From Koreagate To Surrogate.

At the encouragement of many, and the insistence of some, I’m compelled to dig deeper into this surrogate issue I’ve raised.

My position is that some candidates for council have been hand selected by a small number of former and current local elected officials and are being groomed to carry on the interests and opinions of these political factions.

These successors, substitutes, I prefer to call them surrogates, are part of campaign strategies designed to either preserve or overturn the current balance of power. I’m not going to stop now and name names. Most Brea Matters readers are already quite aware of who the players are.

Operation Clean Sweep

cleansweepCouncil member Moore’s suggestion is that the dysfunction infecting City Council can only be eliminated by voting a clean sweep, disallowing all incumbents from being reelected. I agree completely, but carry the suggestion one step further. If all that occurs is to change the faces without changing the dynamics, what will have been accomplished?

Nothing. The dysfunction remains.

The shift in power from one faction to another is not an acceptable objective. Operation Clean Sweep must shift the power back into the hands of the people. Elected officials need to learn that they are in the position they are to do the people’s bidding, not to carry out some myopic self-centered egotistical personal agenda.

The Puppet Masters.

PinocchioOne thing I will say about these puppet masters and their surrogates is that they do have considered opinions. They have invested their time and energy to study the community, to visualize ways to make Brea better.

Well so have I, a great deal more time and energy than some who think they belong in public office, and we disagree.

My dog in this fight.

HoundListen, my opinion on any given issue is but one voice amongst thousands. I am comfortable living with the majority rule. If most people want to paint a major intersection turquoise… fine.

I’ve been labeled a policy wonk, and rightfully so. I am far more concerned about the decision making process than I am about the final decision.

Well, Koreagate, Free Speech and Fracking aside.

There is no wiggle room there for me. Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell need to pay back the misappropriated funds, Council and staff need to stop impeding the people’s ability to make their opinions known and they all need to wake up to the reality of what’s really happening right in our fracking back yard.

“Hearing the oil and gas interests say they don’t know about the serious health implications of fracking next to homes, schools, and hospitals is like hearing the piano player at the cathouse saying he doesn’t know what’s going on upstairs.” – Nick Passanante, Coloradoans for Safe and Clean Energy.

If it looks like a duck…

Rubber duckWalks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck, dammit. Quit pretending it’s a bald eagle. The surrogates can whine and moan and call me unfair all they want.

We need to start seeing them on the campaign trail without their handlers lurking in the shadows. We need to hear something besides another chorus of Brea the Beautiful.

Until these surrogates have that break-away moment, pulling free of the petty little political factions that recruited them, launched and financed their campaigns… their status remains pretty clear.

Make up your own mind.

checksStart looking into this for yourself now, before your voter’s pamphlet and absentee ballot have been sitting on the kitchen table for weeks. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Find a candidate or two you can put your trust into, put their yard signs out in plain view. Give them ten bucks and wish them well.

When their opposition floods your mailbox with the inevitable mudslinging, backstabbing lies and innuendos… they call them hit pieces, recognize them for what they are and toss them in the trash where they belong.

But whatever you do, don’t start marking your ballot having no idea who the candidates really are, what they really stand for and where their allegiances lie.

Do your part and Operation Clean Sweep will begin building a better Brea.

 

Koreagate – Case Closed.

da-letterAfter almost 16 weeks the other shoe finally dropped. OC Senior Deputy District Attorney Raymond Armstrong sent me a letter saying they were closing their inquiry into Koreagate and that no further action would be taken.

I am still unsure what was actually done beyond quickly reading through the 15 to 20 documents provided as evidence in the complaint. Comments in Mr. Armstrong’s letter left more questions unanswered than answered.

I called his office to solicit more information on their process and ended up talking for some time to his associate SDDA Jaime Coulter. At the end of our conversation I understood the complexities in this case that would lead them to the conclusion that there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Letting the results be known.

What follows is my email to Marty Simonoff and Roy Moore (the only Council members interested in getting to the truth) as well as to Armstrong and Coulter plus a couple of OCR staff writers whom I had promised to keep informed.

Marty & Roy…

My response from the OCDA is attached. I called and spoke with Mr. Armstrong’s associate, Jaime Coulter, and it is clear that their investigation fell short of what I had expected. It was, however, conducted in a manner consistent with the prosecutorial restraints under which I understand their office must operate.

Per Mr. Coulter, the OCDA’s determination that there is no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing and their dismissal of my complaint hinges on the necessity for them to be able to prove “criminal intent to defraud” (steal from the city) as part of a case for misappropriation of public funds.

Intent is one the most difficult matters to prove, except perhaps under the more liberal burden of proof required in civil court. It’s a shame that “stupid” isn’t against the law, but then we all might be in serious jeopardy.

While I am not happy with the outcome, I am satisfied… my lengthy conversation with Mr. Coulter helped me to have a deeper, more clear understanding of these legal processes.

Mr. Armstrong’s letter states, “This also appears to be an issue that the city council could adequately address.”

Unfortunately, those most likely to be effected by continued pursuit of this matter, those who would be required to reimburse the city, maintain a strangle hold with their three votes which allows them to impede any effort counter to their personal agendas.

The good news is that, through over three months of relentless pressure from me and others and the wisdom in Measure T, the city has implemented positive standards which will avert this sort of unethical behavior from happening again. Itineraries will be required, Council will formally approve foreign travel and, hopefully, a more robust and enforceable travel policy will be adopted soon.

It’s perfectly legal to be stupid.

I never suggested, from day one, that there was any malice in the hearts of those who made such an ignorant blunder. When the culprits were publicly taken to task by Lynn Daucher, Bev Perry, Glen Parker and others no one called them criminals. It was clear enough that the choices made by Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell were more idiotic and ethically unwise than criminal chicanery.

Regardless of what convinced Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell it would be okay to spend almost half of the city’s annual travel budget on a ten day excursion to Korea and Japan… no law was broken. No common sense was exercised either and almost 50 years of precedents were totally and conveniently ignored.

So, where do we go from here?

First, Council needs to finish the job of formalizing an enforceable travel policy. They reached agreement, by consensus, to require public approval by Council for all foreign travel and that a complete itinerary must be included in the travel request to verify the official nature and direct benefits of the trip.

This is a good start but is nowhere near a robust and enforceable travel policy. A more thorough policy needs to be drafted and approved, in resolution form, in a public session. Not the study session, which might as well be held behind closed doors for all the transparency it provides, but downstairs in front of the tv cameras.

Throughout this lengthy ordeal, virtually all who called, emailed or stopped me on the street to talk about this felt as I did that Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell should reimburse the city. I still feel that way, and with one swing vote a Council majority would agree. I’m not holding my breath.

And finally, November 2014 will give us an opportunity to elect candidates who will truly have the people’s will as their guide and reject those politicians who have repeatedly thumbed their noses at the public, taken every stipend and free chicken dinner they could and spent more time trying to build their legacy than maintain our community.