The Processionaries

After seeing a video of caterpillars connected head to toe endlessly walking in a circle I was compelled to see why they would behave like that. It turns out these were processionary caterpillars. offered up the following:

“Jean Henri Fabre wondered what would happen if processionary caterpillars somehow got stuck without a leader. He constructed an experiment where he got a line of caterpillars to go around the rim of a flowerpot and as soon as they filled the rim, he knocked the extras off. Voila. Caterpillars walking in a circle without a leader. He put some food nearby.

The caterpillars walked around that flowerpot without stopping for 6 days until finally some of them died from either exhaustion or starvation. That broke the circle allowing for a new leader and a new direction.

What a powerful metaphor for addiction — where we go ’till we can’t go any more.

And for recovery — where we follow a new leader to get out of the circle.”


That left me wondering if Fullerton PD would ever recover from their addiction to power and the ensuing abuse with their old “new” leader, Danny Hughes. Are we and the FPD doomed to endlessly walk in a circle? Can this cycle ever be broken and how?

On the Agenda – December 20, 2011

Hang on to your common sense- you may need to share some at the upcoming City Council meeting.

Here is a brief look at what the City will be looking at on Tuesday’s agenda.

Rusty Kennedy will be there to justify his job as the head of OC Human Relations plus there will be presentations to the Boys & Girls Club and CalGRIP.

In Closed Session the Council will be discussing various pending litigations, police/fire management labor negotiations, and the condemnation of 201 East Bastanchury for the widening of Bastanchury.

The consent calendar is full of baffling buffoonery.

Item 2 looks to give City Manager Joe Felz a contract and full salary of $212,000 per year.  He gets lots of perks as well like a one year severance, City-owned car, no benchmarks for success, and future raises tied to the raises of his subordinates.  That’s just goofy, not to mention poorly timed.

Item 3 is the Group Insurance Program contract renewal.  The premiums, as expected, are going up but staff wants you to think this is ok because they aren’t going up as much as they thought they would which looks on paper like savings.  The City should do like most employers and place a cap on the employer contribution in the form of a fixed dollar amount, not a percentage.  For Pete’s sake, isn’t there one person in City Hall who gives a rat’s ass about the taxpayers?

Item 4 is ends a special tax in Amerige Heights but then in item 14, the City looks to impose another tax on Amerige Heights.  The City just loves to tax.

Item 5 will cause most eyes to glaze over.  The Measure M2 Expenditure Report tries to show where the money went -or more aptly stated- where it didn’t go.

Item 6 is a request from the City to the Orange County Transportation Authority.  City staff would like to enclose the Brea Creek Channel in front of Hillcrest Park and create an additional northbound lane on Harbor Blvd from Berkley to Brea Blvd.   The total cost is estimated at $2,850,060.

Item 7 is a contract award for elevator design for the pedestrian overpass at the Transportation Center.

Item 8: The City will accept a 26 year old offer of dedication for right-of-way along State College at the BNSF railroad crossing and grade separation.

Item 9 is an approval to build room additions at the Airport.  On a side note, why do they always go low-bid?  The lowest bidder is often lowest because they do not understand what is involved and how to deliver the quality needed.

Next up, item 10 is a service agreement for the Richman sewer replacement from Commonwealth to Fullerton Creek and then to Woods Avenue.  The design and preparation of plans is estimated to cost $132,869.

A slew of parking restrictions fall under items 11 through 13.  They include no parking on Arroyo, 20-minute parking on Euclid, and early morning restrictions along Wilshire Avenue.

As previously mentioned, item 14 is a Mello-Roos tax in Amerige Heights. Expect Councilman Bruce Whitaker to vote NO!

Amerige Court is back with another amendment to the development agreement on item 15.  This will give the developer another 2 years to get their act together.  Thank the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency.

Item 16 is the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Fullerton (a.k.a. YOU) and the Fullerton Management Association (a.k.a. middle management and upper management).  They get the same basic package as the other employees: reinstated pay, 7% contribution to their pension, and lots of holidays off.

