On the Agenda – July 6th, 2010

Happy 4th of July!  Coming off of a nice three-day weekend for city staff we are faced with a council meeting tonight wherein we can expect to see our millions of tax dollars senselessly squandered away. View the agenda.

If you haven’t seen the agenda, please do.  We start off with the usual property negotiations to gobble up more low-income housing so we can give it away to a private developer.

In open session we have the consent calendar which no sane person would actually consent to – but we already knew that.

Item 2 is the Public Works 7-year Capital Improvement Program wherein PW Director Hoppe concocts a way to spread some money over all of the broken infrastructure.  Doing so shows the Feds that we mean well but have no money.  The truth is if we wanted to, we could fix a few serious issues now and delay some of the more minor ones.  But we won’t.  We will wait and watch more roads crumble, precious water resources bubble up from broken water mains, and our sidewalks lifted up by city trees.  Worth noting is that the Harbor Boulevard slope failure that has been threatening pedestrians and motorists for more than a year has been pushed back until FY2012-13.  Oh well; what do you expect?  The 7-Year CIP covers $70,874,000 of tax dollars.

Item 3 is a wireless carrier lease for the Euclid Tank Farm for $1,577 per mo with 4% increase each year.


On the Agenda – June 15th, 2010

With the Primary Election over and candidates licking their wounds we jump into Tuesday’s Council Meeting to see what STAFF has in store for our elected representatives. View the full agenda

In closed session there appears to be some labor negotiations going on. First is a discussion regarding Chris Meyer’s position which I hear will be vacated soon. Second, Fullerton Municipal Employees Federation (FMEF) is meeting with Council to determine what they will meet and discuss in the future regarding lay-offs. At least that is what the agenda says. Actually, it says, “Discuss meet-and-confer topics related to layoffs”. Amazing! A meeting to talk about a future meeting! That’s government bureaucracy and waste for you. Why can’t these be public? I don’t think they are talking about a specific person or maybe they are. Either way, I would like to see just how spineless the council can be when it comes to the public employee unions.

There is a plethora of presentations planned which will probably draw the usual hapless attempts at wit from our mayor and perhaps Texas colloquialism which won’t make sense to anyone but the person saying it.


On The Agenda – June 1st, 2010

There are three (3) items on tonight’s City Council agenda. They are: 1) the minutes from May 11 & 18 meetings; 2) November 2 call for municipal elections; and 3) the FY2010-2011 budget.

At first, I was relieved and thought I might be able to escape an exhaustive post. However, upon closer inspection I concluded that we must examine items 2 and 3 a bit closer.

Calling all candidates! Item 2, municipal election, includes language that supports putting term limits on the ballot for Fullerton voters to decide in November. The proposed text reads: “Shall an ordinance be adopted to enact term limits upon members of the Fullerton City Council, preventing any person who serves three (3) successive terms from serving again until an intervening period of four (4) years has elapsed?” Do we need term limits?

The rest of item 2 appears to be standard municipal election language. So who is running? We’ll have to wait and see. The normal deadline for candidates to file is August 6th and will cost you $1,267.00 if you want to have a candidate statement placed on the ballot. That fee alone squashes the hopes and dreams of many would-be candidates.

Moving forward to the expensive part of the agenda, item 3, we are presented with the proposed budget for fiscal year 2010-2011. I think a CPA or someone who likes playing with numbers will like details in the budget. There is some immaterial misinformation in the report signed by Julia James, but in James’ words the gist is this:

“The proposed revised budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year totals $184.4 million for the City and $54.1 million for the Redevelopment Agency, for a total proposed revised appropriations for all funds of $238.5 million. This total includes $58.5 million in capital projects in progress to be carried over. The General Operating Funds budget is not balanced, with a deficit of $3.2 million.”

So what will council cut to balance the budget? My guess is that Ol’ Doc Hee Haw and Bunkhead will vote to raise fees. Keller, not looking for re-election will go ahead with it. Quirk-Silva and Nelson will vote not to raise fees. Based on another post on FFFF, perhaps the city should stop subsidizing and start charging the Muckenthaler Cultural Center Foundation for their exclusive use of the property for weddings and private events.

Friends, there is so much right with Fullerton that these issues sometimes don’t get the attention they deserve. We are all able to live in our pleasant north OC bubble without regard for our civic duty. Unfortunately, if we keep letting the same few who got us into our current mess continue digging their bottomless money pits, things will never improve. And if you think things are going good now, imagine how good they could be if we each do our part to hold our elected official accountable. You can start doing your part June 8 at the polls and again November 2.

