FPAO Sign

Such a soothing green. It’s almost as if they had seen that color somewhere before…

Confused supporters of Mayor and City Council candidate Doug Chaffee have noticed the giant green and blue signs bearing his name and the name of fellow candidate Larry Bennett, and wondered who could possibly be supporting both of them. Doug Chaffee is a supporter of saving Coyote Hills, Larry Bennett supported Measure W, Chevron’s plan to build there. Doug Chaffee is the darling of Fullerton’s Democrats, while Larry Bennett is the great white hope of the city’s establishment Republicans. Larry Bennett has been endorsed by Congressman-for-life Ed Royce, Supervisor Shawn Nelson, former State Senator Dick Ackerman and current State Senator Bob Huff. Doug Chaffee’s endorsements include Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, the Sierra Club, the Fullerton Observer…and former State Senator Dick Ackerman, evidently…

What (else) could possibly bring these two together on one oversized sign? The Fullerton Police Officers Association, of course. The FPOA, the union representing Fullreton’s police officers, will back whichever candidates they think will increase their number and/or safeguard their salaries. Note, for example, Larry Bennett’s answer to the OC Register’s question “Should city government contract or expand in Fullerton?” Mr. Bennett dutifully answers that “…our police force is currently 145 members. We used to be a force of 155. The city is growing and therefore more services will be required,” offering a not so subtle promise to authorize the hiring of more police officers, at the cost of millions to Fullerton’s taxpayers. For his part, Doug Chaffee has earned the support of Fullerton’s police by steadfastly resisting any meaningful civilian oversight of the Fullerton Police Department in the wake of the killing of Kelly Thomas, and lawsuits against the FPD for the actions of former officer Rincon, etc.

FPOA Bennett Chaffee sign

No mystery here, just look down…

There is nothing unusual about the FPOA picking the friendliest City Council candidates from nominally left and right of the political spectrum every two years. During the last election they spent tens of thousands of dollars promoting Jan Flory and Rick Alvarez, although they seem to have kicked Mr. Alvarez to the curb in favor of Mr. Bennett this year. What is unusual this cycle is that their signs don’t bear the words “Fullerton Police Support” proudly above the names of their chosen candidates. In past years the word “Police” carried some weight with the voting public, but now, it seems, it’s more of a millstone around the candidates’ necks. However, close inspection reveals the source of the bounty at the bottom of the signs. It must feel bad to have to hide their identity when it was once treated as a badge of honor.

Pink Hook and Ladder

The Fullerton Firefighters Association (FFA) is using it’s Pinktober “Let’s Extinguish Cancer” campaign to promote one of their chosen candidates for Fullerton City Council. Last Thursday night Fullerton’s firefighters parked their “Pink Tribute Fire Engine,” a custom pink wrapped firetruck to honor victims of cancer, across Wilshire Ave., near the market’s west entrance. The vehicle’s normally red surfaces were entirely covered with a bright pink ribbon graphic to honor victims of cancer. Cancer survivors are invited to sign their names on the truck.

Pink Alvarez

Coming to your neighborhood soon.

Leaning against the pink truck Thursday night were pink signs promoting Rick Alvarez for Fullerton City Council. The signs read “Fullerton Firefighters Support Rick Alvarez” and featured a graphic of a firefighter helmet in white against a pink background. Mr. Alvarez has received $ 5,000.00 in direct contributions by the FFA, the union representing Fullerton’s firefighters. He is one of two candidates, along with incumbent Doug Chaffee, to be endorsed by the union (no pink Doug Chaffee signs have yet to appear). The truck is scheduled to be at the Fullerton Market on Thursday nights throughout the month of October.

According to their website ‘“The Fullerton Firefighter’s Association would like to announce the 3rd annual Pinktober Event for the month of October. Since its inception, the Fullerton Firefighter’s have raised over $34,000 to aid in Cancer research. Our motto this year is “Let’s Extinguish Cancer with Fullerton Fire”.’

