Matters From Don Parker.

Last Tuesday, at Matters From The Audience, Brea Deputy City Treasurer Don Parker dropped a bombshell on Council and staff. There seems to have been yet another case of “less than best practices” on the part of staff and there could be a cost to approaching a million bucks.

Emerging from a nine year series of amendments (six actually) to a professional services agreement with Ninyo & Moore for their work on the Rails-To-Trails project that increased their cost from $24,500 to $1,034,777.30 – 42.3X the original estimate.

Don’s Report To Council.

I said I would review the contracting done when the City auditors questioned costs and I am here to comment on that. As background, the contracting for soil testing and services on the Tracks project was questioned because the file(s) “could not be located” but I looked at the contracting.

In 2010, an agreement was approved with Converse Consultants for a soil remediation plan. The report indicated their bid was $46,100 and the high bid of Ninyo & Moore was $55,200. A consent item approved their contract for $55,200. No I have not misspoken, the low bidder was given the high bid price with no explanation as to why. In my 40 plus years of municipal auditing and accounting I have never seen this done and no one questioned it. What was done with this difference is unknown.

(Burying items like this on the Consent Calendar has become de rigueur for city business whenever they prefer to keep the public in the dark. More on this later.)

In 2012, Ninyo & Moore, prior high bid, proposed $19,500 for a soil remediation plan and a contract was prepared for $24,500. Again I have not misspoken as this was $5,000 more than their proposal with no explanation. Since this was under $25,000 “policy limit” our prior City Manager approved it. Where that $5,000 went is unknown.

(Hot button number two – City Manager purchasing authority. Are you serious? It was purported to be $25,000 back then (2012 and prior) but no one could establish when or even if this was approved by Council!

Today the rumor has doubled to $50,000, with no indication as to how many times a year the City Manager can exercise this authority. I’ve filed a CPRA request to document details of this. We’ll see what the City Clerk can dig up.)

In 2013 through 2015, the first through third amendments were done and approved on consent for $200,000, $70,000 and $40,000, respectively. Supposedly because original estimates of soil depth, etc. were in error.

(Note: As a part of soil remediation work, a separate contractor is required to provide oversight to ensure that the cleanup meets the standards of both the City and the local regulatory agency, which is the Orange County Health Care Agency.

So, this exponentially escalating cost is only part of the expense. This is for analysis and oversight. Another contractor had to dig up the arsenic laced soil and properly dispose of it. When I mentioned this to a friend they chuckled, “Maybe ‘the roads are paved with gold’ didn’t come from Dick Whittington and his Cat after all.”)

In 2016, the fourth amendment was approved on consent for $60,700 again for additional soil testing services. However, now in the staff report it was stated that Council approved the original agreement with Ninyo & Moore in 2012. As I have indicated, and as confirmed by your City Clerk, the original agreement in 2012 was never approved by Council. This misinformation started after our current City Manager took his position and I believe this was added to justify using this vendor

In 2017, the fifth and sixth amendments were approved by consent for $218,144.30 and $421,433, respectively for segments 2, 3 and 4 of the project. Each of these segments should have been bid separately. Instead, they were just given to the existing firm. Repeatedly in these staff reports it was stated that Council approved the 2012 original agreement which was a lie.

(Not unlike the lie that the Paramedic Tax was for the sole purpose of developing and maintaining a mobile intensive care paramedic service. Now we know it was just another honey pot. Anyone but me starting to see a pattern here?)

In summary, we have contracts awarded for amounts in excess of the proposals received with no explanations of why or where those monies went. A contract which started at $24,500, approved by our prior City Manager, which was increased to $1,034,777.30 with no additional bids to protect the public’s money. Staff reports repeatedly misled readers into thinking the original agreement was Council approved but it never was. Community Development staff, management and our prior and current City Managers cut corners, prepared false staff reports and possibly enriched themselves or others to the detriment of our City.

Our auditors did not comment on these situations so we are lucky they did not follow through. However, it is possible we still could have to repay these monies. In any event these situations occurred and they do time and time again. When is Council going to say enough is enough and start holding City management accountable and protecting our monies? I guess just approving false staff reports is easier.

D.P.

So, where do we go with this? How about starting to hold Council accountable to do what we elected them to do. I think the popular term today is ‘community driven governance’ – something I’ve been advocating for many years.

So, What Have We Learned?

We’ve learned that our Records Retention Schedule allows critical records and important public documents to be routinely dumped every 90 days. Stuck in the sixties, the City Clerk has no control over electronic communications… the IT department has their servers set on auto-purge.

