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Council Members will continue to faithfully, proactively serve this community

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The Fourth District, Division 3 of the California Court of Appeal has issued a stay that maintains the Mission Viejo City Council members in office as legitimate and lawful incumbents.

"The complicated legal issues presented in this matter have resulted the Court asking for additional briefing on these first instance issues that have significant consequence statewide," said City Attorney William Curley. 

The City of Mission Viejo will continue to operate as normal and will preserve, maintain and protect the legal rights and duties of the public, the City and those involved in its unswerving adherence to the rule of law.

See the order received today.

Comments

Submitted by mary wsthen on Thu, 09/29/2022 - 6:12 pm

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Fantastic and good news! after the horrific comments from some members of the public this week at the council meeting this really is a welcome breathe of fresh air.
yeah for the good guys and keep up your good wirk!

Submitted by L Guest on Thu, 09/29/2022 - 6:33 pm

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There is nothing law abiding about you remaining in office. You are holding the seat illegally and wasting taxpayer money in the courts. Shameful.

Submitted by D Smith on Thu, 09/29/2022 - 6:54 pm

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A slow motion version of January 6 where more wackadoodles utilizing public money and resources to stay in power beyond their elected terms for their own benefit not ours.

Submitted by Doug Harding on Thu, 09/29/2022 - 7:23 pm

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The Judge’s order and judgment still stands. the only thing the Court of Appeal said is that the council is His order and judgment still stand, the only thing the Court of Appeal said is that they are not to be removed yet while the Court of Appeal takes more time. not to be removed yet while the Court of Appeal takes more time. Stay tuned.

Submitted by Doug on Thu, 09/29/2022 - 8:07 pm

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FRAUD? Or GROSS NEGLIGENCE? 4 years ago when we voted for our city council members, the ballot explicitly listed 2 year terms for Bucknum, Raths, and Sachs. Despite this, 4 years later they're still in power. Using city resources and taxpayer money, they've claimed they should remain in power because the city charter was never amended to allow for 2 year terms. But who is in charge of amending the city charter? So... are all 5 city council members guilty of FRAUD? Or GROSS NEGLIGENCE? Either way, it's the town that will suffer.

Submitted by Ann Owens on Thu, 09/29/2022 - 8:53 pm

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Nothing in this judgement has changed. The council just gets to remain in their seats until their appeal has been considered. They have not been proven innocent of anything. Council members still illegally extended their office. I don’t understand why people aren't upset that the council made up their own rules for holding office. What is Democratic about that?

Submitted by John Livingston on Thu, 09/29/2022 - 9:24 pm

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More false propaganda from our city govt. The stay does *not* maintain them as legitimate and lawful incumbents, as it does not overturn the lower courts ruling. Rather this stay temporarily prevents the court order removing them from office from going into effect, while the court awaits further information.

Submitted by Karen on Thu, 09/29/2022 - 9:37 pm

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Fabulous News! I expect the original ruling will be overturned by the appellate court. Thank you City for your diligentes and persevering.

Submitted by Barbara h. on Fri, 09/30/2022 - 12:12 am

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Let’s see, “delay, delay, delay.” Where have I seen that before??? Oh. Yes. I remember!

People! Please familiarize yourselves with the new candidates and let’s see if we can’t get some more responsive leadership!

Submitted by Karen Crocker on Fri, 09/30/2022 - 8:27 am

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To all you Naysayers! Have you raised your children in Mission Viejo? Have you or your children played sports on our exceptional well maintained sports field and parks? Do you participate at our recreation centers? Our public swimming pools? Our free MV Shuttle for our kids and adults that need transportation? Your aging parents who participate at the Senior Center? Do you drive on our well paved streets while enjoying the ambiance of our well maintained medians? Enjoy your walks along Oso trail or the lake? Date nights at our fabulous restaurants? This is due by excellence governance by a current and past City Council and excellent staff who make decisions that enhance our quality of life. We have a fiscally fit budget and reserve, economic development, public safety that allow our City to thrive. I will continue to support and vote for our current incumbents. I encourage you to do the same if you value your City and quality of life as a resident of Mission Viejo!

Submitted by Alexandra on Fri, 09/30/2022 - 8:59 am

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Not exactly. A stay only means that the court ordered action is on hold. It does not change the judge's finding that the 3 council members hold their seats unlawfully.

Please be accurate lest people think that this is simply a spin.

Submitted by James S on Fri, 09/30/2022 - 9:59 am

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Couldn’t agree more. Well said, Karen Crocker. When we moved to MV, those are among the things that drew us here. They don’t magically happen. Clearly the city has been well run. Maybe we could all take a deep breath, go for a walk on one of our excellent trails, and appreciate what we’ve got.

