First draft written Sunday, September 14, 2008 – two years later, in light of recent events at City Council including the rash of salary raises and bonuses (even the ones they didn’t realize they were giving themselves), it still rings true.
The more I keep an eye on things, the more I get involved as opposed to sitting passively by letting the status quo prevail, the more I believe Brea is ripe for a complete retooling. Managing the city’s affairs has evolved into a staff run conglomeration of revamped little fiefdoms many of which are more interested in perpetuating (justifying) their existence than promoting the general welfare of the city.
The Brea Dividend?
It’s shorthand for creating a mythical municipality that exists only in the minds of those naive enough to believe the propaganda. We’re a small town and need to stop deluding ourselves into believing we’ve created some sort of suburban utopia.
We need to return to the days when a strong, well informed and decisive city council guided city staff to execute the council’s vision. We need to rethink the “business plan” that turned sales tax revenue into the holy grail. We need to admit that Brea has almost three times the retail establishments that even the imaginary 150,000 population (we’re 40,000 strong) would sustain.
Brea businesses are cannibalizing themselves at an alarming rate – look around, how many vacant building are staring you in the face? How many more years will the Tower Records building remain a monumental eyesore and stark reminder that “Downtown Brea” hasn’t become the regional destination so many had hoped for?
We’re all feeling the impact of this virtually never ending recession, that has already set unprecedented records in terms of unemployment, sent our financial, banking and housing industries into tailspins and inflicted serious, perhaps irreparable damage upon our quality of life for generations to come.
Rebuilding our community, from the ground up (not the top down) will require we get back to basics, that we create sensible expectations for ourselves by seeking a realistic blend of public services matched to our true resident population. We need to develop an operating model for city governance and management based on sound business principals and not the whims of the few big fish in this small pond that wrongly feel some sense of entitlement to decide what’s best for the rest of us.