Councilwoman Carol Gamble has a long history of big words and no payoff. To give her credit, she was part of the group that got Rancho Santa Margarita turned into a city, I don’t know her exact contributions to that process but has spent the majority of the last two decades on the city council with very little to show for it. She use to point to Chiquita Ridge as her crowning achievement, and if you don’t know what that is you can be forgiven as it is our biggest boondoggle, you can read my previous piece with all the details here. The last analysis and news about Chiquita Ridge are from May 2017 and you can read that here. If you go to the OCRegister and do a search on her name generally or Chiquita Ridge specifically, you will see story after story of big words and no results, or attacking other people for “spreading misinformation” when history shows that she is the one spreading misinformation. Just check out this RFP from 2012 for Chiquita Ridge and still nothing, but these tend to go out during election years so they can pretend they are “doing something” with this asset, but it was totally ignored in the 2018 election.

Now going back to the 2012 city council election, it was again Carol Gamble and Tony Beall facing a single opponent that is a local businessman. One of the issues that was being discussed was the notion of city pensions. Carol published a response to each of the items asserted in the piece against her:

What we are focusing on here is the notion of pensions, and Carol’s insistence that there is no pension, if you look at this screenshot you can see how the compensation breaks down:

Obviously, no one gets on the city council to get rich on the salary, but what we get to is the word games that Carol will play and what was considered the loophole, which is the benefit allowance for medical, dental, etc. In the last 8 years that I’ve checked, the Salary has not changed, but the Benefit Allowance has risen by $200 per month. If you have your own insurance, you can put that money into a deferred account to take out later, so for someone on the city council for 20 years, that works out to over $300,000 assuming there is no interest or investment associated with it. Is it called a pension here? No, it isn’t, but that amount is in addition to the retirement plan.

Our city was actually admonished by the county on this claim of no pension and unfortunately, I cannot find that original letter anymore, but in 2014 the city had to respond to the county and make some changes to the website, the website in 2011 looked like this:

There was no mention of a pension, but it is now clearly listed on the page that has a link to the Grand Jury Report for the Compensation Transparency that didn’t exist before. This screenshot is from 2014/2015:

Here is what the page looks like today, and if you want to see all the Grand Jury reports, you can find them here:

Looking at page 31 of the relevant Grand Jury report, you can see that our city was found wanting in this salary disclosure area.

We’re not talking about much money per month, but what we are talking about is the character of a person (councilwoman Gamble) that has them micro parsing words to generate a misleading picture of what is happening. In this case it was the use of the word “pension” and it reminds me of the famous video of President Clinton asking what the meaning of the word “is, is”. Councilwoman Gamble has been engaging in this same kind of language parsing for several years now with regard to Dove Canyon Plaza and an expected rezone vote. You will hear comments like “I’m against high-density housing”, ok, but that doesn’t mean you are against the requested rezone request. Between this and the shell game with Chiquita Ridge and many many other issues, Gamble has shown that she can’t be trusted with this important decision. Pray for her, but don’t vote for her, recall her.