Every now and then we get a particularly perspicacious comment from one of our Loyal Friends that we think is worth posting separately. The following was written by Hollis Dugan in response to our post about the Fullerton Observer and its hermetically sealed philosophical environment. We have cleaned up his spelling for him. Explains Mr. Dugan:
The other day on our post detailing Pam Keller’s love-in blog, one of our readers made reference to “a stack of yellowing Observers,” and another clever Friend inquired whether he was referring to the paper or its writers.
Today we had a visit from another Friend on our latest post about the Fullerton Observer and its hackish ways, using the great handle “They All Live in A Yellow Submarine.” This set us a thinkin’ about what a great metaphor the submarine can be, especially one that can’t blow its ballast tanks to surface and see what’s happening in the outside world. Its denizens are hermetically sealed in. Think Das Boot.
Given The Fullerton Observer’s rather nasty penchant for submerging itself in a sea of City Hall Kool Aid we think the image is apt. Plus we’re getting a little bored with:
A few months ago we went after Sharon Kennedy and her Observer’s shameless pandering to City Hall when she passed along a letter from OC Supervisor Chris Norby opposing Redevelopment expansion to her pals in the government. Some Redevelopment flunky put together the “official” response, Don Bankhead affixed his X to it, and the two were printed side by side.
Well she’s at it again. Check out page 8 of the July edition. Same technique, same result.
Now, we have nothing against the City getting out its propaganda, even if it is full of baloney. But this habit on the part of Kennedy of sharing an editorial writer’s submission so that it can be immediately rebutted without counter response is so unfair that, well, we feel justified in accusing Sharon Kennedy of being just a wee bit biased in the stuff she prints.
Why not print the submission and let the City respond if it feels inclined to do so? Why not let the debate go back and forth – fairly, and see who can develop the more compelling argument? Oh, yeah. That’s right:
The Fullerton Observer continues to sink to new lows in its coverage of important Fullerton issues. Or lack of coverage.
In its most recent edition it published a redevelopment article which was simply an interview with RDA Director Rob Zur Schmiede, whose very job depends on RDA expansion. Wow, that’s cutting edge investigative journalism!
The Observer has totally ignored the RDA’s $6 million McDonald‘s move. An evil corporation making kids fat, a giveaway to the rich, money intended for blight going to promote junk food! Fast Food Nation was written by muckraking journalists that the Observer should emulate. $6 million to help McDonald’s make high school kids fatter!
The Observer has completely ignored the story that has excited even usually tepid reporter Barbara Giasone. They will NOT embarrass the council majority that it helped elect with their endorsement. Jones, Bankhead, Quirk, Keller were all backed by the Observer.
Could it also be that the Fullerton RDA–is paying for quarter page ads in the Observer?
The Observer has published two pieces by Supervisor Norby expressing the County’s opposition to the RDA expansion, but only after leaking both articles to city staff in time to write rebuttals. The rebuttals themselves are not fact-checked by anyone and are filled with lies.
In the current July 2009 edition (Page 4) Kennedy bewails the 1994 recall of Bankhead after he “voted to support a ½ cent utility rate increase to keep the city from going bankrupt”. Three wrong statements in one sentence!
It was NOT a utility rate increase, but a utility TAX on gas, water, electricity and cable TV. It was NOT a half cent but 2%. It did NOT keep the City from going bankrupt. In fact, it was repealed soon after the recall and has saved us Fullerton tax payers over $ 100 Million dollars over the past 15 years and the City is just fine!
True to form, the Observer has supported every city, county and state ballot measure that increased taxes, most of which went down in defeat. It especially likes sales tax hikes, which disproportionately affects the poor–the supposed constituents of a “progressive” paper.
I would like to apologize to you for the manner in which I left the meeting last night. I wish I could fabricate a better reason than being absolutely disgusted with JPI Development for their thinly veiled deception of the RDRC and Staff…but I can’t. I felt my blood pressure elevating and thought it was best for me to leave before making any more comments regarding their six shades of shadiness. As you may have guessed by now I believe the JPI group deliberately misrepresented the mass of the parking structure in the colored elevation drawing that they presented to us at the RDRC meeting in which they earned our approval. I also believe it was a calculated move for them to casually slip the actual scale of the structure into the elevations in the construction drawings and hope nobody caught it. If I am not mistaken Heather caught this little “revision” and that is why they were a last minute addition to our agenda last night. If I had to do it over again I would have dug my heels in and tried to sway the other members towards my belief that what JPI presented last night was significantly different than what was approved, however, I felt at the time that would have been futile as the other members didn’t seem too affected by the change. Perhaps in the grand scheme of things none of this is going to make any difference to anybody and the building will get built and the citizens of Fullerton will be none the wiser to what the building should have looked like, but I know, and the sense of satisfaction I once felt for having collaborated on this project is now a bit corrupted. When the minutes are being drafted for last nights meeting I would like the record to reflect my true feelings as accurately as possible.
