One year ago today I wrote my first piece for this site, Friends for Fullerton’s Future. It was on the tail end of my lackluster city council bid when I was approached to join the site. I was asked to keep up the writing that I was doing during my campaign but here instead of my own site to which I was agreeable. No timelines had been discussed or content hashed out but the premise was we would revive FFFF because nobody else was effectively putting a spotlight on Fullerton’s abysmal government.
Then Joe Felz killed Sappy McTree after drinking his way through every election party in downtown.
One year ago this morning Joe Felz “took a wide turn” and ran down a tree only for Fullerton’s Finest to be called to the scene of the crime and offer cookies and a glass of milk to our beleaguered city manager instead of the breathalyzer and night in the drunk tank any regular Joe would have received. (more…)
It looks like I might be a “hater”. As one of only a handful of people to come out against the “Pine Forest Staircase” I’m going to make the leap that Fitzgerald is talking about me and therefore will respond accordingly.
Let us take the points in reverse order.
This is not a “New” community amenity as this is one of Fullerton’s oldest parks. All of those people who remember the Duck Pond aren’t having a massive shared delusion as it really did exist. The city let this park fall apart and is now trying to sell it as a win that they’re finally fixing what they themselves broke.
Fixing something you broke isn’t an act of respect. The city let this park fall into complete disrepair owing to budget constraints and poor management as folks like Fitzgerald prioritized six-figure pensions for her friends (Danny Hughes, Joe Felz, et al). To make matters worse the city council has yet to budget for more staff to maintain this park once it is completed. Add to that the likely budget cuts coming thanks to her (and her cohort’s) over spending on FPD/FFD Overtime/Pensions.
The Pine Forest Stairs are shoddily constructed and were significantly overpriced. “People like them and use them” Fitzgerald and her friends claim. Do you know what else they’d like and use? Better made stairs that cost less.
This type of fiscal deflection is ludicrous from an elected official who should be demanding the best bang for our buck and not running interference for developers. To be fair this is a common refrain from elected officials. One needs only listen to Bruce Whitaker justifying overpaying for a park because it’s in the “Gem District“. The council literally rewarded owners for their negligence at a premium price in the instance of Pearl Park.
This project isn’t restoring the park to it’s “original grandeur” as you do not restore something by completely altering it. This is a renovation and not a restoration. A bridge nobody will have cause to use is further destroying what was the duck pond and the pine stairs are totally new. Words matters and the idea that this is a “restoration” is an outright lie. Is the city putting the trees back into the park? No. They were too busy pumping water into Laguna Lake to bother putting any of it on the trees they let die and then had to remove.
And finally let us talk about Fitzgerald’s economic illiteracy here.
“A fantastic use of park fees”.
Park Fees are fees the city takes for new development. When the city allows a new mega-apartment complex to go up they collect a bucket load of money for the purpose of adding or improving parks. I’ve addressed this issue before here.
If this is a legal use of fees is debatable but is it a good use let alone a “fantastic” use of fees?
This is nothing more than Jennifer Fitzgerald perpetuating the ‘Broken Window Fallacy’ as explained by Frédéric Bastiat.
I’ll sum it up simply.
The city council and city management broke Hillcrest park and are now using millions of dollars that could have been used to buy land in Coyote Hills or to fix our long neglected “Poisoned Park” or even to purchase Fullerton’s now most expensive park which Whitaker was all too happy to overspend taxpayer’s money upon.
This money is being used in the least efficient way possible because it is fixing that which never should have been broken. It wasn’t an accidental breakage either. Hillcrest Park has suffered decades of neglect as council after council ignores any semblance of accountability while generation after generation of overpaid bureaucrats toil away on grand schemes to fix what they should have been protecting in the first place.
Fitzgerald’s reasoning logically follows that we should neglect and destroy all of our parks in order to spend money fixing them. Wouldn’t that just be “fantastic”?
After years of unbalanced budgets we can’t really expect much more from Fitzgerald or the Fullerton City Council but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be outraged at their cavalier attitudes or sheer incompetence.
