Nothing More Than A….

August 19, 2010

 

While trying to get the remaining one-half of my brain around the recent activity of the “E-Verifiy” activists, lately wafting in Murrieta, I have contemplated on why I find them so annoying.

Obviously, the issue of illegal immigration is a difficult one to resolve, especially when successive Federal administrations, Republican and Democrat alike and for equally questionable reasons,  have ignored the problem. It is still, after all, a federal issue. 

End of story.

These illegal-immigration “activists” have, thus far,  failed to join together in sufficient voting numbers to produce their desired political outcomes and policies in the White House, the Senate, and the Congress, as well as the more local bodies of governance within the State of California.

These same people likely voted for Conan the Barbarian as their governor, foolishly hoping that he could alter the direction of the State of California.

Alas, Conan couldn’t and didn’t.

Changing only the face and personality of the governor does not matter much when the entrenched majority in the State Senate and State Assembly cannot be changed. This entrenchment was aided and abetted by a similarly impotent minority political party, who foolishly agreed to a gerrymander of the various Senate and assembly districts, curving the state up into “safe” districts.

As a result, the minority party, doomed themselves to a permanent, neutered minority status.

However, elements of a recently blooming, supposed conservative “juggernaut” have found that, despite their impotent status, there is a venue where they can have an “appearance of power.” That is why the E-verify activists are swarming city Council meetings in Southwest Riverside County like annoying flies at a picnic.

http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/murrieta/article_529cb7db-bfb8-5f04-905a-b933ce1d502e.html

Knowing that local City Council members, who are already residing in a generally conservative Southwest Riverside County, and who probably have similar thoughts and political leanings as do the activists, the activists “bum rush” the various City Council meetings, to lend their carping voices to the impotent wail of frustration.

In a meeting that is generally dull and quiet, doing the mundane consideration of local, municipal business, the intrusion by7 to10 noisy and ill -mannered (see August 12, 2010, below) activists apparently causes some Council Members, to become momentarily disoriented and distracted from municipal issues and to vote in  favor of the E-verifiers neutered federal issue.

With 12,000,000 illegal immigrants reportedly already in the country, from coast to coast, bullying local government officials into approving a meaningless ordinance is itself the epitome of meaningless activism bringing about a meaningless outcome.

It is the very essence of the metaphor, “a fart in the wind.”

Congratulations are in order for the E-Verify activists for accomplishing absolutely nothing.

Next time, take your issue to where it belongs.

 

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

E-Verify activists can save their breath, however.

I am holding mine.


Wildomar Magazine Endorses..

July 17, 2010

 

 

…MENIFEE CITY COUNCILMAN SCOTT MANN

http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/menifee/article_0a15b65f-8636-5f61-95a2-1da05e244574.html

Several weeks ago, at the Western Riverside Council of Government (WRCOG) regional meeting at the Morongo Casino and Spa, while quietly sipping a beer and waiting for an opportunity to meet the keynote speaker for the evening, Former Chief of Staff for the Bush Administration, Karl Rove, I heard a voice rising above the din, saying “I want to meet  you.”

At first, my heart skipped a beat as I thought it was Rove himself. Alas, it wasn’t, as my readership continues to be appropriately limited to the historic community of Wildomar and nearby environs.

Looking beyond the pointed finger forcing its way through the crowd like the prow of a U.S. Navy destroyer, I saw  a wrist extending from the cuff of a medium-priced business suit, belonging to none other than Menifee City Councilmember, Scott Mann.

Zak generally relishes the opportunity to interact with those politicos whom he has mocked on the pages of Wildomar Magazine, mocked usually for good reasons. (See the October 2009 archives).

Councilmember Mann and I sat for a decent time span, long enough for Mann to admit that his demeanor on the evening of which I wrote was inappropriate and deserving of the treatment he received in Wildomar Magazine.

It was a mature admission and, as a result, I have changed my initial impressions regarding him. Based on our conversation, Councilman Scott Mann appears to have the best interests of his community at heart and, therefore, has earned the endorsement of Zak Turango and Wildomar Magazine for his reelection to the Menifee City Council in November 2010.

