Old Guard On The Attack.

Seems like “Former Mayor/Councilman” John Beauman, the perennial front man for Brea’s old guard, like the proverbial groundhog, has  emerged from his burrow, fired up his old blog and set his email on stun.

On behalf of all those cowardly old guard members who prefer to hide in the shadows, Punxsutawney John has embarked upon a campaign of misinformation in an attempt to block the passage of Measure T, the Brea Accountability Act and Measure U, the Brea Open Governance Act.

He’s using his well honed brand of  political deception to mix his stance against the initiatives, his objections to the election law violation law suit and his dogged promotion of Christine Marick as the panacea for all that ails Brea. This informational chaos confuses the issues and confuses the voters. The tactic makes it more difficult for the average voter to fact check his assertions and allegations.

Lets Divide Things Up Into Bite-sized Chunks.

The lawsuit was about election law violations, nothing more… nothing less. As City Attorney Markman so clearly put it, when asked by MPT Murdock if the suit was frivolous, there “were triable components to the action.”

If it had been frivolous, the court would have tossed it out at the start.

The city received correspondence, long before litigation was even considered, clearly pointing out the violation of election law. Had the city acknowledged their error and merely complied with the law, there would have been no suit and no $50,000+ in legal fees.

The initiative process began almost two years ago. Enough Brea voters felt the initiatives deserved to go on the ballot that they signed petitions to that effect. Over 6,000 I believe was what was turned in.

Yet Punxsutawney John, the old guard and opponents of the initiatives continue to suggest this is the work of a single disgruntled contractor. Bull sugar.

And riding on the crest of what they believe is the rising tide of public opinion being swayed in their direction, they’re pushing Christine Marick like she is the second coming. Well, getting her elected guarantees that the old guard will continue to have their voting block on Council… at least that seems to be what their actions would suggest.

Don’t Be Fooled By Punxsutawney John.

Some of what is contained in the initiatives may have been partially implemented by the city since the two measures were approved to go on the ballot. Some of what is contained in the initiatives may face challenge once voters approve the measures. The severabity clauses ensure that nothing overturned negates the balance of the measures.

  • Anyone observing how citizens have been denigrated, time and time again, as they tried to address Council,
  • Anyone who has struggled with a public information request,
  • Anyone frustrated that so much city business is conducted during the afternoon study session when most folks are at work,
  • Anyone who believes that senior staff, especially the City Manager who makes substantially more than the Governor of California, need to have salaries adjusted to more reasonable levels,
  • Anyone who believes that city governance should be open and conducted in the public eye,
  • Anyone who believes that those elected or employed to carry out the community’s business should rightfully be held accountable for their actions,

will know how important it is that “we the people” pass these initiatives.

Think Of It This Way.

We’re not trying to rebuild government from the ground up or fixing something that isn’t clearly broken. For those of you who have wrestled with a buggy PC, think of this as a reboot. Let’s send a clear message to city hall that we know what you’ve been up to and we’re tired of it.

It’s time to jumpstart Brea’s city government and to tell Punxsutawney John to crawl back into his burrow and stay there.

The jury is still out – Part Three

A couple of months ago I sent a copy of council member Moore’s newsletter (Brea Net #597) to the Special Prosecutions Unit with the Orange County District Attorney. Uncertain of the legal issues and ethical ramifications alleged in Roy’s account of how Council inadvertently gave themselves a raise with a retroactive bonus, I turned to professionals for an answer. Here’s what I got:

Justice“We have reviewed the Brea City Council issues called to our attention by your recent emails. We have determined that there is insufficient evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Brea City Council or city staff in connection with the Council’s vote to increase their own flex benefits last July, and their subsequent vote to rescind the increase last December. While the initial staff report regarding the resolution increasing the benefits may have been incomplete, in that it failed to remind the Board that several years earlier they had voted to link their own benefits to the group of employees meant to be covered by the July resolution, there is no evidence that the omission was intentional, or meant to mislead members of the council or the public. And there is no evidence of any improper communications, either before or after the July meeting, in violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act’s “open meeting” laws. Accordingly, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office is closing its inquiry into this matter and will not be taking any further action.” – Raymond S. Armstrong, Senior Deputy District Attorney, Special Prosecutions Unit

Jeez, where do I start?

It was June, Mr. Armstrong, not July… who, exactly, were you talking to? How were you able to reach such an absolute conclusion without interviewing a single player in this comedy of errors? You say that there was “insufficient evidence” – which would suggest that there was some evidence. Sorry, but your conclusions could have been reached merely by reviewing my email, the document I sent and my blog… and dismissing the matter because you had bigger fish to fry.

A quick conversation with the city attorney, whose job it is to cultivate a hedge of defense, of plausible deniability, around his clients, could easily have guided you to the same conclusion. More than mere professional courtesy, this may explain your cc-ing him on your correspondence to me.

Bigger fish to fry.

Smoking GunI get it. Real criminals, killers and the like. Okay… in the full scheme of things I would have to agree that tackling violent crime should certainly take precedence over allegations of petty mismanagement of public funds and possibly malfeasance on the part of elected officials and public employees.

It does beg the question, if the raises had contained as many zeros as the Bell fiasco, would we have seen a more vigorous investigation?

Before writing this, I sought the council of several trusted friends, pillars in the Brea community with enviable track records for volunteerism and philanthropy. It was pretty evenly split between, “Now’s not the time to toss in the towel.” and “Maybe it’s better not to flog a dead horse.”

Interestingly though, the anger and disappointment over what has occurred in study sessions and the council chamber between June and December, is unanimous. Not just the flex benefits matter, but the arrogant disrespect for historical precedents, the mistreatment of senior council members and irrational dismissal of talented volunteers, the lackluster effort to retain the contract with Yorba Linda for police services.

So, with all that said, I guess I’ll just let sleeping dogs lie, and lie, and lie again. At least for now.

Is Council trying to pull a fast one?

What’s with Frank Mickadeit’s OCR column last Thursday? It’s one of the most rambling non-news pieces I’ve seen in the Register lately. A dubious honor, to be sure.

First, he lets Don Schweitzer off the hook because Don wrote a weak and blatantly self serving op-ed piece suggesting that all will be okay when they (Council) “revisit” their medical compensation.

What on earth does “revisit” mean? Are they going to flog a dead horse during a study session, effectively changing nothing, while keeping the whole affair out of public view? Unacceptable.

There’s more to discuss than just medical benefits.

No matter how hard Council tries to portray their “job” as demanding and time consuming, it’s still part time. C’mon, they didn’t know what they were getting into when they ran for office? That might be a plausible excuse for Mr. Murdock, but it doesn’t hold water for anyone else.

The whole compensation package, including whatever retirement benefits they receive, should be on the table for discussion… and not at a study session.

It’s obviously a part time job.

It’s laughable that the item won’t land on the agenda until January thanks to either cancelled meetings or the absence of various council members over the holidays. If Mickadeit’s calculations are accurate, our illustrious hard working Council will have either cancelled or run short handed for a third of their meetings during 2011.

I’m not sure how much others might be willing to pay someone to show up so sporadically, but I’m thinking it ought to be significantly less than what these guys were making before they surprised themselves with a raise.

Even the Mayor’s 100 hours a month is less than what my favorite Starbucks barista works, and he doesn’t get the sort of medical coverage and retirement they do.

Yeah, Mr. Mickadeit, I’ve circled January 3rd as well. I hope a lot of other folks do too, and show up in council chambers ready to make their opinions heard loud and clear.

I’ve also made a note about the elections next November.