We’ve learned that a deceptive plan to do an end run around Prop 13 gave us the Paramedic Tax. Millions of dollars, almost half of what has been collected since 1978, has been diverted to pay for development debt and other obligations not even remotely related to the paramedic services Brea voters believed they were creating.

We’ve learned that, for decades, the Consent Calendar has been used as a bureaucratic black hole to hide everything Council and staff wanted to keep from public view. Thankfully, in recent years, several Breans have become quite talented at spotting the big fat checks disguised as routine expenses.

We’ve learned that the City Manager has a huge treasure chest he can dip into at will without Council’s knowledge, oversight or approval… and we’re about to find out if it’s even legal.

We discovered that our appointed Cal Domestic Board Members unanimously approved combined stipends from Cal Domestic and their for profit subsidiary Cadway totaling a potential $24,000 a year income. That’s 3 or 4 times Council’s base stipend.

Council has been requested to require these public servants to file the annual CA Form 700 Statement of Economic Interests and Council is balking. Unless they call a special meeting, which they won’t, they’ll miss the deadline and face a formal complaint being filed with the FPPC.

 

It’s About Bill Fanning’s Legacy… It’s About Our Kids.

From time to time I’m made privy to email and presentations to Council and the BOUSD Board to offer comments and maybe the occasional edit. Such is the case for Drew Hefner’s statement to the school board.

A Brea resident for over two decades and twice over a Fanning parent, Drew has helped spearhead the opposition to the fallacious allegations coming from a handful of out-of-town wannabe social activists.

He has been kind enough to allow me to publish his remarks here with the hope that they encourage others to attend next Monday night’s meeting and to speak their mind as well.

kidDrew Hefner’s remarks.

I am speaking up to urge the citizens of Brea to do the right thing and call for the retention of William E. Fanning’s name with Fanning Elementary.

I was surprised to learn that instead of being a local, grass-roots effort, those demanding that Mr. Fanning’s name be removed from Fanning Elementary are mostly outsiders to Brea: from the OC Weekly (Costa Mesa), the Voice of the OC (Santa Ana), OC Human Relations (Santa Ana), the Fullerton Observer, the Democratic Party of Orange County (Orange), and a Facebook group, founded just last December, predominantly of La Habra residents.

The reasons offered by those calling for the change are not supported by facts, but instead are a conflated mess of opinion and conjecture coupled with a desire to be on the right side of history.

The facts related to this issue are clear.

Social media comments and on-line reports dating back to 2011, and resurrected in 2017, suggested a connection between W.E. Fanning and the KKK are false.

The primary evidence offered is a list of names found in the Anaheim Heritage Center’s collection which is purported to be a list of KKK members.

This list and associated information was examined by the Brea Historical Society’s Museum Curator in 2017 per a request from the BOUSD Superintendent.

The final report, dated 30 November 2017, concluded: “Based on the interpretation of the data, we find no credible evidence to support the petitioner’s allegations”, meaning Mr. Fanning did not have a verifiable membership in the KKK.

In addition, the report stated that no evidence in newspaper articles or personal recollections was found to indicate Mr. Fanning was in any way racially motivated.

From deception to distraction.

Claims of Brea’s racist past, including suggestions of it being a “Sundown Town”, as well as Brea demographics of the 1920’s showing little or no diversity have been offered to corroborate the links between Brea and the KKK.

Though somewhat historically accurate, there is no link to Mr. Fanning… period. It’s a smokescreen and nothing else.

The outsiders disparaging the Fanning name through unsubstantiated claims are little more than bullies.

Mr. Fanning’s past has been reviewed, allegations of his association with the KKK are a toxic brew of rumor, innuendo and conjecture intended to play on people’s emotions.

It reeks of both slander and libel.

It is also clear, stated publically in their meetings, that most of the BOUSD Board does not believe the allegations connecting Fanning to the KKK.

Doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons.

Some of the Board have chosen reluctantly the removal of the Fanning name but only out of frustration and a desire to “move on.”

I am one of a very large and growing number of Brea residents, parents, teachers and administrators who do not want to see the name removed when doing so is not supported by facts.

To emphasize, let me be clear: Taking a stand to maintain Mr. Fanning’s name on the school is not the same thing as defending a racist or deeming the allegations as nothing more than ancient history that doesn’t matter today.

I still live in this community and care very much about both our image, and the impact that racist acts could have on our fellow residents, schools and businesses.

