Fortunately, An Adult in the Room

This is a story about selfishness, small-time greed and entitlement.

No, it’s not about  my 3-year old nephew.

It’s about members of the Fullerton Fire Department and their Chief, Wolfgang “Wolf” Knabe and the culture of permissiveness overseen by our former City Manager Joe “Fast and Loose” Felz.

Back in September a couple of off-duty fire department employees managed to get themselves lost in Yosemite by foolishly trying to take a shortcut across some sort of moving water. The hue and cry went out – all the way to Fullerton. So members of the FFD drove City vehicles up north to show solidarity with their lost comrades who were discovered a day or two later.

What happened next may or may not surprise you depending on your familiarity with the sense of entitlement held by Fullerton’s “public safety” employees.

Chief Knabe, who makes well over $200,000 a year and is Fullerton’s highest paid employee, attempted to stick the taxpayers of Fullerton with the cost of gas, steak dinners and hotel accommodations for this purely elective field trip.

Here are the relevant documents.

 

Firefighters Javier Avelar, sixth from left, and Dave Brown, seventh from left, seen here joined on Sept. 13 by colleagues who trekked to Yosemite to help find them after they were reported missing by family.

 

Hero presser: Fullerton/Brea Fire Departments fire chief Wolfgang Kanabe explains during a press conference in Fullerton on Wednesday, how two Fullerton firefighters went missing in Yosemite during a six-day backpacking trip. They were supposed to return on Sunday. Searchers found them Tuesday. September 14, 2016. (Photo by Ken Steinhardt, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Knabe tried to justify the whole episode as some sort of job-related effort and a PR triumph for himself and his department, but fortunately our Finance Department Director, Julia James, was having none of it, and quite appropriately deemed such a reimbursement as a gift of public funds.

In the end Wolfie had to use a “donation” account (which is still public money), and which begs the question of whether or not donors are giving money to the department to pay for steak dinners for our Heroes.

The Finest of Farewells

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 Slow Drip of Deficit Spending – Part 1 of an Endless Series

The Mayor likes to say that we have a “Balanced Budget” and that we’re making great strides on our roads, parks, et cetera. All of this in spite of closing the Hunt Branch Library, having rundown parks and having to beg, borrow and steal from our City reserves every year to keep the lights on. Why?

Oh, because we send people to Canada. That’s one reason why.

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We sent five people to Canada because apparently PowerPoint, Video Conferencing and YouTube don’t cost the taxpayers enough money.

As far as we can tell the City of Fullerton sent Anthony J. Bogart (Police Sergeant), Cesar A. Navarro (Lead Police Dispatcher)m Julie A. Langstaff (Police Technical Services Manager), Christopher J. Overtoom (Information Systems Assistant) & Helen M. Hall (Information Technology Manager) to a conference in Ontario about “Thinking Forward” in policing. But hey, at least according to the agenda they got to attend a Curling Bonspiel on our dime so it wasn’t a total waste of money.

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Stay tuned as we show off some more bang that we’re getting for our collective bucks.

The (Other) Case of the Missing Sidewalk

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.

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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A Streetcar Named Desire

It was bound to be a rocky ride.
It was bound to be a rocky ride.

Last week the ever helpful Fullerton City Hall scribe Lou Ponsi scribbled a story about how Fullerton needs a transit dedicated line from the CSUF area to the Fullerton “metro center.”

No, I am not kidding. “Senior” Planner Jay Eastman believes Fullerton has a metro center.

A cynic might conclude that the sole purpose of this venture is to more efficiently direct college kids into the open air saloon that downtown Fullerton has become.

Trolley? Bus? Light rail(!)? The world is Jay Eastman’s oyster, just so long as somebody else is picking up the tab. In this case the OCTA is going to pay 90% of the cost of a “study” to determine just what Fullerton needs: $270,000 worth, with us paying the other $30,000.

All of which goes to show that OCTA has an awful lot more money than they know what to do with.

Just Wrong

Here is a sly observer expressing his view that a Fullerton cop appears to be more like a soldier than a civilian policeman.

Naturally he is rewarded with a combination of arrogance, error, and attitude by “officer” Contino.

While it is true that Prime Minister Robert Peel established the first permanent and professional police forces in Britain, the use of that factoid to explain and defend a paramilitary organization behaving like an occupying army would be faintly ridiculous if the consequences weren’t so, um, deadly.

And speaking of Mr. Peel, while living in Tamworth, the versatile gentleman was credited with the development of the Tamworth Pig by breeding Irish stock with some local Tamworth pigs.

 

The Culture of Corruption Has NOT Changed!

First off, I’d like to thank a good and courageous Friend for sharing this alarming video with us.

I’m still sort of shocked to hear what Fullerton police Lieutenant Markowski said to a group of folks who took the open house tour of the police department last Saturday. Apparently, when she comes to work on Mondays there’s a desk full of complaints from women who claim they were abducted, raped, kidnapped telling horror stories of what happened to them. And thank God she can go review the video cameras, and that not everybody that comes to file a report is truthful. (And of course not everyone who receives a complaint or writes a report is truthful, either, as we now know).

According to Markowski there have been many, many cases that she worked where women report, “he pulled me out of this bar, he pulled he into this alley, he pulled me into his car, he did this that. And then I review the video the downtown video cameras which obviously we maintain and I review the video and I can clearly see that she walked voluntarily out of the bar with this gentleman that she was all over him. I’ve been able to save a lot of men from being accused of things that they absolutely didn’t do whereas if we didn’t have that video evidence these guys would be sitting in here getting ready to go to jail for crimes that they absolutely didn’t commit so they work very well for investigators.”

The idea that a cop by way of a video camera is now acting as district attorney, judge and jury in cases involving women who want to file  charges against one of downtown Fullerton’s army of drunken gentlemen is alarming.

I also find it very disconcerting that Markowski  found it appropriate to regale her visitors with this particular story, given the history of FPD cop Albert Rincon. According to Markowski this false accusation against DTF’s menfolk happens all the time, and it is routine for Markowski, who seems to have a low regard for some of DTF’s female guests.

Of course it is ironic in the extreme that Ms. Markowski makes no mention of her cameras and the story they told about the Kelly Thomas murder, or the assault and false arrest (and later false prosecution) of Veth Mam at the hands of Kenton Hampton.