I still naively expect elected officials to work for what is in our best interest and to be able to explain away criticisms without resorting to childish colloquialisms.
Fitzgerald might be correct in that “haters will always hate” but it is also true that economic illiterates will never math.
Let us talk about priorities. Why has Sharon Quirk-Silva not re-introduced a bill for the Veteran’s Cemetery in Irvine?
Sharon Quirk-Silva introduced a bill into the Assembly for the Veteran’s Cemetery in Irvine (AB409) which never even got a vote in committee.
The (D) Super-Majority outright ignored it. Her bill was later rolled into SB96. SB96 was a budget “trailer bill” which is basically an empty bill that is passed by the Senate with one line to be “Gutted” and a new bill full of legislation to be “Amended” into it by the Assembly before coming back for a vote before both houses. It’s a procedural trick which violates the spirit of the law and the very premise of good and open government.
To complicate matters because the Cemetery was rolled into SB96 with 95 other provisions, one of which is also an appropriations item, it is unconstitutional not once but twice and once specifically owing to the provision for the Veteran’s Cemetery itself. (more…)
— As I figured the Friends would enjoy this I have cross-posted this piece from my personal site. —
Enough signatures have officially been gathered to recall CA State Senator Josh Newman. Much to the chagrin of the CA (D)s about 1/10th of the 930K residents of Senate District 29 have added their signatures to the effort to remove him from office.
In the last week or so Fullerton P.D. has been making it extremely clear that they take D.U.I.s very, very seriously.
This isn’t really news as the City Council regularly helps present M.A.D.D. awards to officers with the most D.U.I. arrests.
There is very little sympathy for people who make the stupid decision to drink or do drugs and then drive. This makes sense as when you do so you’re putting not just your own life on the line but are risking the lives of anybody in your potential path.
The however, of course, is if you make such a colossally stupid decision and happen to work for the city.
Were drinking or drugs involved in the January accident and circumstances around the rolled Parks and Rec vehicle? To this day we have no information.
Better yet is if you happen to be one of the high priests of local government. City Manager perhaps. Then you can “take a wide turn” while smelling of alcohol with near impunity.
For those who may have forgotten, back in March Joe Felz was charged with one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of alcohol and one misdemeanor count of hit and run with property damage. He was charged in relation to his 09 November 2016 accident where he “smelled of alcohol” after running over a tree. Instead of being cited or arrested he was given a chance to talk to the Chief of Police, Danny Hughes, before being given a ride home. Hughes also spoke to then Mayor Fitzgerald.
Thanks to denied Public Records Requests and the burden of suing to get information the city won’t legally hand over we don’t know who called whom that night or who ordered the cover-up and obstruction of justice. We don’t know who arranged to let the City Manager escape the crimes that Fullerton P.D. and City Hall are ever so eager to wield against the commoners. What we do know is the following:
We find out on Monday if former City Manager Joe Felz will actually be prosecuted for the crimes with which he’s been charged. We’ll be watching to see if the District Attorney has any interest in actually prosecuting one of the aristocrats in our midst. More likely they plan to keep continuing the case in the hopes that anger subsides and the status quo of corruption can settle back into place. The worst thing that could happen to the Fullerton Police Department, and the sycophantic City Council, is for the truth to come out so the smart money is on a plea deal or a dropping of charges.
Something to keep in mind here is that our City Council has been silent on this whole fiasco. While it is true that the Felz case is still pending, 9 months after the accident, there is no such investigation going on with F.P.D. and the alleged cover-up. Nary a word has come from Council or the City Manager’s office. This council, all 5 of them, are perfectly fine with police corruption and a total lack of oversight. They could have demanded oversight before hiring a new chief. Or before hiring a new City Manager. They didn’t even bother to address the issue. These 5 are more worried about angering the F.P.O.A. campaign monster than doing the right thing. To add insult to injury the thin blue line would rather wallow in their own corruption than oust their “bad apples” once again proving that the whole bushel has rotted.
