Moraga Anti-Candidate Signs Disappear

Nineteen of 20 'Dump Mendonca' signs are gone, sign maker says; Council member Karen Mendonca says she doesn't know who took them and doesn't condone it.

It appears the "Dump Mendonca" signs have been dumped.

A Moraga man who had a political tussle with Town Council member Karen Mendonca placed 20 "Dump Mendonca" signs around the town late Tuesday afternoon. A friend called Doug Home Wednesday morning to say some were gone — it turned out to be 19 out of 20.

"I noticed someone following me at some point," Home said. "It was a woman in a car."

Mendonca, on the Moraga council since 2008, wrote in an email to Home she did not know who removed the signs and does not condone the removal "as you are freely exercising your First Amendment rights." Four years ago, her campaign lost some 60 campaign signs due to theft and vandalism, Mendonca said.

In an email reply to Home, Mendonca said, "we have already experienced sign loss and vandalism during the current campaign, and we would expect you to report any knowledge that you might have regarding our losses."

Home said he spent $130 having his 20 signs made up.

Home said he was a member of a community focus group that developed a compromise plan on the issue of dogs in Rancho Laguna Park. Mendonca spent "no time considering it" before saying no, he said.

Home made a police report of the theft of the signs. Besides the thefts, there are First Amendment rights to free speech, he said.

"A report has been taken and will remain open until leads develop," wrote Moraga Police Chief Robert Priebe in an email.

Thick skin

Mendonca took the anti message in stride. "One of the things you learn as a principled leader and councilmember is that you had better have very thick skin," she wrote. "While these sorts of negative, bullying actions can be most disappointing from a communicational point of view, I will be the very first person to defend one’s decision to exercise his or her First Amendment rights.

that eliminated off-leash hours in Rancho Laguna Park. It didn't take long for dog owners to gather enough signatures to put a referendum on the November ballot asking voters to support or reject the council's ordinance. Faced with a popular revolt, the town council backpedaled in July and voted 3-2 to rescind the off-leash law.

"What I said (on the sign) wasn't nice, and I'm willing to take the heat for that," said Home. "But it's not nice to take it down either."

