No excuse is better than a bad one.

evil_hearnoTwo weeks ago the illustrious Mayor aggressively asserted that he would put his life on the line to guarantee free speech and open discussion.  He swore in front of his Viet Nam buddies he would never roadblock anyone’s attempt, especially fellow council members, to discuss any issue, anywhere at any time.

I decided to take him at his word.

Back in January Garcia and Murdock both gave reports from the same League of California Cities committee meeting.  It struck me odd that Brea would occupy two seats on any committee and I was not alone in my curiosity.  So I sent off a short email to Mayor Garcia with a couple of simple questions.

Opening a discussion with the Mayor.

They were simple questions, really.  They could have easily been handled with simple, honest answers.

“How is it that you and Mayor Pro Tem Murdock are both appointed to the League of California Cities’ Policy Committee on Housing, Community and Economic Development?  Does this mean the City of Brea will always have to pay for you both to travel to Sacramento, attend the same meetings and give the same reports?  Is this redundancy truly necessary?”

Simple answers can be a long time coming.

evil_seenoTwo weeks pass and, finally, this is the response I get, “We’ve each been appointed by separate entities of which the City is a members.”

“These types of committees are educational and have a major legislative impact on local governance.  The City of Brea has a long history of representation on these policy committees.  Having more representation is better for the citizens of Brea.”

What?

Did I find out how they both got on the same committee? No.

DId I get an answer to the duplicate cost and redundancy query?  No.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

So I responded, asking, “What are the separate entities making the appointments and why would they place two members from Brea and not make similar redundant appointments for other cities?”

“Would we not accomplish as much with a single representative while saving half of the travel costs?”

“What, precisely, is the benefit of membership on the League of California Cities’ Policy Committee on Housing, Community and Economic Development for the citizen’s of Brea?”

A slightly quicker response from the Mayor.

evil_speaknoAfter a seven day delay, I get this, “Among the duties of a Councilmember is representing the Citizens of Brea in the organizations in which we hold membership.”

“The City Council budgets for attendance at these meetings and events, the educational and networking opportunities have made the City of Brea the community it is.”

“If you would like to visit  regarding this or any other issues, please feel to contact my office.”

The straw that broke the camel’s back.

Up ’til now I had remained civil in my inquiry, albeit with a touch of sarcasm, but this response took me off the charts.  I’ll give you my final rejoinder in a moment.

Turning to other, more forthcoming, more articulate and more experienced resources, here is what I discovered.

  • Brea is a dues paying member of both the National League of Cities and the League of California Cities.
  • The National League of Cities and the League of California Cities are small lobbying organizations in a sea of giants, lobbying for municipal issues.
  • Any benefits coming to Brea are, at best, the byproduct of a lobbying effort that was initiated by someone else to resolve their need.
  • For years, Brea council members have been appointed to committees in both organizations, but never have we had two members sitting on the same committee.
  • Both organizations place members on committees through Presidential and Divisional appointments.
  • The organization’s President and Divisional Chair must receive letters requesting an appointment from the individual seeking the seat.
  • Garcia and Murdock had to make specific requests to be appointed, extolling their credentials, Garcia to the President and Murdock to the Divisional Chair.
  • No other committee has two members from the same city.
  • No explanation has been given regarding the benefit Brea receives having both Garcia and Murdock in attendance at the same meetings.
  • No explanation has been given clarifying any realtime benefit Brea has received, directly or tangentially from this or any committee.

Does no one up there talk to each other?  Does no one in city hall think it odd that both Garcia and Murdock were headed, at taxpayer expense, to the same meeting?

Granted, at about $200 bucks round trip each, maybe a meal and no hotel expense… for committee meetings that occur quarterly, this isn’t a ton of money.  It’s not like they were taking a vacation together in a foreign country.

My final response to Mayor Mumbles McEloquent.

rgarcia_stache“Let me be plain spoken.  Your repeated vacuous non-answers are unacceptable.”

