You have to hand it to government bureaucracies. They never give up on stupid ideas. But why should they? With all the time in world, huge amounts of money given to them by others, and with zero accountability, what is there for them to lose?
Specifically, I am talking about an item on the May 4th Agenda, dutifully approved by the City Council, to take $1.8 million in State grant money and $330,000 in Fullerton park money to design and build what they are pleased to call The Union Pacific Trail, Phase II.
Of course we all know that Phase I was a total waste of money – a weird “equestrian trail” (complete with pony railing) that has never seen a horse, that was attached to the poisoned and fenced off UP Park that dies a merciful death at Highland Avenue.
Our crack Deputy Parks Director, some person named Alice Loya pitched the item to a less than bedazzled Council, making sure to point out that the area was disadvantaged, an irony certainly lost on City bureaucrats whose job it has been to un-disadvantage this neighborhood over the past 50 years.
Let me share a paragraph from the staff report, that, as usual, is so full of lies to rationalize the scheme that one wonders if the City staff would ever pursue this nonsense if they had to use City funds to pay for it:
The proposed project will transform an existing 50 to 80 foot wide, blighted corridor into a greenbelt trail providing alternate transportation, linking the Transportation Center and several parks, including Independence Park at its terminus. This proposed trail aligns with the Hunt Branch Library to the west, providing potential future linkages. The total cost of the project is estimated at $2.1 million.
Lie Number One: Alternative transportation? What the Hell does that even mean? Walking?
Lie Number Two: the trail would not link anything to the Transportation Center since it would terminate at a narrow sidewalk behind the Ice House that includes a 90 degree turn. And of course just a week ago, or so, our very same staff tried to sneak through an idiot scheme to cut off the UP right-of-way completely with their private event center on the Poisoned Park site.
Lie Number Three: the proposed extension does not link “several” parks. It would indeed terminate at the Independence Park parking lot but the only other “park” it would touch is the fenced off Poisoned Park that nobody even wants.
Almost as good as a lie Number Four: the proposed trail would be virtually impossible to link to the “aligned” Hunt Branch Library, nearly a mile away, because gosh darn it, the rail siding is still being used by…the railroad. But what the Hell let’s throw out the chimera of “connectivity” to fool the dopes on the City Council, right? It’s always worked just fine in the past.
Almost as good as a lie Number Five: when has the City ever built anything on time and on budget? That proposed cost would sky rocket, of course, as Fullerton’s army of staff, consultants, and design professionals hump the “greenbelt” into submission. Remember the wooden steps at Hillcrest Park and the elevator-from-Hell at the Depot?
But what wasn’t said was much more important than the propaganda ink spilled to promote this idiocy:nobody will use this “trail” since it passes through sketchy industrial zoned property, completely empty at night, and would remain, just like it is now, an attractive nuisance that the taxpayers will be on the hook to maintain out of the General Fund.
On the bright side, members of the new Council commonsense majority pointed out that Staff was already devising a top-secret Specific Plan for the area, and gee, wouldn’t it make sense not to piecemeal things like Planning Director Matt Foulkes tried to do on the ill-fated aquaponic farm/event center? They did treat the item as still very provisional, but FFFF knows better – we know that government money once available, will be spent, most likely on something nobody outside City Hall wants.
Naturally, Councilman-in-search-of-camera-opportunity, Ahmad Zahra scrounged up some of his usual misguided acolytes to beat the drum for this utter waste of $2.1 million bucks. After all, this project would be mostly paid for with “free money” of the sort “progressives” love to accept, then waste. We need look no further than the $1,000000 Core and Corridors Specific Plan, paid for by the State Sustainability Commission, that was quietly abandoned, never to see the light of day. And ironically, the old UP Right of Way passes right through the middle of two of the C&C Specific Plan Areas, suggesting to me, at lest, that the City is not, and never has been interested in the well-being of the part of Fullerton accept as something to play with.
Some recent commenters on our humble blog have wondered aloud who outgoing Mayor-for-Hire, Jennifer Fitzgerald was going to pick to be her choice for successor. Now we know.
Today a Friend forwarded some sort of statement (an English version) from a fellow by the name of Andrew Cho. Who is this person? Nobody I’ve asked today has ever heard of the guy; but, one thing is certain: he was chosen to be a reliable vote for all the things the Curt Pringle lobbyist Fitzgerald holds near and dear. I’d rather not slam the guy right out of the chute, but, hell, just look at who this mysterious person reports as his endorsers.
First, of course is the utterly unspeakable Fitzgerald.
If that weren’t bad enough, number two (and I really mean number two), the completely corrupt Dick Ackerman whose record running a fake non-profit to pay his wife, creating a fake address so she could run for the legislature in our district, and illegally participating as a lobbyist to promote the 2008 OC Fair swindle, have been well-documented on these pages.
