The Process & The Consultant

A few weeks ago I published a post on the extremely dubious efforts of a paid consultant to begin a renewed effort to raise a new sales tax in Fullerton. The consultant is an operation called FM3.

We’ve seen this movie before. Many times.

In an effort to build momentum toward justifying a new tax a consultant is tasked with cooking up a poll, a survey that is worded in such a way as to make the question of a new tax sound not only plausible but even desirable.

The information that is collected is meant to probe the electorate’s weak spots, just like an army might send out reconnaissance to figure out where to attack.

Another benefit is to begin the process of developing ballot statement language that will push and persuade voters to the correct decision – a decision that will always be to vote for the tax. The reasons will be a short recital of the usual, low-hanging fruit, public safety being at the top of the list, but with no explanation that our public safety corps – emergency medical personnel (formerly known as :firefighters) and cops already suck up the majority of Fullerton’s General Fund. Mention of parks, quality of life, libraries and now “homeless” will be thrown in to the pot; and infrastructure maintenance will be included, disingenuously, to get support of the more hard-headed voter, just like last time.

Measure S Covid Lie
Let me count the ways…

And of course this language will be also be used by the inevitable political action committee formed to wage the propaganda war.

Make no mistake about it. The consultant hired to undertake this effort will know at the outset what his mission is. He knows who hired him and he knows what his employer wants.

Here’s a fun little Aussie video that spells out the process succinctly:

And so it goes. The start of a charade in which the taxpayers foot the bill to be “educated” into supporting a pre-determined outcome. The line between education (legal) and propaganda (illegal) is not bright, as asserted by Councilmember Bruce Whitaker. The fuzzy demarcation is exploited all the time by government agencies – always based on information collected in the original poll.

No On S
Don’t Reward the City’s Stupidity

The hopeful part of this is that the electorate is not always as easily persuaded as is supposed by the would be taxers. This was demonstrated in Fullerton in 2020 when voters rejected the ill-considered Measure S, and property tax-based bond floats by Fullerton’s two school districts.

In the end the Council (Jung, Zahra and Charles) voted, vaguely, to keep the “education” process going, a process that we know is nothing other than political propaganda aimed at persuading a majority of voters and coordinating with a special political action committee set up to scare, cajole, and bamboozle the voters.

Where Are They?

The trail wasn’t useful, but it sure was short…

On FFFF’s last post we got some comments from a frequent FFFF critic who was trying desperately to justify the idiotic Trail to Nowhere, the disembodied, half-mile, $2,000,000 taxpayer funded boondoggle that serves no apparent useful purpose. One sentence in the one of this person’s comments is worth posting about because it so clearly points to a complete failure of the Trail to Nowhere to be a facility that anybody would use.

The inability of its advocates to describe real persons, any real persons who might want to use this trail has been one of FFFF’s most frequent criticisms of it. Instead we have been presented with the same generalities and clichés over and over and over and over again. Trails good. Healthy children good. Poor need services. Trees good. Fresh air. Blue sky. Cars bad. Bikes good. Good things for south Fullerton. Right-of-way conversion good.

But back to our visitor. Here’s the quotation:

So say you lived in a home near UP Park and wanted to ride a bicycle to the DMV.

In and of itself this comment is just an absurd disconnect from reality in so many ways; but it points to the inability of Trail to Nowhere boosters to describe real users of the proposed project that could justify its cost; and it’s the reason they stick to useless generalities.

Over there is run and play and enjoy… (Photo by Julie Leopo/Voice of OC)

The grant application for the Trail to Nowhere is full of useless general statistics of an area with absolutely no connection to the specific land use of the immediately surrounding area – present or future. From these general numbers (half of which are north of the BNSF tracks and not even germane) our City staff educed all sorts of things that aren’t remotely true. Things like connectivity to businesses, to Downtown Fullerton; connectivity between east and west Fullerton, and between schools, etc. In one of the most breathtaking of outright lies, the creators of the application claim to the State of California that they project annual users at 105,000.

