On Thursday, November 17, the North Orange County Community College District held an the Environmental Impact Report scoping session for the Measure J funded improvements to Fullerton College.
As you know from our previous report on this matter, the proposed improvements include a football field (estimated during the presentation to cost $4 million to build, so consider that a low floor to the likely final cost) but does not include improvements to the Veteran’s Center. When this discrepancy was addressed, Fullerton College President Greg Schultz gave the following explanation:
We have to understand that the NOCCCD cannot do everything it would like to do with Measure J funds, so they have not been able to make the improvements to the Veteran’s Center at this time;
The stadium will be funded through other funds, not Measure J money and he promises to not use Measure J money to build the stadium.
Let’s take these two responses one at a time, shall we?
First, the characterizing of the veteran’s center as just one of many improvements that the NOCCCD would like to perform is extremely dishonest. Let’s re-wind the clock again to back when NOCCCD sought voter approval for their $574 million construction bond:
So who’s up for a proposed construction project that could “substantially degrade the existing visual character or quality of the site and its surroundings” and could “create a new source of substantial light or glare would adversely affect day or nighttime views in the area” according to the Environmental Impact Report?
Doesn’t sound appealing? Well, you may want to attend the scoping session on Thursday, November 17, 2016, at 6 pm, at the Fullerton College Student Center, Rooms 224, 226 and 228 (don’t ask – I’ll be wandering around campus myself) and let them know.
I should note that this little boondoggle is not the City’s doing, for once. For this we can thank the North Orange County Community College District and their Board of Trustees. The Master Plan Initial Study, which discussed the Environmental Impacts on Section 6.3, can be found here: )
Pictured: Sherbeck Field. Not pictured: Rooms 224-228. Also not pictured: The football stadium that already exists across the street.
Some time ago, the NOCCCD Board of Trustees were considering the idea of building a football stadium on campus, thus sparing their football team the humiliation of playing football at <gasp> a high school stadium – and one that’s less than 100 yards away from the campus proper, to boot. Residents of the Princeton Circle neighborhood objected, and the plans for a football stadium appeared, to the residents at least, to be scrapped. Now the trustees are looking to add 4,500 stadium seats and field lighting that could remain on until 10 pm. In addition, while I have not independently verified this, nearby residents contend that the proposed lighting would consist of six 100 foot tall LED towers, which if true would cause a significant amount of light pollution.
Could be trouble’s a-brewin’ for our old acquaintance, North OC Community College District trustee Molly McClanahan.
Now, in case you’re not familiar with the life and times of McClanahan, here’s a primer: rightfully recalled from the Fullerton City Council in 1994 for imposing a stupid and unnecessary utility tax (at the behest of the public employee unions), she was tossed a little political plum as an appointee to the NOCCCD. There she has been a reliable cheerleader for a bloated, overpaid and incompetent administration for over 20 years.
A few years back we followed the tale of the magical football stadium at FJC, an embarrassment on so many levels that I won’t recount them, just give you Loyal Friends the link.
Seven years have passed and apparently the football practice facility is still slated to become a completely unnecessary game day venue – given the fact of the FHS stadium a few hundred yards away and the CSUF stadium less than two miles away. looks like some of the neighbors are still as unhappy about this as ever. In fact, somebody has started a website dedicated to pressuring McClanahan to act on behalf of her constituents instead of her district bureaucrats, with the promise of a recall. Since they linked to the old post of ours, I felt compelled to return the favor.
Now Molly may have a problem, maybe. Recalling anybody is hard, especially in a big JC district that nobody even thinks much about. Yet the NOCCCD has seven much smaller individual districts. I don’t know for sure, but I’m supposing the individual trustee districts have about 70,000 people, so gathering signatures would not be impossible. But would anybody off the hill behind the campus even care?
Unfortunately, the website isn’t real clear on what how McClanahan is supposed to do anything at this point. Maybe the proprietor of that blog will stop by and give us some more information. One thing is certain, though. Whoever is behind this is pretty pissed off. The hostility comes through loud and clear; and tellingly, there is a pointed reference to McClanahan’s illegal gift-taking from a bond peddler and the consequent FPPC fine.
