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.
Sometimes what our City Hall doesn’t say can be almost as illuminating as their press releases.
On Wednesday, November 16 at about 9:00 PM, a Fullerton Parks and Recreation vehicle collided with another car at the intersection of Highland and Chapman. Ouch.
Sure looks like somebody ran a red light, then blammo!
What’s odd about this unfortunate accident is that the City never said a word to the public about the horrible-looking incident. Who was involved? Was anyone badly hurt? Who caused the accident? Why was a Parks and Rec employee driving around late at night? So many questions, and no answers.
What’s the big secret? Maybe there’s a reason for the radio silence.
It makes one wonder if this accident might not be the fault of a government employee, perhaps even driving a city-owned vehicle after hours. If so, look for big damages coming our way.
You have to wonder about the integrity of an avowedly left-wing media effort that is so desperate to prop up and defend local government that it will…well, read on.
The Fullerton Observer and its obtuse editor, Sharon Kennedy, have now resorted to republishing pieces written by the pro-cop union shill “Behind the Badge.” The taxpayers pick up the tab for that lame propaganda.
In it’s latest journalistic effort, we see on page 12 a “story” scribbled by the utterly servile Lou Ponsi. There is no explanation as to where this tidbit comes from. Is Ponsi now an “Observer?” But a simple hunch led me to Ponsi’s new source of income. Sure enough. Kennedy has just passed along a reprint from “Back the Badge.”
The sole purpose of Behind the Badge is to make Fullerton’s cop apparatus look good, no matter what, by running feel-good stories. And Sharon Kennedy’s mission is making Fullerton’s government look good, no matter what. I guess it makes sense in a perverted kind of way.
At least we don’t have to pay for the Fullerton Observer.
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.
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 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.”
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.
Here’s some fun stuff from our local amateur news effort, The Fullerton Observer, from the latest installment.
First, one of the yellowing observers writes in to compliment the production of reliable news and to note that “local” news is the best kind. The editor Sharon “ED” Kennedy goes on to describe other news sources that are less reliable than her own.
You’ll notice that the subscriber, a Ms. Christina Garner, displays the classic muddled logical error of attributing the characteristics of some members of a class of objects, to all of them. A tiger is a mammal. A tiger has stripes. Mammals have stripes. You get the idea.
Kennedy soldiers on in her solicitude to making sure we don’t succumb to the lure of “fake news.”
And yet, hilariously, and indicative that we have now entered an irony-free zone, on the facing page is yet another of The Observer’s funny fact dodging articles about Joe Felz’s Wild Ride and subsequent quitting of his post. The last one didn’t even mention Felz until the third paragraph and never mentioned his first name at all. Here’s the latest:
Here it takes sixparagraphs of nonsense to get around to the real reason Felz was forced to quit: he was drinking the night of November 8th/9th, drove off Glenwood Avenue, killed a tree, and tried to drive away from the scene. But of course these facts appear almost disembodied from the rest of the drivel so that any connection drawn between these events will not be the fault of Sharon Kennedy. The reason for this weird version is clear enough given The Observer’s penchant for idolizing of public employees no matter what they do: it would make them look bad.
Now I have no idea whether any of the Observer’s loyal followers actually give a rat’s ass about reading real news; and maybe the reason they like the Observer is because it helps reassure them of their own little weltanschauung. But really? In the “most reliable zone?” I don’t think so.
Once in a while news from the County is so pregnant with consequences for us in Fullerton that we here at FFFF feel obliged to share it with the Friends.
In case you weren’t following the weird story: on Good Friday, 2015 3rd District Supervisor Todd “Super Victim” Spitzer got scared of a Christian proselytizer in a Foothill Ranch Wahoos, went out to his car and returned with handcuffs and a loaded pistol. He “hooked up” this poor sap and waited for the deputies to arrive. Of course nothing came of it. Mr. Bible was released from bondage and everybody went his own way.
Pretty weird, in a “dress up like a cop and play” sort of way. I mean, who drives around with handcuffs in his trunk, right?
Unfortunately for Spitzer, news of the bizarre incident was finally leaked to The OC Register who reported on it in August 2015, much to the merriment of the pistol-packin’ supervisor’s numerous detractors. But the story gets better – or worse – depending on your point of view.
Apparently Spitzer couldn’t leave the depiction of himself as a nutcase, alone. Sort of like obsessively picking at a scab. So he enlisted the help of Jean Pasco, the County’s press release writer to write some sort of clarifying/absolving press release. Although this document never saw the light of publication, the Voice of OC got wind of it and did a PRA request for all related docs. Hilariously, the County refused, claiming that unfinished documents don’t constitute “records.” The Voice sued the County for release of the relevant material. The County fought back.
It got worse. Under Spitzer’s guidance County Counsel demanded to depose Voice publisher Norberto Santana, ridiculously suggesting that conversations between him and Spitzer were relevant to the matter. Voice objected to the blatant harassment attempt.
Meantime, the completely unnecessary lawsuit drags on, the costs of which, when the County inevitably fails, will be borne by you and me. And where is our own Supervisor Shawn Nelson during all this? Nowhere to be seen or heard as far as I can tell. Evidently, he, too, believes that we peons are only to know things when he and his pals at the County feel like sharing, and that it is right and proper that we pay the costs of them keeping public information from the public.