Sharon Quirk Spinning Like a Top

doesn't it make you feel dizzy?
doesn't it make you feel kind of dizzy?

After receiving a barrage of criticism about her support of the McDonald’s relocation fiasco, Fullerton council member Sharon Quirk informed us and others about her decision to change her decision.

Our Redevelopment sources at city hall have told us that at the latest closed door session of the city council Quirk was dissuaded from her decision and in effect signaled her decision to changed her decision to change her decision.

We weren’t there, but we will bet anything that staff used there favorate standby “you cant do this he’ll sue us” to which we say, “let him“. Once again the bureaucrats at city hall have chosen to stay the course believing as they do that in Fullerton it’s better to hide the boondoggle later than to admit a mistake now, and with feeble council members like Sharon Quirk, they may be right.

Could Quirk Change Her Vote?

I would if I could, but "they" are telling me it's too late :(
Ms. Quirk, are you going to change your vote to spend 6 million in tax $ to move McD's 150'?

Sharon Quirk told me she was going to change her vote on the McD’s. She was disappointed in the way the staff presented no alternatives to leaving the McD’s at it’s current location. She has also told a good friend of ours the same story.

The $6 million McDonald’s move has become a community laughing stock. Even reporter Barbara Giasone, with a long record of fluffy features, ripped into the vote, and followed up with coverage of FHS student opposition.

burgers-and-books45735106Any council member voting for this is subject to an easy hit piece which could be the center of an opposition campaign. “Quirk / Keller and/or Bankhead spent $6 million of your tax dollars to move a McDonald’s 150 feet west–across the street from Fullerton High.” This issue will resonate with both fiscal conservatives (wasting $$) and social liberals (big corporate bail-out).

Changing your vote, Council Member Quirk, is the right thing to do. If you want the Fox project to succeed, put the money into the restoration, not to move a fast-food outlet!

The McDonald’s franchisee doesn’t want it. The high school administration doesn’t want it. And you can bet Fullerton voters aren’t going to like it when you get hit with it in the next election (same for Keller and Bankhead).

A Redevelopment Boondoggle in the Making

Teachers are being laid off, we have fewer police officers patrolling the streets of our city, and our library is cutting back. 

(Christine Cotter, Los Angeles Times) March 12, 2009

So why did Pam Keller, Sharon Quirk and Don Bankhead vote to spend 6 million of our tax $ to move McDonalds 150 feet closer to Fullerton High School?

An Open Letter to McDonald’s Franchisees Mr. / Mrs. Frisbie

Do not enter into negotiations with the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency to move your McDonald’s restaurant 150 feet west to the Chapman / Pomona corner. Stay put.

There are many reasons for you to stay where you are. You some of them you know better than we do. But we have some political insights that might be helpful.

  1. To force you to move against your will, the agency must use eminent domain, which requires a 4/5ths vote. With Nelson and Jones already having voted against the move, the votes for eminent domain aren’t there.
  2. Besides, there’s every indication that Sharon Quirk will change her vote. That would make it 3-2 against granting $6 million for the move.
  3. The reconfiguration of your restaurant will hurt business, confusing regular customers who will have to access your drive-in window from Pomona Avenue.
  4. The agency will confine you into a “new-to-look-old” building that will look nothing like a traditional McDonald’s. Many of your patrons will not be able to recognize you.
  5. McDonalds’ trademark signs and golden arches will not be allowed in the new building provided by the agency, confusing and discouraging regular patrons.
  6. You have been, are and will be criticized for accepting $6 million in public money. We know you don’t want to move, but if you accept it, the public will see it as corporate welfare.
  7. The move will likely result in down time, costing you money and customers.
  8. When there are cost overruns (inevitable in public projects) the Agency may be slow to reimburse you for your costs. Those costs may be disputed.

This move is completely unnecessary for you from a business standpoint. You’d said during the hearing that long ago then-Redevelopment employee Terry Galvin told you the city wanted you to move. Galvin didn’t speak for the council then and he certainly doesn’t now.

Terry Galvin has retired. There is a whole new council majority. Nothing obligates you to go along with this deal.

And, there are not the 4 votes needed for eminent domain. You cannot be forced to move. Stay Put!

The Fox Theater Fiasco: Pick A Card…Any Card…

Gee, what a choice!
Gee, what a great choice!

No, not that one!

That’s the way Redevelopment likes to choose its favored developers. A kabuki-like pantomime is undertaken by issuing an RFP (Request for Proposals). In the end the process presents the decision makers with a choice that is essentially no choice. To illustrate the point, Loyal Friends, we go back in time almost ten years to examine how the “Save The Fox” movement got off to a rousing start.

let's hope we don't end up going around in circles...
Let's hope we don't end up going around in circles...

In 1999 after catching the wave of the Save The Fox movement, the City issued an RFP for private developers to take over the job of restoring the Fox and developing the adjoining area. The City had committed to build a parking structure and hand over other developer goodies. Proposals were received in August. In October the Agency was presented with the lucky winner, Staff’s choice – “Berkman/Chaffee” a local restaurant owner and a politically-connected lawyer turned low-income housing credits entrepreneur. Paul Berkman was there to provide credibility to run a “dinner theater” and Doug (Bud) Chaffee’s job was to look like a land developer. The only problem, as it soon transpired, was that Berkman refused to promise a dinner theater, only movies. And Chaffee had never “developed” anything but heavily subsidized housing.

Good Lord that's awful...
That isn't very good, is it?

To complicate matters a second proposer named Dana Morris of Morris productions, who believed himself to be in the running, actually showed up at the meeting  desiring that the elected officials, not staff, decide who might get the gig. His idea was to create an performing and fine arts academy on the site that would, in turn, generate all sorts of ancillary business opportunities downtown and not compete with existing businesses.

To the acute embarrassment of staff, Morris managed to organize a slew of supporters, including a backer who promised to help finance the venture. They asked for more time to prove their bona fides.

On cue, some of Fullerton’s usual lefty suspects got up to promote Berkman/Chaffee although their proposal was dubious, at best, and despite the fact that neither partner had any experience doing what they claimed they were going to do. There were strong undertones of religious bigotry pulling their adherents along, for it had become known that that Morris was affiliated with BIOLA, and in some peoples’ minds that was anathema.

Nuh-uh. Not in our city!
Nuh-uh. Not in our city!

To add hypocrisy to the mix, people who had never shown a dime’s worth of concern when the City acquired property in downtown Fullerton were suddenly horrified by the thought of a non-profit foundation paying no property tax!

The council finally voted 4-1 (Flory dissenting, naturally) to continue the item so that Morris could clarify certain financial points in his proposal. In the intervening time, as Morris later told us, he was treated with such overt contempt and continuing hostility by Redevelopment Director Gary Chaplupsky that he finally abandoned his proposal as simply not worth the aggravation. We have only his word for what happened, but given the Redevelopment Agency staff’s propensity for prevarication over the years,  we are inclined to accept it. And so a plausible concept for the Fox was lost because the staff did its level-best to thwart a reasonable proposal and award the deal to their favored team – the team that could be counted on to play ball.

Gee, Paul, I don't remember this being so hard...
Gee, Paul, I don't remember this being so hard...

And now Patient Friends, we finally return to our title. At the hearing in October, 1999 it slipped out that of the eight original proposals only two were even deemed worthy of consideration; and the City Council was never informed that one of the other six actually came from the janitor at the Hub Cafe! Of the two “finalists” it was clear that Morris never stood a chance, thus effectively limiting the Agency’s choices to none. This “planning and activity” as our faithful reader “Jack B. Nimble” characterizes it was nothing but a sham, a fact that later became evident when the Berkman/Chaffee partnership permitted its agreement with the City to lapse, and was never heard from again. And so a feeble concept had gained traction even though (excluding Morris) there was not one credible respondent to the proposal. But in government circles, that’s all it takes to gain momentum!

Here's your card, sucker...
Here's your card, sucker...

Pam Keller Appears to Like Fake Old Buildings

Pam Keller seems to think it’s a good idea to make the new 6.5 million dollar subsidized McDonald’s look “more like the high school” than a “fast-food joint.” She appears to believe that a visual “upgrade” helps justify the huge expenditure of public money. We don’t think it’s an upgrade at all, but just another example of Redevelopment shoving crappy architecture down our throats. Strike two.

On the other hand, maybe Keller is hoping the architectural “blend” will keep people from noticing that the city spent 6.5 Million dollars on moving the McDonald’s 150 feet closer to the school!

Because of the health concerns caused from fast food, Sharon Quirk is said to be considering changing her vote. Maybe Pam Keller will too.

Read this Recent comment from:

#15 by The Enabler at May 16th, 2009

Right on, Frazier. And thank you Supervisor Norby, for your Fullerton legislative history update on the importance of vote-changing, when changing one’s vote is simply the right thing to do.

In one corner, a huge corporation, under guise of a local businessman; in the other, City of Fullerton, hoodwinked into abetting the feeding of malnutritious food to its young residents! On this issue, I must entirely side with Council members Jones and Nelson. McDonald’s shouldn’t receive ONE DIME from City of Fullerton! Long-term costs upon Fullerton’s citizens to provide financial assistance to this global firm are catastrophic!

By eating this food, Fullerton students become less prepared to excel at school, less productive citizens, and will suffer crippling long-term health problems! Obesity, cardiac distress, diabetes! This isn’t idle speculation, but medical fact! Our Latino population’s particularly susceptible to these complications! Not even to mention high civic costs to clean up paper and plastic waste, which is daily generated from this eatery!

I defend, though not happily, McDonald’s or any firm’s rights to build wherever it wants; pay the going rate, meet all governing local, state and federal rules and requirements.

But it’s just wrong for Fullerton to subsidize McDonald’s operation, in any way. Wrong for Fullerton to favor one company over another. Wrong for Fullerton to justify such future ugliness, in the name of civic beautification. Wrong for Fullerton to victimize its young, to enable old people feel good about themselves. Wrong. Wrong Wrong.

I strongly urge Council members Keller, Quirk, Bankhead to carefully reexamine their votes, and put Fullerton first! Put Fullerton first; provide a safe, healthy environment for its young! Put Fullerton first; cautiously rein in civic waste! Put Fullerton first; focus not on global corporate greed, but on local civic virtue!

Every time Fullerton citizens drive by Fox Theatre, and marvel at its future apotheosis as local cultural shrine, please think of thousands of Fullerton young children, teen-agers, young adults who’ll have paid the price to make this happen. Very soon, they’ll have even fewer steps to pick up their Egg McMuffins, Mcfries, and six dollar dollar Super-sized Big Macs.

It hardly seems possible!

Sorry to be so cranky. But I’m truly flabbergasted by this civic-inspired fiscal imprudence and grave social justice.

The Enabler

Quirk Could Switch Vote on $6 Million McDonald’s Move

Credible community sources report that Councilwoman Sharon Quirk has second thoughts about her vote to commit $6 million in redevelopment funds to move McDonald’s 150 feet east—right across the street from her alma mater, Fullerton High School.

The move is opposed by the HS District due to traffic concerns on congested Pomona Ave. Health-conscious parents point to studies showing kids at high schools within 500’ of fast food outlets have 5% higher obesity rates. Councilman Dick Jones complained that the redevelopment agency is stuck paying for the entire move—that the supersized multi-national McDonald’s Corp is paying nothing.

This is a one-sided deal that deserves to be deep fried!

Quirk is within her powers to re-agenize the item and vote against it. She could join Jones and Nelson to counteract this Big Mac attack on our wallets and waistlines.

Will Fullerton High School’s venerable arches soon be in the shadow of the Golden Arches? Or will Quirk wisely put the $6 million back in the redevelopment kitty to fight blight at some more appropriate location?

FUHS is the only high school with two alumni in baseball’s Hall of Fame (Who are they, bloggers?) So, step up to the plate, Sharon. Get off your sesame seed buns and get this back on the agenda. This is a civic embarrassment that only you can reverse!

McDonald’s On the Move; Free Speech Locked Up


One of our sharp-eyed Friends took a photo of this banner last Tuesday morning. By Tuesday night, it was gone.

During its brief life, it asked the telling questions:

  • How did the Fox project morph into subsidizing teen obesity?

The sign hits McDonald’s hard, though—to be fair—McDonald’s doesn’t want to move at all. Just like the residents who lived in the demolished homes didn’t want to move. Redevelopment hard at work!

  • Who tore the sign down? City crews or the McDonald’s owner are the likely suspects.
  • Who’s afraid of a little free speech?

After all, that fence is paid for by the taxpayers, just as everything else in this $6 million supersized boondoggle!

And it was covering the eyesore of the vacant lots where vintage homes once stood.

Take pity on your campus, you FHS alums Quirk and Keller! Listen to the District Board members. Superintendent Escalante told City Manager Armstrong back in 2001 that the school does not want a McDonald’s across the street or its drive thru lane accessing already congested Pomona Ave. That information has been covered up for years!

Barbara Giasone Delivers Gut-Punch to Obesity, But Misses The Bigger Picture

Talk as fast as you want. I'll get the news from FFFF later.

Orange County Register reporter Barbara Giasone finally sunk her teeth into a red meat issue with her surprising interviews of high school kids that appeared in the April 30 issue of the Fullerton News tribune. Surprising you ask? How so? Because it might actually smack of criticism of Fullerton City Council and its staff who are promoting a six million dollar pay out to the largest fast-food corporation in the history of mankind in order to move a McDonalds 200 feet closer to a bottomless supply of junk food junkies – high school students at Fullerton High School.

We find it interesting that Barbara followed up on her usual fluff piece of April 23 with her theme of the 30th: she got the idea from us! Although we got no credit from Babs, a professional courtesy we can forgo since neither of us are professionals, we are encouraged that she is reading our blog and is willing to follow our lead. Heretofore she has been regurgitating City hall press releases; if she is willing to use FFFF as a source of her journalistic inspiration we can only envisage good things for Fullerton.

Our only suggestion to Barbara at this point is to get the rest of the story: the subsidy to a vast corporation; the crappy McSpanish architecture; the use of the “save the Fox” movement by city staff to leverage a titanic McBoondoggle.

Barbara: how did the Fox preservation project morph into the endomorphic mess it has become?