“I asked simple questions, questions being posed to me by other Breans.  Simple, truthful answers would have been appropriate.  Extending the invitation to visit your office, the best way to avoid any written record of the discussion, is obviously sarcasm and, frankly, is insulting.”

“Your repeated deletion of the other Council Members from the Cc: list, effectively excluding them from witnessing and/or wading in on the discussion, cannot be whitewashed with the boilerplate Brown Act caveat.”

“You’ve left me no alternative but to carry this to a public forum, as I fully intend to have answers to my questions.”

“Shame on you for squandering an opportunity to really be the open and ethical elected official you repeatedly profess to be.”

While I have provided, verbatim, the exchange I had with the Mayor, here is a PDF COPY of the emails for those interested in documentation.

10 thoughts on “No excuse is better than a bad one.

  1. Regardless of which entity appointed them to the same committee – why do both need to attend? And, regarding the City’s travel budget – it might be informative to request information about the travel budgets (and trips/excursions) of all City departments. Why do three, four and sometimes more people from the same department need to attend the same conference/event/meeting/whatever?

    • Indeed, the point is that they don’t. There has even been some discussion whether it is wise to continue the city’s membership in those organizations. Other cities have terminated their memberships recently.

      International travel, thanks to Measure T, will come under much greater scrutiny now. Maybe all travel should have been included, no more blank checks.

  2. No disrespect to anyone, but isn’t this typical Brea “we are bigger than we really are” rhetoric? I seriously find it amusing that we:

    1. Pay our CM as much as Anaheim pays theres.
    2. We allow our Council and CM to attend pleasure trips to Korea on our dime.
    3. Allow fictitional numbers to be presented as fact.
    4. Allow the City’s water dept to create false water shortages to: a) justify asking us to reduce so they can build more homes and b) charge us higher rate with this scam called tiered pricing.
    5. Allow the CM to attempt to explore contracts with other cities in regards to our Police and Fire without public input or council direction.

    This house of cards will eventually fold, and I believe it will be the citizens who will pick it all up and have to put it back together again.

    • Paul… Great points all. As I had to point out to someone else tonight, how government is conducted, and by whom, has an irrefutable effect on what is or isn’t accomplished. As long as some of our elected officials continue to treat their responsibilities with a callous disregard for the public trust, I will press on to point out their shortcomings.

  3. Brea’s one man special interest (i.e. Tim O’Donnell) may need both Murdock and Garcia to flash their credentials in the 2014 election to maintain his 3-2 control over the council. Now they’ll both be able to claim similar experience on their campaign resumes. My guess is that O’Donnell is also going for the kill next election. If George Ullrich runs and gets elected, he can get a 4-1 majority.

    • Stephan… Interesting. My guess is that Garcia knows his number is up and that Murdock is to arrogant or naive to realize he’s made himself unelectable in a bid for a second term. I suppose we’ll have to endure him being Mayor for a year… and that insipid grin.

      George who?

      • George is on the Planning Commission. He was a vocal supporter of Christine Marick. He’s listed as one of her campaign contributors and I think he may have been her campaign manager but I’m not sure about that. Bottomline, his loyalty to Marick was rewarded with a Planning Commission appointment.

      • Ah… the spoils of war. There are a couple of far better candidates lurking in the wings. I have high hopes for 2014.

      • Informed Breans know what you say about the Mayor/Mayor Pro Tem are true. But for anyone to stand a chance at cracking the O’Donnell clique, they’re going to have to inform the younger voters on the sidelines of the soccer fields and in the stands at the little league field. The misinformation there is massive. Marick and Murdock are blowing lots of “sunshine” there.

      • Stephen… It’s been a while since I stood on the sidelines of a youth sports field. Back then we were too busy screaming to get involved in much political chatter.

        The Maricks are two of the most dedicated parents I’ve ever met. Their focus on their kids is nonstop and if you’ve met them… the kids… you would find them to be remarkably charming and bright beyond their years.

        I’ve never even seen Murdock with his toddler, but I doubt either soccer or little league is on the agenda. Teething and potty training are more likely.

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