OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Posts Tagged ‘city council’

Can’t We All Just Get Along: Politics as usual in Yorba Linda

Posted by Brenda Higgins on January 23, 2014

I hate to quote Rodney King, but it just fits. There are too many important races coming up this year and too much at stake to not take an early look at alignments, tactics and issues.

In my little town of Yorba Linda, we have the usual onslaught, yes, already, of Republican on Republican verbal violence. It makes no sense, and literally everyone loses in such a battle. There is a movement afoot, to recall two council members. There is no allegation of abuse of power, of violation of law, of conflict of interest, sexual or moral misconduct, the gist of this movement is that they did not keep their campaign promises.

Really. Shocking. Whether they did or didn’t, just shocking that such an allegation would arise.

One of the Council Members targeted in the recall is up for re-election in NOVEMBER. Mark my words, the candidates and their supporters who are behind this, will run in November beating the drum of how they are the “real” fiscal conservatives. Please consider the cost of this recall effort. Even if it goes nowhere, the city staff still must count and review the signatures obtained and the application paperwork.

Recalls should be reserved for serious and egregious conduct, not just because you don’t like who’s in office. That is precisely the situation with this one, as well as the last unsuccessful recall effort (that would be the ‘other’ side who tried that last cycle) The current recall literature is couched in terms of high versus low density zoning. This is a perennial issue in Yorba Linda which has existed as a very contentious one for more than two decades.

News Flash: Nobody wants HIGH Density zoning. The proverbial, NOT IN MY BACKYARD attitude prevails. The best spin doctors on this issue, many years ago, used the term, “low income” housing. Which is confusing and lead people to have images of a Harlem style development, also formally known as Section 8 housing. Higher density does not mean Section 8 housing.

The one true statement that appears in the literature from both sides is that it is gonna happen. The part that is not true, is each side attributing ‘fault’ to the other. The real villain in the scenario is Sacramento. The state mandates that the city have some land available for building homes that are “affordable”. Last time I checked that was the theory of housing for a family of four with an income of about $40,000 per year. We can’t be sure where the Sacramento brain trust came up with such an imaginary family, but I can assure you, regardless of what they build in Yorba Linda, it is not likely to be affordable for that family under any circumstances. The theory though, requires that the “density”, or the number of homes per acre, must be raised to more homes per acre than Yorba Linda has had historically, in order to satisfy this State mandate.

If Yorba Linda does not in some way comply, there will be litigation. State of California vs. Yorba Linda, is not a case that I want to see filed anywhere. It is likely to be very costly and the bottom line is, Yorba Linda loses. I suppose there is a tangential argument (Translation of tangential: Ridiculous and unsuccessful) that we Yorba Lindans have a proprietary and constitutional right to all have low density zoning, anywhere and everywhere in our town because that is what we bargained for when we moved in here and paid all this money for our lovely homes.

This has been tried before. The U.S. Supreme Court block busting cases, Kraemer, and it’s progeny, basically said what we all already know, our constitutional rights all have limits. All of them, even the ones related to ownership of property. Keeping people out on the basis on economic impediments is likely to go as well as keeping people out on the basis of race. Likely result of the litigation is the California law will be upheld and Yorba Linda will foot the bill for the whole fiasco. The city’s law firm, and the numerous law clerks who would work on the case would be imminently pleased to have learned so much about constitutional and municipal zoning laws, at our expense. So, if you think High Density will have a negative impact on your property taxes, just wait till City Hall gets our lawyers involved with litigation with the State and see what happens to our city’s otherwise bright financial future.

The city’s coffers are not the piggy bank of politicians to take up and take on ridiculous issues for the purposes of keeping their names in the paper. Look around residents, it has become the status quo. Everytime you see a Yorba Linda politician in the paper or on the news it is usually NOT about an issue that has a close nexus to something that is in the best interests of the city.

Everybody in the race this year is likely to be Republican. Everybody in the race this year is going to be waving the flag of being a “Fiscal Conservative”. PLEASE PAY ATTENTION to the spin, here because in general they are all SAYING THE SAME THING.

We don’t want HIGH Density, but we DON’T want litigation either. We must walk this fine line between getting what we want and placating big brother. Anyone who is telling you something different, anyone who is blaming the other guys and saying it is THEIR fault and THEY broke promises, and I can give you the proverbial “chicken in every pot” (or a half acre for everyone in the case of Yorba Linda), well they are just not being truthful with you.

