Felz After a Fortnight

The last official word we heard on the status of our City Manager post the Sappy McTree incident was that, besides apologizing, Joe Felz was on leave for 2 weeks.

The Official Story, if you recall, started on 15 November 2016 when the City Attorney, “The Other Dick Jones“, told us that City Manager Joe Felz would be on leave for 2-weeks which prompted Jones to ask Mayor Fitzgerald to immediately put forth an emergency motion to appoint Gretchen Beatty as “Acting City Manager” and once that was done she’d stay in the Acting City Manager position until the Council voted to remove Ms. Beatty from said position. None of this was 1) an emergency or 2) needed as legally we don’t need a City Manager but I don’t expect the City Attorney to bother with such details as State Law.

The pertinent issue is that nobody on Council bothered to ask timely questions on this matter and so the fact that there wouldn’t be a Council meeting 2 weeks later (yesterday) never came up. Now 2-weeks has passed with the next Council Meeting scheduled for 06 December 2016 and it’s at THAT meeting that the Council would have the first opportunity to remove Ms. Beatty from her Acting position in order to put Joe Felz into his chair again.

joe-felz-up-close

Does that mean that Mr. Felz is back now twiddling his thumbs with nothing to do (2-weeks later as stated) or that he’ll stay gone until next week when the Council can remove Ms. Beatty from her Acting position or later due to the ongoing Felz/FPD investigation? Who knows with answers not exactly forthcoming from City Hall. We won’t even know if it’ll be on the Council Agenda until this coming Friday night.

As for the inevitable “What difference does a week make?” question I will posture that it speaks to the nature of our City Government and the way our city is run. It’s slapdash thinking & haphazard decisions over even such basic calendar items that showcases the culture in City Hall where there is almost zero attention paid to details. This sort of intellectual laziness is how we end up with unaccountable bureaucrats spending time in Las Vegas or elsewhere while the city bleeds red ink and puts our kids further into debt with only high-density boondoggles on, and blocking, the horizon in order to offset the bloated spending.

We shouldn’t have to point this sort of stuff out but our so-called leaders can’t be bothered to do the jobs they voluntarily took and that leaves us, the malcontents and rabble-rousers,  to do the job of making sure that somebody is paying attention.

Trust the System that Can’t be Trusted

Remember when Our Mayor, Jennifer Fitzgerald, had the City Attorney, “The Other Dick Jones“, repeat the city’s position on the Joe Felz alleged D.U.I. incident?

That they’re looking into it, via an outside investigative group without subpoena power that is answerable only to the City Brass, and that any potential criminal charges would be forwarded to the District Attorney?

It’s a good thing that we can trust the District Attorney, Tony Rackauckas, to be interested in the law and to not be too cozy with Law Enforcement.

Oh wait. Nevermind.

In the latest episode of “You’ve Got to be F*^%ing Kidding Me” the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has kept the entire D.A.’s office off of the most high-profile shooting case in county history for misconduct. All because the D.A. is too cozy with Law Enforcement and doesn’t follow the law.

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Records Request? Denied!

A few people, myself included, who had records requests in with the F.P.D. and City Hall regarding the Joe Felz/Sappy McTree incident were emailed denial letters today. Mine was based upon Section 6254(f) and 6255 of the California Government Code and was sent to me by Greg Palmer of Jones & Meyer, the law firm for our City Attorney “The Other Dick Jones™”.

One records request was hilarious because it denies records to one party when the denial letter was actually sent to another party altogether. These lawyer folk sure are awesome with the details let me tell you and it looks like we’re getting our money’s worth.

The first part of my emailed denial got to me because it says that I can view the 911 call log at F.P.D. during regular hours. Oh really? I went and tried that and they told me to put in a records request which could take x-amount of time and now my denial letter for the audio/video tells me that I can go look at something that F.P.D. told me I couldn’t look at when I was at the desk.

Isn’t it amazing how well the government lies to people? It’s almost as though they do this on purpose to frustrate the commonners while avoiding any real transparency.

After reading this boilerplate nonsense I emailed back to dispute the lie argument that “The Other Dick Jones™” said at Council when he said that the video/audio couldn’t be released owing to it being a “Personnel Matter”. I pointed them to a California Supreme Court Ruling and they were clearly nonplussed. But they responded that that’s not what their letter stated and I was in the wrong because of what CA Government Code 6254(f) said by gum.

