A March for Science, Road Closures and the ACLU

On Saturday the city will shut down several public streets for an event called the “March for Science.” It’s the local version of a nationwide protest of federal budget cuts to scientific research. While the event organizers claim that it is non-partisan, critics say its the nerdy version of yet another anti-Trump protest.

Mad scientists

Naturally the city bureaucrats were eager to accommodate to the public’s expression via a gathering on the city hall lawn and a march through downtown streets, right? Of course not. The City of Fullerton declined the assembly. Organizers were told to come up with $12,000 for city fees, a $2 million insurance policy and provide 90 days notice before starting the march.

What were these fees supposed to pay for? $8,000 went towards some sort of a traffic control plan and $4,000 was earmarked for police fees. Specifics costs were unavailable, but we can read between the lines: it’s $12,000 to put up plastic barricades and have some cops stand around, collecting overtime.

The ACLU got involved and lit up the city for charging excess fees they claim were intended to “discourage community members from exercising their First Amendment rights.”

Predictably, the ACLU communique prompted a change of heart at city hall. City management found a way to drastically reduce fees to a mere $175. The march will proceed as planned, without most of the ridiculously expensive bureaucratic requirements.

The moral of this story, of course, is that city hall’s default reaction to 1st amendment activity is to put up artificial financial/administrative barricades and prevent the unwashed masses from organizing and criticizing government. Around here, if you can’t bring in a lawyer to assert your rights, you’re nobody. That sounds familiar.

On the other hand, I am reminded of a peaceful Fullerton march that occurred in 2011 without lawyers, city approval, plastic barricades, insurance policies, traffic control, fat cops on overtime or any sort of certificate of authenticity. How did that happen?

 

Burn Down Hillcrest Park?


Another City Council agenda, another questionable proposal by Parks & Recreation.

Next Tuesday, the City Council will consider a new location for the Fourth of July fireworks and celebration.  The Fullerton Union High School stadium is no longer available for such purposes.  News of the impending change has been known for some time, yet Parks & Rec waited until 2½ months before July 4th to bring this to the council for a vote.  Great planning!

Have a look at the agenda letter:

“Although considered, some of the these venues don’t have the sufficient capacity to hold the expected crowds and comply with Fire Department’s ingress / egress requirements; adequate firework firing zones / fall-out zones; or are too costly.”

Say what?  Three sentences later, they propose to use Hillcrest Park as a fireworks launch area.  Yes, the same Hillcrest Park identified by the State of California as being within a “Moderate” Fire Hazard Severity Zone (FHSZ).  The same Hillcrest Park that lost many trees during the multi-year drought.  The same Hillcrest Park that had 50 to 75 trees planted on Arbor Day to replace what was lost during the drought.  I think you get the idea.

No mention is made whether the Fire Department approves of this idea, only that the City’s “pyrotechnic consultant” gave the green light.   One would think if the Fire Department expressed concerns about hazards at CSUF, Amerige Field, or the softball fields at FUHS, they would be just as concerned about mature trees at Hillcrest Park going up in flames.

Lions Field

For the sake of discussion, assume fireworks launched from Hillcrest Park will be deemed “safe”.   How prudent is it to have festivities at Lions Field?  The City spent an extra $1.7 million to install synthetic turf there in 2010.  With extra foot traffic and “vendors, attractions, main stage, VIP and staff area…” using the field, preventing turf damage will be nearly impossible.  Have they taken this into consideration?  Probably not.

The agenda letter suggests “ample capacity” for necessities like parking.  Lions Field and the lower Hillcrest parking lot have about 170 parking spaces.   Everybody else will have to park their cars at North Court (like in previous years), the Elks Lodge, along Brea Blvd, at private businesses, or in adjacent neighborhoods.  Parking problems will be an issue no matter where the festivities are held, unless, of course, CSUF could be used, which leads me to ask…

  • Why is CSUF not a viable location?  The agenda letter makes reference to another site being “too costly” but is devoid of specifics.  I can only assume the location being referred to is CSUF.  How much would it cost?  Has the City approached CSUF for leniency on fees?  What did they say?
  • What about Fullerton College?  Did the City approach NOCCCD about hosting the event there?  What did they say?
  • What about the Parks and Recreation Commission?  How did they vote on moving the venue to Hillcrest/Lions Field?  Oh, wait, the matter was never brought before the commission for a discussion and vote.   Had the meeting not been cancelled, this would have made for a timely discussion at the March 13, 2017 Parks & Rec meeting.

