Say, Whatever Happened to Fullerton’s Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan and the $1,000,000 in State Money that Paid for It?

Most government projects have three things in common: they are bad ideas promoted by bureaucrats, they are obscenely expensive, and there is no accountability attached to them.

In Fullerton we have lots of examples over the years that touch all three bases. But if ever one needed a veritable poster child for government fiascoes, the ill-conceived “Downtown Core and Corridors” Specific Plan would be it.

 

Back in 2010, the City of Fullerton put in an application for a “project” to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s  “Strategic Growth Council” an assemblage of bureaucrats and political appointees selected by the governor to promote sustainability and responsibility in urban (and suburban planning). On the face of it, the idea was to promote development that would be eco-friendly – somehow, someway. Lo and Behold! Fullerton received a $1,000,000 grant to create the Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan, a massive overlay zone. In 2013  a committee was appointed to make this look like a community driven enterprise, but as so often happens the committee was led along by the consultants and staff who were being paid, and paid well, out of the grant money. Some members of this committee only went to one meeting, the last one, in May 2014, a meeting consumed by passing out certificates of participation to committee members for all their hard work.

In the meantime, the intent of the creators of the specific plan became crystal clear: opportunity for massive new housing projects along Fullerton’s busiest streets, development that would not even have to undergo the scrutiny facing normal projects so long as the permissive guidelines of the specific plan were met. Naturally, lots of people objected to the continued over-development of Fullerton, and the utter disconnect with what the Strategic Growth Council was ostensibly promoting. Perhaps the most obnoxious thing about the specific plan proposal was the way it was being used, unapproved by any policy maker, to promote other massive apartment projects already in the entitlement process.

And then a funny thing happened. The Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan vanished into thin air. Although recommended by the Planning Commission in August of 2014, the plan and its Environmental Impact Report never went to the city council for approval. 2015 passed; and so did 2016 without the plan being approved. Even modifications rumored to have been proposed by the now-departed Planning Director Karen Haluza never materialized for council review or approval.

I’ll drink to that!

Some cynical people believe the plan was postponed in 2014 because of the council election, an election that returned development uber alles councilmembers Greg Sebourn and Bud Chaffee. And they believe that the subsequent attempt to erase the plan from the municipal memory was perpetrated by none other than the hapless city manager, Joe Felz and lobbyist councilperson Jennifer Fitzgerald, (so the story goes) two individuals who had every incentive to shake down potential developers one by one, rather than granting a broad entitlement for new and gargantuan development. Felz had a massive budget deficit to fill, and Fitzgerald had massive lobbying opportunities from potential Pringle and Associate clients.

A chemical bond

What is undeniable is that three long years have passed and no action has been taken to either approve or deny the specific plan. The grant money approved by the State has been a complete waste – a travesty so embarrassing to everybody concerned that no one seems to want to demand an explanation for this fiasco. Neither the city bureaucrats or council, nor the State has any incentive to advertise this disaster, and you can bet there never will be an accounting.

 

 

Hail to the Chief

The cap and gown are in the mail…

We have a new police chief in Fullerton, and only eight months after his predecessor obstructed justice by giving a DUI city manager a get out of jail card, and retired with a massive pension to become a Disney employee.

The new one is named David Hendrick who was approved unanimously by our city council this week. That includes, of course, self-professed conservatives Bruce Whitaker and Greg Sebourn, who evidently saw nothing wrong paying Mr. Hendricks $230,000 per annum – $5,000 more than his boss, the city manager, and $25,000 more than his predecessor. Of course this gross pension spike will be borne by the taxpayers of Fullerton until Mr. Hendricks and his beneficiaries scoot off to their eternal rewards – in about 30 or 40 years.

Apparently the City Council was not in the least bit concerned that Hendricks was a manager in a notoriously abusive police department; or that he bought an on-line master’s degree from a bogus “university” whose address was likely no more than a post office box in Birmingham, Alabama.

Well, there you have it. Incompetent, leaderless, self-indulgent, lax, expensive, no-fault government continues in Fullerton, full speed ahead.

And please be careful in your interactions with the FPD. Things might end very badly for you.

