Election 2018: Process Of Elimination.

election 2018I thought I would keep my Election 2018 choices to myself… but have found that to be impossible. Every voters choice this year is more critical than ever.

There are two candidates, one for Council and one for BOUSD School Board who have struck me as complete non-starters. In both cases it boils down to money though for distinctly different reasons. Let me share…

Bill Hall – Election 2018 Council Candidate

Bill Hall voted to slam Brea residents with $108 million in property tax increases in 2012 (bond value was $54 million) for Measure E. Bill Hall voted to spend $127,340 with Lew Edwards Group for bond consulting for Measure K in 2016. Bill Hall voted to crush Brea residents with $296 million in property tax increases. Couldn’t explain why BOUSD would only net half, $148 million from Measure K.

election 2018Even though he’s a part time volunteer, Bill Hall has received over $200,000 in compensation during his 12 years on the School Board yet consistently rejects transparency of School Board meetings for public’s home viewing at a minimal cost of $800 per meeting.

Bill Hall has repeatedly, for 12 years, demonstrated a willingness to burden Brea property owners with massive taxes. This is fiscally an extremely critical time in Brea. We don’t need a Council member willing to have a fire sale with valuable legacy properties or to tax residents to the brink of poverty.

Bill Hall only seems to respect the value of the dollar… when it’s destined for his wallet.

Bill Hall gave away millions to Hines.

Backed into a condition of critical underfunding following the failure of two bond measures to attract public support, the Board was bullied into selling off it’s greatest legacy asset, the former Brea Olinda High School site, in exchange for a quick infusion of cash.

The district ignored the probability of a higher return from a public bid process in exchange for the quick cash provided from a negotiated sale. They were sued for abandoning a public auction.

Fooled by the inaccuracy of an appraisal from an inexperienced Anaheim residential real estate broker, the district accepted a bid from Hines LLC of $25 million plus an additional non-refundable deposit of $1 million.

Hines subsequently had the property re-entitled for residential development and increased the property’s appraised value by $82 million. (Editor’s Note: My entitlement error has been corrected in the Comments by Mr. Manley. Please read his explanation.) Millions of dollars were left on the table by an over eager uninformed board bullied into submission by Bill Hall.

election 2018This fiscal rubbish has gone on far too long to be the product of incompetence.

It is unprecedented that several members of the BOUSD Board of Directors are actively opposing Bill Hall for City Council.

Keri Kropke: Election 2018 BOUSD School Board Candidate.

Candidates for public office who form a campaign committee and expect to spend over $2000 on their campaign must file a Form 460 Recipient Committee Campaign Statement.

Keri Kropke reported on her 09/27 filing that she has amassed a war chest of $38,400 in contributions!

Here is a copy you can look over for yourself.

The other candidates report: Joseph Covey – $4,545 contributed/$2,249 spent, Jo Aceves – $7,374 contributed/$3,592 spent and Steve Sewell has zero contributions, will not spend over $2000 and as a result, doesn’t have to file with the Registrar of Voters.

The unions are out in full force.

election 2018I hope you did look at Keri’s statement. $34,500 of her contributions include $5,000 from Democratic LA County Board of Supervisors, Mark Ridley-Thomas.

$29,500 came from various trade unions – IBEW, Unite Here (the folks who have carried out the downtown protests at Royce’s office), SC Pipe Trades, State Building & Construction Trades Council of California PAC, FTP Power LLC – Salt Lake City (largest private owner of operating solar assets in the United States) and other firms profiting from doing business with school districts.

This raised a red flag the size of Texas, so I called Keri to understand why so much union money for the two year remainder of a board seat. She was quick with answers and because I wasn’t sure I would characterize them here clearly and fairly enough, I invited her to prepare her own statement.

Keri states, “My platform addresses many goals that will improve educational and emotional outcomes for every student. After walking to 1,603 doors parents have made clear to me that they want vocational trade options so students have access to high paying middle class jobs.

I have worked hard to develop relationships with labor organizations and others that want to partner in this vision. Every donor supports me for my talent, leadership, and tenacity and I am proud to have earned their support. People that are invested in helping our students is a good thing.”

I also promised Keri that I would not belittle or dissect her statement. I’ll leave it to you readers to come to your own conclusions and move on to other areas of question or concern.

Nordstrom VISA to pay campaign expenses?

Schedule F – Pages 13-15 of the 460 report expenses paid via Keri’s Nordstrom VISA in the amount of $4,962 and Keri suggested her total expenses would easily top $15,000.

election 2018I don’t have credit cards, haven’t for almost 20 years. But I see the ads and know there are points or benefits for using these cards.

