The other night the council approved the rezoning of the massive Red Oak development site on Commonwealth. The move was made while waxing vigorously about forcing the developer to reduce the project density and increase site parking. The team concluded that holding back the site plan approval until March 7th will give them time to negotiate some sort of fix.
But in the needless granting of partial approval, the council gave away nearly all of the city’s leverage. You see, the approval of the zoning change brought forth the Specific Plan, along with its density and parking specifics. If the council tries to require additional parking, any decent attorney will point to the already approved Specific Plan and shove it back up the council’s rear end.
The council simply surrendered its ability to get what they wanted. Naturally, city staff and the city attorney sat quietly and helped them proceed. Of course. They are eager to collect those development fees.
At one point, Councilman Bruce Whitaker voiced his commitment to only voting for/against projects in their entirety, perhaps to avoid this exact consequence. But he forgot to be persuasive, and the rest of the council evaded that moment of enlightenment and proceeded to ride off the cliff at full bore.
Now someone less cynical than I might assume that the council fell into this trap out of sheer incompetence. But one must also consider that the screw up conveniently paves the way for the council to be “forced” to complete the Red Oak approvals. They will buckle under legal duress while pretending to be sympathetic to the public’s concerns.
Of course, all of this could be wrong, and the tough-talking council could actually deliver on their promise to significantly reduce the project before it gets built. But when has that ever happened?
On the City’s website, right above a news release about an upcoming osteoporosis seminar at the Community Center, we discover that the City Council has unanimously chosen a replacement for Joe Felz. Felz, you will recall, drove off of Glenwood Avenue, ran over a tree, blew a tire and tried to drive away in his crippled vehicle.
Allan Roeder, former City Manger of Costa Mesa, is the replacement, on an interim basis. He is part of a small pool of extremely expensive place holders brought in like bullpen pitchers, when the starter gets into trouble in the late innings. These already pensioned-off fellows go on to rake in enormous second incomes while already collecting their massive CalPers checks every month.
The new guy was hired yesterday in a Special, Behind-Closed-Doors meeting of the City Council.
Why the City needs to pay somebody a hundred grand for a five or six month stint is a question you should ask one of your “unanimous” council who seem to be oblivious to the fact that the City is running massive deficits every year, already. Oh well, it’s not their money, right?
Here is our new Mayor, Bruce Whitaker extolling the virtues of Mr. Roeder:
“We are happy to have someone as established and seasoned as Mr. Roeder to serve our city,” said Fullerton Mayor, Bruce Whitaker. “Allan’s experience will be welcomed at City Hall and he will be a valuable asset to the entire city until we appoint a permanent city manager.”
Now did Mr. Whitaker actually say that? Let’s hope it was a canned quotation put in his mouth by some overpaid “public information officer.” Having Felz around for the past six or seven years is proof positive that from a strictly practical perspective we don’t even need a city manager, and would probably have been a lot better off without the last one we had.
Well, now we have one that can absorb the blame for whatever unfortunate happenstances come our way in the first half of 2017, and be off down the road to the nearest bank.
Another public sidewalk expropriated by a developer.
This is the site of the giant mess coming in the 700 Block of South Harbor Boulevard – a behemoth brought to us courtesy of our present City Council, who approved this monster unanimously.
I don’t get it. There’s nothing difficult about a contractor keeping a sidewalk open. It just takes a City that cares about the people who live here and use the public sidewalks, instead of bending over backwards the the developer of another massive, San Quentin-like apartment block. The only thing missing will be the gas chamber.
One of our well-placed sources in the City administration has informed us that on-leave City Manager, Joe Felz will be quitting permanently soon, even as conversations now spin around who will replace Felz. Is this true? It has the ring of truth to it.
Speaking of spinning, Felz spun off the Glenwood Avenue in the early morning hours of November 9th, ran over a tree and tried to drive away. The cops on hand smelled alcohol but for reasons that have not yet been revealed, administered no breathalyzer test and instead drove Felz home.
