2020: My Perspective

2020 and the choices are not getting easier. City Council: two seats, two incumbents, two challengers. City Treasurer: no incumbent, two candidates. School Board: three districts, two incumbents (one challenged/one unopposed) and one seat abandoned to a single unopposed candidate.

With only a couple of exceptions, I am unwilling to offer a full-throated endorsement to any candidate. You’ll easily note who the exceptions are. Here’s how it breaks down.

2020 City Council.

Neither incumbent, Marty Simonoff or Christine Marick, gets a nod from me this year. Both have become to predictably disappointing that it’s time to punch their ticket.

In 2016, as Marty launched his “Marty Bar” run for a sixth term, I ask him why. He responded that no one had ever been elected to six consecutive terms and he wanted to set the record. I told him “Twenty Is Plenty” and walked away.

Of course, he won. Except for Marty’s opposition to increasing sales tax and his support for my Kropke Public Records Request, I can’t think of a thing he has personally come up with and championed to a successful end. He rides the crest of the consensus, taking credit whenever possible. The thought of him warming a seat in the Council Chambers for a seventh term is unimaginable.

I challenged Christine Marick’s first run for Council based upon the way her credentials were presented. An exercise in creative writing, they challenged credulity.

Of course, she won. Christine was immediately gobbled up by the Schweitzer, Garcia, Beauman, Murdock Cabal. You’ll remember, this is the group that wielded three votes like Thor’s hammer and was dubbed as “totally dysfunctional” by Roy Moore (RIP) as he launched Operation Clean Sweep.

Christine avoided the 2016 swamp draining, winning a second term. She’s become the resident expert at kicking the can down the road. When CFD’s were challenged as possible double taxation (Central Park Brea) she let it ride. She partnered up with Murdock, blindsiding Council with a list of personal demands to be considered in the appeal of the Madrona Development Agreement and has allowed the fraudulent Paramedic Tax to remain hidden on the Consent Calendar (along with who knows what else) instead of putting her foot down on our behalf.

Time to go guys. Your lackluster political careers have reached their conclusion.

And the challengers.

Tyler Baugh, a well spoken, reasonably savvy forty-something ready to jump into local politics and make a difference. With very restricted funding, I don’t expect to be buried in postcards, yard signs and street banners… but, for the most part, he carried himself well at the Candidate’s Forum.

What Robyn Neufeld lacks in experience she more than makes up for with youthful exuberance. She’s obviously a diehard Brean and unafraid of digging in to learn the ropes.

Neither Council (Vargas, Hupp and Parker) or senior staff would let them make an uncorrectable blunder – and their fresh eyes on Brea’s issues would make a huge difference I believe.

So, Brea voters… especially you who are under 50… it’s time you flexed the power of your ballot and voted for someone sharing your interests and concerns. Not your grandfather or old maid aunt. Not those who seem to miss the days of sparse horse and buggy traffic, narrow streets and Craftsman cottages.

Folks with young and growing families facing life issues similar to what you face, who understand your struggles and likely share your vision of Brea’s future.

It’s time we opened the door to the ”NextGen” of Brea leadership and packed the “Old Guard” off to Golden Pond.

2020 City Treasurer

Okay, this one is a ripper! On one hand we have the classic career politician, Bev Perry, constantly drawn to the limelight.

Her track record includes launching our $250 million pension debt, perpetuating the bogus Paramedic Tax and countless other items slipped by under the Consent Calendar, signed off on the countless bond refinancing, project collecting, honey pot cash generating schemes that turned the last millennium’s Redevelopment projects into another $250 million in debt. We’ll be paying this off for the next 20 years yet Bev thinks EIFD (call it RDA 2.0) is the creative solution to financing infrastructure development in the 21st century.

On the other hand we have a career financial professional, Denise Eby, who understands the full scope of duties and responsibilities of Brea’s Treasurer and has 30 years experience and the drive to get the job done… without hidden agenda or political aspirations.

Denise manages $800 million in financial business – underwriting commercial and contract surety bonds. That’s ten times the amount of money Brea has invested at any time. She specializes in evaluating publicly traded, privately held, nonprofit and municipal creditors for third party credit guarantees. With Denise you can be certain you’re not putting the fox in the hen house!

