2016 In Review.

2016Brea bans ganjapreneurs.

2016 started off with a continuation of the medical cannabis debate, pitting the “Reefer Madness” crowd against those recognizing the rapidly increasing credibility of the medicinal values of cannabis.

This was triggered by a flaw in the language of Prop 215 which threw communities from Crescent City to Calexico into a frenzy to preserve local control.

Brea successfully prohibited cannabis dispensaries in 2008-09 but the passage of Prop 215 added another wrinkle… cultivation.

Tossing the matter to the Planning Commission, Council sought to block all cultivation through a land use amendment of the zoning code.

Today the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation is no closer to being operative than it was a year ago, the passage of Prop 64 Marijuana Legalization Initiative further muddied the waters and the Federal government still classifies pot as a Schedule 1 drug.

Look for the cannabis debate to light up again in the first quarter as the “Reefer Madness” crowd seeks to keep a tight rein on cultivation and sales in Brea.

2016Brea First becomes part of the solution.

Founded by a grassroots group of longstanding Brea residents and facilitated by Director Chris Gaarder, Brea First hosted several public events down at the Brea Museum.

Created to provide Breans with information on and analyses of important local issues, with input from local and outside experts, Brea First subscribes to the notion that is it better to be informed than merely opinionated.

At the top of the list of hot topics was Brea’s unfunded pension liability but other issues emerged as well, like term limits and the school bond issue. Look to Brea First to continue their mission into 2017.

2016Brea Envisions launches, stumbles and takes a nose dive.

Initiated by Council with the best of intentions, Brea Envisions was to set a new high water mark for public engagement.

Taking a hands-off approach, Council passed the project to the Planning Department to establish a citizen’s committee to create, oversee and report opinions of Breans on a wide variety of topics.

A steering committee was established but without leadership, facilitation was closely held by Planning staff instead. A commercially developed generic website template became the Envisions gateway to the public, supported by a medley of misused social media accounts.

A less than successful survey gleaned from a handful of folks willing to take the time to wade through it, less than 800 responded. Fewer still completed the entire survey.

The raw data produced was extremely difficult to interpret and required substantial speculation to form comprehensible results.

A second volley of a half dozen additional mini-surveys, created using a web based app called Survey Monkey, produced almost zero response.

Phase three? A phone survey. Is about to be launched to validate their findings. What findings? Where is even an interim report to help guide the process?

Brea Envisions is already over three months behind schedule, the odds that a final report will truly reflect Breans’ opinions is virtually nil and Council continues to take a hands-off approach.

2016Vargas seeks to put term limits on the ballot.

A discussion more academic than urgent turned ugly when Council member Vargas broke his promise to Council and independently embarked on an effort to gather signatures for his own term limits initiative.

The effort seemed more designed as an attempt to thwart Council member Simonoff’s run for a sixth term than than it was to give voice to voter concerns.

The threat of a possible incursion by an out-of-town PAC, Council member Vargas’s audacity to ignore public input and his callous blindside of fellow Council members cost him serious political capital and likely foreshadowed another clean sweep in 2018.

Council held a public hearing on June 7 and all hell broke loose. Folks lined up at the podium to vent their feelings, most opposing term limits. Council hashed out their various positions, with more than a little shouting and finger pointing, and eventually hit an impasse.

Thankfully the “Vargas Initiative” fell well short of obtaining the required number of signatures. Council member Vargas learned the meaning of an extinction level event and came face-to-face with his failure as a consensus builder and a man of the people.

20162016 election, winners and losers.

As if the national election weren’t contentious enough, the BOUSD Measure K pitted friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor and candidate against candidate.

Seeking an unprecedented $148,000,000 ($300,000,000 with vigorish) with an initiative that lacked any public input and failed to define how the money would be spent, it was doomed from the start.

An independent PAC solicited, received and spent nearly $75,000 in an attempt to push Measure K into the win column, then it was discovered that most of the money came from companies that would substantially benefit from Measure K winning.

Meanwhile, a handful of residents seeing through the smokescreen, reached into their own pockets to shed a little light on the truth. None came close to legal spending limits yet they prevailed at the ballot box.

Paul Ruiz, winning by a landslide, joined the BOUSD Board… clearly a mandate from Brea voters. Gail Lyons and Kevin Hobby retained their seats while Rod Todd was finally vanquished.