Bailey Lee October 28, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Here's a thought experiment to consider. As I understand it, 2GM objects to the "prime hours" of before 9:00am and after an hour before dusk being open to unleashed dogs. If that's a prime concern to him and his faction, how about flipping it? Off leash bet 9:00 am and an hour before dusk. Or alternating entire days of off leash, no off leash. I speak for no one but myself and my doggie, BTW.
Douglas Home October 28, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Nathan, well said. Arth had a similar response regarding "the natural feel of RLP". As I wrote to him, what will happen to this "feel" when they put a fence through the middle of it or permanent soccer field - or both?
Douglas Home October 28, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Damn. I should have negotiated a nickel a click with The Patch on this one!
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop October 28, 2012 at 08:17 PM
I think I am starting to understand MoragaMan's (sic) interpretation of our democracy and the usefulness, no necessity, of public meetings by our elected councils. We'll call it the "Stepford Public Council Derivative" where concerned citizens who wish to offer input to their representatives, input of which they may not be aware. The TC, the actual ones, have jobs or are off liaising with other similar groups (about what and to what end, I'm sure I haven't a clue) cannot be bothered by input from their constituents. The "Stepford Public Council Derivative" will be a semi-permanent installation (likely in one of the many empty retail spaces) of life-like plaster of paris replicants of the current TC members. Then, citizens with something to share which they feel strongly about, can drop in individually or in vast numbers and step up to a podium and vent without worrisome time limits about their well thought out, incisive concerns. They walk away relieved of the pent up frustration with the TC and the TC members need not have their valuable time wasted by an annoying public. I must say, MM, your grip on what a democracy is and how it works never occurred to me before. Mainly because it is self-servings nonsense and antithetical to American democracy. Once the TC saw the welling rise of "leave it be" sentiment (some 4 years ago) they should have dropped it like the hot potato it is and moved on to the pressing issues at hand IMHO. DoBeDoBeDo
Nathan Bell October 28, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Mr. Lee, I don't understand why you call his statement a lie and him a liar. His experience is almost identical to mine. Because of it, I don't even think about using RLP for a picnic anymore while the dogs are loose.
Moraga Man October 28, 2012 at 10:09 PM
@Bailey Lee: It is becoming clear to me that you and your like minded posters on here use harsh language and personally denigrate others because you sincerely do not believe your unleashed dogs are a deterrent to others using the park. (Please note I used the word "deterent" not "danger".) So you honestly do believe that other people that have an opposing narrative are lying and feel comfortable calling them a liar because you can't conceive of them thinking otherwise. While that is incredible to me, I suppose my impressions and perspective on the dog park are just as incredible to you. If so, I guess we'll never see eye to eye with regard to the dog park.
Moraga Man October 28, 2012 at 10:23 PM
@ Fritz: So you counsel your fellow dog owners to control their dogs but you label as "absurd" and as a "twisted hyperbole" my real life experience that a dog jumped up enough to grab a hot dog off the warming pan next to the grill as well as nipped at the plate on the picnic table disrupting the table's contents and sending the picnickers into damage control mode? If my story is absurd why the counsel to your fellow dog owners?
Douglas Home October 28, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Question: If you wanted to have your picnic in the middle of the skateboard park (for whatever reason) should the skateboarders have to leave? Same question for basketball, volleyball, bocci ball, etc. Answer: Of course not. The concept is absurd. So what's the difference between off-leash dogs at RLP and these other approved uses at The Commons? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. All of them are legal and authorized uses of Town parks as stipulated by Ordinance. Off-leash dogs have been an approved use at RLP for 16 years. Now you want us to just go away because you're not comfortable around dogs? I'm sorry, but the accommodation is yours to make. If you don't see the point...go ahead and setup your picnic in the middle of the skateboard park and see how that works. Hope you don't mind when one of them "grinds" along the edge of your table. They might even steal a hot dog on the way through!
Moraga Man October 28, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Yes, Fritz, and the US Congress should cave into every special interest that presents itself on the Washington Mall with 50,000 people. The louder the noise, the more Congress should ignore the other 300 million citizens that pay Congress to deliberate fairly with all interests in mind. What was it you said about "self-serving nonsense"?
Moraga Man October 28, 2012 at 10:58 PM
@Douglass, Speaking of absurd concepts: Skate board parks are not intended for picnickers and I've never known a soul that wanted to have a picnic in the middle of a SB bowl. Picknickers and Skateboarders can peacefully co-exist at MC. Picknickers, using picnic tables intended for humans, cannot peacefully coexist with unleashed dogs. So there ABSOLUTELY is a difference between activities at MC and unleashed dogs at RLP. I don't necessarily want you to go away, I would just like to have a time in the prime usage hours (generally the evening hours) where I could take my boys down to the dog park and roast a hot dog and throw a football undisturbed by unleashed dogs. As is, regardless of how much you denigrate the statement, from 6:00pm every evening of everyday of the year, there are unleashed, leaping, frisky dogs that keep me and many others from considering doing such. Hence, the park belongs - during prime usage hours - to the dogs 365 days a year. Call it a "twisted hyperbole" if it makes you feel good, but I suspect you know it is reality.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop October 28, 2012 at 11:09 PM
