Archives for category: 2016 Elections

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District Elections in Fullerton might have been a good way to elect a more diverse council that would better reflect the ethnic makeup of the city, but the map adopted by the Fullerton City Council to effect that change, as reflected in Measure ii, is so bad that voters should vote against it.

Measure ii proposes splitting up Fullerton into five separate voting districts, each of which would elect a single member to the Fullerton City Council. It came into being as a result of two separate lawsuits claiming that the current system of at-large elections disenfranchises minority voters, in this case Latino and Asians, by diluting their votes in a citywide election. Dividing the city into different districts was meant to remedy the problem of underrepresentation on the city council by establishing individual districts that would presumably allow members from Latino or Asian majority districts the power to elect council members of their choice.

The settlement agreement with the plaintiffs who sued the city to force district elections required that the city adopt a map to put before the voters, along with the question of whether or not to adopt the district system at all, resulting in Measure ii. Unfortunately, Fullerton’s City Council adopted a map so bad that even people who support the concept of district elections should vote against Measure ii to prevent the adoption of this map.

When presented with numerous maps following a months-long process that involved both public workshops and the opportunity for anyone to submit a map using online software from the city’s website, the Fullerton City Council selected a map put forward by the owner of a downtown bar and restaurant, someone who acknowledged that he didn’t attend a single community workshop. Instead of serving to establish community-based districts that preserve neighborhoods and followed natural boundaries, this atrocious map cuts through neighborhoods and conveniently separates current council members’ residences form one another, keeping them from having to run against one another in the future.

It’s backers make the absurd argument that a few streets and intersections that comprise Fullerton’s downtown, now largely an entertainment district, should be split up five ways to give every resulting voting district a “voice” in what goes on there. The effect, of course, is just the opposite. The slender tendrils that stretch into the downtown area from every edge of the city split up the whole historic downtown residential neighborhood area, splintering the voices of thousands of residents into five other districts instead of giving them a district of their own. Not uncoincidentally, the greater downtown corridor streets are where most of the high density developments are planned. Robbing downtown area residents of a single unified voice in the planning of this area does a disservice not only to these voters, but to the entire city itself.

Readers may reference an earlier post by the Rag that counters the disingenuous argument made by our current Mayor, Jennifer Fitzgerald, in favor of Measure ii:

https://fullertonrag.com/2016/07/10/jennifer-fitzgeralds-ballot-argument-in-favor-of-district-elections-is-misleading-and-patronizing/

District Elections will almost certainly come to Fullerton soon, as they have to Anaheim, Garden Grove, Buena Park, and other nearby cities, but we don’t have to adopt a terrible map that serves the interests of a few business owners and incumbent council members to get there. The Rag strongly recommends voting NO on Measure ii.

 

 

 

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Kick the Can beyond Election Day, again!

Once again Fullerton City Council has needlessly pushed important decisions beyond Election Day in order to avoid controversy. Two issues stand out, a potential high density residential development on the 600 Block of West Commonwealth Ave., and the question of whether or not Fullerton homeowners should be able to rent out properties on a short term basis.

As the Rag reported in an earlier story, 0n September 28, 2016 the Fullerton Planning Commission approved a 610,182 square foot, 295-unit, 4 story mixed-use development on the 600 block of West Commonwealth Ave. on land that had previously been a car dealership. In a split 4 to 3 vote, the Planning Commission approved a Zone Change, a General Plan Revision, a Major Site Plan and a Mitigated Negative Declaration.

Normally, a development approved by the Planning Commission would head straight for the Fullerton City Council, but the 600 W. Commonwealth project has mysteriously disappeared from all City Council agendas, saving incumbents Jennifer Fitzgerald and Bruce Whitaker, each running for re-election, from having to face angry voters who might disagree with an approval to add yet more high density development to a major corridor in the city.

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Short Term Rentals, scheduled for a decision over a month ago, but we won’t get one until after Election Day…

On September 20 Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald suggested an unneeded “Study Session” to further delay making a decision about so-called Short Term Rentals (STRs), even though the practice had already (foolishly) been approved by the Fullerton Planning Commission a month earlier.  (The Rag editorialized against the practice on July 1 of this year.)

