Category Archives: Dick Jones

Mayor Dick Jones is a councilmember in the City of Fullerton. He is known for using his position on the council to serve out mindless babble and execute revenge on those who have spited him in decades past.

Good Bye and Good Riddance

Ed Royce, holding forth to a mesmerized audience. (Image pilfered from Voice of OC)

The Voice of OC is reporting that our congresscritter, Ed Royce has had enough congresscrittering and is quitting his seat next January. This will be seen a great news for the Democrats who were targeting this seat due to a recent increase in their own party’s registration, and who believe that the S.S. Trumptanic vortex will suck all sorts of Republicans down to Davey Jones’ Locker.

I don’t know about that, but I do know it will be wonderful to get shed of Ed. Set aside Royce’s dutiful loyalty to our new, budget-busting  security state and his willingness to vote for tax bills he hadn’t read. Instead let’s focus on his dismal record meddling in the local political affairs of Fullerton.

For almost 25 years he has backed city council (and Legislature) candidates of the worst Republican stripe – dimwitted and vapid RINOs like Pat McKinley Leland Wilson, Julie Sa and Mike Clesceri; creepy slouches like Larry Bennett; sleepy nincompoops like Don Bankhead; a useless carpetbagtress like Linda Ackerman;  and let’s never forget: Dick Jones, Doc HeeHaw, the clownish donkey from Galveston who seemed to take joy in bullying his constituents and braying utter nonsense. Royce could not have cared less about sticking us with this parade of non-entities. He obviously didn’t care if Fullerton developed no new generation of real conservative leadership. What mattered was to elect hollow shelled Republicans that posed no threat to him, and to keep potential Democrat challengers from becoming potential in the first place.

Well, so long, Ed.

Fish This: Burning the Budget

Some things in life are perfectly predicable.  Things like physics and math.  They’re not really that difficult to understand, but some people in our society are a little slower than others.

For example, next week there will be idiots who put a frozen turkey into a vat of hot liquid fat because #Merica.  Despite many public service announcements to the contrary, stupidity will have its unavoidable and predicable consequences.

Tonight Fullertonians will miss out on the discussion taking place behind closed doors at City Hall concerning the state of the city’s budget.  Voters won’t get to hear about the new contract negotiations designed to help the massive multi-million dollar structural deficit, the $100,000,000 in deferred infrastructure maintenance, or the equally massive unfunded pension debt.  Instead, we’ll get a null report from The Other Dick Jones ™, and the facade of all being well will continue into this year’s planned First Night festivities.

Like so many idiots with a tank of propane, recent City Councils had fair warning of the current financial crisis.  The math just isn’t that hard to understand.  Every year, every single year, since each of their elections, Fullerton has spent more from the general fund than it has taken in.  Tens of millions of dollars in reserves have evaporated.  *POOF* gone, without a trace.

At the current rate, Fullerton may be bankrupt in two years.

This Thanksgiving, while you’re enjoying your non-idiot prepared bird, I want you to remember tonight’s secret city council meeting.  I also want you to remember a meeting held just last year.

Just last year, the council authorized the largest pay raises for staff in a decade.

“The budget is balanced!” — Jennifer Fitzgerald

“Fullerton is in excellent financial shape!’ — Jan Flory

Well, the math simply doesn’t lie.  The budget was not balanced and the city was not in excellent financial shape.  Jen and Jan dunked their frozen bird and lambasted all the chronic malcontents who protested their fine stewardship.

*POOF*

Like that, Joe Felz hit a tree, and their financial bird exploded, the raging predictable disaster apparent for all to see.

Tonight the Fullerton City Council will likely authorize reducing pay and benefits for city employees, just in time for the holidays.  When this is over, some employees will have their salaries reduced or their hours cut.  Others will simply lose their jobs.  Many of those individuals are good people who do good work. This isn’t their fault, but it will be their house that gets burned down and it will be their life that gets ruined.

Now Jen and Jan, two of those responsible for dunking this turkey?  Don’t worry.  They’ll be fine.  Jen just gave herself a $9000 raise and Jan retired.

Seems just, don’t you think?

Say, Whatever Happened to Fullerton’s Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan and the $1,000,000 in State Money that Paid for It?

Most government projects have three things in common: they are bad ideas promoted by bureaucrats, they are obscenely expensive, and there is no accountability attached to them.