MM, Your ultra-hyperbole and fanatical histrionics are embarrassing. Typically Moragans cast 6,000 or less votes in any election. Sort of puts the 1800 signatures they garnered in a week into tighter focus, no? The more I think about the "Stepford Public Council Derivative" idea, the more outlandish your arguments are. Your pedantic, manic diatribes belie the issues at hand. The whole RLP fiasco involves 'maybe' 200 Moragans, maybe. Many of the folks come from Lafayette or Orinda and they are welcome. Time to pull the plug on the circular nightmare.
Moraga Man October 28, 2012 at 11:22 PM
@ Fritz, you may very well be right. With 1800 signatures, that may very well indicate a majority. And if so, then I congratulate you and wish you well. Having said that, I know I sign petitions all the time while walking into a grocery store. I have not studied the issue, I have barely understood what the proponent has told me and I am very aware that I am getting a one sided sales pitch. But I often sign because I know it only is the first step of the process and I can vote against it when it is on the ballot if I so chose, after having studied the issue. I am especially given to the peer pressure if my neighbor knocks on my door. But that is NOT a secret ballot. That is dripping with peer pressure. Your collecting the signatures is great. I applaud your initiative and energy for accomplishing that first step of the process. But it is the first step and not the final step. I expect the TC to consider all voices, possibilities and to make reasoned conclusions. I do not expect them to be bullied into a special interest group's promotion.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop October 28, 2012 at 11:37 PM
I accept the fact that I do not live in a bubble. Even in the cloistered world of 'affluent communities' sometimes things happen, unintentionally, without vindiction. A reasonable person might laugh at the stolen hotdog and then ask the owner to control the beast. A swiped hot dog is not evidence enough to vacate a decades old tradition. I do not move through life expecting everything to work out as I planned. If I did, I'd be eaten alive by ulcers and hypertension. Things happen. An accepting attitude, maybe laced with some humor, would have diffused your trouble. Most of the people I know from RLP would be apologetic and offer reparation, if appropriate. If not, you can always call the coppers. But that is rarely necessary here. We all need to dial it down a few notches and put this in realistic perspective. The Town has far larger problems and we need not be at one another's throats over entirely fixable situations. I had to pony up $250 each time a pothole snuck by my radar and blistered the idiotic low profile tires on my vehicle at the time. First I got a Land Rover, but I could not stomach 8 miles/per gallon. Now my 4Runner with its big fat tires can navigate the town's lousy roads without a problem. There are others, too many for here, but my point is, RLP is a MINOR irritant for a very small amount of people and an institution for a larger number. We have bigger fish to fry and we need not be at odds unnecessarily while doing that work. Live and let live.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop October 28, 2012 at 11:56 PM
As for, "If my story is absurd why the counsel to your fellow dog owners?" I am an avid dog owner. Even bred them for a minute or two. And I know a lot about them, their needs, their shortcomings. And I know what they mean to humankind and that 'meaning' is significant. So I learned about them as a youngster and when possible I kept them. Like most things, there is always more to them than meets the eye. I will not list the handful of simple, practical rules I abide by, but I deeply feel that if followed, dogs and humans can coexist peacefully. There is a general indifference to these nuanced tenets and dogs and humans alike suffer because of this disregard and RLP's off lead practices is a fine example of that. The amount of effort is small and the results disarming. So I will not stop preaching the gospel of reasonable dog ownership. I owe it to the dogs.
Douglas Home October 29, 2012 at 01:16 AM
What? I assure you, brother, we picnic with our dogs off-leash all of the time. It's an American tradition. Leash laws weren't even widely practiced until the late 1970's. "Picknickers...cannot peacefully coexist with unleashed dogs"? You've got to be kidding me! As for the rest of your response, you obviously don't get the point. Never mind then.
Moraga Man October 29, 2012 at 01:47 AM
@ Fritz, I have no beef with dogs. None at all. I own one. I do have two other beefs on this point though. 1. I don't like the tone of the OL dog owners. For amusement, go through this thread and keep score of how many personal denegrations there have been from the dog owners to those on the other side. Then do the same in reverse. I think the score would be something like 10 to 1. That is not civil nor respectful. And that same attitude permeates through this whole TC process. 2. I think there ought to be some days where the evening hours are OL free. Good luck to you all.
2nd Generation Moraga October 29, 2012 at 03:06 AM
@Bailey, I have no faction and I believe in off leash with spatial separation.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop October 29, 2012 at 02:38 PM