Item 17 is the resolution that gives department heads the same basic package as the other employees: reinstated pay, 7% contribution to their pension, and lots of holidays off.

Item 18 seeks to merge Engineering and Maintenance Services which will save about $300,000.  This will formalize Engineering Director Don Hoppe’s promotion to Public Works Director.  Considering what Hoppe has done with our roads, one can only hope we aren’t being penny wise and pound foolish.

Item 19 is an overhaul of West Fullerton.  It scraps old bus benches and targets vandalism and lighting.  These issues have been brought up more than a few times at community meetings.

Item 20 is a request for federal funding for affordable housing and City-administered welfare programs.  Among those receiving money, Code Enforcement (a.k.a. Community Preservation) looks to receive $337,500.  A relatively small amount, $150,600, will go to cover “public service activities” like Nutrition Services Program ($5,000), Boys and Girls Club After School Program and the Club’s Youth Gang Prevention ($44,000), Long Term Care Ombudsman Service ($17,200), Fullerton Fair Housing Services ($20,000), New Vista Shelter Life Skills Training ($9,600), Meals on Wheels home delivery ($30,800), Cold Weather Armory Shelter ($8,000), Women’s Transitional Living Center Shelter Program ($8,000), and the YMCA’s Richman Center Youth Achievers ($8,000).

On the Agenda – October 4, 2011

View the entire agenda.

Item 2 of the Consent Calendar should upset your applecart. The item is for the City to receive grant funding to solve cold cases. Sounds good, right? Here is the bitter sweet pill the Council will shove down our throats tomorrow.

The grant will fund 2-3 part-time reserve officers to look into these cases. According to Police Spokes-hole Andy Goodbar, normal reserves aren’t getting paid and haven’t for more than a year due to lack of funds. This grant will allow 2-3 reserves to earn $22 per hour. “Not on my dime, so it’s ok” you might say. No, these aren’t your typical reserves. These will be RETIRED POLICE OFFICERS with their big FAT pensions earning an extra $22 per hour to solve cases they couldn’t solve when they were on duty. (Maybe after Bankhead and McKinley get recalled, they can go back to work as reserves). Remember, these same retired cops are already making 90% of their last year’s salary. Now they want another $22 an hour to finish what they couldn’t do before. I think they should do it without any additional pay.

Item 4 will take long-time City Attorney consultants Jones-Mayer off the police misconduct and civil rights cases. At $200 per hour, I bet we get exactly what we pay for with Lewis Brisois Bisgaard and Smith defending the City’s use of force policy and criminal actions of several police officers while on-duty.

And whatever the esquires at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard and Smith can’t figure out, I’m sure the cats at Carpenter Rothans and Dumont can. Item 5 is an agreement with the firm for more legal services. Good Lord we must be subsidizing half the firms in Orange County ! These legal hounds will cost us $175 an hour. I guess they’ll have to make it up in volume.

Item 6 will bring us closer to Vegas! This is the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a Fullerton to Las Vegas train line. If we make it cheap and easy for college students to hop a train to Vegas, do they take our Vegas-style problems (and money) with them? High-Speed Rail to San Francisco was a stupid idea. This isn’t quite as stupid though there appears to be a lot of details yet to be discussed.

Item 7 seeks to place adult businesses closer to churches. The municipal code says in short that adult businesses cannot be permitted within 750 feet of a church. Staff would like to strike “churches” from the current law. The code also says these businesses must be 750 feet away from school, parks, playgrounds, day care facilities, etc. Those who attend churches also know that many have their own day care and schools with play grounds. The Planning Commission took up this issue last week and voted to leave the law alone.

Item 8 is an official apology and acknowledgment by the Police Department for raiding the wrong house. You might recall when the FPD burst through the back door of a reverend’s home during a drug raid on the wrong house. Nice one FPD! You can add that to the growing list for the F’dPD.

Item 9 is the Lemon Park/Maple Center improvements. After looking at the scope of improvements, I cannot imagine how spending $3-million on these two facilities will improve the community. There is also some creative bookkeeping going on- somebody call Levinson.

