Leon Worden

Sour grapes from crybaby election loser

By Leon Worden
Wednesday, June 10, 1998

ne of the biggest spenders in April's City Council race says she has filed a complaint against three candidates who spent a lot of money in April's City Council race.

Only in Santa Clarita.

Lynne Plambeck, the ousted Newhall Water Board member, gave $2,500 to an independent committee that supported Marsha McLean's bid for City Council. Now, Plambeck and some other SCOPE-friendly activists are alleging in a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission that Jo Anne Darcy, Frank Ferry and Cameron Smyth improperly disclosed donations to an independent committee that backed their candidacies.

The irony gets thicker.

I'm not going to argue with Mike Kotch over who is and who isn't a member of SCOPE, because when the chips are down, most people deny membership. The bottom line is that it was SCOPE members and their cronies who convinced the council several years ago to limit campaign donations to $250 per person.

When Plambeck (a card-carrying SCOPE member) gave $2,500 to support McLean, she violated the intent of the city law that her own friends had fought for. I guess SCOPE didn't mean for the law to apply equally.

Notice that I said Plambeck violated the "intent" of the city law. She probably didn't violate the law itself. Neither, in all likelihood, did Darcy, Ferry or Smyth.

State law allows for the formation of independent expenditure committees, formerly known as PACs, which are not subject to the same limitations as committees controlled by the candidates themselves. These independent committees are run by third parties who can collect up to $10,000 per donor (last I knew) and support whichever candidates they want.

That's what Plambeck did in the last election. An independent committee was formed to help McLean, and Plambeck gave $2,500 to it. Had she given $2,500 directly to McLean, she would have violated city law.

Similarly, an independent committee was formed to help Darcy, Ferry and Smyth. With her complaint, Plambeck is essentially saying that it was OK when she did it but it's not OK for anyone else to do it.

Personally, I've never liked the $250 limit. It's too low. It creates a loophole that wealthy politicians like Plambeck can waltz into and fill, like she did. The courts in recent years have thrown out many campaign limitations for this very reason.

Plambeck, under law, can't give $2,500 directly to McLean, but she can give $2,500 to an independent committee that produces campaign flyers for McLean. And that's kinda dumb.

* * *

Saturday is the big night! Five lucky women — maybe more, with the precedent set by Karl McCarthy last year — will get to go on a date with five of Santa Clarita's most eligible bachelors.

It's the 27th annual Boys and Girls Club Auction, and boy, have we come a long way in those 27 years. I remember when the big items of the night were dinner at the Piru Mansion and maybe a two-month lease on a car.

This year, somebody will take home a whole car. And keep it. Joining the five bachelors on the auction block are a brand-new 1999 Mercury Cougar, courtesy of the Saturn of Santa Clarita folks, a digital piano from Baldwin and a set of Poncho Sanchez conga drums from Remo.

Also on tap are packaged vacations to Mexico, Hawaii, New York, Tahiti and several points in between. There are plenty of items in everyone's price range, thanks to hundreds of local businesses that have donated thousands of items to the auction — everything from income tax services to theater tickets to dinner at the local fire station (always a hot item)!

What makes it even better is that it's all for a good cause. Sponsored in part by The Signal, the auction raises roughly half of the annual budget for the local Boys and Girls Club, which serves youngsters throughout Santa Clarita who would otherwise be latchkey kids.

The auction will take place in a new building in the Valencia Commerce Center, at 28615 Braxton Ave. Doors open at 5 p.m. with dinner at 6, the live auction at 7:30 and dancing afterward. General admission is $25, with various price levels for better seating. Call 254-2582 for directions and information.

* * *

Please don't wait until the deadline to return your Fourth of July Parade entry forms. Questions? Leave a message at 805-297-5261. And remember, no Silly String again this year.

    Leon Worden is The Signal's special sections editor.

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