of those on the City Council, whose corrupt way of life I have changed, and those at the district attorney’s office who saw an opportunity to get their names in the paper by concocting a charge that was later dropped — but not before my name was dragged through the mud. By the way, I was not a candidate in that election. If you would like to know the story in more detail, please read on.
Dwight Robinson, Scott Voigts and Andrew Hamilton perpetuated the lie that I stole campaign signs – in a year in which I wasn’t even running. They knew that the three signs (from three different candidates) that I had someone remove were placed illegally at the same corner and were subject to removal at any time by anyone. Without ever talking to me, unfounded charges were filed against me by the district attorney’s office after a bogus “investigation” by an Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigator, Al Laschober, with whom I had expressed a grievance several years earlier in another matter (he was unwilling to forward the case of vandalism at my business to the D.A.’s office for the D.A. to decide whether to prosecute; the case was eventually forwarded and the culprit was brought to justice).
What you also must know is that I have been critical of the City’s contract with OCSD for law enforcement services and became vocal about it during my candidacy for Council in mid-2012. On point, in my lawsuit against the OC District Attorney for defamation and libel, in Paragraph 7, it read: “Nick’s critiques have not been limited to his fellow councilmembers, but also the City’s no-bid, monopolistic contract for law enforcement with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, costing nearly 40% of the City’s budget, escalating annually at an untenable rate, which has generally been rubber-stamped and renewed by prior Lake Forest Councilmembers.”
Never in 25 years has Lake Forest either audited the OCSD contract or studied or even considered other options for local law enforcement such as a) having its own police department, b) contracting with another agency such as police departments in Irvine, Laguna Beach or Placentia, or c) a joint department with cities such as Mission Viejo, Laguna Hills and Laguna Woods.
The trumped-up charges were eventually dropped when the facts came out but not before my reputation was tarnished by all the culprits involved, media included. The Orange County Register, the media arm of the Orange County GOP, exploited this and never printed my side of the story in this political witch-hunt. There was no evidence of any criminality by me, though I was secretly recorded by the district attorney’s office – and at times by Voigts wearing a wire in an effort to entrap me as part of their desperate attempt to discover any criminal act by me. Again, charges were dropped because there was nothing there. After the charges were dropped, I made a formal complaint to the Orange County District Attorney (which you can read here).
How shady is this: a) the OCDA charged me although it found no criminality during my conversations which it had secretly recorded; b) it charged me more than four months after I had the three signs removed and relocated; c) it sent out a press release on Feb. 11, 2015 with news it had charged me but didn’t attempt to let me know of the charges until six days later in a letter postmarked Feb. 17.
Consider also that the Orange County Sheriff’s Association contributed $15,000 to the Nick is Nuts Committee to defeat the recall; that amounts to $5,000 on behalf of each of the three councilmen (Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton) who rubberstamp OCSD’s annual contract without any questions or concerns. The $15,000 also represented 50 percent of the total money spent by the Nick is Nuts Committee – the other $15,000 came from Robinson ($5,000), Voigts ($5,000) and the Lincoln Club of the Orange County GOP ($5,000).
If these aren’t red flags clearly showing the incestuous relationship between these parties, then I don’t know what else I can provide to make it any more obvious.
Such gamesmanship is expected, unfortunately, says District Attorney Tony Rackaukas. Remember, the sign incident took place during the 2014 campaign season while Voigts was seeking reelection (and I was not). Here’s what Rackaukas told the OC Register: “Particularly during campaign seasons, political candidates accuse their opponents of all kinds of bad and criminal things. They want to be able to say, ‘So-and-so is under investigation by the district’s attorney office.’ I don’t think the D.A.’s Office should be used as a political tool.”
I now have reason to believe that Voigts was instrumental in the initiation of these charges. This has all been an orchestrated payback because I am not one of them; I am not a political operative of the Republican Party. I think for myself, and your interest is the only interest that matters to me.
Lawsuit “Against the City”
Much has been made of my lawsuit, supposedly against the City. What I did was not unique. In fact, Councilman Dwight Robinson sued the City of Los Angeles on behalf of his business because that’s where it is located (instead of Lake Forest). He did what he felt he had to do to achieve the result necessary.
It’s important to note two things in my case: The suit was not about money and it didn’t ask for money, and I wanted to file it against then-Mayor Peter Herzog personally for spearheading the issuance of a waiver for a multi-billion dollar corporation (7-Eleven Inc.) to receive an alcohol license at its proposed new store less than 200 feet from mine and about a quarter mile from Herzog’s residence in an area already maxed out by State law with alcohol retailers. Instead of just suing Herzog, I was forced to actually sue the entire City Council.
Every citizen has a duty to learn of, and defend against, that which threatens his home, his children, or his way of life.
As a result of the waiver issued by the City, 7-Eleven Inc., received with a payment of only $100 to the State what I had to pay fair market value for, in the thousands of dollars, several years earlier. This was unfair. This was local government interfering with State laws in favor of one big corporation to the detriment of a small business owner. Any business owner should stand up for his rights against government intrusion, interference and corporate politics; to not do so would be un-American. The first amendment of our Constitution provides Americans the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Shortly after I was elected in 2012, I offered to drop my suit provided the City stopped defending 7-Eleven Inc. In a closed session in which I was prevented from attending, the other Council members (Robinson, Voigts, Herzog, McCullough) decided to reject my offer and continue defending 7-Eleven Inc.
Meanwhile, I offered to waive all my rights so the in-house City attorney could continue representing the City because we all knew that going to an outside counsel would cost the City more. In yet another session in which I was again prevented from attending, the Council members voted to change the attorney to an outside firm that was none other than Cummins & White, where OC GOP Chairman Fred Whitaker is the managing partner. Whitaker had previously given money to Robinson and Voigts.
