Fullerton Retreads City Manager Tire

On the City’s website, right above a news release about an upcoming osteoporosis seminar at the Community Center, we discover that the City Council has unanimously chosen a replacement for Joe Felz. Felz, you will recall, drove off of Glenwood Avenue, ran over a tree, blew a tire and tried to drive away in his crippled vehicle.

Not Roeder’s first rodeo…

Allan Roeder, former City Manger of Costa Mesa, is the replacement, on an interim basis. He is part of a small pool of extremely expensive place holders brought in like bullpen pitchers, when the starter gets into trouble in the late innings. These already pensioned-off fellows go on to rake in enormous second incomes while already collecting their massive CalPers checks every month.

The new guy was hired yesterday in a Special, Behind-Closed-Doors meeting of the City Council.

Why the City needs to pay somebody a hundred grand for a five or six month stint is a question you should ask one of your “unanimous” council who seem to be oblivious to the fact that the City is running massive deficits every year, already. Oh well, it’s not their money, right?

Here is our new Mayor, Bruce Whitaker extolling the virtues of Mr. Roeder:

“We are happy to have someone as established and seasoned as Mr. Roeder to serve our city,” said Fullerton Mayor, Bruce Whitaker. “Allan’s experience will be welcomed at City Hall and he will be a valuable asset to the entire city until we appoint a permanent city manager.”

Now did Mr. Whitaker actually say that? Let’s hope it was a canned quotation put in his mouth by some overpaid “public information officer.”  Having Felz around for the past six or seven years is proof positive that from a strictly practical perspective we don’t even need a city manager, and would probably have been a lot better off without the last one we had.

Well, now we have one that can absorb the blame for whatever unfortunate happenstances come our way in the first half of 2017, and be off down the road to the nearest bank.

The Formula

 

See that busy-looking guy over there? He’s the one who won’t be doing anything about this…

The Orange County District Attorney, Mr. Tony Rackauckas, has a pretty miserable record holding public officials and cops accountable for their misbehavin.’ It took a dead man and a killing caught on video to get him to prosecute FPD cops Manny Ramos and Jay Cicinelli for the beat-down they instigated and laid on Kelly Thomas. Even that prosecution was touch and go.

And for years we have been seeing T-Rack investigatory work product that was just an obvious nothing.

Now we have the interesting case of Joe Felz’s Wild Ride, in which the Fullerton cops apprehended the former City Manager after he jumped a Greenwood Avenue curb, ran over a tree and tried to drive away. The police on the scene administered no breathalyzer test even though they smelled alcohol about Felz’s person. Instead of a ride to HQ, the cops gave Felz a ride home, with no questions asked. The city sent the case to the DA to examine – something – nobody knows what for.

As is often the case, history provides an instructive example with which we may reasonably predict a future event. Here is a story from the City of Garden Grove.

It turns out that the council of this fine city blatantly and willfully violated California’s open meeting law known as the Brown Act. The Mayor forwarded the matter to the DA. The result? A cunningly brilliant amalgamation of apparent action and no action at all. Even though the DA chastised the council for violating the “spirit and intent” of the law,  he claimed that there was no way to prosecute because…he is not a mind-reader! Rather, he presented to them a list of findings and concerns, dos and don’ts that would, presumably, help them in their future endeavors to obey the law. Meantime, councilmembers denied all wrong doing, and there the matter ended, with law enforcement providing an expensive yet feeble shadow-show, and with the offenders keeping their eyes closed as the pantomime played out.

I think the odds of a replay of this farce in the Felz matter are extraordinarily high. The DA has lots of wiggle room. He can’t charge Felz with anything because nobody collected evidence. The cops that let him go were just following orders.  The upper echelon who gave the orders – the egregious Andrew Goodrich and outgoing chief Dan Hughes – were merely exercising their professional prerogative to ignore their own policies and procedures whenever they feel like it. At worst, perhaps a gentle hand slap to persons unnamed, case closed and no need for the “internal review.”

Wait for it.

Housing the Homeless

A man’s home is his castle…

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc is a fallacy in logic. It means that just because B follows A, it doesn’t necessarily mean that A caused B.

With this caveat in place, Friends, please consider two events in their close chronological order:

  1. In November of 2015 the people of Fullerton presented Ron Thomas with a $4.9 million settlement for the death of his son, Kelly – killed by members of our police department.
  2. In January of 2016 Ron Thomas bought a house in Cypress for $1.3 million, with no loan indicated.


Does the the first event have any causal relationship with the second? Well, not necessarily, right?

Of course, this topic is only a matter of interest because in 2011 in an effort, one supposes, to curry favor with the media and the public, Mr. Thomas promised to give all of any proceeds from a lawsuit against the people of Fullerton to “homeless programs.” Was it true? Is it true? Will it ever be true? Do you care?

