Of course everybody is now familiar with how, in 2003, the Florentine Mob successfully put a permanent building on an area that only had an “outside dining” encroachment agreement. The details of the case reveal an incompetence and misfeasance on the part of city staff that is truly mind-numbing, the principle party being F. Paul Dudley, Planning Director, who “approved” the illegal permanent structure as it was being built in June, 2003. He also seems to have personally approved a loan to the Florentine crew, and rental terms on the space that weren’t approved by the City Council.
Of course it wouldn’t be Fullerton unless our legal-eagle Dick Jones also played a part in the fiasco, and in the inevitable cover-up. He actually put his signature on a completely different agreement in August, 2003 – two months after Dudley did his sleazy back-room deal. How’s that for staggering incompetence?
Note that “for some reason” the agreement was not formally executed until August. For some reason? Jesus H., Jones, did you even bother to ask why you signed something that was obsolete, or why in Hell you were signing it?
So the embarrassing enclosure was allowed to continue in July, 2003 even though the furor continued for months, and the deal was finally buried in 2004 whereby the parties involved, Shawn Nelson, Don Bankhead, Dick Jones, Mike Clesceri and Leland Wilson surely hoped it was forever interred.
Well, now it’s 2020. The legal party responsible to remove and restore the encroachment area has fled the scene, and the embarrassment of the Florentine addition that squats on public property, remains.
The owner of the rest of the building, Mr. Mario Marivic is apparently embroiled in a legal fight with the FloMob, and good luck to him. But good luck to us, too. Because we, the citizens of Fullerton, have an unowned room addition on our right-of-way, and the people on the hook for its possible removal are gone. Mr. Marovic is under no obligation to remove the structure, and he is not even under any obligation to pay the measly 25 cents per foot that the egregious F. Paul Dudley “negotiated” with the Florentines. The City’s options are limited: it can terminate the encroachment and pay to remove the building addition itself, or it can negotiate a new lease agreement with Marovic, and the sidewalk stays as is. Either way, the public loses.
So this Ghost of Incompetence Past continues to haunt us almost 20 years after the con was consummated. Mr. Dudley has been six-figure pensioned, and the inept councilmen who were indifferent to the notion of government accountability are dead or moved on. But Attorney Dick Jones is still around, profiting off of the gullibility, incompetence and militant ignorance of our “leaders.”
Some poor dopes think that history repeats itself, and yet there are times when it’s hard to argue the point, as when the City Deciders of Fullerton wade out into the same quicksand again and again and again.
I’m referring to the tedious habit of entering into lame exclusive agreements for stupid projects involving public property – which are then renewed and extended year after dismal year. We’ve seen this sorry practice with the massively moronic massive Amerige Court/Commons/Whatever mess; and again with the Transportation Center Master development fiasco, both of which were kept on life support for years and years by a city staff and city council who just couldn’t admit a bad idea had somehow festered forth from City Hall.
The latest in the string is the unsolicited proposal for a “boutique” hotel in the train station parking lot, an idea so stupid that only our city council could embrace it. FFFF has posted about it twice.
First we noted that some sort of pressure or promise was made to Weakest Link Jesus Quirk Silva to get him to change his vote and approve an exclusive negotiating agreement with some guy calling himself Park West Contractors and Westpark Investors. That was a year ago.
And then a few weeks ago FFFF shared the story of local union goons popping up at some dog and pony show to promote the project.
Anyway, the year term of exclusivity given to Mr. Parkwest Westpark has come and gone and so naturally the City has decided to give him another year, rather than to actually put the property on the market for alternative ideas. The November 19 vote was 4-1 with Bruce Whitaker opposing. We also learned that Ms. Jan Flory, true to form, strongly backs this concept, which is pretty ironic, given her past support of time extensions to the “developer” given the exclusive right to negotiate on the Transportation Center cock-up, a plan whose key component is the site of the proposed boutique hotel.
As you Friends can imagine the FFFF industrial complex has been engaged, mano a mano, with the yapping legal beagles employed by the City.
But now I take a break from the marblemouthed drone of Dick Jones’s lies to catch up our Dear Readers with other events of the past few months. If you supposed that the spotlight of media attention on its legal mischief has caused Fullerton politicians and bureaucrats to call a pause to its idiotic endeavors, boy, would you be wrong.
In October, the proposed dee-veloper of a “boutique” hotel on a parking lot next to the Santa Fe Depot gave a show for us rubes.
You may recall this dubious project – Doug “Bud” Chaffee’s parting gift to us: approval of an exclusive negotiating agreement based on the developer’s unsolicited proposal for a hotel on what is now a parking lot. Nobody had ever heard of this bold impresario before, but no matter. Jennifer Fitzgerald has always wanted one of these “boutique” hotels, even though it was never in the Transportation Center Specific Plan she kept foisting on us all those years.