Why use the Nordstrom’s VISA instead of the debit card the campaign committee’s bank surely provided her? How will the $300 to $400+ in benefits find their way back into the campaign funds?

My concerns don’t stop there.

If Keri’s contributions top out at $40,000 through the balance of the campaign and she’s able to keep expenses capped at $15,000 – that will leave $25,000 sitting in the campaign account… for what?

I’ll do a Shirley MacLaine here and go out on a broken limb.

Christine Marick and Marty Simonoff have neither divulged any plans for 2020 but I’ll wager the balance in Keri’s account is probably pointed in that direction.

In a similar vein, I’ll risk my record for political divination. The other Carrie on the BOUSD Board is actively campaigning for Bill Hall – what’s the chance he’s promised to bring her onboard in 2020 if she helps him win in 2018?

Okay, conspiracy theory. But you’ll have to admit that logic is so much in my favor that I’m more likely to be right than wrong.

I’ll put it in plain English.

Candidates should be running to serve, not fill a seat. Any ass can fill a seat and I’ll dodge the urge to drop names.

Also, seeking public office isn’t the twelfth step in a program to overcome psychological deficits.

51 thoughts on “Election 2018: Process Of Elimination.

  1. Rick: CORRECTION! Hines did NOT “re-entitle” the school property… it was ALREADY ENTITLED for the apartments and hotel! Bill Hall and company sold the giant office buildings and land with a ZERO value for those entitlements.

    This was why another buyer sued them afterwards, for cancelling the auction, but low and behold, it was done “legally” so the suit was cancelled!!

    Sadly, being inept is not illegal. We can only hope that anyone that was involved with this travesty of a transaction and huge forfeiture of school monies is never allowed anywhere near public funds or trust again. Thank you

    • Dwight… I stand corrected, thanks! I’ve added an editor’s note to help clarify and bring folks to your comment.

  2. Very nicely written, helps me understand what I suspected lately. I’ll forward this to my facebook peeps in Brea.

    My wife was getting pissed when I was explaining the Hines/Hall/BOUSD situation. I’ve been married 38 years and she actually heard what I said!

    Keep up the good work,

    Mike Crowe

    • Mike… Thanks. The truth about these two candidates needs to be spread far and wide.

      Delighted to hear about the newfound marital harmony… my very best to your best.

  3. What happen to term limits? I think Vargas was the original author of the idea? I am looking for a council representative for the people in Brea aware of what they want for our community!

    I do like Vargas and Hupp still on the fence on my votes, but would like to see some changes on our council! New blood new ideas!!

    • Ken… Vargas is the only candidate supporting term limits. You have the power of term limits in your vote, don’t put an X next to the name of an incumbent unless they did their job.

  4. Rick. Several Brea ladies have recently approached me to strongly oppose Bill Hall getting on council. They all cited offensive comments and behavior from him. A classic misogynist. He’s derided a council woman to her husband over measure K, ordering him to “put his woman in line”.

    Yesterday I learned that his egregious vile ways also apply to the LGBT community, when a fine Brea resident and parent told me Hall directed a very homophobic and frankly ignorant comment – “your chosen lifestyle” – in front of many at a K rally 2 years ago. Frankly, I can’t believe anyone on earth would endorse or support such an individual. Thank you

    • Dwight… The allegations of misogynist remarks aren’t new, I’ve heard references to that sort of behavior forever. The homophobia comes as a surprise. I’d thought Hall was at least minimally socially aware… evidently not.

      That probably blows his chances of getting Fanning named after him too. Well… it’s the life he’s chosen.

      • I was at the city council forum and heard that a group of women (who have every right to exercise their freedom of opposing speech), were asked to leave because they had Save Brea No Bill Hall signs. That’s not right.

        I got one and mine is proudly displayed in front of my house.

        Susan’s Sign

      • Susan… I heard the same, that they were asked to leave. It remains unclear if it was Chamber officers or representatives of the candidates they endorse that threw out the opposition. Either way, it is egregious.

        The City Manager had authorized the opposition to setup on the patio, a free speech zone.

        Yard signs, bumper stickers, flyers are all available, as you know. I hope to see this grassroots movement continue to grow and their message of truth to spread.

      • You can add racist to that list as he was heard saying something derogatory about the parents at a certain Brea elementary school that has the highest number of Mexican-American’s.

      • Rachael… I’d need a lot more specifics to corroborate that allegation before I would simply accept it as truth. Have you got anything you might add to that statement?

  5. Rick or Dwight,

    Was it the case that the Superintendent and BOUSD Staff had no idea of the value of the property prior to the sale?