In court, at the last minute, Cummins & White concocted and submitted false information to the judge (page 2, section 1) claiming I had applied for the same waiver 7-Eleven applied for and received, and that I had been rejected. This cast doubts on the merits of my suit and painted me as a disgruntled business owner; the judge took that into account in rendering his decision. In fact, I never applied for such a waiver. Cummins & White, on behalf of the City, flatly lied in court – it’s in the documents. This took place in 2014 while Robinson was mayor.
The judge stated: “The matter you have raised involves elected officials, with whom great deference rests, and processes designed and implemented by the said officials. Accordingly, the remedy to your concerns is in the electoral process, through which the officials’ action(s) will be considered, and either affirmed or disaffirmed by the voters.”
The judge’s statement that I had to change the system in front of me prompted my serious involvement with the ins and outs of City government to make sure the wrongs done to me didn’t happen to someone else. Basically, it’s why I ran for City Council on the platform of cleaning up City Hall. I have always believed in the intelligence of the electorate. The defeat of the council members at the ballot box merely affirmed my belief that when people know the unadulterated truth they make the right decisions and cast the right vote. In that endeavor, I educated myself and helped educate others about all the wrong, which was business as usual, in our City government.
In the end, among the five council members referenced by the judge, three were voted off the council, one didn’t seek reelection, and the fifth resigned. Those voted off in the election subsequent to the ruling had been on the Council for two decades, and their demise came after I took an active role in my civic duty by exposing them for their corruption, cronyism and catering to special interests.
As for Cummins & White, it billed the City and received $46,420.04 altogether – not a bad return on investment for the money Whitaker spent on his financial support of Robinson and Voigts. At the turn of this year (2016), Whitaker “returned the favor” when he pushed for Robinson to be selected to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and presented Robinson an award for being the “Local Elected Republican Official of the Year” in spite of Robinson’s poor record on public policy, which included among other things the disgrace of ignoring Saddleback Ranch Road and refusing to discuss a viable alternative to Orange County Animal Care, two of the items that led to the recall effort by constituents who felt he ignored their concerns.
The Lawsuit’s Big Picture
The essence of our democracy is in the worth of the individual and equality of opportunities for all. How much worth did the 2011 City Council place on me, and all that I had worked hard to accomplish in my life, when it granted my competition such an unfair advantage to compete with my business without paying its fair dues?
I took a stand against that because enough was enough. I may not be able to do something about the Federal government or even the State government, but I surely could affect — and have affected – my City government. Although I may have lost in court, because of mischievous tactics of the City and its substitute attorney of Cummins & White, all those who call Lake Forest home or own small businesses in Lake Forest – which includes me – have, indeed, won. Today, no corporation in Lake Forest may be issued a waiver secretly at City Hall as was the case when I initiated my grievance with the Lake Forest City Council in 2011. If and when a waiver is issued today, our new City law dictates it can only be issued after posting public notices and it must be issued during public hearings. The electorate must always be afforded a clear window as to what elected officials do. That’s the result of my taking a stand on behalf of residents and small business owners — and their employees — in Lake Forest.
Over the last four decades, corporations in America have been systematically dismantling the biggest engine of the American economy — the small business owner. Our government is complicit in this. Corporations buy off unscrupulous elected officials and politicians who, in return, give corporations what they ask for — often at the expense of the small guy. Case in point, a conglomerate corporation got for $100 what you and I must pay for handsomely.
Financial Prudence and Disclosure
A society uninterested and unwilling to learn from the past is doomed. Look and see what your Council members have done to you and your money since the inception of our city — 25 years ago this December. Today, we are the only City among the 34 cities that make up the County of Orange that does not own the building in which the City Hall is housed. With the millions of dollars of our tax money the Council has paid in rent over the last 25 years, it could have bought fivefold the building we’re in today – renting!
By way of another example for mishandling our tax money, when I took office in December 2012, I inherited from previous City Councils over $3 million in the City’s Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liability (UAAL), in this case also called pension liability. To make matters worse, this liability was never even disclosed to you and me in the main body of the Financial Statements of the City. Today, more than a year after I first brought the subject to light in May 2015, the City’s UAAL has finally been paid off and it is $0 — yes, zero. In the future, if there ever is even a dollar of UAAL, it must and will be disclosed to you and me in the body of the Financials of the City.
With that prefaced, I remain concerned and worried that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has an ever-increasing UAAL in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Although we are not technically liable for it, the fact is that at some point the OCSD can no longer defer and delay incorporating the unfunded sum by amortizing and phasing it into its annual contract. The OCSD has already started its catch-up plan, and it is just a matter of time before this breaks the back of every contract city. When I brought up this subject in mid-2015 (and had support of Jim Gardner), Dwight Robinson called the two of us “imbeciles” and said my “math was wrong.” Here, you will see what I wrote subsequent to Robinson’s name-calling which proves my math was spot on.
Republican Party Meddling
By the end of 2015, OC Republican Party Chairman Fred Whitaker had lobbied and Dwight Robinson was selected to the South Coast Air Quality Management District, giving the Republicans a valuable 7-6 majority on that governing board. In January, Whitaker presented Robinson with an award, the Local Elected Official of the Year for 2015 from the OC GOP. Shortly thereafter, one of Robinson’s first votes was the decisive one to relax regulations on air quality for, among others, trucking companies, which is his own business.
