Friday, January 21, 2011

Fullerton Observer lost in the twilight zone

I have a hard time reading periodicals that swing wildly in all directions, hoping to strike a blow on a non-existent foe.  The January issue of the Fullerton Observer is such a periodical.

Chevron stands in the way of  Chevron
The Fullerton Observer's January 2011 has an odd front headline that is causing a lot of people to scratch their heads.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sacramento Bee: Redevelopment rush also occurred in 1993

(from the Sacramento Bee by )

January 20,2011

More than a dozen cities have fast-tracked redevelopment proposals ever since Gov. Jerry Brown released his plan to eliminate the local agencies that use property tax revenues to subsidize construction projects.

The redevelopment rush is not unprecedented.

A similar flurry of activity occurred in 1993 when the state enacted a stricter blight definition. As a 1994 Legislative Analyst's Office report detailed, cities moved quickly to expand their redevelopment areas in 1993, likely out of fear that such neighborhoods wouldn't qualify under the new blight definition in subsequent years.

The Analyst's Office found that local governments placed three times as much land in redevelopment zones in 1993 than they did in the previous year. In one case, the report found, "the City of San Diego approved a redevelopment plan for land near San Diego State University which does not appear to suffer from severe or intractable problems," contrary to the stricter blight definition.

With that in mind, the Analyst's Office suggested last week that lawmakers may want to think about imposing a temporary freeze on redevelopment expansion to allow debate to unfold. That hasn't happened so far, and some cities now appear to be easing off the pedal as they monitor the situation in Sacramento. Los Angeles, for instance, delayed action on $930 million in redevelopment projects on Tuesday, while San Jose also backed off Wednesday.

Brown said Wednesday he remained open to the idea of a freeze, but he has not committed one way or the other.

As we noted earlier, there appears to be little consensus in the Capitol on whether to freeze redevelopment activity, let alone eliminate the agencies. The debate is one of the few that does not split along party lines, and many lawmakers have come straight from city councils where they benefited from redevelopment dollars.

Assembly Republicans debated the issue this week and came to no unified conclusion, said Assemblyman Chris Norby, R-Fullerton, a former city councilman and mayor. Norby strongly opposes redevelopment agencies, calling them subsidies for retailers. But other members of his caucus, including Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita and chairman of the Assembly Local Government Committee, support redevelopment agencies.

A further complication to a redevelopment freeze is that some cities might be rewarded for sending money out the door over the last week. One idea floating around the Capitol would retroactively impede redevelopment actions dating back to Jan. 10, but that could invite legal questions.

Brown told city officials Wednesday, "You may win on redevelopment, and then we take something else." Some legislative aides have speculated that the showdown may end in a compromise with the state taking $1.7 billion in one-time dollars without permanently eliminating redevelopment agencies.

That's the kind of deal that Capitol leaders have struck in recent years, but Brown has signaled he doesn't want to follow the same path his predecessors did. We'll see.


Read more: http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2011/01/redevelopment-rush-also-occurr.html#ixzz1Bbt0kAOT

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cheap bail premiums for union members

Friend and fellow blogger Michael Fidelis posted a this on his blog and I feel compelled to share it with my readers for a couple of reasons.  First, there is the self-evident statement which I find very interesting.  Talking about some bail companies are charging as little as 2%, Michael makes one short statement jumped out at me: 
"The standard rate premium in California is 10% percent of the total bail amount. The LOWEST rate premium in the State of California is 8% percent. The 8% premium ONLY applies to individuals that meet the following requirements: attorney referrals, AARP members, and Union members."
The second reason is that we are often faced with an emergent situation that requires us to make a leap of faith in our decision making.  Michael explains how your loved one can get the long end of bubba's stick if they use the wrong bail bond company upfront.  As with most things in life, do your homework and know the implications of the decisions you are making.

I encourage you to read the article in its entirety.  I learn something new everyday!

Steve Poizner Stops By

January 19, 2011


Friends,
Let there be no doubt that California is still at the brink. With a budget deficit over the $25 billion mark and a combined unemployment and under-employment rate over 20%, it is vitally important that you stay informed, ask questions of your elected officials, and follow closely as they work to overcome the challenges that face our state.

There has been much discussion in recent weeks about a special election with select ballot initiatives developed by the Governor and Legislature that purport to solve California's budget problems once and for all. Much of the talk revolves around spending cuts and a push to raise taxes to close the near-term deficit gap.

