Archive for July, 2014
I REPORT, YOU DECIDE-BY BARRY LEVINSON
This is according to an article written by Robert Fellner on July 20, 2014.
The reason all taxpayers should be outraged by the final percentage of retirement income vs. final pay for OCERS retirees is simple.
The taxpayer cannot afford to pay these public servants that kind of retirement money.
It may be called a pension, but in reality part of it is simply welfare created by the unions’ cozy relationship with so many of our elected officials.
A FULLERTON INFORMER EXCLUSIVE
When sharks smell blood, they show up. When the media smells hysteria, they show up. When city officials smell what the media smells and put their noses together for an opportunity to wage a sort of elitist socioeconomic ethnic cleansing of an exclusive waterfront community, they appear to push the envelope as far as they can. The right to feed yourself is as basic as you can get and so much so that the framers of our beloved California Republic wrote it into our State Constitution in Article I Section 25.
What happened to the swimmer was tragic to say the least, and thank God he is O.K. What happened was an accident, plain and simple but If anyone is negligent here it is the city for not addressing the fact that there are dangerous sharks sharing the surf with with beach goers and for not banning swimming, surfing, and boating within 100 yards of the pier like almost all other cities do up and down the coast. Read the rest of this entry »
FOOL ME ONCE SHAME ON YOU, FOOL ME TWICE SHAME ON ALL OF US. THE SAD STORY OF THE NORTH ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT’S HISTORY WITH BOND ISSUES.
I REPORT, YOU DECIDE. Barry Levinson
This Tuesday evening at 5:30 PM, the North Orange County Community College Board will meet to consider approving a $574 million dollar bond issue, which the proponents say will be primarily used to revamp two Veteran’s Buildings within its facilities.
First, over a half billion dollars for two buildings should in and of itself sound warning bells for all taxpayers throughout all of North Orange County.
Second, if the language of the bond is not specific, the Community College Board could spend the money on items not having anything to do with the Veterans.
Third, do you want to give some bureaucrats the power to have over a half billion additional dollars at their disposal to spend probably at their own discretion. I for one say absolutely not.
Fourth, we demand accountability, transparency and Read the rest of this entry »
The Increasing Number Of Suspected Police Abuse Incidents Caught On Video Is Becoming A Real Problem For Both Our Police Departments And Our Society As Well. Why Incidents Like The Kelly Thomas Beating Death By Police In Fullerton California Will Not Go Away?
I report you decide-By Barry Levinson.
The Increasing Number Of Suspected Police Abuse Incidents Caught On Video Is Becoming A Real Problem For Both Our Police Departments And Our Society As Well.
Why Incidents Like The Kelly Thomas Beating Death By Police In
Fullerton California Will Not Go Away?
Police Chiefs around this country tell us repeatedly how well trained the members of their departments are and how they believe their departments are one of the best in the country.
Yet every time we witness via live taping of a police civilian contact gone terribly wrong, almost never is the officer criminally or even civilly held to account for their actions.
They are put on paid administrative leave, which means a fully paid vacation for months or even up to a year or more while the police hierarchy and/or the DA investigates the incident. Then almost always the officer’s actions are found to be “reasonable” and they are back at their jobs fully refreshed from their extended paid vacations.
Yes many times, we might hear that the officer will receive additional training as if every bad act by a police officer can be fixed by attending one or more classes. If an officer likes to hurt people, training will do absolutely nothing to stop his bad behavior. If the officer has the wrong temperament or lacks the necessary common sense to deal rationally with the public, training will do absolutely nothing to change that officer’s bad behavior.
If someone is asked to sit down by an officer and he/she refuses does that give the officer the right to put that person’s life in danger? It is clear that too many police officers like the power and authority they have over the average citizen and yes have an extremely low bar before they escalate a confrontation from words to physical violence.
I for one, if asked to sit down or stand up or even get on my knees would obey the officer out of both respect and fear that this officer might use any minor excuse to physically assault me.
But there are those citizens who do not automatically listen to commands barked by an officer and want to know why they are being detained and want an answer before considering obeying an officer’s command.
There are situations that are not easy for the police. Non-obeying suspects are a challenge to them. But a situation where a non-violent suspect does not obey a verbal order, grounds to put someone in the hospital or worse. I do not think so.
