A New-ish Council This Way Comes

Backroom-Deal

Tonight Doug Chaffee and Greg Sebourn leave the Fullerton City Council and Ahmad Zahra gets sworn in to be the first to represent District 5 on the dais. This wouldn’t be Fullerton if that’s all that was happening tonight – a simple transition of (some) power – but true to form our current Mayor (for a few more hours), Doug Chaffee, opted to ram a pet project down the council’s throat one last time. An unsolicited bid to turn the parking lot used for Train Days into a “boutique” hotel without the pesky bother of worrying about competition or opening a bid process. He wants this to happen now, NOW, NOW! because… reasons. It’s such a great idea that Chaffee doesn’t trust the council to pick it up without him which means he either thinks they’re too stupid to know a good thing when they see it or it’s not… wait for it… a good thing.

Ah the smell of cronyism.

While we’ll eventually get to say goodbye to a few members and add Ahmad which should be the only focus tonight, first we have to see if Jesus has been bought off and has changed his tune on competition. A tune that he sung only 2 weeks ago, mind you.

After that first crony, I mean agenda, item has been dealt with the council will move on to the actual (partial) transition of power.

For those not keeping track here’s what will happen tonight:

Jesus Silva moves from at-large to the District 3 representative. This will leave his at-large seat open until council decides to fill it or holds a special election.

Bruce Whitaker and Jennifer Fitzgerald will stay status quo.

After tonight we’ll also have a new Mayor (likely Silva) and a new Mayor Pro-Tem (likely Fitzgerald). As for the empty seat – don’t forget to comment on who you think will be the appointed council member in our Wheel of Replacement Candidates thread.

We doubt there will be any surprises tonight but we’ll keep you posted as always friends.

Ready to Bring Back Josh?

Now that the 2018 General Election is about to be certified (Tuesday in Orange County), let’s start annoying ourselves with predictions of 2020.

I have one for you —

Despite being recalled, by a wide margin, Josh Newman is going to be back in the running for State Senate and he’s going to win. Big.

What makes me say this? Let us look at the evidence:

First we have Exhibit A: LinkedIn

NewmanLinkedIn
“In Exile”

Then we have Exhibit B, the cringeworthy website BringBackNewman.com:

BringBackNewman
Bring Back Josh Newman

We could dive into financials and campaign committees but from the above info alone it should be clear that he’s running again in 2020. Now why do I think he’ll beat Ling Ling Chang?

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Chaffee’s Last Crony Grasp on Council

SONY DSC

Just when I was preparing to see a new chapter of shenanigans in Fullerton coming from our new council, instead from the realm of ARE YOU F^&$&ING KIDDING ME comes Doug Chaffee trying to slap Fullerton with one more bit of cronyism before he leaves to play at the county level.

Less than two short weeks ago the council voted, 3-2 (Sebourn, Silva & Whitaker vs Fitzgerald & Chaffee) against an unsolicited bid for a hotel on the parking lot near the train station at Santa Fe and Ponoma. Cooler heads prevailed and a more open, transparent and honest process was suggested.

Now Chaffee, who per the City Manager agendized this item, wants to crush that transparency and openness in his last meeting this coming Tuesday. To make matters more unpalatable the council/staff arranged the agenda to swear in our new council member (Zahra) and say goodbye to the ones leaving (Sebourn & Chaffee) AFTER they vote again on this hotel nonsense. For the uninitiated there is a vendor who wants to build a hotel and Fitzgerald and Chaffee want to hand it off to them without opening a bid process to interested parties. It’s cronyism and backroom dealing 101.

Agenda-NewCouncilHotel

This is truly a slap in the face to both Ahmad Zahra and District 5 as this new development would be in their neighborhood and the first District 5 candidate will have no say on it because the agenda lets Zahra join council mere moments AFTER this hotel’s fate is already decided.

This coming back this quickly means one thing and one thing only – somebody got to Silva* as he’s the likely weak link on this issue.

For reference here’s what Silva said about the ENA at the last meeting at approximately the 3:30:12 mark:

“I think an RFP, or a bidding, would help the city I think, would help us get the best possible product. Competition drives,  brings out the best in you. And I think having that can bring out the best in the current applicant and someone else.”

We’ll see if Silva still believes this on Tuesday or if all of the sudden competition is less important than craven cronyism.  Even if it’s the case that Silva changed his mind, does he really think so little of fellow Democrat Ahmad Zahra that he’ll prevent him from voting on an issue that residents of District 5 have officially elected him to decide on?

This is just dumb, unnecessary, and silly. One can’t help but wonder if this is really Doug Chaffee being that tone deaf or if it’s really retribution for Ahmad Zahra winning a seat his wife coveted in the first place.