In Fullerton we have lots of examples over the years that touch all three bases. But if ever one needed a veritable poster child for government fiascoes, the ill-conceived “Downtown Core and Corridors” Specific Plan would be it.

 

Back in 2010, the City of Fullerton put in an application for a “project” to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s  “Strategic Growth Council” an assemblage of bureaucrats and political appointees selected by the governor to promote sustainability and responsibility in urban (and suburban planning). On the face of it, the idea was to promote development that would be eco-friendly – somehow, someway. Lo and Behold! Fullerton received a $1,000,000 grant to create the Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan, a massive overlay zone. In 2013  a committee was appointed to make this look like a community driven enterprise, but as so often happens the committee was led along by the consultants and staff who were being paid, and paid well, out of the grant money. Some members of this committee only went to one meeting, the last one, in May 2014, a meeting consumed by passing out certificates of participation to committee members for all their hard work.

In the meantime, the intent of the creators of the specific plan became crystal clear: opportunity for massive new housing projects along Fullerton’s busiest streets, development that would not even have to undergo the scrutiny facing normal projects so long as the permissive guidelines of the specific plan were met. Naturally, lots of people objected to the continued over-development of Fullerton, and the utter disconnect with what the Strategic Growth Council was ostensibly promoting. Perhaps the most obnoxious thing about the specific plan proposal was the way it was being used, unapproved by any policy maker, to promote other massive apartment projects already in the entitlement process.

And then a funny thing happened. The Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan vanished into thin air. Although recommended by the Planning Commission in August of 2014, the plan and its Environmental Impact Report never went to the city council for approval. 2015 passed; and so did 2016 without the plan being approved. Even modifications rumored to have been proposed by the now-departed Planning Director Karen Haluza never materialized for council review or approval.

I’ll drink to that!

Some cynical people believe the plan was postponed in 2014 because of the council election, an election that returned development uber alles councilmembers Greg Sebourn and Bud Chaffee. And they believe that the subsequent attempt to erase the plan from the municipal memory was perpetrated by none other than the hapless city manager, Joe Felz and lobbyist councilperson Jennifer Fitzgerald, (so the story goes) two individuals who had every incentive to shake down potential developers one by one, rather than granting a broad entitlement for new and gargantuan development. Felz had a massive budget deficit to fill, and Fitzgerald had massive lobbying opportunities from potential Pringle and Associate clients.

A chemical bond

What is undeniable is that three long years have passed and no action has been taken to either approve or deny the specific plan. The grant money approved by the State has been a complete waste – a travesty so embarrassing to everybody concerned that no one seems to want to demand an explanation for this fiasco. Neither the city bureaucrats or council, nor the State has any incentive to advertise this disaster, and you can bet there never will be an accounting.

 

 

And There It Sits

It may have been expensive, but it sure was unnecessary…

Ten weeks ago I took a break documenting the disastrous “elevators to nowhere” story, a history of confusion and ineptitude that had its genesis in Jones, Bankhead and McKinley era. This completely unnecessary $4,000,000 boondoggle was five-and-a-half years old and it was dead in the water.

As of May 10, 2017 work on this project had already been halted for quite some time. Now, two-and-a-half months later, work has still not resumed. It is probably useless to inquire to the City about the facts of this latest delay, given the total lack of transparency surrounding this project throughout its death march. The Public Works Department appears to be incapable of presenting an honest staff report about it, and our elected officials could pretty obviously not care less about the waste or the management problems connected to it.

One thing we may safely assume: the delay – if it is the responsibility of the City, as is highly likely – is going to cost us a lot in extended overhead for the contractor, Woodcliff Corporation; and the cost will be accompanied by the usual complete lack of accountability to the taxpayers of Fullerton.

 

Happy Bastille Day!

303 West Commonwealth

Dear Fullerton humans: 228 Years ago, an angry Parisian mob stormed The Bastille – traditional home for political prisoners and symbol of the hated Ancien Regime. It was empty, but that’s beside the point.

A chemical bond

Our Bastille is not empty. And while I admonish a more reasoned revolution that doesn’t end in a Reign of Terror, a dictatorship, and an emperor, I do believe it is appropriate to recognize that our own ancient regime in Fullerton continues to look a lot like the decrepit and dysfunctional Bourbon dynasty en France.

Quimby

I didn’t do it!

And so: salut, and bon voyage, etc.