Who else benefits from relaxed regulations by the SCAQMD, which oversees air pollution control for Orange County and the urban areas in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties? The oil industry, and in particular those companies in the Western States Petroleum Association, reportedly wanted a Republican majority on SCAQMD. From 1993 to 2000, between stints at Cummins & White, Whitaker was employed by SC Fuels; he was the COO of its Pacific Northwest Energy Division before rejoining Cummins & White. He has a connection to oil. He also previously contributed money to Robinson and Scott Voigts, and his company was given business by the City in part based on the votes of Robinson and Voigts.
When the recall began at the beginning of this year, the Lincoln Club of the OC GOP contributed thousands of dollars to the Nick is Nuts Committee, and Whitaker sent out letters filled with lies that cast aspersions on me and recall supporters but praised the “Republican values” of Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton in spite of their unconscionable votes and despicable behavior. That’s a perfect example of the cronyism and influence of special interests that the recall was trying to remove from Lake Forest government.
Validity of the Recall Cause
You see, the recall was about changing the corrupt “politics as usual” taking place at City Hall. It is understandable and not surprising Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton threw the kitchen sink at the recall volunteers, Gardner and myself. As many of you know, they’ve been doing that to me for four years.
The fact they spent money and energy telling lies about the recall and Gardner, and escalating their lies about me — instead of addressing the complaints against them — goes to show how you residents were right and they simply don’t have any rebuttal to invalidate or disprove the claims and charges against them.
To the city’s recall volunteers, the intimidation tactics and bullying that Robinson, Voigts, Hamilton and their cronies were subjecting us to, and the vicious lies they were spreading about us, further proves our case. In time, everyone shall know the truth; that’s what I said after the attack on a female resident gathering recall signatures outside the Stater Brothers Grocery Store while Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton painted her and the rest of us as “thugs.” Surveillance video eventually proved she was the victim, and the person Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton had been defending was, in fact, the only person who threw a punch.
Cost of the Recall
Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton exaggerated the cost of the recall as part of the fear-mongering of their smear campaign, yet what price do you place on good government that you can trust to tell you the truth and to do right by you? At its most, total cost of the recall could have been covered easily by the cost of a $2.25 hamburger per resident. The cost of certifying signatures was about as expensive as $1 per person.
Let me make it crystal clear. Lake Forest’s annual revenue is $44 million and it has $105 million sitting in the bank (because the City has not provided many of the services a city should provide its residents, but that’s another story). Let’s simplify and let’s say you earn a $44,000 salary and you visit five doctors; two opine that you have cancer growing inside you, the other three give you a clean bill of health. It will cost between $80 and $180 to perform the necessary test to make certain whether you’re dying of cancer or not – whether you have a malignant disease inconspicuously growing within you. Wouldn’t you spend $80 to $180 to get that answer, especially when you have $105,000 in your bank account? That’s the cost of the recall in perspective.
By comparison, every resident of Lake Forest – man, woman and child — pays about $100 each to cover the wages of the City’s employees on a recurring annual basis. The one-time cost of $1 to $2.25 for a decent, conscientious and empathetic government doesn’t seem so bad, does it? Yet Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton will try to convince you they are the fiscal conservatives because they don’t want to spend money on programs such as Meals on Wheels or repairing broken roads – but they did vote together to spend $1.5 million ($18.75 per resident) for a General Plan update even though they have yet to adhere to the current General Plan whenever a developer has come before the Council. Although updating parts of our General Plan is a must, it will have been a waste of money if it’s not followed by the Council; since I’ve been on the Council, Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton have not once adhered to the General Plan when a developer has come to them. Needless to say, all such rezoning has been in spite of the residents’ objections and often against the staff’s recommendations.
Commitment to Residents
The Gang and their cronies spent money advertising that I am “nuts.” They even named their committee “Nick is Nuts, A Committee Opposing the Recall of Mayor Hamilton, Council members Voigts and Robinson 2016.” Although their name-calling is meant in a negative and condescending way, the truth is that I am nuts about this city and its people. I am nuts about hearing problems and solving them, and I am nuts about getting rid of crooked politicians and removing “politics as usual” at City Hall.
I promised that I would treat you as if you are my own flesh and blood – and I have. When it comes to your tax dollars, I have been more protective of your money than I ever have been of my own. Check my voting record and you will further see this for yourself. I championed the vote against the four-story U-Haul building at Jeronimo and Cherry (which I won), and voted against the four-story “affordable” housing complex at Saddleback Ranch and Glenn Ranch roads. I also voted against rezoning land that would only benefit Meritage Homes (which had helped Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton win elections) to develop residential units at Commercentre and Bake. I also voted against rezoning land for the benefit of Baker Ranch to squeeze 250 homes into the lot across from the Sports Park. On all these rezoning votes, I (along with Jim Gardner) lost to the bloc vote of Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton.
The sad truth is that votes by Robinson, Voigts, and Hamilton routinely show a gross disregard for the well-being of those who call Lake Forest, Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills home. Instead, they show an unconditional appeasement and commitment to home builders, county agencies, and big money.
We must never forget our history — the voting record of Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton. Remember, the decisions they have made (and continue to make) have a lifetime impact on us, our way of life, and that of our children.
The Election Battle Ahead
We all know that Robinson, Voigts, and Hamilton lie, resort to innuendoes, ridicule, bullying, and unjustly disparaging those principled who see through their charade. We know they have been derelict in the duties they swore to fulfill.
Now we must educate those who are uninformed or ill-advised so they can also make an informed vote.
I have done my very best, and continue to do my very best, to share with you all I know so that you can make informed decisions. When the time comes, you will be the judge. I trust you will judge fairly and correctly whether I have been my brother’s keeper or it has been Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton.
I will be honored to have your confidence and vote in November so that I can continue this fight to clean up City Hall and protect your interests.
About Myself – And You!
