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2013 In Review – Wake Me Up When You’re Done

If you haven’t noticed, this blog is hosted by WordPress. And, they do such a great job marketing my brand that I wouldn’t blame you for not noticing. As with the past few years, the stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog and I wanted to share some of the results with you.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 41,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 15 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

For a non-election year, it has continued to be fairly busy around Our Town Tustin. With 107 posts last year, I have attempted to keep you informed while not invading your life with news you get elsewhere. Commentary is important and, with over 41,000 hits, my readers seem to think so as well. Interestingly, it is previous year posts that garnered the most interest.

Among the top posts this year was “Big Brother is Watching” posted the last week in March of 2012. That post discussed the FBI’s defeat in court over GPS tracking without a warrant. And, although it was big news at the time, the recently revealed NSA spying of Americans has kept this post popular with others on the internet. So popular, in fact, that hardly a day went by the post has not received multiple hits.

Running a close second in hits was the “On the Agenda” for the city council for the previous year, November 20th 2012 which discussed the Anton Legacy project and associated bonds. The MCAS property has been a hot spot for discussion in a variety of settings, particularly with respect to the loss of multiple lawsuits by the city to TUSD. Heritage School, originally meant to service families in new housing, was the hot potato with a Riverside court telling the city that it could not tell the school district what to do with their property. Since then, the two entities appear to have made amends and, hopefully, will work together this coming year for the benefit of the kids.

Surprisingly, another 2012 post made the third spot. “Is Tustin a Nice Place to Live”, written in August 2012, came in third place. This post was actually a takeoff from a post on The Liberal OC where our friend, Dan Chmielewski, wrote about how nice it is to live in Irvine (yes, well….). We had some fun with that one and hope you enjoyed it.

The coming year is one of challenge. As we gear up for another election in November, we find two spots on the council, both of which are eligible for re-election.

Al Murray has proven himself to be an affable leader with a laid back style. For obvious reasons, he was nominated as mayor for a second term. I doubt he would need the extra push. He is popular among his colleagues as well as his constituency and that gives him a big edge. He was fortunate to ride on the success of previous councils with the Tustin Ranch Road extension opening this year. He has also  benefited from the restart of development on the MCAS property. And, while we were not privy to the communications, we have to believe he was instrumental in repairing the damage done by Nielsen, Amante and their cronies, to the city’s relationship with the school district.

Beckie Gomez has been instrumental in keeping a liberal face on the dais. With the departure of Deborah Gavello last year, we feared she would be targeted by the opposition in an attempt to run the liberals out of town. Gomez has steadfastly refused to run and has contributed greatly to the debate on various topics over the past year. The big question is, will she run again or is she fed up with the kowtowing on the coundil?

I apologize for the early campaign discussion. However, this promises to be an interesting year in other ways. With the FPPC rulings regarding anonymous and hidden donations, you can bet all candidates will have to be careful where they step. And, we will be there with the pen to record each cow pie they step in.

Yes, it promises to be a good year. And, I make a promise to you. As the year progresses, I will attempt to bring more relevant information to you and do it more often. We are not in a cocoon here. So, I will also post commentary on the cities and towns around us as well. The only thing I ask in return is to read and comment on those issues of interest to you. And, of course, if you hear something, let us know and we’ll investigate.

May you all have a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Our Top Stories of the Year

Gnome-More-JerryHow quickly time flies. Our Town Tustin has been blogging for about a year and a half and the past year has kept us busy in our little corner of the county. Here are some of the top issues we have covered in 2012:

“Team Tustin’s” Hate-Filled Campaign – In what was probably the most contentious election to mark our city in year, the Republican led “Team Tustin” showed they could stoop as low as necessary to achieve their ends. Eight hit piece mailers went out against Tracy Worley and David Waldram nearly all of which were funded by a mysterious entity calling itself Tustin Residents United. Funny thing is, not one dime of money came from any resident of Tustin. Yet, thousands of dollars funneled in from the Orange County Business Council’s BIZPAC and other similar committees, all of whom had indirect ties to Nielsen and his team. While Nielsen, Puckett and the Podiatrist Councilman looked like the see-no-evil-hear-no-evil-speak-no-evil monkeys, Worley & Waldram held their heads high during a clean campaign.

Jerry Amante’s Use and Abuse of Power – Go ahead, believe our city fathers are not corrupt. If you do, I have a bridge to sell you. Early in the year, the

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Orange County Grand Jury issued a report accusing then mayor Jerry Amante and another councilman of attempting to coerce Brandman University officials into squelching a report critical of city manager compensation. The Grand Jury rightfull found the two were attempting, for their own gain, to get Chapman University President, Jim Doti, to pull the report before it could get out. Doti, acting the part, was simply aghast at the report (…here are your winnings, sir…). The city subsequently answered the charges with the usual, we didn’t do nothing wrong, it’s free speech. Selective use of rights, to say the least.

