From Koreagate To Surrogate.

At the encouragement of many, and the insistence of some, I’m compelled to dig deeper into this surrogate issue I’ve raised.

My position is that some candidates for council have been hand selected by a small number of former and current local elected officials and are being groomed to carry on the interests and opinions of these political factions.

These successors, substitutes, I prefer to call them surrogates, are part of campaign strategies designed to either preserve or overturn the current balance of power. I’m not going to stop now and name names. Most Brea Matters readers are already quite aware of who the players are.

Operation Clean Sweep

cleansweepCouncil member Moore’s suggestion is that the dysfunction infecting City Council can only be eliminated by voting a clean sweep, disallowing all incumbents from being reelected. I agree completely, but carry the suggestion one step further. If all that occurs is to change the faces without changing the dynamics, what will have been accomplished?

Nothing. The dysfunction remains.

The shift in power from one faction to another is not an acceptable objective. Operation Clean Sweep must shift the power back into the hands of the people. Elected officials need to learn that they are in the position they are to do the people’s bidding, not to carry out some myopic self-centered egotistical personal agenda.

The Puppet Masters.

PinocchioOne thing I will say about these puppet masters and their surrogates is that they do have considered opinions. They have invested their time and energy to study the community, to visualize ways to make Brea better.

Well so have I, a great deal more time and energy than some who think they belong in public office, and we disagree.

My dog in this fight.

HoundListen, my opinion on any given issue is but one voice amongst thousands. I am comfortable living with the majority rule. If most people want to paint a major intersection turquoise… fine.

I’ve been labeled a policy wonk, and rightfully so. I am far more concerned about the decision making process than I am about the final decision.

Well, Koreagate, Free Speech and Fracking aside.

There is no wiggle room there for me. Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell need to pay back the misappropriated funds, Council and staff need to stop impeding the people’s ability to make their opinions known and they all need to wake up to the reality of what’s really happening right in our fracking back yard.

“Hearing the oil and gas interests say they don’t know about the serious health implications of fracking next to homes, schools, and hospitals is like hearing the piano player at the cathouse saying he doesn’t know what’s going on upstairs.” – Nick Passanante, Coloradoans for Safe and Clean Energy.

If it looks like a duck…

Rubber duckWalks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck, dammit. Quit pretending it’s a bald eagle. The surrogates can whine and moan and call me unfair all they want.

We need to start seeing them on the campaign trail without their handlers lurking in the shadows. We need to hear something besides another chorus of Brea the Beautiful.

Until these surrogates have that break-away moment, pulling free of the petty little political factions that recruited them, launched and financed their campaigns… their status remains pretty clear.

Make up your own mind.

checksStart looking into this for yourself now, before your voter’s pamphlet and absentee ballot have been sitting on the kitchen table for weeks. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Find a candidate or two you can put your trust into, put their yard signs out in plain view. Give them ten bucks and wish them well.

When their opposition floods your mailbox with the inevitable mudslinging, backstabbing lies and innuendos… they call them hit pieces, recognize them for what they are and toss them in the trash where they belong.

But whatever you do, don’t start marking your ballot having no idea who the candidates really are, what they really stand for and where their allegiances lie.

Do your part and Operation Clean Sweep will begin building a better Brea.

 

No Loophole Left Behind.

Leave it to lawyers, bureaucrats and politicians to take full advantage of every loophole they discover… or create. With a Mayor that appears to embody all three vocations, it comes as little surprise that loopholes abound down at city hall.

Madrona falls off the radar.

Madrona-yes-1If you were looking for the next (final?) act in the Madrona comedy of errors on tomorrow’s Council agenda I’ll save you some time. It isn’t there.

At the last meeting Murdock and Marrick blindsided everyone with a wish list of new considerations. Turns out the two largest financial windfalls they were trying to orchestrate are illegal. Yup, against the law.

The attempt to extract an additional $3.2 to $5.4 million to acquire additional Cal Domestic Water Co. preferred shares is, you guessed it, illegal. Their request for $742,875 in supplemental park-in-lieu fees in addition to the statutory $1.6 million park-in-lieu fees the city was already getting turns out to also be, yep, illegal.

Solution? Buy a little more time.

christine_talksLooks like our budding barrister blew it. Now Murdock and Marrick need another two weeks (minimum) to do damage control, to find a new gambit for getting blood from a stone.

Not satisfied getting 9 out of 11 conditions approved Mrs. Marrick? You got your un-snooty un-gated community and your snooty custom estates approved. Seems to me you two are being more than a little greedy.

City Attorney Markman, when I asked about the missing agenda item, responded, “… there was and is no legal requirement for the matter to be on tomorrow’s Council meeting agenda.” I’m pretty confident he would deny the presence of any loophole.

More agenda skulduggery.

brett_praysTucked in amongst trivial housekeeping items on the Study Session agenda is a request from Murdock to take a trip to sister city Lagos de Moreno to help celebrate their 451 year anniversary.

This sounds eerily similar to the junket he took with Schweitzer and O’Donnel to Anseong and Hanno a couple of years ago. Can you say Koreagate?

What part of no don’t you understand?

The precedent for 45 years has been for Council members to pay their own way. On only two occasions was this not been the case.

