Alpine: Local Political Races Are No Longer Immune from Corruption

Guest Column Guest Column 15 Comments


Guest Commentary
by Steve Hunyar

Our sleepy little town of Alpine is a great place to live. But as of late, political corruption has begun creeping into our bedroom community.

A large (8.5″ x 14″) 2-sided, 4-color hit piece was mailed to presumably all the registered voters in our school district precincts. The pamphlet lambasted a candidate who is running for the Alpine Union School District School Board. To the best of my recollection of living here for over 20 years, this very professionally produced negative ad is the first to target an individual.

The hit piece was produced by Public Safety Advocates, FPPC ID#1364679 – a PAC in North County. There is little information available on this PAC. However, someone in our community had to be behind the effort to publish and mail it – and they remain anonymous.

Whoever is behind this effort should be ashamed of him/herself, and I know someday, the truth will be exposed. Anonymously attacking a candidate in a manner such as this is an act of cowardice. Personally I ignore trash such as this, because as my father always told me, “consider the source of who is giving you advice” and in this case, the source chooses to remain hidden.

Even more disturbing, I was surprised to see another mailer (pictured here) that claims the candidates listed on the flyer were endorsed by 115 local families who are well known in Alpine – and then lists each of the families. However, a number of people on this list have clearly indicated they never gave permission to be on a political circular.

How would you like it if someone attached your endorsement to a proposition, a bond, or a slate of candidates – without getting your permission?

It seems it was only a matter of time, but Alpine has now been infiltrated by some disgusting politics – something I hoped, possibly naively, would never happen here. This mailer was not endorsed by all the people on this list. While they may have, in passing, said they would support an individual or two, many (most?) did not agree to get behind the full slate of candidates on the flyer. In fact, I can tell you that the Deacon on this list is not allowed, under church direction, to take a position on any candidate nor law. Another couple on this list is no longer married. Several others have told me the same thing – they never agreed to this.

This flyer was paid for by “Voters for Progress and Reform” and does not have a FPPC ID# as a PAC. I Googled and Bing Mapped the address on the leaflet and the address is shown as an office on Navajo Road – outside of Alpine.

Coincidentally, this mailer and the negative attack mailer, are on the same oversized paper (8.5 x 14), are 2-sided, 4-color, have duplicate postal mailing label/codes, and are of the exact same quality. There is little doubt in my mind they were designed by the same group.

There is too much anonymity in politics today, and a lack of transparency. If you are going to negatively attack someone, have the courage to stamp your name on it, rather than hide behind a veil of secrecy. This is nothing more than political malpractice by a group operating in the shadows.

Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously said ‘All politics is local’. Unfortunately he was right and it appears big government politics is now local and a few of my neighbors have opted to corruptly devolve our hamlet. Upping the political hacksmanship by operating behind closed doors in our community; lying and taking advantage of others to gain a political advantage. Someone in our local community has orchestrated the infiltration of Alpine’s politics by outside PACs. How truly sad.

In speaking with a few candidates who are equally upset that their name is on the piece, I was told this was not a paid slate by the candidates running for election. However I can only surmise there are those running for office who knew full well the dishonesty and disingenuousness of what they were doing.

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Steve Hunyar is a resident of Alpine and author of “America the Disposable: The Culture War During the Era of Apathy” and “Houseboating Lake Powell,” as well as the founder of The ConservativePatriot.Com — a podcast mecca for the right. To contact Steve, please email him at


Comments 15

  1. Steve Hunyar you are awesome! Political corruption is everywhere and we need to stop the machines dead in their tracks with our votes.

    GRASSROOTS is the new political revolution. Average voters are sick and tired of the rhetoric. There will be a change.

  2. For what it is worth: With April Boling as their treasurer, I can only surmise that “Voters for Progress and Reform” is a Republican, or at least a right-leaning, PAC.

  3. Here is the most important question regarding the negative mailer: Is the information contained in it true or false?

    I’m not talking about the flyer pictured above, I’m referencing the other, non-pictured, ad he referenced.

