An organization supported by Los Angeles County Supervisor Pete Schabarum is collecting thousands of dollars from developers and others to help fight cityhood in the Santa Clarita Valley, campaign-disclosure reports show.
As of Thursday, the group, the Southern California Caucus, had spent more than $30,000 on mailings and consulting services to defeat the cityhood measure on the ballot next Tuesday.
The caucus was established April 27, five days after the Local Agency Formation Commission approved the cityhood proposal. Its stated purpose is "to support and participate in nonpartisan campaigns."
Schabarum's political action committee, the Alliance for Representative Government, paid the first three months of rent for the caucus' office in Los Angeles, according to the documents. The two groups have the same treasurer, Covina attorney Robert S. Weiss, and many of the same contributors.
Schabarum did not return telephone calls Thursday from The Times. "He doesn't want to talk about that," said press aide Mickie Silverstein. "It's no secret he's opposed to Santa Clarita Valley cityhood the way it was done."
She acknowledged that Schabarum has given money to the Southern California Caucus.
Connie Worden, spokeswoman for the City of Santa Clarita Formation Commission, said the group was "both surprised and disappointed" by Schabarum's involvement with a group opposing cityhood.
"I think its unconscionable for him to meddle in the affairs of another supervisor," Worden said. The area is represented by Supervisor Mike Antonovich.
Worden said she believes there is "one big conspiracy" among the groups opposing cityhood--the Coalition for the Right City, the Santa Clarita Caution Committee and the Southern California Caucus.
"It's obvious that our opposition is very high-powered and well-heeled," she said. "This effort of Schabarum may just galvanize this community."
Schabarum associate Tim Carey, coordinater of the Southern California Caucus, said cityhood is only one of many issues the group is involved with in Tuesday's election. He said Schabarum is not the power behind the caucus.
"We are a standing political action committee," he said. "We are involved in many things. We like to see that the proper people get elected to office." Those who contribute to the pro-business, nonpartisan group include developers and others, Carey said.
Carey said the caucus did some work for the Santa Clarita Caution Committee. "We provided a vehicle for them to step forward," he said. "We called and we did some polling and found that people are concerned about the city and the candidates. They don't know enough information about the candidates."
As of Oct. 17, the caucus had received more than $101,000 in contributions. Thirteen businesses contributed $5,000 each to the organization. Eleven of the businesses also are listed as donors to the Alliance for Representative Government, through which Shabarum channels donations to political candidates and issues.
Among contributors to the Southern California Caucus are the Dale Poe Development Corp. of Agoura, which gave $6,250; Leisure & Technology of Los Angeles, $1,250, and Paragon Homes of Santa Monica, $5,000. All three are housing developers in the Santa Clarita Valley. They also contributed sizable amounts to the Alliance for Representative Government.
Developers are opposed to the city because they fear it would impose stricter controls on growth.
Schabarum, who sits on LAFCO, which oversees incorporations, cast the lone vote against the cityhood proposal in April. He said a November election would cost the county $3 million for subsidizing the city as required by law until the end of the fiscal year, June 30.
Schabarum said the election should be held in April or June next year to save the county money. He also said the city should be larger than the 40 square miles allowed by LAFCO.
One of the groups opposing cityhood has expressed the same sentiments in mailers. "We need the right city," the mailers say. They urge voters to oppose "a cityhood plan that gives us no control over how out-of-area politicians develop the 45 square miles next door."
The Southern California Caucus Oct. 17 campaign disclosure statement shows that it has also contributed a total of $5,450 to school board candidates Nancy McCracken in Pomona; Steve Kuykendall on the Palos Verdes Peninsula; Jim Weisenburger in the ABC school district and Palmdale Water Board candidates Ed Minghelli and Chuck Medicus.