MM, You are a loud, frantic representative of what I believe is a small group of folks that have had bad experiences with the OL crowd. Ironically, I am among that group as well. My bad experience landed both me and one of my beloved dogs in an emergency room-hospital/veterinary Hospital. Me for 3 days after I had to go toe to fang with one of those "loaded gun" pitbulls to keep it from killing my animal. The other two ended up in the pound until my wife rescued them. The causal factor was an idiot amateur 'dog walker' with 4 (3 is the limit) dogs she did not own or have the ability to control. I'll take a swiped hotdog any day over that experience. The moron owner said it wasn't possible, that her's was a sweet animal. Well, my lawyers and I looked into her and she was a single mom that kept the dog for "protection". I chose not to sue her (I am not the litigious type), but I do hold her up as the epitome of irresponsible dog ownership. It was not the dog's fault. They are lower case animals that operate out of their genetic, historical environment and depend entirely on humans for training and sustenance. Co-existence is possible at RLP. Dogs do what dogs will do (unless trained to come on command) It falls on the humans to control them, and if they cannot or will not, then they should stay away from off lead parks. As for your experience, again, I say a little calm but firm expression to the owner should remedy the sausage caper.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop October 29, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Apparently they heard me!!!!! Pretty darn nice and something we can all agree on as a positive, uplifting example of unselfish cooperation toward an end. They are a hodgepodge of cast offs (Buster Posey, the only starter remaining from the 2010 championship team) up against a group of individually great, but less focused players. Moragans will accomplish a lot more by bringing in some new blood that will focus on the real issues that face us.
MomOfJayce October 30, 2012 at 01:45 AM
KL, yours is the most coherent and balanced argument I've yet to read on this issue. Other than the 'not sanitary' comment (I have NEVER seen a dog poop without it being cleaned up - even by someone other than the dog's actual owner!), I concur with the bulk of your statements. I use RLP all the time with my children & pups, but I do have concerns about children being scared, elderly getting knocked over, etc. I know everybody says they don't want a fence...but guess what? We either deal with a fence or it will eventually become an on-leash park. Can't we meet halfway, drop the rhetoric, and find a solution to this? From the information I've gleaned, I simply don't think that will happen with the current administration. Hopefully, people will take a step back so that we can find a way to allow the dogs their off-leash time (which really is something that DRAMATICALLY improves their quality of life) and make it comfortable for families, as well.
Douglas Home October 30, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Hi Mom, Something you should probably know (and that Jon won't tell you) - Plan C was such a compromise plan splitting the park in half. We (dog lovers) supported it (albeit holding our noses) and here's the punch line.....we were going to PAY for it. But the Chambers, Mendonca, Harpham & Chew overplayed their hand. They thought they had us by the proverbial short hairs and went in for the knock-out punch....to ban off-leash dogs at RLP. It was only by the Referendum of 1800 that we were able to stop them. This, in a nutshell, is the reason why I've spent so much of my time and money trying to defeat Mendonca.....and her little Arth, too!
Karen Lewis October 30, 2012 at 10:34 PM
That is an intersting idea (alternating am and eve with the 9am to 4 or 6, and alternating that ever other day. (Though good luck keeping track.) But for all the talk of various alternatives you and others mention, Chew, Mendonca, and Harpham would not engage in such discussions. It is too bad some in these Patch comments have a notion that all the off-leash people won't compromise and are hostile. It is a big mistake to apply those assumptions to the vast majority of those who do enjoy RLP during off-leash hours. They are mostly great kind people who love it there. Thanks.
Douglas Home October 30, 2012 at 11:25 PM
I just got a call from people had two DEFEAT MENDONCA signs stolen from their front yard last night. I guess now we can add TRESPASSING to the list of thefts made by Mendonca supporters.
2nd Generation Moraga October 31, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Ms. Lewis, perhaps the more "moderate" arm of the OL contingent needs to step up and LEAD. The only voices being heard at this point are the dog-partisans who don't counter to any narrative other than their own. I think everyone (except the dog-partisans) would like to find a compromise solution that the vast majority could live with. However, unless you moderates wrestle control from the partisans, that isn't going to happen.
Douglas Home October 31, 2012 at 05:51 PM
For the record, Mendonca's campaign headquarters have been alerted to the continuing thefts of the DEFEAT MENDONCA (and possibly other anti-Mendonca) signs. Yesterday, she was alerted to the trespassing and theft report of two signs on private property. Mendonca's response was only, "Point noted". Really, Karen? That's the best you have to offer? Your supporters are continuously violating the law and we have yet to notice any of YOUR signs missing. Hmmmm?
Douglas Home November 02, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Okay..we have multiple confirmed sightings of the woman (and automobile) who stole over 50 of my DEFEAT MENDONCA signs today. She finally had the audacity to do it in broad daylight. Unfortunately for her, this now amounts to .. GRAND THEFT!
Cooper Hall November 02, 2012 at 02:41 AM
The crazy in Moraga runs deep. Very deep.
Jose November 02, 2012 at 02:53 AM
As Claus Von Bulow (Jeremy Irons) said in Reversal of Fortune, "You have no idea."
Douglas Home November 03, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Sign thief caught today!
Bailey Lee November 03, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Lemme guess...it was a rabid, anti-social and vicious dog, right?


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