You Be The Judge
As many of you know, I am facing a Code of Ethics violation because I allegedly “disrespected” Elias and Heidi Alonzo. Here is my response to the allegations.
Click on to read all of documents that are “attached”.
You be the Judge.
ALLEGATION BY COUNCIL MEMBER MANUAL BERSAMIN:
On March 8th Council Member Manual Bersamin wrote a handwritten letter, see the letter by clicking HERE, to “Ms. Flores” (city clerk) during the city council meeting, or so he claims, asking for a Code of Ethics Violation.
Bersamin wrote in his letter “He has clearly broken the respect clause and thus brought upon himself this charge of disrespect of the public”. And, “I believe that these charges can be colloborated (sic) by emails and testimony by the Alonzos”.
He also wrote that his request was based on statements made by both Elias Alonzo and his wife Heidi Alonzo at the city council meeting of March 8th.
Question: If Council Member handwrote the letter during the city council meeting, how was he aware of “emails” unless he had a previous discussion with the Alonzos?
HISTORY BETWEEN ELIAS ALONZO AND ME:
I am attaching 5 copies of emails from and to Elias Alonzo commencing in October 17, 2010 and ending on February 15, 2011 verifying telephone calls I received from Mr. Alonzo.
Elias Alonzo first called me around May or June 2010, after I announced that I was running for County Supervisor, and requested to meet with me. Prior to his call, I had not had a conversation of any type with Elias for approximately 15 years although I frequently saw him at Action Pajaro Valley meetings. I agreed to meet with Mr. Alonzo for breakfast, I believe the following morning, at the Red Apple Café in Watsonville.
At the meeting, Mr. Alonzo offered to provide monetary assistance for my campaign from George Ow if I wouldn’t oppose the Manabe-Ow project. He also gave me a book to read. Mr. Alonzo told me that he could help me with as much as $50,000. Click HERE to see the attached handwritten notes provided by Elias Alonzo. Note on the upper left hand corner where he writes, “$$$ and 40/50” and the word Manabe, which he misspelled.
Elias and I continued to communicate via telephone calls. He called me both on my cell phone and my home phone number. Once he called me on my cell phone and we spoke for around 45 minutes in his attempt to determine if I was going to file a lawsuit against Luis Alejo for wanting to vote for his replacement.
In the first email, of October 14, 2010, click HERE to see the e-mail, I was responding to Elias’ telephone call at my home inviting me to meet with him and George Ow to discuss the Manabe-Ow project. Note: George Ow writes in the email “Hi Elias. Wednesday, October 20, 10 AM at the Cowboy Grill works for me and I have it in my calendar. Thank you for doing this. George”. Mr. Alonzo, Mr. Ow and I met at the Cowboy Grill in Watsonville for breakfast on October 20, 2010. Both encouraged me to approve the Manabe-Project on an upcoming city council meeting.
The next email I received from Elias Alonzo was on October 27, 2010, click HERE to see the e-mail. Note that Mr. Alonzo writes “tried to reach you by phone to say how well you demonstrated your flexibility and statesmanship on a tough/ complex issue last night. If you were campaigning for office of any kind you have got all the votes”.
On or about November 12, 2010 Mr. Alonzo and I had a telephone conversation. I do not recall the specifics or if I called him, or he called me. What was discussed was him telling me that he was going to have dinner at Judy Doering-Nielson and her husband’s home. Note that the email, click HERE to see the e-mail, of November 14, 2010 from Mr. Alonzo verifies another telephone call with him.
On February 15, 2011 Mr. Alonzo called me again. Mr. Alonzo first wrote me an email earlier that same day inquiring why he was being summoned by the Grand Jury. In his email, click HERE to see e-mail, he writes “Heidi is ill, in bed and recovering nicely. I’m momentarily disconnecting the phone.”
Mr. Alonzo called me a few hours later on my home phone and when I didn’t answer, he called my cell phone. Mr. Alonzo wanted to know why he was being summoned by the Grand Jury. Note that on the same email to me, Mr. Alonzo copies then Redevelopment Agency Manager Marty Ackerman who assisted in proposing re-districting the Manabe-Ow property from farmland to blight.
It is evident that Mr. Alonzo is a lobbyist for George Ow, and that he had been lobbying me to vote for the Manabe-Ow project for almost a year before our last telephone conversation whereupon he alleges that I called his home demanding some information. It is also evident that we had many private telephone conversations before the evening of Monday, February 28th when I called Mr. Alonzo and told him that I saw him earlier in the day in our conference room with George Ow and City Manager Carlos Palacios. I asked about the meeting. I was not “disrespectful”. Merely, I inquired, in the same tone of conversation we have had on many of our previous telephone calls regarding the Manabe-Ow project. My constituents have a right to know about any RDA money being used for the Manabe Project.
I did not call and/or speak to Ms. Heidi Alonzo or any members of her “family”. I was not made aware and/or advised that Ms. Alonzo was listening to Mr. Alonzo’s and my telephone conversation on “a speaker phone” which she did not mention in her email to me. You can see the e-mail by clicking HERE.
Ms. Heidi Alonzo wrote “…you called our home and announced your position as an elected official and private investigator demanding information from my family”. That is not a fact. It is not prudent and/or reasonable to believe that after almost a year of telephone calls and meetings with both Mr. Alonzo and Mr. Ow, that Mr. Alonzo did not know I was an “elected official” and “private investigator”. Therefore, there was no need to "announce" myself in that manner.
In my private telephone conversation with Mr. Alonzo of that evening, when I inquired about the meeting I witnessed, he stated that they were meeting to “undo what you have done” meaning that I had written an Op-Ed criticizing the attempt of our city to provide George Ow approximately 10 million of Redevelopment Agency money.
The telephone conversation I had that evening with Mr. Elias Alonzo was private, as it was held by two people from their own private telephone lines.
Elias Alonzo, a lobbyist for George Ow, took exception to the fact that I would not endorse the Manabe-Ow project, and responded with an allegation without merit.
Council Member Manual Bersamine, (who also endorses providing George Ow RDA money) has already rendered a decision on this matter. He wrote in his request for a violation of the Code of Ethics investigation that he is certain that I committed the violation, and also expressed the same thought at a recent city council meeting whereupon he stated that I needed to get “my medicine”.
Council Member Oscar Rios, (the member of the Ad-Hoc Committee) also has rendered a decision. In a recent city council meeting, Rios stated “I believe him” referencing Elias Alonzo statements provided to the Ad-Hoc Committee.
The intent and purpose of any City Code of Ethics regarding “disrespectful” is to prevent city council members from disrespecting members of the public during city council meetings.
In a Government website regarding Code of Ethics, it states:
Pause and consider what your motives are. Is the desire to report an actual or perceived violation rooted in improving the public's view of government or to aid the agency's operation, or is it based upon seeking personal or political advantage? If a violation of law is suspected, is the violation significant, with serious consequences, or is it more a technical violation, with little or no real impact. If the moving force behind the concern is personal or political, or if the ethics violation is relatively inconsequential, it may be better to delay, if not forgo, action.
Considering that it is obvious that a decision has already been rendered by at least two council members, one of which is on the investigative Ad-Hoc Committee, and the other one is the accuser, little doubt exists that the charges are politically and retaliatory motivated. Also, because it seems clear that the sole intent is to embarrass, I have no other alternative but to not participate in the process because, in this case, the process is neither neutral and/or objective.