Posts Tagged Molly McClanahan

An All-consuming Thirst For Education

The meeting had a hefty agenda...

Apparently at the July 27, 2010 meeting of the NOCCCD Board of Trustees there were some pretty serious issues being discussed. Not only did the taxpayers dodge a costly administrative bullet when it was announced that the district wouldn’t be filling the position for Vice Chancellor of Education (see the article in the O.C. Register by Teri Sforza for the details on that boondoggle; be sure to check out the job description in the fourth paragraph), but trustee Molly McClanahan informed the Board that the Fullerton Museum’s new exhibit, “10,000 Years of Beer Making,” will soon be on display. That’s quite a chaser!

Unser Gott! Haben Sie das job description fur die Chancellor gesehen?!

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Ground Zero of Fullerton Redevelopment Failure

For dyed-in-the-wool government apologists like Dick Jones, Jan Flory, Dick Ackerman, Sharon Kennedy, Don Bankhead, et al., Redevelopment blunders are conveniently overlooked, when possible; when not possible, some lame defense is mounted, such as: mistakes were made (passive voice obligatory) but we learned and moved on; hindsight is 20/20 (Molly McClanahan’s motto vivendi); the problem was not too much Redevelopment, but too little!

But when any reasonable person contemplates the collection of Redevelopment disasters along Harbor Blvd. between Valencia Drive and the old Union Pacific overpass, the only conclusion he or she could draw is that the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency should have been shuttered years ago, and the perpetrators of the manifest failures crowded onto a small raft and set adrift with the Japanese Current.

We have already described in nauseating detail the “Paseo Park” debacle; and the Allen Hotel fiasco; we haven’t yet had time to talk about the “El Sombrero” pocket park give away (we will).

But instead of wasting too many perfectly good words, we will share with you Friends a Redevelopment pictorial essay with just a little piquant commentary.

First there’s the strip center known as Gregg’s Plaza. Brick veneer, of course. Even the veneer is so disgusted it’s trying to jump off the building.

The standards of the RDRC were established early.

The standards of the RDRC were established early.

Pop goes the brick veneer...

Pop goes the brick veneer...

Across the street is the Allen Furniture Store. When they got their rehab loan somebody forgot to tell them that a storefront is a storefront – not a jailhouse. So why are there bars on the dinky little windows? And pink stucco?

Stone walls do not a prison make; nor iron bars a cage...

Stone walls do not a prison make; nor iron bars a cage...

Jumping back across the street we re-introduce ourselves to the egregious Allen Hotel, perhaps the biggest Redevelopment boondoggle of all, a mess that we have already admirably documented, here. As we noted then, the add-on was unspeakably awful (and expensive). The front is, well, pretty awful, too.

The once and present tenement...

The once and present tenement...

It could have been worse. Well, no, it couldn't...

It could have been worse. Well, no, it couldn't...

What was sold, in part, as an “historic preservation” project ended up violating just about every standard in the book. The original windows were ripped out and replaced with vinyl sashes; the transoms were destroyed and replaced with sheets of plastic and surface applied strips supposed to simulate leaded glass.

Just say something. They'll believe anything...

Just say something. They'll believe anything...

Across Harbor we discover the “El Sombrero Plaza,” another sock in the face to any Fullerton windshield tourist. Forget the stupidity of the sideways orientation and the Mission Revival On Acid stylings (which attain a kind of crazy Mariachi deliciousness); this development included the give away of part the adjacent public green space so they have parking for a restaurant. The owner never did develop a restaurant, of course (more on that story later).

Ay, caramba!

Ay, caramba!

The extra parking that was supposed to be for a restaurant is now used for a storage container!

The extra parking that was supposed to be for a restaurant is now used for a storage container!

And finally we come to exhausted collapse at another one of the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency’s low points. And by low point we mean the complete, unmitigated disaster of the Union Pacific Park, ably chronicled here; and in a whole series here, here, and here.

Maybe the less said, the better...

Maybe the less said, the better...

The poisoned park: dead as a doornail. An aesthetic, pratical, and policy disaster. And no one has ever stood up to take responsibility for the total waste of millions of dollars.

Embarrassing from the beginning. How many $100,000 pensioneers had their fingers in this pie?

Embarrassing from the beginning. How many $100,000 pensioners had their fingers in this pie?

Well, there you have it, Friends. Redevelopment in action; Redevelopment creating blight, not eradicating it. No accountability. None. Zero. Zilch. And some people wonder why FFFF has sued to keep Redevelopment from expanding.

