Q & A With Lloyd White

This was published as a political ad in the Record Gazette on 10/23/14

Why do you believe the Beaumont City Council race is so hotly contested this year?

I am feeling good about my part in this. I’m not an incumbent, so I’ve had no involvement in the budget deficits our city has created over the last four years. I’ve not been responsible for the potentially devastating $43 million judgment against Beaumont in the WRCOG lawsuit. I haven’t been sitting on the Council and just letting City staff run the show and make the decisions that affect all of us. It’s common sense that you can’t run your home on credit card debt. Well, we can’t continue to run our city on deficits either. It’s time for a change.

Do you feel the community is strongly behind you?

Yes.  I may not have the support of Marion Ashley and some of the others that have influenced Beaumont elections for years. I have the support of the people, the police officers association, the homes and neighbors that I visit. It is their support I value, not the politicians. Many of my friends and neighbors have suggested that I am the “people’s candidate not the politicians’ candidate” and I don’t disagree with that.

What do you believe you have to offer Beaumont?

Beaumont is a city with great potential, we have plans to grow to sixty thousand people or more in the next decade. Running our city will become more and more like running a business. I have a degree in economics from UCLA and an MBA. I’ve worked for 16 years for the “best-run company” in the Pass—Esri. My wife, Marti, my children, Caitlin and Riley, and I love this community and are committed to serving it. I will bring to the City Council a fresh perspective and the new ideas we need. We can no longer afford the same old “feel good” decision-making that may have worked in the past. I have the integrity, intelligence and “no special interests” perspective we need now for decision making.

Your opponents claim all you do is complain, what would you do differently if elected?

Recognizing the problems we face and criticizing the status quo is not “complaining.” You can’t fix problems and do things better unless you acknowledge what the problems are. You can find my common-sense six-point plan for Beaumont on my website:LloydWhite4Beaumont.com. But let me suggest some critical areas in which we need to do better:

First, we need to stop approving City budgets that the City Council says are balanced but that our own auditors warn are running at dangerous deficit levels. We need to stop ignoring our own auditors when they tell us we are not making good financial choices.

Second, the City Council steers the ship. Right now we are sailing toward significant financial risks like the WRCOG judgment and other pending lawsuits. This is not “gloom and doom”; it is reality. And we wouldn’t even be talking about it now if we had the kind of knowledgeable leadership that took these risks more seriously and were more business and finance knowledgeable.

Beaumont is appealing the WRCOG decision, so why should we worry?

There is always the possibility that we could lose the appeal; there is no guarantee we will win. If we lose, Beaumont would owe $43 million (that’s more than $1,000 for every man, woman and child in our city) plus $8,000 a day in interest. What is our contingency plan if we should lose the appeal?  How will we protect our taxpayers from this potential calamity?  The appeal has provided the duck and cover the incumbents wanted in order to avoid having to talk about an issue that makes it clear we need a new direction and new leaders. We need a contingency plan. That’s what leaders do. Kicking the can down the road is not acceptable strategy.

You mention having strong support, who is aligning to support you?

I have been blessed with a family and friends who are providing financial and other support. The college friends I met some 30 years ago at UCLA when earning my economics degree have pitched in today because they recognize my integrity and honesty and my commitment to serving the public. Many other Beaumont citizens and small business owners understand that we need to improve the way our city does business if we hope to thrive and grow in the years to come. Most important, I am NOT being funded by the special interest PACS who have dominated Beaumont politics for years. I will serve the entire community. That’s the kind of City Councilman you deserve.

What do you say when your supporters ask you who else they should vote for?

If you have three considerations and recognize we need change then you will make your vote stronger by not adding it to the count of those who have not stepped up and voiced the need for change. One vote, vote for change – Lloyd White for Beaumont City Council

Trucks for Seneca Springs and Four Seasons or Not?

At Wednesday night’s Beaumont Chamber of Commerce candidates’ forum, during my closing statement, I argued for putting the $80 million Potrero Interchange on hold while the City first concentrates on upgrading the I-10 interchanges we all use daily, Oak Valley, Cherry Valley, and Beaumont Ave. My stance on this isn’t new to anyone who has followed my writings. I think it is important to the future of our city for voters to take the time to do the necessary research to completely understand the project, what’s driving it and how it will impact our future. Just accepting the current leadership’s justification of more businesses and jobs to completely change the landscape and culture of our town without considering the alternatives I believe is irresponsible.

