Nothing is more important for keeping a government to its mandate than a well-informed electorate. Please take the time to read this.
As your Councilman, I will:
Offer you a New Dawn of Competence, Fairness, and Openness in the Lake Forest City Government, NOT Business and Politics as usual
Will make decisions that are first and foremost in the best interest of the City of Lake Forest
Will help cultivate and secure an environment where Special Interest has no place and businesses have a level playing field to compete and prosper
Will move the City Council and City Hall in the direction of Transparency (i.e. Sunshine Ordinance), Fiscal Accountability, and Modernization
Just to cite a few, I will introduce Ordinances and Resolutions to:
- Stop the expansion of the Musick jail (located within walking distance of the Bake Parkway and Trabuco Road intersection); Stop the alteration of the Musick jail aimed at housing higher risk inmates. Recently, the present Council voted to not take legal action on this expansion/alteration of the Musick jail while Irvine City Council has already initiated legal action to stop the expansion/alteration of the jail. This is even while there are no residents of Irvine who live near the jail facilities while Lake Forest residential neighborhoods are within walking distance of the jail.
- Require that our City law enforcement agency prepare an annual crime clearance rate public report of crimes committed in our City.
- Require that all public employees are legal residents of the United States and that City government contract only with private-sector contractors that hire legal residents.
Transparency and Open Government:
Introduce and implement the Sunshine Ordinance. Among other things, for starters:
Open up Council members’ meeting calendars to the Public;
Start a Lobbyists’ Registry;
Require community meetings before development projects go to the Council;
Provide more advanced notice of Council meetings;
Increase outreach on the City budget and goals known as a Strategic Plan;
Require a panel to evaluate requests for proposals.
Any one elected Council member may place an item on Public Agenda for public discussion (as opposed to the long-held practice in Lake Forest whereby a “majority” vote is needed for such a placement. In other words, an unrecorded pre-vote by design will save our Council members from a recorded Only then, there may be true and meaningful accountability).
Post online all financial and non-financial documents that are to be publicly available. Today, the City unlawfully claims “privilege” to withhold many of such documents. Posting documents online means not only the documents are available but also readily accessible. To that end, photocopy charges of these documents for the public by the City Staff shall be the actual direct cost (estimated at two to four cents per page), rather than today’s exorbitant copying charges the City imposes on taxpayers.
Record, broadcast, and publish verbatim transcripts of City Council Meetings. The more the public is aware, the more the Public can help both guide and hold the government accountable, and the ensuing result shall be a better government bearing within it less cronyism, favoritism, and self-serving agenda by Public Officials, and this is true at any level of Government, whether City, County, State, or Federal.
Change how items are “lumped into one matter” presently for approval purposes during City Council sessions. Every item shall be read out loud (Presently, these items are all on the Council’s “Consent Calendar”—a group of items generally voted on in one fell swoop with no or minimal discussion).
Require monthly publishing and mailing of the current newsletter and showing via a simple table therein which Councilperson introduced what Ordinances and Resolutions during the month, reflecting how each Councilperson voted, and whether the Ordinance or Resolution passed or failed to pass. Also, therein, reflect expense reimbursements to Council members detailed out by purpose, date, and amount (Depending on the cost, it may be financially prudent for this publication to be generated and mailed out at the end of each quarter, rather than month, however, in that case, it shall obviously capture and reflect three months of the said information).
Appoint Commission members not via a “secret” voting by the Council Members, as it is today, but rather out in the open and in a transparent process.
Eliminate Special Interest / Ensure Highest Standards of Ethics / Provide a “Level Playing Field”:
- Implement strict political campaign finance regulations (no corporate contribution allowed and individual contribution to be capped at a maximum of $250.00 per person contributing per Election). A Council member is prohibited from voting on matters that are before the Council by a party that has made any contribution to the Council Member.
- Adopt Code of Ethics, which shall in part:
- Prohibit Council Members from rendering professional services (such as legal, accounting, auditing, insurance, investment, tax or estate planning) to businesses who are either located in Lake Forest or conduct business in Lake Forest. Similarly, Council Members may not be employed by companies and entities that transact with or provide services to the City;
- Remove a Council Member from his or her Council position in case the member is convicted of a felony during his/her Council term.