The bloodsport of politics in the city of Yorba Linda is likely to be as ugly as any year prior. Be informed, tell the people standing in front of your grocery store that you are informed and that there presence is decreasing your property value as much as anything.

The only thing to be gained by any of this posturing is to ruin some candidates and get attention for other candidates. We as citizens encourage this by tolerating and ignoring it. These ugly and contentious races have kept away good candidates and very much work to minimize public participation of those who fear retribution. I don’t know about you, but my intent is to be aware and not support the negativity and histrionic shenanigans of these people. We should all make that known to the candidates as they announce their candidacy in the coming weeks.

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If only I were the wagering type…

Posted by Brenda Higgins on April 25, 2012

Not good news for fans of the Brea Police Department. 

In a not surprising alignment, Winder-Lindsey voted in favor of renewing with Brea PD, Anderson-Schwing-Rikel voted to begin a new contract with OCSD.  If anyone reading this is surprised by this result, I have some ocean front property in Arizona I’d love to speak to you about. 

Many things were not considered in the evaluation of the bids.  The overall sensibility seems the most overlooked.  A new station is needed, new squad cars, new equipment, guns radios, phones, desks, copy machines for any agency that replaces Brea PD …..and the OSCD per their proposal is going to staff up and set up all of this at a reduced cost, saving the city of Yorba Linda $1 Million dollars each year, $5 Million over the life of their contract.  That is more than $80,000.00 per month, less than the department who has been providing this service for 42 years, and they are fully equipped and staffed up.  That’s fantastic, and the county officials who developed this bid and business model should really be consulting in private industry because in this economy, we could all use some advice on how to do that kind of magic. .

Anaheim was never realistically in the running, which is sad, because they had a great presentation, and a sensible, believable bid.   They impressed with their availability of services, special teams and technology, as well as their knowledge and shared geography with Yorba Linda.  I can not imagine why it was never proposed that Anaheim be awarded a partial contract for East Yorba Linda.  The response time for Brea PD to East Yorba Linda has been an ongoing complaint.  There are many occasions that Brea and Anaheim jurisdiction and enforcement overlap, why not apportion service geographically?  The Anaheim station on Wier Canyon road is not realistically a good match  for the West side of Yorba Linda given the long, so why not split it? This was not considered.  A wholesale replacement of the entire contract was the only consideration.  No kind of holistic approach, reworking or restructuring the relationship with Brea was undertaken.  I assume, as many residents do, that it is because the contract was destined to go to OCSD.  The public opinion on keeping the contract with Brea seems, as with many issues, to have been largely ignored by the 3 majority council.  

I am saddened and at the same time inspired that 50 residents had the wherewithal to stay till the 3am vote,  God bless them for their stamina, but I’m surprised they thought that their opinion mattered. 

I wish I had different news to report.  I wish I had written this blog a week, a month, a year ago, because I could have. (or even 6 years ago, Brea, who was passing out the Koolaid then?)  No  surprise of any kind here.  Democracy  and due process have died a slow painful death in Yorba Linda.  Every resident has the option to be active, get involved, and vote in the next election. Each time I see this Kangaroo court convene I hope that this is the time that the mainstream residents in Yorba Linda become aware of the situation at City Hall and the utter dominance of one special interest group by virtue of their ownership of three seats.  Nothing will change, the status quo will easily be maintained if the voting public continues to show apathy and fear of the YLRRR, which was so pervasive  in the 2010 election.

Posted in Yorba Linda | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Plaintive wail of Civility

Posted by Brenda Higgins on April 11, 2012

Disclaimer: I was a candidate for Yorba Linda City Council in 2010. THIS is an opinion piece, intended for entertainment and reality checks. I am an equal opportunity offender, read at your own risk.

I have a great deal of respect for only one of the members of the current city council in Yorba Linda and that is Jim Winder. He has served, and resided in this city for decades. His service has come to us at great personal cost to him. He has been disrespected, unfairly accused and periodically ridiculed without cause. Yet he shows up consistently, is polite, prepared and concerned for the well being of our city. These things can not be said about any of the other council members.

John Anderson’s mean spirit and agenda of personal vendettas has never been well hidden. Nancy Rikel and Mark Schwing answer to and for him. Their public discussions consistently appear unnatural or rehearsed. The clear impression is that they are Anderson’s mouth pieces. They all portray themselves as “fiscal conservatives”, they have given that term a foul sound and connotation. If fiscal conservative means that they only agree to spend money on their pet projects or the pet projects of their friends and supporters, then okay, they are fiscal conservatives. However their pattern of spending would embarrass many a democrat. They vote together, they were elected together, they have each others back in a twisted and dysfunctional way.

The mayor in Yorba Linda is voted in on a traditional rotating basis by the council, generally in order of when they were elected. Not so since Anderson has controlled the council. On each occasion that it would have been the turn of a Council member who was “not-one-of-us”, that council member was stepped over in favor of “one-of-us”. In 2008 that was Jan Horton. As the councilmember next in line, she was passed over in favor of John Anderson. By 2008 Jan had already become the “not-one-of-us” and was on the hit list. She was deprived of the opportunity to be mayor and that also enabled Mr. Anderson to be able to run against her for re-election as Mayor Anderson. In 2012, it was Jim Winder, whose turn it was to be mayor, but Anderson’s majority passed him over in favor of Schwing. Mark Schwing will now be running for re-election as Mayor Schwing. In his last year, after many decades of service to this community, the Anderson lackeys could serve up one final dose of indignity to Jim Winder and deprive him of his last tenure as Mayor. Winder is termed out, and will not run again. All it really accomplished was to confirm that they are pandering jerks.

Tom Lindsey portrays himself as the “true” conservative. That would be highly relevant if any issues of social import or civil rights issue come before the council, but that’s not likely. The majority of Andersons’ council has abandoned Lindsey and he is left to align with the lame duck portion of the council alongside Jim Winder. Lindsey’s view on fiscal or any issue is rendered largely irrelevant,. A difficult lesson to learn for Lindsey, as he aligned with Anderson in the eleventh hour before the 2010 campaign began. They ran as a “slate”. During the 2010 campaign, when questioned about the ugly hit pieces and robo-calls directed towards Jan Horton, both Lindsey and Anderson diverted their eyes from the crowd when they answered. Mr. Anderson’s “I did not write that piece”, may essentially, technically, be true, but it clearly made him uncomfortable to say those carefully chosen words. Lindsey, for whom the 2010 campaign was his second try for a council seat, was intent on being elected. I have not asked him how he’s feeling now in 2012, with 20/20 hindsight, about his 2010 choice to align with Anderson. I have observed him to suffer the same punishment that Jan Horton and then Hank Weeda did. If you run with “them” and then acquire any different view or opinion, you are ostracized. So much for the fantasy that once we’re elected we can have collegial respect for differing view points.

Jan Horton is not a member of the council at this time, but her effect is no less pertinent than those seated. She is a regular attender, proclaiming accountability, tranparency and spewing her point of view of the incompetence and lack of ethics of the current council. The existing situation, with the Anderson wing, disrespectful of Winder, and indignant for Lindsey and his turn coat antics, is smoldering fire anyway. Then Jan shows up and brings the gasoline in the form of her vitriole, her repetitive and shrill allegations, her husband with a camera, and her allies. She shows little in the way of tact and self control and she manages to stoke the flames of contention, discord and animosity on every issue, and at each council appearance or online discussion.

The counterpart to Jan is Ed Rakochy. Unelected, regular attender, but “One-of-us” along with the regular appearance of other YLRRR (Yorba Linda Residents for Responsible Representation) members. The vigilante group that originally got Jan Horton and John Anderson elected, (yes as with any true rivalry, they began and friends and cohorts), has its regular and scripted attenders, commenting favorably on the moves of the Anderson majority, standing on their soap boxes and waving their flags, pretending this is even handed democracy, and proclaiming how ‘fiscally conservative’ the current majority council are.

I have rarely been able to stomach a whole meeting of this circus atmosphere, it’s a charade and not open democratic discourse. The pontification goes on for hours.

I am acquainted in some fashion with each of these individuals who are driving the toxicity in our city government, and this I know. Each and every one of them believes firmly that he/she is doing the “right thing” for the city. My opinion and observation is that they are each blinded by their own adrenaline rush from this ongoing combat. The salient point that they keep missing, is that the majority of the residents of the city are not “one-of-us”, and are also not the constantly contentious “one-of-them”. I don’t see any of these regular players stepping away from their entrenched positions long enough to have a healthy discussion on points upon which they might actually agree.

This is not good for anyone. This is not good for our city. I can only hope that voters refuse to get caught up in the rhetoric, that good and independent, unaligned candidates step forward in the next election. Politics is like square dancing, if you get too attached to your partner or your moves, you’ll eventually step on your own toes and get kicked out of the dance. We can only hope.





Posted in Yorba Linda | Tagged: , , , , | 8 Comments »

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