Archives for category: Homeless

Matthew Leslie

For years running up to her current run for City Council, Fullerton Mayor Doug Chaffee’s wife Paulette Marshall Chaffee has been turning up at every sort of public meeting and reception imaginable, but it’s a rare occasion when she takes to the mic to say anything. During an August 8 meeting of the Fullerton City Council she actually spoke about Pathways of Hope‘s contentious plan to build permanent supportive housing for single homeless people at 1600 W. Commonwealth Ave., on land currently owned by the city itself, next to a compressed natural gas fueling facility near the City Yard at Commonwealth and Basque.

Over a dozen and a half people, mostly residents who live near the proposed development, spoke out in opposition to it during the meeting’s public comment period (the project wasn’t on the council agenda that night). They were concerned about possible dangers associated with living near a complex meant to house people they perceived to be ill-behaved or even potentially violent. At least one resident was worried that his property value would drop. Other speakers tried to ameliorate the residents’ concerns, explaining that calling it a “homeless shelter” was inaccurate and that the whole purpose of the enterprise was to take people off the streets and get them housed. There was even an offer by an entrepreneur to purchase the property and build some sort of biotech company on the land instead. He promised the business would employ Fullerton residents. And then, nearly* at the end of the long line, came Paulette Marshall Chaffee, who recently moved into the 5th District to run for Fullerton City Council in November.

Referencing a similar development proposal from recent past, Ms. Marshall Chaffee explained that over three years ago the Community of Friends held a series of public meetings where residents and a developer could share ideas, and decided not to build a supportive housing complex on their original preferred site at 1501 W. Commonwealth (not far, across the street, from the proposed Pathways project), and eventually decided to locate it on West Orangethorpe. Referring to Fullerton Heights, now located just east of Raymond, she said it took quite a bit of time to work out the complex layers of financing to finally build what she called a “beautiful building next to the ARCO on Orangethorpe Ave.” that will open in October. She said she thought “all of us were really happy at the way this progressed,” referring to the multi-storey structure, which is now located next to a gas station instead of near residential neighborhoods. Rag readers will recall that the site had to have its zoning changed by the City Council from “industrial” to accommodate the project.

She sagely continued, “It takes give and take, it takes meetings. I was in attendance at a lot of those meetings. I’m in attendance now at the meetings of the Ad Hoc Committee as to potential uses of the Hunt Branch, and a lot of give and take, and there are nine people that are giving of their time, a lot of public comments, and they’re looking at funding sources and I think this is part of what Fullerton is all about, and I want to see this continue”

And then she gave a “shout out” for the Annual Taco Festival on August 18 and “kudos” (twice) to Parks and Rec for holding a Health and Wellness meeting at the Community Center.

Listening to the recording above, one finds that nowhere in her somewhat rambling comments does she manage to take a position on the issue of whether or not a housing complex for people in need should be built where it has been proposed to be built. Are nearby residents being callous toward those in need of housing and unduly concerned about the potential for dangerous interactions with them? Or are they just being protective of their children, and objecting to a multi-storey development near their neighborhood of single family homes? You won’t hear Paulette Marshall Chaffee offering any opinion. Candidates for City Council can “attend” as many meetings as they want to, but not taking a stand on an important issue is not a way to convince anyone that they deserve to wield executive power, and telling people that they can work out their differences is a sure sign of a politician afraid to alienate voters in election season.

*The delusional, sanctimonious leader of Fullerton’s paranoid Grand Conspiracy contingent generally tries to get in the final wacky word on any random issue before the Fullerton City Council by lurking on the sidelines (often with a camera) until everyone else has spoken, in this instance spoiling Ms. Marshall Chaffee’s efforts to sum it all up by saying nothing at all..

Council-Chamber-Post-Verdict

The Fullerton City Council moved item twelve, an update from Chief Hughes about the trial of two former officers acquitted of charges in the death of Kelly Thomas, to the beginning of its meeting agenda tonight. Of the fifty or so members of the public who spoke about the item, nearly a dozen expressed support for civilian oversight of the Fullerton Police Department. Following public comments of the issue, Councilman Bruce Whitaker reminded the audience that he did support a public police commission, and voted against the proposal to hire the Office of Independent Review to provide a lesser model of oversight through outside audits by Michael Gennaco’s OIR.

