Are you a Fullerton Achiever?

Are you a Fullerton Achiever?

“I will share with you my perspective on where we were, what we are doing, and what I have challenged us to achieve before the year is up.” –Mayor Greg Sebourn

Tuesday evening, May 26, Mayor Greg Sebourn will present what is described as a “Mini-State of the City” at the Fullerton Library from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

 

We’re pretty sure the city’s press release isn’t supposed to suggest that Fullerton is a miniature state, so we assume it is a truncated version of the State of the City presented in March as a fundraiser for the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce. That audience, reported to be in excess of 300 in number, paid $75 each ($65 for Chamber members) for lunch and the speech, but you can hear it for free at the library, or read the full text of it, including breaks for applause, at this link:

http://cityoffullerton.com/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?blobid=23050

If you want to see the accompanying videos, you’ll just have to show up Tuesday night. The press release promises that Mayor Sebourn will take audience questions following his address, so start making you list,

The 5:30 start time is lamentably early for many people who won’t be able to get home from work in time to catch the program. Perhaps a micro version for working people can be presented at a later date.

 

FitzgeraldCouncil

Fullerton Mayor Pro Tem Jennifer Fitzgerald, also a Vice President of the Public Relations firm Curt Pringle & Associates

Last year the Fullerton Rag insisted that Council member (now Mayor Pro Tem) Jennifer Fitzgerald should recuse herself from voting on a representative to replace her on the Board of the Metropolitan Water District because her employer, Curt Pringle & Associates, had a contract with MWD. Indeed it was this client relationship that prompted her to resign her seat on the MWD after serving for only five months in the first place. Following a request to do so by members of the public, Ms. Fitzgerald did recuse herself from that decision, (even though some of her fellow council members questioned the need for her to do so after she had already left the room).

The Rag story from last August included a screen capture from the website of Curt Pringle & Associates, listing “some” of their “past and current clients”. Curt Pringle & Associates, founded and headed by former Anaheim Mayor and California State Assembly Speaker Curt Pringle, no longer publishes such a long list of its clients on its own website—a curious omission for a public relations firm, although there is a short list under the Land Use heading:

“Current and previous land use entitlement clients include McDonald’s®, CVS/Pharmacy, 7-Eleven®, Northgate Markets, Jamboree Housing, United Dominion Realty, and Brookfield Residential”

On May 19 the Voice of OC’s Adam Elmahrek picked up the theme in an article entitled Councilwoman’s Work Reveals Limits of Disclosure Laws. Mr. Elmahrek singled out Ms. Fitzgerald’s comments at the May 5 Fullerton City Council meeting during an update about the Orange County Water District’s efforts to clean up groundwater contamination in southeast Fullerton. Mayor Pro Tem Fitzgerald was strident in her warnings to other members of the Council that OCWD’s proposal to ask the federal Environmental Protection Agency to lead the cleanup would almost certainly lead to designating the area as a Superfund site. She revealed that her insights into this process came, in part, from meetings in the office of the EPA in San Francisco—along with a representative of the Orange County Business Council. Her comments raised immediate concerns with anyone who might ponder what motivated her to be there in the first place with the OCBC. Those who recalled a 2012 campaign by local businesses on Orangethorpe Avenue to object to a planned clean up the groundwater had even more reason for concern because none other than Curt Pringle & Associates had reportedly been hired to do the organizing. Her objections to the OCWD potentially approving EPA as the lead agency in the groundwater cleanup could reasonably cause constituents to wonder whether or not her employer, Curt Pringle & Associates, had any of the businesses blamed for the pollution as clients, who might be adversely affected by EPA’s decisions. In the most recent Voice of OC article, Jennifer Fitzgerald responded to concerns by declaring “I have no conflict on this issue.”

Fitzgerald14-15700

Jennifer Fitzgerald’s Form 700 lists her sources of income, but not the clients of her employer, public relations firm Curt Pringle & Associates.

Elected officials are required to file a “Form 700” to reveal their sources of income, but the state law only requires that officials list the names of employers, not the individual clients of employers. This omission creates a problem for maintaining a reasonable level of transparency for the benefit of the constituents, who might be concerned that an elected official could be acting on behalf of a client of her/his employer instead of the best interests of the public. As a Vice President of Curt Pringle & Associates, Ms. Fitzgerald should be accutely aware of the potential appearance of a conflict of interest, and provide more information than the bare minimum required by state law.

