How Fitzcal Irresponsibility Drove Us Over the Cliff

“Hey, it was balanced for a few seconds!” Jennifer Fitzgerald, probably

 

Now that the City of Fullerton is finally admitting that our budget is not balanced!, contrary to Jennifer Fitzgerald’s campaign claims, this would be a good time to revisit how we got here in the first place.

The City of Fullerton website includes links for the minutes and agenda for the last four years of city council meetings and beyond and can be found here.  You’ll find that on October 20, 2015, Fitzgerald voted for the Memorandum of Agreement with the Fullerton Municipal Employees Federation 1200 (resolution 2015-52), which provided increased costs of $5,595,576 over the next four years, and then voted for the contract at the second reading on November 3, 2015. The resolution passed 3-2.

But that’s not all, not by a long shot.

On November 3, 2015, Fitzgerald voted for the Memorandum of Agreement with the Fullerton Police Officers’ Association – Safety and Dispatcher Units (resolution 2015-59), which provided increased costs of $9,502,904 over the next four years, and then voted for the contract at the second reading on November 17, 2015. The resolution passed 3-2.

Fitzcal responsibility.

On February 16, 2016, Fitzgerald voted for the Memorandum of Agreement with the Fullerton Firefighters’ Association (resolution 2016-16), which provided increased costs to the city of $1,959,821 over the next two years, and then voted for the contract at the second reading on March 1, 2016. The resolution passed 3-2.

On April 5, 2016, Fitzgerald voted for the Memorandum of Agreement with the Fullerton Management Association (resolution 2016-23), which increased costs to the city of $1,175,030 over the next four years, and then voted for the contract at the second reading on April 19, 2016. The resolution passed 3-2.

Also on April 5, and again on April 19, 2016, Fitzgerald voted for a revised resolution providing for raises to confidential non-represented employees (resolution 2016-24), which increased costs to the city of $391,857 over the next four years. The resolution passed 3-2.

And on December 6, 2016, Fitzgerald voted for the Memorandum of Agreement with the Fullerton Police Management Association, which increased costs to the city of $882,492 over the next four years. The resolution passed 3-2. Oh, and if you’re interested, this was the meeting where outgoing councilmember Jan Flory berated Josh Ferguson for having the temerity to claim our budget wasn’t balanced and we were exhausting our reserves (starting at around 1:21:00).

Over the course of her first term in office (the December 6 hearing was a lame duck session), Jennifer Fitzgerald voted for pay increases totaling nineteen million five hundred and seven thousand nine hundred and fifty three dollars ($19,507,953) over a four year span – or almost five million dollars per year. And Fitzgerald’s vote was crucial for the passage of each and every one of these pay increases.

And let’s not forget the numerous “side letters” Fitzgerald approved over the years as well – including one for $500,000 on November 5, 2013, for $450,000 on March 4, 2014, for $60,000 per year on April 15, 2014 (to “adjust” Fullerton Fire Management’s pay to bring it into parity with Brea’s), and for $202,00 on November 14, 2014, plus several other agreements for less than $100,000. Oh, and let’s not also forget the $4.9 million settlement of Ron Thomas’s lawsuit which Fitzgerald also voted to authorize, which will be indirectly paid for by the city through increased insurance premiums for decades to come.

So Jennifer Fitzerald didn’t just mislead voters about our supposedly balanced! budget. – she was one of the architect of our current fiscal mess in the first place.

Behind the Badge: The No-Bid No No and An Email to the Council

I rescued a cat. The beat down on that kid never happened.

FFFF has tracked the obscene waste of taxpayer money – $200,000 so far – on a vacuous, pro-cop PR outlet run by Cornerstone Communication called “Back the Badge.” We have noted a supremely fuzzy contract, approved only by a bureaucrat and managed in the most slip-shod fashion.

On February 2nd, Mr. Travis Kiger sent a communication about it to Mayor Bruce Whitaker. We faithfully reproduce it, here:

Mayor Whitaker,

After reviewing the contract, purchase orders and payments to Cornerstone Communications, along with the communication from the city below, it is clear that the City Manager issued the contract and payments improperly.

