Crime Wave Continues

Rumors of increased criminal activity are wafting out of city hall again. A few employees of the Public Works department are in hot water for some sort of embezzlement/kick-back scheme down at the city yard. Criminal charges are in the offing.

Something stinks.

It’s not clear to us who was involved or what was stolen. City leaders are keeping quiet right now, but hopefully they will inform the public soon.

If you have any information to contribute, please drop us a line. Discretion is our thing.

Who Was in Charge?

During our series on the ill-fated, $1.6 million dollar “exercise stairs” in Hillcrest Park, some of our Friends correctly noted the problem of the wood support posts that had been poured into the concrete caissons that hold the whole structure up. Obviously, something went wrong. Notice how none of the posts are centered on the caissons, and some are barely two inches from the outside of the concrete, leading me to wonder how they managed to fit a rebar reinforcement inside the caisson.

Something didn’t quite line up…

From the project drawings, here is how the caisson and post are supposed to be aligned. The post centers on the caisson with 4 rebars equally spaced around it. Please notice the 3″ minimum clearance from the rebar to the outside of the concrete.

Clearly the footings and posts were built incorrectly. Obviously the caissons holes were drilled in the wrong places – and the construction manager must have agreed to let this pass. I guess we’ll just have to wait to see what happens. If the footings crack them may have to be replaced – and they weren’t built to be replaced.

This whole mess made me wonder about why the posts were sunk into the concrete in the first place – a very odd situation given that the expansion and contraction of the posts, when wet, could lead to potential concrete cracking and spalling, especially when the post is near the outer rim of the caisson.

It turns out I wasn’t alone. Here is a string of e-mails from the contractor, construction manager, and the architect discussing the redesign of the caissons and posts to a hardware connection – a solution that would make the replacement of the posts significantly easier. The contractor was willing to do this and add the necessary cross bracing at no cost to the City.

Request denied.

I wonder what will happen when the concrete caissons crack, or when the posts rot out. The architect seems to think the posts will outlast the rest of the rickety framing. I wonder which will go first.

Elevators to Nowhere – The Expensive Death March

Here is the latest installment in a series by our Friend, Fullerton Engineer, describing the sad story of the ruinously expensive elevator additions at the Fullerton train station.

It may have been expensive, but it sure was unnecessary…

In my previous installments I described a project that nobody outside City Hall wanted or needed, a project that would never have been contemplated without State transportation grant monies, and that had been “designed” under a 2012 contract that had ballooned to a jaw-dropping $460,000 – including a mysterious increase of 28%. The engineer – Hatch Mott McDonald completed their efforts in 2014, per their purchase order billing record. And there the project sat for a year.

Hatch Mott MacDonald PO P001258

Why? The answer is not immediately forthcoming and naturally the public wasn’t informed; but the cause of the delay can be reasonably inferred from the staff report accompanying the request to award the construction contract to Woodcliff Corporation in April, 2015. For the first time we read that the OCTA is going to authorize a shift of a million dollars from transportation parking funding – money, presumably, needed to actually build the project. And we may surmise that without the funding, money spent on the engineering/design work, money authorized over three years earlier, would have been wasted.

Please observe the complete lack of transparency in the staff report, and the omission of any history that would indicate that staff and the city council in 2011-12 had committed the City to this project without adequate funding.

And note that the staff report lazily repeats the casual assertion of increasing train ridership as the justification for the project, but offers no data to substantiate the need.

The report does indicate worrisome information. The low bid, by Woodcliff is an alarming 22% over the estimate. But remarkably, this fact does not faze city staff at all, who nevertheless recommend award; nor does it alarm our city council who approved this fiasco unanimously. Staff even admits that there are potential cost savings that could be realized if the project were rebid. But nobody cared.

What the public is also not told is that toward the end of the design completion in 2014, a firm called Griffin Structures was given $6000 to provide “constructibility” services, a function that questions the competency of both the designer and the contractor whose job it is to design and build these elevators.

Griffin Structures – Constructability Review PO P001678

Remember the name Griffin Structures. You haven’t seen the last of it.

 

 

Comment of the Month, Plus A Taxpayer Funded Movie!

Here is a recent comment from one of our Friends, Just Off Euclid, in response to watching another one of those super-expensive “State of the City” videos that we buy to make City Hall and the politicians therein, look good.

Thanks for sharing that nauseating bit of municipal self-promotion. I note:

Whitaker sitting in front of Laguna Lake where untold millions of gallons of prime MWD water were lost with no apology, no accountability, no responsibility. Fitzgerald brazenly bragging about the moronic stairs to nowhere. Donwtown stakeholders are committed she says. Committed to what? Profit at our expense. Sebourn, with his ass parked in the Corporate Yard as the streets of Fullerton crumble; “we’re ready” he boasts. ready for what?

