Led Down The Garden Path; Fullerton on Track For More Redevelopment

Last night we sat through the horrendous hearing on Redevelopment expansion. It was really a pretty painful thing to have to endure.

fingernails2

City staff and their consultant put on a performance that can only be termed embarrassing. To describe it any farther would do an injury to my synapses, and so I’ll pass. Their presentation was eviscerated by Councilman Shawn Nelson and several speakers from the public – notably former Councilman Conrad Dewitte, former Congressman Bill Dannemeyer, GOP Central Committe member Bruce Whitaker; and perhaps the best of all, Jane Reifer . We note that our lawyer Bob Ferguson showed up too. We can smell a lawsuit coming.

The case boils down to this: you can’t create a Redevelopment project just because you need the money. It’s been done for years, but judges are finally starting to uphold the law. About time.

One of the words that the cheerleaders of the expansion kept using was “tool” and this sure was appropriate since city staff  and the Jones/Bankhead team dredged up a number of tools to come to the meeting and add moral support.

They're all so useful
They're all so useful

There was Theresa Harvey of the Chamber of Commerce who mumbled and stumbled her way through a statement clearly not written by her; a character by the name of Rick (or Dick – can’t remember) Price representing an outfit that goes by the hilarious name “Fullerton Positive” and wears smiley face buttons on their lapels; John Phelps – one of the biggest welfare recipients in Fullerton’s Redevelopment history ; and former councilman Peter Godfrey – who could only be seen from behind. It was nice to see Peter again, if only his backside, to remind us of his vacuous tenure on the council and recall that he was one Linda Lequire whip crack away from voting to keep the obnoxious Utility Tax.

get back in line little man..
get back in line little man..

As expected Bankhead and Jones were shilling hard throughout the hearing, Jones giving one of his brilliantly cuckoo rants complete with crazy gesticulations.

I can keep this up all night...
Once you wind me up and set me down there's no telling where I'll go...

Since Pam Keller recused herself, Sharon Quirk became the necessary third vote and she kept noncommittal, sensing no doubt the political pitfalls of either position. She asked a lot of questions that seemed rehearsed with staff, and acted like she wanted more information from the lame consultant. We have to question her sincerity since she’s already had plenty of time to lay out the ground rules before last night – the proverbial 11th hour. And so we got the strong sense of a kabuki performance. The simple fact is that Quirk could have killed the deal last night. The fact that she permitted the monster to live indicates she will be going for this when it comes back on June 18th.

Villagers, get your pitchforks ready
Villagers, get your pitchforks ready

Don Bankhead in 2010?

 

Crown is optional

Don Bankhead has been on the Fullerton City Council so long many say his tenure precedes the discovery of dirt.

Nope. Don's been here longer...
Nope. Don's been here longer...

Well, actually, Bankhead clambered up on to the Fullerton Council dais in 1988, and except for a six-week hiatus between his Recall and his re-seating in December 1994, he has been ensconced there ever since.

Man, talk about adhesion
Man, talk about adhesion

Since we have previously promoted a 12 year limit on councilmembers we naturally feel it’s time for Bankhead to call it a wrap.  He is up for re-election in 2010 and we sincerely hope he decides that he has done enough for Fullerton.

We are having trouble recalling a single instance when Bankhead hasn’t schlepped for the city staff in the past 16 years – from the unnecessary Utility Tax, the SRO debacle, and the Basque Yard catastrophe through the horrible giveaways to “the Pinnacle,” “City Pointe” (why do these people so often stick an e on the end of their monstrosities?) , “Amerige Court” and the soon-to-be-renamed “Jefferson Commons.” He cheerfully went along with the sidewalk grab by the Florentine Family to protect city staff and even approved a retroactive pension spike for the cops. Lately Bankhead has been rah-rahing for more Redevelopment, even going so far as to sign a staff essay to the Observer in defense of Redevelopment expansion.

Take your pick
Take your pick. They all say "AYE"

Don’s recent embarrassing shilling for an absurd railway museum suggests that maybe it’s time for Bankhead to lay down his gavel and explore the exciting world of model trains in his basement.

toy trains can be very educational
Toy trains can be very educational

The Great Redevelopment Showdown; What Will Sharon Quirk Do?

On May 5th, the Fullerton City Council will once again take up the matter of a vast new Redevelopment land grab in Fullerton. The bureaucrats in City Hall want to appropriate all the property tax that they can by throwing the Redevelopment net over a huge swath of the City. In order to do so they must find “blight” and they must be able to prove it. So far they haven’t. They never will.

