We’ve made it onto the Voice of OC again. The newest story [HERE] revolves around a fundamental problem with government secrecy – you never know who’s telling the truth after something nefarious happens.
According to City Attorney The Other Dick Jones™, the City Council voted in closed session back on 17 September to sue us for allegedly clicking links.
Council Member Bruce Whitaker, mind you, claims that no such vote happened back in September.
Only one of them can be telling the truth and with history as our guide we know where to place our bets.
To bolster their claims of a vote in September the City “cured” their illegal Brown Act violation two weeks ago on 05 November by allegedly re-voting to sue us 4-1 (Whitaker dissenting). But did they ever actually vote back in September or is that just a ruse being cooked up to make their case against us look less retaliatory?
For every problem that isn’t a nail, there’s a moron ready to swing a hammer.
20 Days ago FFFF got another threatening letter from the City that said if we don’t stop reporting news and telling the public the truth about what’s actually happening in their town, apparently there will be consequences.
Fullerton’s City Council last Tuesday, as expected, voted to change the rules governing how bars operate in the city in order to facilitate having more bars and making them more profitable.
The crux of the change is that it was too hard for staff to do their jobs, and for the Police Chief to stop rubber stamping permits, so the city needed to change the rules. This time they mean to enforce them unlike the last decade+ they promise… kind of… well not really.
Not one council member got an answer of who was in violation of what rules they were changing and why it was so hard for community development, code enforcement and the police to use a checklist to sort it out and in fact Ted White’s answers on how Conditional Use Permits work negated his own arguments of the Title 15 change. But again, council was too inept and/or lazy to follow the logic of the change or to ask any real questions per the norm.
The council ALSO voted to launch a pilot program, which we all know will be permanent, for paid parking in downtown. This is a data driven program tracking who comes and goes how often and how long they stay based on license plate data. As we heard at the meeting the whole point was data, data, data and more data. You will be tracked and your data will likely be sold. It’s so data driven that the vendor, staff and council want you to punch in where you park even when you don’t have to pay for parking – just because you WANT to be tracked.
When council asked who owned the servers the vendor claimed it was a “cloud based server” and that’s where the questions stopped. We don’t know what data is kept, where it is kept, which servers are used or who our travel data is being sold to – all because council couldn’t be bothered to ask.
It was a pathetic meeting full of incompetence, malfeasance and laughable gaffs. The Other Dick Jones™ got torn into by both Fitzgerald and Zahra for how they can/can’t handle an agenda item and when the city clerk offered helpful info the council just blanker her. It was probably the worst example of governing I’ve seen in years.
Individually the council members didn’t do themselves any favors in the integrity or intelligence departments. (more…)
Back in December, in his first at-bat, Ahmad Zahra surprised me by speaking of the Constitution and transparency whilst simultaneously voting against FitzSilva in their attempt to appointJan Flory to Council. Zahra was on fire with gems such as:
“My decision is going to be contingent upon us making sure that the appointment process is fair and open and transparent. So until we can make that decision, I don’t see how we should take votes away from people.
“The question is, is there a fairer and open and more transparent process than voting itself? Can we come up with that? Can we come up with something better than what the Constitution come up with? That is my question for the council. I’m leaving my decision until I hear other council members.”
Tonight we get to find out if Zahra is a man of principle standing by his own talking points at the last meeting or if that was all simply a clever flex to show who has the real authority on this issue in an effort to get his preferred pick onto council.
For those new to the story here’s the gist as I understand it —
Jesus Silva wanted incumbency in 2022 and thus opted to run for the District 3 seat on council.
Council then chose to change the law ON ELECTION DAY in the case Silva beat Sebourn in order to limit the options for voters.
Silva took home the ring on election day and in winning he vacated his at-large seat which runs until 2020.
Then in December the dynamic duo of Jennifer Fitzgerald and Jesus Silva testily complained that they needed Ahmad to go along to get along in order for them to get what they wanted. Zahra didn’t go along which brings us to today.
Tonight we’ll watch as FitzSilva likely tries to lay it on thick and blame Ahmad for the cost of the election should he choose transparency and an election (as he did back in December). This is posturing bollocks but I’m wondering if he’ll stand firm. Both he and our residents need to know that the fault here lies partially with Silva for running, partially with council for changing the city ordinance, ON ELECTION DAY, to facilitate this choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, but really the fault lies with our City Attorney The Other Dick Jones™ for offering terrible advice and putting us in this situation in the first place. Zahra is blameless here on the issue of cost should he choose openness and transparency by way of a special election.
Prepare for the same shenanigans with FitzSilva promising a fictionally transparent process in this city which is allergic to the very premise of transparency. The same transparency which had Jan Flory meeting with at least 2 (if not 3) current council members and bringing a cabal of people to lobby for her to be appointed without the citizenry any the wiser. THAT type of so-called transparency should be rejected and here’s hoping that Councilman Zahra continues to impress the way he did during at his last at-bat.
Looks like Fullerton will reconsider its options concerning the existing City Council vacancy tomorrow. The current agenda goes into detail concerning the city’s options, including when a Special Election might be held, how much it would cost, and what a plan might look like if the Council were to appoint to fill the vacancy by February 2.
