The Questionable Promise of Technology

See? We told you it would work...
See? We told you it would work...

Using computers to arrange and sort data is useful for all sorts of things – especially when in comes to creating three dimensional imagery. Nobody can deny the impact of presenting scanned data for medical diagnostic purposes; or the use of scaled multi-disciplinary construction models that can simulate a 3D environment: very useful for ascertaining “clashes” between different trades as well as presenting the architect and client with views of his proposed effort.

But despite the technology drum beater’s boosterism (think laptops for kids, FSD style) there reaches a point in every computer application where the information is either too dense or voluminous to be assimilated or analyzed by those looking at it; or is just plain non-effective compared to traditional approaches; or worst, lends itself to misinterpretation or deliberate misrepresentation. This point of diminishing returns is reached quickest when the recipients of data just don’t know what to do with it. When that occurs they’re bound to do something bad with it.

Such may very well be the case with a City of Fullerton program that promises to create a three dimensional model of downtown Fullerton. We received an e-mail the other day from Al Zelinka, who works for the Planning Department. We point out that Mr. Zelinka is very careful to explain that the pilot program is being paid for by SCAG, not the City (where SCAG got the money is obviously not a point of interest for Mr. Zelinka, or, presumably, us).

First, we are inevitably forced to ask why. Who will benefit from the necessary resources plowed into such a program? It’s hard to answer.  And who will be able to use the information? We can envisage all sorts of staff (and consultant)  time going into creating maintaining and manipulating such data; and then the inevitable jargon and rhetoric tossed back to the public to foist staff driven projects onto the public. The Council: aha! See? The 3D model supports (fill in the name of the Redevelopment Agency’s favored project).

Perhaps the most important question is whether, once the model is done, it needs to be tended and updated by the City. If not, the effort going into seems to be something of a waste.

In any case the public are invited to a meeting on December 16th @ 6 PM in the Council Chambers to see the wonders of 3D modeling. No doubt all of our questions will be answered with sparkling clarity.

At the bottom of his e-mail Mr. Zelinka (AICP) includes a quotation that ought to give pause to even the biggest Planning Department cheerleader:

“Dedicated to Making a Difference.”

“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir [women’s and] men’s blood….” – Daniel Burnham

Ay, ay, ay!

Get Rid of The Fair Board

the food wasn't really all that great
the food wasn't really all that great

Here is a very good column we came across today by Barbara Venezia. in light of some of the non-conversations we’ve been having here lately with a Fair Board supporter, we thought we’d share it.

Venezia: OC Fair Board should be removed

BARBARA VENEZIA

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Barbara Venezia

[email protected]

 Why isn’t anyone calling for the removal of the current Orange County Fair Board? Doesn’t personal responsibility matter anymore? When you take into consideration the collateral damage they’ve caused with this ridiculous self-serving shell game of buying the fairgrounds, every single one of them should be held accountable, including the two who were not part of the nonprofit shenanigans.

When I asked board member Julie Vandermost why she wasn’t a part of it, she emailed, “It’s a matter of not having enough bandwidth in my schedule.” David Padilla didn’t return my call; rumor has it he wasn’t even asked to participate in the nonprofit. If true, you have to wonder why.

I’m not buying Julie’s clever excuse and David’s non-response speaks volumes. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out they were probably the first ones who saw something hinky in this plan. Why didn’t they speak up? Was it because they didn’t want to rock the boat and lose the lucrative perks of being on the Fair Board? Or were they afraid of the blow-back speaking against powerful fellow board members could bring?

Does personal responsibility go out the window if you just keep your mouth shut?

This Fair Board’s questionable behavior should be enough ammunition to explore removal. Let’s not forget they were smack dab in the middle of the Mike Carona trial with board member Debbie Carona. Then there was the whole messy ticket/private dinner scandal that some argued amounted to “gifts of public funds,” perks estimated at approximately $40,000 plus. When this was taken away, tongues wagged that 50 percent of the board considered quitting.