Item 10 will allow St. Mary’s to borrow the baseball field next door for their annual carnival. Their usual location behind the Community Center is under construction.

Item 11 will open up one of the St. Jude parking structures for people using the Brea Dam Recreation area. It also calls for massive improvements in the area. Parking will cost $1 for the first half-hour and a maximum of $5 per day. The report says that it costs about $96,000 to operate and maintain the new structure and the revenue will go into a special account. Parking in this area will include the structure on the east side of St. Jude (behind hospital), the Tennis Center , Fullerton Community Nursery School , and the YMCA.

On The Agenda: September 20, 2011

As FFFF’s Grover Cleveland has pointed out, the City of Fullerton has no fewer than 7 pending or likely law suits pending – and that’s just what’s on the Agenda!

After the shock wears off, let’s look at the rest of tonight’s Agenda.

There are the usual meeting minutes and funding transfers. There’s an agreement between the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency and the City of Fullerton so that the City/RDA can pay the State so that the City can keep the RDA.

The price tag is staggering: $54,701,015!!! And this is in addition to paying off tens of millions in bond debt incurred thanks to Bankhead, Jones, and even McKinley. And this is “under the radar” in the Consent Calendar where we usually see minor routine action items. More often then not, however, this is where staff places big ticket items (like the City Manager’s FAT raise or this RDA agreement to pay blood money to the State.)

Oh but wait! It gets better. In the same agreement there is a schedule of payments to the tune of $58,383,657 to cover RDA administrative costs!

And almost as an after thought, the agreement schedules “housing administration annual costs” which will total $16,234,607!


On the Agenda – January 4, 2011

Happy New Year Friends!

We have a council meeting this Tuesday at 4:00PM.  The agenda is a little unusual for a few reasons.  First, there aren’t millions of taxpayer dollars being squandered away!  Second, there are no minutes being approved!  Third, it’s a SHORT agenda!

Now that I have your attention, what’s in the agenda and how will it screw up (or possibly improve) our lives?

Item 1 of the consent calendar is the amendment of the St. Jude Medical Center Specific Plan.  After reading it and seeing the changes, I think it’s a pretty good plan.

Items 2 and 3 are donations related to the Police Department.

Next, we move into regular business.  Item 4 is likely to upset more than one applecart.  It seems the Orange County Flyers are looking to move into the pony stadium at Amerige Park , also known as Duane Winters Field.  The team has struggled to draw a crowd but some of the blame can go to Cal State who charges patrons for parking during weeknight games.  Some patrons have complained that the concessions are equal to a major league event in price only.  The agreement states that the cost for any development plans are the Flyers’ alone.  That’s good since we wouldn’t want the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency to spend public funds on for-profit entertainment, now would we…

Item 5 might place pianos all over town, much like the sheep and hearts that have shown up over the years.

Item 6 amends the municipal code so that the council can appoint replacement council members in the event a member resigns before completing their term.  As you may recall, a few members were dumbfounded by the process and needed significant hand-holding.

The next meeting, scheduled for January 18, 2011, has a full agenda.

  • Public Hearing – PPI’s – cont. from Sept. 21
  • Direct Appointments to Commissions/Committees
  • Presentation – Progress Report by OCTA on SR 57 Widening
  • Amend Public Nuisances Ordinance
  • Revenue/Fee Recap
  • Draft RFQ – Downtown Core & Corridor Specific Plan
  • Presentation – Future Farmers of America
  • TCC Recommendation – Euclid Street – NSA and Loading/Unloading
  • TCC Recommendation – Acacia Ave – NSA & 1 Hour Parking
  • TCC Recommendation – Williamson Ave – 30 Minute Parking
  • TCC Recommendation – Brookdale at Ford/Jacaranda/Ford – 2 Way Stop Control
  • Federal Appropriations Projects (Let’s blow tax dollars from out of state because we done blew through our constituents’!)
  • Closed Session – Labor Negotiations
  • Amendment to Coop. Agree. – OCFA – FTC Parking Structure
  • Fox Theatre – Operation/Maintenance Expenditures
  • Outdoor Dining & Public Right of Way Encroachments – Cont. from 12-21-10
  • Minutes – December 21, 2010 and January 4, 2011
  • Korean/American Festival Update
  • Closed Session – Property Negotiations – Muckenthaler (more bailouts)
  • Fullerton Police Officers’ Association Donation to Explorers

