Piper In Creative Campaign To Bring His Innovation To AV Town Council

(October 1) Tom Piper said he is running for town council in Apple Valley “to make the town better.”
Piper said “The number one plank in my platform is I want us to create our own municipal water company. It can be done by setting aside ten percent of our $100 million municipal budget toward  creating a city controlled water division. We should pattern what I want to do with on the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. We should do it just the way William Mulholland did it back in 1905. He wrote the primer for the job.
“Secondly,” Piper continued, “We are losing between five and nine million dollars per year at the golf course. The situation is not getting better. We should sell the land and use it to buy water rights. We need to take care of more than just the golf course nuts. The golf course is green and they want the rest of us to grow rocks. It’s hard to grow rocks and when you do grow them they are still rocks. The town has raised taxes to cover the cost of the golf course. This is being done for the wealthiest people in Apple Valley. The town council is having the rest of us subsidize the richest among us. The council is not serving the people. It is serving the people who have them in their pocket.”
Piper went on to his third cause. “I want to put cameras on our sheriff’s officers,” he said. “I was talking with Captain [Lana] Tomlin about it and there are going to be some technical difficulties in getting it worked out, but this should be happening very soon. I think we should try to have a better relationship between the sheriff’s department and the community and that will contribute toward that.”
His fourth priority, Piper said, is to provide free internet service to everyone in Apple Valley. “I want to WiFi the entire town,” he said. “I’ve researched it. Its ballpark cost will be $1 million per year. The payback to the community is so great it is a must do. People would have no bill for their access. It would be completely free, like using the streets. The information highway should be considered a public utility.”
Piper, who ran for town council unsuccessfully in 2012, saw his campaign given a boost when city officials, in particular code enforcement director Jim Andersen and one of his crews, overstepped their authority and on September 22 took it upon themselves to remove a series of Piper’s campaign signs that he and his supporters had erected on the hilly landscape to the side of Highway 18 in its approach to the Mojave Narrows.
Piper had studied the town’s ordinance regulating political signage. He designed the signs to comply with the 18 square foot limitation contained in the ordinance. But rather than fitting the message “Tom Piper for Town Council” within the 18 square foot dimension, he allotted one sign for each letter in all of the words, with the exception of “for, which he fit on one sign. Owing to the heat on September 22, Piper and his band of electoral confederates knocked off after they had erected the first eleven of the signs, intending to return the following morning when it was cooler to finish the job.
Anderson, using his own authority and without checking first to see if the signs were, as posted, in fact a violation of the city’s code, had the signs dismantled.
Piper learned of the town’s action shortly thereafter. He called town manager Frank Robinson, who defended Andersen’s illegal action as legally justified and referred Piper to town attorney John Brown. Brown, after some initial hesitation, closely examined the town code and discovered that Piper’s signs were in fact in compliance Communication from Brown to Robinson followed and the signs were released from the town’s impound yard. They were re-erected.
The incident instantaneously elevated Piper among the candidates in the race, which include incumbents Scott Nassiff, Curt Emick and Barb Stanton, all of whom were viewed, by some in the community, as being ultimately responsible for Robinson’s and Andersen’s faux pas. There were disparate calls from throughout the community for Andersen’s firing and Robinson’s suspension.
Councilman Scott Nassiff said of the signs, “Personally, I thought he did something that was a little bit different, creative,” Nassiff said. “I thought it was great. It turned out they were not over the square foot limit.” Nassiff did not quite concede that code enforcement had done anything wrong in removing the signs. “I think they were looking at them holistically,” Nassiff said. “They looked at them all as one complete sign and not separate. In my opinion they didn’t violate any laws. They interpreted it as they normally would as overall square footage on a business sign, which is subject to our code. There is nothing about political signs being used that way, nothing that spells it out. In the interest of fairness we are letting them stay up. They were  back up in 24 hours.”
Emick said he was not in favor of disciplining Andersen or Robinson for their violation of Piper’s rights. He said code enforcement should be given a pass for its transgression because “the signs were so unusual. It was a misunderstanding. It’s not every day that a candidate puts a campaign sign up that is like the Hollywood sign in several pieces. It was very unusual.”
“They tore my signs down,” Piper told the Sentinel. “I called code enforcement and they said they were illegal because of their size.  I said they weren’t illegal and they just hung up on me. I called the town manager. They were basically being a bunch of tyrants. The signs weren’t illegal. They’re not supposed to tear anyone’s signs down. That was illegal. The next day after I confronted them and didn’t back down, the city attorney made them release them. They were caught breaking the law. They have to clean house in the code enforcement department and this is a good start. I might as well say it like it is. They are control freaks, doing the bidding of the ultra-rich. I just might pull off getting elected. There are a few other decent people running. If we can get in, we can change this town.”
Piper said his posting of the signs was not an act of defiance but an assertion of his rights. He dwelled on the fact that “I am a Libertarian. I am a member of the San Bernardino County Libertarian Party. I am a stickler for human rights, Constitutional Rights. I will make more noise about that stuff than any other elected officials I have seen. I am pro-marijuana. It should never have been illegal to begin with. I am an old hippy and I have been smoking it for 40 years. I haven’t seen a problem yet. The people of California voted for it to be legal 18 years ago and the state has now given us a way to have it legally. I have a prescription and I grow my own. A few years ago no one running for office would expound on this but the political atmosphere has changed. I am the furthest thing from a politician there is.”
Piper graduated from Edgewood High School in West Covina and attended Mt. San Antonio College in Pomona, where he got his degree in liberal arts. He served in the United States Air Force from 1966 to 1970. He is a structural composite engineer. He is on the faculty of the Art Center College of Design. He was a member of the Apple Valley Wind Turbine Working Committee. Married, he is separated with three stepchildren.

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