He’s No Friend Of Brea.

diamond_dIn the past 72 hours, this self-absorbed nutjob published seven blog posts, supposedly about the Brea downtown parking structure. The total word count is 13,781 words, not one of which bears even a slight resemblance to the truth.

He eviscerates the hard work of Brea’s staff. He dances on the edge of slander, painting grotesque and wholly inaccurate pictures of every Brea Council member. He does a libelous job of character assassination of the downtown Brea business owners.

His schoolyard attempts to bully me, disparage this blog and cast aspersions on my interest in and support of my community is of no concern. This feckless pretender lacks the power to blow his own nose.

So, what is this rambling shock and awe campaign knocking Brea really all about?

What’s the point of his scandalmongering personal agenda? Why does someone recently relocated to Brea, renting (not a tax payer), operating a less than stellar legal business from his kitchen table (I assume he has a Brea business license) suddenly take such an over-the-top interest in local government?

I think his saber rattling is designed to produce one thing, plaintiffs. He’s stalking new prey.

Diamond_3BHis work as general counsel for an Anaheim based political activist group seems to have come up a crapper and he has rent to pay and a reputation desperately in need of repair.

It seems he may be in the market for new clients interested in suing Brea. Contrary to his protestations, not the best way to help preserve Brea’s general fund.

I find him, his tactics and agenda appalling. I worry about those who seem to have been hypnotized by the drone of his voice.

Folks in Brea see him for what he is.

Thankfully, only a handful of Murdock’s leftovers give any credence to what this numbskull posts. I’m surprised they have the stamina to wade through all that indecipherable blathering.

I’ve been thrilled to hear from so many friends and neighbors who get it, who value how a revitalized downtown will benefit this community for decades to come. Who understand what an investment is, that the ROI will begin the moment the Council approves a contract to build a parking structure in downtown Brea.

Real Brean’s are people who believe that a project which pays for itself in the long run is well worth the investment.

 

Council Tackles Parking Again.

Mini_Pano

As expected, Matters From The Audience was dominated by folks addressing Council about the downtown parking structure. Opinions varied. All but one speaker contributed civil, thoughtful, meaningful comments. Everyone seemed to agree a structure was needed, however opinions were divided on which design made the most sense to them.

The solo speaker who ignored the real subject, ranted to Council about his disdain for one Brea businessman citing an email exchange that he either misread completely or manufactured the most bitter inaccurate interpretation possible. Read about my take on this misguided antagonist here: He’s No Friend Of Brea.

What did the real Brean’s have to say?

Comments and email received by Council predominantly favored building a parking structure but were equally divided about how to best fund the project. Some had no problem using general fund money, others strongly objected. There were even a couple of compassionate comments pointing out other projects or services they felt were more important than parking.

Also, several comments expressed excitement about the proposed new Improv entertainment and dining complex, recognizing how it would greatly contribute to revitalizing downtown.

Frankly, between the presentation of the Mayor’s Student Achievement Awards and the overall quality and tone of those commenting last night, I came away with a renewed appreciation for the people of Brea.

I was additionally pleased to see several genuinely new, younger faces. Brea needs to recruit strong, youthful leadership, to fill future elected, appointed and voluntary positions within Brea’s municipal government. This New Guard is an essential component of tomorrow’s leadership and our best guarantee of a bright future for Brea.

Counsel’s deliberations.

Rather than trying to summarize the he said and she said of the lengthy Council debate, I asked one of the new young speakers to give us his take on the meeting. Thanks to Jason Kraft for the following…

“At the June 16th Brea City Council meeting, the council agreed that a parking structure with at least 300 new spaces is needed behind the Tower building to provide critical infrastructure for the expansion and redevelopment of businesses on that block. The open questions are how to fund it and whether to include housing and office space in the parking structure.

The council did not make any final decisions at the meeting, but they are proceeding with a request for bids to build a parking-only structure. The council also requested more detailed information from the developer of the “Parking Plus” plan, which includes office space on the top floor and 40 affordable housing apartments within the parking structure.”

The clock is ticking.

Staff indicated that the RFP process might take as much as 90 days, mostly driven by the complexity of the process for the “Parking Plus” option. Likely, figures could be available sooner than 90 days for the “Parking Only” option.

The Improv did say that synchronous opening of their complex and the structure isn’t necessary, but we all can guess that it needs to be reasonably close.

The “Parking Plus” option, it was pointed out, wouldn’t be able to apply for tax benefits until next March with a one year processing period being typical. Add another 2+ years to complete the project and the ribbon cutting wouldn’t likely happen until mid-2019.

I would be more than a little concerned that the total time required to complete any “Parking Plus” option would sufficiently conflict with the Improv’s timetable and cost Brea the project.

I trust staff and Council will weigh these and the soft cost issues carefully, that the immediacy of Brea’s ROI will be clearly understood and that we’ll finally reach closure on this prolonged matter.

Another resident speaks.