The headline above asked if the police are more violent today then in the past. I do not know that answer. But I do know that more and more suspected police abuse has been caught on citizen’s smart phone cameras now.
I also know that laws such as POBAR, the Police Officers Bill of Rights in California that hides the records of bad police officer’s from the general public and everyone else but the police chiefs does not help the situation one little bit.
Finally, obvious cases of police officers using excessive force and not being punished, criminally, civilly or even suspended without pay for their actions, has given the bad officer a virtual green light to continue to mete out their form of street justice to an unsuspecting public.
Therefore, the real problem may not be whether there is more police abuse now than in the past. The real problem may be that the criminal justice system is ill-equipped to rein in and properly punish those bad officer’s acts.
It is clear that a growing segment of the public has become aware of this problem and it could become dangerous for our society to test the public’s patience on this matter.
The Fullerton Joint Union High School District Will Try To Place A $175 Million Bond Issue On The November Ballot.
I REPORT YOU DECIDE-By Barry Levinson
Yesterday, like most of you who live in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District (FJUHSD), I received a four-page color brochure from those bureaucratic “friends”.
F.J.U.H.S.D. BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Robert N. Hathaway
Robert Singer Ph.D.
This is the third full color brochure that has been sent out by the FJUHSD this year. Each time they have written that they are considering a new bond issue. Well, now they have set a date — August 5th, 2014 — where they will consider placing this $175 million bond issue on the November 4, 2014 ballot.
My understanding is that this bond issue will be long-term, maybe 25 years or so in length. It is irresponsible that the board would be considering this so late in the year. Read the rest of this entry »
WAS COUNCIL MEMBER JENNIFER FITZGERALD’S C.O.I.N RESPONSE BASICALLY A NON-RESPONSE TO MY EARLIER C.O.I.N. ARTICLE?
BY BARRY LEVINSON
‘I think it is both fitting and appropriate that I am penning this article on the 4th of July, Independence Day.
Councilmember Fitzgerald’s June 30, 2014 article entitled “Fullerton Councilmember Responds: New COIN Ordinance Has Teeth” is referring to my last article about C.O.I.N. dated June 25, 2014 without mentioning my name. She states that Supervisor Moorlach’s five components are in the Fullerton ordinance. She conveniently ignores every specific fact comparison I make for each of the 5 components. How is that responding to my very real concerns that the Fullerton ordinance will not make any major improvements to the transparency, timeliness and accountability of Fullerton’s labor negotiation process?
Let us first start out with the keys to a good C.O.I.N. ordinance. The keys are transparency, openness, timeliness and accountability. Let us take up that subject as it may relate to Ms. Fitzgerald. Let us go to her byline entitled ”About the Author”. She tells you “she serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of California Cities-Orange County Chapter and the Orange County Taxpayers Association and is a Past President of the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce.” Yet she leaves out what she does for a living and who is her current employer. Why would she not tell the audience how she earns a living? So I will tell you. She is currently Vice President of Curt Pringle and Associates which describes themselves on their Facebook page as follows:
Curt Pringle & Associates is a full-service public relations, public affairs and government relations firm, providing a wide range of services to both private and public sector clients.
The Curt Pringle & Associates team works collaboratively to maximize our knowledge, expertise and experience in tailoring a comprehensive strategy to fit the client’s specific goals, resources and abilities.
While we are perhaps best known for our governmental advocacy efforts, employing an extensive breadth of relationships with elected and appointed officials throughout southern California and at the State Capitol*, we are also well versed in the areas of land use entitlement, public outreach, crisis communications and media relations, and have produced substantial benefits in each of these fields for numerous clients.”
I would very much like Councilmember Fitzgerald to tell us why she left out this very important detail in describing herself. I would say what one does for a living could have a direct impact on various public policy positions especially when that is her business as VP of Curt Pringle and Associates as well as her elected obligation and duty as Fullerton Councilmember as well. Could it be that this is the very reason why Ms. Fitzgerald failed to mention her executive position with Curt Pringle and Associates?
I REPORT, YOU DECIDE.