City code 2.64.050 and city policy requires a Formal Bid Procedure be followed for awards over $50,000. On 3/28/2013, the City Manager signed a contract with Cornerstone Communications not to exceed $40,000 with no evidence of a Formal Bid Procedure. On 5/20/13, less than 2 months later, the city issued a purchase order extending the contract by 6 months and $23,000. This PO brought the total contract value to $63,000 in the first year. This maneuvering suggests that the City Manager intentionally bypassed the city’s requirement for a formal bid procedure.

This issue is even more alarming considering that City Manager and the Chief of Police had an existing relationship with Bill Rams, the proprietor of Cornerstone Communications, prior to the initial contract issuance.

Additionally, there were $32,000 of payments to Cornerstone Communications from 4/1/14 through 11/1/14 that were made without an active contract or purchase order. This is an egregious error that is further complicated by city management’s pre-existing relationship with the vendor.

There are other problems with this vendor relationship. Purchase orders were issued in excess of the contracted amounts and term without an updated contract. The contract is open ended, vague and does not provide for specific performance. The contract does not require the vendor to deliver performance reporting, nor is there evidence that the vendor provided evidence of effectiveness of deliverables, which is customary in online marketing agreements.

Given the improper nature of the issuance of the contract, which was renewed over four consecutive years without the approval of the City Council, and the sudden departure of the City Manager who oversaw this contract, I strongly believe the council should review the contract and payments to Cornerstone Communications at a public meeting immediately.

Thank you,

Travis Kiger

Email re Cornerstone Communications

Cornerstone Communications Contract and Invoices

Now let’s see what Mr. Whitaker and the City will do with it, if anything.

JPA Business Plan: Prey on sick and dying people

Just watch the video.

“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.

(more…)

Behind the Badge – The Gravy Train

No civilians were harmed in the making of this satire…

UPDATE: a keen-eyed friend wrote in to inform us of a couple interesting facts about the City’s “Back the badge” documents. First, the original contract and the first purchase order don’t agree. The PO describes a one-year term while the contract is for only six months. Second there is no PO that covers the period from May to November 2014. The City’s controller should not have been able to write checks without a PO to write checks against, so something is fishy there.

FFFF has already shared with the Friends here some of the more ludicrous aspects of “Back the Badge” a PR outlet for cop departments and unions that we pay for.

The whole shabby deception is so bad we decided to dig a little deeper to see just how the Fullerton taxpayers got hooked into paying for the cops to peddle their propaganda – to us.

Here are the documents we were given.

The documents we received indicate a completely non-transparent, slipshod City-vendor relationship in which deliverables are sketchy, and grossly overvalued.

Danny says you are either ignorant or misinformed!!!

First, it’s important to point out that this relationship was approved in secret by former City Manager Joe Felz in spring 2013, presumably under his spending authority. The City Council may have been informed, but the public most assuredly was not. Even Felz must have been aware of the possible public blowback against this nonsense. And he undoubtedly had the support of council persons Flory, Chaffee and Fitzgerald in trying to keep this gross squandering of public funds out of the public eye.

It is critical to recognize the contract for what it is: a fixed fee arrangement in which the vendor gets his contracted monthly amount regardless of what he actually accomplishes. These sorts of contracts are comparatively rare in government precisely because they are not tied to specific scopes of work. In essence there is no real oversight at all, even if anybody felt like doing it – which they didn’t.

The Blue Crew

If you peruse the invoices you will find all sorts of weird “deliverables” of intangible sort like “PR services,” “OC Register columns,” and “Fullerton News Tribune” just the sorts of things that are impossible to value and make you wonder if the real media was in collusion with Back the Badge. FFFF has already noted how the Yellowing Fullerton Observer has published an article, verbatim, from Back the Badge, here.

Of course some of the contractual items like “traffic/performance reports” yielded no responsive documents in our public records request. Anyway, as I noted it above it hardly matters.

One extra-contractual proposal sent to former Chief Danny “Galahad” Hughes offers 40,000 print copies of “Behind the badge Fullerton magazine” for a mere twenty grand.  Who approved that, and where did these print copies go? That we shall likely never know, as the police PR mechanisms are obviously none of our damn business, even though we are bankroller and target audience.

