Term Limits: Debate Or Debacle?

council_aAs term limits, once again, entered the public discourse last Tuesday evening I was reminded of something my dad said to me and my brothers on countless occasions, “Knock that crap off!”

term limitsThings started sliding downhill when comments were made during Matters From The Audience by the very people (former elected officials) who blocked any discussion of term limits when Steve Vargas raised the question in 2000 and Roy Moore asked to put it on the agenda in 2002.

While no one else who spoke specifically favored term limits, they acknowledged it’s timeliness, underscoring the complex options and how appropriate it is to hold a public debate.

ParkerFor almost an hour Council “discussed” the matter where some members resorted to language, accusations, gestures and tone of voice that violated all five guidelines Council adopted in their Code of Conduct covering behavior in public meetings. The lack of civility during Council’s debate was alarming and reminded me of how petty and political municipal government has become.

Councilman Simonoff, a perpetual opponent to term limits (considering running for an unprecedented sixth term) dug up an obscure response I made to someone commenting on Brea Matters four years ago. “The notion that anyone has an expiration date after which they are no longer capable of contributing to society is preposterous.”

SimonoffWell, four years have passed. Since then, especially this past year as Mayor Simonoff orchestrated the most unproductive Mayoral year I can remember, he consistently has kicked the can down the road on important issues.

Was he hoping to avoid any possible new blemishes on his record as he prepared his attempt to set a city record for consecutive terms in office? Seems more than plausible.

No worries Councilman Simonoff, you could continue to contribute to society by volunteering at the Senior Center or with the Brea PD as a VIPS Officer. As far extending your career in politics… twenty is plenty.

Finally, as the vitriolic exchange ran it’s course and everyone had ample opportunity to share their opinions, Mayor Marick put a lid on the embarrassing and unproductive runaway discussion… bringing a voice of reason to the proceedings.

MarickShe pointed out that neither the upcoming meeting of Brea First addressing term limits and campaign finance reform nor the floundering Brea Envisions project facing another nine months before completion, was an appropriate place to kick the can.

Further, to ward off a threat from outside the community to collect signatures and jam a “two terms and out” term limit initiative on November’s ballot, Mayor Marick pointed out it’s Council’s responsibility to manage the discussion and to act upon the majority opinion in a timely manner.

Staff was instructed to come back with recommendations, amongst other things, on how best to conduct a public forum on campaign finance reform and term limits.

This seems to be a perfect place to share a recent comment posted on medium.com by Vice President Biden, “Our country’s history is studded with moments where we’ve found a way to moderate the extreme reactions that threaten to tear us apart — and find a path to progress. It’s when we’re truly at our best.”

So, as my dad used to say, “Knock that crap off!”

This isn’t rocket science or tiered water rates. There is no reason we can’t have civil discussions about term limits and campaign finance reform – and reach a consensus about how we wish to formally deal with these issues in a way that will benefit the community for generations to come.

To view the meeting yourself, go to Brea’s website and click the “Meeting Index” tab, then 11 Matters from the Audience and 14 Term Limits Discussion.

term limits


The Heart Of The Matter.

Years ago, probably in a moment of weakness, Mr. O’Donnell shared with me his favorite definition of leadership. He attributed it to Marty Linsky, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

“Leadership is disappointing your constituents in increments they can absorb.”

Is there any wonder how government policies in Brea have reached their current condition? Do you need a better reason to vote yes on Measures T and U?

Don’t let the old guard fool you.

We need open government and accountability now.

Punxsutawney John Caught Red Handed.

In a recent Brea Net (#629), Councilman Roy Moore’s newsletter, fed up with the misinformation and outright lying that has once again contaminated the political process here in Brea, Roy calls a spade a spade. Here’s what Roy had to say…

“Former city council member John Beauman chipped in his opinion on Measurers T and U.  In his September 26, 2012 blog he accused former city council member and current city council candidate Steve Vargas of  ‘… costing the City legal fees in the tens of thousands of dollars.’  He added, “After a lengthy and thorough legal investigation, no evidence was fold (Sp?) to substantiate his claims.

This statement is false.  I reported on this topic in my newsletters 160 and 161, dated July 17, 2002 and July 25, 2002 respectively.  Council member Vargas believed the City Council was breaking the Brown Act via email and requested copies of all emails between council members for the past year.  When informed that this action would be costly he agreed to three months of emails.  As pointed out in newsletter 161, ‘Prior to submittal a staff member of the law firm Richard, Watson and Gershon will review the emails.  The review will be done on the City’s retainer and will not incur additional cost.’  No law suit and no expenditure of tens of thousands of dollars.  Mr. Beauman should apologize to Mr. Vargas.”

Punxsutawney John Fires Back!

And here is how Punxsutawney John chose to do damage control, having been caught red-handed twisting the truth to fit his warped perspective of history.

He buried this in the middle of his hardly readable blog post hoping no one would notice.

“Councilman Roy Moore claimed the effort didn’t cost the City anything. Acutally, the hours spent in the effort were recorded and charged against the City’s legal retainer. So, the City was charged legal fees but they were applied against the City’s retainer with the City Attorney’s firm. Staff hours were expended on the effort, but were absorbed into the City’s payroll.”

You and O’Donnell can’t have your cake and eat it too, Punxsutawney John.

You can’t one day choose to bury expenses by ascribing them to overhead, calling them “soft costs” so it appears that you’re fiscally responsible (when you’re not), then choose to single out similar expenses characterizing them as an egregious waste of public funds.

Listen Punxsutawney John, if you’re going to cut-and-paste from some cover-your-butt worksheet one of your undercover cohorts has prepared for you, here’s a couple of suggestions.

First, run spellcheck and have someone with half a brain look over the grammar. I’ve read more compelling papers with far fewer mistakes from high school seniors.

Second, when you cut-and-paste from an incompatible document format into your blog or email, remember to remove the artifact “&apos” as most savvy folks recognize that as cyber-shorthand for Annoying Piece of Sh*t.

Time to man up Punxsutawney John, assuming you have the strength of character to carry it off.

Apologize to Mr. Vargas and Mr. Vodhanel… and then disappear at least until next Spring.