One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others.

Lets wrap our heads around three things that, on the surface, don’t immediately appear to be connected. The Senior Lunch Program, Council travel expenses for unofficial junkets and the Sister City Program.

Senior lunch program starved for funding.

lunchThanks to federal sequestration, the supplier of our senior’s lunches (SeniorServ, Inc.) took a funding hit that costs us 3,300 lunches a year and resulted in a staff cut of 20%. Estimated at a value of $2.50 per lunch, that’s $8,250 a year. Who knows what the staff cost is?

Is this item making it onto the study session agenda? No.

Lets talk Koreagate again.

stewardessTaxpayers coughed up around $9,450 to send Schweitzer, Murdock and O’Donnell on an unofficial sightseeing junket to Anseong, S. Korea and Hanno, Japan. Though hammered publicly for over a year, subjected to an investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s office and supported by various current and former Council members, we’ve not seen a penny reimbursed.

Is this item making it onto the study session agenda? No.

Sister Cities groups up for review.

commend_200Brea’s two Sister City groups, the original Lagos de Moreno/Hanno group and the newly formed Anseong group are up for review. The question is, after fifty plus years, is it time to ease them out of the nest and put the $6,000 stipend back into the General Fund to support other causes?

These organizations are certainly capable of being self sufficient. And, by severing the ceremonial ties once and for all, there should no longer be a question about paying those hefty travel expenses for Mayors and other elected, appointed officials or city staff.

Yup, you guessed it, this is the one that is on tomorrow’s study session agenda.

Adding insult to injury.

bowtie_garciaMayor Garcia is currently invited to the Anseong Namsadang Baudeogi Festival, an annual event dating back 100 years. The festival consists of tightrope walking, Korean folk drumming, plate spinning, acrobatics and gymnastics on a straw mat, puppet plays and masked dance drama.

All artforms that I’m sure our Mayor mastered years ago! Unfortunately, there isn’t any provision for amateur stand-up comedy or competitive eating.

Mayor Garcia is wondering if the city will pick up the tab for him to attend?  Nope!  Not until Anseong’s Mayor sees fit to come to Brea specifically to help us celebrate our Country Fair. They seem comparable in scope, if not equally antiquated.

So, what is the common thread? Your tax dollars.

Council needs to decide what is more important, sending public “servants” on all expenses paid vacations, funding private nonprofit cultural exchange organizations or giving our seniors a decent lunch five days a week.

Hands down, the seniors get my vote. What do you think?

 

Who lobbied city hall?

I stepped off the elevator on the third floor and turned left as usual. Then it hit me, I must be in the wrong building! Where were those ugly low 1950’s modular couches, the memorial fountain and the dogeared copies of the Star Progress?

Then, from behind her new rosewood workstation, came the receptionist’s customary greeting, “Hi Rick, who are you here to see today?”

Someone has been doing some serious lobbying.

Overnight everything had changed. Out with the old, in with the new. Walls were washed or painted, council member’s mugshots were reframed and moved, Mr. Fox’s fountain had a new home with an Ikea rug and private seating, a conference table appeared out of nowhere and the vintage cluttered literature rack was, delightfully, nowhere to be found.

I’m all about home improvements.

But in this tight economy, with the city begging for donations at every turn, where did we come up with the money to turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse? Was Ty Pennington here and I just missed him?

I thought about the cuts to kids and seniors programs, fewer concerts in the park, fewer summer movies, reduced family services and I couldn’t help wondering, “Who’s bright idea was this?”

I wondered if it was a gift from the city manager, a heartwarming way to tell the people of Brea thank you for the big raise and bonus check.

Did I miss this on the agenda?

Nope. Never on the agenda, never discussed. No public hearing needed, not a council decision apparently. Just another one of those little things that magically seems to happen when no one is looking… municipal government chugging along like it has for decades.

Bus driver! Move that bus!