|Nicely spread cedar mulch.|
Yesterday I sent a brief note to Arcadia's Chief Deputy City Clerk, Lisa Mussenden, who is also the person who runs the municipal elections in town. I had a couple of questions I needed to ask her, and she got back to me within the hour. Which was very responsive and kind of her. Not all city officials are quite that attentive or prompt. Here is how our exchange went. My e-mail first.
Lisa - My name is John Crawford and I run a regional news blog called The Sierra Madre Tattler. I have been covering Bob Harbicht's unfortunate run-ins with campaign law vis-a-vis the Arcadia Police Officers Assoc., and I have two questions for you.
1) What is the City of Arcadia's official position on this matter?
2) Will the officers pictured with Bob (and Roger) in that campaign related Facebook announcement face any kinds of discipline from the city?
|The recognized violation.|
1) The visibility of the Arcadia Police Department badge in the photo for campaign purposes was not consistent with our personnel rules or state campaign regulations. The subject campaigns have been notified that they must either remove the photographs entirely or alter them so that the badge is no longer visible. To my knowledge, this has been done sufficiently.
While we would generally discourage the use of the exterior of City buildings as part of campaign materials, they are nevertheless public spaces. We appreciate that the campaigns have removed the building identification from the subject photo, we did not require this.
2) The City cannot comment on personnel matters, except to say that in situations such as this, the matter would be properly investigated and appropriate disciplinary actions would be taken if warranted.
Lisa Mussenden, Elections Official
Chief Deputy City Clerk, City of Arcadia
There are some interesting takeaways to be found here. The first being the city's recognition that a law was likely broken. When The Tattler first broke this story I was not certain that we would ever get such an admission from anyone at City Hall. And while I personally do not agree with Lisa's assessment on the use of city owned buildings in political advertising such as Harbicht's, I'm taking what I can get.
The other thing that I find useful is the assurance that the City of Arcadia will be looking into this from a personnel management perspective. And if I am reading this right, it appears that the onus will mostly fall upon Detective Kendall "Schoolboy" Lee. Kendall is the current President of the Arcadia Police Officers Association, so from a labor relations perspective this should be an intriguing investigation. Too bad none of that will ever see the light of day. It would have made for interesting reading.
The person that bears a portion of the non-judicial guilt here is Bulldozer Bob Harbicht. The officers who stood by him in that Facebook photo must have trusted that Harbicht would know how to use their likenesses properly, and wouldn't put them into the kind of jeopardy that he did. No such luck.
Bob owes all of them a public apology. Hopefully he is big enough to give it, and soon.
Now I used the term "double vision" in the title of today's post, and this is what I meant by that. As Lisa mentioned, the City of Arcadia sent out a notification to all of the candidates and their campaigns about this matter. That information is a bit different from what was sent to me. I am posting it here so you can appreciate the contrast.
Date: March 1, 2018 at 2:37:32 PM PST
Subject: Certain Campaign Prohibitions
Due to inquiries received about certain restrictions regarding employees campaigning for candidates for office or regarding ballot measure, and doing so at City building locations, the below has been prepared by City Attorney Stephen Deitsch and is being circulated to the Mayor and City Council, and all City Council Candidates.
Generally, employees have First Amendment “free speech” rights to endorse and campaign for candidates for office and regarding ballot measures. However, they must do so on their own time and using their own resources, NOT on City time or using City resources.
Arcadia City Charter Section 905 provides, in pertinent part:
“No City employee shall take any part in any political campaign while in a uniform bearing the insignia or name of the City of Arcadia. No person shall use the administrative offices and facilities of the City for the purpose of furthering a political campaign for public office.”
Pursuant to Section 905, employees may, for example, appear in a picture endorsing or campaigning for a candidate for office or regarding a ballot measure. However, in doing so, they must not wear a uniform bearing the insignia or name of the City, at least to the extent that the insignia or name is clear and identifiable. That would include a badge, such as a police or firefighter badge – again at least to the extent that the badge is clear and identifiable.
Finally, Section 905 clearly prohibits using City offices and supplies (e.g., meeting rooms, staff offices, phones, computers, printers) to campaign for candidates for elective office or ballot measures. It is significantly less clear that Section 905 prohibits using City Hall, the City Police Department Headquarters, the City Library, or the City Fire Department Headquarters (or stations) as a backdrop for picture-taking for campaigns. These are buildings, often having identifiable names or insignia, which can easily be viewed and pictured from public areas at any time. Section 905 probably does not forbid picture-taking for campaign purposes using the publicly viewed exterior of such buildings. On the other hand, using a City police vehicle or fire vehicle as a backdrop for an election-related photograph is arguably using City property for campaign purposes in violation of Section 905.
If any person believes that a violation of State statute occurs during an election campaign, a complaint may be filed by such person with the Fair Political Practices Commission.
Lisa Mussenden, Elections Official
Chief Deputy City Clerk/Records Manager
City Clerk | City Attorney Office
240 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia, CA 91007
A more adamant yet nuanced version of what is correct and what is not, right? City Hall still has some questions, and the matter is more open ended than I was told. Together the two letters I've posted give you both the public and private faces of the city regarding this controversy. They are not quite the same.
I think you can also now see why the Harbicht campaign so quickly airbrushed the name of the Arcadia Police Department Headquarters from that building in the Facebook picture we're discussing here. Along with the official titles of the officers unfortunate enough to have posed with him. City law isn't completely clear, and obviously even Slow Bob finally recognized that he may have put his APOA cop pals in dutch with their employer.
As someone once said, and in an entirely different context, it is dangerous for commoners to get too close to the King. To which I am going to add, especially when that King is a fool. Which, in this case, he most assuredly is. A rather careless and self-involved one as well.
Arcadia March 7 Council Candidate Forum - CANCELLED
Mod: Check out this phony baloney.
The March 7, 2018 Arcadia City Council Candidates Forum scheduled to be held at the Arcadia Public Library has been cancelled. This annual forum has historically been tailored towards an “at-large” election format. After the recent changes to the City’s election process (moving from an “at-large” election format to individual district elections), the co-hosts of this forum, both the Arcadia Association of Realtors® and the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce, have concluded that the public would be better served by other upcoming district-specific forums.
Thus, both organizations felt it better to step aside and allow Arcadia residents to focus on the candidates specific to their district. The Arcadia Association of Realtors® and the Arcadia Chamber of Commerce would still like to remind Arcadia residents, again, that the election is a mail-in vote only and they encourage all residents to vote.
Thank you for your understanding. If this causes any inconvenience to you, please accept our apologies.
Andrew Cooper, RCE, CIPS
CEO - Arcadia Association of REALTORS®
The actual reason why this campaign event was canceled is 3 out of the 6 eligible candidates decided the AAR debate wasn't worth the time and effort, and chose not to attend. The AAR's screening of questions, plus the anticipated presence of Sho Tay’s rude stooges, being two of the reasons given.
But you can hardly expect Andrew to fess up to things such as that. It's not his style.