McDonald’s On the Move; Free Speech Locked Up

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One of our sharp-eyed Friends took a photo of this banner last Tuesday morning. By Tuesday night, it was gone.

During its brief life, it asked the telling questions:

  • How did the Fox project morph into subsidizing teen obesity?

The sign hits McDonald’s hard, though—to be fair—McDonald’s doesn’t want to move at all. Just like the residents who lived in the demolished homes didn’t want to move. Redevelopment hard at work!

  • Who tore the sign down? City crews or the McDonald’s owner are the likely suspects.
  • Who’s afraid of a little free speech?

After all, that fence is paid for by the taxpayers, just as everything else in this $6 million supersized boondoggle!

And it was covering the eyesore of the vacant lots where vintage homes once stood.

Take pity on your campus, you FHS alums Quirk and Keller! Listen to the District Board members. Superintendent Escalante told City Manager Armstrong back in 2001 that the school does not want a McDonald’s across the street or its drive thru lane accessing already congested Pomona Ave. That information has been covered up for years!

Avast, Landlubbers…And Let Us Spin Ye a Fulsome Yarn; We Be Callin’ It: The Curse O’Quirk’s Cruise

A Three Hour Tour...
A Three Hour Tour...

Back in the balmy summer of 2007, the weather was great – just perfect to spend some time on the water. Lobbyist, front-man, promoter, and all-round cash-conduit Steve Sheldon (not pictured, left) hosted a  cruise on his boat the S.S. Cash Cow around Newport Harbor, to be followed by a scrump-diddly-umptious dinner at a swank Newport Beach restaurant. It wasn’t free. Lucky invitees had to cough up $1000 a piece for the priviledge, and that ain’t chump change. The beneficiary of this lobbyist largesse: Fullerton City Councilwoman Sharon Quirk.

A little Dramamine goes a long way...
A little Drammamine goes a long way...

Now, Loyal Friends, why would Sheldon organize such an event? Because that’s his job! He represented the “developer” of the massive Jefferson Commons project over by CSUF that would require a general plan amendment and a zone change, demolition of historic buildings, loss of OP zoning, and the usual slide-and-glide job on the required EIR. When you’re in Sheldon’s business you don’t take chances, and of course you wheel your bets.

Any way you slice it, Sheldon performed a big favor for Quirk; and guys like Sheldon know it’s natural for nice people to repay favors.

Among the attendees of Sheldon’s nautical shake down included representatives of John Laing Homes and Pelican Properties – the would-be developers of the “Amerige Court” project – another mammoth project that threatens to consume downtown Fullerton.

Environmental impacts? No, we don't foresee any big problems...
Environmental impacts? No, we don't foresee any big problems...

And so (to return to our maritime theme) on one pleasant summer day, the developers of two of the  biggest proposed monstrosities in Fullerton’s history spent a lovely summer afternoon schmoozing with Mayor Pro Tem Sharon Quirk – presumably sharing the wonderful plans they had for the future of Fullerton. There were a lot of good feelings on board that afternoon, even before the sun crossed over the yard-arm.

Love, exciting and new, come aboard - we're expecting you!
Love, exciting and new, come aboard - we're expecting you!

Hardly more than a year had passed before Quirk had voted to approve both these overbearing projects – with their dubious environmental reviews, and the evident negative externalities the get-rich-quick entitlements foisted on the rest of us.

Arrrrrrgh!
Arrrrrrgh! The key to the City! What a deal ya scarvy dogs...

Now, in logic there’s a fallacy known as the post hoc, ergo propter hoc, which means that just because B follows A, it doesn’t follow that A caused B. And we’re not claiming that Quirk’s vote was bought by the high-rolling developers and their front man. Quirk could probably come up with all sorts of reasons for supporting these projects on their own merit. We can’t think of any ourselves, but if you can, Devoted Readers and Friends, please feel free to share them. And if Ms. Quirk is reading this, she, too is invited to explain why these projects are so good for Fullerton. We will be happy to give her response its own post – but only if she promises to write it herself!

Fullerton Chamber of Commerce Supports Big Government, More Government interference in Marketplace

Once you check in, you don't check out...
Once you check in, you don't check out...

It seems a little strange that an organization that purports to support the interests of business would allow itself to become an impotent pawn in a game run by and for city bureaucrats. And yet that is exactly what has happened.

This afternoon the City Council received an e-mail from Theresa Harvey, Executive Director of the Chamber in support of the proposed Redevelopment expansion on tomorrow night’s City Council agenda. The letter attached to the e-mail would be comical if there weren’t so many dues paying members of the Chamber who will get screwed by Redevelopment.

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I'm Theresa Harvey and I Have Absolutely No Idea What I'm Talking About...

