Brea’s Folly, Part 4: Here’s What’s Worst About Manley’s Angry Screed

Manleyzilla and Tower Records Building

A fire-breathing, somewhat petulant, landlordragon!


If you haven’t already seen it, you’ll want to take a look at OJB’s post featuring the angry emails that Dwight Manley sent to Brea’s Community Development Director David Crabtree and others last week.

This post will spend time picking apart Manley’s angry, entitled, and sometimes seemingly delusional claims.  (Of course, as Dennis Rodman’s former sports agent, Manley has no doubt learned a thing or two about “playing the refs”!)

1.  Crabtree Just Had No Idea of What He was Walking Into

Crabtree clearly thinks that he’s being more than fair to Manley’s plan; his Staff Report even endorsed it.  Why did his Staff Report endorse it when, according to me and others, the plan didn’t make sense?  Well, you can get an idea of what he was up against as you read through Manley’s semi-hysterical and abusive emails.  Clearly, Manley expects to be catered to — and he is, after all, one of the two main donors who elected last year’s City Council!  So Crabtree has good reason to treat him nicely.

Crabtree starts out in [2] all friendly and respectful of Manley’s insider status.  The Report was “just posted,” and “Council too has it, literally, just now.”  After Manley’s initial tirade against a report that recommended his plan, Crabtree (in [4]) is confused and chastened, but ready for his trip to the woodshed:

“Huh? Not the response I expected. Face to face tomorrow will be good, I’m lost in your comments.”

After Manley goes off on him again, Crabtree (in [6]) tries to reassure Manley that this is as favorable a report as in can be without, well, lying about things:

“Dwight- the report recommends the Downtown Owners option to move it forward!! Appreciating the realities of pricing are higher to realize the design, there are reasons for that which can and will be explained to Council. Costs are costs, this just lays them all out. If it can be realized for less via the final bid, so be it, but based on what our estimators predict, these are the numbers. Not looking to burn any bridges, there is no crony issue at play, the support for Brea Downtown is huge! Looking forward to talking, you don’t seem to be reading this situation the same as I am.”  [My emphasis throughout.]

And then, in [8], Crabtree makes a terrible mistake: he reminds Manley that Staff recommended primarily Manley’s proposal, but — also an alternative!  That way the Council has … a choice!  And, as you see, at that point Manley goes totally bonkers.

Enough from poor Mr. Crabtree’s perspective — some bosses are just so demanding!  Now let’s look more carefully at Manley’s tirades.

2. Manley’s First Tirade

That would be section [3] of the other post.  Manley’s comments will be block indented in italics; my responses to them won’t be.

I’m almost speechless at what you have pulled here. Where is the not to exceed option?

First, understand that the estimated cost of the parking structure just went up from $8.9 million to $12.65 million.  Maybe that’s why a contract “not to exceed $9 million (or some similar smaller figure wasn’t prepared: BECAUSE IT COULDN’T BE DONE!

Of course, there is an implicit “not-to-exceed option” there — the Downtown Owners just have to agree that they will cover any excess construction costs if their projections turn out to be a little — or wildly — optimistic.  Well, they should also put up some sort of collateral, like at a minimum the title to the former Tower Records building, as a guarantee that they will indeed cover any cost overruns.

You see, if they’re not guaranteeing that, then WE are.  The are completely unaccountable without a binding agreement that puts them on the hook for the $8-9 million estimate.

Where is the shaved down cost for the 485 only plan without all of the contingencies?

My guess is that it’s because the contingencies are included in the budget for a good reason, such as — they may happen and if they do they will cost money!  If Manley were on the other side of the desk in a property negotiation, would he really object to the inclusion of contingencies in a cost estimate?

Why is Ron Wendel, a non owner of Improv, used to call me and Robert Hartman hypocrites? The Improv is leaving if this doesn’t happen. Stuart and Robert have both said it. They will now send a letter, and we will publish it if that’s what it takes.

Good question!  Let’s look for Wendel’s name in the Staff Report.  It appears only once, on page 50, in the answer to Item 12.  (The word “hypocrite” doesn’t appear at all.)  Here’s what Wendel says:

“Staff have also contacted Improv representatives and spoke with their CFO, Ronald Wendel, who reports that Improv is happy to have a Brea facility and “have no plans to leave Brea”, but seek to expand as evidenced by the recent  submittal of their plans for replacing the Old Navy building with a larger entertainment venue. Details of Improv’s current lease terms were not disclosed.”

OK, Mr. Manley, we have your answers now!  City Staff spoke to “non-owner” Wendel because he is the Improv’s CFO.  And he didn’t call you a “hypocrite”; he gave an account of what the Improv would do that (probably unwittingly) contradicted yours.  The worst you could say is that he may have exposed you as a liar.  Maybe the Improv isn’t leaving.  Maybe, if we new the lease terms, we’d learn that some other Comedy Club would be glad to move in if they left — which, as I understand it, often happens in commercial leasing.  (Except for the former Tower Records building, of course.)

This staff report is offensive. I was told the “Beard” plan wasn’t even a possibility, and I now see it’s really just my old plans with his name on it.  While this thing purports to be transparent and open, I could not find anything showing Mr Beard being closely associated with Tim O’donnell? Where are those relationships listed?

