The Sudden Relevance of Chris Norby?

Mr. Speaker! Let's kill Redevelopment once and for all!

Way out here at the end of Screech Owl Road the silence is almost absolute – only occasionally ruptured by the stray thump of Marine helicopters in the distance. It gives a man time to think in peace and quiet, and I’ve been thinking about Chris Norby ever since his post the other day about the possibility of a stake in the heart of Redevelopment.

I started watching Norby’s political career in Fullerton back in the early 80s. During his days on the City Council he was effectively marginalized by the various majorities who saw Norby as an annoyance and an irritant. His 18 years saw almost no accomplishment at all; ditto his seven years as a County Supervisor, years in which his colleagues saddled you Orange Countians with a massive unfunded pension liability.

The gods were certainly kind to Norby when they presented him with an unforseen chance to extend his professional political career in the form of an open mike and an open Mike’s mouth. Still, what the gods giveth with one hand… 2010 saw a big Democratic majority and an opportunity to pass a budget with a mere 50%+1 of the Legislature. Total irrelevance for an OC Republican, right?

Well, maybe not. For those sly gods also finally presented Norby with an opportunity to be a Capitol player via a monstrous budget deficit and a Democratic governor who actually seems sincere in willing to dismantle Redevelopment – as well as to divert special taxes away from make-work, feel-good programs like the First Five scam.

Chris who?

Governor Brown will have to fight the entrenched Redevelopment lobby that has tentacles wrapped around members of both parties, and a budget proposal that goes after it may well need to be supported by Republicans, too. And when it comes to pulling the plug on Redevelopment nobody has a better record than Norby. A Brown-Norby alliance? Relevance at last? Who knows?

Better late than never.

23 Replies to “The Sudden Relevance of Chris Norby?”

  1. Sadly, if redevelopment is dismantled it will only be to preserve the elaborate salaries and pensions of the public employee unions.

    Oh well, you can’t always get what you want.

    1. Yes it would only be a diversion. Still, when we have different useless agencies and programs competing for the same resources we’re bound to have a happy (happier) ending.

      Brown is said to be terminating the Secretary of Education, a job so useless Richard Riordan did it for Boobinator. Also he’s got his eye on that big pile o’ cash the First Five Empire is sitting on. Any diversion of that is bound to have a beneficial effect on the state.

  2. True that jag. Is it possible that wisdom could divide and conquer foolishness? If we can start the clock ticking on the death of redevelopment, I am inclined to believe that is a good thing.

  3. To my neighbor, the Desert Rat, I would suggest that all that the Governor needs to do is to educate the public about how RDA diverts property taxes, and the reform will come very quickly. The only reason why Article XVI increment-financing has survived as long as it has, it because the average voter has not understood the issue. My father before he died used to have a slogan: “The way to break a union is to publicize its members’ wages.” It’s a similar thing here: publicize the “money trail,” and the outrage and reform will follow.

    NOW. I want to talk about the other Norby-Cassandra who is never talked about: Erik Norby. Erik, a lawyer, worked for awhile as a staffer in the California State Senate. He knew and knows every sentence and clause in the California Constitution, and really knows the essentials of the Government Code. And what he tried to preach during the Great Orange County Bankruptcy of 1994 was this: California’s laws prohibit any governmental entity — whether it be the State Legislature or the local library district — from contracting in a manner that fiscally constrains a budgeting governmental body beyond the current fiscal year. In order to obligate government to pay beyond the current fiscal year, it is necessary to pass a bond. So when you hear about the problems of “unfunded pension liability” and current fiscal obligations to pay for that supposed liability (including post-retirement nonpension benefits, such as medical), one needs to ask whether or not there has been a violation of the basic governmental law against encumbering a government to pay beyond the current fiscal year. I believe that attention to this apparent violation will provide a “golden magic key” for fiscal reforms statewide. And I really don’t know where Chris Norby will come down on this issue. Perhaps the Legislature needs to pass some limited “enactatory” or “interpretive” measures, to make it more difficult for local governments to violate the spirit of our State’s Constitution. Because of the interconnectedness of funding for school districts and the state’s budget (= 50% for funding local public education), the resulting reforms at the local level will reduce the fiscal pressures at the state level.
    Does anyone else have thoughts about the issue of “illegal future spending mandates”??

