And the Award for Most Ridiculous Awards Show Goes to…

While there is much in government to bemoan and criticize there is apparently much to celebrate as well, at least according to the Association of California Cities – Orange County, who are soliciting nominations for the Sixth Annual Golden Hub of Innovation Awards.


Yes, that’s right. The Government has an award show.

The ACC-OC is giving out awards in multiple categories, including Elected Leader of the Year, City Manager Leader of the Year, Innovator of the year and Public Private Partnerships of the year.
Last year’s winner for Innovator of the Year was the Anaheim Fire Chief who approved an ambulance system to respond to non-urgent medical requests, an “innovation” about fifty years behind almost every emergency response system outside out Orange County. Not to be outdone, 2014’s winner of the Innovator of the Year award was this guy:

A toast to all my good ideas…

The ACC-OC is a lobbying organization, ostensibly created to lobby on behalf of its member Cities in Sacramento, and prevent the passage of legislation harmful to municipalities, but their actual priority seems to be lobbying Cities to implement the kind of statist, crony, public-private partnerships the organization itself prefers. For example, in one seminar sponsored in July 2015, ACC-OC advocated both streetcars and the Poseidon desalination plant in a seminar hosted by no less than Curt Pringle himself. ACC-OC also was one of the driving forces behind the HERO program, which facilitated construction of solar panels by converting the construction costs into high interest tax liens on residences (specifically, eight percent a year high, for a senior lien). So, not only does ACC-OC lobby Fullerton for bad legislation but we PAY them to do so with our own tax dollars.

That aside, in the spirit of this press release, can FFFF come up with its own nominees or, better yet, its own categories for the “Golden Hub of Innovation?” Maybe award Hugo Curiel Procrastinator of the Year for his failure to report the water loss at Laguna Lake until the statute of limitations against the civil engineer that performed the work had run? Perhaps a doublespeak award is in order for the fine folks at the NOCCCD for their efforts to claim that the football stadium they are trying to build with Measure J money isn’t going to be built with Measure J money. ACC-OC also needs a White Elephant of the Year award to honor tireless efforts of some staffers to push expensive and unnecessary infrastructure projects like streetcars, ARTIC or the “Great Park” in Irvine. Truly, the possibilities are endless.

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.

 

While We Were Away: The Embarrassing Fullerton Bike Share Story

An acquaintance reminded me the the other day of the ridiculous OCTA “Bike Share” program of a couple years ago – one of the most embarrassing boondoggles on record, and proof that regional government agencies are just as bad as our own city when it comes to throwing our money away.

The OCTA is always ready, able and willing to waste money – some of it comparatively small amounts, and some of it (think ARTIC) monstrously large. The common theme is that hardly anybody knows about it before the dough is blown, or after because the mainstream media is so good at keeping government unaccountable.

This is the tale of Bike Share, a supposedly “green” initiative, and thus free from the constraints of economic common sense.

The Roll Out. Nelson assures a skeptical Flory that the bike is up to the task…

Back in 2012 OCTA invested in a program where people could rent bicycles from a public rack and return them. To somebody it seemed like a plausible idea. The OCTA chose our city as the test lab because of all the college kids who like to take a commuter train to Fullerton.

Pringle’s Krew: It’s dirty work, but someone’s gotta do it…

Surprise! Bike Nation, a client of Curt Pringle and Associates (the current employer of Council-lobbyist Jennifer Fitzgerald) got the contract to run the program. Better qualified vendors were rejected by the OCTA Board. And the cooperative guy who made the motion to approve Bike Nation and proceed with the program?  None other than our own 4th District Supervisor Shawn Nelson. According to the Voice of OC, the cost of the program was $700,000; the per bike ride subsidy was an astonishing $800.

The forced, painful smile betrayed the awful truth: the bikes were made for political posing, not for riding.

At the end of a couple years the magnitude of the Bike Share stupidity became clear. Almost no one signed up for the membership subscription and almost nobody was using the bicycles, bikes that were heavy and unwieldy. Some of them broke down after they had been washed.  The vendor blamed the OCTA, the OCTA blamed the vendor; but we paid for it.

And Nelson? He didn’t return a Voice of OC call asking for comment.

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.

JPA Business Plan: Prey on sick and dying people

Just watch the video.

“The ambulances will have to wait their turn.”   Did you catch that last part?

Just the opposite will happen if the ambulance component of this JPA proposal goes forward. The ambulances will be going straight for your wallet, and more than ever before.