I don’t believe in luck, but if it exists, the harder I have worked the “luckier” I have been. My success has made me the envy, and the target, of those on the Council who see me as competition. For a long time, to no avail, I tried to make them understand that we either win as a team or lose as individuals. I told them people will, in time, become aware of their misdeeds. Their arrogance discounted me as one voice, not the thousands heard throughout our City nowadays.
This is about us. About our family, our way of life, and our future.
This is not about them or their special interests. We deserve better. You deserve better. Anything worthy and noble comes with a price: integrity, resilience, hard work and patience.
You, the voter, will be the judge when the time comes — no doubt about that. For the sake of your family and those you hold important, and for the sake of the future, please vote informed. Do NOT vote based on disingenuous smiles and insincere handshakes.
It is the duty of each and every one of us to safeguard this place we call home, improve lives, and leave this world a place better than we found it.
Pass this content on to others and post it online if you can.
“Nick Is Nuts”
Finally, I want to address the “Nick is Nuts” campaign waged against me but must provide some context and address Dwight Robinson’s, Scott Voigts’ and Andrew Hamilton’s relentless attempts to marginalize and humiliate me which began literally the moment Hamilton was sworn in as councilman in December 2014.
Hamilton is vindictive against me because I refused to endorse Hamilton’s candidacy and refused to contribute to his campaign; he wanted $5,000 and I gave him nothing because I knew he wasn’t principled and decent enough to do right by the people. Robinson did endorse him and did give him $1,000 and I believe used his connection at the OC Register to have the paper endorse Hamilton (as well as Voigts and David Bass, all of whom were endorsed by Robinson).
Robinson also worked with the political action committee Restore California and wrote text for mailers promoting Hamilton that untruthfully disparaged then-candidate Jim Gardner. You must note that this PAC was funded by thousands of dollars from Meritage Homes, which had a project it wanted to build in Lake Forest, and Assemblyman Don Wagner, who is Voigts’ boss. Wagner had also been instrumental in Robinson’s own election in both financial and non-financial terms. Indeed, despite Robinson’s poor record on the council, Wagner awarded him a merit certificate on Nov. 1, 2014 during the grand opening of the Sports Park – incidentally, moments later, Robinson bullied a grandmother (and brought her grandchildren to tears) while she lawfully handed out brochures for then-candidates Gardner and Liz Miller.
While Hamilton was elected by the lowest vote total in City history, he was immediately made mayor pro tem while I, with the highest vote total among all council members, became inconsequential to them because they had their voting bloc in place. In fact, they made sure I would not be the mayor by literally changing Council policy.
In the same way and for the same reasons that I refused to support Hamilton, I also refused to support Voigts in the 2014 election. The only exception between the two is that Voigts did not ask for a specific dollar amount from me, he just asked for “money.” Unlike 2010, I gave him nothing in the 2014 election after having been witness to and having suffered his incompetence, lies, half-truths, politicking and unconscionable votes for four years.
Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton knew, too, that I would stand up to them and not be silent about their unconditional appeasement to big money, real estate developers, County Board of Supervisors, County agencies, and Sacramento politicians. They began attacking me preemptively. The assault reached its peak after Leah Basile launched a recall against Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton after they refused to allow public discussion of the dangerous Saddleback Ranch Road, which placed Lake Forest residents in imminent danger because of its design and construction by a developer who had, through the PAC Building Industry Association, helped all three councilmen get elected.
With the recall launched, Robinson and Voigts enlisted Hamilton’s friend David Ellis (the man who tried to give us an El Toro International Airport) to head the anti-recall effort with the Nick is Nuts Committee – although that name had no relevance to the recall. “Nick is Nuts” was merely a diversionary tactic to deflect attention from their misdeeds and dereliction of duty.
I believe Hamilton penned the editorial content for the hateful, bigoted, slanderous, lie-filled and offensive Nick is Nuts “newspapers,” mailers and emails that littered Lake Forest doorsteps, mailboxes and inboxes. Robinson and Voigts financially backed the Nick is Nuts campaign. The other financial supporters were the Lincoln Club of the OC Republican Party (even though city council is a non-partisan body) and the Orange County Sheriff’s Association.
After their totalitarian conduct and repeatedly using their bloc to control public policy and content of Council meetings, once the recall effort began, they had the audacity to accuse me of a power grab. Yet the recall effort was initiated against them because of their willful disregard of the problem on Saddleback Ranch Road while they controlled the power on the council.
Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton executed a smear campaign against those who supported the recall attempt, the aggrieved residents who sought to right a wrong, and me. They mocked the very residents they were sworn to protect and made a mockery of the process that was the Constitutional right of those residents.
Facts never got in the way of the perverted message they propagated, whether they were claiming I was a terrorist or recall supporters were pedophiles. They shouted every chance they could that “Nick is Nuts!”
Let me tell you something …
I am nuts about Lake Forest, which I have called home for more than three decades, including over three years in Foothill Ranch and seven in Portola Hills.
I am nuts for wanting to ensure my hometown’s future is not decided by special interests and a morally-bankrupt coalition masquerading as god-fearing city council members.
I am nuts for wanting governmental transparency and fiscal accountability.
I am nuts for wanting to protect residents/taxpayers from three self-serving politicians who at first did not want to fix a dangerous road (Saddleback Ranch Road, aka SRR) after awarding a $1.6 million contract to a construction company (Stantec) that gave us foolish, irresponsible “road improvements” we didn’t need or want but who funneled money to each of them through the Building Industry Association (BIA).
I am nuts for wanting to create election districts so that every part of the City would have representation on the Council. Today, many parts of what used to be El Toro — including the City’s poorest areas — and Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills are not represented on the Council.
