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

Brea First: Unfunded Pension Liability

unfunded liabilityUnfunded pension liability was the topic at last night’s Brea First meeting. A very detailed description and analysis was presented by Pete Constant and Truong Bui from the Reason Foundation. When I say detailed, I’m mean deep into the numbers, tiered water rates, where did you get your PhD. sort of detailed.

To their credit, and thanks to a stream of astute and probing questions from the audience, the details provided a backdrop upon which some very down-to-earth discussion emerged. While understanding how we ended up in this hole isn’t without value, finding a way out is the real issue.

A brief history lesson.

In 1999 Council adopted an enhancement of the city’s defined benefit retirement program providing Public Safety personnel with a guaranteed 90% retirement at 30 years of service (Simonoff, Perry, Moore, Daucher yes; Vargas no). This greatly exacerbated Brea’s unfunded liability. Had Brea chosen a defined contribution plan instead we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

In 2000 Brea was overfunded to the tune of $15 million. I’ll let that sink in for a minute. We were ahead of the game by $15 million bucks! Expressed in 2016 dollars, that would be $17+ million – almost three times what we just deposited into our PARS account (Public Agency Retirement Services).

It was downhill from there.

pension liabilityIn 2001 and 2009, coinciding with the two recessions, funding rate for retirement had dropped from an enviable 133% in 2000 to 60% in 2009. Today’s unfunded pension liability, conservatively, is $85 million dollars and market value assets are only 74.9% of what is required.

The $85 million relies upon an overly generous assumed Rate of Return that CalPERS projects to be 7.5%. The average Rate of Return earned by CalPERS investments over the last 15 years is 5.2%. I’m not sure who they’re trying to fool, participants or themselves or both?

Staff has suggested to Council that maintaining an 80% funded level is sufficient. It is not.

That assumption puts all Brea services in jeopardy, including public safety. Further, the $6 million transferred from year end surplus into the PARS account is barely a drop in the bucket. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

If you’ve ever tried to pay off a credit card relying on making minimum payments, you know exactly how ludicrous this is.

Where the state comes in.

The decades old dinosaur that is CalPERS operates using a very complex set of calculations to determine Rate of Return and Discount Rate. I’ll save you the rocket science, you can find the full reports here if you’re so inclined.

Suffice it to say that CalPERS is systemically malfunctioning and in dire need of a major overhaul. This is the other half of the problem/solution formula. Literally thousands of agencies state wide share in this multi-billion dollar unfunded liability. Public employee pensions are constitutionally guaranteed.

So, no matter what Brea decides to do to fulfill our local responsibility, funding our pension plan, we also have to bring pressure to bear on Sacramento to adopt the constitutional amendments that govern how public pensions are managed.

Joining forces.

I suppose it isn’t out of the question to think cities might band together to lobby Sacramento. Brea keeps a high priced lobbying firm on retainer, other cities must do the same. There is strength in numbers.

League of California CitiesOh, and as longstanding members of the League of California Cities I would think we could turn to them for assistance too. After all, that’s what they do… right, they advocate on behalf of member cities.

But wait, their employees pension plan is CalPERS. Is it possible there is a conflict of interest here?

Where does Brea start?

pension liabilityWe’re in a hole. A deep hole. We need to stop digging and find a way out.

Finding that way out must start with the Council. They need to create a plan to raise our pension funding level from 74.9% to 100%. Not over some protracted length of time. Now. Anything less than 100% adds to our unfunded liability.

Council must commit to a vigorous debt reduction plan, eliminating our unfunded liability.

It’s not as simple as tacking on another half a percent or so sales tax targeted only to pay off the debt. That’s illegal. And we’re not likely to stumble across some windfall and miraculously escape. It will take sacrifice.

City services will be seriously impacted. Public health and safety services will be effected as well. If you thought coping with the drought has been tough, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

pension liabilityOkay Council, the ball is in your court. It looks like Brea First is committed to holding you accountable… so am I.

Download PDFs of the Reason Foundation Brea Unfunded Pension Liability Presentation and Report by clicking on the blue links.

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.