Submitted by Becky on Fri, 09/30/2022 - 11:16 am

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This article is hysterical. The only thing the court ordered is a stay. The order for council members removal still stands. Maybe whoever writes these articles should get some advice from someone besides the city attorney or council members who are in office illegally.

Submitted by Lynn S Holmes on Fri, 09/30/2022 - 12:47 pm

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Folks are missing the point. Attending City Council meetings is an eye-opener. Those who are stating wrongdoing are trying to make a point about a poor (and illegal) choice made by the City Council. No one has said this city is not beautiful. The streets are clean, the sidewalks are well cared for, the restaurants (and the fast food places ) feed us all, The Senior center is a wonderful place for all sorts of occasions. In the 3 minutes allowed for comment, we have tried to make a point. The City Council has done well with these and many other improvements. This is a city to love. However, continuing to remain in office without an election is not legal. We are residents who would hope that many of our neighbors would be bothered by the City Council's very poor choice. Let's fix it ! Vote on November 8 and let your voice be heard.

Submitted by Tom Moore on Fri, 09/30/2022 - 3:19 pm

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In the City Council meeting on Tuesday, 27 Sept. 22, the spouse of a sitting council member approached the public microphone and defended the sitting City Council (the second spouse to do this). One of the comments made was, in a survey of past council members, it was concluded that this was the best City Council we’ve had.
Perhaps. However, I am not aware of another Council that attempted to circumnavigate the will of “We, the people”.
For the most part I have found the current council predictably unremarkable (I’ve been a resident prior to incorporation). This is not meant as a slight but perhaps an acknowledgment that well run cities don’t need to be newsmakers.
Unfortunately in 2017 the City of Mission Viejo along with numerous other California cities was sued for being out of compliance with the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) passed in 2002 (It was rightly challenged and became law in 2006).
Should that legal action be placed on the backs of the current City Council? Yes. And every sitting City Council since the Act was passed. We (again, “the people”) elect our City representatives to protect us from costly litigation which should always be a last resort.
Sitting adjacent to the every elected City Council have been two City employed professional civil servants, the City Attorney and the City Manager. Was there ever an attempt by either of these individuals to bring this to the attention of the elected body to comply prior to the 2017 lawsuit? They too, should be held accountable.
Attempting to modify an established voting method was always gong to be contentious. Again, the CVRA was challenged and didn’t become law until 2006., four years after its’ approval in 2002.
In mid-January of 2018 the City of Mission Viejo in an attempt to comply with the CVRA held a CVRA “Workshop”. There were four individuals that attended, this included two former mayors of the City of Mission Viejo. The provided “Kit” asked you to participate in three ways. Method 1: DISTRICT IDEA AND COMMENT FORM. Here you could support districting or oppose districting. You could express ideas surrounding the idea of districting. You were then instructed to submit the form to the City. METHOD 2: DISTRICTING SCENARIO CREATION USING A PAPER MAP. Utilizing this method you were provided with relevant information (census, school district, water district, etc.), a census map and were requested to produce a 5 district map and then instructed to submit that map to the City. Method 3. DISTRICT SCENARIO CREATION USING Microsoft Excel data file. Essentially the same as Method 2. but on-line.
In total there were somewhere between 200 and 300 hundred participants of the roughly 65,026 eligible voters in Mission Viejo. A majority of these 200-300 individuals “voted” (Method 1. There were roughly 16 maps submitted, Method 2 and 3, several by the same individuals) to direct the City of Mission Viejo to avoid district voting and proceed to find a cumulative voting method that complied with the CVRA. That direction ultimately failed after a considerable expense and the City Council voted to proceed with a district map that met with less than enthusiastic support.
Since 2018 the City Attorney and several sitting council members have used this attempt at complying with the CVRA to endorse the extension of the terms of the sitting City Council.
I will state here publicly that I did not vote for any of the sitting Council members. They were placed on the Council by a vote of the people of this City. I respect that vote and I respect their service to the community for the duration of the term in which they were publicly elected.
Returning any of these Council members and the City Attorney and City Manager to their former positions would speak loudly about the character of this community. What a shame.

Submitted by Cathy Schlicht on Fri, 09/30/2022 - 4:07 pm

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Misinformation is posted in this City's press release and other council resources.

The city attorney did NOT file a Writ of Mandamus, which would of been a request for the Appeals Court to rule on the merits of Judge Schwarm's Orders.

The city attorney, because he does not have a case for the Appeals court to overrule, instead filed a Writ of Supersedeas. This writ is delaying the the removal of "The Squatters", so the Council's plan is delay or evade judgment until after the November 8 election. The city attorney, again, is gaming the system with a scheme for the council to get away with their unlawful activities.

