I noticed two items that popped up on the Fullerton City Council’s December 19th, 2023 Closed Session Agenda, two things that remind us that in our town bad news never seems to go away, if it ever needed to happen in the first place.
One item had to do with Jacob Poozhikala, the slimy SOB who owned JP23 on the southwest corner of Harbor and Commonwealth.
Poozhikala is a poster child for the miscreant club owners in DTF who slithered in as our city government kept bending over backward to accommodate them. Pooz’s place of hospitality was probably the worst offender of them all – quite a feat. A shooting, alleged drug rape, overcrowding, operating without permits, etc.
There wasn’t a legal barrier Pooz chose not to ignore. In the end he tried to shift the stalled permit process to a new owner – his nephew. That didn’t work. There’s a new establishment there now, but evidently Pooz isn’t through with us. I Can’t believe It’s a Law Firm to the rescue!
The other item involves our old friends from Air Combat.
In case you forgot, Air Combat, a lessee out at the airport, sued the City for violating its lease agreement, an incompetent ploy by our wonderful Airport Director, Brendan O’Riley to push out Air Combat and install a new tenant whose use was illegal.
Ultimately a jury found the City at fault and awarded the aggrieved party $1.2 million. Of course nobody suffered any consequences, although the man in charge, City Manager Ken Domer eventually was fired and is now plying his dubious abilities in Laguna Beach.
I don’t know what is still being litigated here, but it’s nice to see familiar faces, isn’t it? Jones and Mayer presided over this fiasco, too, but unfortunately for us taxpayers, Dick Jones ran up against Sheppard, Mullin, Richter, a real law firm.
I have to say there are a lot of advantages to being in Doggie Heaven, and I would be remiss if I didn’t share them once in a while.
Getting rid of all the little annoyances connected with being alive and being a dog, for one thing.
Like I was reminded on Tuesday night when I was looking in on Fullerton’s City Council meeting to see if much had changed since my last visitation.
There was a lot of silly bloviation going on, the sort of things bipeds (humans and parrots and so forth) like to do. But then I was suddenly horror struck! Who was that sitting five or six rows back along the left aisle?
Arf! None other than my former mistress, Jan Flory, looking grumpier and more outraged than ever!
Yes, I admit, I recoiled in terror – a justifiable reflexive action, really, given all the times she would crack my skull with her broom and force me to take a doggie dump on Mr. Bushala’s property – and then crack my skull again if I didn’t. A chill ran down my ghostly spine as I recalled the bad old days when a pint of Jim Beam would mean a sound thrashing for me.
My anxiety got even worse when my former mistress got up to speak. I know I should have averted my gaze to something less horrific, but it was sort of like one of you humans watching a train wreck – it’s hard to look away. I have no idea what she was babbling about, but she was going off on a guy named Whitaker, most likely the same man she raved about at home thirty years ago – just before the ol’ broom would come out of the closet. Whack! Right across the orbital. I could tell the utility mop was still securely in place after all these years.
Well, that’s my report from up here. I did notice that Fullerton has changed very little which is sort of reassuring in a way, even though I am just a dog, and a dead one at that.
Curious Friends have been asking about the grant application the City of Fullerton submitted to the State of California Natural Resources Agency to build the now infamous “Trail to Nowhere.” Why? Because the plan, as conceived by parks employees as a make-work project, was so obviously useless, flawed and ill-considered. Reflect on these facts:
Nobody ever used the allegedly successful “Phase I” except drug addicts and the homeless.
The City has been unable or unwilling to maintain Phase I which is a trash-strewn, urine soaked disgrace, making the question of maintenance (below) perfectly reasonable.
Phase I doesn’t even line up with the proposed “Phase II.”
The scheme was going to cost Fullerton $300,000 to build; nobody would say what the running costs would be.
The proposed “trail” was to run though an unsafe area of heavy industry, junk yards, a plating facility, an asphalt plant, parking lots and myriad used tire and auto repair places. It would have run parallel to the BNSF mainline track with no buffer for a third of its length.