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Ed Roski Blowing Smoke for Ackerwoman

Ed Roski

Ed Roski

Well, we predicted the presence of Ed Roski in the campaign for the 72nd Assembly District, here. Roski has made a fortune in commercial real estate, not to mention controlling the dubious City of Industry – a Redevelopment Valhalla –  as his personal fiefdom.

Chris Norby has been a staunch foe of Redevelopment abuse, and has singled out both the City of Industry as well as its attempt to swipe an NFL team (to play in a stadium that dodged full environmental review – courtesy of the legislature) for scrutiny; so Roski’s participation in the election seemed a forgone conclusion.

Furthermore, Team Ackerman, Inc. has a well-documented history of supporting Redevelopment boondoggles and misuse, including building a football stadium at CSUF for a non-existant team, and then underwriting a losing fundraising campaign for it.

A late expenditure report by our parasitical pals at The Alliance for California’s Tomorrow shows that Roski dumped $25,000 into their committee this week. The expenditures are for “data” and “printing,” so presumably a mailer is on the way.

What’s curious is that the expenditure is that it is designated as “for” Linda Ackerman, whereas we had assumed Roski was going to be the designated hitter against Norby – so that the Ackerwoman could keep her mitts clean. That theory was undermined when Ackerwoman had to do the dirty work herself in her disgraceful mailer about the bogus sexual harassment suit. The fact that Roski is weighing in now – but not specifically “against” Norby - might indicate that he’s seen some polling numbers and doesn’t really want to offend Assemblyman Norby, but needs to show the flag, at least. But we merely speculate.

What’s also curious about the expenditure is the timing. Thousands of absentee ballots have already been returned. Why did Roski wait so long to kick in? Desperation by Team Ackerman, Inc.? Who knows?

When we get the mailer, we’ll share the contents.

In the meantime maybe our Undercover Surveillance Unit has picked up on a conversation between Dick and Ed. If so, we’ll keep you posted.

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Proof That Dick Ackerman is a Liar; Or Has a Real, Real Bad Memory

I decide what actually happened...

Okay, I make shit up. So sue me.

The Fullerton Harpoon did a post yesterday about an article that the Register’s Frank Mickadeit did about the Ackerman/Norby feud. Frank didn’t bother to tell his readers that he pals around with the Ackermans socially – just like he did with Mike Carona. But we know. Mickadeit proceeded to pass along a truck load of horseshit peddled by Dick Ackerman, including 25 year-old recollections about Norby as a sexual harasser that he suddenly just remembers. Of course his corroborating witness is dead as a doornail.

Well, yesterday afternoon the Harpoon re-read the Mickadeit piece and a light bulb snapped on. As the helpful Frank tells it:

Ackerman says the two had a friendly beer at Elmer’s after Norby won. “I said, ‘Hey, things are going to be good. We’ve got five conservatives.’ But the votes kept coming out 4-1,” with Norby dissenting.

In a post update the Harpoon unloads:

PROOF THAT ACKERMAN IS A LIAR – OR HAS A REAL, REAL BAD MEMORY. MOLLY McCLANAHAN WAS ON THE CITY COUNCIL THEN. THERE WERE NEVER 5 CONSERVATIVES. C’MON DICK. YOU REMEMBER MOLLY DON’T YOU? YOU KEPT HER FROM BEING MAYOR FOR 6 YEARS. YOU OUGHT TO. MAYBE LINDA LEQUIRE CAN HELP. HER MEMORY IS AT LEAST AS GOOD AS YOURS.

So what are we left with? A man whose honesty or memory is rotten. His whole interview with Mickadeit is discredited, and  is  just typical of everything else in the Linda Ackerman 72nd Assembly campaign: her fake residency, her phony self-description as a business woman, and her contention that people in the 72nd asked her to run. It’s all a tissue of falsehoods – as bogus as her staged photos.

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The North Platform Fiasco – Allegro Molto e Vivace

Loyal and Patient Friends, our sad narrative of The Great North Platform Disaster now draws to a merciful conclusion. We have shared all the dismal failures of the landscape architect, Steve Rose, the Redevelopment manager in charge, Terry Galvin, and Design Review Committee members that were evidently incompetent or unqualified.

Trees and planters block the platform; staff obstruction was almost as bad.

Trees and planters block the platform; staff obstruction was almost as bad.

