When things get tough, real leaders make difficult choices. And then there are those like Ahmad Zahra.
When Covid 19 rolled around in the spring of 2020 Fullerton was already looking at financial disaster. Years of unbalanced budgets were backfilled by reserve funds by the partnership Fitzgerald, Flory, Silva and Zahra. With the Covid lockdown things looked bleak.
What to do?
“I know” said Ahmad Zahra, “lets have a sales tax.”
And so the ill-fated Measure S was placed on the ballot by the same herd: Fitzgerald, Flory, Silva and Zahra. The proponents didn’t seem to care that sales taxes are inherently regressive, and Zahra seemed uninterested in the fact that his D5 constituents would be disproportionately hurt. Ironically, at the time, Zahra was hauling in $4,000 a month for a few hours time as an appointed member of the Orange County Water District Board.
Later, in 2021, when federal relief money rolled in to Fullerton, Zahra tried to direct funds away from infrastructure and into salaries and pension obligations.
Well, those chickens have come to roost. This mail piece landed in D5 mailboxes today:
The Fullerton Collaborative hosted a candidate forum, which featured some good questions and some not so good. It featured 5 out of 6 City Council candidates running in Districts 3 and 5 this year. Shana Charles received a hall pass and did not stay for the forum.
Ahmad Zahra was his usual full of himself self. The notorious man who never wasted a selfie opportunity was untruthful, effortlessly deceived the audience, remaining true to his duplicitous self.
Here’s a list of the many, oh, so many lies.
LIE #1: “The district I’ve called home for the last 21 years.”
TRUTH: Zahra’s voter registration record doesn’t agree.
LIE #2: “As a medical doctor.”
TRUTH: Zahra is not a licensed medical doctor or a medical professional of any kind.
LIE #3: “The budget needs to be reflective of the needs of our community.”
TRUTH: Zahra wasted a million dollars of the people’s money frivolously suing a local blog and its authors, and were it not for the new Council, that bill would still be accumulating. A million dollars would have paid for a fire engine and more than a handful of Parks and Recs, Police, or Firefighter, or Maintenance employees.
LIE #4: “We have a shortage of staff and we need to invest in those areas.”
TRUTH: Zahra had an opportunity to pass a budget with a 1% cut and $1 million dollars to the City Manager to fill staffing concerns. He voted no, not once, but on three different City Council meetings.
LIE #5: “I would love to see more drug programs and engaging our school district on drug prevention programs.”
TRUTH: Zahra advocated for publicly and voted for on four separate occasions to have weed sold in Fullerton with only a 100 foot buffer zones to schools or homes or churches or parks.
LIE #6: “Supportive housing is crucial, but we need to make sure we are also outreaching and creating transparency.”
TRUTH: 1600 Commonwealth is an affordable housing development and so little transparency and outreach was done that the neighbors protested en masse and killed the deal with Pathways of Hope because of lack of outreach and transparency.
LIE #7: “We need to make sure our parks are maintained and cleaned.”
TRUTH: Zahra voted to give away Union Pacific Park in the heart of his district to a for-profit event planner for weddings.
LIE #8: “I have been one of the most engaged Council members. Everybody knows I’m out there.”
TRUTH: Woodcrest neighborhood mothers and residents have come to one Council meeting after another in the past 2 years complaining about Zahra’s lack of accessibility and lack of engagement with them. But then again, they are not kissing his ass and stroking his giant ego. He works with the Center for Healthy Neighborhoods. Why? Because their director donates to his campaign and their employee Egleth Nuncci is his permanent tag-a-long. No other non-profit or community group gets any engagement from Zahra.
LIE #9: “We also need to expand our ability to do corporate partnerships.”
TRUTH: Zahra strong armed Republic Services, the City’s trash hauler to give his pet project city in a foreign country a trash truck and then promptly took a selfie and credit for saving democracy. That’s not a corporate partner. That is a quid pro quo.
LIE #10: “I have worked with this Council, despite sometimes the hard times and differences we’ve had.”