I am nuts for wanting to protect people’s health and property values from the same incompetent, uncaring politicians on the Council who have talked, promised, and for years have delivered nothing to fix Village Pond Park.
I am nuts for wanting to protect people’s tax dollars from being used to build yet another soccer field (the 13th) instead of a community garden, a plan brought before the council by the very residents who envisioned an educational gardening facility at Whispering Hills that could also provide something to the city’s cultural landscape, literally. It is noteworthy that Voigts and Hamilton have close affiliations with local soccer organizations. Voigts has a child who plays soccer and Hamilton referees the sport.
I am nuts for wanting Meals on Wheels — for our senior citizens (who may live alone and be unable to drive) — to be able to utilize unused space at City Hall. All our neighboring cities have had this program for years. The lack of consent by Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton to place this matter on the agenda is unconscionable. Their inaction defied common sense.
I am nuts for being for the residents’ interests, not special interests.
I am nuts for wanting all companies, real estate developers and lobbyists to register publicly so every resident who chooses to know can know any ties or relationship between special interest groups and any given Council member.
I am nuts for wanting Council members not to be allowed to accept money or receive “favors” from the above-mentioned entities and then grant hundreds of thousands of dollars in concessions in the form of lower fees, variances, etc.
I am nuts for thinking the City’s funds belong to the residents and the hundreds of thousands of dollars given away by Robinson, Voigts, and Hamilton is not theirs to give away to entities that support them financially or politically.
I am nuts for objecting to the allowing of developers to build more than 5,000 homes though not even one school is built, or even planned, to mitigate the class sizes that affect the quality of our children’s education, while the very Council members granting real estate developments send their own children to private schools.
I am nuts for wanting to require real estate developers to actually build and provide State-mandated “affordable housing” and fulfill that requirement before leaving town instead of doing what the current Council majority routinely allows: Accepting from the developer a dime on the dollar of liability, legally assuming (taking on) the entire liability, then deferring it indefinitely to a later time (and possibly to future generations), and possible fines from the State if the City fails to fulfill that obligation by the deadline, which happened before.
I am nuts for wanting to partner with Mission Viejo Animal Services when we had the chance to part ways with Orange County Animal Care (OCAC), which has a kill rate many times the norm established by agencies in the same field, for its repeated documented abuse and neglect of pets and wildlife.
I am nuts for not wanting to spend $1 million just so I can be a “team player” with the OC Board of Supervisors and OC Animal Care to spit-shine its culture of death by building a new facility in which Lake Forest would have no share of ownership.
I am nuts for believing Lake Forest can work within the framework of the community and animal care professionals to provide more humane care with licensing and other fees less than what we currently pay OCAC.
I am nuts to think that we should have secured at least one other offer from another trash-hauling company rather than hastily awarding an exclusive eight-year contract to the only trash-hauling company (CR&R) that gave money to Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton. Trash rates increased overnight for thousands of residents and business owners — some experienced almost a 100 percent increase — while the service has proven neither as good nor reliable as we had with Waste Management since the City’s incorporation nearly 25 years ago.
I am nuts to insist year after year (to no avail) that we audit our annual contract with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to make sure we get what we pay for; the contract is about $15 million ($15,000,000) this year (nearly 40 percent of our budget), an increase of about $3 million ($3,000,000) from almost six years ago. The contract has never been audited or put out for competitive bids. Yet 2015 ended with a 29 percent increase in crime in Lake Forest. And they say I am the crazy one.
I am nuts for wanting to prevent, at taxpayer expense, council members from using the City Attorney and his firm to defend them for their abuse of discretion and dereliction of duties, fraud, mischief, any personal wrongdoing, etc.
I am nuts for waiving my salary, retirement benefits, etc., after being sworn into office in December 2012. I’m the first and only Council member in Lake Forest to do that.
I am nuts for paying for my own food and expenses at the door when I attend a function in a Council capacity. If there is no one to take my money, I reimburse the City when it gets the bill.
I am nuts for being the only Council member with a 100 percent attendance record because I take seriously my duty to you, my oath, and the honor you have given me to serve you.
I am nuts for wanting Council members to reimburse the City and pay back the tax dollars for any Council session for which they are absent.
I am nuts for being upset that we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in rent for City Hall – even though we now pay only 60 cents on the dollar as compared to when I joined the Council in 2012.
I am nuts for being upset that we remain to be the only city in Orange County that does not own its City Hall facilities.
I am nuts for being able to go on further but will stop because by now I trust the picture is perfectly clear. You see, I have not won on any of the above-mentioned initiatives and proposals because I have been out-voted by a Council majority whose allegiance is not to you.
Will you join me in saying “I’m nuts for Lake Forest” and support me based on my record and not some garbage Robinson, Voigts and Hamilton threw at the wall to see if it would stick?
You may follow me on Facebook at Facebook.com/TeamAdamNick.
Please know that I am always available to help with anything I can and address any questions or concerns you may have.
Councilman Adam Nick
Initiatives and Voting Record
Since I took office in Dec 2012, in working with my colleagues on the Council, I have been able to introduce and/or help pass several initiatives while working on a backlog of matters that I inherited from the Council Members previous to me. However, much more could have been accomplished that would have made Lake Forest government a better, taxpayer-oriented government and Lake Forest a better city for its residents only if the allegiance of most of the other Council members had been to you, the resident, not to big money, real estate developers, special interests, County Board of Supervisors, and Sacramento politicians. Here in America, we live in a democracy. So, YOU, the voter, have the power to affect change in government – meaningful change. PLEASE learn what you may not know and help educate those friends and neighbors of yours who care to know the facts – the truth. Let us not vote based on disingenuous handshakes, fake smiles, lies, and half-truths. Let us vote smart. You may verify the accuracy of any and all voting history that you see here with the Records Office at the City Hall.