Ms. Fitzgerald said herself at the May 5 meeting, speaking skeptically about the way the OCWD staff’s communicates with its Board, that it was “extremely important… to trust but verify.” Jennifer Fitzgerald should follow her own advice, and allow her constituents to “trust but verify” her own actions. Publishing a complete list of Curt Pringle & Associates’ clients will allow the public to judge for themselves if any conflicts of interest exist between Ms. Fitzgerald’s service as a member of the Fullerton City Council and her employment with the county’s most prominent lobbying and public relations firm.

Whiting Downtown Story

David Whiting has returned to writing for the OC Register in recent months, having left his editorial post there to once again publish a regular column. Thankfully, most of his musings have been about the outdoors or yacht racing or voting, and not his usual obsequious odes to local law enforcement.*

On May 5, the Orange County Register published a chipper little column by David Whiting entitled “Fullerton’s Lively Downtown is One to Envy, Not Blame.

Billed as “part of an occasional series on every city in Orange County,” it opens with a stroll through the streets on May 1:

“It’s Friday night before Cinco de Mayo in downtown Fullerton and despite much bar-hopping in search of legendary cesspools of booze, the scene is hopping in the best way.

The crowd at The Pint House is Greenwich Village-mellow with plenty of beer accompanied by plenty of food. The band at Ziing’s Bistro & Bar is louder than it is good – but, hey, it’s live music. A few women at Back Alley Bar & Grill argue over a point more fueled by alcohol than thought, but who among us hasn’t done that?”

And then, his kicker, which is probably meant as a playful rebuke: “Shut up, you naysayers complaining of rowdy behavior in the downtown. Fullerton has created what few other cities in Orange County have accomplished.”

It is tempting to just ignore such routine puffery, but there are serious implications to his shallow assessments of the downtown area. “Rowdy” is no joke to many nearby residents and business owners, who have had their windows etched or broken, or their stoops vomited on, or worse, since the Restaurant Overlay District went into effect years ago. Minimizing the impact of the seemingly limitless issuance of liquor licenses in an area already saturated with them is not so funny to many people used to the sight of inebriated young women in heels wandering unsteadily along sidewalks, or into bushes to be sick.

He also suffers from the delusion that it’s just a bunch of local college kids unwinding at night:

“As I walk along Harbor Boulevard poking my head into various clubs, it’s clear that the overwhelming majority of the crowd is made up of those (Fullerton College/Cal State Fullerton) students.” he writes, while somehow remaining oblivious to the ever present party buses that haul drinkers into the downtown every weekend from the Inland Empire and other locales. Remember, the Fullerton City Council actually banned food trucks from the downtown area at night because the police said they were attracting drunks who would get into fights with one another in the street.

His claim that patrons can get dinner after midnight is also a dubious one, at least. Most restaurants downtown stop serving after ten to become de facto clubs, whose drinkers spill out onto the streets throughout the rest of the night and into the early morning hours, when club bouncers have to herd them away from the sidewalks and into their cars by shining flashlights into their faces.

DowntownCrowd

Just another “lively” night in Downtown Fullerton.

Perhaps if Mr. Whiting would stay out just a little later, even until 2:00 a.m. when the bars close, he would witness a less tranquil scene. Or, better yet, get up early the next morning to watch maintenance workers hose down the sidewalks after the evening’s revelries. It’s too bad newspapers can’t convey odors as well as they can print photographs.

His ultimate conclusion is that “…the mix of alcohol and darkness will undoubtedly attract a few party animals before last call…But finding a downtown alive at night is precious.”

It ought to be precious. The city’s redevelopment agency spent millions of dollars of public money paving and prepping the SOCO area for the thousands of diners and drinkers who patronize the restaurants and bars there each weekend, but Mr. Whiting ignores this fact. He also forgets to mention that a few years ago a report on downtown showed that it was costing taxpayers more to police and maintain the area than it was taking in. So, you may as well take his advice and enjoy it, you’re paying for the privilege anyway. Just watch where you step.

*(With one notable exception)

Stay tuned for Part 2…

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