Brea Measures T And U

Update 10/16/12: In what appears to be a bit of collusion, Chamber CEO Sharon Wagoner has issued a statement regarding these measures, with complete disregard for Chamber tradition and policy. Read “The Devil’s In The Details.” to get the details!

Adding insult to injury, it seems Chamber Chair Dave Rader and some members of city staff are forwarding the dubious propaganda… and it’s coming out from city hall using city email addresses. Aren’t there laws about things like that? Since when did city staff wade in on politics” In the six years I was “on the inside” I was reminded many times that staff couldn’t respond to political matters, and especially took no position on anyone running for Council.

Right. Are you kidding me? Could it be any more obvious that staff is scared spitless about who they might be working for in December. So much for not wading in.

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The Brea Chamber’s annual forum to meet the candidates… and issues, has just signed off. While I would love to jump in and provide the Brea Matters perspective on the candidates, the questions and answers, I’ll save that for another day.

I’m still reeling from the presentations by MPT Murdock, speaking in opposition to Measures T and U and Glenn Vodhanel, speaking in support of the measures.

Relying almost exclusively on character assassination as his principal argument against these measures, the stock approach from the city since day one, Mr. Murdock succeeded in making himself the poster boy for why Brea voters should vote yes on both measures T and U.

Seeking to expose the “devil in the details,” Mr. Murdock cited one unsubstantiated fact after another… all with that childish grin pasted across his face. No matter how many times you repeat yourself Mr. Murdock, untruth remains untruth.  This continued dissemination of misinformation only reinforces why supporting accountability and open governance is simply the right thing to do.

Pointing out that you’re joined by Lynn Daucher, John Beauman, Bev Perry, Glenn Parker, Wayne Wedin, Rex Gaede and a “host of former Brea leaders” fails miserably to convince me or any other intelligent voter to support your lost cause.

On the other hand, Mr. Vodhanel, unruffled by your irrational personal attack, calmly and clearly described each measure in simple, understandable terms — allowing each voter to come to their own conclusion and cast their ballot as they see fit.

I won’t attempt to summarize or paraphrase Mr. Vodhanel’s statements in favor of Measures T and U. Here is the transcript of Mr. Vodhanel’s presentation, I’ll let Brea’s voters decide.

Measure T – The Brea Accountability Act

Measure T was designed to curb the growing cost of government in Brea. Both Measure T and Measure U are on the ballot thanks to over 6,000 voter signatures that clearly support their necessity.

Measure T imposes limits on staff compensation, particularly highly paid executive staff.  Measure T does not impact those currently working for the city but provides assurances that city executives making over two hundred thousand dollars a year will be a thing of the past.

Public employee compensation and pension reform are two of the most pressing issues because they are two of the greatest budget threats at all levels of government. Maintaining a balanced budget demands that these matters are not shoved under the carpet any longer.

Measure T imposes limits on council perks, like the $32,000 annual travel budget that paid for Mayor Schweitzer, Mayor Pro Tem Murdock and City Manager O’Donnell’s holiday junket to Korea and Japan.  Taxpayer’s should not have to pay for unwarranted foreign travel.

[ Editor’s Note: While our Sister City programs have provided opportunities for cultural exchange, they should be self-sustaining rather than a continual drain on the city budget. Many of Brea’s community services are required to achieve some level of revenue recovery. This means that, to some extent, they pay for themselves.  Sister Cities should be a financially independent endeavor.]

Measure T imposes caps on council salaries and benefits, keeping them compliant with state guidelines and consistent with other part time employees.  No longer will council, willfully or accidentally, vote themselves raises or retroactive bonuses of several thousand dollars each!

This past year we witnessed a fiasco where council took over six months to correct their error while local newspapers made a laughing stock of our city. Such poor judgment should not be tolerated again. Holding council accountable for these decisions, requiring them to exert reasonable oversight for the benefit of Brea residents, only makes perfect sense.

Measure T is designed to curb rising costs that have escalated without restraint, and without voter approval.

It’s your money.  It’s your city.  It’s time to send a message to city hall to just say no to frivolous expenses and to start living within their means.  It’s very clear city hall is taking a hard line stance against Measure T!  Ask yourself why your city council is opposed to accountability?

Measure T was created to establish reasonable spending limits and to reduce the rising cost of local government. You pay the taxes. You make the rules.  You can do your part to make a better Brea by voting YES on Measure T.

Measure U – The Brea Open Governance Act

Measure U was designed to ensure that cities conduct their business in full view and with full participation of their residents. It adds requirements to Brea’s municipal code that enhance those currently found in the Public Records Act, the Brown Act and the State Constitution.

Sadly, a law The Brown Act was enacted in 1952 to prohibit secret meetings of official bodies, except under the most exceptional circumstances, shouldn’t be necessary. But apparently it is. That is why.

Measure U, in part, expands the Brown Act’s open meeting requirements by requiring that study sessions, like council meetings, be recorded and played back on the public access channel. This is particularly important as study sessions are typically held at times inconvenient for residents to attend.

