Schweitzer digs a deeper hole.

In today’s Orange County Register, Don Schweitzer offers a weak response after weeks of no response. Hammered in the news media and local coffee shops, Council and staff have come under heavy fire for their blind approval of hefty raises to their flex benefits.

Reading between the lines.

The much larger policy question is not how much medical coverage should the city provide sitting council members, but how much longer are we going to get the runaround about what the true total compensation package is and what sort of retirement benefits come with the job?

Council has long masqueraded their $600+ stipend as being their total compensation, playing a deceptive game of semantics when the real monthly figure is purportedly on the upside of $2,200. $26,400 per year, which interestingly enough is what has just been reported by major news outlets as the average full time earnings in this country for almost half the population.

Start thinking about us for once.

Schweitzer, the third generation to think they know what’s better for us than we do and to spend more time building the family legacy… leaving the Schweitzer footprint all over town from rarely visited museums, rose gardens, to Cooperstown knockoffs and war memorials… devotes over 200 words in this essay trying to score political points.

His equivalent of a sound bite. Fail.

Everything Schweitzer and his cohorts do involves the public trust, not just Council compensation. I would guess that his silence was more due to damage control than diligence.

Oh please, does he really think we’re idiots?

He finally succumbed to public pressure, a little bit, and is trying to minimize potential vulnerabilities to his (possible) campaign for reelection. Fail.

Put it on the record.

This, and several other important matters, need to find their way onto the Council agenda, not just the study session when most Brea residents are at work and the TV cameras are unavailable, but for the general session which will allow residents to share their opinions and ideas, where the meeting can be seen live and and archived for future review and reference.

Status Quo? Just Say No.

First draft written Sunday, September 14, 2008 – two years later, in light of recent events at City Council including the rash of salary raises and bonuses (even the ones they didn’t realize they were giving themselves), it still rings true.

The more I keep an eye on things, the more I get involved as opposed to sitting passively by letting the status quo prevail, the more I believe Brea is ripe for a complete retooling.  Managing the city’s affairs has evolved into a staff run conglomeration of revamped little fiefdoms many of which are more interested in perpetuating (justifying) their existence than promoting the general welfare of the city.

The Brea Dividend?

It’s shorthand for creating a mythical municipality that exists only in the minds of those naive enough to believe the propaganda.  We’re a small town and need to stop deluding ourselves into believing we’ve created some sort of suburban utopia.

We need to return to the days when a strong, well informed and decisive city council guided city staff to execute the council’s vision. We need to rethink the “business plan” that turned sales tax revenue into the holy grail.  We need to admit that Brea has almost three times the retail establishments that even the imaginary 150,000 population (we’re 40,000 strong) would sustain.

Brea businesses are cannibalizing themselves at an alarming rate – look around, how many vacant building are staring you in the face?  How many more years will the Tower Records building remain a monumental eyesore and stark reminder that “Downtown Brea” hasn’t become the regional destination so many had hoped for?

We’re all feeling the impact of this virtually never ending recession, that has already set unprecedented records in terms of unemployment, sent our financial, banking and housing industries into tailspins and inflicted serious, perhaps irreparable damage upon our quality of life for generations to come.

Rebuilding our community, from the ground up (not the top down) will require we get back to basics, that we create sensible expectations for ourselves by seeking a realistic blend of public services matched to our true resident population.  We need to develop an operating model for city governance and management based on sound business principals and not the whims of the few big fish in this small pond that wrongly feel some sense of entitlement to decide what’s best for the rest of us.