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Dad Says School Board Member Threatened Him

A San Clemente man who is Mormon says CUSD Trustee John Alpay demanded he take down a political website or risk not "getting into the Celestial Kingdom." Alpay, who is an inactive Mormon, says he wouldn't insult his own faith.

A San Clemente father claims Capistrano Unified school board member John Alpay threatened him in a phone conversation earlier this week.

Ken Starks came before the school board Wednesday night to call for Alpay’s resignation on grounds that the trustee threatened to find out where he lives and “take [him] down.”

The accusation came during the public comments portion of the agenda, so Alpay could not respond.

But on Thursday, Alpay told Patch: "Ken Starks' comments are slanderous and unfortunate at best. Simply put, there is no place in a school board election for threats to be made against a person's family."

Alpay is one of two incumbents seeking re-election this November. Starks, a recent transplant from Arizona, runs whoisjohnalpay.com, a political website criticizing Alpay's record.

According to Starks, when Alpay found contact information for the site, he called and said: “You have 24 hours to take down that site – or watch out – I will find out where you live and take you down.”

Starks, a Mormon, told trustees Alpay even disparaged his religion. In a transcript  Starks said he penned shortly after the phone call (see the PDF accompanying this article), Alpay also said:

“Do you want to get into the Celestial Kingdom, Ken? If you do, I suggest you take down the site.”

Alpay, in an email to Patch, said the allegation doesn't make sense because he's a Mormon too, albeit inactive: "I have to question the logic and sincerity of Mr. Starks' accusations if he claims I insulted my own belief system."  

At Wednesday's school board meeting, Alpay asked Superintendent Joe Farley whether Starks’ comments could be slanderous. Farley said yes.

Starks and other men with him then shouted that they could continue the conversation privately after the meeting.

Alpay was later seen leaving the board chambers with two Orange County sheriff’s deputies.

In his email to Patch, Alpay said threats against a family have no place in an election and cited his own experience two years ago.

"During the 2010 campaign, my wife was assaulted in our own home while trying to protect our three young children and even had to place an emergency call to 911 given the actions of one of [candidate] Steve Lang's current supporters," he said.

The police report from that incident paints a different picture (see PDF). The deputy called to the scene said Alpay wanted to file burglary and assault charges against a female process server who tossed some legal papers onto the floor of Alpay's house after his wife answered the door. 

"It was determined no crime occurred," the deputy wrote.

When Alpay returned home, he became upset and called San Clemente City Councilman Jim Dahl, asking him to intervene with the chief of police, according to the report. 

The deputy wrote that he believed Alpay was trying to intimidate him.

Ken Starks October 27, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Penny -- I agree with you that Mr Alpay's chosen path, whatever that may be, should not be attacked. I think the reason that sentiment may exist here is simply because some may be feeling duped with weeks of derogatory comments about "Mormon Barbie" or "Mormons want to buy a seat at the CUSD", "announcements from the pulpit" etc.etc. Now to find that Mr Alpay is indeed LDS and is aghast that anything in his call was any more than purely innocent....I think that's what people may have issue with. But again -- I agree, religion, whatever choice people may make is a very personal choice and needs to be respected as do children and jobs.
Capo Parent October 27, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Ken I don't think people are attacking Alpay for his faith, or more accurately, his lack of faith. What people are questioning and ridiculing Alpay for is the fact that he interjected his faith in the race roughly 2 weeks before the election strictly for political purposes. Alpay's faith is not at issue, its his use of his faith for political purposes is at issue and is fair game.
shelly October 28, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Penny, This is the only thing that happened at the CUSD board meeting? And this is the only thing printed in the patch about the board meeting? And even a picture from the paparazzi.
Capo Parent October 29, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Alpay has a documented history of being a bully, whether by phone, in person or on the dais.
shelly October 29, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Penny, Did anything else happen at the board meeting or is this the only reporting that the patch will be doing on that meeting? I guess I will check elsewhere.

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