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


13 thoughts on “Term Limits: Debate Or Debacle?

  1. No better words ever spoken. It is for the next generation, or better yet future generations, time goes by fast. Statesmen before politicians. Yes. Ed

    • Ed… Hearing from a long time Brean is deeply appreciated. Your comment echoes so many I’m hearing. I’m hoping Brea voters are waking up to address the issues that will effect generations to come.

  2. I agree with Ed, great summary. This is the can kickingest council I’ve ever seen. Canyon Crest and the downtown parking structure took years to resolve, but they can shove through a total ban on medical marijuana in the blink of an eye. Pretty damned random.

    They need to hold a public forum themselves, and soon. But don’t hold your breath. They’ll hire a consultant at five times the cost of putting an initiative on the ballot to do some sort of survey. It will take months to complete and will be as bogus as the fire services study Bev Perry did for her buddy O’Donnell.

    Your dad was right on!

    • Jim… Ed has been a pillar of the community for decades. He’s never sought recognition and is one of Brea schools best friends.

      I hope you’re wrong but have a hunch you’re right about that survey thing. Brea loves surveys.

      When Councilman Parker was ranting about “We’re not Irvine!” and “We really don’t care what other cities do!” I thought immediately of the Ten City Survey. You know, the one where we used what other cities were doing with staff compensation as justification to pay our City Manager over $250,000 a year… by the way, Jerry Brown makes $173,000. Brea has 43,000 residents, California has 39.0 million.

      Councilman Parker’s cherrypicked statistics offered little or no insight into this matter. Half the people he mentioned who had served over three terms on Council were in the room and arguing against term rates. Hmmm… funny how that works.

  3. Rick, You can’t make this stuff up! I agree with the previous comments about the ineptitude of reports that were written to justify the ends, but there is a huge caveat with all things prior, and that is the former city manager is gone. He was personally responsible for most if not all of the past problems.

    So let me get this straight on the term limits initiative that Steve Vargas is putting on the ballot; 2 terms and done, period? So by definition, Steve Vargas would have to pledge not to run ever again to not be a hypocrite and practice what he preaches? Furthermore, if I understand this correctly, John Koos has announced he won’t run, but he supports the Vargas initiative? And now Ron Garcia, is “mulling” another run for council, who happens to have Koos full support?

    Wow, wow, and more wow. How about we keep our eye on the ball, focus on pension reform, and look at campaign contribution reform , and stop Republic Waste and Edison, etc etc from influencing our elections while simultaneously reaping millions from we regular citizens.

    Dwight Manley

    • Dwight… I am of like mind that the O’Donnell factor cannot be ignored. Much more difficult to understand is if any remnant lingers and, if so, what impact it might actually have on current events.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but as of this moment no one has filed to put term limits on the ballot. Councilman Vargas has loudly brought the subject up again, with sense of urgency.

      The California Term Limits PAC, whose correspondence to Council I reproduced with permission in “Term Limits Gains Support” contained this thinly veiled threat, “The California Term Limits PAC has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars around California the last few years advancing the cause of term limits. We look forward to working on this issue in Brea.”

      I know of no one who likes the idea of an outsider forcing anything down our throat. In fact, no one person has the authority to usurp the people’s right to choose. Without proper public discourse, without Council weighing the pros and cons, without an initiative that clearly reflects the majority opinion… filing for a term limit ballot initiative would be nothing more than a hijacking.

      Koos seems to have confirmed he has no plans to run and it’s obvious he is a proponent of term limits. Whether he supports whatever might turn out to be a “Vargas Initiative” I haven’t a clue.

      I haven’t heard a word about Garcia in several years. However, if his goodbye party as he exited Council is any indication, John Koos is likely his only supporter. I wouldn’t want to make odds on another Garcia campaign.

      Finally, yes… pension reform, campaign finance reform, etc. are more critical issues than how long someone can camp out on Council. Is Brea First still planning a term limits discussion or will that be set aside for these more impending threats?

  4. Rick,

    I have just listened to the term limit discussion. I think your description of what happened is highly inflammatory. You said, “For almost an hour Council “discussed” the matter where some members resorted to language, accusations, gestures and tone of voice that violated all five guidelines.” I did not hear that at all. The only thing I heard was Council Member Vargas threatening to bring in an outside group to get the signatures he wanted to get a resolution, that at this point no one knows what it will say, on the ballot for the general election. To me this is totally unacceptable behavior.