Let's be perfectly clear on Judge Schwarm's June 28 and August 31st rulings, rulings that the council will NOT put into the public record. The city attorney has been operating on the Amended Stipulated Judgment as his authority to extend the terms of office for the council. Judge Schwarm strongly denied that interpretation on June 28 and again on August 31. If the council had an appealable case, why did they not appeal the June 28 decision to the Appeals Court? Why did the city attorney wait until Monday to file for a Stay to stop Friday's removal of "The Squatters"?

This whole process seems to have been a scam since September 2017, when the City was served a demand letter from Shenkman for CVRA violations. For 5 years the city attorney appears to have abused the process to keep the council in office, and now, even with court rulings plainly stating that the Amended Stipulated Judgment was to find a remedy for CVRA violations and the city attorney got caught trying to sneak in term extensions, the voters are still being misled.

The city attorney did not file anything to reverse Judge Schwarm's rulings. This petition that the Council filed is to run out the clock, so they can avoid being thrown out of office.

November 8 will determine if the public accepts this abuse of power or not....

Submitted by margo kutner on Fri, 09/30/2022 - 9:37 pm

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I've read through all the comments and the ones that question the manipulations of the city attorney and the current council members stand out as the most credible and comprehensive of the comments. There definitely appears to be some questionable actions being taken that are not necessarily for the good of the voters. It certainly appears that there is an ongoing attempt to "game" the system. No one is denying that we live in a lovely community. However, there also appears to be a "clique" who is not as concerned about the spending of the taxpayers money as they should be and more concerned with maintaining control of their favorites including vendors and "friends".

Submitted by Diedrich Duo on Sun, 10/02/2022 - 11:48 am

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I agree with John Livingston's comments above. These "news releases" are nothing but propaganda. Too bad Pravda isn't hiring -- our City Attorney would be a great candidate for a job there.

Submitted by Cathy Schlicht on Mon, 10/03/2022 - 3:41 pm

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Why won't the city council and the city attorney post Judge Schwarm's August 31, 2022 Order?

Here are some excerpts that will answer that question - the Judge's own words destroys the "official" narrative:

You will find the following statements on pages 5 and 6: "...this court did not approve extension of Defendants' prescribed two-year terms." "Mr. Curley's declaration did not state that Defendant's two-year terms would be extended if the Amended Stipulated Judgment was entered." "The Stipulated Judgment, the Amended Stipulated Judgment, the Notice of Election and Resolution 18-52 demonstrated the City's recognition that the seats at issue in the Complaint were for terms of two-years." "The Stipulated Judgment and the Amended Stipulated Judgment did not preclude the City of Mission Viejo from holding elections for Defendant's City Council seats in the November 2020..." "Even assuming that the Stipulated Judgment and the Amended Stipulated Judgment could be interpreted to extend Defendant's prescribed two-year terms to four years, Defendants have not shown that such an extension would be legal." "...the purpose of the Stipulated Judgment and the Amended Stipulated Judgment was to address the CVRA violation..." "The Stipulated Judgment and the Amended Stipulated Judgment were not intended to extend he terms of Defendants' City Council seats especially in light of the information provided to the voters in the City by way of the Notice of Election and Resolution 18--52."

What is more troubling is that the city attorney unloaded over 1,000 pages in his brief to the appeals court. What is also extremely disturbing is that the city's brief is nullifying all the official public documents that stated to the voters that the election terms were for two years, thereby extending terms to four years instead per municipal code.

It is outrageous to what lengths this council is willing to go to to avoid accountability.

All they had to do was admit they made an error in judgment, apologize and step down.

They refused to created staggered elections; they refused to create a contingency plan for a lack of a quorum, such as exploring the Nesbitt v Bolz case; and at great expense, the council doubled down and lawyered up with 6 lawyers because they refuse to give up their seats because they want to protect "their" Constitutional Rights, over our Constitutional Rights to freely elect our leaders.

Submitted by Michael Rotcher on Wed, 10/12/2022 - 1:45 pm

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For me, the issue of the legality of their actions is not the central question. I'm even willing to assume that their actions were well-meaning, albeit self-serving. What shocks me is the seeming total lack of self awareness and apparent indefatigable belief in their own infallibility. I mean it doesn't take a brain surgeon to see that this isn't going to set well with people or at the very least be fodder for the political opposition.

Submitted by Cathy Schlicht on Wed, 10/12/2022 - 4:42 pm

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At some point, you would have thought that a light would have gone off in their heads. But it didn't. Why didn't it? They had to have known that what they were doing was unethical. And if they didn't know, we certainly cannot re-elect council members with such poor judgment.

But the bigger problem will be if these council members are re-elected, they will be terming out, and it will be time to payback all that special interest influence from their last 3 election cycles.

Also, this Sept 29 press release appears to be a public endorsement for the incumbents, a clear violation of campaign laws.

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