    In most circumstances, when it comes to prime property, brokers and developers inundate the Staff with offers to pass on to the school board. There must be a backstory there as well.

    • There was a full appraisal done by Paul Kott realty from Anaheim. The report specifically spelled out the entitled apartment and hotel entitlements, but as I recall, had a note that they were directed to value that at “zero“ by the school.

      The entire process was flawed. They also cancelled an advertised auction to sell to Hines for less than another developer offered in writing. Clearly Hines played the million dollar immediate payment to cancel the auction to the hilt.

      Kott pocketed multi six figures for doing very little and the board patted themselves on the back with their short term thinking action.

      • Dwight, is the appraisal available to the public? also why did the BOUSD board not obtain an appraisal from a regular appraiser that is licensed by the California Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers instead of a broker.

        The regular appraiser is subject to much stricter standards and independence rules. You’re absolutely right that the entire process was flawed.

        Failed the smell test from the get go. Unfortunately, the parents and students in BOUSD, and taxpayers lost out big.

  6. I was able to request and get the appraisal 2 years ago. Like I said, the appraiser wrote that they were not supposed to value the entitlements for some reason. Makes no sense.

    • Dwight… that’s a difference of $56 million – one third of the proposed net from the failed Measure K. This raises some interesting questions, like had BOUSD just closed the sale at $82 million and put a much smaller school bond issue on the ballot… might it have passed?

      • Rick. Hines sold a piece of paper for 82,000,000 and 5,500,000; they still own the two huge office towers!!! There is no “net” here. Just a giant screw up and mistake by the board, of which Hall was the ring leader of them.

        His recent votes against the majority on various issues are all window dressing to distance himself from all things school board related. The fact he opposed the Lagos park for 10 years and was front and center taking bows and photo ops turns my stomach.

      • Dwight… I’m searching for language to explain what happened that most of us without the benefit of formal education or experience in high finance and commercial real estate speculation and development might understand.

        Boiled down to it’s simplest terms, several generations of Breans, past, present and future… got royally hosed and the guy who railroaded the deal through believes that qualifies him for a seat on Council.

  7. Just want the voters to elect a candidate that is for the children of Brea. School Board positions aren’t just to fill a seat.

    I don’t want campaign funds coming from special interest groups that have an agenda. Monies raised should come from individuals who know the candidate and support them. I don’t like political games being played.

    I am for supporting the schools and the kids and those candidates who are honestly doing so as well.

    • Judy… Outside money always comes with strings attached. Keri got her chance to show a nexus between the excessive union funding and a meaningful application to meet local Brea needs. I remain unconvinced.

      • I wonder if that was the case in the late 1950s-mid 1960s when my mother ran for and was elected to an elementary school board in an unincorporated LA County area.

  8. Unions may be worried about possible State changes to the public pension from deferred benefit plans to deferred compensation plans or even plain 403b plans (like the 401k for private companies but already available for public education employees). So don’t underestimate the early planning to have union backed elected officials.

    • Let’s look at this another way; is the school district better or worse off than it was 12 years ago before Bill Hall led things? And if it’s worse (spoiler alert – it is ) just imagine if he didn’t have the legacy funds the forefathers left for the district to pillage from?

      As I see it, he helped himself to six figures of personal benefits while destroying all the legacy assets we owned. We literally owned a golden goose in that property, and could have had ground lease income forever and residential land lease income in the millions annually, but instead Hall cooked the goose and ate it …truly sad …

      Old Toon

  9. This is an exposé on how criminals get their foot in the door. You’re like having a Ring installed on the ballot box. Thanks.

  10. Keri’s dad, Marvin Kropke was the Business Manager/Financial Secretary for IBEW Union for years. He’s currently the Deputy Mayor of Lancaster.

    Except for a single $100 donation from someone in Brea (and her own $2000 loan), the rest of the money is from OUTSIDE of Brea.

    It looks like her dad got most of the donations for her, though I have no idea why these unions would support a 2-year term on the Brea School Board.

    • Jodi… the overwhelming union contributions must be their gambling that it will come back ten fold in future contracts.

      The support for a two year term could also be bankrolling her for another run in 2020. The question would be, for what office?

    • Jodi… This does appear to pose a bit of a problem doesn’t it.

      Deputy Mayor – Lancaster, CA

      Deputy Mayor is an appointed position, like George Ullrich is an appointed Deputy City Treasurer. What are the differences in duties and responsibilities?

      The big question is residency. How does Mr. Kropke hold a position in Lancaster and his residency is in Olinda Ranch? Further, how is it that Keri’s charge (guardianship, foster child?) attends Olinda Elementary when Keri lives in a different school district?