Now Costa Mesa’s setting aside beaucoup bucks to create a plan B, (making a bid to buy the fairgrounds), should plan A, (getting the governor to rescind the sale), not work. This exercise in futility could’ve been avoided had the OC Fair Board done their job and not lobbied for the sale or formed their own nonprofit to buy it.

When is someone going to talk about the elephant in the middle of the room? It appears this board is not looking out for the best interest of the public. Politicians generally hate going after those who fund-raise and have political juice, but what if they’re out of control?

Maybe it’s a task for Supervisor John Moorlach; after all, accountability’s something his office has preached repeatedly. Sure his administration’s taken its lumps as they’ve gone after some sacred political cows like pension reform, but whether you agree with them or not, this group seems fearless. It would make sense for Moorlach and company to lead this charge.

But will he? He’s gearing up for a tough re-election bid. Going after political heavyweights on the Fair Board could cause a rift within his party; then again, being pro-active on this issue could give him a leg up with voters. Wonder if he’s a gambling man?

Costa Mesa, coupled with the OC Board of Supervisors, could accomplish rescinding the sale and requesting new board members. So who’ll have the chutzpah to stand up for personal responsibility? We all should.

Freelance writer Barbara Venezia’s opinion column appears online and in The Current every Friday. Email BV at [email protected]

Amen, Barbara, and thank you for saying what no one in the Republican hierarchy has the courage to say. Clean the Augean Stable at the OC Fair. Even if we have to divert the Santa Ana River to do it!

 

So Who Does The Red Bottom Blog Support in the 4th Supervisorial Race?

Today Matt Cunningham deigned to visit our humble blog with about eleven hundred comments. Hell, I’m honored, I guess. What dedication! Now that he seems to be following us I thought I’d raise a topic that is becoming more timely than ever – the 4th Supervisor election that now could be decided in June 2010. 

Let’s see. The Red County blog is supposed to be a conservative Republican blog. So why hasn’t uber-Republican Matthew Cunningham come out with any endorsement in the OC 4th District Supervisorial race. We know that he just couldn’t find it in himself to go out on a limb and support Chris Norby over the unqualified, dishonest, carpetbagger from Irvine, Linda Ackerman – it was just such a close call; but c’mon now this one’s a freakin’ slam dunk fer crissakes.

Let’s help out Matt by reviewing the would be Supes:

1. Tom Daly – career government worker; Democrat.

2. Rosie Espinosa – Democrat and no doubt as “progressive” as they come.

3. Lorri Galloway – Democrat and no doubt as “progressive’ as the come. Oh, yeah!Carpetbagger!

4. Harry Sidhu – Republican but Carpetbagger; plus Cunningham has been taking shots at him as an unprincipled hack for several years.

5. Shawn Nelson – Conservative Republican who stood up to the unions and his RINO pals on the Fullerton City Council and who took a strong position against Fullerton’s phony Redevelopment expansion.

Well this is really a no-brainer for somebody who is supposed to be a conservative Republican. Whatdya say, Matt? Who are you supporting in this election?

The Ackerman Hillbillies

hillbillies14
Get ready y'all, we're a-comin', we're a-comin'!!

(Sung to the tune of “The Beverly Hillbillies” theme song.)

Come and listen to a story ’bout a man named Dick,
A rich senateer, with a veneer just like brick.
Then one day when he’s shootin’ for a blog,
His current zip code blew away all the fog.

Nice house…
Garden’s well-tended…
Don’t look like the 72nd…

While up in Sacramento a feller named Duvall,
Did some heavy breathin’ in the microphone for all,
To hear how he’s been rulin’ for the public right,
And spankin’ those lobbyists long into the night.

Gotta keep on top of ’em…
Give ’em an inch…
They’ll still want more…

Well the first thing you know Dick’s wife has dyed her hair,
Their neighbors said, “Linda, move away from there!”
Up north in Fullerton’s the place you ought to be!”
So they’re packin’ up their bags, getting ready to flee.