Well, that's a bit over-dramatic
Well, that's a bit over-dramatic, don't you think?

What does “redevelopment” mean in practical terms? It means the diversion of property taxes from other government agencies; it means the power of eminent domain over law-abiding property owners; it means more massive developments by favored developers; it means more design mediocrity – or worse.

Blight replaces blight...
Blight replaces blight - Redevelopment style...

Devoted Friends of Fullerton, over the past few weeks we have favored you with a litany of loose accountability and lax responsibilty exhibited by Fullerton’s Redevelopment Agency over the years. These sad stories have detailed incompetence, government overreach, bureaucratic usurpation of sovreign authority, the serial uglification of downtown Fullerton; and worse still, our tales have shown the happy compliance and enthusiatic support of the City Councilmembers for all this misfeasance.

It's not our money!
Jeepers, what a swell party!

Although some of the Redevelopment case studies of mismanagement and boondogglery we have related occurred in the 1990s, nothing has changed. The fact that Don Bankhead and Dick Jones can still cheerlead for this failed – and failing – government entity only goes to show how irresponsible it would be to permit the metastasis of Redevelopment in Fullerton. Harnessed side by side, these two have trudged through the last twelve years approving most of the Redevelopment disasters we have recounted to you Friends.

The main thing is to just keep going...
The main thing is to just keep plodding along, and whatever you do, don't look back...

So now we are at the proverbial eleventh hour; what will happen on Tuesday? Jones and Bankhead(Joneshead?) are on safely board. Nelson is on record as opposing the expansion; Keller seems to be opting out because of a conflict of interest. This leaves Sharon Quirk as the necessary third vote. Although every instinct in her body must be telling her to go with the staff and the good old boys, to just follow on the slip-stream of inertia, we think she may be entertaining some nagging doubts. Even if these doubts are of a political character, we will embrace them as if they were the heartfelt and genuine response to our brilliant posts on the history of Redevelopment disasters in Fullerton.

Ain't Love Grand?
Ain't Love Grand?

On Tuesday we will be watching Quirk. She will have the rare opportunity to do the right thing – to refuse the expansion and to say why: Redevelopment does not work. It is a scam. It invests authority in people who are not qualified to exercise such authority and it engenders both incompetent government action and lack of accountability for those who act ineptly or even illegally.

Quirk’s choice is really pretty easy.

Good Golly. Goodbye Molly. Good Riddance

Put on a happy face.

According to The Fullerton Observer, North Orange County Community College District trustee, Molly McClanahan has pulled the plug on her career as an alleged overseer of the bureaucracy at the local junior colleges. Her seat will remain vacant until the November election, a rather telling sign of how critical the job is.

Knowledge just leads to complicity.

Of course Molly didn’t get on the board via an election like her successor will. No she got this job 25 years ago as a boohoo consolation prize for being recalled from the city council by the people of Fullerton in June, 1994. The cause? A completely unnecessary utility tax that was foisted on us to save the city from imminent destruction. Like her two compatriots, Don Bankhead and Buck Catlin she refused to leave the council until a judge forced the City to hold a replacement election. Same arrogance as ever, yesterday, today, tomorrow.

Lights out…

On the council Good Old Molly never veered from a completely predictable path. Always handy with a bubble-headed cliché, she was a constant supporter of Redevelopment boondoggles and expansions, and any other nonsense put in front of her by “staff.” Her supporters always bragged that she “did her homework.” Yet when it came time to take the test there was never anything that remotely smacked of intelligence or the willingness to vote alone, if necessary.

Likewise, McClanahan’s career trajectory over the past two and a half decades on the JC board has not deviated a bit in its pathetic parabola: cover for bureaucrats, never demand accountability from anyone, just do what you’re told. She was caught being wined and dined by bond salesmen who placed the massive bond on the ballot in 2016 under the phony guise of helping veterans, and that pretty much sums up her legacy.

 

The Larry Bennett Story

If there’s a buck in it, I’ll do it…

There is a newly minted blog called OC Daily, evidently the brain child of GOP slime ball Dave Gilliard, and operated by another small-time hack named Matthew Cunningham. A Friend directed my attention to this post written by Cunningham about our recent Fullerton election that blames Larry Bennetts’ fourth place finish on a divided GOP – basically throwing the rat on Bruce Whitaker (by name) for not supporting Bennett, due lack of supposed conservative purity on the part of the latter. Cunningham also points out Bennett’s broad bi-partisan support as an indication of his strength.

Backed by all the wrong people...
Backed by all the wrong people…

Since this post shared a link to Bennett’s fabulous list of endorses, I will too. Except that I will pick out a few familiar names and add some piquant commentary that may come as surprise to those who hold the opinion that these endorsements have much value outside the aging little clique who signed on. They won’t surprise you, Friends.

 

Bob Huff CA State Senate  bag man for Redevelopment profiteers
Dick  Ackerman State Senate Minority Leader – Retired (Tried to sell OC Fair to pals, tried to carpetbag wife into Assembly; 1994 & 2012 recall opponent)
Jennifer Fitzgerald RINO Mayor – lobbyist for Curt Pringle; refuses to release client list
Jan Flory Mayor Pro Tem, 2012 recall opponent; illegal water tax supporter; supported utility tax in 1993
John (Jack) Bedell, Ph.D. RINO Vice President Orange County Board of Education, recently smeared Chris Norby in BoE election
Molly  Mc Clanahan North OC Community College Vice President (recalled from Fullerton council in 1994 for unnecessary utility tax
Hilda Sugarman RINO Fullerton School Board Vice President,
Janny  Meyer RINO Fullerton School Board Member; wife of previous city manager
Chris Meyer Former Fullerton City Manager (holder of MASSIVE pension; oversaw a city government with zero accountability)
Paul Dudley Former Director of Community Development (responsible for massive over development of Fullerton)
Dick  Ackerman Former Mayor (see above; this scumbag is so repulsive he gets listed TWICE)
Don  Bankhead Former Mayor, only person in the history of California to be recalled Twice from the same office
Buck Catlin Former Mayor, recalled in 1994 for imposition of unnecessary utility tax, father of Janny Meyer
F. Richard Jones Former Mayor, recalled in 2012; rude, bombastic Southern-fried imbecile
Linda LeQuire Former Mayor, repulsive former councilperson resurrected for nasty duty every election cycle
Molly  Mc Clanahan Former Mayor (also listed TWICE did I metioned she was recalled?)
Leland Wilson Former Mayor,(RINO- mitigating factor – got rid of Flory in 2002)
Peter Godfrey Former Mayor Pro Tem, completely useless RINO
Pat Mc Kinley Former Council Member, recalled in 2012 – created the FPD Culture of Corruption “I hired them all”
Jim Blake Former MWD Board, busted partying on the taxpayers dime as the perpetual appointee to the MWD
Rick  Crane Former Planning Commissioner, Redevelopment Agency bonanza beneficiary
Samuel Han Former Planning Commission,  Grace Ministries front man for dad and booze peddler map supporter
Roy  LeQuire Former Planning Commissioner, spouse of Linda LeQuire, above
Wade Richmond Former Planning Commissioner ( Bankhead crony since the year 1492)
Jim  Alexander Local small-time lobbyist
Carol Bankhead Wife of Don Bankhead
Karen Dudley Wife of Paul Dudley, above
Norma  Jones Wife of Richard Joes, above
Tony Florentine  (Guy who buil restaurant addition on public sidewalk; operated illegal dance club)
Pat Florentine Spouse of sidewalk grabber, above
Barbara McKinley Wife of Pat Mckinley, above

 

The future looked bright from his perspective

So, basically Bennett was the front man for Old Fullerton, the same crew that has done everything possible to keep Fullerton in a weird stasis in which they ran the show. These were the people that fought BOTH recalls, tooth and nail; that imposed a utility tax in 1993, that have given away the store to the public employees and upper managers alike; that stole $27,000,000 from us in illegal water taxes, denied it, and never even bothered to say “sorry;” that enabled a Culture of Corruption to pervade the FPD, who denied its existence contrary to all the evidence, and who hid behind their curtains when an innocent man was bludgeoned to death by their own little Praetorian Guard.

And every rancid step of the way  proclaiming with hosannas their dedication to “good government.”

These are the people who now survive in ever-dwindling numbers, their days long past, who see in people like Fitzgerald and Bennett some sort of embryonic form in which their own feeble genetic material is passed on.

Blaming Whitaker for not backing Bennett? How about shame on all of those who did? Electing Republicans qua Republicans, even though they are supported by all of Fullerton’s Old Guard liberals, instead of principled conservatives is how we got into the place we are today – awash in red ink, overdeveloped and with zero accountability in sight.

 

Hail to the Chief!

Fullerton has a new mayor, Bruce Whitaker.