Harvey starts out by trotting out all the old cliches about infrastructure, housing and business climate. What she utterly fails to mention is how Redevelopment diverts a finite amount of disposable income of consumers from existing businesses to new ones; how it invites bureaucratic interference in business decisions, thus impinging on entrepreneurialism; how it requires business and property owners to endure the idiotic design review process; how it selects favored businesses and “developers” as winners, to the detriment of others. In short: Redevelopment does not work.  it is a government ponzi scheme that leverages bonded indebtedness off of property tax revenue; it discriminates against the majority of businesses in favor of a few; and any policy or program that discriminates against the majority of business is, by definition, ANTI-BUSINESS!

Ms. Harvey decorates her tribute to Redevelopment by citing the “charm” of downtown Fullerton. Anyone who has been reading these pages lately knows that whatever charm Fullerton has, it has in spite of Redevelopment, not because of it. Does she support giving away public sidewalks? Does she approve of squandering millions of dollars to move a fast food outlet 200 feet? Does she like giving away free public land to developers? She must. She must like it a lot.

I Represent the Biggest Business of All - Government!
We're the Chamber of Commerce and We Represent the Biggest Business of All - Government!

You would think that the businesspeople on the Board of the Chamber of Commerce would have enough sense to grasp these simple notions. But when you reflect on the fact that our old friend Dick Jones, a government educated doctor, used to be the president of the Chamber, the institutional dysfunction of this group can be discerned in much clearer focus. The Fullerton Chamber of Commerce has become nothing but a sissified adjunct of City Hall, confusing their own alleged mission with that of the City apparatchicks.

To the members of the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce: stop paying your dues until your Executive Director and Board start defending business instead of government expansion and bureaucracy!

THE STRANGE & TRAGIC TALE OF HILLCREST PARK

UPDATE: We are republishing this wonderful post by Fred Olmstead originally posted on February 21, 2009. We do so in order to highlight the fact that the park – suffering from real blight – is in the Redevelopment project area, and stands as yet another testament to the failure of Redevelopment. Sharon Quirk, are you reading this?

– The Fullerton Shadow

 

Loyal Friends of Fullerton’s Future, gather ‘round the cool glow of your computer terminals and follow a sad saga of miserable municipal negligence.

Located in the center of Fullerton is a resource of inestimable value, overlooked by almost everybody in and outside of City Hall: Hillcrest Park. Included in an early vision of the city it followed upon the City Beautiful, and natural urban park elements of the Progressive movement; and coincided nicely with the new auto culture of the 1920s, positioned as it was, along the original Highway 1.

Developed fully during the Depression in a rustic mode, the park soon after began a long decline into municipal irrelevance, and if anything, seemed to be perceived by many as a liability rather than a great asset.   This tragic trajectory is a shameful blot on Fullerton’s history and is akin to placing your eighty-five year old mother in a criminally negligent nursing home.

After Don Bankhead and Fullerton’s Finest chased out the acid-dropping hippies in the 1960s, the park became a haven for perverts; trees began to die and were not replaced; erosion claimed many of the north and west facing slopes and was not arrested; as the infrastructure crumbled it was replaced by City Engineer Hugh Berry with incongruous cinder block walls and concrete light poles.

In the mid-1990s Redevelopment Director Gary Chalupsky, in a philanthropic mood, decided that Redevelopment funds could be used to address Hillcrest Park issues – the first official over-the-shoulder glance toward the park in years.

And here, dear Friends, the story turns from a chronicle of benign neglect to one of outright incompetence and, one might plausibly argue, a form of bureaucratic malevolence.

In 1996 the usual scoping/charette pantomime was performed with an historic park landscape architect, specially imported from Riverside. An odd thing happened: every time the consultant prepared a list of priorities for the park, the Community Services Department’s wishes kept getting pushed to the top. The Director of Community Services was Susan Hunt, a woman long known for her mindless turf battles with her constituents – (including the Isaak Walton Cabin in Hillcrest). Hunt was determined to hijack the process and divert resources from where they were needed to facilities that she and her department could control and perhaps even profit from.

Hunt was successful. The consultant, knowing whom it was important to please, seemed only too happy to abet the fraud that was perpetrated. The city council (including current Jurassic members Bankhead and Jones) went along. Chris Norby was there, too. Now he’s in charge of the County’s parks.

A new playground replaced the old one in the Lemon parking area even though no one had complained about the existing one that parents seemed to like. More egregious still, a new facility (known as Hillcrest Terrace) was built behind the Veteran’s building that could be rented out for social functions. But the real needs of the park – slope stabilization, plant cataloguing and replacement, the removal of inappropriate elements – went unaddressed – and the problems have continued unabated to this day, ten years later, as interest in the park waned again.

