Yes, Friends you heard that right. In the long history of official misfeasance regarding the ill-fated “Union Pacific Park” we’ve seen stupidity, indifference, lack of accountability waste, more stupidity. A project that nobody in the community wanted, but that a fun thing for Parks Director Susan Hunt to play with, and for Redevelopment Monopoly bucks to buy, has been a humiliation for everybody involved; or should be, except that bureuacrats in Fullerton have no shame and no rear-view mirror.
But now we discover, courtesy of a 19 year-old document, something a lot more nefarious than just the usual City Hall incompetence. Consider the following letter written to local property owner Tony Bushala, from then Redevelopment flunky, Ken O’Leary.
Here’s a smoking gun. The City had already purchased contaminated property, not bothering to employ a Phase 2 environmental assessment. And they knew that the perp was already cleaning up contamination “in the vicinity.” And yet the City proceeded building a park knowing that soils contamination was an issue surrounding the park, and evidently not giving damn whether their own soil was contaminated. So the park was built for well over a million bucks, then Lo and Behold – the park, by now renamed “Union Pacific Park,” was contaminated too. It was fenced off from the junkies and homeless and borachos that haunted it.
Naturally O’Leary is long gone, as is his boss, the ever-hapless Gary Chalupsky. Gone too are bungling bureaucrats Hunt, F. Paul Dudley, Bob Hodson, and former City Manager, Jim Armstrong, all enjoying six-figure pensions courtesy of you, me, and the people of the communidad who never wanted a park at all.
And now it seems the death march is to continue. Only recently City staff cooked up a lame scheme to put a private event center on the site, masquerading as an “educational” aquaponics farm. This hare-brained idea was ardently supported by Jesus Quirk Silva and Ahmad Zahra, two councilmen immune to common sense; and these two now, all of a sudden, want to start a whole new process to find out what the “community” wants, just like Susan Hunt did over 20 years ago.
Many people tend to dismiss the visionary dreams of large, regional government consortiums as either too impractical, too complicated or too abstruse to either worry about or even pay much attention to. Those people are wrong.
As we have seen, these agencies have long tentacles and provide funding, or pass through funding, to promote the Big Plans they have for us. And that money goes to pay people we wouldn’t give a dime. Worse, their housing needs projections are so wildly unrealistic that if implemented would destroy the suburban fabric of towns across Southern California.
Which brings us back to Elizabeth Hansberg, whose brainchild, People For Housing, sends folks around to local planning commissions and councils to promote high-density housing projects that promise no concomitant benefits to the communities in which they are crammed. And as we have seen Hansberg’s “non-profit” has received somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000 from SCAG to promote its agenda of a high density housing jamboree – based on a claim that says we need another 13,000 housing units in Fullerton.
The problem is that Hansberg is on our Planning Commission. The Chair, in fact. The bias, if not outright conflict of interest toward high density housing is cemented by her pecuniary reliance on SCAG. And thus planning in Fullerton is compromised. Think I’m exaggerating? Think again.
Hansberg was selected by our staff to be part of a collection of high-density housing enthusiasts who amusingly called themselves “Project Champions” and have participated in an idiot document called the Fullerton Housing Game Plan. And within this document is concrete evidence of what these people want to do in Fullerton. It’s called the Rail District.
Now this idea is not new. Apparently our crack staff have stolen both the boundaries and even the name from local business guy Tony Bushala who’s been trying to promote a sustainable, mixed use plan for his vision of the Fullerton Rail District. But no. The SCAG-Hansberg plan is all about high-density housing, not livability or sustainability.
And here’s the proof: a plan drawing from this hitherto secret draft Specific Plan, already developed without even being shared with property owners in the area or even members of the City Council. And guess what? The Specific Plan is being paid for by SCAG. And SCAG is also paying to develop a plan to change the Poison Park within the site to an aquaponic farm, ditching the promised park and tying up valuable land in the process. And finally, SCAG grant money is also being eyed by the City bureaucrats to plan a half mile trail along the abandoned Union Pacific right-of-way, an idea so stupid that not even Ken Domer’s predecessors tried it.
It’s very clear that the giant thumbprint of SCAG is placed squarely on these hairbrained and even dangerous ideas. And with the enthusiastic support of their local auxiliaries like Elizabeth Hansberg, they are well on the way to entangling Fullerton in “plans” that will finish off our crumbling infrastructure and add 100,000 new traffic trips to our streets everyday.