Before we only had to pay him to make stuff up…

My favorite item in the proposals from Back the Badge is something called “crisis counseling.” This must be a service that is called upon when something really bad occurs and the cops need to polish up that road apple, and quick! So did Back the Badge spring into crisis counseling mode the night their benefactor, Joe Felz, smelling of liquor, drove off Glenwood Avenue, and was given a free pass and a ride home by the Fullerton Police Department?

On December 17, 2016, the City issued a new Purchase Order for more of those valuable Back the Badge services. The invoice cites the brand-new interim Chief but there is no reference to the Acting City Manager since by this time Joe Felz was long gone, the victim of his own reckless behavior. So who authorized the issuance of this new PO? The police chief, whoever he is, has no such spending authority. It seems as if the Culture of Opacity and Unaccountability is humming along on auto pilot.

Well, this is Fullerton and if you want to find out what is going on – well, good luck with that.

 

 

Ready for Another Water Rate Increase?

Probably the biggest vote at tomorrow’s City Council meeting is the Red Oak development . Josh Ferguson has already discussed that issue in his excellent article here so there’s no need for me to pile on (just read it if you haven’t already).

What I do want to do is draw attention to another vote on the City Council. Agenda Item #8 includes the appointment of Fullerton’s representative to the Fullerton Water Board.

This is our current representative.

Now, while Jan Flory has come under a lot of deserved criticism from this blog over the years, and in fact supported three separate water rate increases in a single year while on the City Council, it is only fair to mention that she has been appropriately skeptical on the Poseidon development, which if approved will raise our water rates even further – although it is also only fair to point out that she has recently signaled she would be willing to support the project to maintain her position on the board.

Poseidon Water is a desalination developer that who wants to build a $1 billion desalination plant in Huntington Beach, and wants the Orange County Water District to help guaranty construction of the project AND agree to purchase 56,000 acre feet (eighteen billion gallons) for more money than the County currently pays to import water, for the next fifty years.

How much more? The specific amount has been something of a moving target, but this appears to be the current plan:

(Blue represents what we currently pay to MDW, red, green and purple represent the crony capitalism surtax)

Keep in mind that while (per their own admission) Poseidon is about twice as expensive as MWD water, water purchased from MWD is itself far more expensive than the groundwater which Poseidon would displace, which is, essentially, free, minus the cost associated with pumping and/or replacing the groundwater. Also, Poseidon is angling for a “Take or Pay” contract with OCWD, meaning the ratepayers buy their water first, even if we don’t need it, regardless of whether we have an abundance of free ground water, water in Lake Mead or water we will have to flush to the ocean because our capacity is full.

So who will the Council appoint? Bruce Whitaker (a Poseidon critic) was the City’s appointee from 2013-2014, until he was deposed for voting against the interests of a client of Curt Pringle & Associates, and Doug Chaffee sought the appointment in 2012, so he may seek it again. Flory wants it as well, despite no longer being on the council and no obvious base of support, so it seems to be between Whitaker and Chaffee. With opposition to the Poseidon plant growing at the county level this could be an important vote for the future of this project – and your future water rates.

Rusty Needs You!

In the past FFFF has been critical of Rusty Kennedy and his ridiculous “OC Human Relations” operations that for decades has sucked off of taxpayer revenue to fund it’s feel-good enterprises. Back in 2011 we noted Kennedy’s moral absenteeism here and here when the Fullerton cops killed a helpless homeless man. See, Rusty has always needed the cops to pop up at County budget time and extol his dubious virtues. He and his Old Guard liberal pals were more than happy to paint the Kelly Thomas killing as an issue in which the poor cops just lacked proper training dealing with those troublesome homeless people.

In 2012 Kennedy showed his true colors by canvasing Anaheim’s Ana Drive barrio in the aftermath of the widespread unrest and duplicitously turning over information he collected to the Chief of Police; not long afterwards he was lobbying the City of Anaheim to run a proposed police oversight committee.

In 2011 the County decided to end its “in-house” effort and contract the function of supporting the completely unnecessary Human relations Commission. So what happened? Rusty retired to a six-fugure pension and then got paid allover again as a contractor. That’s how our government works.

Anyway, it appears that now Kennedy’s OC Human Relations is actually going to have to submit a bid to continue its heretofore monopoly on official County good deed doing, and Rusty is soliciting your help.

