Transparency

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.

106 Comments

Fullerton Liability Insurance Cash Drawer Empty

Hughes2

The Culture of Complaisance is about to get a lot more expensive.

If you notice item 12 on the Fullerton City Council agenda for Tuesday, good for you. It means you have pondered other idiocies – from the moronic CSUF “College Town” boondoggle through the closed session legal embarrassments involving Chief Danny Hughes and his goons in blue.

Which is a nice segue back to item 12. According to staff the City’s insurance well is dry due to a couple of big payouts in 2012. That’s bad news because now the City will have to issue a big chunk of debt so that the FPD payouts can proceed apace and Garo Mardirossian can get that 2014 Ferrari.

Of course the cash, raised by the sale of bonds will cost the General Fund a nifty $500,000 a year for the next couple of decades. City Manager Joe Felz will be enjoying his massive pension by then, so who the Hell cares, right?

Ironically, the cases of Veth Mam, Trevor Clarke, Edward Quinonez and Ron Thomas will drain the coffers yet again, requiring even more debt for fiscal year 14-15. The staff report says we need to protect Fullerton’s credit rating by issuing new debt. That’s a creative argument. I think we could protect Fullerton’s credit rating by eliminating the Culture of Corruption.

170 Comments

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.

109 Comments

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.

193 Comments

We Get Mail: Not In Their Backyard

Dear Friends, we received the following e-mail from an unhappy resident of the neighborhood around Chapman Park, across the street from the location the County is proposing to buy for $3.15 million to transform into a permanent homeless shelter.

It always interests me to see that those politicians and bureaucrats who support obnoxious land uses of one kind or another always seem suitably removed, geographically, from any undesirable effects of their decisions.

Take the case of the permanent homeless shelter proposed by the County (and possibly our own City Council – nobody really knows what has been agreed to behind closed doors – with zero input from us) on State College. It would be located across the street from the Chapman Park neighborhood where we live. To the north are two story apartments and an elementary school; right next door and to the rear are other commercial properties. But it is a long, long way from any residence of the decision makers. Surprised? Not me.

We will be told that such facilities need to be built where public transportation exists. Okay. But in the next breath we learn that getting the homeless out of downtown Fullerton is required. How come? That is the very heart of the transportation network in north Orange County.  La Palma Park in Anaheim is ground zero for the homeless population of north orange County and is located astride not one but THREE bus lines.

Since the County’s only requirements are that their shelter be on a bus route and away from downtown Fullerton, here’s a thought. Let’s build the shelter next to Hillcrest Park, or near the Brea Dam – near two bus lines – on City owned property that won’t cost anybody a dime. Of course it would be pretty near where Jan Flory and Doug Chaffee live. Or maybe it could be built on some open space in Coyote Hills – near the Euclid bus line and not far from Jennifer Fitzgerald and Shawn Nelson’s homes.

 

172 Comments

Now, What About Our Water Tax Refund? Part 3: The Big Lie And The Big Dippers

thief

Of course everybody in City hall knew the dirty little secret. The illegal 10% water tax that was hidden by the confusing name of “in-lieu fee.” Year after rancid year the City Fathers and Mothers – from daffy and angry liberal spendthrifts like Molly McClanahan and Jan Flory, to supposed conservatives Dick Ackerman and Chris Norby blessed the scam and put their imprimatur of approval upon it.

Of course they knew, or must have suspected, that the 10% was nothing other than a greasy rake-off that made their jobs easier and rewarded their friends in the bureaucracy. And they knew, or must have suspected, that the various City departments were already charging directly to the Water Fund – in direct contravention to the purpose of the original Resolution that created the”fee.”

This means that because the City departments were already charging to the Water Fund, that cost too jacked up the tax. Double Dip.

And all that free water wasted by the City over the years? You guessed it: the cost jacked up the illegal water tax. Triple Dip.

The fee was set at 10% of gross water revenue, meaning that every time the commodity cost of water went up, or transmission cost went up, so did the absolute amount of the tax itself. Quadruple Dip.

Naturally, the water tax itself was considered to be part of the gross “cost” of the water works, meaning that as the absolute value of the 10% increment rose, so did total of the tax!! The true amount of the tax was 10% of cost plus 10% of the 10%!!! Which is why the tax was actually about 11% of the true cost. Got it? Quintuple Dip.

The defenders of the Old Culture of Corruption and its slimey shakedown want you to believe that everything is pretty okay, that no harm was done, and that refunding any part of this felonious rip-off would just be a big waste of everybody’s time.