  4. You’re presuming Norby’s smart enough to see an opportunity and do something about it. He’s not. He’s a rookie up there and he’ll get rolled.

    With his personal issues in the way (the wives, the booze), he can’t hold a cogent thought in his head. He’ll just blow it. Revisit this in a year, and nothing positive will have happened.

    1. Unfortunately you may be right.

      The history of blowing it is inescapable. But I’ll say this for Norby: there’s no way he’s a boozer. And I should know.

      1. Joe, haven’t you heard the story of his sleeping one off in front of the old Courthouse a few years ago? And if there’s any doubt about what that suggests, I’m a friend of Bill too.

        1. Naw, Norby just dozes off unpredictably and seems to have little sense of shame. Why would he sleep one off in front of the Courthouse? Jeezus, he had his own office across the street.

          1. Please stay on message here. The post is about whether Norby will successfully use an opportunity to do something constructive.

  5. from today’s edition , 8th January 2011, of the OC Register “Habitat built the first two homes on Valencia Drive in July 2007. After land opened up across the street, the nonprofit decided to expand its vision for Fullerton and build nine additional homes and a small park in multiple stages.
    Fullerton’s Redevelopment Agency donated the land for the 11 homes to Habitat as part of the city’s planned revitalization of the West Valencia Drive neighborhood. The city spent about $2.4 million to acquire the property, relocate residents and do other improvements before turning over the land, said Charles Kovac, the agency’s project manager.” So, the city of Fullerton takes our property taxes to buy land, relocate residents and then improve this land only to donate it to Habitat for Humanity to build eleven houses that house eleven low-income families. It cost the tax payers approximately $218,000 just to buy the land and kick the prior occupants off of it. Due to our Great Recession, there are more than eleven homes, in Fullerton, sitting vacant due to foreclosures or homeowners walking away from their underwater mortgages. wouldn’t it be more fiscally prudent and less damaging to the environment(new construction creates more pollution) to use the $2.4 million dollars to buy these existing homes and rent them at affordable cost to low-income families? Fullerton’s RDA turns the American dream of homeownership into a property tax guzzling monster hiding in warm fuzzy goodwill. Fullerton’s RDA’s collaboration with habitat for humanity doesn’t logically benefit our community. who really benefits from this odd endeavor?

    1. This brings back memories when a family on Yale Street was evicted from their home. They were the owners. They were kept jobless during the recession in 1994-95 their home was tagged unfit for occupancy. The home was demolished for profit on the land and the ability to have R2 property quickly turned into R3 and then back again. No one else in the neighborhood could build three units and rent them so why did the mayor? And how did he get that past the legal jargon and onto a project? I know a lawyer, who knows a lawyer, who knows a builder, who knows a clergyman, who has tenants. The tenants are poor and they need a place to reside and the State will help. And it will look good when the bench rotates etc. It was not good when the children had to go to relatives and live with them after being born in that home but the parents could not afford to renovate the home. The new tenants also impoverished, were allowed a different social economic second chance because politicians need voters to think they are on the up & up. However, as Washington D.C. sets the standards for redevelopment and community outreach. The real outreach would be to expose the perpetrator. Idea ! hire an anchor woman or man to interview the children of the homes being torn down. And then ask themselves why are we bringing in new people when we decide to play monopoly with these small person’s life’s. Chris Norby did try to help these people but his influences were working opposite his principles. He is very honorable but the seat was rotated in those days and you can not pin a label on him for trying. Bob Citron and his real property friends at the Santa Ana recording office proved how vulnerable the O.C. “Land Grab” was. Everyone sing along now “$$$$ this land is my land & this land is your land” & all the hoopla of posh politics deemed itself unworthy of selling a pencil to a writer. Only a year in the slammer for Mr. Citron, and a lifetime of worries for all the real estate persons who thought real property would buy a judges decision. LOL
      This is when the L.A. riots, O.J. trial, Cosby shooting, Reginal Denny was bricked, Rodney King Beating took place. This was back seat news to the press for many months.
      Mr. Norby is not a chronic drinker. He might surprise you if you get to know him. He has to deal with a great amount of dishonesty in his arena. It’s not in his character to purposely relocate people who will not comply with city ordinances.