And for February 1, 2011:

  • Advisory Bodies Representation
  • Richman Athletic Field Improvements
  • Resident Permit Parking – 600 Block East Princeton , Almira Ave , Sycamore Ave , Melody Ave
  • Public Hearing – FTC Cost Recovery Fee (Cost Recovery, also known as Justification for Higher Taxes)
  • Mid Year Budget Report (we’re broke)
  • Fullerton Golf Course Irrigation Project

On the Agenda – November 16, 2010

Once again we have a City Council Agenda loaded with waste and stupidity.

The November 16, 2010 agenda starts off with a dear friend of ours, Milton A. Gordon.  You may remember him from a recent post by Greg Sebourn – or from Daily Titan, where he caught grief from one of his current students and junior reporters, Ally Bordas.  Well, he’s back and this time he is slated as Item 1 of the agenda.  I’m sure he’ll be handing out some do-gooder award or similar…And we’ll be paying the staff to sit and endure the waste!  Just remember, we pay him $302,000 to live in a mansion RENT FREE and hand out awards at City Council meetings.

Item 2 of the presentations is none other than our other old friends, Rusty Kennedy who will be giving the OC Human Relations Annual Report.  I just can’t wait to hear it…

Moving on t o the consent calendar, let’s see what mischief the council would like to sneak in:

Insurance contracts are up and it looks like Blue Cross, CaliforniaCare, Kaiser, Delta Dental, Vision Services Plan, and CIGNA all win with staff approval.  I knew I should have bought a few shares!

Item 3 is the water rate study at a cost of $67,500.  How many gallons of water will consumers need to purchase to cover the cost?

There is a NO PARKING ban for a portion of Valencia Mesa Drive just west of Harbor Boulevard.  Read more under Item 4.

An update on the building and fire codes is worth looking at.  I would be willing to bet more than a few of these changes will come back to bite taxpayers.  The changes include a green building code and energy code.

Item 6 is an appointment by the Council of the Fire Marshal and an alternate to the Orange County-City Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Authority (OCCHMERA). The City of Fullerton is a subscriber to the Authority since we do not have our own Haz-Mat team.

More NO PARKING/NO STOPPING is slated for Casa Blanca Drive between Fern and Barris during school hours as Item 8.

Item 9 is an amendment to the agreement between the City of Fullerton and the Fullerton Museum Association.  In the end, it looks like the Museum Association gives up their “profits” from the gift store and membership from 10% to 25%.

Item 10 is another Fullerton Redevelopment Agency boondoggle in the making.  In the back-up documents for this action item you find that the City “purchased” 34 parcels (each with multiple units for low- and very low-income residents) that are being demolished and replaced with 34 moderate-income homes.  How does this help the City of Fullerton with the alleged deficiency in low-income housing?  It doesn’t.  Unfortunately, you voted for more of the same on November 2nd.

Item 11 is a real gem.  It is titled “REALLOCATION OF PROCEEDS FROM 2005 TAX ALLOCATION REVENUE BONDS”.  It sounds harmless enough; much like pulling money from a savings account to cover a checking account.  Ah, but it’s so much more.  It is a huge shell game of millions of dollars to hide the fact that we borrowed against certain funds to cover certain pet projects.  Unfortunately, it just shows more mismanagement of tax dollars.  Read it carefully and keep one of those airplane bags handy when you read the fine print.

And that was just the consent calendar!  Now we get into some really good stuff.

Item 12 proposes Council raise parking fines by as much as $3.50 to cover two issues:

  1. SB857 which is a $3 per citation “fee” for the State
  2. and $0.50 because many of the City’s fines are listed to the nearest HALF dollar.  Why is that a problem?  It seems that the State doesn’t want to mess with $0.50 increments.

