Yes, Friends, the Union Pacific Park (also known in Fullerton as the Poison Park) the project cynically foisted on the residents of the Truslow Avenue neighborhood by City Hall, is still in the news.
Some of our City Council wants you to overlook the 20-year history of dangerous incompetence, indifference and insulting condescension this dead patch of land symbolizes. Instead they want to pretend to give a damn about the residents and their wants and needs; and they want us to believe they are sincere.
In the latest go-round 5th District Councilman Ahmad Zahra agendized, with the concurrence of 3rd District Councilman Jesus Silva, the topic of holding community meetings to discuss with la communidad what to do about the park. This was very strange, very illogical and very disingenuous of these two twits, given the fact that the two of them only a couple of months ago tried to cram a gated private events center, masquerading as an aquaponics farm on the site. These two worthy gentlemen never bothered asking anybody about the impact of this idea from noise to parking issues on Truslow, so it’s reasonable to conclude that Zahra and Quirk-Silva don’t give a shit about the people in the neighborhood and were just playing games.
1st District Councilman Fred Jung interceded, suggesting that an ad hoc committee be set up to talk about ideas for the park; and this is a blessing. The idea of letting parks staff, the same incompetent boobs who have made an embarrassing mess out of this site, guide sham meetings is appalling. The rest of the Council with the predictable exception of the hypocritical Zahra, agreed to Jung’s motion.
Well, here’s some advice to this committee, when, and if it is actually appointed and meets: let somebody who has real ideas and who can put this site into the larger context of surrounding industrial land take a swing at this disaster zone. Fullerton Parks staff will only condemn the Poison Park to another 20 years of abandonment and decay.
Back on September 20, 2020 Fullerton 5th District Councilman Ahmad Zahra was arrested by his own cops. Subsequently, the DA, Todd Spitzer, charged Zahra with battery and vandalism.
This spring it seems that all traces of the case vanished into the ether. At a council meeting, Zahra said the charges were dropped by Spitzer and that he was exonerated, and that he and his mother were themselves somehow victimized. Then a story from a DA employee leaked; and the tale was not one of exoneration, but of a guilty plea, some community service and a petition by Zahra and accepted by the court, to expunge the record of his malfeasance completely.
Enter “Monica F.” Or to be precise, re-enter.
This woman was named in the original charges of both the battery and vandalism ascribed to Zahra. Zahra claimed at the council meeting he had never met this person who showed up at his mother’s abode scaring the poor woman. And that’s it, a half story that may contain some elements accuracy, but that may also be irrelevant to the charges, per se.
The other day FFFF noticed that somebody had anonymously requested records relating to Zahra and a specific address on Foxborough Place on 9/2/20. The City responded with the precise language they used to blow off a FFFF PRA request on the same case. So the City acknowledges that the address in question is related to the charges filed by the DA. Oops.
Sure enough, a quick internet search revealed the house on Foxborough Place as the home of the Farias family, one of whom is named Monica. A coincidence? Well, maybe, but that would be pretty hard to invest any credulity in at all.
What is Monica F’s relationship to Zahra and/or his former husband? Who knows? But when the cops on are called and somebody is charged with crimes by the District Attorney, everybody has embarked on a serious path. And the public has the right to know what the hell is going on, especially when that somebody charged with crimes is an elected representative of the people.
While scanning the City of Fullerton public records requests the other day, I came across this interesting tidbit, requester, not yet known:
And the fact that this particular request is related to our bad boy’s bad day is reflected in the City’s perfunctory response:
2671 Foxborough Place. Why is this address of significance to the events of that day? Is this house the home of any of the principals in the Zahra battery and vandalism case? I don’t know for sure, but somebody thinks it’s relevant, and of course it’s all a big secret as far as our city government is concerned.
The Strange Case of Ahmad Zahra’s Disappearing Case is starting to come into focus. Zahra, the arrogant and pontificating council representative from District 5 says he has been exonerated by the justice system for charges of battery and vandalism levelled by DA Todd Spizter. But another, well-placed source claims there was no exoneration; that Zahra pled guilty, did some sort of community service and that the Court was petitioned to seal the case and wipe the slate clean.
