The Devil’s In The Details?

A message crossed my desk today from the Brea Chamber CEO, Sharon Wagner. I thought nothing of it at first, the Chamber blows stuff out constantly to boost membership, tout their programs and events or promote one sort of “Shop Brea” idea or another. Then, there it was…

The political rhetoric.

“I arrived home last night after our Candidates Forum and found my ballot in the mailbox. I began to wonder how many people will cast their votes this weekend. As they mark their ballots, what factors will they use to determine how they vote?

The Brea Chamber reviews proposed legislation from all levels of government on a daily basis. We carefully examine each piece on its merits and determine how it would impact the business community.

The authors of the legislation often have the greatest of intentions, but as they say, the devil is in the details.

Hmmm… where did I just hear that? Oh, yeah, that’s the cute sound bite Brett Murdock used to preface one twisted misstatement after another as he chopped, sliced and diced Measures T and U at the Chamber’s Candidate’s forum last night.

I don’t know who their speech writer is, but they’re apparently using the same antiquated brand of fur-lined nit-pickers used by John Beauman his entire political career and beyond.

For the people, by the people.

These measures weren’t penned by seasoned politicians, who by the way don’t always get it right, but by citizens, people like you and me. Every piece of legislation has it’s flaws. Every piece of legislation faces the possibility of legal challenge one way or another. Every piece of legislation puts a smile on the face of some and a frown on the face of others.

Measures T and U, by their very nature, are designed to do good for the people of Brea. What do you want, elected officials and city staff unaccountable to the people they serve or Brea’s city business conducted behind closed doors?

Wait… to a large extent, isn’t that what we have now?

Breans want open government, limited in it’s ability to wantonly spend the people’s money on frivolous and often unnecessary pet projects, conducted by a council and staff who are accountable to us for every vote… every penny — if that’s what it takes to ensure a safe and secure future for Brea.

The Chamber does have a history of reviewing and reporting on legislation… to local businesses about local business issues. Not to the people about our business. Most of the legitimate research is done at state and national levels and distilled by committee for consumption by Brea business owners.

And I have been told specifically, by more than one Chamber Board Chairman, that the Chamber does not endorse local candidates nor does it wade in on initiatives unless they directly effect the business community… like they did when the quarter percent sales tax increase was being discussed.

In fact, nowhere in the Chamber’s 12 page “Legislative Policy Guidelines” does it suggest they have any stated objectives regarding initiatives like Measures T and U. Not even in the section specifically addressing the Chambers objective and positions on Government Reform.

If this ruffles your feathers as much as it ruffled mine, if you think the Chamber has overstepped it’s charter, maybe you want to send them an email.

David Rader, Chamber Board Chairman –





Sharon Wagner, Chamber CEO –

A Disturbance In The Farce.

While discussing the current state of affairs in Brea’s 2012 election this morning with several senior members of the community, the subject of council member Garcia’s seemingly AWOL status came up.

From his excessively vocal and barely understandable persona when first taking office, Mr. Garcia’s current style of remaining mute while playing Angry Birds on his iPad has been like a breath of fresh air.

Consensus this morning, however, was that in order to shore up the weakened voting block (Schweitzer, Garcia and Murdock), Mr. Garcia is likely quite active behind the scenes.

Tacked onto the Chamber’s Candidate’s Forum, will be a debate between MPT Murdock and Glenn Vodhanel on the two ballot measures, The Brea Accountability Act (T) and The Open Governance Act (U). Since Mr. Murdock first tossed out the challenge to Mr. Vodhanel well over a year ago to debate “anything at any time” the MPT has used every trick in the book to avoid fulfilling his challenge.

Well Mr. Murdock, you can run but you cannot hide. Your day of reckoning is at hand.

Back to the AWOL Mr. Garcia… is it possible that he’s taken the padewan pool boy under his withered wings, instructing him in the ways of the force?

Will we see a Jedi performance out of Mr. Murdock during the debate?

