One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others.

Lets wrap our heads around three things that, on the surface, don’t immediately appear to be connected. The Senior Lunch Program, Council travel expenses for unofficial junkets and the Sister City Program.

Senior lunch program starved for funding.

lunchThanks to federal sequestration, the supplier of our senior’s lunches (SeniorServ, Inc.) took a funding hit that costs us 3,300 lunches a year and resulted in a staff cut of 20%. Estimated at a value of $2.50 per lunch, that’s $8,250 a year. Who knows what the staff cost is?

Is this item making it onto the study session agenda? No.

Lets talk Koreagate again.

stewardessTaxpayers coughed up around $9,450 to send Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell on an unofficial sightseeing junket to Anseong, S. Korea and Hanno, Japan. Though hammered publicly for over a year, subjected to an investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s office and supported by various current and former Council members, we’ve not seen a penny reimbursed.

Is this item making it onto the study session agenda? No.

Sister Cities groups up for review.

commend_200Brea’s two Sister City groups, the original Lagos de Moreno/Hanno group and the newly formed Anseong group are up for review. The question is, after fifty plus years, is it time to ease them out of the nest and put the $6,000 stipend back into the General Fund to support other causes?

These organizations are certainly capable of being self sufficient. And, by severing the ceremonial ties once and for all, there should no longer be a question about paying those hefty travel expenses for Mayors and other elected, appointed officials or city staff.

Yup, you guessed it, this is the one that is on tomorrow’s study session agenda.

Adding insult to injury.

bowtie_garciaMayor Garcia is currently invited to the Anseong Namsadang Baudeogi Festival, an annual event dating back 100 years. The festival consists of tightrope walking, Korean folk drumming, plate spinning, acrobatics and gymnastics on a straw mat, puppet plays and masked dance drama.

All artforms that I’m sure our Mayor mastered years ago! Unfortunately, there isn’t any provision for amateur stand-up comedy or competitive eating.

Mayor Garcia is wondering if the city will pick up the tab for him to attend?  Nope!  Not until Anseong’s Mayor sees fit to come to Brea specifically to help us celebrate our Country Fair. They seem comparable in scope, if not equally antiquated.

So, what is the common thread? Your tax dollars.

Council needs to decide what is more important, sending public “servants” on all expenses paid vacations, funding private nonprofit cultural exchange organizations or giving our seniors a decent lunch five days a week.

Hands down, the seniors get my vote. What do you think?


8 thoughts on “One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others.

  1. Wouldn’t we all be best served by the City of Brea authorized one final City-paid trip for the elected officials and City Senior Staff with a one-way ticket?

    • Dave… Ha ha ha, that’s the best suggestion yet! I vote somewhere isolated and well below zero.

    • Dave, I’m not sure if I should laugh or ask for it to be brought up for a vote to get the expenditure approved.

  2. Rick, this was the response I sent to someone after receiving this topic via email. I had to change a few words. Though they accurately represented my feelings they would undoubtedly come across too strong in a public forum.

    “Are you kidding me, we have Breans that will go without meals and our City Council is concerned about sister cities half way around the world. Our seniors deserve better than this!

    It makes me sick to my stomach. Where is the human compassion? If I were on Council, these types of junkets would be STOPPED until we can take care of our own neighbors instead of trying to hide free trips at the expense of the taxpayer under the guise of economic and cultural bonding. Unbelievable.

    Let’s see if they change it. I would hope Murdock is not that self-centered and that he chooses to be a real leader and refocus on what’s important.”

    • Richard… I’m sure your original thoughts would have been fine. Brea Matters isn’t a place where punches are pulled or political correctness is allowed to shroud the truth in the meaningless language of politics.

      You’re right, our seniors deserve better and the way this is being handled is unbelievable.

      Two issues arise. The first, considering the recent inability of either sister cities organization to behave like rational, culturally sensitive adults, should the city continue to support them financially?

      The second issue is whether the city pays for elected, appointed officials or senior city staff to visit sister cities.

      If the answer to question one was no, the same answer applies to two.

      If the answer was yes, then limit it to major international events as supported by the itinerary submitted and limit it to coach airfare only for the Mayor or their Council designate. Never staff. Period. It’s unofficial, remember.

      Then, retroactively, demand that refunds be forthcoming from Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell accordingly.

      That money alone reinstates the full seniors lunch program.

  3. The study session was a joke. Blah blah blah. They tossed meaningless questions at each other and ended up right where they started… we’ll do what we want, when we want and screw anybody who thinks we can’t.

    You’re right, Garcia isn’t funny. Murdock was morose, mute and seemed to be in a trance. O’Donnell did mention that “infamous” trip but nobody jumped on it. I’ll never waste my time going to a study session again.

    For anyone still interested in how government functions when hardly anybody is looking, go here: Study Session 09/18/2013.

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