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Fitzgerald Coyote Hills 714

Jennifer Fitzgerald’s war on Fullerton’s library should be stopped now.

Matthew Leslie

Back in May the Rag reported that Fullerton City Council member Jennifer Fitzgerald during the Council’s May 1 meeting requested that the council agendize an item to consider replacing Fullerton’s Library Board of Trustees with the city council members themselves:

“I do want to bring the library board code sections up to date. I want to add to that we institute a new organizational structure for the library board that calls for the appointment of the city council members to serve as the trustees to the library board and to form a library advisory commission.”

At the time no other member of the City Council commented on her request, letting it pass like the ravings of a demented relative at the dinner table. When asked privately about it, another member the Council responded that no one else supported the idea. But, five months later, the item has nonetheless made its way on to the Council’s September 18 meeting as part of the ongoing initiative to restructure Fullerton’s Committees and Commissions,

CITY OF FULLERTON BOARD / COMMISSION / COMMITTEE REORGANIZATION
Fullerton City Council | Successor Agency Agenda September 18, 2018 – Page 4

“Ongoing implementation of City Council’s final direction regarding boards, commissions and committees, specifically elimination of Planning Commissioner stipends, changes to the Library Board of Trustees and creation of a Library Advisory Commission and Active Transportation Committee.”

The staff reports explains that: “The attached draft code amendments reflect City Council direction provided at the May meeting in which the City Council directed Staff to return to the Council with code updates regarding the Library Board of Trustees as well as having the City Council serve as the Library Board of Trustees in the future.” So, no one on the City Council stopped the idea either.

The effort to restructure Fullerton’s commissions and committees goes back to the Joe Felz days, and some actions to that end have already been taken by the City Council. Though discussed for staff direction at the May 1 meeting, however, this latest round of restructuring options has taken many by surprise–including all three boards serving the library. Neither the Fullerton Library Foundation, who privately raise funds for the library, The Friends of Fullerton Library, who operate its bookstore and organize its periodic books sales, nor the Library Board of Trustees themselves were consulted about the idea or even apprised of its imminent appearance before the Council next Tuesday night. That’s a lot of people, and they are not happy about it.

The city staff’s proposed ordinance calls for replacing parts of the Fullerton Municipal Code (FMC)’s section on the Fullerton Public Library with language that establishes a Library Advisory Committee, but makes no mention of the City Council populating the Library Board with their own membership, presumably because it isn’t legally necessary–it’s just that no one ever does it, because there is no reason to do so. My mistake. It actually does say:

“2.16.020 Library Board – Appointment – Term.

The Fullerton Public Library shall be managed by a Board of Library Trustees consisting of five members appointed by the City Council. Appointees shall be current members of the City Council.” (Boldface added).

The staff report calls for “replacing current Library Board of Trustees members with current City Council Members as Trustee’s terms expire,” meaning that some Council members could begin serving as Library Trustees as early as December.

This unilaterally proposed action cannot help being seen in light of Jennifer Fitzgerald’s support for selling the Hunt Branch Library and her other recent outlying suggestion that the Orange County Public Library system take over Fullerton’s century old plus library.

Adopting the proposed changes would effectively reduce the Library Board to serve only in an advisory capacity, altering a practice dating back to 1901, before Fullerton was itself even incorporated. Amendments governing the Library Board of Trustees date to five years later in 1906, and, for what its worth, specifically hold that “Men and women shall be equally eligible to” to be appointed–that’s fourteen years before women even had the right to vote in elections in this country, for those of you counting.

And for what purpose? In May Jennifer Fitzgerald gave no rationale whatsoever for the City Council to appoint itself as members of the Board of Trustees, but somehow this change to 112 years of the Council appointing members of the public to serve as Trustees to the library has appeared on a City Council agenda anyway. This unprecedented and unwarranted change should be adamantly opposed by all members of Fullerton’s City Council until and unless some compelling reason is given for the change–and it would have to be a really compelling reason at that. Further, members of the City Council should be more proactive in stopping wastes of staff, City Attorney, Council, Library Trustees, and public time if none other than one of their number seriously support idiotic ideas like this one in the fist place.

Hunt Flyer color

Matthew Leslie

Save the Hunt invites you to Hunt 101, a free presentation about the past, present, and future of the Hunt Branch Library.

Monday, June 25, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Orangethorpe United Methodist Church – Chapel Hall, 2531 W. Orangethorpe Ave., Fullerton, CA 92833 (Near the northwest corner of Gilbert and Orangethorpe).

Featured speakers will provide a history of the facility, its architectural significance, and place in the community for over fifty years.

This event is organized by concerned community members, and is not affiliated with either the City of Fullerton or the Fullerton Public Library.

DougCoyoteHillsMagnify

Matthew Leslie

4th District Supervisor candidate Doug Chaffee has inappropriately included a photograph of a Friends of Coyote Hills billboard in a campaign mailer sent to households last week. The image was included in a montage of photographs meant to illustrate the Fullerton mayor’s argument that North Orange County has not received its “fair share of park and recreation funding.”

While the observation about unequal distribution of county funding for parks may be accurate, the combination of images used on the page is misleading. An image of the candidate gazing out across the hills, assembled together with no fewer than four signs for city parks or trails, and a photo of the Friends of Coyote Hills billboard, all set against the backdrop of undeveloped land, is obviously meant to imply that the candidate shares FCH’s vision of preserving all 510 acres of the property as a park. Doug Chaffee’s actions in recent years, however, tell a different story.

While Doug Chaffee did vote against the original development as a Planning Commissioner in 2011, and was later seen as the only voice on the Fullerton City Council to save the area for a park, in 2015 Doug Chaffee joined other members of the Fullerton City Council to approve Chevron-Pacific Coast Homes’ Vesting Tentative Tract Map (VTTM), a modified development plan that could potentially result in the same number of homes in the area. The Friends of Coyote Hills opposed the 2015 VTTM plan because of the inadequate timeline allowed for fundraising efforts to acquire neighborhoods slated for development, and for the use of a VTTM itself, seen by many as an end-run around legal requirements that should have required Chevron to submit an entirely new application for development following the 2012 referendum that saw over 60% of Fullerton voters opposing the original plan.

Doug Chaffee also joined other members of the council in objecting to State Senator Josh Newman’s legislation that would establish a path for state funding to purchase the land.

DougCoyoteHillsMailer

The inclusion of the billboard, prominently featuring the group’s website, prompted a response in the form of a statement to the Friends of Coyote Hills Facebook page and Twitter account:

“It has come to our attention that a candidate in the OC Supervisor 4th District election used a photo of our Save Coyote Hills billboard in his campaign mailer. Just want to remind everyone that we are unable to endorse any political candidate due to our 501c3 nonprofit status. In addition, we are definitely not affiliated with said candidate.
Hope everyone votes with saving Coyote Hills in mind. Good elected leaders make a huge difference!”

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