Mann understands that the best way for politicians to deal  with the world of satirical blogging and parody is to enjoy the laugh, as long as it’s funny, contemplate what is being said, and if true, embrace the truth.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

A political endorsement by Wildomar Magazine is , however, a bit like being on parole. You don’t want to do or say anything foolish.


Menifee-asco, Part Deux.. Or Is It Part Tre?

May 1, 2010

 

….SOON THERE’LL BE NO ONE LEFT TO BLAME

Now that the head of the City Attorney for Menifee-asco is on the chopping block, who’s next?

Zak is starting to lose the count.

http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/menifee/article_66d7aa3f-b0cf-5017-b23e-57b74eccd2db.html

Next stop on the Recrimination and Blame Tour; the Electeds.

And once they’re gone, then the voters of Menifee themselves.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com but only if you voted for someone else.


………………………MENIFEE-ASCO…………..

April 28, 2010

 

 ENUFF SAID!

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.  Calls for my resignation, or job offers, will be ignored.


Help For Menifee; A Humble Recommendation….

April 17, 2010

 

…..FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION

“An independent audit states that in its first 18 months, the Menifee city finance department has been mismanaged, understaffed, prone to costly billing errors, open to conflicts of interest and even making payments on contracts that weren’t authorized by the City Council.

After looking over the report Friday, Finance Committee Chairman Scott Mann concluded there was approximately $135,000 in overbilling, $121,000 in back billing, $76,000 in double billing, and $60,000 in charges from unauthorized subcontractors.

Those figures add up to $392,000 in combined billing errors, and the auditors reviewed only six of the city’s 31 contracts that make up about 19 percent of the city’s $21 million budget. Most of the billing errors have already been made public.

“I can’t believe the scope of sloppiness and mismanagement emphasized in this report,” Mann said. “This is not the way to run a business, municipality or a school district.”

Citing a stunning report issued by a San Bernardino auditing firm, as reported in today’s Californian, the city of Menifee finds itself in a startling dilemma for a new city, or even an old one.

See the following link for yourself:

http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/menifee/article_90508723-d8a4-588d-aec8-a18da929dd9e.html

Although the usual attitude for bloggers like the mythical and mirthful Editor of Wildomar Magazine Zak Turango, is to gloat over such a windfall dilemma in “gotcha” politics, this is not the time for gloating. This is a serious matter, arising in tough economic circumstances and a time for real leaders to rise up on behalf of the  citizens of Menifee.

It is so serious, Zak will even go on record in commending Menifee City Councilman Scott Mann  for taking a leadership role in quickly turning to an outside  auditing firm in order to fully investigate and disclose the embarrassing circumstances we are all now reading about.

As to the humble recommendation noted in the title of this piece, former Interim Wildomar City Manager John Danielson is likely available as a resource for Menifee since Wildomar has now hired another competent professional as permanent city manager, Frank Oviedo, to replace him. Wildomar Magazine suggests someone from Menifee might want to contact Danielson.

Danielson was initially discovered and vetted by Wildomar Council member Sheryl Ade, as Wildomar’s new City Council groped for answers on how to get the new city of Wildomar off the ground. 

Ade says she was impressed by Danielson at their first meeting. She says she liked the fact that, rather than “pimping for the  job,” Danielson graciously discussed what qualities Wildomar should look for in a City Manager. 

Ade was sufficiently impressed with his professionalism, that she became an ardent supporter of his retention as Interim City Manager , once Wildomar became a city.

In addition to his managerial skills, Danielson was able to tap into his own network of gifted and professional colleagues, who also performed well in getting Wildomar off the launch pad and into orbit, albeit a low earth orbit, given the current economic conditions statewide.

For what it’s worth, Wildomar Magazine humbly suggests  John Danielson  for any future consideration as Menifee gropes for its own urgent solutions.

Danielson did a good job for Wildomar.

‘Nuff said.

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

You have to know Zak serious is when he not only passes on another chance to mock Scott Mann, but also to offer a sincere compliment to him on his leadership.

There’ll be plenty of opportunities for additional mocking in the future, I’m sure.