TUSD vs. The City of Tustin vs. TUSD – It is sad the city and the school district have, together, wasted well over $2 million dollars on lawsuits which have clearly become the hallmark of Jerry and John’s tenure on the city council. What originally amounted to a personality conflict, exploded into multi-million dollar multiple lawsuits against each other over control of construction. The highlight, of course, was when the city, under Jerry’s direction, sued the school district for having the nerve to transfer another school and administrative offices to a new school on the MCAS property. Armed with some of the lamest arguments heard by first year law students, the city was laughed out of a Riverside court and told not to darken their halls again. The other shoe drops first thing in 2013 and I am taking bets on the outcome.

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John Nielsen’s Unracism – In “Dear John”, we exposed the bigotry (among other things) of then mayor John Nielsen. In an attack on the First Amendment as well as the city schools, Nielsen attempted to defend his decision to allow a court document claiming Tustin schools were overcrowded and minority-ridden. Claiming he was a pillar of the community, he extolled his virtues all the while, filing for divorce and using the legal system to swat at TUSD officials. Oh yes, and the divorce appears to be proceeding nicely with new recent filings.

Cell Towers in Cedar Grove – The City Council didn’t seem to be able to get this lawsuit thing right. First, they continue to chase windmills with the lawsuits against the school district. Then, when they actually had a chance to stand up for the citizens of our community, they folded like a deck of Vegas cards. The cellular towers in Cedar Grove were one of the most high profile issues of the city and the city council, led by Jerry and his Kids, refused (or were in cahoots with) to fight T-Mobile over the installation. There was no effort, no transparency and no noteworthy action on the  city council’s part as they acceded tot he demands of Jerry’s business partners.

North Tustin 1, Catholics 0 – Unlike the Tustin City Council, the folks in North Tustin were more than willing to fight for what they believe in. When the Diocese of Orange, led by Bishop Tod Brown, banded together with the County to try and slip in a zoning change, the Foothills Community Association rallied the troops and sued them to stop the rezoning of diocese owned land that would allow them to build a senior living center on property originally zoned for a church. The city could learn a thing or two from these folks. Now, if they can stave off annexation.

Fairbanks vs. Hizzoner – In another embarrassing fiasco for the city, Jerry Amante and his mouthpiece, Elizabeth Binsack, were finally defeated once and for all in their attempt to prevent a jim_ho_nicholsonhomeowner from exercising his property rights. By abusing their power and the appeals process, Amante proved, once again, who calls the shots. Too bad it cost $83 thousand dollars to make his point. Then he lost anyway.

The Demise of Redevelopment – Seeing Through the Magic of Redevelopment as it related to the MCAS property was pretty signficant. Backed by the California Supreme Court, Governor Jerry Brown dealt a double death blow to the worst kind of corporate welfare imaginable. We pointed out that everyone was in on this deal with Democrats handing this gift over to Republicans years ago. Now, the other shoe drops as the state is demanding $263 million dollars from Orange County and its cities. Tustin has already coughed up $7.5 million but the state wants more.

Dear Assemblyman Donnelly – One could call this the biggest goof of the year. Jeff Donnelly, Assemblyman for the 59th  District, appeared to have a problem with guns and telling the truth. When he was caught in possession of a firearm while attempting to board an aircraft bound for Sacramento at Ontario Airport, he was detained by the police and TSA. His lame excuse was that he had received death threats and forgot the gun was in his bag. OK, except for the fact the gun was only partially loaded and sitting in a carry-on bag, the guy didn’t even have a concealed carry permit from what is arguably one of the easiest counties to obtain one. The Brady Bunch certainly did not have anything on this clown.

Silent Bob and Darth VaderLindburgh and Silent Mike Strike Back – Community Development Director, Elizabeth Binsack, can’t do enough to for Old Town Tustin. In fact, it is a toss up whether it was Binsack or Amante that actually wanted to slap down the Fairbanks family over the apartments located on their historic property. I imagine it was a free for all when she colluded with nearly the entire city council over allowing the owners of the Wilcox Manor to open an events venue at their residence. Armed with pretty stickers and hauling people in from around the county (very few from Tustin itself), Lindburgh McPherson and “Silent Mike” Demoratz sought a CUP by subterfuge and chicanery. When they were called out on the apparent fib they told about their parking arrangements, they sought to turn the tables on their Facebook page by saying their detractors turned everyone against them. They didn’t seem to get it through their heads that no one in Old Town wants a three ring circus at the end of their cul-de-sac.

Next year is already beginning to shape up as the new Tustin City Council opens the first meeting with a how-to on city affairs. As much as we hated Jerry Amante, he could at least keep us entertained with his self-serving diatribes and rants against Deborah Gavello. Now that they are both gone, we can only hope Mayor Al Murray and the Podiatrist Councilman will be able to look up at the audience as they read from their scripts in the coming year. I hope they have good editors.