Fullerton Districting sleaze: Mayor Fitzgerald rocks out with Mapmaker/Rockstar Popoff!


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"Their own worst enemies," they said it. Click for more glorious view.

“Their own worst enemies,” they said it. Click for more glorious view. (Katie Pringle is Mayor Fitzgerald’s co-flack at her famous father’s “Pringle & Associates.”)

Sleaze doesn’t sleep, not in this county.  A raucous and consequential primary day doesn’t stop the slimy quid-pro-quos that keep the small and large wheels rolling hereabouts.

Just so, I have to get this story out quickly TODAY before Fullerton’s council meeting TONIGHT at which a final, irreversible decision on the city’s districting maps may very well be made.

Now, from what I understand, the districting/mapmaking process, pushed along by a CVRA lawsuit alleging disfranchisement of Latinos and Asians but also aimed to get more representation for Fullerton’s various neighborhoods, was moving along smoothly.

Suddenly, last meeting (May 17) an unexpected character popped up with a brand-new map – local semi-celebrity Jeremy Popoff, owner of the rowdy downtown Fullerton rock saloon Slidebar, and guitarist for local alternative rock band “Lit,” whose big hit is “My Own Worst Enemy,” was now a districting mapmaker as well – a true Renaissance Man!  Jeremy’s map was vouched for in public comments by EIGHT fellow bar owners, who explained that they “wanted to have a say in who gets on the next council,” even though some of them don’t even live in Fullerton.  (And also by police union thug and council candidate Larry Bennett as well as the very political Grace Ministries.)

The Mayor rockin' out on May 27 with the local alt guitarist!

The Mayor rockin’ out on May 27 with the local alt guitarist!

What made Jeremy’s map, now known as 8-A, unusual, was that it carves up the downtown area’s residents – those who live near the rowdy bars – into each of the five different districts, where they will become a tiny minority in each.  And the council, all of whom live FAR from the chaotic downtown, seemed to embrace this map with startling alacrity, particularly Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald.

Now, why would a collection of downtown bar owners want to dilute the votes of the residents who live in proximity to their bars?  Duh, and again duh.  These residents have had to put up with an insane amount of public drunkenness at all hours, fights, public urination and vomiting and lewdness, drunken driving, drug dealing, everything that goes hand in hand with a barely-regulated two-square block area that’s got a record FIFTY-SIX LIQUOR LICENSES and counting.  It’s been years and years they’ve been asking for help from the indifferent council, who react – on the rare occasions they do – by throwing more money at their beloved police force.

(And never forget, before you call these bars an “economic engine,” that the city has admitted that the cost of maintaining and policing the Downtown area is $1.5 million a year more than the sales tax receipts they get from there.)

Yay! Backstage passes! (Katie Pringle is Mayor Fitzgerald's co-flack at her famous father's "Pringle & Associates.")

Yay! Backstage passes! You know what?  I kinda like Jeremy’s map, don’t you?

It SHOULD be a little awkward – just a LIT-tle – that the young vivacious Mayor was out ten days later party-heartying with Jeremy’s band and her fellow Pringle & Associates Employees – armed with COVETED BACKSTAGE PASSES – just ten days after this downtown-decimating map was sprung on the public, and just nine days before tonight’s meeting at which it could be QUICKLY SHOVED THROUGH.

Should’t this be embarrassing?  I would think so, though I’m not from Fullerton.  Will these back stage passes and whatever else this crowd hasn’t gotten around to boasting about on Facebook be on Mayor Jennifer’s 700 forms?  Well, possibly … but not until April 2017, by which time this whole thing will be ancient history.

Hopefully this is enough to put the brakes on things tonight.  My friends in Fullerton are supporting Map 10a or 2b, which have virtues other than just intentionally disfranchising downtown residents.


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.