I’m the curious type so I went back and re-read 6254(f) and 6255 and it talks about releasing records “unless the disclosure would endanger the safety of a witness or other person involved in the investigation, or unless disclosure would endanger the successful completion of the investigation or a related investigation.”.

So I asked what investigation? There was no citation and no arrest made so what was being investigated?

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The Weasel Words of Dick Jones Regarding Joe Felz

After tonight’s Fullerton City Council meeting all signs point to City Manager Joe Felz being out of a job, likely from early retirement after he runs out the clock on his vacation time. Allow me to explain.

Joe Felz was a no-show at last night’s Council meeting and the City Attorney, Dick Jones, relayed a nothingburger of an apology from Felz during the Open Session and said that Felz was taking a 2-week leave of absence. Mr. Jones then requested that the council agendize an emergency* item for the same meeting, last night, to appoint an Acting City Manager which they did.

There is zero reason to appoint an Acting City Manager if somebody is on a voluntary leave for 2 weeks. Do we appoint an Acting City Manager anytime the City Manager goes on vacation? No. Was it an emergency? No. This is ridiculous. How ridiculous you ask? Well…

Pursuant to California Government Code we don’t even NEED a City Manager owing to Fullerton being a General Law City.

36501.  The government of a general law city is vested in:
   (a) A city council of at least five members.
   (b) A city clerk.
   (c) A city treasurer.
   (d) A chief of police.
   (e) A fire chief.
   (f) Any subordinate officers or employees provided by law.

Notice that there is no “City Manager” on that list.

So our City Council just appointed a person, Gretchen Beatty, to a position that we don’t even legally need because our City Manager is on a 2-week leave. Funny how the City Attorney missed that little nuance in the law or as I like to call it – his job. Dick Jones asked that a non-issue be agendized unless of course more is going on behind the scenes that can’t be discussed with us common rabble known as residents.

Now here’s where the weasel words really come into play. Mr. Jones stated that Gretchen Beatty would be acting City Manager not until Felz came back from leave but rather until the City Council relieved her. He’s a lawyer who chooses his words carefully so this means something.

To really drive this point home it should be noted that during Public Comments people spoke up about the Joe Felz / Sappy McTree incident and Mr. Jones made a point that the details of the investigation couldn’t be released until this “Personnel Matter” is resolved. He also said that it was an ongoing criminal review and it would go to the D.A. for a “Potential Criminal Prosecution”. Further he said, and Mayor Fitzgerald asked him to repeat, that the Bodycam footage couldn’t be released pursuant to California Government Code 6254F.

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The Chief is Gone Long Live the Chief

It’s now been a day since Chief Dan Hughes left us to go work for the Mouse. After all the praise he’s been showered with it’s time somebody said what too many of us are thinking and that’s that if the FPD stinks it stinks like a fish from the top down so we’re gonna take a quick look at the top.

hughes

First let us recall the letter to Joe Felz from Benjamin Lira outlining Hughes place in the chain of command corruption.

Dan Hughes didn’t think there was a problem with the FPD because he was a part of the problem and he certainly didn’t see a problem after he took over and made some changes that we can’t fully verify because of records laws and access that only our betters get. Some go as far as to claim he said the video of Kelly Thomas being beaten to death “wasn’t that bad”.

Dan Hughes was so confident in the goodness of his department that he was under the impression that only a vocal minority lost favor with the Police Department after the Thomas beating (Rincon, Mater, Major, Hampton, Nguyen, Mejia, et cetera). A vocal minority.

The actions of the FPD are what spurred the recall. FPD beat a man to death and then the council majority sat on their hands. Remember the recall? It led to three of those City Council Members being removed from office by a factor of 2-1. If only a vocal minority was against the Police than a even smaller minority was in favor of them going on this metric.

Hughes was the head of the Patrol Division at the time of the Kelly Thomas murder and said nothing as Spokesman Andrew Goodrich lied to the people of Fullerton about the boo-boos that FPD sustained in the process of their fucking up a guy, as Ramos promised, who committed the heinous crime of being homeless.

