Archives for category: Doug Chaffee
Paulette Chaffee Endorsement Form copy

Why not wait two years and run in District 2?

Matthew Leslie

A friend sent me a picture of the endorsement request form Paulette Marshall Chaffee is mailing to supporters of her husband Doug Chaffee. The form is pretty clear about where she intends to run for office, listing  District 5 twice, but she didn’t bother to mention that the Chaffee residence is up the hill in District 2. Perhaps she should add the word “carpetbagging” to the text somewhere so prospective supporters might make a more informed decision about whether or not they want to be associated with such a presumptuous and patronizing pursuit of power.


Marshall 501 Copy

Matthew Leslie

Paulette Marshall Chaffee, wife of current Fullerton Mayor Doug Chaffee, is evidently so desperate to get elected to the Fullerton City Council this year that she has filed papers of intent to run in District 5. As far as I know, Mr. and Mrs. Chaffee reside in District 2. Ms. Marshall Chaffee filed both a Form 501 Candidate Intention Statement and a Form 410 establishing a candidate committee called “Paulette Marshall Chaffee For Fullerton City Council 2018 District 5.” Candidates may not actually file for the office until this summer. According to law, candidates must be registered to vote in the district in which they intend to run for office.

Fullerton voters adopted district-based city council elections in 2016, but were given only one map, divided into five districts, to approve. One of the lawsuits that prompted the change specifically cited the difficulty Latino candidates have historically faced in at-large elections. Although severely flawed, the map the council ultimately recommended to the voters did at least include a district with a Latino majority—District 5.

Despite Doug Chaffee’s best efforts, District 2, where the Chaffees live, was not selected by the Fullerton City Council as one of the two districts scheduled to appear on the ballot in 2018. The at-large terms of both Doug Chaffee and Greg Sebourn end in 2018.

The question of which two districts would be selected to go on the ballot in 2018 was taken up by the city council last year. On February 21, 2017, Doug Chaffee voted in a majority with Jesus Silva and Bruce Whitaker for Districts 2 and 5 to be up for election in 2018. However, then-Mayor Bruce Whitaker re-agendized the item for the following council meeting. Less than three weeks later, on March 7, he brought the same item back for reconsideration by the council. This time, Districts 3 was selected, instead of District 2, to appear on the ballot in 2018 along with District 5. Jesus Silva and Doug Chaffee opposed the change.

During public comments preceding the March 7 vote, I asked council members to divulge whether or not they were aware of any members of their households who might be planning to run for election to the council in 2018 so the public might consider whether or not any such plans might have a bearing on the decision scheduled to be made that night. No council members responded.

Two Fullerton City Councilmembers speaking about the closed Hunt Branch Library on August 15, 2017:

“With a partnership with some local groups, non-profits, we might be able to keep it as an asset and make it available to the public.” — Jesus Silva

“I favor selling it.” — Doug Chaffee


Matthew Leslie

The Hunt Branch of the Fullerton Public Library became the topic of a brief discussion by members of the Fullerton City Council last Tuesday night during a budget update from City Manager Ken Domer. Noting a line in the budget about the below market rate currently paid by mega-church Grace Ministries International (GMI) to lease the property, located adjacent to their church, Councilmember Jesus Silva asked for a workshop to discuss opportunities in which local non-profits might use the closed library to benefit the community instead.

“I know we don’t have the funding to operate it ourselves, the city,” Mr. Silva said, “but maybe with a partnership with some local groups, non-profits, we might be able to keep it as an asset and make it available to the public.”

Mr. Silva’s suggestion that the landmark structure donated to the city by Norton Simon in 1962 might once again be made available to the public was too much for Mayor pro tem Doug Chaffee, who immediately responded by saying that there was no need for such a workshop, and “I favor selling it.”

Hunt Register

The Hunt Branch Library, given to Fullerton by Norton Simon in 1962, now leased to a neighboring megachurch for private use for less than the cost of a two bedroom apartment. Image from OC Register, used without permission.

The Hunt Branch Library, is a mid-century modernist gem designed by world famous architect William Pereira. It was operated as a branch of the Fullerton Public Library for five decades, serving generations of Fullertonians, until successive city councils began routinely underfunding it.

Following budget cutbacks that led to the library being mostly closed all for but two days a week, the facility was closed entirely in 2013 because library staff felt unsafe due to the presence of a sizable homeless camp that developed (enabled by the city who provided portable toilets and regular visits from the four Fullerton Police Homeless Liaison Officers) along the railroad tracks directly behind it. Not long after its closure, the council approved a month-to-month lease of the 4,500 square foot library and the surrounding property to GMI for $1,500.00 per month—less than the cost of a two bedroom apartment in Fullerton. No competitive bids were sought by the city in advance of this agreement.

GMI and the Hunt Library

Left to right: GMI’s 2008 sanctuary building, Norton Simon’s Hunt office building, the Hunt Library.

Four years later, the Hunt Branch is still closed to the public and is still being leased far below market value, but the homeless camp that was the stated cause for its closure has long since been removed by the city–“cleaned out” so that an agreement to lease the property could be approved by the council.

Meanwhile, the city council has rejected requests from the public to consider appropriate funding to the Fullerton Public Library to enable the operation of the Hunt as a second library branch for a city of 140,000 people.  Awaiting a budget for the branch, the Fullerton Public Library Board of Trustees has held off on presenting a long term plan that would define unique uses to complement the Main Library branch while also serving the southwest quadrant of the city as a library resource.

Now more than half century old, the Hunt Library is a distinctive example of mid-20th century modern architecture, but, alarmingly, enjoys absolutely no historical protections against being significantly altered or razed.  When the city council voted in 2013 to authorize then City Manager Joe Felz to commence formal negotiations with Grace Ministries to temporarily lease the Hunt Branch, the council also unanimously approved supporting an application by local non-profit Fullerton Heritage to place the Hunt Branch building on the National Registry of Historic Places. To date, no such listing has taken place, reportedly because of complications arising from the attempt to concurrently list Norton Simon’s Hunt office building, located adjacent to the library, and also designed by Pereira. (GMI purchased the Hunt office property several years ago, adding a large contemporary structure on the west side of the site that dwarfs the original office building.)

The prospect of selling off the Hunt Library might be attractive to anyone hoping to partially stave off the looming financial deficiencies facing Fullerton in the next five years, as reported by staff during the city’s 2017-2018 budget hearings. However, one has to wonder just how much money Doug Chaffee thinks the city can get for a building that is so devalued by this council that they rent it monthly for a mere $ 1,500.00.

The Hunt’s value might increase dramatically, however, if none of the promised historical protections were delivered, allowing a new owner to tear it down and use the property for something else entirely. With nothing to legally prevent the building from being razed or significantly altered, a much larger and different structure might be built on the sight.

If Doug Chaffee has his way, and the Hunt Branch Library is sold, the public will lose not only a valued public library in an underserved part of the city, but also a priceless part of the Fullerton’s history, with nothing in place to protect a unique building that once showcased sculpture by Giacometti and Rodin, and served as an emblem of commitment to a community and it’s future.


The Hunt Branch Library once served Fullerton’s families, but is now a hostage to the city’s impending budget shortfall.

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