2020 School Board

Districting has left me with no local campaign so I won’t be voting on the BOUSD. But there is one race that is critical. Gail Lyons needs to be reelected as a trustee if for no other reason than to block Keri Kropke’s hand picked surrogate, Lauren Barnes. Lauren played leadership roles in the challenge to the Fanning name and is an active leader in Brea’s social protest community.

2020 NOCCCD

And yes, you can block Keri Kropke from winning the North Orange County Community College District (Area 7) Governing Board Member seat by reelecting incumbent Ryan Bent. If you watched their League of Women Voter’s Candidate’s Forum you will have seen all you needed to see. Keri Kropke has no business fouling the waters of public education, at any level. Vote for Ryan Bent.

Make 2020 The Beginning Of A Brighter Future.

Ring out the old. Ring in the new. Push back against the status quo but remember where you came from. You are a Brean. Your vote counts. Mark your ballot wisely.

election 2018

2016 Election Likely To Set Voter Records.

The 2016 election has evolved into the most contentious and, in many ways, inexplicable political seasons I can remember. It has divided families, lifelong friends, partisan constituents in almost violent ways and likely without hope of reconciliation.

It would be political suicide for me to wade in on any level other than local… Brea First… Brea Matters. We have more on our plate in 2016 than in recent years and a larger voter population tasked with deciding Brea’s future.

2016 Election: Why vote?

2016 ElectionSadly I hear too many people voicing opinions on candidates and issues that are little more than last night’s talking points from campaign surrogates… none of whom has had an original thought since the primary season began.

Sorry, that isn’t good enough.

Cooping the opinions of others, mostly because it’s easier than doing the work or because it creates an illusion of considered thought, is doing a total injustice to the value and purpose of our right to vote.

In the 2016 election, if you want your vote to mean anything… if you want it to honor those who have been wounded or died to preserve that right, then you need to devote the time and energy necessary to fill out your ballot by being informed rather than merely opinionated.

2016 Election: City Council.

2016 ElectionWith two incumbents, Marick and Simonoff, and a relative newcomer Christopher Parkin on the ballot, it will be interesting to see what issues emerge and how they’re addressed.

Parkin, you’ll remember, ran an almost invisible campaign for Council in 2012. Marick and Simonoff, separated by 250 votes, were just shy of hitting 9,000 votes each. Parkin was lucky to get 1,715.

Marick and Simonoff have been actively campaigning since well before the Country Fair, Parkin put in his papers at the last possible moment and is rumored to be the surrogate candidate of Council member Vargas.

Having fumbled his solo attempt to get term limits on the 2016 election ballot, running/supporting opposition to the incumbents seems a likely fallback strategy. While still only a rumor, the speculation is widespread and not without feasibility.

2016 Election: City Treasurer.

2016 ElectionGlenn Parker’s return to Council following two and a half terms as City Treasurer, led to the appointment of Bill Christensen as Parker’s replacement. For reasons never quite clear, Christensen resigned the position and Ric Rios was appointed to finish the final 90 days.

Both Rios, oddly enough running as the “incumbent” and George Ullrich, currently on the Planning Commission, seek to be the next duly elected City Treasurer.

Both have history serving in various capacities in town but Ullrich has a distinct advantage in terms of finance, investment and accounting experience. This will likely be the more interesting race for city office.

2016 Election: School Board.

2016 ElectionIncumbents Lyons, Todd and Hobby are running against Paul Ruiz, Jason Kraft and Joseph Covey. The two ballot initiatives will likely have a strong influence on who emerges victorious.

Measure K, the hotly contested $148 million dollar 2016 school bond initiative, has a steep uphill battle ahead of it. Measure K lacks detailed explanation of how the money might be spent or how this expense would contribute to raising the quality of education.

Measure L, which would reduce board membership from 7 to 5 members, seems to have universal appeal to voters and would serve to provide a boost to the “clean sweep” movement hoping to reboot the board with as many new members as possible.

On your mark, get set…

Start putting in the time and energy to become more informed than opinionated.

 

Treasurer Selection Not An Easy Choice.

Study SessionEveryone, Council, staff and followers of local government, were surprised when eleven Breans applied for the City Treasurer position vacated when Glenn Parker was reelected to Council. Most had expected no more than three or four candidates to emerge.