Manny's Boo boo
Manny’s Boo boo

Hughes was on the same police force that the Genacco report said suffered from a Culture of Corruption and he did nothing on record to stop it. If there was a Culture of Corruption he was a part of it for 20+ years before we could prove it existed to enough people to notice. To pretend that he wasn’t a part of the problem is naive.

On his way out the door we learn that the FPD arrested a couple for being victims of a crime based on the word of actual criminals because apparently police work, like looking at the video that exonerates the true victims, was just too hard for this pillar of our community and his reformed department.

We Also learned on Wednesday that Chief Hughes left a parting gift for City Manager Joe Felz. Felz got to get away with an alleged DUI, if nothing else he got at least got away with destruction of city property because we’re told, well nothing. We’re told nothing. The only reason you know anything about this story is because we here at FFFF got ahold of a memo from Danny boy himself. It’s all hush-hush and will remain that way during the closed session at council on Tuesday.

Speaking of secrets.

Did you know that we already have a new Interim Chief? You’d think we residents would be allowed to know who’s running our Police Department. Suckers. You’re allowed to know what they tell you you’re allowed to know and when they tell you if they bother to even tell you. The ink is probably already dry on the contract and we don’t even know if it was legally opened up to candidates. Wanna bet that the Council rubber stamps the new Chief behind closed doors too?

The good thing for Disney and their new VP of Dineyland Security and Emergency Services is that at least he’ll have fewer DUIs to cover up for his bosses now that the House of Blues has left Downtown Disney.

Under New Manangement

 

Friends for Fullerton’s Future is now owned and operated by a brand new collection of miscreants, malefactors and truth-tellers. Sure, some of our old Friends will still be here. Some new ones, too.

In 2013, the previous proprietor of this esteemed institution decided to shut it down – after thousands and thousands of posts and hundreds of thousands of comments. In 2010 and 2011 FFFF was named the Best Blog in Orange County by the OC Weekly. Well, guess what? We’re back.

On a hot July night in 2011 a sick, homeless man was bludgeoned and suffocated to death in one of our gutters by members of our own police department. He choked to death in his own blood as the cops that killed him were nursed for their scrapes with soothing words, Bactine and band aids. A supposedly distraught mother and father were bought off with $6,000,000 of our money, in order to keep the truth from us.

And what the Hell has happened in Fullerton the meantime?

In 2012, a new 3-2 city council majority emerged, belligerently determined to eradicate the memory of Fullerton’s second recall; blindly determined to ignore the Culture of Corruption that pervaded the Fullerton Police Department. You remember that culture? Remember the names: Rincon, Mater, Major, Hampton, Nguyen, Mejia?  Search our archives, Friends, to remind yourselves.

Jan Flory, Doug Chaffee and  Jennifer Fitzgerald replaced the Three Bald Tires – Bankhead, McKinley and Jones – as proprietors and caretakers of the corrupt Old Regime and as custodians of the silence.

It is four years later. Now our streets are choked with traffic that will only get worse with the advent of new massive projects created to enrich a few developers, their “consultants” and their lobbyists.

Lobbyists? Our own mayor is a professional lobbyist. She says she wants us to  “participate in building a better future for our city.” How? Apparently, by promoting more gargantuan housing development by her own future campaign contributors, while turning a blind eye to the incredible waste of resources spent policing the downtown booze-fueled free-for-all created by her predecessors and her own current campaign contributors.

Hundreds of millions of gallons of water have been poured into leaky Laguna Lake by the City government as Fullerton citizens have been forced by their own government to let their landscaping die. In the past four years, $45 million dollars have and will be been transferred from reserve accounts to keep the City solvent, as our own mayor takes credit for a “balanced budget.”

Are things changed? You tell me, humble readers.

Oh yeah, we’re back. And we’re kind of pissed off.

 

Now, What About Our Water Tax Refund? Part 2: The Phony Report

thief

When you are  in charge of the City’s bureaucracy, it’s really easy to get what you want. You simply hire a “professional” opinion to validate your own desire. Good God, it happens so often and yet they continue to get away with it.

For fun, lets’ consider the case of the City of Fullerton’s illegal water tax tax. In 2011 the City was finally caught with its pants down. And what was revealed wasn’t pretty: an illegal 10% tax stuck onto the annual cost of selling water to the ratepayers of Fullerton. In an attempt to stall the inevitable and obfuscate the obvious, the comatose council handed the job of analyzing the tax to an ad hoc water rate committee that had been previously established.

