See Update No. 2 at the end of this post on photos Laguna Hills council candidate Bill Hunt provided of his knocked-down campaign signs.
See Update No. 1 on Hunt saying his signs have also been vandalized, that Bill Kogerman is trying to implicate his campaign in the destruction of other candidates' signs and that Kogerman is essentially the sign nazi of Laguna Hills.
ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 8, 5:16 P.M.: Three of four Laguna Hills City Council candidates who had their campaign signs removed or destroyed Saturday are banding together to offer a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the vandal. The fifth candidate in the race for two open seats is Bill Hunt. San Clemente's retired police chief, an unsuccessful candidate for Orange County sheriff and recently suggested for the top cop slot for the shamed Fullerton Police Department, Hunt had none of his Laguna Hills campaign signs ruined.
Best of 2011: Best Gadfly--Barbara Kogerman
Bill Hunt Must Renounce Joe Arpaio and Barbara Coe If He Want to Be Taken Seriously Once Becoming Fullerton Police Chief
Cast of Clowns, Including Former Santa Ana Unified Head Al Mijares/SOCCCD Chancellor Raghu Mathur, Apply for OC Department of Ed. Head Role
Drawing attention to the reward for the destroyed signs is Barbara Kogerman, who wants Raghu Mathur, the former South Orange County Community College District chancellor, and Andrew Blount, a software developer, to join her on the Laguna Hills council. Mathur, Blount and Dore Gilbert, a physician and Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, are the candidates chipping in for the reward. The fourth candidate dealing with missing or defaced signs is A.J. Djowharzadeh, a small businessman who got 6 percent of the vote in his 2010 bid for a council seat.
The signs were vandalized along Paseo del Valencia and in the neighborhood bounded by Alicia Parkway and La Paz Road on the north and south, and Paseo de Valencia and Moulton Parkway on the eastern and western sides, according to a release Councilwoman Kogerman sent to the Weekly. Listed as the contact is her husband and 2010 campaign manager Bill Kogerman, a retired Air Force colonel and
former current Orange County Great Park board director. [*corrected]
"Campaign signs are an exercise in free speech," Mathur is quoted as saying in the release. "If we put this down to pranksters or campaign business as usual, we put political speech at risk, and our freedom of choice suffers."
Sheriff's Lt. Tom Behrens, the Laguna Hills police chief, is taking the matter seriously, according to the Kogermans. The Orange County Sheriff's Department assigns lieutenants to serve as chiefs in individual contract cities. Hunt was a sheriff's lieutenant when he was chief of San Clemente.
Anyone with information about the destruction or removal of campaign signs in Laguna Hills is urged to contact sheriff's Deputy/Laguna Hills Police Officer Ryan Hoopii at 949.425.1900.
UPDATE NO. 1, OCT. 11, 8:12 A.M.: Candidate Bill Hunt contacted the Weekly after our original post was published to say his campaign signs have also been damaged or removed. He accused Bill Kogerman, the husband of Councilwoman Barbara Kogerman and campaign manager for Raghu Mathur and Andrew Blount, of falsely implicating the Hunt campaign in the vandalism of his opponents signs.
Further, Hunt leveled this explosive charge: "Kogerman is the only person I know who has actually threatened to remove any campaign signs in Laguna Hills."
A private detective who retired as an Orange County Sheriff's Department lieutenant, Hunt portrayed the retired Air Force colonel of being something of a Laguna Hills campaign sign nazi, pointing to this email he sent out:
From: Bill Kogerman [Kogerman email address deleted]
Sent: Friday, September 21, 2012 10:25 AM
To: [Hunt, Mathur, Blount and Djowharzadeh email addresses deleted]
Subject: EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO POST Campaign Sign Agreements
In order to permit a rational campaign for Laguna Hills to proceed, there has to be some agreement as to each campaigner's approach to the rule of law. Andrew Blount advised everyone by a simple email that there is apparent trespassing of private property involving campaign sign postings. Mr. Blount advised that just because his sign is posted in a yard that doesn't mean that other candidates can post a sign in that same yard. Mr. Hunt protested and advised that he had permission and advised, "do not remove my signs." Perhaps a discussion of EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO POST is in appropriate.
All candidates for Laguna Hills City Council please be advised: Where Blount and Mathur signs are placed on private property, they are placed there under EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO POST written agreements with the respective property owners which I have personally obtained. That EXCLUSIVE right means that the property owner has contracted to permit only the signs of Mr. Blount and Dr. Mathur on the respective property and that no other unauthorized sign may also be legally placed on the same private property. I have also obtained from those contracted homeowners the specific direction to remove any posted sign that is not covered by the contract. I intend to abide by the contract terms and understandings made with the property owners and will see that the trespassing signs are removed from properties under these EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO POST contracts.
The removed trespassing signs with NO TRESPASSING warning notices will be placed near their offending locations for candidates to recover. In the event there is resistance to the removal of trespassing signs by candidates or agents for candidates, I will seek the appropriate legal remedies to enforce the terms and understandings of those contracts. Bullying doesn't work well with me.
Now then, it shouldn't be too much of a reach for everyone to act like adults and respect the legal rights of others.
Campaign Manager for Andrew Blount & Raghu Mathur
Needless to say, that email did not sit well with Hunt.
"Bill Kogerman has tried to bully any candidate he is not representing into believing he can somehow enter into a contract with Laguna Hills residents that supersedes their right to support the candidate of their choice, or to change their mind about who to support in this election," Hunt charges.
It also casts new light on the original allegations about the vandalism to the signs of Blount, Djowharzadeh and especially Mathur, according to Hunt.
"I think this puts Raghu Mather's self-serving comments about the protection of free speech in perspective given that his campaign manager is the one trying to trample all over ours," says Hunt.
UPDATE NO. 2, OCT. 15, 4:20 P.M.: Candidate Bill Hunt emailed the Weekly the following images he says he took on or around Oct. 8 at Alicia and Paseo De Valencia in Laguna Hills.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The sign on its side is presumably Hunt's, which he claims bolsters his argument his campaign signs have also suffered vandalism. One might chalk it up to very brisk winds, but it seems other signs would then be on their sides, too.