Apparently there’s a championship belt for bumbling, incoherent incompetence on the Fullerton City Council.
Fullerton. We should have known. Well-deserved. Adios, Chuco.
Apparently there’s a championship belt for bumbling, incoherent incompetence on the Fullerton City Council.
Fullerton. We should have known. Well-deserved. Adios, Chuco.
(Revised: I missed the Date Qualified column and so missed the fact that Shelby Perea and Rosalia Guillen did not qualify for the ballot. The text of the post is revised to reflect this)
The most notable feature is the number of Spanish surnamed candidates in the 5th, a fact that makes it much easier for the arrested and charged incumbent, Ahmad Zahra, to continue his sanctimonious hypocrisy from the dais.
We already know that Tony Castro is an unemployed dead-beat who gives off the aroma of a Zahra plant meant to split the Latino vote. Oscar Valadez seems to be a good Catholic boy with a family, a house, a real a job, and standing in the community – all of which set him apart from the empty suit, Zahra. Valadez’s statement says a lot of popular sounding stuff and he’s a Stanford graduate. Geez, it would be nice to have a councilman who wasn’t a preening, self-absorbed weasel? Oscar has the support of Fred Jung, so that’s another positive indication. Zahra wants to save murals and “assets.” He says he’s lived in Fullerton for 21 years which is probably just another Zahra lie he figures nobody can disprove. Among his other supporters of dubious intelligence, he lists the octogenarian bird-brain Molly McClanahan – which is almost cause for pity.
Over in D3 there are 3 candidates. We’ve already been introduced to Shana Charles, whose statement includes “progressive” catch-phrases. Her statement about restoring Fullerton’s “gutted” services means one thing – another swing at a tax increase. Her backers are the Quirk-Silvas, of course. I wonder if she’s ever even bothered to thank the Council for creating a district that she is in and that Jesus Quirk-Silva is not! The second candidate is Arnel Dino. But Dino Arnel sounds way better, so that’s what I’m calling him from now on. Mr. Arnel seems to be a lefty also, which doesn’t bode well. Those who have seen him perform on the Planning Commission are immensely underwhelmed. The final candidate is John Ybarra who seems to have relocated to the 5th District. His campaign statement is concise and rational. It appears to be a somewhat conservative and pragmatic voice. One thing is certain: the other two will never fight for accountability at City Hall.
The final element in this election will be the Independent Expenditure committees. The cops and emergency truck driver unions will back Zahra and most likely Charles – liberals, yes, but public union supporters, uber alles.
Then there’s Fullerton Taxpayers for Reform, an I.E. run by Tony Bushala that evidently has set its sights on Zahra. They have already launched a shot across Zahra’s bow, and are likely to continue the pummeling until Zahra’s attitude improves.
The 2022 effort to create new districts stumbles along. Last week, the Commission set-up to make a recommendation to the City Council met to discuss the several maps that had been submitted. The complete lack of public participation was evident – only a handful of maps were submitted.
At the end of the meeting a 5-2 majority favored Map 114 – the demographers tweak of Commissioner John Seminara’s Map 106. Then they added Maps 111 and 112 as worthy of Council consideration. Take a look at Map 114. The dark lines show current district boundaries:
Map 114 isn’t perfect, but it is informed by Fullerton’s clear major street boundaries and respects both ethnic and physical communities of interest. It cleans up the idiotic Tentacles of Interest foisted on the voters in 2016 by our former Mayor-for-Hire, Jennifer Fitzgerald. There would no longer be district contortions so that council members could each have an interest in the public money vortex knows as Downtown Fullerton.
Two of the commission members – former City employee Kitty Jaramillo, and Jody Vallejo preferred Map 110 a bizarre amalgamation for District 3 – a long, thin district that stretches from Placentia Avenue to Euclid Avenue connecting neighborhoods that are physically remote and that don’t share any obvious connection. The adherents of this map apparently banded together into a committee of some kind to concoct this hot, wet mess, proving that more heads are not necessarily better than fewer. Check out this acid burp:
The people who defended this map claimed that it is the “College map,” joining CSUF and FJC with their surrounding neighborhoods as a dubious “community of interest.” The further rationale for its support was that “many people” had participated in its creation. This map violates several basic tenets of district-making, to wit: creating a district (3) that is not compact; splitting the trans-57 community of interest into two separate tribes; and throwing together neighborhoods almost 4 miles apart in a weird, horizontal embrace.
