A re-do of an illegal vote taken on February 5 tops tonight’s council meeting agenda

Council violated the Brown Act when it illegally tried to replace veteran council member Whitaker with newbie council member Zahra on the OCWD board with no advance notice to the public.

By Jack Dean | First came the dog and pony show on January 28th where 25 citizens wasted a whole evening at the Fullerton Public Library auditioning to see if they could win three council votes to be appointed to fill a vacant seat. Then came the vote at the January 29th special council meeting when — no surprise — the appointment went to former council member Jan Flory who had started campaigning for the position in December.

Flory’s appointment was made possible because newbie council member Ahmad  Zahra changed his mind about holding a special election to fill the vacant seat and instead voted to go with the appointment process, puzzling and upsetting many of his supporters.

Council Member & Former Mayor Bruce WhitakerAt the last Council meeting on February 5th we discovered why he changed his mind: It now appears that in exchange for Zahra’s vote to appoint Flory, a deal had been made to put Zahra on the Orange County Water District’s board of directors by ousting the city’s current representative, Bruce Whitaker. The vote to replace Whitaker was 3-2 with Fitzgerald and Flory joining Zahra in the majority and Mayor Jesus Silva and Whitaker dissenting.

To see that portion of the February 5th meeting, click here for agenda Item #7. NOTE: Due to a bad editing break, you’ll need to go back a few minutes to 5:02:28 on the timeline to watch the drama unfold from its very beginning.

The agenda item as published was misleading and violated the Brown Act, i.e., no mention was made in the agenda item’s description of removing Whitaker or appointing Zahra to the OCWD board. Thus the re-do of that item at tonight’s meeting. It’s the first item on the agenda under Regular Business.

There are so many things I’d like to say about this Machiavellian maneuver, but most of them have already been said by someone else. So I’d like to direct you to their comments:

- Ryan Cantor, who filed the Brown Act violation complaint with the City, wrote an excellent post on the Orange Juice blog titled “Fullerton Bushwhacking: The Attempted Political Murder of Bruce Whitaker.” It also appears on the Fullerton Observer’s website here, plus it was also just published in the Observer‘s mid-February print edition.

- Joshua Ferguson did a very good post on the Friends for Fullerton’s Future blog titled “Flory Puts Grudge Over Law.”

- Jane Rands has provided more good context in her article which was published in the mid-February print edition of the Observer (below):

Fullerton Observer - Mid February 2019

 

Tonight’s city council meeting agenda

The AgendaTo read or download tonight’s detailed council meeting agenda, please click here (pdf).

The public participation portion of the meeting begins at 6:30 with presentations and awards. Actual city business normally doesn’t start until 7:00 or 7:30 . . . or even later.

And you can also watch it at home on cable Channel 3 (Spectrum — formerly Time Warner Cable).

Posted in Ahmad Zahra, Bruce Whitaker, City Council, City Council Appointment Applications, Jan Flory, Jane Rands, Joshua Ferguson, Orange County Water District (OCWD), Ryan Cantor, Water | Leave a comment

Fullerton City Hall is closed today for Presidents Day

City Hall Closure Dates and
Observed Holidays

2019
January –1*, 11, 25
February – 8, 18*, 22
March – 8, 22
April – 5, 19
May – 3, 17, 27*,31
June – 14, 28
July – 4*, 12, 26
August – 9, 23
September – 2*, 6, 20
October – 4, 18
November – 1, 11*, 15, 28*, 29*
December – 13, 24*, 25*, 26^,27^, 31*

*Holiday observed
^Winter Closure

Fullerton City Hall

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Please, Governor, don’t derail the bullet train derailment

A weekly column by Jon CoupalBy Jon Coupal | Even before California’s High Speed Rail bond proposal appeared on the ballot in November 2008, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association commissioned a study in conjunction with the Reason Foundation because of deep concerns about the project’s viability. The study, published in September 2008, just prior to the election, confirmed our worst fears. Specifically, the executive summary of the nearly 200-page document warned:

“The CHSRA plans as currently proposed are likely to have very little relationship to what would eventually be built due to questionable ridership projections and cost assumptions, overly optimistic projections of ridership diversion from other modes of transport, insufficient attention to potential speed restrictions and safety issues and discounting of potential community or political opposition. Further, the system’s environmental benefits have been grossly exaggerated, especially with respect to reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that have been associated with climate change.”

In the ensuing decade, it became increasingly clear that every negative prediction about the project came to be realized. Even initial advocates of the project, including a former chairman of the High Speed Rail Authority, turned against the costly boondoggle.

The capstone of criticism came at the end of 2018 when California’s own state auditor issued a scathing report excoriating the project’s mismanagement, waste and lack of transparency. To understand just how damning the HSR audit was, just consider the subtitle: “Flawed Decision Making and Poor Contract Management Have Contributed to Billions in Cost Overruns and Delays in the System’s Construction.”

To read the entire column, please click here.

Posted in Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Jon Coupal | Leave a comment

The tax system, explained in beer

Posted in Income Tax, Taxes | Leave a comment

Orange County judge to rule soon on releasing police misconduct records

After a ruling against police unions in Contra Costa late last week, Orange County this week could become the second jurisdiction to see a ruling in California over the heated legal battle to implement SB 1421, which opens select police misconduct records for public review, according to the Voice of OC.

