Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bruce Whitaker Hijacks Measure W!

The August 7, 2012 Fullerton city council meeting was a busy and active one.  There was a new city council, who had been elected in a recent recall, largely as a result of the community's outrage over the murder of Kelly Thomas at the hands of Fullerton police.  On the agenda were such red-hot topics as appointing a new police chief and the possibility of replacing the Fullerton Police Department with the Orange County Sheriff's Department.  The council chambers were full to capacity, with overflow seating in the lobby and the adjacent library.  

Amid the hustle and bustle of a very busy and intense meeting, something happened that had nothing to do with Kelly Thomas or the police department.  It had to do with agenda item 18, regarding Measure W and the development of Coyote Hills.

Councilmember Bruce Whitaker proposed adding the words "Nature Preserve" to the text of Measure W which, if it passes, would allow the Chevron corporation to build 760 houses and a shopping center on the last large natural open space left in this area, thus substantially altering the text of a petition that over 10,000 of his constituents signed.  

This change was not on the actual agenda.  It was added, on the spot, by Whitaker, so that the people who signed the petition, people like me who would no doubt have been appalled by this change, were not made aware, and thus were unable to prepare public comments.  

To me, this represents the very worst tendency of government, to intentionally block public discourse, to basically subvert the democratic process.

I'll let Fullerton resident Dave Hoonsbeen, who was there, tell his story:

"Three of us, and perhaps more, were trying to speak about agenda item 18 at the Aug. 7, Tuesday night council meeting. We were watching in the overflow room at the library. We heard items 17 and 18 were to be discussed after the break.

We walked over to the council chambers thinking there was plenty of time as 17 would be a long one. We could not stand along the wall as agenda 17 speakers were taking up all the room and the officer said we could not stand there. 

Out in the lobby we heard (with difficulty as it was very noisy) that 18 was now being discussed, before 17!! By the time we got through the door, you were already on agenda item 17.

Adding the words “Nature Preserve” to the title of the measure is disgusting and incorrect. It changed the whole meaning of the measure. The Nature Preserve is city owned property! Chevron was very clever in demanding this change and the council, except for Doug Chaffee and Mayor Quirk-Silva, fell for it.

There is no time to modify it. The sample ballot argument “for” the measure, written by friends of Chevron, will surely mention the new title and they knew this long before the council voted to change it.

What is the legal method to challenge the council's actions and get this reversed? The measure should now be removed from this year’s election ballot and placed on the next General Election in 2013."   (From the September issue of The Fullerton Observer)

Thus, as one of their first acts, the new Fullerton City Council majority, who had run on a platform of transparency and ending failed leadership, changed the text of a referrendum that over 10,000 of their constituents had signed, changed it into something that fundamentally altered the very purpose of the referrendum.

Because of this deceptive change, Chevron/Pacitic Coast Homes can now run ads like this:

Because of Whitaker's actions (and those of Travis Kiger and Greg Sebourn who also voted for the change), Chevron can now legally deceive Fullerton voters into thinking they are voting for "Natural Open Space" when in fact they are voting for a massive development project that looks like this:

After witnessing this deceptive, nontransparent, and possibly illegal hijacking of a citizen's referendum, I will not be voting for Bruce Whitaker come November.  It is things like this that make people lose their faith in the democratic process.  As an educator and a citizen, I am appalled, and I am not alone.  Check out the "No On W" site HERE.

Watch the meeting for yourself on the City's Web site HERE.  Just click on 2012, and then the "video" for the August 7 meeting.  Pay attention, people!  And I will too.

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