If you listened to Zahra’s victimized account of events at the City Council meeting a couple weeks ago you would have heard his side of the original event. He claimed that the people involved – his ex-husband and a female – showed up where he was living with mom; that they were behaving in such as way as to frightened his dear mother; that she then called him: that when he arrived the cops (called by who knows who) were already there; that he knew nothing of the woman at the scene, etc.
Well this tale could be true. And it could also be a web of lies meant to make the Zahras, mere et fils, look like the victims. Since the case is sealed up like a pharaoh’s tomb, we are forced to consider the alternative scenarios with their likely stark difference in facts.
Fortunately there is one person who can clear this matter up in a heartbeat. And that’s Zahra himself. Whatever happened, he can produce correspondence from justice officialdom informing him that the case is being dropped because…whatever. Personally I think that is highly unlikely to happen since it must have been Zahra himself who petitioned the court to wrap up the case like a mummy, indicating that he was more interested in hiding the facts than in advertising his innocence.
If Mr. Zahra thinks he can ride this out, he is mistaken. His demeanor on the council has not made him any friends and pretty soon this issue is bound to get traction despite local media indifference to such things.
For months the legal jeopardy of 5th District Councilman Ahmad Zahra was a matter of speculation among Fullerton council-watchers. Zahra of course, had been arrested by his own cops and charged with battery and vandalism by the District Attorney Todd Spitzer – stemming from a September 2020 incident. Then, recently, the case miraculously disappeared from the public record. But now a source within the DAs office suggests Zahra’s recitation of these events is a self-serving tissue of lies.
Just a couple of weeks ago folks watching the City Council meeting were treated to fine example of victimology on display when Zahra declaimed the wrongs committed against him by false testimony; his declaration that he had been exonerated; his claim that he had somehow fallen prey to an antiquated justice system; that it was actually he and his poor, frightened mom who were the victims!
Here’s what Zahra subsequently said to the intrepid reporter for the Fullerton Observer, doubling down on his tale: “I was exonerated, but of course some have since tried to politicize this very unfortunate family matter. My case was clear-cut, but I feel for those with less clarity in their cases, that end up being hurt, in what is sometimes a difficult justice system to navigate.” A
But was any of that even true?
The informed source in the DAs office has completely contradicted Zahra’s story. In the revised version of the tale, Zahra pled guilty, did community service, and because his record was clean, the case was closed and expunged.
Now I don’t know about you, but to me this second account actually has the ring of truth about it. We probably won’t find out the truth now that the case is gone like the wind, but one thing is certain – this episode is going to hang around Zahra’s neck like an albatross in next year’s election.
As the friends already know, Last fall Fullerton Councilman Ahmad Zahra was arrested by his own cops because of some fracas he got himself involved in. He was charged by the DA with battery and vandalism.
Hmm. Of course justice never quite runs the same course for elected folks as it does for the rest of us and we are left wondering what went on the scenes to make this record simply vanish. Was it a political deal? DA Todd Spitzer and his underling Shawn Nelson have never been known for their ethical behavior. On the other hand it may well be that the other people involved in this set-to have been persuaded that they wouldn’t make very good witnesses.
Tomorrow the City Council is going to vote on wether or not a business can help kids with developmental issues here in Fullerton after the Planning Commission voted to deny it.
The story is basically this;
Temple Beth Tikvah here in Fullerton has been up on Acacia for generations – since at least 1971. For quite some time they sub-leased to a Unitarian Church and nobody cared at all about it. There was plenty of traffic and a lot of religious activity and the neighbors never said a thing.
Skip ahead to last year or so and that Unitarian Church outgrew the Temple’s property and moved locations and the Temple then leased part of the property to a company called Sage Behavior Services. In the brief window where the Church was moving out and Sage was moving in – allegedly there was an increase in traffic and a neighbor got big mad about it and started to complain.
She complained and complained and complained. Code Enforcement came to the property about 10 times and was never able to verify her complaints but not one to be denied, she kept on complaining and is complaining to this day.
