For weeks rumors had been circulating that the “Brookfield Boys” (Mayor Voigts and Council members Robinson and Nick) were going to team up and vote in the widow of long-time big-wig Republican boss Tom Fuentes to the position on the Planning Commission vacated by Tim Hughes. According to her application Jolene Fuentes’ major qualification for a seat on the Planning Commission was her participation on Lake 2’s HOA Board. She’d never attended a meeting of the Planning Commission, didn’t know the Planning Staff, and didn’t even have the rudimentary knowledge of basic planning when she tried to respond to technical questions from Mayor Pro Tem McCullough.
In contrast, there were several applicants who were really impressive, and whose background, training, and qualifications were stellar. These included not only past Planning Commissioners Terry Anderson and Dave Carter, but also Tom Cagley, Tom Grable, and Amanda Morrell. Interestingly, 7 of the 15 candidates didn’t bother to show up. Perhaps they heard the rumors too.
Several things about the appointment are disturbing. First, it follows right on the Brookfield Boys' decisions to allow unprecedented exemptions to the two developers who bankrolled the election to the tune of nearly $100,000. This insider dealing was a clear violation of the Council’s code of ethical behavior, but what can you do when you have the majority at fault. If it’s reminiscent of the City of Bell scandal, welcome to the real world!
(FWIW - is it merely happenstance that the law firm that advised the City of Bell is the exact same law firm, Best Best & Krieger - aka BB&K - who serves Lake Forest?)
No sooner did they finish voting the developers unprecedented exemptions, the Brookfield Boys elevated Fuentes to the job. Such “in your face” abuse of power surely should awaken the County’s D.A. who was already annoyed with the City Council because of their withdrawal of an ordinance earlier this year.
Equally disturbing was the fact that the rumors which swirled for weeks were true. The Brookfield Boys did indeed vote for Fuentes, while the other two council members did not. This suggests a possible abuse of the Brown Act, which specifically forbids the type of collusion that appears at play in this case. Is it possible, without communicating with each other, that three city council members would independently agree that an HOA Board member was better qualified for a Planning Commission position than former planning commissioners, or than the other candidates who were equally impressive?
Indeed, our erstwhile Mayor, when questioned by a puzzled reporter from The Patch, as to why he voted for Fuentes, cocked his head, appeared confused, and said "I don't know"
Tomorrow we look at the implications of the Fuentes' appointment.