Next we discover Ling Ling Chang, our current State Senator who originally ran for office pretending to own a business and attending Harvard. Both were lies, but that mendacity didn’t seem to put a dent in her armor of shamelessness.
Then there’s the support of Young Kim, the bubbleheaded perpetual candidate and her slimy husband Charles, who foisted the incomprehhensible nitwit Julie Sa on Fullerton way back in 1992.
Of course poor Cho must not have a clue that these endorsements will do a lot more harm than good, and if he doesn’t yet, he soon will.
If someone takes the time to review the history of Fullerton over the past forty years, one thing becomes shockingly clear: when it comes to building things, maintaining things and planning for things, the City government just can’t do much of anything right. And yet over this long history, the City and the public seem to have the shortest of memories.
For the denizens of City Hall, the fact that the jalopy has no rear view mirror makes perfect sense. After all, if you’re pulling down well over a hundred Gs, with a trampoline retirement coming your way, why spoil things with strange notions like accountability and responsibility? It’s so much easier to pretend nothing bad has happened.
The people who live here on the other hand, have no such incentive; quite the reverse, in fact. So how come constant repetition of the disastrous lessons from the past are tolerated? Is it easier to just ignore the millions upon millions wasted in foolish vanity projects, make-work comedies, and deteriorating infrastructure? Maybe.
But I hope that by continuing the drumbeat started on this brave blog 11 years ago, sooner or later the populace will wake up to the ineptitude and dissimulation by its highly paid, and so far untouchable masters of disaster.
And so join me Friends as I take you on trip down memory lane, Fullerton style.
Today almost nobody remembers the comical City endeavor to transform Harbor Boulevard in the early 80s by removing on-street parking, adding medians, spike-laden, pod-dropping floss silk trees, and bizarre concrete peristyles along the sidewalks. Comical, did I say? It would have been funny except that it doomed the businesses along Harbor to slow entropy. The ridiculous peristyles were soon removed but the rest of the mess lasted for decades and many of the hideous trees and broken sidewalks are still there as a reminder that the City is perfectly willing to waste millions on hare-brained, concept-of-the-day tomfoolery that gives them something to do.
The Allen Hotel, was Fullerton’s first foray into “affordable” housing back in the late 80s. It was a slum, alright and thirty years after the City’s bungling acquisition, the site is just begging for more “redevelopment.” Will it get it?
The CSUF Stadium & Fundraising Fiasco of 1990 ought to give plenty of pause to those contemplating Big Projects with public money. The brainchild of slimy City Councilman and later slimy State Senator, Dick Ackerman, the idea was to build a permanent home for the CSUF football team. Only trouble was that the $15,000,000 stadium was completed the same year the plug was pulled on a dismal gridiron program. In typical fashion, the City invested in a fundraising plan in which a company was hired at a cost of several hundred thou to raise money, and didn’t. Oops!
The horror story “Knowlwood Corner” is a veritable textbook case of government bureaucratic misfeasance, from start to finish. The story started in the early 90s and dragged on for years and years; when the signature building was finally built, the missing second floor became a perfect symbol for this misadventure. From stupid economic micromanagement to horrible architecture, this one touched all the bases – and it took seven years to do so.
The Bank of Italy Building was another disaster from the early 90s, but one that actually gutted an historic building. Millions in public money were wasted to pay for something that never should have been undertaken in the first place.
The North Platform remodel of 1992-93 proved that no matter how bungled things were in Fullerton, it could always get worse. A landscape architect was hired to place as many impediments between passengers and trains as was humanly possible. Some of the citizens got wise, and half the crap was ripped out. Heads rolled in City Hall. Oh, wait, no they didn’t.
Few folks now remember the Fairway Toyota dealership expansion fiasco from the mid-90s that required threatening an old lady with eminent domain and then closing off Elm Avenue forever. The City’s investment disappeared like an early summer morning’s dew when the dealership took off for Anaheim a few years later. After years of housing a used car dealership, the City permitted the development of another massive cliff dwelling along Harbor Boulevard. The losses were never accounted for but at least the neighbors got a nice view and early shade.
Fullerton’s Corporate Yard expansion was a mid-nineties project that left the City gasping for air. Despite hiring an outside construction manager and paying him a couple hundred grand, the project dissolved into a litigation mess that only escaped public embarrassment because nobody on the City Council gave a damn. Settlement details vanished into the haze.
The so-called Poison Park on Truslow Avenue may set the standard for Fullerton incompetence, although admittedly, the competition is fierce. In the late 90s, the City had Redevelopment money to burn and just couldn’t wait to do so. So they bought a piece of industrial property and built a park that nobody outside City Hall wanted. Cost? $3,000,000. Of course the site attracted gang members and drug dealers as predicted. Worse still, the land was contaminated and the “park” fenced off. It’s been like that for almost 15 years. And Counting.