On The Agenda – May 18, 2010

I went to look at the agenda for the May 18th meeting and had trouble with the City’s website.  I was able to download the agenda but none of the supporting documents.  So I will attempt to give you a brief and general idea of what is going on.  This time I really could use your input in completing the picture. Here is the agenda.

Let’s start with the closed session where we find two major events to look at.  First, it looks like maybe the firefighters have come to some agreement with the City regarding cuts to their salaries.  We’ll have to see what happens.  Also, there are a number of properties that Land Czar Rob Zur Schmiede would love to get his hands on.  No doubt he looks to displace dozens of low-income families and replace them with low to moderate income families.  Then he and his agency will skim a little off the top of the newly assessed property tax value.  As a side note, Assemblyman Chris Norby issued his 6th Norby Notes email wherein he gives a very good overview of redevelopment agencies and their numerous significant failures.

The properties listed on the agenda include:

324, 401, 419, 425, 449, 455, 475 W. Valencia Drive, 512 S. Ford and 147 W. Santa Fe Avenues in Fullerton.

At this rate, the Land Czar will control all of Fullerton by 2020!  No one’s property is safe, not even your kids’ tree house!

Friends For Fullerton’s Future come in on the closed session at #4!  If you haven’t heard, FFFF, et al are suing the City of Fullerton.  Perhaps admin can give us some idea of what might be happening.  Perhaps an easy way for this suit to go away might be to elect some new council members who will put the reigns on the Land Czar and get the Redevelopment Agency under control.

Coming in at #5 is Chris Meyer.  The agenda just lists this as a personnel matter.  Is he taking a pay cut or what??  Maybe he has decided to retire and join that $100K pension club.  If he does, maybe we can talk him into taking a council member or two with him.

Next we move into the open session.  We have a couple of proclamations, one service award, and one presentation by the American Veterans Memorial Association.

After the fluff, you have an opportunity to address the council and tell them what you think.  It’s a good way to get your voice heard.  Don’t mind the members with their fingers in their ears whistling Dixie out their backsides; that’s normal.

This meeting’s consent calendar is pretty big with 11 items.  We have the obligatory minutes, end of period financial statement (March 31), capitol expenditure report (also as of March 31), and then a slue of construction projects.

Among them is the library remodel project with $4,142,377.25 this month and a total “Guaranteed Maximum Price” of $9,391,000.00.  We’ll see… There are 6 other construction jobs worth nearly $2,000,000.

Last on the consent calendar is approval of Final Map for Tract No. 17315.  The subdivision is in the Ford/West/Richman Avenues area.  Since the City’s website isn’t allowing us to look up the backup documents, I have nothing further to report on this.  My guess is this is one of the Land Czar’s projects.

Item 12 takes us out of the consent calendar and into a public hearing over Underground Utilities District No. 15.  Part of this is supposed to bury overhead lines on State College Boulevard from Kimberly Avenue to Santa Fe Avenue.

The only “regular business” is item 13, Fullerton Community Center Project review.  The agenda says this:

The Fullerton Community Center Project is one of two major projects currently being undertaken as part of the civic center area improvements. These projects include significant renovations and additions to the Fullerton Public Library and the construction of a multi-purpose Fullerton Community Center; parking and circulation improvements, and limited street improvements to Commonwealth Avenue.

Recommendation by the Parks and Recreation and Redevelopment and Economic Development Departments:

Approve the Community Center concept plan, and authorize staff and the Project Manager at Risk (PMAR) to proceed with design development and preparation of a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) based on the conceptual design.

Coming up on May 25 we have the public hearing on Coyote Hills.  Expect another crazy night heated opinions.  Outside City Hall I heard one man mutter “Why won’t they listen to us?  Why do they insist on doing this?” I assumed he was talking about the Coyote Hills development and how the City Council isn’t simply stopping this in its tracks.  Who knows, maybe on the 25th they will.  Remember, we have two seats up for re-election and possibly even a third seat if Nelson sweeps the June 8th Primary.

Also coming up on June 1st, you can expect to find these topics on the agenda.

