HOW CAN ELECTED OFFICIALS MAXIMIZE THEIR INFLUENCE IN PROMOTING GOVERNMENT FOR AND BY THE PEOPLE INSTEAD OF FOR THE POWERFUL SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS?


HERE ARE SOME OF MY THOUGHTS AS WE ENTER A CRUCIAL ELECTION YEAR OF 2016 WITH THREE FULLERTON COUNCIL MEMBERS UP FOR REELECTION, FITZGERALD, FLORY AND WHITAKER.

BY BARRY LEVINSON

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BARRY LEVINSON

Question?   Can any elected official expect real change when they do not hold elected officials serving with them accountable for their special interest voting record, knowing that the special interest politicians hold the voting majority?  For if the same people or their allies keep on getting elected, how can we expect any different and I would add better results going forward?

 

As Albert Einstein once said: Doing the same thing over and over again and then expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity…. and I would add self-delusional as well.

 

I would argue that those elected bodies frequently act more like a Private and Exclusive Club than a representative body of the people.  Their votes so often ignore the will of the people, but help the well-connected special interests. They also seem to have this unspoken rule, not to openly and publicly criticize colleagues on their respective votes, even when those votes do not agree with their campaign slogans and/or promises.  Does this rule help the people or does it shield the politicians from justifiable criticism on their voting records?  Are elected officials trading their silence for future political support?

 

Part of the reason for bad government of course, is the public’s lack of involvement with the political process.  Political mailers that have little connection to the truth can fool many voters.  So in fact, the public needs to realize that their ignorance of the facts results in many bad choices at the voting booth.

 

However, this article is not about what the public could do better to effectuate a better government but what our elected leaders can do to make for a better and more representative government for the people.

 

Question?  If a politician runs for office as a fiscal conservative and votes for deficit budgets rather than making changes to live within the taxpayer’s means, should not that politician be held accountable by their fiscally conservative colleagues?

I say emphatically yes.  For if that same elected official wins reelection touting their fiscally conservative record, I believe one can state that the other elected officials’ silence aided and abetted that person’s reelection.

 

Well in Fullerton, we have 3 Republican elected council members’ Whitaker, Fitzgerald and Sebourn.  In fact, Fitzgerald was the swing vote to pass a two-year $2.8 million deficit budget.  This $2.8 million deficit is actually understated because it excludes major costs such as the cost of water for the entire city of Fullerton and all the unfunded pension and retiree medical care costs.  Why do you think Ms. Fitzgerald cast this deciding vote?  Is it because she votes in support of her special interest friends, the public unions and the real estate developers? Overwhelmingly, these groups do not live in Fullerton.  Why then should the public unions be allowed to bleed us dry of our tax money?  Why then should the high-rise real estate developers be allowed to destroy the quality of life Fullertonians have cherished for decades?

 

I have not heard one word from the council dais from either Council member Whitaker or Sebourn pointing out why a supposed fiscal conservative council member, Fitzgerald would vote for budget deficits.  It is not to late for either or both gentlemen to go on the record with this very justifiable criticism of Mayor Fitzgerald.

 

Saying what you mean and more importantly doing what you say is what makes for an honorable council member.  Without it, we the public, are not voting for trusted public servants but rather for an illusion painted skillfully by a less than honest politician.  In 2016 let us speak out as one and hold all our elected officials accountable.  Remember Fullertonians that when a council member lets a fellow council member off the hook, it too often means that we the people have been placed on that hook.

 

Finally, I like to leave the readers with one last thought.  If we as a people can’t elect a majority of representatives who put the welfare of the people before the special interests on the local level, how can we ever expect anything better on the state and national levels?

 

I report, you decide.

  1. #1 by Fullerton - The Cesspool City Government on January 3, 2016 - 9:36 pm

    For the last 30 to 40 years we have had almost non-stop Republican majorities representing the Fullerton council. Yet we now have budget deficits, huge unfunded pension liabilities and some of the worst roads, sewers and water pipes west of the Rockies. Add to that the “well earned reputation” of the Fullerton police force and you have a broken city. Did I mention Fullerton’s City Attorney? Is he an employee, or independent contractor? We now know he was both in Westminster for the last 20 plus years. How does he do it?
    Republican is the name of a political party and we all know that all political parties especially after they taste some success become corrupted over time. That party along with the Democratic Party have earned the mistrust of the people.
    I agree with Mr. Levinson that most elected bodies appear to be run like a private club, for the benefit of the members themselves.
    It is heartwarming to learn that other cities such as Westminster are vying for the title of The Cesspool City Government. Here is a word of caution Westminster, it will not be easy taking away the title from Fullerton.

