When you can’t win, just keep changing the rules until you do. That’s the mantra of the California Democrat party and bag men in the State legislature.
Let’s take the case of the recall against State Senator Josh Newman, who within his first few months in office caved in to the party bosses and voted to raise $50,000,000,000 innewtaxes, the majority of which will be paid by the people who can least afford it – the working poor, old people on fixed incomes, students, etc.
The consequent recall effort proved so popular that 85,000 signatureswere submitted in barely two months, and that caused a veritable panic among the Democrat elitists who run Taxifornia. What’s a limousine liberal to do?
Cheat, that’s what.
Exhibit A for the prosecution: Democrats’ use of the budget process to change the state’s recall process that was already well-underway in the case of Newman, making the recall process longer and more onerous – a violation of due process and civil rights if ever there was one.
Exhibit B for the prosecution: Democrats use of political operatives on the California Fair Political Practices Commission to relax the rules regarding campaign contributions to the target of the recall, paving the way for wealthy left-wing donors to prop up Newman.
We are used to the nonsensical rhetoric about the “appropriate” way in which recalls should be used (only when it suits the agenda of those who make such ridiculous arguments), but the use of government power to muzzle the electorate has to be seen as a much more sinister trend. If ever the politicians in Sacramento get away with using their legislative power to get rid of political opponents you can bet it won’t be the last time they do it.
Most government projects have three things in common: they are bad ideas promoted by bureaucrats, they are obscenely expensive, and there is no accountability attached to them.
In Fullerton we have lots of examples over the years that touch all three bases. But if ever one needed a veritable poster child for government fiascoes, the ill-conceived “Downtown Core and Corridors” Specific Plan would be it.
Back in 2010, the City of Fullerton put in an application for a “project” to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Strategic Growth Council” an assemblage of bureaucrats and political appointees selected by the governor to promote sustainability and responsibility in urban (and suburban planning). On the face of it, the idea was to promote development that would be eco-friendly – somehow, someway. Lo and Behold! Fullerton received a $1,000,000 grant to create the Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan, a massive overlay zone. In 2013 a committee was appointed to make this look like a community driven enterprise, but as so often happens the committee was led along by the consultants and staff who were being paid, and paid well, out of the grant money. Some members of this committee only went to one meeting, the last one, in May 2014, a meeting consumed by passing out certificates of participation to committee members for all their hard work.
In the meantime, the intent of the creators of the specific plan became crystal clear: opportunity for massive new housing projects along Fullerton’s busiest streets, development that would not even have to undergo the scrutiny facing normal projects so long as the permissive guidelines of the specific plan were met. Naturally, lots of people objected to the continued over-development of Fullerton, and the utter disconnect with what the Strategic Growth Council was ostensibly promoting. Perhaps the most obnoxious thing about the specific plan proposal was the way it was being used, unapproved by any policy maker, to promote other massive apartment projects already in the entitlement process.
And then a funny thing happened. The Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan vanished into thin air. Although recommended by the Planning Commission in August of 2014, the plan and its Environmental Impact Report never went to the city council for approval. 2015 passed; and so did 2016 without the plan being approved. Even modifications rumored to have been proposed by the now-departed Planning Director Karen Haluza never materialized for council review or approval.
Some cynical people believe the plan was postponed in 2014 because of the council election, an election that returned development uber alles councilmembers Greg Sebourn and Bud Chaffee. And they believe that the subsequent attempt to erase the plan from the municipal memory was perpetrated by none other than the hapless city manager, Joe Felz and lobbyist councilperson Jennifer Fitzgerald, (so the story goes) two individuals who had every incentive to shake down potential developers one by one, rather than granting a broad entitlement for new and gargantuan development. Felz had a massive budget deficit to fill, and Fitzgerald had massive lobbying opportunities from potential Pringle and Associate clients.
What is undeniable is that three long years have passed and no action has been taken to either approve or deny the specific plan. The grant money approved by the State has been a complete waste – a travesty so embarrassing to everybody concerned that no one seems to want to demand an explanation for this fiasco. Neither the city bureaucrats or council, nor the State has any incentive to advertise this disaster, and you can bet there never will be an accounting.
On Tuesday (August 1), the City Council will be voting on the “Clean and Green” initiative, which calls for an affirmation of the City of Fullerton’s Climate Action Plan (available here).
What is the Climate Action Plan, you ask? Well, it was a report prepared in February 2012 to make sure Fullerton does its part to stop “sea level rise, changes in the amount of water supply available, wildfires and other extreme weather events.” Good thing too, because Fullerton’s 130,000 or so residents make up a whopping two thousandths of one percent of the population on Earth (0.02%), so Fullerton clearly needs to spent valuable staff time and expenses combating this threat.