• Public Hearing – Adopt Budget
• Call Election/Consolidate/Candidate Statements
• April Financials
• Presentation – SCE – State of the Utility
• Proclamation – Marlis Katherine Christianson Wigestrand
• Public Hearing – Towing Ordinance
• Insurance Program Report and Recommendations
• Closed Session – Existing Litigation – Lopez
• Public Hearing – Amend Title 15 – Personal Service Facility/Tattoo Parlors
• St. College Grade Separation Change Order
• Personnel Management Changes
• Draft Request for Interest for Downtown Core & Corridors Specific Plan

As always, please let me know if I missed something that you think is important, especially since I could not access the backup documents for the agenda items.

Coyote Hills Brouhaha; Tonight at 5:00

Tonight we have the first of a two-meeting public hearing at City Hall to discuss West Coyote Hills.  Actually, after reading tonight’s agenda, it looks like council just might clear the way for the bulldozers.  If you have something to say to the council members, tonight’s your chance, just show up early.

If Councilman Shawn Nelson wins the 4th Supervisorial District race, we will have three council seats to fill in November.  Tonight’s meeting could be the nail in the political coffin for some of council members no matter how they vote.  West Coyote Hills isn’t new to City Hall and it has been a hot-button issue for environmentalists and residents in La Habra and Fullerton for decades.  There are those who see an opportunity to generate desperately needed tax revenue while others see their open spaces shrinking and pollution growing.  Whichever side of the fence you are on, I think we can all agree that this has been one political football that has been fumbled for far too long.  There are pros and cons to this development just like any other.

The meeting is scheduled for 5PM in the council chambers (303 W. Commonwealth Ave.).  As I mentioned, it will be a full house, standing room only, so show up early to get your chance to either support or oppose the development.

On The Agenda – May 4th, 2010

Here we are in May and our spend-happy council is at it again.  The closed session has council discussing a law suit with their legal counsel over a law suit by Michael MacDonald.  They will also be talking about labor negotiations and who can negotiate what.

We start off the open session with a feel-good presentation by the Fullerton Sister City Association.

Moving onto the consent calendar we find a $750,000 repaving project of Brookhurst from Orangethorpe to the 91 FWY as item #2.  The bid came in from RJ Noble at $558,534.50 which leaves $191,465.50 left to cover city overhead and oversight.  That works out to be 25% of the total cost of the project to cover the city’s internal overhead.

Item #3 grabbed my attention with a few key buzz words.  The agenda has it as “RESOLUTION TO SUBMIT AN APPLICATION FOR GRANT FUNDS FOR THE SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES PLANNING GRANT AND INCENTIVES PROGRAM”.  Actually, the whole title is chockfull of buzzwords designed to elicit emotional responses.  Buzz words aside, Proposition 84 spells out the purpose of the grant and I cannot understand how it pertains to the Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan.  The California State Parks Department manages the program and describes Prop 84 as this: “On November 7, 2006, voters passed Proposition 84 by 53.9 percent.  The 5.4 billion dollar “Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006” (Safe Drinking Water Bond) is detailed in Sections 75001 through 75090 of the Public Resources Code.” The amount of the grant request is $1,000,000 but could range from $100,000 to $1,000,000.  Do you really think California voters planned on using these funds for Downtown Fullerton planning?  The text for Prop 84 can be found at http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/1008/files/prop_84_text.pdf

Item #4 addresses City Pointe, across Chapman Ave. from the Fox Block McDonald’s money pit, which would like to change their development agreement because one of the partners is selling out.  A brief inspection of the staff report only revealed that our Land Czar, Rob Zur Schmiede, is involved.  The report and supporting documentation looks more like a Wall Street advertisement.  Considering the lengths at which our Land Czar is selling this transfer in ownership, responsibility, and liability, I am concerned that there may be more than meets the eye.

The Parks and Recreation is bringing a policy change to council.  Item #5 the amendment of the memorial tree and bench policy.  The new policy will specifically help address requests from the family and friends of James Wernke and future memorial requests.  This should have been addressed by the Parks and Recreation Commission at the November 17, 2008 meeting.  Anyway, I look forward to seeing the Wernke memorial soon!

Next we jump into a public hearing before the council.  Item #6 is the 2010 five-year consolidated plan and 2010 one-year action plan.   We wouldn’t need to have this hearing but Ol’ Doc Hee Haw keeps grabbing at that Federal HUD money which has this string attached.  It’s not a bad idea to have a plan before you act but it seems Ol’ Doc (literally) and others (figuratively) are asleep at the meetings.  There are over 200 supporting pages to this single item.  How many council members will actually read all of them?  Maybe someone should ask them since it is a public hearing!  There is a lot of money being considered and loans that need to be repaid.  (See page 4 of the 221-page document)  Some of the money will to service providers of important services to the community (like Meals On Wheels) but shouldn’t the service providers be going after these grants without involving the City?

