Torturous Mission Viejo Recall Campaign Ends Tomorrow

Exactly one year ago tomorrow, a group of 50 or so citizens announced their intention to try and recall then-Mayor Pro Tem Lance MacLean from elected office in Mission Viejo.

Tomorrow, voters will decide whether they're successful.

The campaign has seen vicious verbal back and forth between a tight-knit group of city activists (who say MacLean is a wasteful, violent traitor) and MacLean's supporters (who accuse the recall proponents of hypocrisy and self-interest).

In recent days, the county's deputy sheriff's union has poured more than $100,000 into the effort to defeat the recall.  Meanwhile, MacLean's supporters have attacked the recall's conduct, saying supporters broke  campaign laws and raising questions about recall supporter/council candidate Dale Tyler's out-of-state automobile registrations. Both sides have been gathering on street corners to spread their messages.

Tonight, City Manager Dennis Wilberg will ask the city council to amend his employment agreement with the city. Among the proposed changes is a narrowing of the grounds on which he can be fired for “misconduct,” and a strengthening of provisions calling for confidentiality in the case of the council terminating his employment. The Weekly's calls to Wilberg today weren't returned, but pro-recall bloggers have speculated that Wilberg is making the move in case MacLean is recalled tomorrow.

They could be right. In Mission Viejo, “pro-recall” and “anti-recall” can stand as shorthand terms for how a person feels about a host of issues, from whether the city was justified in paying money for a Rose-Parade float to whether the council should have increased the own salary for its members to adjust for inflation. Currently, the council is composed of three anti-recall members and two pro-recall members. If MacLean is recalled and replaced by Tyler, that balance would shift–and the pro-recallers have never been particularly complimentary about Wilberg.

The Weekly has covered the recall from the beginning. We wrote a cover story about the history of political division in South County's largest city,  checked up on the war of facts taking place during the recall's signature drive, and, most recently, how the political winds appeared to some to have shifted in MacLean's favor.

The Registrar of Voters has all the election info here. If you're in Mission Viejo tomorrow, try to dodge any fists that may fly.

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