Chamber board member John Koos, relying entirely upon misinformation and paranoid speculation, lashed out at residents asking Council to hold a town hall style meeting to get public input on an Environmental Advisory Board (see request here).
Instead of contacting the residents to better understand the objectives behind their year long discussions with Council, the Brea Chamber jumped to the false conclusion that the advisory board would be another layer of codes and regulations adding to the overwhelming state and federal oversight already choking the business community.
Had the Chamber spent more than two minutes Googling for information totally unrelated to the topic at hand… had the Chamber not employed a Ready! Fire! Aim! strategy… had the Chamber made any attempt to approach the residents with their concerns… the unfortunate foot-in-mouth comments from Mr. Koos and subsequent embarrassment would likely have been avoided all together.
Who is really being served?
There are 11,000 active business licenses in Brea, 5,000 of which are Brea based. The Chamber boasts a membership of roughly 400 businesses of which, they’ve admitted, perhaps 80 face environmentally based regulations and state or federal agency oversight.
That is 1.6% of Brea based businesses, 0.6% of all business serving Brea. Remind me again who the Chamber represents?
Where there is risk there must be choice.
No one disputes that there are numerous and varied environmental risks at play in Brea every day. From which industries, in what measure and how great a threat is anyone’s guess. No one at city hall has been able to adequately quantify it.
On one side of the scale we have 80 businesses, on the other 40,000+ residents. Tell me, which way do you see the scale tipping?
Does the Chamber have a right to advocate for it’s members? Of course. Should the other 10,920 businesses have an opportunity to wade in on the matter? Of course. But I can think of 40,000+ reasons to maintain a practical balance when weighing opinions.
What is an Environmental Advisory Board?
After months of going back and forth with Mayor Simonoff, Mayor Pro Tem Marick, other Council members and City Manager Bill Gallardo clearly the advisory board was not going to be a policy making body. All concerned agreed that there are more than enough regulations already.
Though the residents group was launched a year and a half ago to investigate local concerns about fracking, their mission expanded to include all areas of environmental concern. Public health and safety and good stewardship of our air and water emerged to become the central issues.
The deeper the inquiry the more it was discovered how little Brea really understood regarding it’s rights and responsibilities under the laws already in existence. The Environmental Advisory Board was conceived as a think tank tapping Breans with deep experience in environmental sciences and practices.
One concept proposed is for a seven member board including one nominee offered by each councilmember and two At Large positions… one filled by a representative (oddly enough) of the Brea Chamber and the other a command staff officer of the Brea FD.
The residents group has expressed a strong, nonnegotiable objection to the board becoming a vigilante group targeting the oil and gas industry. Also, careful guidelines will be required to avoid appointment as political spoils and block any threat of mission creep as well.
A simple request, a town hall meeting.
As expressed in their formal request to Council, the group believes it is time to move the discussion beyond the persistent lobbying of a grassroots special interest group and to open it up to a community wide conversation. It is the only way to ensure that the majority’s view is the one addressed by Council in reaching a final decision.
The repeated suggestion that “staff has been instructed to get answers to Council questions,” given the lengthy report already provided to Council and the discussions that have followed, are clear indicators that some councilmembers are suffering from analysis paralysis.
The next step just isn’t that difficult or complicated, regardless of uninformed kneejerk reactions like that from the Brea Chamber.
Council should ask the City Manager to find an appropriate opportunity in the near future to schedule a public meeting… just like the one on the downtown parking structure and the upcoming Notice of Public Hearing on Water Rates (218 requirement) to discuss tiered water rates.