And then the images of the vast Joe Felz/Karen Haluza stack n’ pack tenement blocks. Who is the target audience for that? Developers, I guess.

Jesus. How much did this bullshit cost?

We don’t know how much it cost. Not yet anyway. But here are some invoices that indicate the cost of 2015 and 2016 productions:

Kneadle 2 | Kneadle | Barron AV 2 | Pipeline Digital 2-2 | Pipeline Digital 2 | Pipeline Digital 1

Behind the Badge

One of the more startling examples of stupid waste at Fullerton City Hall has been the exorbitant expense of Behind the Badge: fifty large ones a year for former bad OC Register “journalists” to publish and disseminate pro-cop propaganda pabulum. It was all phony crap meant to obscure the real news about the FPD: a litany of bad behavior and criminal activity that over the past decade has spanned the breadth of the California Penal Code. Fortunately, thanks to the Friends this ridiculous waste is coming to an end. We wanted to make sure, too, so we requested the good bye letter.

And here is our temporary police chief Dave Hinig, hand-wringing over the loss of what can only be described as no loss at all for the taxpayer:

Is this some sort of sick joke? Value? To whom? Certainly not for the people who were paying out almost $250,000 over the past four years.

And what’s really laughable is all this lachrymose bullshit over a contract that was made in secret, was grossly mismanaged, and that had no actual requirements for performance – even if Joe Felz had had any inclination to oversee what he initiated.

Well, anyway, Behind the Badge is going away although why we have to pay another $8000 for two more months of this unadulterated literary manure is beyond me.

Ready to Recall New Senator Newman?

Carl DeMaio out of San Diego has been pitching the idea of a recall for our new CA State Senator Josh Newman. Why Newman? Because Newman voted to increase our gas taxes for the dubious claim of fixing our roads. He barely won his seat and without him the State wouldn’t have a (D) Super-Majority with which to tax us into oblivion.

While it’s true that Mah Roads need fixing it is not true that the government needs to steal more money in order to accomplish this task. Sadly Newman, like nearly every (D) in Sacramento (I’m looking at your Quirk-Silva) thinks theft is the only way to combat incompetence and prior graft. The cycle will continue unabated until we get mad as hell and don’t take it anymore.

Will the recall succeed? Considering Newman barely won by a razor thin margin this last November it’s definitely possible that he could get the boot. While Newman’s district covers quite a bit of real estate it’s not as if this would be Fullerton’s first recall rodeo.

SD29. Hooked on spending.

For those that support the recall I’d recommend checking our DeMaio’s page HERE. While I’m inclined to give the boot to anybody who saddles the working class with such ridiculous taxes – I remember who our last recall gifted us in this fair town and substituting Newman for a Fitzgerald type would be no win for taxpayers. I’m also of the opinion that if we’re going to boot Newman for being a party stooge reaching for our wallets we should probably aim for a twofer and do the same to his colleague in the Assembly at the same time.

Newman & Quirk-Silva Help Families Prioritize Spending

By Making Sure They Have Less Money to Spend

There are few things harder than trying to prioritize your spending. This is easily evidenced by the new law which is slated to bring in “much needed” transportation funds to fix our ailing infrastructure and yet amazingly has close to the same price-tag as Jerry Brown’s Bullet Train to Nowhere. The train is currently slated to cost $68Billion while the new tax will bring in $52Billion over 10 years. If we stopped the Brown’s Folly we would be able to pay for our infrastructure but alas those whacked priorities in Sacramento.

Enter Josh Newman (D. 29th State Senate District) & Sharon Quirk-Silva (D. Assembly District 65) to save us from the grief of budgets and the balancing acts that follow. They both surely read the study that claims that poverty taxes the brain and are thus worried about the poorest amongst us. What better way to make sure the poor can make fewer bad decisions than by pricing them out of those very decisions?

Please Sir, may I have my State back?

This is an act of benevolence on the part of our elected betters. Nay! An act of sheer mercy. We tried shaming you out of going to McDonald’s so now we’ll just increase prices so you can no longer afford it.

Of course this new tax increase has led to a flurry of interest and even the call for recalls. However we would all be remiss if we didn’t give credit where credit is due. We should acknowledge that Newman & Quirk-Silva, along with their (D) allies such as Senator Anthony Canella, have finally found a way to try to balance the budget on the backs of everybody as opposed to simply taxing “The Rich™” or “The 1%™”.

The rich will certainly be hurt by Newman and Quirk-Silva’s $100/year tax on zero emission cars that doesn’t go into affect until 2020 (with the gas taxes going into effect this coming November and the increase in the vehicle license fees next year). However even if the zero emission fees were immediate the $100/year isn’t so bad owing to the heavily subsidized nature of Teslas & other zero emission car sales in the first place. It could take up to 70 years before the rich will have paid back that subsidy $100 at a time.

