The Scarcity of Public Information

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

As might have been predicted, someone made a Public Records Act request on October 12th for information regarding soils and environmental testing on the abandoned Union Pacific right-of-way, purchased by the City of Fullerton in the 1990s.

Why is this request germane to FFFF? Because the blog has speculated about contamination along the UP right-of-way, in view of previously discovered toxicity that closed the UP Park and because it is known by the EPA, the Orange County Water District, and the City of Fullerton’s Engineering Department that the carcinogenic chemical trichloroethylene was discovered at 311 S. Highland Avenue, a heavy industrial property that lies along the proposed recreation trail on the UP right-of-way. It is also known that contamination is moving south and east from the aforementioned property.

Is it safe? Is it clean?

Needless to say, none of this information was given to the Fullerton City Council when they considered approving the State Natural Resources grant that would have paid for most of the trail construction.

Here is the request:

Well, that’s a pretty simple request. And, as you can see, the City claims that it has complied by issuing a “full release” of documents. Here’s what they released:

Enjoy yourself reviewing these documents on the City Clerk’s website page. It won’t take you long. Of the 6 files listed none has anything to do with soils or environmental testing. From this response, such as it is, we may reasonably infer that no testing was done, or if it was, the documentation is lost. In either case the proper response should have been “no relevant documents exist.” Instead City staff posted completely irrelevant and non-responsive documents onto their website. Was it just an effort to look responsive, somehow? Did they even care?

Don’t know, don’t care… (Photo by Julie Leopo/Voice of OC)

If we grant that the City’s functionaries are somewhat honest as they go about their business then we have no choice but to conclude that no soils or environmental testing have ever been preformed by the City or its agents along the right-of-way and that this has led to an egregious omission of information to a City Council being asked to spend $2,000,000 building a trail and no one knows how much securing and maintaining it.

45 Replies to “The Scarcity of Public Information”

  1. Good post. Thank you.

    Looks like the walls are closing in on Alice Loya & Co.

    Of course her last day of employment is in one week.

  2. I wonder how ANTBODY in City Hall could think that shit was responsive to the request. Garbage. Really garbage.

    Of course nobody cares. Local government hard at work.

  3. Mr. Fullerton Engineer, you have left out another possibility. THEY DID DO TESTING AND ARE HIDING THE REULTS.

  4. It’s possible that Jung and Dunlap and Whitaker will do something about this.

    But not very likely. They seem to be afraid of their own staff.

  5. I agree the records are not accurate – you can go directly to the CA Dept of Toxic Substances and US EPA and find that information. Looks like the new crew at city hall might not know how to look for that info which should also be in city records. This is same thing that happened years ago with the construction of Union Pacific Park – where city hired environmental company which did not test well. Later it was found by DTSC testing that the Manufactured Gas Plant (owned by then by Sempra SoCal Gas) had dumped toxins in the park area before it became a park along with lessor contaminants from other industries on the site – thus the dig and haul out of tons of contaminants and then the chain link fence. During that clean up they did test down the trail and you can check the results at the above websites.

    1. A “new crew” at city hall? And who would that be? They’re too stupid to to look into Alice Loya’s file. Let’s face it. You pals in city hall either never did it or they lost the records or they are hiding them.

      I love how the “old crew” hired somebody who didn’t “test well.” The City bought a piece of contaminated property without knowing what was on it. And farther down the Trail to Nowhere the problem isn’t Gas Co. soot. It’s a carcinogen called TCE. Who tested for that?

    2. Maybe everything is kosher as you so obviously wish. If so, let’s see the documents. If DTSC has them so does the City – that actually owns the property in question. It’s not the citizens’ job to go hunting for records who knows where, that are supposed to be produced under the PRA.

      Why don’t YOU produce them if you really want to give the poor, hapless “new crew” a helping hand?

    3. The new crew is incompetent and assuming the old crew is gone then we’re fucked, as usual. Just go away silly woman.

  6. “none of this information was given to the Fullerton City Council when they considered approving the State Natural Resources grant that would have paid for most of the trail construction.”

    Did council ask?

