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One might ask why OC Weekly is obsessed with Huntington Beach Mayor Dave Garofalo (Dave Wielenga and Anthony Pignataro's “Huntington Beach Babbitt,” Aug. 18). If you disagree with him, that doesn't mean you have to trash him personally. All you have to do is state why you think a policy he supported or a decision he made was wrong. Why is it necessary for you to hurt anyone whose opinion is contrary to yours?

As far as Mayor Garofalo's much-heralded “conflict of interest” charges are concerned, those charges are being investigated by the district attorney and the Fair Political Practices Commission. My guess is that Dave will be found not to have broken the law; I conclude this because I am aware of facts not included in your stories about him. You quoted Jack Kelly's daughter saying nasty things about Mayor Garofalo. You failed to mention the fact that when Jack Kelly was mayor and serving on the city council, he owned a local newspaper. You also overlooked the fact that he conducted his publishing business while serving on the City Council, in the same manner as Dave Garofalo. In other words, Jack Kelly did what Dave is accused of-yet in Kelly's case, no one suggested any wrongdoing.

You also didn't mention that in all but a few of the cases where there was even a remote connection between a vote on the council and a company that bought ads in the local newspaper published by Dave, the vote was unanimous. Dave's vote did not make the difference.

It is about time that people on the Left quit trying to destroy anyone with whom they disagree. OC Weekly contends that I am grooming Dave for higher office: thanks for thinking I have such influence, but I'm not even grooming myself half the time.

Dana Rohrabacher
member of Congress
Huntington Beach Anthony Pignataro and Dave Wielenga respond: Rohrabacher belittles our investigation of Huntington Beach Mayor Dave Garofalo, suggesting we should leave it in the more capable hands of the DA and FPPC. But in 1996, when DA Mike Capizzi was scrutinizing allegations of campaign illegality by Rohrabacher protg Scott Baugh, Rohrabacher described the investigation as “the kind of activity you find in fascist countries.” Then again, the DA investigating Garofalo is Tony Rackauckas, whose campaign Rohrabacher vigorously supported precisely because of Rackauckas' promises to pull the plug on Capizzi's political-corruption probe. We shudder to think what mysterious “facts” about the case Rohrabacher knows but won't disclose-“facts” that lead him to “guess” that Rackauckas will exonerate Garofalo. Last spring, Rohrabacher offered us this forgiving rationale for Garofalo's alleged profiting from public office: “The fellows in local office get paid a pittance. Someone who is mayor has to have a regular income from somewhere.” If the congressman wants to compare Garofalo to the late Huntington Beach councilman/community-newspaper publisher Jack Kelly, that's perfectly fine with us. In 1988, the FPPC fined Kelly $4,000 on two counts of improper financial disclosure-a charge facing Garofalo today. It's worth pointing out, however, that there was quite a difference in their patterns of behavior. Kelly never based his livelihood on an exclusive no-bid publishing contract with a city bureau or the local chamber of commerce. Kelly did not sell advertising for his newspaper by handing local businessmen a two-sided business card that underscored the influential connection between his public and private lives. Kelly was never grant-deeded the opportunity for the best home in a brand-new gated community by a developer (such as, say, PLC Land Co.'s Chris Gibbs) whom he supported with his council votes and nominated as grand marshal of the city's Fourth of July parade. Kelly never co-invested with two of the county's most powerful developers (Gibbs and George Argyros) in a start-up bank. Garofalo has done all those things. Our mention of the incredibly popular Kelly underscored Garofalo's social and political motivations. We pointed out that Garofalo admired Kelly, imitated him, and tried to ingratiate himself with Kelly and his friends, hoping this would translate into status or even just acceptance. Instead, Garofalo's fawning desperation apparently disgusted Kelly. We didn't emphasize the fact that many of the council votes Garofalo cast in support of advertisers were unanimous because the fact is irrelevant. California's political-corruption laws do not pertain only to close votes; they cover all votes. The laws go even further than that, stressing that public officials with a conflict of interest must abstain not only from voting but also from participating in discussions or any activity that might influence the votes of other officials. It's worth noting that since Garofalo began abstaining from matters involving his advertisers, the previously unstoppable PLC Land Co. has lost two important permit applications. Also, Garofalo's conflict-of-interest problems have so sensitized the council to the issue that for an Aug. 21 vote on PLC, three members recused themselves and had to draw straws to reach a quorum. Speaking of unanimity, that same night the HB council voted 6-0 to instruct the Visitor's Bureau to sever its contract with Garofalo. Are we to assume that Garofalo (who was so conflicted with issues on the council agenda that he didn't even bother showing up) would have joined with that majority?

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