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.
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.
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.
Friends, you may be excused for not knowing who Elizabeth Hansberg is. Very few people know, or care who is on their Planning Commission. But it matters.
Elizabeth Hansberg is our current Planning Commission Chairperson, appointed by the egregious Ahmad Zahra. “So what?” I can hear you saying. Well, contemplate this: she says she is an urban planner, and boy, does she have an urban plan for Fullerton: 13,000 new housing units is the plan, a concept that would increase our population by as much as 33%, upward of 200,000.
“What’s this?” you ask. Here’s the deal. Ms. Hansberg is a “housing advocate” which means jamming as many apartment blocks as is possible into Fullerton. The non-profit she started – People for Housing, now affiliated with something called YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) lobbies government agencies to build housing units. And lots of them. The website brags about lobbying the Fullerton City Council with images of yet another Planning Commissioner in tow – some political opportunist weenie called Jose Trinidad Castaneda,
Their mission is to pursue the current philosophy current in Sacramento to build hundreds of thousands of new units no matter the impact on the current property owners, the infrastructure or the environment. Slow Growth and sustainability advocates are her nemesis.
Naturally this has raised accusation that her movement is nothing but a pawn of the big development interests who are desperate to sink their shafts into the mine of cross-zoning in-fill housing monstrosities. Her cohorts deny this charge, but it still rings true. Why? Because she actually solicits opportunities from developers to engage in political advocacy on their behalf. It’s right there on the website. It gives every indication of being little more than a self-congratulatory shake-down effort.
So who does fund People for Housing, and what are the implications of having this person on our Planning Commission?
When people talk about “government circles” you can believe they mean it: some things just keep circling around and around yet, like when you have a clogged sewer liner, the circling flotsam never goes down the drain.
And so it is with the City of Fullerton’s hapless Community Development Department that can’t seem to adopt a plan and stick to it; that can’t be honest and straight forward; that refuses to enforce its own code; and as we shall see in this final installment, steadfastly refuses to notify the public of what it’s up to.
When I left off, I noted the odd three-month hiatus of the latest noise go-round that was once again being disguised within broader land use code update In February 2019, the Planning Department was again convened to review the matter, after two opponents of amplified outdoor music had been conveniently removed from the Commission. By this time the new and soon to be former Planning Director, Ted White, was directing the charge to push for the noise free-for-all, likening the impending racket to the noise blast known as Broadway Avenue in Nashville – but in a good way.
But this time there was another problem. The hearing hadn’t been properly noticed to the public as should have been the case, particularly since the noise issue has such an impact on the citizenry. George and Tony Bushala lawyered up and informed the City that it had failed to notify the public about what it was doing. Mr. White declared that the downtown noise issue would be removed from the discussion that night. But it wasn’t – not entirely – as other code sections that pertained to noise slipped through.
A compliant and complaisant Council adopted the zone code changes in April, 2019.
But the story was not over, because, well, Fullerton. The bar owners still needed to be pacified and the bar still needed to be lowered. By November 2020 Ted White was gone only to be replaced by an in-house lackey named Matt Foulkes who had been part of the ongoing mess since 2015, and knew exactly which side of his toast had the butter on it.
So the downtown noise mess was brought back to the council again, where lame-duck members Jennifer Fitzgerald and her puppet, Jan Flory were guaranteed yes votes. But alas, once again the City failed to properly notice the public, and this time there was no way to hide the incompetence in a broader mish-mash of code changes.So the hearing was continued until…well, who knows when? Apparently Jeremy Popoff has fled the scene to Nashville to enjoy whatever douchebaggery he can find there, and Covid has silenced DTF – for now.
But one thing is certain. The City’s downtown creation, AKA Dick Jones “monster” will continue to suck millions in resources out of the General Fund even as the bureaucrats continue to admire the mess they did nothing to stop and continue to characterize a liability as an asset. And because of that complete disconnect with reality, they will continue to push for a noise-a-palooza – no matter how long it takes.