Item #7 is the first item of regular business.  This is the proposed revised budget for FY2010-2011.  The first sentence of the second paragraph of the proposed revised budget says it all: “The General Operating Funds budget is not balanced.”

There is also a lengthy PR/defense piece on tax increments and the Redevelopment Agency.  The statement also makes some broad assumptions about the financial lifecycles that occur in redevelopment districts.  City staffers imply that the Redevelopment Agency knows best how to generate tax revenue.  The staff report closes with the following: “In 2006, the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency merged its four project areas.  More recently, the Agency amended the Merged Fullerton Project Area to add 1,165acres. The amendment is currently in litigation.”

The City will still need to cut $3,260,000 from the $184,000,000 budget, if you believe everything you read.  Keep your eyes open for the June 1, 2010 meeting and public hearing.

Item #8 is the Memorandum of Agreement with the Fullerton Municipal Employees Federation.  Employees will take a 5% cut in pay.  Thanks!  I didn’t see a pension spike but I also didn’t read all 74 pages of the memo.

Item #9 is more of the same but addresses police and safety.  They are also taking a 5% cut in pay to which I say thanks!  The memo is 103 pages and I wasn’t able to get every page digested.  Please let us know if you find anything in it that we should be aware of.

Item #10 is the fire fighter’s bargaining memo.  Unfortunately, the firefighters didn’t want to take a cut in pay like the rest of the world so the fire chief concocted some way to cut shifts that would work out to about a 5% reduction.  The City said no thanks. Due to the impasse between the City and the FFA, they will be using mediation as the dispute resolution procedure.  I say thanks to the chief for trying and a big NO THANKS to the Fullerton Firefighter’s Association!

Look out for these exciting opportunities to see your tax dollars in action:

MAY 11, 2010 – Adjourned Regular Meeting – 5 pm

  • Public Hearing – Coyote Hills

MAY 18, 2010 (partial list)

  • Purchase of Used Fire Truck
  • Closed Session – Property Negotiations – Fox Block
  • Fox Block Extension of ENA
  • St. College Grade Separation Change Order
  • Public Hearing – State College Underground Utility District
  • Bid Award Commonwealth Avenue Storm Drain
  • Bid Award Water Main Sys. Replacement/Sewer & St. Improv. 2009-10
  • Bid Award Water Main Sys. Replacement 2009-10 (Lemon St.)
  • Bid Award Refurbishment of Police Department Elevators

Will Redevelopment Borrow $50 Million for Affordable Housing?

Have you ever been robbed?  Some robberies are violent and involve weapons or threats of force.  Others are of a white-collar nature.  Don’t be fooled, you are robbed either way.  One robber let’s you know he is taking your money while the other is much more insidious and calculating.  Our Redevelopment Agency is the latter.

Item 10 on this week’s council agenda deserves some attention.

According to the staff recommendation signed by Ramona Castaneda, for our illustrious Land Czar Rob Zur Schmiede and Charles Kovac, these fine public employees would like to sell a bond.  They say that their autonomous agency could net between $26,900,000 and $32,000,000 in proceeds.  That sounds like a great idea if you like to squander public money.  The Staff report states that the debt service payments over a 17-year term would be approximately $2,900,000 per year starting September 20100 and ending September 2027.  Okay, so check my math: $2,900,000 x 17 years = $49,300,000.

That’s a cost of nearly $50 MILLION!  We are cutting staff hours, cutting services and rethinking the way we do business… at least everyone else is.  Our Land Czar wants the money so he can build MORE affordable housing.  That’s laughable since his agency has single-handedly destroyed and displaced more homes than any other in Fullerton.  Oh, but wait!  What’s that Doc?  Oh, he says it’s that law, we just gotta do it!  No we don’t.

Of course missing from the discussion about this venture seems to be the little matter of the lawsuit that Friends for Fullerton’s Future has filed against the Redevelopment Agency’s expansion plan. Is Zur Schmiede counting on tax increment from the proposed expansion area to pay off his bonds? Better hope not.

On The Agenda – April 20, 2010

High-Speed Rail is here!  At 5PM you get to hear a presentation on the subject from the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA).  Afterwards, they’ll take your questions.  What they do with your questions is entirely up to them.  Maybe you’ll get answers, maybe not.  There will be another community meeting April 29 from 5PM to 8PM at the Senior Multi-Service Center to “…solicit input and begin CHSRA’s community outreach process in Fullerton.”  Doesn’t it feel good to be part of a process?

After the presentation, council has a closed session with the labor negotiators.

There are some certificates, commendations, and proclamations to make before getting into any serious business.

On the consent calendar, items 1 through 7, we find the minutes, financial statement for period ending February 28, Appropriation of funds to comply with state obligation requiring…  Wait a minute!  Is someone trying to sneak something in as a consent calendar item?  Let’s look a little closer at item 3.

The title is red flag: “APPROPRIATION OF FUNDS TO COMPLY WITH STATE OBLIGATION REQUIRING REDEVELOPMENT AGENCIES TO MAKE A PAYMENT TO THE SUPPLEMENTAL EDUCATION REVENUE AUGMENTATION FUND”  So, on the surface the Land Czar’s agency is obligated to pay for some of the havoc they have created by blocking regular tax funds from going to education by declaring BLIGHT.  $6,670,864 on or before May 10, 2010 and everyone is happy.  There is a pending court case that could eventually halt the payment but I wouldn’t hold my breath over it.  It just makes another strong case against having a redevelopment agency in the first place.

Item 4 is for the FAA’s 15-year lease of some of the airport’s tower.  The lease is for $26,550 for the first 5 years with a CPI clause that could raise the rate every 5 years thereafter.

The OC Auto Theft Task Force (OCATTS – isn’t that cute!) is item 5.  I’m not sure how OCATTS gets its funding but the staff report states that the detective’s salary, benefits, work vehicle (take home car?) and overtime are 100% reimbursed through the OCATTS fund.

Item 6 is a resolution that declares council’s intention to consider the designation and adoption of an underground utility district on State College from about Kimberly Avenue to Santa Fe Avenue.  But why the district?  Because there are currently overhead power, phone, and cable lines and doing this would bury them.  This is somewhat tied to the grade separation work.  I think it is a way to take advantage of the construction chaos and do it all at the same time while it is already tore up.  Maybe not.  Either way, I am glad I don’t have a business or live in that area!  The staff report says there are no proposed costs associated with this resolution; however, I think a public hearing resulting from this project will have a direct cost associated with it.  Another question to be asked is this: Is the City of Fullerton creating a District or altering the boundary of a district?  If so, where is LAFCO?

The police want to accept a donation in item 7 of $750 from the Elks Lodge for the Police Explorer Program.  Sounds good…  But can’t the council pass an ordinance authorizing department heads to receive donations under a certain threshold?  Then we don’t need the staff to sit in the council chamber the extra few minutes to hear this.  Maybe just move it to the consent calendar.

Item 8 is a staff update on the Gilbert Community Center.

Item 9 is the All the Arts for All the Kids Heart Project that, if approved, will allow for sculptures to be placed on public property in the downtown area.  The All the Arts for All the Kids Foundation wants 25 heart sculptures around the area.  I think the reason it is actually on the agenda is because the City Manager wants to waive all of the permit fees.  Since they will have to abide by standard city conditions and obtain permits through the normal process like anyone else, I suppose it isn’t a big deal.  But what if another non-profit comes in and wants to put art on the corner, will we waive their fees?  Will they be allowed to do it?  What criteria does the City use to make these determinations?  Or is this really a backroom deal that now needs council’s blessing?

Lastly, we have Item 10.  I saved the best for last and placed it in it’s own post to follow this.  Wait until you hear what our Land Czar wants now…


MAY 4, 2010
• Public Hearing – 5 Year Consolidated Plan
• 10/11 Preliminary Budget
MAY 11, 2010 – Adjourned Regular Meeting – 5 pm
• Public Hearing – Coyote Hills
MAY 18, 2010
• March Financials
• Capital Projects
• Proclamation – Relay for Life Month – June 2010
• Closed Session – Property Negotiations – Fox Block
• Fox Block Extension of ENA
• Personnel Management System Changes
• St. College Grade Separation Change Order
• Service Recognition – Kathy Dasney, Former Parks Commissioner

Until next month, please feel free to add comments to this.  If you have the inside scoop, shoot me a comment or email me through the Contact page on this website.

On The Agenda – April 6th, 2010

Here we are in April with no real change in the City’s business practices. View the agenda for April 6th.

