Women's Leadership 2014

Ten years ago, while serving on the Fullerton City Council, Sharon Quirk began began hosting an annual forum to honor the accomplishments of women in Fullerton. Business owners, public officials, community leaders and others were highlighted every year since during an evening event, hosted by Ms. Quirk-Silva until she was elected to the California State Assembly in 2012. At that time she handed off the forum to current Fullerton City Councilwomen Jan Flory and Jennifer Fitzgerald (the latter works for OC’s most powerful lobbying firm, Pringle and Associates).

The 2014 honors took place in the Grand Hall of the new Community Center on Thursday, November 13, co-hosted by the venerable Woman’s Cub of Fullerton. The forum’s sponsors included Walmart, Miller Toyota of Fullerton, Fullerton Insurance Services, on the top level, followed by second tier sponsors C & C Development and Century 21 Discovery, and finally “Spark Level” sponsors Cottage Dental, The Fullerton Museum Center, Starkey Communications, The Waterford Group, and law firm Jones and Mayer.

The final listed sponsor, Jones and Mayer, is contracted to provide legal services to the City of Fullerton, acting as City Attorney.

Women's-Program-Sponsors

It’s always prudent to scrutinize the sponsor list for any event that involves public officials for the potential for undue influence over decisions made by those officials at a later date. For example, the Waterford Group is the potential developer of a multi-story residential and retail development to be located at 600 W. Commonwealth Ave. The 147 unit apartment complex would have over 4,700 square feet of ground floor retail space. The project has already been promised 5 million dollars in leftover Redevelopment subsidies for affordable housing, but it has not yet been approved by Fullerton’s Planning Commission or City Council.

Earlier this month the Rag wrote about a $ 4,000.00 contribution to the (unsuccessful) City Council campaign of current Planning Commissioner Rick Alvarez by the owners of the business whose land would become more valuable if that development were to approved by the Planning Commission and the City Council. Now we see the developer contributing to an event that raises the public profiles of two incumbent Fullerton City Councilwomen who will be up for re-election in 2016. Both of these Councilwomen, of course, will be in the position of approving or denying the Waterford Group’s development project.

C & C Development were behind the remodeled Richman Court Apartments and the new Valencia Grove Apartments. The latter project is squeezed into a space between the Janet Evans Swim Center to the west, businesses on the east, and a single family residential neighborhood to the immediate north.

Anyone who has been involved with or followed the ongoing struggle to save West Coyote Hills from development hell will be familiar with Scott Starkey, who, as Senior Vice President for Laer Pearce, and Associates, worked to promote Chevron’s Pacific Coast Homes plan for the area.

He was also a spokesperson for the spectacularly unsuccessful Yes on Measure W campaign that would have allowed PCH’s housing and retail plans to proceed in Coyote Hills, as approved by a previous city council. Mr. Starkey operates his own company, Starkey Communications and is a Government Affairs Committee Co-Chair of the Building Industry Association of Orange County.

The Woman’s Cub of Fullerton would seem to be the appropriate co-host of an event honoring women in our community, but care should taken to avoid including public officials who will oversee development decisions involving event sponsors.

"Aloha `oe! It's off to work I go..."

“Aloha `oe! It’s off to work I go…”

It’s a tough life being a California State Senator. Long hours and plenty of travel are needed to serve the people of the 29th District, which stretches from Cypress to Chino Hills, Rowland Heights to Yorba Linda, and includes parts of three different counties. For State Senator Bob Huff, who represents, the 29th, what better place to discuss the important challenges facing 18 different cities than the Hawaiian Island of Mau’i?

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that some legislators from California are flying to Mau’i to meet with representatives from “oil companies, public employee unions, drug and tobacco firms, and others.” at the luxurious Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel in Wailea, which looks like this:

"Mahaolo lobbyists! This sure beats my office in Brea!

“Mahalo lobbyists! This sure beats my office in Brea!”

Legislators use their own spare campaign funds to pay for airfare, but the $350 per night hotel bill is picked up by a nonprofit called the Independent Voter Project who brought California the Top Two Primary system now in place throughout the state. That organization is supported, according to the LA Times, by 24 sponsors, who include “Occidental Petroleum Corp., the Western State Petroleum Assn., Eli Lilly, the Altria tobacco firm, the California Cable and Telecommunications Assn., the state prison guards union and the California Distributors Assn., which represents distributors of tobacco and other products.”

The article goes on the quote California Common Cause’s Sarah Swanbeck, who calls the yearly conference an “unwelcome tradition,” and suggests possibly banning them. The Rag agrees with Ms. Swanbeck. How can our democracy possibly be well served by allowing our legislators to be put up in an expensive beachfront hotel in Hawai’i and lobbied to support legislation favorable to the people ultimately paying the bill?

North Pacfic Map copy

Let’s review…

When he isn’t in Sacramento Bob Huff needs to stay right here in his district listening to ordinary constituents instead of living the high life in a tropical resort courtesy of lobbyists for big businesses and powerful public unions. If they want to talk to our state representatives, they should make  appointments with them at their offices like the rest of us are expected to do. As Senate Republican Leader, Bob Huff should set a better example to his colleagues and to the people he represents.

The Rag encourages readers to contact Senator Huff to let him know what they think of his comped Hawai’ian “conference” with lobbyists. You can reach him here:

Capitol Office

State Capitol, Room 305
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4029
Fax: (916) 651-4929

Brea District Office

1800 E. Lambert Road, Suite 150
Brea, CA  92821
Phone: (714) 671-9474
Fax: (714) 671-9750

01 Retirement Liability Funding Status and Strategies

With no prior warning yesterday the City of Fullerton emailed the agenda for a November 12, 2:30 pm meeting of the Fullerton City Council to discuss the status of retirement liability funding of city employees. The meeting is characterized as a “special study session” of the City Council, which normally meets for public sessions in the evenings of the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month. The agenda is signed by Human Resources Director Gretchen Beatty and Director of Administrative Services Julia James. The study session is scheduled to take place at the Fullerton Public Library Conference Center.

California’s Brown Act strictly requires that agendas be posted at least 72 hours in advance of meetings unless the meeting can be characterized as a “special” one, in which case a mere 24 hours is required by law. Such a meeting can be called by the Mayor or a majority of the city council. No explanation of why Wednesday’s meeting was scheduled with such short notice has been offered, and there is no indication that there are emergency circumstances to justify it.

Scheduling a meeting about Fullerton’s significant pension liability in the middle of a work day afternoon with inadequate notice has angered activists who see it as an unwarranted and suspicious manipulation of the agenda process. City staffers are unavailable for comment today because of the Veterans Day holiday, leaving some residents to wonder if the city council would rather have this discussion away from the eyes of the public.

The meeting does not appear on the city’s main online calendar, although the formal agenda is posted under the usual live and archived meetings link. The Rag assumes that it will be recorded for later viewing by interested members of the public who may work during the day.

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