Last week I wrote at length about the apparent attack by Ocean View School District board of trustee president Gina Clayton Tarvin upon myself and another private citizen, Craig Frampton.
After hearing from private sources that Clayton-Tarvin was in fact discussing my article with people in the community, I reached out to her myself to ask why she hasn’t contacted me directly over this, and if she could clarify her remarks. She read the note within one minute (Facebook PM indicates when messages are read) and after 48 hours has yet to respond.
Which brings us to this week’s story, as I continue taking a closer look at the OVSD board president’s apparent habit of using lies and innuendo as intimidation techniques, against anyone who opposes her, including not only individuals, but private companies, government agencies and other organizations.
This week I present, based on firsthand witness accounts, a look inside what some may call “community organizing,” but to me what appears to be more like “community manipulation.” Or worse, “community bullying.”
The question I keep asking myself, and that you should keep in mind while reading the following is, “Is this what Gina Clayton-Tarvin was elected to do? Is it appropriate for an elected official to get this involved and use this kind of pressure and fabrication to fight her cause?”
You be the judge.
We see them at city council meetings, school board meetings and in the press; newly-empowered citizens speaking forcefully about Rainbow/Republic and why they need to enclose their facility (which I think its safe to say, the majority of the community agree with).
But how did the campaign come together? Is it truly a grassroots effort, or more of a manufactured, “astroturf” campaign? And is the information being provided to supporters honest and accurate, or juiced up to play on emotions and create a frenzy of attacks and complaints?
Ocean View School District trustee board president Gina Clayton-Tarvin has worked tirelessly in the public eye, advocating, arguing aggressively for her cause.
But it’s behind the scenes where the details of her campaign are most evident. And thanks to some citizens that have become suspicious of her process and methods, some of those details are now being made public.
Oak View resident Melissa Shaia-Egle who recently blogged here about her lack of trust in both Clayton-Tarvin and trustee John Briscoe, shared details about what she experienced recently in regards to these campaigns.
Shaia-Egle “I first got involved after seeing a Facebook post for the springtime “Put A Lid On It” rally last May 5. I noticed that Gina Clayton Carvin was commenting a lot as she helped draw attention to the rally. That’s when I really first heard about the issue and I was excited. I thought, wow, our neighborhood finally has a voice. I wrote her a message and asked how I could help. She said, you need to come speak at the next city Council meeting on Monday night.”
She then received this heads up from Clayton-Tarvin:
Gina Clayton-Tarvin: 5:45pm, we will fill in speaking forms and I’ll number them so that it’s the most effective presentation order. Thank you. See me when you get there and I’ll have your form.
MY COMMENT: Not the amount of staging, by an elected official, already taking place. And another resident received this in regards to the same meeting:
Gina Clayton-Tarvin: We will meet at the chambers, fill out papers, I will label them in chronological order. Then we will all speak one after the other. Speak specifically about the conditions at the high school , how stinky it is and not right for students. This is not just an Oak View problem. Apparently the admin of HBUHSD are in denial on the conditions there. We need to highlight the nuisance there as well.
MY COMMENT: More staging, directing and organizing. Then: “Denial on the conditions there”? What if they simply DISAGREE with Clayton-Tarvin? Or what if she is just flat-out wrong, and there is no issue where she claims? Is that even a possibility? Apparently not.
More from Shaia-Egle: “Prior to the meeting, she wanted to read over the speech I have prepared and offer suggestions. But I told her that they were my personal experiences and that I was satisfied with what I had written. I guess my speech went over pretty well because right after the meeting Gina was in my ear along with a couple of teachers telling me that I really needed to speak with a reporter. That caught me off guard. But I did it anyway.”
Shaia-Egle later observed that things had not gone well with city council. Tarvin answered:
MY COMMENT: “New tactics coming”? “We’ve got a plan”? Really? Question from a taxpayer: WHAT ARE THESE TACTICS? And why do you need new ones? Why did the old tactics fail? And what were those? What other secrets exist behind the scenes in this grand scheme? What is the “plan”? This is an elected official writing these words.
And more casting notes, this time for trial: “You are a star! … My legal counsel loves you.” She goes on: “You are a “star witness… you really are (a) star.” I agree that Ms. Shaia-Egle is a compelling, honest, quite intelligent citizen. But what about now? Is she still a “star” to Clayton-Tarvin? Doubtful. She dared change her mind and think for herself.
At the next city Council meeting, Clayton-Tarvin asked Shaia-Egle to come speak at again. And sent this message:
MY COMMENT: A “bigger army.” That’s what it is all about, Numbers. And making sure those numbers are properly cast, and written for.
Lastly from Shaia-Egle: I began to get uncomfortable. Everything seemed very organized and arranged. There were people speaking there from the neighborhood that I was pretty sure had not written any of the words they were reading. I just know them and it’s not how they speak. And Gina was heavily involved in organizing the order which everyone spoken and also reviewing everything that people were going to say. When I got home I told my husband, “This doesn’t feel right.” I was watching Gina and John Briscoe bring in their recruits from the neighborhood to read, and much of what they said sounded exaggerated to me. I live just about 150 feet away from Oak View Elementary and in my head I was thinking, “Why am I not experiencing what everybody is talking about? Yes it still smelled sometimes, but the dust and seagulls never seemed to be a problem as they described.