I would want outside verification, at this point, that the Beard plan just recycles Manley’s old plan.  Manley somehow doesn’t seem really objective here.

All I can hope at this point is that three council members are not bamboozled by this and can just do what Bill promised would be an option, but somehow isn’t even mentioned.

Dwight!  Dwight!  Calm down.  Listen to me.  If the numbers say that the rosy plan you wanted doesn’t pencil out, it’s the Staff’s JOB not to present it as an option.  Seriously, are you upset with them here because they didn’t lie for you?

3. Manley’s Second Tirade

In section [5] of the other post, Manley — who complains about “conspiracy theories” about him (theories that are looking pretty good right now) — starts threatening Crabtree’s job if he doesn’t play along even better than he has been, just like they teach in high school civics classes.

Borders on criminal what was pulled here….the fantasy question answer forum?

Well, something may be bordering on criminal here, but it’s not the Report.  By the way, what Manley calls the “fantasy question answer forum” is where the City Staff directly answers posed to them by Councilmembers — some pretty good questions, by the way — to help them make informed decisions.  Shockingly, Brea’s Staff did not invent this procedure.

[Y]ou are burning a bridge that isn’t the kind you just replace with one of Tim’s cronies.

In other words, “you are ruining your chances of promotion by not playing along.”  “Borders on extortion” coming from the City Council’s kingmaker,  one could say.

Where is the not to exceed 9m option, less the RDA$?

Doesn’t pencil out!  He says so in the report!  Manley has done real estate deals before, right?

You’ve loaded this up with so much crap, and the housing ones are both impossible, and you’re just making consensus impossible, which Tim loves, so he can have more power.

OK — there’s a good place for the Council to begin!  Did the staff, in the $13 million projection, load the estimate up with “crap” that will never be needed?  The Council should be able to figure that out before voting, don’t you think?  But if it is unnecessary, then Manley can just promise — binding, in writing, personally guaranteed — to cover any cost overrun.  If he’s sure that there won’t BE any cost overrun, there’s no risk!  (But if there is a risk that he’s flim-flamming us here, shouldn’t that risk fall on him, not us?)

Bill, I thought you were going to show leadership with this. All that has happened is a huge can of worms is being opened, and it’s obvious to me, and I will make sure everyone knows in the end who did what.

Now threats against Bill Grisolia too.  “How to Succeed in Business.”  Is the Council happy with how Manley is trying to bully the staff into unquestioning compliance?

> Where in the hell is the support for the Brea downtown here?

There’s lots of support for Brea Downtown!  There’s just not a lot of support for people lying and cheating to hijack the objective project evaluation process.  And Manley hates that.

4. Manley’s Last Tirade

Manley next speaks up in section [7], where he asks where Crabtree’s Report endorses his plan — which is basically Option 2 without cooking the numbers.  When Crabtree points out the recommendation, the response in section [9] is like someone threw a water balloon into a deep fryer.

It says 2 and 3…and it says 3 costs less than 2.

OK, he doesn’t like the result.  But is the result true?  Doesn’t that … matter?  Council?

It also says in the stupid lying Q/A section that “build it and they will come” and “nothing came from the owners” about higher taxes or businesses!! Are you kidding? Bill, we went over all of this with you.

Well, again: this is something that the Council should be able to assess independently and to bet their political careers on before they vote.   Is that “Q/A section” (pages 46-51 of the Staff Reportreally “stupid” and “lying”?  Or are the authors intelligently telling the truth as best they can — and Manley’s problem with that is that HE DOESN’T LIKE THAT TRUTH?  They should know that — and be confident of their belief and able to articulate why that is — BEFORE they vote.  Dwight Manley surely has a right to be heard here — but he has no right to dictate what is and isn’t true!

This was written to confuse and muck up something that was DELAYED only because David and Christine PROMISED me the “menu” would be only things that are vetted and real options. Instead, the kitchen sink is in here, lies are in here, and the not to exceed 9m isn’t here.

See, here’s the thing: the four options that were in the report apparently WERE “vetted” and ARE “real options.”  And the “not to exceed $9m” was also VETTED but was NOT in the report because IT WAS NOT A “REAL OPTION.”

It was a fantasy.  A convenient fantasy that Manley wanted people to believe — by themselves if possible and under threat if not — because that would allow him to make his sale.  It would be like me bullying my realtor because she couldn’t find a split-level house in North Brea with 5 bedrooms and 3 baths and was in great condition — for only $170,000.

It’s not her fault if she can’t find one!  What I asked for was not a realistic option — just like here!

I’ve been attacked, both as “OWNER”, “LANDLORD”, “MANLEY”, and “DWIGHT”, as Tim apparently wanted to make sure he got me from every angle.

Here, I must admit that I too have called the author of that email “OWNER”, “LANDLORD”, “MANLEY”, and “DWIGHT” — because his name is “Dwight Manley” and his interest here is as an “Owner” and a “Landlord.”  And if calling Dwight Manley “Dwight” and “Manley” is an insult, then I apologize.

But does he really want to be called the names he’s earned here: “BULLY,” “CHEAT,” “HYSTERIC,” and “LIAR”?  I guess we’ll see what the Council majority thinks of those names for him — if, that is, they can stop fixating on the name that they probably most commonly apply to him:


Otherwise, after those emails, he’d be tossed right out of the door.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)