FFFF supports causes that promote intelligent, responsible and accountable government in Fullerton and Orange County
Category: About Us
Intelligent, Responsible, and Accountable. These are the general qualities we seek in our elected representatives – plus the independence and integrity required to be effective leaders.We intend to support candidates in Fullerton who possess the willingness and ability to use their independent intelligence in weighing public matters; who will be responsible to his or her constituents; and who will insist on accountability for all the actions that he or she takes. We will actively oppose incumbents who have failed to demonstrate the qualities described above; who fail to remember that they are servants of the public; who believe that being a “team player” is more important than principle; who don’t have the courage to stand on principle when it means standing alone; who are not humble enough to admit error and are incapable of learning from their mistakes; and those who fail to treat constituents with the respect and dignity they deserve. And we will oppose candidates who through their words or actions indicate that they would not provide intelligent and responsible leadership, accountable to citizens of Fullerton. If you agree with our philosophy, you are a friend of Fullerton’s future.
Ahmad is a film producer, we’ve been led to believe – by Zahra himself – although the body of work is a bit thin. So thin, in fact, as to be transparent. But last Tuesday he gave every indication that a Zahra production need not be a moving picture.
The casting call went out to gullible kids and even those of advanced age who should know better: a protest is needed. The underserved, bikes, trees, arbols, clean air, chubby kids finding health and happiness, all in jeopardy; in other words the ludicrous Trail to Nowhere, a $2,000,000 boondoggle vanity project whose only function was to make an appearance on a future Ahmad Zahra campaign mailer. Streetside they presented a pretty thin line whose handmade signs revealed the lack of imagine one associates with Fullerton Observers.
The protesters spoke, too, wasting lots of the council’s time, repeating the same nonsense previously scripted by Zahra
Zahra’s acolyte named Egleth Nunccio actually tried to get 18 minutes of talking time by taking the time allotted to five women standing behind her. Some of those responding to the casting call gave indication that they were nothing other than paid crisis actors employed to bulk up the chorus. Some make a sad presentation and sure didn’t look like rec trail advocates.
So the production came and the production went off. The protesters had been told by their handlers that there was a chance the rejected State grant could somehow be clawed back from the brink of termination by a council suddenly enlightened or frightened by the Zahra music-less comedy. It can’t. Surely, Zahra knew this even as his little band wasted everybody’s time. His real goal was once again to look like he was accomplishing something. And more importantly, the petulant Zahra wanted to embarrass his colleagues.
And there are people in Fullerton who still wonder why Zahra can’t get himself chosen Mayor by his fellow councilmembers.
You know, we hear a lot about the “brain drain” a situation in which some corporate entity or other suffers from an exodus of its senior managers, generals, archbishops, or whatever titles fit the type of organization.
The same thing pertains to government corporate bodies, too: when department heads head for the hills we hear of the loss of senior talent and expertise that bodes ill for whatever the agency’s mission might be. Lamentations are cried about the loss of “institutional memory” a sad situation in which the accumulated wisdom of the agency is undermined, sapped, or otherwise depleted.
But is this a bad thing?
Let’s reflect on the very nature of corporate behavior. Sure, the mission remains: enrich the shareholders, protect the nation, pass on spiritual uplift, fix the potholes in the road. But of course there’s more. The corporate mindset leads to gigantism, arrogance, defensiveness, self-righteousness and above all avoidance of outside scrutiny.
In effect, the mission of corporations becomes encrusted with the dead weight of the various pathologies that they engender. The consequence is not accumulated wisdom, but rather a culture of ossification that is static, slow, non-responsive and self-satisfied. They lose flexibility, agility and effectiveness.
If we consider Fullerton’s history over the past 30 years it becomes fairly evident that the culture of our government demonstrates the symptoms of ossification. The same types of issues are dealt with in the same kinds of way: bureaucrats display the same kinds of attitudes and behaviors; our elected representatives are replaced and yet never seem to change in their understanding of their jobs. The emphasis in City Hall is as much directed toward self-preservation of the status quo as of taking care of municipal problems; avoiding accountability is more important than fixing the streets. Avoiding loss of control and scrutiny by the public have been, and are the key goals, it seems, of the people we elect and the people we pay to work for us. And protecting the corporate culture is always of paramount importance.