No, this new tax is first and foremost a tax on the poor. After all of these years of saying that people need to pay their “fair share” of taxes the (D)s finally approved a bill that further socks it to the poor in a way they can’t escape. While quite a bit of ink has and will be spilled on both inflation-adjusted taxes which include the increase of $0.12/gallon on fuel and $38/year in registration fees less ink has been spilled on the $0.20/gallon diesel excise tax increase or the $0.04 increase in the sales tax on diesel fuel.

(more…)

The Bearer of New Taxes Adds Insult to Injury

The Tax Bear Cometh

The same day that Senator Josh Newman (D. 29th State Senate District) voted to further rob us at both the gas pump and DMV he claimed support for CA Assembly Bill 5. This bill would let California Voters decide, in June of 2018, if the legislature can use our stolen money to do anything but fix our failing infrastructure. Our failing infrastructure that should already be funded and fixed by our current gas taxes.

To his credit he wants to put a toothless California Constitutional Amendment on the ballot to make sure that our new CalPERS transportation taxes aren’t misspent. It’s too bad he didn’t care if we voters got a say on the issue of these taxes in the first place.

This bill was introduced in March of 2015 and has sat in committee as a non-urgent matter since that time. This means that it was proper urgent that Newman, Quirk-Silva and the rest of the Democrat-Controlled legislature to tax us into oblivion NOW NOW NOW but not so important that the money they steal from us via ever higher taxes actually gets used for their intended purposes.

Inactive and Unimportant.

Assembly Bill 5 is a perfect example of how everybody in Sacramento does things in entirely the wrong order. It would have been smart and prudent for the Assembly/Senate to put a bill on Gray Davis’ Jerry Brown’s desk to limit how money is spent for the intended purposes and then put the NEW TAXES on the ballot and not the other way around. Sadly we don’t get a choice in how much they rob you, just a choice in how they pretend to spend the ill-gotten goods.

That this sort of measure is even needed and yet ignored until politically convenient shows you all you need to know about the priorities of our electeds such as Josh Newman & Sharon Quirk-Silva.

Quirk-Silva & Newman Throw Taxpayers Under Brown’s Train

Choo-Choo! Onward to higher taxes.

Our local statewide electeds, Josh Newman (D. 29th State Senate District) & Sharon Quirk-Silva (D. Assembly District 65), have opted to vote to increase vehicle registration fees, gas taxes and add a new tax on zero emission cars in order to fix the budget that their own party is too incompetent to balance.

The vote was on California Senate Bill 1 (SB1) and both Newman and Quirk-Silva voted “Aye” on 06 April 2017.

I’m especially annoyed with Josh Newman because I thought, at the very least, that he wasn’t totally full of it. That he had a solid first name helped some during the election as did the GOP running their own brand of horribleness. Newman seemed like a reasonable guy who wouldn’t buckle to the whims of his party’s thievery.

Newman’s website, in the “Why Newman” section, states the following:

Boilerplate nonsense that clearly meant nothing to him.

It’s time to push back against the special interests and political careerists in Sacramento. As your State Senator, my priorities will be your priorities: creating opportunity, improving schools, balancing budgets, and solving problems.

I didn’t read that as “I’ll tax you into oblivion and work with the political careerists to give them their gas and vehicles taxes that they’ve been clamoring for for far too long”. True to that (D) behind his name Newman played the standard tax’em-into-oblivion game that his chosen party oh so loves.

I voted for Josh Newman but bear suit be damned I will not make that mistake again. (more…)

Pringle is Having A Party!

When it comes to influence peddling, nothing succeeds like alcohol and that’s what Curt Pringle and Associates is peddling at the upcoming big SCAG event down in the desert.

Party a-comin’

For the uninitiated, SCAG is “Southern California Association of Governments,” a regional agglomeration of government planning know-it-alls whose vision for the future includes big expensive transit projectors, ever more stack and pack housing, and, well, you get the drift. Here’s a funny Fullerton example of the mental perspicacity of one of their “senior” planners.

It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it…

And Curt Pringle? That’s the employer of our lobbyist-councilcreature, Jennifer Fitzgerald, whose sole loyalty on the Fullerton City Council appears to be to big out-of-town developers. What a match.

The idea that SCAG needs to shift its bulk down to a swanky Palm Desert resort just to celebrate the sort of future it wants to shove down our throats is laughable, but this is a Big Annual Event, and as you can imagine the tab is on the dues paying members – budget-busted cities just like ours. And what better way to get lobbied than at a free wine bar before the Big Banquet (yes they are throwing a “banquet” for themselves!).

Will Jennifer Fitzgerald be going this year? Will she be going as an elected official or as a lobbyist? Is there any difference in her mind? Probably not. It’s called multi-tasking. Or God’s Front Row Seat. Or something.