You are excused for not knowing a goddamn thing about SCAG – the Southern California Association of Governments. There’s a good reason for this. SCAG operates as a completely opaque government entity; it is run by public employees, for public employees with no accountability to anybody. Its reason for existence is to promote whatever the latest liberal idea de jour happens to be.
And right now, the idea de jour is housing units. Lots and lots of housing units. In fact, in SCAG’s humble opinion…er…a, I mean expert opinion, Fullerton needs 13,000 new housing units, a notion, if executed would complete the destruction of our already overburdened infrastructure and increase our current population by 33%.
“Well, okay, Joe,” I can hear you saying. “So what?”
Here’s what: SCAG creates what is known as Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) concocted by who knows who, and that assumes the temerity to tell cities how they are deficient in their provision of housing for po’ folks.
“Well, okay, Joe,” I can hear you saying. “So what?”
Here’s what: the State of California Housing and Development Department, another bureaucratic godzilla, is becoming militant in making cities comply with some sort of plan to accommodate these idiot quotas – or else.
And although the circle hasn’t yet closed, the arc is extending: there are special-interest groups, allied with developers who are mining the opportunity to exploit the bureaucratic trend for fun and profit. The consequence that matter to you and me don’t concern them in the least.
Fullerton is currently represented by Adan Ortega on the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Board of Directors. Tomorrow the City Council will vote to keep him on as our representative or replace him with somebody else.
Normally I don’t care about commissions or regional seats but this guy bugs me for two reasons. First, his company “Ortega Strategies Group” looks to be a lobbying firm in the municipal water industry and that just stinks of regulatory capture / cronyism.
Second, he’s a racist peddling racism to get his way.
To quote Adan Ortega from last week’s Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District meeting (approximately 20:10 into the audio link, emphasis added)
“Finally, as a Latino and Latina majority board, you outta ask yourselves if it is right to let white people representing Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Foothill and La Canada to choose the winner when people of color on the MWD board disagreed. If you choose this path, then nothing has changed in the empowerment of Latinos, Latinas, African-Americans and women and we are inviting more injustice.”
More “injustice” because somebody disagreed with you. GTFO.
This is naked racism on the part of Adan Ortega and it has no place in Fullerton or elsewhere. If “white people” can’t represent “people of color” it would be logical that “people of color” cannot represent white people. There goes 2 council votes for Adan right out of the window. Also, it is laughable on it’s face to think that a hispanic person can represent Asian, Middle-Eastern, African-American or any other non-Hispanic group or person simply by virtue of not being white when different peoples have such different backgrounds, cultures and histories. This would mean that, per Adan’s own argument, the only person Adan would be representing on council would be Jesus Silva and he would only be representing approximately 35% of our population.
Now, it doesn’t matter that Adan is hispanic here as I don’t believe the horseshit that he’s peddling. Anybody who puts the interests of the Fullerton ratepayers first is who should be on this and every board representing our city. But the important part is that Adan believes the racist horseshit he’s peddling (otherwise he’s a disingenuous liar). Therefore taking him at his own word, Adan believes that race dictates who you can and cannot represent. Adan believes that you are defined by your skin color and sexual orientation and other characteristics of birth. Adan is channeling the Klan like talking points of naked discrimination in his rhetoric and it’s time we moved away from the ugly racial divineness of the past.
Racism is racism even when you try to hide it behind “equity” and other fashionable vulgarities. It’s time to tell this racist to kick rocks and appoint somebody who wants to represent all of Fullerton.
Last night the City Council voted to appoint Bruce Whitaker To the OC Water District Board of Directors. The term of the previous incumbent, Ahmad Zahra had expired at the end of 2020.
The vote was 3-1-1, with Whitaker, Jung and Dunlap voting for Whitaker; Zahra nominated and voted for himself; Jesus Silva decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and abstained.
It was not for lack of trying to keep this paying gig that Zahra relinquished his job. No, Indeed, for a line of scripted commenters tried valiantly to praise Zahra to the Heavens, why, Good God! The man practically invented water!
The funniest commenter was none other than Fullerton’s Mistress of Disaster, Jan Flory, who joined in to share in the hosannas for Zahra. She read her script okay, but it included her statement that Zahra had actually authored articles about water,,,for the Fullerton Observer.