From: Rusty Kennedy <Rusty@ochumanrelations.org>
Date: January 13, 2017 at 10:46:32 AM PST
To: Rusty Kennedy <Rusty@ochumanrelations.org>
Subject: Urgent Request for BRIEF Letter of Support

Dear Friends

OC Human Relations was created 25 years ago to support programs of the Orange County Human Relations Commission.  As a non-profit organization OC Human Relations has grown into a highly professional organization providing model programs in Police Community Relations, Community Building, Dispute Resolution, Reconciliation, and Diverse Community relations.

Almost 6 years ago the Board of Supervisors eliminated the public staff of the Commission and contracted with our non-profit, OC Human Relations, to provide staff support for the Commission.  We are not applying through the County BidSync system to continue this contract.

We have to submit letters of support with our bid before the end of the month, so time is of the essence.

A simple letter such as below is all that is needed.

Possible Model for Letters of Support for OC Human Relations, feel free to add or modify in any manner you wish, on your letterhead, and e-mail a copy to me: rusty@ochumanrelations.org

Thank you in advance.

Rusty Kennedy, CEO

OC Human Relations

Date

To Whom It May Concern:

I write on behalf of ­(your organization) to express my support for the good work of OC Human Relations.

We have worked with OC Human Relations for ( # years) on (type of cases, projects we collaborate on).

OC Human Relations is a highly professional organization that we look to for helping on (type of case or project) and plan to continue to do so.

Sincerely,

(your name and title)

(your organization’s name)

Rusty Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer

OC Human Relations | 1300 S. Grand, Bldg B, Santa Ana, CA 92705 | 714.480.6585

www.ochumanrelations.org | Join Our Email List

Having fun at Rusty Kennedy’s expense may be entertaining, but really there is a bigger question: why do the taxpayers have to pay for a function that routinely grandstands over a mere handful of “hate crimes” and that includes in its repertoire mediation between cops and abused citizens – especially when that “service” means turning a blind eye to police brutality, excessive force, and even homicide.

While We Were Away. Another Story You Didn’t Read About In “Back The Badge”

Once upon a time, the Fullerton Police Department employed a detective by the name of Ron Bair.

FFFF had some fun with this idiot, here.

A real moron, right? FFFF questioned whether this “detective” could find his own ass in the dark. Unfortunately, Inspector Clouseau was not just an annoying, half-bright stumblebum. He was also the the sort of degenerate who would involve himself in a sexual relationship with a woman in a domestic/child custody dispute in which he had become a witness. That thought alone makes me cringe. Was it sexual extortion? The whole thing was completely piggish.

Naturally, the whole misconduct was swept under the rug by law enforcement, but the civil suit cost the taxpayers of Fullerton plenty in 2015 – $550,000 to be precise.

When you read that article did you enjoy the part where Chief Danny Galahad blames the woman for her “poor choices?”

“I understand your frustration with former officer Ron Bair, but you have blamed him for your situation, the judge, and now three additional members of our department,” Hughes told Castaneda. “You may also want to consider the poor choices you have made to contribute to your current situation.”

You have to admire the balls it takes to offer moral admonishment to the victim of one of your employees and the subsequent law enforcement cover-up. He doesn’t bother to mention that his stand-up officer was conveniently retired in 2013 (see page 35).

For some reason that reminds me of former Chief “Patdown” Pat McKinley casually blaming Albert Rincon sexual assault victims for not being  like the women who attended his stupid “She Bear” book signings.

 

Fitzgerald Supports Seeking OC Sheriff Department Preliminary Analysis For Outsourcing Police Services

The pageant was over…

Of course this was candidate Jennifer Fitzgerald, back in 2012 when she was running for the city council.

FFFF reported on that here.

Here’s the letter Fitzy wrote to then mayor, Sharon Quirk-Silva:

Naturally, once safely in office this support for looking into possible, maybe someday, perhaps switching to the Sheriff Department at huge cost savings to the taxpayers of Fullerton evaporated like the morning dew on a summer day. Since gaining office Fitzgerald, along with Jan Flory and Doug “Bud” Chaffee have been resolute in their goal that no reform of the Fullerton Police Department take place and that no acknowledgement of any Culture of Corruption could possibly exist.

