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.

The Liar

The new, official City Bird

We are used to politicians lying to us, especially when they are running for office. Sometimes the lies are more or less fuzzy, but once in a while the lies are staggeringly blatant. So blatant, in fact, that we must assume the politician believes the electorate are idiots.

Bored and angry. Accountability? It was never on the agenda.

And so it was last year with then-lobbyist-mayor and humble vessel of God, Jennifer Fitzgerald, whose campaign rhetoric deliberately misled the public into believing everything was just fine with Fullerton’s financial state of affairs. Here are a couple of pearls from her little chest of jewels:

BALANCED BUDGET

While other cities in Orange County are trying to raise sales taxes to prevent insolvency, in Fullerton, our budget is balanced!  Our five-year financial forecast shows a balanced budget to 2020.  We’ve done this by making the most of our assets and minimizing our liabilities.  

REDUCED UNFUNDED PENSION LIABILITY

With conservative fiscal management and successful revenue strategies, Fullerton has been able to reduce its unfunded liabilities. This is a long-term strategy, with a short-term goal to achieve what is a generally accepted adequate level of funding of 80% of liabilities.

It didn’t take long for that hot-air balloon of happy talk to sail away. Barely three months after Fitzgerald’s re-election she had to listen as the Director of Administrative Services, Julia James, at last week’s budget workshop, tell the exact opposite story. Due to continuing unbalanced budgets and exploding pension costs, the City is following in the footsteps of Stanton and Westminster with a built-in, structural budget deficit. Naturally the cops and the “fire fighters” bloated salaries and pensions are the principle cause of the impending disaster.

James mentioned taxes as a solution. Any takers?

How long will it be before our temporary City Manager, who has absolutely nothing to lose, begins crisis public meetings meant to gin up support for a Fullerton sales tax increase? And how long will it be before the people who voted for her realize that “SparkyFitz” Fitzgerald would have said, and did say anything to get re-elected?

 

 

 

 

Red Ink Tsunami

Last night’s budget workshop showed some pretty dire forecasting. Due to exploding pension costs, especially for our good friends in “public safety” Fullerton is going to deplete its reserve funds in five years, just like other standout OC cities such as Westminster and Garden Grove and Stanton.

The “unfunded pension liability” issue has been around for years, despite the public employee union’s efforts to minimize it, but here our Director of Administrative Services, Julia James, informs the Council that the California Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) is still using happy-talk return projections. The City’s cost to pay for our fire and police Heroes is expected to double.

Hmm. Did you catch our lobbyist-councilwoman Jennifer Fitzgerald interrupt Ms. James at the 4:25 mark in a sneering attempt to downplay the crisis as bureaucratic alarmism? Fitzgerald has all sorts of selfish reasons to avoid talking doom-and-gloom, namely, she has been right there over the past four years as the S.S. Fullerton was taking on water and rather than try to plug the holes was happily drilling more. Naturally her pals in the police and fire unions are not going to want to share the pain. And James’s talk about possible revenue sources to staunch the bleeding includes a tax, which would be a likely coffin nail in SparkyFitz’s already dubious political future.

Jesus May Have a Plan for SparkyFitz. And the Rest of Us, Too

You know, it’s easy to be skeptical of organized religion, particularly when it insinuates itself into the secular realms of science or public governance.

God told me he loves speed metal and a good bar fight…

We saw that when a fellow named Sam Han popped up at a public hearing to proclaim his church’s bizarre allegiance to the downtown booze-and-fight-fest districting map. His church is the Grace Ministry. Mr. Han is a also former Fullerton Planning Commissioner, appointed by none other than our lobbyist-councilwoman Jennifer Fitzgerald.

Which leads us to a nice tie-in.

Recently the church held something called  Grace Winter Conference. Apparently, Ms. Fitzgerald put in an appearance and shared a revelation.

Hmm. Good things a-comin’

Now, what specifically Fitzgerald is excited about remains a mystery to us uninitiated. Is it some sort of municipal Christolic manifestation, or is there something more secular, as in campaign cash and political advancement?

Lookin’ good, girl!

We’ve seen so many evangelists confuse their own self-promotion with the Big Plan of the Almighty. Politicians, too – especially in what H.L. Menken called the Coca Cola Belt – but not always confined to that swampy environment.

I’ve decided to be suspicious for what Fitzgerald is going to do in the City of Fullerton.

Boozing, Schmoozing and Being Lobbied. Check, Please…

 

Man, there’s a lot of bottles back there!

Let’s say you’re the mayor of a City that is chugging red ink like a drunk city manager slurping booze in a cheap downtown Fullerton bar. Would you be sensitive to the appearance of wasting taxpayer’s money on a footling trip to Sacramento, ostensibly to “advocate” for something? Well, not if you’re crooked, and very confident. And nobody has accused our 2016 mayor, Jennifer “sparkyfitz” Fitzgerald of honesty, or lack of confidence about not having it.

Last year the Orange County Business Council, the twisted brain child of grifters Curt Pringle and Lucy Dunn (whose purpose is to rob public agency coffers) teamed up (once again!) with the Association of California Cities – OC another twisted brain child of Curt pringle and Lucy Dunn (whose purpose is to rob public agency coffers). Why? The teamwork was meant to throw a big, out-of-town lobbyist party. In Sacramento. Naturally, our then mayor-for-hire Jennifer “sparkyfitz” Fitzgerald had to attend. And so did our then-City Manager Joe Felz. Wild Ride Joe knew which side of his bread was buttered and who was buttering it. And then there was all that liquor – paid for by somebody or other.

Of course “advocacy” means lobbying, but surprise! It turns out that the would-be lobbyists were not going to Sacto to lobby, but to be lobbied! And we paid for it.The politicos who went were there to lobbied by other ACC-OC/OCBC members! That’s the cozy, incestuous little world inhabited by the Fitzgerald family. That’s the ACC-OC/OCBC formula for success.

Wow. Even Doug “Bud” Chaffee went to this expensive non-event. And while certain stuff that couldn’t be easily laid on the public – like Chaffee’s wife’s plane ticket – was reimbursed by the party-goers – the rest of it was on our dime. And at the very same time Fitzgerald was lying about Fullerton having a balanced budget. Here are the numbers:

 

What sort of idiot pays almost $500 for airfare to Sacramento? The sort of person who is playing with house’s money. I wonder if a single mutual legislative goal was achieved. I bet not. Any takers?

The Enduring Legacy of Manny Ramos, Danny Hughes, and the Culture of Corruption

 

The gift that keeps giving…

Okay, Friends, here’s a blast from the past.

Back on the first day of summer in 2011 Fullerton cop Manny Ramos allegedly roughed up a handicapped dude in an Albertsons parking lot and threw him into the Fullerton clink. Mark Edwin Walker was charged with all sorts of nastiness like resisting arrest and public intoxication.

Manny’s badge of honor awaits a band aid.

FFFF wrote about this back in 2012. We noted that the phony charges dreamed up by the supremely fat and lazy Ramos were thrown out by a judge. Ramos was lucky. He didn’t even have to commit perjury (like several of his colleagues have done) to back up his story.

And now, our perusal of recent City settlements shows that Walker got paid $20,000 in nuisance money – given the happy fact that twisted cops in OC can pretty much do any goddamn thing they want with impunity.

Ya see, it’s all about perception. That’s why I hired a PR guy…and always pose in front of a flag.

Of course 20 grand is chump change and the Fullerton taxpayers are a lot luckier than they deserve to be, if you think about it. Unfortunately, the real cost to Fullerton happened a few weeks later when Ramos harassed, intimidated and instigated the activity that led to the death of Kelly Thomas. That one was caught on video and cost $5,900,000 (if you don’t count hundreds of thousand in legal fees). And who was in charge of the walrus with the bad attitude, and who later insisted that those of us who observed a Culture of Corruption in the FPD were misinformed? Why none other than former PoChief Danny “Gallahad” Hughes.

 

Walker v Fullerton Complaint

Walker settlement agreement

Young Kim Wants to Be Your Supervisor

No there, there…

The other day our old Friend, The Desert Rat, wrote a post about a Bruce Whitaker vs. Jennifer Fitzgerald county supervisor contest in 2018. Our commenter Fullerton Rag pointed out the presence of Young Kim, recently failed State Assembly incumbent. Sure enough, looks like this Ed Royce (R- Chickenhawk Coop) acolyte is running. And she is wasting no time – the primary election is still 16 months away.

 

Grab it and greedily consume it as fast as you can…

This means that our lobbyist-councilcreature Jennifer Fitzgerald, another of Ed Royce’s political progeny is most likely out, voluntarily or otherwise. We’ll have to wait on that.

Meantime we have the spectacle of another unqualified Republican pursuing the “Asian female” formula at the County level. Kim knows as little about county government as she did about running the State of California, although in politics ignorance about governance is no longer held as any sort of impediment.

 

Whitaker Wants to Hear More From You; Bored, Tired, Cranky Fitzgerald Wants to Hear Less

Watch as Mayor Bruce Whitaker restores the public’s full speaking time. Following in Jan Flory’s footsteps, Jennifer Fitzgerald puts her disdain for the public on full display. Councilman Silva shows a healthy attitude about hearing from the public and staying up late from time to time: “It’s what we do.”

When lobbyist Fitzgerald began her mayoral term last year, she cut public speaking time to 3 minutes. Of course she gave out-of-town developers all the time in the world.

4th District County Supervisor 2018 Edition

Out here on Screech Owl Road we stay informed, distantly, of the doings in humble Fullerton, a place of constant interest and amusement value. When the dust storms and tortoise races grow tedious we often turn our attention to your town.

And one genre that never bores, are the stories of political ambition and the small-time politicians with big dreams – for themselves, mostly.

Peel off a layer and you’ll find the same thing…

Is it really too early for you Fullertonions to start thinking about who represents you as County Supervisor in 2018? The campaign process normally starts at the end summer before the election and that is about six months away. On the other hand two Fullerton characters may play a part in that campaign so why not indulge in some early speculation?

Soon to be a memory…

The current incumbent is former Fullerton Councilman Shawn Nelson, who is ending a second completely lackluster term, in which County watchers could hardly distinguish a difference from his sleepy predecessor, Chris Norby, except that the casual corruption at the County and the downright wackiness have gotten even worse. He’s termed-out in 2018.

The talk is that both Bruce Whitaker and Jennifer Fitzgerald both have their eye on the job even though they’ve just been re-elected to their current positions in Fullerton. Oh well, political ambition trumps loyalty to the electorate every time, right?

A candidacy that splits the Fullerton electorate could leave the door open for a an Anaheim candidate with a decent reputation to join the fray. Who that might be remains to be seen.

Speaking of reputations, as to their records, Whitaker and Fitzgerald are quite similar, except that Whitaker has promoted accountability from the Fullerton Police Department, and stood on the right side of the Kelly Thomas murder, where of course Fitzgerald and her ilk were no-shows. The cop union supported Fitzgerald, and she has done her best to cover-up and protect the Culture of Corruption – while actually having the nerve to credit former Chief Danny “Galahad” Hughes for “reforming” something or other. Whitaker has also been on the right side of the ongoing red-ink budgets that Fitzgerald brazenly lied about to the voters. And he tried to establish an audit committee to keep the bureaucrats on the up and up.

What, me worry?

Unfortunately for Whitaker, there are many points of convergence, voting and performance-wise, with Fitzgerald. There is the massive and rampant overdevelopment of Fullerton; the creation of the phony language of the Coyote Hills plebescite and then the fighting of the successful referendum; there is the the absolutely horrible dereliction of duty by supporting voting districts Map8A, cooked up by the bar owners in the riot zone known as downtown Fullerton to dilute the voters in that vomit and urine-soaked district. They both voted to waste $100,000 on a completely unnecessary “interim” City Manager. They both sat by doing nothing as hundreds of millions of gallons of prime MWD water leaked out of Laguna Lake.

You are becoming very sleepy…

The 4th District election will really gear up in the summer, but there’s no doubt that Fitzgerald, if she is running, is already lining up her bankrollers: Anaheim’s deep pockets with ties to her “employer” the slimy, pink lobbyist Curt Pringle. Whitaker can’t compete with that money machine. But as Anaheim’s recent elections proved, money isn’t everything. Still, if Whitaker is going to run, he had better start showing voters why there’s a real reason to support him.

Welcome to Downtown Fullerton

You want to know what’s going on in Downtown Fullerton? Check out this video and tell us what you think.

Downtown Fullerton: a culture of rape, vomit, urine, drunken mayhem. An annual budgetary money pit. The best worst kept secret in Orange County.

A toast to all my good ideas…

Before he drove off Glenwood Avenue smelling of liquor, former City manager, Joe Felz described downtown Fullerton as one of the things Fullerton residents should be proud of. His big success.

No, you are our worst enemy. We’ll be seeing more of this image.

Lobbyist-council person Jennifer Fitzgerald has aggressively supported the downtown culture, going so far as  to defend the unpermitted operation of the Slidebar by her pal Jeremy Popoff.

The Fullerton Police Department has also been a collaborator in the craziness “working with” the dysfunctional culture, following political orders and smelling lots of overtime, no doubt, and maybe even relishing the opportunity to crack a few 909 noggins once in a while.

And of course, the media has been utterly silent on the $1.5 million abuse of the City budget, the drunken violence, the sexual assaults, the broken laws, the mega bonanza for the subsidized, out-of-control bar owners.