Photo Fun: SparkyFitz’s $1.6 Mil Stairs to Nowhere

Being a political creature means keeping your happy face on – even when your happy speech is done. On Saturday our lobbyist-councilperson Jennifer Fitzgerald happily talked up her moronic wooden stairs that don’t do anything – $1,600,000 worth of nothing. She was soooo excited (twice). Even her pal Jan Flory was there to help put a shine on this smoking road apple. But when her talk was done, Fitzy sure looked grim walking away from this monumental misadventure in government waste.

Quick, get clear of the impending collapse…

Maybe the enormity of the waste actually set in? Shame? Guilt? Anger?

(more…)

EV Free Lunch. Fullerton Megachurch Gives City Employees a Love Offering

Lunch is on me.

Since at least 2013, Fullerton’s EV Free megachurch has been paying for and hosting a lunch as a gift to City of Fullerton employees. Probably not coincidentally, 2013 is when EV Free congregant Jennifer Fizgerald began her first year on the Fullerton City Council. Last year the event included a tri-tip lunch and “prizes and a raffle to win gift cards to local Fullerton businesses.” These events must cost the church thousands of dollars.

http://www.evfreefullerton. com/2016/06/an-olympic- fullerton-city-luncheon/

It should be crystal clear why it’s wrong for an organization to buy lunch for city employees, one or all. This church frequently petitions the city on land use issues, and it even hires city police to manage its parking. If a business like Chevron or Red Oak Development or Renick Cadillac tried to glad hand City functionaries and employees like this, the public would be outraged. It is a clear conflict of interest for city employees to accept gifts like this.

For its part, the church ought to revisit Scripture as it relates to Pharisaical behavior. I don’t remember Jesus Christ or his disciples buying lunch for the Romans, but then Jesus didn’t have two denarii to rub together.

However, it is not our business to tell a church what to do, although we may well look askance – as when a Grace Ministries’ representative stood up at a public hearing and claimed his church’s members supported the bar owners’ districting map.

The action of the city government, led by City Manager Joe Felz, in accepting these gifts, is appalling and not only exhibited a complete lack of judgment and awareness, but placed the City in the position of a gift-receiver from an entity that does substantial business in Fullerton. If an individual were the sole recipient of this largess questions of integrity would immediately follow. That Joe Felz entangled the people of Fullerton in this situation is deplorable.

And where has our City Council been on this? MIA, as in so many other things.

Comment of the Month, Plus A Taxpayer Funded Movie!

Here is a recent comment from one of our Friends, Just Off Euclid, in response to watching another one of those super-expensive “State of the City” videos that we buy to make City Hall and the politicians therein, look good.

Thanks for sharing that nauseating bit of municipal self-promotion. I note:

Whitaker sitting in front of Laguna Lake where untold millions of gallons of prime MWD water were lost with no apology, no accountability, no responsibility. Fitzgerald brazenly bragging about the moronic stairs to nowhere. Donwtown stakeholders are committed she says. Committed to what? Profit at our expense. Sebourn, with his ass parked in the Corporate Yard as the streets of Fullerton crumble; “we’re ready” he boasts. ready for what?

And then the images of the vast Joe Felz/Karen Haluza stack n’ pack tenement blocks. Who is the target audience for that? Developers, I guess.

Jesus. How much did this bullshit cost?

We don’t know how much it cost. Not yet anyway. But here are some invoices that indicate the cost of 2015 and 2016 productions:

Kneadle 2 | Kneadle | Barron AV 2 | Pipeline Digital 2-2 | Pipeline Digital 2 | Pipeline Digital 1

We Paid a Head Hunter $23,000 to Discover Karen Haluza!

Haluza

Yeah, you read that right.

The City  actually hired a recruitment company to find a new Community Development Director – somebody who lives four blocks from City Hall.

Which begs the question: were Joe Felz and his crack assistant Nicole Bernard so busy they couldn’t have conducted this recruitment themselves through the HR department?

Anyway, here are the invoices:

Teri Black 14-1004-01 Teri Black 14-0905-02 Teri Black 15-0208-07

Insiders have said this job was going to Haluza all along, which means that whatever money was spent on the recruiter was wasted in the appearance of an on-the-up-and-up recruitment process. Of course we’ve all seen how Felz wasted monies large and small, even as the S.S. Fullerton was taking on water badly.