    “we have no choice but to conclude that no soils or environmental testing have ever been preformed by the City or its agents along the right-of-way”

    No, that does not follow, at all. Logic fail. A failure to respond adrquately to a public records request means that and nothing more without further evidence.

    Besides all that you still don’t have the scandal you’re desperate to conjure. The first document you’d want is the grant documents and confirm any statements whatsoever about environmental testing or status of the property. Nothing else matters without that.

    Though of course none of this matters with the projected turned down. No court would bother with it.

    1. 1. How can the council ask for something if they are unaware of the problem? That’s a typical dodge.
      2. Staff incompetence is the Sharon Kennedy excuse. If they didn’t have relevant documents they should have said so, per the PRA. They did not. There is no logic fail.
      3. I have the grant documents, as you will soon see.
      4. This is not about a “court bothering with it.” No one said anything about legal activity. You made that up. This is about a long history of municipal ineptitude regarding the Up Park and the right-of-way that is still going on.

      1. Perfect response. Just so you know, this individual is an apologist for any nonsense produced by City Hall bureaucrats and liberal politicians. He won’t make sense, either.

  7. 1. Circular reasoning lol. Dodge? No. You said the information was omitted but unless it was required or asked for at council it wasn’t omitted. The phrasing implies a problem but none was shown. I’m not saying there was or wasn’t a problem. I’m saying you haven’t shown it.

    2. Yes, logic tail. If staff failed it likely wasn’t even the same group or person. So you cannot reason from there to handling of environmental law. Logic fail. Government is lots of people just doing jobs. Good or bad or between but you can’t reason about it as if it’s a single person making decisions. It’s a “corporate body” as Peabody says. Which is no actual person.

    3. It makes no sense that you’re not starting with the grant documents. Well unless you want to keep failing to manufacture any point.

    4. If it’s not about proving some wrongdoing in any way that matters then what you’re doing doesn’t matter. Maybe you want to influence public opinion towards the next election to get an even stronger ideological tilt in your direction. You’d be better off doing real investigation and journalism that doesn’t come off as a radically biased fishing expedition.

    There’s a way to do this stuff, but you’re simply doing it wrong.

    City might have tested but didn’t give you the info. Either recently tested or long ago. City might not have needed to test or not needed to test yet. Lots of other reasons one could think of. And people should because you don’t want to let bias creep into rational decision making.

    Keep fishing. But there are reasons journalists keep their cards close until they have the full picture. You could take a lesson.

    1. “Government is lots of people just doing jobs.” A more accurate statement would be “Government is lots of people frequently failing to do their jobs well.”

      JRH — always the apologist opening the escape hatch for incompetent bureaucrats to avoid accountability.

    2. If they didn’t give him the “info” then they are in violation of the Public Records Act. If they did it by mistake they are incompetent. If the did it on purpose they are hiding something.

      If they did not have the “info” then they gave the wrong response and are in violation of the Public Records act.

      Pick your option. Your pal Sharon Kennedy went with incompetent.

        1. This series will bore, alright. Like a drill bit.

          Your friends in City Hall got caught lying to the State on the Trail to Nowhere grant application.

          That grant money may go toward opening UP Park, but your beloved Trail to Nowhere is dead as Julius Caesar.

          1. I don’t know why you think anyone should care about things you’re not actually showing proof of.

            When you claim something of significance as a fact you should be ready to back it up, right then. Else, keep your hole shut.

            That is how grown-ups discuss controversial things.

  8. @Julius Caesar (since your comment cannot be replied to for some reason)

    Again, no… you don’t get it.

    The class 1 bicycle trail is still part of the bicycle master plan, regardless of your opposition. It is not dead, which I guess is your current fear.

    In no way is it a “trail to nowhere.” To say that is to show you have no understanding.

    Bicycle routes, like roads are useful on their own by getting to you between the two endpoints and all points between. As far as I understand our universe… in reality… (as opposed to your politically driven framing (a lie)) all those points actually exist. None of them are “nowhere” by any definition of the word I know.

    But really what you don’t get is that bicycle routes, like all roads, form a NETWORK. They connect together and their utility is about all the points you can get to by traveling the network which is of course much more than the utility of any given leg.

