The jury is still out – Part One

On January 25th, Council Member Roy Moore published Issue 597 of his Brea Net newsletter.

In it he chronicles the events surrounding the raise Council gave themselves back in June, especially the fiasco following and the eventual reversal of that decision.

As of today, all Council Members except Brett Murdock have arranged to pay back the $3,600 they each received in retroactive pay.

To put everything I’m about to say into context, I highly recommend you first read Roy’s full newsletter by clicking the link above.

Roy Raises Important Issues.

Within Roy’s explanation of events, which I personally find to be the most credible thus far and consequently the most believable, are several important issues that have not been adequately or publically addressed.

These issues include nominally related matters being lumped together as consent items providing a convenient means of masking the serious nature of the topic, items that would be more honestly addressed independently and within formal public hearings; the continued poor, sometimes incomplete preparation of staff reports; the wrongfully diminished authority of the Mayor and Council Members, particularly in the matter of the Mayor’s managing and setting of agenda discussion items; personal and political agendas taking precedent over the will of a majority of the community.

And, finally, procedural policies and protocols that provide numerous opportunities for Council and staff to, inadvertently or willfully, commit malfeasance in the course of carrying out their duties with little or no opportunity for public oversight or intercession.

My next few blog entries will address these issues in more detail, beginning with…

The Misleading Nature Of Consent Items.

In his report Roy points out, “At the June 7, 2011 council meeting the Consent Calendar consisted of seven consent items.

The Consent Calendar is where multiple items, mostly routine, are considered and passed by a single vote without discussion.

Item 12.7 consisted of three separate elements: 1) The contract memorandum between the City of Brea and the Brea Fire Management Association, 2) salary range increases and a flex benefit increase of $450/month for city executives, and 3) part time employee salary increases.

I pulled Item 12.7 off of the Consent Calendar for separate discussion and vote.  The three elements were also separated for separate votes. Elements 1 and 3 were unanimously passed.  Element 2, after discussion, was passed on a 4-1 vote with me dissenting.”

Though it may be somewhat more convenient to consolidate similar matters, minimally discussed at study sessions, into single consent items in order to shorten meetings, the public is denied the opportunity to fully follow and understand the matters in question, to make public inquiry for clarification or make public comment to make Council aware of what their constituents would prefer.

Closing thoughts.

I believe the people of Brea would be best served if Council would put the subject of Consent Calendar items on the agenda for discussion, not at a study session but during a regular televised meeting, so that the public might weigh in on the matter. It is long overdue to revisit what should and should not be designated as justification to put an item, or collection of items, on the Consent Calendar.

Next time on Brea Matters.

Flex benefits, who knew what when and were there any ethical breaches or laws bent or broken?