Nothing changed after Kelly Thomas died and nothing has changed after Joe Felz’s wild ride.
We’ve been waiting to be proven wrong on this issue. We’ve been waiting for council to demand accountability. We’ve been waiting for the council to demand oversight. We’ve been waiting for the brothers and sisters in blue to step out of the shadows and tell the truth. For 9 months we’ve been waiting and it looks like we’ll be waiting forevermore. For all of the pomp and circumstance about public service and the public good it is once again clear that our government institutions and those inside it are interested in anything but.
The effort to recall California State Senator Josh Newman, our local representative here in CA’s 29th District, has reached massive numbers in what is likely record time. The recall effort was initiated after Newman threw his fiscally responsible campaign rhetoric into the circular file and opted to vote with his caucus to raise taxes on the working poor. He knew full well that the voters would never approve such a scheme were it put to a vote but little did he know that voters would retaliate by seeking to remove him from office.
With nearly 85,000 signatures, well above the 63,000 required, having been submitted for the recall it look as if Josh Newman will be facing another vote much sooner than he anticipated.
We’re still waiting on word for how SB96, the budget trailer bill that cynically tries to change the recall laws mid-stream, will play into this whole scenario but expects lawsuits to be filed and candidates to come out of the wood-work to claim credit for something they likely had zero to do with thus far into the process. As things move forward we’ll keep you updated because this is sure to stay interesting.
Our lobbyist Councilperson Jennifer Fitzgerald has asked her supporters on Facebook to show up at tonight’s Council Meeting to support the purchase of land on Pearl Drive to be used as a park.
Our friend David already went over some of the ridiculousness of this purchase in a previous post but it bears getting a little more attention.
The first point to be made is that this item is on the Consent Calendar tonight. Consent Calendar items are items during a meeting that get no separate discussion and are voted on together unless specifically pulled for comment by a member of the public or council. A typical Consent Calendar item would be the minutes to a previous meeting or perhaps a legislative ordinance change forced upon us by Sacramento.
Under parliamentary rules governing City Council meetings, Consent Calendar items are reserved for items that are deemed to be non-controversial. They allow a City Council to save the bulk of it’s meeting time for issues in which there is a need for a serious public debate.
Often though the items end up being things that the city doesn’t want to discuss or scrutinize in detail. Tonight’s meeting has 12 consent calendar items with this purchase being the 10th.
The Consent Calendar is hardly the proper place to drop a $1.2Million+ project and it’s more amusing given that councilwoman Fitzgerald is asking for support on an item that is scheduled to take no public comments. It’s somewhat infuriating that the city of Fullerton is so free with money that it doesn’t feel the need to openly discuss an expenditure that is over 18x the median household income of our residents. Worse still when basic details of the deal are lacking from public view.
The parcel in question is slated for purchase with a whopping price tag of $755,500 based on a use assumption that is faulty at best (see David’s post). Then we have $148,000 for an unexplained “administrative settlement”. Then $300,000 for “improvement costs” that will of course be more than $300K owing to the additional paragraph stating that “An updated estimate will be established upon completion of the community meetings.”
What attachments or reference points do we have so we as a city can analyze this project? None. There is no explanation because a properly scanned, searchable PDF is too much work to manage at City Hall despite numerous requests over the years. I’m sure somebody will sound off that there have been “community meetings” that were announced on Nextdoor or some such nonsense so as to suggest the lack of need for the city to do it’s due diligence on transparency. This will likely come from the same people who complain about Public Records Requests from the public in a city known for a culture of corruption and abject secrecy.
Despite being an ongoing project, per the item’s own sparse agenda attachments, since 2002-2003 and we don’t have a breakdown of costs? A thorough estimate? A reason for the administrative settlement? A list of code enforcement violations?
Even the details we do get don’t tell the whole story.
