Erection Dysfunction

 

If someone takes the time to review the history of Fullerton over the past forty years, one thing becomes shockingly clear: when it comes to building things, maintaining things and planning for things, the City government just can’t do much of anything right. And yet over this long history, the City and the public seem to have the shortest of memories.

For the denizens of City Hall, the fact that the jalopy has no rear view mirror makes perfect sense. After all, if you’re pulling down well over a hundred Gs, with a trampoline retirement coming your way, why spoil things with strange notions like accountability and responsibility? It’s so much easier to pretend nothing bad has happened.

A little Jack Daniels gets you through the morning.

The people who live here on the other hand, have no such incentive; quite the reverse, in fact. So how come constant repetition of the disastrous lessons from the past are tolerated? Is it easier to just ignore the millions upon millions wasted in foolish vanity projects, make-work comedies, and deteriorating infrastructure? Maybe.

But I hope that by continuing the drumbeat started on this brave blog 11 years ago, sooner or later the populace will wake up to the ineptitude and dissimulation by its highly paid, and so far untouchable masters of disaster.

And so join me Friends as I take you on trip down memory lane, Fullerton style.

Today almost nobody remembers the comical City endeavor to transform Harbor Boulevard in the early 80s by removing on-street parking, adding medians, spike-laden, pod-dropping floss silk trees, and bizarre concrete peristyles along the sidewalks. Comical, did I say? It would have been funny except that it doomed the businesses along Harbor to slow entropy. The ridiculous peristyles were soon removed but the rest of the mess lasted for decades and many of the hideous trees and broken sidewalks are still there as a reminder that the City is perfectly willing to waste millions on hare-brained, concept-of-the-day tomfoolery that gives them something to do.

The stupid that men do lives after them…

The Allen Hotel, was Fullerton’s first foray into “affordable” housing back in the late 80s. It was a slum, alright and thirty years after the City’s bungling acquisition, the site is just begging for more “redevelopment.” Will it get it?

The once and present tenement…

The CSUF Stadium & Fundraising Fiasco of 1990 ought to give plenty of pause to those contemplating Big Projects with public money. The brainchild of slimy City Councilman and later slimy State Senator, Dick Ackerman, the idea was to build a permanent home for the CSUF football team. Only trouble was that the $15,000,000 stadium was completed the same year the plug was pulled on a dismal gridiron program. In typical fashion, the City invested in a fundraising plan in which a company was hired at a cost of several hundred thou to raise money, and didn’t. Oops!

Oh, boy, the other football!

The horror story “Knowlwood Corner” is a veritable textbook case of government bureaucratic misfeasance, from start to finish. The story started in the early 90s and dragged on for years and years; when the signature building was finally built, the missing second floor became a perfect symbol for this misadventure. From stupid economic micromanagement to horrible architecture, this one touched all the bases – and it took seven years to do so.

There is no second floor. Other than that it’s a 2 story building

The Bank of Italy Building was another disaster from the early 90s, but one that actually gutted an historic building. Millions in public money were wasted to pay for something that never should have been undertaken in the first place.

Deception, Incompetence and Damn Proud of It

The North Platform remodel of 1992-93 proved that no matter how bungled things were in Fullerton, it could always get worse. A landscape architect was hired to place as many impediments between passengers and trains as was humanly possible. Some of the citizens got wise, and half the crap was ripped out. Heads rolled in City Hall. Oh, wait, no they didn’t.

Trees and planters block the platform; staff obstruction was almost as bad.

Few folks now remember the Fairway Toyota dealership expansion fiasco from the mid-90s that required threatening an old lady with eminent domain and then closing off Elm Avenue forever. The City’s investment disappeared like an early summer morning’s dew when the dealership took off for Anaheim a few years later. After years of housing a used car dealership, the City permitted the development of another massive cliff dwelling along Harbor Boulevard. The losses were never accounted for but at least the neighbors got a nice view and early shade.

So bad he had to pull over and barf…

 

For those who can remember the Fullerton SRO debacle – a history filled with so much doubling down on stupidity that it strains credulity – it remains one of Fullerton’s saddest tales. Years and millions were burned on fly-by-night developers, one of whom turned out to be impecunious, and the other a flim-flam artist.