Wrong. Accountability and responsibility have their cost. Sooner or later you have to pay the piper.

 

45 Comments

It’s A Boring Job, But Somebody’s Gotta Do It!

We’ve all seen Fullerton cops texting on the job – on motorcyles, in patrol cars, and at Starbucks, when in fact they are supposed to be protecting us from evil, hippy dope-smokers.

But wait a sec! What’s this? Chief Danny texting during  a Fullerton Council meeting?!

Well, I guess FPD “Detective” Ron Bair will soon be making another “Brown Act” record request!

 

51 Comments

Vince Mater Gets Wrist Slapped For Destruction of Evidence in Fullerton Jail House Death Case

I always hate it when the stooge press indicates that a “former cop” was convicted of something when the former cop was an active cop when he did what he did to get convicted.

And so I won’t say “former Fullerton cop Vincent Mater plead guilty…” Rather, I will say dirty Fullerton cop Vincent Mater who clearly had something to hide in the wake of the Dean Gochenour Fullerton jail suicide and who demonstrated as much by destroying his DAR plead guilty to day…

Here’s the text of the DAs press release:

FULLERTON – A former Fullerton Police Department (FPD) officer was convicted and sentenced today for destroying evidence by crushing his audio-recorder after an inmate committed suicide in jail following a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest by the defendant. Vincent Thomas Mater, 42, pleaded guilty to a court offer by the Honorable Frances Munoz to one misdemeanor count of destruction of evidence and one misdemeanor count of vandalism. Mater was sentenced to three years of informal probation and 60 days of community service. The People objected to the sentence, arguing for jail time based on the nature of the crime, destruction of evidence possibly related to an inmate’s death, and the defendant’s violation of his position of trust.

At the time of the crime, Mater was a police officer with FPD.  At approximately 9:45 p.m. on April 14, 2011, Mater conducted a DUI investigation after making a traffic stop of a vehicle being driven without its lights on in the dark. Mater was in uniform and driving a marked FPD patrol car. Mater arrested the driver, Dean Gochenour, upon determining that Gochenour was under the influence of alcohol.

Mater transported Gochenour in his patrol car to the Fullerton City Jail (FCJ) and turned him over to FPD jailers to be booked upon arrival. Throughout the duration of his contact with Gochenour, Mater wore an FPD-issued Digital Audio Recording device (DAR), which was activated and would have audio-recorded any statements made by Mater or Gochenour.

At approximately 11:30 p.m., inmate Gochenour committed suicide by hanging himself in a cell at FCJ. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office (OCDA) was subsequently contacted to conduct the custodial death investigation.

In the hours after Mater learned of Gochenour’s death, Mater destroyed his DAR by crushing it and removing the mother board and circuit board. The audio captured on Mater’s DAR of the defendant’s interaction with Gochenour could not be recovered as a result of the damage. Mater destroyed the evidence that would have been relevant to the OCDA’s custodial death investigation.

FPD investigated the case against Mater regarding the destruction of evidence and submitted it to the OCDA for criminal prosecution.

To read the OCDA’s full report on the custodial death of Gochenour, visit www.OrangeCountyDA.com and select “OCDA Report Custodial Death Investigation – Inmate Dean Gochenour” from the Investigation Letters tab under the Media Center. The report was issued March 13, 2012.

Deputy District Attorney Brock Zimmon of the Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted this case.

I don’t know who “the honorable” Frances Munoz is, but I sure want to end up in her court if I ever get busted doing anything naughty. Probation and sixty days’ community service? Really? You or I would be looking at hard time. Oh, well we’ve always know there were rules and regs for us and a get out of jail card for the cops.

Did something fishy happen to Dean Gochenour before or after he was deposited in the FPD jail? Thanks to Mater we shall probably never know.

Oh, and yeah, Mater’s now a former Fullerton cop, although whether he was fired or permitted to walk away we will never know. That shall remain a mystery, too.

118 Comments

Welcome To Floryland

The closer you look, the worse it gets.

When you have an inflated sense of self-worth it must be hard to come up against a wall of objective facts that square with the reality everyone else sees. Thus narcissists and paranoiacs must concoct a narrative that seems to embrace those facts and yet tell the myth you want everyone to believe about yourself.

And so we have Jan Flory: a rigid, humorless, sometimes near-hysterical defender of an ideology that has placed California on the edge of financial insolvency. Think Greece.