The design failure was complete and palpable. Yet as diverse groups of citizens displayed their unhappiness with the ludicrous and costly elements of the project, the City Staff dug in their heels in a rear guard action to deflect blame by ignoring the obvious and fighting to keep the mess they had created. Newly minted City Manager Jim Armstrong led the effort to defend the indefensible. He went so far as to accuse one of the leading critics of the design mess of  “making the City look like shit.”

Former Fullerton City Manager Jim Armstrong shovelling hard.

Former Fullerton City Manager Jim Armstrong doing what he did best: shovelling hard.

The City Council, to its credit, would have none of it. They ordered construction halted. Even the Fullerton Observer demanded to know who was in charge. In what may have been the last show of independence by a Fullerton City Council, the majority demanded that the incongruous and useless elements be removed. The lone dissenting vote was that of Molly McClanahan, the eternal staff suck-up, who as Mayor tried backdoor sabotage with the State – which was also providing funding for the project. City staff was going into attack mode behind the scenes.

well fed and ready to attack...

Honest citizen tastes like chicken?

In the end the Council (with the sole exception of Chris Norby) lost its collective nerve and settled on a partial removal of the worst offending aspects of the project. The huge planter was split into pieces, allowing platform access through the middle.

Well, that's better than it was...

Well, that's better than it was...

The miserable trees were completely removed.

Look ma, no trees...

The urban forest retreats. Civilization on the march...

The canopies were salvaged though the construction of alcoves cut out of the still useless block bulkhead wall.

Fullerton platform "alcove" designed by our City Council...

Fullerton platform "alcove" designed by our City Council...

The wretched benches and comical little trash cylinders remain to this day. Go to the depot. You can check it out for yourselves.

It was never disclosed whether Steve Rose was back-charged for the cost of all the changes that had to be made, or whether he actually billed the City for remedial design work. Thousands upon thousands of dollars were wasted on building useless construction and then having to remove it. And what happened to the parties responsible for this complete fiasco? You mean you can’t guess by now?

We'll be hanging on to this card...

Oh, we'll be hanging on to this...

Nothing, of course. The proponents of sensible and functional design were blamed by staff for making the City look bad; the whistle blowers were turned into the villains of the melodrama. Chalk up another big win for the escape artists at the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency.

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Donahieu Pact: Late Revenge for the Recall

I've been waiting for this moment for 15 years

I've been waiting 15 years for this moment

Word has it that Don Bankhead has endorsed Hieu Nguyen for Clerk-Recorder, joining Dick Ackerman’s anti-Norby jihad. This is a slap in the face for the lone councilman who supported Don’s quixotic bid for Sheriff back in 1990. Ackerman supported Brad Gates, who easily turned back the Bankhead challenge.

bankDon was first elected in 1988 with the promise that he–like Norby–would back Molly McClanahan for Mayor (an Ackerman/Catlin/LeQuire triad had blocked her for years). That broke the annual mayoral controversy and restored the rotation that continues today. So Norby and Bankhead began as buddies. Norby even endorsed him as late as 2002, much to the ire of some longtime loyalists.

For Don, though, it’s still all about his being recalled by Fullerton voters. Norby opposed the utility tax passed by Bankhead, Catlin and McClanahan which led to their recall in 1994. He’s been sore ever since. Norby did not actually support the recall, but his later hiring of organizer Bruce Whitaker is a constant reminder of the utility tax/recall fiasco, foisted on Fullerton by then-City Manager Jim Armstrong.

bush_flipping_bird

Yo G, what does 1+1=

Other Hieu backers with grudges against Norby include: La Habra Councilman      Tim “Taxman” Shaw (mad at Norby for pulling his endorsement when he supported the 1/2 cent LH sales tax hike), State SenMimi Walters (mad at Norby for supporting Harry Sidhu against her), Ackerman (mad at Norby for beating his hand-picked council candidates) and Cynthia Coad (mad at Norby for beating her for Supervisor in 2002). It ain’t no secret, the Republican party is the party of grudge holders.

The fact that County Counsel is actively opposing the proposed redevelopment expansion further fuels Bankhead’s bile. Perhaps, Bankhead thinks the County should just lay down and let the RDA steal the County’s money for that all-important Commonwealth blight fight.  But, it appears the recall is what really keeps galling Mayor Donahieu.

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What Is It About Molly McClanahan And Football Stadiums?

Dick Ackerman, Fullerton Redevelopment boondoggle history, college football, and Molly McClanahan.