I started paying attention to Facebook discussions and I noticed that whenever somebody tried to offer any defense of Rainbow, they were attacked by Gina’s supporters. They were not open to any other point of view except their own. And I didn’t like that. I also noticed Gina and John Briscoe all over social media pleading their case and getting in the faces of anyone that disagreed with them. Those things raised a huge flag for me. To watch all of those people get attacked simply for offering any difference of opinion, just wasn’t right.
And the messages that I received from Gina also made me uncomfortable. She was clearly orchestrating a lot of things behind the scenes that I was not even aware of. I doubt any other voters are aware of what’s going on. And now when you start hearing the OVSD lawyer talk about Rainbow being closed down for a couple of years, I think, that’s absolutely ridiculous.
It disappoints me today because for a short minute I thought we had someone there to help those that don’t really have a voice; their own voice. Now I feel like many of the people supporting her are just her pawns… and they don’t even know it.
Thank you Melissa Shaia-Egle, for your honestly in speaking out. In the last few weeks I’ve received many messages from citizens, OVSD employees, etc. expressing shock and anger over the behavior of some on this school board. Some express concern over speaking out for fear of reprisal. I respect that you will not be intimidated by them or their supporters.
“Please call daily to complain to all three agencies”
Continuing with this report, this message was sent by Clayton-Tarvin to at least one resident (and presumably, others) as part of her campaign:
“Please call daily to complain to all three agencies.” Nowhere in this specific conversation does it say “if the air is bad” or “if the dust, noise, or seagulls are bothersome.” Nowhere. According to the recipient, this was a stand alone private message, asking for calls, daily, to all three agencies, with no qualification.
For me, this is the most damning message of all. For Clayton-Tarvin, it seems to be about racking up complaints in large numbers to use as part of lawsuits – not reporting legitimate nuisance issues. Agencies “need to hear from residents on a daily basis.” No qualification. Just CALL. How much tax payer money has she wasted with this campaign? How many calls have been taken, how many visits made, simply because of orchestrated calls?
And from other fed-up residents, here is a sample of private messages sent by Clayton-Tarvin as she scripts and stages the city council meetings. The people that have contacted me are distrustful of Tarvin-Clayton and feel that her words as a public official, though private, still need to be shared.
Gina Clayton-Tarvin: I need bodies and speakers. I’d like high school students who will speak about the stench and the birds at OVHS. I need adults to do the same. I need them to hear that people are fed up, do not want to wait 3.5 years for Republic to build the enclosures! I want people to say that they want state of the art filtration systems and venting on the buildings. We want negative air pressure buildings, so when the trucks drive in to dump trash, the air/stench gets sucked backwards in. I can write up something and send it to you via email.
MY COMMENT: “I need…” “I want…” “I can write something up and send it to you” – more proof of the level of how orchestrated these city council appearances are. It’s as if she is a director casting a play.
Gina Clayton-Tarvin: Did you get the email? I sent it again. Are you still going to be able to speak on Monday night? We need to take a fairly large group to the city council meeting to speak out about the problems. I want them to hear from OVHS people. (students, parents, etc)
MY COMMENT: “Did you get the email? I sent it again.” How relentless is Clayton-Tarvin in putting her words in the mouths of others?
Gina Clayton-Tarvin: It did not go well at the CC meeting. The council did not approve the ordinance and they are totally pandering to Rainbow. They have done nothing to help. It was ridiculous. Now Rainbow has no reason to really enclose the dump and they have no timeline.
MY COMMENT: “They are totally pandering to Rainbow.” If you fail to fall in line with her, you are “pandering.” Zero consideration given to the fact that people may simply just disagree with her.
Gina Clayton-Tarvin: I am up in Sacramento right now, I just talked with 2 trustees from the High School District. They said there is no smell at OVHS and that parents from OVHS need to complain to the principal immediately about this.
MY COMMENT: This is strange to the point that I HOPE it is a typo. “No smell” = complain immediately? What??
The Orange County Health Care Agency
Private citizens and companies aren’t the only targets under attack in the OVSD’s campaign.
The Orange County Health Care Agency (HCA) is the Local Enforcement Agency overseeing solid waste transfer stations, including Rainbow Recycling, according to statute. HCA has received numerous calls, emails and requests for public records from representatives of the Ocean View School District. HCA staff has toured the Oak View school site with OVSD representatives, responded to complaint calls from OVSD representatives, conducted site inspections in response to odor complaints, added information to the agency web site and complaint form categories, and numerous other accommodations in response to requests from OVSD.
A source at the agency shared with me, “Mr. Briscoe has made unannounced visits to the HCA offices seeking confidential employment records; has made accusations against HCA management in public comments at the Board of Supervisors meetings; has met individually with members of the Board of Supervisors to criticize HCA’s role in overseeing operations at Rainbow Recycling; and both Mr. Briscoe and Ms. Clayton-Tarvin have contacted agency staff via email and by telephone with a variety of complaints and have expressed dissatisfaction with every effort made by HCA to be responsive to their concerns. HCA staff has and will continue to respond quickly and appropriately to every request and complaint from OVSD.”