A few years ago Cal State Fullerton decided to get into the housing business for its employees. Why public employees should get any sort of preferential treatment for housing is beyond me, but that’s the society in which we live.
Anyway, the whole thing turned out to be a massive disaster, but not an embarrassment, of course, for such things are not permitted in the lofty ether of educratic circles. FFFF posted about it here, and here.
Recap: the university made a deal with the Elks for land up on Elk Hill and sold a bond to build a bunch of cookie-cutter tract duplexes that were to be sold to professors and administrators, and such like, and subsidized by you and me. The only problem was that an underlying deed restriction required sale to others in the same category, an encumbrance that turned out to be a lot more than a mere nuisance, especially when real estate prices were plummeting all over the place.
The university also had the responsibility to make monthly payments to the Elks for their land, which were to passed on to lucky buyers: a sort of Mello-Roos arrangement, if you will.
But nobody was buying. So the university opened up residence to any government workers. Still no sales. Finally they just started renting them out to anybody with a cleaning deposit and first month’s rent. Could it get worse?
Looks like it could. Persistent rumors suggest that CSUF wants out of the University heights disaster altogether by completely removing the deed restriction and just selling them off – individually or as a group – no doubt at fire sale prices. They obviously need the cash.
The losses on the original deal would be quietly swept under the rug – no doubt with diminishing fund balances bailing out the catastrophe.
And what for? According to an acquaintance at Western Law School, CSUF wants to buy their facility for $20,000,000, give or take, and metastasize across State College.
It’s pretty clear to me that the CSUF appetite for real-estate wheeling and dealing is insatiable, even as the CSU system teeters on the financial brink. It’s also clear that nobody is going to be held accountable for the University Heights quagmire. F. “Dick” Jones, the City mastermind, is recalled; his buddy, former City manager Chris is fatly pensioned off; Bill Dickerson, the CSUF architect of the fiasco is retired, too. CSUF President, the dopey Milton Gordon? You guessed it. Gone, as well.
Would it be asking too much for our State Assemblyman Chris Norby to demand an inquiry on what unfolded up on Elk Hill?
Bottom Line: The advisor who rigged this year’s ASB election (and possibly those of earlier years—no way to know) remains on staff. The student who proved the wrongdoing—Jacob Bigham–was suspended, stripped of the Vice Presidency he legitimately won and banned from future ASB participation.
Since accessing the advisor’s database was the only way to prove fraud, why is he punished? Without his vigilance, how many future ASB elections would be rigged without anyone knowing?
If the whole purpose of student elections is to inculcate democratic values, what message does this send to students?
If an ASB advisor does not trust the electoral judgment of Troy High School students —ranked consistently among the nation’s highest performing—at what other schools are such elections routinely overruled without anyone knowing?
Is the sanctity of student elections protected by law? While the State Education Code is vague, the Elections Code is very specific in defining “election fraud” as applying it to “all elections.” No distinction is made. Just last spring, an arrest was made in a case of election in a student election at Cal State San Marcos.
The unilateral, secretive, intentional nullification of an election is as fundamental abuse of power as can be committed against democratic values. And exposing such an abuse is as high a service as a citizen can perform. Thank you, Jacob Bigham. You are one true Troy Warrior.
Remember that strange episode up at Beechwood School a couple of months ago when parents were called in for a really scary meeting and not really told anything? Some teacher did something. Somewhere. Somehow. FSD Superintendent Mitch Hovey was just double-talking hard.
Now the OC Registeris reporting that the still unnamed teacher’s offense – having “inappropriate” materials on his computer at school – does not rise to the level of a crime. At least that’s what Acting Chief Dan Hughes reported after an FPD investigation was submitted to our hard-working DA (okay, no snickering). Says Hughes:
“The investigation discovered potentially inappropriate photographs and videos on a school computer assigned to the teacher. But I am pleased to report that in this case, there is no evidence to suggest any Beechwood students were victims of a crime.”
Well, that’s good news, although what the guy had on his computer that caused all the hubbub remains shrouded in secrecy.