Flory’s ridiculous muumuus and wooden beads are symbolic of a much more sinister problem: a fundamental dishonesty about herself and her corrupt mind set.

But don’t take my word for it. Lets examine Flory’s own Facebook rants. Like this latest, with added commentary by me.

DRIP, DRIP, DRIP

At 12:15 a.m. last night, the City Council took up the question of how to refund $7.3 million to people who overpaid their water bills in our city over the past 3 years. Mayor Sharon Quirk moved to continue the matter to the next city council meeting because of the late hour. Doug Chaffee concurred. Bruce Whitaker, Travis Kiger and Greg Sebourn voted to go forward no matter how late or how tired the council members. It also might have had something to do with the fact that the audience had dwindled to a handful by that time. So much for transparency and accountability.

Or it might have had something to do with the fact that hours and hours of time had been unnecessarily wasted by Quirk and Chaffee promoting the candidacy of Danny Hughes as Chief, despite the fact that the Council had already decided it wanted to do a wide recruitment instead of ramming home the inside goon. Transparency? Check. Accountability? Check.

Reality? If Flory is tired and can’t stay up past Murder She Wrote reruns on cable she shouldn’t be on any city council.

A little history first: To begin with, the water fee was never an “illegal water tax”.

Lie number one. Keep counting.

The water tax was first adopted in 1968 at 2% of the water bill. The purpose of the tax was to pass through to the ratepayers (you and me) the city’s cost of getting water to your tap. Fair enough. The tax increased to 10% in 1970. We had aging reservoirs, pumps and water lines that needed replacement and ongoing maintenance. The water fee was a way to do that.

Now that’s just another series of outright lies. But let’s not let the facts stand in the way of a good story, right? The 10% was originally cooked up to divert revenue into the General Fund to pay for the City Attorney and City Administrator. IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ONGOING MAINTENANCE AND AGING INFRASTRUCTURE. Flory could have actually read the ordinance but that wouldn’t have been as fun making something up.

In any case there was never any accounting to see how bad the rip off really was, and in the old days water was dirt cheap, right?

In 1996, the California voters passed Proposition 218 which required there be a connection between a fee charged and the services rendered. In other words, you couldn’t just pull a number (like 10%) out of the air.

One truth accidentally tumbles out!

Proposition 218 was tested and upheld by the courts beginning in 2002.

Aha! Flory slips in a date to give herself an alibi for her own approval of the illegal tax for six years! Too bad that upon learning the truth she and her cohorts continued to steal the 10% each and every year for the next NINE YEARS. No talk about fixing the rip-off, apologizing to the ratepayers, trying to reclaim even a small mole hill of moral ground. Nope.

The Water Rate Study Committee was authorized by the OLD council long before the Recall to address concerns about the 10% charge to the Water Fund.

And at whose behest? Not city staff or you, Flory, we can be sure of that. It was political pressure that did it.

Ultimately, the study committee determined this summer that the city should have been charging in the neighborhood of 7% rather than 10% in order to comply with 218.

Another outright lie. The Committee determined no such thing. The staff-chosen consultant cooked up a phoney number to keep as much of the rip-off as possible including exorbitant rents paid to the City! Even Quirk said it was ridiculous!

The committee relied on the work of an independent financial consultant, Municipal Financial Services Group (MFSG), to determine the City’s cost in providing water to its customers, and outside legal counsel (Best, Best & Krieger) to make sure that the outcome comported with Proposition 218.

Independent? Now that’s just comical!

The results were even submitted to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association that concurred with the methodology used in the study.

Wrong, again. But by now is anybody counting?

The NEW council majority threw all that out the window, disregarded the recommendations of the Water Rate Study Committee, and completely eliminated the “in lieu” fee. That will have the effect of reducing city revenues annually by $1.7 million which could have properly been charged by the city to bring water to our homes.

Let’s all gloss over the fact that no one has ever said a proper water rate shouldn’t cover costs of maintenance and infrastructure. If it doesn’t Flory has only her own beloved staff to blame – those same incompetent bureaucrats like Chis Meyer and Joe Felz who have let the City’s infrastructure go to hell as they feathered their own nests handsomely. In the meantime, the “in-lieu” fee had no legal rationale for existing since it wan an obvious triple dip. Step one was to get rid of it. Step two is find out what the true costs of running the water utility really is, and charge it to the ratepayers.

Because the city had charged its water customers 10% (rather than 7%), the Water Rate Study Committee found that the city had overcharged the rate payers the sum of $7.3 million over the last 3 years.

