Redevelopment

Redevelopment is Government removing existing homes, businesses, and other buildings and replacing them with something different. The history of redevelopment in Fullerton has lead to a long string of ugly, deteriorating buildings and outright failure.

An Ominous Cloud Forms Over The New Community Center

Oops! The new Fullerton Community Center opens up tomorrow, but this news alert might put a damper on the festivities. It turns out the state has rejected redevelopment funding for the project even though it’s already been completed, meaning the city’s troubled general fund may be on the hook for an extra $19 million that it does not have.

It looks like a generation of reckless redevelopment spending has led us to a very dark place.

RDA Woes Trigger Fullerton, Calif., Downgrade

Friday, October 5, 2012 | as of 12:53 PM ET

Standard & Poor’s downgraded Fullerton largely based on California’s rejection of its recognized obligation payment schedule for the city’s role as successor agency to its former redevelopment agency.

California cities could elect to become the successor agency to their RDAs after legislation dissolving the agencies went into effect early this year.

S&P lowered the city’s long-term rating to AA-minus from AA and assigned a negative outlook to lease revenue bonds issued by the Fullerton Public Financing Authority.

Standard & Poor’s also lowered its long-term and underlying ratings to AA-minus from AA on Fullerton Redevelopment Agency certificates of participation and the city’s previously issued revenue bonds.

“The negative outlook reflects what we view as the city’s exposure to previously state-rejected redevelopment projects which, if not approved, could affect Fullerton’s credit fundamentals in the future,” analysts said in the report. “In addition, city officials estimate some continued structural imbalance in the general fund, despite some previous budget reductions to offset historical revenue declines.”

A portion of the disputed bond proceeds has not been spent, but $22 million was used to build the city’s community center.

The state rejected that as a valid redevelopment project because the city, as opposed to its redevelopment agency, had signed the contracts with the developer as was the city’s practice pre-dissolution, according to the report.

The city has resubmitted its request to the state Department of Finance, but if it rejected again, the city could be on the hook for $19 million.

However, city officials told analysts that it would use reserve money from the city’s general fund to cover the bond payments.

Analysts credited Fullerton for continuing to budget appropriate amounts in the general fund to fund both its Series 2010A bonds, which were backed by federal subsidies that now may not be available, and on the COPs issued for the RDA.

The 2010A debt was issued as federally taxable recovery zone economic development bonds. The city has budgeted for the full cost of payments on the bonds regardless of whether it receives the federal subsidy.

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Jan Flory’s Poisoned Park

Maybe it was the fumes…

Just the other day Fullerton City Council candidate Jan Flory was heard to remark about needed reform: protecting the poor, underpaid and overworked city staff that used to bring her all those important projects when she was “on council” right after the last ice age.

Well here’s a staff-driven project that her beloved staff dumped on her and which she happily voted for: The Poisoned Park.

Don’t go there…

We did a whole series on this fiasco that you can read about here and here. In a nutshell, the City bought contaminated property from the Union Pacific Railroad on West Truslow for a community park. Forget the basic fact that nobody in the neighborhood wanted a park, let alone a gang hang out; the land was there and a private party wanted to buy it.

Fullerton’s stellar bureaucracy led by Susan Hunt (Parks Director), Bob Hodson (City Engineer), Jaim Armstrong (City Manager), Gary Chalupsky (Redevelopment Director), and Paul Dudley (Planning) just couldn’t get in the way of a pending deal fast enough. The City steeped in and bought the land for over a million bucks, then they built their park. More millions spent. All approved by Jan Flory.

And then disaster. It transpires that there was a toxic flume under the site. A fence was set up around the offending park and it remains closed to this day, over ten years after it was purchased, falling into decay. Nobody had ever bothered to to a proper environmental assessment and make the sale contingent upon its results.

The Poisoned Park may well be the exemplar of an incompetent collection of boobs from whom no accountability was ever demanded and from whom none was ever delivered.

But to Jan Flory’s “lights” these are the “heart of the City.” Hmm.

