An Elephant In The Room – Part 2

anatomy_elephant

Response to part one was almost entirely positive, supportive.  The only real question that remained was, “How will a city council as broken as ours ever successfully address the mounting fiscal concerns facing us today?”

Great question.

I’ve always subscribed to the old adage that, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Conversely, if it’s broke, fix it.  Last November, voters had the opportunity to “fix it” but they didn’t.

Looking back, it seems we might have made better choices selecting who we put in the council seats and passing Measure U along with Measure T would have greatly enhanced our leverage today.

Water under the bridge. Where do we go from here?

Here’s a summary of the non-fiscal issues respondents sent to me.

  • File a complaint with the OC District Attorney regarding the possible collusion that occurred prior to and during the recent council reorganization, behavior that clearly appeared to be a Brown Act violation.
  • Review and revise the Code of Conduct (Goldenrod) which dictates how council and staff perform their duties and interact with each other. Return control to the council where it belongs.
  • Implement all aspects of Measure T without attempting to subvert the obvious will of the people and without threatening litigation.
  • Turn away from the old “check the box” mentality that was satisfied with meaningless public engagements. Begin to provide regular and convenient opportunities for the public to express their opinions and make every effort to address them in the decision making process.
  • Demand more accountability from staff, including greater detail and clarity in reports and recommendations and the elimination of bias and misdirection.
  • Demand a complete and thorough follow-up report on the reorganization of the Brea Fire Department, including it’s cooping of command staff with Fullerton and an accurate accounting of any savings generated. Has the plan fulfilled any of numerous  promises made?
  • Demand a full investigation of how Brea lost the law enforcement contract with Yorba Linda, especially the overcharging publicly acknowledged to the Yorba Linda City Council by Tim O’Donnell, including a comprehensive and intelligible explanation of how Brea will implement and afford a “Brea Only” police agency.
  • Demand a review of contracted costs and obligations to Richards, Watson & Gershon, including a return to the public posting of their rates, with the results determining whether their contract should be renewed or that RFPs be solicited from other law firms providing city attorney services.

It seems the people have spoken.

The overriding impression one gets reading these issues is that the people will no longer stand being pushed around or dismissed. There has been an awakening, at least in some circles, and the status quo has been put on notice.

garcia_sturgis_150We have a Mayor who could not articulate why he is best suited amongst his peers to hold the position, or even how he wrangled the opportunity away from the more senior council member truly deserving the position. (See BreaNet #639)

brett_150We have a Mayor Pro Tem who is no more capable of handling the job now than he was when first named MPT a year ago.  Seriously, who doesn’t see the blatant political maneuvering designed to position him as Mayor when running for reelection in 2014?

Watch the video again.

Mayor Garcia, in “nominating” Murdock, references this to such an extent that he may have been guilty of making a double motion.  Did Markman put the screws to Roy Moore and then fall asleep on this one?

ron_garcia_brea.jpgSpecifically, Garcia blurted out, “… make a motion that Brett serve as Mayor Pro Tem which would give Brett Mayor, to serve as the Mayor, in his 4 year term.”  Yeah, as usual, Garcia’s grammar and logic are all screwed up, however he appears to have nominated Murdock for Mayor Pro Tem for 2013 and as Mayor for 2014.

Just guessing, but this “metedura de pata enorme” may come back to haunt the new Alcalde.

We have a perpetuation of a three vote majority prepared to ride roughshod over their constituents as they dutifully carry out the whims and desires of the City Manager.  This is neither a myth nor conspiracy theory.  Pay attention.  Attend or watch the meetings.  Try to have a meaningful dialog with a council member.  Test the open door policy.

“The general population doesn’t know whats happening, and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know.” ~ Noam Chomsky.

It is said that communities get the governance they deserve.  Brea deserves better.  Much Better.  Please try and remember that the next time you have your ballot in front of you and a pen in your hand, about to make history.

elephant2

Old Guard Does Damage Control.

Speakers one, two, three at Matters from the Audience tonight, the Old Guard’s Lynn Daucher. Bev Perry and Glenn Parker went straight into damage control mode.  Having exposed themselves and their obsession to have everything done their way during the recent campaign season, their performance at the podium tonight struck me as a last ditched effort to establish some relevance.

Though they’re a day late and a dollar short, it was oddly reaffirming that they ripped Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell new ones over the inappropriate and unacceptable junket they took to Korea and Japan.

You heard it here first folks.

As the first to publicly challenge Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell for their arrogant misuse of public funds (September 20) to attend a Sister Cities folkloric event with a side trip to Japan for a little sushi (November 6), I’m somewhat heartened to think that this egregious violation of the public trust has even evoked the wrath of the Old Guard.

Daucher’s tongue lashing was given with the hopes that her own shady past was sufficiently ancient history, but it only took about two minutes following the meeting’s adjournment before a couple of sharp Brea residents sent me a link to an OCWeekly article from ’07.

It mentions allegations of Daucher “improperly charging California taxpayers for personal travel and then attempting to mask the expenditures.” Oops…

Can you say double standard?

Bev Perry, in her signature impromptu rambling style, once again extolled the virtues of how great things were in the ol’ days.  If I understood what she was suggesting, recent policy changes (i.e. since she left office) have undermined the Council’s ability to make consistently well considered decisions.

She challenged the travel expenditure, pointing out that, again in the good ol’ days, assuming such junkets could even get approved, all travel costs would have come through Sister City car washes or bake sales, better yet perhaps be covered by the Chamber of Commerce… not from the General Fund!

Hmmm… isn’t that what I was suggesting months ago?

Finally, Glenn Parker waded in telling Council that they need to set aside their personal differences and agendas and start conducting the city’s business like adults, carrying out the desires of their constituents.

Nobody believes Murdock is ready to take on the role as Mayor, we’ll see if the people’s will prevails.

Measure T received more votes than Marty Simonoff, underscoring the people’s desire to get serious about capping salaries and costs. We’ll see if O’Donnell and Markman mount a campaign to derail what “we the people” worked so hard to achieve.

Parker also harped upon how long it’s been since Brea conducted any legitimate community engagement or independent compensation analysis (not that funky ten city survey). According to Parker, it’s easily been over 20 years. Long overdue, wouldn’t you say?

And, as a postscript, Keith Fullington once again made a plea for a complete accounting of the costs of this Asian adventure. To date, O’Donnell’s salary and benefits have been conveniently excluded. Clearly not best practices one would find in the private sector.

Fullington promised to keep coming back until he got an answer, to which Mayor Schweitzer arrogantly replied, “See you at the next meeting Keith.”

Time for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Other People’s Money.

Brea isn’t the first or only California city whose voters are shaking off their apathetic past, establishing sunshine ordinances and retaking control of their local government. Unlike Brea, some have not reached the level of success they had hoped to achieve.

“In an astonishing display of arrogance, Murrieta’s City Council has again thumbed its nose at taxpayers by ignoring a cap on public pay. In 2010, more than two-thirds of Murrieta voters passed Measure E, which capped the total compensation of top administrators at 2.5 times the median family or household income in the city.”

via North County Times, Dan McSwain – December 1, 2012.

Our Measure T, by virtue of Council’s passing Resolution 2012-071 tonight, is now law. Markman has already lined himself up to discuss the implications of Measure T at the Council meeting slated for January 15.

The meeting better be downstairs where all of Brea can be privy to what is said.