In the Redevelopment Agency’s Closed Session we find three properties being negotiated for.  Everyone’s favorite land Czar, Rob Zur Schmiede, wants to spend your money to buy 345 E. Commonwealth, 147 W. Santa Fe, and 324 W. Valencia.  What could our Czar want with these fruited lots?  Certainly the transaction will bring tremendous revenue to the City’s general fund, will it not?  NO.  Once again, we get the short end of this stick, too.  Hopefully, one of our Friends can enlighten us with details as to what the Czar has planned.

In the Open Session, the Council will consider an appointment to the Parks and Recreation Commission.

There are 7 items on the consent calendar.  Aside from the minutes there are a few items worth commenting on.

Item 2 seeks to raise the speed limits on a few streets.  I noted on my March 16th comments:

“Now you get to punch that gas pedal and really feel the wind in your hair!  Item #15 seeks to change the speed limits on Sunny Ridge and Pioneer Avenue.  The PD asked Traffic Engineering to conduct a traffic study.  The results: RAISE, that is correct, the speed limit!  Here is the breakdown:

Pioneer Ave (Sunny Ridge to Gilbert) Increase from 25mph to 30mph.

Pioneer Ave (Gilbert to Parks) Establish a speed limit of 40mph

Sunny Ridge Dr (Malvern to Pioneer) Increase from 25mph to 35mph

Sunny Ridge Dr (Pioneer to Roscrans) Increase from 25mph to 30mph

All other speed limits remain unchanged”

Why do you suppose the PD would want to raise the speed limit?  Surely they aren’t concerned with traffic congestion.  The text of the ordinance states that these speeds are  “…for the safe operation of vehicles…”  Perhaps it is because the PD cannot enforce the speed limit with radar at their currently posted speeds.  Raising the speed limits to as much as 40mph would likely result in more citations which equal more revenue.  So, maybe don’t punch that gas pedal too hard.

Item 3 could change the way the City does noticing for public hearings.  It seems the newspapers are just too expensive.  Staff will have four places to post notices of public hearings: City Hall, Maintenance Services Yard, Museum, and the Main Library.  It’s odd that they would use the main library (all of about 150 feet from City Hall) and the museum (about two blocks over from City Hall) for the notices.  It seems a broad approach including certain parks or perhaps schools would have been considered.

Council wants Fullerton designated as a “Recovery Zone”!  Read item 4.  The Redevelopment Agency, lead by everyone’s favorite land Czar, wants to go after some financing opportunity available if only council adopts this resolution.  This looks to be a 30-year bond worth initially $2,705,000.  I’m not much of an accountant so someone needs to do the math and find out what it will really cost.  It sounds like another way to waste our money.  After passing this resolution, we will all need to get checked into recovery…  We can start with a few council members!

Item 5 states that the PD wants the City to accept some federal and state grant funding worth $93,782.  The individual grants vary and all have strings attached.  Some include $44,652 for DUI checkpoint-related costs, body armor costs that have doubled and approved of at an August 5, 2008 council meeting, and an FBI reimbursement of up to $12,680 in 2009-2010 and $16,903 in 2010-2011 for overtime, training, and equipment for an officer to be assigned to the Orange County Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory.

Item 6 is a maintenance declaration between Engineering, the Land Czar (a.k.a. Redevelopment Agency), and the Walter N. Johnson Family Trust.  The idea is to get the alley to be maintained by someone other than the Engineering Department which is broke as is the alley.

Pay more for your water!  Item 7 says that Engineering wants you to pay more for your water so they can fund the city’s League of Cities slush fund?  WTF? Approval of this item gives staff the go-ahead to mail out notices of a PROPOSED rate hike.  According to the staff summary, the proposal is for a $2 per month per customer increase in the service charge.  So, if we take every residential water meter and add $2 each for each month, staff thinks it will add up to $700,000 in to the Water Fund for the 2010-2011FY.  If my math is correct, which it rarely is, that means we will have 29,167 water customers paying an additional $2 per month for a 12-month period. Good luck Bankhead and Keller when the voters find out about this little scam!

