By Penny Arévalo
Things got a bit testy during the public comments portion of the Rancho Santa Margarita City Council meeting on Wednesday.
That's when San Juan Capistrano politics spilled over into council chambers as former SJC council candidate Kim McCarthy took the podium and addressed RSM Councilman Steve Baric on his home turf.
Baric is an attorney for San Juan Cares, the group behind recent political mailers distributed in that city. San Juan Cares has so far produced two slick mailers: one, featuring a wheel of fortune of sue-happy residents, and another featuring many of the same people as circus caricatures. The latter was distributed to the RSM audience Wednesday.The mailers have popped up in the middle of an attempt to recall San Juan Capistrano Mayor Sam Allevato.
McCarthy, who supports the recall, said she attended the Rancho Santa Margarita City Council meeting Wednesday to make sure Baric's constituents knew who was representing them.
She had three minutes to make her case. Below is a transcript of what transpired during the public comments session of the RSM City Council agenda:
McCarthy: I came here specifically tonight to visit Councilman Baric in his own backyard. He represents the group responsible for the political attack mailer that I just distributed to the audience tonight. I think after reviewing this mailer you will agree that this is disgusting and is beneath an elected official. It maligns private citizens in my town of San Juan whose only sin is to disagree with a certain council member in the city I live in. The mailer is filled with lies, half-truths and distortions and makes fun of the disabled, the elderly and women.
To make matters worse, councilman Baric, this mailer came from a group listed at your business address and for whom you serve as attorney and agent for service of process.
When a parent objected to San Juan Cares posting their minor child’s information on their website, apparently in an effort to attack the parent, you sent a letter Mr. Baric to the parent in defense of San Juan Cares' First Amendment right. You didn’t stop there, though. You threatened the parent and anyone associated with them with “the strongest legal response if they demanded that San Juan Cares remove info about their child.”
Assuming you are a parent, have you ever stopped to think that this group’s website is hurting innocent children with lies? How would you feel if your child’s personal information was posted on a website and your child saw you depicted this way on a mailer that came to their home in their own mailbox?
Now the founder of this disgusting hate group is responding to heat from the community in San Juan by saying that he is backing away from the group and is referring questions to you, Councilman Baric. It appears that you share in the responsibility of this garbage and I want the residents of this town to know who is representing them.
I’ll give you the remainder of my time to respond.
Baric: You want my response? I am this group’s lawyer. You misquoted me. I said that they have a First Amendment right, which I stand by. I didn’t say they had a First Amendment right to abuse kids. I have kids of my own. And quite frankly, Ms. McCarthy, you’ve been more than accommodating with attacking other people in your own community. I am not involved in the creation of this activity, I’m merely their lawyer. If you want to talk to me, you know where to find me. I’m happy to discuss this with you at any time.
McCarthy: Well, Mr. Baric, I just don’t really think it’s right that you can do this type of thing in my neighborhood and hide in this neighborhood. So I don’t really have any interest in talking to you. This says it all.
Baric: I want to make it abundantly clear …
McCarthy: I’m not done. I just want the people here to know who you are.