At least he was until Joe Rollino dropped the bombshell that he was resigning and the reorganized board relied on little more than cronyism to let Todd finish Rollino’s term.

Adding insult to injury, the board snubbed new member Ruiz, refusing to second his nomination of Jason Kraft… clearly the most qualified applicant to fill the vacancy.

What will 2017 hold?

The reorganized Council, with Cecilia Hupp moving up as Mayor and Glenn Parker as MPT, will be facing an interesting array of potentially contentious issues in the coming year.

Of course there is the matter of shoring up our city limits against the onslaught of ganjapreneurs and rogue developers, greedy pensioners and presumptuous public servants.

Then there’s that long awaited Centennial year celebration that seems to lack funding, focus and public fervor. With events promised as early as February still in the early planning stage I wonder just how memorable this Centennial celebration will actually be?

Nevertheless, Happy New Year.

Putting The Unified Back Into BOUSD.

BOUSD put Measure K on the ballot and all hell broke loose.

Proponents launched “Yes On Measure K” flooding neighborhoods and public thoroughfares with signs, mailboxes with oversized postcards, inserting themselves into our dinner hours with unsolicited robocalls. They hung out on street corners distracting traffic waving signs and passing out flyers, advocated boycotting downtown businesses with ill conceived letters accusing a local developer of buying elected officials and interfering in local politics and created a Facebook page where anyone with opposing views, contrary to the spirit of the first amendment, was blocked.

Opponents launched “No On Measure K” and prominently hung four giant banners and flooded public thoroughfares with signs, attended back-to-school nights and walked neighborhoods handing out flyers, hung out on street corners distracting traffic waving signs and passing out flyers and created a Facebook page challenging every message coming from the opposition.

A self-righteous bunch reactivated their “Reject Negative Politics In Brea” Facebook page and proceeded to attack every No on K sign, banner, flyer or attempt to get their message out. Their pro-K bias was blatant. They continued this masked propaganda until a couple of unattributed third party signs showed up that were truly negative politics. Only then did they suspend activity.

The BOUSD Board of Directors, especially the incumbents running for reelection, were notably silent though state law allows them to support the bond measure on their own time. Neither the Board or district staff conducted or participated in any public forum debating Measure K.

Both sides took to Nextdoor with posts about Measure K that became inflamed with personal attacks, unfounded allegations and unsupported assertions. Comments were repeatedly tagged for review when, as it turned out, the only offense was often the expression of an opposing opinion. Once friendly cyber-neighborhoods sharing coyote sightings, lost puppy alerts and selling used furniture, became bloody battlegrounds pitting neighbor against neighbor.

The “Yes On Measure K” Facebook page has now become “Take Brea Back” and the “No On K” page is now “Brea Watchdogs” – could they be any more divisive?

fb_savebreaTake Brea back from who? From that nasty ol’ developer hell bent on becoming the King of Brea? Exactly how does that benefit our kids or the BOUSD? (Ed Update: 11/29: The facelift continues, suggesting the group is formed “to provide information about local issues, concerns, elections and government activities that affect quality of life in the City of Brea.” – They have extended their ban prohibiting me from posting on their page.

fb_watchdogWatchdogs? Watching who? Watching what? I thought you promised to become part of the solution should Measure K fail to pass. Exactly how does perpetuating an adversarial stance benefit our kids or the BOUSD? (Ed Update: 11/29: Not to be outdone, the “Watchpuppies” group also claims to be an informational resource about local issues, particularly BOUSD. Like their nemesis Take Brea Back, they have also prohibited me from posting on their page.

Yesterday Joe Rollino resigned from the Board. Why? He already announced he would not be seeking reelection in 2018. Did he finish remodeling that beach house earlier than expected? Is there any chance Bill Hall might take the easy way out too?

Would Rod Todd dare apply to fill the vacancy after failing to get reelected? If Jason Kraft and Joseph Covey both apply to fill the vacancy, who does the Board select… the candidate with the most votes? What if a new name gets tossed into the ring?

On par with unfunded pension liabilities, putting the “unified” back into BOUSD is the top priority. Not how many apartments should Hines be entitled to build. Not how to rein in the loose canon on city Council. Not term limits, tiered water rates, parking citations on trash day, where to put a porkchop on a country road, Brea Envisions struggle for relevance or how to preserve those damned hills everyone is so up in arms about.

Its the preservation of Brea’s most valuable assets. Our kids and the BOUSD.

unified BOUSD

 

Measure K: Mailers & Robocalls Again.