Click here to get immediately to a summary presentation of Adam’s 2013 & 2014 Introduced Initiatives that were voted down by Dwight Robinson and Scott Voigts (shown further below).
In the two calendars years of 2013 and 2014, Lake Forest has ranked as one of the safer cities but I am confident we can even do better. The City adopted balanced budgets in each of the last two fiscal years with surpluses, and budgets proved to be accurate. The Proposed Fiscal Year 2015-16 Budget is balanced as well and has an $800,000 surplus. As of the last audited financials (Year ended June 30, 2014), unreserved fund balance in the General Fund (105% of total General Fund revenues) falls well above the reserve policy set by the City Council for planning and budgetary purposes.
In the two calendars years of 2013 and 2014, no new litigation emerged. In other words, we just continued cleaning up after the doings of previous Councils.
To cite a few measures that were introduced in 2013-2014 year, please read below (the items with an asterisk are measures introduced by me and passed by Council majority; otherwise the matter has been brought up in the normal course of business and passed unanimously):
*Open Government – To facilitate the public’s access to all information, the City’s website now includes a new “Open Government” section organized around the theme of open and transparent government. The revamp of the City’s web site:
· Today, we have a user-friendly web site offering many functions and an array of information that previously was not available is now not only available but also readily accessible.
· These range from financial information such as payments and reimbursements to Council Members and City employees’ salaries and benefits to nonfinancial information such as the City Halls’ receiving, processing, and grating of waivers of any kind to grant a special privilege to the grantee such as rezoning land for real estate developers or issuing waivers to alcohol retailers in areas that are legally defined by State law as “unduly saturated”.
· The public can view budget and financial statements, including the newly created “Budget at a Glance” brochure that provides simple, easy to read highlights of the Operating Budget.
· Council Travel Expense Reports are also posted online. Campaign disclosure records for Council Members are now available online, as well as access to Statements of Economic Interests (i.e., Form 700) for Council Members, Commissioners, City attorneys and staff.
· The Lake Forest Records Online (lakeforestrecords.com) database continues to grow with approximately 80,000 records now available. In the Planning and Development section of the website, a list of current planning projects and recent decisions, along with staff contact information for each, continues to be updated monthly. To increase awareness of Bid and Proposal opportunities, a prominent icon is now featured on the City’s homepage to increase awareness of the City’s procurement activities.
*The curtailment of Council Members’ expenses: Payments & Reimbursement to Council Members by taxpayers’ dollars have been restricted. Many types of expenses are now ineligible for payment or reimbursement. Of those expenses that are eligible, mandatory compliance with Federal guidelines and limits and requiring actual receipts are in effect now (I still consider some of these expenses too “personal”, and as such not reimbursable, but my Co-Council would not help me pass more restrict a version).
*The requirement that any tax or rate increase by the Council must be approved by a super majority (4 of 5), rather than a simple majority of Council Members (3 of 5).
In 2013 and 2014:
· Nearly 300 new businesses have been added to Lake Forest creating nearly 2,000 new jobs.
· The unemployment in Lake Forest is about 3%, lower than the rest of the Orange County, and much lower than the state’s and nation’s.
· The occupancy in our commercial buildings is in the 90 percentile, significantly higher than OC’s average.
· The addition of a new Sheriff’s Department Substation increased efficiency equal to savings of nearly $300,000.00 annually.
· Over 80% of our traffic signals have been synchronized and hundreds of our ramps have become handicap-accessible. We will not rest on this until 100% of our lights are synced and every single ramp provides such accessibility.
The permitting and construction of our first dog park is underway.
Unfortunately, those previous to me did not have the vision to secure and purchase a building in over twenty years since we became a City while collecting from you and me ¾ of one billions dollars in taxes:
· Altogether, the City Hall occupies about 10,000 square feet of the space in the building where the City Hall is housed. Accordingly, with the millions of taxpayers’ dollars gone to rent expense over the past 20+ years, with some foresight and proper planning, we could have purchased a suitable building, perhaps tenfold.
· However, take comfort in knowing that, as compared to when I took office, we now pay more than a quarter of a million dollars less for the rent of the same building where the City Hall is housed currently and has been for many years now. Today, we are paying annually below $1,000,000 compared to $1,300,000 we paid before FOR RENTING THE SAME BUILDING AND FACILITIES.
· Further, today, plans are underway for us to build a multi-function City Hall housing among other things, Community, Senior, & Youth Centers. The project was going through permitting and design on about nine acres of land we acquired from Irvine Ranch Water District several years ago (i.e. before my time), however, we suffered a setback for there were found some geological watershed drainage issues with the land. The issues are being rectified through and with the help form the proper agencies but at this point it is safe to say that in the end not all of land will be usable, unlike conveyed to the City at the time (only eight acres will be usable).
Notwithstanding the progress we have made in the last two years, we continue to have a broken and corrupt system at the City Hall plagued with influences of special interest, cronyism, and self-serving agendas.