Jay/ Heather…if it’s not in violation of any policy, I would like this email shared with the other members of the committee.
Last October, this letter was sent to the Fullerton Observer, but NEVER got published.
In its mid-April edition, our old friends (lower case f) at The Fullerton Observer pulled their typical stunt of shilling for the bureaucrats and bureaucrat loving politicos over at City Hall.
County Supervisor Chris Norby had submitted to The Observer an essay on the proposed redevelopment expansion that we had previously posted on this very site. Not content to print the letter and let responders respond – on their own and without coaching, The Observer apparently gave Norby’s letter to the City where somebody in Redevelopment wrote a “response” in the form of a series of “facts” – really just disembodied statements meant to show how the City, at least, was following the minimum requirements of the law.
The City’s response was handed to Don Bankhead, Chairman of the Redevelopment Agency, who dutifully affixed his signature and sent it back to the Observer – who then published “two views” on the proposal just like they were an unbiased news operation – a real journalistic endeavor, in fact. Check out the scam on page 11.
We are not surprised by this behavior since it has become fairly common for The Observer. Sharon Kennedy habitually adds editorial comment to letters submitted by people she doesn’t like. But to actually go out and solicit response to a commentary strikes us as pretty craven, even for her.
Friends who have visited this website recently have been treated to examples of Redevelopment incompetence in Fullerton. Don Bankhead and the people he represents in in the Redevelopment Agency may want you to think that redevelopment is here to serve the people of Fullerton. We know better. It’s here to serve the bureaucrats, subsidized developers, bond lawyers, consultants and various other camp followers who make their livelihoods of this charade.
On March 7th 2009 people from all over the state descended on Fullerton to enjoy their right to political free speech. Depending on whom you talk to, the crowd, that came by bus, train, bicycle and by foot, numbered in the thousands, with some accounts placing the total over ten thousand.
The “tax revolt” sponsored by popular radio entertainers Ken and John of KFI, was big news. No matter how you figure it.
And yet the non-Friends of Fullerton’s future over at The Fullerton Observer ignored the story completely. Check out their mid-March and early April issues to see if you can find a single reference to this huge event. None.
Okay, later in the month the Observer’s patron saint Obama the Good hove into Orange County and we gagged our way through Pam Keller’s giggly tribute to the event, complete with her characteristic abuse of the perpendicular pronoun. Still, not a single solitary mention of the largest crowd ever assembled in downtown Fullerton? Yet room for all the usual Observer dross?
If the crowd had assembled to support raising taxes and spending more money on government employee unions you can bet your bottom dollar that the Observer would have been all over this like flies on… well you get the point.
Update: thanks to James Crum’s comment I indeed did discover an article in the mid-March edition by a T. DeMoss; relegated to page 8, of course, under the “ObserverHeader” headline: Radio Fans In Fullerton. Hardly a clear statement of any content relating to the assembly. When I reviewed the Observer headlines I naturally missed the connection. Actually the DeMoss article was really pretty objective and kudos to him/her. But to remind our friends of the typical Observer editorial bias, a story about a demonstration by locals against cutbacks in the local schools made the front page, as usual.
Also lurking at the bottom of the second page was this gem at the end of the letters section, but not signed by anybody. Hmmm. Now this is the Observer we’ve come to know and love. Some kooks show up at an event and everybody gets painted with the same brush. Almost like racial stereotyping.
Racists at the Tax Revolt Radio Show
Among the raving fans of the selfserving Clear Channel radio talk show hosts who invaded Fullerton on March 7th were notorius members of several hate groups including KKK off-shoots and the Minute Men. How did this group get a permit for this gathering? Let’s hope they aren’t allowed back in town. To see for yourself go to http://www.youtube.com and punch in Racists at KFI AM 640 event
Lost in the commotion of last fall’s election excitement was a short letter to the Fullerton Observer by Tom Dalton, Fullerton Heritage’s President-for-Life. It appeared in the early September issue. It seemed to be a very belated response to the letter I had written some time before, and that I just posted here on our blog. Well, I’m posting a copy of Mr. Dalton’s letter here as well as a response I sent to the Observer’s editor. Please note that the Observer never printed my letter rebutting Tom Dalton’s, but now for the very first time, Loyal Friends, you may enjoy it here!
First Mr. Dalton’s missive:
Fullerton College dedicated the latest in a series of new buildings on the Fullerton campus August 15, 2008. The Classroom Office Building joins the Library and the Student Center as another example of how new construction can complement and even improve on the overall historic and architectural character of the campus complex. Period design features, proper scale and proportions, and use of appropriate materials on these buildings reflect the style and character of the original campus. And let us not forget the wonderful results of the restoration work on the Wilshire Continuing Education complex. Fullerton College President Kathleen Hodge, former District Chancellor Jerome Hunter, and the District Board are all to be commended for their steadfast commitment to honor the past by foregoing faddish architecture that others often use to make their own statements. Fullerton College has made the strongest statement of all by preserving its heritage. Fullerton Heritage salutes you! Keep up the good work.