No story of Fullerton calamities would be complete without once again sharing the tale of the Florentine Sidewalk Hijacking, in which a permit for “outside dining” was transformed one day by the Florentine Mob into a permanent building blocking half a public sidewalk. The Big City Planner, Paul Dudley, said everything was peachy. He was lying, of course, but did anybody really care?
Some people might conclude that the majority of Fullerton’s disasters can be laid at the feet of the Redevelopment Agency (really just the City Council) and well-pensioned, inept managers like Terry Galvin and Gary Chaplusky. When they weren’t slapping brick veneer on anything that didn’t move, they were screwing everything else up, too. But when we regard the history of Laguna Lake we enter into the realm of Fullerton’s Parks and Engineering mamalukes. After spending a small fortune on renovating the lake, the thing leaked like a sieve. Hundreds of millions of premium MWD gallons were pumped into the thing to keep it full. The public and council were left in the dark, even as citizens were told to conserve water in their homes. Did anyone in charge give a damn? Did anyone ask how much money and water were squandered over the years? Of course not. This is Fullerton. We could ask Engineering Director Don Hoppe for details, except that he is now comfortably retired and pulling down a massive pension.
Our professional planners, have been knee deep in Fullerton’s morass. Over-development (see example, above) has been fostered and nowhere was this better seen than in the Core and Corridors Specific Plan. This idiotic plan wasted a million bucks of State money without a backward glance after the whole thing was finally dumped on the QT – too stupid even for Fullerton. Did anybody ask for their money back? Nope. And yet a link to a blank web page titled Core and Corridors still exists! Hope springs eternal.
The 2000s proved that nobody in City Hall or out, was learning anything, even after the expensive failures of the 90s. The “West Harbor Improvement” project in 2009, was an endeavor so unnecessary that it could only be proposed in Fullerton, where government “place making” has never succeeded. The alley is a barf zone behind a bunch of bars that only needs hosing down every Sunday morning.
This litany of disasters, follies and debacles brings us to the Pinewood Stairs at Hillcrest Park which put on display the incompetence of the designer, the city staff, the construction manager, and a contractor who couldn’t build a sand box to code. Wasting $1.6 million is bad enough; permitting the code violations and construction deficiencies go unfixed is even worse. Barely two years old, the ramshackle structure moves more than the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
And over all these years Fullerton’s “leaders have neglected our aging infrastructure and permitted zone changes allowing for massive new development that has lined the pockets of developers and political campaign coffers, and left the rest of us with even more traffic and more burden on our roads and pipes.
Friends for Fullerton’s Future just received a disturbing story accompanied by a photograph that seems to encapsulate the Downtown Fullerton experience:
Hey, FFFF, I wanted to send along a story about what happened to me a few weeks ago. About 2 am a friend and I were walking along the north side of Commonwealth. Across the street we could see some kind of free-for-all going on. Then the crowd ran off leaving two people lying on the ground. By the time we crossed over to see what the damage was, the Fullerton police had arrived. The two people, a guy and a woman, were bloodied and obviously beaten. One of the cops saw me observing the scene and asked if I wanted to be arrested.
Rather than provide information about what we had seen, we decided to move on. But before we left I turned around and took this picture showing the woman pleading with four cops who appeared indifferent to whatever physical abuse she had suffered.
Yes, Friend, it is sad. Our “leaders” have created, nurtured, and encouraged a culture of mayhem where sometimes it’s hard to tell the victim from the perpetrator and where the cops are seemingly anesthetized to the weekly blood bath.
A couple of weeks ago Jeremy Popoff’s Slidebar employees and clientele provided more examples of the sort of high class behavior favored by our city council and particularly our lobbyist/councilcreature Jennifer Fitzgerald who has been running cover for Popoff for years and years. You may recall that Slidebar has never gotten the required CUP even as city officials like Fitzgerald, Bruce Whitaker and Party Planner Ted White have schmoozed and petted its miscreant owner.
Everybody seems to be ignoring Slidebar’s violation of planning and nuisance laws until the laws can be watered down so much even a professional douchebag can slime by without comment.
The City has been telling us for years that we’re poor — we need paid parking to maintain the downtown, we need a city sales tax to pay for infrastructure repair, we need higher fees to offset higher pension costs, yada yada yada.
That’s an interesting plea given the inordinate waste that is funded by the City’s General Fund.
