“The ambulances will have to wait their turn.” Did you catch that last part?
Just the opposite will happen if the ambulance component of this JPA proposal goes forward. The ambulances will be going straight for your wallet, and more than ever before.
Yesterday, I talked about the JPA Feasibility Study authored by Citygate Associates LLC that showed little, if any, reason to merge the Fullerton and Brea Fire departments. A separate study on ambulance service was sought from a company named A. P. Triton, LLC.
The ambulance study makes its bias against private ambulance companies known from the very start. They denigrate private companies for making a profit, then propose ways for the JPA to do exactly the same, with rates far beyond what is being charged now.
The consultant spends considerable time salivating over revenue collection potential.
Casual readers of this blog may want to pay closer attention than usual.
This coming Tuesday, January 24, the Fullerton City Council will entertain a study session to review the merits of folding the Brea and Fullerton Fire Departments into one. If approved, the Fullerton Fire Department, and it’s 108-year history as we know it, would cease to exist.
Thanks to a 3-2 vote (YES: Fitzgerald, Flory, Chaffee. NO: Whitaker, Sebourn) a new government agency was formed with the City of Brea on October 18, 2016. The North Orange County Cities Joint Powers Authority is its name.
A merged Fullerton and Brea Fire Department would no longer be under the direct control of either the Fullerton or Brea City Councils. Instead, it would be governed by this new JPA — whose board members will be unelected. That is a board which is directly accountable to nobody. Two City Council members from each city, appointed by their respective City Councils, will govern the JPA. That’s not a typo — it really is two members from each city — meaning there is no tiebreaker vote.
The study session follows on the heels of a recent JPA Feasibility Study whereby the case to merge fire departments is rather weak.
We already utilize a shared fire command with the City of Brea. Fullerton’s projected costs under that existing arrangement are shown below, in blue. Fullerton’s projected costs under the JPA are shown in yellow.
The consultant, Citygate Associates LLC, says not to worry about the $300-400K annual cost increases under a JPA as those are within “model variance”. (Note: The above figures are in thousands)
The Discovery Cube is a pretty neat venue for kids of all ages. Anyone who has driven the 5 freeway through Santa Ana can’t miss the place.
Discovery’s VP of Sales Lobbying Sean Fitzgerald is married to Fullerton Lobbyist-Councilwoman Jennifer Fitzgerald. City money began flowing to Discovery Cube within a year of Sean taking the job.
Following a promotion in 2014, this press release described Sean Fitzgerald’s new position:
“As Vice President, Sales and Strategic Development, Fitzgerald works directly with the Center’s leadership on a variety of growth-related initiatives. This includes developing new strategic partnerships with municipalities, corporations and other non-profits and serving as a key member of the team working to open DSC’s new Los Angeles facility later this year. In addition, Fitzgerald oversees a sales team working to fulfill the Center’s sales goals in field trips, outreach programming and partner education programs.”
CalRecycle awards Beverage Container Recycling Grant money to municipalities every year for various recycling programs. Public education is one of several options with which to spend the money.
Since 2012, the City has been paying for thousands of FSD sixth graders to learn about recycling at Discovery Cube to the tune of $27 per kid. (more…)
The sad part about Joe Felz’ retirement is that running over a tree, while likely under the influence of alcohol, might have actually improved his legacy as City Manager. How is that possible? Easy. The tree incident is a convenient distraction at an optimal time. Except for the anonymous letter penned by City employees a couple weeks ago, few people are talking about his actual job performance which deserves just as much scrutiny.
One of his biggest failures is that he not only tolerated, but actively participated in deceiving the public through various means, be it omission, obfuscation, or just outright lying to people. He wasn’t crafty about concealing it either – agenda letters and staff reports sent to the City Council and others were chock full of half-truths, non-truths, and other nonsense designed to mislead the public.
I think we ought to be forgiving in the case of legitimate mistakes or typos. None of us are perfect, so transposed digits, or maybe a missing word here or there, isn’t the end of the world provided it doesn’t materially influence a decision. The point where it ceases to be a “mistake” or “typo” and, thus, becomes completely unacceptable, is when people offering up this information stick to their guns and defiantly defend such errors as being gospel.