Suddenly, users appeared out of the cornfield…

Others, like our visitor, have even relied on the dearest hope of all bureaucrats looking for make-work stuff they can’t justify: if you build it “they” (somebody, somehow, somewhere) will come. Of course there is no accountability when something fails. Suddenly, no one is around anymore to take the rap, even if government culture had a rear view mirror (it doesn’t).

Hugo and Alice. The radioactivity was undeniable…

The Trail to Nowhere is the brain child of the long gone, $100,000 per-year pensioner, Susan Hunt. More recently it was shepherded along by Hugo Curiel and the egregious Alice Loya; the former was fired and the latter just retired. Six City Managers have presided over this incompetence from soup to nuts, and the latest can blame the other five if he needs to.

Only in this environment of unaccountability could anybody propose a project without being able to give a specific and credible analysis of who would actually use the facility.

We the People, An Essay

Intelligent commentary was not forthcoming…

You’ve got to hand it to some of Fullerton’s lefties. Their blind devotion to abstractions, knee-jerk reaction to anything threatening their cherished causes, and blindered view of a world of injustices perpetrated on the “underserved” is pretty impressive. One way or another.

Let me be your guide! (Photo by Julie Leopo/Voice of OC)

But one thing that has really struck me lately is the way in which these folk identify themselves with the biggest thing in a democratic republic: the people.

It must be part of human nature to think that what you hold dear must be what everybody should want. But in some, the misidentification takes on a delusional quality – it is what everybody wants.

The people have spoken…

I’m referring to the recent hubbub about the ridiculous “Trail to Nowhere,” in which a tiny Ahmad Zahra claque have bi-monthly wasted hours and hours and hours talking about how their desire is the will of “the people,” and how the City Council majority is not listening to “the people.”

Why repeat the numerous reasons why the proposed trail was idiotic? FFFF has already done that convincingly. Instead, let’s look at the nature of the chatter.

Children at play…

Such talk could easily be dismissed as just meaningless political rhetoric, but these people seem to actually believe they do speak for everybody, obviously, because they are so right. It’s hard to understand where such a blind self-righteousness comes from, but I suspect it comes from decades of educational indoctrination into certain ways of thinking.

But, consider the reality.

Intrepid reporter/newsmaker, S. Kennedy, top left.

A dozen or so speakers nattering on about something they stubbornly refuse to actually understand, but believing that they speak for the citizens of a mid-size city of 145,000 people is preposterous.

All clear, fire away!

The vast majority of Fullerton’s residents don’t know anything about the Trail to Nowhere and, if presented all the facts instead of weepy and outraged propaganda of the Fullerton Observer, might possibly conclude that the Council majority acted in their interest.

The Poisoned Trail to Nowhere?

The subject of trichlorethylene (TCE) contamination along the proposed Trail to Nowhere has been the subject of discussion on this blog. The adjacent factory at 311 South Highland Avenue was the site of TCE spills for years and has been identified as such by the State Department of Toxic Substance Control and the federal EPA. The agencies identified a southerly moving plume off the property and directly under the trail site.

The contamination was included in a lawsuit brought by the Orange County Water District, but has not been remediated.

In previous posts FFFF identified old test wells on property to the west of 311 S. Highland.

It turns out there are new ones, too. Six of them, in fact, that were actually drilled on the trail site strung out along several hundred feet.

There are also new test wells that have been placed very recently even farther south – in the west 100 block of Truslow Avenue.

These test wells have been placed without any notification to the residents of District 5, so they told me when I traversed the area today; but, obviously the City is aware of these installations since encroachment permits are required to do this sort of work on public property.

So the question remains: what is the level of toxicity in the area – and not just on the impact to ground water, but to surface soils that might need to be excavated, treated, and removed. There is no budget to do toxic soils remediation, either in the Trail to Nowhere grant application, or in the City’s budget.

Maybe the soils along the Trail to Nowhere are clean, or at least of a level of toxicity that is not considered hazardous. Maybe not. Maybe it’s time to find out.

