Archives for category: Sharon Quirk-Silva

SQS St. Patrick's Day 2015

On Monday, March 16 Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva will host a fundraiser for her bid to reclaim the 65th California Assembly seat from freshman incumbent Republican Young Kim, who triumphed over her in one of the most expensive Assembly elections in state history last year.

In 2012 Sharon Quirk-Silva scored an upset victory over then-incumbent Chris Norby, helping the Democrats to secure a solid two-thirds majority in both legislative houses. While in office, she promoted the establishment of a federal cemetery for military veterans in Orange County. Her voting record can be found here at votesmart.org. It is generally favorable toward labor and immigration priorities, and shows support for limiting high capacity magazines for some guns–just the sort of issues to coax steam from the ears of conservatives. Her environmental record is mixed, showing two “Nay” votes against a statewide plastic bag ban. Lamentably, The Rag has no indication that she ever sought reform of POBR, the Peace Officers Bill of Rights, to require more transparency and accountability of law enforcement officers and agencies.

Her re-election in 2014 was all but impossible given the low voter turnout by Democrats in that year’s mid-term contest. Many voters quickly tired of receiving dozens of mailers from each campaign every week, but at least it was a contested election, something nearly unheard of thanks to gerrymandered legislative districts that normally favor one party over the other.

Barely three months into the job, Young Kim doesn’t have much of a record to run against, other than offering a bill that would prohibit adding toll lanes to OC freeways without direct approval of the electorate–something likely to be popular among voters. With Prop. 14 in place to eliminate third party candidates, it could be a very close election. Sharon Quirk-Silva is no doubt counting on higher voter turnout by her party in a presidential election year to put her over the top, but she may need a stronger message to motivate the electorate this time around.

Image taken from the L.A. Times (without permission).

Image taken from the L.A. Times (without permission).

65th District Assemblymember Young Kim has introduced a bill that would prohibit a controversial plan to add toll lanes to Interstate 405 without direct approval by voters. The move would prevent the addition of a toll lane to the freeway as part of Measure M2-funded improvements, which already include extra lanes in both directions on one of the most congested highways in the state. Arguing that Caltrans “does not have the legislative authority to own or operate toll lanes anywhere in the state,” and that no mention of tolls appeared in the ballot language for Measure M2, the half cent sales to fund transportation improvements, Ms. Kim introduced AB 1459, to require a two-thirds majority approval by voters before any “toll facility” could be built in Orange County.

The OC Register, who endorsed Young Kim for her seat last year, disagrees with her, contending that by transforming the existing carpool lane into one that still allows carpools but also allows single driver vehicles to use it for a fee, freeway traffic will move faster. The Register even acknowledges that the scheme smacks of double taxation, except that “use of these lanes would be entirely voluntary.”

Like her predecessor, Sharon Quirk-Silva, Young Kim sits on the Assembly Transportation Committee. Sharon Quirk-Silva supporter Vern Nelson over at the Orange Juice blog recently recalled that last year Ms. Quirk-Silva and fellow Democrat Tom Daly both allowed a similar bill penned by Allan Monsoor to “quietly die in committee last year by boldly abstaining (so as not to piss off the dread Teamsters and Building Trades who see toll lanes as a makework slush fund.)”

What’s a Republican to do when a left-wing blog supports her bill but the right-wing county newspaper doesn’t?

Here is one suggestion: Instead of rearranging the deck chairs on our Titanically dysfunctional freeway system, why not focus on long term solutions that include mass transit? If we can devote $15.8 billion to widening freeways, why can’t we upgrade our bus system to optimum functionality, and add bike infrastructure to get more drivers off of the road in the first place?

Sharon Quirk-Silva will host a fundraiser next week to kick off her bid to reclaim the 65th Assembly seat in 2016. The Rag challenges both candidates to identify ways to fund mass transit for commuters, instead of arguing over how to spend money to alleviate perennially congested automobile traffic.

Fullerton rings in the New Year

Fullerton rings in the New Year

As a rule, I dislike end of the year wrap-up stories, so let’s take a quick look at just a few things Fullerton has to look forward to, and to look out for, in 2015…

New Mayor

2014 ended with recently re-elected Fullerton Mayor Pro Tem Greg Sebourn being elected to serve as Mayor for 2015 by his colleagues on the Council.  Councilmember Jennifer Fitzgerald, who works for Orange County’s most prominent lobbying firm, takes over as Mayor Pro Tem.  Mayor Sebourn survived a particularly sleazy negative campaign organized and paid for by the Fullerton Police Officers Association during election season, so we shouldn’t expect to see particularly warm relations between the police and the Mayor’s office. The police needn’t worry much, however, because they still have a compliant Council majority in the form of Councilmembers Fitzgerald, Chaffee, and Flory, and most of the city’s power resides in the office of the City Manager anyway.

New Planning Director

Fullerton has a new Director of Community Development after an extraordinary two and a half year vacancy. Local resident Karen Haluza, who recently served as Interim Director of Santa Ana’s planning department began her new position this past month. On the positive side, Ms. Haluza vocally opposed the awful Amerige Court plan when it was first approved several years ago. On the negative side, she endorsed Measure W, which would have allowed Chevron’s Pacific Coast Homes plan for Coyote Hills to go forward in 2012. Three-fifths of Fullerton voters disagreed with her, soundly defeating that plan, but another is in the works.

New Way to Elect City Council Members?

Two-time City Council candidate Vivian “Kitty” Jaramillo has filed a lawsuit against the City of Fullerton, contending that Latino residents are disenfranchised by the city’s current practice of electing five at-large Councilmembers. Relief would presumably be found in an election-by-district system, where residents would vote for candidates to represent only their district among five (or more?) in the city. Arguments can be made over what system might best serve voters, or whether or not a problem even exists to correct.

New Police Officers and Promotions

The Fullerton Police Department has filled out its ranks by hiring ten new officers. Several others have been promoted to critical positions of leadership as veteran captains have retired.

Old Police Lawsuits

The Rag knows of two current lawsuits against the Fullerton Police Department. The first is the one filed by Ron Thomas over the beating death of his son Kelly at the hands of Fullerton police in 2011. A suit filed by Kelly Thomas’ mother was settled in 2012. Since no one was ever held legally responsible for killing Kelly Thomas (a jury found the officers charged in his death innocent), it may be harder for his father to collect any monetary settlement from the City of Fullerton.

The other lawsuit was filed in 2014, and alleges that a Fullerton police detective coerced sex from a woman during, and in the aftermath of, a child custody case. We’ll have to wait and see whether this lawsuit goes to trial, is dismissed, or is settled out of court. In any case, is that detective still working for the department?

New Body Cameras for Police Officers

All Fullerton police officers are expected to begin wearing body cameras this year, but it remains to be seen whether or not video recordings of contacts with the public will resolve conflicts any better than the already required audio recorders, which can mysteriously malfunction or be turned off. Officers should be seriously disciplined for deactivating cameras, and members of the public should not be prevented from making their own recordings of officer encounters.

New Drought Tolerant Landscaping for City Hall

The lawn in front of City Hall will come out sometime this year, and be replaced by some form of drought tolerant landscape. Let’s hope it becomes a showcase for California’s lush, leafy, green native plants, and not just a giant cactus garden. If Fullerton residents are going to remove their water hungry lawns in favor of drought tolerant landscaping, they need to see something more attractive than spiny succulents. And ditch the decomposed granite, there is nothing wrong with dirt.

(Even More) New High Density Housing

Everywhere, unless the people of Fullerton stand up to City Hall’s plans for more and more mixed-use retail/housing behemoths wherever they can be squeezed in. City Hall wants new tax revenues, but without additional public transportation options or long term local jobs, residents can expect to see more and more traffic on major streets and cut-through traffic in otherwise quiet neighborhoods. Watch out for what may be planned to cast a permanent shadow over your house.

New Assemblymember

Young Kim will take office as the new Assemblymember representing the 65th District, displacing Sharon Quirk-Silva, whose prospects for re-election were doomed by a dismal Democratic voter turnout last November. Ms. Kim’s campaign consisted largely of promising to protect Proposition 13 and something or other about being business-friendly. Not much to work with, really. And let’s not forget that she is a carpetbagger who moved into the district to run for office. Probably not much to look forward to from her, but we’ll see…

%d bloggers like this: