Brea kicks seniors to the curb.

It was announced yesterday that the loss of an AQMD (Air Quality Management District) grant has resulted in the suspension of on-demand transportation services predominantly used by Brea’s seniors.

The program, paid mostly by the grant and seniors kicking in a buck a ride, cost $41,000 a year… oddly a number not too far off from the recent staff salary increases and the whopping increase and bonus given to City Manager Tim O’Donnell.

No wonder residents were up in arms over Staff getting such unmerited gifts from public coffers.

Best Use Of Public Monies?

The AQMD grant was “meant to help take cars off the road with people using public transportation to run personal errands in their city and also to nearby hospitals.” (Orange County Register – 02/01/12)

The program was principally used by seniors because they were no longer driving and needed to get to doctor’s appointments and outpatient treatments at local hospitals. Let’s see, grant monies designed to fund programs that get cars off the streets being predominantly used by people who no longer own cars.

How is this even remotely consistent with the purpose of the grant? Why is anyone surprised Brea no longer gets the grant?

The big losers in all this are our seniors, who are now stuck with some sort of taxi voucher program. No details on how this will work are available at the moment and city hall is on Furlough Friday, so no one is around to answer any questions.

Closing thoughts.

I was going to suggest that it might not be a bad idea to create a Common Sense Commission to help guide Council and Staff through tricky issues like this, but then I remembered who would be nominating and appointing it’s members.

That wasn’t a cheap shot at current Commissioners and Committee Members, many of whom are well qualified and are doing their best to fill in the intelligence gap in city government. I’m just reminded of the Phil Anton nonsense and how little Council and Staff really like dealing with the truth.

17 thoughts on “Brea kicks seniors to the curb.

  1. The staff has those cute little import cars that were part of a grant program. Maybe the seniors could use those to get around to their appointments.

    Many people have mentioned how well the City is doing financially so maybe staff and council need to look at where they have made cuts to programs and see where they can restore some of them. Based on that finacial stability, looks like the former consultant who was recently replaced was doing his job and earning his keep…..oh, wait, he was a volunteer, not being paid, for the City he believes in, and gets canned anyway.

    • John, I believe those little Mini Cooper hybrids were part of a field test and I haven’t seen them around lately. Getting in and out of ’em, at “our” age, would be an iffy proposition.

      Yeah, they’re always bragging about how fiscally well off Brea is, especially compared to other cities. It’s rarely discussed what was sacrificed to accomplish that balanced budget, this is the first peek we’ve had at their tactics. The list of programs negatively effected by budget slashing all seem to center around services to our youth, families and senior citizens.

      And you’re right, Phil Anton was a volunteer with flawless credentials who, besides the Investment Committee, has been a long time supporter of countless local organizations and activities. Unlike those that seem to constantly have to remind us of their great accomplishments and generosity, Phil’s work was all behind the scenes and done with admirable humility.

    • Chris, good questions. Brea’s population is 40,000 with the median age somewhere around 35 to 40 I think. The 60+ population is around 8,000 or 20% of the total. Brea’s senior population is a bit higher per capita than other OC cities because we have more age/income qualified subsidized housing than most cities.

      Conversely, I’ve just learned that the on-demand shuttle program grant was for start-up only and the program never developed into anything robust. I’m told they averaged only three passengers a day. So, in retrospect, maybe Brea didn’t kick that many folks to the curb.

      On the other hand, the city ought to be more discerning when it comes to seeking grants that provide a short term solution to a long term need. If we don’t have the wherewithal to properly maintain a project or program after the grant runs out… what sense is there in starting the project to begin with?

      Still, there remains a real lack of understanding in terms of what this new crop of “age in place” seniors (yeah, I’m one of them) needs to help them enjoy a healthy, active, quality lifestyle. This includes clarifying where we draw the line between support from family and friends and services/entitlements that place a burden on public monies (that would be coming from you young folks paying the most taxes).

      I lean towards placing more responsibility on the shoulders of kith and kin and less on socialism. My kids have been remarkable help in recent years, nursing me through two heart attacks, serious downscaling of housing and other major lifestyle changes. I have friends who do not receive anywhere near the level of caregiving I receive. But I’m digressing into a whole different blog aren’t I.

