Goodbye Yorba Linda.

Yellow TapeYesterday, January 3rd, the City of Brea distributed a press release announcing that the delivery of police services to Yorba Linda would cease at midnight tomorrow night. That’s the boots on the ground. Dispatch Services will follow later Saturday morning.

OC_logoYorba Linda, using the OCAlert system, informed all Yorba LInda residents of the transition on Wednesday, January 2nd, but you can’t find the press release on the Brea city website anywhere.

According to the release, “Other terms and conditions affecting the early termination of the law enforcement services agreement are still being worked out.” The release doesn’t clarify what this means. Are we on the hook for a big cash settlement or two? Are we giving away a fleet of cars and motorcycles? Could there still remain a lingering threat of litigation?

Using the excuse that the OCSD’s premature hiring of 21 Brea officers (likely half of the force assigned to Yorba Linda) caused the Brea PD great harm and drastically reduced their ability to live up to the contract, Brea seems to have leveraged a threatened lawsuit into an early out agreement.

LightsLooking for more details?

Brea Matters has covered this story from the beginning in posts published on December 17 and December 21.

In response to the OCR article on December 19 “Yorba Linda will stick with sheriff’s contract” I commented, “Since, according to Mr. Schwing, the OCSD has everything in line to take over duties, i.e. cars and pirated officers, except for a couple of wall lockers, would you mind if Brea pulls the plug on December 31?

People scoffed at my comment saying that such a quick exit was impossible, but it seems that I was more right than wrong. Can I get a big… I told you so?

The OCR also hinted at the early exit on December 21st as well, citing, “The Orange County Sheriff’s Department is now working on a plan to expedite its takeover of police services in the city, said Capt. Steve Doan of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. The department could be in charge of patrolling the 20-square-mile city by Jan. 5.”

NBC-LA: New Sheriff In Town.

In case you didn’t quite catch it, Mayor Garcia said, “I think any community that isn’t looking at that is woefully not looking at the train coming down the tracks.” Thanks for clearing that up, Mister Mayor.

Staff as sneaky as ever.

So… if we all pretty much saw the handwriting on the wall, why has Brea waited until now to even whisper about it? Because Brea operates with a culture of secrecy and it’s greatest fear is that residents will actually want to know what’s going on and, heaven forbid, dictate what they prefer!

BREA-YLThe closing comment in the news release stated, “A Brea only Police Department increases budgeted costs by approximately $2.5 million annually due to the loss of economies of scale and sharing of command positions with the City of Yorba Linda.  The budget increase is anticipated to be partially offset by new city revenues stemming from a recent boost in the economy combined with cost savings from a major, structural city reorganization implemented at the beginning of the Great Recession.”

What! Are you kidding me?

Not a loss due to economies of scale, a loss due to the sudden and unanticipated termination of what must have been a very lucrative contract.

We didn’t share command staff, we charged Yorba Linda an arm and a leg for command support. Are they thinking of the Fire Department’s relationship with Fullerton? (How’s that going by the way?)

And do they really think we’re that stupid to buy off on their “recent boost in the economy” line? C’mon, what’s in your wallet?

And what “structural city reorganization implemented at the beginning of the Great Recession” are they talking about? The one where the WPA bailed us out or the one where Tim O’Donnell and senior city staff got big fat raises?

Hard to tell if they’re referring to the “New Deal” or the same ol’ crap!

I don’t know about you, but that obnoxious O’Donnellism, “Leadership is disappointing your constituents in increments they can absorb.” seems to have been the underlying mantra of staff and council for at least a decade or more.

Start doing things for us Tim, not to us.

Ending the costly relationship with Yorba Linda early makes sense and saves us money, funds we’ll need to offset rising costs to police our own neighborhoods. But I’m still hot under the collar that Brea took so long to offer this half hearted half baloney attempt at keeping us informed.

Where is Measure U now that we need it? Oh, you didn’t pass it. Maybe next time.

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The other elephant in the room.

An Elephant In The Room – Part 1

elephant_aTo launch Brea Matters for 2013, I asked a number of regular readers what they believe are the key issues facing the city during the coming year. The responses were interesting, to say the least.