To fight corruption and eliminate such influences and practices, make your City government transparent, and City Hall public-friendly, in 2013 & 2014, I worked hard and introduced the following measures but I lost on each one and my loss was 1 to 4 (see footnotes please). Two of the four Council Members who voted down these measures remain on the Council today (Council Member Voigts and Robinson). Judge for yourself whether or not Lake Forest as a community and Lake Forest City Hall as a government would been better off with my measures.
|Fate of the|
Initiative or Measure
|2013-2014 Nick’s, Robinson’s, and Voigts’ Voting Record**|
Lake Forest City Council Members
|YES¹||NO||NO||FAILED/DEFEATED||Create and place on the 2014 Ballot for voters to decide on adopting a comprehensive,robust Code of Ethics for Council members|
|YES¹||NO||NO||FAILED/DEFEATED||In light of the defeat of the above initiative, adopt (by the Council itself) a comprehensive,robust Code of Ethics for Council members|
|YES¹||NO||NO||FAILED/DEFEATED||Adopt Campaign Finance Regulations and limit corporations’ ability to contribute money to Council members (to fight corruption at the Council level and eliminate quid-pro-quo)|
|Adopt a Sunshine Ordinance to:|
|YES¹||NO||NO||FAILED/DEFEATED||• Require City government to be transparent|
|YES¹||NO||NO||FAILED/DEFEATED||• Require lobbyists to register to stop the back-room deals and the Lobbyists’ Registry be available for public viewing|
|YES¹||NO||NO||FAILED/DEFEATED||• Require Council members to disclose their private meetings with those who are presently conducting business with the City Hall and those who are wanting to conduct business with the City Hall|
|YES¹||NO||NO||FAILED/DEFEATED||• Require Council Members to disclose campaign contributions from companies and vested interests before voting on and awarding contracts and waivers|
|YES¹||NO||NO||FAILED/DEFEATED||• Require City Council to notify the public two-weeks in advance, rather than 72 hours, any upcoming item on the Agenda to be discussed either privately or publicly|
|YES¹||NO||NO||FAILED/DEFEATED||• Require and enact an anti-nepotism ban to avoid favoritism and giving special treatment or unfair advantages to a person or group at the City Hall or on the City Council|
|YES²||NO||NO||FAILED/DEFEATED||Place on 2014 Ballot REAL term limits (two 4-year terms lifetime)|
|YES³||NO||NO||FAILED/DEFEATED||The Mayor to be elected by the voters (as opposed to selected by Council members, which practice has been and remains to be plagued with politics ever since cityhood in 1991)|
|YES¹||NO||NO||FAILED/DEFEATED||To place items on the Agenda for Public Discussion ONLY two members consenting is adequate (Not three of the five-member Council). Requiring a majority to consent for a matter to be voted on enables the majority to circumvent the intent of the State law by NOT allowing any given matter the majority chooses to come to a public vote.|
|YES¹||NO||NO||FAILED/DEFEATED||Establish a Traffic Commission to encourage citizen participation and help alleviate traffic congestion|
|YES¹||NO||NO||FAILED/DEFEATED||Establish a Nonprofit Community Foundation|
|YES¹||NO||NO||FAILED/DEFEATED||Provide Tax Relief for ***Lake Forest Residents and Businesses|
|YES¹||NO||NO||FAILED/DEFEATED||Reduce Administrative Fees at the City Hall for ***Lake Forest residents|
¹ denotes that the initiative was introduced by Councilman Adam Nick
² denotes that the initiative was introduced by Councilman Peter Herzog
³ denotes that the initiative was introduced by Councilwoman Kathryn McCullough
** Source: City Hall Records Office
*** References to Lake Forest herein includes Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills
Click Here: A Glance at the 2015 City Council in Gridlock due to Special Interests and a Voting Bloc
► Code of Ethics for Council Members
► Term Limits
► Election of Mayor
► Agenda Items
Councilman Adam Nick
Adam’s Vision and Reform Agenda
The content of this page (Adam’s Vision and Reform Agenda) is exactly the same as it was when I first posted it on March 1, 2012, when I was a first-time Council candidate. Although my experience on the Council over the last four years has enabled me to expand my vision, I have not updated this page so that you can compare its content to my voting record during my tenure on the Council (also viewable on this website). See for yourself how true I have been to my word and commitment to you.
In the weeks to come, I will post on this website additional goals that I now have. I will work equally hard seeing these new goals to completion in conjunction with re-introducing all of my initiatives that have been voted down by the Council majority, headed by Councilman Dwight Robinson. It is painfully evident that the Council majority’s allegiance is not and has not been to you, the resident.
Adam Sept. 1, 2016
Nothing is more important for keeping a government to its mandate than a well-informed electorate. Please take the time to read this.
As your Councilman, I will:
- Offer you a New Dawn of Competence, Fairness, and Openness in the Lake Forest City Government, NOT Business and Politics as usual
- Will make decisions that are first and foremost in the best interest of the City of Lake Forest
- Will help cultivate and secure an environment where Special Interest has no place and businesses have a level playing field to compete and prosper
- Will move the City Council and City Hall in the direction of Transparency (i.e. Sunshine Ordinance), Fiscal Accountability, and Modernization
Just to cite a few, I will introduce Ordinances and Resolutions to:
► Transparency and Open Government:
► Eliminate Special Interest / Ensure Highest Standards of Ethics / Provide a “Level Playing Field”:
► Eliminate Wasteful Spending / Establish Fiscal Policies:
► Access to City Hall:
Together, we can, and we will
- Stop wasteful spending, cronyism, and Special Interest whether in the form of lucrative contracts awarded by the City to those who are connected, whether in the form of excessive salary, benefits, and expense accounts to City Elected Officials, City Appointed Officials, or City Staff. Any contract, before it is awarded, will go through a transparent process during which Public participation shall be key.
- Establish benchmarks for our City Government, and we will hold accountable for their actions, or inactions, all those responsible.
- Rid the City Government of incompetence and assure that our City Officials are not only well-meaning but also qualified for the challenges at hand.