We’ve been trying to keep tabs on who’s playing Fullerton’s version of Game of Throneshere. So far, the only person known to openly campaign for the seat is former councilwoman Jan Flory.
So, which option will it be?
A) An unelected bench warmer who likely has no moral authority to do anything other than break tie votes
B) Taxpayers spending $400,000 to elect an independently wealthy or political action committee dominated Fullertonian who is only running to secure incumbency in District 1, 2, or 4 for another election in 2020?
Don’t you love choices with no downsides?
Find out who wins (someone) and who loses (you) tomorrow, when we play WHEEL. OF. REPLACEMENT CANDIDATES!
I was pleasantly surprised at Fullerton’s City Council meeting last night and that rarely happens. I was surprised because Ahmad Zahra stood his ground on the principle of Democracy being the preferred way to settle our current council vacancy caused by Jesus Silva. He withstood Fitzgerald’s venom laced claws and boxed Silva in so much that Silva had to contradict himself by claiming to believe voting is important except, you know, with regards to, uh, the vacancy he created in playing musical chairs.
I had heard going into the meeting that Jan Flory had lobbied 2 if not 3 of the current council members to be appointed to the vacant seat. I had also heard and believed that Fitzgerald and Silva were going to push for an appointment process to get the Flory ball in motion. I also knew, just from historical context, that Whitaker would vote no on that because he and Flory are opposites on most items and he gains nothing by supporting her. I did not know how Zahra would act or vote despite allegedly meeting with and being lobbied by Flory. Owing to Zahra’s campaign and his coziness to people I believe to be ethically challenged I didn’t hold out much hope and assumed he might go along to get along.
Then Zahra showed up to play ball and stomped on my assumptions. (more…)
Rumor has it that former councilwoman Jan Flory is lobbying to become the appointee to our City Council tonight and has already secured both Jennifer Fitzgerald and Jesus Silva’s votes. This is the same Jan Flory who voted, with Jennifer Fitzgerald and Doug Chaffee, on multiple unbalanced budgets and who helped lead us into our structuraldeficit. The same Jan Flory who puts City Staff above the very citizens they’re supposed to work for and represent.
Want to know why our roads suck so bad? Blame Jan Flory and her cohorts who think bureaucracy is the true heart of Fullerton. Want to know why Downtown is such a train-wreck? Yeaup. Same cabal of incompetence.
If the council votes to appoint somebody the voting members will own every vote put forward by the new council member. In effect, if they vote for somebody like Jan Flory, who helped sink our budget for years, they will be responsible for both their own votes on the budget (and similar items) as well as hers.
Appointing somebody is bad. Letting Jesus Silva vote on an appointment to the very seat he himself vacated is worse. Having council vote to give themselves the bulletproof majority needed to walk all over the people of Fullerton is downright despicable.
The people should really have a say who in represents them and voting to appoint somebody, especially somebody who will raise our taxes, is the essence of being anti-democratic. Our republic was literally founded against the premise of taxation without representation.
The agenda is online (HERE) for next Tuesday’s council meeting and the one major item of note, item #3, is the possible appointment of a council member to fill out the remainder of Jesus Silva’s abandoned at-large seat.
Item 3 States:
3. On December 4, 2018, Council Member Silva was sworn in as the District 3 City Council Member. This created a mid-term vacancy in Council Member Silva’s prior at-large City Council seat which expires in December 2020 and requires the City Council to consider the legally available alternatives for filling the vacancy.
Recommendation by the City Clerk’s Office:
Appoint a qualified individual to the fill the vacancy through the remainder of the term, either through direct appointment or following a process for applications and / or interviews and / or other steps as determined by City Council.
Direct Staff to prepare resolutions to call a special election to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term for consideration at the next City Council meeting.
Continue discussion to the January 15, 2019 City Council meeting.
This agenda item, according to City Manager Domer, was written intentionally vaguely so that council can do whatever they want on Tuesday. If they want to just appoint somebody on Tuesday, solidifying the premise that they’ve already been wheeling and dealing behind closed doors, then they can appoint whomever they want. If they want to take a different path, such as an election, they can direct staff to start that process as well.
This item will be somewhat fun to watch because of how it played out up to this point. It only matters because Silva beat Sebourn. As for the ability to appoint a crony to fill out Silva’s seat, that was passed 3-1-1 with 2 (R)s swinging into the Yes column on 16 October 2018 and again 3-1-1 with Fitzgerald ($R), Whitaker (R) and Silva (D) voting for this move on 06 November (election day) 2018.
If another liberal (D) ends up on council after Tuesday, the (R)s in Fullerton will have nobody to blame but their own council majority. A council majority that this vote could cost them.
UPDATED: Corrected the 06 November vote. A previous version claimed it was 5-0 when it was the same 3-1-1 as the 16 Oct meeting.
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.
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.
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.
*it’s possible that Whitaker or Sebourn were flipped but they had stronger arguments than Silva and are more ideologically opposed to cronyism.