First things first. A tipster tells us that Tustin Mayor John Nielsen was investigated by Tustin Police for allegedly stalking a woman and her son the Sunday before election day. So following the rules of journalism 101 which still apply, we called the Tustin Police’s Public Information Office and asked about it. PIO Paul Garavan said he’d look into it for us. (an UPDATE: OurTownTustin blogger Jeff Gallgher shared with us a copy of the Police Report and the call to the police was made by a man, not a woman. And it looks like the call was made earlier in the day but in a time of diminishing daylight that would make photography from a car a challenge. Why the Mayor didn’t call the police directly is a mystery).
We then called the Tustin City Manager’s office for comment and still haven’t heard back (oh Lisa Woolery, where are you so you can’t return our calls?). I filled out a public records request for the police report and was told I’d get a call as soon as it was ready but that it could take up to 10 days to hear back. The nice secretary at Tustin City Hall says Mayor Nielsen is on vacation and is Back East.
About 2PM, Paul Garaven, the PIO Tustin Police Department, gave us this statement that absolves the mayor from stalking charges but does call into question his lack of judgement for not contacting the police immediately.
“On the 4th of this month at 9:25 PM, we received a call of some suspicious circumstances and essentially the reporting party was reporting a suspicious individual parked in car in the 2500 block of Platt. The person in the vehicle was taking pictures of people outside of the address in the 2500 block. And when the reporting party started to approach the vehicle, the vehicle left the area.
So the reporting party got a description of the vehicle and license plate, and the plate came back to Mayor Nielsen. We took initial information report and a detective did a follow up report and spoke with Mayor Nielsen the next day. Mayor Nielsen said he was driving when he saw a light-colored SUV stopped in the road removing signs out of the ground. He followed the vehicle to the neighborhood because of his concerns about hundreds of political signs being removed in Tustin. He thought this person was removing political campaign signs. Neilsen told Tustin Police there was an incident of a someone in light colored SUV caught on CCTV (closed circuit televison) removing political signs. Tustin police did not see this video or have access to this video.
Upon further investigation at the residence near Platt, the signs that were removed were found to be real estate signs for an open house.
Garaven said Nielsen did not know the people at the house. ”There really is no crime to file charges on here.” he said. He also said Nielsen tried to snap photos of the house but at 9:25 PM, even with a flash and a great camera, it’s unlikely those photos would come out. The Tustin Police do not know why the Mayor didn’t call them to report the van and took it upon himself to investigate the situation on his own.
Mayor Nielsen must be a charter member of the Chris Thompson fan club.
Our tipster claimed the Mayor stalked the family who filed the complaint. So when we do get the report, we can revisit this story. But note to elected officials out there. If you see what you believe to be a crime happening, call your local police department. If Nielsen did know the woman and youth who made the complaint and if there were similar “stalking” incidents, we’d be calling for the Mayor to resign.
Nielsen had more campaigns signs throughout Tustin than anyone. But in a county where even Richard Nixon was so paranoid about George McGovern, no margin of victory is enough for these guys.
So if you’re a Tustin resident and there’s a bald guy with glasses and a mustache taken photos of your yard late at night, do the right thing and call the police.