Bruce is the obvious choice to lead Fullerton – he is calm, intelligent and principled. After a year of rambling, southern fried idiocy that was completely MIA, and then another year of pea-brained, pedagogic scolding we are now set for a strong, responsive, and responsible mayor.

We all know that during the past eighteen months Whitaker has stood up for accountability from an out-of-control FPD Culture of Corruption, and justice for Kelly Thomas, a homeless man murdered by members of a police department that subsequently tried to hide the whole mess. I also did a little background check on Bruce’s history of activism in Fullerton. It is impressive.

Whitaker became involved in Fullerton politics in 1993 when the newly minted City Manager, Jim Armstrong tried to strong arm an unnecessary utility tax. Naturally, the antiquated liberals, RINOs and former public employees on the City Council went for it. Bruce and a handful of compadres organized to recall Bankhead, Catlin and McClanahan, and, ultimately get the tax repealed. Fullerton did just fine without it.

After the County bankruptcy in 1994, Whitaker plated an important role in organizing resistance to the usual “break it and tax you” model of government. The big government crowd tried to get a new sales tax to pay for their own disaster. That too, failed.

Subsequently Bruce has had a distinguished record as a appointed office holder in Fullerton, a conservative watch dog, and a determined foe of abusive Redevelopment. He was elected to the Council in 2010.

From what I’ve seen Bruce is the real deal – a man for whom the concept of “freedom friendly” has nothing to do with the Curt Pringle-like crony capitalism that passes for conservatism in Republican Orange County.

Congratulations, Bruce. We’re counting on you to look out for the interests of the citizens and taxpayers over the interests of the public employee unions.

 

 

 

Jan Flory Talks About Sex and Water

Correct. We do not want you to discuss sexy issues.

Okay this post is not about Jan Flory discussing anything remotely “sexy” because the thought of that…well, never mind.

The post is about her latest Facebook scribblings in which she opines on a subject near and dear to the hearts of Fullerton reformers: the illegal 10% tax on your water that the City collected for the past 15 years. $27,000,000 worth.

First I’ll start by stating what you could have already guessed. Jan Flory does not want you to get a refund of the theft. In her world-order the taxpayers are meant to be milked, not refunded.

Her assertion that the collection was “illegal” the past three year is a bad lawyer’s half-truth that amounts to a bald-faced lie, of course. It has been illegal for 15 years, six of them on her watch as a council person. The City has a legal opinion that it is only obligated to refund three-year’s worth of the theft. Not the same thing, is it? Of course Mrs. Flory is desperate to disassociate her name with the tax. Too late. She is on record in the 90s as having known it was wrong and doing it anyway.

Mrs. Flory and her ilk love footling committees, especially when they are selected by ozone brains like Jone, Quirk, McKinley and Bankhead. Even better are the “consultants” selected by staff who give them their marching orders. The “report” cooked up by the water rate consultant was so evidently bogus that it hardly needs to be restated. But I will: their goal was to gin up as much phony cost as possible to keep the bureaucrats greedy little fingers on that 10%. Flory may think this gives her cover, and under the old Culture of Corruption it would have. Not any more.

The 10% was expressly collected  to cover specific City staff costs associated with the water utility. However, it turns out that those departments were already charging directly to the Water Fund. Which is why I am happy to refer to the tax as an illegal theft.

And another point: it’s real easy to say that the illegal tax should be refunded to the Water Fund for capital improvements. That’s convenient, but immoral. The tax that was collected had nothing to do with infrastructure. Nothing. True infrastructure costs should be rolled into an effective rate for water transmission, a correction of years of mismanagement by Mrs. Flory and her cohorts that still needs to be done. Confusing these two issues is simply a convenient way for the perpetrators to hide their crime and their dereliction.

Now, let’s address the issue of the reserve funds, a subject that Mrs. Flory wants people to believe she knows something about. There is no need to empty these accounts to pay refunds. No, indeed. I find it remarkably disingenuous for anybody to assert this, especially given just two of City manger Joe Felz’s most recent “cost saving” measures.

First there was the egregious relocation of former Redevelopment personnel into General Fund departments for which they had no apparent expertise. Most recently the City contracted out your graffiti removal services for $120,000. Yay! Big savings, right? Wrong. The city employees were simply reassigned to other  jobs in the Engineering Department that were vacant. Net cost savings? -$120,000.

The City just missed an opportunity to shave a million bucks off its payroll costs. Of course, my point is that the General Fund is far from depleted.