 

 

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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.

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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.

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The Three Empty Pez Dispensers

Looking for brains, courage, a heart.

You know, Larry Bennett really could have just left it alone. After dodging a final, humiliating meeting to certify the recall election that drove them out of office, at least one of the Three Bald Tires finally deigned to show up at Fullerton City Hall tomorrow morning to do the deed. It could have been done quietly with as little fanfare as possible. Actually only one of them even needed to show up.

But no.

Bennett seems to think the Three Dead Batteries need a sendoff appropriate to all the wonderful things these men have done for Fullerton. Friday he notified supporters of the Three Tree Stumps that there was to be a special council meeting, and that he hoped everybody would show up to let them know what terrific public servants they have been.

Bennett has likely spent the week-end making phone calls to drum up some folks willing to say kind thing about the Three Pea-less Pods. No doubt some will show up. And others are likely to show up now, too. People who recognize the disastrous misrule of these three characters:

Yes, I was the king.

Don Bankhead: dumb-bell, and self-annointed king of Fullerton, whose somnolent councilmanic career was punctuated with one Redevelopment boondoggle and union give away after another.

Crazy? Check. Rude? Check. Gone? Check.

Dick Jones, the southern fried lunatic and loud-mouthed bully who never came to understand that the authority to give orders doesn’t confer wisdom – or even relevance.

To all appearances it looked a lot like a street gang.

Pat McKinley: protector and apologist for the undeniable Culture of Corruption in the Fullerton Police Department that he himself had created. Those ladies weren’t like you. Aliens. Don’t rush to judgement.

Well, good bye and good riddance.

The sun had been warm and life was good. But all that changed.

And please take Larry Bennett with you. The tide is rising.

 

 

 

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What to Do With Former Redevelopment Employees? How About Pink Slips?

Anybody who reads this blog knows that I have had a running battle with the Fullerton Redevelopments Agency, even going so far as suing the Agency to block its bogus expansion attempt into areas of west and east Fullerton that had no blight. That was just a fraudulent attempt to divert property tax revenue from legitimate recipients.

Now that Redevelopment has been killed off by the Legislature and the Governor, I really have to wonder what has and will become of that small army of government economic planners, boondoggle promoters, bribers, bagmen, design guideline perpetrators, and the rest, whose job it was to gin up sales tax revenue and property tax increment (usually at the expense of somebody else) while dictating land use development in Redevelopment project areas across California.

Lest anybody think I’m just grousing about an abstract problem, consider an article here in the OC Register that points out the exorbitant amount that Fullerton Redevelopment Agency wasted on administration.

Anyway, these folks were in the business of playing developer without taking any of the risks, and with a compliant city council there was never any fear of them being held accountable for their manifest failures.

Some of the former Redevelopment employees will be kept around to close things out. The rest? Who knows? In Fullerton, some of them have already been absorbed into the regular bureaucracy, to be supported by the General Fund – as if these people were simply interchangeable and indispensable parts. The message that move sent to the citizens of Fullerton is a really bad one – that the government has no appetite to shrink, even though a specific purpose has been ended.

 

 

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Who Opposes The Recall and Supports Doug Chaffee?

This guy. That’s who.

That would be former Redevelopment Director and big Fullerton pension recipient Gary Chalupsky.

Some may remember Chalupsky for his long string of embarrassing boondoggles and Redevelopment expenditures of questionable legality – like building the Muckenthaler amphitheater which is not even in a Redevelopment project area.

Just type in “Redevelopment” in our search box and knock yourself out. From the Knowlwood fiasco and North Platform smash up to The City Lights debacle and the humiliating Poisoned Park disaster, Chalupsky was there every inept, unaccountable step of the way. For well over ten years. Plenty of time to get vested in CalPERS.

Gary Chalupsky was the guy who proved beyond all doubt that Fullerton was very much for sale. Ever wonder where the 100 East section of Whiting Avenue went? Ask Chalupsky.

