Archives for category: Fullerton Chamber of Commerce


“Hit the Bars.” What OCTA thinks you should do downtown on New Year’s Eve. (You can probably forget about the jazz).

UPDATE: Commenter, and public transit advocate, Jane Reifer alerts readers that bus lines do not actually run until 2:30 a.m, January 1. OCTA is providing free bus rides until that time, but readers should consult OCTA’s individual route schedules to find out when their last bus leaves downtown Fullerton. Ms. Reifer has helpfully supplied some of those times in the comment section below. For complete bus schedules, check OCTA’s website:

The Orange County Transportation Authority would like to make sure you get home safely New Year’s Eve by offering free bus service until 2:30 a.m., January 1. Discouraging people from driving drunk is a good idea, but sending a mailer to local residents encouraging them to “Live It Up!” in Fullerton’s downtown might be confusing to anyone who is planning to attend the city-organized alcohol-free First Night celebration, scheduled to take place in the middle of the same downtown.

First Nights are offered nationwide by participating cities. Fullerton advertises itself as the only city in Orange County to offer a First Night celebration, a family friendly alternative to traditional drunken revelries of New Year’s Eve. The city’s website describes it as an “annual alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration of the arts and will look to include children’s activities as well as live music, art galleries and a 10-minute fireworks show finale that will cap the celebration at midnight”. First Night Fullerton has been generally well attended. After a 2012 budget-related cancellation, the city increased sponsorship in order to provide what it claims is a cost neutral event.


What the City of Fullerton invites families to experience (enjoy the cover bands!).

First Night has been celebrated downtown since before the area became saturated with bars and restaurants with full liquor licenses in the past decade. The alcohol-free event has existed fairly peacefully alongside the party district on one the major drinking holidays of the year, but OCTA seems to intent on confusing the two activities in a large postcard mailer recently sent to residents. “LIVE IT UP!” implores a headline on the front side of the card, along with instructions to “Go ahead and celebrate in Downtown Fullerton,” and “Hit the bars. Listen to Jazz. Enjoy a great meal. Or, attend First Night Fullerton. No need for a designated driver..,”


“You really can’t beat free!” Free advertising for downtown bars, that is. How did the alcohol-free First Night get mixed up in this business?

In addition to being evidently clueless about the closing of Steamers, Fullerton’s only jazz club, over six months ago, OCTA seems awfully confused about what First Night Fullerton is supposed to represent. The back side of the card even features a multicolored map of the downtown area, complete with the locations of entertainment stages, the fireworks show, a “Kids Lane” with a giant bouncer, and nearly twenty different restaurants and bars, and their proximity to the bus lines offering free rides to presumably inebriated patrons.

It would be tempting to assume that someone at OCTA just didn’t get the message about First Night Fullerton, but the Rag’s conversation with a member of the transportation agency’s marking department proved otherwise. OCTA reportedly worked with both the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Fullerton to develop the mailer, which suggests a major conflict of interest between simultaneously promoting both a family friendly, alcohol-free night out and a roster of bars and restaurants who want to attract patrons on New Year’s Eve. The Chamber of Commerce, which receives taxpayer money from the City of Fullerton’s budget, ought to know the difference between the two, but was evidently comfortable colluding with OCTA to invite drinkers to downtown Fullerton in the middle of an annual family event designed as an alternative to a liquor-soaked New Year’s Eve.

The aforementioned OCTA marketing staffer who worked on the promotion acknowledged that the mailer should have explained in more detail what the First Night celebration was about, and that oversight, on that point, “was kind of missing.” She also acknowledged that the bars and restaurants had not paid to have their names listed, leaving residents to wonder why an Orange County government agency privileged free advertising of privately owned food and alcohol establishments over an alcohol-free public event organized by the City of Fullerton.

It could be argued that inviting prospective patrons to ride the bus both removes the danger of drunk drivers and frees up parking for First Night patrons, but how did OCTA get into the business of free promotional mailers in the first place? The agency, which regularly cuts bus services during the rest of the year ought to find ways to provide critically needed transportation for those who depend upon it during their long work weeks instead of inviting even more drinkers to our downtown area in the middle of an event designed to help families celebrate a safe holiday.

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:

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.

Some candidates from a past election in another city.

Some candidates from a past election in Luton.

Two City Council Candidate Forums and a “meet and greet” have been scheduled prior to the November 4 Election Day. First,

Neighbors United for Fullerton (NUFF) presents a Meet and Greet with the City council Candidates

Monday, September 22, 6:30 – 8:15 p.m.

Osbourne Auditorium, Fullerton Public Library, 353 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton

NUFF is a PAC that will eventually endorse two candidates in the race. The Meet and Greet is a good way to talk to the various candidates face to face, one at a time, in the same place. Each candidate will have a table set up in the auditorium, where voters can drop in and speak with them informally.

The Fullerton Chamber of Commerce presents

Fullerton City Council Candidates Forum

Tuesday, Sept. 30, 6:30 p.m.

City Council Chambers, 303 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton

Questions posed to the candidates in the forum are generally related to business in the city. An added bonus is the two minute introduction given by each person at the beginning of the program. There is nothing like letting a person go on about themselves and why they are running for office to give you an idea of whether or not they have anything substantive to say.

The Chamber asks attendees to RSVP in advance to 714-871-3100.

Just two days later in the same location,

The League of Women Voters of North Orange County presents a Fullerton City Council Candidates Forum

On Thursday, October 2, 2014, 6:30 p.m.

City Council Chambers, 303 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton

According to the organizers, “All candidates for the Fullerton City Council have been invited to a forum where each candidate can be asked questions by the audience. The program will be televised by the City. A trained League member will Moderate the evening with an opportunity for you to ask questions by writing your question on a card. League rules include no campaign materials in the room during the forum, but a table will be available afterwards.”

Of course, audience members cannot directly ask questions of the individual candidates. Instead, cards are passed to audience members, who may write down a question in hopes that the moderator will ask it for them. All questions are directed to all candidates, resulting in a fair enough, if sometimes monotonous format.

The Rag appreciates the ongoing efforts by these organizations to present the voting public with forums where the candidates can distinguish themselves from one another. What we really need, however, is an honest argument between them. We need to hear them directly ask each other difficult and sometimes uncomfortable questions, like “how can you be objective about police oversight if the police union is spending money on your campaign?,” or “what alliances do you have with lobbyists in Orange County?,” or “Why is so much of your funding coming from out of town?” You know, the questions the other groups are too polite to ask.

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