Who is Eddie Manfro? I asked myself the other day. Name sounds familiar.
See, I had seen the name pop up on a Fullerton City Council agenda as somebody who was involved as a participant, along with our former City Manager, Ken Domer, in carrying on labor negotiations with the City’s labor unions.
Hmm. Where had I heard that name before? Then it hit me. He’s the former City Manager of Westminster, who quit last year to become some sort of “human resources” expert whose supposed abilities were now for sale. Apparently Ken Domer was in the market for Manfro’s “expertise.” If the thought of a couple of bungling bureaucrats negotiating on your behalf makes you a little uneasey, well…but, I digress.
Here’s why I remember Eddie Manfro: he’s the City Manager who willingly participated in the Dick Jones scam in Westminster, where our ethically plugged-up City Attorney pretended to be a city employee to qualify for the CalPERS pension system and even went so far as to submit fraudulent time cards to line up with the sham. I believe these are all crimes.
And Eddie Manfro went along with the scam; and now, surprise, he is getting work from another agency in Dick Joneses stable of fine municipalities.
How did Eddie acquire this gig, that’s what I would like to know. And when for God’s freaking sake is Fullerton’s City Council finally going get rid of the incompetent, corrupt, and utterly self-serving, the Dickensianly awful, the I Can’t Believe It’s a Law Firm® of Jones and Mayer?
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.
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.
Or so we are led to believe. But our public employees come first, of course.
At last night’s council meeting the discussion rolled around to what to do with $34,000.000 that will be coming Fullerton’s way courtesy of the federal governments latest orgy of largesse. Fred Jung opened the discussion with an emphasis that the City’s massive infrastructure debt be addressed. That sentiment was echoed by Councilman Dunlap and Mayor Whitaker.
Then the predictable began.
Ahmad Zahra cautioned that there might be restrictions on the money of which we are unaware and not to “count our eggs.” Of course this is code for: protect our employees.
At the 5 hour and 20 minute mark, Jesus Silva raised the topic of making our employees whole for their wonderful pay reduction sacrifices during the pandemic; City Manager Domer, reminded the council that the various bargaining units had taken pay cuts with the understanding that they would be reimbursed when new revenue was discovered (Measure S passage, no doubt, or failing that more fed bailout).
And that’s where the discussion wandered off into bureaucratic miasma with nothing resolved and no policy established. Once again the proverbial can was kicked down the road for another day.
Yet one thing is crystal clear. A public that has suffered itself tremendously over the past year, financially, psychologically, and personally is very likely to be on the hook to recompense public employees whose incomes, jobs, health insurance, and overall well-being was guaranteed (by us) throughout.
That’s right, the local hero unions dropped $10,000 each to try to help sell you on raising your taxes. As always we have to stop and ask “why?”.
It can’t be to fix the roads because the unions don’t care about your roads or infrastructure as most of their members don’t live in Fullerton. If they DID care about such things they wouldn’t act like mercenaries demanding unsustainable pay, playing cities against each other, while watching your city crumble.
So why did each hero union drop $10k? Because, as we’ve been saying for some time now, Measure S is just a pension tax. Allow me to illustrate the problem with our budget USING the budget.
This is the oldest budget I can find online currently and it’s from 2004-05. I’ve added the percentages in total dollars. Remember, this is from 15 years ago.
And THIS is from this year’s budget. I’ve added the percentages to correspond to the previous example.
Do you see the issue?
In the 15 years between these budgets, the budget TOTAL has gone up by over $20,000,000 (20 Million) and in that same amount of time the Police/Fire budgets have gone from consuming 26% of the budget to now consuming 37% of it.
That’s NOT just the General Fund. That’s the entire budget – all special taxes, grants, all of it.
Right there in plain math, that is where your money for roads & infrastructure went.
It should surprise precisely nobody that the city is demanding more money for infrastructure considering that they’ve been systematically cutting it for decades to give it away in payroll and pensions.
Now this is important: The total budget increased by 11.71% over fifteen years.
An 11% increase in the total size of the pie and still the heroes ate an additional 11% MORE (a larger slice) of the budget for a growth of $25Million+ in Public Safety spending over those 15 years.
It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out what’s happening here and why it might be a problem. This is not an issue of revenue. Fullerton takes in more tax revenue than it ever has in the city’s entire history. Every single new dollar that came in from your sales and property taxes, every single one, went straight to public safety salaries, benefits and pensions. It went to fund their outdated and ridiculous service models / toys (such as using a ladder truck to respond to every third passed out drunk or rolling 6 police cars up on every DUI).
And there you have it. This is why our roads suck and our pipes are bursting. This is why our water rates went up and will continue to go up. And yes, this is why the heroes dropped $20,000, so far, into trying to convince you to tax yourselves and your neighbors more. It’s also why the same types of people get endorsed by Police and Fire Unions year after year. The bought and paid for candidates will always make sure the heroes have their lifted trucks and river toys before you have safe roads.
There is no such thing as enough when it comes to taking your money and the return on investment for the unions here is enormous. This isn’t about bias, union hating, or “anarchy” as Ahmad Zahra likes to pretend. This is about simple math – the kind Jesus Silva claims to have taught but refuses to understand. Just look at the city’s own numbers.
Some recent commenters on our humble blog have wondered aloud who outgoing Mayor-for-Hire, Jennifer Fitzgerald was going to pick to be her choice for successor. Now we know.
Today a Friend forwarded some sort of statement (an English version) from a fellow by the name of Andrew Cho. Who is this person? Nobody I’ve asked today has ever heard of the guy; but, one thing is certain: he was chosen to be a reliable vote for all the things the Curt Pringle lobbyist Fitzgerald holds near and dear. I’d rather not slam the guy right out of the chute, but, hell, just look at who this mysterious person reports as his endorsers.
First, of course is the utterly unspeakable Fitzgerald.
If that weren’t bad enough, number two (and I really mean number two), the completely corrupt Dick Ackerman whose record running a fake non-profit to pay his wife, creating a fake address so she could run for the legislature in our district, and illegally participating as a lobbyist to promote the 2008 OC Fair swindle, have been well-documented on these pages.
Next we discover Ling Ling Chang, our current State Senator who originally ran for office pretending to own a business and attending Harvard. Both were lies, but that mendacity didn’t seem to put a dent in her armor of shamelessness.
Then there’s the support of Young Kim, the bubbleheaded perpetual candidate and her slimy husband Charles, who foisted the incomprehhensible nitwit Julie Sa on Fullerton way back in 1992.
Of course poor Cho must not have a clue that these endorsements will do a lot more harm than good, and if he doesn’t yet, he soon will.