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Councilman Criticizes Candidate for Public Records Request

For the second meeting in a row, an Aliso Viejo councilman knocks a City Council candidate over a public information request. The candidate replies: Every citizen has a right to request public records.

An Aliso Viejo city councilman criticized a council candidate Wednesday night for making a public information request.

Councilman Phil Tsunoda said the request by candidate Ross Chun cost the city about $2,000 in staff research time.

At the last council meeting on Oct. 3, Tsunoda described the request as "rather odd" and "appalling."

"I found it appalling that he would ask in this setting, at this time during the silly season," for the information, Tsunoda said.

Chun said his request involved a contentious park improvement plan between the city and the Aliso Viejo homeowners association. He wanted to read communications between members of a city ad hoc recreation committee and someone who allegedly analyzed the reserve budget of the Aliso Viejo Community Association.

AVCA and the city share the responsibility of governing Aliso Viejo. To understand how this relationship works, read here.

Chun said he made the request to disprove a statistic quoted by a political opponent about the percentage of AVCA's money held in reserve. Chun served as president of AVCA four times between 2006 and 2012, according to his campaign website.

Chun defended his information request:

"It’s the right of every single citizen to request these public records. Nobody should be intimidated…with retaliation from a council member up on the dais. The City of Aliso Viejo made similar requests, in fact more than two dozen requests on behalf of the Aliso Viejo recreation ad hoc committee, which was made up of Phil Tsunoda and Don Garcia."

Garcia and Chun are opponents in the 2012 City Council election.

Chun said he does not know how much AVCA spent researching and delivering the requests of Garcia and Chun.

Tsunoda said if Chun had asked him about the conversation with the budget analyst, the city would have been spared the expense of the formal request. From the Oct. 3 meeting:

"I asked him, 'Mr. Council Candidate, what answers are you seeking?' And the deer-in-the-headlights, confused answer I received was, ‘I don’t know what I’m asking. I just need to know the information.… I just don’t know, I just need to know in case someone asks me.' What questions might be asked? 'Uh, I don’t know. I just need to make sure I know.' ”

Chun said he wanted the information to correct his opponent's claim that AVCA holds only 30 percent of its budget in reserve. He said the actual figure is closer to 100 percent. (AVCA doesn't make its budget public.)

"There is no documentation to substantiate his claim," Chun said.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Chun's estimate of the AVCA reserve budget.

