Boozing, Schmoozing and Being Lobbied. Check, Please…

 

Man, there’s a lot of bottles back there!

Let’s say you’re the mayor of a City that is chugging red ink like a drunk city manager slurping booze in a cheap downtown Fullerton bar. Would you be sensitive to the appearance of wasting taxpayer’s money on a footling trip to Sacramento, ostensibly to “advocate” for something? Well, not if you’re crooked, and very confident. And nobody has accused our 2016 mayor, Jennifer “sparkyfitz” Fitzgerald of honesty, or lack of confidence about not having it.

Last year the Orange County Business Council, the twisted brain child of grifters Curt Pringle and Lucy Dunn (whose purpose is to rob public agency coffers) teamed up (once again!) with the Association of California Cities – OC another twisted brain child of Curt pringle and Lucy Dunn (whose purpose is to rob public agency coffers). Why? The teamwork was meant to throw a big, out-of-town lobbyist party. In Sacramento. Naturally, our then mayor-for-hire Jennifer “sparkyfitz” Fitzgerald had to attend. And so did our then-City Manager Joe Felz. Wild Ride Joe knew which side of his bread was buttered and who was buttering it. And then there was all that liquor – paid for by somebody or other.

Of course “advocacy” means lobbying, but surprise! It turns out that the would-be lobbyists were not going to Sacto to lobby, but to be lobbied! And we paid for it.The politicos who went were there to lobbied by other ACC-OC/OCBC members! That’s the cozy, incestuous little world inhabited by the Fitzgerald family. That’s the ACC-OC/OCBC formula for success.

Wow. Even Doug “Bud” Chaffee went to this expensive non-event. And while certain stuff that couldn’t be easily laid on the public – like Chaffee’s wife’s plane ticket – was reimbursed by the party-goers – the rest of it was on our dime. And at the very same time Fitzgerald was lying about Fullerton having a balanced budget. Here are the numbers:

 

What sort of idiot pays almost $500 for airfare to Sacramento? The sort of person who is playing with house’s money. I wonder if a single mutual legislative goal was achieved. I bet not. Any takers?

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.

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.

Fitzgerald Supports Seeking OC Sheriff Department Preliminary Analysis For Outsourcing Police Services

The pageant was over…

Of course this was candidate Jennifer Fitzgerald, back in 2012 when she was running for the city council.

FFFF reported on that here.

Here’s the letter Fitzy wrote to then mayor, Sharon Quirk-Silva:

Naturally, once safely in office this support for looking into possible, maybe someday, perhaps switching to the Sheriff Department at huge cost savings to the taxpayers of Fullerton evaporated like the morning dew on a summer day. Since gaining office Fitzgerald, along with Jan Flory and Doug “Bud” Chaffee have been resolute in their goal that no reform of the Fullerton Police Department take place and that no acknowledgement of any Culture of Corruption could possibly exist.

Some cynics suggested this letter was only meant to call off pro-recall forces; other cynics suggested this was the price Fitzgerald had to pay for Supervisor Shawn Nelson’s endorsement. Probably it was both. Either way the commitment was thinner than the paper it was printed on. And Fitzgerald never mentioned it again.

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…”

Our County Government Attacks 1st Amendment, Fails

Funny plastic handcuffs graphic borrowed from Voice of OC
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.

Yes. I did that. Didn’t think you would remember.
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.

Todd Spitzer gets emotional.
Photo by MINDY SCHAUER, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER –

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.

On December 12, Judge Walter Schwarm “quashed” the depostion of the journalist . In legalese that means the judge shoved the matter right up Spitzer’s sorry ass. The County’s effort to intimidate a journalist was met with a stinging rebuke by the jurist.

Downhill racer…
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.

 

 

Prepare to be “Educated”

shawn-nelson

The other day a sharp-eyed commenter noticed that OC Supervisor Shawn Nelson is rolling into town on Tuesday to make a “presentation” about his homeless shelter proposal over on State College to the City Council. The County wants to buy a run-down commercial building and put north OC’s homeless in it. They are already in escrow.

As a former liberal myself I am very well-aware of the idea among my former soul-mates that everything is about education, as in: if only these dummies in Fullerton knew the real story there is no way they could possibly oppose our grandiose plan.

All I can say is beware of politicians with big ideas and lots of our money.

We Get Mail: A Most Unhappy Neighbor

Friends, here is a letter sent to Mayor Bruce Whitaker and thoughtfully provided to us from a citizen who live in the Chapman Park neighborhood across the street from the proposed site of a County homeless shelter.