This type of nonsense has, embarrassingly, become business as usual for the Parks & Recreation Department.  The commission is regularly bypassed on important issues. When those issues are presented to the City Council for a final vote, the department does so on an absolute last-minute basis — often with erroneous or incomplete information — leaving no time for a continuance, or for other options to be explored.

The residents of Fullerton deserve a lot better.  I wish the City Council and City Manager would put their foot down and say enough is enough.

Fullerton Parking – State ADU Edition

You! I need your gas taxes & vehicle license fees… so stop driving.

Tomorrow the planning commission is going to be dealing with more parking issues. Or shall I say they’re going to be talking about something they have no control over because the State already stepped on them.

Back on 27 September 2016 Governor Moonbean signed SB 1069 into law. SB 1069 deals with “Additional Dwelling Units” or in the common vernacular “back houses”. You know the units as they’re the ones that get added behind a house so a homeowner can rent their second/third/fifth property to two groups of people as opposed to one. Charitably they’re known as “Granny Units” and uncharitably as “‘Mommy why is the creepy man staring at me all the time’ Units”.

The merits or pitfalls of these units notwithstanding, as we now legally have to allow for them all over town, this particular piece of legislation includes the following nugget:

Cities must waive parking requirements for ADUs that are entirely contained within existing structures, or that are within one-half mile of public transit, one block of a car-share vehicle, or in a historic district.

Within one-half mile of public transit. Okay, so let’s put that into context. Here’s a map of Fullerton to which I’ve added the major bus lines of OCTA in blue.

At least OCTA doesn’t go near the nicer houses.

Using the Google Maps Distance Tool I can say that 1/2 mile would mean that Fullerton cannot require additional parking for ADUs anywhere approximately South of North Court. Likewise no new parking requirements would be allowed 1/2 mile East or West of Euclid or State College for ADUs. I’d worry about the neighborhood by CSUF but with CollegeTown coming back (courtesy of Japanese Chat Girls) that’s the least of their worries.

I loathe writing about roads and parking, truly I do yet unfortunately our elected betters seem to not understand human nature and thus the issues constantly come up.

This no required parking if within a half-mile of public transit is because allegedly the low-income take public transit unlike those who write these stupid laws. The poor take so much public transit that we subsidize the snot out of buses, streetcars, trolleys and hubs such as ARTIC. The poor love their public transit so much that we keep having to exempt streets from overnight parking in the lower-income apartments thanks to their under-parked nature. Why if only the folks in those low-income apartments could find parking for all of the public transit that they love to take we wouldn’t need to exempt so many streets.

Add this newest parking issue to the quiver of arrows that will be used to kill the overnight parking ban. As an aside I wonder how many new AirBnB rentals will be built here in Fullerton thanks to this “affordable housing” bill.

College Town – Still Not Ready for Prime Time

 

An appropriate mascot

It’s back! Thanks to our tireless activist Joshua Ferguson, who snapped this picture up during a recent visit to City Hall this morning:


College Town originally came up before the Planning Commission on February 10, 2016.  Opposition was so strong to the plan the opposition’s “Our Town Not College Town” signs started springing up faster than mushrooms and the Planning Commission meeting was packed with angry residents opposed to the proposal (full disclosure: I played a significant part in organizing the opposition to that plan). In the end, five members of the Planning Commission agreed that adding 10,000 residents while diverting even more traffic to Chapman by closing a portion of Nutwood was a ridiculously ill conceived the idea and the proposal was tabled.

So what is the new and presumably improved plan for College Town? Your guess is as good as mine, but the early picture isn’t encouraging.