The View From On High

It was like getting hit with a broomstick all over again…

I have to say there are a lot of advantages to being in Doggie Heaven, and I would be remiss if I didn’t share them once in a while.

Getting rid of all the little annoyances connected with being alive and being a dog, for one thing.

Like I was reminded on Tuesday night when I was looking in on Fullerton’s City Council meeting to see if much had changed since my last visitation.

There was a lot of silly bloviation going on, the sort of things bipeds (humans and parrots and so forth) like to do. But then I was suddenly horror struck! Who was that sitting five or six rows back along the left aisle?

Arf! None other than my former mistress, Jan Flory, looking grumpier and more outraged than ever!

Yes, I admit, I recoiled in terror – a justifiable reflexive action, really, given all the times she would crack my skull with her broom and force me to take a doggie dump on Mr. Bushala’s property – and then crack my skull again if I didn’t. A chill ran down my ghostly spine as I recalled the bad old days when a pint of Jim Beam would mean a sound thrashing for me.

Too much scotch, not enough water…

My anxiety got even worse when my former mistress got up to speak. I know I should have averted my gaze to something less horrific, but it was sort of like one of you humans watching a train wreck – it’s hard to look away. I have no idea what she was babbling about, but she was going off on a guy named Whitaker, most likely the same man she raved about at home thirty years ago – just before the ol’ broom would come out of the closet. Whack! Right across the orbital. I could tell the utility mop was still securely in place after all these years.

Well, that’s my report from up here. I did notice that Fullerton has changed very little which is sort of reassuring in a way, even though I am just a dog, and a dead one at that.

Mayor Nick Dunlap

On Tuesday Nick Dunlap was appointed Mayor of Fullerton by the City Council.

That’s “Mayor Dunlap” to you…

Dunlap seems like a decent fellow. He’s been courteous and collegial and always seems to be engaged in meetings. Congratulations to him. Apparently he’s turned down the job in the past, maybe because he’s got a couple of young kids.

I’m not voting for Zahra and you can’t make me…

Fred Jung, the outgoing Mayor was chosen as Mayor Pro Tem, the person who runs meetings if the Mayor is indisposed.

The real story here is that once again Ahmad Zahra was passed over. Oh, the humanity.

Intelligent commentary was not forthcoming…

His band of followers spoke emotionally for him. Why, you’d think he was the incarnation of St. Joan, St. Francis, Albert Schweitzer, Tiny Tim and Mighty Mouse, all rolled into one. Of course that little cavalcade was also the same group of folks who show up every week to challenge the ethics and honesty of the Council majority – at Zahra’s behest.

The system of rotation must be upheld they cried passionately. Fairness, they wailed. One guy got himself so wound up he looked ready to take punches at the air. The agitation. The furor! District 5 will have no Mayor some of the underserved proclaimed. The wailing and gnashing of teeth!

Too much scotch, not enough water…

Even former Councilcreature Jan Flory hauled herself out of inebriate haze to deliver comments whose sole purpose was one last attack on Bruce Whitaker, challenging him to put aside his ill-humor and do the right thing by Zahra, hilariously neglecting to observe her own 30-year old, still unsatisfied vendetta against Whitaker. Clearly the stick up her backside remains firmly in place.

And this was before the vote.

I know what’s best. Trust me.

But none of the offended folk seem to have reflected that there must be an excellent reason for Whitaker, Dunlap, and Jung to deny Zahra “his turn.” Those three obviously don’t like Zahra and don’t trust him. His penchant for self-promotion and his demeaning attitude toward them, so typical of the left-leaning know-it-all, has probably worn very thin. They know it is Zahra who has been orchestrating the ongoing harassment of them through his collection of oddball minions.

Zahra has been said to have filed a complaint to the police against Fred Jung for being a meanie of some sort, a claim that was refuted by everybody present. Zahra lied about being exonerated for a crime to which he pleaded guilty to have his record expunged. These aren’t good ways to earn trust and respect among your colleagues. And then there’s his ties to Melahat Rafiei the dope lobbyist and bribery queen who was just rung up by the US Justice Department.

