I noticed two things in the Fullerton Observer the other day that on the surface are pretty innocuous but that upon a little reflection seem to be symbolic of the way our city government has operated over the years.
The first is the City’s proclamation of Arab American Month, a first, and no doubt conceived by new councilmember Ahmad Zahra who is himself an Arab American. Here is Zahra:
“As an Arab-American myself, I’m very proud of this moment, and I’m proud of our city for being such a wonderful, diverse place where everybody can celebrate who they are but work together for what is best for our community.”
Diversity and celebration. Hmm. Well, okay, a little color toner and some quality legal-sized paper, a few minutes of everybody’s time and you’ve got your proclamation. Go in peace.
The second item is about the rainbow flag flapping on the pole in front of City Hall. The City Council in March approved flying the banner that symbolizes LGBTQ rights, etc for LGBTQ Month. Mr. Zahra is also gay and this may account for the fact that Fullerton has finally got around to this pressing issue. This is a bit more problematic because here we have an official endorsement by the City. Personally, I’m all for equal rights for everybody – including marriage, and I couldn’t care less if Jennifer Fitzgerald orders that a Goofy flag fly over the City Hall. Still, it gives one pause to consider the priorities of our esteemed leaders – nobody’s rights are threatened by not flying the flag; meaning, of course, that the whole thing is an empty gesture.
And this brings me, finally, to the point of this post. We have a city council that has spent us to brink of fiscal disaster with no accountability, no responsibility and no concern at all for the taxpayers and citizens of Fullerton. They have squandered millions on vanity construction projects that were mismanaged, unnecessary, or downright dangerous. They have let the streets of Fullerton become the joke of Orange County. They have turned over downtown Fullerton to a gang of scofflaw saloon owners. They have nurtured a deadly Culture of Corruption in the police department, an infection that reaches from top to bottom. Meantime they are determined to ignore any of the calls for a correction to the course they have navigated.
Ask yourselves this question: Are any of the real municipal problems of Fullerton ever addressed? The answer, sadly, has been no. Meanwhile, empty symbolism and diversion are the order of the day. It’s easy pandering, and to the uninitiated might even look like something is being accomplished.
The question whether hollow gestures are better than none at all, especially when promoted by incompetent or corrupt officials, may remain academic. What is a practical reality is that in a month or so Fullerton will begin its Annual Can Kick – known as the budget approval. But the can is getting more obdurate every year and the lies coming from Fitzgerald and Flory ever more outrageous. Soon we will be able to see what sort of new flags from Mr. Zahra and his colleagues will be run up the flagpole. Will anybody salute?
Today Jennifer Fitzgerald announced her resignation from the Fullerton Council, effective immediately.
“I can no longer even pretend to fulfill all the oaths I swore when I became a councilperson,” said Fitzgerald. “All the developer shakedowns, all the lies, all the influence peddling – I just can’t keep track of it all anymore. Balanced budgets, commitment to roads, honest cops – people want so much and I am so tired. I’m going to spend time with my family,” she stuttered weepily. “The evil has been backing up so much I feel I may burst.”
Mayor Jesus Silva responded to the announcement by saying ” I guess I’ll miss her helping me out at meetings when I started babbling like a boracho pendejo, but it will sure will be nice to have only one woman telling me what to do.”
Recently appointed Councilwoman Jan Flory had kind words for her colleague. “I’m going to miss Jen’ on council. To my lights she was the heart of the city and represents the very best commitment to service. We accomplished all sorts of things together – good roads, a successful downtown bar scene, an accountable police department, an unmatched string of balanced budges, effective and successful public works projects – you name it. She’s the reason Fullerton is where it is today.
Recently elected councilperson Ahmad Zahra was quick to praise Fitzgerald. “I thought at first she might be, you know, difficult to work with after she called out my long-winded moral posturing on the council appointment deal. But, later, when the chips were down, and she was willing to screw Whitaker just for the fun of it, I was so happy to make the deal to be on the water board. It was a very successful transaction.”
The council will now have to decide whether to replace Fitzgerald by appointment or by special election. According to the City Attorney a special election in November could cost eighty trillion dollars, which might come close to unbalancing the City’s budget according to City Manager Ken Domer.
Make taxpayers shell out $400,000 or meddle in an ongoing election.
That’s the quandary in front of our city council tonight in the form of agenda item 4:
4. FULLERTON MUNICIPAL CODE AMENDMENT REGARDING CITY COUNCIL VACANCIES
Consideration of an ordinance to repeal Fullerton Municipal Code Section 2.02.020 and follow procedure for filling City Council vacancies as set forth in Government Code Section 36512.
Without getting too much into the weeds the problem the city is trying to address is specific to the costs and ramifications of Jesus Silva winning the race for the District 3 council seat.
The voters in District 3 have 3 choices on their ballots; Greg Sebourn, Jesus Silva & Nickolas Wildstar. If either Sebourn or Wildstar wins this municipal code change does nothing in the foreseeable future.
If Jesus Silva wins then he vacates his current At-Large seat and we, by law, must hold a special election. That special election could cost us between $391,532 – $428,150 per the OC Registrar of Voters.
Silva likely didn’t even know he was risking socking the taxpayers with that hefty bill until somebody else pointed it out to him. Or perhaps he just didn’t care. That his wife was on council when the to be repealed ordinance was passed points more towards didn’t care than didn’t know.
We went through 2017 knowing this was an issue and the City Manager couldn’t be bothered to deal with it. Then most of 2018 came and went. Nothing. Instead of worrying about a near half a million dollar liability Ken Domer had the council worrying about which volunteers to fire from the various boards and committees around town. As a former member, I’m glad the Economic Development Committee is gone but if you’re going to muck with the municipal code perhaps worry about the parts costing us, or potentially costing us, real money before worrying about a committee that rarely met because it rarely had quorum.
Now this issue is on the City Agenda for the coming City Council meeting tonight. During an election.
Yes, the election is on 06 November but absentee ballots are already in the mail and thus the city is asking council to change the rules of elections DURING AN ELECTION. People will have already voted in District 3 BEFORE the council decides what to do tonight.
This is ridiculous.
I don’t want the city to have to spend $400,000 to fill a vacated seat if Silva wins in District 3. However – and this is a big however – Jesus Silva decided to run knowing that his run could cost us that much money and he did it anyways. That he did it anyways speaks to his character.
That is a political consideration and changing the rules during the election screams of a partisan fix to a problem Silva could have avoided by not throwing his at-large seat away in the quest for 2022 incumbency. Voters make decisions on issues that cost and matter less than $400k and deserve to judge this issue without council interference after the fact.
But how did we get here? (more…)
Here’s a convoluted story from the Los Cerritos News about Fullerton councilmember Jesus Silva and his wife, California State Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva.
EXCLUSIVE: Fullerton Asm. Quirk-Silva Under Investigation for Influence Peddling and Retaliation Against Accuser of Asm. Cristina Garcia
The California State Assembly investigation involving groping allegations against Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia leveled by Cerritos resident Daniel Fierro has morphed into a wide-ranging political influence and retaliation investigation revolving around Garcia, 65th District Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), and her husband, Fullerton Council Member Jesus Silva.
Jesus and Sharon are accused of threatening a businessman with political retribution if he didn’t fire a public relations firm run by Daniel Fierro, a former Assembly staffer who accused Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D) of groping him earlier this year.
During the meeting, Quirk-Silva echoed her husband’s statements and made it clear to the businessman that he should fire Fierro because of his sexual harassment and groping allegations against Garcia.
The reportedly shocked businessman was then told that “not doing so might result in her [Garcia’s] political disfavor.”
Quirk-Silva denied all of the allegations via her office’s spokesperson. But if they are true, they could have serious implications for Fullerton’s political power duo. Would the Quirk-Silva’s really engage in threats of retribution against the victim of sexual assault? That doesn’t seem like a good choice in the current era.
Apartments at Grace Ministry. White glove advice to politicians: keep your hands clean.
Mr. David Hendricks, currently employed by the Long Beach Police Department was recently tapped to by someone, somewhere, somehow to become our new police chief. Here’s the July 12th press release from the City’s website:
Apart from several obnoxious things about this press release (including the tacit presumption that this recommendation for appointment – that was made by who knows who – will be rubber stamped by the City Council), we will consider the information contained in the final sentence, to wit: a Masters of Public Administration degree from something called “Andrew Jackson University” in Birmingham, Alabama.
The FFFF Academic Accreditation team immediately sprang into action, and what they discovered doesn’t suggest academic accomplishment of any sort. Andrew Jackson University was created by a couple of lawyers in the mid-90s who decided that hardworking folk needed an online opportunity to pursue advanced education. Or so the story went. But those familiar with the for-profit diploma mill industry know the story well: these establishments are created to separate saps from their money, and often to separate taxpayers from unpaid student loans underwritten by the government.
Andrew Jackson University – unaccredited by anybody – has now been bought and sold twice since its inception and its “location,” if nothing other than a PO box, has been changed successively from San Francisco to Salt Lake City. It is now called “New Charter University” and is owned by financial investors.
FFFF reached out to knowledgeable experts in this field to learn more about such institutions.
Erasmus Alberus, Professor Emeritus of Academic Ethics at the University of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan told FFFF “these institutions exist merely to give the impression that those who have paid the requisite tuition have attained some sort of academic accomplishment. They haven’t. The purpose is to enhance career and income possibilities through this impression.”
