Statement by Former Recall Campaign Organizer Ian Patton Regarding Jeannine Pearce’s Decision Not to Seek Reelection
November 1, 2019
I helped organize and consulted for “The Committee to Recall Councilmember Jeannine Pearce” (2017-2018), the original, community-based 2nd District recall campaign.
While I am pleased to hear that, at long last, Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce has finally taken some measure of responsibility for her inappropriate, unethical, and criminal behavior while serving in office, the obvious point is that this should have happened two years ago, and it should have been and should be a resignation, not simply declining to run for reelection.
The reason we started the Recall was because we could not sit quietly by and allow a culture of ‘sweeping’ scandal ‘under the rug’ to pervade Long Beach City Hall. To do so—to have stood by and allowed the spectacle of Pearce ‘getting away’ with physical domestic violence, drunk driving, workplace sexual harassment, inviting a police cover up before lying during their investigation, and corrupting her office to keep her victim quiet (in the months prior to the famous 710 Freeway incident)—would have been to invite other Long Beach politicians to cross the Rubicon of corruption. We were the few who were willing to stand as the bulwark against a new dawn of total impunity for elected officials. It would have been a new Long Beach, where accountability only applies to ordinary residents who break the law, not those elected to represent us and our values.
So while, out of experience, I am always skeptical of Pearce’s motives (stirrings of a corrupt bargain by Pearce to swap herself out for a ‘replacement candidate’ have already been in the air), I am glad that she has finally, after putting our city, her fellow councilmembers, her family, and herself through so much humiliation, made the decision to do something right. It’s not nearly enough. The only remedy for Pearce’s conduct is resignation. Nonetheless, I sincerely hope she and her family can move past her scandalous headlines and heal when eventually she is out of the spotlight of public attention.
Unfortunately, she has apparently made the extremely regrettable decision to remain in office to complete her current term, possibly keeping her in the 2nd District seat until December 2020. That is truly an outrage and an offense against the community and our city, given that just this year strong evidence of a bribery scandal has been reported, leading to an ethics investigation by the city attorney and ongoing investigations by the California Fair Political Practices Commission and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. It appears that Pearce received about $40,000 from an executive with Urban Commons, the developer of the Queen Mary project, and also took the lead on municipal legislation to benefit Urban Commons. This is perhaps the greatest scandal in the City of Long Beach since Pearce’s last scandal.
As a result, it is essential that all elected officials and all candidates for office demand Pearce’s immediate resignation. She has already been hamstrung and restricted from voting on, or even being present in the Council Chamber for, any matter relating either to the Queen Mary or to the cannabis industry (as the Urban Commons executive paid Pearce by the means of a cannabis business entity he owned).
All voters in Long Beach will be forced to assume that any candidate for office, especially any in the 2nd District race, who fails to call for Pearce’s immediate resignation is at a minimum condoning her current bribery scandal, if not all her prior conduct in 2016 and 2017.
That said, today is a great day for those who did take the lead on behalf of accountability for Pearce and who made the Recall Campaign possible. While the Recall fell just short of signatures, due to issues with the signature gathering vendor, it politically pressured the City Council in May 2018 to censure Pearce. This was the strongest possible action the Council had the legal ability to take, and the vote was unanimous, 8-0. We thank the City Council for their part, albeit belated, in ending Pearce’s political career in Long Beach.
First and foremost, however, we must thank those who made today possible. The Pearce scandal would never have come to light if it were not for Beachcomber columnist Stephen Downing and his anonymous source/s in the Long Beach Police Department. Then-Press Telegram reporters Jeremiah Dobruck and Courtney Tompkins were also dogged in following the story, including uncovering evidence of corruption in Pearce’s council office, evidence that Pearce had been guilty of a DUI that infamous night on the 710, and indications that the Breathalyzer evidence against Pearce had been conveniently rendered unusable for prosecution, by LBPD negligence if not intention. We have since learned that the Citizen Police Complaint Commission investigated what happened that night and found overwhelmingly in favor of sustaining allegations of police misconduct, before being unilaterally overruled and suppressed by City Manager Pat West.
Great credit should also be extended to LBReport.com publisher Bill Pearl for obtaining the audio recording of the very first of many officers to make contact with Pearce and Cotter on the freeway, a CHP patrolman who radioed back that it was apparently a domestic violence situation, before handing them over to LBPD.