The plan at the time I wrote my post,  “Bridge From Nowhere To A Non-Existent Road?”  in May of 2013, was to industrialize the south-west side of Beaumont. The council expected to receive $1,000,000 for the interchange from Lehman Brothers who wanted to develop a 6.5 million square foot warehouse complex west of the new Potrero Bridge. This complex would have been more than 2 ½ times larger than the Gateway Warehouse Center and the largest warehouse site in the state. It would have been closer to residential developments and had as much, if not greater, an impact on nearby residents than the proposed Gateway Center. It was only a year and a half ago that the council was considering spot-zoning the City’s General plan, something they are all now condemning the County of Riverside for doing for the Gateway Center.

When about 200 citizens showed up at the city council meeting to show their unanimous opposition against the project, Council Members Castaldo and DeForge, both up for re-election in about 18 months, moved to put the spot-zoning on hold. Roger Berg fought for Lehman Brothers’ Heartland Warehouse Center to the very end. It was clear he didn’t want to be defeated on this issue. When he realized he would have been the lone vote in favor of the spot-zoning, he reluctantly joined in the 4-0 decision, Jeff Fox had left the meeting early. Now, Berg has made his opposition against Riverside County’s spot-zoning for Gateway his primary campaign issue.

I have spent many of my evenings the last few weeks knocking on doors in Seneca Springs. Many homes in Seneca Springs back up to Potrero and those residents, along with those in Four Season, are the communities that will be most affected by the council’s plans to re-route the truck traffic down a widened Potrero road to Highland Springs. There they will transition on to the I-10. Many of those I spoke to were aware of the plan and have been holding neighborhood meetings in opposition to a major change in their quality of life. Many more were not aware. Almost every Four Seasons resident I have spoken to are unaware of what is in the council’s plans for their future.

The success of the Council’s plan to industrialize this side of Beaumont is dependent on the County of Riverside connecting the bridge and road to nowhere from 4th street to Potrero. There are no funds in the City’s $80 million budget for this phase and the county has made not any such promise or set aside any funds either.

I argued last night that this project should be put on hold in favor of first upgrading the I-10 interchanges. In Roger Berg’s closing statement, he argued in favor of the Potrero Interchange saying we have already spent $20 million on the project and that this project would attract businesses and jobs to Beaumont. This claim leads hopeful members of the community to believe he is talking about the outdoor mall the City has been promising for more than a decade. Ask Mr. Berg where the $20 million was spent when they have yet to break ground on the interchange. It should also interest you to know that $11 million has already been paid to the City’s consulting firm, Urban Logic, for mitigation.

You may ask, “Don’t we want the outdoor mall?” I do and I have been arguing for the City to honor its promise for a number of years now. Ask a city consultant or staff member, or just go look at an earlier version of the City’s General Plan, before the spot-zoning attempt failed, and you will learn the plan was to put the mall between the Potrero Bridge and the I-10. Dig a little deeper and ask to see the engineering reports submitted with every bond issuance application since 2007 and you will find plans for an upgrade to the Oak Valley Interchange very similar to the Potrero Interchange

I believe the upgrade to the Oak Valley Interchange would be a smarter project for the City. It would provide sufficient access to the area west of the I-10 for the outdoor mall, but it would also provide the necessary access to the planned Oak Valley business project on the east side of the I-10; the area where we were told Lowes would be built. The Oak Valley Interchange, when completed, would directly and immediately improve the quality of life for thousands more daily commuters than the Potrero Interchange.

If you are just learning about this, please take another 5-10 minutes to read my May 2013 post “Bridge From Nowhere To A Non-Existent Road?” to get a complete understanding of the project. After fully understanding the Potrero project and the negative impact it will have on those in Seneca Springs and Four Seasons, compare it to how the Oak Valley Interchange could bring the same jobs and businesses Berg, DeForge and Castaldo are promising along with improved quality of life for thousands of Beaumontians. I think you will understand my position is not to stop growth or eliminate jobs. I just want a different future for our city than DeForge, Berg, and Castaldo want.

We Need New Leaders or New Auditors

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board endorsed Beaumont’s 3 incumbents based on the following:

Beaumont boasts sound finances and ample reserves, with leaders declaring it, “among the most fiscally sound in California.”

