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Hrabik's Candidate Statement Challenged; Judge Agrees

A judge rules that a phrase in Kenney Hrabik's candidate statement for City Council in Rancho Santa Margarita was false. It's another tough moment for the aspiring businessman.

Kenney Hrabik's candidate statement will be a little shorter than he anticipated. That's because a judge in Orange County Superior Court on Tuesday ruled that he made a false claim in his 373-word submission to the Orange County Registrar of Voters in his for Rancho Santa Margarita City Council.

In a challenge mounted by RSM resident April Josephson, Judge Charles Margines ruled that Hrabik's candidate statement—which could be up to 400 words long—must omit a phrase that claims he moved to Rancho Santa Margarita after the recession started.

It was pointed out in court that Hrabik's business moved from Lake Forest to Rancho Santa Margarita in December, 2005, when he signed a long term lease for a location in Dove Canyon Plaza, and that he applied for a conditional use permit in September 2006.

"As a longtime community activist and local businessperson, I felt it was my responsibility to set the record straight," said Josephson, who made the challenge one day before the 10-day, Aug. 25 deadline to do so.

  • To read the original candidate statement, .
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It was argued by Josephson, citing the National Bureau of Economic Research, that the economic activity in the U.S. didn't peak until December 2007 and the recession did not begin until December 2008.

Included in the argument was a letter written by Hrabik in which he says he relocated his event planning company in RSM "to be closer to our home in Rancho Cielo..." and the certificate of occupancy issued by the City in 2006.

According to the Court, "the phrase 'When the recession started and I saw so many of Rancho families out of work' is false and/or misleading. ... the court orders that the words 'the recession started and' in the foregoing phrase be stricken."

All other challenges to Hrabik's candidate statement were denied. The Court said in its judgment:

"None constitutes a reference to other candidates for the same office. In essence, Petitioner takes the position that any pledge to improve the governance of the city necessarily implies a criticism of the current city council or at least a reference to its members. That is simply not the case. For example, Mr. Hrabik's assertion that his many years of business experience would be an asset to the current city council is not a denigration of the latter; it is a promise that, if he is elected, the city would benefit from his experience. Similarly, 'we can do better' does not imply that the current council members are doing a poor job. It means no more than: If elected, we can improve as a city."

The Court also indicated that a reference to city councilman Jesse Petrilla "currently fighting in Afghanistan" with the California National Guard, could also remain in the statement even though Petrilla has contacted city manager Jennifer Cervantez and indicated that his tour has been cut short and he will be in attendance at council meetings beginning on Sept. 26. 

Josephson argued that Petrilla would be back in the states when the candidate statements are mailed to voters. The judge ruled that "there is no certainty that Mr. Petrilla will return home before publication of the candidates' statements; his tour of duty may be extended voluntarily or by order of Mr. Petrilla's superiors."

On the whole, it's another setback for Hrabik, who argued earlier this year before the city council that a national survey showed Rancho Santa Margarita had a business climate that was worse than cities such as El Centro, Bakersfield, Philadelphia and New Orleans; in fact, the survey did not name RSM but greater Orange County, specifically naming Anaheim, Santa Ana and Irvine.

Hrabik also circulated an email campaign claiming that the cost of all salary and benefits to council members since the city incorporated in 2000 had cost the city $1 million— too much.

glen p September 24, 2012 at 10:57 PM
First off, there was intent to place the campaign sign at the event this is what you said April not anyone else
April Josephson September 24, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Yes, Glen, what is your point? I did not make a judgment as to whether he intended to offend. However, Kenney is aware of the city event schedule and has parked his 3-sided mobile campaign sign adjacent to the edge of city events before. So, when the 3-sided mobile campaign sign, that is moved around town all of the time, appears adjacent to the Patriot Day event-with a flag on it that wasn't there before-I believe there was intent to place it at the event.
Martin Henderson September 25, 2012 at 01:29 AM
For Kenney Hrabik: I realize there is a certain amount of political gamesmanship at play here, but as a candidate for city council who is calling a reader a perpetual liar ("Your continual lies for political gain is disappointing") I think it's important that you explain it with specifics or retract. As far as I can tell, April Josephson has not said/written anything that is untrue; some items, such as whether the sign at Patriot Day was in bad taste, is clearly an opinion. Please document which lies or mistruths you're referring; otherwise, it appears you're just trying to throw up a smokescreen to discredit her without any real facts. Again, for the benefit of readers and voters (and me) explain "your continual lies" so that we are aware of what she's saying that is not factual. Thanks. Martin Henderson
glen p September 26, 2012 at 04:17 PM
April earlier I asked what offensive language were you referring to in Mr. Hrabiks canadiate statement, and no I have not nor will I be attached to anyone else opinion as you seem to believe. I read, assess, and come to my own opinions thank you. I am confused, which is it? This is what you said above referring to the truck, language in his canidate statement, "I did not make a judgment as to whether he intended to offend" "I don't buy it. First off, there was intent to place the campaign sign at the event"
April Josephson September 26, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Glen, I'm not sure what you are asking. In reference to Kenney's candidate statement, I was using the term as a legal reference—he committed a legal offense. The false/misleading language (offensive language) that was ordered removed was in violation of the state elections code. I used a different definition of the term offensive in the instance of the campaign sign. Can you please explain your question? I am confused.

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