As much of the city’s business is conducted in study sessions, it is especially important to give residents full view of those meetings.

Measure U also creates expanded guidelines regarding the access and availability of a wider range of records to the inquiring public. Measure U sets a higher benchmark for electronic requests and responses.

Thankfully, since the initiative process began nearly two years ago, the city recognized the handwriting on the wall and has implemented some of what Measure U set out to accomplish. Some, but not all.

Without Measure U putting into law the requirements to maintain and expand this system, the door would be left open for future councils to reverse the whole process.

Contrary to what city hall has suggested regarding greater costs, staff burdens and technology constraints, they have already proven that the system works, that it saves time and money and better serves the public for which it was designed.

Measure U will provide Brea residents with a greater opportunity to follow and participate in local government.

Measure U helps to streamline access to public records and increases the types of records to be kept in electronic format. Making these records available through the city’s website promotes the sort of self-search for which the internet was designed.

It’s your city.  It’s your government.  It’s your right to know what’s going on in city hall and to have a say in the process as well.  You can do your part to make a better Brea by voting YES on Measure U.

Please, join those who love Brea and vote YES on measures T and U.  Let’s promote open and transparent government for a better Brea.

 

Read.  Register.  Vote.

(The forum, in it’s entirety, will be playing on Time Warner public access channel 3 daily, following the Council meeting, at 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.)

A Thanksgiving message.

When I received Mayor Moore’s most recent “Brea Net” eNewsletter, my initial reaction was to take issue with a few of his comments. Roy and I have enjoyed a lengthy and spirited relationship over the years and, I’m sure, respect each other’s opinions.

One statement jumped out at me immediately, his perception that some people are prone to only criticize. While it isn’t difficult to understand how he might feel this way, I also know that most of those speaking out and holding council and staff accountable share Roy’s love and concern for this community. Out of deference to them all, but especially to Roy, here is his Thanksgiving message to the people he serves.

Hi Neighbor:

I was recently invited by the Brea Republican Women’s Federation to give an update on the state of the City of Brea. Afterward I was thinking Brea really is a great place to live and work. It is Thanksgiving week when Americans give thanks for their many blessings as they gather together with family and friends. One of our blessings is we live in Brea.

Today, when some look to criticize our city at every opportunity, let us look at the facts.  Brea is not the perfect city. It also has its problems.

When compared to many cities in Orange County which have deficit budgets, are rapidly spending their General Fund reserves, postponing capital expenditure projects, laying off employees and considering outsourcing services, Brea is doing very well.

Brea has survived the recession with balanced budgets for this year and the next. Our General Fund reserves have increased during this period. Our bond rating was recently upgraded to AA. By reacting early we were able to reduce our labor force by attrition, retirements and reorganization without resorting to layoffs.

Brea continues to have an active Capital Improvement Program upgrading streets, traffic safety enhancements, storm drains, sewers and water improvements. Recent examples being the resurfacing of Elm Street, Puente Avenue and currently St. College Blvd.

Public Safety has always been our number one priority. The recent Fire Department reorganization, where we combined the Fire Administration functions with Fullerton’s, has proven successful. Our new ladder truck has been retrofitted to add a water pumping capability. Just this week we added three new police officers to serve our community.

Businesses continue to look positively toward Brea. This past week I attended the ribbon cutting for the renovated Brea Plaza Shopping Center. Eighteen new businesses opened at the center.  The amazing thing is this renovation and the Market Place renovation (Target, Sprout’s Market) were accomplished during the recession. Businesses continue to open in the Downtown with Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor planning on opening in December. Manufacturing and commercial businesses look to locate in Brea because of its relatively small decline in housing values, lower unemployment and cooperative city government. Armada, a laser manufacturer, will soon move into the large Sekisui facility on Puente Avenue.

Although the survival of California’s redevelopment agencies remain in question as we wait for the California Supreme Court’s decision in January, we hope to complete three major projects in the near future: 1) The Tracks, a four mile hiking/biking trail utilizing the abandoned railroad right-of-way, 2) a parking garage located in the parking lot behind the former Tower Record building, and 3) a community facility to be built on the Birch Hills Golf Course.

Add to the above our Community Center, Sports Park, Senior Center, excellent schools and many other amenities and Breans have much to be thankful for.  One of them is our annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.  Please plan to join me at the Civic Center, December 8 at 6:30 p.m.

May you have a very blessed Thanksgiving. Moore next time,

Roy

Closing Thoughts.

This is Roy’s 591st eNewsletter, which means he has shared current events and provided insight into Brea issues just about every ten days since first taking office over 12 years ago. Name one other elected Brea official who has been that diligent in openly communicating with their constituency.

For that matter… name one other elected Brea official. Probably ninety-five percent of Brea’s residents would have a tough time answering that question. Sad.

If you’re not receiving Roy’s eNewsletter, you can simply email him at roym@cityofbrea.net with “Brea Net” in the subject line.

Yeah, I think we could be doing some things better, smarter, more efficiently, but Roy’s right. We also have a lot for which to be thankful.

I’m thankful for the reminder.