Fort Mithawalla, AKA, the Bum Box…

Fullerton’s Corporate Yard expansion was a mid-nineties project that left the City gasping for air. Despite hiring an outside construction manager and paying him a couple hundred grand, the project dissolved into a litigation mess that only escaped public embarrassment because nobody on the City Council gave a damn. Settlement details vanished into the haze.

The so-called Poison Park on Truslow Avenue may set the standard for Fullerton incompetence, although admittedly, the competition is fierce. In the late 90s, the City had Redevelopment money to burn and just couldn’t wait to do so. So they bought a piece of industrial property and built a park that nobody outside City Hall wanted. Cost? $3,000,000. Of course the site attracted gang members and drug dealers as predicted. Worse still, the land was contaminated and the “park” fenced off. It’s been like that for almost 15 years. And Counting.

Maybe the less said, the better…

No story of Fullerton calamities would be complete without once again sharing the tale of the Florentine Sidewalk Hijacking, in which a permit for “outside dining” was transformed one day by the Florentine Mob into a permanent building blocking half a public sidewalk. The Big City Planner, Paul Dudley, said everything was peachy. He was lying, of course, but did anybody really care?

Caution – ethical behavior narrows ahead…

In a great example of the tail wagging the dog, the Fox Theater has been used to justify all kinds of nonsense, including moving a McDonald’s  a 150 feet to the east and later proposing development of perhaps the greatest architectural monstrosity anybody has ever seen. This saga is still going on, believe it or not, after two decades or more. No one knows how much has been wasted going nowhere on this rolling disaster, and no one seems the least bit interested in finding out.

Egad. What a freaking mess…

Some people might conclude that the majority of Fullerton’s disasters can be laid at the feet of the Redevelopment Agency (really just the City Council) and well-pensioned, inept managers like Terry Galvin and Gary Chaplusky. When they weren’t slapping brick veneer on anything that didn’t move, they were screwing everything else up, too. But when we regard the history of Laguna Lake we enter into the realm of Fullerton’s Parks and Engineering mamalukes. After spending a small fortune on renovating the lake, the thing leaked like a sieve. Hundreds of millions of premium MWD gallons were pumped into the thing to keep it full. The public and council were left in the dark, even as citizens were told to conserve water in their homes. Did anyone in charge give a damn? Did anyone ask how much money and water were squandered over the years? Of course not. This is Fullerton. We could ask Engineering Director Don Hoppe for details, except that he is now comfortably retired and pulling down a massive pension.

Water in, water out…

Our professional planners, have been knee deep in Fullerton’s morass. Over-development (see example, above) has been fostered and nowhere was this better seen than in the Core and Corridors Specific Plan. This idiotic plan wasted a million bucks of State money without a backward glance after the whole thing was finally dumped on the QT  – too stupid even for Fullerton. Did anybody ask for their money back? Nope. And yet  a link to a blank web page titled Core and Corridors still exists! Hope springs eternal.

The 2000s proved that nobody in City Hall or out, was learning anything, even after the expensive failures of the 90s. The “West Harbor Improvement” project in 2009, was an endeavor so unnecessary that it could only be proposed in Fullerton, where government “place making” has never succeeded. The alley is a barf zone behind a bunch of bars that only needs hosing down every Sunday morning.

What can we do with it ? Or to it?

We’ve already covered in detail the multi-million dollar death march of the new elevators at the depot, an unnecessary project that was only pursued because “other people’s money” was paying for it – that is until the project burned into its seventh year. And then City money had to pay to keep the disaster on life support. Aggravating this complete folly and waste is the fact that the existing elevators tower stairs are slowly rusting away and the glass is graffiti marred.

Let the groundbreaking begin. No point in waiting to waste other people’s money, right?