      Does that merely require an application to be approved or is it a more difficult process?

      • Her address shows the Associated Road apartments. That would be Country Hills. If her dad is in Olinda and she is using that address, it would be dishonest to use that to get a child into the Olinda school.

        The Lancaster webpage clearly says the dad is the Deputy Mayor and he “lives in Brea”, which really makes one wonder what the heck Lancaster is up to. This just seems to be a big can of worms.

      • Dwight… the registration thing did seem more than a little odd to me. If some sort of special dispensation has been provided, I’d be interested in hearing what it was and who granted it.

        Sounds like a call to Lancaster City Clerk is on my to do list tomorrow. I’ve always assumed that to hold an elected or appointed position with any city residency was a requirement… especially with a position like Deputy Mayor – who knows what duties and responsibilities come with that gig.

        Frankly, I’m not a fan of anyone who thinks it’s okay to bend the rules whenever it suits them – hardly a sign of leadership.

    • The Deputy Mayor, according to the Lancaster city code, is “The Mayor, with the concurrence of the City Council, may appoint a Deputy Mayor to assist the Mayor in carrying out the Mayor’s public ceremonial functions and to attend, on behalf of the Mayor, meetings of private, public and civic organizations and other entities.”

      See applicable city code here.

      So it’s completely a rubber chicken dinner job lacking all authority to create policy or law. Got it.

  11. Rick, I think an important question is whether Ms. Kropke, if elected owes or is expected to give her campaign donors special treatment after the election.

    She did not address this at last night’s candidate forum or whether she would recuse herself from union related board matters. With that unanswered, I have no choice but to assume that her large sums of union campaign money was more than a simple donation.

  12. Having now endured both the Council and School Board Candidate Forums, read the endless stream of door hangers, postcards and mailers and followed the comments here, on Facebook and Nextdoor I’ve decided that we have a pretty piss poor lot to chose from and I’m not all that excited about voting this year.

    I will agree though that Bill Hall and Keri Kropke are, hands down, the worst of the lot.

    • Brea is a very welcoming community. That being said, it’s still very very hard for me to accept someone moving here and dictating how things are “supposed to be”. At the end of the day, I still prefer Brea to be Brea.

      Not some union ruled city. Not some socialistic granola eating fantasy town. Not some “host” for parasites to feed off of.

      My best advice to protect Brea and keep the momentum going from Roy Moore’s “Clean Sweep” four years ago would be reelect the current Council and don’t let big money out of town groups infest our school board.

      We are going in the right direction finally after a long and excruciating rule by Tim O’Donnell. Let’s build on the positive progress we have. At the same time Blake Perez can get more involved with city hall and in the future be a great candidate to help “right the ship” from all the damage that was done by O’Donnell and past Councils.

  13. Keri should not be underestimated. She came to our street this last weekend. She knocked loudly on the door, rang the Ring doorbell letting us know she wanted to be heard. She opened with a charming smile and handed me a Sharpie personalized mailer with our family name and the ordinal number of our house of the houses she had visited which I don’t recall exactly but over 1,900.

    She is very articulate, engaging and convincing about her passion for students and learning. She closed by asking with confidence for my vote and permission to put up a sign. I noticed the next day there were 3 new Keri signs on on our cul de sac of 12 homes. If I did not know about the union money connection, I could well be voting for her. That as it may be, she could have done quite well without the union connection, so it is even more of a mystery as to what the full reason is for the union money.

    • Sue… “If I did not know about the union money connection, I could well be voting for her.” Exactly why I encourage you to visit with those three neighbors sporting her yard signs and share a little truth with them.

  14. Keri is obviously using the Brea School board as a stepping-stone for her political career, that’s pretty obvious. I’m voting for Joseph Covey, he has the right experience of the kind of person I would like to see on our school board. He also did very well at the forum.

    Keri skirted the campaign funding questions (asked by 10+ people) and kept diverting the conversation to attack Covey and Aceves.

    No thank you Keri.

    • Rose… many folks share those sentiments. There are a lot of questions she dodges, funding being the biggest one.

  15. Heard the Chamber’s (unendorsed) Mayor’s Golf Tournament was a bust compared to a few years ago. A friend who played didn’t even stay for dinner. Looks like these races for Council and School Board are worse than reality tv.

    I buy your Hupp and Vargas thing but Perez needs maturity. I’m going with the incumbents across the board.

    Kropke is a no go from the start. Not sure what daddy’s agenda is for his little girl but he can take it and it’s union funding somewhere else besides Brea. Aceves or Covey will probably do good jobs, that other guy put me to sleep.