Last fall the City once again roused itself from its somnolence and created an ad hoc committee to consider issues related to Hillcrest Park. The time is, perhaps, propitious. Susan Hunt has disappeared into an overdue and well-compensated retirement, current Director Joe Felz is much more amenable to citizen input. It’s time to reclaim this park.

Hillcrest is still in the Redevelopment Area and remains affected by indisputable blight. This should become a priority for Redevelopment Director Rob Zur Schmied.

While we wonder if the Hillcrest Park committee will actually display the necessary independence from staff manipulation, and that they possess the necessary technical abilities, we wish them well. And we encourage citizens to make sure that this time any assessment of Hillcrest will objectively address the needs of the park and report directly to the City Council. Recommendations should be included in the City’s Capital Budget.

Hillcrest Park can and must return to being the crown jewel of Fullerton’s parks.

The Great Redevelopment Showdown; What Will Sharon Quirk Do?

On May 5th, the Fullerton City Council will once again take up the matter of a vast new Redevelopment land grab in Fullerton. The bureaucrats in City Hall want to appropriate all the property tax that they can by throwing the Redevelopment net over a huge swath of the City. In order to do so they must find “blight” and they must be able to prove it. So far they haven’t. They never will.

Well, that's a bit over-dramatic
Well, that's a bit over-dramatic, don't you think?

What does “redevelopment” mean in practical terms? It means the diversion of property taxes from other government agencies; it means the power of eminent domain over law-abiding property owners; it means more massive developments by favored developers; it means more design mediocrity – or worse.

Blight replaces blight...
Blight replaces blight - Redevelopment style...

Devoted Friends of Fullerton, over the past few weeks we have favored you with a litany of loose accountability and lax responsibilty exhibited by Fullerton’s Redevelopment Agency over the years. These sad stories have detailed incompetence, government overreach, bureaucratic usurpation of sovreign authority, the serial uglification of downtown Fullerton; and worse still, our tales have shown the happy compliance and enthusiatic support of the City Councilmembers for all this misfeasance.

It's not our money!
Jeepers, what a swell party!

Although some of the Redevelopment case studies of mismanagement and boondogglery we have related occurred in the 1990s, nothing has changed. The fact that Don Bankhead and Dick Jones can still cheerlead for this failed – and failing – government entity only goes to show how irresponsible it would be to permit the metastasis of Redevelopment in Fullerton. Harnessed side by side, these two have trudged through the last twelve years approving most of the Redevelopment disasters we have recounted to you Friends.

The main thing is to just keep going...
The main thing is to just keep plodding along, and whatever you do, don't look back...

So now we are at the proverbial eleventh hour; what will happen on Tuesday? Jones and Bankhead(Joneshead?) are on safely board. Nelson is on record as opposing the expansion; Keller seems to be opting out because of a conflict of interest. This leaves Sharon Quirk as the necessary third vote. Although every instinct in her body must be telling her to go with the staff and the good old boys, to just follow on the slip-stream of inertia, we think she may be entertaining some nagging doubts. Even if these doubts are of a political character, we will embrace them as if they were the heartfelt and genuine response to our brilliant posts on the history of Redevelopment disasters in Fullerton.

Ain't Love Grand?
Ain't Love Grand?

On Tuesday we will be watching Quirk. She will have the rare opportunity to do the right thing – to refuse the expansion and to say why: Redevelopment does not work. It is a scam. It invests authority in people who are not qualified to exercise such authority and it engenders both incompetent government action and lack of accountability for those who act ineptly or even illegally.

Quirk’s choice is really pretty easy.

Will Rosie Run? Or is It Just Bad Posturing?

 

Rosie addresses the Boys in the Back (of the) Room; Will they hear her?
Rosie addresses the Boys in the Back (of the) Room; Will they hear her?

Is La Habra city councilwoman Rose Espinosa going to run for County Supervisor? Apparently she has made an “intent to run” filing – the first step in the campaign process. At this early junture it may be too soon to tell if she is serious or merely posturing – going for a deal with County Dems and union honchos. 

Will Rosie Straighten Up County Government?
Does Rosie Want To Straighten Up County Government, or Is It All Just Bad Posturing?
Her entry into the 4th District fray in 2010 to replace our Sopoforic Supervisor would certainly have an impact. As a liberal Democrat she would immediately cut into Tom Daly’s base, especially in blue collar La Habra. She might even be able to attract more militant union support (although it didn’t do her any good against Norby in 2006). Daly certainly can’t be happy about any of this, especially if Lori Galloway were to get in as well. We still wonder cyber-aloud whether or not Pam Keller and Sharon Quirk may not have experienced premature endorsolation with Daly – showing up at his coming out party, and all.

All of this seems like excellent news for Fullerton’s own Shawn Nelson. A split Democratic vote means that  the Dems will end up going after each other – not him in the primary, and, who knows, a solid Republican candidacy might get 50% +1.

