Park Poor South Fullerton. Fact or Fiction?

We’ve heard a lot lately from the advocates for the failed $2,000,000 Trail to Nowhere concept that it is desperately needed in south Fullerton because south Fullerton is in desperate need of parks. Let’s set aside for just a moment the uselessness of the TtN, so we can think about the bald assertion used as a pretext to build it.

First let’s consider the talismanic mantra. Is it based on realty or is it based on the bland assumption that areas whose inhabitants are mostly those considered minorities? In governmental (and liberal) circles another term for minorities is “underserved communities,” because, it is reasoned, minorities have always got the short end of the stick, and because they need more, they must be underserved. Whether or not anybody feels like they are truly underserved is neither here nor there.

Once the notion of an underserved class of people exists, it is very simple to project the obvious conclusion that parks, being public facilities, are not being provided fairly to the underserved, and therefore those communities are “park poor.”

Oops.

This train of logic is so superficial that it hardly needs to be analyzed any farther. The key here is to realize that the self-interest of government employees and the heart-felt shibboleths of liberals ignore facts. The former simply want to build new facilities they can “program” while the latter get to patronize the lower orders who need their help to enjoy the pleasures of life.

Here’s the reality in Fullerton. If we draw a line along Chapman/Malvern Avenue dividing Fullerton into north and south – as our council districts do – we see that south Fullerton has the same number of city parks as north Fullerton – 16.

“Wait, Joe,” I can hear some one saying. How can this be? South Fullerton is park poor. I read it in The Fullerton Observer. Well, here they are:

Gilbert Park

Community/Recreation Center Grounds/Gardens

Pacific Drive Park

Olive Park

Orangethorpe School Park

Nicholas Park

Independence Park

Richman Park

Woodcrest Park

Lemon Park

Adlena Park

Chapman Park

Amerige Park

Ford Park

And of course we must count UP Park and the UP Trail Phase I that the green spacers are so proud of.

There is also a park on Lawrence and Truslow.

The fact is that south Fullerton has lots of parks. And although it’s true that north Fullerton has trails along abandoned railroad right of ways those facilities are available for anybody to use, and in fact most north Fullertonions don’t have immediate access to these, either. And while the City sports parks are north of Chapman/Malvern the folks in south Fullerton seem to have no problem finding them for youth and adult leagues, just as north Fullertonions find the City’s only pool at Independence park – in south Fullerton.

Similarly, the County’s regional parks – Clark and Craig that are in the north – are open to everybody and almost all of Fullerton’s residents need to get in a car to use them.

So next time somebody proclaims authoritatively that south Fullerton in park poor and needs more open space, likely as a matter of social justice ask them if they know how many parks there are in south Fullerton and if they can name them.

If You Build It…

The other night I watched an old movie from the 80s called Field of Dreams. Somehow I managed to get through an hour and a half of the worst Hollywood schmaltz imaginable. Some guy hears voices and builds a baseball field in the middle of an Iowa cornfield. And guess what? Magic happens! Long dead baseball players show up to knock the old horsehide around.

Today I realized that 90 minutes of my life hadn’t been wasted after all.

“If you build it, he will come…” He did, and he did. I noticed the same blind faith in principalities of the air in those who kept, and keep yammering about the Trail to Nowhere.

These folk believe that simply building something will cause users to show up on their field of dreams. Somehow. Sometime. Even though they never bother to identify who those users are going to be. And I suspect that this one practical effort is dutifully avoided because at some visceral level they don’t even care if the trail is used by anybody.

Field of Dreams is all about the suspension of reality if you really, really, really just wish it hard enough.

As has been pointed out by several FFFF commenters, there is a mindset that cherishes gesture, not effectiveness, good intention over good outcome. And when this is compounded with the old liberal attitude of happily patronizing minorities (ahem, underserved populations) by granting them government largesse, the recipe is complete.