 

This litany of disasters, follies and debacles brings us to the Pinewood Stairs at Hillcrest Park which put on display the incompetence of the designer, the city staff, the construction manager, and a contractor who couldn’t build a sand box to code. Wasting $1.6 million is bad enough; permitting the code violations and construction deficiencies go unfixed is even worse. Barely two years old, the ramshackle structure moves more than the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

A light post not even fit for a drunk to lean on…

And finally, let us not forget the completely useless $725,000 “ceremonial” bridge over Brea Creek at Hillcrest Park. Of course it’s just there to make some sort of statement, not to be used. The only statement that occurs to me is one of conspicuous consumption by a city that is just rolling in dough.

And over all these years Fullerton’s “leaders have neglected our aging infrastructure and permitted zone changes allowing for massive new development that has lined the pockets of developers and political campaign coffers, and left the rest of us with even more traffic and more burden on our roads and pipes.

Water, water everywhere. Except where it’s supposed to be…

 

It could be worse. No it couldn’t.

The end.

 

The Dysfunction of Downtown Fullerton

Friends for Fullerton’s Future just received a disturbing story accompanied by a photograph that seems to encapsulate the Downtown Fullerton experience:

Hey, FFFF, I wanted to send along a story about what happened to me a few weeks ago. About 2 am a friend and I were walking along the north side of Commonwealth. Across the street we could see some kind of free-for-all going on. Then the crowd ran off leaving two people lying on the ground. By the time we crossed over to see what the damage was, the Fullerton police had arrived. The two people, a guy and a woman, were bloodied and obviously beaten. One of the cops saw me observing the scene and asked if I wanted to be arrested.

Rather than provide information about what we had seen, we decided to move on. But before we left I turned around and took this picture showing the woman pleading with four cops who appeared indifferent to whatever physical abuse she had suffered.

Sad. 

Yes, Friend, it is sad. Our “leaders” have created, nurtured, and encouraged a culture of mayhem where sometimes it’s hard to tell the victim from the perpetrator and where the cops are seemingly anesthetized to the weekly blood bath.

More Good Times; Stompin’ at the Slidebar

Who’s on first?

A couple of weeks ago Jeremy Popoff’s Slidebar employees and clientele provided more examples of the sort of high class behavior favored by our city council and particularly our lobbyist/councilcreature Jennifer Fitzgerald who has been running cover for Popoff for years and years. You may recall that Slidebar has never gotten the required CUP even as city officials like Fitzgerald, Bruce Whitaker and Party Planner Ted White have schmoozed and petted its miscreant owner.

Hiding the tats won’t help…

Everybody seems to be ignoring Slidebar’s violation of planning and nuisance laws until the laws can be watered down so much even a professional douchebag can slime by without comment.

Here’s the video

At the outset you can see a bouncer on theft serially pound some hapless dude already on the ground and then go for a head stomp for good measure.

In the open-air saloon known as Downtown Fullerton it’s often virtually impossible to distinguish between the bad behavior of the bar-hopping patrons and the low-lifes hired to control them.

 

Gas Tax Trough Slurpers Support Newman

It’s just a few cents a gallon. Suck it up!

A Friend just forwarded me a press release from Josh Newman’s campaign to get back his old job – the one he got recalled from after gas taxing his constituents, rich and poor alike, in order to support the State’s featherbedded transportation bureaucracy and infrastructure lobbyists.

The gas tax was nothing other than a free-up of state resources to help support the ridiculous High Speed Rail boondoggle that has made Californias a laughing stock.

And right on cue, these same special interests have rewarded Newman with their endorsements.

ORANGE COUNTY, CA — In another indication of his wide-ranging support from working men and women in the rematch race to represent California’s 29th State Senate District, today U.S. Army veteran, businessman and former State Senator Josh Newman secured endorsements from Ironworkers Local 433 and the Professional Engineers in California Government.

