Good Bye and Good Riddance

You have nothing to lose but your brains...
You have nothing to lose but your angry refrains…

Our old friend the historian Karl Marx wrote” History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

And so in Fullerton we have had the spectacle of Jan Flory, a councilperson who worked us over good for two dismal terms in office, was driven out, and who returned 10 years later to provide the final act of a deplorable career.

I know who I came to work for…and it isn’t you!

Back in 1994 Flory ran as the Establishment candidate to push back against the reform-minded Recall that dared to drive out the incumbent stooges who imposed an unnecessary utility tax. She was the perfect candidate to advertise the fear and loathing the Old Guard had for anybody outside their inner circle.

In her first go-round she obligingly put her fingerprints on every big-government, no accountability scam put in front of her. She supported the illegal “in-lieu fee” water tax; she voted the cops and firemen the bank-breaking 3@50 retirement formula. She approved massive apartment projects in downtown Fullerton and actually voted to give away public streets to private business interests. She voted for every Redevelopment boondoggle that crossed her path. She bought the “Poisoned Park.”

And every step along this trail of tears she palpably dripped bitter venom for those who dared cross the “experts” at City Hall. Tragedy, indeed.

From 2002 to 2012 we were mercifully spared the the effluence of vindictive spleen sprayed on anybody who had the temerity to question what was going on in their own government.

But in 2012 the moribund Establishment needed someone to ride to their rescue; and to defend, deny, excuse, ignore and cover-up the serial crimes committed by the police department; and to fight the agenda begun by a new council majority, ushered in by yet another recall perpetrated by unwashed outsiders. Who better to call upon than the old warhorse, herself.

Flying hight at 8:00 AM
Pegasoid

Yes she won, by a scant 29 votes, and she immediately resumed her old role. Yet something was missing. Yes, the muumuus and wood beads were still there, and so was the old surgically implanted steel rod. The complete lack of humor, grace or introspection suggested the Flory of old. But you could tell. Her heart wasn’t in it. Her performance was thin, shadow-like, even as she continued the water rip-off, covered-up the FPD Culture of Corruption with gargantuan out-of-court settlements, approved four non-balanced budgets – raiding reserves $43,000,000, approved more massive apartment blocks – activities that in the past would have brought a smug, self-satisfied smile to her sneer. But the old joy was gone.

The third act was a farce – even until the inevitable bitter end: as left she hoped to give Fullerton a parting gift – the sad sack and detumescent Larry Bennet, whose job would have been to keep the for sale sign over the sliding doors of City Hall.

Ah, well. Now, Mrs Flory departs again, hopefully for the final time. And as we see this petulant shrew out the door, let’s always remember her words from the 2012 campaign: to my lights… the city department heads are the heart of the city.

 

Who Watches the Watchers?

No news is good news...
No news is good news…

A while back Fullerton City Councilman Bruce Whitaker proposed the creation of an audit oversight committee, rather like the one they have at the County. His concern was that the City do more than just meet the bare minimum of accounting standards, but is actually doing the things that are legally required by some of our budget funds. This is called accounting for management. Are you curious to see how his colleagues felt about the idea? Enjoy this clip:

 

The head and the hat were a perfect fit.
The head and the hat were a perfect fit.

How entertaining! Bud Chaffee sees the proposal as bureaucratic metastasis and preposterously claims to want to reduce the number of city commissions! The proof of this big government liberal’s insincerity (okay, he’s a liar) can be found by counting the number of commissions proposed for elimination by Chaffee both before and after this escape of gas. What? You want a round number? How about the roundest number of all: 0.

The bars stayed open and the band played on...
The bars stayed open and the band played on…

Missus Flory chimes in with her generous offer to act as “interpreter” with her staff for Mr. David Curlee, who has actually uncovered evidence that the City government most assuredly did not want advertised: very possible misfeasance in the Brea Dam area accounting, (including out of fund transfers)  that could actually jeopardize the whole enterprise. Apart from the fact that Flory couldn’t understand the illegal water tax ripoff in 2012, she is hardly qualified to discuss accounting issues at all. She is so drenched in venom;  just look at the utter disdain she demonstrates for a “a few verbal allegations.”

 

I hear you. Well, no I don't, not at all.
I hear you. Well, no I don’t, not at all.

Finally we see our Lobbyist-Mayor buzz in. She “hears” what Whitaker is saying but her retort is that Fullerton only hires “experts.” She includes the lamentable example of hiring Michael Gennaco to oversee the FPD Culture of Corruption, one of the most egregious examples of a cover-up anybody could possibly think of (she says she’s proud of it!). She too, seems to believe that the “expert” accountants the City hires to look at the financial documents do anything other than make sure the numbers all add up at the end, don’t ruffle any feathers, and collect their fat taxpayer funded fees. Of course Ms. Lobbyist-Mayor’s statements are just as phony as Chaffee’s. See, un-expert Fitzgerald herself sits on a citizens’ audit oversight committee – for the Fullerton Joint Unified High School District. 

 

You pay the mortgage, we live in the palace...
You pay the mortgage, we live in the palace…

 

Well, Friends, there you have it.

The Bitterness of Negative Banter

What is “negative banter?”

I got a letter from Fullerton’s Lobbyist-Mayor, Jennifer Fitzgerald congratulating “us” for rising above it by re-electing her. I love it when personal-agenda laden politicians complain about “negativity.” Generally they are just reacting to embarrassing scrutiny they’d rather not have to endure.

Here’s the missive:

Cut through the baloney to find the bullshit...
Cut through the baloney to find the bullshit…

Ms. Fitzgerald is happy to share the issues she “campaigned on.” Road repair, more, and higher paid cops, and get this… a balanced budget! Now we all know that Fullerton’s budget has not been balanced since she got on the City Council four years ago. We’ve been leaking red ink worse than Laguna Lake has been leaking Grade A MWD water. The amount during Fitzgerald’s tenure runs in the millions. So not only is she still lying about having a balanced budget, but any other pipe dreams like cops and parks are going to have to come at the cost of draining our reserve funds even more.

Of course this means nothing to Ms. Fitzgerald. After all she is all about politics, not governance. She is a Vice President of Curt Pringle & Associates, an operation that has tried its level best to rip off Anaheim taxpayers to benefit Pringle’s clients. She will be long gone by the time Fullerton goes into receivership.

I really like the part about ensuring “that every Fullerton neighborhood is served well by its city government.” I guess that excludes the people who live in and around downtown Fullerton: it was only recently carved up into five separate council districts by Ms. Fitzgerald and her downtown bar pals like a Christmas ham, precisely for the purpose of disenfranchising the residents while the drunken party rolls merrily along.

And then there’s the part about having a “community-wide discussion” about providing library services for Southwest Fullerton. Quite delicious irony coming from the head of a city government that can’t afford to keep the Hunt Branch Library open; or does she really believe nobody is paying attention?

Finally, I note that “working positively together” is code: what it really means is not criticizing the massive budget deficits; not complaining because there is no adult supervision over the cops; looking the other way as the Lobbyist-Mayor herself helps cover up the madcap motoring adventures of her City Manager returning home from her own election night party.

Well, you know, I just don’t feel like it.

And now, Friends, please share any negative banter in the comments section we thoughtfully provide, below.

 

When It’s Better Not to Know

In management circles, claiming to be unaware and uninformed is one favored tactic to avoid responsibility for the bad behavior of subordinates. Sometimes unawareness is attributable to simple incompetence. Other times, it is intentional.

Our mayor is caught here taking the latter approach when the woman who witnessed Joe Felz’ drunken crash came forth to recount the details of the event:

The clip ends when the mayor cuts off this concerned citizen.

Now you all know that the city manager reports directly to the council. He is, in fact, the only employee for whom they are directly responsible. You might think the council would be interested in hearing a first hand report of their employee’s bad behavior. Perhaps recklessness, destruction of government property and abuse of authority are not qualities you seek when employing a municipal executive.

Nope. Not our mayor. Not in our town.

Behind the Bullshit – Standards? Really?

“Behind the Badge OC” is a propaganda outlet for “public safety” departments across Orange County. It is run by former OC Register staff who came to realize that writing cop puff pieces on their own was even more lucrative than doing it while pretending to be reporters for the pathetic, knee-jerk pro-cop Register.

This enterprise works for police unions in the main, but things get really profitable when they can sucker a public agency, like the City of Fullerton, to use public money to write this drivel, all under the auspices of “educating” us about our wonderful police department. You’d think that honest work, a good attitude, and abiding by the same laws the rest of us have to, would be sufficient to generate respect for our boys and girls in blue. Wink.

But enough preamble.

Back on June 13th, BtB published this completely unremarkable tale about the squad responsible for documenting the training given to FPD personnel and the standards that apply thereunto. Standards, eh?