Because, and let’s be honest, if Paulette Marshall Chaffee won this election, Doug wouldn’t be preventing her from voting on Tuesday.

cronyism-kills

*it’s possible that Whitaker or Sebourn were flipped but they had stronger arguments than Silva and are more ideologically opposed to cronyism.

City is Still Shilling for Bar Owners

cronyism

For the last, well forever really, the city has been trying to figure out how to change downtown to make it more… something. I can’t quite figure it out. By the looks of it the only goals City Staff have are to pack as many residents into as many high-density apartment complexes as possible and to hand over as much of Downtown to the local “restauranteurs” which is Ted White (Director of Community Development) for “Bar Owners”.

This past Wednesday night one such plan hit our Planning Commission. The plan was 70+ pages of muddled definitions and empty promises. I’ll summarize:

City Staff has been ignoring their jobs and our municipal code for 15+ years because reasons. It’s hard to do the job we pay them to do so they want to do less of it and they want to relax the rules so the rule-breakers have fewer rules they have to break while making piles of money.

Instead of cleaning up bad definitions and attempting to hold businesses responsible for the melees enveloping downtown each weekend, the city would rather permanently legalize downtown getting louder and more rowdy with the promises that this time, with no indication of staffing changes or practical enforcement, they’ll hold bar owners to a standard of behavior, or perhaps a guideline, or at least an amorphous shape resembling a line if you squint really hard.

It reminds me an old UN Peacekeeper joke where whenever they see somebody doing something wrong they yell “Stop! Or I’ll Yell “Stop!” Again!”. This time they mean it for realsies.

Ultimately Wednesday’s item was held until a possible study session in January and a new meeting in February, which is when we’re totally screwed. The bar owners will get everything they want and then some come February because the Planning Commission is changing. A lot. (more…)

Let’s Play WHEEL OF REPLACEMENT CANDIDATES!

With Jesús Silva big win in Fullerton’s District 3, Fullerton is abuzz with potential names for who the Council might pick as a replacement.

So, who’s it going to be? Here’s some gossip for you to discuss. Feel free to nominate your own darlings for consideration on the WHEEL . . . OF . . . CANDIDATES!

Updated 11/27 with reader suggestions

Free Play– Current Councilman (odds 1:1)

Greg Sebourn

Seems like the easiest option. Someone familiar with the current issues and has existing relationships with city staff and council, and isn’t eligible to run in District 1, 2, or 4 in 2020. Let the voters spin again in 2020.

Lose a Turn– Leave it Open (Odds 1.5:1)

If three votes can’t be found to put a warm body in a cold chair, Council could choose to leave the vacancy open. The vacancy could last through 2020 or until a Special Election gets called.

Bonus Round– Former Members of Council (odds 2:1)

Still can’t come up with an answer to the riddle? Bring back some former contestants for another crack at solving the puzzle.

Jan Flory, Fullerton City Council (twice)

Chris Norby, Assemblyman, Supervisor, Fullerton City Council

Shawn Nelson, Supervisor, Fullerton City Council

Leland Wilson, Fullerton City Council + Fox Theater Point Person

Pam Keller, Fullerton City Council, Ex-Fullerton Collaborative

Buy A Vowel– Current and Former Fullerton Officials (odds 3:1)

Get some help with those neighboring consonants from people who’ve helped reveal a simple phrase to  Council before.

Chris Meyer (Former City Manager)

Joe Felz (Former City Manager)

Wolfgang Knabe (Retiring Fire Chief)

Pete Beard (not a former employee, but Fullerton’s current Metropolitan Water District Representative)

Paul  Dudley (Former Dev Services Director)

Ed Royce (No way in hell, but hey, we’re listing everyone on the wheel)

Luxury Resort Vacation– A Bar Owner (Odds 7:1)

Relax and let all your troubles float away as you blissfully drift from lane to lane down Commonwealth Avenue…

Tony Florentine

Jeremy Popoff

Toss Up– Former Candidates (odds 9.5:1)

Just like an Olympian disqualified by a post race drug test, let the title go to the runner-up!

Paulette Marshal-Chaffee

Vicky Calhoun

Larry Bennett

Jane Rands

Jose Trinidad Castaneda III

Kitty Jaramillo

Joe Imbriano

Mystery Wedges– Other Notables(odds 10:1)

Marty Burbank (Infrastructure Review Commission)

Nick Dunlap (Chair, Planning Commission)

Christopher Gaarder (Vice-Chair, Planning Commission)

Patrick McNelly (Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Ad-Hoc Commissions)

Arnel Dino (Infrastructure and Water Ad-Hoc Commissions)

Rusty Kennedy

Tony Package

Gretchen Cox (Parks, Energy, and Water Ad-Hoc Commissions)

Erik Wehn (Parks Commission)

Kathleen Shanfield (Planning Commission)

Kevin Pendergraft (Planning Comission)

Ryan Cantor (Planning and Library Commissions)

BANKRUPT Anyone Associated with FFFF (odds 100:1)

Sure would put is in a pickle. What would we live for? Criticize ourselves?

