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.

Follow the Money, But How?

We’ve all heard the words “follow the money” as if said process will magically unveil itself to us. Certain insight and skills are necessary when confronted by a doozy like this one:

nicolevegas1_gb

ICSC is the International Council of Shopping Centers who held their Global Retail Real Estate Convention May 22-25, 2016 in Las Vegas, which, ironically, cost $570 to attend, the same amount of the first transaction (above).

As if taxis, bagels, and Starbucks charged to the City procurement card wasn’t enough, two days of room service at the Hard Rock Hotel made the trip all worthwhile:

nicolevegas2_nb

nicolevegas3_nb

Just because there’s enough material in the City’s records to write blog posts like these… (more…)

A Glimpse Into Fullerton’s Future

It wasn't safe. but it sure was uncomfortable...
It wasn’t comfortable. but it sure was dangerous…

Okay, Friends here’s a pop quiz. What do Jan Flory, Bud Chaffee, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Bruce Whitaker and Greg Sebourn have in common? Think for a second…

Got it? Of course, it was an easy question.

They are collectively responsible for the overdevelopment of Fullerton. Look around: Commonwealth, Orangefair, Santa Fe, each now, or soon to be home for massive, overbearing penitentiary-like apartment blocks.

The Thing That Ate Fullerton...
Cliff Dwelling Is The Life For Me, or: Thing That Ate Fullerton…(image swiped from Orange Juice Blog)

The ridiculous and deathless “Amerige Court” monster is back, too being pimped by a guy named Cameron Irons.

Follow my easy method, and one of us will get rich!
Follow my easy method, and one of us will get rich!

You remember him, right? County Supervisor Shawn Nelson’s crony who stood to make a $100,000 commission as Nelson tried to ram through the County’s big homeless shelter next to Fullerton’s Commonwealth Elementary School.

Nelson wears his game face.
Nelson wears his game face. Too bad we’re not on the same team.

And there’s very little need to hold our breath until the “College Park” upzone Godzilla rears its ugly head, once again.

Whatever the motivation of our “representatives” to jam ever more high-density residential projects into Fullerton, the result is the same: more burden on the City’s utilities and infrastructure, and above all, more traffic cramming our streets, costs that are carried by all of us as the developer makes his bundle and skips off to his next monster.

Is it really too much of an exaggeration to say that soon the major intersections at Harbor, Orangethorpe and Lemon will become virtually gridlocked at certain times of the day? Soon we may all have to find alternative ways to get around Fullerton.

It’s pretty clear that none of these lofty people have the best interests of ordinary Fullerton residents in mind. In fact, we seem to be nothing more than an annoyance to their big plans, that is if you can call helter-skelter development a plan.

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.

Do Not Trust the Trustees

On Thursday, November 17, the North Orange County Community College District held an the Environmental Impact Report scoping session for the Measure J funded improvements to Fullerton College.

As  you know from our previous report on this matter, the proposed improvements include a football field (estimated during the presentation to cost $4 million to build, so consider that a low floor to the likely final cost) but does not include improvements to the Veteran’s Center. When this discrepancy was addressed, Fullerton College President Greg Schultz gave the following explanation:

  1. We have to understand that the NOCCCD cannot do everything it would like to do with Measure J funds, so they have not been able to make the improvements to the Veteran’s Center at this time;
  2. The stadium will be funded through other funds, not Measure J money and he promises to not use Measure J money to build the stadium.

Let’s take these two responses one at a time, shall we?

First, the characterizing of the veteran’s center as just one of many improvements that the NOCCCD would like to perform is extremely dishonest. Let’s re-wind the clock again to back when NOCCCD sought voter approval for their $574 million construction bond:

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Independent Person Wanted, Inquire Within

I'm bringing in my brother-in-law, Bob.
I’m bringing in my brother-in-law, Bob.

According to the City of Fullerton’s website the City Attorney is looking for an “independent person” to investigate the activities of our City Manager, Joe Felz. Here’s the PSA:

Can anyone apply?
Can anyone apply?

Now in the first place, the idea of of our mush-mouth City Attorney employing anybody not willing and able to deliver the right verdict on the events of Wednesday morning, November 9th, is ridiculous; but really, an independent “person?” Attorney Jones’s gardener? His CPA? His car detailer?

Seriously, though, the hiring of an investigator by the City and calling him (or her) independent is a complete farce. For there is a fundamental conflict of interest here, just as there is for the Fullerton Police Department to investigate their own boss. I can see it, you can see it. Probably even comically ardent FPD supporters like Chaffee, Flory and Fitzgerald can see it. But unlike us, they don’t care.