I omit this individual’s name and number to spare them annoying calls from the bureaucrats but it was included in the letter to Whitaker:

Subject: proposed homeless shelter

Mr Mayor,
This is in regards to the proposed homeless shelter to be opened in the old Linder’s Furniture building on State College in Fullerton.  I am a long time Fullerton home owner (almost 30 years) and live in the Chapman Park tract directly across State College from the proposed site.  I would like to voice my adamant opposition to this project!  If the shelter goes in at this site you are opening us up to security and safety issues, property value drops & outright living in fear.  We have a park in our tract that will potentially become the hangout for the people of the shelter, all they have to do is walk across State College Blvd and they are at the pedestrian entrance to our housing tract.  This park is a little league park full of kids on the weekends, and homeowners including myself walk the park frequently in the mornings and evenings. A great many of the homeowners in this tract are older single women like myself who live alone and the thought of our community/tract being opened up to this kind of influx of homeless and mentally ills is frightening.  I have already had my house broken into and robbed in the recent past and what is being proposed will bery likely increase the chance of this happening again.  It’s bad enough that our neightborhood has been turned into a parking lot by the students from Cal State Fullerton and the city won’t help us with that issue, now we are going to be asked to have the residents of this shelter desend on us also.  I know this seems like the old “not in my backyard” standard but truthfully this is a very disconcerting and potentially dangerous situation for us. It seems like there must be an available building in a more industrial location rather than this one so close to homes, little league fields and schools. And what happens when the over/under pass project reaches State College?
 
I know my voice probably doesn’t matter and nothing will change as it appears deals have already been made and this is being railroaded through but I hope at the very least that the pedestrian entrance at the corner of  State College and Fender will be completely sealed up.  And when our houses get broken into or tagged and the mentally ill and homeless accost us at the park I hope you will personally come visit us to see what you have allowed.
 
Sign me
A very unhappy Fullerton resident
Hopefully this tax-payer’s voice will matter, although the odds seem against it.

Two Kinds of Deflection

In the wake of the Kelly Thomas murder at the hands of the FPD, two different yet eerily similar tactics emerged for deflecting responsibility away from the cops.

Fullerton’s antique liberal crowd quickly banded together so that society itself could be blamed, not the FPD: the problem was not murderous, corrupt or even incompetent cops. Oh, no. The problem was one of homelessness and the solution was to provide a homeless shelter! Why Kelly would probably even be alive today!

On the other hand, the anonymous cop-protectors keep insisting that the problem lay with poor parenting for Kelly’s death, as if a schizophrenic, 35 year-old man was somehow the responsibility of his parents, and as if that somehow exculpates the six cops who beat him to death and stood around laughing as he died in a pool of his own blood.

Of course both groups relied heavily upon a completely comical whitewash of the FPD Culture of Corruption by paid-for opinion of Michael Gennaco.

Two different cliques, two very similar tactics.

 

SHELTER FALLOUT

The County of Orange’s attempt to cram a permanent homeless shelter in east Fullerton across the street from single-family homes and an elementary school have taught us four things, so far.

First, it is very clear that no Fullerton elected representatives were told anything about this high-handed plan. Second, the County can do it with or without the City’s agreement. Third, nobody at the County gives a damn that they will be paying $3.15 million for a broken down old building that nobody knows the cost to make habitable. Four, the media will never report any of this.

As to the first point, here is a report about a meet and greet event by Fullerton Mayor Bruce Whitaker, who asked the County for a few weeks’ delay so that the City Council could learn just what the County has in store for us. Request denied.

And here is an e-mail we received from some local resident who says he has just started a petition to seek redress:

Subject: Homeless shelter

Hello!I’ve started the petition “Fullerton city council: Stop the County from opening a 24/7 homeless shelter at 301 S St College Bl” and need your help to get it off the ground.Will you take 30 seconds to sign it right now? Here’s the link:

http://www.change.org/petitions/fullerton-city-council-stop-the-county-from-opening-a-24-7-homeless-shelter-at-301-s-st-college-bl

Here’s why it’s important:

This is a 29,000 square foot building that is located near an elementary school, park and houses. This homeless shelter will make Fullerton the dumping ground for homeless. Crime will increase and spread to the whole area. This deal is being done without much awareness from the public. A life long friend of County Supervisor Nelson stands to make nearly 100k from the deal. This is bad for North OC. This shelter will end up looking like skid row in downtown LA where crime and drug use is rampant. Fullerton is not LA.

You can sign my petition by clicking here.

Thanks!

Well, good luck with that! Apparently the County can do whatever it likes and your County Supervisor isn’t interested in your opinion.