The recall notice also lists an incident that is on tape. In August 2008, MacLean scolded Reavis for taking notes during a closed-session meeting of the council. The audio recording of what happened next was released by the council a month later after public pressure to do so:

Reavis: Sweetie, I’ve been taking notes for eight years. If you don’t like it, I’ve got drawers full.

MacLean: You know what, let me tell you something. I don’t like you. I haven’t liked you for a long time. . . . Shut the hell up. Shut up.

Ed Piskor
Ed Piskor

Reavis: I’m really glad that . . . I’m glad that’s been recorded because, um, I’m not going to take abuse from Mr. MacLean. Mr. City Manager and Mr. City Attorney?

Reavis said the “shut the hell up” comment made her fear for her life. MacLean says the transcript exonerates him: What he said was rude, he says, but certainly not dangerous.

“What it was was an opportunistic time for [Reavis],” MacLean says. “I had this incident at UCI, I tell her to shut up, and any other time or place in the past six years I’ve served with her, no big deal. But now, it’s, ‘Ah-ha! Gotcha! I can now make these claims.’”

MacLean’s relationship with Reavis was fairly fraught before the closed-session exchange. Reavis was the most outspoken member of the council for eight years, consistently at odds with her colleagues and not shy about saying why. A master of the mocking grin, the dismissive sideways glance and the facetious eyelash flutter, she consistently upped the entertainment value of council meetings. City secretary Kathy Rios filed a claim against Reavis in 2004, alleging that, among other things, Reavis had stroked Rios’ hair inappropriately and grabbed the ass of a male staffer. The city settled the suit for $10,600 without investigating the claims. In return, Reavis filed a claim against the city and a few council members for $10 million. When she received no response, she initiated a lawsuit for an unnamed amount against MacLean, Kelley and Rios. A judge threw out the suit and ordered Reavis to pay $3,105 in legal fees. Even so, the other council members like to point out that if she had won, she could have cost taxpayers a lot of money.

Reavis’ past litigiousness was used, some say, as a pretext when the city council voted to reinstate lifetime medical benefits for council members who serve 12 years and are older than 50 when they retire. Last May, Ury said the benefit was wasteful and proposed to have it removed. The issue returned in November, with the city attorney cautioning that a certain council member might sue the city if they didn’t reinstate the benefit. Ury has said Reavis had indicated she would sue, but Reavis denies it, and the council has never produced any evidence to substantiate the claim. Due to changes in policy over the years, and with Reavis retired, the only three council members who could ever possibly get the benefit are the “MUK” majority—the three votes that reinstated the lifetime benefit.

In council meetings, MacLean, Ury and Kelley never endorsed the idea that part-time council members deserved medical benefits. After dealing with the recall, though, MacLean has changed his mind.

“Look at all this stress that I have. Go out there and Google how many council members across the United States have been gunned down and killed. You’d be surprised,” he says. “When I first got onto the city council, not three months prior, there was a council member in New York. Some disgruntled gadfly person came in and gunned him down at a council meeting. At my orientation, they walked around, and they said, ‘Lance, you’ll be happy to know that when we built this city hall, when we put this dais together, there’s Kevlar in it. So if you see somebody come in and they’ve got a gun, duck, because it’s bulletproof.’ And I’m thinking, ‘What the fuck did I get myself into?’ I am a target. I have people who don’t like me. I have been intimidated. They come to my doorstep; they take pictures of my house. Most agencies have a duty and obligation to protect the people who are working for them. I’ve been elected to work for the city of Mission Viejo. I think my health should be taken care of. If I were to get murdered in a council meeting by one of these knuckleheads, you know how much life insurance I’ve got through the city? Goose egg. None.”

And if they don’t take his life, MacLean says, they’ll at least take his job.

“I’m almost positive I’ll be recalled,” he says, sounding somewhat cheerful. “Absolutely. How do you fight something like that?”

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