Hidden Government Agencies

A Streetcar Named Desire

It was bound to be a rocky ride.

It was bound to be a rocky ride.

Last week the ever helpful Fullerton City Hall scribe Lou Ponsi scribbled a story about how Fullerton needs a transit dedicated line from the CSUF area to the Fullerton “metro center.”

No, I am not kidding. “Senior” Planner Jay Eastman believes Fullerton has a metro center.

A cynic might conclude that the sole purpose of this venture is to more efficiently direct college kids into the open air saloon that downtown Fullerton has become.

Trolley? Bus? Light rail(!)? The world is Jay Eastman’s oyster, just so long as somebody else is picking up the tab. In this case the OCTA is going to pay 90% of the cost of a “study” to determine just what Fullerton needs: $270,000 worth, with us paying the other $30,000.

All of which goes to show that OCTA has an awful lot more money than they know what to do with.

101 Comments

Prepare to be “Educated”

shawn-nelson

The other day a sharp-eyed commenter noticed that OC Supervisor Shawn Nelson is rolling into town on Tuesday to make a “presentation” about his homeless shelter proposal over on State College to the City Council. The County wants to buy a run-down commercial building and put north OC’s homeless in it. They are already in escrow.

As a former liberal myself I am very well-aware of the idea among my former soul-mates that everything is about education, as in: if only these dummies in Fullerton knew the real story there is no way they could possibly oppose our grandiose plan.

All I can say is beware of politicians with big ideas and lots of our money.

106 Comments

Will We Get a Refund?

Item 7 on Tuesday’s City Council Agenda brings back a sore subject: paying back the water users who’ve been ripped off by years of an illegal 10% tax on their water bill.

Thanks to the previous council the plug was finally pulled on this scam last year. But that was then, and liberals Chaffee and Flory won’t want to give back anything that was pilfered from the taxpayers. So what a bout Jennifer Fitzgerald? She’s supposed to be a Republican, but in Fullerton that hasn’t meant much and she was a die-hard supporter of the Three Bald Tires.

7. WATER UTILITY OPERATIONS
Over the past two years, the City has conducted a review of its Water Utility operations in order to have a comprehensive overview of water utility infrastructure needs, rates and rate structures and define General Fund costs related to operations of the Water Fund.
Recommendation by the Engineering Department:
1. Determine the cost for services provided by the City to the Water Utility.
2. Establish the total amount of refund to be issued (following a cost for service determination).
3. Determine the timing of refunds (one-time or multi-year payments).
4. Establish an Appeals Board to address refund complaints and any other billing conflicts.
5. Authorize the mailing of the required Proposition 218 notice which begins the 45-day comment period related to the proposed “pass-through’ of water supply cost water rate increase.
6. Authorize the update of the July 2011 “Comprehensive Water Rate Study Report” which outlines the recommended infrastructure needs and funding plans.
7. Direct staff to make any necessary City financing processes to implement Council direction.

Here’s my prediction: just as in 2011, the “cost study” will be rigged to jack up the value of City services to the Water Fund to get as close to 10% as possible. Then there will be no need for a refund and no need for an apology for illegally swiping $27,000,000 to pay for their own perks and pensions.

Nice, huh?

27 Comments

We Get Mail: A Most Unhappy Neighbor

Friends, here is a letter sent to Mayor Bruce Whitaker and thoughtfully provided to us from a citizen who live in the Chapman Park neighborhood across the street from the proposed site of a County homeless shelter.

I omit this individual’s name and number to spare them annoying calls from the bureaucrats but it was included in the letter to Whitaker:

