Leave it to Steve Vargas to completely botch something as simple as initiating a personnel change.
Wednesday, September 28 started like any other day, then I received a simple text, “Condolences.”
When I responded, “Why?” a friend sent me a copy of a letter from Steve Vargas firing me from the Planning Commission.
By the end of the day I’d received calls or emails from dozens of well wishers, had two lengthy phone conversations with City Manager Bill Gallardo… but no “official” copy of the letter from Mr. Vargas which didn’t arrive until the next morning. So much for common courtesy.
The next 48 hours were a blizzard of texts, phone calls and emails. The City Attorney, Jim Markman weighed in citing city code and taking the obligatory neutral position. Can’t blame him really, he has five bosses and one just put him in a most untenable position.
After the dust had settled, I sent a summary email to the City Manager, and felt Brea Matters readers deserved to get this side of the story.
To the City Manager…
This is in response to your text message to me following your meetings with Jim Markman and Steve Vargas on Thursday afternoon.
In short, here is a synopsis for context. “After much discussion, Steve Vargas has, per the code, the ability to remove his appointment. He does not need a reason or cause… Tuesday night, on the [study session] agenda, Council will discuss the timeline to fill the unscheduled vacancy.”
Steve’s unilateral decision to dismiss me from the Planning Commission may be done without cause, however he chose to include a statement of cause in his notification letter. He thus opens the door to rebuttal.
There is not a word of truth in what he says are the reasons he’s firing me. None. No two year agreement. No failure to respond. No obligation to keep him informed. The notion that he is incapable of doing his job as member of Council without my input is ludicrous.
As I’ve expressed to you previously, in detail, many who’ve become aware of this sad and regrettable moment in Brea history, including current and former members of Council, Commissioners and Committee members, share a common opinion. My dismissal is nothing more than retribution.
Retribution for what?
- For filing a complaint with the FPPC regarding the $25,000 donation to Steve’s campaign committee by Brea businessman Druva Hardas without filing the required “Major Donor” information.
- For asking the Building Department [code enforcement] if the Vet’s Club was permitted for the construction in progress which, it turns out, they weren’t. The project was shut down and plans have yet to make it through plan check.
- For asking the Planning Department if the Vet’s Club’s original entitlement for an ABC license, as a private club, is still valid. The Vet’s Club no longer owns the building. Use of the facilities (bar) has been opened up to a broader customer group than what was originally specified. I ask if the Vet’s Club should apply to the Planning Commission for a CUP to perpetuate the liquor license entitlement.
- For publishing the preemptive guest blog on term limits, forcing the discussion into the public forum, by John Koos in Brea Matters.
- For publishing the reaction to Steve’s unilateral attempt to put a draconian term limits initiative on the November ballot guest blog by Brea resident Christie Russell.
Pick one, pick them all. More than enough to trigger retaliation from an obviously tormented mind.
When we first spoke about all of this last Wednesday, when half of Brea had received a copy of the dismissal letter and I had not, I told you, “The GPS on my phone indicates that I am in the absolute center of I don’t give a damn.”
I haven’t moved. Unlike too many in public service, I am not defined by the titles I’ve held or the positions I’ve filled. I am pleased to have been able to give back to Brea in various capacities for over 15 years. I will continue to do so through my blog Brea Matters.
A world of support.
Let me interject that I have received the most helpful and supportive treatment from Bill Gallardo, other members of Council and friends in the community.
This support is deeply appreciated when blindsided by an irresponsible person, hell bent on self destruction, with little regard for the community he was elected to serve.
Final thoughts on Mr. Vargas.
Well, there you have it, a dark day for Brea. I could find no Commissioner or Committee member in the 99 year history of Brea that has received such callous treatment at the hands of a member of Council.
I’ve heard Vargas referred to as a “loose cannon” many times. A rather apt metaphor to be sure.
Once again Vargas proves how unworthy he is to hold the office of Council member. On a brighter note, he has single handedly guaranteed that he will be clean swept in 2018… here or wherever his ego puts him on the ballot.
If you, like me, have had just about enough of Mr. Vargas… please, for the love of Brea, do not vote for his surrogate Christopher Parkin for Council or his wingman Rick Rios for Treasurer. Thanks!