The issue finally made to the Planning Department and because zoning is stupid the City told TVT that they needed to have an amendment to their Conditional Use Permit to allow Sage to operate in their residentially zoned space despite the work they do being allowed by the code. The Planning Department analyzed the business Sage was running and following the municipal code they determined that Sage was *most like* a school that helps developmentally challenged kids.
This is when the Planning Commission got involved and got stupid. (more…)
Now that the City of Fullerton’s retaliatory lawsuit against FFFF bloggers Joshua Ferguson and David Curlee has finally done its inevitable Zeppelin Hindenburg act, some folks who promoted and nurtured the despicable assault on freedom are already trying to rewrite their participation.
Kimberly Barlow, Esquiress of the lamentable law firm of Jones, Mayer and Gecko is saying she’s just “happy the City got its documents back” another disingenuous swipe at Ferguson and Curlee who never deprived Barlow of anything; her “happiness” is costing us $750,000, at least , but she forgot to tell the reporter this inconvenient fact.
Then there’s Sharon Kennedy, the (former, supposedly) proprietor of the Fullerton Observer. In a comment string at their blog, Kennedy is now denying her involvement defaming our bloggers and pretending that her involvement was strictly objective. Unfortunately for her, the facts suggesst a slimy collaboration with the City and Jones, Mayer and Gecko. Her “expert” who claimed that she hired him, produced an opinion that was a joint statement to the Observer and an official Declaration to the Court in the case. How that happened and who, if anybody remunerated this self-styled expert is unknown – so far, but it looks suspicious as all Hell. Commenters are questioning Kennedy, but she isn’t answering. And naturally, the expert conveniently backed up the long-since debunked statement of the City’s own “expert.”
Kennedy can claim innocence all she wants, but her track record of venom toward this blog and really toward anybody else whose honesty threatens the well-being of government employees is well-known, and the malice might be pretty easy to prove in court if anybody cared to hold her accountable.
Well, the rats can scurry off the SS Jones, Mayer and Gecko as quick as their little legs will hurry them along. But the facts are incontrovertible and somebody, and soon, is going to have to pay the proverbial piper – just like the taxpayers are going to have to pay for the horrible and intentional malice of City Hall and its lawyers.
Yesterday, in a special meeting, the City of Fullerton officially bowed to the inevitable and settled its retaliatory lawsuit against Joshua Ferguson, David Curlee, and this blog. The vote was 3-2 with Bruce Whitaker, Nick Dunlap and Fred Jung voting to end the bloodletting. Jesus Quirk Silva and Ahmad Zahra, who started the lawsuit and have stubbornly kept it alive, voted no. Whether they were laboring under the sunk cost fallacy or if it was simply a childish aversion to admitting their own culpability in the mess, will never be known.
It doesn’t happen very often that honest citizens can prevail against their government. In fact it almost never happens – a tribute to the tenacity of the courageous FFFF bloggers and their attorney, Kelly Aviles.
After a year and a half of lies, defamation, obstruction, incompetence, buffoonery, temporizing, more lying and running up huge legal bills the City has given up. Here are the main points:
$60,000 in compensatory damages to Ferguson and Curlee;
A public statement absolving Ferguson and Curlee of any culpability;
Legal fees for Kelly Aviles amounting to $230,000.
The winners here are justice (deliberately stalled, to be sure) and journalistic freedom against prior restraint; and, of course, any people who want to be able to get information that their own government is legally obligated to provide.
The losers, once again, are the taxpayers of Fullerton who are on the hook for $350,000 plus how ever much the legal team of Jones and Mayer have racked up – a sum estimated to be approaching $500,000.
Well, Friends, you can add as well as I can. At least three quarters of a million bucks to pursue this hare-brained retaliation against bloggers whose only desire was to get information from their own city government.
And so it is particularly amusing to consider the stammering, babbling statement from Jesus Quirk Silva that he was voting against the settlement because of his “fiduciary responsibility” to the people of Fullerton.
