Dear Mr. Vargas…

This morning an email showed up in my inbox from a good friend and neighbor to Councilman Vargas. All of Council was copied. It echoed rising sentiments following the last Council meeting (read my summary here).

All things considered, I thought it only reasonable to add this to the public discussion before the next Council meeting on Tuesday.

June 18, 2016

Dear Mr. Vargas –

Hearing about term limits, I took the time to familiarize myself with the issue by reading Brea Matters and then viewed the hour long council discussion, which presented two very opposing views.

Confused, I asked others, what was the impetus for the filing? I thought we as a community were finally satisfied with our city council members.

The response from several sources was that you have a personal vendetta against Marty.

I am abhorred that you would drag the residents of Brea through an initiative that will be very difficult to overturn to satisfy a personal agenda.

In the last election, we as a community rid the incumbent simply by voting and through grass root efforts. Do you believe it’s satisfactory that Brea ‘start over’ every eight years? Glenn Parker’s stats prove that people leave on their own or by votes, which is the why it’s called an ‘election.’

Your campaign promises to me personally, and to the community, was to engage with us. You’ve now compromised your commitment to us by filing for a ballot initiative with no regard to the residents’ opinions on the proposal.

Steve, this is from your website: stevevargas.com.

term limits“For over a decade politicians have been promising us a more transparent government, but we’ve yet to see it. As your Council person, my number one objective will be to help ensure that every resident and voter is afforded a real opportunity to make your feelings known to Council.

Your input should always play a key role in Council decisions. This is your home.

Bottom line, a government that listens to its constituents, that demonstrates the ability to work as a team, that keeps the budget balanced and the city safe, is all any of us could wish for. Together, we can make a better Brea.”

This is classical bait and switch politics, and I am disappointed that you’ve become one of ‘them.’

I implore you to do the right thing and withdraw your submission.

Susan Fujioka

Twain_1

 

Term Limits: Debate Or Debacle?

council_aAs term limits, once again, entered the public discourse last Tuesday evening I was reminded of something my dad said to me and my brothers on countless occasions, “Knock that crap off!”

term limitsThings started sliding downhill when comments were made during Matters From The Audience by the very people (former elected officials) who blocked any discussion of term limits when Steve Vargas raised the question in 2000 and Roy Moore asked to put it on the agenda in 2002.

While no one else who spoke specifically favored term limits, they acknowledged it’s timeliness, underscoring the complex options and how appropriate it is to hold a public debate.

ParkerFor almost an hour Council “discussed” the matter where some members resorted to language, accusations, gestures and tone of voice that violated all five guidelines Council adopted in their Code of Conduct covering behavior in public meetings. The lack of civility during Council’s debate was alarming and reminded me of how petty and political municipal government has become.

Councilman Simonoff, a perpetual opponent to term limits (considering running for an unprecedented sixth term) dug up an obscure response I made to someone commenting on Brea Matters four years ago. “The notion that anyone has an expiration date after which they are no longer capable of contributing to society is preposterous.”

SimonoffWell, four years have passed. Since then, especially this past year as Mayor Simonoff orchestrated the most unproductive Mayoral year I can remember, he consistently has kicked the can down the road on important issues.

Was he hoping to avoid any possible new blemishes on his record as he prepared his attempt to set a city record for consecutive terms in office? Seems more than plausible.

No worries Councilman Simonoff, you could continue to contribute to society by volunteering at the Senior Center or with the Brea PD as a VIPS Officer. As far extending your career in politics… twenty is plenty.

Finally, as the vitriolic exchange ran it’s course and everyone had ample opportunity to share their opinions, Mayor Marick put a lid on the embarrassing and unproductive runaway discussion… bringing a voice of reason to the proceedings.

MarickShe pointed out that neither the upcoming meeting of Brea First addressing term limits and campaign finance reform nor the floundering Brea Envisions project facing another nine months before completion, was an appropriate place to kick the can.

Further, to ward off a threat from outside the community to collect signatures and jam a “two terms and out” term limit initiative on November’s ballot, Mayor Marick pointed out it’s Council’s responsibility to manage the discussion and to act upon the majority opinion in a timely manner.