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Defending direct democracy, defending taxpayers

By Jon Coupal | The powers of direct democracy — initiative, referendum and recall — are powerful tools to control slow-moving or corrupt politicians. These powers are enshrined in the California Constitution for reasons that are just as compelling in 2019 as they were in 1911 when Gov. Hiram Johnson, seeking to suppress the absolute control the railroads had over the state Capitol, pushed to give ordinary citizens a “legislative battering ram” — using the language of the Supreme Court — to address issues that for whatever reason the Legislature refuses to address.

Political elites hate the initiative process. From their perspective it allows the great unwashed and unsophisticated to deal with matters such as taxation, victims’ rights, insurance and most importantly political reform. These are issues over which politicians strongly desire to exercise a legislative monopoly.

A weekly column by Jon CoupalLike any political process, however, direct democracy can be abused. Some matters are indeed complicated and not well suited to a sound-bite campaign. Also, special interests with a lot of money can overwhelm the airwaves with TV and radio ads to convince a majority of voters (especially in a low-turnout election) to pass something they might later regret. Nonetheless, for taxpayers, direct democracy remains one of the few tools we have to protect ourselves.

Landmark initiative measures such as Propositions 13 and 218 have given taxpayers the kind of protection against greedy government entities that we would never have obtained but for rights granted through direct democracy. But taxpayers must do more than propose initiatives and convince voters to enact them. We must also defend them in court against never-ending assaults. For years, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has maintained a potent litigation capacity with three full-time lawyers and access to dozens more willing to defend not just taxpayer-sponsored initiatives but the very power of direct democracy itself.

And so it is that HJTA finds itself back before the California Supreme Court on an important direct democracy case.

To read the entire column, please click here.

Posted in Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Jon Coupal, Prop. 13, Prop. 218 | Leave a comment

HJTA again heads back to court on behalf of California taxpayers

Right of referendum is at stake

The California Supreme Court has granted review of an important constitutional law case where Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association represents the taxpayers. In Wilde v. City of Dunsmuir the Court must decide whether local voters, using their referendum power, can force a water rate increase onto the ballot for their approval or rejection.

California is one of 23 states whose state constitution grants voters the power to referend statutes and ordinances. A referendum is a proposal to repeal a law that was enacted by the Legislature, a City Council, or a County Board of Supervisors, before it goes into effect. It is placed on the ballot by a citizen petition.

HJTARatepayers in the City of Dunsmuir collected sufficient signatures on a petition to qualify a referendum of a water rate increase. The City refused to place the referendum on the ballot, based on two theories: (1) that the referendum power does not apply to taxes, and water rates are a form of taxation; and (2) that Proposition 218, which reinforced the voters’ right to repeal or reduce fees using a different power, the initiative power, impliedly excluded the referendum power as a means of affecting fees.

The lower court had ruled in favor of taxpayers, ordering the City to call an election on the ratepayers’ referendum. By granting review, the California Supreme Court nullified the ratepayers’ victory below.

“We are disappointed that the Supreme Court considers this a debatable question,” said HJTA’s president, Jon Coupal. “Californians have possessed the referendum power since 1911, and this is the first time its exercise has been challenged in connection with the rates charged for a commodity.”

The City’s opening brief is due on March 1, 2019. If it is filed on time, then the Jarvis Association’s brief will be due on April 2, 2019.

Posted in Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Jon Coupal, Water | Comments Off

Fullerton City Hall is closed today for another three-day weekend

City Hall Closure Dates and
Observed Holidays

2019
January –1*, 11, 25
February8, 18*, 22
March – 8, 22
April – 5, 19
May – 3, 17, 27*,31
June – 14, 28
July – 4*, 12, 26
August – 9, 23
September – 2*, 6, 20
October – 4, 18
November – 1, 11*, 15, 28*, 29*
December – 13, 24*, 25*, 26^,27^, 31*

*Holiday observed
^Winter Closure

Fullerton City Hall

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California publishers gear up for battle over public records access

By  , Voice of OC | California news publishers from across the state this week voiced strong support for an unprecedented joint legal and journalistic effort to make police misconduct records open to public review during their annual Sacramento capital conference.

Their action comes just as Attorney General Xavier Becerra halts the release of any misconduct records pending the outcomes of court cases where police unions are trying to block public release of documents.

Norberto Santana Jr.The battle began after state legislators adopted SB 1241 last fall, which amends the California Public Records Act to allow for inspection of three select areas of police misconduct records; including use of force, sexual assault and lying while on duty.

Police unions across the state fought the bill all the way through the legislature and once adopted, attempted to immediately contest it before the Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case. Since then, police unions went into local courts across the state to block releases of records.

A strong coalition of journalists and publishers have, in turn, filed lawsuits throughout California opposing police union efforts to keep such misconduct records secret.

To read the entire article, please click here.

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Watch last night’s city council meeting

To watch the five-and-a-half hour meeting, click here.

City Council Meeting 2019-02-05

Posted in Video of council meetings | Comments Off