Welcome to Downtown Fullerton

You want to know what’s going on in Downtown Fullerton? Check out this video and tell us what you think.

Downtown Fullerton: a culture of rape, vomit, urine, drunken mayhem. An annual budgetary money pit. The best worst kept secret in Orange County.

A toast to all my good ideas…

Before he drove off Glenwood Avenue smelling of liquor, former City manager, Joe Felz described downtown Fullerton as one of the things Fullerton residents should be proud of. His big success.

No, you are our worst enemy. We’ll be seeing more of this image.

Lobbyist-council person Jennifer Fitzgerald has aggressively supported the downtown culture, going so far as  to defend the unpermitted operation of the Slidebar by her pal Jeremy Popoff.

The Fullerton Police Department has also been a collaborator in the craziness “working with” the dysfunctional culture, following political orders and smelling lots of overtime, no doubt, and maybe even relishing the opportunity to crack a few 909 noggins once in a while.

And of course, the media has been utterly silent on the $1.5 million abuse of the City budget, the drunken violence, the sexual assaults, the broken laws, the mega bonanza for the subsidized, out-of-control bar owners.

Behind the Badge – The Gravy Train

No civilians were harmed in the making of this satire…

UPDATE: a keen-eyed friend wrote in to inform us of a couple interesting facts about the City’s “Back the badge” documents. First, the original contract and the first purchase order don’t agree. The PO describes a one-year term while the contract is for only six months. Second there is no PO that covers the period from May to November 2014. The City’s controller should not have been able to write checks without a PO to write checks against, so something is fishy there.

FFFF has already shared with the Friends here some of the more ludicrous aspects of “Back the Badge” a PR outlet for cop departments and unions that we pay for.

The whole shabby deception is so bad we decided to dig a little deeper to see just how the Fullerton taxpayers got hooked into paying for the cops to peddle their propaganda – to us.

Here are the documents we were given.

The documents we received indicate a completely non-transparent, slipshod City-vendor relationship in which deliverables are sketchy, and grossly overvalued.

Danny says you are either ignorant or misinformed!!!

First, it’s important to point out that this relationship was approved in secret by former City Manager Joe Felz in spring 2013, presumably under his spending authority. The City Council may have been informed, but the public most assuredly was not. Even Felz must have been aware of the possible public blowback against this nonsense. And he undoubtedly had the support of council persons Flory, Chaffee and Fitzgerald in trying to keep this gross squandering of public funds out of the public eye.

It is critical to recognize the contract for what it is: a fixed fee arrangement in which the vendor gets his contracted monthly amount regardless of what he actually accomplishes. These sorts of contracts are comparatively rare in government precisely because they are not tied to specific scopes of work. In essence there is no real oversight at all, even if anybody felt like doing it – which they didn’t.

The Blue Crew

If you peruse the invoices you will find all sorts of weird “deliverables” of intangible sort like “PR services,” “OC Register columns,” and “Fullerton News Tribune” just the sorts of things that are impossible to value and make you wonder if the real media was in collusion with Back the Badge. FFFF has already noted how the Yellowing Fullerton Observer has published an article, verbatim, from Back the Badge, here.

Of course some of the contractual items like “traffic/performance reports” yielded no responsive documents in our public records request. Anyway, as I noted it above it hardly matters.

One extra-contractual proposal sent to former Chief Danny “Galahad” Hughes offers 40,000 print copies of “Behind the badge Fullerton magazine” for a mere twenty grand.  Who approved that, and where did these print copies go? That we shall likely never know, as the police PR mechanisms are obviously none of our damn business, even though we are bankroller and target audience.

Before we only had to pay him to make stuff up…

My favorite item in the proposals from Back the Badge is something called “crisis counseling.” This must be a service that is called upon when something really bad occurs and the cops need to polish up that road apple, and quick! So did Back the Badge spring into crisis counseling mode the night their benefactor, Joe Felz, smelling of liquor, drove off Glenwood Avenue, and was given a free pass and a ride home by the Fullerton Police Department?

On December 17, 2016, the City issued a new Purchase Order for more of those valuable Back the Badge services. The invoice cites the brand-new interim Chief but there is no reference to the Acting City Manager since by this time Joe Felz was long gone, the victim of his own reckless behavior. So who authorized the issuance of this new PO? The police chief, whoever he is, has no such spending authority. It seems as if the Culture of Opacity and Unaccountability is humming along on auto pilot.