There is an excellent quote whose author I do not know. The quote is as follows:
“You are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”
It simply means that you are entitled to any opinion without the boundaries of accuracy, factuality, or even sanity. Facts by the very definition of the word, does not allow you to have your own set of facts simply because you are not the arbiter of those facts like you are with your own opinions. I know politicians wish that they could have their own set of facts and many times act like they are entitled to have their own set of facts. However, I am here to tell them unequivocally that they do not have that right if they also want to be honest communicators of the truth.
Therefore, Ms. Fitzgerald certainly is entitled to her opinions but she is certainly not entitled to her own brand of facts.
My earlier article took the five major components of a good C.O.I.N ordinance and found shortcomings in the just passed counterfeit CO.I.N. ordinance thanks to the yes votes by Mayor Chaffee and Councilmembers Fitzgerald and Flory.
It is interesting that for each specific shortcoming that I factually pointed out, Ms. Fitzgerald did not address directly any of them. I would call that rather non-responsive.
For instance, let us give the reader two examples starting with component No. 1 Independent Negotiator. This is part of what I wrote as follows:
“Under Moorlach’s component, an independent negotiator is a requirement for all negotiations. Under Fullerton ordinance Section B.1. Principal Negotiator second paragraph states as follows: “The requirement for an outside negotiator may be waived by a majority vote of City Council.”
Therefore, since the current council put this out clause into the ordinance they must want to be able to waive the independent negotiator requirement at their convenience with a simple majority vote. If a majority of our current council wanted a truly independent process there would be no language in the ordinance to allow for the independent negotiator’s status to be tampered with by this council or for any future council as well.
Ms. Fitzgerald did not address this critical fact in her response.
For Component No. 2., Cost of Contracts, I wrote the following:
“Under Moorlach’s component the independently elected Auditor-Controller reviews the costs of proposed contracts and provides the information to all parties and the public before any contractual finalization can take place.” In the Fullerton version it states at A.1., Annual Analysis of Costs and Liabilities, second paragraph, as follows: “The annual fiscal analysis shall be submitted to the City’s independent auditor during the course of the annual City financial audit.” Under Fullerton law, there is no requirement to provide this information prior to the signing of the labor negotiation contracts, relegating the independent auditor’s information basically worthless because the public does not receive it in a timely manner. Therefore, the second component’s only purpose is not carried out under the Fullerton law.”
Ms. Fitzgerald failed to address this critical point as well. To use her vernacular….CHECKMATE!
I would also like to make one very important observation. I have been regularly attending Fullerton council meetings since early 2010. In those 4.5 years, any agenda item that even had the hint of potentially reducing union power, control and especially their salaries and benefits of their members always resulted in many, many city employees attending and speaking out at those meetings. Not one city employee, not one union president or member spoke out against the recently passed Counterfeit C.O.I.N. ordinance. Ladies and gentlemen doesn’t that tell you all you really need to know about which version of C.O.I.N., the Costa Mesa version or the Fullerton version is going to work best for the taxpayers of Fullerton.
In conclusion, Ms. Fitzgerald is certainly entitled to her opinions, but she is not entitled to her own facts. Unfortunately, we the people of Fullerton believed her when she told us that she would support an effective C.O.I.N. ordinance for the city of Fullerton. Now we know her opinion about C.O.I.N., and now the reader knows the facts.
Post Script: What is truly sad is that Ms. Fitzgerald as well as Ms. Flory and Mr. Chaffee will be asked to account for these and other shortcomings in the Fullerton ordinance in upcoming Fullerton city council meetings by the public and they will most likely not respond to any of the public’s questions. Is this the kind of government that our forefathers envisioned or is this the kind of government they feared might materialize while the public was not closely watching our city leaders?
I report you decide- BY BARRY LEVINSON
On Tuesday evening, Council Member Bruce Whitaker explained with great specificity why he would be voting against the Fullerton Counterfeit C.O.I.N. ordinance.
Council Member Jennifer Fitzgerald,who appears to have taken up the role of an attack dog for the City of Fullerton’s power structure, immediately responded as follows: “You are absolutely wrong.” However, she did not address one of the many specific points that Mr. Whitaker spoke to about the deficiencies in our version of C.O.I.N. Ms. Fitzgerald it is so, so easy for you to say you are absolutely wrong. If you were a member of a debate team you would receive a failing grade of F. Let me proceed with Ms. Fitzgerald’s remarks. “It follows in the path of C.O.I.N.” Mr. Whitaker explained exactly why it does not follow in the path of C.O.I.N. as represented by the Costa Mesa law. Let me provide you with one last quote from Ms. Fitzgerald. “We are not far enough along in this reform to quibble about these small, little differences.”
