Why Does Our Focus Our Kids Need a Fake News Section?

There are a couple of voices on social media platforms who are spinning fake news stories to try and convince citizens of Beaumont that all The City of Beaumont's current officials, elected and appointed, are continuing the corruption which resulted in 6 former officials pleading guilty to felony charges.

In 2014, I ran for the Beaumont city council. I had learned about the efforts of one of these individuals, a consultant, Elizabeth Uremovic, hired by a Beaumont business owner and a resident of nearby Cherry Valley, Judy Bingham. Ms. Uremovic was hired to search for the corruption Mrs. Bingham suspected had been existing in Beaumont for years.

I first met Mrs. Bingham sometime in 2013 when I reached out to her to find what was driving her and to ask her if she would share with me the information she was receiving through her public records request. This is when I first became acquainted with her consultant, "Libi". Shortly after we met, Mrs. Bingham and Ms. Uremovic worked with me to help me understand what they had uncovered. Shortly afterwards, Mrs. Bingham, along with a handful of other Pass area residents asked to meet with me. They encouraged me to run for City Council in 2014. Mrs. Bingham was one of the first financial contributors to my campaign. Contrary to additional false claims by Ms. Uremovic (Libi), Mrs. Bingham never asked me to return her contribution.

I was able to raise awareness through campaign mailings of the financial problems plaguing our city. The 2014 election resulted in the replacement of three incumbents with nearly 40 years of combined experience on the Beaumont City Council.

The new Council quickly exposed a shell company, The Steiner Group, set up by the former city manager, Alan Kapanicas, to funnel funds to the consulting firm, Urban Logic. Only a few weeks after The Steiner Group's President admitted in open council that Kapanicas had direct her to create the company, the Riverside District Attorney raided City Hall, the City Manager's personal residence, and the offices and homes of Urban Logic's principals. The three princiapls of Urban Logic had been acting as the City's major department heads beginning in 1993. In 2017, City Manager Alan Kapanicas and his Finance Director, William Aylward plead guilty to felonies including embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds. The principals of Urban Logic Dave Dillon, Deepak Moorjani and Ernie Eggers also plead guilty to committing felonies.

Days after the raids of City Hall, in the spring of 2015, the three new council members, along with two who had been serving before 2014, began moving quickly to replace the City Attorney and City Manager. The Finance Director and Chief of Police both resigned.

In the 2016 election, two new council members were elected to the council. In the summer of 2017, one of the council members elected in 2014, Mark Orozco, plead guilty to a felony charge of soliticiting a bribe. He was replaced by an appointed council member at the end of 2017. Beaumont's current council members, City Manager, City Attorney, and Finance Director had no affiliation with the City of Beaumont prior to 2014.

Ms. Uremovic and the friends of Kapanicas, once on different sides of the battlelines, have now joined forces to prevent the new leadership from rebuilding Beaumont. Their campaign involves posting fake news and making personal attacks against the good honest people who have stepped up to serve their community during its darkest hours.

Ms. Uremovic is using her early success in Beaumont to promote the services she offers online. On her business web site, she solicits residents in cities who believe there is corruption taking place in their city to hire her to investigate. One would think after uncovering the corruption in Beaumont, working with the City's staff and Council to pick up the pieces would be the best way to market her skills services to future customers. Instead, she is showing prospective clients that she cares nothing for their city and her goal would be to destroy their local government with no concern what happens then. I can't tell you why she has selected the business plan she has but her desperation to spin the fake news in Beaumont tells me she hasn't been able to gain very many new clients.

The friends of Kapanicas and the others, including a former council member, have a more straight forward agenda, they are motivated by revenge, and a desire to return to power. 

The Fake News section of my website will be dedicated to exposing the fake news articles from Ms. Uremovic and the others and present a focus on the facts. We need to continue rebuilding Beaumont and the trust of its citizens in its leaders.

Trust depends on truth.

It Has Been My Honor

Serving as Beaumont’s Mayor in 2017 has been a great honor and brought with it a responsibility that I will never forget. 2015 was a year of discovery for Beaumont, 2016 was a year of accountability and 2017 has become, as I hoped it would, a year of healing and resolution.

Our small town has faced many big issues the last couple of years.  As I reflect back on 2017, I am proud of our City staff and fellow council members for their dedication to resolving the issues created by those before them. Their tenacity has placed Beaumont in a position of growth and prosperity. Highlighted below are the major accomplishments from 2017:

  • Fiscally responsible budget                                                    ADOPTED
  • 5 year Capital Improvement Plan                                           APPROVED
  • General Fund Deficit ($11 Million)                                           ELIMINATED
  • WRCOG Judgement ($67 Million)                                           SETTLED
  • Pardee Claim ($23 Million)                                                      SETTLED
  • BCVRPD Claim ($2.4 Million)                                                  SETTLED
  • Community Facilities District Fund Reconciliation               COMPLETED
  • Refinance for CFD/Mello-Roos Property Taxes (Phase 1)    COMPLETED
  • RDA Reimbursement ($4 Million)                                            DISMISSED
  • SEC Investigation                                                                       RESOLVED
  • Fiscal Sustainability Study                                                        COMPLETED

 

I hope 2018 is a year of continued rebuilding, leading to years of growth and prosperity in all industries and across all sectors of our local economy. On behalf of the City of Beaumont, I extend my warmest regards and best wishes to everyone. May the spirit of this wonderful season be with you and your loved ones throughout the holidays and many blessings in the New Year.

A Measured and Appropriate Response

On December 20, 2017, the City received a public records request from a resident of Rancho Cordova, CA regarding my adjourning the Beaumont City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 for a five minute recess to gain control of the City Council meeting in order for the council to continue cinducting the business of the City. On December 28th, the Deputy City Clerk sent the City's response. You can view the response by Clicking Here.

Following is the requestor's response to the email from the Deputy City Clerk: 

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From: libi [mailto:libiure@gmail.com] 
Sent: Thursday, December 28, 2017 4:59 PM
To: Nicole Wheelwright ; Lloyd White ; Judy Bingham
Subject: Re: Response to Uremovic 12.20.17.pdf

 

yes, i received the attachments - you did your job nichole.... 

white has to man-up put it in writing where he got the mentality that the citizen wasn't allowed to speak more than three minutes .. 

if lloyd white doesn't put it in writing by the next council meeting - he'll be required to state on record .. 

and if white thinks it's going to look better for him that judy bingham has to state in public comment that white has refused to respond to a public records' request - then that's what will happen ..

 

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I am fully aware of my rights as the presiding officer and I am confident the City's response to the public records request was adequate and meets any legal requirements. However, since Ms. Uremovic regularly posts fake news and makes personal slanderous attacks against council, staff and anyone else involved with the City of Beaumont's recovery, I welcome an opportunity to explain and educate Ms. Uremovic in one of the many areas of government she considers herself an expert.

Let's begin with the City of Beaumont's Ordinance 1059 pertaining to City Council Meetings adopted 21st day of July 2015.

  • Section 2.04.041 Sets the Mayor as the presiding officer.
  • Section 2.04.042 Assigns the presiding office with the responsibility for maintaining the order and decorum of the meeting at all times.
  • Section 2.04.044(c) Limits comments from the public to 3 minutes per person per agenda item

The State of California's Government Code adrreses a local agency's authority to set time limits - California Government Code section 54954.3 (b)(1)

  • The legislative body of a local agency may adopt reasonable regulations to ensure that the intent of subdivision (a) is carried out, including, but not limited to, regulations limiting the total amount of time allocated for public testimony on particular issues and for each individual speaker. 

 

Years before I was was on the Beaumont City Council, I was a regular speaker during public comments sections of Beaumont Unified school board meetings and Beaumont City Council meetings. I researched the Brown Act and government code in order to become fully informed of my rights to free speech as well as the governing body's right to be able to conduct their business.

In July of 2015 whle considering my vote to adopt the ordinance I referenced above, I again researched the rights of a local agency to limit speaking time in order to conduct an orderly meeting. 

I researched this topic a third time while preparing this response.

All three times my research led me to a case decided by the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit - White (no relations) vs. The City of Norwalk. Following are the two of the final points in the Ninth Circuit's 1990 decision affirming the lower court's opinion in favor of the City of Norwalk. I have highlighted what I feel are relevant to the action I took last month.

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Similarly, the nature of a Council meeting means that a speaker can become "disruptive" in ways that would not meet the test of actual breach of the peace, see Gooding, 405 U.S. at 526-27, 92 S.Ct. at 1108, or of "fighting words" likely to provoke immediate combat. See Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568, 572, 62 S.Ct. 766, 769, 86 L.Ed. 1031 (1942). A speaker may disrupt a Council meeting by speaking too long, by being unduly repetitious, or by extended discussion of irrelevancies. The meeting is disrupted because the Council is prevented from accomplishing its business in a reasonably efficient manner. Indeed, such conduct may interfere with the rights of other speakers.

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Of course the point at which speech becomes unduly repetitious or largely irrelevant is not mathematically determinable. The role of a moderator involves a great deal of discretion.Undoubtedly, abuses can occur, as when a moderator rules speech out of order simply because he disagrees with it, or because it employs words he does not like. But no such abuses are written into Norwalk's ordinance, as the City and we interpret it. Speakers are subject to restriction only when their speech "disrupts, disturbs or otherwise impedes the orderly conduct of the Council meeting." So limited, we cannot say that the ordinance on its face is substantially and fatally overbroad.6 See Broadrick v. Oklahoma, 413 U.S. 601, 615, 93 S.Ct. 2908, 2917, 37 L.Ed.2d 830 (1973) (to invalidate statute on its face, overbreadth "must not only be real, but substantial as well, judged in relation to the statute's plainly legitimate sweep.")

