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Lake Elsinore Politics Get Messy Wednesday Night

Political upheaval in Lake Elsinore leaves the city in a holding pattern.

During Wednesday night's special city council meeting, Lake Elsinore saw a divided council, a city manager take administrative leave, threat of a recall, and an outraged community.

It was standing room only at the Cultural Center in Lake Elsinore as residents, community leaders and city officials turned out mostly in support of their city manager, Bob Brady.

Despite the strong backing and emotional outpouring from various corners, however, effective immediately Brady is on administrative leave pending a public hearing scheduled March 13.

The hearing will be a continuation of Wednesday’s meeting that was called to discuss

The Public Weighs In

For more than an hour Wednesday night, Lake Elsinore City Council members heard comments from the public praising Brady for his service and his commitment to the city.

“Bob is the most honest (city manager) we’ve ever had,” said longtime Lake Elsinore resident Chris Hyland.

Lake Elsinore Unified School District board member Jeanie Corral said Brady is committed to the “community and our children.”

“Bob has proven to be a true leader,” said Lake Elsinore resident Jimmy Flores.

In total, 22 people stood up to tell city council members Wednesday they support Brady and approve of the job he’s doing; only five people spoke against him.

Trevi Entertainment Center owner Michel Knight, told the council he believes Brady is “definitely good” and “definitely honest,” but he questioned the city manager’s “business mentality.”

“I don’t believe he is the right man,” Knight said.

Lake Elsinore resident Tim Fleming also spoke against Brady, saying the city’s image needs improvement.

“We need a new direction,” he said.

One resident appeared neutral on Brady, telling the council he would support whatever decision was made.

Absent from the discussion Wednesday were public comments from some of the city's most prominent organizations and businesses such as the Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce and the conglomerate Castle & Cooke, which owns mining interests across the city.

After hearing all public comments, the council members, Brady and City Attorney Barbara Leibold met in closed session. When they emerged about 45 minutes later, Leibold announced the continuance and Brady's leave.

Political Underpinnings

Many in the community have questioned the need for a special meeting to discuss Brady’s performance, and Wednesday night some public commenters accused council members Daryl Hickman, Melissa Melendez and Peter Weber of masterminding to fire the city manager.

Hickman and Melendez called for Leibold’s contract to be put out to bid, whereas Magee and Tisdale showed support for the city attorney. Ultimately, council voted 3-1 to extend Leibold’s contract until 2013. Hickman cast the sole vote against, while Melendez waivered, saying, “I am confused about the reluctance to have (Leibold’s service contract) competitively bid.”

The vote came less than a month after an

Several residents who addressed the council Wednesday night expressed anger over what they call the “political motivations” of Hickman, Melendez and Weber.

Harvey Ryan, president of the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District board of directors, said the community shouldn’t be focused on Brady, but rather on the political agenda of some city council members.

“Maybe we’re talking about the wrong person tonight,” he said.

Ruth Atkins, who serves as president of the Lake Elsinore Historical Society, told the council members that when November rolls around, residents need to think about who they elect.

Change Is Inevitable

The makeup of the Lake Elsinore City Council will undoubtedly change this fall. Terms for It’s unclear whether either will file for reelection if they find themselves behind after the June primary.

after Bhutta resigned. His term expires in November. He has not yet announced whether he’ll run for election.

Hickman’s term expires in 2014, but Chris Hyland said she has begun the process to recall the councilman.

Wednesday night she said of the recall effort, “I have a lot of people and money behind me.”

So come November, there is only one sure bet on the Lake Elsinore City Council: Mayor Brian Tisdale, whose term expires in 2014. And for now, it’s not clear who will fill the city manager’s chair alongside him.