See that website on the picture? The one that says www.collegetownfullerton.com? Go ahead and click the link. Here’s a screen capture of what you found when you checked as of todays’ date:

All of your Nutwoods are belonging to us

According to Google’s English/ Japanese translator the phrase above translates to “Chat lady’s job contents and rewards.” Your guess is as good as mine what that actually means, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean “so tell us what you think about College Town.”

So how did this happen? Apparently, the City registered collegetownfullerton.com back in 2011, but they apparently allowed the domain name to lapse, allowing Chat lady here to swoop in an take over the domain around September 15, 2016.

Everybody supports College Town! Pay raises for everyone!!

A little personal anecdote: back in the 2012-2013 timeframe, the City complied with the notice requirement by sending out notice for around a dozen meetings with a smaller number of invitees (just 2 or so blocks at a time would be notified of each meeting) rather than inviting everyone in the affected area to one single meeting. The “informational” meetings would then be set up in the Chapman Park clubhouse, and they would set up for a full house, even though only a few people would actually show up, which the City used to create the impression that opposition to the concept was non-existent.

As infuriating as that strategy was, I had to at least admire its ingenuity. Personally I would have preferred that the City and Cal State Fullerton actually listened to residents before trying to shove their little sandwich down our throats a second time, but it is at least comforting to see that the Ernst Blofeld-level strategist behind the original campaign has been replaced by Dr. Evil. Off to a heck of a start.

CSUF Republicans allege professor-on-student assault at Trump protest

Members of the Cal State Fullerton GOP club say that an anthropology professor physically attacked students yesterday during an on-campus clash with anti-Trump protestors. The Register and Breitbart have the stories.

It’s too early to tell if any of this is true. But that doesn’t mean we can’t tell you what will happen next.

CSUF administration will announce that they’ve called in an “independent investigator” who is really just an on-call attorney, hired to minimize the school’s liability and facilitate the quiet payoffs of any lawsuits.

The employee will be placed on paid administrative leave until the media and the students become tired of silence and move on to something else. Some sort of internal investigation may occur, but the findings will be hidden from the public and any students who were harmed.

The CSUF police force, part of the same beaurocratic structure that is responsible for this madness, will ultimately find no reason to press criminal charges upon their coworker.

During this excercise, pretense of concern for student safety will be audibly reiterated, but realistically disgarded. The administrators will focus all of their energy balancing the nearly unlimited employment rights of potentially abusive faculty with their need to protect the reputation of the institution that allowed this assault to occur.

Nevertheless, we persevere. Stick around, friends. We’ll keep a close eye on this one.

A Bitter Benefactor

Here’s something funny. CSUF benefactor and Mihaylo business school namesake Steven Mihaylo got into a Twitter tussle with students over college debt and the lack of respect for their elders. Mihaylo ultimately threatened to redirect future donations to CSUF as a result of profane provocations from students. Daily Titan has the story.

Of course, there’s nothing new about an old guy mocking the generations that came after him. Particularly an old guy with a Trump hard-on and his own statue. But college students (of any generation) are not really known for respecting the opinions of their elders (or their bronze busts.) Mihaylo’s indignation and demand for reverence from angsty college students shows that the guy might be out of touch with his own cause.

Local Troublemaker Makes Cover of OC Weekly

Our “millionaire many times over” admin makes the big time last week with a cover story by Brandon Fergeson in the OC Weekly. Here’s how it starts:

Tony Bushala first met Manuel Ramos more than 20 years ago when Bushala played drums with Teatro Cometa, a theater group that performed bilingual one-act plays in Fullerton in the late 1980s and early ’90s. Ramos, who was about 10, was the son of one of the actresses; his uncle, Bushala’s best friend at the time, directed the troupe. Occasionally, Ramos would sit quietly in the audience and watch rehearsals.

Bushala, now 53 and a millionaire many times over, eventually moved on from drumming to managing his father’s extensive properties in Fullerton and elsewhere, becoming a real-estate developer and a vocal opponent of city government. In 2006, Bushala was riding his bicycle when he bumped into Ramos, who was now a hulking, overweight guy in his mid-30s, dressed in the uniform of the Fullerton Police Department.