Greg Gantman October 18, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Mayor Quimby - (Not Real Name) advise your background as to your history and volunteer record in Aliso Viejo. As for Ross Chun I dare anyone to believe any volunteer work in a community is only showing up for last minute pictures , that's if they show up at all. Comments as to AVCA and Bill Conley are unfounded. Anytime there is a ad hoc committee meeting this becomes a meeting of record where notes are supposed to be notated. Lastly, if sports leagues from outside the community are supported at AV City cost, what happens when they renege - who repays the City?
Capo Parent Too October 18, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Oh, like with the Walk for Life when Ross went there in the moring and set up the water station, was there overnight with his family and Conley showed up for the photo op to take credit for AVCA? You mean like that?
Mayor Quimby October 18, 2012 at 05:44 PM
I have been involved with ANHS sports, girls softball, and AYSO, so I know the players in this racket. Unfounded about Mr Conley?? I mentioned that he comes out and gives his all, while Chun shows up for the photo op. You don't need to have documentation for that. I have witnessed it. And yes, my husband was personally told that staff members in the AVCA office were elated when Chun wasn't running for AVCA. This ad hoc committee that gets everyone's knickers in a bunch. It was a bunch of people brainstorming. Nothing else. Why would anyone take minutes on these things that weren't even voted on? Nearly all of the fields in AV are owned by AVCA, so the City doesn't lose out any revenue. A rental agreement is initiated between AVCA and the user group. Those organizations that are based in AV get a price break versus those outside the city. But the fees are paid up front.
Mayor Quimby October 18, 2012 at 05:46 PM
He is running for City Council. Don't you think it would be politically opportunistic to do that?
MayMom October 18, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Mr. Gantman, Mayor Quimby is obviously an insider with the City. It seems like he/she has more information than is available to most. This has to do with nothing more than the fact that Mr. Chun has the right as a resident of Aliso Viejo to get the information. It is public records. I can't believe that it would cost $2,000. If minutes were taken at these meetings, it should be easy to track down. This is the third time the City Council Member has tried to discredit Mr. Chun at a Council meeting. Even threatening a law suit. I know that I have seen Mr. Chun present at events throughout the city (association, city and community). If there is question of photo ops, it seems the City officials are guilty of that as well.
Peter Schelden (Editor) October 18, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Greg, just to be clear, Councilman Tsunoda is not referring to the price someone pays to receive public information. He is describing the cost the city incurs as a result of fulfilling such a request.
Peter Schelden (Editor) October 18, 2012 at 06:15 PM
To be clear, no lawsuit has been filed against the city, although the Californians Aware watchdog group has threatened to sue.
Peter Schelden (Editor) October 18, 2012 at 06:27 PM
MayMom, apparently the nature of the request required a lot of research on the part of city staff. About two years of e-mails and other conversations had to be found and submitted to Mr. Chun. The cost includes staff time, in other words what you must pay someone to do that research.
Mayor Quimby October 18, 2012 at 06:29 PM
MayMom You are giving me way too much credit, but thanks. To your last point, you are correct saying that all local elected officials (Garcia, Pritchard, etc) like to get their faces in front of the camera, especially during election season. As for the request, it appears to be more of a fishing expedition. We don't know if there was ever a documented meeting between the supposed people. It could have been a five minute discussion between two people. But Mr. Chun was in attendance at all of these meetings, so he should know that they were all informal get togethers. There are no officers, no actionable events, no formal agendas. Why he would want something that may not exist in the first place is odd, and he would know that. The $2000.00 estimation is unknown to me, but he might be calculating staff time and possibly legal consultation, if indeed a suit is brought.
Greg Gantman October 18, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Peter, you are very correct In regard to potential total costs. However, why would councilman Tsunoda spend one year creating the AV Planning Commission, which must have cost the City over $100,000 and Mayor Garcia gets quorum to terminate it to save $36,000 per year in total staff time? Why would Garcia reserve $600,000 for Foxbourgh Park from City funds. Why has the City kept spending while residents are losing their homes, needing food due to job loss. Where has the City been helpful to residents in need of employment opportunities, such as job fairs or food banks. I failed to mention how much did the City, Mayor Garcia's pet project "lip dup" pay for this media extravaganza. He also supports $50,000 city volunteer website when there is a huge volunteer group in Aliso Viejo. Ross Chun is fiscally conservative and will bring a welcomed environment to the City of Aliso Viejo.
Corrine K October 18, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Obviously Mayor Quimby is speaking at the behest of Tsunoda, who should recognize that his constituency is now questioning his character and integrity. Everyone make note of the Mayor's comments....his characterization of the meetings is code for "Brown Act Violations." Also, his criticism of Mr. Chun's lack of "deep ties" to sports leagues only supports his ability to remain impartial. Tsunoda lobbied for sports field expenditures from the city budget while sitting on the Little League board. Can you say Conflict of Interest?
Green Mavin October 18, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Conley and Chun are both volunteers to be admired. The real question is, why do we never see Garcia or Tsunoda volunteering their time? Mayor Quimby, think about the pot calling the kettle black as you formulate your next attack. Or better yet, take a hike!
Greg Gantman October 18, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Mayor Quimby - I use my name and you my friend don't! Nothing wrong supporting the Mayor, just have the guts to advise you were on city and AVCA committees, You also know Ross Chun volunteered for Relay for Life in a passionate way as you did. These comments are in place of a prevented Candidates forum. Residents of Aliso Viejo have the right to hear all points of view. I welcome the Mayor to reply in defense of statements presented. How else can voters place their vote in November.
MayMom October 18, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Mayor Quimby, the current real Mayor rarely shows up for ANY events UNLESS it's a photo op. How is that any different. He even showed up at an association sponsored event (along with about 10 staff members) to present the key to the City to Miss Kyla Ross (not to take away from her accomplishments in any way). Why wasn't it done at Founders Day? Attendance maybe.