Subject: proposed homeless shelter

Mr Mayor,
This is in regards to the proposed homeless shelter to be opened in the old Linder’s Furniture building on State College in Fullerton.  I am a long time Fullerton home owner (almost 30 years) and live in the Chapman Park tract directly across State College from the proposed site.  I would like to voice my adamant opposition to this project!  If the shelter goes in at this site you are opening us up to security and safety issues, property value drops & outright living in fear.  We have a park in our tract that will potentially become the hangout for the people of the shelter, all they have to do is walk across State College Blvd and they are at the pedestrian entrance to our housing tract.  This park is a little league park full of kids on the weekends, and homeowners including myself walk the park frequently in the mornings and evenings. A great many of the homeowners in this tract are older single women like myself who live alone and the thought of our community/tract being opened up to this kind of influx of homeless and mentally ills is frightening.  I have already had my house broken into and robbed in the recent past and what is being proposed will bery likely increase the chance of this happening again.  It’s bad enough that our neightborhood has been turned into a parking lot by the students from Cal State Fullerton and the city won’t help us with that issue, now we are going to be asked to have the residents of this shelter desend on us also.  I know this seems like the old “not in my backyard” standard but truthfully this is a very disconcerting and potentially dangerous situation for us. It seems like there must be an available building in a more industrial location rather than this one so close to homes, little league fields and schools. And what happens when the over/under pass project reaches State College?
 
I know my voice probably doesn’t matter and nothing will change as it appears deals have already been made and this is being railroaded through but I hope at the very least that the pedestrian entrance at the corner of  State College and Fender will be completely sealed up.  And when our houses get broken into or tagged and the mentally ill and homeless accost us at the park I hope you will personally come visit us to see what you have allowed.
 
Sign me
A very unhappy Fullerton resident
Hopefully this tax-payer’s voice will matter, although the odds seem against it.

109 Comments

SHELTER FALLOUT

The County of Orange’s attempt to cram a permanent homeless shelter in east Fullerton across the street from single-family homes and an elementary school have taught us four things, so far.

First, it is very clear that no Fullerton elected representatives were told anything about this high-handed plan. Second, the County can do it with or without the City’s agreement. Third, nobody at the County gives a damn that they will be paying $3.15 million for a broken down old building that nobody knows the cost to make habitable. Four, the media will never report any of this.

As to the first point, here is a report about a meet and greet event by Fullerton Mayor Bruce Whitaker, who asked the County for a few weeks’ delay so that the City Council could learn just what the County has in store for us. Request denied.

And here is an e-mail we received from some local resident who says he has just started a petition to seek redress:

Subject: Homeless shelter

Hello!I’ve started the petition “Fullerton city council: Stop the County from opening a 24/7 homeless shelter at 301 S St College Bl” and need your help to get it off the ground.Will you take 30 seconds to sign it right now? Here’s the link:

http://www.change.org/petitions/fullerton-city-council-stop-the-county-from-opening-a-24-7-homeless-shelter-at-301-s-st-college-bl

Here’s why it’s important:

This is a 29,000 square foot building that is located near an elementary school, park and houses. This homeless shelter will make Fullerton the dumping ground for homeless. Crime will increase and spread to the whole area. This deal is being done without much awareness from the public. A life long friend of County Supervisor Nelson stands to make nearly 100k from the deal. This is bad for North OC. This shelter will end up looking like skid row in downtown LA where crime and drug use is rampant. Fullerton is not LA.

You can sign my petition by clicking here.

Thanks!

Well, good luck with that! Apparently the County can do whatever it likes and your County Supervisor isn’t interested in your opinion.

193 Comments

County Wants To Build Homeless Shelter On State College

Fullertonstories is reporting here, that the County of Orange wants to build a homeless shelter on south State College in Fullerton. They may be soon buying the Linder Furniture store for $3,000,000.

This may not be good news to the folks who live in the single family neighborhood across the street and who take their kids to the Commonwealth Elementary School which is virtually adjacent to this site. The folks I know over in the Chapman Park area have heard nothing about this venture, which makes me wonder whose big idea this was and why the neighbors have not even been informed.

Amazingly, it would appear from the article that the County’s “search criteria” only included that the shelter be on a bus line and moved away from Downtown Fullerton. Nice.

How much of this “plan” has already been secretly approved by our own City Council goes unmentioned. Has a deal already been work out with the City? It’s hard to believe the County would buy real estate without the approval of the City Council, or at least the City staff.

Apparently the County Board of Supervisors is voting on this purchase Tuesday. I wonder when the government plans on telling anybody about this.