Far north OC…
BBQs…
Pork and beans…

Seems his wife wants to pick up where old Dick left off,
Livin’ high in Fullerton, feedin’ from the trough,
They’d like another house, if their landing can be soft,
A mansion, a bungalow, or even a loft.

Anything will do…
Don’t need much…
Just more votes…
Bring ’em on in…

So think about these tales when it come time to vote,
Makes it hard to swallow, like something in your throat,
If Dick and Linda try to make a power grab,
Let’s send ’em back to Irvine with their velvet carpetbag!

Y'all don't come back now, y'hear?
Y'all don't come back now, y'hear?

No Stems or Seeds That You Don’t Need

Recently Fullerton’s Redevelopment Director, Robert Zur Schmiede (who also serves on the planning commission for Laguna Beach) decided to channel his inner MD for an impromptu prescription to the Laguna Beach City Council to ban all medical marijuana dispensaries from the city. An OC Register article detailing the issue is available here, but here are a couple of noteworthy quotes:

“While acknowledging the needs of ill patients to access marijuana, I will not support — and will, in fact, vehemently oppose — the allowance of collectives in the city,” Commissioner Robert Zur Schmiede said.

“Why anyone with a grain of sense thinks this is something we should do is beyond me,” he added, to some murmurs in the audience.

Father Schmiede Knows Best
Father Zur Schmiede Knows Best

Let’s get this straight:

  • the majority of voters in California elected to legalize marijuana for medical use 13 years ago
  • Zur Schmiede is fully aware that there are ailing citizens who have a legitimate medical need for the drug
  • Zur Schmiede does not have a medical degree

Despite all that, he actively seeks to deny patients access to a drug that a licensed medical doctor has recommended for treatment.

Hmm... No medical marijuana for you!
Hmm... No medical marijuana for you! Trust me. I'm not a doctor.

Does Zur Schmiede really have the public interest in mind here? Can we expect this sort of reefer madness to echo in Fullerton? Or can we reasonably expect our city staff to uphold State law?

 

08/04/09 UPDATE BY THE FULLERTON HARPOON:

We have delved deep into our photo archives and have uncovered this image. And so continuing in the Robert Young leitmotif  we share it with our Friends.

But I'm sick and need help! Nein! Ve vill never approve this pprescription!
But I'm sick and need help! Nein! Ve vill never approve zis prescription!

The West Harbor Alley Improvement Project

The other day I took my elementary-age children to Cafe West for a cool drink, and found this postcard on the counter:

harbor-alleyharbor-alley2

The triptych above seems to reflect a strategy all too common in the city:

  • Phase #1: tear out trees (and put in a subsidized fire line for the “night clubs”)
  • Phase #2: fill holes with temporary asphalt
  • Phase #3: ask questions later

To most of us, this would seem a bit like putting the cart before the horse, but one has to wonder if the RDA sees it that way.

donkeywork
Redevelopment Project Overload; Council Loses Traction

What’s the mystery here? For goodness sake, this is just an alleyway, all they’ve done is yank out a few trees!  What kind of “design” is required here? Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill!

From this...
From this...
... to this!
... to this!

My own kids provided some helpful suggestions as to what to do with the freshly vacated space in the alley. One of them thought a modern sculpture would be appropriate, while the other mused that perhaps another luxury apartment complex could be squeezed into that tiny space. Hey, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

The view's not all that great, but the rent is reasonable!
Or how about affordable housing? Alley-style!

However, given Fullerton’s recent trend of rolling out the red carpet to the bar scene, perhaps a European-styled “pissoir” could not only provide a visually attractive option, but one that’s functional as well.

Et voila! Le pissoir de resistance!
Et voila! Le pissoir de resistance!

True, a few fumes may greet the occasional pedestrian walking through the alley, but this would be one project the RDA could actually claim where form follows function.

This triptych seemed to reflect a strategy all too common in the city: