Dear Mr. Vargas…

This morning an email showed up in my inbox from a good friend and neighbor to Councilman Vargas. All of Council was copied. It echoed rising sentiments following the last Council meeting (read my summary here).

All things considered, I thought it only reasonable to add this to the public discussion before the next Council meeting on Tuesday.

June 18, 2016

Dear Mr. Vargas –

Hearing about term limits, I took the time to familiarize myself with the issue by reading Brea Matters and then viewed the hour long council discussion, which presented two very opposing views.

Confused, I asked others, what was the impetus for the filing? I thought we as a community were finally satisfied with our city council members.

The response from several sources was that you have a personal vendetta against Marty.

I am abhorred that you would drag the residents of Brea through an initiative that will be very difficult to overturn to satisfy a personal agenda.

In the last election, we as a community rid the incumbent simply by voting and through grass root efforts. Do you believe it’s satisfactory that Brea ‘start over’ every eight years? Glenn Parker’s stats prove that people leave on their own or by votes, which is the why it’s called an ‘election.’

Your campaign promises to me personally, and to the community, was to engage with us. You’ve now compromised your commitment to us by filing for a ballot initiative with no regard to the residents’ opinions on the proposal.

Steve, this is from your website:

term limits“For over a decade politicians have been promising us a more transparent government, but we’ve yet to see it. As your Council person, my number one objective will be to help ensure that every resident and voter is afforded a real opportunity to make your feelings known to Council.

Your input should always play a key role in Council decisions. This is your home.

Bottom line, a government that listens to its constituents, that demonstrates the ability to work as a team, that keeps the budget balanced and the city safe, is all any of us could wish for. Together, we can make a better Brea.”

This is classical bait and switch politics, and I am disappointed that you’ve become one of ‘them.’

I implore you to do the right thing and withdraw your submission.

Susan Fujioka



18 thoughts on “Dear Mr. Vargas…

  1. Here, here, Susan! Going through with this initiative shows that Mr. Vargas only cares about his voice and no one else’s. As many of you know, I disagree with term limits, but that’s my opinion. I wholeheartedly approve hearing what the community thinks and then proceeding with what they want, even if it’s different than what I want. That’s the way democracy works.

    • Bev… trusting the people’s choice is so much better than that old Burnie Dunlap “What’s the problem we’re trying to solve.” thing. (That’s the same argument you used against Measures T and U several years ago.)

      In the future, less 20th century political rhetoric and more 21st century transparency… please.

  2. What a shocker! The old Vargas emerges once again! You called me during the campaign to stump for this guy. “Just talk with him.”, “Oh he’s changed.”, “You will see, He’s a different guy!”

    I told you that people just don’t change that deeply. He’s Baaaaaaaaack! Own it Rick. You enabled this craziness. Your next post should be an apology to the citizens of Brea. He is and always has been a distructive presence.

    For the record I have always favored the ballot box as the instrument of term limits. Brea actually exemplifies this belief.

    • Kevin… I apologize to the citizens of Brea for allowing myself to be duped by someone suffering from a chronic case of perpetual victim syndrome.

      All good counsel, Brea First counsel, that I’ve offered him for several years seems to have fallen on deaf ears. There is no possible excuse for this complete disregard of the people’s will and Council’s responsibility.

  3. Mr. Vargas has always campaigned on a platform that sought out input from his constituents. I see that this present effort to get a term limits measure on the ballot is consistent with that position. This is commendable because too many times I’ve seen politicians change their tune once they get elected. It speaks to Mr. Vargas’ integrity and honesty that he remains true to his campaign promises.

    Getting a measure on the ballot means giving the voters more choices and an opportunity to discuss and debate about their government. If the voters don’t want it, they only have to vote it down. Without people like Mr. Vargas on the council the voters would have fewer choices. To Mr. Vargas, I say, “Bravo!”

    • Mr. Teyssier… We have enjoyed several exchanges over the past few years. We’ve found ourselves more aligned than not on matters of election law, policy and process. On this matter, however, we are 180° out from each other.

      I encourage you to read previous comments regarding campaign promises made by Mr. Vargas.

      As Mr. Vargas’ attorney on Vargas v. Balz, which challenged Brea’s handling of the opposing opinions and rebuttals on Measures T and U, your legal position was ultimately supported by the Appellate Court. You rightfully deserve a nod for that effort.

      You remark, “Getting a measure on the ballot means giving the voters more choices and an opportunity to discuss and debate about their government.” Shoving it on the ballot before any public discussion can be held puts the cart before the horse.

      You say, “Bravo!” I say (also starts with a B).

  4. Having often interacted with Mr. Vargas, I am not surprised that he has not changed his behaviour. I’m surprised he hasn’t accused the rest of the Council of being racist when they disagree with his behaviour. Based on my personal experiences with him, he is a loose cannon – on Council and in life. He frightens me. Thank you for your time.

    • Mr. Boadicea… Back again I see. IMHO – playing the “racist” card is completely uncalled for. The “loose cannon” card seems perfectly appropriate.

  5. Edward, let’s try and fill in the blanks here. Obviously, there are big pieces missing from the story, as we learned in the John Koos commentary, as well as the Vargas Initiative.

    In Koos, we had a long time lobbyist that has an extensive history of collecting dollars in exchange for influencing Brea Council voting (Madrona, Albertsons, Hines), who was seriously considering running for Council opining term limits on THIS BALLOT was important, all the while not being upfront about his aspirations.

