Outsider Threatens Term Limits Initiative.

With term limits on tomorrow’s Council agenda, folks are joining the discussion from all sides. Today Council received the following correspondence from a Jon Fleischman, posing as the President of California Term Limits, Inc.

Note: The California Secretary of State has no corporation on record known as California Term Limit’s, Inc. and the PAC referred to by Mr. Fleischman (ID #1351314) was terminated on May 5, 2015 following an FPPC investigation into their receiving a $200,000 donation from out of state.

Dear Mayor Marick and Councilmembers:

It has come to our attention that the Brea City Council will be discussing the issue of term limits for your council members at your meeting this coming Tuesday evening. On behalf of California Term Limits, our state’s official advocacy organization for term limits, I would like to strongly urge you to place solid a measure before voters this November to amend your city charter to include meaningful term limits for council members.

We at California Term Limits believe that government at every level benefits from term limits for many different reasons:

Career politicians aren’t good for our democratic republic.

When people serve in office for too long, they lose the perspective of being average citizens. We find that after two four-year terms council members tend to become isolated, seeking a greater amount of input from city staff, insiders, and institutional donors. We find that long-term politicians are less willing to make hard decisions if it will upset the status quo.

Without term limits, incumbents are hard to dislodge.

It’s the case that because of their ability to raise funds, and their name identification, serving on a city council can be a lifetime pursuit. Again we believe career politicians are a net detriment to governments at every level.

More people, not fewer, should be able to serve as leaders in local government.

Simply put, with term limits, we ensure that a broader cross-section of local citizens have an opportunity to serve.

As an organization that focuses on term limits, we have found that the best formula for applying term limits at the city council level would be to allow any individual to serve up to two four-year terms in their lifetime.

As you probably know, most Orange County cities already have term limits, and Brea most certainly should. If you talk in your community you will find the idea very popular. Our recent polling shows local term limits tend to enjoy the support of over two-thirds of voters.

If as a council you choose to move forward, we would be happy to work with you to make the case to the voters for why this reform is a good one.

If you choose to reject placing this matter before the voters, then we would look forward to partnering with some of you, or with local activist in your community to gather signatures to place this issue before Brea voters. We were recently asked by citizens in West Hollywood for assistance — and our associated political action committee happily spent many thousands of dollars assisting with professional signature gatherers to help get their measure qualified, over the objections of their council. Much to their surprise, but not ours, the voters passed them there!

The California Term Limits PAC has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars around California the last few years advancing the cause of term limits. We look forward to working on this issue in Brea.

Please give your citizens there the ability to decide if they would like term limits for the Brea City Council. Of course I am available to discuss this issue with any of you.


Jon Fleischman

term limits

A reasonable course of action.

Tomorrow night, following opening discussion, Council should instruct staff to put a public hearing on term limits on their next agenda. At the conclusion of the public hearing Council should instruct staff to again put term limits on the next agenda, to prepare a staff report summarizing Council’s consensus on the public input including a draft resolution to place (or not place) term limits on the November 2016 ballot.

An unreasonable response.

To the handful of folks whining that this is nothing more than political adversaries waging war on each other, getting even for past transgressions, I offer this, “If we suppose them sincere, we must pity their ignorance; if insincere, we must abhor the spirit of deception which it betrays.” Alexander Hamilton.

Term limits do not rob voters of their right to choose, they merely establish a framework within which choices are made.


Term Limits – Yes Or No?

NOPARKING-1Term limits restricting the number of successive terms of office that may be served by elected officials has always been a controversial issue.

Brea has never had term limits and I, along with a growing number of others apparently, believe it’s time to put it to a vote.

The almost perpetual reelection of career politicians prevents the rise of new voices in government. By instituting term limits, the problems of the status quo can be solved, and more responsible, accountable candidates and Council members may arise.

Here are arguments in favor of term limits that, IMHO, make a lot of sense to me.

Term limits restore rotation in office and government by the people.

It is unfortunate that politics has become an accepted career path. It is better that participation in government be brief. Term limits will put an end to municipal politics becoming a cushy “lifetime” job, making elected service more a limited leave of absence from a productive career in the private sector.

Without term limits, the temptation to remain in office for decades keeps people seeking reelection long after they have accomplished all the legislative good of which they are capable. It does not take long for legislators to become more occupied with their relationships with each other and with lobbyists, than with their constituents. They pass their “use by” date.

Local government works best when it functions as a citizen council, in which people who pursue careers other than politics enter office for a brief time to do their community service, and then leave to reenter society as private citizens. The typical agenda of today’s career politicians is only to build their own power and influence base ahead of representing the people they were elected to serve.

Term limits make for better elections and empower new leaders and ideas.

Incumbency provides a huge electoral advantage. Sitting politicians, unlike poor Mr. Murdock, almost always win reelection. Over the past 30 years it had become virtually impossible to unseat an incumbent until the grassroots effort of Operation Clean Sweep lit up Brea ballot boxes.

People have a tendency to vote for people they recognize. Donors and special interest groups (in the past I’ve referred to them as the old guard) tend to support past winners who will likely continue to benefit their interests. Term limits actually increase voter choice by making elections more competitive and encouraging more candidates to run.

In communities where term limits have been instituted there is far higher turnover amongst elected officials, giving voters more choice in who should represent them. Ultimately, long term council members using political machines to retain power do their community and constituents a disservice. Power is best used when it changes hands over time in order to allow for dynamic new solutions.

Term limits prevent corruption and exploitation of office.

FINGERS-LWith a few exceptions like Koreagate and the Energy Coalition, Brea has been blessed with a history of well intentioned and ethical leaders. One only need to think of the City of Industry and Bell to realize the magnitude of the risk.

Sure, we’ve seen behavior that danced perilously close to the edge of the Brown Act. Local politics have always been a bit rough and tumble… and personality clashes are unfortunately more commonplace than one would prefer.

That said, when a career politician is firmly entrenched, they may seek to enrich themself at the expense of the public, to shower unearned perks upon family and allies in order to maintain and strengthen their powerful position.

Term limits serve to limit the ability of individuals to put forward self-serving legislation and to retain power indefinitely. Instead, with term limits, elected officials have only a limited time in power, which tends to shift their focus toward genuinely benefiting the public.

Term limits trigger action over apathy.

A major focus of any elected official hoping to serve another term is on the next election and on vote-getting. It is often the case that hard decisions need to be made but it is difficult for them to do so when they are fixated on being reelected. Elected officials have an incentive to put tough decisions off if they can retain power by doing so.

An example of such seemingly perpetual procrastination (climbing on my soapbox for a moment) is the interminable delays in allowing public comment on the creation of an Environmental Advisory Board.

For almost a year Council has been asked to hold a town meeting to determine how broad an interest, or lack of same, Brea residents have in local environmental issues. A simple word to the City Manager and it could have happened months ago.

When constrained by term limits, elected officials must make the most of their limited time in office, resulting in greater prioritization of difficult decisions and reform. While there will always be some of this behavior, it is curtailed by term limits, as elected officials will, in their final term at the very least, not be beholden to as many special interests as they cannot run again.

Where do you stand?

Is it time at last to finish what Operation Clean Sweep started and let term limits put an end to career politicians in Brea?