Click here to read the rest of this article.

Ron Paul is Coming to Fullerton TONIGHT!

Well, how about that? The only presidential candidate who opposes imperialist wars, big bank bailouts, the failed drug war, unaccountable federal bureaucracies and the constant creep of government into our personal lives will be addressing a large crowd at Cal State Fullerton tonight (Wednesday) at 7:00 pm.

The event has been moved to CSUF’s Titan Stadium to accommodate the large crowd that is expected. Go here to get a voucher that is supposed to get you in as early as 6:00 pm.

The El Dorado Ranch – Is it Public or Private?

A few weeks ago I gave you a glimpse of the old Chapman property that houses CSUF President Milton Gordon on the public dime up in the hills of Fullerton. I decided to take a spin past the old ranch to see what it looks like.

Clearly this sign warns potential visitors to the El Dorado Ranch that it is “PRIVATE PROPERTY”. However, the sign lies! Or rather the person who placed the sign there is either a liar or is misinformed. The Grant Deed below makes it clear that the property has been granted to a public agency which places the property in the hands of California residents.

So, despite the very official albeit old and faded sign, you and I own the temporary residence of Milton A. Gordon, President of Cal State Fullerton whose salary exceeds $300,000 per year. With all that money he saves living rent free it’s no wonder he left the light on for us.

Cal State Fullerton’s Pension Tsunami Shell Game and Our Kid’s Future

Titan waste

After showing you how management lives in the lap of luxury last week, I received an email from a Friend who brought to my attention a Cal State University system business practice that forces out qualified, lower paid part-time lecturers and untenured faculty, and brings back higher paid, semi retired faculty. The faculty and management at our own Cal State Fullerton know this practice as FERPing. Just the sound of the acronym sounds like something they should apologize for and we haven’t even said what exactly FERPing is.

The Faculty Early Retirement Program, as the name implies, allows faculty to retire early and then come right back to work. On the surface it creates a lower fiscal burden on local university funding which looks like a cost savings for guys like Milton A. Gordon, who gets $302,042 per year while living rent-free at the El Dorado Ranch. The reality is that it costs taxpayers and students more than if the schools utilized the lower paid, part-time faculty who are otherwise forced out under FERP.

Retirement never looked so lucrative. While everyone else must take furloughs or are getting laid off outright, the FERPers receive FREE parking, ALL of their retirement benefits, and 50% of their last salary. That’s part of the reason why your kid’s tuition continues to rise and classes are getting canceled. This Cal State double-dipping program is brought to you by the public employee unions as a result of the spineless leader who is content to live in his rent-free mansion with an inflated salary and the entitlement attitude of senior public employees. Some FERPers have been milking us for more than 5 years!

Here is an example of the compensation structure that FERPers use to determine just how good retirement might be:

Age: 63 1/2 years (CalPERS retirement age percentage factor: 2.5%)
Length of Service: 27 years
Highest Salary: $87,500(during any 12 month period of CalPERS covered employment)(minus $133.33 monthly deduction for Social Security = $1,599.96)
Calculation: 27 years x .025 (age factor percentage) = 67.5% of highest salary
Estimated CalPERS retirement salary: $85,900 x .675 (age factor percentage) = $57,982
Plus estimated FERP salary: (half of faculty base $70,800) $35,400
Total estimated retirement salary plus FERP salary: $93,382

It’s time to wean the leaches off our sweet cream before all we are left with is sour cream for our kids. Email Milton Gordon at [email protected] or you can call him in his CSUF public employee office at (657) 278-3456. Tell Milton Gordon it’s time to act fiscally responsible with our tax dollars.

Below are some links I stumbled over which helped put FERPing in perspective for me:

http://www.fullerton.edu/Emeriti/preretirement.htm
http://collegelife.freedomblogging.com/2009/08/13/cal-state-fullerton-abruptly-begins-canceling-classes/7103/
http://www.calstate.edu/csuleader/2004/040511.htm
http://www.csufresno.edu/aps/forms_policies/retirement_ferp.shtml
http://www.csulb.edu/divisions/aa/personnel/retirement/ferp/