    Similarly, with Mr Vargas, it wasn’t until his personally groomed candidate, Rick Rios, decided not to run for Council did the Vargas term limits initiative take on this sudden sense of urgency.

    Do you see a parallel here? I do, and it is a very legitimate issue, term limits, being rammed down Brea’s throat in an eight week window to be on the next ballot because Mr. Vargas personally feels that Marty Simonoff should not be on Council any longer… because no viable candidate will further his personal cause. He wants this term limit measure to serve as his “club” to bash Marty over and over.

    Whether this is infantile, passive aggressive, primitive machismo, or Marty didn’t invite Steve to dinner 20 years ago, it should not be jammed down our throats without a very thorough review and education about what the right initiative would even look like, as well as couple this with campaign contribution reform.

    Thank you

  6. If our local politicians were half as humble as you, were just once willing to admit to a mistake, maybe we wouldn’t be faced with all of this “petty politics” and personal agendas.

    Federal, State, County, City government has all blurred into this cesspool of greedy people constantly getting all stirred up by special interests. Is it any wonder many of us are questioning whether our vote means anything at all anymore?

    The first time I stepped into the voting booth I put a mark next to Nixon’s name. That was the last time I thought voting was pretty special. After “I am not a crook” climbed onto that helicopter and out of our lives, I never had that special feeling again. It’s trust. The trust is gone.

    Two terms, three terms, whatever. I think the only ones who really care about that are politicians and guys like you trying to hold them accountable.

    • Ruth… Quite a sobering assessment of the state of our union. I have to believe that you’re giving voice to what many folks are feeling, and have for some time.

      I also believe that, if it wasn’t for the few that do care, that defend their community, that hold people in government (elected and staff alike at all levels of government), we would likely be in even worse condition than we are.

      We may have lost trust… but we haven’t lost hope. Thanks for speaking up.

    • Boadicea… yes it was. Christie Russell’s characterization of events over the last two weeks and her analysis of the motives behind Councilmen Vargas’ filing to put “draconian” term limits on the November ballot without the knowledge or support of Council or consensus from the people of Brea was powerful.

      Her demand that Councilman Vargas either rescind his filing or resign from Council tonight is a reprise of what I’ve heard as well.

      I’ve turned off the meeting as it dives into the minutiae of city budgeting. I’m disappointed that there wasn’t any acknowledgement of her comments let alone a modest attempt to address her concerns.

      This is eerily similar to the sort of dismissals Breans encountered, that were commonplace, when O’Donnell was in the catbird seat.

      Anyone missing the meeting tonight should catch it on streaming video on the city website. It should be available tomorrow morning.

  7. I was able to get a personal commitment from Mr. Vargas who said that he wouild not use the Country Fair to collect signatures. He said he was working. I then clarified and asked if he would use any one else to collect signatures at the Country Fair. He committed to me that no one would be collecting signatures for the initiative.

    He also said that he is doing this all on his own. That the PAC is not behind this. It is his own doing. I asked him if he is personally paying for this and he did not answer other than he said he was doing this.

    It has already cost the citizens of Brea $5,900.00 for this ill thought out initive. (I had asked Mayor Marick to get the information which was given to her by City Manager Gallardo regarding the $5,900.00) I asked him to personally reimburse the city.

    I also asked him to rescind or resign. When I spoke to him after the meeting, there was no answer.

    Mr. Vargas, I implore you to do the right then for the citizens of Brea. Not for yourself.

    • Christie… thank you so much for stepping up, for pressing Councilman Vargas for commitments. Unless he reverses his behavior I’m confident this will be an extinction level event.

      That sound you hear Councilman Vargas? It’s the clean sweep broom whisking in your direction. I’m sure you recall the sound.

  8. Voters all around the country are angry. Term limits is a recourse for angry voters to get rid of “career politicians”. Almost everyday I read angry comments on facebook from people calling for term limits.

    Sadly, “we the people” bear much of the responsibility for not paying enough attention to issues at all levels of government. I am personally of the opinion that term limits are not the answer. But every American has the right to walk their neighborhoods and gather signatures to enact legislation if they sochoose. So, even though I disagree with term limits I respect anyone’s right to knock on my door and ask for my signature.

    The first question I always ask is “Are you being paid to collect signatures?” If yes, I politely refuse. If you’re not willing to do the footwork on your own then don’t ask me to help your paid employee collect money for my sig.

    Anyway, I’m confident there are enough Breans who would support term limits and would sign a petition to get term limits on the ballot because they are angry and they feel that our city council historically wastes time attacking eachother than actually discussing the issues.

    But as we can see with our national presidential election lots of people like that kind of stuff too and will go so far as tricking their brain into justifying voting for a psychopath to run our country.

    The distrust of the political system and politicians is at an all time high. People will vote to hurt others instead of being part of the solution. The politics of anger, hate, and finger pointing rules the day.

    • Stephen… Let me first quote Ernest Hemingway, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” I did that. I won’t do that again.

      Political rhetoric aside, perpetuating a political feud is an unacceptable reason to pursue a ballot measure on anything. I’m beginning to agree with Ruth (above) that the only people interested in term limits are politicians (desiring a lengthy career) and people trying to hold politician’s accountable.

      Reasonable people with good intentions are certainly entitled to use the ballot initiative system to forward their ideas. This is not one of those occasions.

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