Eventually LBPD was pressured into releasing all the documents in their investigation and the photos of Devin Cotter, showing how Councilwoman Pearce, who had remained unscathed, had physically attacked him (according to Cotter description of events to investigators) and bloodied his face. We also learned of Pearce’s inconsistent stories to the police detectives, and eventually of the lengths that Pearce went to in order to keep Cotter quiet during the first half of 2017. At a minimum, we know that he was paid off as a straw employee, on the books but not actually coming to work, after he had been kicked out of City Hall in December 2016, and in exchange he signed a waiver in which he agreed not to sue the City. That was a cover up in which subsequent reporting implicated both the mayor and the city attorney.
We also know that Cotter, even after officially becoming an ex-employee was given special perks, like tickets received by the council office and apparently access to the email system. He also started a consulting company in December 2016 named for Pearce’s renown as an anti-hotel campaigner on Ocean Blvd., called “Bullhorn Consulting”, with his replacement as her chief of staff, Christian Kropff, listed as its “CEO”. And Cotter was subsequently paid by Pearce for “consulting work” out of her officeholder account. He even demanded, for example, in one email that spring of 2017, that she set up a meeting for him with the head of the TransPac Yacht Race (a club of wealthy yacht owners useful to a budding consultancy), which she agreed to do.
Apparently his threats to expose her abuse of him were eventually too much and matters came to head on June 3, 2017. They were returning together from the House of Blues in Anaheim after midnight (having refused to speak to him for some time, she had agreed to take him out for his birthday that night, after both had been at a Garcia fundraiser on the Queen Mary, earlier in the evening), drunkenly fighting in the car all the way back, with Pearce at the wheel. Finally they stopped at the median of the 710 Freeway by Golden Shore and had it out, now outside the car, so loudly that according to the police investigation two homeless individuals approached them to ask them to quiet down. This is the person who has represented over 50,000 residents of Long Beach for over three years now.
As the leader of the Recall effort, I want to thank a number of individuals who made it possible, and who made it impossible for elected officials in Long Beach to feel a sense of total impunity, as confirmed by Pearce today. The Recall Campaign never could have begun if it hadn’t have first been started as an online facebook organizing effort by Jonathan Crouch, a 2nd District resident of Ocean Blvd. Early supporters also included Lauren Boland and 2nd District residents Robert Fox, Gary Harrison, Chuck Barrick, Ana Maria Sanchez, Deb Winter, and many, many others, some of whom may not wish to be publicized. We also had a long list of financial supporters and resident signatories to our official Notice of Intention.
I would also like to highlight the role played by our partner committee, the Friends of Long Beach, which was organized by former mayor Bob Foster, included a number of large donors, and was run by Orange County political consultant George Urch. While we may have had overlapping if not identical motivations for Pearce’s removal from office, their financial support was necessary to have any chance to pull off such a costly endeavor as mass signature gathering (which hasn’t been done successfully with volunteers alone anywhere in California since the late 1980s, given the high legal threshold tied to the number of registered voters). Unfortunately, the signature gathering vendor they hired was inexperienced, extremely disorganized, possibly committed fraud, and clearly failed to perform. Nonetheless, the Recall and the political pressure it applied to prevent the Pearce scandal from ‘just going away’ was essential.
The Pearce Recall was quite the roller coaster of an experience, and many have said, “You should write a book about it!” I don’t know about that, but maybe a long article someday. But for now, I take pride in what we accomplished.
And I look forward to Robert Fox becoming the next councilmember for the 2nd District, as I know he will carry forward the mantle of civic reform in the 2nd and citywide which he, with his strong voice and support, among many, helped us get off the ground more than two years ago.
407 E. 3rd Street
Long Beach, CA 90802
(right next to Sweet Dixie Kitchen)
AVAILABLE NOW AT RECALL HQ:
WHAT PEARCE DID TO HER FORMER STAFFER DEVIN COTTER:
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED ON JUNE 3RD, 2017 (more info here)
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PERPETRATED ON JUNE 3RD, 2017
CORRUPT COUNCIL OFFICE PRACTICES TO KEEP DEVIN COTTER SILENT ABOUT AFFAIR
DEMANDING SPECIAL TREATMENT FROM LBPD
LYING TO THE POLICE AND MISLEADING POLICE INVESTIGATION
CURRENTLY UNDER LONG-RUNNING ACTIVE D.A. INVESTIGATION FOR CORRUPTION
LYING TO CONSTITUENTS ABOUT THE JUNE 3RD, 2017 EVENTS ON THE RADIO
SERVING THE RECALL PAPERS:
PRIMETIME NEWS COVERAGE:
neighborhood online discussions: Nextdoor.com
Councilmember Pearce refused to speak to the media yesterday, who sought comment in response to the formation of our recall committee.