 

137 Comments

Municipal Redevelopment Arrogance: A Common Scourge

Sometimes you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Like the case in Philly where a local businessman may be sued by the Redevelopment Agency for cleaning up trash and beautifying a piece of blighted Agency-owned property that they willfully refused to clean up. So ths guy spends 20 big ones of his own dough since the City blatantly ignored its own mess, and is now looking at a potential lawsuit – a lawsuit some asshole city bureaucrat says is based on “principle.” Principle. Now that’s a scream.

What’s really funny is that if the city had done the work it would have cost twenty times as much and taken ten times longer.

Of course apologists of Fullerton’s former Redevelopment Agency (you know who they are) would be quick to point out is that this sort incompetence and arrogance  never happened in Fullerton; Fullerton Redevelopment folks were  just so darned…well… you know.

But consider this: Fullerton has had a long and inglorious Redevelopment history that includes building, then demolishing concrete trestles along Harbor, giving away a public sidewalk to a politically connected apaign contributor, subsidizing dozens of boondoggles, supporting architectural design Nazi-ism, stealing an old lady’s property to give to a car dealer, and nasty little sales tax kick backs from Redevelopment funds - all done to promote more tax revenue to pay for pensions, League of City junkets, and all those inevitable step pay increases for the gang.

A final thought: even though Redevelopment is supposedly dead in California you can bet the farm (if they don’t steal it for High Speed Rail) that the lobbyists are busy at work in Sacramento trying to revive it, and that local mall fry politicians and local political wannabes are real eager for it to come back.

Why not? It’s fun and it isn’t their money.

55 Comments

The Cop Playbook. Public Safety Has Nothing To Do With It.

For paranoia, sheer cynicism and demonstration of unbridled self-interest there’s nothing that can beat this “playbook” created by the law firm of Lackie, Dammeier & McGill for use by their clients: cop unions.

See how many of these tactics strike you as familiar in Fullerton. Paranoia, cynicism and self-interest. Check, check, check.

 

Lackie, Dammeier & McGill
Former Cops Defending Current Ones

Negotiations After Impasse - Association Options
In gearing up for negotiations, hopefully your association has developed some political ties with members of your governing body. Now is the time those political endorsements, favors, and friendships come into play. When negotiations reach an impasse, the association will have options which may be utilized simultaneously, or one before the other.

Political Option
As most association leaders already know, associations should be selective in their battles. However, this does not mean that the association should roll over for everything either. Association respect (by the employer) is gained over years of actions or inactions. Associations who rarely, if ever, take things to the mat or challenge the employer gain little respect at the bargaining table or elsewhere. The flip side is also true. Those associations that battle over every minor issue may be seen as an association that simply cannot be pleased, so why bother. While it is a fine line, somewhere in the middle is where you want to be. The association should be like a quiet giant in the position of, “do as I ask and don’t piss me off.” Depending on the circumstances surrounding the negotiations impasse, there are various tools available to an association to put political pressure on the decision makers. A few things to keep in mind when utilizing these tools are the following:

Public Message
Always keep this in mind. The public could care less about your pay, medical coverage and pension plan. All they want to know is “what is in it for them.” Any public positions or statements by the association should always keep that focus. The message should always be public safety first. You do not want wage increases for yourselves, but simply to attract better qualified candidates and to keep more experienced officers from leaving.

The Future
Also keep in mind that once the fight is over, you and your members will still be working there. Avoid activities where one or just a few members are involved who can be singled out for retaliation. Always keep in mind your department policies and the law. You should be in very close contact with your association’s attorney during these times to ensure you are not going to get yourself or any of your members in trouble. For associations in the Legal Defense Fund, please keep in mind that concerted labor activity should always be discussed with the LDF Trustees prior to the activity to ensure coverage.

Let the Debate Begin
Again, the ideas listed below are not in any particular order. Just as in your use-of-force guidelines, you can start with simple verbal commands or jump to a higher level, based on the circumstances.
Keep in mind that most of these tools are not to deliver your message to the public but are designed to simply get the decision makers into giving in to your position.