Extending Fullerton’s Outdoor Saloon

Tonight’s meeting has a rather large agenda…

Fullerton has a vibrant night life with thousands of patrons being served by the 60+ establishments with liquor licenses within the Downtown region alone. While it is true that some businesses don’t operate within the law and the city turns a blind eye to its own municipal code when it suits them it cannot be denied that business is good in the good old outdoor saloon game.

But business could be better if only bars and nightclubs didn’t have to stop serving people.

Never fear. The California Senate has come to the rescue by passing SB-384 which will allow local municipalities to keep the bars open and beer slinging until 4am. There is a lot of support in Sacramento for this bill as it passed the Senate 27-4-4 with our own Senator Newman being one of those Aye votes. It next goes to the Assembly so only time will tell how Quirk-Silva will vote in that chamber.

The more fun question to ponder is how her husband and the rest of the (D) council majority will vote once it passes. Will they allow Fullerton to keep the doors open longer if only to keep FPD’s OT flowing as freely as the booze? Will they manage to get a handle of the municipal code before acquiescing to their bar and nightclub owning campaign donors? Will they vote against it thereby hindering the number of awards FPD can rack up from MADD?

Honored by MADD (Mother’s Against Drunk Driving) for their efforts in getting drunk drivers off the road are Fullerton PD Officers Cary Tong, left, Timothy Gibert, Jonathan Munoz, Corporal Ryan Warner and Officer Miguel Siliceo.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC
*** Officer Siliceo’s name on the plaque is misspelled as Sihiceo. ***

Personally I think this bill is stupid because it would mean that bars would have to close down at 4AM and could open again at 6AM. Booze would have to stop flowing for 2 hours. 2 HOURS?! Why not just go Vegas style and end the cut-off altogether? That seems like a smarter play then pretending that turning off the tap for 2 hours will keep people from over drinking.

How do you friends think this will play out in council chambers and on the streets of Downtown? Let us know in the comments.

If you need inspiration for your comments please let Dick Jones be your guide.

Elevators to Nowhere – the Genesis

This is the third post in a series by our Friend “Fullerton Engineer” describing the elevator addition project at the Fullerton Depot. 

So you think the problem with transportation revenue is that there isn’t enough of it? Let’s see what happens when the State of California doles out grant money to localities, in this instance our very own town of Fullerton.

California transportation projects are very often driven by the availability of money spent in pursuit of a social agenda. Car pools lanes with fantastically expensive fly-over bridges? Check. Highly subsidized transit for upper middle class commuters? Check.

Forget that carpool lanes make everybody’s drive worse and that commuter trains only serve a puny portion of the taxpayers that foot the bill. It’s the gesture that counts, you see, and the more expensive the gesture, the more it counts.

It might be expensive but it sure is useless…

Back in 2010, or so, the good folks whose livelihoods depend on putting the plans of our Sacramento social engineers into effect foresaw a big increase in rail transit through the Fullerton train station. But gee, thought someone, won’t that mean making it harder to get all those new travelers to other side of the tracks?  The solution? New elevators, and right next to the old ones. Forget the fact that most of the day the existing elevators were unused, or that most people just climbed the stairs; and forget the fact that a sensible set of stairs already existed under the Harbor Boulevard bridge to do the same thing. New elevators made no sense even if the new ridership tsunami was believable: after all – only two trains can stop in the station at the same time, the same as before.

But of course the real kicker was the availability of money from our friends in Sacramento to effect alterations in stations that accommodate “transit” modalities, and so the City of Fullerton was going to grab while the grabbing was good, and never mind that the idea was nonsense and that nobody needed or wanted it.

On December 20, 2011 our esteemed City Council voted to award a design contract to Hatch Mott MacDonald, an engineering firm to “design” two new elevators right next to the existing ones. The contract amount was $358,390, a remarkable amount given the scope of the task at hand – to replicate the existing bridge in two new, one-stop elevator structures. In case you are wondering, $358,000 equates to the billing of one $100 per hour person working on this project full-time, doing nothing else, for 1.7 years.

Here’s the Hatch Mott MacDonald Purchase Order record

And so the City embarked on this ridiculous project. HMM began work in march 2012 after the City had signed a master agreement with the State of California. Someone should have become alarmed the following year when Hatch Mott MacDonald’s design service billings eventually ballooned 28% over budget – almost a hundred thousand dollars. But no one did. It was someone else’s money.

Fullerton Engineer

The Infection of Unaccountable Money

This is the second in a series of posts written by our Friend, Fullerton Engineer.