Staff was instructed to come back with recommendations, amongst other things, on how best to conduct a public forum on campaign finance reform and term limits.

This seems to be a perfect place to share a recent comment posted on medium.com by Vice President Biden, “Our country’s history is studded with moments where we’ve found a way to moderate the extreme reactions that threaten to tear us apart — and find a path to progress. It’s when we’re truly at our best.”

So, as my dad used to say, “Knock that crap off!”

This isn’t rocket science or tiered water rates. There is no reason we can’t have civil discussions about term limits and campaign finance reform – and reach a consensus about how we wish to formally deal with these issues in a way that will benefit the community for generations to come.

To view the meeting yourself, go to Brea’s website and click the “Meeting Index” tab, then 11 Matters from the Audience and 14 Term Limits Discussion.

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Outsider Threatens Term Limits Initiative.

With term limits on tomorrow’s Council agenda, folks are joining the discussion from all sides. Today Council received the following correspondence from a Jon Fleischman, posing as the President of California Term Limits, Inc.

Note: The California Secretary of State has no corporation on record known as California Term Limit’s, Inc. and the PAC referred to by Mr. Fleischman (ID #1351314) was terminated on May 5, 2015 following an FPPC investigation into their receiving a $200,000 donation from out of state.

Dear Mayor Marick and Councilmembers:

It has come to our attention that the Brea City Council will be discussing the issue of term limits for your council members at your meeting this coming Tuesday evening. On behalf of California Term Limits, our state’s official advocacy organization for term limits, I would like to strongly urge you to place solid a measure before voters this November to amend your city charter to include meaningful term limits for council members.

We at California Term Limits believe that government at every level benefits from term limits for many different reasons:

Career politicians aren’t good for our democratic republic.

When people serve in office for too long, they lose the perspective of being average citizens. We find that after two four-year terms council members tend to become isolated, seeking a greater amount of input from city staff, insiders, and institutional donors. We find that long-term politicians are less willing to make hard decisions if it will upset the status quo.

Without term limits, incumbents are hard to dislodge.

It’s the case that because of their ability to raise funds, and their name identification, serving on a city council can be a lifetime pursuit. Again we believe career politicians are a net detriment to governments at every level.

More people, not fewer, should be able to serve as leaders in local government.

Simply put, with term limits, we ensure that a broader cross-section of local citizens have an opportunity to serve.

As an organization that focuses on term limits, we have found that the best formula for applying term limits at the city council level would be to allow any individual to serve up to two four-year terms in their lifetime.

As you probably know, most Orange County cities already have term limits, and Brea most certainly should. If you talk in your community you will find the idea very popular. Our recent polling shows local term limits tend to enjoy the support of over two-thirds of voters.

If as a council you choose to move forward, we would be happy to work with you to make the case to the voters for why this reform is a good one.

If you choose to reject placing this matter before the voters, then we would look forward to partnering with some of you, or with local activist in your community to gather signatures to place this issue before Brea voters. We were recently asked by citizens in West Hollywood for assistance — and our associated political action committee happily spent many thousands of dollars assisting with professional signature gatherers to help get their measure qualified, over the objections of their council. Much to their surprise, but not ours, the voters passed them there!

The California Term Limits PAC has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars around California the last few years advancing the cause of term limits. We look forward to working on this issue in Brea.

Please give your citizens there the ability to decide if they would like term limits for the Brea City Council. Of course I am available to discuss this issue with any of you.

Sincerely,

Jon Fleischman

term limits

A reasonable course of action.

Tomorrow night, following opening discussion, Council should instruct staff to put a public hearing on term limits on their next agenda. At the conclusion of the public hearing Council should instruct staff to again put term limits on the next agenda, to prepare a staff report summarizing Council’s consensus on the public input including a draft resolution to place (or not place) term limits on the November 2016 ballot.

An unreasonable response.

To the handful of folks whining that this is nothing more than political adversaries waging war on each other, getting even for past transgressions, I offer this, “If we suppose them sincere, we must pity their ignorance; if insincere, we must abhor the spirit of deception which it betrays.” Alexander Hamilton.

Term limits do not rob voters of their right to choose, they merely establish a framework within which choices are made.