Scripture of the week: "Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world." John 4:4
The Big Bear Post
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February 16, 2022
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The Big Bear Post
The Official Newsletter of the City of Big Bear Lake Councilman Alan Lee
Serving the communities of Big Bear Lake, Bear City, Sugarloaf, Fawnskin, Erwin Lake and Baldwin Lake
A Report From City Hall
´╗┐Council Awards Political Appointees a 25% Increase

Herrick Refuses to Recuse Himself
Over Conflict-of-Interest Questions

At its February 7, 2022, meeting, the City Council increased the pay of its political appointees at the City's DWP Board of Commissioners to $250 an hour. The Commissioners meet once a month for about two hours. So the increase to $500 a month amounts to $250 an hour. The Commissioners are moving from $400 to $500 each month. The Commissioners also receive a modest taxpayer's subsidized retirement and a City-paid life insurance policy for their limited service.
 
Councilman Lee blocked a proposed 50% increase to the Commissioner's salary at the Council's June 2021 meeting. At Councilmember Bynette Mote's request, this item was brought back for discussion on February 7, 2022, where she led the charge to authorize the 25% increase. Councilman Lee requested that Councilman Rick Herrick, acting as Mayor, recuse himself from the vote since he and the DWP General Manager, Reggie Lamson, are neighbors in the same gated community. Lee also pointed out that a recent 3-year review found that Councilman Herrick receives ongoing payments of approximately $750 a month from the City's Water Department for advertisement. Herrick declined to recuse himself, stating he didn't believe a conflict of interest existed. He voted to approve the 25% increase. In the past, Herrick was forced to recuse himself due to his financial conflict of interest related to the 30-million dollar deal reached with the City of Big Bear Lake and Visit Big Bear. Due to his financial entanglement and business relationships with the short-term rental industry, he has also had to recuse himself from votes on the short-term rental issue.
 
DWP General Manager's Salary More Than The Governor of California
 
Before being elected to the City Council, Lee served a four-year term as DWP Commissioner. He spearheaded several cost-saving initiatives, forced management to cut waste, and led the efforts that reduced our water rates by 15%. Lee was awarded a City proclamation for his outstanding service and contributions to the DWP.

According to Lee, the City's water department is poorly managed at the top. Reggie Lamson, General Manager of the DWP, is one of the highest-paid bureaucrats in California, overseeing one of the smallest water departments. The DWP General Manager is the second-highest-paid City employee, making $225,000+ a year, and the City Manager makes an astounding $258,125+ a year. Both the DWP Manager and the City Manager receive two taxpayers' subsidized retirement plans and make more than the Governor of the State of California. Governor Newsom salary is $209,747. Frank Rush is the only known City Manager in California to receive a $20,000 taxpayer-funded bonus in December 2021.
 
The City's DWP current organization structure is based on the City's 40-year old obsolete charter and is contrary to good governance, transparency, and public accountability. Section 13.24.150 (c) of the City's charter mandates that the DWP General Manager files a written monthly report on the work of DWP with the City Council. However, no such reports have been filed with the City Council in years. The Council may not get its required reports to provide the necessary oversight, but Mayor Herrick has gotten a paycheck from DWP every month without missing a beat. Any other place this would be a scandal, but in Big Bear Lake, it's business as usual.", said Councilman Lee.´╗┐
Vacation Rental Industry Seeks To Recall Councilman Alan Lee
Email With Racial Overtures Sent to Voters
The vacation rental industry has announced plans to launch a recall of Councilman Alan Lee based on his support of the citizen's-led initiative to improve vacation rental oversight in the City. The recall announcement was made on the same day Lee joined the official kick-off of signature gathering for the initiative. "It was symbolically important for me to join our full-time residents as they kicked off their campaign to restore balance and quality of life back into neighborhoods." said, Councilman Alan Lee.
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On February 5, 2022, the recall group sent emails to registered voters announcing their recall plans. They set up an online petition, established a recallAlanLee.org domain, and created an anti-Councilman Lee FaceBook page. On February 11, 2022, the group sent a racially charged email to the registered voters depicting Councilman Lee as a hip-hop rapper. Councilman Lee refused to comment on the racial overtures contained in the email. "Power brokers and political insiders aside, Big Bear Lake residents have shown my family and me nothing but love. I will not dignify that hateful email with a public response.", said Councilman Lee.