Even more scathing was the assessment of Sabrina Plath, Director of Professional Development at the Thorstein Veblen Center in Valparaiso, Indiana. Says Ms. Plath: It is an ongoing scandal how mail order diplomas are used to leverage career promotion, and salary and benefit enhancement, especially at the expense of the public.”
And so these questions remain to be answered: who was impressed enough by a graduate of Andrew Jackson University that he is recommended for hire as our new police chief with salary and benefits approaching $300,000 a year? Was this laughable non-degree from a phony academic institution a material fact in his selection? Did anybody even care?
Good luck trying to find out. But if you care about this, and if you care about the fact that a press release announced this recommendation before the City Council even decided on a candidate, go to the meeting on the 18th and enjoy the fun.
Since at least 2013, Fullerton’s EV Free megachurch has been paying for and hosting a lunch as a gift to City of Fullerton employees. Probably not coincidentally, 2013 is when EV Free congregant Jennifer Fizgerald began her first year on the Fullerton City Council. Last year the event included a tri-tip lunch and “prizes and a raffle to win gift cards to local Fullerton businesses.” These events must cost the church thousands of dollars.
http://www.evfreefullerton. com/2016/06/an-olympic- fullerton-city-luncheon/
It should be crystal clear why it’s wrong for an organization to buy lunch for city employees, one or all. This church frequently petitions the city on land use issues, and it even hires city police to manage its parking. If a business like Chevron or Red Oak Development or Renick Cadillac tried to glad hand City functionaries and employees like this, the public would be outraged. It is a clear conflict of interest for city employees to accept gifts like this.
For its part, the church ought to revisit Scripture as it relates to Pharisaical behavior. I don’t remember Jesus Christ or his disciples buying lunch for the Romans, but then Jesus didn’t have two denarii to rub together.
However, it is not our business to tell a church what to do, although we may well look askance – as when a Grace Ministries’ representative stood up at a public hearing and claimed his church’s members supported the bar owners’ districting map.
The action of the city government, led by City Manager Joe Felz, in accepting these gifts, is appalling and not only exhibited a complete lack of judgment and awareness, but placed the City in the position of a gift-receiver from an entity that does substantial business in Fullerton. If an individual were the sole recipient of this largess questions of integrity would immediately follow. That Joe Felz entangled the people of Fullerton in this situation is deplorable.
And where has our City Council been on this? MIA, as in so many other things.
Good God. Talk about a winning team! The Almighty and lobbyist-councilperson Jennifer Fitzgerald, that is.
See, Yaweh, the Lord of Hosts, has placed his followers in front row seats in Fullerton to see what He’s up to. I always enjoy this phony-humble “I am God’s instrument” bullshit from grifters, bunkum peddlers and hokum spinners.
Sometimes they are preachers and sometimes they are politicians. But one thing that never changes: God’s plan involves their pecuniary self-interest and advancement.
Amusing, yes. But I also find it rather offensive that Fitzgerald keeps invoking Jehovah to explain what’s going on in Fullerton. There’s a Divine Plan, donchajustknow, and it obviously involves Ms. Fitzgerald. Therefore, logically, it involves lying to the electorate about the real state of our municipal finances and betraying the trust of her constituents in favor of out-of-town developers and downtown hooch purveyors and “public safety” unions.
I don’t know about you but I am appalled at the sight of our City Hall being used by this influence saleswoman as a backdrop as she expatiates upon the Lord’s Plan for the rest of the flock, a flock that she seems to regard mostly as an object simply to be fleeced.
No, SparkyFitz, you are not the City. And you may be surprised what the Divinity has in store.
Yesterday, one of our Friends shared a rather entertaining video clip of our lobbyist-councilwoman Jennifer “SparkFitz” Fitzgerald unburdening herself of thoughts at Grace Winter Fest. Her interlocutor is Sam Han, her former Planning Commission appointee, and the guy who stood up and said his church, Grace Ministry International, supported the bar owner’s council districting map.
Yea, verily, the Lord sure moves in mysterious ways, doesn’t he, Sam.
Here’s a snippet:
Poor Jen, has lost her pals in City Hall – her bureaucratic enabler, Wild Ride Joe Felz, and her political enabler, the obnoxious Jan Flory – both of whom “had her back;” or to be more accurate, both let her get away with her cultivation of out-of-town developers and her protection of the moral and economic sinkhole that Downtown Fullerton has become. Well, God is good, says the lobbyist, and her recent depression over the rather cavalier way The Almighty has diverted her control of City Hall must be for some greater purpose. Her depression has turned to excitement. Hallelujah! Almost a miracle!
Did you enjoy the end where the unctuous Han asks the audience (most of whom probably didn’t have a clue what SparkFitz was talking about) to “get excited with her?”