It’s not often that so many local topics intersect, so when they do this intersection should be scrutinized and at the very least enjoyed for it’s entertainment value.

clowns in parade 251006_wk43_clowns_L

And so Loyal Friends, climb into the FFFF way back machine and travel with us to the not so distant year of 1990.

open5b

Supposed conservative city councilman Dick Ackerman had just help orchestrate a fiscal finagle in which the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency would finance a football stadium for Cal State University at Fullerton.  Councilwoman Molly McClanahan voted for this blatent abuse of redevelopment although titan football folded and the bogus fundraising program was exposed she was heard to take credit for “asking all the tough questions!”. 

but no intelligent answers

but no intelligent answers

Fast forward now to 2009: a football stadium sits at CSUF with no football team in it. A stadium financed by the tax payers of Fullerton, all of whom are residents of the North Orange County Community College District of which Molly McClanahan is now a Trustee. The NOCCCD is caught red handed trying to illegally slip a new football stadium into it’s bond expansion plan at FJC! 

Now, that’s ironic ! How many football stadiums will Molly McClannahan oversee before she wraps up her political carreer? And why can’t FJC’s football team use the CSUF football stadium for its 5 or 6 annual home games? Maybe Molly can answer that since she approved it in the first place. Let’s ask her. Molly?

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Dick Ackerman’s Fatal Endorsement Record

acermans-record-3613215222_c4b76a2759

If county bureaucrat Hieu Nguyen thinks Dick Ackerman can help his Clerk-Recorder campaign, he’d better think again. There is one word for Ackerman-backed city and county candidates: LOSERS.

Is it just bad luck? Or does Dick choose weak candidates he can control after they’re elected? The problem for him is that they don’t get elected!

Look at the record of Dick’s choices, dating back over a quarter-century:

  • 1982: Ackerman backs insurance agent Jim Williams for Fullerton City Council. Williams loses to Molly McClanahan.
  • 1984: Dick endorses realtor Merrill Braucht for the open council seat. Braucht loses to Chris Norby.
  • 1988: Dick supports Dan Baker for an open council seat. Baker loses to Don Bankhead.
  • 1992: Ackerman goes 0-for-2 in ’92. His hand-picked candidates Jim Blake and Jack Beddell place 5th and 6th.
  • 1994: Ackerman vocally opposes the recall of Buck Catlin, Bankhead and McClanahan. That trio had rubber-stamped an unpopular new utility tax foisted by City Manager Jim Armstrong. The recall easily passes, all three leave office and the tax is repealed.
  • 1996: Dick endorses fellow legislator Mickey Conroy for Third District Supervisor. Conroy loses his cool—and the election–when he flips his opponent the bird during a debate. Brea School Board Member Todd Spitzer wins handily.
  • 2002: Like 1992, Dick goes 0-2 in 2002. He actively supports Supervisor Cynthia Coad’s re-election and is featured prominently in her mailers. Coad loses to Norby. Later that year he backs accountant Chuck Munson for Fullerton City Council. Munson is buried by Shawn Nelson.

To be fair, there is one current Council Member who was elected and thrice re-elected with Dick Ackerman’s support: Dick Jones.

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A Little F-Town History – James L. Armstrong – A Case Study in Arrogance

In the year 1992 Fullerton’s City Manager Bill Winter was just about out of gas. He had been running on fumes for quite a while and figured it was time to rest on his threadbare laurels. He could also see the handwriting on the wall. A practical cipher, he had let Hugh Berry run the city and the Redevelopment Agency. A culture of permissiveness obtained at City hall during his tenure. Things were about to change – but not for the better.

The Council hired James L. Armstrong to replace Winter. He had been in Anaheim as an Assistant City Mananger and had also done a term at Hanford located somewhere out in the miasma of the San Joaquin Valley.

James L. Armstrong. Nobody Could have Guessed What Was in Store

James L. Armstrong. Nobody Could have Guessed What Was in Store

Armstrong arrived just as the 90s recession was beginning to sink its teeth into the local government wallet. Revenue was falling and something had to be done to protect city workers. Lack of revenue threatened automatic “step increases,” raises, and City PERS contributions. Perhaps Armstrong felt he had the solid backing of the City Council, but the Fullerton novice certainly had no reading of the mood of the electorate.

Within six months of assuming his new job, Armstrong had persuaded Molly Mc Clanahan, Buck Catlin, and Don Bankhead to go along with the imposition of a new Utility Tax. They deliberately denied a plebescite – knowing as they did that it would be rejected. And so they held the usual dog-and-pony budget hearings, passed a budget based on the Utility Tax, and approved the tax, too. Bankhead and Catlin were allegedly conservative Republicans, but that soon became an apparent farce; even worse, Bankhead had run for re-election in the fall of 1992 promising no new taxes!