Carncinogenic trichlorethylene (TCE) had been identified years ago on an adjacent property by the EPA/Department of Toxic Substances Control that described an underground “plume” moving south across the path of the “trail.”
Two requests for information regarding environmental investigation on the “trail” site, via the Public Records Act have been obviously stonewalled by the City of Fullerton.
“Trail” advocates have been disseminating false information about connectivity to the Transportation Center and Downtown Fullerton, and positing future connections to the west that are completely implausible.
And probably most importantly, no one could describe a potential “trail” user except by using generic data irrelevant to the actual site. The users would be the “community”
The grant application itself isn’t to be found in any City Council documentation, because they never approved the actual application, only allowed the application to be made behind the scenes on their behalf. But it turns out that copies of the document are available, possibly leaked by City Hall employees appalled at the whole mess.
This fun image popped up on the City of Fullerton’s splash page very recently.
Looks like the HR department is interested in recruiting fresh talent into the ranks, and I wish them luck. Their success hiring real talent over the decades has been a little iffy.
And then I reflect that this blog has been working and working hard for Fullerton’s Future since 2008 – 15 years with only one sabbatical.
No, we haven’t been paid by the taxpayers, and no big pension accrual for us. None at all, in fact. No gratitude, of course, from the high and mighty inside the Seventh Wall, as Professor J.H. Habermeyer would put it.
Still, we soldier on, working for the future of Fullerton.
Addendum: I apologize for not providing a link to the story in Voice of OC. Here it is. And after reading it again and Elattar’s phone interview with the egregious Egleth, I really have to wonder if he even went to the site at all. Why would he have to call her if he was there listening to her nonsense? Could this whole tale be simply the result of phone interviews? If so, that would be pretty bad, and seeing Leopo’s pictures still should have made his journalist’s antennae go sideways – if he has any.
People who read the online news source known as the Voice of OC know that it reflexively leans toward stories that promote the notion of the local underdog up against monied interests entrenched in the corridors of power.
And that’s okay – up to a point. And that point is crossed when their “reporters” buy into some shenanigan or other without delving at all into the issues. It’s the narrative that counts, of course: rich vs. poor, good vs. evil, and the narrative must not change.
And so when Voice of OC reporter Hosam Elattar got a call from Ahmad Zahra (or one of his brain-washed followers) about the “popular” uprising in Fullerton about a rejected “greening” grant it must have been irresistible. And so the Voice scribe showed up for some sort of Trail to Nowhere romp where the usual suspects – Egleth Nunnci and Saskia Kennedy of Fullerton Observer infame – were ready for him, with a gaggle of followers bearing the usual “home made” signs of protest.
It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Mr. Elattar to ask why protesters with signs were parading down the abandoned UP right-of-way where exactly nobody could see them, except Julie Leopo, the Voice “photojournalist.” A real reporter, or an honest one at this point would know he was being played. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to him to inquire into Nunnci’s absurd statement that he later published:
“This is an area that is overpopulated, overdeveloped – where people are not thinking about green spaces,” Nuncci said. “Mental health (issues) are happening because our children don’t have the opportunity to go and play and run and enjoy.”
Elattar didn’t ask why those poor, mentally affected kids couldn’t “play and run and enjoy” themselves in nearby Richman Park or Lemon Park or Independence Park. Nor did he inquire into the question of how these little victims of society were going to get to the Trail to Nowhere, since only one street – three short blocks of Truslow Avenue – is closer to the right-of way than to Richman Park or Independence Park. And he didn’t bother to notice, or at least inquire about the graffiti and ask Ms. Nunnci if maybe the industrial zone with its obvious blight, might not be the best place to build a linear park. The Leopo pictures themselves betray the problem by showing the beloved Trail to Nowhere as it runs along the no man’s land next to and lower than the Santa Fe mainline tracks.
Did Elattar bother to continue along the route to see what it passed through? Did he even bother to look at a google satellite image?
Did Elattar bother to interview any of the residents of the adjacent Liberty Walk community at the western end to find out if they were even notified of the Trail to Nowhere proposal that had lights shining into their backyards? What about SOCO Walk on the eastern end? Did he ask anybody who actually lived on Truslow whether they would use this silly facility? Why would he do that? He already had his tale from the get-go.
