Fullerton Decision-makers Lied To. So What’s New?

Last year just before Christmas the Fullerton City Council voted 3-1 to approve the idiotic Richman housing project, a staff-driven boondoggle that makes zero planning, housing, or economic sense. We wrote about it here.

We also wrote about the review of the same fiasco-in-the-making by the Planning Commission here, in which we lauded Commissioner Bruce Whitaker for his solitary stance in opposing it. As the YouTube clip shows, Whitaker objected on economic grounds citing the project’s dubious fiscal foundation.

This position was immediately questioned by Commissioner Lansburg who inquired about it of the city attorney, Tom Duarte:

Commissioner Lansburg: is it within the Commission’s purview to look at this from a financial standpoint or are we only to look at this from a planning standpoint?

The city attorney Mr. Duarte answered: In the commissions purview its a land use issue, the city council will look at the financial impact.

Well, the project was passed by a Commission majority, with only Whitaker dissenting.

Subsequently Commission Chairman Dexter Savage addressed the following  communication to staff, seeking clarification of the issue.

And now, Lo and Behold, the issue has been agendized by the City Council; and just look at staff’s response: economic considerations are indeed within the purview of a planning commission in many respects, and are nowhere prohibited.

This response begs  several questions. Why did the city’s attorney misinform the commission? Is he incompetent, or was he motivated to press the approval of a project near and dear to the hearts of the city staff, without any reference to the law.

Why did the staff present like (John Godlewski) not correct him? He countersigned the above memorandum contradicting Duarte, yet was at the meeting and said nothing.

The facts can really only be interpreted in one way. Both the attorney and staff were more interested in the approval of the project, no matter how bad, than in the service of the public interest, or the truth, or the law.

Now the entire matter has been brought to the City Council for its enlightenment as agenda item #16 at the January 19, meeting. But it’s really to late for the Richman project – a Redevelopment/housing staff concocted project that has all the tell-tale signs of a disaster in the making.

And Friends: there you have it.

More Fringe Recognition: Government Small Change Adds Up


Although the worst governmental bureaucratic bungles and miscreance often costs millions, some are relatively inexpensive and can be brushed off (by the perpetrators) as small change. But these small change expenditures have to be paid for by somebody, and that somebody is you and me. And it all adds up. Quickly. Anyhoo, here are the nominees for the 2009 Government Small Change Adds Up Fringie Award.

1. County Deployment of Certified Helment Fitters. We can’t even calculate the wasted time and resources, and it probably isn’t very great. Still the whole thing was such a wonderful example of a decent idea (giving poor bike riding kids safety helmets) that quickly metastasized into a typical farce. We did get to learn, however, that Pam Keller is a certified helmet fitter. Front. Back. Got it?

2. Roscoe’s Famous Nuisance “Sound Study.” This little gem cost the city (us) $16K, and was a part of a plan to let Jack Franklyn keep playing amplified outdoor music. The “study” was performed by BonTerra, a land use opinion for hire, and not a qualified acoustical engineer. It all came to naught when the council finally decided to stop a very long pattern of looking the other way to multiple Municipal Code violations.

3. Red light camera legal fees. As a subset of another category we include this one. over $14,000 to attorney’s Jones and Mayer who lost the red light camera lawsuits. Well, that’s not so very much, is it?

4. Chief McKinley’s Cop Vest. We hear it was developed on lots o’ company time, but the cost to the taxpayers came in another form, too. A $100,000 stimulus grant in Obama Bucks bought a bunch of these vests for McKinleys own cops. Loretta Sanchez took the credit for these vests that cost twice as much as their predecessors. Still, they do have pockets for your penlight and your house keys. Decoder ring accessory optional.

This episode did create a wonderful image that is being considered for a Special Fringie Award. No hints. Use the link!

Jones and Mayer Lose Another One for Fullerton


Our city attorney just lost what is hopefully the final round in Fullerton’s red light camera case. A superior court judge denied the city’s request to re-hear the appeal of People vs. Franco, which was originally lost when the city attorney failed to show up at court last.

