Cupertino Courier

Council removes appointed politician

Move follows accusation­s of harassment going back to 2003 against Planning Commission­er R `Ray' Wang

- By Grace Hase ghase@bayareanew­

A Cupertino planning commission­er who has been accused of harassing community members and city officials over the years has been ousted from his post.

On March 7, the Cupertino City Council voted 3-2 to remove R “Ray” Wang. Wang was appointed to the Planning Commission in 2019 and was supposed to serve until Jan. 30, 2025. Mayor Hung Wei, Vice Mayor Sheila Mohan and Councilmem­ber J.R. Fruen voted for his removal, and councilmem­bers Liang Chao and Kitty Moore voted against.

“I believe in Cupertino and its future for democracy and for ethical leadership,” Wei said of her decision. “We need to honor the intelligen­ce and character of our good residents who deserve good governance.”

Allegation­s of harassment against Wang date to 2003, when Rosanne Foust, a former Redwood City councilmem­ber and then planning commission­er, sued him for alleged harassment and stalking. Foust alleged he signed her business email up to receive pornograph­ic material.

Subpoenaed records found at least three emails were sent from an IP address attached to Wang's computer, according to the complaint.

Wang subsequent­ly pleaded no contest to a misdemeano­r charge of making an annoying telephone call and not guilty to two felony charges for impersonat­ion and unauthoriz­ed use of another person's personal identifica­tion, court records show.

The felony charges were dismissed because of a negotiated plea. Wang was ordered to complete 50 hours of community service for the misdemeano­r charge, though the case later was expunged. He also settled the lawsuit with Foust.

Wang has denied the allegation­s over the years, asserting he was hacked because he left his internet unprotecte­d.

Just months after his appointmen­t in 2019, Wang called housing activists “YIMBY neo-liberal fascists” on the online forum Nextdoor.

Wang's comments were screenshot­ted and posted to Twitter. Richard Mehlinger, who was elected to the Sunnyvale City Council in November, responded by calling it an “unhinged rant.” Wang then threatened to report him to his employer by posting on Nextdoor, “well that's fun =) we'll have to talk to Richard's employer, Dropbox. =)”

Serving in his official role as planning commission­er, Wang also has been accused of hostile behavior toward city officials — most recently over the city's housing element process during which Cupertino identified potential sites where housing can be built.

At a March 7 meeting, Wang said the allegation­s against him have “no merit.” He criticized the council's majority — consisting of Wei, Mohan and Fruen — of not reaching out to him to hear his side of the story.

“Part of the democratic process is forgivenes­s, especially when the facts dispel misinforma­tion and lies told at the heat of the moment,” he said. “This is why we have due process in many areas and for those experience­d councilmem­bers, one often waits to hear the facts before making a decision, unless motivated by political means.”

Wang and his lawyer, Krista Baughman of the San Francisco firm Dhillon Law Group, could not immediatel­y be reached for comment.

Moore said she voted against Wang's removal because the city doesn't have a specific process for censuring or admonishin­g commission­ers.

“I'm deeply concerned for all of our commission­ers who volunteer their time, effort and energy that we are sending a message the council is vengeful,” she said.

Impassione­d community members on both sides of the issue flooded the council chambers on March 7. Those in favor of his removal held orange signs inscribed with bold lettering that said “Cupertino deserves decency in leadership now.”

Steven Scharf, a former mayor and now chair of the planning commission, came to Wang's defense, saying he has served with “integrity and distinctio­n.”

“What we have here is a developer and a group funded by developmen­t and real estate interests that doesn't like the fact that R Wang advocates for ownership housing and for BMR housing and for sensible growth,” Scharf said.

Neil Park-mcclintick, president for the pro-housing group Cupertino for All, told the Mercury News that he believes Wang's removal “signals that we expect more from our leaders.”

“The Planning Commission is the most powerful commission in the city and the second-mostpowerf­ul body to the City Council,” he said. “It signals that we want to see leaders that treat our activists, our residents, all of those who participat­e in civic life with respect.”

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