James Jameson March 08, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Shut up Buckley! Now here comes his other names Tonto, and Roberto LOL
resemp March 08, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Wow. James, you need some education.
aristotle March 08, 2012 at 06:45 PM
There is no room or time for anger at this moment. I think we have to worry about our City and its future. Let's hold all the anger, recalls, etc in abeyance and do a little Kumbaya for a few weeks while this gets sorted out. There was an action by the council that had to be automatic by code as there was no vote in open session. We have much for which to be worried about our community infrastructure and it has nothing to do with personalities. I am thinking of a City staff that must be very worried today about their future with our City. So, hug each other and keep a good thought about your City......
Roberto March 08, 2012 at 06:58 PM
In spite of all of the massive layoffs, City staff spoke in favour of Bob Brady along with the entire community. This has galvanized the community "the Nay's & the Yea's" for the 1st time ever are working together. Coming out the biggest economic down turn since the great depression leave one wondering what these three knukleheads wreckingcrew was thinking can possibly be accomplished by buying Bob Brady out of his contract to the of an estimated 800,000 dollars plus legal litigation? Putting Bob Brady Brady on administrative leave has put the dais on the lowest level ever. Regardless of the outcome, Hickman recall has a green light and is moving forward. No amount of splaining can change the way this was handled. The only uniting front is the entire community is united in their condemnation of the dais and will vote with their pens & petitions followed by the voting booth.
julian March 08, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Yes, thank you PATCH for bringing our community together and informing us of what's going on. At times PATCH reads like propaganda but PATCH does get the information out about what's going on in our small town.
Katheryn March 08, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Roberto is correct the Hickman Recall seems to be gearing up from the rumblings in the audience, as is the possible Weber recall and the rest will be eliminated in November at the voting booth. Another item I observed. Mr. Knight greeting plenty of people who I understand are his employees and live outside of Lake Elsinore. They include all the people who brought their children and many more. I wonder if Knight or Hickman paid for them to attend the meeting?
julian March 08, 2012 at 07:20 PM
I appreciate your sentiments; however when I look at Lake Elsinore over the last 45 years of my life out here, I must ask, "what happened?". Lake Elsinore is blessed with fantastic natural resources, a central location, and a rich history, yet somehow we've been in stagnation while once smaller communities like temecula and murrieta have flourished economically and socially - even perris is doing better than lake elsinore and that is really a shock and should be a wake up call. The crime has also become a huge issue mainly because our low cost housing has attracted the poorest of the poor as well as the dregs of society no other community wants. It's as if we've become a haven for those trying to hide out and those living on the margins. I also think our city's motto of EXTREME LIFESTYLES encourages and attracts the wrong elements. I can only blame local government for the state of affairs here. But where we are now is the result of at least 30 years of mismanagement.
Lake Elsinore Resident March 08, 2012 at 08:53 PM
This mess did not happen over night. The City Manager is there to carry out the direction of the City Council and run the city on a daily basis. The City Manager is not responsible for the crime that has gone on, nor the low income. They can however work with the council to increase budgets for more police to reduce the crime and also suggest that we stop building low housing projects. It is time for all of us in Lake Elsinore to step up and get those in office out that do not have the future of the city in mind. The fact they turned down the request from Ontario stating that we are not part of that area was a slap in the face. Ontario is the closest airport to us and we should support it. The city council and city manager need to find way to bring business and tourist to our city. We have a huge asset sitting in the middle of the town. We need to promote it and build retail places around it. A start is by getting rid of dead weight like city council members. It is time for new faces.
25 Year Resident March 08, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Melissa Melendez has been gunning to get him out and at the last review the numbers were against her... so she waited until she could get someone else on the board to vote with her and Hickman.
Roberto March 08, 2012 at 10:28 PM
All City Managers have contract typically with a parachute clause. They are "At will" employees and can be terminated without cause. However, Bob Brady has the right to seek legal representation if a transparent, by the book procedure wasn't followed. If it's true the Melendez conspired to terminate Brady... and can be proven the Brown act was violated ....This can create's a cause for litigation and possible settlement that can be staggering. This is true for most City Managers. Bob Brady's salary was-is well inline for a city the size of Lake Elsinore. The administrative leave (I presumed paid) is a precursor to more discussion and evaluation. Should he be retained or let go, damage to his integrity is done in my opinion.
Bill Bull March 08, 2012 at 11:10 PM
You might want to click on Brady's Annual Performance Evaluation in the above article.
Truthbtold March 08, 2012 at 11:37 PM
I have to assume most people who write/read these blogs actually care about Lake Elsinore and if you are attacking Melendez-Hickman-Weber for trying to get rid of Brady then you must be happy with the way things are. Hickman-Melindez tried to hold back Brady's contract renewal last year, but Bhutta was Tisdales-Magees puppet. The fact that there is anyone in this town unhappy with Brady's performance should give cause. Was anyone in Temecula unhappy with Shawn Nelson? I doubt it. I like Brady. He is a nice guy and no doubt devoted to LE. We just need someone who is aggressive and motivated to move LE forward and I don't think Brady had it in him. I'd love to see him stick around and run for city council... wouldn't that be fun!
UNCLE FESTER March 09, 2012 at 08:56 AM
want to know why we dont grow like temecula and murietta-- well i will tell you... the city hall and its officials have seen fit to keep us "that little quiet town " we dont need all the ruckus here and we like it small and quiet.. " those are pretty close to the words i have heard from them more than once.. the kill most new businesses with fees and then the water dept stabs them directly in the heart and makes them run like hell from here. it is sooooo difficult to open a new business here that most wot even try anymore.. the fees and water use requirements are horrendous. since the "take over" of the little water dept, i now get to pay sewer fee' that i never had to pay before. with one toilet i my location my bill has doubled... how nice...and for a industrial or agra-meter, you need a co signer with 900 point credit.. its crazy.. and then we have the retarded over kill fees that get shoved down our throats after the fact... who'd want to open here in "sleepy town" when a millionaire cant afford to open a small store ? they need to let up and let businesses get started before they kill them in ridiculous fees.... water in the lake, clean street, parking control, blah blah blah......all about the dollars !!!!!!
julian March 09, 2012 at 03:34 PM
I bet you are right on the Mining influences in this small town.
Katheryn March 09, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Tell me things aren't wild? Californian article someone commented on Weber and Hickman mtg with Knight, is this true? http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/lake-elsinore/lake-elsinore-city-awaits-final-decision-on-city-manager/article_6baf7e22-b793-5776-bf7b-5418cb124488.html http://www.pe.com/local-news/riverside-county/lake-elsinore/lake-elsinore-headlines-index/20120308-lake-elsinore-city-manager-on-leave-despite-supporters-pleas.ece
Concerned Citizen March 09, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Melissa must have a replacement in mind, then she can run the entire circus and be the head clown......huh, something to think about?????
Bill Bull March 10, 2012 at 12:03 AM
In my opinion no matter what side your on, it's called the Main Street Jinx.
Roberto March 12, 2012 at 04:28 AM
The recall is a well organized effort with many business people at the forefront. The yea sayers & naysayers are united. Weber is up for re-election in November & Melendez cannot be recalled because she's runnig for office. the 400,000 dollars is a very low figure and no we don't know if Bob Brady has sought legal counsel which he should. Again, Melendez voted in RDA just like Alongi. Why does she get away with it?

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