Jaramillo High on Retail Pot

Green means green. One way or another…

You heard right, Friends. Very high.

Wanna ganj?

Earlier today, one of our Friends shared a couple Vivian “Kitty” Jaramillo posts from the Next Door site sharing her views on the subject of marijuana tax revenue. Jaramillo says she’s running for the Fullerton City Council, and has big plans for solving the budget problem.

I don’t know when the lightbulb will go on for our current council majority that our city is dying. We have been pinching penny’s for much too long and our city’s infrastructure shows it. If they would put on their thinking caps and allow legal dispensaries they could be the super heroes of Fullerton. Vote only candidates in favor of legalizing

Responding to something called Legalize Fullerton Dispensaries, Jaramillo shared:

Thank you for your continued interest in legalizing marijuana dispensaries in Fullerton. Unfortunately we still have the same 3 councilman, Whitaker, Jung & Dunlap, who voted against this issue. So let’s be sure when any of these 3 are up for re-election to show up and vote them OUT! Our city is losing millions of dollars each year that dispensaries are not allowed. We all know how desperate we are for a stronger budget……

I can’t guarantee that these are genuine comments made by Jaramillo, but when you consider the poor grammar and punctuation, they have the ring of genuineness. And of course, Jaramillo’s world view, “pinching penny’s” (sic) is the problem, not excessive pay and pensions to thousands of employees over the years.

Her stake-out makes sense if she she believes the Long Beach Cannabis Cartel can be a source of political fundraising; and, of course her political soulmate, Ahmad Zahra, has long been known a wannabe player in the legal dope store game. Zahra supported the proposed ordinance that could have resulted in legalized dispensaries within 100 of your house. Zahra has also been associated with the “consulting” work of one Melahat Rafiei who recently pleaded guilty for conning a would-be dispensary operator in Anaheim out of hundreds of thousands that were meant as payouts to officials, and to trying to bribe Irvine City Council members.

Now, it could be that Jaramillo really believes that dispensaries are an economic salvation for Fullerton, and the more the better, and any negative impacts are worth the price of happy public employees and timely CalPERS payments This may put her at odds with the Fullerton Police Department that has a long-standing opposition to this sort of thing; she must be counting on the cop union to paver her way to office.

A Tale of Two Trails

A Friend has alerted us that the on-line version of the Fullerton Observer posted a story by somebody named “Emerson Little” about a little known Fullerton trail called the Lucy Van Der Hoff Trail. The title? “Lucy Van Der Hoff Trail Needs Maintenance.” It seems that almost nobody knows about this .9 mile “asset” even though it is City-owned.

Unfortunately, the “trail” is overgrown, full of trash, and is yet another shining example of neglect by our top-notch Parks Department. Fortunately, the intrepid Emerson took the trail and generously provided images. But let’s let Emerson tell it in his own words: .

“It’s maintained by the Fullerton Parks and Recreation Department and is listed on the city’s website as a connector. However, when I walked on the trail, it was rather overgrown and poorly maintained. In certain spots, there were quite a few lost objects and pieces of garbage, possibly swept down the pathway by rainwater.”

Put on your walking shoes…

So, the City has completely failed at maintaining the Lucy Van Der Hoff Trail – even as a simple mountain bike trail. They seem actually have completely ignored it – a facility that should cost almost nothing to maintain. It’s alleged “connector” value is almost useless.

It’s the thought that counts…

More from Emerson: “I stepped around some discarded plastic bags, bottles, pillows that were torn open, unidentifiable articles of clothing, pieces of broken wood, old soccer nets, and cans, making my way forward.” When the overgrown vegetation became too thick our brave explorer had to ditch the “trail.”

Finally, here’s Emerson wrapping up the tale of his Big Adventure: “So, while my hike was interesting, I really wouldn’t recommend taking the Lucy Van Der Hoff trail.”

And now, Friends, here’s an observation that seems to have escaped the keen notice of the Observers. The advocates of the infamous Trail to Nowhere on the old Union Pacific right-of-way tacitly believe (or pretend to believe) it is going to be maintained – 170 trees, hundreds of shrubs, water lines, irrigation systems, benches, paths, signage, light fixtures – and let’s not forget graffiti removal, etc. – even though there is no budget to do this, and the money can’t be looted from the Park Dwelling Fund which can’t be used for maintenance.

We’ve already seen the maintenance fiasco of UP Trail Phase I – the plant denuded, trash filled, urine soaked predecessor of Phase II that nobody in City Hall has given a rat’s ass about. And Fullerton is also facing a fiscal cliff thanks to years of budgetary mismanagement.