- Enact a nepotism ban;
- Introduce Term Limits for Elected Officials (Two 4-year terms lifetime);
- New hires of the City’s high-ranking officials must reside in the City (similar to what is required of Council members). This required residency ensures that our high-ranking officials have both a degree of knowledge and familiarity to the City’s dynamics and a vested interest in the orderly growth and development of our City);
- All Variances (such as zone changes, LPCN’s, etc.), if and when granted, must be granted by no one or no panel except the City Council and only after soliciting input from the community. Today, our City’s Director of Development Services, who is not even required by the City’s Municipal Code to reside in Lake Forest, is empowered, in many occasions, with full discretion to issue variances WITHOUT any public notification and as such unilaterally shape our City by deciding who does business, what business, and where, and when and who does not, no matter whether the variance will cause or add something unduly;
- To give the new candidates running for public office some opportunities to establish “Name ID” and ensure a “level playing field”, given that incumbent candidates already enjoy the “Name ID” which new comers must struggle to attain, Sign Ordinance shall be relaxed (i.e. not enforced) as it relates to campaign or political signs effective Oct 1 in each year in which there is an election until 48 hours after the day of the election.
Eliminate Wasteful Spending / Establish Fiscal Policies:
- Curtail, if not eliminate altogether, expense reimbursements for City Council members. Today, thousands of dollars are reimbursed to Council Members each year for taxi fare, trip charges, etc., often while there is no value in return to taxpayers. Further, even if there were discernible value in return at times, why should taxpayers pay for transportation of any official who collects a salary for his or her services?
- Have studies conducted by reputable firms to help ascertain the real pros and cons of insourcing and outsourcing of various services as well as establishing Joint Powers with neighboring cities – Police, City Attorney, Fire, Trash, Animal Control, Public Works, City Engineering, etc.), and then, and only then, help arrive at what is truly in the best interest of Lake Forest Residents and Taxpayers.
- Our City government spends nearly $2,000,000.00 every month for various contract services. After proper due diligence, if outsourcing for a particular service is determined to be advantageous to Lake Forest taxpayers, the respective existing contract must be closely examined to make certain that it is written in a way that is most beneficial to Lake Forest taxpayers, that the respective price-tag is most competitive, and that the contract is truly carried out as mandated by the contract upon the service provider. In short, purchasing guidelines of the City shall be Quality, Pricing, Locality (specifically in the order mentioned).
- Establish a “Lake Forest Comes First” program whereby when all other things equal, the business that is located in Lake Forest is awarded the contract. Today, about 95% of this monthly total amount of nearly two million dollars is paid by the City Hall to contactors that are located outside of Lake Forest.
- Establish safeguards to ensure that all essential City programs and services are implemented and maintained in the most effective and efficient manner possible.
- Require a complete and accurate cost-benefit analysis before creating or expanding of City programs or services.
- Implement procedures to require that each City budget clearly identify individually all revenues by source and type and all expenditures by agency and function.
- Require that for any and all tax increases a super majority shall be needed, not merely a simple majority.
- Implement guidelines to ensure that budget surpluses exceeding one (1.0) percent of the total at the end of the budget cycle are returned to the City property owners.
- Make prudent investments in our City’s infrastructure, and cultivate support from various governmental and non-governmental agencies for the same, especially in education, while maintaining the sense of community that makes Lake Forest a great place to raise a family. Other objectives shall be building Dog Parks, establishing Lake Forest’s own Animal Control Dept.
- Have a study done by a reputable Traffic & Engineering firm to help the Council to first identify and then to take measures to improve our roads and traffic flow; On the current Council’s watch, Bake Parkway has received an “F” grade by the governmental oversight agency, and the completion of the Alton Parkway took over twenty years.
Access to City Hall:
Make City Hall and Staff open to the Public and Public’s business Monday through Friday (and two Saturday (half day) per month on a trial basis). Today, the City Staff’s hours are 8 AM to 6 PM, and the City Hall is closed every other Friday. The change will NOT have a Fiscal Impact to taxpayers, certainly not a significant one, as I am not proposing that total number of hours worked by staff be increased, only that the staff be scheduled in such a way to provide coverage ensuring that public has a greater access to its own City Hall.
Together, we can, and we will
Stop wasteful spending, cronyism, and Special Interest whether in the form of lucrative contracts awarded by the City to those who are connected, whether in the form of excessive salary, benefits, and expense accounts to City Elected Officials, City Appointed Officials, or City Staff. Any contract, before it is awarded, will go through a transparent process during which Public participation shall be key.
Establish benchmarks for our City Government, and we will hold accountable for their actions, or inactions, all those responsible.
Rid the City Government of incompetence and assure that our City Officials are not only well-meaning but also qualified for the challenges at hand.
For many years, when I had no family of my own by my side, our community at large acted as my family, and that gave me a sense of belonging and pride in the City. You gave me a chance to work along your side, shoulder to shoulder, and gave me a chance for an education. Those who know me personally know that I have lived up to my promises and that I have proven to be caring, hardworking, able, and someone who wants to leave this world better than he found it. For those who do not know me personally, I promise each and every one of you that I will always treat you like my own flesh and blood and will always put you and your interest before that of my own.