  6. I’m adding another burning question? Who were the residents relocated? were they low income tenants in apartments, or low-income homeowners or people who owned property that wasn’t selling in this current economic downturn and collaborated with RDA and habitat for Humanity to make a good profit from selling their property to the RDA?

    1. All good, unanswerable questions. Unanwerable because the answers would be so goddam embarrassing.

      Of course nobody on the City Council would even bother asking. Wasting money like a drunken sailor is man-dated! It’s the law!

    2. Van, the residents were very-low-income families and were given a couple thousand bucks per head to move “someplace else”. Some of them thought they had won the lottery. Others knew it was about cleaning them out of the barrio.

      The sad part is that dozens of people lost their shelter, some lost their livelihood, and taxpayers got fucked in the end. You can thank the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency and their leaders, our City Council, for pain and suffering.

  7. I would like to say their names, they had the second home from Chapman street on the right from the corner of Yale facing East. It used to have an early Spanish stucco appearance. The two parents residing in their home with two children had inherited it. So it was third generation owned. The children were a boy and girl blond freckle faced and they used to play w/ Alex, Charlotte’s and Chris’s son. I had many children in my home and Alex was learning to play the piano at my home. Only out of the mouths of children, Alex said he really could only play at my house. I asked why he said, because those children were “too filthy, his mommy’s words” he said that’s ok she said it in front of them. After nearly 20 years of residing directly behind Mr. Norby, I got in the way of his political career as far as Ms. Norby thought and she took care of the situation. I had tenants directly banking his garage where he had students from Brea O’Linda help make the signs for his campaigns. He always kept calm. But his wife was said to have been attending West Law in those days & she needed an extra boost, so the tenants of Jenni Woods used to say they partied with her. They were 17 & 18 years old with a newborn. Their names were Rene and her husband Jeff. Jeff was a roofer who worked for Chris Norby he found him jobs roofing. He knew City Colleges house structure & framing teacher Casey Mansfield. Casey Mansfield and Deborah Beasley, husband and wife were my classmates at Nordhoff High in Ojai. “It’s a small world.” Chris always found inexpensive ways to build the community. On the other hand his wife found ways to extract community members if they knew too much. Isn’t that considered acceptable behavior in the Clinton administration, Via The Clinton Chronicles. Alex said his father was in Washington D.C. during this time. And Al Gore was visiting the Hsi Lai Temple Hacienda Heights. Inventing programs to help the community. There is never growth without pain. A friend,”Jim Nokes” left one book titled “the boomerang effect,” Another book was given from Mike Woods to us on the Art of War during this time. They were allowing an intervention to remove me from Orange County and move me to Ojai’s Sulphur Mtn where my parents resided for 13 years. They did not gracefully ask me. I’m just lucky I guess after that Beijing cocktail I have my mind back. but not so clear these days as before, but at least I’m alive. “watch the Clinton Chronicles” A rancher in Ojai brought it to my parents home, but I fell to sleep before the second person in his administration supposedly committed suicide. Then another rancher warned me again in Gaviota’s ranch land areas so that I would know what happened. It is not good to know very much about where the money is spent and who steals from business’s. However we inherit problems when we as fourth generation Americans tend to think that mingling with foreign affairs is safe. My advice to you is don’t pick on the Norby’s. When we were children in our sandbox’s he would have been the one who threw sand in your eyes and taken your Tonka Truck! So be careful

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