Whatever happened to Jolene Fuentes? (By hook or by crook: the real Fuentean legacy)
|By hook or by crook|
You’ll also recall that, in a special meeting soon after Tom's death (in May of 2012), the board decided to appoint a replacement for Tom instead of leaving a vacancy and letting the voters decide his successor at the next election, just five months away.
One guesses that this was a crafty political decision, for it was known that a Fuentes—either widow Jolene or son TJ—would seek that office, and, given the Fuentes family’s GOP connections, a Fuentes would likely prevail in an election sans incumbent. On the other hand, if the board were to appoint a replacement—a non-Fuentes—he or she would come into the election in November with an enormous incumbent advantage and would very likely prevail, even against a well-heeled Fuentes.
Well, who knows what trustees (or board Prez Nancy Padberg) were actually thinking. But surely there was no one on the board, save Tom’s curious minion Dave Lang, who wanted another thuggish (i.e., Fuentean) politico on the board. Unless they took action, that is exactly what would occur.
This was great theater, of course. It culminated in a special meeting in June of 2012 in which the trustees interviewed two candidates: James Wright, a popular recently retired long-time instructor and dean—and Jolene Fuentes, who, as it happened, had no experience in the community college system or in higher ed.
She was a Fuentes, is all.
In my view, both candidates did well answering questions that night, but it was obvious that Wright had the superior resume. In any case, Wright was selected. Trustees used a points system, and the final tally was Fuentes: 367.5 and Wright: 454.
Naturally, the local GOP, or at least its knuckle-dragging Fuentes wing, cried foul. Immediately after the selection was announced, Lang and TJ carped that the board should not have appointed anyone; rather, they should have left the matter of selection to the voters (again, in five months). OC Reg columnist Frank Mickadeit made the same point.
Leave it to the voters! That’s what Tom would have wanted, said Jolene.
Curiously, back in 2000, when the notorious Holocaust-denying trustee, Steve Frogue, resigned from our board (four months prior to election), Tom had no objection at all to being appointed to the board by trustees rather than by voters, a point I made here on DtB (7/1/12) and that was repeated elsewhere.
(See also Frank Mickadeit, OC Register Columnist, Slams College Professor on Behalf of Late Tom Fuentes [6/28/12]).
Well, soon, reality set in and all that peevitude faded. Wright, now an incumbent, was duly elected the following November. After a dozen miserable years, the "Fuentes" era at the SOCCCD, that long lurid nightmare, came to an end.
Well, a year later, she emerged as a candidate to fill yet another empty seat—this one on the Lake Forest Planning Commission (PC). Once again, she had no experience or background for the office. She had never even attended a Lake Forest PC meeting!
To make a long story short, Fuentes and company managed to bully the existing City Council members (who appoint the PC replacement) to select Jolene, despite the availability of manifestly superior alternative candidates. (When asked about his peculiar decision to reverse himself and vote for the inexperienced Jolene Fuentes, Mayor Voigt actually said, "I don't know.")
Upon arriving on the commission, she immediately announced that she would be missing a meeting—despite attendance having been a salient issue for the commission in the recent past.
In general, it appears that Jolene has turned out to be a very bad commissioner who has a poor attendance record and who is widely regarded ineffective, owing to a lack of experience. Nowadays, she's gotten the PC embroiled in an issue regarding granting an exemption to a rule restricting sale of alcohol (see below).
You can read all about it here. The last post is a scathing review of Jolene’s efforts on the commission in a guest editorial that appeared in the Voice of OC two months ago:
• Council Dismisses Planning Experience In Favor of Fuentes (Lake Forest Patch, 9/4/13)
...However, [Mayor Voigts] had difficulty justifying the switch from one woman [Morrell] who was worthy of his first ballot choice to another woman [Fuentes] who is a relative newcomer by comparison. Morrell has an extensive background, including being a project planner on a new town of 100,000 outside Tokyo, Japan, and master planning and infrastructure planning support for agencies such as the Navy, Army Corps of Engineers and county of Orange.• Fuentes Participates in First Planning Commission Meeting (Lake Forest Patch, 9/13/13)
Finally, after being pressed why he chose Morrell as his No. 1 choice in the first round and then switched to Fuentes, Voigts gave up.
"I don't know," he said softly....
...But [Fuentes] offered a somewhat surprising revelation during the commissioners' comments at the end of the meeting when she informed her colleagues she would be absent at the next regularly scheduled meeting to attend a long-awaited wedding in Memphis, Tenn. The planning commission meets twice a month.• Lake Forest 99 Cents Only stores win appeals to sell beer, wine (OC Reg, May 21, 2014) (See also One Lake Forest 99 Cents Only store allowed to sell beer, wine, 7/11/14)
Fuentes was appointed to replace Tim Hughes, one of the original planning commissioners in the city. He resigned because his work out of state would force him to miss meetings and prevent him from devoting up to 80 hours of prep time for each meeting....
• Community Editorial: Planning Commission Is Not for Politics (Voice of OC, March 26, 2014)
A little more than six months ago, Jolene Fuentes was appointed to the Planning Commission in Lake Forest amid controversy about her lack of background, experience and education, given the excellent qualifications of the applicants passed over in favor of her.• Political cronyism destroys Lake Forest’s Planning Commission (OC Pol Blog, July 29, 2014)
The controversy was exacerbated by the claim of then Mayor Scott Voigts that he had no idea why he cast the deciding vote for Fuentes, failing to mention the $1,000 contribution to his 2010 campaign from (now deceased) Tom Fuentes, the Republican bigwig and husband of Jolene.
In the intervening months, Fuentes' record of attendance has been poor, and that’s on a commission that already cancels more than 20% of its meetings....
|Tom loved his machine|