Well, it’s been five days and the mailers keep trickling through the mail. You may be wondering who I think was behind the attack. If so, this will be the perfect read for you.
I read a lot of crime fiction. One trope of the private eye novel is that the detective always says, “I don’t believe in coincidences.” I’m not sure I’d go so far as saying I don’t believe in coincidences but I am wary of them. Here are a few I’ve found.
On December 11, I sent the Hermosa Beach City Council a cease-and-desist letter, as required by state law, regarding what I believed was a violation of the Brown Act by Council Member Nanette Barragan. The Brown Act is an open-government state law that protects residents from council members making decisions behind closed doors and essentially rendering residents’ input meaningless.
While the city attorney did not feel Ms. Barragan’s actions reached the technical level of a violation, he warned the council that it was very close to it and a “slippery slope.” Former Mayor Michael Divirgilio described Ms. Barragan’s practices as “unsavory.”
Ms. Barragan has shown herself to be decidedly dismissive of any law or ethics that would interfere with her getting her way on everything. She has skirted the Brown Act on several occasions and, rumor has it, other residents are considering filing complaints with the council in the next few weeks.
The council heard and took action on my complaint on December 16th. The vote was 3 -2, with Ms. Barragan and Council Member Hany Fangary in dissent. (Mr. Fangary considers Ms. Barragan an ally in his battle to curtail Hermosa’s nightlife and sanitize it’s quirky lifestyle.)
By December 22nd, less than a week after the council decision against Ms. Barragan, the “Nazi” mailer begin landing in mailboxes.
If you look at the bottom of the mailer (above right) it lists two significant points of identification. (1) It’s from the “Committee Against Hermosa Beach Oil Drilling.” (2) It lists a return address of PO Box 1136 in Hermosa Beach. (3) The Committee referred to has a website at www.nohbdrilling.com.
During her campaign, Ms. Barragan became known for her vicious attacks, not normal in Hermosa council races. She sent at least two attack mailers in her run for City Council. You can see the front of one here at left. Both of those mailers are similar in style and share the same PO Box listed on the Nazi mailer. Moreover, Ms. Barragan sent out a very similar anti-oil mailer, below, a couple months ago, listing the same PO Box and committee name.
Now, KCAL 9 has indicated that local campaign strategist, Fred Huebscher, who is an anti-bar, Barragan ally, and widely known for his negative attack ads, conveniently called out of the blue to take sole credit for the Nazi mailer. Mr. Huebscher is also Ms. Barragan’s campaign manager. Ms. Barragan claimed that while she donated money to the committee she had nothing to do with the campaign mailer or an active role on the committee.
However, coincidentally, while the registration for the committee’s website now reads “registration private,” the information was captured by another local resident some time ago. At that time the registered name was “Lynette Barragan-castillo.” Presumably a family member of Ms. Barragan’s. That information is also below right.
I am a mere resident. I have voiced my opinions at council on numerous occasions on a variety of subjects. My main focus is protecting the lifestyle we know and love from those that have an agenda to sanitize and curtail it. This puts me directly in Ms. Barragan’s cross hairs.
The majority of our council, including our esteemed current Mayor Pete Tucker, view governance as a sacred trust. While I sometimes disagree with them, I believe their goal is to do what is best for the community to the best of their ability. It is a difficult job and they deserve respect for the role they’ve assumed. Ms. Barragan, on the other hand, seems to govern from a personal agenda, does not care what residents think if their position doesn’t fit her agenda and regularly cross-examines and attacks business owners and other residents who dare to approach the dais. (She has, oddly enough, even come out against what she referred to as “unauthorized dancing.”)
Is it just coincidence that the Nazi mailer attacking me, hit the post less than a week after council took action on my Brown Act complaint? Is it coincidence that the mailer lists a PO Box and group linked directly to Ms. Barragan and her campaign manager? Finally, is it even possible that Ms. Barragan who claims she merely “donated” to the committee, would have a family member that she didn’t recall had founded the committee website?
What appears to have been retaliatory should trouble everyone in Hermosa Beach. While Ms. Barragan’s stance on one issue or another may dovetail with you from time-to-time, what happens when you dare to disagree?
The idea that a sitting council person possibly believes it’s OK to take out campaign-style attack ads against residents that disagree with her, sets a chilling precedent. The intent is clear: it’s an effort to silence public speech through intimidation.
Ms. Barragan is set to rotate into the Mayor’s seat next fall. With money at her disposal and a willingness to use it, one wonders who will dare to challenge her anti-pier, -business and -dancing agenda then.
I urge you to get involved by showing up at council meetings and emailing your council members. Let them know that a sitting council person has no business attacking residents because they have an opinion contrary to their own.