Yesterday, I talked about the JPA Feasibility Study authored by Citygate Associates LLC that showed little, if any, reason to merge the Fullerton and Brea Fire departments. A separate study on ambulance service was sought from a company named A. P. Triton, LLC.

The ambulance study makes its bias against private ambulance companies known from the very start. They denigrate private companies for making a profit, then propose ways for the JPA to do exactly the same, with rates far beyond what is being charged now.

The consultant spends considerable time salivating over revenue collection potential.

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Blowing up the Fire Department

Casual readers of this blog may want to pay closer attention than usual.

Except this time, it’s the consultants wearing the turnouts.

 

This coming Tuesday, January 24, the Fullerton City Council will entertain a study session to review the merits of folding the Brea and Fullerton Fire Departments into one. If approved, the Fullerton Fire Department, and it’s 108-year history as we know it, would cease to exist.

Thanks to a 3-2 vote (YES: Fitzgerald, Flory, Chaffee. NO: Whitaker, Sebourn) a new government agency was formed with the City of Brea on October 18, 2016. The North Orange County Cities Joint Powers Authority is its name.

A merged Fullerton and Brea Fire Department would no longer be under the direct control of either the Fullerton or Brea City Councils. Instead, it would be governed by this new JPA — whose board members will be unelected. That is a board which is directly accountable to nobody. Two City Council members from each city, appointed by their respective City Councils, will govern the JPA. That’s not a typo — it really is two members from each city — meaning there is no tiebreaker vote.

The study session follows on the heels of a recent JPA Feasibility Study whereby the case to merge fire departments is rather weak.

We already utilize a shared fire command with the City of Brea. Fullerton’s projected costs under that existing arrangement are shown below, in blue. Fullerton’s projected costs under the JPA are shown in yellow.

The consultant, Citygate Associates LLC, says not to worry about the $300-400K annual cost increases under a JPA as those are within “model variance”.  (Note:  The above figures are in thousands)

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Rusty Needs You!

In the past FFFF has been critical of Rusty Kennedy and his ridiculous “OC Human Relations” operations that for decades has sucked off of taxpayer revenue to fund it’s feel-good enterprises. Back in 2011 we noted Kennedy’s moral absenteeism here and here when the Fullerton cops killed a helpless homeless man. See, Rusty has always needed the cops to pop up at County budget time and extol his dubious virtues. He and his Old Guard liberal pals were more than happy to paint the Kelly Thomas killing as an issue in which the poor cops just lacked proper training dealing with those troublesome homeless people.

In 2012 Kennedy showed his true colors by canvasing Anaheim’s Ana Drive barrio in the aftermath of the widespread unrest and duplicitously turning over information he collected to the Chief of Police; not long afterwards he was lobbying the City of Anaheim to run a proposed police oversight committee.

In 2011 the County decided to end its “in-house” effort and contract the function of supporting the completely unnecessary Human relations Commission. So what happened? Rusty retired to a six-fugure pension and then got paid allover again as a contractor. That’s how our government works.

Anyway, it appears that now Kennedy’s OC Human Relations is actually going to have to submit a bid to continue its heretofore monopoly on official County good deed doing, and Rusty is soliciting your help.

From: Rusty Kennedy <[email protected]>
Date: January 13, 2017 at 10:46:32 AM PST
To: Rusty Kennedy <[email protected]>
Subject: Urgent Request for BRIEF Letter of Support

Dear Friends

OC Human Relations was created 25 years ago to support programs of the Orange County Human Relations Commission.  As a non-profit organization OC Human Relations has grown into a highly professional organization providing model programs in Police Community Relations, Community Building, Dispute Resolution, Reconciliation, and Diverse Community relations.

Almost 6 years ago the Board of Supervisors eliminated the public staff of the Commission and contracted with our non-profit, OC Human Relations, to provide staff support for the Commission.  We are not applying through the County BidSync system to continue this contract.

We have to submit letters of support with our bid before the end of the month, so time is of the essence.

A simple letter such as below is all that is needed.

Possible Model for Letters of Support for OC Human Relations, feel free to add or modify in any manner you wish, on your letterhead, and e-mail a copy to me: [email protected]

Thank you in advance.

Rusty Kennedy, CEO

OC Human Relations

Date

To Whom It May Concern:

I write on behalf of ­(your organization) to express my support for the good work of OC Human Relations.