 

 

Ron Thomas Comes A Callin’

We here at FFFF always value feedback and welcome any comments you may have to help improve our humble blog. Here’s an example from a dissatisfied reader, a phone call:

It seems Mr. Thomas was unhappy with my post this morning, reminding Friends that:

  1. Thomas had gotten a $4.9 million payout in 2015 courtesy of the people of Fullerton, and;
  2. That in 2011 he told the media that he would be donating proceeds from a lawsuit or settlement to “homeless programs.”

Although Mr. Thomas thinks he has been “slandered” I am hard pressed to see any slander in that post, especially since the title of the post takes the man at his word – which is apt given his public persona as a truth-talkin,’ straight shootin’ son-of-gun.

Mr. Thomas says the post is full of inaccuracies, but the only specific he gives is the rather laughable notion that the payout was “handled through insurance,” not the taxpayers, a distinction without any difference as far as he ought to be concerned.

Anyway, Mr. Thomas says we have no idea what he’s done with the money – which I guess must true, since he seems to take issue with the idea that we possibly and reasonably expected him to keep his word. I guess we’ll have to start figuring it out where it has been going.

 

Ron Thomas To Donate Fullerton Millions to Homeless Programs

Future Philanthropist…

Below is a video from late 2015 featuring Ron Thomas, the father of Kelly Thomas, who had just gotten a massive check courtesy of the taxpayers of Fullerton.

First, enjoy the feeble bleating of “city attorney” Dana Fox who is just soooooo darn glad the settlement bought peace of mind so everybody can “move on,” although, damn, that’s a pretty high price tag. Of course it ain’t coming out of his pocket, or “Patdown” Pat “I hired them all”  McKinley’s, or Manuel Ramos’s or Jay Cicinelli’s or Joe Wolfe’s. We picked up the check for this, just like we always have for the FPD Culture of Corruption, and as with all settlements, the public who pays the freight never gets to learn key information – in this case the extent to which Captain Dan Hughes and former Chief McKinley may have helped cover up the mess and perhaps even if there was collusion between the cops and originator of the phony phone call that led to Thomas’s death. Naturally, neither Hughes, Joe Felz, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Jan Flory or Doug “Bud” Chaffee wanted a trial.

And Ron Thomas himself may have wanted to avoid a trial, too, since that would have meant a jury and the general public would have found out that he sold the picture of his broken, comatose son for publication on FFFF – for $1200.

Anyway, at the end of this video you will hear Ron Thomas exclaim that the big settlement is an admission of liability by the City, by which he really meant us taxpayers. He says that’s all he ever wanted. Did that make you feel any better?

And now we pivot just slightly to another video, this one from 2011, wherein Ron Thomas has alerted the media that he is going to donate all of any lawsuit or settlement amount to the homeless.

Now at least we can be satisfied that some good has come out of the Kelly Thomas murder, even if we had to pay for it – $6,000,000 so far, not counting the invoices forwarded by Mssrs. Jones & Meyer, Fox, and of course the ever helpful hazmat clean-up crew run by Michael Gennaco. At least $4.9 million (less Gary Mardirossian‘s giant fee) is being given to homeless programs. Right, Ron?

Ron….Ron…?

All citizens are equal, but some citizens are more equal than others (Part 2)

Since almost the beginning of this blog there has been a recognition that our current system of investigation of complaints of misconduct of law enforcement officers is completely broken, and while there has been some disagreement over the best solution there does appear to be a genuine desire to implement the most effective reform available to us under the law.

This brings me to the Civilian Oversight Ordinance.

They never said it would be easy.

Independent Civilian Oversight, as many have noted, can be completely toothless in cases where no subpoena power is given and when the Chief is free to ignore the recommendations of the Commission. That is why POPSI actually drafted a proposed ordinance and specifically addressed those concerns in the ordinance submitted to the City Council.

Pursuant to section (d) “The Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission shall have the power to subpoena and require attendance of witnesses and the production of books and papers pertinent to its investigations and to administer oaths.”

(more…)

Down on the County Farm: The 4th District Embarrassment

The quarter million dollar man…

A Friend alerted me to a Voice of OC article that has a close tie-in to Fullerton, since it deals directly with our 4th District County Supervisor, Shawn Nelson, and his Number One man.

Apparently, The Voice of OC is running end-of-the year pieces about this and that. The one that was forwarded to FFFF is about how Voice has been holding politicians accountable for their misdeeds, and included the shocking story from last May of Nelson’s Chief-of-Staff, Denis Bilodeau, and how, between his various government salaries, stipends and benefits he rakes in more than $250,000 per year. Yes, you read that right. He makes more, a lot more, than Nelson himself.

This valuable piece of manpower pulls in a generous stipend and benefits as a boardmember of the County Water District, and gets $40,000 per year (via a personal contract) as Nelson’s “technical advisor” at the AQMD. Before that he was also getting paid by being a member of the Orange City Council, Redevelopment Agency and all the other regional commissions he could get himself appointed to. Of course all these agencies had meetings that would have directly conflicted with his $120,000 full-time job at the County.