The primary issue in the campaign was the lack of regulation of vacation rentals. Councilman Lee and his then-opponent, City Commissioner Maureen Auer, took utterly different positions. Councilman Lee sided with the full-time residents seeking to strike a balance and restore the quality of life in our neighborhoods. While Auer, a local realtor endorsed by the Big Bear Board of Realtors and the Vacation Rental Industry, adopted their platform. "It's a joke to seek to recall someone for doing what they promised to do if elected, and for which the community voted them in to do.", said Councilman Lee. Councilman Lee won 62% of the vote and even outperformed all other local, state, and federal candidates in the precincts in his district.

"Maureen Auer and the Vacation Rental Industry have been harassing me since I won the election and have been nothing but sore losers. They currently control all the leavers at City Hall, and Auer served as the City Manager's realtor in his Big Bear Lake real estate transactions. With (3) of the Council members up for election in less than 9-months, they are running scared. They have tried to bully and threaten me, but they will learn that it has the opposite effect on me. While I prefer to work hand-in-hand, I am not afraid to go toe-to-toe. Our community has been taken advantage of long enough," said Councilman Lee.

Auer's vacation rental industry friends have regularly showed up at council meetings to lambast Councilman Lee and have sought to engage in social media bullying and dog-whistle rhetoric. "Several realtors have privately reached out to me to offer their support and encouragement. Realtors are an important part of our community and essential to our local economy. There are a small number of realtors giving their industry a bad name in our community." said Councilman Lee.

Separate from the recall effort, some council members are currently seeking to manipulate the redistricting process to try to force Councilman Lee out. They are seeking to push Councilman Lee out of office by drawing him out of his district. During the last redistricting process, the Council drew the districts in such a way that kept each of them in office. Now, in a cynical twist, they are trying to exclusively draw Councilman Lee out of office. "This is going to be a fight for the soul of Big Bear Lake, and my whole heart is in it!" said Councilman Lee.

According to financial disclosure reports, Airbnb and the vacation rental industry spent $478,575 in their failed efforts to stop the City South Lake Tahoe residents from passing a citizens initiative to restore balance in their community. The three (3) incumbent City Council members who supported Airbnb over their full-time residents were also defeated at the polls. Frank Rush, who then served as South Lake Tahoe City Manager, unexpectedly resigned shortly after the new Council members were seated and was hired by Big Bear Lake City Council.

In anticipation of legal expenses and another campaign, Councilman Lee announced he is immediately activating his fundraising efforts. "I will be calling on my friends and family from around the country for support and contributions. I will also be reaching out to our Big Bear Valley full-time residents. The only persons I won't take a contribution from are the Vacation Rental Industry and those doing business with the City. This will be a David versus Goliath fight, but I am reminded that David won!" said Councilman Lee.
Before switching to Remax, Maureen Auer was employed at Keller William Realty. Her colleague at Keller William, Alaine Uthus, has filed frivolous complaints at City Hall and has shown up at Council meetings to criticize Councilman Alan Lee. Like Mark Dolan, the Broker of Remax, Alaine Uthus has failed to disclose her personal relationship with Maureen Auer or the fact that she was serving as the President of the Big Bear Board of Realtors. The Big Bear Board of Realtors endorsed Auer in her failed campaign.
Big Bear Vacations and the other major local vacation rental operators supported and campaigned for Maureen Auer. Big Bear Blvd real estate companies were lined with Auer's campaign signs, and she appeared in a full-page ad in the local paper boasting of their support. The vacation rental industry has also pumped thousands of dollars into Rick Herrick's campaign. Despite being endorsed by Herrick and five (5) former Mayors, Auer was largely rejected by the community due to her vacation rental industry views and lack of community concern.
Councilman Lee soundly defeated Remax Realtor, Maureen Auer in a spirited campaign where the primary issue was the over-saturation of vacation rentals. Since being defeated, Auer and her Remax bosses have constantly harassed Councilman Lee. Remax Broker, Mark Dolan, has appeared at Council meetings to lambast Lee. Mark Dolan has engaged in dog-whistle rhetoric to create division in our community. On February 11th, an email was circulated depicting Councilman Lee as a hip-hop rapper.
Big Bear's Eagle, Jacki Lays Eggs
Community Begins Egg Watch

On January 22, 2022, at 3:43 pm Jackie laid her first egg of the 2022 season! Three days later, on January 25, 2022, she laid her second egg at the same time, 3:43 pm.

The first egg hatch due date is around March 17th and the second egg should follow 1-2 days later. Shadow, Jacki's mate, has been incubating 2 to 3 times a day and bringing in food for Jackie to enjoy, including fish from the Lake.  

The nesting location is in Big Bear Lake, and it is about 145 feet up in a Jeffery Pine Tree. Jacki and Shadow's exact nesting location is not disclosed publicly to avoid nesting disruption, and the eagle's habitat area is closed to tourists. Jackie is 10 and Shadow is 8.

The non-profit organization Friends of Big Bear Lake, whose mission is to maintain the unspoiled beauty and unique environment of Big Bear, is the lead organization that helps track and educate the public on our resident eagles, Jackie and Shadow.

Several ravens have harassed Jacki while Shadow has been off hunting. Despite as many as a dozen ravens pestering Jacki, she has stood her ground in the protection of her eggs.

Grand Opening design template with ribbon and scissors. Grand open ribbon cut invitation
Councilman Lee To Host Restaurant's Grand Opening

Please join Councilman Alan Lee in the Grand Opening Celebration of one of Big Bear Lake's newest restaurants on Thursday, February 24, 2022, at 11:45 am. The community is invited to the ceremonial ribbon-cutting opening for Wrap it up | Stick 'em up. The grand opening will be at 603 Pine Knot Ave, Big Bear Lake, CA. This new village- based restaurant is directly across the street from the movie theater. There will be a special gift for each attendee. There will also be prizes and free dessert for the community.

Councilman Lee will join Mr. Peter Dawidzik CEO, of Big Bear Valley Restaurant, in celebrating the opening of his new venture. "I am not only a local businessman, but I live here in Big Bear Lake, too. It's important for me to create a great restaurant option and experience for our full-time residents. Our tourism business is important, but having a quality restaurant for our full-time residents is also important. I am honored to have the support of Councilman Lee, who has been a breath of fresh air in Big Bear's politics and who has given voice to our Big Bear locals.", said Mr. Dawidzik.

"I am committed to making sure our Big Bear Lake small businesses are supported and successful.", said Councilman Lee.
Shadow shares a live fish catch from Big Bear Lake with Jackie. Although Shadow is the male, he is smaller than Jackie. Female eagles are generally larger. They both share in sitting on the eggs and in building their nest.
Photos from the scene captures the early stages of the fire and the fully engulfed fire.

Photo Credit: Sheriff's Department
There Were No Injuries Reported
According to a news release by the Big Bear Fire Department, a residential structure fire was reported in the early morning hours on Big Bear Blvd in Big Bear Lake at approximately 3:17 am on Monday, February 7, 2022. Upon arrival, fire crews observed a well-involved residential structure with smoke and flames showing. The crew was able to quickly extinguish the fire within approximately 20 minutes. There were no occupants home at the time of the structure fire.