Then, that very night, the public discovered that Zahra had gone behind the Council and City Manager’s back to talk to a State agency all by himself.

And who knows how many other shenanigans have been played by this unemployed, self-righteous, utterly transactional individual; and who knows what other skeletons might be inclined to tumble out of his closet?

And the end of the meeting Zahra was brought to tears by the injustice, choked up like a little child who wasn’t allowed to play on the monkey bars. The pathos was so thick it brought Zahra’s remaining followers in attendance to weep right along with the object of their affection.

The Trail to Nowhere, Redux

Just in case you missed last night’s City Council meeting I am thoughtfully presenting a recap of Trail to Nowhere item.

Informed commentary was not forthcoming…

Public comments kicked off the fun-filled evening with the usual Ahmad Zahra puppets berating the Council majority for their many deficiencies.

The trail didn’t go anywhere, but it sure was short…

And then followed, once again, an re-examination of the corpse of the Trail to Nowhere, a topic that had somehow made it back onto the agenda courtesy of Zahra and a compliant City Manager and City Attorney. Bruce Whitaker immediately stated his opposition to this move and motioned to take up the discussion in January. This was seconded by Nick Dunlap.

Let slip the dogs of law…

Howls of outrage filled the chamber from the usual brigade of uninformed Zahra followers who were told that they could only discuss the motion to continue the matter, and not sing their usual hosannas for a complete waste of $2,000,000. True, this was weird. City Attorney Dick Jones of the “I Can’t Believe It’s a Law Firm” blessed this process, which of course made absolutely no sense. Since when can the public give comment on an individual motion of the Council? See the problem? I got the distinct impression that Jones was trying to redeem himself for letting the thing on the agenda in the first place.

dick-jones
Staying awake long enough to break the law…

I’m going to write a separate post on why it’s time, way, way past time to shit-can Dick Jones and his crew of incompetent lawyers once and for all.

Anyway, public comments did proceed with speakers accusing the council majority of Whitaker, Jung and Dunlap of wasting their time and trying to kill the Trail to Nowhere by stalling it to death. None of these worthies seemed to get the irony that it was their hero, Ahmad Zahra, who was stringing the thing out by putting a dead issue on the agenda. And he was doing it solely for the purpose of embarrassing the Council majority. Some wanted the matter decided then and there, a pretty reasonable demand if you think about it, and one that really would have laid the matter to rest.

If I knew what I was talking about this wouldn’t be Fullerton!

Councilwoman Charles phoned in her nonsensical two cents by claiming that “new information” rendered the August decision open for discussion because it didn’t look like the State was going to allow a repurposing of their grant. Of course that was a misstatement of the Council decision which was clear: turn down the grant unless it could be used elsewhere. She also added that changes had been made to the plans – a completely false statement.

I know what’s best. Trust me.

After more Zahra pontification about his neglected district, yadda, yadda, the Council voted to continue the matter until January 17th, 2024, a move that unfortunately validates the improper move by Zahra to agendize the matter in the first place.

The only interesting thing that emerged from the issue was that Ahmad Zahra had gone directly to the State Natural Resources Agency behind everybody else’s back, and Fred Jung found out about it. What this communication entailed is unknown – Jung wants to get to the bottom of it – but I have the sneaking suspicion that Zahra was trying on his own to undermine diversion of the State funds to something useful – again, to simply to embarrass his colleagues. According to our lackluster City Manager, Eric Leavitt they are planning another meeting with the State.

The Thing That Wouldn’t Die

It’s Fullerton. There’s always a backdoor!

Fullerton City Hall watchers know one thing for certain. If the bureaucrats want something, it will never die. The issue may be voted down by a majority of the City Council, but rest assured, the item will sooner or later be back. The history of this sad fact is undeniable and goes back decades and decades.