Several months ago FFFF received a comment from former City Manager Chris Meyers, warning about the foolishness of building something that doesn’t have a plan for maintenance cost. But Ward 5 Councilman Ahmad Zahra believes even talking about maintenance issues south of the tracks is “offensive,” the idea being that it’s great to give the “underserved” barrio “something nice,” but who cares what happens to it later. It’s like giving somebody a car when they can’t afford to buy gas, or insurance, or keep it running. Looks like Zahra’s colleagues all agree – even though the very same people can’t figure out how to open Union Pacific Park – another embarrassing disaster.

I Think I’ve Seen This Movie

It’s real expensive, but it sure is short…

When thinking about the Trail to Nowhere it seemed to me that I had seen this same sort of thing before. Then it struck me. Of course.

An expensive and unnecessary project that dragged out for years, and that was supposed to be paid for with other people’s money, “free money” as it is known in City Hall, I recalled.

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

I remembered because I wrote about it, here. The second elevator towers at the Fullerton train station, a project so ridiculously over-engineered, so expensive, so reliant on phony ridership projections and so expensive and mismanaged that it ended up raiding Fullerton’s own Capital Budget to the tune of $600,000. In the end no one knows how much was actually spent on that boondoggle when everything was said and done. But one good thing that came out of it was teaching me to appreciate how things are done in Fullerton, and how there isn’t one cent’s worth of accountability on the part of anybody.

If the Trail to Nowhere actually ever gets built but is way over budget, unused, unmaintained and falls into decrepitude, who will stand up to take responsibility? Not the City Council who approved it without question. Not City staff – the chief architects of this disaster in-waiting are already gone – nor will the City Manager, who will be gone as soon as his pension formula tops him out. None of the people stirred up to insult and harangue the City Council will be in evidence and the proprietors of the Fullerton Observer, if they are still around annoying people, will not be searching for those accountable. No one else will be, either.

Maybe the less said, the better…

Remember the multi-million dollar Poison Park intergenerational fiasco? Has anybody ever taken responsibility for that poster child of bureaucratic incompetence and political indifference? Of course not. That would be a horrible precedent. Fullerton.

The Cost of Calamity

The trail was expensive, but it sure was short…

Something that nobody has talked about when discussion of the controversial “Trail to Nowhere” occurs, is the inflation of construction cost in the 5 years since the grant application was submitted.

what’d that scary man say?

ENR cost indicies show a construction cost increase of 27% percent since December, 2019. It’s very fair to apply the same percentage for soft costs as they tend to closely follow the trajectory of hard construction cost. Ditto the cost that in-house “contract management” add to the budget, since that is a fixed percentage. This means a likely cost increase of $540,000 on the original estimate of $2,000,000 for the Trail to Nowhere, give or take.

Off we go, into the Wild Blue Yonder…

And the project still requires detailed working drawings and all the necessary permits. Then the mess has to be let out to bid, undergo bid review and contract award. Of course, if the bids blow the budget out of the water, more delay will ensue.

Abandon Ship!

Since the State Resources Agency grant allocation can be assumed to be fixed, this means that the City of Fullerton’s Park Dwelling Fund will be on the hook for over $800,000, with a concomitant hit to other, real park facility construction/improvements. And of course these numbers presuppose an accurate project budget to begin with, a presupposition I wouldn’t place a bet on.

Children at play…

Our City Council doesn’t seem to take this sort of thing into their thinking about the silly trail that no one will use, but it’s the kind of thing that should be ever-present in their minds. The problem is not only maintaining the linear park strip (as the City has proved completely incapable of on Phase I), but now of building Phase II at all.

Who Was Emmanuel Perez?

While I was strolling along the ill-fated Trail to Nowhere the other day, I came across a small shrine-like set-up just where the UP right-of way starts its parallel run with the BNSF mainline.

This is what I saw.

This small memorial is dedicated to somebody called Emmanuel Perez who died at 28 years of age, six years ago. I did some quick searching and found no news references to anybody dying here, whether by foul play or by train accident. But Fullerton has a history of keeping bad news out of the news.

Naturally, Voice of OC “photojournalist” Julie Leopo failed to publish this image after she took her guided tour of the area, helpfully provided by “journalist” Skaskia Kennedy. That would not have been good for the pre-arranged narrative.

Death on the Trail to Nowhere is not new, but this is one I hadn’t heard of. If anybody can shed some light on the life and death of Emmanuel Perez, let FFFF know.