According to the City’s auditing firm – Moss, Levy & Hartzeim – there are some serious financial challenges facing our city. Their last three annual reports show Beaumont:

  • Is negative net assets
  • Has a likely write-off of more than $20 million
  • Has a litigation liability of more than $40 million and does not have the ability to pay
  • Is continuing to run deficits
  • Has multiple internal control deficiencies that have not been mediated for multiple years
  • Has an accounting staff unable to close the books without the auditors needing to identify post material corrections

Here’s what the auditors reported this year:

A material deficit in unassigned fund balance is an indication that the City has had significant deficit spending in its general operations. The General fund is the operating fund of the City with potential RDA advances that cannot be collected. The City will not have working capital to operate if it continues to have operating deficits.

If you really care about the financial future please read the 2012-2013 Internal Controls Report. Click here. If after reading this report our leaders declared Beaumont “among the most fiscally sound in California.”

We either need new auditors, or we need new leaders.

Obviously, I don’t share the PE’s acceptance, at face value, the “leaders’ declaration” of a fiscally sound Beaumont but I do agree with their assessment that “Grappling with these issues, and with all the money at stake, will require a sizeable degree of leadership from the council.”

The problem with the current leadership structure in Beaumont is the leadership is coming from the City Manager and the City’s primary contractor, Urban Logic. The City manager and Urban Logic’s principals don’t live in Beaumont and have never been elected to be our leaders. The leadership needs to come from the people’s elected representatives, not the people’s employees.

Something needs to change and I am the only candidate who is seriously talking about change. Please take a look at my Common Sense Six Point Plan for a new chapter in Beaumont.

If I have your vote, it’s because you believe it’s time for some common sense change. If I am elected, I will be on a council with four council members who don’t believe there’s any need to change. If I am NOT elected, nothing will change. We will continue to run deficits, and according to our auditors, if we continue to run deficits we will no longer have the “working capital to operate” the city.

I admit I will be a lone voice for change but I believe there is value in a lone voice asking the questions others don’t believe need to be asked. I believe with respect and sound reason, I can persuade other council members to begin asking the tough questions. If you believe that I can provide leadership to help the council to grapple with the serious issues, I need your vote.

It is unlikely that all 3 incumbents will be replaced in this election. It is possible one incumbent may be replaced, the new council member needs to be bring leadership and new ideas, if not, what’s the point in replacing an incumbent?

My supporters often say to me.  “Lloyd, you have my vote, who else should I vote for?” if you have three considerations and vote for one candidate THE VOICE FOR CHANGE” then you will make your vote stronger by not adding it to the count of those who have NOT STEPPED UP AND VOICE THE NEED FOR CHANGE. —— ONE VOTE.. VOTE FOR CHANGE – LLOYD WHITE

Beaumont Council Violates Brown Act and the Public's Trust

Last night’s council meeting provided a clear picture as to why we need change in Beaumont. It was business as usual in your city’s council meetings.

At the beginning of the public comment portion of the agenda, the Mayor, Brenda Knight, reads a statement of how the council is required, by law, to follow the Brown Act. The following is the Mayor’s statement and a legal requirement of The Brown Act: 

 PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD: Any one person may address the City Council on any matter not on this agenda. If you wish to speak, please fill out a “Public Comment Form” provided at the back table and give it to the City Clerk. There is a three (3) minute limit on public comments. There will be no sharing or passing of time to another person. State Law prohibits the Council from discussing or taking actions brought up by your comments. Any questions will be answered by staff after the meeting, during normal business hours or at the next regular meeting.

The purpose of the Brown Act is to provide an opportunity for public comment on an item on or off the agenda. If the council is planning to discuss an issue of importance, it must be placed on the official agenda and made public 72 hours in advance of the meeting. This is so the public can determine if they need to attend the meeting and have their voice heard on an issue important to them.

When a member of the public brings up issues not on the agenda, as the passage states above, the council members are prohibited from “discussing or taking actions”. The City of Beaumont’s statement goes on to say “Any questions will be answered by staff after the meeting, during normal business hours or at the next regular meeting.” To “discuss or take action” on an issue not on the agenda that is raised during public comments, is a clear violation of state law and The Brown Act.

