A Dark Day In Brea History.

I hereby promise...December 18, 2012 will be remembered as a day when Brea traditions, protocols and ethics were tossed aside to satisfy the personal agendas and inflated egos of two who had been elected to serve the people of Brea and elected instead to pursue their own selfish interests.

To absorb the full impact of the events of this evening, the city’s website provides streaming videos of meetings online. Select the December 18 video, go to items 18/19 and watch what others have described to me as “a well orchestrated coup” and other phrases laced with too many expletives to post here.

First… last rights.

DonS_150I’ll save you the trouble and boredom of watching all the glad handing, back slapping and political jabbering. Here’s a summary of what preceded the unforeseen coup d’état.

Lame duck Mayor Don Schweitzer opened the meeting calling it the “changing of the guard” which confirms what I suspected, that he reads Brea Matters on a regular basis. Should I be flattered? I was happy just getting the mug.

Pomp and circumstance.

cock_150With Murdock playing master of ceremonies, Schweitzer was canonized by every absent politician’s personal assistant gushing over him and handing him all manner of commendations to hang in his office.

Fourth District Supervisor Shawn Nelson did show up and, like a bromance out of control, rambled about Schweitzer’s skills as an architect, a Brea prodigy and third generation politician.

Virtually everything Nelson credited Schweitzer with did more to further the Schweitzer family legacy than leave a lasting mark on Brea.

A little damage control, gangnam style.

chickenbutt_150Brea’s Korean Sister City Association handed Schweitzer commendations from the folkloric event in Anseong, South Korea. Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell took that trip to Anseong and Hanno, Japan at tax payer’s expense. At least Schweitzer acknowledged taking a lot of criticism for that bungle.

Now that he’s gone it’s unlikely he, Murdock or O’Donnell will do the right thing and pay the city back for their vacation. If voters yelled as loudly as they did about the flex benefits, I wonder if Council could actually be shamed again into doing what is right?

Murdock grandstands.

Murdock took over the gift giving, getting a little too touchy feelie for Schweitzer’s likes, who pulled away from the MPT saying, “Take your arm off of me, okay.” This drew a good chuckle from the crowd but didn’t stop Murdock from giving Schweitzer a big hug when he was done.

Garcia underperforms… again.

The final effusive outpouring of love and affection came from Ron Garcia. Desperately trying to imply a social and political connection that Schweitzer repeatedly dodged, Garcia seemed more interested in talking about himself (his favorite subject) and polishing his mediocre comedic talents than honoring a retiring constituent. There’s ten minutes wasted that I’ll never get back.

Now for the debacle.

I hope you’ve taken a few moments to watch the clear demonstration of vindictive behavior, collusion smelling a lot like Brown Act violations and complete disregard for either precedent or ethics.

brett_150Murdock opened the reorganization by saying, “I would prefer not to be Mayor, but remain Mayor Pro Tem.” Though he first invited council members to make nominations, he usurped their opportunity, making a motion to name Ron Garcia as 2013 Mayor.

After glancing at both Moore and Simonoff, Marick blurted out her second and it was off to the races.

Moore interjected, attempting to make a nomination of his own, but was stopped dead in his tracks by City Attorney Markman who reminded him that the motion on the floor took precedent. Markman must have known what Moore was attempting but failed to mention that a substitute motion would be perfectly legal so Moore said no more.

Cripe! How much longer are we going to pay Markman the big bucks to handle complicated legal issues when it doesn’t seem that he can even get his head around Roberts Rules of Order? Most of us learned that in high school.

Let me interject here that this use of motions isn’t the normal procedure.

Having personally participated in a half dozen Commission reorganizations (as a Brea Cultural Arts Commissioner) and witnessed several others, there is a simple nominating process that requires no second and allows for multiple nominations to be made and considered.

This use of a formal motion was a tactic to railroad the Council!

Following Moore being stymied by Markman, a voice vote was taken. Murdock, Marick and Garcia voted yes, Moore and Simonoff voted no. I don’t remember a split decision during Council reorganization. I’ll bet that Steve Vargas’s memory would prove better than mine.

garcia_borat_2Garcia took the gavel and quickly preempted his peers by making a similar motion naming Murdock as the Mayor Pro Tem for 2013.

If you listened closely to the video, you’ll hear Garcia almost slip up and say “nominate” instead of “make a motion” – oops.

A hesitant second by Marick was followed by an identical split decision.

Was this a quid pro quo?

I have little doubt that Garcia wanted to add another mayoral term to his credit or that the value of running for a second term in 2014 as Mayor escaped Murdock. The groundwork for a quid pro quo couldn’t be any more evident.

marick_150I might be inclined to give Marick a pass due to her naiveté and lack of experience.

I would, but it’s difficult to dismiss the campaign allegations that suggested she was the heir apparent to fill the O’Donnell guided voting block that has controlled Council for too long already.

pineapple1When the old guard stormed out of the council chambers after witnessing this nightmare, closely followed by Marick’s husband sporting a worried look on his face, it makes one wonder if alliances have been broken.

You’ve got two eyes and a brain.

Please, don’t just sit there and swallow my impression of this dark dark night. Use your eyes and brain to come to your own conclusions. I believe, if you really watched the meeting or video, that you’ve done that already.

If you haven’t witnessed these events for yourself, again, please take the time to watch that segment of the meeting. It should also be airing twice a day on Time Warner public access channel 3.

