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BUENA PARK : Planning Board Cut Stirs Anger

Jack and Tricia Mauller have sat through countless meetings as volunteer commissioners, and now they feel betrayed by their city.

After weeks of debate, the City Council has decided to reduce the Planning Commission from seven to five members, with no alternate position. Jack Mauller, as the most junior commissioner, was the odd man out.

Council members said they have wanted to streamline the commission for years. When Commissioner Brenda Miller resigned in June, council members said, they decided to accomplish a longstanding goal of streamlining the panel. They wanted to reduce the panel to five members because a six-member commission could lead to deadlock votes. They also considered creating an alternate position, largely so they would not have to fire Mauller, but decided that would be too cumbersome.

Neither Jack Mauller nor Tricia Mauller, who serves on the city Beautification/Environmental Committee, is buying that logic. They charge that council members wanted to retaliate against the Planning Commission because it refused to back the council’s controversial decision to close the city’s Fire Department and contract with the county for services.

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To back up her husband, Mauller resigned from the Beautification/Environmental Committee.

“I want to be free to speak out against the things that I feel are wrong--the lies, the back-room politics and the hidden agendas,” she said in a statement.

“I feel that the council is doing enormous damage to the volunteer spirit of Buena Park,” Jack Mauller said in a statement. “They did not want to listen to the volunteer leaders of the community on the fire issue and several have had a get-even attitude since then.”

Council members misled them, they charge, by saying that Mauller could stay as an alternate until November. Two commissioners are running for City Council and a victory by either would leave a seat open.

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That idea was discarded in the study session because the council feared that it might be left with a six-member commission.

Councilwoman Rhonda J. McCune summed up the feelings of her colleagues about the Maullers’ charge: “I want to say unequivocally, categorically, absolutely untrue,” she said. She noted that the two commissioners they reappointed--Chairman Larry T. Wieck and Robert J. Niccum--also opposed the fire services transfer.

Councilman Arthur C. Brown said it was a coincidence that the decision about streamlining the commission came so soon after the fire issue was settled. Brown said it is unfortunate that there is an appearance that “the fire issue will color every aspect of the city government.”


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