“The amenities required being demolished”? How about we mention that the city paid over $19,000 for part of that very demolition? It seems that just about every pertinent detail has been washed from this item which maybe explains why it was on the consent calendar in the first place. You do have to the give the city credit for their optimism in hoping they could sneak this through the consent calendar knowing full well that we malcontents are always willing to call them on their shenanigans.
I reckon the only thing more infuriating than a bureaucrat putting forth this kind of lazy and shoddy work is a legislative body so uninterested in demanding real data and accountability that those bureaucrats know they can get away with this nonsense.
The old adage “Trust but verify” is absolutely foreign to the Fullerton City Council.
At the last City Council meeting it was asked by the public and re-asked by Council member Sebourn why Park Dwelling Fees cannot be utilized for maintenance in existing parks. At approximately the 3:41:00 mark in said meeting Parks Director Curiel stated it was owing to an ordinance and Interim City Manager Roeder specified that it was State Law which is where the conversation ended.
I would like to set the record straight from my layman’s perspective.
First and foremost let us explain Park Dwelling Fees. They are fees that developers have to pay the city in order to build new places for people to live within the city. $X/Room. That money is then used for Bridges to Nowhere and temporary stairs that cannot be repaired. What it is not used for is maintenance on our existing parks.
This is especially problematic as salaries and benefits eat up ever more of our general fund and we find ourselves with unsafe parks and deferred maintenance. We put plywood up over damage (nearly 6-weeks later and counting), or worse, while our $6-figure employees tell us we don’t have the budget to keep our kids safe. It’s infuriating. (more…)
Fullerton has a vibrant night life with thousands of patrons being served by the 60+ establishments with liquor licenses within the Downtown region alone. While it is true that some businesses don’t operate within the law and the city turns a blind eye to its own municipal code when it suits them it cannot be denied that business is good in the good old outdoor saloon game.
But business could be better if only bars and nightclubs didn’t have to stop serving people.
Never fear. The California Senate has come to the rescue by passing SB-384 which will allow local municipalities to keep the bars open and beer slinging until 4am. There is a lot of support in Sacramento for this bill as it passed the Senate 27-4-4 with our own Senator Newman being one of those Aye votes. It next goes to the Assembly so only time will tell how Quirk-Silva will vote in that chamber.
The more fun question to ponder is how her husband and the rest of the (D) council majority will vote once it passes. Will they allow Fullerton to keep the doors open longer if only to keep FPD’s OT flowing as freely as the booze? Will they manage to get a handle of the municipal code before acquiescing to their bar and nightclub owning campaign donors? Will they vote against it thereby hindering the number of awards FPD can rack up from MADD?
Personally I think this bill is stupid because it would mean that bars would have to close down at 4AM and could open again at 6AM. Booze would have to stop flowing for 2 hours. 2 HOURS?! Why not just go Vegas style and end the cut-off altogether? That seems like a smarter play then pretending that turning off the tap for 2 hours will keep people from over drinking.
How do you friends think this will play out in council chambers and on the streets of Downtown? Let us know in the comments.
If you need inspiration for your comments please let Dick Jones be your guide.
It’s been six months since Police Chief Danny Hughes left Fullerton to go work for the mouse. Six months since the alleged cover-up that didn’t save Joe Felz from early retirement.
In that six months we had an interim Police Chief in David Hinig and an interim City Manager in Allen Roeder. Well, Hinig has maxed out how much he can be paid by CalPERS so he’s jumped ship and based on timing alone we can calculate that Mr. Roeder will be on his way out sometime in mid-July.
That will once again leave Fullerton without an official City Manager & without a Police Chief to add to our lacking Community Development Director, Museum Director and on and on and on.
It’s almost as if we can’t get great candidates in spite of having no money, a divided city council, a police department knee-deep in a cover-up scandal and on and on and on.
Why wouldn’t new people want to come on board to answer to a council that would rather build bridges to nowhere instead of maintaining what we already have in place? Why wouldn’t somebody new want to grab the tiller of the S.S. Fullerton while it’s sinking? They’ll have the full support of the council majority providing polishing the brass is the only priority on this particular Titanic.