One of my biggest complaints about conservative Republicans running for office in Orange County is that they seldom have a record that matches their rhetoric.Â Rep. John Campbell decries government spending when proposed by President Obama but votes for the bailout of banks and the automobile industry when the ideas are proposed by the Bush Administration.Â Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a war hawk except when it actually came time for him to serve.Â And Tustin city council member and AD-70 candidate Jerry Amante is a prime example of a conservative Republican claiming to be fiscally responsible when he’s anything but fiscally responsible.
On his campaign websiteJerry’s introductory message about why he’s running seems to be a massive contradiction to his own record in Tustin.Â
He writes: “..I have worked hard to promote and advance our Republican principles of lower taxes, limited government, safer neighborhoods, and family values….The state government is in serious need of repair. The constant overspending has left us with a massive deficit that appears very difficult to overcome. Liberals want to raise taxes to continue their spending. With your help and support, I will stop them.”
Queue that “Mighty Mouse” theme music of “Here I come to save the daaayyyy…”
Â Too bad Jerry’s track record doesn’t quite match up.Â
And here’s a prime example.Â Jerry and his conservative city council members are on the losing end of an eminent domain lawsuit.Â “AAE Pacific Park Associates versus the City of Tustin” is costing Tustin taxpayersÂ $70.55 million in real state costs and pre-condemnation damages associated with a landgrab to buy 34 acres of land off the 55 Freeway at Edinger for an off-ramp (to nowhere). TheÂ land was purchased in April 2007 at the height of the real estate market and is worth considerably less today.Â
The city has already paid the developers $55 million, probably at least one million in legal fees, and still owes the developers another $18.1Â millionÂ plus interest and attorney fees Â forcing Tustin – with a lousy credit rating underÂ Jerry Amante and his fiscally conservative Republican council majorityÂ - to borrow funds to settle this deal.Â It’s the off-ramp to nowhere.
TheÂ Tustin City Council called a special session this week to discuss how to pay for this scheme.Â Â The Agenda Report states the meeting is for, “The acquisition of the land … considered an extraordinary capital expenditure.”Â Open government at play here? Not with language like this.
Â The city council will be selling bonds as they hold this land hoping the market turns around so they can recoup their — ahem – “investment.” Another gem from Jerry’s website:Â “He is also a licensed real estate broker. He owns a law firm that specializes in advocacy, strategy and government relations and owns a commercial and residential real estate brokerage firm.“Â It makes me wonder ifÂ Jerry went into politics to do development deals with someone else’s money?Â Isn’t this what Larry Agran gets criticized for in Irvine?
So when Jerry Amante tells you that he’s for limited government, then why go eminent domain instead of fair market value?Â If Jerry Amante is for fiscal responsibility, why not raise taxes instead of borrowing against future revenues and paying it back with high interest loans.Â Â And for ideas on solving massive deficit problems, Jerry’s solutions for selling bonds aren’t going to get you there Tustin.Â Consider Jerry’s track record with the city’s water system, borrowing $25 million on future tax increments on the Tustin base, and this very expensive off-ramp, coupled with Jerry’s people skills (watch videos of the Tustin council meetings for lessons in rudeness) and you have a classic assembly candidate who will go to Sacramento and be completely ineffective.Â Perhaps we can see Jerry co-host a telethon with Jerry Lewis to balance Tustin’s books?
It’s amazing he has the endorsement of every member of the County’s Board of Supervisors except Chris Norby and the support of Rep. Ed Royce and Rep. John Campbell.Â
Did I mention the candidacy of Melissa Fox?