Councilwoman Jan Flory claimed that the subject was dealt with on two different occasions, and even cited a study session held at the new community center as an example of the council’s consideration of different models of oversight. Readers will recall that the Police Oversight Proposal Committee (POPC) was limited to less than ten minutes to present a model of public oversight following lengthy presentations by the chief of police and Michael Gennaco. Almost no discussion of the proposal took place at that time. There has never been a real public discussion of police oversight by the Fullerton City Council.

Readers will also recall that Ms. Flory was supported by the Fullerton Police Officers Association in the 2012 elections. The FPOA spent tens of thousands of dollars to ensure that they elected a candidate who would privilege their priorities over the interests of the public.

Ms. Flory claimed that the POPC proposal was in conflict with state legislation that protects police officers, and that the council was advised by lawyers that they should not adopt a civilian police commission.

Of course, The Peace Officers Bill of Rights does severely limit the public’s access to information about police misconduct, making real oversight somewhat complicated. But such civilian oversight is certainly not impossible, and is vital to a community where people can be beaten in the streets by the police and be found guilty of nothing by a jury.

Councilwoman Flory ought to take the public’s demands for civilian oversight more seriously. If she thinks state law is standing In the way of it, we will expect her leadership in efforts to change that law. We request that she contact our state legislators on behalf of the people of Fullerton to reform POBR.

Police-Council-Door

Dan Hughes OC Register

OC Register reporters Larry Welborn and Lou Ponsi recently co-authored an interview with Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes (Fullerton chief reflects on Kelly Thomas case,” Nov. 23about his thoughts on the beating death of Kelly Thomas over two years ago and its effect on his department. Although the authors do ask the Chief about his reactions to the attack by his officers, any follow up questions a respectable reporter would ask are completely missing. Instead, the reader is treated to a succession of mild admissions that the FPD could have handled the situation differently, but that things are much better now. Let’s examine the Chief’s answers to the 13 questions posed by the OC Register’s reporters…

Most striking is the Chief’s opinion that it was only a “small segment of our population that was very loud that lost its trust for (sic) the Police Department,” as if he has any reliable way of measuring how much confidence the people of Fullerton have in a department whose officers needlessly beat a man to death, and now await trial for murder and other crimes. Three city council members were handily recalled by a clear majority in May, 2012, less than a year after Kelly Thomas was killed. Chief Michael Sellers eventually resigned. Not exactly ringing endorsements of the FPD by the public.

Later in the article he is asked whether there was “ever a real danger of disbanding the Fullerton Police Department.” This question should be answered by the reporters themselves, based on information collected from multiple sources. Instead, they rely on Dan Hughes to explain that “It never got to the point where the council ever even voted to get a bid.” He is correct, the vote to pursue a bid from the Orange County Sheriff to provide police services for Fullerton narrowly failed on a 3-2 vote after the Fullerton Police Officers Association filled the city council chambers with their members and supporters to oppose the vote. It could easily be argued that it was the FPOA who were the small but vocal minority who opposed outsourcing their own jobs.

In the November 2012 election the FPOA spent over $ 35,000 supporting city council candidates who could be relied upon to keep the FPD, and even then only one of their chosen, Jan Flory, squeaked by with a 29 vote lead over incumbent Travis Kiger, who had been a strong critic of the department. Clearly, the jury is still out over how much the public fully trusts the Fullerton Police Department.

When asked whether or not the FPD got an “unjustified bad rap” Chief Hughes responds that lies were told about the department, but doesn’t bother to say what lies or who told them. He does acknowledge that the police did not communicate well “about events that happened,” but, again, is not specific about anything at all. He asserts that “we have taken corrective action.” Perhaps he refers to the FPD’s official information site, Fullerton Police News, where we can read all about a police dog’s first drug bust or how to have a safe holiday season.

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