Anybody who thinks the problem with transportation and “transit” funds  is that there aren’t enough of them, either isn’t paying attention or is profiting off of the notion – either as a government bureaucrat, a consultant, a lobbyist, or an engineering construction contractor. The partisan political yappers can be added to the list too.

California government is awash with money. It is also awash with the characters and interests listed above, who all stand to gain from the new Gas Tax that will be levied on everybody else. Sure, everybody benefits, right? And the mantra of “our infrastructure is crumbling?” It sounds dire and maybe it is. But the solution is not new taxes, but effective and accountable use of the resources we already have. Until our governments can demonstrate that they are responsible stewards of what they have, why entrust them with any more?

As was recently noted on this blog, governments are rarely penalized for their misuse of their property, and the same goes for misuse of existing funds; and it would never occur to the transportation lobby to shape up. Why bother, when a helpful Legislature is more than happy to raise taxes and then start handing out salvers of freshly slaughtered pork? The simple fact is that grant funds from a distant government attracts a long line of bureaucratic applicants willing to spend that money in any fashion that meets the bare minimum of requirements from other bureaucrats in Sacramento. This diffusion of authority and ultimately the lack of coherent oversight is at the root of California’s current infrastructure woes. The fact that every dollar sent off to Washington or Sacramento or even collected by OCTA comes back after a big whack has been taken off the top only exacerbates the situation.

And then there is the problem of “transit” projects, a bottomless well of bureaucratic mismanagement, political corruption, and misuse of public funds for pet boondoggle projects that provide minimal, if any benefit to the public, but lots of benefit to the people entrusted with spending the money and those receiving it.

It may have been expensive, but it sure was unnecessary…

Which brings me to case of The People of Fullerton v. the Added Train Station Elevators,  a study that will examine the long and painful (and ongoing) history of this completely unnecessary project that is quickly approaching a $5,000,000 price tag. This comedy of errors and overspending was to be paid for with funds from sources apart from Fullerton’s Capital Funds, namely State transportation funds Prop 1B and Prop 118,  and of course the completely mismanaged OC Measure M Renewal funds. When somebody else is picking up the check it’s a lot easier to lose sight of priorities and interest in accountability. In this instance the availability of this play money has acted like a disease that has rendered everyone senseless and indifferent – a sort of malaise in which no one seems to care about what they are doing or how much it costs.

Fullerton Engineer

You Played Yourself

The other night the council approved the rezoning of the massive Red Oak development site on Commonwealth. The move was made while waxing vigorously about forcing the developer to reduce the project density and increase site parking. The team concluded that holding back the site plan approval until March 7th will give them time to negotiate some sort of fix.

A fiery kiss goodnight.

But in the needless granting of partial approval, the council gave away nearly all of the city’s leverage. You see, the approval of the zoning change brought forth the Specific Plan, along with its density and parking specifics. If the council tries to require additional parking, any decent attorney will point to the already approved Specific Plan and shove it back up the council’s rear end.

The council simply surrendered its ability to get what they wanted. Naturally, city staff and the city attorney sat quietly and helped them proceed. Of course. They are eager to collect those development fees.

At one point, Councilman Bruce Whitaker voiced his commitment to only voting for/against projects in their entirety, perhaps to avoid this exact consequence. But he forgot to be persuasive, and the rest of the council evaded that moment of enlightenment and proceeded to ride off the cliff at full bore.

If only there were an expert nearby…

Now someone less cynical than I might assume that the council fell into this trap out of sheer incompetence. But one must also consider that the screw up conveniently paves the way for the council to be “forced” to complete the Red Oak approvals. They will buckle under legal duress while pretending to be sympathetic to the public’s concerns.

Of course, all of this could be wrong, and the tough-talking council could actually deliver on their promise to significantly reduce the project before it gets built. But when has that ever happened?

FFFF Classics: Doc Hee Haw Holds Forth: Red Light Districts, Tattoos and Syphilis

And another five years later? Sill hilarious!

Here’s a clip of the decrepit jackass the anti-recallers think is bringing dignity and respectability to the Fullerton City Council. This is how Dick Jones handles the public’s business. Enjoy again. And again.

– Joe Sipowicz 

File this one under the heading:  He Said What?

Fullerton Councilman F. Richard “Dick” Jones really is in a class all by himself when it comes to blog fodder. Enjoy this clip in which the mental rambler Jones transforms body art recipients into “patients.” Pins and needles and daggers??!!