  16. To answer your question above, I doubt any “group” money (union or otherwise) was involved in my mother’s election.

    • Boadicea… Lets back up. Unions did, in the 50’s, 60’s and right up to this day obviously, support candidates who they believed would advocate in favor of their issues – public employee pensions being the most obvious today.

      Unions for both the Brea Firefighters and Brea Police officers have endorsed candidates for Council… not the school board however.

      My inquiry regarding your mother’s run for office was seeking your opinion, your recollection of history, and not attempting to disparage her in any way. I hope you didn’t make that mistake.

      It’s no secret. I find “big outside money” as abhorrent as interference by foreign powers. With that statement, this segment is done. I trust you’ve cast a well considered ballot and that more people follow your example… which is all I could ever hope for.

  17. Your blog prevented at least one unqualified candidate from taking office. As to the other, she has two years to prove herself as being unbeholden to anyone or otherwise as exposed by your blog. Taking about 40% of the vote despite loud opposition indicates voters were unaware of her union connections or were not swayed that those connections were detrimental to her serving the school board or both.

    As I mentioned she should not have been underestimated and that proved true. In my neighborhood, I frequently speak with many neighbors during my morning walks and found out that many don’t follow the local news on Nextdoor or this blog because of the irrelevant or controversial topics and related belligerent and bullying posts of a few loud contributors.

    My neighbors, knowing I followed local news, asked me for information concerning the candidates which I offered along with recommends based on available information which is often insufficient or colored with puffing and fluff.

    As to rock the boat, three incumbents to council were re-elected, with probably only one qualified to right the ship of Brea.

    The budget problems were hidden before the election by perhaps sleight of hand higher estimated tax revenues, and will present its ugly face again front and center in this coming term. Traffic too will worsen with new denser developments to help generate a larger tax base. Older residents who care the most will be forgotten and replaced by apathetic and captive newer residents oblivious to the history of Brea and its problems.

    • Sue… Brea Matters offered opinions based on facts. Enough voters agreed that returning the incumbents to office was their most prudent option. I could easily point out significant strengths, as well as glaring shortcomings, in all three who won. Not because of anything political… because they’e human.

      Keri Kropke’s overwhelming and unfortunate win in the school board race is getting dissected well on a couple of Nextdoor threads and I’ll not be redundant here. Suffice it to say I could not be any more disappointed.

      I must object to your suggesting “this blog” and Nextdoor are belligerent and bullying sources of news. We are quite different from each other. That would be a good foundation for another blog… thanks for the idea.

      You’re right, we face the same problems now that we faced before the election. I don’t completely agree with your somewhat nimby-ish characterization of the issues… but it shows you’re thinking about many of the real problems we face and I wish there were more like you.

      • As we just have seen in Brea , being on the school board for any length of time is NOT an automatic seat on the council. The community spoke loudly when they voted Bill Hall 5th out of 7, and a distant 5th place at that.

        No, I don’t suspect Ms. Kropke is angling for our council. This is more likely state or federal office material. Brea will serve as “resume fill” and will overshadow her baseball batting average she touted in these recent mailers. I also suspect the school board forum should have been earlier, as people may have voted by mail before they learned many of the questionable things we are still trying to get real answers on. Thank you

  18. Rick, I wanted to clarify that it is ND that turns off many that would be otherwise be interested in following ND as to important local issues because constant bullying and belligerent posters who instead of voicing their positions in a thoughtful manner have to bully others that have a differing opinion to the point of causing the thread to become irreverent and irrelevant.

    As to being NIMBYish, it is true, but if we don’t stand up to protect our neighborhood from unreasonable growth in traffic, waste in the use of public funds, and other urban ills, then who will?

    It would be foolish to ignore that changes in the neighborhood are inevitable, but it would be equally foolish to let change be dictated by those with little interest in the long term benefit of Brea. That is what I am trying to address with my NIMBYishness.

    • Sue… I appreciate the clarification. There are a handful of aggressive folks on Nextdoor who tyrannize anyone opposing thier opinions. Sheepish, pseudo-progressive Leads have a tendancy to look the other way leaving moderation up to those who simply follow Nextdoor’s guidelines… for which they take a ration of sh*t.

      Knowing you as I do Sue, you’re far from being a hardcore nimby and I was a little rough on you there. Apologies!

      IMHO – Nimbys and Yimbys occupy opposite fringes of reasonable thinking. Brea will be better off if these folks set aside their biases and meet each other in the middle with open minds.

      • Rick, Thanks. I agree with Dwight. I would almost bet Ms. Kropke will go after Kim’s seat in 2020. That much money going out the gate in a local race with little local monetary support must be an interim step for something much bigger.

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