Menifee Earns Their Own Category On Wildomar Magazine…

April 11, 2010

 

….AS  FAIR TRADE FOR THE MAILBOX INVASION  OF WILDOMAR BY THE  MENIFEE WILDOMAR GAZETTE

What makes Wildomar Magazine different from the Wildomar Gazette is that it won’t have a ghost-written puff piece from Mayor Bridgette Moore on the front page of every single issue.

Instead, if the Mayor makes the WM front page,  it will usually be the result of some inane action or comment on her part that deserves, nay demands, some incisive, satirical commentary from her favorite contestant in the “robust debate in democracy” game show, Zak Turango.

She sounded like she meant that stuff about robust debate during her state of the city speech. Or am I being naïve?

But then, when am I not?

What will make  the new Menifee category hauntingly similar to the Wildomar Gazette is that Wildomar Magazine will also try to spotlight businesses from Menifee, something that might incur the wrath of local Wildomar businesses. 

The Editors of the Gazette might want to avoid any upcoming Wildomar Chamber mixers in the short-term.

Like most of what Zak does, the Menifee category is a free gift, pure and simple, to the people who read the magazine, which may now also include more Menifee folks than usual. Based on what I’m reading in the newspapers, it’s a richly deserved gift. Perhaps my interest in Councilman Scott Mann, as a result of his past boorish antics in Wildomar, also plays a part.

So read away, new friends. You’ll be glad you did.

And, since it may be important  to you erstwhile environmentalists, WM is also completely “green.” No trees were reduced to cheap newsprint to publish Wildomar Magazine and cyber ink has absolutely NO carbon footprint.

Comments and inquiries as to commercial advertisements on Wildomar Magazine can be made to zakturango@excite.com. Understand, however, if you’re an interested Wildomar merchant,  that we are focusing our efforts on putting more tax dollars into Menifee’s coffers.

You also won’t find any sponsorship in Wildomar Magazine by any churches promoting local eateries either, since Zak profoundly believes in the separation of church and steak.


Wildomar Magazine Announces…

April 10, 2010

 

…A QUI TAM SEMINAR FOR MENIFEE

But only if Menifee citizens want it.

A date for the seminar has not been set and in fact, Menifee citizens are currently unaware that they may need to schedule the seminar.  Instead, they were forced to sit back in helpless embarrassment and watch their city officials find repeated and significant overpayments to vendors and consultants.

To be fair, no Menifee citizen has  even invited Zak to come to their fair city to introduce this  useful citizen activist strategy. But I am graciously extending the invitation, nonetheless.

Why re-invent the wheel, or, in this case, the hammer?

As you will soon learn if you read on to the bottom of the page, years ago, while digging around Lake Elsinore’s corrupt political regime as a prime contributor for Elsinore Magazine, and out of frustration, Zak found a way for commoners without law degrees, people like you and I, to effectively sue politicians and bureaucrats for public monies falsely taken and pocketed by individuals or their companies. He found a serious hammer to pound the corrupt within the civil legal system.

The Hammer for this task is the California False Claims Act, Government Code 12650-12656. I am providing a link for your easy reference, as follows:

http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/GOV/1/2/d3/2/6/9/s12650

 This code provides an avenue for recovery of monies spent and received improperly. In Menifee’s current situation, where a company, a consultant, or perhaps even  a law firm, have allegedly overbilled for the services, any private citizen with that knowledge prior to reading about it in the newspaper, could have filed a Qui Tam lawsuit on behalf of the citizens of Menifee.

Qui Tam (qui tam pro domino rege quam pro sic ipso in hoc parte sequitur ) is abbreviated Latin for “he who sues on behalf of the king as well as himself” and comes from old English common law. Its first use in America occurred during the Civil War after greedy, corrupt manufacturers sold defective shoes to the U.S. government  for its Union soldiers. 

When the troopers put the boots on and found themselves marching during rain storms, a common occurrence, the boots quickly fell apart due to their shabby construction. Since the federal government was too busy fighting a war of survival to seek redress from the companies, so they  enacted a federal Qui Tam statute so that  persons with personal knowledge of corruption could file lawsuits on behalf of the federal government.