The City Attorney has been trying to protect Felz with illegal bogus claims of “personnel matters,” so that excuse would soon be gone if Felz flees the scene. Then there’s the matter of the rather bizarre “ongoing criminal investigation,” that some folks reasonably think is nothing but another dodge to avoid releasing incriminating video and audio records that were made when the cops arrived at the crash scene. No one has even bothered to explain to the public what possible crimes were committed, or who may have committed them. And of course our City Council members have not expressed any curiosity about that, either. Sooner or later our mush-mouth City Attorney is going to have to admit a big problem with his “criminal investigation” yarn, to wit: nobody was arrested that night. No evidence of drunk driving was collected. We don’t even know if a citation was issued.
When Felz goes, he will save the the taxpayers the cost of that so-called “independent person investigation” that the City Attorney thoughtfully cooked up to stall and obfuscate the matter. If so, it will be the one and only time Felz ever saved the taxpayers anything, and that going out the door.
Of course the open question is this: what sort of windfall will be offered by our ever-helpful council to grease the skids of Felz’s departure? If he quits he won’t get his guaranteed payola, but the circumstances of his Wild Ride may make that a moot point.
Whatever happens, rest assured, we will told as little as possible, as late as possible.
In the first installment of this two-part series we saw examples of how a mere two downtown Fullerton bars (one illegally operating as a night club) had racked up a massive inventory of misdeeds, amounting to hundreds of cop calls in a few years. Just imagine how tough it is for the Fullerton Police Department to manage all this madness, night after night. And what happens to cop service calls in the rest of the city. Poor cops, right?
Yet before we shed any tears over the FPD and the horrible burden they bear, let us contemplate a “story” from the cop union website that glowingly talks about the special relationship that exists between downtown booze peddlers and our boyz in blue. Here are some choice quotations from the article:
Business in downtown Fullerton is booming.
Thousands of people flock from all over Southern California for the food and atmosphere – and to have a good time.
Police officials want to keep it that way.
In downtown Fullerton last year, officers made 562 drunken driving arrests, including 13 DUI crashes. There were also dozens of assaults.
“We could put 100 cops downtown, but we’d be swatting flies,” said Lt. Andrew Goodrich. “We want to work together to solve this.”
Added Police Chief Dan Hughes: “We want downtown to continue to flourish.”
Slidebar owner Jeremy Popoff had already convened a group of owners, calling it the “Downtown Restaurant Association.”
Do you see the absurd disconnect? Booming, flourishing business? Sandwiched between the happy horseshit talk are the startling statistics of our downtown, open-air saloon. The police are not only tolerating Crazytown, a situation they admit they can’t control, they are aiding-and-abetting it. Why? We certainly know that some bar owners like Popoff are politically connected – his place operates without the CUP the City legally requires of a night club. Then there are the recurring and disturbing stories about cops getting free food and drink at some of these bars – like Popoff’s place. These are stories that nobody has denied.
So are the cops just trying to make the best of a bad situation, or has the culture of the department finally become as gin-pickled with downtown booze as the rest of the City political establishment? I believe the department has enjoined a pretty sick symbiotic relationship with the downtown culture. And notice how the good ladies of MADD, the FPDs 5th Column, have never been mobilized against this massive affront to sober driving? Coincidence? I think not.
It’s obvious that there is zero political will from our city council to do a damn thing about the problem they created over the years. Just the reverse, in fact. Notice how our council unanimously agreed to carving up downtown among five separate council districts so as to dilute the influence of actual voters in that undeniable “community of interest?” The ballot statement supporting that mess was written by none other than our Lobbyist-Mayor, Jennifer Fitzgerald. Hmm.
As for Popoff, he can join with his fellow merchants of martinis and call themselves a”restaurant association;” they can pretend to play nice even while they are racking up ever-lengthening lists of police calls; what they can’t do, at least now that people are finally paying attention, is pretend that their operations aren’t draining financial resources from the average Fullerton family and putting it in their own bank accounts.
The annual downtown fiscal deficit to the taxpayer is well over a $1,500,000 – that’s ten bucks for every man, woman and child in Fullerton; somehow business is booming – but not the City’s General Fund.