The pages of FFFF are replete with examples over the past 30 years that will amply support my thesis. In my next post I’m going to share one of these examples: a problem that was created by the City over 20 years ago, and which lingers today.
Yesterday I posted a letter from the Gingerwood HOA claiming that District 3 councilperson Shana Charles lied at a public workshop about having consulted them about the proposed re-alignments on Associated Road that are being proposed by Fullerton’s Engineering Department. That’s a pretty bad look for a novice politician.
So now, Friends, let’s explore what’s being proposed. It’s one of those ankle bone-connected-to-the leg-bone kind of things.
First, the City is proposing a sewer and water line improvements in Associated Road between Bastanchury and Imperial. When this is complete, our engineers reckon, it would be an excellent time to repave the street. And then, why not reconfigure the roadway and reduce the lanes from four to two, and add street parking that will act as a physical barrier for a “Class IV” bikeway. Here’s an example of what it would look like, courtesy of Caltrans:
The City reasons that the reconfiguration is justified because the traffic “warrants” are low enough to re-designate this stretch of Associated Road to a mere “local collector” in traffic engineering terms.
The folks who live in the various condo projects along Associated, like Gingerwood, are up in arms about this, and who can blame them? They reason, among other things, that turning out into the one lane of traffic would become more hazardous as their lines of sight will be blocked by parked cars. They will also have to slow way down, in traffic, to turn into their entries. Then there’s the issue of strangers parking in their neighborhoods – overflow from nearby apartment inhabitants and visitors to Craig Park.
This entire situation smacks of social engineering on a small scale. I have no idea how many bikers use the existing bike path and if the new configuration is even safer using parked cars as a barrier. But this seems like an unnecessary battle for City Hall to fight against its citizens.
I can’t think of a convincing reason not to restripe the street the way it is and move on.
Anyhow, the discussion of this matter is on the City Council this week (Item #14) where we can expect a lively confrontation between the irate neighbors and the people, like Shana Charles, who are behind this.
Yes, apparently so, at least according to the Gingerwood Homeowners Association.
The topic of this alleged prevarication is the proposed reconfiguration of Associated Road that would remove a lane of auto traffic and permit on-street parking. I’ll be writing about the details of this “project” in a bit.
This proposal seems to have germinated within the walls of City Hall and was presented to affected parties along the road. One of them is the Gingerwood community HOA that wasn’t real pleased with comments made by their councilmember, Shana Charles.
Uh, oh. It appears the good doctor has been telling stories in order to pedal this project past wary homeowners who don’t want cars blocking their sight lines when they emerge onto the fast traffic of Associated.
Lying to constituents to push a project you like but they don’t suggests a moral and ethical vacuum.
I’ve been relating the newest bit of Fullerton nonsense lately, to wit: the unfolding, bureaucrat driven, unfolding the disaster now know by the funny name The Tracks at Fullerton Station.
So far, we’ve found out that the 141 unit density of the apartment half of this hermaphroditic monster was based on the entire site size, despite the fact that that the “boutique” hotel, all 118 units, sits majestically on the other half. In essence, the Transportation Center Specific Plan limit of 60 units an acre – which is already ungodly dense – has been multiplied by two-and-a-half times, and the environmental documents that have already been approved by the City Council neglect to address this incompatibility with existing governmental strictures.
But it gets even worse.
It’s axiomatic that government minions will invariably cough up “solutions” to non-existent problems. It’s called job security, and the results, as these pages have amply demonstrated over the years, are never subjected to the embarrassment of scrutiny and accountability. This concept is not different.
At the recent Planning Commission hearing we learned that the project in question involves the complete remodel of the existing parking area just north of the Santa Fe Depot, south of Santa Fe Avenue. This further elimination of parking is being proposed to accommodate a brand new bust lane and stop. Why? No intelligent reason was forthcoming. Here’s the site plan:
The existing OCTA bus stops and canopies are only a couple hundred feet away. Is this deemed too far for the scant few travelers who use both bus and train? Of course not. Obviously some “transit” dreamers are hard at work, making work – for themselves.