At what point does this become harassment by the OVSD?
John Briscoe recently complained about not being able to get the email address of an HCA director told VoiceofOC, “These people work for us. We pay them with our tax dollars…and it’s their job and duty to be available to the public, to be responsive to the public that they are charged with protecting. “I’d call it the Health Could-Care-Less Agency.”
Really, Mr. Briscoe? I’ve written both you and Ms. Clayton-Tarvin a total of 12 times in the last six weeks, politely and professionally. Neither of you have written me back. Not once. Zero response. I’m a taxpayer. I help pay for you. Is it not YOUR duty to be available to the public? And responsive?
The Briscoe/Clayton-Tarvin Alliance
Residents have vociferously complained about Briscoe, who was forced to apologize recently for his leaked letter which mocked and derided citizens of Huntington Beach. This is how Claton-Tarvin answered a resident’s recent concern about Briscoe:
“Different?” What does that mean exactly? Did he run for office as “different?” And if he is offending people, that is ok, because he is doing what she needs him to do at the front lines of her cause?
And she says has zero board support besides Briscoe. Why is that? Do they not care about this for some reason? Do they think she is overstepping and exaggerating? “Not one person” has stepped in to help her? What does that say about the board? Or about Clayton-Tarvin? Or this issue?
What exactly is going on here?
Together, Clayton-Tarvin and Briscoe seem to work in tandem, attacking, exaggerating, berating, bullying and refusing to entertain any view beyond their own. We have a right to know why.
“Complain every day, several times if they have to do it. This is how things are done.”
June 11, this was posted by Gina Clayton-Tarvin in an Oak View community Facebook forum:
She actually encourages people to complain if they can “hear machinery and trucks” from their home or school. Call if you hear a truck? But in the end she spells it out: “Complain every day, several times if they have to do it. This is how things are done. If you complain, rainbow will be done to solve the problem more quickly.”
Odd syntax aside, think of what she is suggesting people to do in response to this publicly posted message.
Who is Susan Whitakker?
This is the handout distributed by Clayton-Tarvin, with contact info and directions about how to complain to various agencies:
The bottom instructs residents to also send all complaints to someone at the district as well as: “Whitakkerplanningservices@cox.net. Why? “This information will be helpful to the School District in its nuisance lawsuit against Rainbow.” So it appear it’s all about racking up complaints to serve as lawsuit evidence – which dovetails nicely with the aforementioned messages directing residents to call each agency, every day, multiple times.
Last week I filed a Public Acts Request for all emails sent to the district, to see if there are any patterns in who is making all the complaints. I have not even received a receipt of request, let alone the information.
As for Whitakker Planning Service? Susan Whittaker, according to information online, “currently works with school districts to monitor land use approvals that may impact school facilities.”
But who is she and why is why is she involved? What is her role? Are WE paying her?
I wrote her last week to ask. Zero response. See the pattern?
The misinformation, the orchestration, the secrets, the schemes, the inconsistencies–I think the Ocean View School District Board of Trustees needs to be thoroughly investigated – and I think President Gina Clayton-Tarvin needs to explain ALL of these things to the public, at once.
With what we now know about this campaign, how can we not wonder what’s really behind this clearly orchestrated effort to barrage the oversight agencies with complaints? And should ANY of these lawsuits proceed without explanations as to the motives behind these efforts?
We need to hold OVSD President Gina Clayton-Tarvin (and the rest of the OVSD board) accountable for their, in my opinion, increasingly questionable behavior.
Because this is just what we know about.
Imagine what we don’t know.
Great article Chris, thanks. I’m really not bothered by Gina being a community activist and I have no problem with her organizing it as she sees fit. That said, she has to understand that such efforts are not “one size fits all” affairs and it should to no one’s surprise that Ms. Shaia-Egle, and possibly others became concerned about the specificity of the talking points. Also, and in order to maintain a credible amount transparency, Gina and John should not be excluding attention to reasonable inquiries from anyone. That so many notes from you went unanswered by these guys is an ill advised strategy in my opinion. Finally, I also want to comment on the sudden appearance of what I call “crow activism” from the usual suspects, and wonder how all that ties in.
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Isn’t the OVSD’s attention to this one specific issue odd. They seem to think they are the HB CC and the saviors of the environment. How about focusing on SCHOOL issues. The AQMD is better qualified to deal with air pollution issues and it sure seems as though they have heard enough from the OVSD.
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Great article, Chris! Like Russell, I find their focus on this one issue strange. There are other, serious issues going on in our schools. Perhaps equal..if not more…should be spent on those other issues as well.
Something stinks alright and its Gina Clayton-Tarvin. Great reporting Chris! Keep us posted on this nightmare. She will get what’s coming to her. Egotistical woman who was given a position and decided to use it for her best interest only! What about the kids?
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