How anybody could justify this District 3 is still beyond me. The demographer tried to make it less ridiculous by whacking it back by a mile (Map 112), but it still looks unsupportable by reason or logic. Here is Map 112.
So what gives? Commission member Tony Bushala dialed in to proclaim that Map110 (and by extension, Map 112 was motivated by purely political consideration, not the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Map Act that govern this process, and would have none of it. He didn’t elaborate.
And then it hit me.
Map 110 (and by extension Map 112) was submitted by a group of people committed to keeping Jesus Quirk-Silva, the current liberal, dim-witted D3 councilman in office. The other recommended maps – that removed the gerrymander that put him in the office – would leave him with no place to run in 2022 and out office!
Hence the desperation by this “committee” that wasted a lot of verbal gas doing what it not permitted by the FPA – protecting a party or a politician.
Oh, well, the maps go to the City Council on Tuesday the 8th, where outrage theater, liberally sprinkled with liberal handwriting will be featured on the playbill. Expect long lines the usual weepers, new and old, show up to promote Map 112. Will it work? That depends on Mayor Fred Jung who by now must be getting a shitload of unwanted importunity coming at him.
Of course there is nothing stopping a council majority from devising its own map, drawing on others, or cooking up a whole new one. But as it stands now, Map 114 is the one supported by the Redistricting Advisory Commission.
Here’s a delightful season’s greeting from Fullerton power couple Sharon Quirk and Jesus Quirk-Silva.
As far as these things go, it’s completely benign. Or banal. Especially compared with those tasteless cards mailed by the woman who financed the Quirk-Silva’s house, Loretta Sanchez.
But there’s a bit of a problem here, and one I sure hope the “greeters” address.
The mailer was paid for by Ms. Quirk’s campaign committee, which is okay so far as that goes. But her husband, Jesus Quirk-Silva is the co-beneficiary of this epistle, since he too, is an elected official.
Now there’s nothing illegal about benefitting politically from your wife’s political ascendancy, unless, of course, there is fungible benefit therefrom.
And so, I hope that Mr. Quirk-Silva will be reporting this donation from his wife’s campaign coffers; and of course that the missus will be reporting the contribution.
We here at FFFF have never thought of Jesus Quirk Silva as a very bright fellow, but he seems to have learned at least one thing on the Fullerton City Council. And that lesson came courtesy of former councilwoman-for-hire, Jennifer Fitzgerald.
That lesson is simple: it’s more fun to try to peddle influence based on your elected position than it is to hold down a day job.
And so Mr. Quirk Silva has embarked on a new potential career path – away from teaching multiplication to slack-jawed pre-pubescents, and into the exiting realm of lobbying local governments.
Quirk Silva’s “employer” is Adan Ortega, of Ortega Associates, who you may remember as the desperate Fullerton MWD director who was replaced by Fred Jung, and who then tried to get appointed as a representative from the city of San Fernando.
I fully expect Quirk-Silva to attempt to follow in the footsteps of Fitzgerald, although he can barely utter a coherent sentence.
Now why does any of this matter, really? Because government ought to be about governing, not about being a bagman between special interests, other lobbyists, developers, and your colleagues on local boards and councils.
As a Fullerton Councilman, Quirk Silva doesn’t have that much juice, but he could be pulled and persuaded very easily. More importantly, his wife, Sharon Quirk Silva, is a state Assemblywoman, and as such actually does command respect for how she might be able to move something along in Sacramento.
And now back to Ortega. FFFF sources have indicated that he was attempting to break into the legalized marijuana biz here in Fullerton as a lobbyist, but got caught up in the interminable incompetence of the last city council, and the reluctance of the new council to go down the happy MJ trail. The same sources suggest that a cartel of cannabis interests from Long Beach is still very interested in reviving the issue in Fullerton.
The Jesus has been a long-time, big-time cheerleader for legalized dispensaries in Fullerton, so there are several loose strings as yet not quite tied together.
When they are, FFFF will be sure to let you know.
Starring former Fullerton City Manager, Joe Burt Felz who got drunk on Election Night 2016, drove over a tree, and tried to escape from his own cops. There is something sort of pathetic about Felz, errand boy and water bearer for Jennifer Fitzgerald, saying over and over that his turn blinker wasn’t working and how he became befuddled, until one of his own policemen tells him to stop yammering about it.