It might work…if you build it…

Anybody who has been along this strip of real estate knows a few things. They can’t figure out who on earth would want to use this as a trail and that the so-called Phase I has been at utter failure in use and design as a recreation facility – even when its terminus, Union Pacific Park, was open. The proposed Phase II runs through desolate industrial buildings, used tire stores, plating and asphalt business; it traverses junk yards parking lots with junk cars. Somehow this bleak, linear experience offers a golden shower of dreams to government employees with too much money and their do-gooding camp followers who seem to think that spending money is more important than spending it well. See, it’s the thought that counts. Just build it. You’ll feel good about yourself.

Fullerton’s Observers Still Up In Arms

The trail didn’t go anywhere, but it sure was short…

The intelligent decision by Fullerton City Councilmembers Whitaker, Dunlap and Jung not to waste public money on the abysmal “Trail to Nowhere” has resulted in high dudgeon and angst among Fullerton’s unthinking Observers. They have stirred up uniformed kids (interns they call ’em) to include it in a video about Fullerton’s crumbling infrastructure – missing the rich irony of a city unable to take care of the infrastructure it already has. They have instigated other kids to create a group calling itself “People Above Things” who will bring protest to the City Council meeting because somehow a useless trail is people and not a useless thing.

Here’s a fun anonymous essay that appeared in the latest paper version of the Fullerton Observer full of sturm und drang, confusion and all het up emotion:

What a silly mish-mash of unintelligible nonsense. I notice the reference to “Jane” by which I believe the author refers to a Jane Rands, who stood up and gave a very commonsensical address to the Council, but commonsense is not a highly respected commodity among Observers. What is “Hart?” Who is “Tony?” What on earth is the connection with Associated Road on the other side of town?

I can’t blame the author of this illiterate screed for wanting to remain anonymous, but she didn’t remain anonymous for long. On the Observer blog the author revealed herself: Sharon Kennedy, the long-time proprietess for the Observer whose “news” efforts never failed to read as confused editorial gobbledygook.

It’s clear that the Observers, Yellowing and Pink, will cling to this issue and try to nurture it despite the fact that it’s over and done with and the public at large, if properly informed of all the facts, would overwhelmingly applaud the wise decision of the Council. Facts are the perpetual bogeyman of the Fullerton Observers who peddle emotion, not reason, and promote waste, just so long as the goal satisfies their drive to support patronizing the lower classes, whom they believe depend upon their philanthropic gestures with everybody else’s money.

Ground Zero for Inertia

My latest essay detailed the problem of corporate inertia and described how Fullerton’s government as a corporate body displays all the problems associated with stagnation, ossification and an inability do things any differently. And then of course, there’s the arrogance and secretiveness.

Here’s a prime example of a culture that is in need of electric shock therapy.

Last April I wrote a post about how the the City and property owner Mr. Mario Marovic had come to an agreement in the fall of 2022 about the latter’s removal of the infamous Florentine hijack of the sidewalk on Commonwealth Avenue. In return, Marovic got to open his two new saloons on the corner.

We now know what a foolish bargain it was for the City.

Marovic was supposed to start demolition the last week in March. That was five and a half months ago. As of mid-September this has not started, and there is no sign that it will ever start. Why not?

Cheers!

Some people may suspect that Mr. Marovic has cast his bread upon the City Council water, so to speak, either above or below the table. But there is also a more likely scenario: the City is simply continuing to cover up its own incompetence in the long, sad history of the sidewalk theft.

No, I wasn’t asleep. I was praying…

And at the center of this tale? City Attorney Dick Jones, who is the only player who has been involved in this mess from the proverbial Day One, and who continues, no doubt, to dispense his legal wisdom that has been so disastrous, and has included turning a blind eye to his own conflict of interest, and justifying forgery of an official City application.

There’s also a bigger picture.

The government of Fullerton has developed a noxious habit of ignoring its own rules and regulations in the downtown area; it has systematically ignored the scofflaws who own the bars, and in fact has coddled and pampered them. Both bureaucrats and elected have continued to portray downtown Fullerton as an achievement, a great success, a municipal asset, when in fact, the saloon culture has never been anything but an annual $1.5 million drain on the City’s budget.

