Rebuild Beaumont

In 1993, the City of Beaumont was in serious financial trouble, and considering bankruptcy. The City Council hired Urban Logic, a consulting firm from Temecula, to take over control. UL's 3 principals, Dave Dillon, Ernie Eggers and Deepak Moorjani assumed the roles as directors of Planning, Public Works and Economic Development. They hired the City Manager of Calimesa, Alan Kapanicas, to serve as a consultant City Manager for Beaumont.

Beaumont's leaders told the 8,000 plus citizens they were going to grow Beaumont out of its financial crisis by building homes. The council created a city-wide Community Facilities District, CFD 93-1, made possible by the State's Mello-Roos law. The plan was to enable developers to build infrastructure for housing projects and be reimbursed by bond proceeds paid for by future homeowners' fees. This meant developers enjoyed lower investment risk and higher return on their investment than they could achieve in neighboring cities. Home development in Beaumont boomed until the housing crisis and recession of 2008.

UL's contract guaranteed the principals could charge the city up to 9% of the cost of each public project in Beaumont for "Plan Checking", "Construction Inspection" and "Public Works Construction Management". Developers would build their projects, UL would charge their fees, and once new homeowners were paying their Mello Roos taxes, proceeds from bonds would reimburse developers. This was all approved by the City Council.

The city wide CFD 93-1 was a first of its kind and may still be the only one in the State. Not only did it allow for low risk investment for developers, it provided access to funding for regional type transportation projects not specific to individual housing projects without voter approval.

UL and Kapanicas promised to provide infrastructure, sewer service, recycled water, fire and police service financed with development impact fees (DIF) and CFD taxes. UL's and Kapanicas' greed led to overpriced, non-competitive bid projects and directed millions of dollars in business to their private companies. Recycled water wasn't a priority; fire stations weren't built; and no fees were established for police services. However, UL still received inflated design and management fees for the infrastructure that was built.

In 2002, the voters of Riverside County approved an extension of the Measure A .5% sales tax for Transportation, passed in 1988 and set to expire in 2009. Along with extending the ½ percent sales tax, voters also approved a new program, the Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fee (TUMF). In order for a city to receive the additional ½ percent sales tax, it would have to participate in TUMF. Beaumont's city council agreed to participate and directed staff (Kapanicas and UL) to comply.

The WRCOG (Western Riverside Council of Governments) is charged with the administration of the TUMF program. A fee on new development, residential as well as non-residential is collected to assist in the building and improvement of the County’s regional arterial system to deal with the increased traffic from new development. Cities are responsible for collecting the TUMF fees from the developers and passing the revenue on to WRCOG.

UL and Kapanicas decided not to follow the council's direction; they did not collect the TUMF fees. UL retained local control of the transportation projects and continued to receive their fees. This lead to the WRCOG lawsuit resulting in a $43 million-dollar judgement against the city, about $60 million with interest.

The judgement was the catalyst leading voters to replace 3 incumbents in the 2014 election. The new council ordered independent audits which revealed the city had depleted its reserves and had been running multimillion dollar deficits for several years. The raids by the District Attorney's office soon followed and a year later Kapanicas, Dillon, Eggers and Moorjani, along with the former Finance Director and former City Attorney, were arrested.

In the two years following the raids, the City Council has hired a new City Attorney and new City Manager; reached a termination settlement with Kapanicas; settled the WRCOG lawsuit; resolved an SEC investigation; and referred one of its own members to the DA for illegal activities. This council has cleaned up corruption in Beaumont.

We still have many challenges facing us. Our sewer plant has reached 75% of its daily capacity and the Water Board has required a $100 million-dollar expansion to be completed and producing recycled water in less than 5 years. Our roads desperately need repair and our transportation networks are not able to handle the needs of the residents in what is still one of the fastest growing cities in California.

The actions of the previous administration under the oversight of previous councils left the city with no reserves and monumental challenges. Over the last two years we have started rebuilding financial reserves and working on needed transportation projects.

Many in our community are angry, I am too. They believe their hard-earned tax dollars have been wasted, misappropriated and embezzled. The recent plea deals by the criminals responsible prove they are right. So, what do we do now? We know what we need to do, we need to continue to rebuild Beaumont. Rebuild its infrastructure, its finances and its community's trust in its elected officials.

We recognize that the only way we move forward is by using the tools available to us to finance the projects our community needs to continue to move forward. We need to protect our city from stagnation. Our citizens moved to Beaumont because they believed in its potential. They made the largest investment most Americans make in their lifetimes, purchasing a home. Without sufficient infrastructure and responsible management of our resources, property values will evaporate and so will our families' futures.

Some voices on social media and on internet bulletin boards claim rebuilding Beaumont by asking its citizens to continue to invest in infrastructure that its city leadership should have already built makes us criminals. Is it criminal to recognize what needs to be done and finding solutions to get it done? I believe it would be more criminal to give up.

This council will continue to move forward despite being called corrupt, dishonest and criminals. Every one of us knew what we were getting into when we volunteered to serve. We know it isn't going to get any easier but we know what we need to do. We will rebuild Beaumont.

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