 

On December 19th, I was fully aware of the content of the ordinance I helped adopt and my authority as the presiding officer of the council meeting. I recognized the right of the public to speak and my duty to ensure we were able to conduct the business we had scheduled on our agenda. Mrs. Bingham had made it clear before beginning her comments that she was not going to be limited by time and would speak for as long as she wanted. I waited for a reasonable time after her 3 minutes had expired before asking her to wrap up her comments. I allowed her to continue before asking her again to complete her comments and when she made it clear she had no intention of allowing the meeting to continue, I adjourned for a brief recess.

The following city councils in our region limit public speaking times:

Banning - 5 minutes

Calimesa - 3 minutes

Hemet - 3 minutes

Redlands - 3 minutes

Moreno Valley - 3 minutes

What is the Beaumont Balanced Growth Initiative?

What is the citizen’s balanced growth initiative all about?

Click Here for link to Official Ballot Title and Summary

The Beaumont Balanced Growth Initiative (BBGI) limits the number of building permits issued by the city for single family homes to 350 per year, of which 50 dwelling units will be reserved for single unit infill projects. The BBGI places no restrictions on permits for retail, commercial or industrial development.

The opponents of the citizen driven initiative claim that managing our future growth will have a devastating effect on our economic development and the sales tax income we need for a sustainable economy. Considering the current situation in the San Gorgonio Pass, this argument has no basis in fact. The fact is that the citizens’ initiative will have no effect on currently planned home developments and very little effect, if any, on the economic development growth in the Pass during the next 10-15 years.

Section 2.G of The Balanced Growth Initiative, if passed by the voters, amends the Beaumont Municipal Code (BMC) section 17.11.060 paragraphs d and e as follows:

d)         The number of development project dwelling unit permits per year shall be calculated as follows: 300 less the sum of dwelling unit building permits issued that are exempt from this provision due to vested rights. Applications for dwelling unit permits must be submitted prior to January 31 of each calendar year and will be evaluated for each project, and approved projects will be placed in a lottery pool for selection for issuance of building permits. Building permits will be issued by the City to those approved projects selected at random from the annual pool.

e)         Residential dwelling units included in approved development agreements establishing vested rights to develop and other vested development projects prior to January 1, 2017 are exempt from provisions of paragraphs c) and d) above.

What are vested rights?

From Wikipedia - In law, vesting is to give an immediately secured right of present or future deployment. One has a vested right to an asset that cannot be taken away by any third party, even though one may not yet possess the asset. When the right, interest, or title to the present or future possession of a legal estate can be transferred to any other party, it is termed a vested interest.

It was reported at the City’s workshop that there are 7,427 homes planned for Beaumont for which developers have vested rights (Click here to link to the workshop presentation). Staff reported there are 5 residential projects with development agreements (6,108 units), 2 projects that are entitled, without development agreements (1,019 units), and about 300 additional units vested in other infill projects. Staff estimated an average of 500 building permits will be issued in future years based on building permits issued for “New Single Family Homes” in recent years. The 7,427 homes are exempt from the BBGI and, if the average building permits is indeed 500 a year, it will take almost 15 years to complete the projects already with vested rights.

It was pointed out by one developer in the workshop audience that there are 3,500 homes planned for development in The City of Calimesa on the border with Beaumont and 4,500 homes are scheduled to be built in The City of Banning on Beaumont’s eastern border. This means more than 15,000 new homes will be built in the City of Beaumont or on its borders exempt from any Beaumont growth ordinance.

The average number of residents per homes in Beaumont is 3.2. This means before the BBGI has any significant effect on managing growth, there will be 48,000 more people in Beaumont or on the city limits. It would be interesting to know how this level of growth in the Pass Area trade zone would deter any retail or commercial development in Beaumont.

Even if the BBGI is passed by the voters, at the rate of growth estimated by the city, in 15 years  there will be more than 22,000 new residents in Beaumont and another 26,000 adjacent to the city limits. The City is already facing a monumental challenge, in a city lacking the infrastructure for its current 42,000 residents, to plan for and provide the infrastructure for a minimum of 48,000 new residents to our area. At the very least, BBGI will limit unvested developments in Beaumont from adding to the 7,400 vested homes and creating an even more impossible planning nightmare.

It is time for our community to decide what the future in Beaumont should look like. It is the citizens of Beaumont’s right to vote for or against a balanced growth future.