Again, Ms. Fitzgerald offers no words of substance, no factual support for her conclusions whatsoever.
Once again, she casts her vote with the two status quo council members, Chaffee and Flory and turns her back on her supposed natural allies, Whitaker and Sebourn as well as the people of Fullerton. In fact, except for some 5 to 0 votes, I do not believe that Ms. Fitzgerald has ever cast her vote in agreement with Mr. Whitaker on any substantive issue. What does that tell you folks about Ms. Fitzgerald?
In my opinion, her comments at the July 15, 2014 council meeting were a purely political ploy, which should not be surprising based on her chosen profession as political consultant. Only now when she speaks she has the backing of her new employer, the consulting firm of Curt Pringle and Associates. I wonder how many Fullerton voters who cast their ballot for Ms. Fitzgerald in 2012, are lamenting their decisions.
Ms. Fitzgerald did plenty of damage to her already eroding credibility by her unsubstantiated statements above. However, she further damaged her reputation by the following comment.
According Ms. Fitzgerald, Council member Bruce Whitaker is against the Fullerton version of C.O.I.N. because it was not his idea. Ms. Fitzgerald did you not hear Mr. Whitaker’s eloquently provided specific reasons not to be in favor of the Fullerton Counterfeit version of C.O.I.N. just a few minutes before your personal attack? It seems to me that you have a real problem responding to facts presented by opposing positions.
I guess your love for Fullerton Ms. Fitzgerald does not extend to all your fellow council members. You had absolutely no excuse for your behavior toward Council member Whitaker. An apology from you at the next council meeting would be most appropriate. After all, your comments fell way below any basic standards of decency and respect that you should always demonstrate to all your fellow council members.
HOW OUR CITY OF FULLERTON BUREAUCRACY FAILS IN ITS MOST IMPORTANT MISSION, TO PROTECT THE SAFETY OF ALL ITS CITIZENS. (ESPECIALLY THOSE SOUTH OF COMMONWEALTH AVENUE)
I REPORT, YOU DECIDE.-BY BARRY LEVINSON
Park and Recreation Committee met last night and voted to approve the installation of an AT&T cell tower in Richman Park, a few feet away from the St Jude Medical Clinic and adjacent to the Richman Elementary School.
The final vote was 4 for approval, 1 abstention and 1 rejection. The vote broke down as follows:
Wayne Carvalho, Vice-Chair (appointed by Greg Sebourn) Yes
Erin Haselton (appointed by Jennifer Fitzgerald) Yes
Jesus Silva (appointed by Jan Flory) Yes
Scott Stanford (appointed at-large) Yes
Karen Lang-McNabb (appointed by Doug Chaffee) Abstained
Barry Levinson, Chair (appointed by Bruce Whitaker) No
Ladies and gentleman, it was approved despite the collection of 365 neighborhood citizen signatures telling the city that it does not want the cell tower to be installed. The committee was told that this neighborhood group only learned about this cell tower a week ago and that they were still actively collecting signatures and that more would be forthcoming. All public comments from the citizens, five in all were against the construction of the cell tower. No one from the public was for the cell tower.
It was also approved despite the fact that AT&T has not provided a contract document to the city. At my urging a similar document was provided as an example. We learned that the specifics of the cell tower equipment is not included in any contractual document but handled off line by the Park and Recreation Department.
The standard language in these cell tower contracts was somewhat troubling in a few key areas. For instance, it states under the Section entitled Use, the following: ”The Premises may be used by the Lessee” (that would be cell tower provider), “for any lawful activity in connection with the provision of wireless communications services by the Lessee.” According to the engineering study conducted for AT&T, the cell tower in question is “one percent of the applicable public exposure limit”. So under this standard language contract they could presumably increase the exposure almost 100 times and still be within the “legal” FCC limits according to the study. All this can be done without every being reviewed again by the Parks and Recreation Committee or the Fullerton City Council. I noted last night that this contractual language was not acceptable to me. Apparently, it was acceptable to everyone else as I was the only no vote.
I also asked if the council would be given a copy of the AT&T contract prior to their vote to approve the cell tower. The answer was that it is not provided in their agenda package because it is a standard contract approved many years ago by a former council.
I found all of the above unacceptable as I believe we were voting on an agenda item based on only verbal assurances by AT&T and very little else.
Now ladies and gentleman, I have not even yet raised the part that is most concerning to many others and me. It is the potential health risks that most of the public comment speakers addressed. Joe Imbriano, administrator of fullertoninformer.com even gave the council copies of several recent studies that detail the health risks of cell towers to the surrounding community.
Yet despite all of this, I was the only commissioner who voted against this agenda item. So now it goes before the city council for final approval. Unless all of us go to that meeting (it has not been put on the agenda as of yesterday) I suspect this cell tower will be approved.
Before the vote, I offered an alternative motion that the vote be delayed one month until our next meeting. At that time I recommended that AT&T could provide us with the proposed contract, the neighborhood group could provide the city with its final tally of all those against the project and members of the public could address the committee with a formal presentation of their concerns about the placement of this cell tower. The committee voted down that alternative motion.
I asked the members of the Park and Recreation Department present along with the other five committee members, what is the purpose of reviewing this cell tower proposal, if we do not have a contract and by law (the FCC) we are not to consider the health risks of our children and their parents that have been claimed by dozens if not 100’s of scientific studies throughout the world. Not surprisingly, no one provided me with an answer.
One last but vital point. Director Hugo Curiel reminded us that as a body we couldn’t consider the health effects of cell towers in making our decision to approve or reject the cell tower for Richman Park.
The FCC stands for the Federal Communications Commission. It has federal jurisdiction over interstate communications. Please tell me where such a group has the authority and the expertise to make it illegal to consider the potential negative and serious health effects of cell tower transmissions.
I for one stand tall and stand proud to state unequivocally that the FCC has no right to demand our silence on the issue of cell tower heath risks.
It was just another sad performance by people representing the city of Fullerton. It was sad because every concern, i.e. the lack of a contract, the health concerns and the wishes of many of the neighborhood residents, all ignored by our Parks and Recreation Department and its committee.
Fullerton’s newest cell tower proposed in Richman park. Insert school kids for firemen, insert classrooms, school campuses and parks for fire stations. Stand with us to protect our children.
FULLERTON HAS PLANS FOR ANOTHER CELL TOWER
This one’s a doozy. It is going to be right next to Richman Elementary School, next to homes, in a park, towering right on top of The St. Jude Heritage Medical Group’s community health center. Get this- The ATT rep told the parks and rec commission that it is ILLEGAL to consider health effects in their decision. What? Is she parroting possible disinformation based on a contorted preemption case out of San Diego? Maybe or maybe not. The San Diego Court ruling on preemption is very dicey. At any rate, the ATT rep agreed to come back in 30 days with a so called “independent expert” to answer any questions regarding health effects and dangers to the public at the request of Parks and Recreation Commission.
So far, it appears that the commission has been bypassed, and it is set to be voted on by the council in July. WHERE IS THE DUE PROCESS AND THE ATT EXPERT COMING OUT AND ANSWERING THE HEALTH CONCERN QUESTIONS?
Well it sure ain’t illegal to simply read and understand the health effects and say NO based on a proprietary business decision. We have enough wireless exposure gang. We don’t need another tower, especially where they want to place this one. Are school kids and neighbors worth three grand a month? They are worth a hell of a lot more than that to me folks. Read the rest of this entry »
I REPORT, YOU DECIDE. by Barry Levinson.
It is now three years since the senseless, brutal death of Kelly
Thomas at the hands, arms, feet, knees, bodies and Taser gun
handle of 6 Fullerton police officers.
Three of those officers are still
gainfully employed under our new Chief of Police, Dan Hughes.
Sergeant Kevin Craig, the highest-ranking officer on the scene
received the 2013 Fullerton Police Department Supervisor of the Year
Award from the Fullerton Police Association.
Those in power at city hall claim correctly that we have new council
members and a new police chief. However, it is not the names
of those in charge that is important but rather the openness and
transparency in which they govern us that does matter.
Unfortunately, in that regard, little has changed substantively since
the brutal death of Kelly Thomas.