In case you missed the last installment of the Brea Dam fiasco, one point of contention concerning the golf course was converting the Lease to a Management Agreement with American Golf.
Parks and Recreation Administrative Manager Alice Loya went before the City Council in November 2010 and said American Golf would receive a $500,000 “Management Fee” with 1% annual increases. Minus payment to a couple American Golf managers, this constitutes guaranteed profit to American Golf, a perk they never enjoyed in the past.
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and said to yourself, hey, I’m going to take out a new mortgage to pay for sprinklers on property I don’t even own? Yeah, me neither.
That’s exactly what the City of Fullerton cooked up in 2010 with one minor difference. Instead of a mortgage, they sold municipal revenue bonds, but that distinction is, for the most part, a moot point. Debt is debt.
You see, the Fullerton Golf Course, located northeast of Harbor Blvd. and Bastanchury Rd. (near St. Jude) sits on nearly 75 acres of land owned by the Federal government. The City of Fullerton is simply the lessee on a long-term lease granted by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
American Golf (and it’s predecessor) was the contract operator of the Fullerton Golf Course beginning in 1979. They operated the course as if they owned it outright, and gave the City of Fullerton 20% of the golf and 8% of the concession revenue. This was not a bad arrangement for the City considering it was in American Golf’s best interest to run a lean operation and generate as much revenue as possible. They also assumed responsibility for golf course operating costs, liability, and capital improvements.
I began to question the City’s management of the Brea Dam in early 2015.
Numerous problems had one thing in common: Joe Felz‘ involvement during his tenure as Parks and Recreation Director, and then, again, during his transition into the City Manager role in 2010. Who better to ask about these things than Joe himself? I tried reaching him by e-mail. After that failed, I tried calling instead. He never returned my calls either.
Seeing that as a dead end, I requested copies of documentation from Parks & Recreation staff that I believed to be the responsibility of administrative manager Alice Loya. Her name appeared on numerous City Council and Parks & Recreation agendas pertaining to the Brea Dam.
My initial records request was denied, in part, because they said the records didn’t exist. I had requested from Ms. Loya very basic budget and profit/loss statements for the Fullerton Golf Course. That’s when I knew my suspicions of mismanagement had at least some merit. We pay the golf course expenses, yet Ms. Loya, whose job it is to supervise these things, could not produce anything of substance to justify the overall financial performance. She instead offered what I’ve termed monthly invoicing “bundles”, so I requested a full 12 months. This was the only way to reconcile financial performance over a full fiscal year. I would later be shamed by the Fullerton Observer for making that request and others. After all, I was wasting precious City staff time.
Over the summer of 2015, some friends and I studied these documents in depth, and we each came to the conclusion that something is very, very wrong up there. So wrong that, unless corrected, the US Army Corps of Engineers could revoke the lease and evict the City of Fullerton. That could potentially force the closure of the Fullerton Golf Course, Fullerton Tennis Center, Fullerton Sports Complex, YMCA, Child Guidance Center, and Fullerton Community Nursery School — all of which occupy Brea Dam land leased from the Federal Government. The Feds could also sue the City for failing to remit revenue. Believe it or not, we could also face the wrath of the IRS because the bonds we sold to replace the golf course sprinkler system came with strings attached to the interest subsidy the City receives from the Feds. The list of problems just goes on and on and on…
We’ve all heard the words “follow the money” as if said process will magically unveil itself to us. Certain insight and skills are necessary when confronted by a doozy like this one:
ICSC is the International Council of Shopping Centers who held their Global Retail Real Estate Convention May 22-25, 2016 in Las Vegas, which, ironically, cost $570 to attend, the same amount of the first transaction (above).
As if taxis, bagels, and Starbucks charged to the City procurement card wasn’t enough, two days of room service at the Hard Rock Hotel made the trip all worthwhile:
Just because there’s enough material in the City’s records to write blog posts like these… (more…)