In case you don’t remember, I bring your attention to the record of our dimwitted and unintelligible mayor, Jesus Quirk Silva, who changed his vote from the previous meeting to make this absurdity move along. He even made up fake “experts” who supposedly changed his mind.
Anyhow, it seems this newly minted “hotelier” thinks downtown Fullerton is “dilapidated” and needs his special kind of remedy – a boutique hotel for all those fancy swells who haunt DTF’s exclusive nightclubs and other highfalutin venues. The pictures, however, suggest a six story stucco box with some brick veneer stuck on the front to satisfy the locals sensibilities.
And at this meeting a strange apparition appeared: a bunch of carpenter union goons in jobsite safety vests. Presumably their presence was meant to impress upon the assembled citizenry how necessary such city-supported boondoggles are to their well-being. It’s become common for this in Anaheim, but this is ridiculous. It wasn’t even a public hearing where such theatrics might persuade the more feeble-minded decision maker.
Apparently, word has not yet got out from City hall about whether this harebrained scheme is going to be subsidized with free or discounted land, but I’d be willing to bet on that. After all, this City is not for sale. If you’re connected with the city council you just step up and take what you want.
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.
And who should know that better than the Florentine Family whose nightclubs at the corner Harbor and Commonwealth, as FFFF recently noted, were out of compliance with their Conditional Use Permit that requires the installation of fire sprinklers.
Now, you might think that someone who suffered such a terrible tragedy as losing a business just a few hundred feet from his current one would be a lot more concerned about a repeat performance in 2019. And you might think the Fullerton municipal government would be a lot more concerned about fire safety and well-being of the Florentines’ patrons.
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:
Here is a sanctimonious asshole named Jason Schone who thinks it’s bad for sick folks to get medical marijuana. But he owns a giant bong! Believe it or not this pustule is a sergeant in the Fullerton police department – which just goes to show you how low they have sunk.
He thinks it’s okay for his Hero brethren to beat a mentally ill homeless man to death. He thinks it’s okay when his brethren sexually molest detainees in FPD squad cars. He thinks it’s okay when his Hero brethren beat up and arrest and prosecute innocent citizens; he thinks it’s okay when his FPOA brethren destroy evidence; he thinks it’s okay when his Hero sistren steal from the evidence locker and TSA checkpoints.
What a guy. And now you know the moral caliber of the people employed under Acting Chief Danny Hughes “new and improved” FPD. It’s low. Really low.
For those who really and truly want added proof of the fiscal irresponsibility of City Councliman Don Bankhead, here he is casting his vote to pay $6,000,000 to move a perfectly good McDonald’s restaurant about 200 feet to the east.
Bankhead’s only arguments? One, that he’s already wasted a bunch of money on this titanic Redevelopment boondoggle; and two, that without the relocation the titanic Redevelopment boondoggle might be harder to build!
Fortunately (somewhat) wiser heads prevailed, although nobody in City Hall ever admitted that the monstrous “Fox Block” was just a plaything for the Redevelopment staff, a source of government handouts to the so-called ‘developer,” and had absolutely nothing to do with the restoration of the historic Fox Theater.
Really and truly, Bankhead has been supporting massive boondoggles, huge corporate subsidies and crony capitalism for the better part of 25 years. High time to hit the road.
The anti-recall forces keep chanting the mantra that Fullerton is not for sale, despite all the obvious evidence to the contrary, and that under the Jones, Bankhead and McKinley regime, Fullerton has been very much for sale.
Here’s a picture of an anti-recall sign in the front yard of former Development Services Director, F. Paul Dudley, the man who, for over twenty years, participated in a series of calamitous boondoggles, oversaw the over-development of downtown Fullerton, the cookie-cutter development of Coyote Hills East, and the fake New Urbanism of Amerige Heights. F. Paul Dudley is the man who gave the Florentine family a permanent building on a public sidewalk. Apart from being a dyed-in-the-wool arrogant bureaucrat, Dudley is also a happy member of Fullerton’s $100,000 Pension Club, pulling down a whopping $139,420 for doing nothing.
But get this: Dudley now peddles his relationship with the Three Hollow Logs acting as a lobbyist for developers! So you see, for Dudley Fullerton is very much for sale. He and a small handful of people like him need a compliant majority on the council so that they can get massive entitlements and stick the rest of us with the impacts.
15.30.040.I.7.c.ii. No amplified music or amplified entertainment is permitted outdoors, except recorded background music for dining establishments wherein normal conversation is not impeded; no music or entertainment shall be permitted on a patio past 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
So whose job it is to police the downtown bars and night clubs that have patios with outdoor amplified music?