As one of the cops said: “it’s the Chief’s call.” Subsequently Chief Danny “Gallahad” Hughes lied to the Council about the affair even as Felz tried to quietly pay for the tree and move on.
The City of Fullerton tried for years to keep this under wraps because it implicated our MADD rewarded police themselves in incompetent and illegal activity. FFFF sued the City to get the videos, and in retribution two bloggers were personally sued by the City for legal activity, a lawsuit that cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands and that finally exonerated David Curlee and Joshua Ferguson.
You have to hand it to government bureaucracies. They never give up on stupid ideas. But why should they? With all the time in world, huge amounts of money given to them by others, and with zero accountability, what is there for them to lose?
Specifically, I am talking about an item on the May 4th Agenda, dutifully approved by the City Council, to take $1.8 million in State grant money and $330,000 in Fullerton park money to design and build what they are pleased to call The Union Pacific Trail, Phase II.
Of course we all know that Phase I was a total waste of money – a weird “equestrian trail” (complete with pony railing) that has never seen a horse, that was attached to the poisoned and fenced off UP Park that dies a merciful death at Highland Avenue.
Our crack Deputy Parks Director, some person named Alice Loya pitched the item to a less than bedazzled Council, making sure to point out that the area was disadvantaged, an irony certainly lost on City bureaucrats whose job it has been to un-disadvantage this neighborhood over the past 50 years.
Let me share a paragraph from the staff report, that, as usual, is so full of lies to rationalize the scheme that one wonders if the City staff would ever pursue this nonsense if they had to use City funds to pay for it:
The proposed project will transform an existing 50 to 80 foot wide, blighted corridor into a greenbelt trail providing alternate transportation, linking the Transportation Center and several parks, including Independence Park at its terminus. This proposed trail aligns with the Hunt Branch Library to the west, providing potential future linkages. The total cost of the project is estimated at $2.1 million.
Lie Number One: Alternative transportation? What the Hell does that even mean? Walking?
Lie Number Two: the trail would not link anything to the Transportation Center since it would terminate at a narrow sidewalk behind the Ice House that includes a 90 degree turn. And of course just a week ago, or so, our very same staff tried to sneak through an idiot scheme to cut off the UP right-of-way completely with their private event center on the Poisoned Park site.
Lie Number Three: the proposed extension does not link “several” parks. It would indeed terminate at the Independence Park parking lot but the only other “park” it would touch is the fenced off Poisoned Park that nobody even wants.
Almost as good as a lie Number Four: the proposed trail would be virtually impossible to link to the “aligned” Hunt Branch Library, nearly a mile away, because gosh darn it, the rail siding is still being used by…the railroad. But what the Hell let’s throw out the chimera of “connectivity” to fool the dopes on the City Council, right? It’s always worked just fine in the past.
Almost as good as a lie Number Five: when has the City ever built anything on time and on budget? That proposed cost would sky rocket, of course, as Fullerton’s army of staff, consultants, and design professionals hump the “greenbelt” into submission. Remember the wooden steps at Hillcrest Park and the elevator-from-Hell at the Depot?
But what wasn’t said was much more important than the propaganda ink spilled to promote this idiocy: nobody will use this “trail” since it passes through sketchy industrial zoned property, completely empty at night, and would remain, just like it is now, an attractive nuisance that the taxpayers will be on the hook to maintain out of the General Fund.
On the bright side, members of the new Council commonsense majority pointed out that Staff was already devising a top-secret Specific Plan for the area, and gee, wouldn’t it make sense not to piecemeal things like Planning Director Matt Foulkes tried to do on the ill-fated aquaponic farm/event center? They did treat the item as still very provisional, but FFFF knows better – we know that government money once available, will be spent, most likely on something nobody outside City Hall wants.
Naturally, Councilman-in-search-of-camera-opportunity, Ahmad Zahra scrounged up some of his usual misguided acolytes to beat the drum for this utter waste of $2.1 million bucks. After all, this project would be mostly paid for with “free money” of the sort “progressives” love to accept, then waste. We need look no further than the $1,000000 Core and Corridors Specific Plan, paid for by the State Sustainability Commission, that was quietly abandoned, never to see the light of day. And ironically, the old UP Right of Way passes right through the middle of two of the C&C Specific Plan Areas, suggesting to me, at lest, that the City is not, and never has been interested in the well-being of the part of Fullerton accept as something to play with.
Last Tuesday the Fullerton City Council majority finally got sick and tired enough with their hapless City Manager to tell him to take a hike. The votes to oust Ken Domer came from Bruce Whitaker, Nick Dunlap and Fred Jung.
Insiders are suggesting that his temporary replacement will be none other than Police Chief Robert Dunn.
The Council is meeting Tuesday to discuss a replacement appointment.
And when you think about it, the only real question is why it took so long.
By any measurable standards, Ken Domer was not very good at his job. He took too long to address the City’s structural budget deficits, and when he did, his solution was to raise sales taxes – taxes not even aimed at our horrible infrastructure.
Under Domer we saw the deliberate ignoring of noise code violation enforcement and the effort to dilute the relevant codes. We saw the the aiding and abetting of a permit applicant who forged official planning documents. We saw idiotic and unsupervised vanity construction projects. We saw stupid things like the recently killed “aquaponics farm” and the connivance required to begin a Specific Plan without any input from the community or even the City Council.
We saw a string of “consultants” hired out of the blue to perform tasks that Domer and his highly paid staff should have been able to do in their sleep.
Why the underqualified Domer was ever hired in the first place will probably always remain a mystery, except that it makes perfect sense that Jennifer Fitzgerald, our former Mayor-for-hire, wanted someone who would reliably do what she wanted without asking any embarrassing questions.
Along with walking legal catastrophe, Dick Jones, Domer was certainly complicit in the vindictive lawsuit waged by the City against FFFF bloggers, a disastrous strategy that will cost the tax-payers plenty.
But it was the ill-fated and duplicitous Measure S sales tax scam that really iced the cake. It was designed as a rescue for the pay and pensions of Fullerton’s full-time public employees, who, during the pandemic, have continued to enjoy pay and benefits while many of Fullerton’s residents and business were suffering the cruelty of a real world unprotected by the largesse dispensed by government union-friendly politicians.
Well, Domer is gone, but it would be a waste of time and tears to mourn his departure. He is getting a month’s pay and benefits up front worth $25,000. And then he will begetting 9 months’ pay and benefits courtesy of a contract extension granted just two month before last November’s election by Fitzgerald and her council cronies Ahmad Zahra, Jan Flory, and Jesus Silva. That’s another $25,000. Per month. And the bonanza of Domer’s pension spike in Fullerton will be a cost borne by all of us for a long, long time.
The people of Fullerton have been awful good to the Domer family.
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.
So far, Dear Friends, I have first introduced you to the Chair of Fullerton’s Planning Commission, Elizabeth Hansberg. And then I noted the alignment the interests of her “non-profit” – People for Housing – with the interests of the utterly opaque government cartel known as SCAG – the Southern California Association of Governments.
We have seen that SCAG’s ridiculous housing quotas as applied to Fullerton, amount to over 13,000 new units, a number cooked up in their latest Regional Housing Needs Assessment, or RHNA.
“Well, okay, Joe,” you may be saying. “Just a coincidence.”
Not quite. While some justifiably cynical folks have wondered whether Hansberg is shaking down developers by promising fake grassroots support for over-built housing projects, one thing is clear: she gets money from SCAG to help them pursue their grotesque housing schemes that promise to destroy cities and towns through Southern California.
Here’s a SCAG press release announcing grants of $50,000 to $100,000 to various groups who will help them promote their utopian view of a massive apartment block on every corner. And here’s the part that mentions the grant award to Hansberg’s creation:
“People for Housing Orange County. Scope: Empower grassroots activists to advocate for fair and feasible Housing Elements in the five OC cities with the highest potential for economic integration (Brea, Buena Park, Fullerton, La Habra and Placentia).”
Don’t be fooled by the high-minded rhetoric. We’ve already seen that “grassroots” activity has nothing to do with this operation. It’s really all about drumming up public speakers to go to planning commissions and city councils – including Fullerton’s – to try to hustle up approvals. And the concepts of fairness and feasibility have very little to do with the grim reality: in SCAGs “expert” opinion Fullerton needs another 30 or 40 thousand people crammed into massive apartment blocks, by-right apartment units in R-1 zoned neighborhoods, and any other upzoning that suits their end.
I think the idea that Elizabeth Hansberg may actually be lobbied at a Commission hearing by public speakers she is using public resources to gin up in the first place would be pretty damn funny if it weren’t so appalling. Her appointment to the Planning Commission was a mistake to begin with. And now we see how high the stakes for Fullerton’s future really are.