Audio recording captures scuffle with county planning commissioner - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Audio recording captures scuffle with county planning commissioner

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SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) - An East County community activist is accusing a county planning commissioner of assaulting her after a public meeting last week. The activist recorded the entire confrontation with a digital audio recorder she uses to record the hearings.

The confrontation happened Friday in Kearny Mesa right after the county planning commission meeting had ended. Fifty-one-year-old Planning Commissioner David Pallinger suddenly sat down next to community activist Charlene Ayers. Her tape recorder captured the exchange:

Pallinger: What do you think?

Ayers: About what, life?

Pallinger: Yeah, how about that? I figured it must suck for you.

Ayers: Thank you.

Pallinger: You're so bitter.

Ayers: Yeah.

Pallinger was not at all happy with a series of email blogs Ayers had written about him, exposing financial problems in his past.

Ayers: This isn't about me. What do you want?

Pallinger: Well it is about me when you go on and on about me. That's hurtful and mean don't you think?

Ayers: No, I think it goes to your integrity, so it's worth mentioning.

The 72-year-old activist is well-known among county planning and land use insiders for her scathing commentary about public officials on her email blog she calls "Ranter's Roost".

"I do believe that ridicule can be a remedy," Ayers said.  "These things in their past, public records, are an indication of their integrity.  And so, if they don't have integrity in their personal life, how can we trust them to have that in their public life?"

Ayers had dug up tens of thousands of dollars in tax liens, mortgage defaults, a civil judgment and an unpaid traffic ticket filed in recent years against Commissioner Pallinger.

"He didn't want me to mention his financial and legal troubles anymore," Ayers said.

Ayers had just finished recording the public meeting.  Her audio recorder was still rolling when Pallinger confronted her in the audience.  Pallinger had no idea his voice was being recorded when he tried to explain away his financial troubles.

Pallinger: My dear lady...

Ayers: I am not your dear lady.

Pallinger: I will tell you this. I was unemployed for 18 months. I have a family to support...

Ayers: You know, I don't really care. I don't want to listen to you.

Pallinger: I think you should.

Ayers: Keep talking because you're being recorded.

That's when, according to Ayers, the verbal confrontation turned physical, with Pallinger grabbing at the recorder around her neck and slapping her hand away.

"He got really angry, red-faced and grabbed it and started pushing all the buttons. He tried to turn it off and he was pulling on the cord," Ayers said.  "I went to grab it back and he started batting my hand."

Ayers: You stop hitting me. I will get the police.

Pallinger: She is making that up.

Ayers: I will get the police...

(scuffle)

Ayers: ...for you touching me when I didn't want you to.

Pallinger: You touched me.

Ayers: You started grabbing for this.

"I don't think the county should be supporting someone who's going to assault and batter the public," Ayers said.

Ayers is now considering filing a claim with the county and she wants Pallinger to resign.

"I would just like him to not interact with the public at all, and be removed as a county official, because I don't think he's of the temperament for it," she said.

Reached by telephone this week, Commissioner David Pallinger declined to answer any questions about the incident.

Pallinger was appointed to the planning commission by Supervisor Bill Horn in 2007. His term expires in January.

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