A Simple Confession.

Spongebob_AIt’s been a while since I last posted here. Frankly, the continued juvenile behavior in council chambers, meeting after meeting, is less than motivating. I’d almost rather that Time Warner replaced their bi-weekly meeting coverage with reruns of SpongeBob SquarePants.

Seriously, have you ever seen five people so unable to get along together, so incredibly dysfunctional, incapable of building consensus on even simple matters?

Wake up Brea.

With a contentious and heated campaign season just around the corner, it’s time Brean’s took stock of their options and made some effort to follow what’s happening down at 1 Civic Center Circle. The average Brea resident can’t name one member of the City Council.

madonna_bIn recent weeks I’ve been asking folks what they thought of Madrona. “She’s starting to show her age.”

No. I’m not kidding. Someone actually said that. Most people had no clue what Madrona is, more about that in a moment.

I also asked readers of Brea Matters, typically well informed high probability voters, what issues they felt were the most critical at the moment… most likely to be woven into campaign rhetoric.

I’m pleased to say I received a respectable response, thoughtful and articulate answers, and am consolidating them for an upcoming post.

Back to Madrona.

Oh, and for those still clueless, “Madrona” is a hillside development that’s been in gestation in one form or another for over 20 years. It made it through the Planning Commission, which vexed the save-the-hills crowd and a handful of villagers.

The Triangle Fire opened the door for this nimby (not in my back yard) bunch to appeal the commission’s decision and it’s landed in front of our dysfunctional council.

The subsequent public hearing has brought out the worst in all concerned. It is he-said-she-said with hardly any way to truly fact check the claims of either side.

Council, I’ll make it easy for you.

apples-oranges_150Whether you approve the project or not, you’re going to get sued. Deny the project and the applicant will drag you into court. Approve the project and the appellant will do likewise.

The answer is simple, figure out who you have the best shot at beating in the courtroom and cast your vote for their opponent.

I suggest you approve the project. The whiney complaints of the small special interest group will ring hollow when juxtaposed with the property rights side of the argument. And wouldn’t it be nice if we could avoid one more developer financially crumbling under the weight of Brea’s incompetence?

But, for heaven’s sake, don’t pretend you need more information to make your decision. Bouncing this back to staff after all these years, is like giving yourself a big dose of novacain. Trust me, you can’t avoid the pain… it’s inevitable.


It’s All Up Hill From Here.

On December 18, 2012, the Brea City Council reorganized in what has been described to me as everything from damned embarrassing to downright illegal. My post “A Dark Day In Brea History” and my reorganization wrap-ups “An Elephant In The Room – Part 1” and “An Elephant In The Room – Part 2” summarize the events and the issues facing Brea’s still dysfunctional Council.

I’m not alone here, others agree.

A sufficient number of Breans who witnessed the reorganization, as it unfolded live, or via replay from either Brea’s website or Time-Warner public access, felt strongly that the sequence of comments and events that put Ron Garcia in the Mayor’s seat and named Brett Murdock Mayor Pro Tem, clearly point towards collusion amongst some of the key players prior to the meeting.

I gave things a month for the dust to settle, hoping one of the “Old Guard” who stormed out of council chambers that night or some other angry citizen would take the facts to the Orange County District Attorney’s office seeking an investigation into possible Brown Act violations. Seeing none, I was left with little choice but to do it myself.

Here is an abbreviated version of what I submitted for consideration:

  • Mayor Pro Tem Murdock used “formal motion” as opposed to “informal nomination” procedure to name Ron Garcia for Mayor. A clear attempt to block other nominations.
  • Use of “informal nomination” procedure has been standard, for Council Commissions and Committees in Brea for decades. The process does not require a second and allows for multiple nominees.
  • By turning from traditional nominating to the process of making a motion, Murdock and Garcia appear to have essentially used Robert’s Rules of Order to strangle the Council and intentionally limit their options.
  • Roy Moore, upon attempting to nominate Marty Simonoff, was instructed by City Attorney James Markman that he was out of order. This was incorrect.
  • To be accurate (and unbiased?), City Attorney James Markman should have instructed Roy Moore that he merely needed to make a substitute motion to add his nominee.
  • In Roy Moore’s BreaNet #639, he confirmed the City Attorney’s error. Both Moore and Simonoff acknowledge chastising Markman following the meeting, Markman admitted his error.
  • Ron Garcia used the same tactic to nominate Brett Murdock as Mayor Pro Tem for a second consecutive term, stating, “I would like to re-nominate… ummm… make a motion that Brett serve as Mayor Pro Tem which would give Brett Mayor… to serve as the Mayor in his 4 year term.”
  • Ron Garcia’s motion seemed to preemptively also make Brett Murdock Mayor in 2014, the year he runs for reelection. This can’t be legal.
  • Prior to the council meeting, council member Simonoff was approached by City Manager Tim O’Donnell who inquired whether he would be open to a quid pro quo making Marty Mayor and Brett Mayor Pro Tem. Marty informed Mr. O’Donnell that he “didn’t do quid pro quo” and terminated the conversation.
  • The sequence of events and dialog, as described, suggest that there may have been collusion between Ron Garcia, Brett Murdock, James Markman, Tim O’Donnell and possibly Christine Marick.

rackauckas_aWill the OCDA respond or blow me off?

Several have told me that getting a conviction on a Brown Act violation is virtually impossible, that even getting an investigation launched is extremely difficult. If I let this sort of pessimism rule my thinking, I’d give up before I even got started. Fat chance.

I hope that Mr. Rackauckas disproves this notion and assigns a Deputy DA to seriously investigate this matter.

I believe there is an endemic culture of secrecy and collusion in Brea city hall, and an arrogant disregard for the provisions of the Brown Act.

If I’m right, this ought not be allowed to continue one more minute and those who participated should be recalled or terminated.