LETTERS TO THE EDITOR – September 6th, 2018

Dear Editor,

I sent this email to our illustrious city council and our city manager:
“I am no stranger to criticizing city management, but I take extreme exception to the public slandering of Hemet Fire Chief Scott Brown by disgruntled former employees and union mouthpieces. As a member of the press, and an informed citizen, I have always been a vocal critic of how the city spends money (often like a drunken sailor) and the revolving door of city managers is truly disheartening as well as expensive. It does speak to a council that has trouble discerning what it wants or is unable to vet candidates properly, as mentioned during open comments.
I was also a vocal critic of Measure U, stating that the tax wouldn’t be nearly enough to solve Hemet’s problems – and it isn’t. However, it was passed by the majority of voters and an oversight committee was formed. I know the committee is trying to ensure transparency and proper spending of funds. Marie MacDonald and Howard Rosenthal have worked hard to ensure this occurs and they also stand with the Fire Chief. I expect you to as well.
Fire Chief Scott Brown, in my opinion, has done his job, and has done it well. He has reigned in costs while expanding services, and honestly, I don’t know of any boss who is universally liked by his subordinates, and it seems the slander job the firefighters union has orchestrated is working – although (the Aug 28 meeting) was a terrible performance by bit players. Please don’t fall for the whining of a few disgruntled employees or ex-employees who spout general complaints with no substance. His job is to keep the firefighters in line, and these people do not like being told what to do. When several of these firefighters are earning in excess of $300,000 annually, with some making twice their annual salary in overtime, I do not feel sorry for them one bit. And considering I personally witnessed (and have photos and video) of a battalion chief extinguishing a car fire while SMOKING A CIGAR, Chief Brown has his job cut out for him. I have contacted HFFA and asked them, specifically, what are the complaints about Scott Brown and I was ignored. What did Steve Sandifer contribute (during the Aug 28 meeting), except to make blanket complaints with no specificity? Sounds like a bunch of whining babies who are upset that they are being forced to toe the line.
Anyone who has studied human behavior knows people are likely lying when they have difficulty making eye contact or constantly shift their weight from one leg to another. The “retired” firefighter Bailey, in my opinion, was not being truthful last night at the podium. When people are telling the truth, they do not apologize as profusely as he did for simply being truthful. If he was really bringing the truth to light, he would do it with pride, not shame. And last night’s performance, by Bailey and also Steve Sandifer (union instigator) was completely shameful. However, I’m really glad it’s on the record so Chief Brown can sue these guys for slander. Perhaps you should check into investigations and disciplinary matters of former firefighter Bailey, who retired at age 49.
Personally, I have also been critical of Scott Brown in the past. However, he has done a great job trying to bridge the divide between the city and the newspaper and has kept me engaged with the goings-on in the department, even after I left the newspaper. My father has also had several severe health episodes in the last year, and when the Fire Chief found out my dad was in the hospital or that emergency personnel were summoned to his home, he called me to check on my dad. He didn’t need to do that, but he did – because he truly cares – in my opinion.
The person/company who needs to be reprimanded, or perhaps the contract dissolved, is the parks contract with Hemet Gatekeepers. I recall Pastor Steve Norman promising, on his church pulpit with both Scott Brown and Dave Brown, and also in council meetings on the record, that he was going to pay for the fire station kitchen remodel because he was so grateful to the fire department for unlocking the car in which his baby grandson was trapped. He made such a big deal about it and promised to pay for this kitchen multiple times. So I was really disturbed when I noticed the kitchen remodel was put out for bid. It’s really interesting how politics works in this town. Promise everything, get the contract, and deliver nothing. He has multiple security contracts in the business community, so he must be making money. He sure doesn’t have much overhead, considering he is parking all his cars in an abandoned shopping center and most of his workers are volunteers. I don’t believe he should be let out of this political grandstanding promise. Perhaps he should pay a monthly rebate back to the city until the fire station remodel is paid off.
I also have faith in our Fire Chief. He did not abandon the citizens like our former Chief of Police Dave Brown did. Scott Brown made promises to the citizens of this city, and he has delivered and will continue to deliver.”

Mary Ann Morris
Former Editor, The Valley Chronicle

Dear Editor,

Even with all the changes Governor Brown has made to this once nice state, he served two terms and was elected to a non-consecutive third term (followed by a fourth term). To sum up: too long.
There has been an increase of allowing illegal immigrants into this state and giving them a driver’s license. These same immigrants have probably been voting as well.
According to a recent article in the newspaper, he is planning on pardoning criminals with not only felony counts against them but life sentences without parole.
What is he thinking? This article went on to say that those convicted of murder, sexual, and other crimes were going to be released back into society and possibly their criminal record erased.
And to add insult to injury the state legislature is talking about seceding from the union and becoming a nation of its own. Really? Can California keep itself going without the financial aid from our Federal Government?
And what name would be given? Brownafornia? Another “Bullet Train” to nowhere perhaps!

Nancy Eller, Hemet

Dear Editor,

Similar to Frasier Crane, I have now left the Valley (not “the building”, as the song goes). The following is my anecdote, relevant to nearby San Diego’s recent blunders, pertaining to water meter overcharges, which are still not completely fixed. My story may serve to humor some, or instruct others, in checking their actual water usage.
Before 1996, I lived on Main Street in San Jacinto for 17 years while I worked for the Eastern Municipal Water District. At the water district I learned and memorized that one unit of water, or 100 cubic feet, equals 748 gallons.
After living in San Jacinto for 8 years, the city did a complete meter change-out, and my water charges jumped substantially. I decided then, to check my residential water meter accuracy for myself. I first calibrated a five gallon bucket, to the nearest eight ounce cup. Then I noted the digits on my particular meter, which would become the pretest read. I then drew 10 buckets of water, at five gallons each, for a total of 50 gallons. The meter digits on the right side, should have advanced by 6.7 sub-units, since meters usually measure either 0.1 or one cubic foot of water, while only the digits representing “100 cubic feet” (or 748 gallons), are recorded for billing purposes.
Because this happened 30 years ago, I don’t recall what the actual meter reading was, but I calculated that the consumption was at least 20 percent too high. I reported this to the city water department, gave the city a deposit to remove and check my meter, and waited for the results.
The San Jacinto Water Department confirmed that my meter was reading too high and replaced it with another meter. They also refunded my deposit and one month of estimated overcharged water (pretty chintzy). I then decided to check the replacement meter as well. That meter also proved to be reading significantly higher than the true consumption.
After that second “infraction and insult” from the city’s flawed water metering, I wrote a letter to every one of the sitting city council members, admonishing both the water department and the city’s lack of oversight for water metering accuracy.
I checked my meter a couple of times after that, and the meters were finally recording accurately. Hallelujah! Just in case anyone is wondering, all the water I drew for my tests was used on landscaping so those units of water were not wasted.

Gerald Lance Johannsen
San Jacinto (previous address)

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