The citizenry rose up in fury! Raising taxes during a recession just to protect city employees? The tocsin was sounded and an strange new locution echoed through the corridors of City Hall - Recall! The word had never been uttered in staid, conservative Fullerton before. The statists and the public employee unions, and Fullerton’s good-government liberals were aghast. The newly energized pro-recall  crew were seen as outsiders – who are these people, they’ve never served on one our precious committees! Barbarians at the gates! God, almighty! Civilization itself was at stake.

We're From The Steppes, and We're here to Help!

We're From The Steppes, and We're here to Help!

Within a  year the Recalls Committee, gained their signatures, placed a recall on the June 1994 ballot, and successfully recalled Catlin, Bankhead and McClanahan. He had only been on the job eighteen months, but our hero Armstrong had instigated a municipal civil war, and had managed to mismanage three of his supporters into ignominious political humiliation.

Watch Out For That first Step...

Watch Out For That first Step...

The way things ultimately worked out, the new Councilmembers were no better than the old. But the Utility Tax was repealed during the interregnum; without it the City got along just fine. But because the Old Guard had managed to hang on to elected office the managers in City Hall never had to confront the consequences of their point-blank refusal to reconsider the way they ran their departments. This was Fullerton after all.

Meantime Jim Armstrong was a busy fellow. He presided over just about every Redevelopment fumble, boondoggle, and cover-up of the 1990s; he made it very clear that when bureaucrats blundered the wagons were to be circled and nobody (in City Hall) would be any the worse for it. The jewels in his tarnished crown were the attempt in 1993 to forestall the Depot corrective work caused by incompetent design (full story coming soon), the complete mismanagement of the new Corporate Yard project, the deployment of attack dog Susan Hunt – whose job was to kick all citizen groups out of city facilities and keep them out, and his mania to turn public facilities into cost centers administered by city employees (see related post on Hillcrest Park).

lean and mean. Well, lean anyway.

Lean and mean. Well, mean anyway.

An aura of arrogance clung to City Hall like the ripe aroma surrounding  the local Materials Recycling Facility; the City Council was just there to ratify Armstrong’s policy. If they liked that, so much the better. And they sure seemed to.

Whee! We don't actually have to do anything!

Armstrong’s miserable misrule came to an end in 2001 when he took the top job in Santa Barbara – you see in Jim’s line of work nothing succeeds like failure. And he set the bar high for his successor, Chris Myers, who learned from the best: when you find a cushy spot like Fullerton where nobody demands accountability, stick to it like a barnacle – until something better comes along. In the meantime – close ranks, clam-up, and cover up.

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Fullerton’s City Lights – FUBAR From The Word Go – Part Deux

Gentle Friends of Fullerton, we left off our sad narrative with one Caleb Nelson, fly-by-night promoter, in possession of  a multi-million dollar City subsidized “affordable” housing project on Commonwealth Avenue; a project that he had as much ability to undertake as a ling cod. Our “expert” City staff had chosen this dubious individual to build a multi-million dollar “SRO’ although they must have known he didn’t have the wherewithal to build a birdhouse. They had rejected a reknowned architect; they had helped destroy an historic building; and they were just getting warmed up.

We Know What We're Doing

We're the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency. We Know What We're Doing

As this venture entered its third year (1995) the Redevelopment staff had finally seen enough. Director Gary Chalupsky, who ostensibly joined the city in 1992 as an independent agent of change, but who, by this time, had lost most of his rigid members, acted. Caleb Nelson was shown the door, and in his place Chalupsky unearthed a low-income housing developer from LA by the name of Agit Mithawala.

Aw c'mon. You didn't expect accountability, did you?

Aw c'mon. You didn't expect accountability, did you?

The only difficulty was that Mr. Chalupsky had been given no authority to re-assign the development rights conferred upon Caleb Nelson to anybody.  He did it all by himself. And he had to get the City Council help him cover his tracks…

Geez, what happened to the footprints?

Geez, what happened to the footprints?

By this time a politcal revolution had come and gone in Fullerton. Molly McClanahan and Buck Catlin were long gone, replaced by Jan Flory and, in 1996, F. Richard Jones. Fullerton was about to witness one of the most inglorious retreats in its history. Stay tuned for more…

Well if I hadn't shot off my big mouth...

It's all mind over matter, boys...

Read the rest of “Fullerton’s City Lights”: Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3Part 4Epilogue

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