A new political landscape.

The poor imitation of an official public meeting that occurred the night of December 18 may well alter the political landscape in Brea. Don’t be surprised to find former foes, all having Brea’s best interests at heart but differing approaches, joining forces.

We may have to wade through two more years of abysmal city management but it won’t be without redress. In 2014 Garcia likely won’t run again but Murdock will undoubtedly attempt to reenergize his flagging political career.

Hopefully a strong new political alliance will emerge to quash Murdock’s efforts, to find and bring to voters a new array of worthy candidates and to once again put an open governance initiative on the ballot.

Oh yeah… Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Seriously. I mean it from the bottom of my heart!

“God bless us one and all.”

Brea PD Update – Final Edition

A little Yorba Linda history.

They (Schwing, Anderson and Rikel) blindsided fellow Yorba Linda council members and their city manager, and fired Brea.

apples-oranges_150They solicited bids. Their RFP couldn’t describe the lemon they wanted, so they got handed apples and oranges instead. They crunched numbers. They argued for months, strung out between political issues and personal agendas.

The people waded in, as did the unions and other special interest groups. It got nasty… really nasty.

Finally, on April 24th, after months of bickering and infighting, hours of heated public comment… sometime just before dawn, they came to a conclusion. The law enforcement contract that had been with Brea for 42 years would be given to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

And, exhausted, everyone went home.

Mayor Lindsey reopens the can of worms.

YL_councilUnsatisfied that the right decision was made the first time and tempted by the possibility that a few more bucks might be saved, Yorba linda’s new Mayor reopened the can of worms and the whole ugly process started over.

Deja vu all over again.

In addition to revisiting the apples and oranges problem, they wrestled with the differences between what was legal and what was ethical. One big issue, OCSD’s alleged premature conscription of over 20 Brea cops, severely crippling the agency they were to replace.

Another issue, law suits.

Speculation, in both Yorba Linda and Brea ran rampant. Truth be told, no one really knew where a suit might emerge, against whom, for what and what the damages sought might be (Brea’s final offer from very lame duck Mayor Schweitzer promised to cover all of Yorba Linda’s damages from any suit by the county should they choose to reinstate Brea’s contract).

Finally… another final decision.

YL_vote12/4 – Once again the people were heard, the hour got late, the meeting adjourned without conclusion and was reconvened last night, 12/18. More blah, blah, blah and yadda, yadda, yadda.

At last cooler heads prevailed and Yorba Linda decided the divorce was final, O’Donnell limped away, beaten at his own game again.

Where do we go from here?

Clearly Yorba Linda is now fully Yorba Linda’s problem. Like I said, they made their bed, they can lie in it. My lingering concern, and the concern of most Breans, is how will Brea pick up the pieces and rebuild a police department around a new Brea only model?

The Chief responds.

BREA-YLI contacted Chief Conklin, expressing our concerns, to which he replied, “It is a bit early to comment on the status of the police department, however, following the April 24th decision by the Yorba Linda City Council to change providers my command staff, other city staff and I spent many long hours in meetings over several months and developed a plan for a new Brea “specific” Police Department. I’m confident it will not only maintain, but will enhance law enforcement service to the City of Brea.”

Some final key points.

  • The 28+ sworn officers leaving the department in recent months have no impact on building the “Brea Only” department. They worked in Yorba Linda. Other than those who’ve retired, the balance are either employed by the OCSD or another jurisdiction.
  • Detectives and motor officers pulling extra duty and being paid overtime will be a thing of the past the moment we hand the keys over to OCSD. That’s a savings of roughly $35K per pay period.
  • Brea’s “in town” force, for several years, hovered around 60 sworn officers. There are currently 62 sworn officers on duty. There are neither hirings or layoffs in the future for Brea PD. Brea is fully staffed and without vacancies.
  • There is bound to be some increase in the police budget post the Yorba Linda contract, but the full extent is still uncertain.  The hope would be that whatever incremental cost increase the “new” Brea PD requires it will be within the realm of affordability, allowing Brea to live within it’s means..
  • Brea, Fullerton, La Habra, and Buena Park are studying the possibilities of regionalization. The study is examining everything from a full consolidation to simply the sharing of specific police services. The city of Placentia is also involved, but their interest is limited to studying the creation of a regional dispatch/communication center.

What’s the bottom line?

Brea will get past this. The police department will emerge from the fracas with Yorba Linda virtually unscathed and Breans can sleep well at night. The city may have to do a little belt tightening to make things work, but this isn’t turning out to be the fiscal catastrophe of Mayan proportions many thought would occur.

And the city manager will need to do a lot of soul searching if he wants to hang on to the plum position he now enjoys. It won’t take too many more episodes like the OCFA and OCSD affairs, the tax payor funded vacation to South Korea and Japan with Schweitzer and Murdock or his ostensible disregard for sound business practices before rising public outcry will be asking Council to seek other options besides the continued reign of Tim O’Donnell.

(May 19, 2013) – With public interest and discussions ramping up on budget issues, notably Brea’s unfunded pension liabilities and appropriate disposition of the 560 fund, there is a growing case for taking a hard look at what happened here.  Is the loss of the Yorba Linda contract symptomatic of the fiscal mismanagement that leads to terminations?  A pattern of arrogant and presumptive behavior, not beneficial to the community at all, would be grounds for termination as far as I’m concerned.