So, here we are raising fines because your legislators raised taxes disguised as fees.

Item 13 is the University Heights Development Project wherein the State was supposed to pay the City certain development fees upon the sale of those really nice homes. However, the State decided to lease instead of sell them.  Now, we are stuck not getting paid.  The State, being the generous body that it is, has proposed making payments.  I suggest Council reject the plan (just check the State’s credit!) and order the fees paid immediately – just like they would with any other developer!  The total amount being negotiated:  $407,202.60!

Let’s look at this in a different light.  Taxpayers funded the development so that public employees could get a better deal on a house than non-university employees.  Then, when no one wanted to buy them, they come back to the taxpayers and ask us to float the debt a little longer.  What a stupid system we have created.

And finally, not last nor least, is the Fullerton Municipal Golf Course under Item 14.  Council will be considering a fresh new agreement with American Golf Corporation, the managing company for the golf course, as part of the “Recovery Zone Economic Development Bond” which spends $2,200,000 on new irrigation.  The back-up documents indicate that staff thinks “revenue” will increase 200% next year.  I’m not sure what they were smoking when the put that thought on paper but Prop 19 didn’t pass. What bothers me about this project is that the agreement should spell out maintenance AND operations for American Golf Corporation.  They should collect enough in green fees to cover the irrigation and upkeep of the course.  If they aren’t then I suppose they are on par with our council who enjoy passing bonds under the lie of low-income housing only to replace it with moderate income housing.  But, you voted for more of the same…

As always, if I missed something important so let me know.  If you have anything constructive to add, please do so.

It’s Your Choice

Here’s a repeat of a post we ran late last year, a public service announcement, you might call it. See, Fullerton’s jurassic councilman, Don Bankhead is running for for yet another interminable term in office. He’s already been sitting there for 22 years, but apparently that’s just not enough for the good old boy.  Well, watch this dismal performance and see if you think this is someone you believe ought to be making million dollar decisions on your behalf.

– The Desert Rat

If anyone watched the council meeting to the bitter end, which I just did, you would see an incredible meltdown by the good ol’ boys club.

This clip begins the discussion on the appointment of the member at larger for all commissions. Mr. Mayor says he wants to be in charge of the interviews and Nelson corrects him. Bankhead repeatedly interjects “Mayor” into the new ordinance while Nelson repeatedly tells the Mayor that the word “Mayor” is not included in the ordinance. Then Bankhead starts laughing at Nelson and ranting that its the way they done it for time in memoriam and it works. Then the good Dr. Jones steps in it. The City Attorney tries to save the meltdown but he nor Nelson could keep Bankhead and Dr. Jones in check. Bankhead with his maniacal giggling, chuckling and Jones rambling on about God only knows what… Glad they saved the best for last.

Oh yeah, and a little nugget after the meltdown…Keller wants to hold a study session for right-of-way encroachments to deal with issues on the trails and bike paths.

Fullerton Fire Chief Rescues Entire City

When you think things can’t get any screwier at City Hall, look out! According to this story in the Voice of OC, the Fullerton Fire Department will save Brea taxpayers about $220,000 per year by sharing a battalion chief position that is now vacant.

Who would have guessed that Fullerton would come to the rescue of Brea , especially considering our serious budget problems and the deep cuts felt by many? Apparently, Fullerton Fire Chief Wolfgang Knabe must be feeling some brotherhood kindred spirit howling from the mall next door and has taken it upon himself to experiment at Fullerton ’s taxpayer’s expense. According to Knabe, maybe it will work and everyone will save money, or maybe it won’t and we all lose. Makes you feel good, doesn’t it!

Maintain radio silence

In all fairness, let’s hear him out and see what our City Council had to say about Knabe’s plan… (deafening silence) It would appear our own City Council didn’t know we were bailing out the City of Brea and their Fire Department. In fact, no one except a couple of Fire Chiefs seems to know anything about this experiment.

According to the Voice, we will be sharing a battalion chief which will help both cities fill their respective vacancies with the same person who can be in two places at once. Neat trick; I’d like to see it though.