Of course the pages of FFFF are full of stories that confirm the nature of the stasis that defines our city’s governance. What is the solution? That’s the theme of a future post.

The Culture War

They were large and slow with a mean streak.

You know, we hear a lot about the “brain drain” a situation in which some corporate entity or other suffers from an exodus of its senior managers, generals, archbishops, or whatever titles fit the type of organization.

The same thing pertains to government corporate bodies, too: when department heads head for the hills we hear of the loss of senior talent and expertise that bodes ill for whatever the agency’s mission might be. Lamentations are cried about the loss of “institutional memory” a sad situation in which the accumulated wisdom of the agency is undermined, sapped, or otherwise depleted.

But is this a bad thing?

Let’s reflect on the very nature of corporate behavior. Sure, the mission remains: enrich the shareholders, protect the nation, pass on spiritual uplift, fix the potholes in the road. But of course there’s more. The corporate mindset leads to gigantism, arrogance, defensiveness, self-righteousness and above all avoidance of outside scrutiny.

In effect, the mission of corporations becomes encrusted with the dead weight of the various pathologies that they engender. The consequence is not accumulated wisdom, but rather a culture of ossification that is static, slow, non-responsive and self-satisfied. They lose flexibility, agility and effectiveness.

If we consider Fullerton’s history over the past 30 years it becomes fairly evident that the culture of our government demonstrates the symptoms of ossification. The same types of issues are dealt with in the same kinds of way: bureaucrats display the same kinds of attitudes and behaviors; our elected representatives are replaced and yet never seem to change in their understanding of their jobs. The emphasis in City Hall is as much directed toward self-preservation of the status quo as of taking care of municipal problems; avoiding accountability is more important than fixing the streets. Avoiding loss of control and scrutiny by the public have been, and are the key goals, it seems, of the people we elect and the people we pay to work for us. And protecting the corporate culture is always of paramount importance.

The pages of FFFF are replete with examples over the past 30 years that will amply support my thesis. In my next post I’m going to share one of these examples: a problem that was created by the City over 20 years ago, and which lingers today.

We Told You So…

Few were laughing…

Way back in 2010 a bumbling, incoherent Anaheim councilmember named Harry Sidhu was running for County Supervisor in our district – a district in which he didn’t live.

The beautiful Calabria Apartments. Insecticide optional.

Sidhu’s first fake address was in dubious-looking apartment on Lincoln Avenue in west Anaheim. He was busted and a complaint was filed with District Attorney Tony Rackaukas; after all, lying on a voter registration is perjury.

The DA could have ended Sidhu’s rancid career as a politician then and there, but decided to whitewash the affair even as Sidhu had by then moved to a second phony address in the district.

Flash forward to 2022 and Sidhu, by now puppet Mayor of Anaheim thanks to Disney & Co. was tuned up by the FBI and the Department of Justice, even as he and his cronies tried mightily to give Arte Moreno, owner of the LA Angels land around the stadium for a fraction of its worth. His payoff, as recorded in conversation with a local fixer was a $1,000,000 re-election campaign contribution by the Angels.

Oops.

Well, Sidhu, the perennial assclown, has now pleaded guilty to several crimes and his sentencing is upcoming.

And so we bid a fond farewell to one of our favorite public servants and hope that his fate provides an object lesson to ambitious politicians – especially in Fullerton -whose greed and warped sense of self-importance causes them to ignore their responsibility to the public trust.

The Curse of Other People’s Money

It’s a sad fact that local politicians usually have no qualms about spending money from off-budget sources – like State and Federal grants to do this or that uber-important thing. And these things don’t really undergo much scrutiny at all because the money the locality gets, if it finds itself awarded such a grant, isn’t competing with other municipal needs. And, better still, the awarding agency very often has no interest in seeing how successful the grant actually was. See, this requires a rear-view mirror, which the government go-carts just don’t have.