    I cannot believe that you are postulating that this was anything but a civil discussion. Councilman Parker brought up very enlightening statistics about the last 100 years of Brea politics. Statistics show we the citizens of Brea don’t need a formalized term limit program. Personally, I think they have done more harm than good.

    We do need to look at all areas and what impact a resolution just to have a resolution will mean to the citizens of Brea. I don’t care that other cities have done. At this point, I don’t believe they are needed. The citizens know best.

    Councilman Vargas please, if you want to be a reformer, be one, but not a rabble rouser without regard for the larger segment of the people of Brea.

    Christie Russell

    • Christie… It was only after receiving several dozen calls and email from folks expressing exactly the reaction and commentary I expressed in the blog that I wrote this.

      Council’s exchange on term limits was 59 minutes and change. There was heated shouting, over talking, accusations without foundation and yes, I still maintain that every guideline in the Code of Conduct was violated.

      The greater threat comes from the California Term Limits PAC. Yes, Councilman Vargas seems to think it absolutely necessary to turn term limits into a 2016 ballot measure, however without already putting the wheels in motion, there is probably neither time nor a pressing reason to do that.

      Councilman Parker did share some interesting history. Two of the four Council members to have served three or more terms were in the room and were quite vocal in their opposition to term limits… Former Mayor Perry and Councilman Simonoff. Former Mayor Punxsutawney John Beauman was roused from his den for his annual excursion into the light of day. I frankly found his comments rambling and hard to follow, but I think winter may finally be over.

      As I mentioned before, “When Councilman Parker was ranting about “We’re not Irvine!” and “We really don’t care what other cities do!” I thought immediately of the Ten City Survey.

      IMHO, until Council believes they have done their due diligence in getting the public’s thoughts and opinions on the record, there should be no move towards a resolution of any kind, for or against term limits.

      So yes, the citizens know best and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to find out what that might be.

      Thanks for being the first to dive in and articulate a point-of-view in opposition to mine. We’ve worked together on important issues and share a deep love for this community. I hope I will hear from you again… and often.

  5. Thank you for posting my reply.

    From Dwight Manley’s reply, it appears that Steve Vargas had no intention of listening to the citizens of Brea. He agreed to have the City Staff research and come up with proposals. I now suggest that Steve Vargas be personally billed for staff time since he had no intention of listening to staff, to the council or to the citizens.

    I would like to know how much this is costing the City of Brea for the staff time and the City Attorney’s time. Again, Steve wastes tax payers money.

    I am so disappointed in his actions. I had hoped that he had matured in the 16 years that he had left. Obviouisly, he hasn’t. His vindictive actions against the citizens of Brea are dispicable.

    Definition (deserving hatred and contempt.”a despicable crime”
    synonyms: contemptible, loathsome, hateful, detestable, reprehensible, abhorrent, abominable, awful, heinous;) in my opinion.

  6. Christie is echoing the comments I’m hearing all over town.

    And Glenn Parker was not “ranting”. He was passionately standing up to someone that was trying to ram something down Brea’s throat in 40 days, without any reasonable time to build awareness and learn what the implications are. I applaud Mr Parker for learning from the past mistakes of previous Brea council’s voting to do things just because “other” cities did the same (PENSION SCAM).

    • Dwight… Yes, I feel as though Christie’s boldness to speak out, especially here, show’s the silent majority still has a voice and is unafraid to use it.

      One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.

      Councilman Parker was certainly passionate but the style of delivery was too much like today’s campaign surrogates and I can’t help but dub it a rant. Quite guilty of ranting myself, it takes one to know one.

      When Councilman Parker suggests “We really don’t care what other cities do!” he is not learning from the past – he is conveniently overlooking the Ten City Survey (O’DONNELL SALARY SCAM).

  7. Glenn Parker’s point about “not caring what other cities do” was coupled with a comment about not following people that jump off cliffs”. His point, precise as a laser missile, was that Brea should NOT do anything because another city did it.

    Mr Vargas only justification for this railroaded initiative was the majority of other Orange County cities have term limits.

    As a person that made my lot in life by not “following the herd” not only applaud Mr Parker on that passionate dissertation, I want to give him a giant hug for the whole community!

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