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.
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.
Remember that old Zakie Farmer’s Market building down on Orangethorpe? Yesterday my greasy broker called with an interesting discovery. This odd building was quietly sold to Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties in 2006 for $3,375,000. They had credit and they wanted to build one of those women’s clinics here in Fullerton.
Planned Parenthood spent three years submitting plans to the city but abruptly gave up in 2010, leaving the property to sit idle for a total of nine years. They finally sold the property in 2015 for $1,750,000. That’s a $1.6 million direct loss, excluding any opportunity costs, mortgage interest or property taxes. Our team of crackerjack financial analysts estimates the total loss at $3.4 million. That would be more than the original purchase price!
This was a major screw up by any measure. So what caused PP to buy this overpriced pad, kick it around for a few years and then leave it to las cucarachas?
And why does any of this even matter?
Unless you are a donor to Planned Parenthood, in which case you might like to know where your money went. Or it might matter if you’re a taxpayer. Planned Parenthood receives about $550 million a year in government subsidies, making each of us some sort of stakeholder in this giant misadventure.
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.
The year is almost over and I would be remiss if i didn’t briefly recount one of the most memorable events of 2016 – the carpetbagging candidacy for State Senate of Sukhee Kang, the former dismal Irvine councilman who, uninvited, declared his candidacy THEN moved to Fullerton to make it legit. He bought a mini-mansion on a golf course. He had an Irvine flunky named Dan Chemilewski try to make the thing appear normal and kosher, but that failed.
In the end, Sukhee spent a ton of money, almost all of it his own. The more he spent, the worse it got. And on election day he lost to a guy named Josh Newman by three points – a remarkable disaster that left almost every Democrat in Orange County – and the state – quickly looking for the exit.
In the first installment of this two-part series we saw examples of how a mere two downtown Fullerton bars (one illegally operating as a night club) had racked up a massive inventory of misdeeds, amounting to hundreds of cop calls in a few years. Just imagine how tough it is for the Fullerton Police Department to manage all this madness, night after night. And what happens to cop service calls in the rest of the city. Poor cops, right?
Yet before we shed any tears over the FPD and the horrible burden they bear, let us contemplate a “story” from the cop union website that glowingly talks about the special relationship that exists between downtown booze peddlers and our boyz in blue. Here are some choice quotations from the article:
Business in downtown Fullerton is booming.
Thousands of people flock from all over Southern California for the food and atmosphere – and to have a good time.
Police officials want to keep it that way.
In downtown Fullerton last year, officers made 562 drunken driving arrests, including 13 DUI crashes. There were also dozens of assaults.
“We could put 100 cops downtown, but we’d be swatting flies,” said Lt. Andrew Goodrich. “We want to work together to solve this.”
Added Police Chief Dan Hughes: “We want downtown to continue to flourish.”
Slidebar owner Jeremy Popoff had already convened a group of owners, calling it the “Downtown Restaurant Association.”
Do you see the absurd disconnect? Booming, flourishing business? Sandwiched between the happy horseshit talk are the startling statistics of our downtown, open-air saloon. The police are not only tolerating Crazytown, a situation they admit they can’t control, they are aiding-and-abetting it. Why? We certainly know that some bar owners like Popoff are politically connected – his place operates without the CUP the City legally requires of a night club. Then there are the recurring and disturbing stories about cops getting free food and drink at some of these bars – like Popoff’s place. These are stories that nobody has denied.
So are the cops just trying to make the best of a bad situation, or has the culture of the department finally become as gin-pickled with downtown booze as the rest of the City political establishment? I believe the department has enjoined a pretty sick symbiotic relationship with the downtown culture. And notice how the good ladies of MADD, the FPDs 5th Column, have never been mobilized against this massive affront to sober driving? Coincidence? I think not.
It’s obvious that there is zero political will from our city council to do a damn thing about the problem they created over the years. Just the reverse, in fact. Notice how our council unanimously agreed to carving up downtown among five separate council districts so as to dilute the influence of actual voters in that undeniable “community of interest?” The ballot statement supporting that mess was written by none other than our Lobbyist-Mayor, Jennifer Fitzgerald. Hmm.
As for Popoff, he can join with his fellow merchants of martinis and call themselves a”restaurant association;” they can pretend to play nice even while they are racking up ever-lengthening lists of police calls; what they can’t do, at least now that people are finally paying attention, is pretend that their operations aren’t draining financial resources from the average Fullerton family and putting it in their own bank accounts.
The annual downtown fiscal deficit to the taxpayer is well over a $1,500,000 – that’s ten bucks for every man, woman and child in Fullerton; somehow business is booming – but not the City’s General Fund.
And now, returning to the “article” cited, above: let’s have our new amigo, Mr. Gregg Honour, the control-your-bars consultant, whose attention has been drawn to downtown Fullerton and to FFFF, take us home:
Gregg Hanour, former owner of the Shark Club in Costa Mesa and author of “A Business Approach to Reducing Drunk Driving,” said police departments typically conduct undercover stings to build a case to remove a troubled bar.
“You’re lucky,” he told the bar owners. “Your police department wants to work with you.”