The inevitable self-loathing may morally bankrupt us, if it doesn’t destroy us first.

Fullerton to Build DTF Love Shack Hotel

In the continuing stream of solutions to questions no one asked, one of the last actions taken by the current lame duck City Council tomorrow will be the approval of an “exclusive negotiating agreement” to build a boutique hotel in the Fullerton Transportation Center.

As everyone knows, Downtown Fullerton needs three things to be more successful:

  1. Less Parking
  2. More alcohol
  3. More places to have sex

Well, here we go! A triple threat project that eliminates 200 parking spaces, probably includes at least one bar, and will be within stumbling distance for hundreds of coeds each weekend who find the alley behind Zings too piss soaked to properly canoodle.

No word if the proposed Love Shack will have vibrating mattresses, but being immediately adjacent to  one of the busiest freight rail corridors in the country ought to provide plenty of stimulation.

We think the BNSF 2:30AM heading out to Albuquerque will be particularly popular with those who are DTF.

Choo-Choo. All aboard!

City Refuses to Learn from Mistakes

On Tuesday our City Manager, Ken Domer, wants Council to award Acting Chief Dunn with an Interim Chief gig. With this new gig comes a new contract as the new council decides who to put in the role “permanently”. Like all things in government there are already some serious questions in how this is playing out legally. Let’s see if you can spot an obvious problem in the contract.

Ok, I’ll give you a hint (emphasis added):

SECTION 12 – CONFIDENTIALITY AND NON-DISPARAGEMENT
Except as otherwise required by law, in the event the City terminates Employee with or without cause, City and Employee agree that no member of the City Council, the city management staff, nor Employee shall make any written, oral, or electronic statement to any member of the public, the press, or any City employee concerning Employee’s termination except in the form of a joint press release or statement, which is mutually agreeable to City and Employee. The joint press release or statement shall not contain any text or information that is disparaging to either City or Employee. Either City or Employee may verbally repeat the substance of the joint press release or statement in response to any inquiry.

 

What’s the problem, you ask?

Your right to know how the most senior members of Fullerton’s government behave is being voted away, again, by our City Council on Tuesday. Watch it pass 5-0. Bureaucracy Commandment #3: Protect thyself and thy brethren. I’m actually a little surprised this contract wasn’t buried in the Consent Calendar in the hopes nobody would even notice.

Take a look at Fullerton’s track record. Our previous city manager and 2 of our last 3 Police Chiefs resigned in disgrace — City Manager Felz hit a tree allegedly driving drunk, Chief Sellers went on medical leave in the midst of the Kelly Thomas scandal and most recently Chief Hendricks left after allegedly battering an EMT.

With contracts like this one, you have no right to know about any of it.  That of course means you have no right to pressure City Council to do anything about it, either.

See the sickness?

When Hendricks resigned the city lied by omission and gave you nothing but a puff piece about how awesome he was for Fullerton. When I called the City’s Public Information Officer I was told, laughably, that Hendrick’s alleged battery for which he went on admin leave was unrelated to his resignation.

This contract is written so poorly that Dunn could shoot somebody in the face and BY CONTRACT nobody from the council or city could tell the public, media or other city employees why he was fired.

More to come on this outstanding contract at a later date.  In the mean time, remember, your right to know stops where an employee’s paycheck begins.

DON’T BE SAUR LOSER

IN-N-DANA OUT

T-REX FOLLOW ELECTION RETURNS. MANY ANGRY PEOPLE.  MANY SAD PEOPLE.

ELECTIONS LIKE LIFE.  SOMETIMES WIN, SOMETIMES LOSE.

BE GRATEFUL YOU LONG HARMS CAN STUFF DELICIOUS HAMBURGER INTO YOUR SAD FACE.

To Do #1: Council Vacancy Appointment

Editor’s Note: We, like you, are a little tired of last minute complex topics tossed into an agenda dripping with staff’s obfuscation and drowned in legalese. We’ve recruited a former policy aide to provide FFFF readers with some perspective on current and emerging issues to be placed before the Fullerton City Council over the course of the next year.  Our retired insider published a list of 100 topics for discussion yesterday.

 This is the first post in a series to talk about policy impacting our budget and our lives.  Say what you’d like about FFFF’s motives, but if we don’t break this stuff down to talk about it, who will?

With that, here’s The Fullerton Bagman with Council’s first item to resolve next year.

Hello Fullertonians:

I’ve been involved in government for a long time. Sometimes it’s a great experience, sometimes it’s not. For those of you familiar with this blog’s coverage of The Seven Walls of Government, this is what we’ll be confronting directly.

