Led Down The Garden Path; Fullerton on Track For More Redevelopment

Last night we sat through the horrendous hearing on Redevelopment expansion. It was really a pretty painful thing to have to endure.


City staff and their consultant put on a performance that can only be termed embarrassing. To describe it any farther would do an injury to my synapses, and so I’ll pass. Their presentation was eviscerated by Councilman Shawn Nelson and several speakers from the public – notably former Councilman Conrad Dewitte, former Congressman Bill Dannemeyer, GOP Central Committe member Bruce Whitaker; and perhaps the best of all, Jane Reifer . We note that our lawyer Bob Ferguson showed up too. We can smell a lawsuit coming.

The case boils down to this: you can’t create a Redevelopment project just because you need the money. It’s been done for years, but judges are finally starting to uphold the law. About time.

One of the words that the cheerleaders of the expansion kept using was “tool” and this sure was appropriate since city staff  and the Jones/Bankhead team dredged up a number of tools to come to the meeting and add moral support.

They're all so useful
They're all so useful

There was Theresa Harvey of the Chamber of Commerce who mumbled and stumbled her way through a statement clearly not written by her; a character by the name of Rick (or Dick – can’t remember) Price representing an outfit that goes by the hilarious name “Fullerton Positive” and wears smiley face buttons on their lapels; John Phelps – one of the biggest welfare recipients in Fullerton’s Redevelopment history ; and former councilman Peter Godfrey – who could only be seen from behind. It was nice to see Peter again, if only his backside, to remind us of his vacuous tenure on the council and recall that he was one Linda Lequire whip crack away from voting to keep the obnoxious Utility Tax.

get back in line little man..
get back in line little man..

As expected Bankhead and Jones were shilling hard throughout the hearing, Jones giving one of his brilliantly cuckoo rants complete with crazy gesticulations.

I can keep this up all night...
Once you wind me up and set me down there's no telling where I'll go...

Since Pam Keller recused herself, Sharon Quirk became the necessary third vote and she kept noncommittal, sensing no doubt the political pitfalls of either position. She asked a lot of questions that seemed rehearsed with staff, and acted like she wanted more information from the lame consultant. We have to question her sincerity since she’s already had plenty of time to lay out the ground rules before last night – the proverbial 11th hour. And so we got the strong sense of a kabuki performance. The simple fact is that Quirk could have killed the deal last night. The fact that she permitted the monster to live indicates she will be going for this when it comes back on June 18th.

Villagers, get your pitchforks ready
Villagers, get your pitchforks ready

32 Replies to “Led Down The Garden Path; Fullerton on Track For More Redevelopment”

  1. Man, that was bad. The guy who gave the report for the city should never have given up his job as a pin-setter at Carter Bowl!

    The opponents to the expansion just kicked ass as you say. It wasn’t even close. It was like the city and their so-called consultant had been caught red-handed running a scam (they are).

    Quirk can run but she can’t hide. She’s for it all right and that’s fine. If she wants to postpone the inevitable, that’s her business. Either way there should be a legal challenge and then Quirk will have more uncomfortable decisions to make.

  2. And one more thing. That woman from the Chamber of Commerce was a joke, but what I’m wondering is why nobody from the Chamber Board or Officers came to speak since they’re supposed to be all gung-ho for this scam. Somebody in that group had better start asking some serious questins.

  3. You forgot to mention that Jack Dean stood up and suggested that the expansion was an obvious attempt at job preservation by the redevelopment staff. I thought that was a great observation.

    I agree that Reifer’s presentation was the best.

  4. Right. Jack Dean’s point was excellent. Let’s compare the number of Redevelopment employees 10 years ago and now. It’s more than doubled, right?

    Joe is right. that Kovac character shouldn’t allowed to open his mouth in public anymore. That performance really was embarrassing. And he’s some sort of “manager.”