Now we all know that a citizen’s committee is incapable of figuring out things on its own and so staff helpfully hired one of those paid opinion consultants to help out; one of those consultants whose sole mission is to validate whatever the staff wants them to do. In this case the mission was to keep as much of that 10% as possible. After all, that 10% was a much necessary ingredient for for keeping up CalPERS payments and sending Pam Keller and Don Bankhead and Doc HeeHaw to four star hotels in far off Long Beach.

True to form, the City Council’s “consultant” returned with a helpful finding that the water fund owned the City between six and seven percent annually, principally on the weird fiction that the water utility owed the City rent for land that the water reservoirs and pipes sit on.

Naturally, nobody bothered to explain the embarrassing fact that the land in question had little or no commercial value; or that the water utility could have bought that land for virtually nothing fifty years ago had a true arms-length distance actually existed between the utility and the City that was milking it like a rented cow.

An, worst of all, nobody had explained the self-serving nature of this sudden discovery of a true distinction between the water utility and the City, particularly in light of the fact that the utility had supplied the City with free water for decades.

That’s right. The very mechanism lade upon you and me to “incentivise” conservation, was deemed unnecessary when the City itself was wasting water. How many hundreds of thousands of acre feet of water has been used for free by the City in the past fifty years? Of course nobody knows. But the value is worth millions.

I think the City should pay that back, too.

 

Sooner or Later, Social Justice For Kelly Thomas

It’s funny, in a sick sort of way, but the very types who used to bray the loudest about the need for “social justice” have been virtually silent in Fullerton in the wake of the Kelly Thomas murder at the hands of members of an out-of-control police department.

The graying establishment Democrats had been hiding behind their drawn chintz curtains, curled up in an intellectual fetal position on their plastic slip-covered Naugahyde sofas. It was just too scary and, well, controversial to say anything, let alone actually do anything.

Fortunately, others, such as Stephan Baxter, Marlena Carrillo and Lauren Becker are willing to keep up the pressure.

Here is a link to Becker’s website that reminds us exactly what a Culture of Corruption can do, and try to get away with, when left to its own devices. It also reminds us what we can do to push back against an entrenched system.

The bars stayed open and the bands played on…

Democrats like Jan Flory, and Molly McClanahan and Pam Keller didn’t say a word in the aftermath of the murder. No, they only got outraged when people outside their cozy little circle took the reins of government out of the hands of three incompetent old fools.

These people are a lot more worried about the fate of the bureaucracy than they are about the people of Fullerton. All of them.

 

Going Into Labor, Part I – The Problem

I have always been fascinated by the urge for government employees and their die-hard supporters to cling to the notion of collective bargaining as some sort of birthright. The ability for public employees to unionize is actually not even that old, but is a comparatively recent and curious chapter in the history of organized labor.

Classical Marxist doctrine holds that in the capitalist phase of history there are two elements contributing to economic activity. There are capital and labor; the first representing the bourgeois investment class (and their managerial overseers); the second is the workforce that sells its labor to the former. Naturally, the cost of labor , the investment of the capitalists, and the return the latter is willing to accept determine the supply side cost of goods.

The Marxists believed that capital habitually exploited an oversupply of labor through poor working conditions and long hours of employment. There was certainly evidence to support this contention and the capitalists did their best to outlaw labor “combination” through their control of legislatures.

(For the sake of argument I will happily stipulate the socialist fact in evidence.)

Of course labor did combine.

But the idea of government workers unionizing did not enter the into the equation. Why? For several reasons, one of which is succinctly stated by the most effective liberal in American history, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Roosevelt realized that people who work for the government cannot hold the same employer/employee relationship since their employer is the people as a sovereign whole. Clearly the idea of collective bargaining, and particularly militant union tactics used against the citizenry was abhorrent to old FDR himself.

Another related problem is that government employees do not fit into the labor-capital equation, since the “capitalist” investor in their operation is none other than the taxpayers and citizens – and not a natural adversary in an economic system. And public employees were granted civil service protection and security to make up for comparatively modest wages.

Cornering the market…

And then there is the problem of the complete public sector labor monopoly. Producers of goods compete with each other in marketplaces that, among other things, sets a value on product that helps determine the cost of labor. No such balance exists in the public sector where nothing is for sale and there is no competition in the labor market at all.