Bilodeau has also been frequently featured on the pages of the Voice for submitting bogus expense reports and for collecting stipends for meetings in which he barely popped his head in the meeting room door, or didn’t attend at all. Naturally, he blamed his staff for poor record keeping. He was busted for falsifying his time card to engage in political activity and claimed he got his weeks mixed up.

A study of hours logged by County administration personnel in 2012 show Bilodeau in the office 23 hours a week. Thats’ 58% of a work-week.What he did when he was there is anybody’s guess.

Nothing was saved…

So what is Bilodeau’s real value to anybody? Here’s County political watchdog Shirley Grindle, offering an opinion, as quoted in Voice of OC:

She also said she’s gotten indications that the mind behind Nelson’s fundraising machinations has been his chief of staff, Denis Bilodeau, who was an Orange councilman and serves on the Orange County Water District board.

“I’m about ready to tell Shawn Nelson, about the best thing he could do for his career is get rid of Denis Bilodeau,” Grindle said.

What did Nelson have to say on the subject?

“Neither Bilodeau nor Nelson would comment…”

The “Professional Standards Bureau”

The other day FFFF did a post about the letter Travis Kiger received from Fullerton’s Interim PoChief, David Hinig, suggesting that at some point an FPD in-house institution called the “Professional Standards Bureau” might, some day, possibly, if they feel like it, get around to looking into his complaint about the behavior of Fullerton cops at the Joe Felz Memorial Crash Site in the early morning hours of November 9th, 2016. That’s when the former City Manager, after a night of election partying, jumped a Glenwood Avenue curb, ran over a tree, and tried to leave the scene of the accident.

Danny says you are either ignorant or misinformed!!!

Professional Standards Bureau. Okay, stop snickering.

I got to thinking about the long history of the FPD Culture of Corruption that happily existed right along side this supposed “Bureau,” and the recollection of all the embezzlers, thieves, pickpockets, perjurers, kidnappers, thugs, pill-poppers, scammers, liars, sex perverts and yes, killers, gave pause. But not for long, because you know, that’s all ancient history, right? The department was reformed by Danny Hughes, according to our lobbyist-councilwoman, Jennifer Fitzgerald.

But then something struck me. What was it? Think, Peabody.

Aha! A post from a just a few weeks ago.

Fullerton Police from left, Cpl. Eric Song, Patricia Arevalo, Sgt. Dan Castillo, Lt. Andrew Goodrich and Cpl. Donny Blume.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC & Paid for by Fullerton Taxpayers

It was a ludicrous story dished out by the noisome “Behind the Badge,” all about the FPD’s hardworking crew that makes sure all the cops have got the right training, etc. Remember? The Professional Standards Bureau that takes its job so seriously! And do you remember who was the featured player in that stage production? Right. The adipose Andrew Goodrich, serial story-teller in the Kelly Thomas Affair, explainer of “excessive horning” tickets, etc.

Well, shit, howdy. And who was the Watch Commander on duty on the night of November 8th? The one who was in communication with his boss, Chief Danny Hughes, and who was therefore at the center of the Who Let Joe Go? controversy? That’s right! Goodrich.

So new Chiefie is promising that someday, maybe, the “bureau” run by Goodrich will get around to investigating…Goodrich. Well, isn’t that cute?

 

 

Happy Christmas – Complaint #48

Sometimes the best Christmas presents are the ones you give yourself. In this case that would be Complaint #PSB16-0048.

See, when you submit a complaint to the FPD about an incident that involves their personnel’s abandonment of policy, they do respond in writing. Here’s the response to the complaint filed by Travis Kiger about the behavior of the FPD cops who dealt with the Joe Felz incident in the early hours of November 9, 2016 in which Felz jumped a Glenwood Avenue Tree, ran over a tree, and attempted to leave the scene of the accident; all we know is that the doughty minions of the law confronted him in some as yet unknown manner, smelled alcohol on his person, declined to give him a Breathalyzer test and drove him home. We also know that the watch commander, the egregious Andrew Goodrich, and the former police chief Danno Hughes were in communication, a fact that most certainly never would have happened had you or I been the motorist. In fact, Goodrich would no doubt have our pictures in the next morning’s early editions.

Now, as to the content of the letter, notice how now the FPD has now decided to do nothing until the DA figures out what to do. It’s hard to see how this is anything other than temporizing, given the need to at least pretend to some proactivity on the matter to show the public – in a “timely manner.”

Of course we were also promised some sort of “independent person” report too, by our estimable City Attorney, Dick Jones, that seems to have vanished into the late December air. But a civilian investigation is important too, given what might be an overly charitable adios to Mr. Felz by sympathetic council members.