In a meeting that began on Friday, January 23 and was continued to Tuesday, January 27, Council managed the arduous task of interviewing all applicants and then pressed on to reach a consensus selecting a new City Treasurer. For those interested, the meeting’s agenda and all applications are available on the city’s website.

Applicants, in order of interview were Don Parker, Michael Becher, Marlan Merhab, Roy Moore, Jim Grosse, Gary Terrazas, Joseph Galligan, Bill Christensen, Phil Anton, Gill Realon and Kenneth Palmer. An interesting note, as the interview conflicted with a long planned holiday, Council agreed to allow Bill Christensen to teleconference his interview from Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

Thinning out the list.

If you’ve looked over the City Treasurer applications, you’ll have some idea of just how tough job Council faced. Every applicant was well qualified with decades of executive level experience. Council’s first step was to agree upon a tight set of criteria, opting for someone with a strength in managing major investment portfolios over CPAs with mostly P&L and budget management background. As Brea has an average of $50 million at stake in the investment pool at any one time, I have to agree.

This focus made it possible to move five names out of contention. Mayor Simonoff then asked for each Council member to list their top three choices. All but Glenn Parker were able to do so. Glenn seemed to be advocating for a single candidate but later acquiesced and added one more name. Pressing on, the lists merged to provide a basic ranking and animated discussion followed.

I must say that, as I observed this process for a little over seven hours, I was elated to see Council engaged in a friendly, respectful, open and productive way. I hadn’t seen that sort of behavior with previous Councils going back through several regimes.

There were a couple of delicate moments when signs of personal favoritism and possible political ties slipped into the dialog but Mayor Simonoff and the other Council members skillfully defused the situations and productive discussion moved on.

The finalists emerged.

After an hour or so, Gill Realon, Bill Christensen and Phil Anton made the short list. Discussion continued comparing the merits of each to the objectives set at the beginning of the meeting. TreasurerUltimately, after another half hour, Mayor Pro Tem Marick moved to approve Bill Christensen as the Treasurer and the motion was quickly seconded by Council member Vargas.

A voice vote was taken and Council voted unanimously to appoint Bill Christensen. Mayor Simonoff’s suggestion that the City Clerk contact the U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia to inform Bill Christensen of Council’s decision was met with a chuckle and the meeting was adjourned.

A closing thought.

One of the applicant’s suggested, given the depth of the applicant’s talent pool and their willingness to serve, that Council put more of them to work by creating a citizen’s advisory or oversight committee to help keep an eye on city finances.

Great idea! First assignments should be evaluating whether restructuring of Brea’s Fire Department, twice, has produced the savings promised by the City Manager… conducting an audit of the solar energy program to establish whether or not it is paying for itself as promised and finally, developing the framework for a “Get Out Of Debt” plan that would eradicate Brea’s unfunded pension and medical liabilities.

Other views in the news?

Doubtful, the only non-city person in the room besides myself was the pool boy’s pet wannabe blogger, Greg Diamond. Greg DiamondNo one from any reputable newspaper felt it worth covering I guess.

Arriving late, well over two hours after the meeting began, Diamond berated the City Clerk for allowing Council to move expeditiously through the interviews (as if that were her job) and then set up his tripod and camera which he fiddled with periodically throughout what was left of the evening.

While I suppose he captured most of the final three or four interviews and perhaps a bit of the Council discussion that followed, his constant preoccupation with his phone and incessant texting took his attention off of the meeting. He spent 90% of his time focused upon posting his signature lengthy rants to whatever blog he was bombarding.

Anyone who has watched a Council meeting on TV and attended the meeting live will tell you there is no comparison. You take in so much more by being in the room and paying attention than what you could possibly get watching disjointed video clips captured on a static camera or two.

Greg DiamondWatching video clips instead of actually paying attention so severely hampers Diamond’s take on the meeting I question how faithful to the truth his reporting could possibly be.

I’m sure his longwinded poison pen version will be laced with invectives, condemnation and unfounded criticisms that are nothing more than malicious attacks… instead of providing credible journalism or making any honorable effort to inform citizens or positively impact public policy.

He seems to be working out his own self esteem issues at the expense of others. This would explain why he and the pool boy are such tight buddies, they share so much in common… starting with delusions of grandeur and acute narcissism.