Others may also remember this upstanding individual for his phony “retirement” and immediate double-dip that was countenanced by an incompetent council who seemed to think Chalupsky knew what he was doing.

Redevelopment is now thankfully dead. But it feathered a lot of nests along the way.

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We Get Mail; An Unhappy Camper

The following communication landed in the FFFF hopper yesterday complaining about the recall, etc. It is just so deliciously disjointed, illogical, misinformed, and well, crackpotty that it deserves to be shared with the friends.

I resent having literature sent to my home on the recall.  I think this is nothing but a witch hunt.  The Support the Fullerton Recall/Water Tax paper sent to my home doesn’t mention the other board members.  This tax was voted in 15 years ago and how many council members and city managers knew about this? Why are you only mentioning the three?  What about the others?  I think if you have enough money to be sending slanted info the citizens of Fullerton, you could certainly use it to a better advantage.  I feel terrible about the Kelly case, but I don’t think only 3 board members need to be blamed.  From the beginning you have pointed fingers to the three.  What did they not vote on that you find they need to be recalled for?  Don’t we all have our own opinions and have the right to express them.  We might not all agree, but that doesn’t constitute a recall.  I think you should call off the hounds and get on with the business at hand.  What has the council voted against that has Tony Bushala upset about?  Does it have something to do with redevelopment money?  Let’s hear about that.

It’s very interesting that this unfortunate soul has been told by somebody that the illegal water tax was actually “voted in” 15 years ago.

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CRAZY DOC HEEHAW’S WILD WEST SHOW

From mid-February 2012. Always good for a repeat.

- Joe Sipowicz

Yesterday FFFF shared some Fullerton crime statistics that were really pretty damn shocking. Contrary to what council candidate and now beleaguered councilman Pat McKinley claimed and claims, crime not only did not decrease every year in Fullerton, but in the years 2005-2009, it skyrocketed spectacularly.

He's smiling, but why?

Here’s the ugly truth, derived from FBI crime statistics, probably a more reliable source than Mr. McKinley’s fantasy world of self-serving make-believe.

The statistics don't lie, but Pat McKinley does.

Uh, oh. Now, that’s not very good is it? Ol’ Doc Jones’ Galveston was better run by the Italian Mob and it had open gambling and a red light district!

Actually, it was very well-run...

Of course everyone knows the reason for the spike in crime is the crazy shooting gallery Jones and his colleagues created with all the bars masquerading as restaurants they approved in downtown Fullerton; and don’t forget all the illegal bootleg night clubs they ignored, then actually subsidized.

Chillingly, the trajectory of crime in Fullerton coincides perfectly with the spike in the FPD Culture of Corruption that led to beatings, wrongful arrests, and perjury by our own cops. And nobody in City Hall seems capable of grasping the perverted correlation. The cops were given a free hand to fix the mess the politicians made downtown. Soon the entire department was infected.

Speaking of Doc HeeHaw, here he is taking credit for creating his monster. Pay particular attention as Jones documents the crimes committed and the need to to get hard, and tough, and mean.

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Jones got one thing right. He just doesn’t recognize human behavior.

P.S. Will some public-minded citizen please take this crime chart to the Council meeting next week and read it out loud for the benefit of Jones, Bankhead and McKinley?

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More Mayhem In Doc Heehaw’s Crazy Wild West Show!!

Oh, no! Not again!

Last fall anti-recallers wanted folks to believe that everything in Fullerton’s great and it was just a wholesome family town. Of course the facts are that City Councilmembers Bankhead, Jones and McKinley have turned downtown Fullerton into an all night free for all of drugged-up, boozing, fighting, defecating thugs from who knows where. And of course an out-of-control gang of badged thugs was deployed to try to keep the other thugs in line.

All of this is just a long preamble to advertise the fact that another shooting took place in Downtown Fullerton early this morning, in the parking structure in the 100 block of east Wilshire Avenue.

Who benefits from this mayhem besides the liquor peddlers? Ask Bankhead or Jones or McKinley next time you see them.

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