While I’ve been away, Foothill Cities slaps me upside the head and adds comments.
The story from Alison Hewitt that he’s talking about, and is behind our ludicrous paywall, is copied on the jump.
Paper: San Gabriel Valley Tribune (West Covina, CA)
Title: Recall recoil much in evidence
Date: March 14, 2007
GLENDORA – In the weeks before a divisive City Council election, some teens were spotted tampering with political signs.
A witness pursued the teens, called police, then guided officers to them. The incident resulted in an arrest.
This scene describes the actions of recently re-elected Glendora Councilman Gary Clifford, 47, who caught Keleigh Marshall and Cristina Giammalva vandalizing his campaign signs last month.
And, according to Glendora police, it describes the 2002 actions of Keleigh’s mother, Virginia Marshall, who caught a woman and three teenagers stealing campaign signs – signs opposing the recall that booted her husband off the City Council and swept Clifford into office.
The effects and alliances from the divisive recall election, which ended five years ago, continue to impact Glendora politics.
Councilwoman and minister Karen Davis, elected in 2005, said she maintained a neutral stance during the 2002 recall but saw the hostility tear at the community.
“People would express their differences rather harshly,” Davis said. “I think this last campaign picked at that wound a little bit.”
The recall pitted then-incumbents Paul Marshall, John Harrold and Richard Jacobs against a slate largely led by current Mayor Doug Tessitor: Gary Clifford, Ken Herman and Cliff Hamlow.
The three challengers won, and Tessitor was elected the following year. Clifford, Herman and Tessitor were all re-elected this year.
Young women arrested
Virginia Marshall has been critical of Clifford’s involvement in her daughter’s arrest, and the city’s failure to remove improperly placed signs.
Clifford said he spotted Keleigh Marshall and Cristina Giammalva, both 18, putting stickers on his campaign signs around 10 p.m. Feb. 19.
“I just was driving home from work,” Clifford said. “I didn’t know who they were or have any inclination to know, but I asked them to stop and they didn’t, so I called the police.”
Clifford stayed on his cell phone while he followed the young women and led police to their car. Four of the eight cars on duty responded to deal with Clifford, the women, and Virginia Marshall, who showed up at the scene.
Because police had not witnessed the vandalism, the only way to arrest Marshall and Giammalva was for Clifford to make a citizen’s arrest, which he agreed to do, Ward said. The young women were booked and released by 12:30 a.m.
The stickers covered up to a third of the campaign signs. One, reading “Glendora for sale, contact:” was posted above candidates’ names; another read “This sign violates Glendora city ordinance.”
“They readily admitted placing the stickers on numerous signs on several occasions,” said Ward. “They admitted placing the stickers … just on the incumbents’ signs, because of the recall in 2002.”
According to police, the same stickers had already appeared on 600 campaign signs in recent weeks, and only on those of the incumbents – Clifford, Herman and Tessitor.
“They said they were being paid by Virginia Marshall,” Ward said. Keleigh Marshall and Giammalva told police they received $10 an hour, he added.
Virginia Marshall, in early interviews, said her daughter was simply politically involved and “familiar with the city’s sign code.”
She did not mention her relation to Paul Marshall, and has not returned recent phone calls for comment. The young women referred questions to their attorney, former Glendora council candidate Gene Osko.
“They only put the stickers on illegally placed signs, and those were only done by the incumbents,” Osko said. “As far as I know, the challengers were obeying the law.”
Not quite, said police, who said the signs they found vandalized that night were next to a conspicuously untouched sign belonging to candidate Jeff Johnson.
In this year’s campaign, Osko and the Marshalls threw their financial support behind one of the formerly recalled challengers, Harrold.
Harrold, 51, seized on the incident with the teens and Clifford’s involvement, attacking the councilman for making the citizens’ arrest.
Harrold ran against two of the same people this year as he had in the recall, and lost again.
Osko also ran for council in the 2002 recall, and lost to the same candidates as Marshall and Harrold. In the recent arrest, he came out of retirement to represent Keleigh Marshall and her friend, but insisted that he has no personal reasons for doing so.
It was a few weeks before the recall election, on Feb. 1, 2002, when Virginia Marshall spotted Lorianne Mason and a few teens with “No Recall” signs and pulling them into a car.
Marshall’s husband was not only targeted by the recall, he was also the largest donor to the committee that paid for the signs, according to published reports.
Marshall called police and followed Mason, leading officers to her car, Glendora police said.
Mason was found with 140 signs in her car, most of which opposed the recall, and one that belonged to Osko.
Mason was arrested and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor a month later, according to court documents. The teenagers – Mason’s daughter and friends – were released.
“They were not aware it was a crime,” Ward said. “She had picked up some of these juveniles from the movies, and just told them that, ‘Hey, we need to go pick up these signs.”‘
Sign law unclear
Of the 243 signs the city removed for improper placement during the 2007 campaign, 122 were from challengers, said John Menke, the maintenance superintendent in Glendora’s Public Works Department.
There were 113 from Johnson, 64 from Clifford, 33 from Herman, 24 from Tessitor, nine from “Joseph” Yousef Tweini, but none from Harrold or Kristin Parisi.
Menke pointed out that he was usually the only person handling sign removal, because of time constraints.
“I couldn’t get all of them,” Menke said. “I think I got all of the ones that were complained about.”
Osko said the Keleigh Marshall and Giammalva did call to complain about the signs before they began placing stickers on them, and Osko, Harrold and Virginia Marshall have all targeted the city’s inconsistent sign policies when defending the young women’s actions.
A city sign code prohibits signs in public locations – which is where the vandalized signs were located. However, the city attorney says it is unclear whether the code was meant to apply to political signs or constitutionally can apply to campaign signs, even though the code says it applies to all signs unless the code spells out an exception.
Because of the ambiguity, the Police Department does not enforce the sign code against political signs.
To clarify the law, a campaign sign policy was enacted by the council and approved by all three incumbents that also prohibits putting campaign signs on public land.
However, because it lacks the force of law, police say they still cannot act.
Only Public Works can remove signs, and as a swamped Menke explains, the department doesn’t have time.
The District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the arrest of the young women, and has not yet decided whether or not to file charges.
“The bottom line on this whole thing is, it’s a crime to vandalize someone else’s property,” said Glendora police Sgt. Brian Summers.
The next step is Keleigh Marshall and Giammalva’s court date. If the District Attorney’s Office files charges, the pair will be arraigned on April 20.