Both unions released statements following the announced endorsements:

“Courage, integrity and doing the right thing matters. That’s why we’re pleased to give Josh Newman our enthusiastic support in his 2020 rematch campaign. Josh is a political rarity – in the face of adversity – he bravely stood up for the people and did the right thing time and again. We know Josh will be a fierce and outspoken leader for working families and a pro-middle class agenda in the State Senate. We look forward to helping him win this race.”
-Ironworkers Local 433 Business Agent Paul Moreno

“The Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG) is pleased to announce our endorsement of Josh Newman for State Senate District 29. Josh has worked to create and protect good-paying jobs; invest in infrastructure, and education; safeguard collective bargaining, organizing in the workplace and retirement benefits; expand access to healthcare; and all the while, grow and strengthen our middle-class economy. We support Josh Newman for Senate because we support fierce defenders of our working families.”
-Professional Engineers in California Government President Cathrina Barros

The signal is loud and clear: Newman supports bureaucrats and boondoggles above the public – so much so that he was and will be willing to load the burden of regressive taxes on the very constituents the liberal Democrats are always bleating so loudly about – poor minority folks.

 

All’s Swell At OC Animal Care

A few days ago we shared a story from one of our Friends about the futility and general dopiness of the house cat rabies protocol at the County’s animal police department. The gist was that if you get bit by your cat a medical facility will report you to the good folks at OC Animal Care, an agency that seems more dedicated to avoiding embarrassment than caring for our four-footed friends.

We noted with some amusement that the department admits that there hasn’t been a case of a cat contracting rabies in OC for 62 years.

One of our commenters, Joel, noted that there is a “Rabies Control Desk.” I didn’t believe it so a made a public records request just to see. Sure enough, there is a desk!

The job stress was starting to show…

Who knew?

Lack of Control at OC Animal Control

 

The tabby had other plans…

Once in a while we here at FFFF like to shine a spotlight on some of the more ludicrous doings down on the County farm, and today’s special comes from a Friend who wants to be known as Stephanie. Apparently, Steph had an encounter with the good folks at OC Animal Control recently and decided to share her story. Here it is:

Dear FFFF,

I’d like to relate an experience I’ve recently had with the county’s animal control people. I was breaking up a cat fight between my cat and a stray when my pet in a real excited state bit my hand pretty badly. Fortunately the nurse at urgent care warned me that they were legally required to report the incident to the County and my cat would have to be quarantined under County supervision, all because of rabies. This was ridiculous because my cat had just got its rabies vaccination.

Sure enough, the Animal Control people started showing up a few days later. I made up a story about getting bit by a stray somewhere and after returning for further interrogation several times they finally sent me this letter:

All clear. Since 1956.

Wow! Medically cleared by Animal Control! The funniest part of this letter is the reassuring reminder that no cat has contracted rabies in Orange County in 62 years. What’s not so funny is the time, resources, and bureaucratic rigmarole involved in an incident that was nobody’s business but hers.

Suicide by Cop vs. Murder by Cop

17yo Shot on Freeway

For some people the release of video showing  the “justified” July 5th shooting of a female teenager by a Fullerton policeman is cause for celebration. Well, we can store that information in the Sad Troll folder and move on. Really, though, one must linger over the sad state of affairs when the FPD has to broadly publicize the fact that their man didn’t kill anybody illegally, with malice or by incompetence.

What a difference eight years make, right? For on July 5th, 2011, and in the months following, the FPD made every effort to hide, lie about, obfuscate, deflect, and misdirect information in the wake of their illegitimate killing of the homeless man, Kelly Thomas.

Has the FPD opened a new chapter in its relationship with the public that supports it?

Maybe. I don’t know, but I doubt it.

When there is exculpatory evidence, it seems, the police are only too happy to release information; thus, within one week of the recent event, the dead teenage girl’s demise was the subject of an FPD press video, complete with  slow motion footage showing what happened. And yet when police actions are reckless, incompetent, or even criminal, the PR apparatus retreats into the bunker and cannot say a word.

We’re gonna kick your ass…

This is the twisted legacy of former Chief Pat “I Hired Them All” McKinley and the goon squad he imported from the LAPD.

What we have here is failure to communicate…

As we saw with McKinley’s second successor, Chief Danny “Galahad” Hughes, when something bad goes down the department has taken the position that the best medicine is not overdue reform, clean-up and real accountability, but a stiff dose of community relations and departmental tours. This, even as Hughes himself participated in the most dubious undertakings.