And now, returning to the “article” cited, above: let’s have our new amigo, Mr. Gregg Honour, the control-your-bars consultant, whose attention has been drawn to downtown Fullerton and to FFFF, take us home:
Gregg Hanour, former owner of the Shark Club in Costa Mesa and author of “A Business Approach to Reducing Drunk Driving,” said police departments typically conduct undercover stings to build a case to remove a troubled bar.
“You’re lucky,” he told the bar owners. “Your police department wants to work with you.”
Intrepid Friend, David Curlee, has got hold of mobile data computer log from the FPD patrol cars on the night City Manager, Joe Felz, was driving home after a night of campaign partying, jumped the curb on Glenwood Ave, ran over a tree, and tried to motor off. After that the Cone of Silence has descended on the incident thanks to the Fullerton Culture of Cover-up.
HCON3 is a dispatcher. U321 is a patrol unit. Note the time: 1:30-ish in the morning. Precisely the time the Felz incident occurred.
Hmm. Twenty minutes of radio silence. Then another cop who must have been there decides that whatever happened, he ain’t a-talkin’. I wonder why not. No I don’t. And notice U321 isn’t saying anything, either.
Now, remember Barb Pollinger, the neighbor who called the cops in the first place? She said very clearly that driver of the vehicle”should have stopped.”
Is it possible that the MDC is describing an incident other than the madcap motoring of our City Manager? I suppose it’s possible. But it seems pretty implausible.
The witness talks about a suspect departing the scene of an accident. The log conveys the notion of someone in need of immediate apprehension.
I think what is being described here is a crime. If that’s true, then I would also think the actions of former Chief of Police Dan Hughes in ordering his troops to let Felz go without a breathalyzer analysis, to drive him home, to tuck him into bed and to forget the whole thing would also be a crime, obstruction of justice-wise. Our lawyer, Dick Jones, said that a criminal investigation was underway/remotely possible, but since the cops arrested no one that night, and since nobody has been charged with anything that I am aware of, what gives?
The City Council once again takes up the topic of Mr. Felz’s performance tomorrow night. It might be an interesting performance.
A while back Fullerton City Councilman Bruce Whitaker proposed the creation of an audit oversight committee, rather like the one they have at the County. His concern was that the City do more than just meet the bare minimum of accounting standards, but is actually doing the things that are legally required by some of our budget funds. This is called accounting for management. Are you curious to see how his colleagues felt about the idea? Enjoy this clip:
How entertaining! Bud Chaffee sees the proposal as bureaucratic metastasis and preposterously claims to want to reduce the number of city commissions! The proof of this big government liberal’s insincerity (okay, he’s a liar) can be found by counting the number of commissions proposed for elimination by Chaffee both before and after this escape of gas. What? You want a round number? How about the roundest number of all: 0.
Missus Flory chimes in with her generous offer to act as “interpreter” with her staff for Mr. David Curlee, who has actually uncovered evidence that the City government most assuredly did not want advertised: very possible misfeasance in the Brea Dam area accounting, (including out of fund transfers) that could actually jeopardize the whole enterprise. Apart from the fact that Flory couldn’t understand the illegal water tax ripoff in 2012, she is hardly qualified to discuss accounting issues at all. She is so drenched in venom; just look at the utter disdain she demonstrates for a “a few verbal allegations.”
Finally we see our Lobbyist-Mayor buzz in. She “hears” what Whitaker is saying but her retort is that Fullerton only hires “experts.” She includes the lamentable example of hiring Michael Gennaco to oversee the FPD Culture of Corruption, one of the most egregious examples of a cover-up anybody could possibly think of (she says she’s proud of it!). She too, seems to believe that the “expert” accountants the City hires to look at the financial documents do anything other than make sure the numbers all add up at the end, don’t ruffle any feathers, and collect their fat taxpayer funded fees. Of course Ms. Lobbyist-Mayor’s statements are just as phony as Chaffee’s. See, un-expert Fitzgerald herself sits on a citizens’ audit oversight committee – for the Fullerton Joint Unified High School District.
