Fullerton Reaches its Day of Decision on Poseidon.




Flory – Chaffee – Whitaker

Yes, the Orange County Water District (OCWD) has many other important issues that it deals with besides just opening the door to the Poseidon boondoggle:  for example, of particular concern to Fullerton, there’s the North Basin contamination, and the cleanup of the Raahauge Shooting Range, aside from the whole overall task of stewarding our Santa Ana Aquifer.

But the proposed Poseidon desal plant, for which OCWD has been the essential enabler, is of particular concern to all of us in the Northern/Western half of OC, for three groups of reasons:

  • FINANCIAL (saddling all of us ratepayers with unnecessary water four times as expensive as what we’ve been getting, for fifty years, under a take-or-pay contract so that we have to buy it when we need it and when we don’t),
  • ENVIRONMENTAL (slaughter of billions of sealife larvae in intake pipes; huge brine zone from the output; and enormous greenhouse gas emission) and
  • MORAL (the company has spent the past 15 years paying off politicians and water officials and lying to all of us, rather than improving their plan.)  

We’ve written about all of this for years, and Sean Paden has a new piece out from yesterday, geared to tonight’s Fullerton decision.

The OCWD has been dominated by a (slowly shrinking) majority that – whether due to misinformation and/or more self-interested motives, is hell-bent on making this nightmare come to fruition.  We’ve had 3 out of 10 Poseidon opponents/skeptics till recently – Jan Flory, Phil Anthony, and Roger Yoh;  Santa Ana’s Roman Reyna was just starting to vote with the minority but has recently been replaced by Vince Sarmiento who’d in the past been a booster.  Last week Anaheim made a big step forward by replacing booster Jordan Brandman with skeptic James Vanderbilt, bringing the no-Poseidon minority up to 4.  But Fullerton could easily erase that progress at their Council meeting tonight (6:30 pm) if they replace Jan Flory with the wrong person.

Flory had opted not to run for re-election to the Fullerton Council last year, but wants to stay on the water board representing her city.  Two councilmen also want that seat – Bruce Whitaker and Doug Chaffee.  Let’s look at each one:

Jan Flory (not to endorse some of what she’s done on Fullerton Council) has been a ROCK STAR on the OCWD since she took Whitaker’s place a couple years ago.  There had been quiet timid questioning of Poseidon’s claims up to that point, but she launched into the pirates with gentle ferocity, tirelessly uncovering lies and absurdities, emboldening the other two Board skeptics, and starting to convince other directors of the folly of this project.  (She has also been deeply hands-on in the North Basin contamination and Raahauge issues.)  For these reasons the Orange Juice Blog enthusiastically hopes that the council votes to keep Jan Flory in this position for another term.

But our friend Bruce Whitaker would be an entirely acceptable alternative, if the Council insists giving the post to a sitting councilmember.  The honest-conservative fighter against crony capitalism always had his doubts about Poseidon, and opposes it strongly now, although during his time on OCWD he was not as outspoken as Flory.  (Plus he had the post taken from him for bogus reasons.)  We hope that if he gets the post, he takes up Flory’s mantle and leads the opposition more aggressively.

Another good argument in favor of Flory or Whitaker (but not Chaffee) is that of CONTINUITY and EXPERIENCE.  Both of these candidates are well versed in all the complex issues that the Board has to deal with; it’s said that it takes AT LEAST a year or two to get up to speed on the OCWD; there are a lot of rookies on right now, and Fullerton doesn’t need to contribute, and be represented by, one more.

The Democrat Flory believes she has the votes of her frequent ally Republican Jennifer Fitzgerald, as well as new councilman and fellow Democrat Jesús Silva.  But she’ll need a third (and/or fourth) vote from Republican(s) Whitaker and Greg Sebourn, which is likely to happen if Whitaker can’t get three votes for himself.  Conversely, we hope that democrat Silva will be open to crossing party lines to vote for Whitaker if Flory doesn’t make it, putting important issues over Party and risking angering some fellow Democrats and building trade unions.  Remember Jesús how you bravely backed José Moreno over Jordan Brandman!  Well, José just did the same thing, backing Republican Vanderbilt over Democrat Brandman mostly because he wanted to save the OC from Poseidon and Cadiz!

Finally, Democratic Mayor Pro-Tem Doug Chaffee desperately wants this position.  He is the absolutely worst choice.  Not conversant with the issues, obedient to every union whim, and very ambitious, he has vowed to support Poseidon, brushing aside all financial and environmental concerns.  Chaffee has worked things out to probably be Fullerton Mayor in 2018, so that he can use that ballot designation to (word on the street has it) run for Supervisor that year, while trying to get his wife onto council in his place.  No doubt he would like to have the generous financial support of Poseidon Resources in that endeavor, as well as the backing of the short-sided Building Trades Unions who desperately want the short-term construction jobs involved in building this billion-dollar plant.

Oh, and also finally – what a shame it is that Councils will not entertain the possibility of giving these posts to an expert non-politician, as Anaheim refused to last week.  Fullerton boasts Thom Babcock, Ryan Cantor, Jane Rands, Matthew Leslie, and Sean Paden, any of whom would do the town proud on the OCWD.

Well, everyone who cares, be there tonight and speak out for Jan Flory and/or Bruce Whitaker!  The Orange Juice will see you there… and we’ll have another piece soon about Poseidon’s current travails.  Things are not going so smoothly for them, but they’re still a big danger, and it would be all for the best if we had a six-member majority on the OCWD that would just up and put them out of their misery.

Just SOME of our Previous Coverage of Poseidon:


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.