In the 1980s, the state of California enacted a similar statute.

In the 1990s, Zak used that statute to recover money from two persons falsely taking money from the citizens of Lake Elsinore. They were then-Mayor Pam Brinley, who wrongfully let the city pay for her grandchildren’s plush health insurance policy and former Elsinore City Manager, Ron Molendyk, who was given a sweetheart deal by his successor to supposedly find Parks and Recreation “grants” for Elsinore.

Molendyk impudently billed the city of Elsinore for $24,000 in six months, billing for meetings that never took place. And with people who later repeatedly denied knowing him. He ultimately paid every penny back. As part of the settlement agreement, the plaintiffs agreed not to pursue the same claims through other cities, where similar billing events could be established.

So powerful was the False Claim Act, that Brinley and Molendyk each settled their cases before they went to trial, returning all of the money taken by them back to Elsinore’s taxpayers. All at no cost to the city for the lawsuit.

In fact, my good friend and longtime environmental activist, Gene Frick, thought that False Claim Act lawsuits, if relentlessly applied statewide, could change state politics. A currently-sitting Associate Justice of the Nevada Supreme Court once asked Zak to bring this law to Nevada, giving Zak permission to drop the judge’s name as a  referral.  Wow, the stuff you sometimes discuss at cocktail parties.

The key elements  of the Act are, as follows:

The threshold for a lawsuit is $500. That seems like chump change given the numbers we read about the newspaper.

Fraud does not have to be proven.  Only the “fact” of false billing. Proving intent is what makes fraud lawsuits so difficult to prosecute. But intent is not a necessary element under the False Claims Act.

You do have to be the one to find the false billing; you can’t have read or heard about it from the media so you have to do some homework, which amounts to following  the paper trails found in  the warrants list provided with your city Council agendas. It can be an easy and profitable hobby for the retired, as a successful Qui Tam plaintiff is rewarded by the statute with percentage of the proceeds recovered, up to one third of the recovery. The rest goes back to the city. Again, fair enough.

You are not suing the citizens of your city, usually an unpopular thing in a city strapped for cash like Wildomar; rather, you are suing on behalf of the citizens so there is no cost to the city for the lawsuit, the person accused of taking the money has to defend themselves and pay for their own lawyers. The city’s lawyers sit on the sidelines, their expensive hands folded quietly in their laps.

 The suing citizen gets to recover his  legal fees from the greedy as there is an attorney fees clause in the act so plaintiff attorneys are willing to take this type of case on a contingency basis.  Zak always uses the Qui Tam Queen, a wonderful Orange County attorney for a his recoveries.

The Statute of Limitations is 10 years from the act; three years from discovery so there’s plenty of time to go back and dig through the records.

Treble damages can be awarded by the jury for taking the money in the first place. For those of you in Juniper Flats, that means three times what they took. As a result, the cost of defending themselves for taking money they were not entitled to are so onerous that they usually settle prior to trial. Can you imagine facing a jury of angry taxpayers?

Qui Tam truly puts the fear of God, or fear of informed citizens, into corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.

While Zak was doing this  in Lake Elsinore, a prominent and powerful political consulting firm  in Riverside was scared sh*tless that these lawsuits would become popular and spread to every city in the county, which would likely have included many of his clients.

Reading about the recent events in Menifee, that would be a good thing.

So Zak is extending an offer to any concerned motivated citizen activist  living in Menifee to meet with Zak at a meeting place of their choice so as to provide further information on this wonderful tool. We apparently don’t need it in Wildomar at this time. So, as good neighbors, we’ll let you borrow our hammer for a while.

Zak found two instances of false billing and supported two lawsuits under the false claim act, resulting in two rapid settlements prior to trial, returning monies directly back to Elsinore’s coffers as a result. 

Zak may have better winning record in lawsuits on behalf of Elsinore than two locals have in suing Wildomar and Riverside County. A False Claim Act lawsuit is certainly more palatable than what they are doing.

Interested persons may contact Zak at zakturango@excite.com.

I sip decaf coffee during the presentation so I suggest a Starbucks for a meeting place.