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.
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.
The documents we received indicate a completely non-transparent, slipshod City-vendor relationship in which deliverables are sketchy, and grossly overvalued.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s another in a series of small rip-offs that show how casually and frivolously Fullerton’s head employees threw our money around under the incompetent regime of Joe Felz.
Back in September, then Chief Danny Hughes decided to have a lunch “meeting” with the lawyers involved in Manny Ramos’s employment arbitration. Why? Most likely to get the taxpayers to pick up the tab. And we did. We also paid for the gustatory pleasures of Danny’s luncheon companions.
Okay, it’s not Maxim’s, its Islands, but still you would think our high-priced lawyers could afford to pay for their own food, right? After all, they were no doubt billing for the time it took to consume their Kilauea Turkey Burgers.
We all know that the gears of government grind slowly. Let a common citizen try to initiate some action or other and watch the January molasses flow.
Then, of course if there’s a real emergency – i.e. a need to hush something up, or cover the tracks – things move much more quickly.
Some folks thought it would be interesting to see how the City handled the issue of Sappy McTree, the Glenwood Avenue parkway youngster plowed over by former City Manager, Joe Felz on the night of his Wild Ride. Sappy was sent to the chipper, and a replacement was recently installed. Felz was sent home to spend more time with his family, and a replacement was recently installed.
Here are the relevant docs. Please note the dates.
We see that the cost of a new tree and a tree inspector (!) have been billed to Felz on November 14, 2016, five days after the incident. But note the due date – November 15th. Nobody produces an invoice with payment due in one day. In this case the invoice was produced on a Monday, and the due date on Tuesday. Why? Well, I can only speculate but it sure looks to me like Felz was trying his level best to close out the issue before the city council meeting the next day.
In the end it didn’t matter. Felz got The Phone Call, either from the City Attorney or from Jennifer Fitzgerald herself, advising him to take some time off, and that if he had a parachute, he’d better pack it.
Looks like the bill was finally paid on November 21 – six days late.
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.
Someone once advised that bad design costs just as much as good.
This is particularly true of development that squanders resources, overloads infrastructure, gobbles up energy and foists snarled traffic on the rest of us.
So how come Fullerton has gone head over heels for massive, five-story (and more) apartment blocks the past five years?
At first I thought it was because there was no planning director and that in this void stuff was happening without any sort of adult in the room. Then Karen Haluza came along. Yes, the same Karen Haluza who, as a private Fullerton resident and council candidate, opposed the Amerige Court (now Commons) monstrosity back in 2008. But now Ms. Haluza seems to spend all her time pitching the same ridiculous monsters that were approved when nobody was in charge.
Then it hit me.
These huge projects are moneymakers, and not just for the out-of-town developers that rake in the dough and move on. They are one-time bonanzas for city staff that haul in huge developer fees and massive park dwelling fees. These fees run into the millions.
Now, let’s say that you are a garden variety city manager such as Joe Felz. You have mismanaged the City of Fullerton into a string of unbalanced budgets amounting to over $40,000,000 in just four years. Wouldn’t yoube groping for anysource of revenue you could find?
Apart from the physical cost of these horrible projects, there is the obvious budgetary problem of relying on one-time sources of revenue to make your budget shortfalls look less bad. But to acknowledge that problem would require honesty and a degree of professional integrity.
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.
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.”
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:
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.
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 allof 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?
It is common for government to bury waste carefully, neatly hidden away from the citizens who pay for it. Other times, they shove it right in your face like an ether-soaked rag.
That’s what happened at Chief Danny Hughes’ grand farewell party on November 10th. Fortunately, one neighbor filed an hour-long interactive grievance and shared with us the highlights.
Helicopter overhead, fire engines, barricades, officers, SWAT trucks, oh my!
The cast of characters does not disappoint. Look carefully for the appearance an oblivious “Patdown” Pat “I hired them all” McPension. Watch the FPOA thank Hughes for staying “on course” through “the lowest parts” of FPD history (when their constant misdeeds were finally exposed to the public). Listen to Jan Flory offer a cringe-worthy come-hither to her “Big Boy” Hughes, warn him of the “five-headed beast” that is the city council, and then trumpet her slavish dependence on city staff. Don’t forget to note Stan Berry, the OCDA investigator and FPD buddy boy who was first charged with looking into the Kelly Thomas murder. I’m glad he was able to maintain good relations.
If you were able to retain your lunch through all of that, congratulations. Now think about the hundreds of Fullerton commuters and residents who were caught in the traffic blockades on two major roads during rush hour. The police force parked their equipment and their posteriors in the middle of the roadway for this pointless pomp and circumstance, holding the public and its safety in complete disregard.
Of course the most comic part of this display of flags and armaments (think Soviet May Day parade) is the fact that just two days before, Mr. Integrity ordered his boyz to give City Manager, Joe Felz a free ride home with no Breathalyzer test after having careened though a sleepy Fullerton neighborhood after an evening of partying in the gin mills of downtown Fullerton.
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:
Thomas had gotten a $4.9 million payout in 2015 courtesy of the people of Fullerton, and;
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.