Tulare County District 3 challenger Brad Maaske explains restricted real estate license, plan for low barrier shelter and two DUIs
By Paul Myers
EXETER – While voters will cast their ballots in March to see a runoff in November, some will vote for who their supervisor will be for the next four years.
Incumbent Amy Shuklian is facing challenger Brad Maaske for her Tulare County District 3 seat this time around. There are three major topics that voters have when it comes to Maaske’s: Business, homelessness and judgement.
Maaske herald himself as the business candidate since he began his race last December. He has a long career in real estate and hosts his own talk show on KMJ. Maaske went so far as to say that those who are self-employed thinking differently than others.
“I’ve been self employed and I think that people, when they’re self employed, and conservative, think differently,” Maaske said in his closing statement at a Tulare County District 1 and District 3 forum at 210 Café early last month.
Despite casting himself as the “business candidate” much has been made about his restricted real estate license. According to the California Department of Real Estate, Maaske’s license will be restricted until October 2022. His license fell under restriction because of accepting advanced fees from 282 clients hoping to have their home loans modified between November 2008 and October 2009. Maaske accepted $282,000 in advanced fees.
Court filings from 2011 note that it is illegal to collect advance fees without an agreement already in place.
“Claiming, demanding, or accepting an advance fee for loan modification services was illegal, except for a licensed California real estate broker with an approved advance fee agreement before October 11, 2009,” the filings stated.
Maaske said that during the housing crisis that began in 2008, he was handed advice by the California Association of Realtors to help provide loan modifications. And he followed those guidelines until the department of real estate said that it was illegal.
“We followed those procedures to a ‘T’…based on our legal advice that we we’re given on how to practice real estate,” Maaske said in an explanation on The Sun-Gazette’s, Paper Trail Podcast.
Once it was determined that accepting advance fees was illegal under Senate Bill 94, CAR assistant general counsel, Gov Hutchinson sent a letter of support, noting that he was acting on advice provided by them.
“We respectfully request that you take notice that Mr. Maaske may have acted in reliance upon CARs legal article on loan modifications.
The CARs loan modification legal article is currently no longer in circulation. However, when it was in circulation, before Senate Bill 94 was enacted [the article] outlined a business arrangement wherein a broker could perform distinct loan modification…and be compensated only upon completion of each service. We did not believe that was an advance fee as each service would be completed before payment of that particular service,” the letter stated.
Maaske went on to say that he had the opportunity to pay a $30,000 fine or have his license restricted which he thought he could appeal after two years.
“Had I known that I couldn’t get the restricted license off after two years, I would have spent the $30K because it taints me,” Maaske said. “If you follow the guidelines that are set out before you and you follow them then they are changed after the fact, well there’s nothing I can do about that.”
Homelessness is more and more defining the politics of Tulare County at every level, but in particular District 3. Because it encompasses almost all of Visalia, where homelessness has been the focal point, the issue has been front and center since the race began. While incumbent Amy Shuklian chairs the taskforce on homelessness for the county, Maaske says that he has come up with a plan all on his own.
Published last month, Maaske proposes that the county invest in a low barrier shelter north of Visalia in fallowed property, near Bob Wiley Detention Center.
“The hardest people to help are the low barrier so we have to do an all of the above [solution] but this bottom 70% can be helped, and helped inexpensively,” Maaske said.
Maaske said that the effort will focus on providing mental health services, general health services and provide security and a safe place to stow away their belongings. He added that it could help between 400 and 600 homeless people. Maaske also realized the need for infrastructure.
He said on episode 209 of The Paper Trail Podcast that the low-barrier facility would require electricity, bathrooms and portable offices among other things. And stated that initial costs would only be $500,000, and $100,000 per month after that. Maaske did not outline the cost by line item, making verification of the actual cost impossible.
When asked what neighbors nearby would think of the low-barrier encampment, Maaske admitted that they probably wouldn’t like it.
“The question is, do I impact the 500 people in this town or the 40 people who are out for a walk at night,” Maaske said. “It’s a property rights issue and the sheriff says that we have to deal with it…and we need to have those patrols so we make sure these people are not breaking into houses.”
Maaske added that current efforts to combat homelessness have not been enough, citing the landlord mitigation fund in particular. He said that landlords have let the homeless in, and they went on to cause $5,000 worth of damage.
“Then there are people with a little bit of mental issues…she was afraid that [the ticking on her thermostat would] burn down [the apartment] and she called the fire department…she said she wanted a new thermostat because it scares her,” Maaske said. “This is the real life issue of helping people with problems, and I get it.”
Although, Maaske said that his plan will not be perfect right off the bat either.
“It’s not going to be easy. There’s going to be stabbings just like there are now, and there’s going to be fights just like there are now. There’s no doubt about that,” Maaske said.
He added that he is confident that if his low barrier shelter was built that the county would have cover from a lawsuit in case a security threat such as a stabbing occurred.
“Because with the homeless emergency you’ve got protection from some of these things,” Maaske said.
Voters have questions Maaske’s judgement in large part because of his two DUIs. His first was on Aug. 4, 2010. He was not convicted until three years later on April 22, 2013, when he was sentenced to $1,975 in fines and fees, two days of jail time and 40 hours of community service.
Maaske said that he has learned from his mistakes.
“You can’t drink and drive, period. There’s no excuse for it,” Maaske said.
Just seven weeks after being sentenced for his first DUI, was arrested for his second. On June, 11, 2013 Maaske was arrested with a .15% blood alcohol content or refusal. He was sentenced on Aug. 28, 2014 to pay $2,273 in fines and fees, 28 days of jail time, a second offender 18 month DUI program and his license was suspended.
“I had a couple drinks with dinner and I didn’t realize that I was over the limit,” Maaske said. “It was parked on the street and I was going to move it into the parking lot and wait for a cab…but I had keys in the car. Dumb. It won’t happen again.”