I’ll let these few words from Brea resident Tom Dunlap, whose position reflects the majority of communications reaching me, to provide the closing thoughts.

“As long as Brea is prudent with the spending and it does not dip too heavily into the General Fund reserves I am in full support of this project going through. We have a golden opportunity to create something very special downtown and I would hate to see this slip through the city’s fingers and end up with a deteriorating downtown.”

 

Treasurer Selection Not An Easy Choice.

Study SessionEveryone, Council, staff and followers of local government, were surprised when eleven Breans applied for the City Treasurer position vacated when Glenn Parker was reelected to Council. Most had expected no more than three or four candidates to emerge.

In a meeting that began on Friday, January 23 and was continued to Tuesday, January 27, Council managed the arduous task of interviewing all applicants and then pressed on to reach a consensus selecting a new City Treasurer. For those interested, the meeting’s agenda and all applications are available on the city’s website.

Applicants, in order of interview were Don Parker, Michael Becher, Marlan Merhab, Roy Moore, Jim Grosse, Gary Terrazas, Joseph Galligan, Bill Christensen, Phil Anton, Gill Realon and Kenneth Palmer. An interesting note, as the interview conflicted with a long planned holiday, Council agreed to allow Bill Christensen to teleconference his interview from Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

Thinning out the list.

If you’ve looked over the City Treasurer applications, you’ll have some idea of just how tough job Council faced. Every applicant was well qualified with decades of executive level experience. Council’s first step was to agree upon a tight set of criteria, opting for someone with a strength in managing major investment portfolios over CPAs with mostly P&L and budget management background. As Brea has an average of $50 million at stake in the investment pool at any one time, I have to agree.

This focus made it possible to move five names out of contention. Mayor Simonoff then asked for each Council member to list their top three choices. All but Glenn Parker were able to do so. Glenn seemed to be advocating for a single candidate but later acquiesced and added one more name. Pressing on, the lists merged to provide a basic ranking and animated discussion followed.

I must say that, as I observed this process for a little over seven hours, I was elated to see Council engaged in a friendly, respectful, open and productive way. I hadn’t seen that sort of behavior with previous Councils going back through several regimes.

There were a couple of delicate moments when signs of personal favoritism and possible political ties slipped into the dialog but Mayor Simonoff and the other Council members skillfully defused the situations and productive discussion moved on.

The finalists emerged.

After an hour or so, Gill Realon, Bill Christensen and Phil Anton made the short list. Discussion continued comparing the merits of each to the objectives set at the beginning of the meeting. TreasurerUltimately, after another half hour, Mayor Pro Tem Marick moved to approve Bill Christensen as the Treasurer and the motion was quickly seconded by Council member Vargas.

A voice vote was taken and Council voted unanimously to appoint Bill Christensen. Mayor Simonoff’s suggestion that the City Clerk contact the U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia to inform Bill Christensen of Council’s decision was met with a chuckle and the meeting was adjourned.

A closing thought.

One of the applicant’s suggested, given the depth of the applicant’s talent pool and their willingness to serve, that Council put more of them to work by creating a citizen’s advisory or oversight committee to help keep an eye on city finances.

Great idea! First assignments should be evaluating whether restructuring of Brea’s Fire Department, twice, has produced the savings promised by the City Manager… conducting an audit of the solar energy program to establish whether or not it is paying for itself as promised and finally, developing the framework for a “Get Out Of Debt” plan that would eradicate Brea’s unfunded pension and medical liabilities.

Other views in the news?

Doubtful, the only non-city person in the room besides myself was the pool boy’s pet wannabe blogger, Greg Diamond. Greg DiamondNo one from any reputable newspaper felt it worth covering I guess.

Arriving late, well over two hours after the meeting began, Diamond berated the City Clerk for allowing Council to move expeditiously through the interviews (as if that were her job) and then set up his tripod and camera which he fiddled with periodically throughout what was left of the evening.

While I suppose he captured most of the final three or four interviews and perhaps a bit of the Council discussion that followed, his constant preoccupation with his phone and incessant texting took his attention off of the meeting. He spent 90% of his time focused upon posting his signature lengthy rants to whatever blog he was bombarding.

Anyone who has watched a Council meeting on TV and attended the meeting live will tell you there is no comparison. You take in so much more by being in the room and paying attention than what you could possibly get watching disjointed video clips captured on a static camera or two.

Greg DiamondWatching video clips instead of actually paying attention so severely hampers Diamond’s take on the meeting I question how faithful to the truth his reporting could possibly be.

I’m sure his longwinded poison pen version will be laced with invectives, condemnation and unfounded criticisms that are nothing more than malicious attacks… instead of providing credible journalism or making any honorable effort to inform citizens or positively impact public policy.

He seems to be working out his own self esteem issues at the expense of others. This would explain why he and the pool boy are such tight buddies, they share so much in common… starting with delusions of grandeur and acute narcissism.