Mr. Average Gets A Raise

What do you do when your City Manager is spectacularly unspectacular? If it’s Fullerton you give him a raise.

I’ll drink to that!

See, in Fullerton if you’re a City Manager who avoids getting drunk and driving over a tree before trying to evade the law, you’re doing pretty darn good.

Don’t let the amorphous shape fool you. Oh, wait…

And so Mr. Eric Levitt, who has been City Manager for less than 2 years is getting an 8% raise from $250,000 to $270,000. This gentleman is hardly any different than the two temps who preceded him and gives precisely the same deference to an incompetent collection of underlings. In the past 20 months he hasn’t shown any interests in establishing a corps of excellence – just the opposite in fact, and this must be cause for comfort for a City Council that thrives in a culture of not bad is outstanding – just try not to let us make ourselves look too bad.

Last year, the City Manager predicted dire economic issues ahead for Fullerton, massive deficits, of course; and by the end of 2023 Levitt had already started paving his own path of least resistance by hiring a public opinion pollster to drum up support for a general sales tax. This year’s mission will be to revive the ill-fated Measure S, give it a new letter from the alphabet, and let the cops and emergency medics pitch it to the public.

What a performance.

The Process & The Consultant

A few weeks ago I published a post on the extremely dubious efforts of a paid consultant to begin a renewed effort to raise a new sales tax in Fullerton. The consultant is an operation called FM3.

We’ve seen this movie before. Many times.

In an effort to build momentum toward justifying a new tax a consultant is tasked with cooking up a poll, a survey that is worded in such a way as to make the question of a new tax sound not only plausible but even desirable.

The information that is collected is meant to probe the electorate’s weak spots, just like an army might send out reconnaissance to figure out where to attack.

Another benefit is to begin the process of developing ballot statement language that will push and persuade voters to the correct decision – a decision that will always be to vote for the tax. The reasons will be a short recital of the usual, low-hanging fruit, public safety being at the top of the list, but with no explanation that our public safety corps – emergency medical personnel (formerly known as :firefighters) and cops already suck up the majority of Fullerton’s General Fund. Mention of parks, quality of life, libraries and now “homeless” will be thrown in to the pot; and infrastructure maintenance will be included, disingenuously, to get support of the more hard-headed voter, just like last time.

Measure S Covid Lie
Let me count the ways…

And of course this language will be also be used by the inevitable political action committee formed to wage the propaganda war.

Make no mistake about it. The consultant hired to undertake this effort will know at the outset what his mission is. He knows who hired him and he knows what his employer wants.

Here’s a fun little Aussie video that spells out the process succinctly:

And so it goes. The start of a charade in which the taxpayers foot the bill to be “educated” into supporting a pre-determined outcome. The line between education (legal) and propaganda (illegal) is not bright, as asserted by Councilmember Bruce Whitaker. The fuzzy demarcation is exploited all the time by government agencies – always based on information collected in the original poll.

No On S
Don’t Reward the City’s Stupidity

The hopeful part of this is that the electorate is not always as easily persuaded as is supposed by the would be taxers. This was demonstrated in Fullerton in 2020 when voters rejected the ill-considered Measure S, and property tax-based bond floats by Fullerton’s two school districts.

In the end the Council (Jung, Zahra and Charles) voted, vaguely, to keep the “education” process going, a process that we know is nothing other than political propaganda aimed at persuading a majority of voters and coordinating with a special political action committee set up to scare, cajole, and bamboozle the voters.

Another Concept

FFFF has been diligent chronicling the fate of the so-called Trail to Nowhere since last summer when City staff began a selective process of pushing for approval and acceptance of the State Natural Resources Agency grant.

Previously the City Council had directed staff to explore an option for the UP right-of-way that would be multi-modal option planned in conjunction with a wider area. This option became the step-child of City Hall, virtually ignored as staff brought back the original plan and worked an approval from the clueless Parks Commissioners.

Hugo and Alice. The radioactivity was undeniable…

In this way Parks employees ginned up their own special brand of momentum in which the ludicrous becomes the unavoidable.

Except the City Council disagreed and voted to reject the grant unless it could be spent on something useful to somebody, somewhere else in Fullerton.

But let’s think about it for a bit.

Why doesn’t the multi-modal paradigm that became known as Option 2, work? Running a motor viaduct between Highland Avenue westward alongside a green belt makes sense if there must be a bike path.

Phase 1. Asphalt street and parallel trail. The Horror!