Mailers and robocalls continue unabated and, for Measure K supporters, they will be their undoing. Let’s start with the latest robocall from another political fossil.

lynndaucher_400“This is Former Assemblywoman Lynn Daucher calling about Measure K. Don’t be misled by the anti public school message from the downtown developers special interests and the No on K campaign. Measure K is a smart investment in our kids, our community and our property values. Don’t be fooled. Measure K is a fiscally responsible plan with accountability and oversight.”

Emphasis on former.

While Lynn’s history might be credible in many ways, it is just that, history. Like Punxsutawney John Beauman and the ephemeral Bev Perry, propagandists drag these vestiges of 20th century small town politics out and parade them around hoping their reputations might lend credibility to highly dubious issues.

More a liability than an asset, when was the last time Lynn Daucher regularly attended local school board meetings or weighed in on something other than reelecting Hall or Rollino?

Like the anonymous “parents” promoting boycotts, the robocall tries to tie “downtown developers” to a rejection of everything that might benefit the education and development of Brea’s youth.

girl-1_sqHow ignorant and unbelievable. Name one individual who can claim to be a fraction of the philanthropist that Dwight Manley has been for years and continues to be in spite of being constantly denigrated by halfwits.

Measure K is a fool’s investment offering nothing to our kids, our community or our property values. Measure K is fiscally irresponsible and lacks meaningful accountability.

Now, the latest mailer.

Proponents of Measure K need to be reminded that repeating their lies does not somehow make them true. As many have already clearly pointed out the Oversight Committee doesn’t even give passable lip service to the idea of accountability.

back-bAs one commenter on Nextdoor posted, “I just received a “Vote Yes on K” [mailer]. If I only read this, I would have to vote for K. It states, ‘Measure K has strict fiscal accountability rules required by California State Law!’. It sounds terrific. I am a CPA. I have been a CFO for not-for-profit corporations for most of my career. The notion of being able to spend $148 million with only an oversight committee after-the-fact reviewing the expenditures to confirm that they were spent for ‘facility improvement’ is not even close to ‘strict fiscal accountability.’ This piece didn’t ‘lie,’ but it sure stretched the definition of accountability to its breaking point.”

A comprehensive list?

Again with the harping about detailed lists developed by “Architectural and Construction Management firms” – you mean like Cal K-12 and Pinnacle Design Group who are on record donating $35,000 to the “Yes” PAC? Does anyone not see the ulterior motives?

jasons_map

Monday night, October 24, the BOUSD Board approved payment of $9,780 to the very same Pinnacle Design Group for designing an interior dividing wall in a portable classroom. According to the Facility Improvement Needs Lists, portables need to be replaced. That’s $10k to design a wall, not even to build it, in a temporary structure slated for removal.

General funds must support instructional programs?

pipe_300When Measure K proponents say that general funds must support instructional programs they fail to mention that these funds also pay staff and teacher salaries, excessive health benefits to Board members and, sad to say, underfund pensions. They “skip” right over mentioning the $21,000,000 surplus that could be legally tapped to handle priority projects like those severely corroded pipes they’ve been whining about that caused a leak in the Arovista server room.

We can’t afford to wait until 2018.

Who’s crystal ball are they using when they predict dramatically increasing interest rates in the coming years? They suggest this will cause project costs to soar.

Oh please, these are the same years when 3 of the 4 tranches would be released. Wouldn’t they be subject to the same prohibitive interest rates? They can’t have their cake and eat it too.

This last minute mailer is total hogwash.

front-bThe ink was already dry on these flyers and the donors money was burning a hole in their pockets. The logical next step was… go to the post office. It’s this logic that has contributed to the current situation and it has been exercised by the same small band of people.

Shame on the 24 local notables, most of whom have shown little interest in solving the district’s financial woes in recent years. They seem to have no objection to grabbing few minutes of faded glory at the expense of out-of-town donors.

Dig deeper into the details.

As we’ve gratefully come to expect, Jason Kraft has meticulously gathered together details on everything I’ve spent the last 17 paragraphs ranting and snarking about. You can read Jason’s commentaries here –

“Don’t Believe The Lies” Part 1

“Don’t Believe The Lies” Part 2

“Don’t Believe The Lies” Part 3

“Don’t Believe The Lies” Part 4

Additional analysis will be linked here when they become available.

Vote No