If you’ve been following along, you know that the red light cameras were a disaster from the very beginning. Fullerton’s contracted city attorney at Jones and Mayer allowed our city council to sign an obviously illegal contract for red light cameras to be installed throughout Fullerton. Thousands upon thousands of illegal tickets were given out until one recipient finally stood up and challenged the contract in court.  Last year a judge found that Fullerton’s deal with the bankrupt Nestor Traffic Systems illegally gave the operator an incentive to boost ticket issuance by the cameras.

The most painful part of this story is that we kept getting those expensive legal bills throughout the entire red light camera circus, all the while being encouraged to continue fighting for this lost cause.

Someone close to this case wrote in to suggest that the city should sue Jones & Mayer for malpractice. If that’s an option, we certainly won’t hear about it from Richard D. Jones himself. How much longer will Fullerton pay for this bad advice? Will anyone be held accountable for this series of screw-ups? When was the last time that our contract with J&M was reviewed? It’s time for the council to admit that they were led astray and publicly address these issues with our city attorney.

Fullerton’s Red Light Legal Costs Revealed: $14,522.70

It's not going to work
Is it dead yet?

After being given the ceremonial run-around by the Fullerton PD, our Friend at HighwayRobbery.net was finally able to dig up a copy of Jones and Mayer’s legal bills from the city’s infamous red light case. For those of you who are just catching up, the city lost an appeal last year after an alleged red light violator fought her camera ticket — based on the illegality of Fullerton’s contract with the now-bankrupt Nestor Traffic Systems.

Here’s some free advice to our favorite City Attorney: Give up! You lost the case because you allowed the city to break the law. We don’t need red light cameras:

  • They don’t improve traffic safety
  • The cameras are expensive and error-prone
  • Most of the “proceeds” go right back to the vendor
  • Fullerton can’t seem to negotiate a contract without breaking the law
  • You wasted our money by selecting an incompetent vendor that is now bankrupt
  • Santa Ana already lost a nearly identical appeal earlier this year.

It’s time to stop handing over our money to Jones and Mayer for this lost cause.

Fullerton Gov’t Hates Property Rights – and Kids on Bikes

What’s going on in Fullerton? Many city officials seem intent on “redeveloping” a city that has no blight — even as they have wasted $20,000 in bureaucratic expenses to make sure kids don’t ride their bikes in a vacant lot. As the economy worsens for everyone, the city just can’t get its priorities straight.

First, the redevelopment absurdity. The city claims West Fullerton’s commercial areas and East Fullerton industrial areas are “blighted” and wants to redevelop them. This could mean using “eminent domain” to forcibly take property from its rightful owners, then give it to other private owners for a supposedly “better” use. And it could mean using our hard-earned tax dollars to “help” the new owners redevelop the property.

At a recent City Council meeting, City Councilman Shawn Nelson ripped the redevelopment “argument” to shreds. “Clearly, the data has been manipulated, and it’s been manipulated for a purpose,” he said, referring to a report that supposedly proved the areas were “blighted.” He added, “This is not an objective report…. I don’t think that any… objective report would have reached the conclusion that there’s blight.” He pointed out that the supposed “blight” in Fullerton “doesn’t come anywhere near” the threshold set by the California Court of Appeal for imposing eminent domain. Click here for the YouTube of Shawn’s comments:

Second, the Fullerton Code Enforcement Department spent $20,000 and countless hours of staff and attorney time prosecuting local businessman Tony Bushala (admin) for allowing his sons and their friends to ride bicycles on three acres of vacant land he owns behind the Brea Dam. The bureaucrats grandiosely called the vacant lot “outdoor recreational facilities.” Will they next also call every home driveway in the city “outdoor recreational facilities” — and ban kids from using driveways to ride up to park their bikes in the home garage?

How silly. Isn’t it better to have kids riding their bikes on private property owned by one kid’s dad, than to have them hanging out somewhere else, possibly getting into mischief? And that $20,000 in wasted tax money could have meant half a year of work for someone in the private sector — instead of staying in an unemployment line in this severe recession.

After various bureaucratic wranglings, the Appeals Board found that “no nuisance exists.” But the bike incident produced an incredible 47 pages of documents. What a waste.

These are serious economic times. The go-go days are over. We need to save our money, both private and public. The city needs to stop attacking the private-property rights of citizens, whether by threatening to take their property through eminent domain, or by stopping kids from having innocent fun on family property.

Leave us alone!