Intrepid Friend, David Curlee, has got hold of mobile data computer log from the FPD patrol cars on the night City Manager, Joe Felz, was driving home after a night of campaign partying, jumped the curb on Glenwood Ave, ran over a tree, and tried to motor off. After that the Cone of Silence has descended on the incident thanks to the Fullerton Culture of Cover-up.
HCON3 is a dispatcher. U321 is a patrol unit. Note the time: 1:30-ish in the morning. Precisely the time the Felz incident occurred.
Hmm. Twenty minutes of radio silence. Then another cop who must have been there decides that whatever happened, he ain’t a-talkin’. I wonder why not. No I don’t. And notice U321 isn’t saying anything, either.
Now, remember Barb Pollinger, the neighbor who called the cops in the first place? She said very clearly that driver of the vehicle”should have stopped.”
Is it possible that the MDC is describing an incident other than the madcap motoring of our City Manager? I suppose it’s possible. But it seems pretty implausible.
The witness talks about a suspect departing the scene of an accident. The log conveys the notion of someone in need of immediate apprehension.
I think what is being described here is a crime. If that’s true, then I would also think the actions of former Chief of Police Dan Hughes in ordering his troops to let Felz go without a breathalyzer analysis, to drive him home, to tuck him into bed and to forget the whole thing would also be a crime, obstruction of justice-wise. Our lawyer, Dick Jones, said that a criminal investigation was underway/remotely possible, but since the cops arrested no one that night, and since nobody has been charged with anything that I am aware of, what gives?
The City Council once again takes up the topic of Mr. Felz’s performance tomorrow night. It might be an interesting performance.
Híjole. Here’s an example of the special treatment that a well-connected developer can get in Fullerton. At Harbor and Orangethorpe, a fast food-type developer has been allowed to monopolize the sidewalk for the last six months. The use of this public space probably saved him a few bucks on construction. How thoughtful of our city planners!
Of course, this sidewalk is heavily used by poor pedestrians, who can’t seem to muster an equivalent offering up at city hall. So they’ll have to walk around. Or up the middle of the lane, as the hesitant abuela does in this video.
It’s only a matter of time before someone is hit by a car. Is this a fair deal for people of Fullerton?
By the way, I’m told this is the future site of Jersey Mike’s, Chipotle, The Habit, and a Verizon store.
We kicked off our relaunch by letting you all know that City Manager Joe Felz was in an alleged DUI accident at the wee hours on 09 November 2016 following some possible revelry in Downtown Fullerton where he was allegedly spotted at three bars before allegedly running down a tree. We showed you some photos of the poor innocent tree that was taken from our fair city far too soon. We showed you gouges in the road that will likely get pushed up the queue for our Mayor’s 8-Mile-Per-Year charade of a repair estimate.
We here at FFFF are trying to piece together what happened and are looking to see if Joe Felz was released with a criminal citation as per the FPD Policy Manual section 420.3.3 but this is where the transparency problems come into play. We aren’t allowed to know much and certainly not in a timely fashion. Even council members are forbidden from talking about pending or current investigations regarding current city employees. They won’t, or can’t, even confirm if such cases are in fact pending or current. The City can take 1-2 weeks to get back to records requests because they under-staff the transparency while going heavy on the revenue generators.
With Chief Dan Hughes on his way out the door to go work as the Mouse’s Top Cop we have an interesting problem on our hands.
You see in our fair city the City Manager makes the appointments to Interim Chief should a vacancy appear. This means that Joe Felz will likely be appointing the very person in charge of the Fullerton Police Department which is tied into a possible pending or ongoing investigation of our own City Manager Joe Felz. How nice it must be to know that you get to choose the guy or gal who could be tasked with sweeping your alleged dirty deed under the rug. While it is true that Chief Hughes cites possibly bringing in the CHP to investigate, owing to a conflict of interest, it is still his own officers who would be called to testify about the scene should this alleged crime go to trial.
I’ve read the Fullerton Police Department Policy Manual on DUIs and I can’t figure out why in this alleged case the Chief of Police needed to be involved in a simple DUI. Notified sure. Directly involved though? According to the Manual, section 514.2.6 specifically, Exigent Circumstances exist with chemical tests because of the non-permanent nature of the chemicals (allegedly alcohol in this case). Taking the time to call the Watch Commander who then takes the time to call the Chief who then has to call back in theory could allow the alleged blood alcohol level of our allegedly drunk City Manager to drop to a point of allegedly legal sobriety.
Of course that brings us to section 514.2.2 of the aforementioned FPD Police Manual. That states;
If the arrested person chooses a breath test and it can be accomplished without undue delay, the arrested person shall first be transported to the jail for breath testing preparatory to booking.
I don’t see any mention of transporting anybody to the Jail, a whopping 0.6 miles away, but I suppose that’s because the “field sobriety test” had nothing to do with actually testing for chemicals in the blood. If a chemical test had been completed that long drive to the Jail would have happened and been mentioned in the Chief’s memo to City Council which it was not.
Expect to hear a lot about the “ongoing investigation” and remember kids that you too can allegedly drive drunk and have the on scene officer call the watch commander who then calls the Chief of Police who then calls back to give the go ahead to the on scene officer to do his/her job. You might even get a free ride home. Oh wait. No. Most of us would simply be arrested and have our cars towed to the impound.