She finally responded on her official facebook page later in the evening, safely away from reporters’ questions. She revised her response multiple times.
Judge for yourself if Councilmember Pearce’s pretty incoherent, shifting, non-explanatory responses suggest that she is coming a bit unhinged.
And note that she DOES NOT DENY a single charge made in our press release.
Further subsequent revision:
Speaking of incoherence? Is she saying in that last revise she supports the recall while opposing the recallers?? And she paints us with the broad brush of opposition to her agenda, but what agenda would that be, given her insignificant role on the City Council to date?
Emailed to entire Press-Telegram Editorial Board:
Mr. Ron Hasse
President and Publisher
Long Beach Press-Telegram
Dear Mr. Hasse,
The Committee Supporting the Recall of Councilmember Jeannine Pearce respectfully requests a correction and the opportunity to respond.
In your August 31, 2017 Editorial entitled “Long Beach scandal calls for answers, not Pearce recall”, your Editorial Board stated that the Recall “could cost taxpayers an estimated $500,000.”
That is, in fact, only one possible approximation of the cost, and not the most likely. Indeed, Long Beach City Clerk Monique DeLaGarza told me, in person, in her office (the same day I submitted our paperwork, last Friday), that there was absolutely no way to predict, at this stage, what the cost to the City of the Recall would be. I asked her to make this clear to the press should they call her back on the matter of special election costs, and she said she would be more than willing to do so.
The potential total cost actually ranges from a number close to $0 all the way up to approximately $500,000, depending entirely on timing (which may be partly in the hands of the Recall Committee itself, depending on when it has sufficient signatures gathered and when it decides to submit them for validation to the City Clerk’s office) and depending on whether the special elections for the Recall Election and for the Replacement Election end up being consolidated, respectively, with the 2018 April and June regularly scheduled elections (as you are aware, the LB City Charter dictates that these be two separate elections, the latter following the vacancy created by the former). And in the case of the June election cost factor, it would further be affected by whether Long Beach has any municipal run offs or not (this is due to the fact that the June election will be run by the LA Co. Registrar’s office, and may or may not already have a Long Beach municipal election portion planned for the ballot).
The Editorial Board implied by its wording that the figure was simply upwards of $500,000 without accurately stating the range of likely possibilities, which again could very possibly be close to $0.
We feel this to be highly misleading to the public, and we ask for an appropriate correction. We feel this is particularly important given that the overall argument of the editorial rested, in part, on cost.
Of course, we also strongly disagree that the Recall is “premature”, and in response to that argument put forth by the Board we request the opportunity to provide a published response.
Indeed, it is reporting in the Press-Telegram which, in large part — combined with the total silence and stonewalling on the part of Councilmember Pearce and the City — has dictated the necessity for this Recall signature gathering campaign. Based on all the reporting in the PT and elsewhere, it is hard to imagine any explanation by Pearce, for all the charges we assembled from public reporting — and for which the logic and factual basis remain unquestioned and for which, to date, Councilmember Pearce has made no denials whatsoever — that could reasonably be given unaccompanied by a statement of resignation.
In fact, our position has been, since formation of this Committee last Friday, that the least burdensome (to the 2nd District, in particular) and least costly to the City outcome would be for Councilmember Pearce simply to recognize the gravity of her unexplained (and politically unexplainable) inappropriate, unethical, and likely illegal behavior and to resign.
Resignation only costs the City ink and a piece of paper.
And it would save the City the embarrassment and distraction of Pearce’s continued criminal investigations, as well as likely further revelations of chaos in her life spilling over from the personal to the professional/official.
Ian S. Patton
COMMITTEE SUPPORTING THE RECALL OF COUNCILMEMBER JEANNINE PEARCE (ID#1398531)*
Phone (562) 270-5496
* This is our official name, after a slight modification when we filed our paperwork with the California Secretary of State.
IN RESPONSE TO THEIR EDITORIAL, THE PT PUBLISHES OUR OP-ED