  5. Could you guys just que up the part of the meeting when Nelson spoke? The issue is pretty well resolved if the law is as he read it and the stats found in the city’s report are truly the ones they are hanging their hat on.

    Maybe a great post would also be to post the Diamond Bar case finding: ” Finding blight can not be merely an effort for cash strapped municipalities to fund future projects”. Then cut the comments of the pro speakers and that boob Jones where they make very clear the real reason for this expansion is just that, a need to fund future projects

  6. our esteemed fullerton city council members, jones, bankhead and quirk win the crayons and coloring book prize for allowing “redevolopers” to steal our tax dollars as easily as taking candy from a baby. but jones, quirk and bankhead dont cry because its not their money(candy) that is stolen it is ours.

  7. Don’t worry, Dr. Hee-haw will flip flop once the City Attorney tells him ( he probably already told him to keep his big yapper shut) that he put his foot and leg down the Agency’s throat when he unequivocally and repeatedly stated the reason for his vote for the expansion. Sounds like it’s time for an expose on the council’s approval vote for the City Lights SRO ( most of you probably know it as the bum-box).

  8. Matt, since you mention FLF, i would bring up the CEQA deficiencies addressed by Ms. Reifer. All of her questions were brushed aside because the expansion doesn’t alter any GP or zoning and thus by definition can’t create any impacts: no response necessary.

    Of course that just satisfies the bureucratic rules that are used to evade the intent of CEQA. They all do it.

    Any one with common sense knows that the sudden influx of Redevelopment money available will vastly increase the liklihood of huge new subsidized housing projects GP amendments and rezones (like Jefferson Commons); these will certainly require their own dog-and-pony EIRs that will then gloss over or mumble their way around “cumulative impacts.”

  9. Fight the Madness, does that mean the “program level” EIR is deficient because it fails to anticipate the effect of Redevelopment money?

    That’s a good point because all the cheerleaders for Redevelopment are always bragging about how effective a stimulant Redevelopment is. It would certainly be hard to quantify this sort of thing. But to ignore it seems like a deferrment of recognizing imacts.

  10. Well, why not? I’d rather have her 100 times more than Karen Haluza. She didn’t even show up for the Redevelopment hearing to oppose it or support it. Triangulation is a cynical way to start of a political campaign

    1. Karen Haluza did stridently object to Amerige Court in a public hearing, offering a very strong repudiation to the planning “strategies” of the city. The shamefully deceitful Republican funded mailer that probably did as much as anything to defeat her in the last election implied that she was somehow responsible for a planned tower in Santa Ana that was actually approved by voters of that city in a referendum.

          1. Matt, Haluza is supposedly talking herself up as a candidate in 2010. If she can’t share her opinion on redevelopment expansion then maybe she shouldn’t be.

  11. Thanks to Jan Reifer and FLF, Friends for Fullerton’s Future put Urban Future in a head lock. Good idea Time for a REAL change.

  12. I haven’t heard a thing about Karen Haluza running again–just preemptive shots across the bow from others who don’t seem to want her to.

    “Showing up for public hearings: It’s not just for candidates anymore.”

    And don’t forget, you can still submit comments about the RD expansion in writing.

  13. No, not Reifer for council.
    I’m really sorry. I know she did well last night.
    She is good at presenting, but even when she worked for the FOX, I never felt she had a good grasp at business, organizational or admin experience. In a way, it would be another repeat at Lady Bountiful.

  14. Anon, can you amplify on that Lady Bountiful reference?

    The truth is that Fullerton has NEVER had a counciperson who had a grasp of business, oraganization, administration, etc. And it is often argued that those qualities are the responsibility of “staff.” This is probably why Fullerton keeps electing the same kind of bozos who swap endorsements with each other and join the right suck-up groups (like the Chamber of Horrors).

