Too Close For Comfort?

City Council, Improvement Association, and Water Board

Update: September 18, 2009 - Water Board candidate and Improvement Association Treasurer Jeff Heintz's campaign website is registered at the address of VIP Rubber, owned by Mayor Howard Vipperman.

Jeffrey Heintz Campaign Domain Name Information
Howard Vipperman's VIP Rubber Address


On November 3, 2009 the La Habra Heights Water District has a Board election for 2 seats.

The Water Board currently includes two appointed, unelected members from the Board of the La Habra Heights Improvement Association, Jeffrey Heintz, Treasurer LHHIA and Pam McVicar, President LHHIA.

According to the required FPPC 460 filing by recently elected Councilmember Carl Westerhoff, an Improvement Association Board Heights Life Editor worked on Westerhoff campaign materials.

A Westerhoff campaign mailer had current Councilmembers Baroldi and Vipperman endorsing him, including a picture of the three together.

Also during the campaign, two informational mailers were sent citywide, stating Mr Westerhoff's public record, and the other questioning the benefit of a unified bloc of three; Baroldi, Vipperman & Westerhoff.

A "witch hunt" ensued to find the source of the informational mailers in the form of a complaint to the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). The "witch hunt" complaint was signed by Improvement Association Board members, including Pam McVicar, who is also on the Water Board, two Heights Life Editiors, the parents of a third Water Board member, Council member Carl Westerhoff and Howard Vipperman.

The FPPC quickly responded to the complaint stating that there would be no further investigation and that there was no wrong doing involved. The mailers complied with FPPC requirements.

Nevertheless, the next Heights Life included an anonymously written article castigating the informational flyers, and an associated "Letter to the Editor" by "Marjorie Beetlestone", aka wife of Jeffrey Heintz.

Did the Heights Life go after the legal informational mailers because the Improvement Association was supporting Mr Westerhoff?

Improvement Association Roiled with Controversy

The La Habra Heights Improvement Association has been roiled with controvery in recent months, with the arrest of the Vice President on 144 charges including fraud and identity theft (after 4 months in jail, the Improvement Association says the VP is "on leave"), stonewalling, a secret election, witholding of financial documents, and secret by-law changes.

Secret Election

The June Heights Life advertised the annual Members Board Meeting and Election on June 17th.

However, at the start of the Annual Meeting, President Pam McVicar announced the election results; the Board had held a secret election unbeknownst to the members.

President McVicar also reluctantly admitted that the Board had changed the by-laws and would not show them to the Association members.

Treasurer and Water Board candidate Jeffrey Heintz passed the annual financial results to the Board, but refused to share them with the members.

Councilmembers Vipperman and Westerhoff were present at the meeting, and did not voice objection to the secret election or witholding of finance reports.

Water Board Election

The Water Board seats of Pam McVicar and Jeffrey Heintz were up for election this year, however, no one applied to challenge Pam McVicar for the remainder of the term she was appointed to.

Is this cross-pollination confusing?

In her role as Improvement Association President McVicar sent an email to the Water Board candidates for statements to be included in the Heights Life. The email said:

"Candidates,

On behalf of the La Habra Heights Improvement Association, it is my pleasure to offer each of you the opportunity to submit a photo and a candidates statement for publication in the October issue of the Heights Life. As I am sure you know, the LHHIA is a charitable organization, and cannot endorse any candidate or take a position on any political issue. We are offering you this opportunity as a public service to our community. In the interest of being fair to all candidates, we are asking you to comply with the following rules:

1) Please respond to this e-mail to let me know that you have received this message, but do NOT send your submission to me.

2) Please send your photo and statement directly to the Heights Life Editors at barb.danstracner@yahoo.com .

3) Your statement must not exceed 300 words (can be less), and should address your qualifications, what you hope to accomplish if elected and why you are running. We will not publish any negative commentary on other candidates, the City of La Habra Heights, the La Habra Heights Water District, the LHHIA or any other person or entity, and we will not publish longer statements.

4) Your photo should be an electronic file that can be sent via e-mail. You can contact the editor at the above e-mail if you have questions about the format of your photo.

5) The deadline for your submission is 5:00 PM on September 10. Photos or statements received after that time will NOT be published. No exceptions.

Thank you for your understanding of these guidelines. Please contact the editor at barb.danstracner@yahoo.com if you have any questions or concerns.

Regards,

Pam McVicar
2009-2010 President
LHHIA"

Why would the Improvement Association prohibit candidates from discussing what the Water District might be doing that could be improved, or actions of Water Board members that might not be perceived favorably?

Fox Guards Hen House

Water District Board Candidate George Edwards, neither an Improvement Association Board member, nor affiliated with the City Council, sent an email to Improvement Association President Pam McVicar asking whether the Improvement Association could be objective and unbiased, since two of the Improvement Association Board members are appointed members of the Water Board already.

Mr Edwards also questioned the "gag order" of the Improvement Association in a response to Ms McVicar saying,

"The requirements that you set forth in your email limit any public criticism or scrutiny of the agency in which I am a candidate for, the Board of Directors, is troublesome. How are issues to be brought up, such as questionable financial responsibility, poor water treatment, perks and compensation if the Heights Life Editors reserve the right to edit out such comments and observations at will? And who does this benefit? It certainly is not the readers of the Heights Life or residents who will be kept in the dark regarding their water districts operation."

Is the current close association, the Axis, between the City Council, the Improvement Association, and the Water District Board good for the residents of La Habra Heights?


New Investigative Report - Contributors to Improvement Association at Risk - The Improvement Association Claims it is a 501(c)3 non-profit, but the IRS does not recognize it as such, and the Association files as a 501(c)4.

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