And so the ridiculous Trail to Nowhere has been agendized for reconsideration on Tuesday almost four months after it was sensibly rejected way back in August.

How did this get on the agenda? It’s hard to believe that Jung, Whitaker or Dunlap asked to put it in on, but maybe the incoherent yammering of Ahmad Zahra’s gaggle of followers over the past fifteen weeks got to one of them to go along with Zahra and Shana Charles to put this on the agenda. I said maybe. Because it is also possible that the City staff did this on their own for reasons unknown. We’ve seen that happen before, too, when some non-existent legal pretext was drummed up by the I Can’t Believe it’s A Law Firm© of Jones and Mayer, or the equally maleficent firm of Rutan, formerly Rutan and Tucker, who defended the indefensible for years.

Because this is Fullerton, how this idiocy became officially resurrected will probably never be known. What hasn’t changed are the excellent reasons to reject the State grant. Again.

I guess the locals do use Phase I…

Here is a list, thoughtfully provided by the diligent FFFF research team:

  1. Not safe – look at “Phase 1” Gangs and drugs
  2. No identified users
  3. No environmental testing done
  4. Adjacent contaminated property – TCE
  5. Numerous possible polluters up and down trail
  6. Application contains false information about environmental testing
  7. Doesn’t line up with “Phase 1”
  8. No budget to modify “Phase 1”
  9. “Phase 1” is deficient – 90 degree angles
  10. “Phase 1” HAS NOT BEEN MAINTAINED. Maintenance is an issue
  11. No connectivity to the east – blocked by SoCo Walk
  12. Does NOT go to the Transportation Center
  13. No connectivity to the West – BNSF ownership; possible High Speed Rail in right of way

We’ve had some fun here making fun of the complete waste of $3,000,000 on the Trail to Nowhere, but there is something else going on here – the reintroduction of something already decided. The issue should be dead and arguments about it, moot. But this is Fullerton, and it’s never over until City staff say it’s over.

Let the Victimhood Begin!

Yes, Friends, it’s that time of year again, when Fullerton’s City Council chooses one of its number to act as Mayor for the upcoming year.

Zahra-Busted
Time to come clean…..

And as predictable as the summer monsoon in Bangladesh, the Fullerton Observer has begun laying the foundation for another wailing session, decrying the mean council trio of Jung, Dunlap and Whitaker for passing over Observer inamorata, Ahmad Zahra, the preening, deceitful, egomaniac councilman from District 5, who has gone well out of his way to alienate the three, any one of whom could get him chosen Mayor.

Here’s the doleful headline:

Will District 5 Get Mayoral Representation at the City Council Meeting on December 5?

It’s sort of fun to read the litany of complaints and grievances that follow, written by somebody called Jack Hutt, whose angry essay is just another attack on Fullerton’s three more or less sensible representatives.

Mr. Hutt starts decrying the fact that a mayoral rotation policy is not being followed. Well, what a shame that is. A council not feeling bound to adhere to a policy it evidently disagrees with.

Hutt does ponder the question of the motives of Jung, Dunlap, and Whitaker, a little:

One has to wonder what happened in closed sessions that made council members Jung, Whitaker, and Dunlap publicly disrespect Zahra. Will the council members ever tell the public the reasons?” 

Good question. And yet poor Hutt doesn’t seem to realize Closed Session deliberations are cloaked in secrecy by law. It doesn’t really matter to Hutt anyhow, because in his very next sentence he telegraphs his intent:

Or is it so petty or phobic that it can not be uttered?” 

Now our offended writer has rolled three insults into one conclusion. The three are either so petty, or gay-hating, that they must cower in fear, terrified to let the public know how low they are.

