Put The Cookies Back!

Local media fans the flames.

Thursday’s Star Progress had an article by OCR writer Doug Morino with the headline, “Last year’s city trip to Asia still a hot topic.” — yeah, and it’s about to get even hotter.

The article begins, “Brea leaders are once again catching fire for their traveling ways.  First, the heat came from a few residents (cough, cough…).  Now, it’s coming from one of their own.  Councilman Marty Simonoff said he wants to take a deeper look at how the city’s travel budget is allocated and how public funds were spent during a trip last year by city officials to Korea and Japan.”

Better late than never.

cookie-jarBless you Marty for finally jumping in, but I’m afraid I have to take a different view of this…  it’s not time to focus on the minutia.  Getting mired down in the trivialities of the trip will not address the real issue.

The bottom line is that Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell appear to have gotten caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

It’s time to stop all of the muddling around spreading half truths, in an attempt to cloud the real issue, too much time has been wasted already trying to make this junket appear to be something it wasn’t… official anything.

cookie-2It doesn’t matter if the cookies were chocolate chip, oatmeal or peanut butter.  They weren’t for the taking.  It’s time to man up.

You can’t just help yourself to what isn’t yours without expecting to pay the consequences when you’re caught.  Extremely poor choices were made, they come with a price.

In this case there may very well be a law against stupid.

 Is travel the issue?


Not completely, no.  There are historically legitimate reasons that require Council and staff to travel.  At least that’s what we’re being told.  A discussion about which organizations make sense for Brea to join and which don’t should also go on the agenda.  Could be some real savings lurking here.

I’m talking about National League of Cities, League of California Cities, the Energy Coalition and the like.  I’m still trying to figure out how Breans have directly benefitted from the city’s involvement in these and other dubious organizations, but that’s not the issue at the moment.

Who’s business was it… really?

cookie-1This whole debacle began when the Mayor inappropriately intruded into the business of a private organization over which the city has never had any authority beyond a minor ceremonial role.  How the BSCA and BKSCA choose to settle their differences is their business.

When Mr. Park, Anseong Mayor Hwang’s emissary, came calling, Don Schweitzer should have politely directed him to share his concerns with these organizations.  Instead Schweitzer butted in like we were on the brink of some international crisis.

The pool boy wades in.

liar-liarIt’s even more ludicrous that, according to the article, “Murdock fired back at Simonoff, calling his inquiry into the Asia trip a type of politically-motivated vendetta aimed at shifting attention from other civic issues.”


I don’t believe that any more than I believe Brett Murdock is, as he has so loudly suggested, the leading knight on a white horse trying to solve Brea’s unfunded pension liability.  What a ridiculous claim to make.

It’s on the agenda now.

I’m glad to see that the Mayor reversed his denial and is now allowing the discussion to occur.  Sadly, it’s slated for the study session on June 4th which means it’s at a time and place where the public isn’t likely to be free to attend and unfortunately will not get to hear a full report on the conversation.

Have the courage to take it downstairs!

With the whole matter blowing up as it has in the media weeks in advance, and with the unsubstantiated personal attacks being leveled to further keep the truth from seeing the full light of day, I’m curious to see what sort of preemptive strikes might be made when Council meets next week (05/21).

This would almost be funny if it wasn’t so sad and embarrassing.


Council Junket, Gangnam Style.

Back on September 20th, Brea Matters commented on the taxpayer paid vacation Don Schweitzer, Brett Murdock and Tim O’Donnell made to Anseong, South Korea and Hanno, Japan. Terri Daxon had a good piece on the same topic in the Star Progress the same day, but someone at the OCR felt it wasn’t worth their ink so it never made it into the Register’s print or web editions.

The total of the final tab remains a party secret, but airfare alone was $5,000 bucks.  An almost comical attempt at justifying the trip was made during a Sister City presentation to Council and now, 48 days later, the Orange County Register has graciously reprinted a city press release that, except for a sensationalist headline, paints a rosy picture of the junket.

Way to keep up with the news folks!

The CIOFF – International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folkarts are the promoters of the Anseong “World Folkloriada.”  The first such event was held in 1996, and there have only been four others since then, including Anseong.

It’s hardly an ancient and treasured event.  I have t-shirts older than that with far greater sentimental value and some representing a memorable cross-cultural exchange.

According to the CIOFF website, their objectives are to:

  • Promote the intangible heritage, through forms of expression such as dance, music, games, rituals, customs and other arts.
  • Serve the objectives of UNESCO.
  • Support the activities of its members and those of non-governmental organizations working in the areas of folklore and cultural heritage.  (Note the non-governmental reference and the absence of any reference to commerce or trade development.)
  • Serve the cause of peace and non-violence through the implementation of the above objectives.

Unlike the OCR’s reporting that, “The trip was a chance to learn from people in the sister cities and make contacts that could lead to commerce between Asian and Brea businesses.” – the sponsoring organization has nothing to do with commerce at any level.  For Mayor Schweitzer and friends to suggest this trip was about business is either hugely naive or willfully false.

Shame on the Orange County Register!  This is about as blatant a reprinting of a city press release as anything I’ve seen in the OCR.  Michael Mello, staff writer I guess, seems to have taken the Ryan/Reimer release and printed it verbatim.

What has happened to journalistic integrity? Would Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley or Bernstein and Woodward think this was a solid story? Not on your life.

How arrogant and totally presumptive, in his final days in office, for a Mayor to stick his hand in the cookie jar one final time.

How insulting that he passed out free cookies to his best friends… especially when there aren’t enough cookies to go around anymore.