TRUTH: Zahra only works for and with Zahra. He has no contact with his Council colleagues. So how are you working with this Council, Ahmad?
LIE #11: “Be faithful with my votes.”
TRUTH: Zahra made an impassioned speech about how important voting was in his country of Syria and that the at large Council seat vacated by Jesus Quirk-Silva should be determined in a special election to betray the people and his faith in democracy the very next meeting and appoint the elderly disaster Jan Flory, who in turn voted to appoint him to the Orange County Water District and its healthy stipend, one he took without objection and then donated to his campaign.
LIE #12: “We see so many Councilmembers come and then they make backroom deals.”
TRUTH: See TRUTH #11.
The truth is Ahmad Zahra is nothing more than a serial liar. Things come apart so easily when they are held together by lies. It’s always the ones with dirty hands doing all the finger pointing isn’t it?
(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.
Back in 2020 our Lords and Masters at City Hall cooked up a plan to impose a sales tax increase upon people buying stuff in Fullerton. It was staff-driven natch, and lazy liberals Zahra, Quirk-Silva, Flory and Fitzgerald were on board. It was called Measure S. See, they figured the path of least resistance was deploying a new tax rather than finally exercising fiscal restraint.
Measure S soon found itself in the crosshairs of Fullerton anti-tax advocates and some well-placed signs describing the true nature of the beast doomed it to failure come election time.
Well guess what? They’re at it again. This time the idea is something called a Pension Obligation Bond, a mechanism for paying off part of Fullerton’s massive unfunded pension actuarial liability at CalPERS, the State’s giant pension administrator.
An introductory briefing was on the Council’s agenda last Tuesday to start the cheerleading process – a process that will entail the employment of an “expert” who will certainly benefit from a positive result; and of course “bond counsel” the legal camp-followers who push bonds on lazy elected officials after a hot meal and a few glasses of wine.
As everybody knows, the interest on the bonds are ultimately backed up by the collateral of new property taxes. This revenue would go to pay down the pension debt and free up money owed to CalPERS for staff salaries and benefits that will ultimately, and ironically, increase pension debt.
Here’s the second kicker: because a pension obligation bond is not deemed new debt, per se, but a sort of pea-under-the-walnut shell maneuver, no vote of the people is required – as it is in the case of general obligation bonds. It just gets “validated” by a judge and goes through on the nod unless challenged. Ouch. Of course the Council, if it wanted to could put the issue on a ballot anyhow, if they chose to move ahead with this scheme.
Of course the strategy for this type of thing is to reprimand opponents by citing the fact that the daily cost is little more than a Big Mac, or some other trifle and in return we get…what do we get again? Our loyal and devoted “public safety” club will almost certainly gobble up the lion’s share of this taxpayer largesse, just like they already do, and we’ll be even worse off than we already are, and no desperately needed cultural changes will have been made.
I looked over the agenda material on line and found nary a clue as to how this was even agendized. Another smoke screen protecting somebody.
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.
Some folks might think that continuing conversation about Jesus Quirk-Silva’s and Ahmad Zahra’s aquaponic farm/event center scheme would be like smacking a dead mackerel.
Well, here at FFFF we believe it’s never a bad idea to remind the public of hare-brained proposals made by bureaucrats and supported by bobble-headed politicians.
So to recap: last spring the Fullerton City Council deliberated on a scheme to create an aquaponic farm on the site of the abandoned Union Pacific Park site. The problem was that the exclusive negotiating deal was with a guy who had no financial wherewithal and proposed an event center on the site – just like he had done in Anaheim and Aliso Viejo. Staff even dredged up a last minute “partner” to sell the deal. The idea was rejected, but not for lack of trying.
And we have just received word from down south in Aliso Viejo about the negative impacts of an identical operation there, Renewable Farms, run by the same people.