Some cynics suggested this letter was only meant to call off pro-recall forces; other cynics suggested this was the price Fitzgerald had to pay for Supervisor Shawn Nelson’s endorsement. Probably it was both. Either way the commitment was thinner than the paper it was printed on. And Fitzgerald never mentioned it again.

2016 Fringies© – And The Winners Are…

Friends, the time has come to hand out this year’s Fringie© Awards. I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, but JFD, in this short period after the FFFF resurrection how can we have Fringies©?

The broomstick wasn’t short, but it sure was hard…Arf!

The answer, my ever slow human Friends, is that first, you had quite a bit of nutsy goings on since the second week of November including Joe Felz’ Wild Ride, Danny Hughes’ obstruction of justice, the election recap, and some fun with your downtown vodka, vomit an vehicular mayhem culture – a culture whose tentacles reach deep into City Hall and has repercussions as far away as Glenwood Avenue. Second, you deserve the annual abuse of the Fringies©, because after all, the culture of arrogant secrecy, of complaisance, of mismanagement can be laid at the doorstep of the electorate. And that’s you, lowly humans.

And so the Awards Committee sat in deliberation. And by deliberation I mean ingestion of substantial amounts of peyote, cough syrup and Mountain Dew – the elixir of Award Committees everywhere. They toiled away far into the evening hours to entertain and enlighten you. Here is what they belched up.

Poor Sappy

Rookie of the Year.  Although the Committee discussed the merit of awarding this Fringie© to a non-human, it was trenchantly observed that many non-humans have indeed won Fringies© in the past. And by non-human in 2016 I mean the late, lamented Sappy McTree, cut down at the beginning of a promising life by none other than our former City Manager, Joe Felz in the wee hours of November 9th, 2016. Both are now departed. Felz has been spotted around town trying to peddle whatever influence he thinks he has left, while poor Sappy has been run through the chipper at the City’s corporate yard and is now ground cover at Byerrum Park. RIP, Sappy.

The simpering smile became a trademark

Worst Politician of the Year. The very name of the category begs the question as to whether such a thing as a good politician exists. However we leave that questions for greater minds to ponder as we award the Fringie© to the most deluded, self-important, boob anybody has ever seen in these parts – Irvine’s own Sukhee Kang. True, Fullerton’s Larry Bennett offered up one of the lamest candidacies imaginable, but we didn’t have to imagine anything more: for here before our very eyes was the very real spectacle of Sukhee Kang, self-anointed carpetbagger with the dismal record in Irvine, who moved to Fullerton just to run for office, and who bought a McMansion on a golf course to show how much he had in common with his would-be constituents.  The Committee was again, unanimous.

Best Most Outrageous Cover Up. Even though there were only two nominees in the category, the Committee spent hours debating the merits of each. There was much disturbance, confusion and argumentation, and the Committee finally came to blows. In the end there was a split decision, the majority believing that even though the cover-up of Joe Felz’s Chaotic Wild Ride certainly constitutes an abuse of power and privilege, the NOCCCD cover up of Dino Skokos’ felonious and unprovoked assault on a  student not only represented the usual arrogance of bureaucratic stonewalling, it was actually performed in the full light of the existing video that had been viewed by thousands and thousand of people.

No comment

Best/Worst Image. One of our Committee members actually felt that Joe Felz has endured enough ridicule for his careening caper and subsequent departure. This individual was severely beaten about the head and shoulders and sent out into the night. Nevertheless the image of Gigglin’ Joe hoisting a glass of cheap chardonnay never had a chance. Instead, the image of my former mistress, Jan Flory rendered into a completely believable gorgon, positively captivated the Committee. And by captivated I mean like watching a train wreck. And so the Fringie© goes to Medusa Flory.

We didn’t do it!

And finally, The Ghost of Fullerton Past. All of the nominees were eminently qualified to take the brass ring. And by brass ring I mean recognition of past horrors inflicted upon the residents of Fullerton, and new contributions, too. In the end the Committee chose the inevitable: The Three Bald Tires, collectively recalled four years ago, who believe, somehow, that they are still wielders of influence. They are not. The worst aspect was them bringing along their spouses to share in one final electoral humiliation – pimping Lost Cause Larry Bennett’s political career.

And there you have it Friends the 2016 Fringies©. Now please excuse me while I tend to my nether parts.