And now notice at the right of the site plan the proposed hotel juts into the existing Pomona Avenue right-of-way. This will require an abandonment of part of a public street which would require an official abandonment. This is being done to provide outdoor eating for the proposed ground floor café. In order to provide an alternative, our thoughtful staff floated the idea of non-permanent elements in the same area, only requiring the issuance of an encroachment permit. Here’s the architect’s vision looking south along Pomona Avenue:
This wet, hot mess was all approved by the five gourds sitting on the Planning Commission dais. Soon it will make its way to the City Council. Will it pass, as the sale of the property did in December? Will the three who voted to virtually give away this useful public land – Whitaker, Charles and Zahra – vote to double down on their foolishness and approve the monstrosity, the unnecessary bus stop and the abandonment?
Last fall, in a deal with property owner Mario Marovic, our esteemed City Council agreed to let him open his two new bars on the northeast corner of Commonwealth and Harbor if he would demolish the infamous Florentine Mob “pop-out” that took away half the sidewalk.
There’s no need to rehash the embarrassment of how the pop-out happened back in 2003 or how our City Attorney looked the other way for 20 years even as he personally bought and sold property in the immediate vicinity. These stories have been described in great detail elsewhere here on FFFF.
This time around, the remedy for the Humiliation That Wont Die was given a deadline; in the words of the agreement: Demolition/Construction shall commence no later than March 27, 2023 and be completed no later than July 2023.
Obviously, this date came and went three weeks ago with no overt evidence of compliance. Unforeseen delays are accounted for in the agreement, but were there any? Who knows? Is anybody in City Hall even remotely curious? Again, who knows?
Cynical folks have been speculating that the demolition of the addition and reconstruction of the City sidewalk under it will simply not occur; after all, Mr. Marovic’s businesses are open and our feckless council is not composed of people who have the stomach for making people do things that they are legally required to do. This is Fullerton, after all. Some of the original restore-the-sidewalk contingent are dead or have gone batty. And Mr. Marovic is not the sort of chap who will forgo wining and dining councilmembers he needs to make this problem to just go away for another 20 years.
Another possibility is another legal struggle, a tussle in which our distinguished City Attorney will continue to give expensive appallingly bad advice at the expense of the taxpayers.
There is always a chance that Marovic will stick to the agreement, but what the odds are of that happening remain unknown.
Looks like somebody is delving into the relationship between Fullerton City Councilman Ahmad Zahra and the Southern California dope lobby.
Here’s a Public Records Act request made recently at City Hall passed along to FFFF, because, well, we’re interested in this sort of thing.
It’s interesting to see the names Zahra, Spiker, Rafiei and Thakur strung together. Ken Spiker and Associates is a government lobbyist who is interested in profiting from the legal weed game; and, of course we’ve all heard of Melahat Rafiei, the highly placed Democrat who was recently ensnared by the FBI in a bribery scandal in Irvine. It looks like somebody wants to know if one of Rafiei’s greasy tentacles extended into Fullerton’s politics, including ethics-free Fullerton School Board member Aaruni Thakur, who unsuccessfully ran for City Council with a fake address in 2020.
Melahat in better days. (Image shamelessly harvested without permission from Voice of OC)
Folks in a lot of Orange County towns are starting to wonder if Rafiei’s influence peddling in the marijuana dispensary game has been going on in their cities.
Apparently someone in Fullerton is wondering about that, too.
Yes, apparently, former Fullerton City Councilman, Dr. F. Richard “Dick” Jones has gone to his reward. He was 90, or thereabouts.
I am ambivalent about his passing. His record as a public representative was appallingly bad. And yet, doggone it, I miss him. Every other Tuesday we could look forward to some crazy and limitlessly entertaining outburst.
Indeed, it would be remiss of this blog not to acknowledge Mr. Jones and his place in Fullerton lore. This is especially true since it was Jones whose re-election campaign in 2008 was the impetus that created this very blog. Many people in Fullerton believed that 12 years of Jones was more than enough, and FFFF was created as a response to his record on the City Council dais.