The fact that Haluza has been an unmitigated disaster since joining the city staff is a somewhat different issue, but it makes the price tag a little harder to swallow. One wonders what the losing candidates looked like.

Former Crappy State Senator Employee Running for County Supervisor

Former State Senator Bob Huff (R-Ed Roski) was best known as a shameless hustler for California’s failed crony capitalism experiment called Redevelopment. Other than the usual, dreary-fake Repuglican social issues it’s hard to recall a single Huff politcal pursuit. Now, it appears, one of Huff’s political acolytes thinks himself fit to be our next 4th District County Supervisor. His name is Tim Shaw.

Here’s the announcement.

I can’t think of anything. Provide your own caption…

Shaw’s big political claim to fame is being on the La Habra city council which, frankly, isn’t much to write home about; that and being the Republican State Senate candidate who got unceremoniously booted off the stage to make way for Ling-Ling Chang as part of the massively failed GOP “Asian Woman” strategy.

Shaw’s announcement contains several unintentionally funny lines. Here’s my favorite:

“I firmly believe the 2016 election results sent a strong message. People are tired of politics as usual, and we need to tear up the playbook and start from scratch.”

Wow. Four clichés in two sentences. Well done, little fella.

Starting from scratch means electing a clueless, no longer Young Republican drone who shows no evidence of ever having had an original thought? Yeah, sure, whatever you say, chief. Good luck with that.

The Village People just called…
Image added as embarrassing 1980s afterthought…

Former State Assemblywoman Young Kim has already announced she is going for this seat and has tied up the endorsements of the Ed Royce crowd, so that’s our choice so far, and it isn’t much of a choice. Ms. Kim is an empty suit led around by her husband, Charles Kim, who is best remembered in Fullerton for bringing us Julie Sa in 1992.

The Deal

That’s quite a tool.

We don’t deal with County stuff much but when we get wind of something noxious down County way, we share it with the friends, especially if it involves Supervisor Shawn Nelson who comes from Fullerton.

Tested and unready…

The latest story wafting on the wind claims that Nelson has made a deal with DA Tony Rackaukas to support the appointment of Rack’s mouthpiece Susan Kang Schroder to replace him so she can run for DA next year as the incumbent. What Nelson gets is Rackauckas and Schroeder leaning on their stable of Deputy DAs not to run for the next judgeship, clearing the field for Nelson. And if anybody knows how to lean on people, it’s the completely vile Kang Schoeder. This deal is critically important for Nelson, who, as a defense lawyer, made a lot of money defending sex offenders and the like, stuff that would look really bad on a campaign hit piece from an active prosecutor.

If this tale is true (and it sure has the ring of truth) it reflects rather badly on Nelson. Susan Kang Schroeder has been connected at the hip to Tony Rackaukas’s incompetent and corrupt misrule for years, and the only case she ever tried, she lost. Real legal talent there, right? But of course expecting ethical behavior from a politician looking for self-promotion is like drilling a dry well.

Dry and Reckless

The new, special FPD medal for number of “dry reckless” arrests.

There is a term for a plea agreement for those drivers who may or may not have been legally impaired when they were pulled over by the cops.  It’s charmingly called “dry reckless” and means that the police and the DA aren’t sure they can pin a DUI rap on the driver, and the driver would rather take a big insurance premium hit than take his chances in court.

Cheers. I knew they’d figure it out for me…

And that is exactly what is going to happen with Joe Felz, he of the November 9th, 2016 Wild Ride. The DA can’t win a DUI case against Felz because our sterling police department refused to collect any evidence. And Felz will be more than satisfied with making the stigma of “drunk diver” go away, and no mandatory license suspension. Once the DUI part vanishes, the cops will only be on the hook to explain why they didn’t at least give Wild Ride Joe a traffic ticket for his careening out of control (while driving uphill) on Glenwood Avenue. And that’s nothing for a force that has a history of making up stuff on the witness stand.

Video evidence may or may not ultimately be produced, depending on the daily whim of the DA, but it won’t matter since all the relevant charges will have been dismissed, with all the legal niceties observed.