Elattar, moreover, took it as gospel that this rump trail would have provided connectivity to other trails and “several parks.” It would not have – previous lies that even City staff have finally abandoned, although The Fullerton Observer keeps using to dupe the gullible kids and the elderly Observers who just can’t know better.
And finally I would be remiss if I didn’t share this charming image:
This is Saskia Kennedy, directing traffic for her photo op actors, creating the news before her Fullerton Observer writes opinion “news” articles about it.
One hopes that Hosam Elattar’s superiors at the Voice of OC cotton on to the scam pulled on their ace reporter and advise him to delve into the issue more closely. But I’m not counting on it.
The City of Fullerton Parks Department wanted a bike trail from The abandoned UP Park to Independence Park – a mere three quarters of a mile a way. They had an ally in D5 councilmember Ahmad Zahra who was desperate to be seen giving something to his “poor,” Latino constituents; whether they wanted it or not was irrelevant. And of course we now know that the Fullerton Observer, an operation that pretends to be a news outlet was (and still is) busy stirring up support for the silly and expensive idea, even after the council majority voted it down.
All of these bad actors had reasons for wasting $2,000,000, and none of them were good.
Thanks to good Friend D. Johnson, we also now know something else: that none of these self-interested people – disingenuous or just plain ignorant – told anybody is that there already is a designated bicycle route from the south side of the Santa Fe railroad tracks at the Depot that follows Walnut Avenue and turns south on Richman to Valencia Avenue, and that this bike route, should anybody want to use it, goes to the front of Independence park, not the hidden back corner.
Hard to believe that the existence of this bike route was never mentioned by anybody, but we’re talking about the Fullerton Parks Department that has a long history of deliberately omitting facts, misleading the council and the public, and has resorted to outright peddling of lies to get what it wants from our feckless councils. It was this department (in conjunction with the Planning Department) that ignored the council’s request for a broader vision for the land adjacent to the UP right-of-way.
It would be more than a bit embarrassing to acknowledge an existing bike route just 200 feet or so from their proposal and running parallel to it! So of course they didn’t.
And the existing route – with a little paint striping – can be easily upgraded and the people of California will be $1,780,000 better off; and the people of Fullerton will be $300,000 better off in capital costs plus who knows how much in maintenance and water costs. And any and all bike riders who wish to make the tour through this industrial neighborhood can do so at their convenience and leisure.
Which brings me to the conclusion of this story by noting that people who work along the Walnut/Richman route inform me me that they don’t recall seeing a lot, if any bicyclists along this route. And this may very well be because nobody wants to go that way – despite its connectivity to the bike route on Valencia. There is a mind-set among top-down liberal circles that if you build something for the underserved, people will, must use it, despite decades of evidence to the contrary. The idea that demand might well encourage supply is a completely alien notion to them.
Those Fullertonions who know about the Fullerton Observer are well aware of the bad habit of this operation of passing along editorial content as news.
Here’s an example.
An “article” running under the heading: Union Pacific Trail advocates hold peaceful demonstration asking to use the $1.78 million grant for its intended purpose.
Reading this headline you might suppose that somebody had been shot by the cops, and that violent protest could have broken out at any moment, and kudos to the protestors. But no. This drama was about not wasting a couple million bucks for a useless Trail to Nowhere that runs through one of the most dangerous parts of Fullerton. Were those octogenarians and 13th graders likely to break out in a rage-induced riot?
The editorial under the headline, written by one S. Kennedy, followed suit. Readers were not informed why the trail might have been considered a poor idea, for that would have been real journalism. Instead we learn the identities of a few of the those who spoke against giving the dough back to the state. We are told that nobody spoke against the Trail to Nowhere, a stupendous mislead since there was no agenda item to discuss it and the only people there had been orchestrated to yak about they knew not what during open mike public comments.
Readers were helpfully informed that there going to be another protest at today’s council meeting just in case some of the eager didn’t get Ahmad Zahra’s memo.