    It’s a rediculous stretch to claim corruption on the side of these PAC’s when all you received is a simple piece of mail in your mailbox one morning. As a voter, I’m more interested in knowing if the information is true or not and your Op-Ed was utter pointlessness that did not help me, as a voter, be more informed. You never offered any credible explanation to counter the ads.

    You say “some” people on the endorsing flyer never agreed to be on that flyer. But did they endorse the candidates? Was it all, some or a couple?

    Was the negative “attack” ad true or false?

    Help me be more informed.

  4. @Brian, excellent detective work! FOLLOW THE MONEY! Both sides are equally as corrupt when it comes to buying their politicians.


    @James just because it is on a side you agree with does not make it right.

  5. Forgive me Mr. Russo but i couldn’t find your response to the ad on your Facebook page.

    Is it true, were you fired, sorry “non-reelected”, from Central Union High School?

  6. Thank you for the link to the article about the “hit piece” on you, Mr. Russo, and the PAC that sent it out.

    The only thing missing from that article is a direct response from you? Were you fired from CUHS??? Your Linked-In profile shows a 10 year period of your career spent as an educator… but unlike all the other jobs you have had during your career you don’t list any actual schools that you taught at. Were you ever able to secure a permanent position as a school teacher? How many schools did you teach at and why weren’t you ever able to get tenure?

    These seem like very relevant issues, especially considering you are running from school board.

  7. Beau Ashley:

    Or is it James O’Reilly?

    Since those two names of commenters above were posted from the same IP address. Maybe James and Beau are roommates? That may be the case.

    Commenters may use a handle, but may only use one, so as not to appear to be more than one person posting on the same or several matters.

    Carry on.

  8. One, possibly two, “handles” from the same IP address? Sounds like you’re hiding your identity, just as the senders of the flyers tried to do. How’s this sound? Here’s my phone number, 619 300-0866. Call me.

  9. This article was forwarded to me and I immediately responded using a handle. I wasn’t aware that on rostra, most people actually just go with their real name. Once I was notified of that, I switched to my real name. My mistake, I will take my slap on the wrist.

    Now that is cleared up… Is Mr. Russo going to answer the question or deflect some more?

    This guy is lying right to our face. Nothing new there. He stood in front of the Lincoln Club membership and lied to get their endorsement. No candidate in Alpine has a more ANTI-development voting record.

    When a McDonald’s applied for a minor site plan amendment to build in an existing Albertson’s anchored center he was the only member out of 15 that voted against it. He is actually on the record that he wanted to block McDonalds from coming to town. To fight the potential of new homes in his neighborhood he cozied up with the Endangered Habitat League and spread flyers around town comparing the proposed new densities to photos of Brazilian favelas. Does that sound like a reasonable reaction to homes on 1, 2, & 4 acre lots?

    I am a conservative. I believe in private property rights and a free market system. Mr. Russo’s voting record doesn’t match his rhetoric or endorsements. His job history as a teacher is fair game for a candidate for school board.

    Mr. Russo – What is false about the “hit piece”? 2 schools, you didn’t get tenure at either… true or false?

  10. Beau:
    We appreciate the response. Thanks. ICYMI, Russo posted his phone number above, as well.

  11. Mr. Russo is running for a position in public office. I don’t mind that he posts his phone number for all to see but I feel, as a voter, that he should answer the general public, not just me.

    Having said that, I am not the only one Mr. Russo is ignoring when it comes to his clarification regarding this “negative” mailer.

    East County Magazine wrote an article on the very mailer in question and he has yet to respond to them.

    Unfortunately Alpine is no longer immune from corruption because Mr. Russo is your stereotypical politician refusing to answer a direct question regarding his professional career. The same professional career that is a crutch in his campaign for school board.

  12. Alpine made the right decision.

    It’s at this point in an election one would ponder the question: “Should I have been more honest, transparent and forthcoming with facts in my campaign?”

    I can’t answer that question……..

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