The structure fire required all Big Bear Fire Department units to respond with assistance from San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and Caltrans due to the closure of Big Bear Blvd. Battalion Chief Luke Wagner was on-scene and in command. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Councilman Lee, who also serves on the Big Bear Fire Authority Board of Directors, acknowledged our firefighters' work to contain and put the fire down quickly.
Unincorporated Areas Forms New Group
Feeling disconnected from their elected representatives, a group of residents in the unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County has banded together to ensure
their voices are heard and their community concerns are addressed. At the request of Unincorporated San Bernardino Together, Councilman Lee joined with the group in lobbying members of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission to adopt enhanced short-term rental standards. The County Planning Commission met on February 3, 2022, for over 6-hours but did not reach a decision, and the matter has been continued to a future meeting for additional deliberation. In a January 10, 2022 communication, Councilman Lee urged Supervisor Dawn Rowe to adopt meaningful regulations to help bring balance to our community. Supervisor Rowe advised Councilman Lee that her office has been working with County staff on revisions and shared Councilman Lee's communication with her appointee on the Planning Commission, Mr. Michael Stoffel, a Real Estate Agent with Century 21.
Councilman Alan Lee to Honor
Big Bear School Teachers
Teacher and children with face mask back at school after covid-19 quarantine and lockdown.
Big Bear Unified School District teachers and students have had one of the most challenging school years yet. COVID and other school controversies have created a difficult teaching and learning environment, but our professional educators were there through it all.

"Being a public school teacher is more than a job; it's a calling. Our teachers are substantially underpaid and too often under-appreciated," said Councilman Alan Lee, whose father, sister, and youngest son all worked as public school teachers.

In partnership with his Office of Education Council, Councilman Alan Lee will be honoring a "Teacher of the Year" at each of the school campuses within Big Bear Unified School District. Parents, colleagues or administrators may nominate a teacher. Each of the selected educators will receive a cash award and other prizes in recognition of their exemplary classroom contributions. The winning teachers will be spotlighted at Councilman Lee's 2nd Annual Community Unity event set for August 2022.

Nominations should be sent to EducationCouncil@BigBearLake.us. The nomination should include the educator's name, school, the reasons the nominee deserves special recognition and the nominator's contact information.
Big Bear Telephone Town Hall Meeting Set for March 5th
hand using phone white screen on top view
Big Bear Lake Councilman Alan Lee is hosting a live Telephone Town Hall Meeting on Saturday, March 5th, at 10:00 a.m. You will be able to participate in this call from the comfort and convenience of your home.

During this Telephone Town Hall meeting, we will be discussing the over-saturation of vacation rental homes, traffic congestion, an update on the vacant K-Mart lot, and our growing homelessness problem. In addition, we will explore the lack of workforce housing, city taxes, city hall, public safety, the city's proposed take-over of Leisure Mobile Home Park, and the Village's $500,000+ debt to the city. Lastly, we will touch on the controversy surrounding the proposed 99-year lease by the city of a restaurant and boat storage area and other important community issues impacting the taxes and the quality of life for our full-time residents.

You will be able to speak directly with Councilman Alan Lee, ask questions, participate in polls or just listen.

You can register to participate by clicking here. Please be sure to register immediately. You will receive a confirmation of registration via email. On the day of the Telephone Town Hall, you will be called and patched into the live call.
Upcoming Community Events
Sponsored By Councilman Lee
Feb 24 - Village Restaurant Grand Opening
March 5 - Telephone Town Hall Meeting
March 29 - National Mom & Pop Business Owners Day
April 16 - 2nd Annual Community Prayer

Note: Updates on these events are posted on our website or will be in featured in future editions of the Big Bear Post newsletter.
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About Councilman Alan Lee:
Of all the 24 incorporated cities within San Bernardino County conducting local elections in November 2020, Alan's Big Bear Lake City Council District had the largest voter turnout, with over 90% of eligible voters participating. Despite political insiders, power brokers and pundits giving him no chance to win, Alan soundly defeated his handpicked opponent with over 62% of the vote.

Since being elected, Alan has stayed true to his community and is one of Big Bear Valley's most active and engaged political leaders.
Councilman Lee is fighting for us and the insiders are attacking him. Please scan the QR code to ensure you receive updated information and be sure to share this communication with your Big Bear Valley neighbors and post on your FaceBook. By working together, we can make Big Bear Valley an even better place to live and call home!