State of the City: Everything is Great

Revised on 4/15/2023 with a correction: Jane Rands’s title is Active Transportation Committee member and Jung’s campaign treasurer, not his campaign manager. Apologies for the error. 

North Orange County Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual fundraiser, the State of the City, at California State University, Fullerton, on March 29. Approximately 150 guests paid $125 each to enjoy Colette’s Catering lunch and listen to several speakers. The event began with a Fullerton Police officer Color Guard, a song by the Darden Sisters, and a short message from Chamber of Commerce master of ceremony CEO Andrew Gregson who announced the officials in the room, including 4th District OC Supervisor Doug Chaffee, mayors and council members of Buena Park, La Palma, Stanton, Irvine, Placentia, and representatives of state offices.

CalState’s Vice President of Advancement, Greg Saks, gave an update on campus development, including new visual arts and business buildings, Nutwood Bridge, statistics on student diversity, events open to the public, the Arboretum, and the value to the economy of having a university located in town. A video followed his address, and next was Farmers & Merchants Bank president Henry Walker who spoke about the history and gave an update on the bank’s health, unlike those recently in the news.

Several people walked out near the beginning of Mayor Jung’s speech after he gave a short glowing biography of each council member, except for the 5th District representative, Council member Ahmad Zahra. “This is the size and scope of the opportunities that sit before us as council members. It requires that we realign our deepest values and commitments to meet this moment. It is a privilege and a responsibility afforded to few leaders, and it is a task I know the four of us – five of us – excuse me are now called to fulfill. I said four because there was an advertisement on social media that only had four of us,” Jung said.

This public action by Jung was even surprising to regular city council viewers who have long witnessed his disrespect of Zahra, including passing Zarha over for any committee appointments or upholding fair rotation and Zahra’s turn as mayor and voting for himself for the second time.

Zahra is Fullerton’s first openly gay and first Muslim council member. He recently won his second term despite the fact that there were many political attack ads funded by a Bushala-backed PAC called Taxpayers for Reform. Zahra also won his seat against candidate Oscar Valadez who both Bushala and Jung supported. Newly elected council member Shana Charles walked out in protest. See her open letter to Mayor Jung here.

The accompanying three videos featured several of Jung’s political donors, including developer Tony Bushala, Jung’s campaign treasurer and Active Transportation committee member Jane Rands, and several downtown business owners, among others, speaking about the importance of the railroad and Fullerton’s excellent schools.

After the first video, Jung told a story about how devastated he was as a child to have lost a reading contest to a girl in his class and how that experience affected his life to always “read that extra book” and energized his intention to work hard to represent Fullerton residents. (Jung’s District 1 council seat is up for election in 2024, and he has already opened his campaign with contributions of over $63,000).

The $20,000 video taxpayers paid for was an excellent PR piece produced by Todd Huffman. Still, it left out the state of our roads, people experiencing homelessness, the fentanyl epidemic, and the lack of affordable housing.

The second video highlighted volunteer committees and service and education organizations. Notable was the absence of volunteerism and contributions by the large Hispanic population, such as Eglith Nuncci and the District 5 Woodcrest women’s group, who have had a significant influence on the quality of life by advocating for improvement in parks, stop-lights, safety and crime prevention, infrastructure, and health. They have also spent countless hours organizing park cleanups, doing a census for hard-to-count people, food drives, and community events to inform and advocate for residents. Jung spoke about a new Korean Sister City, international commerce, and the streamlining of Fullerton’s planning department, with an open door for developers. But, unfortunately, Jung’s glowing portrayal of the city contradicts the reality of extremely reduced city employee retention and reliance on temp service employees.

Finally, he talked about Fullerton’s diverse population and how business-friendly Fullerton is. The third video centered on development around town, including the 1.5 million sq. ft. Goodman Logistics Center on E. Orangethorpe at State College Blvd. (previous location of Kimberly Clark), revealing for the first time that lessees of the massive warehouse/distribution property are Samsung, grocery chain Sprouts, and Japanese video game publisher Bandai Namco.