For many years, when I had no family of my own by my side, our community at large acted as my family, and that gave me a sense of belonging and pride in the City. You gave me a chance to work along your side, shoulder to shoulder, and gave me a chance for an education. Those who know me personally know that I have lived up to my promises and that I have proven to be caring, hardworking, able, and someone who wants to leave this world better than he found it. For those who do not know me personally, I promise each and every one of you that I will always treat you like my own flesh and blood and will always put you and your interest before that of my own.
Councilman Adam Nick’s unabridged, uncensored, Ballot Statement for the Nov. 2016 election
If you live in Lake Forest, Foothill Ranch, or Portola Hills, you owe it to yourself to read this; it will not take more than a moment of your time.
Your choice for City Council could not be clearer this November.
You made me the highest vote-getter when you first elected me in 2012 to clean up City Hall, and I’ve done right by you every step of the way. Your interest has been the only interest I have cared about. I’m the only incumbent candidate who’s been on your side:.
To view my voting record, please visit www.adamnick.com
Some work has been done, but so much more needs to be accomplished. Below are some of the common sense INITIATIVES I’VE PROPOSED BUT WERE VOTED DOWN BY COUNCILMAN DWIGHT ROBINSON, a member of the Council majority who’s also seeking re-election:
➤ Code of Ethics for Council Members
➤ Ban Council Members from Taking Corporate Money
➤ Require Council Members to Disclose Financial Ties to City Contractors & Lobbyists
➤ Real Term Limits for Council Members (Two 4-Year Terms — Lifetime)
➤ Require Electoral Districts for Council Members
➤ Election of Mayor by Voters
➤ Creating Our Own Local Animal Shelter Instead of Using the Infamous High-Kill County Shelter
➤ Creating a Traffic Commission
➤ Supporting the “Meals On Wheels” Program for Our Senior Citizens in Need
I will end the Council-imposed refusal to clean up and remodel Village Pond Park.
I proudly stand behind my voting record, which is unassailable, unlike Dwight Robinson’s.
Don’t be fooled by Dwight Robinson’s empty promises and untrue statements aimed at garnering your votes.
Don’t be fooled by Dwight Robinson’s bragging about endorsements from other politicians, especially when those endorsements have been bought and paid for by your tax dollars.
Don’t be hoodwinked by Councilman Dwight Robinson’s and his Council majority’s fake “newspapers,” lies, half-truths, innuendos, phony “surveys” with slanted, misleading questions, and copycat Facebook pages. They have resorted to character assassination of me to deflect attention from their own poor record of representation.
Robinson, Hamilton, & Voigts (the Council majority known as the Gang of 3) want me off the Council because I expose them — because I represent YOUR interests, not the interests of their corporate sponsors, real estate developers, County officials, and Sacramento politicians they cozy up to.
In his Ballot Statement, Councilman Robinson states, “I’m endorsed by [County] Supervisors Todd Spitzer and Lisa Bartlett. I’ll partner with them to eliminate Mello-Roos in Foothill Ranch, just as we’ve done in Portola Hills.”
The truth is:
A) Robinson received that endorsement after he and his Council majority voted against having our own local no-kill shelter and voted instead to approve a 10-year contract with the Orange County Animal Care and committed to pay the county up to one million dollars ($1,000,000) of our tax money to build its new facility in which Lake Forest is going to have NO OWNERSHIP. Lake Forest is now one of ONLY two cities in South Orange County to continue contracting with the county for animal services.
B) Robinson did nothing to eliminate Mello-Roos in Portola Hills, nor could he have done such a thing, nor can he do anything about it for Foothill Ranch. I don’t think a city or county official has the authority or power to “eliminate” Mello-Roos assessments. As a matter of fact, it was at the recommendation of the office of the County Auditor-Controller, Eric Woolery, that the Board of Supervisors voted to dissolve Mello-Roos in nine areas, including Portola Hills, but ONLY because the bonds for these areas had been fully paid (and actually there were excess collections for which the County will start issuing credit to offset their excess collection).
During Robinson’s tenure, OCGOP chairman, Fred Whitaker of Cummins & White has received $46,420.04 of our tax dollars for “legal services.” In return, Whitaker presented Robinson an award and campaigned against the recall of Robinson. With Robinson’s re-election, Fred Whitaker, who has been eyeing the taking over of the legal services of Lake Forest for four years now, will likely be awarded the nearly $1.4 million annual contract for City Attorney. Now, imagine how that would detrimentally solidify the stranglehold of the Gang of 3, who are all Whitaker’s political operatives, on the City’s directions and policies. Any checks & balances that we may have today at the City government will be gone if Whitaker takes over the City Attorney function.
Please learn more at www.adamnick.org/AdamTellsAll-YouBeTheJudge
I am the first and only Council member in Lake Forest who doesn’t take a salary, pension benefits, etc.
I am the only Council member with a 100% attendance record — because I take seriously my duty to you, my oath, and the honor you have given me to serve you.
I have refused and will continue to refuse money and other kinds of “support” from Real Estate
Developers, companies that do business with the City (or want to do business with the City), County and Sacramento politicians, and other Special Interests. Dwight Robinson’s years in office are plagued, and documented, with tens of thousands of dollars of such money and favors, and in return, he has given those contributors whatever they wanted — at YOUR expense and to the detriment to YOUR way of life.
I have proven to be beholden to the interests of Lake Forest residents and not the interests of
campaign contributors. Dwight Robinson can’t make that claim. The facts make that clear.
In November, you will have the final say — your vote.
I trust that you will vote informed — that you will vote your conscience – and re-elect your Councilman only if he’s done right by you.
PLEASE learn more at www.adamnick.com
Follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/teamadamnick
Please call me with your concerns at 949-812-0920 or email me at email@example.com
I will be honored to have your vote again.