  15. Harpoon,
    Truthfully what we seek in a council person isn’t always obtainable in one person. In a perfect world, we’d have a group of people who have different skills and could come together for the greater good. However, I think what we’ve got are two lady bountifuls, 2 retired guys with lots of knowledge about the city but are beyond expiration date, and then one other guy who has the admin, business and organizational capabilities but is saddled with something between a circus and the weekly bridge group. No wonder he’s a bit of a hot head.

    I really can’t see Reifer being a really strong cause for anything but those particular projects she is enamored with. Start flitting her name around as a viable candidate and you’ll have 3 lady bountifuls and 2 retired guys.

    As far as Haluza goes, she pissed off enough people in her own neighborhood by being the local Fullerton Heritage goat. It’s not surprising she lost, start telling people what colors they can or can’t paint their house, and a slimy brochure will often be the result.

    So much for progress

  16. I’m still a little fuzzy about this “lady bountiful” thing, but I’m starting to get the picture. I would disagree that Bankhead and Jones know a lot about anything. That their expiration dates are long past I can happily agree.

    You’re right that the ubermensch I described hardly exists anywhere, let alone in local politics – where the stock figures read like characters in a Sinclair Lewis novel.

    Really the most important qualities a real representative should bring to a city council are curiosity, independent intelligence, and above all a sense of accountability – for his own actions and that of the staff. What we’ve gotten are ex-public employees, an assortment of mental midgets, and a crew of safe GOP RINOs of the Rotary type, some with military backgrounds. Not a-one of them (except occassionally Nelson) remembers that he represents the folks outside of City Hall – not inside.

    I also have to disagree somewhat about why Haluza lost (although it would be interesting to see how she did in her own precinct). If she and the Observer had gone after her weaker opponent Jones, instead of Nelson, she might very well be on the council today.

    1. Yeah, that didn’t help either, but that mailer showing her in front of a giant building that had been approved by public vote in Santa Ana suggested that she supported that kind of construction in Fullerton at a time when she had publicly spoken out against Amerige Court–the nearest thing to it around here.

      You forget that she opposed Amerige Court at a time when those assumed to be her natural allies, Sharon Quirk and Pam Keller, both supported it. It was a gutsy move for her that set her apart from what we have on the council now.

      All is fair in love and politics, I suppose, and I am not here to fight old battles, but let’s remember that the Haluza campaign didn’t have the developer dollars to respond to a sleazy mailer in time. I guess she wasn’t invited to the harbor cruise.

      1. Clarification: I wrote above that Karen Haluza’s opposition to Amerige Court “set her apart from what we have on the council now.” It should be noted that Shawn Nelson recused himself from the approval vote on the project, and did not take part in the abysmal decision to support it.

    2. Harpoon, “If she and the Observer had gone after her weaker opponent Jones, instead of Nelson, she might very well be on the council today.” I believe this to be true considering the Observers endorsement is historically good for 2-3,000 votes. I believe Vince Buck has done the research.

      Matt, why do you think Sharon Kennedy hates Nelson so much? I know that’s a tall order, and obviously you don’t have to answer the question, but if you would, just speculate.

  17. You haven’t been asked the question we all want to ask:
    Why doesn’t Harpoon, Kiger or Shadow run for city council?

    1. Although I understand the impulse to discuss who might or might not be a good council candidate, it makes me somewhat uncomfortable to read comments about a person’s suitability for the office on a public forum when that person has yet to declare an intent, or even an interest, in running a campaign.

      Maybe someone should actually speak with some of these people first before throwing their names around for debate about their personal qualities. They may not choose to contribute to this blog, and although nothing really bad has been written about anyone (not on the council, that is) let’s try to be respectful of their privacy.

  18. Matt, I have it on pretty good authority that she is running in2010 – though not directly from her, I readily admit. Speculation about a recent candidate in the next election seems pretty reasonable to me. Her partisans can certainly post any positive things they have to say and we welcome them. She can do it herself if she’s not afraid to associate herself with the likes of us!

    Anon, I have no ambition for political office at this juncture; the F Shadow has her own issues and is not a likely candidate.

    Travis? Travis?

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