Homeowners are sharply divided over whether or not the city should allow STRs at all, with some preferring no restrictions whatsoever on how often and under what conditions a house may be effectively turned into a hotel in the midst of a single-family neighborhood, while others want the practice banned entirely, as it was in neighboring Anaheim earlier this year.

One thing is entirely clear, the issue has been thoroughly discussed in meetings of the Fullerton Planning Commission. Their recommendations, as well as the city staff’s, were both included in the agenda item for the council. Though a decision may have serious repercussions for homeowners, it is not a complex issue. Too complex, apparently, for Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald, however, who, following numerous comments by members of the public immediately moved to continue the item “to a date uncertain,” with further discussion by the council.  Her proposal included directing city staff to schedule a Study Session, arguing earlier that it was too important an issue to be made on “first reading.”

Council members Chaffee, Flory and Sebourn had very specific recommendations regarding the proposal, having evidently studied the agenda item already, but Jennifer Fitzgerald, just had “so many questions,” still. The entire council backed her bid for a delay, including incumbent candidate Bruce Whitaker, safely putting off the decision until after the election. No such Study Session has been scheduled yet, of course…

Both decisions could have been made in timely fashions instead of delaying each until after Nov. 8, when many voters will certainly consider approval of further development and the integrity of their own neighborhoods when casting votes for council members. Agendas for the Fullerton’s City Council’s meetings have been comparatively light without these items. Voters should consider the willingness of candidates to make a controversial decision right before an election when choosing who has the courage to sit on the Fullerton City Council in the first place.

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Jennifer Fitzgerald, had “so many questions,” about Short Term Rentals, but made us all wait until after her bid for re-election on Nov. 8 to find out the answers.

 

 

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Fullerton Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald with Andy Dick and event organizer Brian Bartholomew, after Thursday night’s performance where the comedian made reference to autistic people as “retards.” Photo from the Hornet, credited to Joshua Miranda

“I really appreciate that he came to Fullerton and shared his comedy with our city.” 

–Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald, referring to actor Andy Dick, who had that night used the word “retard” to refer to autistic people during the annual Comedy Show for Autism.

According to an October 20 article in Fullerton College’s newspaper The Hornet, comedian Andy Dick used the word “retard” in reference to autistic people during a charity event Thursday night meant to raise awareness of the condition itself. Event organizers Fullerton Cares quickly released a statement distancing themselves “from (Dick’s) statement onstage and emphasize that we do not condone or endorse this type of language,” referring to the actor’s “slur.” The statement went on to “apologize deeply to anyone who was affected by this language.” (see illustration below)

According to the Hornet Andy Dick ‘“began speaking on his brother who has just passed away, but that his brother had been dying for “twenty years” and had been asking Dick for money, to which Dick said “That’s why I’m in Fullerton for retards.”” Half of the attendees reportedly left the main room of the Fullerton Ballroom as the comedian was booed from the audience.

Andy Dick himself later apologized, writing in a statement “I shouldn’t use that word.”

Incredibly, Fullerton Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald, who attended the benefit show, was wiling to defend the unpredictable actor’s comments, saying “I really appreciate that he came to Fullerton and shared his comedy with our city. I think this isn’t the last your (sic) going to see of him, that is not the word that will define him,” and “I know Andy Dick in his heart, and his personal connection with autism and I think that it’s more than one word. I think he regrets the use of that but that in fairness we need to look at the whole body of who he is and who his family is.” (Andy Dick referred to himself in the article as being “slightly autistic,” saying “I honestly feel that I’m on the spectrum,” but it is unclear in the article whether or not Mr. Dick has ever been formally diagnosed with the disorder.)

Fullerton resident Kris Hanna had more sense than Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald, telling the Hornet that she thought it was “crossing the line to say what he said about autistic people.” Another attendee, Fred Allen, said of Andy Dick’s comments ‘“Off cuff, should be better suited for where he’s at, especially the retard shit man, America’s a beautiful place and you shouldn’t take advantage of what America’s good for.”’

Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald should reconsider supporting unsupportable behavior, and keep in mind that when she speaks to the media, even a local college newspaper, she will be viewed on some level as representing the City of Fullerton, even if many would prefer that she wasn’t in the position to do so.

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Fulleton Cares had enough sense to criticize Andy Dick. Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald? Not so much.

 

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