Item 8 of the Regular Business is the Land Czar’s recommendation to Council that they re-agendize (it’s a made up word on the agenda, likely means “to place on the agenda again”) the proposal from the Business Improvement District’s consultant Urban Place.  The proposal is for $3,100 for “initial Business Improvement District explorative community outreach.”  Give me the $3,100 and I’ll give you a shiny report with glossy photos and a little exploration of reaching out to the community…

You have to love the way Item 9 is stated:  “AFFORDABLE HOUSING RFP SELECTION CRITERIA DISCUSSION”.  It’s quite laughable if you consider that the Council and Land Czar always say we need more affordable housing.  Doc HeeHaw likes to proclaim that by golly it’s the law.  In the unlikely event you believed old Doc, he likes to lie.  Affordable housing quotas aren’t law, they are the strings attached to some of the silly grants our city staff chases after.  Remember, Doc’s best years, if he had any, were gone long before he set foot in the council chambers.  Anyway, if you think council needs to have certain selection criteria for their affordable housing RFP’s, then chime in.

And lastly, old Doc made news when he Hee-Hawed is way off of the Vector Control Board’s meeting last month.  Item 10 states: “Recommendation by City Clerk’s Office: Appoint a representative to the Orange County Vector Control .”

The key word is REPRESENTATIVE.  I’m sure the OCVC Board will be happy to have anyone but Doc around.  I would really like to know what set him off.  Maybe we could do it at the next council meeting and get him to quit…

In summary, if tax dollars were turds, this agenda might represent more waste than even the Orange County Sanitation District could handle.

As always, if you have any information to contribute or if you feel I missed something important, please give us your comments.

On the Agenda – March 16th, 2010

Back by popular demand…

March Madness of the Mindless is here.

Tuesday night’s Closed Session means Rob Zur Schmiede, everyone’s favorite redevelopment director, will be speaking with council regarding 324 W. Valencia Drive to negotiate the strong-arm takeover and redevelopment of the property.

Also, council will be discussing “Parameters of authority for negotiating salaries, benefits, and working conditions.”

In the open session we have the usual dog and pony shows of certificates and feel-good resolutions.  At the top of that list is a man I remember from my Junior year of high school at Fullerton High, Wayne Daniels.  He is one heck of a nice guy and a snazzy dresser for sure.  But why exactly is the council giving him a certificate for being “The Tulip Man”?

There are no appointments on the agenda which is a little sad since the City could use some good people to help steer the staff and council away from stupid decisions.

There are a total of 19 items on to be discussed and/or voted on so sit back as I try to scrape off the layers of doublespeak to uncover the depth of waste we are about to endure.

The minutes and financial reports are items #1 and #2, respectively.  We jump right in at #3 which is a massive reconstruction of Harbor Boulevard from Chapman to Berkley.  This stretch of road is plagued with potholes, cracked concrete, broken curbs, general disrepair, and lumpy asphalt created by trucks and buses.  As soon as the project is complete, I would imagine a utility company will come in and tear it up.  At least that’s Murphy’s Law.  This little paving effort is to run about $1,121,000.  That’s a lot of asphalt…  Staff reported that the low bidder isn’t the winner because they didn’t get their forms filled out completely or correctly and that they didn’t have sufficiently disadvantaged business owners that met the City’s requirements.  The contract will be going to PALPA, Inc. DBA Excel Paving Company.

Item #4 is a brand new sewer for Riverside Drive and Raymond Avenue area.  This section of fecal conduit will run us a mere $1,064,038.50.  Several streets in this area received fresh asphalt just in the last year or so.  You would think someone could plan it out a little bit so that we replace the broken and aging pipes and THEN replace the asphalt.  But that’s Fullerton for you: placing the cart in front of the horse…

It looks like the airport is signing a new lease agreement with Cardinal Air Services and a long term lease for Frank Sator under Item #5.  If you want to see some pretty slick shell games with public funds, check out the supporting documentation for this item.  We, the city, take a loss but in comes OC Fire Authority to lease a portion of the area we are taking a loss on and then they make up the difference.  The problem is that we are paying for OC Fire to lease the space through our taxes.  Does this mean we are subsidizing ourselves?

Item #6 is all about John Shipman who as a member of the Community Development Citizen’s Committee showed up to some meetings and not others.  After missing three in a row, he was booted for being absent too many times pursuant to municipal code 2.11.050.  He is now appealing and wants to participate.  Shipman, it appears, is a Keller appointment and some sort of teacher whose teaching assignment conflicted with the committee meetings.

Item #7 contains two resolutions for grant funding of Independence Park and the Fullerton Community Center.  Each grant is worth $5,000,000 but you will need to chip in an addition $4,000,000 for the Independence Park project to make it happen.  That’s like paving Harbor Boulevard from Commonwealth to Brea Boulevard!  But I suppose the kids need a place to loiter…  At the risk of expressing my own ignorance, once we pay for the project, how will we pay for maintenance?  Maybe I should show up at the Park & Rec meetings so I’ll understand the funding.

According to item #8 and #9, a few people need special disabled person’s parking spots.

Item #10 seeks to make it illegal to park in the alley that runs north/south and is south of Valencia and west of harbor Boulevard.  If you live in that area, be sure to show and express your feelings on the pros and cons.

It looks like the PD wants to buy some guns and ammo with the approval of item #11.  They will be using asset seizure funds so, in theory, it won’t cost you a dime.  What’s not included is the training to use these guns and the training for the armor to repair and service them.  Training is expensive and necessary.  There is no reason we cannot include the other costs incidental to the purchase.  The details are: 14 guns for $18,812.92; ammo for $25,719.38; 36 gun safes $5,617.64.  I assume the PD has other guns which will use the safes and ammo.

The FD wants some donations to be “accepted” by the council under item #12.  The total amount is a whopping $650.00.  Maybe the council should make a motion to allow the City Manager to “accept” on behalf of the city any donation under $1,000.00 so long as the manager reports them in the City’s financial reports.

Item #13 is titled “GOOGLE FIBER FOR COMMUNITIES PROGRAM”.  It sounds intriguing but what is it?  The summary states that Google is looking for communities in which to test ultra-high speed broadband networks to ultimately compete against the cable and telephone companies.  Good idea!  I know I have to pay extra for AT&T to NOT slow down my connection.  It’s the same wires as everyone else except that if you pay the minimum, your connection is slower.  Pay more and it get’s a little faster.  FFFF has a few IT/ITS people who can explain better…

Thales Raytheon wants to donate six laptops to the Park & Rec for use at the Gilbert Community Center.  Item #14 doesn’t state the total value.  I would guess the laptops, if new, would be worth $1,000 each or more.  I find it humorous that Parks & Rec have to justify why the laptops would be beneficial but the PD doesn’t have to say what the guns are for.  In both cases it is obvious so why the extra ink?

Now you get to punch that gas pedal and really feel the wind in your hair!  Item #15 seeks to change the speed limits on Sunny Ridge and Pioneer Avenue.  The PD asked Traffic Engineering to conduct a traffic study.  The results: RAISE, that is correct, the speed limit!  Here is the breakdown:

Pioneer Ave (Sunny Ridge to Gilbert) Increase from 25mph to 30mph
Pioneer Ave (Gilbert to Parks) Establish a speed limit of 40mph
Sunny Ridge Dr (Malvern to Pioneer) Increase from 25mph to 35mph
Sunny Ridge Dr (Pioneer to Roscrans) Increase from 25mph to 30mph

All other speed limits remain unchanged.

Item #16 eliminates a bike path that isn’t complete due to OCTA Metrolink expansion which would not give bike riders enough room.

Posting public notices comes in as item #17.  It looks like running the notices in the papers is a bit pricy.  This item  will give staff four places to post public notices.  They are:

City Hall
Maintenance Services Yard
Main Library

Item #18 is the continuance of the aforementioned shell game.  It involves leases on the airport property.

Lastly, item #19 is titled “LOCAL TAXPAYER, PUBLIC SAFETY AND TRANSPORTATION PROTECTION ACT OF 2010”.  Californians to Protect Local Taxpayers and Vital Services Coalition is requesting that Fullerton adopt a resolution in support of this Act.  It sounds nice but the reality is that our state assembly has to stop allowing our local coffers to be raided by Sacramento.  This is a feel-good resolution with no teeth.  It should be noted that MAJOR funding for this “coalition” comes from the League of California Cities.  In other words, you and I have already paid them, their lobbyists, and whoever else has their hands in our cookie jar.  The bottom of the website has this:

“Paid for by Californians to Protect Local Taxpayers and Vital Services, a coalition of taxpayers, public safety, local government, transportation, business and labor, with major funding from the League of California Cities (non-public funds and CitiPAC) and the California Alliance for Jobs — Rebuild California Committee”

Coming up:

March 23, 2010 – Special Meeting

2010/11 Budget Decision Packages

April 6, 2010 – Council Meeting

BID – Agreement with Urban Place
Fox Block Extension of ENA
Recovery Zone Designation
More strong-arm wrangling of property rights a.k.a. property negotiations