Too bad the other two vindictive and profligate architects of this disaster have conveniently exited from our political stage: Jan Flory has resubmerged herself into whatever nasty swamp will have her; and our former influence peddling Mayor-for-hire, Jennifer Fitzgerald, is fleeing the state entirely, having feasted on the Fullerton carcass until there was no more meat on the bones.
You have to hand it to government bureaucracies. They never give up on stupid ideas. But why should they? With all the time in world, huge amounts of money given to them by others, and with zero accountability, what is there for them to lose?
Specifically, I am talking about an item on the May 4th Agenda, dutifully approved by the City Council, to take $1.8 million in State grant money and $330,000 in Fullerton park money to design and build what they are pleased to call The Union Pacific Trail, Phase II.
Of course we all know that Phase I was a total waste of money – a weird “equestrian trail” (complete with pony railing) that has never seen a horse, that was attached to the poisoned and fenced off UP Park that dies a merciful death at Highland Avenue.
Our crack Deputy Parks Director, some person named Alice Loya pitched the item to a less than bedazzled Council, making sure to point out that the area was disadvantaged, an irony certainly lost on City bureaucrats whose job it has been to un-disadvantage this neighborhood over the past 50 years.
Let me share a paragraph from the staff report, that, as usual, is so full of lies to rationalize the scheme that one wonders if the City staff would ever pursue this nonsense if they had to use City funds to pay for it:
The proposed project will transform an existing 50 to 80 foot wide, blighted corridor into a greenbelt trail providing alternate transportation, linking the Transportation Center and several parks, including Independence Park at its terminus. This proposed trail aligns with the Hunt Branch Library to the west, providing potential future linkages. The total cost of the project is estimated at $2.1 million.
Lie Number One: Alternative transportation? What the Hell does that even mean? Walking?
Lie Number Two: the trail would not link anything to the Transportation Center since it would terminate at a narrow sidewalk behind the Ice House that includes a 90 degree turn. And of course just a week ago, or so, our very same staff tried to sneak through an idiot scheme to cut off the UP right-of-way completely with their private event center on the Poisoned Park site.
Lie Number Three: the proposed extension does not link “several” parks. It would indeed terminate at the Independence Park parking lot but the only other “park” it would touch is the fenced off Poisoned Park that nobody even wants.
Almost as good as a lie Number Four: the proposed trail would be virtually impossible to link to the “aligned” Hunt Branch Library, nearly a mile away, because gosh darn it, the rail siding is still being used by…the railroad. But what the Hell let’s throw out the chimera of “connectivity” to fool the dopes on the City Council, right? It’s always worked just fine in the past.
Almost as good as a lie Number Five: when has the City ever built anything on time and on budget? That proposed cost would sky rocket, of course, as Fullerton’s army of staff, consultants, and design professionals hump the “greenbelt” into submission. Remember the wooden steps at Hillcrest Park and the elevator-from-Hell at the Depot?
But what wasn’t said was much more important than the propaganda ink spilled to promote this idiocy:nobody will use this “trail” since it passes through sketchy industrial zoned property, completely empty at night, and would remain, just like it is now, an attractive nuisance that the taxpayers will be on the hook to maintain out of the General Fund.
On the bright side, members of the new Council commonsense majority pointed out that Staff was already devising a top-secret Specific Plan for the area, and gee, wouldn’t it make sense not to piecemeal things like Planning Director Matt Foulkes tried to do on the ill-fated aquaponic farm/event center? They did treat the item as still very provisional, but FFFF knows better – we know that government money once available, will be spent, most likely on something nobody outside City Hall wants.
Naturally, Councilman-in-search-of-camera-opportunity, Ahmad Zahra scrounged up some of his usual misguided acolytes to beat the drum for this utter waste of $2.1 million bucks. After all, this project would be mostly paid for with “free money” of the sort “progressives” love to accept, then waste. We need look no further than the $1,000000 Core and Corridors Specific Plan, paid for by the State Sustainability Commission, that was quietly abandoned, never to see the light of day. And ironically, the old UP Right of Way passes right through the middle of two of the C&C Specific Plan Areas, suggesting to me, at lest, that the City is not, and never has been interested in the well-being of the part of Fullerton accept as something to play with.