Act One: The Development Committee.
“Cal Domestic is offering $10,000 grants (i.e. your money) for educational projects on water conservation. Any ideas?”
“A drought tolerant garden at the civic center would be cool but we’ll need more than ten grand.”
“What about MWDOC’s turf removal subsidy, we could call that a grant (i.e. your money) and add $17,000 to the pot.”
“Yeah, and if we add $8,500 out of the Water Fund (i.e. your money) and call it matching… that might be enough to get started… you know, hire a consultant or something.”
“Okay, let’s get some estimates and see how far $35,500 will take us.”
Act Two: The Finance Committee.
“Next item, an 8,500 square foot educational garden demonstrating drought tolerant landscaping on the slope under the flag poles at the Civic Center. Cost, $215,000 dollars.”
“A what? To do what? For how much? Are you kidding?”
“They got three estimates, this is the lowest. Mostly grants from the water companies and nothing from the General Fund… well, not exactly.”
“What does that mean?”
“$188,000 comes from the Water Fund and the Urban Runoff Fund (i.e. your money).”
“Is that even legal?”
“I don’t know, let’s kick it upstairs and let Council decide.”
Act Three: Behind closed doors.
“I can’t make Study Session next week, I need to hit the Arovista back-to-school night. You’ll have to cover for me.”
“What! I don’t want to explain that you’re out campaigning instead of doing your job. No!”
“No worries you two, we’ll just cancel Study Session and bump your garden downstairs for a vote.”
“Can we do that?”
“Sure. We have three votes in our pocket, with only two days prior notice how much discussion could there possibly be? It will be a slam dunk.”
- BreaNet leaks the news to 500+ involved Brea citizens.
- News breaks on nextdoor.com and the public is outraged.
- The story is picked up on the Brea Matters blog and registers the highest reader response in over three years.
- Angry and disappointed comments abound, from a former Mayor, high visibility residents and members of the silent majority.
- Council email inboxes are flooded with admonitions to reject the project, postpone discussion to allow for public comment and with alternatives infinitely smarter and markedly less expensive.
Act Four: The Council Meeting.
“Item 10: Civic & Cultural Center Educational Garden. Any discussion?
“I think this isn’t an urgent matter. We need to open this up for public discussion… besides, I’m getting huge input about other, potentially better sites. I move to postpone.”
“Motion dies for lack of a second. Any further discussion?”
“This garden blah blah blah drought tolerant blah blah blah educate residents blah blah blah grants available blah blah blah need to conserve water blah blah blah renovation blah blah blah draw a lot of visitors blah blah blah public amenity blah blah blah.”
“Don’t forget the memorial. I love memorials. I’ve spent half my life in combat. There’s a gravel path around the memorial with bees and butterflies.”
“I’m always the cheapskate on stuff like this. I’m sure we could do this for less.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll get three bids and besides… it’s almost free.”
“All in favor say aye.” (Murdock, Marick, Garcia)
“All opposed?” (Moore, Simonoff)
Lights dim. Curtain drops. Bring up the house lights.
It ain’t over ’til it’s over.
This can and should be reversed. There is no legitimate reason to bury this much pork on the Civic Center lawn. Grant sources are uncommitted and can be refused. Public monies are not allocated for this type of expenditure and should be denied. The Water Fund and Urban Runoff Fund are not slush funds.
Keep writing Council members. Keep writing letters to the editor. Keep talking to your neighbors. Shake off your fears and come speak to Council during Matters From The Audience. Keith loves a parade and deserves your support.
Make your voice heard. Make your opinions count.
And, for heaven’s sake, whether you vote by mail or make the trek to the ballot box, do not vote for any incumbents… for any office. Not this year. Not in 2016.
It will take a clean sweep to get local government rebooted. Do you want your voice, the voices of your friends and neighbors, to be heard?