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
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

Check out the adipose and otiose individual in the middle who is in charge of this unit: none other that our old friend Andrew Goodrich, who was last heard of serving in the exalted office of watch commander the night of November 8th, when our City Manager, Joe Felz, ran off the road, was given a pass on a breathalyzer test, was driven home and tucked into bed by one or more of those cops who got all that expensive training.

You may also remember Goodrich from his stint as FPD Public Information Officer – a job in which he really shined – passing out phony information to make Kelly Thomas look bad, and the cops who killed him, well, at least better. He was also part of Chief Danny Hughes’ obnoxious scheme to hand out tickets to protest supporters for “excessive horning.”

The Sound of Silence

I would have done it even cheaper...
I would have done it even cheaper…

Not much has come out of Fullerton Junior College lately on the case of cop-turned-security guard Dino Skokos who handed out an unwarranted beat down on an undernourished FJC student in October.

A writer for The Hornet named Madalyn Amato,  reports that although an “independent investigator” has been engaged, nothing else has been forthcoming. The fact that the investigator, a law firm called Currier & Hudson, solely specializes in acting as defense counsel for government agencies, should send out appropriate warning bells. See where this is going?

In the aftermath of outrage, the bureaucratic playbook is being executed as expected.

First, ignore any criminality on the part of the district employee and announce an independent investigation, with the goal of diverting responsibility, or even better, procrastinating ’til everybody’s forgotten about the incident.

Naturally, the independent investigator is really just a carefully selected government defense pettifogger, hired to relieve the agency of as much liability as possible and absorb any leftover PR issues. Of course, hiring a law firm comes with desirable effects, such as the benefit of attorney client privilege. See, it’s easier to control an investigation if the investigator can’t actually reveal any findings detrimental to the institution.

The cleanup is underway
The cleanup is underway

And now we wait. The employee takes a paid vacation, the real police fail to deliver a criminal investigation, and NOCCCD eventually pays out a quiet settlement to the victim who will make a deal in a civil courtroom. Nothing to see here.

Close enough...
Close enough…

And now let’s let Fullerton Junior College President Greg Schulz take us home via The Hornet article:

President Greg Schulz promised the college’s full dedication in reaching a conclusion regarding the incident.

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 Culture of Cover Up?

You, know some people have the remarkable habit of speaking a whole bunch of words without saying anything. Fullerton City Attorney Richard Jones has been doing it for years and years as compliant councils sit there silently during his mind-numbing droning.

In the clip below, from last night’s Council meeting, he explains why the public need be told nothing about the City Manager, Joe Felz, driving home after a party, running off the road, trying to leave the scene of an accident, smelling of liquor, and most likely flashing his Get Out of Jail card.

jail-card

First listen:

There’s five minutes of stuff that could have been said in about 40 seconds but Jones needs to make sure he has touched all the bases of possible objection, added some mumble-words in the service of phony legal propriety, and his accomplice, Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald is on hand to make sure some of the points are reiterated – twice.

Yes, the bases are touched.

  1. The matter is subject to an “ongoing criminal investigation” by FPD, possibly to be turned over to the do-nothing DA, so mum’s the word! But what’s this? Who has committed a crime? No one was arrested no one was even cited. If not then, when, and how? Sure seems like a bogus smoke-screen.
  2. The issue is a “personnel” matter. But wait. Felz was not acting as an employee at the time of the crash. He was undoubtedly a private citizen. So how on God’s green earth is this a personnel matter? Another dodge to avoid response to legitimate PRA requests?
  3. The issue of the body cameras is noted as governed by some statute that is not elaborated, merely cited. The incurious Council let that one sail by. In the end, Jones informs us that Mr. Felz has privacy rights, too, which is awful sweet, but begs the question – if any of us were detained in similar circumstance can there be any doubt at all that the video would be turned over to the media by Andrew Goodrich before the first rays of morning sun had warmed the walls of the police station tower?

In the end some word nuggets tumble out that do lead into the direction of actual meaning, if only unintentionally freed from the bondage of this pettifogger’s mental jail.

One bit of this statement is very interesting. At 4:08 Jonsey mentions the investigation of the poli…the City Manager. Maybe I’m too cynical, but could this be the real source of investigation – how the cops deliberately violated their own policies and ignored violation of the Vehicle Code? That would sure make sense if a cover-up of the whole embarrassing mess was being orchestrated. After all, they could try “miscommunication in the chain of command” or some such nonsense, Gennaco-style, and if all else failed, toss the rat on conveniently departed Chief Dan Hughes who is now over the wall and making tracks southward.

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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