What the author of this piece didn’t tell you was that she was one of the cheerleaders of this event; that speaker Egleth Nunccio is a part of a conspiracy to ignore the City Council majority’s previous direction; that speaker Diane Vera is an Observer scribbler.
Of course the authoress, Saskia Kennedy, got up and spoke her ignorant piece. (She did so again today, above -10/3/23 – and then plopped down in the audience to smugly encourage the “outraged” protesters she helped stir up). In other words the Observer, which calls itself a newspaper, is actually helping create the crap it is “reporting” on – and not telling anybody.
Comments were varied, some calling out the obvious Astroturf protest. One happy soul named Angela offered: “Civics in action. Love to see it!” Except, Angela, this was a lot less about civics and a lot more about a petty political game by Zahra to embarrass his opponents. The Trail to Nowhere isn’t coming back, the public at large doesn’t care, and Zahra knows this.
As I started this essay (see I know the difference between opinion and news) I pointed out that none of this should really come as a surprise to those who have been around a while. And as the Observer passes from one generation of ignorant, self-righteous Kennedy to the next, it would be foolish to expect otherwise.
Ahmad is a film producer, we’ve been led to believe – by Zahra himself – although the body of work is a bit thin. So thin, in fact, as to be transparent. But last Tuesday he gave every indication that a Zahra production need not be a moving picture.
The casting call went out to gullible kids and even those of advanced age who should know better: a protest is needed. The underserved, bikes, trees, arbols, clean air, chubby kids finding health and happiness, all in jeopardy; in other words the ludicrous Trail to Nowhere, a $2,000,000 boondoggle vanity project whose only function was to make an appearance on a future Ahmad Zahra campaign mailer. Streetside they presented a pretty thin line whose handmade signs revealed the lack of imagine one associates with Fullerton Observers.
The protesters spoke, too, wasting lots of the council’s time, repeating the same nonsense previously scripted by Zahra
Zahra’s acolyte named Egleth Nunccio actually tried to get 18 minutes of talking time by taking the time allotted to five women standing behind her. Some of those responding to the casting call gave indication that they were nothing other than paid crisis actors employed to bulk up the chorus. Some make a sad presentation and sure didn’t look like rec trail advocates.
So the production came and the production went off. The protesters had been told by their handlers that there was a chance the rejected State grant could somehow be clawed back from the brink of termination by a council suddenly enlightened or frightened by the Zahra music-less comedy. It can’t. Surely, Zahra knew this even as his little band wasted everybody’s time. His real goal was once again to look like he was accomplishing something. And more importantly, the petulant Zahra wanted to embarrass his colleagues.
And there are people in Fullerton who still wonder why Zahra can’t get himself chosen Mayor by his fellow councilmembers.
A Friend sent in a copy of a letter from Daniel S. Franco of the City of Fullerton, requesting/demanding weed abatement per the Municipal Code. Supposedly the letter was instigated by a complaint. That may be a true story; or not. Here’s the letter:
Now, this isn’t all that unusual except that the irony of the City making a private citizen do what it will not is pretty rich. What am I referring to? Why, the Trail to Nowhere, of course, the City-owned former UP right-of-way where lately a handful of people, offensively masquerading as “the community” demanded a recreation trial. A quick look at the current situation along the abandoned strip reveals the City in severe breach of the rules it feels compelled to apply to the populace.
It’s pretty apparent that the City of Fullerton can’t take care of its own property. Or maybe by neglecting this property the City is offering up a big FU to the “community” it pretends to care so much about.
In any case the question of our town’s ability to maintain its property brings into focus the question of maintenance costs for new facilities – like the sad proposal of the Trail to Nowhere.
When people bother to think of Arkansas at all, an image of Ozarks hillbillies plucking Tyson chickens springs most readily to mind. Apparently folks there also seek opportunity by digging up diamonds out of the dirt; in fact the old state nickname was “The Land of Opportunity.”
There are all sorts of opportunities in Arkansas, I suppose, although not all may be of the sort one would want to share in their origin narrative with others. Of course the same thing could be said of California, too.