Archives for category: Fullerton

Matthew Leslie

Last night the City of Fullerton sent an email notice of a Special City Council Meeting to be held tonight, Thursday, March 26, along with instructions for how to access the meeting online and how to submit comments on agenda items. PUBLIC COMMENTS MUST BE RECEIVED BY 5:00 P.M., TODAY IN ORDER TO BE READ AT THE MEETING. You cannot attend this meeting in person.

I have reproduced the instructions sent by the City below, including the appropriate links to the agenda and instructions on submitting comments.

City of Fullerton

We’ve posted the latest City Council Special Meeting Agenda on our website.  Follow this link to view the agendaand related materials: www.cityoffullerton.com/agendas.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION: Pursuant to Executive Order N-29-20 and given the current health concerns, members of the public can access meetings streamed live online at https://fullerton.legistar.com, on Spectrum Cable Channel 3 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.  Members of the public may not attend the meeting in person.

In addition, members of the public can submit comments electronically for City Council consideration by clicking on the eComment link accompanying the agenda posted online at https://fullerton.legistar.com until the close of the public comment period for the item.

The public can also email comments to cityclerksoffice@cityoffullerton.com with the subject line “PUBLIC COMMENT ITEM #” (insert the item number relevant to your comment) or “PUBLIC COMMENT NON-AGENDA ITEM”.  Staff will read aloud comments received by 5:00 p.m. during the applicable agenda item at the meeting, provided that such comments may be read within the normal three minutes allotted to each speaker.  Any portion of your comment extending past three minutes may not be read aloud due to time restrictions.  Staff will not read email comments received after 5:00 p.m. at the meeting but the official record will include email comments received after 5:00 p.m. until the close of the meeting.  Contact the City Clerk’s office at cityclerksoffice@cityoffullerton.com or (714)-738-6355 with any questions.

The only item on the meeting’s agenda is a temporary moratorium on evictions due to COVID-19. Other cities in Orange County have already passed similar measures intended to protect workers suddenly thrown out of work by State of California orders to causing the shut down of businesses that employ them. The eviction ban would apply to commercial or residential tenants and owners whose income has decreased or whose medical expenses have increased due to “COVID-19-Related Financial Impacts.” The ban would take effect immediately following adoption of the ordinance by council, and would extend until the expiration of Governor Gavin Newsome’s Executive declaring a State of Emergency in California.

I anticipate a unanimous vote in support of the eviction moratorium. It is a sad commentary on our medical system that such legislation is necessary to prevent people from being evicted because they have no money for rent or a mortgage owing to medical expenses that would be free in any otherwise civilized country.

 

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My comment would be to suggest that when a notice of a City Council  meeting is sent out, the date of the meeting should be included somewhere in the body of the email and in the title. Anyone reading the email and not checking the agenda link might have assumed that the meeting date would be next Tuesday, since notices of meetings regularly held on Tuesdays are generally sent out on Thursdays of the prior week.

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Matthew Leslie

At 5:30 p.m., May 7, the Fullerton City Council will hold a Study Session about the Hunt Library in the council chambers located at 303 W. Commonwealth Ave. The purpose of the session is to discuss “identifying and prioritizing future potential uses of the Hunt Branch Library as recommended by the Library Ad Hoc Committee.”

The full agenda report can be found at this link: https://fullerton.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=3936489&GUID=0CB906F8-716A-4A3B-B07B-EDE3C7FB972E

The page includes a copy of the Library Ad Hoc Committee’s report to the Fullerton City Council, as well as a letter from the Library Board of Trustees, who wrote that “We endorse the goals presented by the Library Ad Hoc Committee, and we agree with their first priorities emphasizing a broad spectrum of literacy programs. This priority would include Art, Culture, Museum Uses, Events, Activities and Classes which would benefit the larger Fullerton community.”

On February 1 of this year the council directed city staff to schedule the study session in order to develop a Request for Proposals (RFP) to be issued by the city. Non-profits or other outside agencies could respond to the RFP with proposals to operate on the site, providing programming in accordance with list of prioritized uses identified by the Library Ad Hoc Committee (literary, arts and culture, events, classes, etc.).

The staff report for May 7 recommends developing an RFP to solicit partner organizations to not only provide compatible programming in accordance with those suggested by the Ad Hoc Committee, but also one that would obtain “grants and other funding for capital and other improvements to the building and grounds to modernize its technology ability, make it accessibility compliant, and to repair and / or replace necessary plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems,” suggesting that the city is not prepared to make these investments.

The agenda report anticipates considering responses to an issued RFP sometime before the end of this year.

The study session represents a valuable opportunity for supporters to attend and voice their support for keeping the Hunt Library in the public realm.