Later, Hutt rolls out his big gun:

He also survived a vicious negative campaign funded by Tony Bushala.” Whenever the Observer crowd gets agitated enough they relentlessly name the object of their greatest fear and loathing: Tony Bushala. Hutt follows suit, of course, but as usual omits the fact that Zahra’s 2020 campaign was diligently manicured by him and his sycophants to omit facts like his real biography, his servitude to the marijuana dispensary cartel, his constant self promotion, and his arrest record; that the campaign against Zahra was aggressive, but honest every step of the way; that Zahra dished out over $100,000 to keep a Latino candidate from representing a Latino district. Oh, and Zahra was party to the creation of a fake Latino candidate, Tony Castro, to siphon votes away from Oscar Valadez

Comically, Hutt wraps up his essay with a shot at Nick Dunlap’s lack of interest in his job and makes a hopeful pitch for none other than…Jesus Quirk-Silva:

“...Jesus Silva, who was Gerrymandered out of District 3, now lives in District 2, and although this district is marginally Republican, it is competitive, and he would be a formidable candidate.”

The train of thought was weak but it sure was short…

Now, it wouldn’t be an Observer article without repeating an old lie heard over and over and over again. Quirk-Silva was, as we all know, gerrymandered into District 3 which gave him the opportunity for a free run at Greg Sebourn’s job in 2018 when he was still a city-wide councilman. The redistricting map done in 2022 cleaned up the previous nonsense with rational district boundaries that left Quirk-Silva with no district to run in since he was now in District 2 – and we’re all better off for that.

Here’s the truth: it takes three votes to get elected Mayor. End of story. The facts of precisely why the three councilmen don’t trust, don’t like, don’t want to choose Zahra as Mayor are evidently real. And Zahra is probably better off if the real reasons of antipathy toward him don’t come out; and if they were to emerge, I suspect Zahra is counting on the head-in-the-sand obliviousness of his fife and drum corps to ignore any cogent reasons that might be forthcoming. It’s victimhood uber alles.

The Trail to Nowhere Penalty

Although its advocates keep whacking it like the proverbial dead horse, the near-disaster known as the Trail to Nowhere isn’t happening. We can thank Fullerton City Council members Dunlap, Jung, and Whitaker for pulling the plug on “Phase II” of the so-called Union Pacific Trail back in August. The proposal made no sense: it had few, if any potential users, ran through an area of heavy industry, was and would never be connected to anything else, cost nobody knew how much to maintain, didn’t even line up with its alleged Phase I, and cost $2,000,000 to build (if you can trust a City budget).

Perhaps most importantly, the council majority had previously requested that various trail options be considered in the context of a wider area plan. City staff essentially ignored that request and began a behind the scenes effort to drum up support for the original plan – an act of insubordination, really.

At the time no one told the three councilmembers that there was adjacent property with trichlorethylene contamination in the 300 block of Highland Avenue and plumes had drifted south, even though this information had been in the City’s possession for decades. Fortunately, Messrs. Dunlap, Whitaker and Jung had plenty of other excellent reasons to deny the grant funding for its intended purpose.

Another thing the City Council didn’t know was that if the grant application contained “false representations” – either intentionally, or through lack of reasonable effort – the grant could be rescinded and the State could demand whatever of its money had been spent. Here’s the relevant paragraph in the grant acceptance agreement:

In other words, had contaminated soils been detected on the “trail” the State may well have been inclined to demand whatever had been spent, particularly in light of the fact that the grant application falsely stated that environmental testing had been performed in 1998 and was not an issue.

We know this isn’t true because in the early 2000s the UP Park (after construction) was found to be contaminated, requiring mitigation; there is no way that the “trail” was somehow tested, but not the park site. We also know that very recent PRA requests identifying this specific issue returned no relevant documents.

Of course the State could have revoked the grant on the basis of the fraudulent application alone, had they discovered the misinformation, a municipal embarrassment, to be sure.

Fortunately, for the City employees who manufactured the grant application and snuck it past an incurious City manager, there will be no repercussion, not even a mild “talking to.” And fortunately for the rest of us, the City won’t be saddled with a stupid white elephant of Phase II that would have ended up looking an awful lot like Phase I.

Phase I’s inauspicious beginning. It gets worse.

So everybody should be happy, right?