Finally, in closing, I would submit that Mrs. Flory knows more about witching hours than any of us. However, if she doesn’t like staying up that late every other Tuesday night, then she has no business on a city council. And it’s really too bad that the Council is scheduling special meetings to attend to the people’s business.

Mrs. Flory’s little rubber stamp has been put away and locked up.

Compulsive Liars Lie

The closer you look, the less there is.

They lie about stuff big and small. They just can’t help it. Last year FFFF nailed former councilman Don Bankhead in a bald-faced lie here, when he denied saying Fullerton would be a ghost town without Redevelopment.

Here he is denying to Fullerton Stories that he had pulled papers to run for the city council (after having been recalled just six weeks ago). Possibly Bankhead is unaware that not only does the City Clerk keep track of who has pulled papers, but they list it on their web page.

Of course Bankhead has run so many times that he should know this, unless the teeth are just  worn away and the old gears are spinning aimlessly.

The Three Empty Pez Dispensers

Looking for brains, courage, a heart.

You know, Larry Bennett really could have just left it alone. After dodging a final, humiliating meeting to certify the recall election that drove them out of office, at least one of the Three Bald Tires finally deigned to show up at Fullerton City Hall tomorrow morning to do the deed. It could have been done quietly with as little fanfare as possible. Actually only one of them even needed to show up.

But no.

Bennett seems to think the Three Dead Batteries need a sendoff appropriate to all the wonderful things these men have done for Fullerton. Friday he notified supporters of the Three Tree Stumps that there was to be a special council meeting, and that he hoped everybody would show up to let them know what terrific public servants they have been.

Bennett has likely spent the week-end making phone calls to drum up some folks willing to say kind thing about the Three Pea-less Pods. No doubt some will show up. And others are likely to show up now, too. People who recognize the disastrous misrule of these three characters:

Yes, I was the king.

Don Bankhead: dumb-bell, and self-annointed king of Fullerton, whose somnolent councilmanic career was punctuated with one Redevelopment boondoggle and union give away after another.

Crazy? Check. Rude? Check. Gone? Check.

Dick Jones, the southern fried lunatic and loud-mouthed bully who never came to understand that the authority to give orders doesn’t confer wisdom – or even relevance.

To all appearances it looked a lot like a street gang.

Pat McKinley: protector and apologist for the undeniable Culture of Corruption in the Fullerton Police Department that he himself had created. Those ladies weren’t like you. Aliens. Don’t rush to judgement.

Well, good bye and good riddance.

The sun had been warm and life was good. But all that changed.

And please take Larry Bennett with you. The tide is rising.

 

 

 

The Deal That Didn’t Happen

In Fullerton the mayor succession is just about the only political intrigue we usually have, with the upper tier repuglicans like Ed Royce Jr. and Richard “Dick” Ackerman calling in markers for their previous endorsements, in order to keep some hapless lady Democrat from getting the largely ceremonial job.

Her luck was about to change...

In 2010 the deal went down right on schedule as the Three Tired Retreads voted in install Dozing Don Bankhead as “Mayor Pro Tem” instead of Sharon Quirk-Silva whose turn it was. Well, since the Mayor Pro Tem is traditionally next in line to be Mayor, the proverbial handwriting was on the wall.

And then in 2011 the damnedest thing happened in sleepy Fullerton. All Hell broke loose.

With the murder of Kelly Thomas by members of the FPD, with an entire Culture of Corruption finally exposed, with Redevelopment subsidies to campaign supporters uncovered, with an illegal, hidden 10% tax on water laid bare, with the subsequent Recall of the Three Stripped Gears, things took a turn for the weird.

In November, with the Recall signature campaign gathering steam, it suddenly became a matter of conjecture whether it could be business as usual for the Fullerton Old Guard. We said as much, here. And what we asked about  is exactly what happened as we reported here.

Heh, heh. I've got these three beauties, here. Sure the mileage is a little high, and the tires are bald, but they'll get you where you want to go!

But never let it be said that Tricky Dick Ackerman missed a trick. I’ve got it on excellent authority that the Three Blind Brontosauruses didn’t elect Q-S without first proposing The Deal: in exchange for making her mayor for 2012, she would have to promise to oppose the Recall of The Three Dim Dealmakers!

To her credit Sharon Quirk-Silva saw what we saw: that her outbound colleagues had no choice but to make her mayor and were in no position to try to cut deals with anyone. When you’re out of chips the poker game is over.

And now the recall is qualified, an election will be scheduled for June, and the ‘pugs get to watch Quirk-Silva run for re-election with the title Mayor of Fullerton. Best of all they got nothing out of it.