Blog reader Pam Keller sent FFFF an email yesterday to alert us of a blatant abuse of County resources to promote a political message against Tea Party activists.
In a video that is presented on the official Orange County government website, children are shown lecturing adults on the dangers of free speech as images of Tea Party activists flash across the screen. If you don’t believe us, see for yourself:
Clips of conservative activists are spliced in with displays of violence, including a fight scene from the Jerry Springer show and the infamous headbutt by soccer player Zidane.
Also appearing in the politically-charged video is a still of Republican congressman Joe Wilson in the now-famous incident where he yelled “You Lie!” to President Barack Obama during his health care address.
So how did this inciting video end up on the County website? Who paid for its production? Who approved the message and who decided that it was ok to use taxpayer-funded resources to promote a blatant political message?
Acting as an agent for a group of OC Fairboard members that wants to purchase the OC Fairgrounds, Dick Ackerman lobbied to pass legislation last summer that would enable the sale. At least that’s what is being asserted at the OC Progressive blog, here. Apart from the dubious gain to the citizens of the State and Orange County, there is another problem. State law prohibits former Legislators from lobbying in Sacto for a year after they leave office. And Ackerman had only been out of office for six months. Here’s the awkard bit:
87406. (a) This section shall be known, and may be cited, as the Milton Marks Postgovernment Employment Restrictions Act of 1990.
(b) No Member of the Legislature, for a period of one year afterleaving office, shall, for compensation, act as agent or attorney for, or otherwise represent, any other person by making any formal or informal appearance, or by making any oral or written communication, before the Legislature, any committee or subcommittee thereof, any present Member of the Legislature, or any officer or employee thereof, if the appearance or communication is made for the purpose of influencing legislative action.
Hmm. As a law and order Repuglican Dick ought to know better. But maybe this is another one of those pesky rules that the ‘Pugs just like to call “unenforceable” or anti-free speech, or some other nonsense. It’s also worth noting that Ackerman’s clients on the Fair board are now accused of violating open meeting laws in order to orchestrate the insider scam.
Over at the OJ blog the irrepressible Vern Nelson is publicizing a protest meeting in Costa Mesa, and actually gives props to Mike Duvall for opposing the sale. Odd, if true, because you can bet Dick lobbied his political godson hard. Coincidentally, Duvall is now gone, and Ackerman’s wife, Ackerwoman, is running to replace him on a strong ethics platform.
Well, that platform just got another couple of its legs kicked out from under it. And remember, Dick “speaks for his wife.”
The Orange Line is comming to town, perhaps at the wrong time. Not only did the OCTA use eminent domain to grab 8 acres of property from my brother, but they also removed much-needed parking at the Transportation Center before the new parking structure was built. Talk about a bumbling construction schedule. Oh well that’s government for you.
Yesterday the MWD General Manager abandoned the proposed pension jump for employees that would have raised their retirement formula. Here’s the story. He conceded that the votes weren’t there. Which means, of course, that a vote was held, only not in public. Somehow that seems like it should be illegal – Brown Act-wise, but of course government bureaucracies are legally incapable of committing any sort of crime.
We’re disappointed because a public vote would have put our MWD Board Appointee-for-life, Jim Blake on the spot.
All of his public employee lovin’ instincts would have pointed Blake in the direction of approval; under normal circumstances his pension-spiking Council overlords (and ladies) Bankhead, Quirk-Silva, Keller, and Jones would no doubt have backed him up. Who cares if water rates go up, right?
But these are not normal times, what with militant Republicans agitating for tax revolt and special elections putting the spotlight on people like MWD Boardmember Linda Ackerman – who also gets to dodge the responsibility of the vote. Very convenient!
And the union members will never have the opportunity to know how their buddies would have voted.
With the light of public scrutiny shining on the usually opaque doings of the MWD, the whole thing has collapsed like a house of cards.
Well, Friends, today it happened. Friends for Fullerton’s Future brought suit in the Superior Court against the phony Redevelopment expansion, and against the County’s disbursement of any property tax increment.
This morning our attorney C. Robert Ferguson filed the necessary documents in Santa Ana.
The basis of our law suit is simplicity itself: the findings of blight in the proposed expansion area are completely contrived, solely for the purpose of creating a tax increment windfall for the Agency at the expense of other agencies, and to the detriment of all property owners shouldering the burden of this encumbrance on their properties.
