By Tina Richards

Stung by a lawsuit filed by Councilwoman Diana Fascenelli challenging the legality of incumbent candidate Bob Collacott’s filing for the November election, the Villa Park City Council rebuked her with a sharp slap at its Aug. 28 meeting, denying her appointment to a county committee on the homeless.

The county is forming an advisory board for the Bridges at Kraemer Place homeless shelter in Anaheim.  Each city in the North County Service Planning area was invited to appoint a representative.

When the Kraemer advisory board was being considered, Fascenelli was the person in Villa Park the executive director of Mercy House, the organization that operates the Anaheim shelter, called.  She was invited to the introductory meeting, although it was later cancelled.

Seemed like a good idea 
Fascenelli has been active in county efforts to provide shelter for homeless people, toured homeless encampments, attended meetings on the topic and visited successful shelters in other major cities.  An officer in several charitable organizations, she has advocated for programs to aid the homeless, even though there are none in Villa Park. 

“This is what I do,” she said later.  “I’m involved in the community; I volunteer.”

City Manager Steve Franks supported her appointment to that board and put it on the council’s August meeting consent calendar for approval.  Consent items are generally approved in bulk without separate discussion, unless a council member pulls one or more of them for clarification or comment.

Councilman Bill Nelson pulled the Bridges at Kraemer Place appointment, because, he said, the appointee should be someone “guaranteed to be on the council next year.” 

Franks assured him that longevity didn’t matter at this time; that city representatives to county committees change routinely.  In this case, the appointee did not even have to be a councilmember, it could be another community leader or a citizen.

The test of timing
Nelson’s objection came on the heels of a closed session discussion about the lawsuit Fascenelli had filed against the city regarding Bob Collacott’s alleged failure to meet the deadline for submitting candidate papers.  

During the ensuing open session, the council chambers were filled with Collacott’s friends and neighbors, who called the lawsuit “frivolous.”  Fascenelli was pilloried by one particularly belligerent public speaker, Collacott lauded by another.  Three-quarters of the audience rose in solidarity when asked if they stood by the mayor, regardless of the charges.  

Nelson overlooked Frank’s advisory that the status of Fascenelli’s council seat had nothing to do with her participation on the county advisory board.  “There’s only two council members assured of a seat next year and one is Vince Rossini,” Nelson announced. “I nominate him.” 

Rossini advised that he “knows the issue very well,” and Bob Collacott seconded his nomination.

The vote was three (Nelson, Collacott, Rossini) in favor; two (Robbie Pitts, Fascenelli) against.  

Fascenelli denied appointment to county advisory committee

September 2018