Once, when Roy Moore was hit with two foreign travel obligations within one year, the City Manager suggested the city would be able to cover at least the airfare for the second trip. Moore paid the balance.

The second deviation was the vacation Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell took at taxpayer’s expense. A contentious issue yet today, the matter has been swept under the rug and remains unresolved. Certainly no new precedent has been set.

Sneaking this in under the radar by slipping the matter onto the Study Session agenda demonstrates just how unwilling some are to transparently conduct the city’s business.

If you feel so “justified” Mr. Murdock, at least have the juevos to review the pros and cons of the Lagos de Moreno request when the public is able to attend and the discussion will be part of the video record.

all-of-the-people

Let’s put an end to weaving one loophole after another and get down to conducting the people’s business without all of the hidden agendas.

 

Markman & Murdock’s Sour Grapes Reactions.

sourgrapes_160

Sour grapes anyone?

Tuesday’s (03/04) “Matters From The Audience” found the Mayor and City Attorney spouting sour grapes over the recent loss handed to them by the California Fourth District Court of Appeals in the Vargas v. Balz litigation.

In response to a closed session item reviewing the case, Brea resident Connie Lanzisera (click to read transcript) clearly laid out the reasons why Council should slam the door on this and put a stop to the runaway legal expenses. In brief, they are:

  • The appeal was neither moot nor frivolous. Though the election had passed, the larger legal issue remains and the law deserved to be clarified for elections officials state wide. The city’s objection was dismissed and the appellant’s claims confirmed.
  • The court ruled that the City Clerk violated election law, twice. Any doubt that there were unlawful acts committed has been removed by a panel of judges.
  • The court’s opinion pointed out that the city refused to follow the law, ignoring requests to correct their offense at a point where resolution would have cost the city nothing. This brings into sharp focus the arrogant disregard for the law that seems to have become an embedded part of city management.

Lanzisera closed saying, “We can think of no rationale that would justify the city to pursue a further appeal.” I agree wholeheartedly.

Markman rants.

Sour Grapes

In response to Ms. Lanzisera’s comments, City Attorney Markman (click to read transcript) praised the judicial system then immediately said it was wrong.

Markman, though unable to produce evidence supporting his position, once again pretended that the City Clerk acted prudently. He forgot to mention she was operating under instructions from him and/or City Manager O’Donnell.

History proved otherwise.

Council Member Moore stated, in the special meeting Markman mentioned, his discomfort with delegating writing duties to Schweitzer and Murdock (who had already, prematurely, prepared arguments laced with character assassination) and giving up his right of review and approval. He abstained when the matter came to a vote. Simonoff was out of town but had registered his objections to what had already been penned.

Not long thereafter, Moore came out in favor of Measure U – The Open Governance Act and opposed Measure T – which, amongst other things, imposed salary limitations for Council and senior staff.

Clearly there was never unanimity within Council, precisely the illusion that was perpetrated by instructing the Registrar of Voters to print on all election materials the signatory implying that arguments and rebuttals against the measures had the support of the entire Council.

If this isn’t illegal electioneering, what is? How does the FPPC miss something like this?

Precisely the issue addressed by the Court of Appeals and why they thought it best to clearly warn election officials that this sort of behavior, long prohibited by law, will not be tolerated and may be litigated after the fact.

Markman still ranting.

Markman contended that the city defended in good faith (while running up a $200,000 legal bill) though he completely dodged having had multiple opportunities to settle the matter outside a courtroom and for zero cost to tax payers. He did admit that he never thought the money was well spent.

Maybe if he had given Council one chance to wade in with their opinion, we wouldn’t have flushed so much money down the drain.

Murdock whines.

sour grapesIn typical “ready, fire, aim” style, fueled by his embarrassment I’m sure, Murdock interjected, “Mr. Markman, to clarify, who filed the appeal?” Markman named Vargas and, again hinted at proponents of the measures.

Murdock then added, “And that appeal was filed after the election was long over, correct?” Again attempting to misdirect the public into believing the appeal had been moot though the Fourth District Court of Appeals clearly thought otherwise. A complete smoke screen and sour grapes again!

Adding insult to injury.

One must remember Murdock repeatedly reminded voters of candidate Vargas’s “costing the city so much” during the campaign, when it turns out the city bears the blame for driving up legal fees.

Line this up with Murdock getting sanctioned and fined $2000 by the FPPC (California Fair Political Practices Commission) for his undisclosed leadership of the Breans Against Measures T & U PAC.

I find this sort of behavior childish, sociopathic and vindictive. The unabashed willingness to spread half-truths and outright deceptions, to unfairly drag an opponent’s name through the mud, has become commonplace in the political arena.

Markman puts a lid on Murdock’s cheeky comments.

lawyerMarkman, “We raised the point of mootness with the Court of Appeals… they didn’t agree. We’re not going to sit here and retry it or whine about a court decision in this system.”

It’s a very rare moment when Markman and I are in synch. This was certainly one of them. Putting Murdock in his place will go down as one of my favorite Council moments.

I’m hoping Markman also had the good sense to point council away from perpetuating this in any way. This is the epitome of a lose-lose situation and we can ill afford continued expense or public embarrassment.