During tonight’s public comment period, Dr. Blair Ball – a commissioner on the Beaumont Cherry Valley Water District - asked the City Council to resolve the law suit brought by the City of Beaumont against the Water District. The suit is over contested expenses for the pedestrian bridge on Brookside in front of Beaumont High School. The City and the Water district are parties to the law suit but the citizens and rate payers pay the legal fees through taxes and water bills. Since most of the citizens of Beaumont are both rate payers and tax payers, we pay for both legal teams regardless of the outcome of the law suit. Ball was arguing for a solution in which the lawyers aren’t the only ones to benefit. No discussion or action was taken by the council…yet.

Another speaker addressed the council on the WRCOG law suit. He asked for the council to hold a workshop to help citizens understand the position the Council is taking to appeal the law suit. No discussion or action was taken by the council…yet.

Recently the Council added a new section to the agenda to address public comments “Rumor control and Report on Public Comments”. By the City’s own declaration, and the Brown Act, “Any questions (during public comment) will be answered by staff after the meeting, during normal business hours or at the next regular meeting.” Calling an agenda item “Rumor Control” doesn’t allow the council to ignore The Brown Act. The city never lists the items that will be covered in the “Rumor Control” section and members of the public are unable to fill out a request to speak form since they are unaware of what issues the City Manager will be addressing.

The Deputy City Attorney will argue this section is not covered by The Brown Act since it is for announcements or explanations from staff and there will be no discussion or action taken by the Council. The council often violates this under the guise of asking clarifying questions, I’ve spoken out against this practice before last night on a number of occasions.

The rumor control began with the City Manager presenting the City’s position on the BCVWD law suit request raised by Dr. Ball during public comments. This was the first violation. Then Council Member Castaldo began his now too familiar line of questioning of Mr. Kapanicas which always elicit answers to clarify the Council and City’s position.

Still, during “Rumor Control” and before the next agenda item, the Mayor asked the Deputy City Attorney if she could read the City’s press release from last week concerning the WRCOG lawsuit. The Mayor was given his ok. After reading the press release the Mayor made it clear to the member of the public who brought up the issue during public comments, that this was in response to his comments, a violation. It didn’t stop there.

Mr. Castaldo now began his questioning of the Deputy City Attorney by asking about a legal decision regarding WRCOG by a judge previous to the case that resulted in the $43 million judgment. At this point, I asked for this discussion to be continued to a scheduled agenda item. This is when the City Clerk informed the Mayor that she needed to change discs for recording their podcast and would have to take a 10 minute break.

During the break, I filled out a request to speak form to discuss the WRCOG issue. I hadn’t planned on addressing this since it wasn’t on the agenda. My wife asked me earlier in the day to pick my 12 year old daughter from the high school after swim practice at 7:30. I checked the agenda and told her there wasn’t anything I needed to speak about and that I would pick her up. I was hoping to ask the council to schedule an item on the next meeting’s agenda to continue the WRCOG discussion. In the past, I’ve been accused of not staying to the end of every council meeting because I didn’t really care. I wanted to make it clear I had five minutes to get to the pool to pick up my daughter and that I wasn't leaving for any other reason.

When the meeting resumed, the City Clerk alerted the Mayor to my request to speak on the rumor control. The Mayor again looked to the Deputy City Attorney for guidance. The Deputy City Attorney and at least two of the incumbents I am challenging in next month’s election, told the Mayor not to allow me to speak. I pleaded with the Mayor to hear a short comment because I had to leave. Each time I started to open my mouth, Mayor Brenda Knight shut me down, at one point, she told me to calm down.

If I had known such an important issue would be discussed, I never would have made the commitment to pick up my daughter. Regardless of the fact that I am a candidate for the City Council, I am a citizen and a member of the public first. Tonight was a clear violation of rights granted to the public by The Brown Act. This happens regularly in Beaumont City Council meetings. Our Deputy City Attorney, and the former City Attorney before him, regularly overlook the rights of the citizens in favor of the council and City Manager. I realize the City Attorney's client is the City of Beaumont, represented by the City Council. So who will stand up for citizens when the Mayor denies a citizen their right to speak in a public meeting? Not one of the three council members present last night, all up for re-election.

If you believe this business as usual is appropriate behavior for council members, then I'm not your candidate, vote for the incumbents. If I am elected, I will provide the leadership this council desperately needs to bring back to Beaumont a government that accepts responsibility for its decisions and conducts its business in a way that earns respect from its citizens.