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Matthew Leslie

In November Fullerton held its first ever City Council elections by district. Three candidates appeared on the ballot for 3rd District voters, where Jesus Silva prevailed with 53.5%, a majority of the vote.

But in the 5th District, as in many past city-wide council elections with many candidates running, the winner had only a plurality of support. Ahmad Zahra fin- ished first in a field of five candidates with 33.1% of the vote.

Congratulations are due to both candidates on their hard-fought campaign victories, but across the city, county and country many voters are asking whether or not a “winner take all system” where candidates are elected to office with less than half of the votes in a given election is the most democratic way to hold elections.

In some cities, candidates have been elected with small percentages of the vote—sometimes less than 10%—simply because there has been a crowded field of candidates in a race. Had there been more candidates in the District 3 election, it seems doubtful that any of them would have crossed the 50% threshold.

In 2016’s combined at-large election none of the three candidates who won seats on the City Council had even 20% of the vote. In a field of thirteen candidates, Jennifer Fitzgerald received 17.2%, Bruce Whitaker received 14.5%, and Jesus Silva 14.4%.

Some local voters have suggested that a runoff ought to be held to ensure that no one is elected without receiving a majority of the vote, but runoff elections are expensive, both for the city and the candidate, and simply extend the campaign season, making it even more costly to run for office.
How about an instant runoff built right into the voting process used for a single general election? It’s called Ranked Choice Voting (or sometimes Instant Runoff Voting), and it’s been used effectively by municipalities in countries around the world, by private organizations (like the Academy Awards), by many colleges and universities, and even, in some cases, by the U.S. military.
According to Fair Vote, Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is currently used in some form for government elections in cities in six U.S. states, including Berkeley and Oakland, CA, Santa Fe, NM, Telluride, CO, and Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN. RCV has been adopted, and is awaiting implementation, in cities or counties in four additional states, including Memphis, TN, Las Cruces, NM, Amherst, MA, and Benton County, Oregon.

In 2018 Maine became the first state to use RCV for government elections statewide, includ- ing for U.S. Senate and Congress. Six other states use RCV for military and overseas voters.
RCV is being adopted by more and more municipalities because it offers a superior system to the winner- take-all elections we settle for now, where candidates can be elected with a small minority of support simply because so many candidates choose to enter a given race. The concept of ranking candidates is simple: instead of only getting to choose a single candidate from a list of several on a ballot, voters can rank their choices from “1” to however many candidates there are in the race (or stop at a lower number, if they choose).

If a single candidate is ranked “1” by more than half of the voters in the elec- tion, that candidate automatically wins, much like the current method used in Orange County primary elections.

But, if no candidate receives over half the vote, instead of having to schedule a separate runoff election RCV has a runoff built right into the system.

In an RCV election, the candidate with the least amount of number “1” rankings is eliminated from the race. Anyone who ranked that candidate as “1” will have their number “2” choice counted instead.

This process of eliminating candidates continues until a candidate has votes that total over half, or “50% plus one.”

Ultimately, the winner either has more than half of the electorate’s support out- right, or accrues it through rounds of counting votes where that candidate may have been the second, third, etc. choice of a voter whose first or second choice had little chance of prevailing in the end. (The threshold for winning can even be set at a higher or lower percentage of the vote, but for our purposes, over 50% is sufficient.)

A simple demonstration of how RCV works can be found at this link:

Ranked Choice Voting in Fullerton elections would be likely to result in:

 

•Better representation of the will of the voters. If voters are allowed to rank their candidates from best to worst, their votes will actually count for something, even if their most preferred candidate doesn’t fin- ish at the top of the list. It’s like having a runoff without an extra election.

 
•Less negative campaigning. Even though a candidate might know that some voters are likely to back one of their oppo- nents, they will still want those voters to consider them for their second or third choice, which will discourage candidates from running negative campaigns against one another, potentially alienating an opponent’s supporters.

 
•Eliminate the “spoiler factor.” With RCV there is less pressure to keep people from running for office for fear that they will “draw votes away” from another can- didate, and less incentive to intentionally run candidates for the same purpose. Voters can vote their consciences, even if they don’t think their first choice has the
best chance to win, because their second choice might be a candidate they don’t care for quite as much, but who they may think has a better chance of winning.

 
•Diversify funding by big donors. Big funders like the developers and the police and fire unions can’t afford to put all of their eggs in one basket, meaning they will have to spread their money around to support multiple candidates, leveling the playing field.

 
•Encouraging grassroots support of candidates by forcing them to appeal to a greater number of voters. Instead of settling for electing people with 40%, 30%, or even 20% or less support with our current system, Ranked Choice Voting would allow voters a more inclusive, more representative way of electing people to our City Council. The Fullerton City Council should place RCV on the ballot of the next election to allow voters to decide whether or not to adopt it for City Council elections in the future.

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