It might work…

This topic came to light during discussion of the ill-fated “Trail to Nowhere” that was going to built with almost $2,000,000 bucks raised from some State of California bond rip-off or other. We heard from the drummed up “community” that the money had been awarded, so better take it; these people being not at all concerned that just maybe the money could be better spent on a project elsewhere. And let’s not worry about the fact that nobody will be responsible for the failure of the scheme.

Phase 1 was a complete failure so Phase 2 is bound to work!

Which brings me to Fullerton’s history of grant money, utterly wasted, and with absolutely no accountability. Specifically I am referring to the long-lost Core and Corridors Specific Plan. I wrote about it seven years ago, here.

I’ll drink to that!

Back in 2013 or so, the City of Fullerton received a million dollars from Jerry Brown’s half-baked Strategic Growth Council to develop a specific plan that would sprawl over a lot of Fullerton, offering by-right development for high-density housing along Fullerton’s main streets – a social engineering plan that would have drastically changed the character of the city. The reasons for the entire project’s eventual disappearance off the face of the Earth are not really important anymore. What is important is that the grant money – coming from Proposition 84 (a water-related referendum!) was completely and utterly wasted.

A page on the City’s website dedicated to the Core and Corridors Specific Plan had quietly vanished by 2017, never to be heard of again.

It doesn’t matter how it turns out. It’s the gesture that counts.

The lesson, of course is that Other People’s Money causes public officials – the elected and the bureaucratic – to take a whole other attitude toward spending on stuff than it does if the proposed projects were competing with General Fund-related costs – like the all-important salaries and benefits; or competing for Capital Improvement Fund projects that people actually expect a city to pursue. And it’s very rare indeed for a city council, like ours, to realize that grant money can be misused and actually wasted.

And so I salute Messrs. Dunlap, Whitaker and Jung for voting to return the Trail to Nowhere grant money – an act of true fiscal and moral responsibility.

Weeds, Weeds and More Weeds

A Friend sent in a copy of a letter from Daniel S. Franco of the City of Fullerton, requesting/demanding weed abatement per the Municipal Code. Supposedly the letter was instigated by a complaint. That may be a true story; or not. Here’s the letter:

Now, this isn’t all that unusual except that the irony of the City making a private citizen do what it will not is pretty rich. What am I referring to? Why, the Trail to Nowhere, of course, the City-owned former UP right-of-way where lately a handful of people, offensively masquerading as “the community” demanded a recreation trial. A quick look at the current situation along the abandoned strip reveals the City in severe breach of the rules it feels compelled to apply to the populace.

Oops.

Oops, again.

It’s pretty apparent that the City of Fullerton can’t take care of its own property. Or maybe by neglecting this property the City is offering up a big FU to the “community” it pretends to care so much about.

In any case the question of our town’s ability to maintain its property brings into focus the question of maintenance costs for new facilities – like the sad proposal of the Trail to Nowhere.

Away From Home Alone

It used to be you could show up in another town and make up all sorts of stuff about yourself. That’s was the basis of the con man’s profession. Now, it’s not so easy.

Back in August D5 Councilman Ahmad Zahra, know locally for his, ahem, creative narratives about himself, seems to have put in an appearance at some sort press conference held by EOPAMERICA. That stands for Elected Officials to Protect America. Ever hear of it? Me neither. Maybe that’s because this imposing name belongs to some group located in tiny Rockland, Maine. Sounds a bit made up – like the guys got together in some one’s basement.

Rockland is not the sort of place you’d expect for an organization with such a bombastic title. But the lobster might be pretty good.

Anyway, Fullerton’s own bright light Zahra got his picture in the paper, so to speak, along with an almost incomprehensible quotation.

Tools of investment? This bozo can’t even build a rec trail with somebody else’s money! Now check out that statement a little more closely. Mayor of Fullerton? Since when, Ahmad? Another fiction passed along to any dopes credulous enough to believe this con artist?

Who was he speaking for and why did they give him a title he can’t get? Why does he think printing money is going to reduce inflation? You could try asking Zahra. Good luck getting an answer.