Whitaker was clearly the better choice. The water board has jurisdiction over the aquafer on which we sit. The district has massive financial reserves paid by us in ad valorem taxes. And in the past decade the OCWD has been at the center of a massive rip-off called Poseidon, a desalinization scam meant to provide more water to OC county for the purposes of south county development.
Unlike Zahra, Whitaker will not posture on the board for publicity and to be able to pretend some imagined expertise. He won’t use the agency to promote his own agenda and his own political prospects. And Whitaker is not currently charged with crimes by his own police department; nor is he under threat of recall by his district constituents.
Riddle: what’s worse, an endorsement by a greasy political bagwoman, or the endorsing of a perjurer, a confessed thief, and a desperate office-seeker?
I don’t know, and I don’t need to.
Here is our lobbyist mayor, the ethically challenged Jennifer Fitzgerald endorsing the equally unspeakable Paulette Marshall to her fellow female Republican cohorts.
Whoa! What’s this? Endorsing a non-Republican?
There are two things we may discern from this cozy relationship. The first is that Fitzgerald thinks she can get her scuzzy self re-elected without local party help, and second, more importantly, Curt Pringle, for whom Fitzgerald plies her wares, is betting the farm on the Chaffee Crime Family.
Yes, Dear friends, it’s that time of the political season when we can count on the reappearance of our old pal, Barfman. Barfman has been making periodic visits to Fullerton ever since Roland’s Chi’s restaurant code violations finally caught up with him in 2010. Ever since then Barfman has returned to inform Fullerton taxpayers about particularly vomitous political campaigns. In this case it’s the horrendous and duplicitous Fullerton school bonds – Measures J and K that would cost the average homeowner $400 per year in new property taxes – even if the actual value of their houses goes down.
Kind Readers, every once in a while we receive an essay one of the Friends wishes to us to publish. In this instance Mr. George Jacobson has written a piece objecting to the proposed gigantic school bonds that the educrats at the FSD and FJUHS districts have smuggled onto the March ballot with virtually no public notice.
The vote on the second reading of the FSD Resolution that included language changes, was actually taken December 10th, a mere three days before the ballot opposition statement filing deadline and seven days after their Notice of Intent was filed. Well, let’s hear from Mr. Jacobson:
ZOMBIE SCHOOL BOND MEASURES TERRORIZE FULLERTON VOTERS
by George Jacobson
They are coming after us, with their ravenous appetites. Yes, the Fullerton Union High School District (FUHSD) has placed on the March 3rd Presidential Primary ballot a very large property tax bond measure that will require every homeowner and property owner in the district to pay $30 per $100,000 assessed valuation. So, for example, if you live in a house that has a $500,000 assessed valuation, you will pay an extra $150/year in taxes to the high school district. But wait, it gets worse. Not to be outdone, the Fullerton Elementary School District (FSD) is also placing on the March 3rd ballot their own very large property tax bond measure, which also will require every homeowner and property owner living within the elementary school district’s boundary to pay an additional $30 per $100,000 assessed valuation. What this means is that if both bond measures—Measure J and Measure K—pass, and if you live in a home that’s assessed at $500,000, you will pay an extra $300annually in property taxes. Both Measure J and Measure K are by far the most expensive local school bonds to ever appear on the ballot in Fullerton!
Just like zombies, these two school districts keep coming back for more and more of your money, not waiting for bonds that they already got passed to be paid off. As you may recall, in 2014 the high school district fooled enough people to get their $175 million Measure I bond measure passed (it just barely passed, receiving a 56% “yes” vote; anything less than 55% “yes” and the bond measure would have lost). You may also recall the mailers urging a “Yes” vote that voters received claimed that the $175 million would be spent on educating and training FUHSD students for “jobs for the 21st Century.”
Now, a 21st Century job is usually one that is thought to encompass the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. And, for one to be successful and employable for such occupations, one needs to possess a solid background and understanding of math. So, let’s look at how FUHSD math students have performed since the $175 million Measure I bond passed in 2014. At the end of each year 11th graders (juniors) in all the district’s schools are administered the state test—California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). In 2015 at Fullerton Union High School 63% of the juniors did NOT meet the CAASPP grade level standard for Math. One would think that by 2018 the $175 million of Measure I bond money should have produced significant improvement in these students’ math scores. But, in fact, the students did worse! In 2018 67% of FUHS students did NOT meet the CAASPP grade level standard in Math. Shockingly, this worsening trend was the same at all the other FUHSD schools. Buena Park High: 76% in 2015, then 79% in 2018 not meeting the grade level standard for Math. La Habra High: 58% in 2015, then 67% in 2018. Sonora High: 55% in 2015, then 58% in 2018. Sunny Hills High: 40% in 2015, then 45.5% in 2018.