The BOUSD Board needs to embrace the results of the well-documented Brea Historical Society report, put an end to this made-up controversy and retain Mr. Fanning’s name as part of any re-branding of the school.

They must not allow Mr. Fanning’s name and reputation to be destroyed by those who have disregarded the facts and the truth in pursuit of their own suspect agendas.

Amen Mr. Hefner. Amen.

Except for the couple of dozen troublemakers who, for several years, have failed miserably to make their case against William Fanning, everyone else agrees that he was truly a pioneer in Brea education, that he stood up against segregation and laid the foundation for the schools serving our children today.

Our children deserve no less than the truth and we’re obligated to give it to them.

If the BOUSD Board gives in to the bullies and leans on one of their indefensible excuses to change the school’s name and discard the Fanning legacy in the process… that is the truth we will share with our kids.

And if this is an example of the weak willed and ill-informed leadership we can expect going forward, what option besides a recall would put Brea schools back on course?

Whether you’re able to be there Monday night or have the time to send the board an email… at least make yourself these two promises.

My kids will know the truth. My kids will not be bullied.

 

A Christmas Message To The BOUSD Board.

Well, I thought I was done for 2018 until I came across John Bickel’s email to the BOUSD Board this morning. It provides an honest and powerful summary to the social media discussions over recent days and weeks regarding the Board’s abandonment of the Fanning legacy. I’ll let John’s email pick up the matter from here.

December 24, 2018

To: Gail Lyons, Nicole Colon, Paul Ruiz, Carrie Flanders and Keri Kropke

Merry Christmas to all of you.

I would like to invite you to visit, if you haven’t already, a couple of social media sites to see just how the community is rallying around keeping the Fanning name in the new school title. Nextdoor and Facebook both have been very busy in the discussions about the unproven facts from the Anaheim Heritage Center files, and the James Loewen book on sundown towns. Not one of these sources of info have anything to prove that W.E. Fanning, from California, had anything to do with the KKK in Brea or his role in Brea being a sundown town.

Support for the Fanning name is overwhelming.

The majority of people in this community fully support squashing Mr. Rodriguez and his team and sending them on their way. That same majority is feeling the same about some of you. A recall election at the least could be on the horizon if you fail to tell these bullies to go away.

The way the previous board and the current board are handling this situation, allowing the tarnishing of Mr. Fanning and his name, his family members, is horrible. His legacy being obliterated forever because of your fear to face the bullies and their unproven “facts.”

You are also tarnishing the names of the people who were involved in the decision to honor the man who put Brea schools on the map. Leonard MacKain, another notable educator in Brea, the school board members from then, all fine life-long citizens who are part of the great legacy of Brea education.

Once you make the correct decision to keep the name in the new branding, you must also publicly remove the tarnish from ALL of these peoples names, not just the name of W.E. Fanning.

See you on January 14, 2019, the start of a brand new, sure to be interesting year for the school board.

John Bickel

Never poke a tiger with a short stick.

A word to the wise, I’m difficult to silence… banished or not. In a very small way, my blindsided 30 day suspension from Nextdoor drove home the shock and pain of seeing every word, every thought, every opinion ever expressed on Nextdoor was erased.

BOUSD

Then I thought of William Fanning and drew up short. I tried to imagine the loss of his legacy, the crushing impact on his surviving family and the hundreds of Fanning Falcons who have gone on to serve the community in so many ways.

My little problem shrank away to almost nothing. In 30 days, or less, I will rejoin Nextdoor and press on bringing facts to the discussion and debunking the outright lies that creep in from all sides.

Of particular concern is this nuisance little pack of self-righteous would be activists that use untruthful statements to disparage the reputation of William Fanning. They’ve gone so far as to conscript the support of an author/historian, James W. Loewen, to validate their misinformation and to coop whatever credibility he might have as an academician.

BOUSD

Please take a few moments and visit his website. Seriously… give it a good look. It’s just one page and I’m sure you will have little difficulty forming an opinion about how much relevance we should give him in this discussion.

His original review of the report prepared by Linda Shaw, Curator of the Brea Museum and a well experienced and degreed historian in her own right, was a hatchet job which later he recanted in part when pressure was applied.

Personally, I find him to be functioning so close to the edge that it’s likely he’ll go over the side at any moment.

The BOUSD Board has kicked the can far enough.

I’m casting my lot with John Bickel and the large and growing number of fellow Brea friends and neighbors who dismiss the unwarranted attack upon William Fanning as the specious race baiting attempt to bully the board into making a panicked decision they’ll undoubtedly come to regret.

There is no government by the people without people.

Please, join us.