The Six Million Dollar Burger

The 6 Million Dollar Burger
The 6 Million Dollar Burger Meal Deal

Fullerton’s Redevelopment Chairman Don Bankhead, and members Pam Keller and Sharon Quirk led the charge  to spend $6 million in tax payer’s money to relocate McDonalds 2oo feet closer to Fullerton High School. As part of the total figure, the Agency previously spent $3 million to buy and demolish four historic California bungalows  on the site.

Redevelopment Agency Director Rob Zur Schmiede said “funds for the project had been set aside years ago”. Governments flawed incremental approval process at work again.

The move will pave the way for The Fox Block  project– a proposed parking structure type development fronting on Chapman Avenue between Harbor Boulevard and the new McDonald’s which will resemble a McMiniature McSpanish McCastle.

Not everyone favored the deal,  longtime Fox critic, Councilman Jones opposed the deal, indicating that he was disappointed a big corporation like McDonald’s was not putting a nickle into the multimillion dollar burger deal.

The Heritage group loves fake old McSpanish
The City of Fullerton loves fake old McSpanish

“This is a huge cost of the citizens’ money,” Jones said.

Councilman Nelson asked if it were possible to postpone the final decision until the Fox Block developer, Arteco Partners, could come up with a plan and a feasibility study.

With nothing at stake and everything to gain, the out of town Developer’s spokesman Jerry Tessier said the new proposed parking structure and project would not work if McDonald’s stayed in its current location. Yet, he could not provide any guarantees for much.

Councilwoman Quirk agreed it was time to move forward. “We have the funds, and we need to get sales tax in.”

1cb2d563c6c212d4As a school teacher, Quirk must know what causes obesity in children; eating too much of the wrong kinds of food and not getting enough exercise. Now the kids wont have to walk as far to get their subsidized happy meal deals.

McDonald’s franchisee Mr. Frisbie reminded the Redevelopment Agency members that the City staff approached him to relocate his business, which was started by his father, James, in 1969 as a family business. A recent study shows the presence of an fastfood outlet within easy walking distance of a high school — about 530 feet or less — resulted in a 5.2% increase in the incidence of student obesity compared with the average for California youths, a correlation deemed “sizable” according to the findings. Great job Quirk, Bankhead and Keller!

Courtesy of LA Times article (see link above)
Courtesy of LA Times article (see link above)

“Our business is better suited where we are now,” Frisbie said. Dear Friends but another example that government is part of the problem and not the solution.

fatkids
Fullerton City Council Supersizes Kids!

LOYALTY LACKING AMONG LADY LIBERALS?

3 birds

We have in our possession a copy of the invitation to Clerk/Recorder (say, what does that guy actually do?) Tom Daly’s March 17th fundraiserthat insiders say will be used to announce his 2010 run for 4th District Supervisor. Chris Norby the Somnolent Supervisor is finally termed out and will be able to snooze on his own time.

Rip Van Norby

Daly, it is said, wants to replace Norby in our hearts and minds.

Prominent on the “host committee” list are the names of uber-liberal Fullerton councilpersons Sharon Quirk and Pam Keller. We make note of this fact only because the name of Anaheim council member Lorri Galloway keeps surfacing as a likely candidate for the same job, and we wonder, why, at this extremely early juncture, our own lovely ladies would tie themselves down to an old-time, one of the boys Democrat like Daly. After all, it was Galloway who stood up for the poor, downtrodden proletariat in the Magic Kingdom.

evil mouse

Anyway, if Galloway goes for it, Quirk and Keller may come to regret their early association with Daly. If this comes to pass we will certainly keep our loyal Friends posted on events.

CITY COUNCIL TURNABOUT STICKS IT TO OLD GUARD

In a surprising move Pam Keller and Sharon Quirk performed a U turn at last night’s council meeting on the subject of commission appointment process. At the “first reading” of a new ordinance the proposal was defeated 3-2, with the support of Shawn Nelson.

Although previously supporting the jettisoning of direct appointments and replacing it with the old, cumbersome interview process, both Keller and Quirk, upon reflection, decided that exercising individual authority and accountability is part of the responsibility of being elected to public office. We commend them for making the right choice.

As expected, council mastodons Bankhead and Jones refused to emerge from Fullerton’s last ice age, and vociferously defended the old interview process in which retired government statocrats such as themselves had a disproportionate amount of influence choosing appointees of like mind and temperament.

The process of filling “at-large” commission seats will now be handled in special council sessions, in public. To which we respond – bravo! Transparency and responsibility!

Someday, perhaps the council will simply abandon these at-large seats and operate with five member commissions, each member of which responsible to his or her elected representative. In the meantime we congratulate the majority of the council for doing the right thing.