Jones was re-elected, of course, and a good thing, too – for over the subsequent years and months the blog was able to treat Fullertonions to wonderful examples his special wit and wisdom. It’s true that the first 12 years of Dick’s political career went largely underappreciated, and included a lot of bad stuff – his support of retroactive pensions spikes, the illegal water tax and the constant shilling for dumbass Redevelopment were largely forgotten – but the FFFF spotlight of the next 4 made up for it.
Between 2008 and 2012 – when Jones was finally and justly recalled from office – he gave us a wealth of comedic material that displayed the various facets of the man: vindictive bully, philistine, loudmouth, hypocrite, bloviator supreme and ignoramus – all delivered with an especially thick, southern-fried coating. Jeez, we traversed the years together sharing fun Jonesian vignettes.
Who can forget him lamenting the monster he created in Downtown Fullerton, the “New West” even as he continued to feed it? His fixation on babies in bathwater became the stuff of legends. He introduced new names for the patrons of DTF – Drunken Others and Last Week’s Felons, even as he saddled the taxpayers of Fullerton with the bill to clean up the mess he admitted creating.
Let’s not forget the night Jones took umbrage that an award-winning architect had come to town to propose good, modern residential architecture. Nuh uh! Mr. Arkyteck? He might like Salvador Dali, but none of that fizzjickle would be in Jonesy’s living room and none of these pointy-headed modern buildings would be in “his” city, brayed the Good Doctor.
When the sore subject of Fullerton’s illegal water tax rates again floated to the surface, Jones was right there to draw baffling comparison with Hitler’s reoccupying the the Rhineland in 1936. Nobody knew what in tarnation he was going on about, but all the toadies in City Hall nodded, sagely.
But finally, in 2011, the mismanagement of Fullerton began to catch up to those who were responsible. When a mentally sick homeless man was horrifically murdered by Fullerton cops, Jones had no way of wrapping his personality around the realities. His lack of accountability was matched only by his lack of empathy in the aftermath of the Kelly Thomas killing. His natural instinct to defend Authority and join the clown show inside the circled wagons came to the fore as he nailed his colors to the Fullerton Police Department mast.
Well, why belabor this? In June 2012 Dr. F. Richard “Dick” Jones was recalled from office, along with his pals Don Bankhead and Pat McKinley. The recall election wasn’t even close.
I don’t know what Mr. Jones has been doing with himself the past 11 years, but I doubt if it included a lot of self-reflection. Dick just wasn’t built that way.
Narcissists lie. Their entire performative existence is all about self-aggrandizement and shoring up lack of real accomplishment by spinning constant yarns about their achievements and abilities. And so I present a clinical case: District 5 Councilman Ahmad Zahra.
The Fullerton Observer/Heathy Community Mafia Forum took place last week and Zahra found another occasion to keep spinning the same myriad lies that he has told so often he may actually have come to believe some of them.
Here are a few to chew on:
Lie #1: Zahra repeated his origin story that he’s lived in the District 5 for the last 21 years.
TRUTH: Zahra’s voter registration clearly shows he has only lived in the District for the last 16. The supposition being if you tell the lie often enough, even you begin to believe your own BS.
TRUTH: Zahra had the crutch of masking his Hispanic street cred in 2018 because he has his Hispanic partner who he opportunistically paraded in front of Hispanic District 5 residents. Without the benefit of his plus one to hide behind, he is now resorted to fabricating a deep understanding of complex issues. Parking issues? Ahmad created parking issues when he mysteriously voted to extend RV parking so nonoperational trailers and motorhomes highjacked streets in District 5.
Lie #2: “I share many experiences of our residents from parking issues, to rent, to housing affordability.”
TRUTH: Zahra is just a typical limousine liberal without the limousine. Your political life is tied to patronizing, top-down government. You are an bald-faced opportunist trying to scam people with your “caring” not you accomplishments of which there aren’t any.
Lie #3: “We have a shelter with good services right here in Fullerton.”
TRUTH: Zahra sold residents on the Navigation Center, which was funded and built for Fullerton homeless. That shelter has only 3 beds dedicated to homeless right now and none of them are from Fullerton. Zahra has done nothing to help Fullerton homeless or the homeless situation in Fullerton. There is a huge encampment of homeless under the 91 freeway at Euclid that has been there for weeks on in and Zahra did nothing to get it cleaned up because he cares so much about homeless.
