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.

Pam Keller’s Election as Mayor Clearly Equates to Discrimination

Like any good American, I am a staunch advocate for “TURNS”. And as Fullerton’s #1 Freedom Fighter, Sharon Kennedy points out; Pam Keller may not get hers as Mayor. Being moved nearly to tears by this development, I went straight to work statistically verifying this horrible state of affairs. Specifically, that women are not as likely to be given their TURN as Mayor as the men! What salacious form of woman-hating is this? So in support of Sharon and Pam, I ran the numbers…

Pam Keller Awarding Chris Norby for bringing the notion of TURNS to Fullerton Mayoral politics.
Pam Keller Awarding Chris Norby for bringing the notion of TURNS to Fullerton Mayoral politics.

Dating back to Mayor Charles Chapman in 1902, 44% of Fullerton’s Male City Council Members have had their turn as Mayor. And, only 75% of our Female Council Members have had their turn. So, clearly, discrimination is rampa….what? Let me double check these figures:

35 male mayors/80 male council members = 44%.

6 female mayors/ 8 female council members = 75%

Ummm….well, let me check the numbers just since the first female council member Frances Wood (pause to bow head) was elected in 1970:

13 male mayors/17male council members = 77%

6 female mayors/ 8 female council members = 75%

I KNEW IT!!! Discrimination IS rampant in Fullerton!

But wait… dialing the Observer…

“Sharon, CT here. We have a problem. If the Fullerton School District’s Collaborative Director gets elected Mayor that will mean that 88% of Fullerton’s female council members will have been elected as Mayor and only 77% of men…

…what’s that?….NO, that’s only since 1970 when there HAVE been women on the council.

What? Bury it??? Yeah…yeah….that’s what we should do. People will just forget that we ever brought it up. God you’re brilliant Sharon!”

More Phony Hand Wringing From the Skipper of the Yellowing Submarine

Ahoy there, reality - unable to surface...
Ahoy there, reality - unable to surface...

A new month, the same old weeping by the Fullerton Observer about how the good ol’ boys are keeping poor Pam Keller from her entitlement to be mayor when the next term starts. It’s not fair! Not fair!

(Ed. – Never a word about Keller’s dismal votes on massive projects or her unique working relationship with FSD/Fullerton Collaborative, but that’s another story.)

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the person who is entitled to be mayor is the council person who can get two other people on the council to vote for him. Pretty simple. Nothing else really matters.

The author of this indignant drivel lays out a conspiracy tale of events behind the scenes to keep a Democrat out of the presiding chair; and as usual the plot centers around Shawn Nelson, without whom the Observer would have a lot less to natter on about. Ironically the tangled web includes Observer favorite Don Bankhead and by necessity another Observer endorsement recipient – Dick Jones! Observer chickens coming home to roost? God, let’s hope so!

Politics might be going on. The horror! Of course despite the Observer trying to emphasize the ceremonial (i.e. non-political) aspects of the mayorship, the fact is it is a very coveted title when re-election time rolls around – as it does for Pam Keller, next year. Aha! Politics!

So is a scheme being worked out to elect somebody else mayor for 2010? Possibly. Quite likely, although since none of the supposed principles would be likely to talk to Sharon Kennedy about it, it seems much more likely to be a pure guess on her part. Our congressman Ed Royce loves to meddle in these affairs; to him it seems easier than simply turning on the light and opening the closet door to discover that there really is no monster in there. Just some mops and brooms.

And speaking of politics, maybe The Observer should quit endorsing Ed Royce puppets like the chowderhead Jones and focus on somebody who could actually be counted on to support Keller for mayor. Oh no! More politics.

Sharon Kennedy Attempts to Dump on FFFF; Instead Soils Self Badly

Yellowing Sub torpedoes self. Again.
Yellowing Sub torpedoes self. Again. Still no bottom in sight.

In the latest dreary edition of her yellowing Fullerton Observer, editor and almost entirely irrelevant City Hall shill, Sharon Kennedy, tries to smear FFFF and our law suit against the City’s fraudulent redevelopment expansion.

Once again we are “discredited;” why? Oh that’s right: we are sick of idiots like Dick Jones getting re-elected with the complicity of Sharon Kennedy, and we attempted to do something about it by using the donkey’s own braying.

You are very repulsive.
You are very repulsive. And discredited, too.

Of course Kennedy drags in the hated Chris Norby, who is not even a party to the law suit. She tries to dismiss our attorney Robert Ferguson (“serial anti-redevelopment lawyer”- you know like serial murderer, serial rapist, etc.) and even drags in Howard Ahmanson, whom none of us have ever even talked to, and even Ahmanson’s dead father! She left out Idi Amin, Adolf Hitler, Father Coughlin, Howard Jarvis, and the Ku Klux Klan, but just give her time. There was only one factual statement in the whole embarrassing plop: FFFF is suing the City.

At the end of her screed Kennedy extrudes this priceless string of turds:

Unfortunately, though the city is expected to win the suit, the action will set back plans for needed improvements and cost the city money to litigate.

Really Sharon? How about a little reporting instead of your usual brainless editorializing? Who says the city is expected to win? Are you aware of Ferguson’s record? Who says “plans” will be set back? What plans? Where are they? Of what do they consist? Who says it will cost the city money to litigate? They’re “expected to win,” right?

Sharon, is it too much to hope that you will ever extract your cranium from its lodging place?

The hole may be shallower than anyone suspected
The hole may be a lot shallower than anyone ever suspected

The Observer Swings…and Misses!

No bottom in sight...
No bottom in sight...

Our old pal Sharon Kennedy just couldn’t help taking a shot at the Friends in her latest edition of the Observer. In a story [it’s on page 8] about the City’s settlement with the County over the bogus Redevelopment expansion she takes her swing: “Chris Norby and his supporters in the FACT and FFF (sic) groups (both groups widely discredited by shameful campaign ads and tactics in past elections)…”

Shameful? Well, hell, we don’t feel the least bit of shame – let alone any sort of discredit, except perhaps from people whose opinion means almost nothing to us. Excuse us, Ms. Kennedy, for pointing out what a loud-mouthed, ignorant blowhard Dick Jones really is – and using his own words to do it!

Much more shameful was the Observer’s slavish endorsement of Jones, an undeniable corn pone numbskull, simply because he is a reliable City staff stooge. That endorsement may have cost Karen Haluza the election. Nice work for a “progressive” operation.

If you go down far enough you might reach China...
If you go down far enough you might reach China...

And speaking of shameful, will the Observer continue to support council members who have voted to approve massive corporate subsidized housing projects with deficient CEQA findings? Just asking.

Being called shameful by Sharon Kennedy and her yellowing Observer is like being called ugly by a toad. 

Yes I am extremely unattractive, but you are even more so...
Yes I am extremely unattractive, but you are even more so...

Fullerton Observer Sinks To New Low

The Yellowing Sub Dives even Deeper
The Yellowing Sub dives even deeper

UPDATE: According to an e-mail we received yesterday, our acquaintance “Tenant” reminded us that he did indeed have a follow up conversation with Ms. Kennedy about his situation. We apologize for that error. However the basic thrust of this post remains. You can’t be a reporter and an advocate for this or that specific cause or organization at the same time.

And just to remind our Friends: we are a blog – not a journalistic endeavor and we have never tried to get anybody to believe otherwise.

To those Fullerton Observer observers who still believe that Sharon Kennedy has an atom of journalist integrity, or any objective standards either, we present the most recent Observer edition as our evidence to the contrary.

Last week we posted a story about how Fullerton Interfaith Emergency Services intended to expand their compound in the 500 block of West Amerige Avenue, and in the process how the current landlord had told his tenants to vacate the premises so he could close the deal.

What we didn’t share was the fact that one of the tenants had actually contacted Sharon Kennedy. According to this individual she evinced considerable interested in his plight; but the tenant never heard back from her.

In the Observer’s mid-September issue she gave an answer. Buried in the middle of an article about unrelated FIES issues the author tucked in a few lines about the FIES acquisition of  property on Amerige. The article notes matter-of-factly that relocation help would be available for those tenants who need it. Check out left column halfway down page nine.

Of course there was no mention of the fact that previously none of the tenants had been notified that “assistance was available,” no mention of what the criteria for qualification are, and no mention of who at FIES told her that they were going to help anybody.

It sure looks to us like Sharon Kennedy was trying to help her pals at FIES cover up an embarrassing episode long after the fact. Wow! What a crusading reporter!

Well, at any rate, we are glad that someone may be getting something, sometime, somehow. We’ll check in to see what FIES is doing to make things right for the folks they are dislocating.

In the meantime a whole lotta irony is still goin’ on: several genuine, non-subsidized affordable housing units are taken out of the available housing stock and the property, soon to be owned by a non-profit, will be taken off the property tax rolls. Hooray!

hey everybody, we gotta stick together...
Hey everybody, we gotta stick together...

Retirement Already A Bonanza Waterfall For MWD Employees

victoria

Teri Sforza has produced another fine Watchdog post over at the Register about the gravy train that already awaits MWD employees in retirement, including a list of over 40 of these watercrats who pull down over $100K a year in pension payements click here . The former top dog who retired in 1993 gets almost $225K per year and has received over $3.5 million since he stopped clocking in. Sweet. For him.

grrrrrr
grrrrrr

If that weren’t bad enough, now MWD wants to raise their pension formula even more. A few days ago we threw down the gauntlet to our City Council to be accountable for the upcoming vote by their chosen MWD representative, Jim Blake. Well, now we do it again. The vote is next week and we will be reporting back to the friends.

And remember. MWD cost increases are passed directly on to us. On top of that, in Fullerton 10% of gross water revenue (from your water bill) goes directly into the General Fund. And that’s a hidden tax increase, folks.

Here’s the MWD $100,000 club. If you know anyone on the list make sure he/she thanks the water rate payer for their largess:

CARL BORONKAY $224,812.80
NORMAN TAYLOR $191,512.08
RODERICK WALSTON $187,782.84
DAVID PORTER $170,075.76
DOUGLAS MARSHALL $149,733.12
LAUREN BRAINARD $148,945.68
NORMAN FLETTE $148,258.92
JARLATH OLEY $137,811.60
JAMES GALLANES $132,217.08
ALBERT CHENG $129,202.20
MYRON HOLBURT $120,516.84
FREDERICK HORNE $120,203.88
GEORGE BUCHANAN $119,561.76
VICTOR GLEASON $119,445.48
MICHAEL YOUNG $118,419.24
STEPHANIE VENDIG $118,418.76
BARBARA KENNEDY $115,249.92
JAY MALINOWSKI $114,198.00
ROBERT LYONS $114,192.36
ALAN SMITH $112,779.24
GARY HAZEL $112,212.36
CAROL BALCERZAK $111,909.60
WILLIAM WATSON $111,849.60
EDWARD THORNHILL $111,653.52
AHMAD HASSANI
$111,339.60
RONALD GASTELUM $111,130.44
JOSEPH SANTOS $111,113.88
EZELL CULVER $109,106.04
IZETTA BIRCH $108,637.56
ROBERT MOEHLE $108,349.44
TERRY HARMAN $107,494.56
LARRY DEFORGE $107,363.88
ALLIEN WHITSETT $104,608.20
JESSE CORRAL $104,095.44
MARSHALL DAVIS $102,596.28
EVAN GRIFFITH $101,766.60
NELSON LEE $101,334.12
LARRY HINES $101,244.60
PAUL SINGER $100,597.08
DAVID FURUKAWA $100,353.48

Some Information About “The Fullerton Collaborative”

Apparently there are many Pam Kellers
Just a few of the many faces of Pam Keller

Pam Keller likes to talk a lot about her role as Executive Director of something called The Fullerton Collaborative. We didn’t use the word “job” because we’re not sure yet how much actual “work” goes into the function.

We do know that the Collaborative seems to be run by, and for the principle benefit of Pam Keller herself.

Here is the first page from the Collaborative’s 2007 tax filing:

fullertoncollaborative2007-1

Note that the Collaborative’s expenses exceeded its revenue by 13k, covered by a surplus from the year before. Notice also that the corporation’s address is the same as the Fullerton School District’s headquarters on West Valencia Drive. This latter fact is explained on page 4:

fullertoncollaborative2007-4The Collaborative has an agreement with the FSD to provide an “executive director”  for 44K. That’s Keller. The only explanation for this is that this way Pam gets to remain an FSD employee with salary and benefits thereof, while doing her good works and self-promotion as a professional do-gooder on the taxpayer’s dime. Instead of a telling folks she’s a public employee, she gets to pretend that she’s the employee for a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Notice that the cost of Pam is the Collaborative’s main expense in 2007. The only other significant expense is a $26,000 contract with something called OCCO for “community organizing.” Rusty Kennedy’s do-nothing Human Relation Commission is in on the gravy to the tune of $4400 for “leadership training,” whatever that may consist of.

Since Keller is listed on the Collaborative’s website as a board member, we wonder whether she’s actually negotiating and voting on her own contract with the FSD. The dialog in the room during those discussions might be fairly amusing. And we also wonder if anybody else on the board is auditing that relationship for vendor performance management. Hmm.

We are a bit curious as to why public funds are being sluiced through this rather elaborate piping in the first place. And we wonder, given the fact that FSD Board member Minard Duncan is listed as a “member-at-large,” how closely the FSD negotiates and manages that contract itself. There is something called The Government Accounting Standards Board; are their rules being adhered to regarding accounting and public disclosure of their financial relationship with The Collaborative?

Of course we are also very interested in where The Fullerton Collaborative gets its funds, especially which private donors, if any,  are contributing the wherewithal to cover the FSD contract that pays for Fullerton City Council woman Keller’s services. The Collaborative’s website is strangely silent on the identity of its donors; most charities boast about their benefactors, who generally like to be boasted about.

When we find out we’ll be sure to  share the information. And if we can’t find out, we’ll let let our Friends know that, too.

More Redevelopment Befuddlement By Dick Jones

Some people are determined to talk. They just can’t help it. They believe that the more stuff they say the more informed they appear. Even if it’s just babble to the rest of us.

Well, I've got a heap 'o talkin to do...
Well, I've got a heap 'o talkin' to do...

Take our own Councilman Dick Jones. If we didn’t mine so much pure gold out of this bonehead’s blathering we really would beg him just to shut up – if only to soothe our agitated synapses. 

synapses
Oh boy, this is gonna hurt in the morning!

One of his favorite reasons for promoting Redevelopment expansion is that the money can be used to satisfy low-income housing mandates, imposed by the evil bastards in Sacramento, or Karakhastan, or Tanganyisha, or whatever mythical countries exist in his febrile imagination.

Hail, hail, Freedonia
Hail, hail, Freedonia

The fact is that housing objectives come from SCAG – the Southern California Association of Governments – a bureaucratic local government consortium made up of people like Jones and guided by public employees. The housing targets, by income classification, are contained in the RHNA (pronounced “reena”) – the Regional Housing Needs Assessment, and are divvied up among local jurisdictions. These numbers are merely “goals,” not mandates. The whole thing is a bureaucratic paper chase and hardly anybody takes it seriously except far lefties.

We didn't get much done|But the paperwork was fun!
We didn't get much done, but we built a huge stack of paper.

Which brings us to the point of this post. We wonder what Jones’ Republican backers like Ed Royce and Dick Ackerman think about Jones actively promoting the quasi-socialist RHNA objectives in Fullerton.  He is sounding more and more like Sharon Kennedy with each passing meeting. So we have to wonder who’s coaching him on housing issues (well, no we really don’t).

Finally, Jones doesn’t talk about the real mandate; it comes from Redevelopment law itself: the 20% property tax increment set-aside for “affordable” housing, a requirement created to help compensate when city planners and pols rip up lower income neighborhoods to gentrify them. The new expansion area includes little if any residential housing, so no housing stock is going to be displaced. But sooner or later that 20% set aside will start to accrue, and it will have to be used somewhere in Fullerton.

Somewhere in Fullerton. But not in Dick’s zero sub-prime neighborhood in the hills, you can bet the family farm on that. The buck will certainly stop there.

Amphibian Assault

Every now and then we get a particularly perspicacious comment from one of our Loyal Friends that we think is worth posting separately. The following was written by Hollis Dugan in response to our post about the Fullerton Observer and its hermetically sealed philosophical environment. We have cleaned up his spelling for him. Explains Mr. Dugan:

I always sing in the shower...
I always sing in the bath tub...

 

What to me at least becomes the most bizarre angle of the Observer finally is that Kennedy is a left wing loon that probably never envisioned herself as the apologist for the establishment. The far left commie types like her came out of the 60’s and early 70’s AGAINST the establishment. Freedom from government tyranny and limits on liberty.

Now it seems, like boiling a frog, Kennedy and her ilk have let the heat rise so slowly it never occurred to them that they are the last protectors of the government machine controlling everyone’s liberty. Wake up Kennedy! Your values have been boiled right out of you without detection by anyone at your little rag.

Have the drugs done that much damage? You should be screaming from the rooftops how outrageous the thought of the City running its own blog to control the information flow (attempt to, anyway). Instead you are a meek little cheerleader for the inept and pathetic control mongers that can’t stand when others have an independent thought.

It’s not too late to become a fighter for liberty.