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Money to Help Businesses Sparks Controversy

A San Juan Capistrano councilman walks out in protest after claiming a political enemy would benefit from a county contract.

A $108,000 contract from the Orange County Transportation Authority to promote commerce in San Juan Capistrano turned controversial Tuesday when a city councilman said the money smacked of political payback.

The funds will be used to encourage people to continue to visit and shop in San Juan Capistrano during the two-year-plus construction of the new Ortega Highway interchange at the I-5. The project starts this month.

  • See related story, Shop Owners ‘Scared to Death’ of Ortega Construction

Councilman Roy Byrnes, the No. 1 vote-getter in a hotly contested November election, said OCTA’s gift didn’t look right because it extends a contract with Faubel Political Affairs.

In April, Faubel hired former Capistrano Dispatch editor Jonathan Volzke, who was very vocal in his support of Sam Allevato (who won) and Ginny Kerr (who lost) in the City Council election.

“The appearance of impropriety is as bad as an impropriety,” Byrnes said.

Volzke could not be reached for comment.

OCTA spokesman Joel Zlotnik said Faubel is OCTA's contracted firm in South Orange County and was already working with OCTA and Caltrans on other local projects.

“It’s really a shame that OCTA’s plans to help the businesses and residents of San Juan Capistrano would be turned into a political issue,” Zlotnik said.

Just before exiting the dais in protest, Byrnes said he did want local businesses to benefit from the money, he just didn’t want it to go through Faubel.

City Attorney Hans Van Ligten said Byrnes was under no legal obligation to recuse himself, and when fellow councilmen asked why he was leaving the discussion, he responded: “Because I said so.”

Byrnes declined to elaborate after the meeiting.

Allevato said he had nothing to do with the $108,000 offer of help. “If there is some impropriety here, I would like to know about it,” Allevato said.

Volzke told the council his firm had an existing contract with OCTA before he joined Faubel, and the money – half of which will go to concrete items such as banners – is just an extension of that contract.

Steve Behmerwohld February 17, 2013 at 09:53 PM
The question that you don't seem to want to answer is: What does the color of ANY roof have to do with the $108 K contract extension awarded to Fauble and Associates? PS I just drove by Del Taco. I don't know what they put in your burrito, but the roof tiles are Spanish style ceramic, like 95% of the buildings in town.
Clint Worthington February 18, 2013 at 01:42 AM
Steve, maybe you can tell me, where is the other $54,000.00 going to be spent? You still have not answered my question. There is not any business plan. Nothing was presented to City Council. All of the money goes directly to Faubel. All of it. Where is the money going to be spent? It is taxpayer money. I just emailed you photos of Del Taco with the red tiles as it was approved by the City and a photo of Del Taco with the low rider green tiles. I am surprised you missed it. Yes, they are ceramic tiles like the Spanish Architecture, but they are green. What other buildings in town have green Spanish ceramic tiles. One can only guess that this is then new image that Faubel/Volzke wants to present the town as, we dont know where the taxpayer money they received is being spent.
Steve Behmerwohld February 18, 2013 at 05:23 PM
Clint, thanks for the pics. The reason that I didn't notice the green "Roof tiles" that you mentioned is that they AREN'T ON THE ROOF! I'm done.
Clint Worthington February 18, 2013 at 08:36 PM
Steve, still not quite sure how you could have missed the low rider green Spanish roof tiles?
Matt Gaffney February 19, 2013 at 07:24 PM
Well at least Clint finally spelled Volzke's name correctly.

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