See the end of this post for a correction regarding a County of Orange Health Care Agency investigation into a Garden Grove supermarket owned not by Roland Chi, but rather his family.
Welcome to Fullerton.
ORIGINAL POST OCT. 11, 2012 3:34 P.M.: It's tempting to qualify the Fullerton political scene as a live- action soap opera. In this fine city, once-great allies have become enemies, blogospheric intrigue abounds, Ron Thomas has threatened to run for mayor, and public outrage over egregious police brutality recently forced former top cop Michael Sellars into hiding.
It would have been interesting to see what Shakespeare would have done with Fullerton were he alive. Doubtless even the immortal bard would have struggled to tastefully thread the line between the absurd ineptitude of the city's recently recalled politicians and the incident that crystalized their place in history--the despicable killing of an unarmed mentally ill homeless man. Here's a break down of what voters can expect to see when they step into the booth next month:
CITY COUNCIL DESMADRE
With fourteen candidates running for three seats, it feels less like Fullerton is gearing up for an election than the Oklahoma Land Rush. Some candidates have proven themselves capable politicians with previous work on the dais, while some have done the opposite. Still others, presumably attempting to ride the wave of public outrage over Kelly Thomas's death, have emerged from the shadows.
Among the more bizarre offerings on the November ballot is a bid by former Councilman Don Bankhead, recalled in June for the second time in his life thanks to the efforts of Tony Bushala and his merry band of bloggers, to retake his seat. Bankhead once served as a captain for the Fullerton Police Department and was viewed by many as indifferent to community outrage in the wake of Thomas's death. Suspicions of where Bankhead's loyalties lay were bolstered by the fact that a significant chunk of his support to fight the recall came from police unions. Surprisingly (or not), this isn't old Banky's first attempt to clamor back from political humiliation. He was recalled in '94 following a vote in favor of a utility tax. But the winds of public sentiment blew wild in this bizarro political landscape, aka Fullerton. He was voted back in a month later.
Barry Levinson, who ran in the recall race, received the highest tally of the runners up. A 25-year Fullerton resident, with an MBA in auditing, he claims to have attended almost every city council meeting during the past three years. On his website, he even supplies a link to the archives so you can verify this fact for yourself. We'll take your word for it, Barry!
Vivian "Kitty" Jaramillo served as a preservation inspector with the city of Santa Ana in 2006. She ran for Fullerton City Council the same year, placing fifth in the race. Her campaign statement claims a background in law enforcement, but doesn't specify what agency. Sounds like a misstep when facing Fullertonians fed up with the vagaries police officials.
Matthew Hakim, who supplied no candidate statement is listed on Fullerton's website as a "qualified musician." There's not much we can say about this mysterious figure, other than his Facebook page features a profile picture of actor Bret Spiner portraying Star Trek the Next Generation android character Data. Oh Hakim, if you think Fullerton politics will bear any resemblance to the Federation of your Star Trek program, we'd pay good money to see you get elected.
With Councilwoman Sharon Quirk Silva off and running for State Assembly, candidate Bruce Whitaker is the elder statesman of this group. While residents called for the heads of three of five councilmen last spring, Whitaker enjoyed the support of recallers. Following the death of Kelly Thomas, Whitaker called for a public probe into the police department and suggested the possibility of a cover up. Originally elected to the council in 2010 to serve out Supervisor Shawn Nelson's term, Whitaker skews along libertarian lines, favoring personal property rights and low taxes. This summer, he joined the council in voting down a decades-long water tax viewed by critics as illegal.
Jennifer Fitzgerald is a local business owner who was in the cross hairs of FFFF bloggers this summer when her home was photographed with a "No on Recall" sign in the front yard. To her benefit, she gained the endorsement of Supervisor Shawn Nelson as well as the Orange County Register (yippee), the latter ostensibly because she supports individual property rights (read: the development of Coyote Hills.)
Brian Bartholomew describes himself as a small business owner who has lived in Fullerton for more than 10 years.
Currently serving as Vice Chair of the Fullerton Planning Commission, Rick Alvarez has been a Fullerton resident for 27 years. Born in Cuba, he served in the Navy where he reportedly achieved "secret" clearance while performing counterintelligence work. Owner of Nova Security Systems, he claims that he will unify Fullerton and facilitate the healing process.