The firefighters are sponsoring a local teacher who has Stage 4 Breast Cancer. If you are reading this column chances are that you know at least one person, probably more, who have been diagnosed with cancer. The Rag understands why local firefighters might want to help raise funds to fight this terrible disease, but conflating the suffering of the cancer stricken with support for a City Council candidate is beyond distasteful.

Alvarez Pink Signs

The Rag isn’t anti-union, but voters should remember that the union representing Fullerton’s firefighters is going to back the candidates they think will give them the best deal when their contract with the city is up for renewal. Council members who will eventually approve a contract with a union can be elected (ok, probably not Rick Alvarez) with tens of thousands of dollars in contributions and independent expenditures from that same union. That’s what it means when a sign says “Firefighters support..” or ”Your police support…” a candidate (or two).

The FFA can and will choose candidates to endorse in the upcoming election, and voters can choose how much they value that endorsement when casting their ballots in the City Council race, but it is beyond the pale to mix a political investment in a candidate with a campaign to honor and support cancer victims. “Pinktober” lasts through the entire month of October–the home stretch of election season. It is hard to believe that signs supporting Rick Alvarez are just coincidentally pink. The next time Fullerton’s firefighters roll out their Pink Tribute Fire Engine they should leave their signs at home, and stop posting them around town, or risk being perceived as cynically exploiting the suffering of cancer victims for their own political purposes.

 

Sebourn-BIA

The Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan (DCCSP) has become so unpopular that virtually all of the seven candidates for Fullerton City Council have expressed opposition to it in some form. During a recent forum hosted by the North Orange County League of Women Voters none of the seven gathered candidates supported the DCCSP as written.

Some candidates cited concerns about the comprehensive nature of the plan, while others were more specific  about the DCCSP’s potentially negative effects on current residents, but we should remember that it is developers and City Hall who want it to pass, and being too tied to either group should give voters pause when considering which candidate(s) would be most likely to follow through on stopping the DCCSP as it now exists.

Incumbent Greg Sebourn, for example, has received $ 1,000.00 in campaign contributions this year from the Building Industry Association (BIA) of Southern California’s PAC and Olson Urban Housing, LLC. The BIA exists to build, and build more housing. Olson is an Orange County based builder responsible for Liberty Walk, Legacy Walk, SOCO Walk, and other residential blocks in Fullerton shoehorned into parcels next to existing single family home neighborhoods.

Old guard candidate Larry Bennett also received $ 1,000.00 from the BIA PAC. Raise your hand if you’re surprised. You shouldn’t be, since Mr. Bennett is endorsed by recalled former City Council members Don Bankhead, Dick Jones, and Pat McKinley, who regularly rubber stamped high density housing projects in Fullerton. Larry Bennett can also boast of receiving $ 100.00 from the Assoc. of Builders and Contractors PAC of So Cal and $ 100.00 from Crane Architectural Group, a local firm who capitalized on Redevelopment funding to build structures like this one:

Painful to look upon...

Painful to look upon…

At least incumbent Mayor Doug Chaffee was honest enough to plainly identify the DCCSP as a replacement for Redevelopment as a mechanism to attract outside investment in Fullerton, which brings us around to who really wants the DCCSP, piecemeal or not, and who they are willing to support to make sure they get it in some form. Developers develop, and the more land is re-zoned for their residential high rises, the more money they make. More people equals more tax dollars, and that’s what City Hall really wants, even if it degrades the quality of your life here.

When Jane Rands first began asking questions about the DCCSP over three years ago, it wasn’t even on the radar screens of other candidates in the City Council race. But the winds have shifted. Public forums organized by her with Friends for a Livable Fullerton put enough pressure on the City Council to delay a vote on the DCCSP until more notice is given to residents and more time can be spent studying the plan. Not surprisingly, Ms. Rands has accepted no campaign contributions from the building industry.

The DCCSP isn’t dead yet, and City Hall isn’t about to let it go without a fight. Who do you trust to defend the interests of Fullerton residents in this fight? Candidates who are taking big bucks from the building industry, or a grassroots activist supported by ordinary people like you and me?

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