From the last November election, it’s always interesting to see what floats to the surface.
Over the last week and a half, I have received some very interesting information forwarded to Our Hesperia. The information indicates that Kelly Gregg (father of Cody Gregg who won a seat on the Hesperia School Board, and Kelly Gregg being the current director on the Hesperia Recreation and Park District Board) was in a security uniform, holding Cody Gregg and Andrew Cowan signs on a stick at the entrance of the Methodist Church polling place at far eastern Main Street in Hesperia.
Your first thought and mine included would be, “Why was this information being brought forward seven months after the 2012 election?” From what Our Hesperia can tell, it started off as a public record request that was made to Hesperia Unified School District on Hesperia Recreation and Park board member Rebekah Swanson. There were 22 pages of emails that were presented to the Hesperia Recreation and Park Board to be placed on the record by fellow board member Kelly Gregg.
In the transcripts from the board minutes of the April 10, 2013 meeting (these minutes can be seen at www.hesperiaparks.com) Kelly Gregg handed out the packet of emails to the board at the beginning of the meeting. The emails that were presented were from Rebekah Swanson’s (Rebekah Swanson is employed as a teacher with Hesperia Unified School District) school district.
Rebekah Swanson asked Kelly Gregg, “The first thing I have a question about is my email from the School District — well, where did these come from?” Kelly Gregg would only say that they come from the school district and would not say from whom. Rebekah Swanson also asked, “By your son, Cody Gregg, as a school board member?” Kelly Gregg responded by saying, “I don’t know that I need to give you that information. Just wanted to provide information about your Brown Act violations and your using District email on District time for political activities, Ms. Swanson.”
Rebekah Swanson then asked, “Okay. I’d also like to know if I can have this photograph in color and a little larger of Cody Gregg in a uniform — and who is your employer?” Kelly Gregg responded with, “That’s not Cody Gregg. That’s myself. : What I am inclined to tell you is – is that whenever you were provided this information by Josh Chandler or via Bob Chandler, that all the information wasn’t given to you directly. Because under 18546 of the Election Code, immediate vicinity defines the immediate area within 100 feet from the room or rooms in which the voters are signing the– casting votes.” Rebekah Swanson asked, “And who’s your employer?” Kelly Gregg said, “That’s the end of the discussion. So if you’d like me to say, yes, I’m declining to say what company I was working for, then that’s my answer.”
This dialog continued with Rebekah Swanson asking, “Did you serve a public records request on Director Chandler or Director Limbaugh?” With Kelly Gregg not wanting to comment on where they come from or if members Bob Chandler or Michael Limbaugh also had public record request make on their email, Rebekah Swanson stated, “Okay. And this document here that’s marked confidential two times, are you providing this confidential document to the public?” It is Our Hesperia’s understanding that confidential documents that were about Lindsay Woods were pulled off the minutes, but were seen by anyone that had access to the emails that were requested.
Kelly Gregg then accused Rebekah Swanson of violating the Brown Act by sending these email to board members Michael Limbaugh and Bob Chandler, but Andy Cowan and Kelly Gregg were totally mistaken and were incorrect as to where they originated. The email came from Bob Chandler, not Rebekah Swanson.
Bob Chandler made a statement, “…briefly what happened on my behalf. – you know, my son was up for a visit. He was riding around with his friend, and he saw you out there with a placard and signs out there in front of a voting place…. it was kind of funny because my wife noticed a sign out in front of the Community Church that had your name (Cody Gregg and Andy Cowan)….. Well, it was supposed to be 100 feet or something, right? –(Josh Chandler) he says, do you know this guy? guy’s out there. I go, let me see his picture. And that’s when I started emailing people… I needed input from people back to me to find out what was going on,…. I don’t care who’s on the Board, but when — I think that, Rebekah, you felt that I was being attacked in some way, and I know you did. Okay. So you came to support me, and that’s why you emailed some of the things that you emailed. There was no conspiracy or anything like that. There never was. And I’m sorry if you misinterpreted that.”
Our Hesperia’s next thought, which would probably coincide with many of yours, would be that Kelly Gregg may have been more than 100 feet from the polling place at the church and, ” So what’s the big deal.” From what was corroborated by many that did see him at the church, he was at the only entrance to the parking area, and was said by community members that he was partially blocking the entrance to the facility.
The emails, that are difficult to read, had further details that described how a person in a security uniform could not stand anywhere near a polling place, and it got me thinking. So Our Hesperia opened the hand dandy internet browser and searched the California Election Code and found the following:
Election Code 18544.
(a) Any person in possession of a firearm or any uniformed peace officer, private guard, or security personnel or any person who is wearing a uniform of a peace officer, guard, or security personnel, who is stationed in the immediate vicinity of, or posted at, a polling place without written authorization of the appropriate city or county elections official is punishable by a fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 of the Penal Code for 16 months or two or three years, or in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
(b) This section shall not apply to any of the following:
(1) An unarmed uniformed guard or security personnel who is at the polling place to cast his or her vote.
(2) A peace officer who is conducting official business in the course of his or her public employment or who is at the polling place to cast his or her vote.
(3) A private guard or security personnel hired or arranged for by a city or county elections official.
(4) A private guard or security personnel hired or arranged for by the owner or manager of the facility or property in which the polling place is located if the guard or security personnel is not hired or arranged solely for the day on which an election is held.
After reading the statute, all Our Hesperia could say was, “Wow,” and think someone must have some questions for Mr. Kelly Gregg.
Why was Kelly Gregg in a security uniform, and is this is a case of ignorance or improper electioneering as described by law? Furthermore, why did he park his marked car in a place obvious to voters coming to choose their community leaders?
Now, from where are we today, Our Hesperia believes that it is always important to bring forward the true character of our elected officials. That said, Our Hesperia thinks this was an extremely poor choice for Kelly Gregg to make, and this character flaw should be remembered in the future.
Also, another point to consider would be, “Is this just a case of ‘its better to ask forgiveness than permission?’” Well, the election is over, considering Gregg’s action, could it have changed the election in the school board race? I don’t think so, but it could have changed the election votes between Jack Hamilton and Andy Cowan that would have given Jack Hamilton the win.
There was no Brown Act violation by Rebekah Swanson as accused by Kelly Gregg, and Bob Chandler owned up to the mistake with no intent of harm.
Our Hesperia just hopes that our community is not getting off on the wrong foot again and going in a bad direction. If choices such as the above are indicative of how the Kelly Gregg faction thinks, we could see more of those choices in the future.
Keep an eye open in the next couple of days for part two – this is where Our Hesperia believes all this is coming from.