I don’t expect anyone in Fullerton to actually scale all seven walls and affect change, but I will equip you with a bare minimum necessary to side-step staff reports and speak to the issue at hand.  Council may still ignore you, but at least you won’t be dependent upon drinking from their tainted well to quench the crushing thirst of ignorance.

Going forward, I and other members of the FFFF staff will provide you with a standardized one or two page summary of a critical issue facing Fullerton, free of bureaucratic interference and gobbledygook.

Issue #1: Council Vacancy Appointment

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

As a result of Jesus Silva winning election as District 3’s elected representative, he must vacate his current at-large elected seat. This results in four elected officials on a body with five seats.

All decisions require a majority vote (2 of 3, 3 of 4, or 3 of 5) of Council, with some votes requiring three votes specifically. With an empty seat on Council, some issues may not get resolved because of a 2-2 split or a 2-1 split in the case of a recusal for items requiring three votes.

In the case of a split, by law, the Council’s official action is to take no action.

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Council’s 2019 To-Do List

The transition to District elections is proceeding smoothly.

Well, the election is over. Silva won, Sebourn lost.  Zahra won in District 5. The circle of political life turns once more as light falls on a new day in Fullerton.

Now that all the sign waiving, sign stealing, and empty-promise making is done, let’s take a look at the problems these poor fellows signed up to solve.

We’ve listed 100 discussion items in 27 different categories that likely need to be addressed in the next year. Feel free to add your own.

Here’s hoping Fullerton voters elected people who are intelligent, responsible, and accountable.

  1. Council Vacancy Appointment/Special Election
  2. Major Organizational Change at the Police Department
    • Hiring a New Police Chief
    • Hiring Two New Police Captains
  3. Police Department Reputation and Morale Management
    • ex-Sargent Corbett Criminal Trial (on duty)
    • ex-Chief Hendricks Criminal Trial (not on duty)
    • Captain Oliveras Criminal Trial (not on duty)
    • ex-officers Cicinelli and Wolfe Civil Trial (on duty)
    • Open and Anticipated Civil Trials
    • Citizen Oversight of Police Department
  4. Infrastructure Management
    • Roads and Bridges, $100,000,000 shortfall
    • Water Lines
    • Impact of HSR and Transportation Center
  5. Water Rate Hike
  6. Hunt Library Sale/Long Range Plan
  7. Property Rezoning/Higher Density Development
    • Developer Fee Reorganization
    • Form Based Code (Downtown Core and Corridors-Lite)
    • Kimberly Clark Sale/Re-purpose
  8. New Permanent Fire Chief
  9. Labor Negotiations
  10. Lawsuits Not Related to The Police Department
    • City Liability
      • Traffic Accidents (this is most of them)
      • Public Injury (parks, sidewalks, etc.)
      • Employment/Discrimination (we’ve only heard rumors)
    • Land Use/Consent Decree/Compliance
  11. Downtown Gameplan
    • Paid Parking
    • Business Improvement District (BID)
    • Conditional Use Permit (CUP) / Administrative Restaurant Use Permit (ARUP) revisions
    • Code Enforcement
  12. West Coyote Hills
  13. City Attorney Rebid
  14. City Wide Overnight Parking
  15. FJC Football Stadium
  16. CSUF “Collegetown” Expansion
  17. Homelessness
    • Fullerton Shelter
    • Anti-Camping Code Enforcement
    • Church-Run-Shelter Code Revisions
    • County-Wide Permanent Supportive Housing Project
  18. The Budget
    • Sales Tax
    • Parcel Tax
    • Utility Tax
    • Outsourcing
      • Police
        • Jail
        • Patrol
        • Dispatch
        • Other Services (Parking, etc.)
      • Fire
        • North County JPA
        • County Fire
        • Paramedic/Ambulance Contract
      • Library
        • County
        • Private
      • Parks
        • Public-Private Partnership
        • Sale/Joint Use Agreements (i.e. School District)
      • Public Works
      • Water Utility
        • Sale to Private Ownership
        • Contract for management
    • CALPERS Participation
    • Long Term Staffing Plan
  19. Brea Dam Lease
  20. Street Cars
    • Harbor to Disneyland
    • Transportation Center to CSUF
  21. Marijuana
    • Illegal Dispensary Closures
    • Continuing Code Enforcement
    • Municipal Code Revisions to Allow Use
  22. Water and Drought Management
    • OCWD Participation
      • North Basin Plume
      • Poseidon
      • Additional aquifer extraction/recharge
    • MWD Participation
      • Twin Tunnels Participation
      • Long Term Water Rate Purchases
      • Colorado River Curtailment
  23. Hillcrest Park Phase 2 and 3
  24. Address Chronic Leak Culture
  25. Property Sales/Use
    • Basque Yard
    • Others
    • Redevelopment Wrap Up
  26. Fox Theater Parking Structure
    • Periphery Property Sale/Use
    • Parking Structure Building and Funding
  27. Mills Act