The respondents include elected and appointed officials, mainstream residents on the high probability voters list and no one on city staff.

Repeatedly, the important issues lumped themselves into two categories, “Money” and “Mechanics.”

The first are issues for which there are specific, calculable fiscal concerns, and the latter centers on issues of policy, protocol and ethics impacting Council’s ability to lead with vision and govern with clarity and fairness.

Council’s obvious dysfunction over the past six years or so, amplified by the criminally unbelievable reorganization fiasco on December 18, leaves many of us with no sense of confidence in Council’s ability to do the work they were elected to do. They’re failing in the most fundamental tasks and seem to have turned a deaf ear to the public outcry for transparency and accountability.

Almost without exception, respondents believe that the fiscal issues facing Brea this next year are manageable, assuming a well functioning Council. And there’s your elephant in the room.

Here’s a rundown of the fiscal issues, in no certain order… sort of.

Pension Reform.

  • Movement must be made in direction of defined contribution versus defined benefit type pensions.
  • The city can no longer afford the extravagant pensions afforded city employees, in fact, we haven’t been able to afford them for many years.

Employee Compensation.

  • Brea needs to establish a new employee compensation policy that is not dependent on any salary surveys comparing us with other cities.
  • Current study shows that all OC cities pay at a similar high level (about 30% greater than the private sector).
  • Further adjustment to salary and benefit plans for public safety also deserve immediate attention.
  • The upcoming review of the City Manager’s contract, in light of recent performance, deserves more than a cursory glance and rubber stamp.
  • Likewise our contract with Richards, Watson & Gershon.

Unfunded Liabilities.

  • There needs to be a comprehensive recognition and addressing of Brea’s unfunded liabilities in general.
  • Roy Moore requested a review several months ago but was rebuffed by Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell. He is pursuing his own independent review. We need to support him in this endeavor.

Redevelopment Agency.

  • We must recover from our past reliance on the Redevelopment Agency to direct growth of the city.
  • A clear explanation of the role of the “Successor Agency” is overdue. The Successor Agency needs to meet when the public is better able to attend and participate.
  • What funds has the state taken? What funds are left? What projects were stranded without funding?
  • What projects do not have the capacity to generate the tax increment necessary to retire their debt?
  • What debts remain and what is the extent of our liability?
  • Where is the old Redevelopment Agency staff and who’s paying their salaries?

Public Safety.

  • Assessing the Fire Department’s progress following the O’Donnell forced reorganization seems to have stopped, at least no reporting has been made public in some time. Have we saved any money or not?
  • The Police Department, following the woefully unexpected loss of the contract with Yorba Linda, is trying to establish a new “Brea Only” organization plan. What is it? How does it work? What will it cost and how will we afford it?

Economic Adjustment.

  • Maintaining a balanced budget without tapping reserves or redirecting funds without full disclosure and public consent.
  • City services and the cost to provide them, all of them, need to be adjusted in the face of a continued slow economic recovery.
  • Dramatic reduction the all travel allotments for Council and Staff.
  • Elimination of the City Manager’s privilege of discretionary spending (without Council review and approval).
  • Allegations were made that Brea is over charging businesses for fire and business permits, this should be reviewed.
  • We must continue discussions with our neighbors regarding “regionalization” of services (expansion beyond Fire Department Command Staff, Police Department and Command Staff, Public Safety Dispatch Services, Maintenance Services, and Service Delivery).

Alpha-Olinda Landfill.

  • Brea is in line to receive in excess of $30 million by the time the closure is complete and how those dollars are spent must have community input.
  • Redirecting of these funds, thanks to nebulous contract language, to replace monies lost in the dissolution of the Redevelopment Agency or any other declining or needy revenue source ought not be allowed.

Well, that’s a summary of the “fiscal issue” responses I received. Most respondents asked for anonymity, I’ve decided to give it to them all. I’m confident they would agree that what they’ve said is far more important than who said it.

As my Gramma used to say, “Eat it up. Wear it out. Make it do, or do without.” It’s how us common folks learned to live within our means. They could do well to learn that lesson down at city hall.

Next post will summarize the “Mechanics” issues. Stay tuned. Undoubtedly feathers will get ruffled.

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