John Bickel On The Mercury Lane Project.

mercuryBrea’s “Citizen of the Year”, John Bickel was born and raised in Brea, graduated from Brea HS and for 16 years has been a member the Brea Historical Society… President for the last 6 years.

Few people in town devote as much time and energy into local activities or understand local issues better than John. That’s why I’ve ask him to share his correspondence regarding the Mercury Lane Project with the Planning Commission here as a guest blogger.

John’s Message on the Mercury Lane Project.

January 12, 2020

To: Brea Planning Commission & City Staff

Subject: Mercury Apartments Project

I have lived in Brea for my entire life, mostly in the Arovista residential tract where I live today. I have seen this city grow to where it is today. The housing elements are varied and I believe fairly well balanced between attached and detached residences.

My first few years of adulthood placed me in rental units, apartments and houses. In 1977, we were able to purchase a home a stay in Brea. This was an ideal situation for me, since I worked for Unocal in Brea. My commute was 15 minutes.

For many, many years I enjoyed riding a bicycle to and from work. I felt very fortunate to live in the same city where I worked. I had many coworkers who were making long, daily commutes, or renting with others.

The 114 Mercury Apartments will be a good addition to the rental community in Brea. This private project will target the young professional market, of which Brea has many, from firefighters and police officers, engineers, medical and office workers.

Mercury Apartments are not low-income units, they are not subsidized by government and our taxes. They are built near several businesses that have employees who can rent near work and will be very happy to eliminate their daily commute.

We have become a society of valuing time.

Commuting 2 hours a day is not a good use of time.

We’re all concerned with the number of vehicles driving to and through our city at peak times, people heading to work or home. We’ve very little control of traffic with projects in neighboring cities. We have to rely on their project E.I.R. to identify impacts to Breans.

We do have control of our projects and can identify the impacts. This project will encourage people to live here and use alternate means of getting to work. The location is in walking distance to shopping, entertainment and dining, and recreation.

Some people have expressed concerns about insufficient on-site parking. If you look around the city at other apartment complexes, they are all under parked and overflow into the streets and even an adjacent park. I believe with the proper mitigations and a parking management plan, the Mercury project can work to the benefit of all.

Over the holidays I spoke with several of my neighbors. Most knew nothing about this project. Their first reaction was no more low-income rentals. But when I explained more of the project to them, their feelings changed and they became supportive of the project.

I encourage the city staff and this Commission to continue to work with the developer and work towards agreements that make this project, in all respects, a benefit to Brea.

Sincerely.

John Bickel

What a difference when you know what you’re talking about.

I value John’s opinions, though we have differed at times. I know he has put in the work to know what he’s talking about and his deep love and concern for his hometown is without question.

If just fraction of the folks I see spouting off on Facebook and Nextdoor would take the time and interest John does before attacking their keyboards… and their neighbors… Brea would be a lot different today.

We wouldn’t be facing many of the crisis level issues we are… and I suspect we would have a whole different set of portraits hanging in the Council Chambers.

mercury

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.

 

W. E. Fanning Name Challenged.

FanningI spotted the following post about the challenge to the W. E. Fanning school’s name from Don Schweitzer on Facebook. After reviewing all he had provided (plus looking up and reading the original inflammatory blogs by Gustavo Arellano/OC Weekly) I felt compelled to share everything here, with Don’s permission, as well.

Over the years, Don and I have butted heads on many issues but on the Fanning matter we agree. First and foremost the truth must be established. Second, though technically the five members of the BOUSD Board can do whatever the hell they want to do on this… the community of Brea deserves an opportunity to wade in and play a leading role in the outcome.

Third party, non-Brea right wing unionist outsiders who have pretended to take up the cause are welcome to stay in Los Angeles, Fullerton and La Habra and save the money putting gas in their busses.

Don’s Facebook Post.

Friends, I need your help. Brea needs your help. Maybe you have heard or maybe you haven’t but the Brea School Board is considering changing the name of Fanning Elementary School. A school that was named after William E. Fanning, Brea’s first Superintendent and beloved Brea pioneer.

The School Board is basing their decision primarily on an unproven accusation that Mr. Fanning was a Ku Klux Klan member in the early 1900’s. An accusation that has been researched extensively and found to have no basis in fact..

I have attached a letter from Dena Sommer, a prior board member, that states the issue much better than I ever could as well as a letter from Bill Fanning, the grandson of W.E. Fanning. They are both very factual. For fairness I have also attached the opinion of the gentleman, that by the way is from La Habra, that is requesting the name change and his reasoning. I want you to hear both sides.

In order for the School Board to make an intelligent decision they need to hear from us. I’ve attached their contact information below. Please write them a short note with your opinion, for or against the issue. They will be voting very soon, next week I believe, so if you feel like engaging please do it soon.

As a side note, I knew Mr. Fanning. My parents knew him well as did my grandfather. In high school one of my teachers was his son and his grandsons were my classmates. The Fanning family have been a fixture in Brea for almost a hundred years. The three generations of Fanning’s I have known have always been respected and admired for their honestly, intelligence and willingness to help others. A founding family that has contributed greatly to Brea’s success, especially in the field of education.

Thank you very much for your time. I hope this note finds you in good health and that you and your loved ones have a very Merry Christmas.

Respectfully,

Don Schweitzer, Former Mayor

Make yourself heard!

Only the brain dead will not form some opinion or point of view. Keeping it to yourself when you have the opportunity… and responsibility to share it should result in having your ‘Good Ol’ Brea Membership Card’ revoked for life.

If you’re unable to attend the BOUSD Board meeting then these are the folks you need to email:

  • Carrie Flanders, Board President – cflanders@bousd.us
  • Gail Lyons, Board Vice President – glyons@bousd.us
  • Paul Ruiz – pruiz@bousd.us
  • Nicole Colon – ncolon@bousd.us
  • Keri Kropke – kkropke@bousd.us
  • Brad Mason, Superintendent of BOUSD – bmason@bousd.us

Do your homework first!

Below are links to communications from Dena Sommer, former BOUSD Board member, Terry Sullivan, 70 year resident of Brea and the detailed report from the Brea Historical Society.

They are PDFs, easy to read, download and worth saving as permanent reference.

Like I said from the beginning, start with the truth. Don’t rely on that nosey neighbor down the street that always has an opinion on everything but never any proof. Get familiar with the facts and come to your own conclusion.

Whatever that considered conclusion might be… share it. Send an email or, even better, show up at the Board’s General Session next Monday evening (starts at 6:30 pm).

I’ve confirmed that the matter of naming the Fanning school will be on Monday’s agenda as a Discussion Item and that Dr. Mason will be making an oral presentation on the topic. No written report has been prepared.

Please, speak during Matters from the Audience. Your input along with Dr. Mason’s presentation and whatever discussion follows amongst the board, will lay the groundwork for the final recommendations to be presented to the board – likely later this month or in January.