The following is a press release from Bill Hart, the campaign manager for Mike Mortenson.
San Clemente City Council candidate Mike Mortenson stated his position regarding commercial signage at the proposed Marblehead development.
Mortenson said he has been consistent in his statements about potential future signage, some of which could be visible from the I-5 freeway.
“I will evaluate any future application for signage on its own merits and will give strong consideration toward its effect on San Clemente’s surf-village image as well as its impact on the residential neighborhoods above the freeway.”
City officials are periodically given ethics training that emphasize the importance of impartiality. They also warn of the consequences if an official demonstrates bias prior to the review process. Mortenson’s position is based on the City’s possible future obligation to conduct an unbiased public review process.
Mortenson, a business attorney, explained that public officials would be ethically and legally bound to give any future application for commercial signage fair and unbiased consideration. If an official demonstrates bias toward the signage before the fact, even during an election campaign, then that official might have to recuse himself from the decision.
Otherwise it could be ruled a breach of the City Council’s duty to provide an impartial public hearing and expose the City to litigation and possible reversal of decision.
“Subverting the public hearing process is counterproductive because it gives the applicant legal leverage and could undermine those of us who truly want to protect the public’s interest,” Mortenson said. “It is irresponsible to decide any issue before a formal application has been submitted and all of the facts are on the table.”
There is currently no application for commercial signage at the Marblehead development. However, some City Council candidates have made the commercial signage at Marblehead a central issue of their campaigns.
Consequently, the potential for signage has repeatedly surfaced as a topic in public and private forums.