    PS: I can’t wait to see when Joe Felz and the city council brings back the Downtown Core and Corridor Special Plan for a vote. We will be waiting Mr. City Manager.

  2. #2 by Reality Is..... on January 4, 2016 - 8:15 am

    But the main question is….

    Would you or Joe actually vote as the people want? Or solely how you feel about your own personal vendettas and interests in this city?

    You know the answer. So do we.

    • #3 by V is for Vendetta on January 5, 2016 - 12:00 pm

      I think Joe will be a great asset to Fullerton up on the dais.

  3. #4 by Another view ... on January 4, 2016 - 10:40 am

    Actually, unfunded pension liability is a state-wide issue affecting virtually every city in California and has more to do with Democratic leadership in Sacramento, along with powerful public unions, than anything locally. To place the blame on the Fullerton city council for Fullerton’s pension debt is misleading and inacurate. In fact, Fullerton has a better handle on its unfunded pension debt than most OC cities.

    Also, badly needed infrastructure repairs is also not a Fullerton issue exclusively … far from it. In the past year or so, as the economy slowly improves, more money has become available to make these road and sewer repairs. Fullerton, along with many cities, has embarked an aggressive multi-year capital improvement campaign.

    And Reality is makes a good point. Based on the venomous tone of the blog posts and comments here – which in many ways resemble pure hate speech and cyber-bullying – it’s not a stretch to assume that if certain individuals won city council seats, they would cast votes based on their own views, not necessarily the views of the masses.

    • #5 by Anonymous on January 4, 2016 - 11:06 am

      Fullerton is screwed just like everywhere else. Nobody gives a shit about anything anymore. Even daddy warbucks Tony couldn’t pull it off.

      • #6 by Reality Is..... on January 5, 2016 - 5:04 pm

        LOL Tony B sure did try. Wow he rode the dead back of Kelly Thomas right into his purchase of city politics. $500,000 was all that it took too. Crazy. Then Travis opened his mouth about checkpoints right away and was pushed right out of office never to be heard from again. Take note.

    • #7 by Reality Is..... on January 4, 2016 - 6:57 pm

      Very true. The answer by Joe and Barry and Tony B and others like them is well yea it’s a statewide PERS issue but we can start in Fullerton and just vote to change their retirement system. It’s not that easy. Also, the last person that attempted to takeover Fullerton and vote how they saw fit and not how the community saw fit, was quickly run out of town faster than they came into town, Travis and Tony B. But as I said a few times, I don’t have confidence that Barry or Joe will vote how the people feel, they will vote on their own personal agenda lines.

        • #9 by Reality Is..... on January 5, 2016 - 5:03 pm

          That playbook makes more and more sense every time Barry or Joe opens their mouth.

          • #10 by Anonymous on January 5, 2016 - 7:02 pm

            I think you know that the law firm that employed this playbook, represented both Costa Mesa and the Fullerton Police Officers Association.
            Costa Mesa Police Officer’s Association, and recently disbanded like rats leaving a sinking ship, and is being sued by the ex-Mayor and City Councilman of Costa Mesa.

            http://www.latimes.com/tn-dpt-me-0920-lackie-dammeier-mcgill-ethir-20130919-story.html

            …and I don’t think the two lunk heads who pulled the Mayor over on a false DUI charge,didn’t fare too well either last time I checked:

            private-investigators-working-for-police-union-arrested-for-crimes-against-costa-mesa-councilmen

            • #11 by Reality Is..... on January 6, 2016 - 4:43 pm

              Yes and that law firm represented about 75% of police unions statewide. They were responsible for the huge pay raises and pension increases and benefit increases since the year 2000 and before until a few years ago. Their tactics did wonders. Then city managers and police bosses realized their tactics of suing for everything and told em to F off. Then they stepped on their weiners with the billion dollar legal defense fund that cops pay into and the LDF fired them on the spot. They shut their doors the next day. They went from a multi million dollar law firm to the doors shut in one day. One of the craziest stories in the history of law. They did great things for police unions but their pushy tactics as noted in this manual and that they used in Costa Mesa were old school. They even put a tracker on an attorney that represented other unions that they wanted to takeover, in attempt to get dirt on him. Crazy!! So anyways, this playbook was great years ago but not in this era after police unions gave up pay and benefits in the time of crisis in the economy. They are only now starting to recoup some of their lost pay and benefits, as you see by the small raises approved in Fullerton.

  4. #12 by Barry Levinson on January 4, 2016 - 1:48 pm

    It was the Fullerton City Council (which at the time included Jan Flory) Another View that voted for the steep increase in police and fire benefits for the city of Fullerton approximately 13 years ago. That vote is the main reason why there is such a large unfunded pension liability. I was stating that the city of Fullerton is not required to show the cost of the unfunded pension liabilities when coming up with its yearly budget, which is now $2.8 million in the red over the next two years. I also said the city does not show the cost of its water usage because it passes all of that cost to the ratepayers in the form of higher rates. Will you Another View pay for my entire water bill? I did not think so, then why does the city mandate that we the consumers pay directly for the water they consume year after year. Maybe if they paid for their own water and identified it properly as a separate line item cost in the budget, we would have known for example, about the excessive water loss at Laguna Lakes many years ago. What is not seen, can not be fixed? What is hidden from the public can be ignored by the city? These two off budget items would add millions to our existing budget deficit.

    More evidence of the lack of transparency in the City of Fullerton budget, which is the joint responsibility of the City Council and our City Manager, Joe Felz.

    • #13 by Another view ... on January 5, 2016 - 11:25 am

      My recollection is that Ms. Flory voted AGAINST the pay and benefit increases for public safety workers which is the reason those unions did not endorse her in her bid for re-election at that time.
      To your other point, the city’s payments to CalPERS are most definitely included in the budget.
      Thirdly, the city’s water costs are documented. Easy to find too.

      • #14 by Anonymous on January 5, 2016 - 11:57 am

        Not last time around-raises for all

      • #15 by Barry Levinson on January 5, 2016 - 2:28 pm

        Another View you are mistaken. Council member Flory voted for the huge pension increase for Fullerton fire and police after 9/11, which allows them now to retire at the age of 50 with 90% of their pay after 30 years of service. The average 50 year old male lives on average to about 82 years of age. So these public servants make 90% of their pay in retirement for an average of 32 years, 2 more years than they actually worked. Without major changes to the current pension system or greatly increasing our taxes, all cities with this overly generous pension plan can expect to be facing bankruptcy down the road.

        • #16 by Barry Levinson on January 5, 2016 - 3:21 pm

          As I said above, without major changes to the current pension system or greatly increasing our taxes or both, all cities with this overly generous pension plan can expect to be facing bankruptcy down the road.

          How’s that for safety Fullertonians?

          • #17 by Reality Is..... on January 5, 2016 - 5:02 pm

            I’ve heard that for years. All cities are going bankrupt. However, so far only a few cities that were very poorly run have even attempted it. San Bernardino will be the first big test case. They have lost over 1/4 of their police force already. Smart cops.

          • #18 by Another view ... on January 5, 2016 - 8:41 pm

            Fullerton is not in danger of bankruptcy, nor will they be. Yes I agree the public pension system needs an overhall. But to blame the Fullerton council for that is wrong, misleading and self serving. The problem lies in Sacramento.

            • #19 by Reality Is..... on January 6, 2016 - 4:45 pm

              I remember Tony Bushala and Travis and Whitaker and a few others on that anti city government, anti police train, said that Fullerton would be bankrupt in two years. That was 5 years ago. Fullerton and almost all other California cities are doing fine now. It’s all just BS talk. The only thing that could impact the future of PERS and that pension system is if the former Mayor of San Jose and his butt buddy somehow get their dreams on a ballot. They figured out that the only way to end the PERS system and benefits is to completely halt contributions from new employees. That would shut it down and crush the California economy instantly. Until then, which shouldn’t ever happen, PERS will thrive and so will California cities.

        • #20 by Reality Is..... on January 5, 2016 - 4:58 pm

          The average life of a retired cop is not 82. Do some more research if you are going to spout figures like that. It’s not even close to 82.

          I’ve heard it for the last 15 years that this pension thing is going to be the end of California. But cities continue to thrive, have balanced budgets and move money into the rainy day funds. Yes, I think city employees across the board should get pay raises of 2-4%. Every year. COLA is something that a pay raise like that barely even dents. Not sure why you think that’s such a big deal. I think just about every person I know in the private sector also gets pay raises of some % each year. You are just a cop and city employee hater so you fail to see the fairness in a small raise. What’s the average pay raise per year for police in Fullerton? Tell me that. Since they gave up so much, like all police departments and city employees across this state in the hard times. So go ahead. Tell me what’s the average yearly raise over the last 10 years for Fullerton Police.

          • #21 by Barry Levinson on January 6, 2016 - 4:48 pm

            The average life of a retired police officer is actually slightly higher than the average males life expectancy calculated at age 50. These are the statistics.

            A police officer who is ethically challenged is a danger to us all. They have the power to destroy innocent lives. That is just one of the reasons that POBAR needs to be overhauled.

            The law should not protect bad police officers. Reality Is has a consistent track record on this website of spewing misinformation. People who have no respect for the truth should never wear a badge.

            It is precisely the fact that my dad was such a great police officer – honest, dedicated and brave that I expect some level of honesty, decency and work ethic from every law enforcement officer. I am sure many have those great qualities but we have seen in Fullerton that too many fall way short.

        • #22 by Another view ... on January 5, 2016 - 6:05 pm

          I don’t know you, but it kind of sounds like you really just don’t like public safety workers for some reason. I agree that our public pension system needs an overhaul.. But as I said earlier, to say it’s all Fullertons fault, is misleading and inaccurate

          • #23 by Anonymous on January 5, 2016 - 7:21 pm

            I guess Another View just wants to condemn this site rather than answer to the fact that it was the Fullerton City Council around the year 2002 that voted for a 90% safety pension after 30 years at the ripe young age of 50. It was adopted in Fullerton by a majority vote of the Fullerton City Council…not the county, not the state, not the federal government. Do you understand now Another View?

            • #24 by Reality Is..... on January 6, 2016 - 4:39 pm

              along with every other city police agency in the State of California. Yes what you said is true. And it’s a large part of why Fullerton is such a great police agency today. If they didn’t vote that in, all the cops would have left for surrounding agencies that did vote it in. It was really that simple in 2002.

  5. #25 by Fullerton on January 5, 2016 - 3:17 am

    Most elected officials are not very smart and easily duped. Both JF’s come to mind, one Democrat and one alleged Republican, so it’s by no means a partisan problem. The bureaucrats and special interest leeches are great at exploiting their weaknesses to get what they want.

    Additionally, Fullerton has fallen into the trap of relativism. We do things because other cities do them first, no matter how expensive, immoral, or corrupt they are — just so long as we don’t cross a certain threshold.

    The City of Bell scandal has me torn in many respects. There is much to rejoice about in that justice was served. On the other hand, it provided everyone else a very instructive litmus test as to how far to push the limits. Corruption is fine, just don’t be like Bell. That’s how bureaucrats and politicians in our area now think.

    I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of Flory but at least she talks and we get to see her true character. Fitzgerald is an odd duck because she’s a socialite away from the council but says virtually nothing of substance from the dais. Her silence is probably by design out of self-preservation. The woman cannot be trusted and I wholeheartedly regret voting for her.

    • #26 by Anon on January 5, 2016 - 1:44 pm

      I “wholeheartedly regret voting for her”, too.

      Flory is no good, either.

  6. #27 by Fullerton Lover on January 5, 2016 - 9:43 am

    You might want to read the “playbook” that the public safety unions employ to maximize the returns on their union dues when dealing with the city council, and so you can understand how they manipulate the public.

    You can always tell when their lying, just look for when their are lips are moving…

    http://www.fullertonsfuture.org/2012/the-cop-playbook-public-safety-has-nothing-to-do-with-it/

    • #28 by Reality Is..... on January 5, 2016 - 5:00 pm

      and this playbook makes more and more sense every time I see someone like Tony Bushala, or Travis, or Barry, or Joe, try to come into towns and buy out the councils just to push their own personal agendas. The more I hear Barry or Joe and others in other cities try to make their way onto city councils, the more that this playbook and POBAR make sense. Barry and Joe would fire a cop on the spot without even knowing facts. That’s what POBAR protects from. I’m just glad that the types of Barry and Joe and Tony B very rarely ever make it onto a city council to attempt to push their biased agendas.

  7. #29 by Anonymous on January 6, 2016 - 8:12 am

    Reality Is…..you make us all laugh because you are a joke. I have read before that Mr. Levinson’s dad was a police officer and he has called him a hero. You must be deathly afraid that a Joe or a Barry gets unto the council because that might spoil the corrupt gravy train.

    • #30 by Reality Is..... on January 6, 2016 - 4:51 pm

      LOL come on. Him having police relatives and liking the police is like me saying I have black friends I’m not a racist. Means nothing. Barry scares no one. If he did scare anyone, then Danny Boy wouldn[t ignore him every chance he gets. Joe Feliz and DannyBoy ignore him and laugh at him every chance they get.