Though recall winner Greg Sebourn will keep his seat until December 2014, fellow recaller Travis Kiger, who usurped the throne of former Mayor Dick Jones in June's special election, will fight to keep his spot. Kiger, a small government supporter and key player in Fullerton's "libertarian revolution," is also a blogger for Friends For Fullerton's Future. It was Kiger's name on the bylines heading the early scoops in the Kelly Thomas case, immediately after the beating. In controversial fashion (befitting a writer with OC's second most dangerous blog), Kiger, along with fellow councilman Bruce Whitaker, ruffled a few feathers when they voted in favor of a proposal to explore replacing the Fullerton Police Department with the Orange County Sheriff's Department. Not surprisingly, the proposal died a quick death.
Family law attorney Jan Flory has lived in Fullerton since 1970 and served on the council between from 1994 to 2000. Judging by her campaign statement, she also doesn't get along with the recall folks. Invoking the Thomas beating, Flory writes, "There are some who are using this inexcusable event to justify disbanding our police department and dismantling city government as we know it." Apparently Flory doesn't support anarchy, but she says she does support transparency, accountability and pension reform.
Candidate Bill Chaffee didn't file a campaign statement. Presumably he's the disabled brother of current councilman Doug Chaffee and occasional commenter on FFFF message boards where he blasts Doug as insensitive to the plight of persons with disabilities.
Roberta Reid didn't provide a campaign statement. She ran in the recent recall election.
Roland Chi didn't provide a campaign statement. This isn't his first run at city council. During his 2010 bid, it came to light that the supermarket Chi owns in Garden Grove was slapped with several health code violations after 11 people got food poisoning there. We'll let you read the stomach churning details for yourself.
Candidate Jane Rands is on the front lines of calls for police transparency. This year, the Weekly made the acquaintance of Rands whose efforts to establish civilian police oversight were chronicled here. She's also in favor of finding a way to purchase and preserve the Chevron owned Coyote Hills.
Speaking of Coyote Hills...
That little patch of undeveloped land is the last of its kind in North OC.
Two words come to mind when discussing the battle over attempts to develop Coyote Hills, North Orange County's last patch of wilderness area: "protracted attrition." The city first entered into an agreement with Chevron to develop the land in 1977 after all the oil was sucked out of the dirt.
Legal challenges and opposition from community groups like the Friends of Coyote Hills have stymied progress ever since. A yes on Measure W will approve the latest agreement between the city and Pacific Coast Homes, signed in July 2011. At stake is 510 acres of land and the authorization to develop 760 homes, five acres of retail development and 283 acres of "open space," including public trails, parks and a nature center funded through an endowment by the land owner.
Adding the phrase "Nature Preserve" to the ballot, La Tour argued that Whitaker and his allies were attempting to mislead voters about the quality of space Pacific Homes will be required to make public. Displaying a map of the proposed development, La Tour argued public areas will be isolated and steep, not truly open space. Fullerton has to decide what it wants: coyotes killing rabbits in peace, or pseudo mansions and an influx of spoiled Sunny Hills kids.
Flikr Creative Commons
Measure X: A yes will repeal the city's ban on safe and sane fireworks. The candidates who won seats in last spring's recall election brought the hope of "libertarian revolution." Though there's plenty the Weekly finds disagreeable about the political philosophy, which champions the cutting of safety nets in favor of individual freedom, we can't argue with giving people the liberty to celebrate their country by blowing part of it up with fireworks. As a resident of La Habra (where fireworks are illegal), we gotta say, given our penchant for mischief, we're a little jealous about Fullerton's opportunity here.
This season, the Fullerton Joint High School District is choosing from four candidates for two board positions. Incumbents Bill Dunton and Barbara Kilponen face challengers Andy Montoya and James Najera. None has popped up on the Weekly's radar (yet), but it's worth mentioning 83-year-old Dunton has had a very long career as an educator. He was working as a music teacher the year my grandfather retired from La Habra High School, in 1975.
La Habra High School yearbook photo, 1975.
CORRECTION: NOV. 12, 2012 10 P.M. Roland Chi has asked the Weekly to make corrections to the portion of this blog describing him. The 2010 Fullerton city council candidate does not own the Garden Grove supermarket which was investigated by the County of Orange Health Care Agency in 2009. In the comments section on this page, he states that he has not been a paid employee of AR Supermarket, which is owned by his family, since he worked there in high school.
However, an October 26, 2009 notice of decision by the health services agency listed Chi as the market's vice president. It also listed several improvements to be made to the market and addressed the use of "filthy" cardboard for food storage, inadequate employee hygiene, as well as the use of ice for both consumption and food storage. The Orange County Superior Court website also shows that Chi, along with two others, was charged with multiple violations of the health and safety code. According to the site, the charges were dismissed in April of 2010.
In addition, though Chi was listed on the Fullerton city candidate webpage as "pulling papers" for the 2012 elections, he did not file, and as a result, did not appear on the ballot. The Weekly regrets the errors.
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