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PAC Opposes Dahl, Mortenson for Council

According to the latest campaign finance filings in the San Clemente City Council race, a local activist has started a political action committee over the last month to oppose two business-endorsed candidates.

According to the latest campaign finance filings, a local activist has started the "Watchdog for San Clemente Responsible Government" political action committee to oppose incumbent Councilman Jim Dahl and candidate Mike Mortenson.

The man behind the PAC, which had nearly $10,000 in its coffers as of Oct. 20, is Charles Mann, who is a member of the city's General Plan Advisory Committee and a local political activist who says he champions open space and historical preservation.

"My goal is to be a source for the voters to get info on the candidates," Mann said Friday.

He criticized the San Clemente City Council's practice of hiring the the San Clemente Chamber of Commerce to print city materials and conduct promotional events when the Chamber endorses candidates for council and has an affiliated political action group that donates to campaigns.

He also criticized the thousands of dollars in stipend money Dahl has received from being San Clemente's representative on the Transportation Corridor Authority boards involved in overseeing construction of the 241 extension. Dahl was in favor of the extension, deeply unpopular among certain factions in town.

Every representative to the TCA from agencies around the county receives the same stipend in return for attending meetings.

Mortenson said he was disgusted by the Watchdog PAC's efforts and accused them of spreading lies about him and Dahl.

"It says on [opposing incumbent candidate] Bob Baker's website 'special interests and PACs will try to buy this election,'" Mortenson said. "I think that's true, but it's ironic that this PAC is trying to buy the election in favor of Charles Mann's special interest, whatever that is."

Mortenson pointed to mailers he said were sent out by the Watchdog PAC accusing him and Dahl of supporting digital billboards along the I-5 through town and wanting to turn San Clemente into Huntington Beach, both claims which Mortenson says are false.

"What I think is extremely interesting is that they can't put forth their own ideas for the future of San Clemente," Mortenson said. "It's petty, and it's silly."

Mann was a vocal critic of the Playa del Norte retail-restaurant project  that was scrapped with the failure of Measure A in 2011. He also helped finance the "No on A" campaign to fight the North Beach redevelopment, as well as other redevelopment projects in San Clemente and around Orange County.

The Playa del Norte project was favored by Dahl. Currently, both Dahl and Mortenson are the favored candidates by business groups in town. The San Clemente Chamber of Commerce officially endorsed the two, instead of incumbent Bob Baker, Chris Hamm and David Clegg, the other candidates running. (challenger Bob Baker, who will have a 0 next to his name on the ballot to distinguish himself from the incumbent with the same name, will still appear on the ballot, but he has dropped out of the race.)

Michael Kaupp, head of the Downtown Business Association, donated $400 to Dahl in October, and the chamber-affiliated PAC Business for a Better San Clemente gave him $7,000. The California Real Estate Political Action Committee has also donated heavily to Dahl and Mortenson―Dahl received $2,000 this month and $2,000 in the previous period.

It is unclear until Monday how much money Mortenson spent and received this period (Oct. 1 through Oct. 20) because his filing isn't turned in yet. City Clerk Joanne Baade expects the filing to be waiting in the mail Monday. Candidates are allowed to send in forms using certified mail and still meet the deadline, she said.

Bob Baker 1, according to the filings, loaned himself another $8,000 in October in addition to the more than $30,000 he had loaned his campaign through Sept. 30, making his bid for office almost entirely self-financed for this go-round.

Chris Hamm ramped up his fundraising efforts, collecting almost $11,000 in cash and in-kind donations in October, about twice the amount he collected through Sept. 30.

A firefighter himself, Hamm notably collected $1,500 from the OC Professional Firefighters Political Action Committee.

Pacific Corporate Consultants, Inc. of San Juan Capistrano donated Hamm $4,762 in signs and mailers, while former San Clemente Councilman and local politico Wayne Eggleston paid for $903 in print ads in October, brining Eggleston’s year-to-date Hamm donations to $1,291.

Clegg signed a form early in the campaign saying he was planning on spending less than $1,000, and, therefore, didn't have to report individual contributions bel

Read details of the candidates' previous batch of filings here.

Bill Hart October 30, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Kathleen, thank you for taking a less accusatory tone. Jim is on vacation and I'm not sure about his Internet access. However I speak for quite a number of us who are shocked and disappointed by the way Bob Baker has been treated. My wife and I are long time friends of Bob's wife Barbara. She has been involved in many positive community activities over the years including Stephanie Dorey's campaign, Friends of Beaches, Parks and Recreation and the Watershed Task Force. It has taken its toll. So when Bob Baker finally responded (and only received a fraction of the press the other Bob Baker got) some of us have decided to jump in. Sadly the press has only reported one side of this issue even though they all got that letter from Bob. So yeah, some of us are helping the poor guy get the word out. Check our Facebook pages - it's the best we can do short of buying a newspaper.
Jim Evert October 31, 2012 at 07:00 AM
Ok Just to be clear - Kathleen someone is feeding you misinformation. The first I new Baker was running was when I saw his name on the list at city hall that he had pulled papers.
Adam Townsend October 31, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Thanks for the link, Jim. Bob Baker 0 has consistently decided not to talk to me for some reason. I'll link out to one of their posts so Patch readers can see it.
Billy Budd November 03, 2012 at 02:42 PM
How is it that Dahl can take money from the toll road and still not have a severe conflict on the council? Seems like Urban Sprawl Dahl and Mortensen want to pave EVERYthing!
Billy Budd November 03, 2012 at 02:43 PM
NO on Dahl and Mortensen--- I am tired of poor development choices for this town!

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