Among other projects featured were Ralph Kim’s new Hispanic Provecho Market on Euclid, the new industrial use of the former Fullerton Hotel by the 91 freeway, the Fox Block on Harbor renovation, the transportation center hotel proposal, and various housing developments. According to the video, the city accepted 1609 new business registrations in 2022.

“We must change to keep pace with the future though our pride and egos can get in the way. We will ensure that every person in Fullerton has access to fair and just public safety, amenities, improved infrastructure, and affordable housing. Our shared values make Fullerton great. I have great faith in our ability to come together and overcome our differences to build an extraordinary future for our neighbors, children, and grandchildren,” Jung said.

A list of sponsors of the event includes Farmers & Merchants Bank, Shopoff Realty Investments, Meta Housing Corp, DIO Real Estate, Hozoro Mortgage, Rexford Industrial, Innoarc Architecture Construction, Jones & Mayer Law, Edison Int, OC Power Authority, SoCal Gas, Stantec, Republic Services, Morningside, Providence St. Jude, GiabitNOW, Fibercity SIFI Networks, Credit Union of SC, and others.

The event was live-streamed and is available on youtube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-lIEjgJI_8

14 replies »

  1. Active Transportation is a committee, not a commission. Members are committee members, not commissioners.

  2. District 5 voters re-elected Zahra as their representative on council.
    Jung, Whitaker, and Dunlap’s votes to keep Zahra from his fair rotation turn to become mayor and their ongoing efforts to keep both Zahra, and now Charles, from asking critical questions before votes disenfranchises their district’s voters.

    Instead of repeating false claims of wrong-doing – such as those easily debunked below –
    why not point out any real issues if there are any?

    •No Criminal: According to the Orange County District Attorney the misdemeanor charges in the case that stemmed from Zahra’s divorce were dropped due to lack of evidence. There were no injuries in the confrontation between Zahra, and his former spouse and friend, that occurred at Zahra’s front door except to a cell phone. Get over it.

    •State of City Ad: The Observer would never leave anyone out on purpose. It was a cropping error made by facebook of the invitation to the event which the Observer published pro-bono. When alerted, the editor attempted to fix it, when she couldn’t – she deleted it.

  3. What’s the argument here? Zahra was charged with two misdemeanors. Subsequently, the charges were dropped. The case was dismissed. The record of the case has been sealed, per state law.

  4. The Fullerton Observer is not press but more propaganda. How come you didn’t interview any of the councilmembers, Mayor Jung, City Attorney, City Manager, etc. for your article? This seems to be your perspective. And what makes your perspective right?

  5. Jung just pointed out your blatant omission of an elected Dunlap and you’re blaming him. Yet you are blaming Facebook for the “error” The Observer is getting impossible to read these days.

    • You have choices and free will. I would not mind at all if you read something else.

  6. If you look on YOUR social media post advertising the State of the City. You only put 4 councilmembers, Mayor Jung, Bruce Whitaker, Shana Charles, and Ahmad Zahra. Where is councilmember Nick Dunlap? Zahra is on YOUR POST! Don’t assume because you end up looking like the a** especially since you are the city newspaper.

    • Thanks for following us on social media. We are an all-volunteer and community-written newspaper.

      • What happened to the comment you left before? Looks like it has been deleted

      • What happened to your comment you left before? Looks like you deleted it!

  7. Maybe Zahra doesn’t deserve to be respected – malignant narcissism isn’t very nice. Neither is dredging up a fake candidate to split the Latino vote in D5. Ever think of that? Doctor? Filmmaker? Reminds me a bit of George Santos.

    By the way, did Zahra ever produce proof that he wasn’t prosecuted for battery and vandalism except his wobbly say so? Thought not.

    Of course “staff” reminds us Zahra’s “brand” is gay Arab so the insinuation is Jung MUST be prejudiced against gays and Arabs. Same old Observer.

    • Since when has the burden of proof been the requirements of the accused????

      • Because he claimed (with no evidence) that he was exonerated. The burden of proof is always on someone making a positive claim. Unless you are willing to take Zahra’s word which would be very foolish given his propensity for prevarication.