A while back, Fullerton junior College president Greg Schulz held an open house to share information with the constituents of the North Orange College Community College District. If anyone expected the usual milquetoast tea party, they would have been much mistaken.
One intrepid citizen brought up the matter of Dino Skokos, the FJC security goon who attacked a student last fall. Here is the audio of the interrogation accompanied by a video of the beat down applied to the kid by Skokos.
To his credit, the interrogator will not let Schulz off the hook, and grills him pretty good. Schulz of course will say nothing specific and refuses to pass on the results of the taxpayer funded “investigation” commissioned by him via a law firm that specializes in protecting the people who run government agencies. It’s a “human resources” issue, see, and we poor saps who pay for the salaries of these individuals and the civil claims they cause, are not to know anything about them.
Schulz is happy to remind folks of the investigation; but what it accomplished and how much it cost us will be shrouded in mystery until long after Schulz has taken his massive pension. Schulz won’t even say if the Fullerton Police Department investigated this matter, an issue that has no bearing on personnel confidentiality at all.
Did you notice that at the 1:05 mark the esteemed Schulz says Skokos “is not going to be an employee of the district,” a curious statement given that Skokos is still on administrative leave nine months after the assault . Later he states that he is not permitted to say whether Skokos is coming back or not. It’s all a big secret, see. So which is it? Who knows? Not the public, that’s for certain.
Remember Fullerton First? It’s the feel-good facebook fraud created by one Gretchen Cox, and populated by the usual suspects – whose mission is to run interference for the scamology perpetrated by the likes of our former DUI city manager, Joe Felz, the cops who let him go, and lobbyist-councilperson Jennifer Fitzgerald and her campaign contributors – like the construction manager Griffin Structures that “oversaw” the Hillcrest Stairs to Nowhere ripoff. You might recall that the egregious Fitzgerald is also a proud, flag-waving member of Fullerton First. Well, that sure figures.
Here’s a fun reminder of how the folks of Fullerton First deal with the embarrassment of expensive Fullerton government failure. The strategy is to bury legitimate criticism in double talk and obfuscation.
“Fhern” Alvarez brings up the serious problem of the manifest shoddy workmanship on the Hillcrest steps. Notice how Ms. Cox immediately concocts a made-up “report” that allegedly addresses “point by point every construction concern.” Somehow the worst example of a public works f-up is transformed into a “well-done” project where the contractor went “above and beyond contract and safety requirements” – an outright lie.
When Alvarez persists, Cox hilariously tells her (or him) that people might have rolled down the hill anyway before the $1.6 million steps were built and suggests that somehow child safety on these rickety contraptions is a matter of individual responsibility!
Fortunately, Alvarez will not be dissuaded by the bullshit. And so Fhern, FFFF salutes you.
Gretchen Gregory Cox Fhern- I was writing a response to your comment and accidentally deleted it when some wierd thing popped up. My apologies and please feel free to repost it. In the meantime, there is a report that goes point by point thru every construction concern that has been raised since the steps opened in May. It is actually a well done project where the builder went above and beyond the contract and safety requirements at no additional cost to the city- and came in under budget. Just so you know.
· July 8 at 12:46pm
Fhern Alvarez No worries. But I have been there numerous times and there are spots where the boards are cracking and areas where if a kid is left unattended they can fall down a hill. Doesn’t matter if it’s under budget. In the long run it will cost more.
· July 8 at 3:50pm
Gretchen Gregory Cox People could have fallen down that hill long before the stairs went in. At some point when are individuals responsible for not paying attention? Should the city fence off every inch to prevent that- I don’t mean that to be sarcastic…. just asking what people think would work best.
· July 8 at 4:03pm
On June 5, 2018, voters in Orange County, including Fullerton, will trudge to the polls to cast their vote for, among other races, the County District Attorney. Thus far, the choices we have been offered rival those for a certain federal election campaign last year. Or a South Park episode from a decade prior.
In one corner we have the incumbent, Anthony Rauckauckas, who was first elected in 1998. Throughout his tenure, he has developed a reputation of refusing to seriously investigate allegations of wrongdoing by public officials, including but not limited to the various violations of open meeting laws in connection with the OC Fairgrounds giveaway (involving favorite FFFF target Dick Ackerman, discussed here ). Rauckauckas was also responsible for personally handling the murder trial of Fullerton PD Officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli, which resulted in defense verdict after key evidence (including the false claim that the officers followed department policy) were unchallenged at Trial. And to top it off, the District Attorney office has been completely ensnared by the Jailhouse Informant scandal, which includes everything from alleged lying to defense attorneys about the existence of said informants to failure to forward exculpatory evidence which was inadvertently obtained by the informants. The scandal is a complex one and no one article can possibly do it justice (here’s a link to a series of articles to get you started) but it is serious enough that the District attorney is now barred from prosecuting the death penalty case of Scott Evans Dekraai.