AnaheimMgr October 18, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Unfortunately, it appears that Councilman Tsunoda has continued to maintain the same level of immaturity and paranoia he exhibited while employed by the City of Anaheim. I find it reprehensible that he use the power of his seat and dais to question the right of any citizen’s request, be they a candidate for public office or not, for public records. I myself am “appalled” by Councilman Tsunoda’s contrived attempt to make an issue of the [supposed $2,000] admin cost to process a public information request. Why it was just a few weeks ago that Councilman Tsunoda made another attempt at retaliation against Mr. Chun that would have potentially cost the city tens of thousands of dollars. Councilman Tsunoda, take note that your position is to provide leadership and guidance to the community, not to carry out some type of personal vendetta in the public forum or take steps to, what seems to be more and more, an attempt to cover the truth.
MayMom October 18, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Maybe there was a conflict of interest if he is voting to spend money on a league where he sits on the board.
MayMom October 18, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Mayor Quimby, how could you possible know so much about the inner works. We are concerned citizens wanting transparancy with our elected officials. Guess it's time to attend more meetings. I did attend one and the council was disrespectful in their tone then. I guess their spots haven't changed.
Truth Be Told October 18, 2012 at 09:49 PM
The truth apparently has no place in Don Garcia's council chamber. It was well-publicized that Garcia's accusations about the park funds were due to his own lack of attention, participation and understanding of the association's finances. His alter ego, Mayor Quimby, is now acting on his behalf, just as Councilman Tsunoda does, like some sort of attack-chihuahua, making accusations in pubic meetings so Garcia can sit back and grin. What is Garcia's attendance record in council meetings? POOR. Attendance record at events? EVEN WORSE. Activity as a volunteer? NON-EXISTANT. Outlook for the city under the leadership of Tsunoda and Garcia? GRIM!
Fred Garvin October 18, 2012 at 10:23 PM
"Mr. Chun will show up just in time to be introduced as one of the Board members", well at least he will show up. Did anyone happen to see Mr. Garcia at any of the following events; 4th of July at Grand Park, Relay for Life, city event at Target, SOKA Festival, Founder's Day. Yes he showed up in the evening when it was time for him to be introduced but not before then. It was nice to see him at my daughter's school the other day. I wonder why it is only until now that he decides to come out and meet the children, while we are with them. Mayor Quimby if you are going to throw stones I suggest you do a little fact checking.
Kathleen K October 19, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Nice to come back to town from a business trip to find that Aliso Viejo politics are in full swing. After reading this string of comments, I have the following suggestions: 1. DO NOT vote for Don Garcia or any of his thugs in November. 2. Find a way of recalling Phil Tsunoda to cut out this cancer from our city council. 3. Watch very carefully what the remaining council does in the coming months. This type of lying and deception is likely not limited to Garcia and Tsunoda.
Green Mavin October 19, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Recall Phil Tsunoda. An interesting concept. What would it take to recall him and try to get our city government back on track?
Truth Be Told October 19, 2012 at 01:39 AM
Recall Phil Tsunoda.
No Nonsense October 19, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Mayor Quimby is one of the loons that spew nonsense and falsehoods on the Orange Juice blog. He is Gus Ayer, the ex-Mayor of Fountain Valley who was soundly defeated a number of years ago by Republicans who were far better suited to the job than he.
Lori Walker October 19, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Just for the record, I have personally seen Ross Chun (and often, Ross' wife and children) at many, many community events. I have NEVER noticed him to run in and out for a "photo op". At several of these events, I never even saw a camera flashing. He does not just "show up", he PARTICIPATES. What surprises me about this conversation is that an individual would be personally attacked for making a simple, legal request. It makes me wonder.... Is someone trying to hide something here? And what is it they want to hide? Perhaps it would be good to have someone like Chun on our city council..... someone who is not afraid to stand up and ask the questions......
Corrine K October 19, 2012 at 04:39 AM
Recall Phil Tsunoda.
Peter Schelden (Editor) October 19, 2012 at 07:24 AM
I want to especially thank the commenters on this board using their real names. Patch encourages it.
Holly Telford October 19, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Ross Chun returns his emails, is seen all over Aliso Viejo regularly with his family, donates many of his hours volunteering to help causes that help our community. The very fact that candidate Garcia is asking for our vote. and then is taking time to write propaganda and malicious information about his opposing candidate is enough for me to know that he is not deserving of my vote. I do not want a leader in our community to think they can bully and become unneighborly because they are in a position of power. This article is just that. Stick to sharing your accomplishments that have benefitted our community and stop using a human target, in this case your opponent to deflect. This article was totally unneccesary and an attempt to manipulate voters in our community. Thank you Ross for all of your hard work to help better our community. We need positive, dedicated, goal seeking leadership to continue to help build a community of happiness and prosperity. Thank you for asking the difficult questions to find solutions. Please keep your focus on how you can bring that value to our community and do not get involved in the propaganda. This article is an attempt to bring destruction, division in our community and is in bad taste. If there was goodness in our current city council then it would be known, right? Wouldn't the good, honest things the current council has done be a much higher priority to communicate to the general public and not mudslinging a opposing candidate?
Green Mavin October 19, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Recall Phil Tsunoda. Enough's enough!
Public Trust October 20, 2012 at 06:42 AM
What does it take to initiate a recall? That would be an interesting column.
AV Mom October 29, 2012 at 05:34 AM
I would like to know why the City of Aliso Viejo city council does not have term limits. Term limits would flush the whole deck of cards out and make a better Aliso Viejo. Our country functions better when term limits are enforced. It seems like all of the problems with the current City council come from having power for too long.

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