How do we know the blight findings were made up? Because we looked at their silly pictures of “blight”; because we noticed how property owners were casually deleted for no other reason than that they appeared to be vocal opponents, or because they were the necessary third vote to pass the expansion; because we heard Dick Jones, on numerous occasions, braying that it was all about “needing the money.”
So now let’s let the legal process unfold and see where it takes us.
Last night the Fullerton City Council voted to give the County of Orange $4,000,000 of your money. Right now. Right out of your pocket.
So what’s the reason for this unusual generosity? It was because the County was threatening to sue the City over the diversion of property tax increment from the County through the bogus establishment of an expanded Redevelopment project area where no blight exists as required under State law.
The City lawyers, Rutan & Tucker,sure must have felt they had a lousy case – because they cooked up a deal behind the scenes to buy off the County with a ton of up-front cash plus some hinky lease back deals on down the road. Ultimately the total payout will be $25,000,000. We shared news of the the payoff meetings here . The County knows the Redevelopment expansion is fraudulent, because it has already made that argument publicly; but apparently there are at least three votes on the Board of Supervisors to take the deal and help out a fellow government agency. The County will formally go for the gold next week.
The City Council vote was utterly predictable with Pam Keller, Don Bankhead, and Dick Jones cheer leading the payoff. Dick Jones in particular excelled himself in ignorant idiocy. We’ll soon be showing the Friends clips of Fullerton’s City Council in action.
To their credit, both Shawn Nelson and Sharon Quirk-Silva voted against an action that both robs the taxpayers of Fullerton and violates a basic ethical standard. The other three broke the law, and they know it. But they’re not out of the woods, yet. A court will decide the matter.
The Fullerton Interfaith Emergency Services (FIES) is a non-profit collaboration of local folks whose mission is to help people of marginal means subsist, learn job skills, and for some, transitional housing is provided in the FIES compound in the west 500 block of Amerige Avenue.
Imagine the surprise of the tenants at 504 W. Amerige when they recently received eviction notices from their landlord. It seems FIES wants to buy the multi-family property located next to their current assemblage of properties, and the residents have to go. Apparently there are several families living on this property including several kids and even an infant. Some have been living there for over fifteen years and must like it.
It seems nobody at FIES has made it their business to inquire about the fate of the current tenants who now have to find a new home with a comparable rent, and will somehow have to scratch up a new first/last payment on a new place; or if they did, perhaps they dismissed it as not their problem.
We don’t think it’s real nice of FIES to cause the eviction of employed, rent-paying citizens simply because their mission is to minister to people farther down the housing stock food chain. It’s particularly egregious since FIES routinely receives government subsidies to pursue its mission. It must be galling for a taxpayer to find himself on the receiving end of an eviction notice due to the efforts of a taxpayer subsidized organization.
We hope that the good folks at FIES can reach an accommodation with the current tenants to let them stay on until they can relocate, and/or provide monetary relocation assistance. That’s only fair. It would be a painful irony indeed if any of these people ended up as FIES clients in the future.
Finally, the issue of the FIES compound itself needs to be addressed. Is it appropriate for this facility to continue to expand at this location? Is it wise to aggregate this sort of transitional use in a single neighborhood? Continued expansion seems likely to hasten even more growth in the future. What are the permit requirements, if any, for this proposed use, and what does the City have to say about the dislocation of the existing tenants.
With all of the collaborative activities going on in Fullerton, maybe somebody can collaborate on some help for the residents at 504 W. Amerige Ave.
Teri Sforza has produced another fine Watchdog post over at the Register about the gravy train that already awaits MWD employees in retirement, including a list of over 40 of these watercrats who pull down over $100K a year in pension payements click here . The former top dog who retired in 1993 gets almost $225K per year and has received over $3.5 million since he stopped clocking in. Sweet. For him.
If that weren’t bad enough, now MWD wants to raise their pension formula even more. A few days ago we threw down the gauntlet to our City Council to be accountable for the upcoming vote by their chosen MWD representative, Jim Blake. Well, now we do it again. The vote is next week and we will be reporting back to the friends.
And remember. MWD cost increases are passed directly on to us. On top of that, in Fullerton 10% of gross water revenue (from your water bill) goes directly into the General Fund. And that’s a hidden tax increase, folks.
Here’s the MWD $100,000 club. If you know anyone on the list make sure he/she thanks the water rate payer for their largess: