In This Context, I Also Discuss The Major Issues That Faced Fullertonians In My Last Run For City Council And How Those That Were Elected Did Not Meet The Needs Of Our Citizens. By Barry Levinson
One of the things I have learned with my close involvement in city government is the following:
Regardless of our party or philosophical differences, especially on the local level, the most important qualities of any candidate for office are integrity, honesty and courage. First you must have integrity and honesty to be able to serve the people well. Second, you must have the courage to follow through to always do the right thing.
In November 2012, with regard to the major issues facing the voters, I believed the majority of voters agreed with my positions. I was one of the few major candidates who clearly were in favor of making West Coyote Hills into a park. 61% of the voters that year agreed with me. I also was for real police reform and oversight, which I believe had and still has a lot of Fullertonian support. I was for changing the priorities of our then current city council to actually move away from special interest support to supporting the needs of Fullertonians…i.e. roads, infrastructure, library funding. In order to meet those goals we have to have public pension reform. Probably the major reason for the lack of funds to take care of our infrastructure is that too much money goes to pay for our public employee benefits packages. I have spoken out often about the council voting time and again for high density and high-rise developments, which are greatly diminishing the quality of life for all Fullertonians. These are universal issues that have a great deal of support from both left of center and right of center voters. I lost that election, yet all three winners were against making W. Coyote Hills into a park. (You see how undemocratic our Fullerton election system really is, where 18 to 20% of the total vote gets you elected every time.) Flory and Fitzgerald were vehemently against an independent police oversight board. I do not recall any of them talking about increasing the funding for the library, so as not to have at that time the Hunt Branch Library opened only two half days a week and restoring the book mobile for those who can’t get to the library. Why was I for restarting our bookmobile rather than having the vehicle sit idly by in the Fullerton Library parking lot for years as well as restoring the hours of operation for both the Main Library and the Hunt Branch Library. The answer is simple. All public libraries are there to serve the public, the entire public. I believe it is one of the major duties of any well-run city government to ensure the availability of that asset to all citizens. It is also a great resource that allows children and adults alike with limited finances to have access to a world of information, books, computers, magazines, etc.
If you look at the above list of positions, I believed I had a good chance of winning one of the 3 open seats that year. It was not to be. After falling short of my goal to get elected to work for real reform, I did not get discouraged. I decided to double down on my activism to speak out on all the major issues facing Fullertonians. Based on that effort, I have had a real impact on our city council. I have led the charge against the original DCCSP in 2014 and subsequent smaller versions of the same, labeling it correctly as an undemocratic power grab by unelected City Manager Joe Felz. I said this for it would have been Joe Felz that had complete approval authority for all the many multi-million dollar projects that would have fallen under the DCCSP umbrella. I uncovered a very suspicious activity, as it related to the management deal for the Fullerton Golf Course and the associated bond issue. I very well documented this will cost the taxpayers in lost net revenue between 4 to 5 million dollars over the course of a 20-year period starting in 2010. Therefore, the council’s refusal to not only agendize this issue but to not ask me one single solitary question about this analysis by a trained auditor (myself) is so incredibly telling about each one of our five council members, Bruce Whitaker, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Jan Flory, Greg Sebourn and Doug Chaffee. In other words they are ignoring what I believe to be an ongoing problem, which means they are ignoring their respective fiduciary responsibilities to the Fullerton people. There have been many other issues that I have spoken out about along with many other fine Fullertonians. When the community speaks out load and clear, it many times changes votes and outcomes on our Fullerton City Council.
So for those Fullertonians who would say that their involvement in city affairs is a waste of time, I say politely but firmly, you are mistaken. Ordinary citizens can and do have a direct impact on the actions of our city government. It is not easy and it certainly requires diligence and a whole lot of time and effort, but it can and has been done many times.
You might ask will this political process ever stop being an uphill battle against many of the very elected officials we put into office? My answer is that we must always be vigilant as citizens but that if we elected only honest people with integrity and courage, our task would then become much easier.