I hear sirens coming and they sound like the Orange County Fire Authority! Ok, here is a trick question for you. Brea citizens and the Brea Fire Department staff wanted to have the department “disbanded”, as the Voice calls it, and have the OCFA take over. Why? Sure the taxpayers save money, but what’s in it for the would-be disbanded employees?

A Masterpiece of Brevity and Focus

The Grand Jury has reported on the OCTA’s budget mess and their deficiency in Bus service.  Here is how the report begins:

The mission statement of the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) is a masterpiece of brevity and focus:

“Our mission is to enhance the quality of life in Orange County by delivering safer, faster, and more efficient transportation solutions.”

The report identifies how the OCTA had the right idea when it cut bus services and raised fares by calling the action prudent.  Then later the report notes that the rise in fares had negative effect on the ridership.  Ergo, we must lower bus fares but only after full state funding is restored.

The report also calls into question competing priorities with the federal handout of $2.25 billion for high-speed rail and the $143 million set aside for the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, which the City of Anaheim is not contributing to.  The Grand Jury points out that OCTA needs to review its priorities with these funds.  The Grand Jury says that the “governmental relations committee of the OCTA Board should urge Orange County ’s congressional delegation to lobby for legisla­tive modification of the $2.25 billion.”

The final recommendation by the Grand Jury is for OC’s political and transportation leaders to hold a series of public meetings, the goal of which would be aimed at creating a countywide transit agency that will have sufficient au­thority and funding to overcome parochial­ism in developing a modern transit system.

I love this gem from the report:

One member of the transit agency’s board char­acterized the economic impact this way: “The busi­nesses and industries in Orange County that depend on low-income workers would grind to a halt.”

It would appear that we taxpayers subsidize bus service (to the tune of more than 80% of the total cost) so that low-income earners can keep their low-income jobs which helps keep low-income employers staffed with low-cost employees…  Ergo, you and I subsidize burger stands, Walmarts, and rich people with nannies and maids.

Thanks OCTA!

On The Agenda – August 3rd, 2010

Get this!  The Fullerton City Council’s ONLY Regular Business for Tuesday’s meeting is…drum role please…to designate a voting representative and alternates for the League of Cities annual conference!! View the agenda.

That’s it, right?  No.  That is the only “Regular Business” item but I didn’t mention the Consent Calendar.

Item 4 of the Consent Calendar is a $2,705,000 bond for irrigation at the Fullerton Municipal Golf Course. You read that correctly; $2.7 million for golf course sprinklers! Apparently “staff” has identified this as the most “shovel-ready” infrastructure project.

The background on this item is interesting for those following President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).  The Act includes provisions for bonds issued by agencies in designated “Recovery Zones” and Fullerton has been designated as one of those Recovery Zones or RZ.

The eligible uses for RZ Economic Development Bond proceeds according to the staff report include: 1) capital expenditures for the acquisition or development of property within a Recovery Zone by a public entity; 2) expenditures for public infrastructure and construction of public facilities; and 3) expenditures for job training and education programs.

This is when the veins on my neck begin to pulse and I run the risk of bursting a blood vessel!  Our Congress has given local agencies certain bonding authority to raise money to fix their infrastructure and our beloved City Hall staff decides to use this authority to grow our indebtedness and fix golf course sprinklers!

I may not be much of a golfer but I do know they charge as much as $35 per person to play.  If that isn’t enough to cover the cost, I suggest they charge more or get out of the golfing business altogether.

I hope our council has the wherewithal to vote NO on this but I doubt it.  It is spending like this that makes me want to run for city council.  But the race is already full of rich would-be spenders chomping at taxpayers’ checkbook with pen in hand.  How will Bankhead vote?  How would McKinley or Burbank vote?  Tomorrow we will get to see how Bankhead, with 22 years of experience on the council, will vote.  I am quite certain he will vote YES and waist $2.7 million watering the grass while ignoring our roads, sewers, water system, and sidewalks.

Oh but the grass will be green and a council member will get to go to the League of Cities Conference in September all on our dime.  Not a bad gig if you can get it.