    But the proposed trail only goes between a currently closed park and Independence Park.

    The first thing to get is that that is false. It also goes every place between along the route.

    The second thing to get is that UP Park is intended to be opened eventually.

    The third thing to get is that the bike plan is being done over time as funds and maintenance opportunities become available.

    But to build the network with significant utility, you have to build the parts of the network that by virtue of their being a proper subset of a network will of course have less utility.

    That’s why failing to build this trail when funds are available is such a massive failure and demonstration of either incompetence or corruption. We’re getting nowhere on improving the bicycle network even as outside funds matching our plan were acquired.

    Stick to the fucking plan or make a new fucking plan. Otherwise “Nowhere” is the only place we’re going to on the network.

    I thought you guys were supposed to be for Fullerton’s future?

    1. The Trail to Nowhere. That really irritates you and your intellectual kinfolks, doesn’t it? At least it’s dead.

      The truth hurts.

      And now another truth: your stupid bike plan was devised with no sense of reality. The City will not acquire further right of way from BNSF and even if it did there is no way to get over the mainline tracks AND the grade separation at Commonwealth except by an ADA compliant bridge – 2 elevators, and 30′ clearance. Oh, you say you want ramps for your bike? 600 feet on either end for a 5% workable grade for people in shape. Now we’re talking ten million or more – IF the railroad let’s you do it at all.

      1. Skansia at the Observer is in high dudgeon, too. Her only response is to keep repeating all the lies about TTTN.

      2. You continue to miss the point. Whether you like it or not, or whether you agree on feasibility the point is the bike plan is THE PLAN, duly passed into law unless/until it is changed. And of course no one is arguing the UP trail was infeasible. Just that you don’t like it, and so continue to frame it with a lie about “nowhere.” If certain legs of the plan might be expensive, the recent case is the answer to that: the money may become available from outside parties as it did in this case. So you can’t really say it’s impossible to acquire more right of way or that the civil engineering is impossible. It’s all a matter of funds which can become available.

        Anyway, the city departments rightfully conduct their actions based on what elected government decides as it did in this case in procuring the grant.

        Council majority on the UP Trail claimed publicly to need a wider plan when one already exists, and they deviated from that plan at the last moment, wasting months or years of planning without even a nod to the fact that there was already an extant plan and that they were deviating from. That was confusion or deceit. That is, they didn’t know it was the plan, or they were obscuring the facts.

        You can’t make progress when you constantly change direction on long projects like improving Fullerton’s bicycling network. The incompetence is right on display, but FFFF celebrates it. Given the libertarian, anti-government ideology, it all makes perfect sense. If you cannot get rid of government you prefer it to be gridlocked and incompetent.

          1. Bullshit. Regardless of your feelings it is the official plan. I’d be happy to see improvements to the plan. But the current status quo is to incompetently pretend there isn’t even a plan.

            That’s pretty fucked up.

            1. Sorry, but you obviously haven’t admired the bike plan carefully enough.

              A bad plan is worse than no plan. Except to the brainwashed.

              1. “A bad plan is worse than no plan.”

                I don’t agree that it’s a bad plan. It proposes multiple class 1 bike trails without taking any away, all winning.

                Progress in public policy often means taking half a loaf knowing there were will be opportunities in the future to come back for the rest.

                Could the bike plan be better? Sure. So what. It’s better than nothing. But completely ignored, it becomes nothing, which is the failure to govern on display, that you are choosing to celebrate.

      1. Just for emphasis. You’ll recover. Roll out the fainting couch and get some pearls to clutch, Sparky.

        My clear and cogent arguments are there, you just choose to ignore them because you have no counter. Or possibly you don’t understand, because your comprehension is low. If you could find any fault with the argument you would have, but you didn’t.

        Capitulation accepted.

        1. Too full of himself I think. Blinded by the dark side he is. In suffering JRH’s path ends.

          Smaller in number are we, but larger in mind!

  9. John R. Hogerhuis believes that hiring police who beat homeless people to death is sound policy and they’re “just doing jobs”.

    1. Gee Kelly, How is your dad doing funding all of those homeless programs? or is he with OJ looking for the real killers???

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