Lie #4: “We created a safe parking program for residents who are sleeping in their cars.”
TRUTH: The program cost over $150,000 and only a handful of cars participated in the safe parking program because of the security restrictions around it. It was by all accounts an unmitigated disaster and a giant waste of taxpayer money. But a year and a half after it was mercifully ended by the remaining members of the Council, Zahra appears at this forum taking false credit for its imaginary success.
Lie #5: “Making sure our housing element has affordable housing.”
TRUTH: Does Zahra mean the housing element that is so late in development and approval that the City of Fullerton under your watch Ahmad is getting sued over it? Zahra is taking credit for aiding in Fullerton again wasting taxpayer dollars on defending or being a plaintiff in another dumb lawsuit.
Lie #6: “I’ve been working on traffic safety since the beginning.”
TRUTH: The beginning of what? The beginning of your tumultuous and ineffective Council career? The beginning of time? Since the birth of Christ? Considering more people have died crossing Orangethorpe and Lemon during his four year term, perhaps he means beginning after this forum.
Lie #7: “I installed a crossing guard.”
TRUTH: Hold on Skippy! The Fullerton School District pays for and authorizes school crossing guards. It has nothing to do with the City of Fullerton and even less to do with Zahra. But he’ll take false credit for it. The morons who believe Zahra’s lies will believe anything nonsense he says. But others, smarter, will show their contempt for his paltry efforts at the polls.
Lie #8: “We need to take pride in our parks and reclaim our parks.”
TRUTH: Is that right? Pride in Union Pacific Park in the heart of your district, Ahmad? The park that has remained closed for his entire Council tenure? The park that you tried to give away to a private event planner with no parking solutions, until the majority of Council stopped your terrible giveaway of public parkland.
Lie #9: “We need to increase staffing levels.”
TRUTH: Zahra sat idly by and supported the incompetent City Manager Ken Domer, who cut the Parks and Recreation staff to levels unseen in Fullerton’s history. Zahra supported the now former City Manager as he gutted the parks system and here you are taking credit for caring.
Lie #10: “On my two years on the water district, I was the person who advocated the most to create treatment plans.”
TRUTH: No, Zahra received $4000 a month pay for play appointment via Jennifer Fitzgerald and Jan Flory to get appointed to the district; and his also submitted completely plagiarized water articles to the Fullerton Observer and falsely put his name in the byline, which FFFF exposed. During Zahra’s brief time on the Orange County Water District, he did not advocate for a treatment plant. But he did try (and failed miserably) to grab a leadership position on the water district Board of Directors – alienating the entire Board.
Lie #11: Regarding parking issues in Fullerton, “I have been working with Community Development to not negatively impact neighborhoods.”
TRUTH: Zahra and his quitter Planning Commissioner appointee, Elizabeth Hansburg, have underparked every single development that they have approved.To add insult to injury, Zahra gave away street parking to homeless from other states to park their broken down RVs on neighborhood streets. Real champion of the people Ahmad.
Lie #12: Ahmad asserts himself as the reinvented fighter for weed enforcement. That somehow he is a pro-regulation candidate.
TRUTH: Zahra voted for a retail cannibas ordinance that a miniscule measurable buffer zone from homes and schools and has done nothing to get rid of illegal dispensaries, all or most of which are in his district (wonder why?). He keeps telling his gullible supporters that he fights the good fight when in reality he is in the pocket of the weed lobby.
Lie #13: “Driving food to people in my own car.”
TRUTH: Zahra had some community service to work off as part of his criminal plea deal. Zahra makes his court requirement a part of his hollow altruism brand.
There are so many more lies. Ahmad lies so effortlessly, he is one thing for sure: a sociopath.
And one final observation that does not require a TRUTH rebuttal. Look at Zahra’s facial expressions each and every time the Spanish language translator interrupts him to translate his words to constituents in his community since he does not speak Spanish. Distain. Utter distain. What a hypocrite! He doesn’t care of his community. He cares about himself.