      • #31 by Fullerton Lover on January 21, 2016 - 12:47 pm

        …hey “Bucko” you’re sort of drawing a picture for me that looks like two jack asses braying loudly in the desert about how they swindled all of the local townspeople into believing all of their bullshit, only to find out that when the townspeople realized that they’d all been had, and that the scoundrels had even stolen the towns peoples children’s future…

        …I really don’t think the towns people of Fullerton are going to have much of a sense of humor when they find out they’ve all been robbed blind. : )

  8. #32 by Fullerton Lover on January 6, 2016 - 10:06 am

    Recommended viewing to go inside the thought process of public safety unions, such as the Fullerton Police Officer’s Association.

    Note the “storm the city council” tactic that the “playbook” says to employ, which the FPOA did immediately before the November 2012 Fullerton City Council election.

    http://www.fullertonsfuture.org/2011/peer-into-the-thought-process-of-the-fpoa/

    • #33 by Reality Is..... on January 6, 2016 - 4:57 pm

      Yea that playbook used to work across the state. Their tactics were the best around. They were responsible for the pay and benefits that police officers have today, and the benefits of POBAR that were implemented as well. They are long gone now though so that playbook really means nothing anymore.

      • #34 by Fullerton Lover on January 21, 2016 - 8:43 am

        That’s very naïve Reality Is!

        Like rats leaving a sinking ship, the ex-cop lawwyers all bailed out of the original law firm, and moved on and started their own law firms across the state.

        http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-police-union-law-dissolve-20130919-story.html

        So like an virus, they’ve actually multiplied!

        • #35 by Reality Is..... on January 22, 2016 - 10:29 pm

          You are close to true. So not really naive. The ones mentioned and the ones that I see as very corrupt, the leaders, aren’t working for any of those firms and haven’t started any other firms. Good try though.

  9. #36 by Telling It Like It Is on January 20, 2016 - 11:47 am

    Fullerton Lover, the Police Unions’ Playbook is despicable. The police are supposed to be the public’s safety net. Yet we see that when there is any disparity between what is best for the public and what is best for police salary and benefits, we can bet that the police union’s will throw the public’s welfare under the bus every time. Let’s face it, if police pensions were not up to and sometimes over 90% of their final pay, for instance, we the public could afford to hire more police. The police union’s apparently choose their self-interest over the interests of the public’s safety needs. Another shameful performance by our city council last night voting to add five more police officers without first determining where they will come up with the money from an already million dollar plus deficit budget.
    A responsible council would find a way to pay for the 5 additional officers before voting to hire them. Our council is not responsible. One public speaker compared the hiring of the officers to the $390,000 to $500,000 one time cost to fix a Fullerton landmark, Laguna Lake. Well public speaker, those officers will cost the taxpayers about $500,000 a year, not a one-time cost to fix an existing Fullerton treasure. Finally, if a previous council remodeled the lake properly, we would not be required now to spend additional taxpayer funds. Once again poor management of basic services, costs the taxpayer’s dearly.

    • #37 by Reality Is..... on January 22, 2016 - 10:32 pm

      Correct in a way. Yes the unions main goal is to support the officers and do everything possible to get the best pay and benefits for those officers that they can. They are also there to support and fight off political corruption that is always on cops backs to take them down at will. That’s why police unions help create POBAR as law. So yes you are right. If it wasn’t for police unions, political hacks with personal agendas like Bushala, Imbriano, Barry, and Travis would cut cops pay the second they got in office and try to make them slaves. No thanks. Thats why people like them will never get into office. Travis had Bushala buy his way into office on the blood of Kelly Thomas, and Travis was run right out of town the second he opened his mouth during his first few council meetings.

      • #38 by Fullerton Lover on January 23, 2016 - 9:22 am

        Police Officers every where should be so proud that the same scum bag that was later fired for exploiting a sexual assault victim that he was supposed to be protecting, rode to their defense to speak out against a bespectacled Travis Kiger.

        You should all be SO proud ; }

        http://www.fullertonsfuture.org/2012/the-idiot/

      • #39 by Joe Imbriano on January 25, 2016 - 11:01 pm

        You gonna vote for me RI?

  10. #40 by Fullerton Lover on January 23, 2016 - 12:28 pm

    Ladies and gentleman, I give you former Fullerton Police Department Detective, and Travis Kiger critic…Mr. Ron Bair

    http://www.ocweekly.com/news/lawsuit-fullerton-detective-forced-woman-into-sex-acts-in-return-for-favorable-court-testimony-6444306

(will not be published)


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