Let’s hear from a MV resident to a concerned Fullerton resident:
My name is Dena LeCave and I am a resident of Aliso Viejo. While looking into information and press on Renewable Farms I came across a story from the Fullerton Observer regarding the aforementioned. I wish to congratulate you on terminating your contract with Renewable Farms. As a long time resident of the city of Aliso Viejo, 20+ years, I am astonished and horrified by what our city council has allowed to happen to my community, neighborhood and particularly our quality of life since Renewable Farms started hosting wedding receptions on the vacant land behind our home. We live less than 50 yards from the event center for Renewable Farms and they host weddings every single Saturday night and have been doing so since May. The noise, lights, music and constant yelling goes on for 7+ hours. The city has done little to alleviate the problem and has instead hamstringed us by making these events private by the City, meaning we have almost no recourse in getting them to quiet down. I do not wish to take up your time, I’m sure you’re quite busy, but if you would like to further discuss our situation you may email me back or call me. Thank you, and have a good day.
Ms. Le Cave’s words have the ring of truth, all right, and they certainly would have applied to the proposal in Fullerton – problems that show the complete lack of concern, disdain even, that our staff shows for this neighborhood. And then of course there was the attitude shown by Quirk-Silva and Zahra about the residents who would have suffered the negative impacts of this proposal, without so much as a by-your-leave. Their current concern over public input on the park site is extremely recent and undisputedly hypocritical.
And of course the deal would have illegally converted a public park into a private, fenced and gated place to hold events, and incidentally an aquaponic facility, effectively giving away parkland – something our City Attorney Dick Jones just got caught approving in Westminster. Of course there was no parking, no business plan and nothing but a site plan to recommend it to the Council, so naturally Quirk-Silva and Zahra latched on to it like a couple of lamprey eels.
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.
At the Fullerton City Council meeting last week the topic of the idiotic Union Pacific “trail” came up. I put quotation marks around the word trail because it has never been one, and if the council continues to exercise commonsense, never will be one.
On a 4-1 vote our Lords and Masters decided to entertain an RFP process to see if the City might be able to look at wider area on either side of the abandoned right-of-way in a unified, rather than piecemeal fashion.
Parks staff have been trying for a couple years now to waste millions on a “greening” trail that would pick-up where “Phase 1” left off and continue through the junkyards, debris fields, used tire business and junk car to Independence Park. These people who stand to gain from billing hours against this project have no idea how much maintenance will cost, how safety might be ensured, or most significantly, who would even want to use it.
They continue to describe the Phase 1 thing as a trail when it is evidently not; not to anybody who takes the time to see that it does not pass Harbor to the east and ends up at the low point of Walnut Avenue on the west. There is decomposed granite and a horse rail to serve all the equestrians in the barrio to add to the comic nature of the previous development. There are also trash, homeless, evidence of arson, graffiti, and of course recent memories of a murder.
After writing a staff report that positively glowed with the eventuality of “connectivity” to a County-wide rec trail system, even Alice Loya (the Parks employee who has been nurturing this nonsense) was forced to admit that there was no present plan to acquire more railroad right-of-way to get past Independence Park, and no immediately feasible way to cross the train tracks at the Commonwealth underpass.
In the world of lefty identity politics it’s the thought that counts, and the more money wasted on the thought, the better. Jesus Quirk-Silva referred to this as a “pipe dream,” his fantasy, apparently. He’s all about “equity” whatever that means, as if wasting $2,000,000 in public money is justified by the kind gesture to an “underserved” population.
But it’s hard to know if these chuckleheads even take themselves seriously. Let’s not forget that Quirk-Silva and his pal Zahra voted just six short moths ago to permanently convert the ill-fated Union Pacific Park to a private events center.
Zahra trotted out a bunch of middle aged Latina women to blather (in Spanish, just to extend the pain, apparently) nonsense about a veritable linear oasis that of course neither they, nor their children would ever use.
In the end, Quirk-Silva went along with Dunlap, Jung and Whitaker, who reasoned that a broader look at the whole area was needed, and that private sector ideas were just as likely to prove fruitful as the dead hand of the Parks Department under Alice Loya. Where this process will lead is still uncertain. Quirk-Silva said he must have his pipe dream included in any proposal; Whitaker amended that to a multi-modal facility that could serve as some sort of viaduct for the area using the UP right-of-way flexibility that makes a lot of sense.
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.