  • Storm City Council – While an association is at impasse, no city council or governing board meeting should take place where members of your association and the public aren’t present publicly chastising them for their lack of concern for public safety.
  • Picketing - Plan a few well organized picketing events. Keep these events spread out to avoid burning out your membership.
  • Public Appearances – During impasse, the association should make known at every significant public event, such as parades, Christmas tree lightings, the Mayor’s Gala and any other event of interest to the decision makers, that the association is upset about the lack of concern for public safety.
  • Newspaper Ads - Again, keep the message focused on “public safety.”
  • Billboards – Nothing seems to get more attention than a billboard entering the city limits which reads that crime is up and the City could care less about your safety.
  • WebsitesGardenGroveSucks.com was a big hit.
  • Job Fair – Getting your members to apply at a large local agency, which causes an influx of personnel file checks by background investigators always sends a strong signal. Keep this for last, as some of your members may ultimately leave anyway.
  • Work Slowdown – This involves informing your members to comply closely with Department policy and obey all speed limits. It also involves having members do thorough investigations, such as canvassing the entire neighborhood when taking a 459 report and asking for a back-up unit on most calls. Of course, exercising officer discretion in not issuing citations and making arrests is also encouraged.
  • Blue Flu – This one is very rarely used and only in dire circumstances. As with all of these, please consult your association’s attorney before even discussing this issue with your members.
  • Public Ridicule – Blunders by the City Manager, Mayor, or City Council members or wasteful spending should be highlighted and pointed out to the public at every opportunity.
  • Referendum / Ballot Initiatives – Getting the public to vote for a wage increase is seldom going to fly, however, as a pressure tactic, seeking petition to file a referendum on eliminating the City Manager’s position for a full time elected mayor may cause the City Manager to rethink his or her position.
  • Mailers – Again, the message should be for “public safety” in getting the public to attend city council meetings and to call the City Council members (preferably at home) to chastize them for their inaction.
  • Campaigning – If any members of the governing body are up for election, the association should begin actively campaigning against them, again for their lack of concern over public safety. If you are in a non-election year, make political flyers which you can explain will be mailed out the following year during the election season.
  • Focus on an Individual – Avoid spreading your energy. Focus on a city manager, councilperson, mayor or police chief and keep the pressure up until that person assures you his loyalty and then move on to the next victim.
  • Press Conferences – Every high profile crime that takes place should result in the association’s uproar at the governing body for not having enough officers on the street, which could have avoided the incident.

Of course, other ideas that cops come up with are very imaginative. Just keep in mind, the idea is to show the decision makers that the public favors public safety and it will only harm their public support by not prioritizing you and almost equally as important, to let them know that next time they should agree with you much sooner.

84 Comments

Jan Flory Talks About Sex and Water

Correct. We do not want you to discuss sexy issues.

Okay this post is not about Jan Flory discussing anything remotely “sexy” because the thought of that…well, never mind.

The post is about her latest Facebook scribblings in which she opines on a subject near and dear to the hearts of Fullerton reformers: the illegal 10% tax on your water that the City collected for the past 15 years. $27,000,000 worth.

First I’ll start by stating what you could have already guessed. Jan Flory does not want you to get a refund of the theft. In her world-order the taxpayers are meant to be milked, not refunded.

Her assertion that the collection was “illegal” the past three year is a bad lawyer’s half-truth that amounts to a bald-faced lie, of course. It has been illegal for 15 years, six of them on her watch as a council person. The City has a legal opinion that it is only obligated to refund three-year’s worth of the theft. Not the same thing, is it? Of course Mrs. Flory is desperate to disassociate her name with the tax. Too late. She is on record in the 90s as having known it was wrong and doing it anyway.

Mrs. Flory and her ilk love footling committees, especially when they are selected by ozone brains like Jone, Quirk, McKinley and Bankhead. Even better are the “consultants” selected by staff who give them their marching orders. The “report” cooked up by the water rate consultant was so evidently bogus that it hardly needs to be restated. But I will: their goal was to gin up as much phony cost as possible to keep the bureaucrats greedy little fingers on that 10%. Flory may think this gives her cover, and under the old Culture of Corruption it would have. Not any more.

The 10% was expressly collected  to cover specific City staff costs associated with the water utility. However, it turns out that those departments were already charging directly to the Water Fund. Which is why I am happy to refer to the tax as an illegal theft.

And another point: it’s real easy to say that the illegal tax should be refunded to the Water Fund for capital improvements. That’s convenient, but immoral. The tax that was collected had nothing to do with infrastructure. Nothing. True infrastructure costs should be rolled into an effective rate for water transmission, a correction of years of mismanagement by Mrs. Flory and her cohorts that still needs to be done. Confusing these two issues is simply a convenient way for the perpetrators to hide their crime and their dereliction.

Now, let’s address the issue of the reserve funds, a subject that Mrs. Flory wants people to believe she knows something about. There is no need to empty these accounts to pay refunds. No, indeed. I find it remarkably disingenuous for anybody to assert this, especially given just two of City manger Joe Felz’s most recent “cost saving” measures.

First there was the egregious relocation of former Redevelopment personnel into General Fund departments for which they had no apparent expertise. Most recently the City contracted out your graffiti removal services for $120,000. Yay! Big savings, right? Wrong. The city employees were simply reassigned to other  jobs in the Engineering Department that were vacant. Net cost savings? -$120,000.

The City just missed an opportunity to shave a million bucks off its payroll costs. Of course, my point is that the General Fund is far from depleted.

Finally, in closing, I would submit that Mrs. Flory knows more about witching hours than any of us. However, if she doesn’t like staying up that late every other Tuesday night, then she has no business on a city council. And it’s really too bad that the Council is scheduling special meetings to attend to the people’s business.

Mrs. Flory’s little rubber stamp has been put away and locked up.

110 Comments

What To Do About The Illegal Water Tax

On Tuesday the City Council is scheduled to discuss what they want to do about the embarrassing fact that the City charged an illegal 10% tax on our water bill for fifteen years, amassing a total rip-off that easily topped $25,000,000. The funds were deposited in General Fund and mostly went to pay for salaries and pensions of City employees that had absolutely nothing to do with the acquisition and transmission of water – the ostensible purpose of the levy. It even went to pay for four-star hotels for Councilmembers’ League of City junkets.

Some folks think reparations are due, in some fashion, to the rate payers that got ripped off. But how? A check in the mail? Lowered rates in the future? Repayment from the General Fund to the Water Fund?

The City doesn’t have $25 mil laying around, and rebates in the future for past indiscretions would certainly create inequities. Going back just a few years for reparations may be a logical and practical step. Repayment from the General Fund over time may be the only recourse and would certainly address the original purpose of the “in-lieu fee” which was the cost of delivering water to the people and businesses of Fullerton. However it should be pointed out that the the 10% that was raked off was never connected to the true cost of the water in the first place.

Another question to be dealt with is what is an applicable rate for miscellaneous City costs that are currently unrecompensed by the Water Fund? There isn’t much unaccounted for, and the “consultant” for the Water rate Ad Hoc Committee tried to cook up some phony percentage between 6 and 7 based largely on the cost of the City charging the Water Fund rent!

This raises all sorts of embarrassing questions about why the Water Utility was not permitted to acquire all this valuable real estate in the first place, dirt cheap, if now it is to be treated as a separate entity; and how a landlord can negotiate rent with his tenant when they are both one and the same person. In any case there is a new council that is a lot less likely to cave in to this sort of nonsense than the old stumblebums.

In any case, I want to mention a couple of things. First, the perpetrators of the scam need to be identified and chastised for their complicity in the tax: they would be all of the former councilmen of the last 15 years who let this happen; the city managers Jim Armstrong, Chris Meyer, and Joe Felz, who participated in the scheme and who either knew or should have known it was illegal; and let’s not forget Richard Jones, Esq., the City Attorney, who was there every single step of the way and damn well knew it was illegal. Second, Joe Felz’ obvious strategy of stalling and temporizing on this issue, aided and abetted by the Three Hollow Logs and Sharon Quirk, protracted the rip-off by another full year and compounded the problem even more, even as they knew the jig was up.

It should be interesting to see if any of our aspiring council candidates show up to share their wisdom on this subject.

What do you think?

 

87 Comments