We have worked with OC Human Relations for ( # years) on (type of cases, projects we collaborate on).

OC Human Relations is a highly professional organization that we look to for helping on (type of case or project) and plan to continue to do so.

Sincerely,

(your name and title)

(your organization’s name)

Rusty Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer

OC Human Relations | 1300 S. Grand, Bldg B, Santa Ana, CA 92705 | 714.480.6585

www.ochumanrelations.org | Join Our Email List

Having fun at Rusty Kennedy’s expense may be entertaining, but really there is a bigger question: why do the taxpayers have to pay for a function that routinely grandstands over a mere handful of “hate crimes” and that includes in its repertoire mediation between cops and abused citizens – especially when that “service” means turning a blind eye to police brutality, excessive force, and even homicide.

OCFA Fire Station Burns Down in Rain

A fire station. Burned down. In the rain.

(Photo from OC Register)
This is one of those of stories that is so amazing as to not be believed. Orange County Fire Authority’s Station 61, in Buena Park by Knott’s Berry Farm, burned down this morning.

In these rains.

A fire station. Burned down. In the rain. Let that sink in for a few moments.

When I looked at PulsePoint it looked really, really bad because 49 separate units had been dispatched.

Somebody must have lost an iPad considering everybody got out okay and yet two Chaplain Units were dispatched.

An iPAd was lost on the scene.
While certainly a troubling thing to happen this is a great example of priorities. How many of these units, many of which were likely redundant and unnecessary, were dispatched for the sake of being dispatched.

Had this not been a Fire Station it is doubtful that this many units would have been on scene.

At least they weren’t dozing for dollars I suppose.

Just a few weeks ago there was a story in the OC Register about this station. Buena Park was planning to sink $13 Million in to fixing this 50-year-old station. Now it’s gone and they’ll have no choice but to replace it.

Prepare to see Fullerton’s Ladder Truck in and around Buena Park more often until OCFA replaces Ladder Truck 61. That $1Million+ OCFA truck, along with tons of other equipment became scrap in the fire.

The Formula

 

See that busy-looking guy over there? He’s the one who won’t be doing anything about this…

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.

As is often the case, history provides an instructive example with which we may reasonably predict a future event. Here is a story from the City of Garden Grove.

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.”

Wait for it.

Down on the County Farm: The 4th District Embarrassment

The quarter million dollar man…

A Friend alerted me to a Voice of OC article that has a close tie-in to Fullerton, since it deals directly with our 4th District County Supervisor, Shawn Nelson, and his Number One man.

Apparently, The Voice of OC is running end-of-the year pieces about this and that. The one that was forwarded to FFFF is about how Voice has been holding politicians accountable for their misdeeds, and included the shocking story from last May of Nelson’s Chief-of-Staff, Denis Bilodeau, and how, between his various government salaries, stipends and benefits he rakes in more than $250,000 per year. Yes, you read that right. He makes more, a lot more, than Nelson himself.

This valuable piece of manpower pulls in a generous stipend and benefits as a boardmember of the County Water District, and gets $40,000 per year (via a personal contract) as Nelson’s “technical advisor” at the AQMD. Before that he was also getting paid by being a member of the Orange City Council, Redevelopment Agency and all the other regional commissions he could get himself appointed to. Of course all these agencies had meetings that would have directly conflicted with his $120,000 full-time job at the County.

Bilodeau has also been frequently featured on the pages of the Voice for submitting bogus expense reports and for collecting stipends for meetings in which he barely popped his head in the meeting room door, or didn’t attend at all. Naturally, he blamed his staff for poor record keeping. He was busted for falsifying his time card to engage in political activity and claimed he got his weeks mixed up.

A study of hours logged by County administration personnel in 2012 show Bilodeau in the office 23 hours a week. Thats’ 58% of a work-week.What he did when he was there is anybody’s guess.

Nothing was saved…

So what is Bilodeau’s real value to anybody? Here’s County political watchdog Shirley Grindle, offering an opinion, as quoted in Voice of OC:

She also said she’s gotten indications that the mind behind Nelson’s fundraising machinations has been his chief of staff, Denis Bilodeau, who was an Orange councilman and serves on the Orange County Water District board.

“I’m about ready to tell Shawn Nelson, about the best thing he could do for his career is get rid of Denis Bilodeau,” Grindle said.

What did Nelson have to say on the subject?

“Neither Bilodeau nor Nelson would comment…”