My concerns as I track these developments are two-fold.

First of all, there is little discussion on what is needed to get our sputtering economy back on track. Without a healthy, robust, growing economy that produces stable job growth, our state's finances will remain structurally unbalanced and we will continue to face massive deficits each year. Revitalizing California's economy to effectively compete in the global economy should be a top priority. As I have often noted, and Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee recently wrote: "It's entirely possible that California, with its high taxes, dense regulatory underbrush, poorly performing schools, congested and crumbling highways and water supply issues, may have become noncompetitive in a global economy".

Secondly, there is no discussion of overhauling and reforming state government institutions and programs in ways not unlike what I accomplished at the Department of Insurance. Whether prison reform, K-12 reform, pension reform, or MediCal reform, the question that needs to be asked is: how and what is our state government spending each dollar on, and what are the ways by which we can maximize the value of each and every dollar spent? Institutional and program reform can save billions, all while increasing productivity and efficiencies within a smaller, more accountable government.

Our state faces many challenges this year, but with these challenges comes opportunity to get at the heart of California's problems and rebuild our state.

Mayor Pro Tem Makes Sexually Suggestive Remark At Council Meeting

At Tuesday's City Council meeting (1/18/2011) Fullerton Mayor Pro Tem Don Bankhead said "Mayor, if you need any help, I would be more than happy to help you!"  At that moment Mayor Dick Jones had his arm around a Miss Fullerton contestant while the Mayor Pro Tem seemed to study the young ladies.  You can watch the exchange here.  Forward the video player to 0:20:00.

The unsavory comment, captured on the City's cable TV feed, reflects a good example of poor leadership and disgraceful public service.  Mayor Pro Tem Bankhead was first elected to the Fullerton City Council in 1988.  If he can complete this term without a sexual harassment law suit and another recall election, he will have served for 26 years.

Fullerton City Council Gets It Wrong...Again

Tuesday night's City Council meeting resulted in the passage of bad laws and a request that I believe would result in the misappropriations of federal funds.

Tough questions were hinted at but the council members were pacified by staff assurances of checks and balances. 

At the heart of my criticism is the amendment of the City's municipal code with respect to trash cans and tarps, two objects I am not particularly fond of. 

One amendment makes it a crime, an infraction, to have your trash cans out more than 24 hours before collection or more than 12 hours after collection.  The new regulation does not take into account those of us who work long hours.  There are many days that trash is collected at 8 a.m. and I don't get home from work until 11 p.m.  That would place me in violation of the law and subject to an infraction. 

Another amendment, also an infraction, is the use of a tarp to, among other things, provide weather protection for the interior of a building.  Again, missing from this amendment is a time element.  The law does not allow for a temporary tarp, say from a downed city-owned trees onto a home, for any reason.  The law is simple and specific enough that any tarp for any period of time used in the manner described above it is an immediate violation.

Both amendments, and others, passed without a great deal of questions, despite pleadings from the public. 

These amendments will allow code enforcement, also known as "community preservation officers", to drive around and issue citations immediately.  The "due process" which was mentioned briefly as a check-and-balance to enforcement is that the citation may be appealed after the fact.  This so-called due process will require that the person cited take time off of work to defend their actions.  Simply adding a 24-hour clause for trash cans and a time-line for the tarps would lend some assurance that the regulations will not be forced simply to harass residents and taxpayers. 

Also being approved by the City Council was a federal appropriations request which listed four projects that need funding.  I first mention this in Federal Money, Local Problem

Surprisingly, Fullerton Association of Concerned Tax Payers (FACT) co-founder and councilman, Bruce Whitaker, voted for the request.  I have not spoken with Whitaker regarding the list and he did not comment after the motion was seconded so I don't know his rationale for the vote. 

In my opinion, the only item on the list that might qualify for federal aid would be the Harbor Blvd Slope Stabilization Project.  The other three, park modernization and two parking structures, are local issues that are not a threat to the health and welfare of the community if they are not completed.  In fact, a strong argument could be made that supporting these specific parking structures is support for redevelopment, eminent domain, wasted tax dollars, and abuse of power.  Both projects violated the rights of the previous property owners. 

And if all of that wasn't bad enough, two residents spoke about receiving citations for having a pick-up truck and a toy hauler on the street over night.  The Fullerton Police Department considers pick-up trucks to be a commercial vehicles because the DMV classifies them as such, even when they are owned by individuals for personal or recreational purposes.  The trailer, I suspect, falls under a similar twist of the law because the trailer was not attached to the vehicle that normally pulls it.  Taking these residents at face-value, it sure sounds like Fullerton residents continue to be beat up and abused by City Hall. 

Maybe things will change in 2012...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wallpaper: Those degrees may not mean as much as you might think

A recently published book blows the mystique off all of those fancy degrees on your wall. 

"Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses" by sociologists Richard Arum of New York University and Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia reports that few students show any measurable growth in their learning.  The study of more than 2,300 undergraduates found 45% of students demonstrated no significant improvement in the areas of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years.

At a time when many in the United States are calling for more college graduates, one must ask the hard question: At what cost do we produce more graduates?  Do universities need to dumb-down their standards or lower tuition in order to issue more degrees?  Probably both.

On average, students only learned about 7% more from the beginning of their freshman year to the end of their sophomore year.

The study found that those students who study alone and have more reading and writing assignments do the best.  The study also found that students' social life had no place in their academic success. 

By the students' fourth year, 35% demonstrated no significant improvement. 

We all know someone with a 4-year degree, perhaps even multiple advanced degrees, and still they seem as dumb as a brick.  Now we know why. 

It begs the question, why pay big bucks for a degree?

North OC and Fullerton Republicans well represented on the OC GOP Executive Board

The Republican Party of Orange County (OC GOP) Central Committee voted to place North Orange County and Fullerton representatives as Executive Officers of the Party.

Two Fullerton women are among those elected by the Central Committee to serve.  Zonya Townsend, a Registered Nurse and conservative activist, was elected Party Secretary.  I know Zonya well after working with her during the 2010 general elections.  Fullerton and Orange County Republicans are fortunate to have her service.

Another woman elected from Fullerton is the 72nd Assembly District Chair, Pat Shuff, for Assistant Treasurer.  Shuff has worked tirelessly for years on Republican campaigns in Fullerton and the North Orange County region.

The race for the Party's First Vice-Chair was not the blood-bath that some thought it might be.  After two rounds of voting, Villa Park Council Member Deborah Pauly walked away victorious.  Pauly is a well balanced conservative who understands where the Party was and where it needs to go.  If you have never had the opportunity to hear her speak, let me fill you in.  Deborah Pauly is on fire.  When she speaks to you it is with sincerity and integrity.  She knows how dirty the Good Ol' Boys Club is and is ready to take them on and reign them in.  I think there were many who were surprised last night by her win, 36 to Jon Fleischman's 33 votes.  It is far from a landslide victory and Deborah Pauly knows she has her work cut out for her.  She has to bridge the gap between the old establishment Republicans from which Fleischman came and the Tea Party activists who have always rallied behind her.

My friend, Allan Bartlett, did not do as well.  In the first round of voting he received 19 votes, not nearly enough to move on.  Allan has made as many enemies as he has friends, always unafraid to call people out on their BS and push for answers when no one else would.  His fearless criticism of the Party has earned him anger from many and praise from many more.  I am certain Allan will continue to voice his concerns and stir the minds of many.

OC GOP Chairman, Scott Baugh was elected again as the Party Chair despite the atmosphere of change.  As a new-comer to the Party's internal workings, I think Baugh has tried to keep the party together while it is trying to fracture from within.  Baugh is the consummate politician in that he bends to get things done, which often comes across as being weak when in fact he is demonstrating a certain type of strength.  Many of us see this as a bad trait or a even a character flaw.  However, I see it more as a tool for keeping the Party together and getting the job done.  I think Baugh chooses his battles carefully which has lead to what has arguably been a limited and somewhat successful term.

I am hopeful that the new officers will inject their personalities into their work and rebuild the Republican Party of Orange County.

For more on the Republican Party of Orange County, go to http://www.ocgop.org/ and http://ocgopaction.ning.com/

Monday, January 17, 2011

DJ Siatt

In case you didn't get the memo, their is a new DJ in town, DJ Siatt!

Normally I wouldn't necessarily want to plug a DJ but this DJ is different.  DJ Siatt, a.k.a. Wyatt Sebourn, loves to make music on his computer.  He's new to DJing and new to blogging.  Oh, and did I mention he's only 13? 

Keep your ears open.  He'll be introducing and posting songs to his blog.

Federal Money, Local Problem


The staff at City Hall are of the opinion that the good people of Omaha Nebraska and Boston Massachusetts should pay to fix up our park and build a couple of parking structures. 

Tomorrow, the Fullerton City Council will look at their Federal Appropriations Request and vote on what they will beg from Washington D.C. 

The proposed list is short. 
  • Brea Dam / Harbor BlvdSlope Stabilization
  • Hillcrest Park Modernization
  • Fullerton Transportation Center Parking Structure
  • Ellis avenue Parking Structure (Fox Block)
Of those, only one falls with in the realm of being a reasonable request from taxpayers across the United States:  Brea Dam / Harbor Blvd Slope Stabilization. 

For years the slope has been sliding down on to Harbor Blvd. just below the YMCA, posing a significant threat to public safety.  The Brea Dam, next to the slope, is under the authority of the United States Army’s Corps of Engineers.  With that in mind, I could see a logical argument for the request.

The other item, park modernization and parking structures, have no place in the request.  Those are local financial burdens which our city council has chosen to place on us.  It would be like me remodeling my house and then asking my neighbor to help pay for it. 

How do you modernize a park?  It has landscaping and you play.  Do we need Wi-Fi in the park??  It would be nice but do the taxpayers of Anchorage Alaska have to pay for it? 

Parking structures are a product of poor planning.  We have businesses which were allowed to exist though there was inadequate parking.  Apartment developments have been built without requiring sufficient parking.  The parking problem around Downtown Fullerton is a result of poor planning and disillusioned “green” activists who want you to abandon your cars and use public transit, a bike, or just walk.  And now we are asking the fine people of Des Moines Iowa to subsidize our self-initiated problem with a federal bailout.

California Assemblyman Chris Norby to speak at Fullerton CRA



This Thursday, Assemblyman Chris Norby will be speaking at the Fullerton Unit of the California Republican Assembly (CRA).  Norby represents several cities in North Orange County's 72nd Assembly District, including his home town of Fullerton. 

The CRA is encouraging all conservative constituents to attend this meeting.

Assemblyman Norby will be presenting "Sacramento: Looking into the great abyss"

Date
Thursday, January 20th

Time
Dinner 6:15 pm – 7 pm (on your own)
Meeting 7:00 pm -8:30 pm

Place
Sizzler Restaurant
1401 North Harbor Bl.(Brea Bl.)
Fullerton California 92835

Questions: Please call Zonya Townsend 714 525-9441

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Too Many Laws

It seems that California legislators have a lot of time on their hands.  As the editorial staff of the Orange County Register aptly points out in the January 14th, 2011, Sunday paper, state legislators have been busy passing lots of new laws.

Unfortunately, this is par for Sacramento.  How many laws do we need?  Seriously, how many do we need to be reasonably safe and secure?

How about one law that repeals at least half of all laws passed in the last 10+ years. 

Greg Sebourn

Orange County Bail Bonds

The Beauty of a Storm

The Beauty of a Storm
Orange County, Ca.

My Grandma - A Eulogy

LET'S TALK ABOUT 1914 FOR A MOMENT.



FOR STARTERS, GRANDMA WAS BORN TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1914 IN HER FAMILY'S ATWOOD RANCH HOUSE.



IT IS WORTH NOTING THOSE ALSO BORN IN 1914:

JACK LALANNE

JOE DIMAGGIO

DANNY THOMAS



AND WHO DIED IN 1914:

JOHN MUIR, THE FAMOUS NATURALIST FOR WHICH NUMEROUS ROADS, PARKS, HOTELS, AND NATURE RESERVES ARE NAMED.



IT IS ALSO WORTH NOTING THAT IN 1914 WOODROW WILSON SIGNS MOTHER'S DAY PROCLAMATION AND BABE RUTH MAKES HIS MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT WITH THE RED SOX. MOTHER'S DAY AND BASEBALL- TWO OF MY FAVORITES!! (PERHAPS HER NICKNAME "BABE" CAME FROM BABE RUTH???)



GRANDMA WAS BORN INTO A PERIOD OF TIME FILLED WITH TURMOIL. IN JUNE OF 1914 ARCHDUKE FRANZS FERDINAND WAS ASSASSINATED. WITHIN ONE MONTH WORLD WAR I RAGED ACROSS EUROPE. TWO DAYS AFTER HER BIRTH HOWEVER, GERMAN AND BRITISH TROOPS INTERRUPTED WWI TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS. (PERHAPS THEY PAUSE KNOWING THAT A GREAT WOMAN WAS BORNE) WORLD WAR I CONTINUED UNTIL THE TREATY OF VERSAILLES IN 1919.



ALTHOUGH SHE WAS ONLY 5 YEARS OLD, SHE SAW THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS CREATED AND THE 19TH AMENDMENT WAS APPROVED BY THE U.S. CONGRESS GUARANTEEING THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN TO VOTE.



SHE LIVED THROUGH MANY NOTABLE EVENTS. LIKE THE 1933 LONG BEACH EARTHQUAKE OR WHEN ATWOOD FLOODED ALONG WITH MOST OF ORANGE COUNTY IN 1938 AND THE FLOOD-WATERS CLAIMED MORE THAN 50 PEOPLE, 43 OF WHICH WERE FROM ATWOOD! ALL OF THIS DURING A TIME THAT WE READ ABOUT IN SCHOOL AND KNOWN AS "THE GREAT DEPRESSION". SOMEWHERE IN ALL OF THAT SHE FOUND THE LOVE OF HER LIFE, GRANDPA LEO, GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL, GOT MARRIED, AND HAD KIDS!



THEN THERE WAS WORLD WAR II. FROM PEARL HARBOR TO HIROSHIMA, GRANDMA WAS RAISING MY UNCLE BOB AND MOM ARLINE. WITH AIR-RAID SIRENS AND BLACKOUTS SHE WAS A WIFE AND MOTHER. WHAT A TIME TO RAISE CHILDREN! I BET GRANDMA'S PARENTS WERE ABEL TO TELL HER A THING OR TWO ABOUT RAISING KIDS IN WARTIME.



GRANDMA WAS THERE WHEN THE BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA HELD THEIR 3RD ANNUAL NATIONAL JAMBOREE IN 1953. SHE SAW AIRBASES OPEN IN '42 AND CLOSE IN '99. SHE WATCHED WALTER KNOTT START UP HIS BERRY FARM AND WALT DISNEY TURN ORANGE GROVES AND STRAWBERRY PATCHES INTO DISNEYLAND!



SHE SAW THE HORSE AND CARRIAGE FADE AWAY INTO HISTORY AND SPACE TRAVEL EXPLODE BEFORE HER WITH THE FIRST LUNAR LANDING. JUST IMAGINE HOW MUCH TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED OVER THE LAST 100 YEARS. FROM TUBE RECTIFIERS TO SUPERCONDUCTORS; FROM TRANS-ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH CABLES TO SATELLITE TV.



SHE SAW MORE IN HER 93 YEARS THAN MOST OF US WILL EVER READ ABOUT, LET ALONE LIVE THROUGH!



OF THOSE 93 YEARS IT IS MY HONOR TO HAVE BEEN HER GRANDSON FOR 35 OF THEM. SHE WAS MY MOTHER WHEN MOM HAD TO WORK. SHE WIPED MY NOSE AND PUT FOOD IN MY MOUTH. SHE LET ME PLAY WITH GRANDPA EVEN THOUGH SHE NEEDED HIM TO TAKE HER TO THE STORE. SHE WAS MY GRANDMA AND I WILL MISS HER IMMENSELY.



JUST LOOK AROUND THIS ROOM; SHE DID THIS. SHE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING SO MANY GOOD PEOPLE INTO THIS WORLD AND TOGETHER TODAY. THIS IS HER LEGACY.



A Dedication To My Loving Wife, Stacey. Thank you for all you do for me!

Brad Paisley - I Thought I Loved You Then


I remember trying not to stare the night that I first met you
You had me mesmerized
3 weeks later in the front porch light taking 45 min to kiss you goodnight
I hadn’t told you yet but I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I remember taking you back to right where I first met you
You were so surprised
There were people around
But I didn’t care I got down on one knee right there
And once again I thought I loved you then

Chorus
Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Like a river meets the sea
Stronger than it’s ever been
We’ve come so far since that day
And I thought I loved you then.

I can just see you with a baby on the way
I can just see you when your hair is turning gray
What I can’t see is how I’m ever gonna love you more
But I’ve said that before.

Now you’re my whole life now you’re my whole world
I just can’t believe the way I feel about you girl
Well look back some day at this moment that we’re in
And I'll look at you and say I thought I loved you then
And I thought I loved you then...

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