How could such a horrible worsening of the math scores occur, given that FUHSD’s top priority in 2014 was supposedly to train and educate district students for jobs for the 21st Century? A clue can be found in looking at what the district really spent the $175 million on. It turns out that FUHSD actually spent most of the $175 million on the following: a new theater at La Habra High, new stadiums at La Habra HS, Buena Park HS, and Fullerton HS, new swimming pools at Sunny Hills HS and Troy HS, and a new gymnasium at Sonora High. An actor, football player, and swimmer is not a 21st Century job! As for FSD, its students’ test scores also make for grim reading. For example, in 2018 the median English/Language Arts score on the CAASPP test was 51% of FSD students NOT meeting the grade level standard, with 6 FSD schools reporting 60% or more of its students not meeting the CAASPP grade level standard for English/Language Arts.
The Measure I 2014 property tax bond costs homeowners $19 per $100,000 assessed valuation, and is not paid off until 2039. Already a person living in a home that’s assessed at $500,000 is paying $95 annually in property taxes to the high school district. And, this same homeowner is already paying annual property taxes on the elementary school district’s Measure CC bond, which passed in 2002 and isn’t paid off until 2027. Plus, this homeowner is already paying on not just one, but two bonds that the college district (North Orange County Community College District—NOCCCD) got passed. In 2002 NOCCCD’s $239 million Measure X bond passed, and in 2014 so did NOCCCD’s $574 million Measure J bond. These two NOCCCD bonds cost $120 annually for a homeowner living in a house assessed at $500,000. When one adds up all the taxes that one is currently paying to FUHSD, FSD, and NOCCCD, if the two new bond measures that will appear on the March 3rd ballot are passed, one living in a house assessed at $500,000 will pay just to these three education districts $590!
There was a time when school districts lived within their means. If they issued a bond, they would pay it off over the bond’s 25-year period, and only after the bond was paid off would the school board then consider asking the voters to approve a new bond proposal. Clearly, those days are over in Fullerton. If the high school and elementary school districts fool enough voters to get their latest huge property tax increase bonds approved this March 3rd, what is to stop them and the college district from coming back again in 4 or 5 years with yet another bond measure? Remember, zombies keep coming back for more.
In the continuing stream of solutions to questions no one asked, one of the last actions taken by the current lame duck City Council tomorrow will be the approval of an “exclusive negotiating agreement” to build a boutique hotel in the Fullerton Transportation Center.
As everyone knows, Downtown Fullerton needs three things to be more successful:
More places to have sex
Well, here we go! A triple threat project that eliminates 200 parking spaces, probably includes at least one bar, and will be within stumbling distance for hundreds of coeds each weekend who find the alley behind Zings too piss soaked to properly canoodle.
No word if the proposed Love Shack will have vibrating mattresses, but being immediately adjacent to one of the busiest freight rail corridors in the country ought to provide plenty of stimulation.
We think the BNSF 2:30AM heading out to Albuquerque will be particularly popular with those who are DTF.
There was a crash at the Fullerton Airport this morning. By the time the media arrived, the FAA registration numbers on the tail had been carefully covered up with a tarp. Initial media reports indicate that nobody was injured and the media was instructed to start calling it a “hard landing” instead of a crash. The the rotors broke and the back fell off.
Despite the effort to deidentify the plane, an ABC7 reporter posted a photograph that shows the aircraft as a Eurocopter AS 350 with the FAA registration of N515ET. Aircraft registry websites show that the helicopter has a history of operating in Southern California.
What’s special about this bird? It was initially registered to the US Department of Justice in 2006 until its ownership was transferred in 2011, along with 14 other planes owned by the Drug Enforcement Agency, to a suspected DEA front company called Chaparral Air Group.
Well, there it is. The DEA was secretly operating out of the Fullerton Airport, and then they crashed their expensive toy. And now you’ll get to buy them a new one.