The ability to unionize and the concomitant ability to engage in collective political action has enabled the public sector labor monopoly to elect its favored candidates at all levels, and subsequently to exact greater and greater salaries and benefits for themselves; and always using the argument that all they seek is parity with the private sector. Yet never have they jettisoned the civil service protections that makes in almost impossible to fire an incompetent public worker.

Most comical are the “management” unions that represent the upper tier employees who oversee the lower, and whose own interests in running the “company” are inexplicably linked with the benefits conferred upon the latter!

We didn’t do it!

And so dear Friends, next time you see a “retired” 50 year old cop who was granted almost 100% of his salary as a pension, and who was given two decades of retroactive benefits, ask him whom he has to thank. I guarantee it won’t be you, or even the other public employees who negotiated his benefits on your behalf; nor even the lackeys on the city council like Don Bankhead, Dick Jones, and Jan Flory whom his union got elected. Nuh, uh. He will thank an anonymous “system” that has created this mess and that has virtually bankrupt California and threatens almost every municipality in the state.

Well, we know who to thank.

Jan Flory Talks About Sex and Water

Correct. We do not want you to discuss sexy issues.

Okay this post is not about Jan Flory discussing anything remotely “sexy” because the thought of that…well, never mind.

The post is about her latest Facebook scribblings in which she opines on a subject near and dear to the hearts of Fullerton reformers: the illegal 10% tax on your water that the City collected for the past 15 years. $27,000,000 worth.

First I’ll start by stating what you could have already guessed. Jan Flory does not want you to get a refund of the theft. In her world-order the taxpayers are meant to be milked, not refunded.

Her assertion that the collection was “illegal” the past three year is a bad lawyer’s half-truth that amounts to a bald-faced lie, of course. It has been illegal for 15 years, six of them on her watch as a council person. The City has a legal opinion that it is only obligated to refund three-year’s worth of the theft. Not the same thing, is it? Of course Mrs. Flory is desperate to disassociate her name with the tax. Too late. She is on record in the 90s as having known it was wrong and doing it anyway.

Mrs. Flory and her ilk love footling committees, especially when they are selected by ozone brains like Jone, Quirk, McKinley and Bankhead. Even better are the “consultants” selected by staff who give them their marching orders. The “report” cooked up by the water rate consultant was so evidently bogus that it hardly needs to be restated. But I will: their goal was to gin up as much phony cost as possible to keep the bureaucrats greedy little fingers on that 10%. Flory may think this gives her cover, and under the old Culture of Corruption it would have. Not any more.

The 10% was expressly collected  to cover specific City staff costs associated with the water utility. However, it turns out that those departments were already charging directly to the Water Fund. Which is why I am happy to refer to the tax as an illegal theft.

And another point: it’s real easy to say that the illegal tax should be refunded to the Water Fund for capital improvements. That’s convenient, but immoral. The tax that was collected had nothing to do with infrastructure. Nothing. True infrastructure costs should be rolled into an effective rate for water transmission, a correction of years of mismanagement by Mrs. Flory and her cohorts that still needs to be done. Confusing these two issues is simply a convenient way for the perpetrators to hide their crime and their dereliction.

Now, let’s address the issue of the reserve funds, a subject that Mrs. Flory wants people to believe she knows something about. There is no need to empty these accounts to pay refunds. No, indeed. I find it remarkably disingenuous for anybody to assert this, especially given just two of City manger Joe Felz’s most recent “cost saving” measures.

First there was the egregious relocation of former Redevelopment personnel into General Fund departments for which they had no apparent expertise. Most recently the City contracted out your graffiti removal services for $120,000. Yay! Big savings, right? Wrong. The city employees were simply reassigned to other  jobs in the Engineering Department that were vacant. Net cost savings? -$120,000.

The City just missed an opportunity to shave a million bucks off its payroll costs. Of course, my point is that the General Fund is far from depleted.

Finally, in closing, I would submit that Mrs. Flory knows more about witching hours than any of us. However, if she doesn’t like staying up that late every other Tuesday night, then she has no business on a city council. And it’s really too bad that the Council is scheduling special meetings to attend to the people’s business.

Mrs. Flory’s little rubber stamp has been put away and locked up.