Tom Dalton, President Fullerton Heritage
Well, Tom has had his bootlicking say, and now I will share my thoughts on the subject:
I just read Tom Dalton’s recent tribute to the wisdom of the NOCCCD Trustees for their dismal architectural failures on the Fullerton College campus, as printed in your September edition. Tom’s letter must have pleased the trustee who asked him to write it, but it left me wondering why these folks choose to defend the indefensible – rather than develop a new policy of building modern architecture on our campus. Well, maybe they ought to be defensive! Tom tells us the pseudo-historical details, the materials, and the proportions of the new buildings are harmonious with the historical structures on campus. I guess he expects us to take his word for it. But the commonsense of anyone standing in the central quad will tell him that the new library is an overbearing, out-of-scale monstrosity.
The fake concrete form patterns impressed on hollow stucco walls, the awkward fenestration, and the ludicrous cupola only add insult to injury. It’s not easy to create buildings that are both tacky and unoriginal, but whoever designed this building achieved this dubious distinction. The image and caption on the cover of your early October issue is telling: Tiles Fall off the Dome of the New Library During Storm (what storm was that, by the way?). Further comment is unnecessary.
Why does Tom admire architecture that hides its steel structure within hollow walls made of metal studs, lath, and plaster? He says this sort of thing goes well with the existing buildings, and again he seems to think we’ll take his word for it. But why should we accept the idea that boring, dishonest, clunky buildings are anything but an insult to historical structures? Because Tom says so? The new building on Chapman Avenue with its false arches assaults passersby with a sort of stubborn muteness; it is a dull, blocky, inert monument to creative bankruptcy, without a single redeeming architectural quality.
Tom piously warns us against the evil of architectural fads, by which I think we can assume he means contemporary architecture that doesn’t ape the original Mediterranean themes of the WPA buildings on campus. And so, innovative modern architecture on campus of the sort pioneered in Southern California by masters such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolf Schindler and Richard Neutra and their followers would likely be dismissed as faddish by Dalton, just as their work was scorned by philistines of an earlier time who preferred period revivals such as Stockbroker Tudor and French Provincial as safe, tasteful bets for the local gentry.
But must the public, the students, and the faculty accept fake arches, Styrofoam cornices, and hidden structural members because they gratify Tom and his like minded friends on the Board of Trustees? We should recognize a higher responsibility than weakly regurgitating forms from the past and doing even that poorly. There is no premium paid for good, modern architecture. It costs no more than the uninspired junk the North Orange County Community College District Trustees are foisting on us. And in the long run good architecture will cost less. Someone at the top must make the commitment.
There really is a bigger issue that falls outside the penlight illumination cast by Tom Dalton’s personal aesthetic sensibility. Isn’t it the responsibility of an academic institution to promote creative excellence and shouldn’t that ideal be enshrined in the college’s built environment? Timid and trite architectural expression seems contrary to the very mission of an academic institution. On top of that, it’s a waste of money.
In a few years, as the dreary McSpanish dinosaurs of my Alma Mater disintegrate into a well-deserved decrepitude, Trustees will no doubt float yet another bond to pay for their replacement. Then, hopefully, some future generation will enjoy new creative and dynamic architecture on campus.
Founder, Fullerton Heritage
A couple of years ago I sent the following letter to the Fullerton Observer. It caused a bit of a stir among the knee-jerk educrat supporters. I hope you Friends enjoy it, too:
Dear Editor: There is an old adage that bad architecture costs just as much as good. This lesson seems to be lost on the educators over at the NCCCD. First they erect the god-awful monstrosity of the library with its overbearing size and fake historical details, right down to the false concrete formwork impressions on lath and plaster walls!
And now the Student Commons: another McSpanish dinosaur looming over innocent passersby on Chapman Avenue. With its fake “thick” walls, fake concrete columns, fake cornices, and oafish arches (see attached images) this edifice represents all that’s bad in trying to ape the design of the poured-in-place concrete structures on campus.
Had the college pursued a course of promoting original modern design they may well have succeeded in erecting buildings that would be recognized 70 years from now as historic. – buildings that were graceful, elegant, efficient, and that honestly expressed structure in form. My guess is that the WPA buildings on campus will end up outlasting these new ones.
The promotion of fake old architecture by our Board, on the other hand, is the result of confused thinking. The idea of emulating existing building’s themes so that the new ones “fit in” is meant to display aesthetic sensitivity with a nod to the ideas of tradition and preservation – concepts that they badly misunderstand. Fake old architecture honors nothing, least of all the past. The feeble attempts to copy historical detailing that present-day workers can’t do, or that the College won’t pay for, pays homage to nothing. Placing a fake old building next to an historic building will serve to make the original look better, but how much more of an honor would it be to hire a creative designer and let him or her pay tribute to the existing built environment through the exercise of creativity and talent! Isn’t that the lesson our public schools should be teaching their students?