The truth of what I’m saying is pretty evidently contained within the facts of this situation: it is not a personnel matter. Joe Felz was driving home from a series of private parties in Downtown Fullerton’s Liquor Row. He was not on duty, he was not engaged in any official capacity. He was just a guy fidgeting with wires under his dashboard who ran off the road, knocked over a tree, churned up some dirt with spinning tires, moved on down the road a bit, was interviewed by the cops, was given an okie-dokie by them, was driven home by them, and was tucked into bed.

What does any of this have to do with Mr. Felz’s job as City Manager?

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 Yellowing Submarine

Things never looked better for Fullerton.
Things never looked better for Fullerton.

An alert Friend directed our attention to the Fullerton Observer’s “reporting” of the recent Joe Felz/Danny Hughes Glenwood Ave. Road Rally. Here’s the article. As usual the Observer does its level best to downplay the incident –  since for the Yellowing Observers City Hall can do no wrong. If you want, you can see it here. Below is a facsimile.

Journalism at it's finest!
Journalism at it’s finest!

Let’s enjoy some of the unintended hilarity.

First notice that neither the chief player in this drama, nor even his august title are mentioned in the headline, a rather glaring omission, one would think.

It is not until the end of the second paragraph that we discover the tree killer is our beloved city manager; and it wasn’t until the next sentence that he is identified – only as “Mr. Felz.”

None of the pertinent facts are shared: that Felz had been drinking; that he had tried to drive away; that he had been given a pass on the breathalyzer test that would have been forced on you or me, or even Sharon Kennedy, editor of this mess.

Ironically, Page 6 contains a saccharine farewell to Chief Dan Hughes, whose last official task as chief was to make sure his boss got a safe ride home and tucked into bed without the worry of an annoying and embarrassing DUI rap. Thanks for the solid, man!

“Leaked to a local blog.” Ha ha! Yes, indeed! But no mention of the evil FFFF, where original and dangerous attitudes prevail! Jeez, even Sappy McTree got more shine than we did.

And finally: “…witnessing a driver (you mean THE driver) trying to maneuver his vehicle off the causeway.”

Causeway? Just like The Observer of old: error riddled, incompetent, supine and illiterate.

Karma Can Be A Bitch

The topic of drinking and driving has been in the Fullerton news the last few days. We all know the story involving City Manager, Joe Felz, by now so there’s no point in rehashing the details. Instead, I want to direct the Friends’ attention to the irony that surrounds us in life, sometimes almost like there’s some sort of cosmic plan.

Way back in August, 2012 at the start of the fall election campaign, Fullerton City Councilmen and candidates Travis Kiger and Bruce Whitaker, along with Greg Sebourn voted to turn back a $50,000 grant from the state to pay for those ridiculous DUI random checkpoints that are probably the least effective ways to corral drunk drivers.

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

Let’s let Fullerton’s in-house shrew, Jan Flory, herself a candidate that year, fill us in from an August 30, 2012 facebook entry:

OKAY, so let’s get this straight, our Tea Bagger councilmen (Kiger, Sebourn and Whitaker), voted to reject a $50,000 grant and send it back to the state because it was to be used for DUI sobriety checkpoints that they believe are unconstitutional. They did this without walking across the street and talking to Police Chief Dan Hughes, or Captain George Crum who wrote the grant application.

Whoops! They find out after the fact that $146,222 in additional grant funds were tied to the $50,000 for the sobriety checkpoints, soooo, if the $50,000 is rejected, then the $146,222 has to be turned back too. It’s not like our understaffed police department could use the money, right? Maybe they thought the state would know how to use the money better than we do at the local level. Massive miscalculation!

Miscalculation? Certainly, but not by Kiger, Whitaker, or Sebourn. The fact of entangling grant funding (if in fact it existed at all) was never shared with them by their own $200,000 City Manager, Joe Felz, or by $200,000 Police Chief Danny Hughes, both of who were just sitting there during the meeting. Why not? Possibly because they  had every reason to try to embarrass them and help get Flory elected. The consequent to-do with a MADD mob orchestrated by the FPD, and quite likely with the approval of Felz and Hughes themselves, was quite entertaining. Whether they knew about a link at the time, they sure found out fast, so fast that one might suppose a little back-room political shenanigans.

So now, let’s return back to late August, 2012 and hear again from the vinegary Flory as she regales us with her demagoguery :

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