Once again, those were the cooked up findings of the hired “consultant.”

It recommended that the overpayment of the water fee be accomplished by an incremental transfer from the General Fund to the Water Fund to be used for infrastructure repairs,–something that desperately needs addressing. This would also avoid the City’s incurring debt to pay the debt.

Um, see comment above. How did the water infrastructure get so bad, Mrs. Flory? You were on the City Council for eight long years. Do want to take responsibility for that? What? Speak up!

What did the new Libertarian majority do? It voted to rebate the entire $7.3 million back to the rate payers. It is estimated that this will be a onetime payment of $100 to $400 per household depending on how much water was used during the 3 years.

The horror. Government giving back something it stole!

It’s an accounting nightmare for several reasons. The overpayment has to be calculated for each household in the city. Some residents have moved or died; thus, creating the dilemma of finding out where to send the money.

But Jan, are you saying your beloved staff can’t figure out a way to print and send out some checks? Hell, they manage to send out the water and trash bills every month.

Finally, the question of where the money is to come from must be determined. We don’t have enough in the General Fund to pay the lump sum. Staff suggested that a debt issuance might be necessary, with an estimated yearly debt service of $500,000.

Put away the violin Mrs. Flory. Step up and take your medicine. You and Bankhead and Jones and McKinley ripped us off for 15 years. YOU figure out how to make it right!

So now we not only have a decrease of $1.7 million in revenue, but we need to add $500,000 for debt service. This totals $2.2 million if you’re counting.

See, it’s all about government revenue, the altar at which the egregious muumuu clad priestess Flory worships. Yes we can count and we know whose balance sheet this belongs on – even though it’s on ours.

Last night, the council majority (Whitaker, Kiger and Sebourn) directed staff to find “creative ways” to pay off the debt such as selling off surplus properties. In other words, asking city staff to remove the rope the council majority had put around its own neck.

Wrong, again, Flory. They are asking city staff to do the right thing, and remove the rope YOU put around our necks for all those years.

Change on the Council cannot come quickly enough. Drip, drip, drip.

It’s coming all right. be careful of what you wish for.

184 Comments

We Get Mail

Dear Madam Mayor & Council Members,

We cannot pretend that Fullerton is serious about reform when those involved in the murder of Kelly Thomas, the illegal arrest and imprisonment of Veth Mam, and the many other documented cases of police misconduct, are still employed by FPD. We contend that you as our representatives at city hall, now being fully aware of the extent of misconduct by certain officers, that it is your duty above all else to protect the citizens of Fullerton, including those that may now feel targeted because of their public involvement in seeking justice for Kelly Thomas. There will be members of the community who will not comply to the orders of Officer Kenton Hampton, Sgt. Kevin Craig and Cpl. James Blatney, as they feel that these officers do not hold any moral authority over them. This reality puts all residents and peace officers in danger, and makes any contact by these men with the general public unwise. The adoption of the attached resolution by you, and the eventually firing of any officer who cannot live up to the ideals of a post Kelly Thomas Fullerton Police Department, will not only benefit all residents of Fullerton, but it shall restore public faith in the department itself. In doing so you will stimulate public trust to the benefit to those  other officers who have always conducted themselves professionally. Professional officers with good intentions deserve to work in an environment which is free of the stigma that the continued employment of these accomplices in a taped public execution places on the entire department.

Only by publically setting standards for peace officers which embody excellence in public service and respect for all Fullerton citizens, and by demanding the termination of all those who represent the worst of FPD’s past, can we move forward with confidently that reform and change has resulted from the tragic murder of Fullerton resident Kelly Thomas on July 5th, 2011. The city attorney, while perhaps well intentioned, has an established propensity to filter his advise through the fear that one of these subpar officers may litigate on grounds of wrongful termination. We advise this council to also consider what may result if any of the officers in question, who have now returned to active duty, are again involved the death or injury of one of our citizens.  Prudence dictates that they must be removed before they are given another opportunity to harm the public and burden the city with additional million dollar settlements.

Civility and healing will come to Fullerton when our leaders are responsive to the public and  we are not required to pry  every hint of justice that this case has brought forth over the last 14 month from the clinched fists of a stubborn leadership at city hall, the DA’s office or  FPD. Today we  present you with yet another opportunity to partner with us in seeking justice. We urge you to take advantage of this opportunity.

Respectfully submitted by

Stephan Baxter, Fullerton CA

www.ArtWithAnAgenda.org

118 Comments