On December 18, 2012, the Brea City Council reorganized in what has been described to me as everything from damned embarrassing to downright illegal. My post “A Dark Day In Brea History” and my reorganization wrap-ups “An Elephant In The Room – Part 1” and “An Elephant In The Room – Part 2” summarize the events and the issues facing Brea’s still dysfunctional Council.
I’m not alone here, others agree.
A sufficient number of Breans who witnessed the reorganization, as it unfolded live, or via replay from either Brea’s website or Time-Warner public access, felt strongly that the sequence of comments and events that put Ron Garcia in the Mayor’s seat and named Brett Murdock Mayor Pro Tem, clearly point towards collusion amongst some of the key players prior to the meeting.
I gave things a month for the dust to settle, hoping one of the “Old Guard” who stormed out of council chambers that night or some other angry citizen would take the facts to the Orange County District Attorney’s office seeking an investigation into possible Brown Act violations. Seeing none, I was left with little choice but to do it myself.
Here is an abbreviated version of what I submitted for consideration:
- Mayor Pro Tem Murdock used “formal motion” as opposed to “informal nomination” procedure to name Ron Garcia for Mayor. A clear attempt to block other nominations.
- Use of “informal nomination” procedure has been standard, for Council Commissions and Committees in Brea for decades. The process does not require a second and allows for multiple nominees.
- By turning from traditional nominating to the process of making a motion, Murdock and Garcia appear to have essentially used Robert’s Rules of Order to strangle the Council and intentionally limit their options.
- Roy Moore, upon attempting to nominate Marty Simonoff, was instructed by City Attorney James Markman that he was out of order. This was incorrect.
- To be accurate (and unbiased?), City Attorney James Markman should have instructed Roy Moore that he merely needed to make a substitute motion to add his nominee.
- In Roy Moore’s BreaNet #639, he confirmed the City Attorney’s error. Both Moore and Simonoff acknowledge chastising Markman following the meeting, Markman admitted his error.
- Ron Garcia used the same tactic to nominate Brett Murdock as Mayor Pro Tem for a second consecutive term, stating, “I would like to re-nominate… ummm… make a motion that Brett serve as Mayor Pro Tem which would give Brett Mayor… to serve as the Mayor in his 4 year term.”
- Ron Garcia’s motion seemed to preemptively also make Brett Murdock Mayor in 2014, the year he runs for reelection. This can’t be legal.
- Prior to the council meeting, council member Simonoff was approached by City Manager Tim O’Donnell who inquired whether he would be open to a quid pro quo making Marty Mayor and Brett Mayor Pro Tem. Marty informed Mr. O’Donnell that he “didn’t do quid pro quo” and terminated the conversation.
- The sequence of events and dialog, as described, suggest that there may have been collusion between Ron Garcia, Brett Murdock, James Markman, Tim O’Donnell and possibly Christine Marick.
Will the OCDA respond or blow me off?
Several have told me that getting a conviction on a Brown Act violation is virtually impossible, that even getting an investigation launched is extremely difficult. If I let this sort of pessimism rule my thinking, I’d give up before I even got started. Fat chance.
I hope that Mr. Rackauckas disproves this notion and assigns a Deputy DA to seriously investigate this matter.
I believe there is an endemic culture of secrecy and collusion in Brea city hall, and an arrogant disregard for the provisions of the Brown Act.
If I’m right, this ought not be allowed to continue one more minute and those who participated should be recalled or terminated.