Well, this is Fullerton and if you want to find out what is going on – well, good luck with that.

 

 

Who Says There’s No Such Thing As a Free Lunch?

The gift that keeps giving…

Here’s another in a series of small rip-offs that show how casually and frivolously Fullerton’s head employees threw our money around under the incompetent regime of Joe Felz.

Back in September,  then Chief Danny Hughes decided to have a lunch “meeting” with the lawyers involved in Manny Ramos’s employment arbitration. Why? Most likely to get the taxpayers to pick up the tab. And we did. We also paid for the gustatory pleasures of Danny’s luncheon companions.

Here are the documents.

Okay, it’s not Maxim’s, its Islands, but still you would think our high-priced lawyers could afford to pay for their own food, right? After all, they were no doubt billing for the time it took to consume their Kilauea Turkey Burgers.

 

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.

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 <Rusty@ochumanrelations.org>
Date: January 13, 2017 at 10:46:32 AM PST
To: Rusty Kennedy <Rusty@ochumanrelations.org>
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: rusty@ochumanrelations.org

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.

While We Were Away. Another Story You Didn’t Read About In “Back The Badge”

Once upon a time, the Fullerton Police Department employed a detective by the name of Ron Bair.

FFFF had some fun with this idiot, here.

A real moron, right? FFFF questioned whether this “detective” could find his own ass in the dark. Unfortunately, Inspector Clouseau was not just an annoying, half-bright stumblebum. He was also the the sort of degenerate who would involve himself in a sexual relationship with a woman in a domestic/child custody dispute in which he had become a witness. That thought alone makes me cringe. Was it sexual extortion? The whole thing was completely piggish.

Naturally, the whole misconduct was swept under the rug by law enforcement, but the civil suit cost the taxpayers of Fullerton plenty in 2015 – $550,000 to be precise.

When you read that article did you enjoy the part where Chief Danny Galahad blames the woman for her “poor choices?”

“I understand your frustration with former officer Ron Bair, but you have blamed him for your situation, the judge, and now three additional members of our department,” Hughes told Castaneda. “You may also want to consider the poor choices you have made to contribute to your current situation.”

You have to admire the balls it takes to offer moral admonishment to the victim of one of your employees and the subsequent law enforcement cover-up. He doesn’t bother to mention that his stand-up officer was conveniently retired in 2013 (see page 35).

For some reason that reminds me of former Chief “Patdown” Pat McKinley casually blaming Albert Rincon sexual assault victims for not being  like the women who attended his stupid “She Bear” book signings.

 

While We Were Away. A Story You Didn’t Read About in “Back the Badge”

 

Find the good one…

A few years back we pried the lid off the FPD barrel, hoping to discover and toss out some of the bad apples. Unfortunately, our search brought forth a cornucopia of ethical and even criminal misconduct. These names might ring a bell: Rincon, Mejia, Major, Hampton, Ramos, Wolfe, Cicinelli, Mater, Baughman, Sellers, Tong, Nguyen, Craig, Blatney, Coffman, Kirk, Basham, Goodrich, Cross, Nowling, Wren, McKinley, Siliceo and Bair.

Exhausted by wading through this morass of misbehavior, we took a well-earned break in 2013. Unfortunately, the Culture of Corruption did not. Here’s an OC Weekly  story about a Fullerton police officer Hugo Garcia, who was charged with felony fraud and embezzlement in 2014. Uh, oh, an “alien” body snatcher has once again grabbed one of  “Patdown” Pat McPension’s recruits.

Garcia is the fellow on the left. You already know the other one.

Officer Garcia recently pled guilty and ended up with 100 hours of community service and 18 months of probation for his crimes. Somewhere along the way he became “no longer employed” by the Fullerton Police Department, but we’re not entitled to know why. Nobody knows what other deeds this criminal may have pepetrated upon the public while he was wearing a badge and a gun.

I hope you didn’t miss the charming snippet from the Weekly article: “…the OCDA, which stresses Garcia was off-duty and not acting in his official capacity as a police officer at the time of the crime.” Somehow the DA found it necessary to exculpate Mr. Garcia’s on duty behavior, to reassure us that Garcia’s felonious nature only kicked in when removed his FPD uniform.

 

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.

The High Cost of Bad Development

The Thing That Ate Fullerton courtesy of Orange Juice Blog.

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 you be groping for any source 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.

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.