But according to the article Mr. Teacher isn’t out of the Beechwoods yet, and remains on “administrative” (presumably paid) leave while the Fullerton School District pursues its own investigation.
Jeez, Fullerton must be the public employee investigation capital of the Western World.
According to Tracy Woods of the Voice of OC(EA), here, a bit of a dust up is occurring at Fullerton High School over a student constestant who was yanked offstage during something called a “Mr. Fullerton” competition by Assistant Principal, Joe Abell. The kid’s offense? Apparently he told the audience that he hoped he could find Mr. Right, and that he hoped in ten years gay marriage would be legal in California. From the Voice of OC(EA):
According the the district’s statement, “an Assistant Principal removed a male student from the stage during the Mr. Fullerton competition for making what the Assistant Principal believed to be a statement that was off script and not pre-approved.”
It’s good to know that the justification for this errant behavior was that a student had deviated from a script pre-approved by one of our esteemed educrats. We wouldn’t want anybody being able to think on his feet, now would we?
FHSD Superintendant George Giokaris has sent out a letter of apology for the inappropriate behavior of Mr. Abell, given that the kid broke no school rules. That’s great, but the damage has been done. Meanwhile, I congratulate the unnamed kid for standing up for his Constitutional rights.
An emergency parent meeting was called at Beechwood school last night to explain that a teacher had been placed on administrative leave and that the police department was conducting an investigation into…well, something they’re not allowed to tell us about. The Chief was adamant that there was no evidence that a crime was committed or that any students were involved, which makes you wonder what he’s “investigating” in the first place.
It’s interesting to watch Superintendent Hovey and interim Police Chief Hughes struggle with a new-found interest in transparency, releasing only enough information to scare people about what the teacher might have done. Parents in the room didn’t seem to appreciate the lack of detail. One mother even came to tears trying to figure out if anything had happened to her own child (25 minutes in).
An attentive resident brought us this video of the meeting:
UPDATE: School Board Trustee Chris Thompson posted this comment addressing the question of what the board currently knows about the investigation:
I do not mind being held accountable. For clarity’s sake, I have NOT been briefed on any aspect of this story beyond the information which has been made publicly available in the meeting posted here. I have made it clear to Dr. Hovey that I believe that fact is inhibiting my ability to do my job as a trustee. Dr. Hovey informed me that he had been advised by the district’s law firm as to what information he could and could not give to the board members. He did confirm that he knows more than we do. As the law firm’s primary role is to limit the districts liability, there is no surprise there. Unfortunately, my role is to be 1/5th of an independently elected body whose job it is to ensure that our district does the right and smart thing, and I cannot very well do that if I am “managed” by the district’s lawyer. I believe that the theory is that if the board members are informed of the details of the investigation prior to the conclusion of the investigation that our impartiality will be brought into question if any decisions need to be made by the board as a result of the investigation. I don’t buy it. The people elected us to oversee this government entity and the entity itself is preventing us from knowing the details of what is going on within our own walls. At the risk of sounding self-important, I thought we were in charge.
Having said that, I would not personally use the phrase cover-up at this point. I will not quietly sit by uninformed for any extended length of time. This situation is three days old and we are talking about an elementary school. The individual who is the focus of whatever it is we are investigating has been administratively removed from the classroom and we are being told that there is zero evidence of any direct impact to children. My first step is really what I am doing here. Making it known publicly that I think it is a mistake to withhold the details of the investigation from the board.
Ostensibly, the board would be able to offer some comfort to the community…or some guidance to management about we believe we should proceed. I have no idea if I even agree that there should be an investigation.
As a final comment, I want make it clear that I believe it is exceedingly likely that both Mitch Hovey and Dan Hughes are doing what they believe to be best for the children and the community. I also believe that it is my job to review all of the knowable circumstances in order to determine whether I concur with Dr. Hovey’s actions. I have no way of doing that now.
While only a few hundred yards away outraged citizens were protesting the police-bludgeoning death of Kelly Thomas, Fullerton’s liberal and repuglican elite were feting themselves at the opening of the new library wing.
Friends, you are invited to provide your ideas for a picture caption in the comments section.