Okay, Friends here’s a pop quiz. What do Jan Flory, Bud Chaffee, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Bruce Whitaker and Greg Sebourn have in common? Think for a second…
Got it? Of course, it was an easy question.
They are collectively responsible for the overdevelopment of Fullerton. Look around: Commonwealth, Orangefair, Santa Fe, each now, or soon to be home for massive, overbearing penitentiary-like apartment blocks.
And there’s very little need to hold our breath until the “College Park” upzone Godzilla rears its ugly head, once again.
Whatever the motivation of our “representatives” to jam ever more high-density residential projects into Fullerton, the result is the same: more burden on the City’s utilities and infrastructure, and above all, more traffic cramming our streets, costs that are carried by all of us as the developer makes his bundle and skips off to his next monster.
Is it really too much of an exaggeration to say that soon the major intersections at Harbor, Orangethorpe and Lemon will become virtually gridlocked at certain times of the day? Soon we may all have to find alternative ways to get around Fullerton.
It’s pretty clear that none of these lofty people have the best interests of ordinary Fullerton residents in mind. In fact, we seem to be nothing more than an annoyance to their big plans, that is if you can call helter-skelter development a plan.
Yes, Favored Friends! It’s time once again to play…The Mayor Game!
Every December our illustrious city council elevates one of their own to assume the august tile “Mayor.” The Mayor of Fullerton gets to preside at meetings and that’s about it. Almost a kind of booby prize if you think about it. And yet our elected representatives lust after the title, particularly if there is an election the following November.
For years the selection was fraught with political tension as the repuglican old guard, orchestrated by the odious Dick Ackerman contrived to keep Dems (and Chris Norby) from ascension to this lofty estate. In recent years though, the process has become less political. The Council even adopted a process for non-partisan rotation in which it would be the turn of the that person serving longest without wearing the bejeweled tiara. This process is not enshrined in any law or code. It’s just sort of a Gentleman’s Agreement between people who really don’t trust each other – and for good reason.
The humble office of Mayor Pro Tem serves as the approach to the green and thence the flag.
Will the bonhomie last?
The current Mayor Pro Tem is my broomstick-wielding former mistress, Jan Flory, who will mercifully be out of office in a week or so. This means that it is Councilman Bruce Whitaker’s turn to shimmy up the greasy pole. Whitaker became mayor in the Fall of 2012, but it wasn’t without nervousness since it was well known that Flory and Bud Chaffee opposed him. But Jennifer Fitzgerald was given a directive and fell into line. But that was then.
Another wrinkle this time is that both Whitaker and Fitzgerald are rumored to be seeking the job of 4th District County Supervisor in 2018, and running with title of mayor next year would be just dandy, at least according to conventional wisdom.
So will the new council stick to its own policy or will they dump it? Will the new guy, Jesus Silva go along, or will he cut a deal with Fitzgerald and Chaffee to the exclude Whitaker? In the past it was not uncommon for councilmembers to gin up any stupid sort of excuse to keep the incumbent in place for another year.
In the end what it takes is three votes, and everything else is eyewash.
Here’s a tidbit from Tuesday’s upcoming Fullerton City Council Closed Session Agenda. The Closed Session is where the council secretes itself away from public scrutiny to discuss lawsuits and personnel and real estate deals.
#2 deals with the replacement of of our recently departed PoChief, Danny Hughes, who was last seen applying his fingerprints all over a case involving helping out a pal in serious trouble.
#4 deals with the “performance evaluation” of the very person Hughes helped out – his boss, City Manager, Joe Felz, who was seen early Wednesday morning swerving down Glenwood Ave on his rims, after ploughing over a tree in the parkway, unable to negotiate the intersection at Highland Avenue in a, um, er, ahem, competent manner.
I’ve got it on pretty good authority that item 4 was agendized by the City Attorney; but at whose behest? Will the topic of Mr. Felz’s Wild Ride come up? How about the apparent cover up that is now being investigated not only by us, but by numerous mainstream media outlets?
Could there be action taken? If there were we would never know, because this is “personnel matter” not a criminal one – as the very same City Attorney has informed the media.