      Thanks for chiming in Chris. You’ve given me much more to think about, and possibly, a new blog idea.

  2. Have the City Council members or the City Manager given back the raises they voted for themselves yet? I’m glad to hear you lean more towards “kith and kin” and less on socialism, since we can’t afford any more of the latter. (Meanwhile, our governor still wants to fund high-speed rail that few will use.)

    • Mitch, four out of five council members have either paid back the $3,600 retroactive pay or are in the process of doing so. One council member has voluntarily reduced his “flex benefit” to about 10% of what it was before the raise, he gets it. One council member has made no effort to return a dime, he obviously doesn’t get it.

      The City Manager has no intention of returning the huge raise he got (he’s paid more than the Governor) or the nearly $11,000 bonus. No one seems to have approached him with the request, though I know several folks here in town that would certainly support the idea.

      We can’t get more than three senior citizen’s a day to use essentially free on-demand transportation but the state is confident we have a market for high speed rail? Sounds like one of those, “We can put a man on the moon but we can’t…” You fill in the blank.

      How to convince a population raised with an over abundance of entitlements to get off their undeserved assets and fend for themselves is the big question isn’t it.

      As long as so many people keep asking for stuff and so many other people know they can make a career out of giving it to them, even though there’s no money left in the cookie jar to pay for any of it…

      we’ got problems… yup we got problems right here in River City.

    • I hear you Sally. Yeah, I’m making an issue of things right here in my backyard, but the reality is that this is going on coast-to-coast and nobody I know thinks there’s a “politician” alive that can solve the problem.

  3. This really sucks. (Not your blog post, the problem at hand) It seems like they are cutting EVERYTHING that remotely MATTERS anymore. :/ Thank you for being an advocate Rick!

    • Thanks Stacey. I know this town is important to you, your family and your business. Please spread the word and encourage your friends and neighbors to vote this November. We’re overdue for a serious change in governance.

  4. I’m always impressed by how well you pay attention to your surroundings. Probably more than the average citizen.

    Politicians and politics in general bother me. You really don’t know who to trust and what they’ll do when they get power. It’s really upsetting to see an individual treat their fellow man this way.

    • You’re too kind Suki, thanks. Sadly, it’s become all too redundant a story in politics the world over, that those seeking office will tell you anything but ultimately do little or nothing once they get into office.

      One of our fledgling council member’s promised, if elected, to rescind a rather dubiously created street sweeping ordinance. He’s done nothing of the kind. It’s been over a year.

      Interesting, he is also the one who kept the $3,600 unearned windfall he voted to himself. Figuring out what motivates him is pretty easy and it has nothing to do with serving the people who elected him. I’m betting they won’t make that mistake again.

  5. I am a promoter and always believe that there is a way to meet a need, sometimes in an unconventional way. I’ve tried convincing various cities throughout that there is a way to get what you want, without directly using the city’s funds. With the tough financial state that our local, state and federal economy’s face, politicians need to think ‘outside the box’!

    Case in point, big corporations are always looking for new ways to advertise their products to the general public. $41,000 is a small amount to pay for annual local advertising, to sponsor a vehicle to transport seniors around town with their advertisement or logo on the side of the van. If I were Coca Cola, I’d love to have my ad driving around North Orange County impressioning several thousands of potential customers every day!

    Like I said, I’m a promoter; and sometimes see solutions to problems in a different light. Rick you are a good person to always bring certain topics to the public’s eyes. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK THAT YOU DO!!!!

    • Craig, you’re right on target! It’s unfortunate that so many cities are too busy protecting their precious little box to think outside of it. I agree, to many local businesses $40,000 a year would be a great investment. There are local merchants that spend almost that much on the Yellow Pages every year and have no clue if it’s doing them any good or not.

      The speed bump, I think, is the three riders a day situation. That would be a tough sell to any advertiser. The service itself would need much better promotion too, certainly more than a little ad or article in BreaLine. Now the price tag is heading closer to $80,000+ a year. I’d love to brainstorm this with you one morning.

      Coffee is on me, you know where. Thanks!

  6. I feel like I know more about your city now than any city I’ve ever lived in. Nice post.

    • Matt, thanks. I hope that motivates you to learn more about your own community and that you find a way to get involved. Be part of the solution.

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