While Herbert Simmons has denied ever using his town council position to solicit funds, a letter from county Supervisor Michael Antonovich said that Simmons “has circulated a letter using the Altadena Town Council name” for his student and teacher of the month programs.
Antonovich also denies that he was a “confirmed business sponsor,” as Simmons claimed in his letter.
Simmons -- now facing potential ouster from the council for violating its ethical rules -- has consistently denied that he has used his title to solicit financial support for his programs, and has denied ever presenting it as a council program.
Antonovich’s Aug. 20 letter to ATC chair Gino Sund seems to contradict Simmons’ claims. It also affirms the statements of several business owners to Altadenablog that -- until the controversy broke -- Simmons indeed stated or strongly implied that his private effort was a town council project.
Simmons said, in an Aug. 10 email, that:
The Student of the Month and Teacher of the Month programs were created by myself as a newly elected Councilmember of Census Tract 4602 and I do not need anything nor am I asking for anything from the Altadena Town Council. I have created this program on my own, and have not represented the Council in the process. It is my gift to the community. In no time in any correspondence have I used the Altadena Town Council or its letterhead. In fact, I have clearly stated that the programs are not endorsed by, or affiliated with, the Altadena Town Council.
In an Aug. 14 email, Simmons repeated his claim:
I have made it clear in my communications that these programs are not affiliated with the Altadena Town Council. I have also included a disclaimer stating that they are solely of my individual initiative.
The Aug. 20 letter from Antonovich says:
I have been made aware that Councilmember Herbert Simmons has circulated a letter using the Altadena Town Council name regarding the “Student of the Month and Teacher of the Month Program.” The letter states that the Supervisor is a “confirmed business” sponsor. For clarification purposes, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and his staff have not endorsed or sponsored this program in any way.
In the future, I respectfully request that the Altadena Town Council and its members not use the Supervisor’s name for solicitations or advertising without the consent of our office.
The letter has a typed signature from Antonovich, and a physical signature from his senior deputy, Sussy Nemer. Nemer is presently out of the office on maternity leave, but the letter's authenticity was confirmed by Rita Hadjimanoukian, field deputy for Antonovich’s office.
Simmons began backpedaling on Antonovich’s participation shortly after the supervisor’s letter was sent. On Aug. 22, Simmons sent out another email:
It has come to my attention by the office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich that they have received a number of complaints in response to correspondence I sent to Altadena principals and various businesses. The complaints were regarding the use of the word "sponsorship" in relation to the Student of the Month and Teacher of the Month programs by their office. Really, I got roasted by their Pasadena office today. I couldn't believe it. Please let me clarify that the Supervisor's office is in no way contributing any financial support towards these programs. They had only suggested giving two certificates at the end of the year to the selected Student and Teacher of the Year. I apologize if the use of the word "sponsorship" in relation to Mike Antonovich's office has caused one to believe that his office supported me financially in my effort to bring about this Student and Teacher of the Month program. These programs are supported by myself in addition to gifts and services donated by local businesses only. Please forgive me for using the word "sponsorship" in relation to the office of Supervisor Mike Antonovich.
The dictionary definition of “sponsor” is:
a person or organization that provides funds for a project or activity carried out by another, in particular
• an individual or organization that pays some or all of the costs involved in staging a sporting or artistic event in return for advertising.
• a person who pledges to donate a certain amount of money to another person after they have participated in a fund-raising event organized on behalf of a charity.
• a business or organization that pays for or contributes to the costs of a radio or television program in return for advertising.
Even after the dressing-down by the supervisor’s office, Simmons still sought his support. In the same email, he said:
Do any of you personally know Supervisor Antonovich? If so, please give him a call. I heard he is a really nice person whom I would very much like to meet and personally explain my program to him, due to the confusion. I am not seeking financial support from the Supervisor, only an open ear.