I doubt it, and the smart money will be on Mr. Vodhanel. The passing of Measures T and U is long overdue. All one has to do is observe the old guard at work to know that it’s time to reboot city government.

Don’t be fooled by the Old Guard again.

Two years ago the Old Guard targeted a character assassination plot against Ric Clough which disturbed the force in Brea enough to let the pool boy slip in the back door. Don’t let it happen again.

When the inevitable “hit pieces” show up in your mailbox or email, whether it’s an Old Guard attack against a reputable candidate or their attempt to cloud the credibility of Measures T and U with unfounded, unsupportable claims, do the smart thing.

Toss them in the trash or click the delete button.

Turning The Tide.

Mayor Don Schweitzer’s long awaited exit from public office puts the O’Donnell controlled voting block in precarious position for the first time in many years.

This, combined with the citizen backed initiatives seeking a more transparent, open governance and greater accountability from elected officials and salaried staff, means we may see local control of government back in the hands of a resident majority.

Of course this has made several special interest groups as nervous as nine-tailed cats in a room full of rocking chairs, so we’re likely to see a flurry of “hit pieces” show up in our mail around the time absentee ballots are distributed.

What really gripes me about these things is no one ever admits they’re involved in putting them out and there is hardly the barest thread of truth in them. Their “success” at character assassination is based on the inability of voters to properly fact check them.

The Line Up.

Two seats and five candidates might suggest an interesting, maybe heated and open race, but don’t hold your breath. Two candidates seem to be lurking in the shadows without making a serious run so it’s likely to be tighter than usual.

Marty Simonoff

At the top of the ballot is Marty Simonoff who has a proven track record of independent thinking and voting, who sees the big picture and understands how it effects the community overall. For those who have followed Brea politics for a while, Marty stands out as an experienced leader with an enviable history of public service and local philanthropy. Marty Simonoff offers the kind of seasoned stability Brea needs in the years ahead.

Steve Vargas

Having served on Council (’98-’02), Steve Vargas knows all too well how local politics work on the inside. Steve is a different man today than the exuberant youngster who took office 12 years ago. Amongst the first to recognize the financial threat posed by public employee pension liabilities and the drastic need to reform local government, a more mature Steve Vargas is making his strongest bid for council thus far.

Christine Marick

Undoubtedly well intentioned and certainly well educated, Christine Marick is making her first run for public office. With less than 2 years under her belt as a Planning Commissioner, the depth of her experience seems limited. In time, her background in municipal finance may help her acquire the skills needed but I have my reservations about whether she would hit the ground running. I’m also concerned that she seems predominantly backed by those who are desperate to retain their lock on Council control.

Christopher Parkin & Tory Stone

A 22 year old IT Specialist hoping to rein in Brea’s finances and curb Brea’s mounting debt, Christopher Parkin has high hopes for a millennial. You won’t find a ballot statement in the voter guide nor likely see him at the Chamber of Commerce Candidate’s Forum. His is a campaign in name only I’m afraid.

Many have tried to contact Tory Stone, all without success I’m told. Frankly, I’m at a complete loss why he would make the effort to gather nomination signatures, turn in the blizzard of paperwork and pay the ten bucks only to disappear into the woodwork. No PAC, no plan and no odds of getting more than a handful of votes from those who would think it funny to waste their vote on a non-candidate.

Final conclusion.

It is the right time and place to put Brea’s future back into the hands of it’s residents… at least those who understand the importance and value of their vote. (You are registered, right?)

If you watch over my shoulder as I fill out my absentee ballot, you’ll see me fill in the box next to the names Marty Simonoff and Steve Vargas… and voting a big YES on both Measure T “The Brea Accountability Act” and Measure U “The Brea Open Governance Act”.


(Editor’s Note 09/25/12:  After an obscenely lengthy hiring process, most of which was likely just O’Donnell’s moratorium on hiring – period, the City of Brea has promoted Tim Takahashi, an 11 year part-time veteran at the Senior Center, as it’s new full time Director.)