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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.

Peter Schelden 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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