A week ago today, Brea voters and Operation Clean Sweep succeeded in rebooting City Council! Welcome and congratulations to Cecilia Hupp, Steve Vargas and Glenn Parker. Your convincing win confirms that Brea voters, eager to turn around a floundering Council, see something in you they like.
To whom much is given, much is expected. Simply put, privilege brings responsibility and that responsibility entails accountability. Now is the time to set aside personality conflicts and petty grievances. Too many serious issues are tucked into your information packets and need your undivided attention.
Brea Matters (Voters) Wade In.
While waiting for the dust to settle and the provisional votes to be tallied, I invited Brea Matters readers (voters) to tell me how they see the issues stacking up. Thanks to all who took the time to share their thoughts. Here are the top three issues.
Unfunded Pension Liability.
The small contribution now required of new hires, bolstered by similar changes in state regulation, have slowed the rate of debt increase… slightly. The escalation of unfunded debt has neither been reversed nor solved.
The problem is still our largest fiscal nightmare. You will not be able to nudge pension reform into existence. Nothing less than sweeping change, with the full participation of the beneficiaries, will address this issue.
Water, The Currency Of Tomorrow.
The drought is real. This chronic shortage is effecting more than shorelines. It is the catalyst behind Brown’s Measures 1 and 2. The real effects of their passage will likely come as a shock to voters who cast their ballot in favor.
Our tiered water rates, still on the back burner awaiting the San Juan Capistrano decision, will be pulled to the front burner when the state’s budget based water rates enter the discussion. Brea is already giving the state detailed monthly water consumption data.
Once the camel’s head is in the tent it’s ass is soon to follow. The state will insert itself into the water business and it won’t make more water available or lower your rates.
With Silver Bells And Cockle Shells.
On a semi-related note, the drought tolerant demonstration garden rushed to approval a few weeks ago enjoys zero public support. None. Nada.
Beyond a small consulting contract, no other handcuffs exist. No RFQ has been drafted or circulated. No bids have been submitted, reviewed or approved.
Put the garden back on the agenda. Recognize it for what it is, a boondoggle. A complete waste of a quarter million dollars. Reverse the original decision. Terminate the project. Fix the leak in the subterranean parking using the Building Maintenance Fund.
Fracking, A Black Hole Of Deception.
The most significant missing component in fracking’s risk/reward equation is truth.
Truth about water, how it is combined with which chemicals or acids, where it comes from in the first place, how it is handled during the process and where it goes when disposed of. Truth about noxious fumes. How much methane and other hazardous gases are really escaping from wells, how far might they travel in the air, what are the risks of exposure or inhalation?
Truth about potential failure of equipment or of human error. Truth in documentation, willingness to be subject to regulation, oversight and enforcement of noncompliance or infraction.
Council may be comfortable, for whatever reasons, peeking through the wool pulled over their eyes… but a significant number of Breans do not share their complacency. They’ve read about thousands of incidents, from unfortunate to catastrophic, where people’s health and safety was put at risk, where the environment was put at risk, where seismic concerns grew exponentially over just a few years.
What we don’t know could kill us. That is not Chicken Little screaming, “The sky is falling!” That is not some conspiracy theorist’s attempt at scare tactics. That is the unvarnished truth. Until we know more, until oil companies are more forthcoming, until regulatory agencies are able to oversee the industry without having their hands tied by state and federal intervention… the smart thing to do is put a moratorium in place.
A Laundry List Continually Overlooked.
These “lesser” more procedural issues will sound familiar. Why? Because they’ve been at the center of campaign promises, half-hearted studies by overpaid consultants and counterfeit community conversations for years. They are in no particular order.
- Inattention to public comment during Matters From The Audience.
- Disregard of public comment during Matters From The Audience.
- Growing abandonment of meaningful public hearings.
- General lack of transparency and accountability.
- Too much business conducted in study session.
- Too many items buried on the Consent Calendar.
- Failure to faithfully implement Measure T.
- Runaway senior staff salaries and the ten city survey.
- Satisfactory resolution of former RDA projects.
- Consistent and equitable support of the business community.
- Traffic congestion.
- Open discussion of possible public safety JPA’s.
- Declining senior services.
- Street sweeping citations.
- Decline of Lagos de Moreno Park.
A Show Of Good Faith.
Pass an ordinance limiting political/campaign signage to a maximum of 500 square inches and a display period, on public and private property, no more than 90 days prior to the election. Pass a resolution limiting campaign expenditures to no more than $10,000, campaign mailing pieces to no more than two. Pass a resolution limiting Council seats to no more than two terms.
Do the right thing. Without your honorable preemptive resolution of these issues, please believe that the public is willing and able to gather the necessary signatures and put them on the ballot.
Arguably the most disconnected, delusional, Council member in recent history was held accountable for his lack of performance and overwhelmingly denied reelection to a second term.
Members of Council, this is meant as a reminder, not a threat. Brea voters have extended to Council members, new and old, the privilege of representing their best interests. Expect to be held accountable.