Such a design could easily be incorporated into the 50 ft+ easement width. In fact, the exact same thing was already done in the City’s much vaunted Phase 1. The additional flexibility would be of tremendous benefit in the future development of the adjacent 30 acre area, where in-fill development is inevitable, given recent land planning requirements.

A roadway passing through the right-of-way could open up properties on both Truslow Avenue and Walnut Avenue to new configurations and provide commercial opportunities. Ultimately, the numerous deep properties on Valencia Avenue could have access to the new roadway as well.

Meantime, a Class 1 or a Class IV bikeway could built to the desired 10′ wide standard for a 2-way path with a 5′ DG path alongside, with plenty of room to spare. This configuration happens all the time. CalTRANS shares a design image:

As an aside, it’s kind of ironic that all the Trail to Nowhere advocates seem to think it’s a travesty to have a bike path running alongside what would essentially be a paved alley, but they never seem to mention the issue of their beloved bucolic facility running immediately adjacent to the busiest rail corridor in Sothern California.

Kids love choo-choo trains… (Photo by Julie Leopo/Voice of OC)

Oh well. We cant’s expect consistency from those guided by compete ignorance and political animus.

We the People, An Essay

Intelligent commentary was not forthcoming…

You’ve got to hand it to some of Fullerton’s lefties. Their blind devotion to abstractions, knee-jerk reaction to anything threatening their cherished causes, and blindered view of a world of injustices perpetrated on the “underserved” is pretty impressive. One way or another.

Let me be your guide! (Photo by Julie Leopo/Voice of OC)

But one thing that has really struck me lately is the way in which these folk identify themselves with the biggest thing in a democratic republic: the people.

It must be part of human nature to think that what you hold dear must be what everybody should want. But in some, the misidentification takes on a delusional quality – it is what everybody wants.

The people have spoken…

I’m referring to the recent hubbub about the ridiculous “Trail to Nowhere,” in which a tiny Ahmad Zahra claque have bi-monthly wasted hours and hours and hours talking about how their desire is the will of “the people,” and how the City Council majority is not listening to “the people.”

Why repeat the numerous reasons why the proposed trail was idiotic? FFFF has already done that convincingly. Instead, let’s look at the nature of the chatter.

Children at play…

Such talk could easily be dismissed as just meaningless political rhetoric, but these people seem to actually believe they do speak for everybody, obviously, because they are so right. It’s hard to understand where such a blind self-righteousness comes from, but I suspect it comes from decades of educational indoctrination into certain ways of thinking.

But, consider the reality.

Intrepid reporter/newsmaker, S. Kennedy, top left.

A dozen or so speakers nattering on about something they stubbornly refuse to actually understand, but believing that they speak for the citizens of a mid-size city of 145,000 people is preposterous.

All clear, fire away!

The vast majority of Fullerton’s residents don’t know anything about the Trail to Nowhere and, if presented all the facts instead of weepy and outraged propaganda of the Fullerton Observer, might possibly conclude that the Council majority acted in their interest.

The View From On High

It was like getting hit with a broomstick all over again…

I have to say there are a lot of advantages to being in Doggie Heaven, and I would be remiss if I didn’t share them once in a while.

Getting rid of all the little annoyances connected with being alive and being a dog, for one thing.

Like I was reminded on Tuesday night when I was looking in on Fullerton’s City Council meeting to see if much had changed since my last visitation.

There was a lot of silly bloviation going on, the sort of things bipeds (humans and parrots and so forth) like to do. But then I was suddenly horror struck! Who was that sitting five or six rows back along the left aisle?

Arf! None other than my former mistress, Jan Flory, looking grumpier and more outraged than ever!

Yes, I admit, I recoiled in terror – a justifiable reflexive action, really, given all the times she would crack my skull with her broom and force me to take a doggie dump on Mr. Bushala’s property – and then crack my skull again if I didn’t. A chill ran down my ghostly spine as I recalled the bad old days when a pint of Jim Beam would mean a sound thrashing for me.

Too much scotch, not enough water…

My anxiety got even worse when my former mistress got up to speak. I know I should have averted my gaze to something less horrific, but it was sort of like one of you humans watching a train wreck – it’s hard to look away. I have no idea what she was babbling about, but she was going off on a guy named Whitaker, most likely the same man she raved about at home thirty years ago – just before the ol’ broom would come out of the closet. Whack! Right across the orbital. I could tell the utility mop was still securely in place after all these years.

Well, that’s my report from up here. I did notice that Fullerton has changed very little which is sort of reassuring in a way, even though I am just a dog, and a dead one at that.