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Placentia : ‘No Criminal Violation’ in Message From Mayor

Mayor George Ziegler did not commit a crime in using a city-financed newsletter to urge a “yes” vote on issues that some residents vehemently oppose, Deputy Dist. Atty. Martin Engquist said Thursday.

“After a thorough investigation,” Engquist said, his office concluded that “no criminal violation was committed” after Ziegler placed a front-page “Message from the Mayor” in the current issue of the Placentia Quarterly.

The decision came as no surprise to resident Rena Hagmaier, a former Planning Commission member who wrote to the district attorney, among others, to complain of what she called an improper use of taxpayers’ money.

“I really didn’t expect anything different,” Hagmaier said Thursday. Nevertheless, “I’m very disappointed. I don’t even know why we bother to have any laws because nobody enforces them.”

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Ziegler said Thursday: “I didn’t think at the time, or now, that it was improper.” If he had to do it again, however, Ziegler said that he probably would “do it differently.” The purpose of his message was to educate, he said.

Hagmaier and other residents complained that the mayor’s comments that support improvements to athletic facilities, the consolidation of local and statewide elections and a 2% utility tax that appeared in the newsletter violated, among other things, a city resolution that prohibits council members from using the newsletter “for political purposes.” Hagmaier is one of five residents who placed an opposing argument to the utility tax increase on the Nov. 5 ballot.

The Placentia resident also wrote to the Fair Political Practices Commission, an independent state agency in Sacramento. Spokeswoman Lynn Montgomery said Thursday that the commission is still checking whether the expenditure involved in the newsletter constitutes a political issue and if so, whether it was “properly reported.”


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