And in the other corner, we have Todd “Wahoo” Spitzer. Admittedly, the Wahoo incident may sound petty compared to the charged of official corruption where Rauckauckas is concerned but the story itself – leaving the scene at a Wahoo fish taco after a preacher came up to talk to him, grabbing his gun and handcuffs from his car and then arresting the man for threatening him – paints a very, very poor picture of Spitzer’s character and temperament. There is also a corruption probe launched against him by the current District Attorney and while he can easily brush it off at the moment given the source, the allegations (if made by somebody else) could prove damaging. Remember, Todd Spitzer raised $235,000 for his campaign for Central Committee (by contrast, most CC candidates don’t even bother opening a committee meaning their expenditures are less than $1500). And his expenditures included all expense paid tickets to Hawaii for both himself and political donors, as well as groceries, meals and hotel expenditures.
Tough choice. Fortunately, Mario Mainero has put himself forward as a third alternative, although he is still in the exploratory stage at this time.
Several of our communicants have identified an eerie similarity between former public access TV star Garth Algar, and your newly minted po po chief, David Hendricks. At the risk of damaging our reputation as a legitimate news and opinion outlet, I have decided to let you Fullerton humans opine.
We have a new police chief in Fullerton, and only eight months after his predecessor obstructed justice by giving a DUI city manager a get out of jail card, and retired with a massive pension to become a Disney employee.
The new one is named David Hendrick who was approved unanimously by our city council this week. That includes, of course, self-professed conservatives Bruce Whitaker and Greg Sebourn, who evidently saw nothing wrong paying Mr. Hendricks $230,000 per annum – $5,000 more than his boss, the city manager, and $25,000 more than his predecessor. Of course this gross pension spike will be borne by the taxpayers of Fullerton until Mr. Hendricks and his beneficiaries scoot off to their eternal rewards – in about 30 or 40 years.
Ten weeks ago I took a break documenting the disastrous “elevators to nowhere” story, a history of confusion and ineptitude that had its genesis in Jones, Bankhead and McKinley era. This completely unnecessary $4,000,000 boondoggle was five-and-a-half years old and it was dead in the water.
As of May 10, 2017 work on this project had already been halted for quite some time. Now, two-and-a-half months later, work has still not resumed. It is probably useless to inquire to the City about the facts of this latest delay, given the total lack of transparency surrounding this project throughout its death march. The Public Works Department appears to be incapable of presenting an honest staff report about it, and our elected officials could pretty obviously not care less about the waste or the management problems connected to it.
One thing we may safely assume: the delay – if it is the responsibility of the City, as is highly likely – is going to cost us a lot in extended overhead for the contractor, Woodcliff Corporation; and the cost will be accompanied by the usual complete lack of accountability to the taxpayers of Fullerton.
On July 18, 2017, the Fullerton City Council will vote on whether to approve staff recommendation to hire David Hendricks as Chief of Police of the Fullerton Police Department.
According to his resume, posted online with the staff report, Hendricks has served in the Internal Affairs Division of the LBDP and has “managed approximately 400 Internal Affairs investigations per year.” Per he resume, he also “(p)resented preliminary and formalized complaint cases to the Chief of Police and executive team” and “(r)eviewed police officer use of force/ identify patterns or problems.”
Given that Hendricks has been directly involved in investigating use of force claims and Internal Affairs divisions, it would have been extremely helpful to know what his thoughts on this 2013 beating of Porfiro Santos-Lopez, while lying on his back:
Or his thoughts on the $2.5 million settlement, reached after a plaintiff jury verdict, to two cousins who had filed an excessive force lawsuit arising out of a police beating by Officers David Faris and Michael Hynes, which was caught on camera in 2010.
Actually, thanks to Transparent California, we already know the answer. Both Officers involved in the $2.5 million settlement are still employed with the Long Beach Police Department as of 2016, as is Victor Ortiz, one of the two officers responsible for the spray nozzle shooting death and subsequent $6.5 million lawsuit.
Total compensation of the officers in question, give or take about $9.1 million.
As for the Portofino-Lopez beating, it was described by the Internal Affairs Department itself as a “by the book” arrest in 2013.
The Fullerton Police Department needs reform. The head of an internal affairs division that has a proven track record of excusing and soft peddling officer misconduct charges is not the solution.