We aren’t very nice, but we sure are expensive…

Maybe someday police departments like FPD will come to realize that covering up for bad police work is itself bad police work; that the public that pays for their salaries, benefits and early “retirement” ought to be served instead of abused; and maybe, just maybe, people in California will start getting honest answers and timely, truthful information instead of phony or non-existent “internal” investigations, shifting stories, and outright deception from the police.

 

Meet Mr. Palmer

Gregory Palmer, Esq.
Gregory Palmer, Esq.

Friends, here’s a fun post from two-and-a-half years ago introduction you to the egregious Gregory Palmer, Esq., who is employed to hassle citizens, ignore legal PRA requests, and most importantly, to investigate and stop kinky sex in the municipality that employ Dick Jones as City Attorney. Enjoy. 

A few days ago Joshua Ferguson told us the story of how one of the lawyers working for our City Attorneys, Gregory Palmer, gave him a big Fuck Off when he made a reasonable, and as it turns out LEGAL, request for the video recordings from FPD cops the night they possibly gave the City Manager a skate on a DUI, gave him a ride home and tucked him into bed. Mr. Palmer got tired of talking to one of the people who pay his retainer and basically said: if you don’t like it, sue.

Now I don’t care for this kind of assholery on the part of people who are supposed to be working for me, so I thought I’d check out Mr. Palmer and share some information, gleaned from the Jones and Mayer website. It’s always nice to know who and what you’re dealing with.

Apart from his alleged expertise dealing with “sexually-oriented business,” – whatever that means, this bit caught my eye:

Mr. Palmer has handled several high profile cases. In 1997, he prosecuted the First Southern Baptist Church and its pastor for illegally housing the homeless on its grounds. 

So Mr. Palmer and Dick Jones actually brag about about shutting down a church engaged in an act of Christian charity.

The Turn Around. Another Lie from SparkyFitz

It’s a sad fact that most stories about political corruption and malfeasance end up getting drowned out by a tsunami of other news – often just more corruption and malfeasance. And so it is with Fullerton’s lobbycreature/councilmember Jennifer Fitzgerald – for whom no lie, shakedown or chisel can ever be too small. Here’s a post from almost two years ago when we uncovered that Fitzgerald, who publicly forswore council pay had started, in fact, to take the emoluments of her office.

 

Joined in mutual interest. The public is nowhere to be seen…

In March of this year our lobbyist-council person Jennifer Fitzgerald began to receive the typical council pay check, plus 100 bucks a month to not enroll in the City’s health insurance plan.

“So what?” you may be saying to yourself. Well, here’s the problem. In her self-promotion for political office in 2012 Fitzgerald got way up on her high horse about refusing compensation for “public service.” She even made a promise!

And that’s not all. Enjoy this lecture on the high moral ground Fitzgerald stakes out for herself in 2013. She made a big deal about her refusing compensation when she first joined the council. Could the moralizing get any thicker?

Between 2013 and now a lot has changed for Ms. Fitzgerald, most notably a vice presidency at Curt Pringle and Associates, the notorious lobby shop where no public asset is too valuable for cheap disposal. It may very well be that Fitzgerald now has a completely different attitude toward “public service” than she did five years ago.

Fire Sprinklers Save Lives and Property!

The family goes way back

And who should know that better than the Florentine Family whose nightclubs at the corner Harbor and Commonwealth, as FFFF recently noted, were out of compliance with their Conditional Use Permit that requires the installation of fire sprinklers.

Yo, this is better’n Joisey. I got me a sidewalk!

This is surely ironic to people who consider such things, since the paterfamilas of the clan, Tony, used to own a restaurant and lounge called the Melody Inn that was gutted by a suspicious fire in 1989 and required the demolition of the oldest remaining commercial building in Fullerton. This in turn, set off a years-long bureaucratic chain of humiliation and Redevelopment folly that concluded with the construction of a hamburger restaurant and other architectural monstrosities.

There is no second floor. Other than that it’s a 2 story building

 

Maybe it was supposed to be a swimming pool

Now, you might think that someone who suffered such a terrible tragedy as losing a business just a few hundred feet from his current one would be a lot more concerned about a repeat performance in 2019. And you might think the Fullerton municipal government would be a lot more concerned about fire safety and well-being of the Florentines’ patrons.