When it comes to essential services like investigating crimes, approving building plans, or scheduling a fire inspection — we are told they are short-staffed, and the City can’t afford extra manpower — yet there’s plenty of cash for stuff like what you see below:
$600 of our tax dollars to a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization
Friends, here’s a fun post from two-and-a-half years ago introduction you to the egregious Gregory Palmer, Esq., who is employed to hassle citizens, ignore legal PRA requests, and most importantly, to investigate and stop kinky sex in the municipality that employ Dick Jones as City Attorney. Enjoy.
A few days ago Joshua Ferguson told us the story of how one of the lawyers working for our City Attorneys, Gregory Palmer, gave him a big Fuck Off when he made a reasonable, and as it turns out LEGAL, request for the video recordings from FPD cops the night they possibly gave the City Manager a skate on a DUI, gave him a ride home and tucked him into bed. Mr. Palmer got tired of talking to one of the people who pay his retainer and basically said: if you don’t like it, sue.
Now I don’t care for this kind of assholery on the part of people who are supposed to be working for me, so I thought I’d check out Mr. Palmer and share some information, gleaned from the Jones and Mayer website. It’s always nice to know who and what you’re dealing with.
Apart from his alleged expertise dealing with “sexually-oriented business,” – whatever that means, this bit caught my eye:
Mr. Palmer has handled several high profile cases. In 1997, he prosecuted the First Southern Baptist Church and its pastor for illegally housing the homeless on its grounds.
So Mr. Palmer and Dick Jones actually brag about about shutting down a church engaged in an act of Christian charity.
During a quick stop at the on-line Fullerton Observer I read an article by Jane Rands about a dope forum held by the folks at NUFF – an organization of mostly geriatric liberals whose mission seems to be to promote safely pro-government candidates and causes. Aha, thought I, perhaps someone will stand up for the rights of the people of California who have voted twice for marijuana legalization and twice have been thwarted, whenever possible, by the Drug Warrior/Prison Industrial Complex.
The three members of a panel, selected by who knows who, were Ahmad Zahra, Temp Fullerton Top Cop Bob Dunn, and some dude named Richard Ham about whom I know nothing.
Whatever hopes I had about this get together were quickly dashed reading the article. Smilin’ Zahra, it seems, once got a prescription for medical weed for his fibromyalgia, but was too chicken to try it. Scary stuff. Ever the wordy equivocator, Zahra seemed to be all for lots of regulation because gosh darn it, the kids have already been exposed to cannabis by illicit shops popping up next to schools.
The large and seemingly self-satisfied Chief Dunn, who used to be a spokeshole for the notorious Anaheim Police Department, gave the usual cop-blather about the evils of drugs (kiddies were getting into mom and dad’s digestible stash!) and reminding Fullerton’s tremulous seniors that drug driving is a crime. In typical police fashion he suggested that a confused public causes his boys “a lot of effort with little return.” Same ol’ bullshit the cops have been peddling for 60 years. In a grand gesture of philanthropy, however, he did let it be known that he and his posse intended to follow the law. Gee thanks, Bob.
The third member of the Dope Troika was Mr. Ham, a Korean business guy in some sort of hotel business. Good thing he was there, because somebody was able to point out the all the flaws in the present system where cities are allowed to opt-out of legalization and the ultimate consequences of California ridiculous 2016 referendum: the maintenance of an illegal, underground system of cultivation and distribution.
Zahra proclaimed the meeting a “good start” begging the question of why in the world anyone needs to start considering these issues. Why there is any confusion about marijuana in this state after over twenty years of legalization? It’s because the cops and the cowardly politicians don’t want clarity, they don’t want freedom and they don’t want to be deprived of the seizure asset income they get from the War on Drugs.
Mr. Zahra did accomplish one thing. Because of the presence of Mayor Jesus and Jan Flory he warned of the dangers of a Brown Act violation, chasing our stalwart mayor out of the room.
A few months ago, I pointed out bogus signs at the train station which cited non-existent instances of the Fullerton Municipal Code. Those signs were removed a short time later.
Here we have a similar sign posted at the Wilshire Avenue parking structure.
Fullerton does not have a “No Loitering” ordinance that could be used here.
The second part, warning about confiscation of property, only comes up in Title 9, which covers parks — not parking structures, nor anywhere else in the City.
9.12.530 Enforcement — Seizure of property.
The Director, park attendants, parking control officers and police officers are authorized to seize, confiscate and hold for the City any property, thing or device in the park used in violation of this chapter.
Nowhere in 9.12.530 does it address “unattended or unsecured” items. Even if the City wanted to play word games, and say the parking structure is part of the park and museum immediately adjacent to it, the sign doesn’t even agree with the code. Perhaps that is why the sign makes no mention of the Fullerton Municipal Code — there’s nothing to cite because somebody made it up.
So the next time City Hall tells you such and such is the “law” you should probably take that assurance with a grain of salt.