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.
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.
The documents we received indicate a completely non-transparent, slipshod City-vendor relationship in which deliverables are sketchy, and grossly overvalued.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Since almost the beginning of this blog there has been a recognition that our current system of investigation of complaints of misconduct of law enforcement officers is completely broken, and while there has been some disagreement over the best solution there does appear to be a genuine desire to implement the most effective reform available to us under the law.
This brings me to the Civilian Oversight Ordinance.
Independent Civilian Oversight, as many have noted, can be completely toothless in cases where no subpoena power is given and when the Chief is free to ignore the recommendations of the Commission. That is why POPSI actually drafted a proposed ordinance and specifically addressed those concerns in the ordinance submitted to the City Council.
Pursuant to section (d) “The Civilian Law Enforcement Oversight Commission shall have the power to subpoena and require attendance of witnesses and the production of books and papers pertinent to its investigations and to administer oaths.”
The other day FFFF did a post about the letter Travis Kiger received from Fullerton’s Interim PoChief, David Hinig, suggesting that at some point an FPD in-house institution called the “Professional Standards Bureau” might, some day, possibly, if they feel like it, get around to looking into his complaint about the behavior of Fullerton cops at the Joe Felz Memorial Crash Site in the early morning hours of November 9th, 2016. That’s when the former City Manager, after a night of election partying, jumped a Glenwood Avenue curb, ran over a tree, and tried to leave the scene of the accident.
Professional Standards Bureau. Okay, stop snickering.
I got to thinking about the long history of the FPD Culture of Corruption that happily existed right along side this supposed “Bureau,” and the recollection of all the embezzlers, thieves, pickpockets, perjurers, kidnappers, thugs, pill-poppers, scammers, liars, sex perverts and yes, killers, gave pause. But not for long, because you know, that’s all ancient history, right? The department was reformedby Danny Hughes, according to our lobbyist-councilwoman, Jennifer Fitzgerald.
But then something struck me. What was it? Think, Peabody.
It was a ludicrous story dished out by the noisome “Behind the Badge,” all about the FPD’s hardworking crew that makes sure all the cops have got the right training, etc. Remember? The Professional Standards Bureau that takes its job so seriously! And do you remember who was the featured player in that stage production? Right. The adipose Andrew Goodrich, serial story-teller in the Kelly Thomas Affair, explainer of “excessive horning” tickets, etc.
Well, shit, howdy. And who was the Watch Commander on duty on the night of November 8th? The one who was in communication with his boss, Chief Danny Hughes, and who was therefore at the center of the Who Let Joe Go? controversy? That’s right! Goodrich.
So new Chiefie is promising that someday, maybe, the “bureau” run by Goodrich will get around to investigating…Goodrich. Well, isn’t that cute?
FFFF has written about this particular scam before: the Fullerton cop union sends out a pleading request for donations to…itself. Now the supplicant is FPOA boss, Stewart Hamilton, and he writes to you just before Christmas – the Season of Giving!
The thing is so illogical, so dumb, and is really nothing more than pandering to the brainless, or maybe kids with access to their parent’s debit card.
Here’s the latest version of the plea for your hard-earned dough:
Notice first the emotional supplication from behind the Thin Blue Line: we’re there for you now we need you! Well, they want your money, that’s for sure, as will become evident by the end of the letter.
But no, it’s really not about money, see, it’s about family! “Knowing we are not alone” makes all the difference. Alone? They’ve got a over a hundred members plus a completely subservient city council majority.
The cheapest and dirtiest part of this greasy swindle is tying it to helping local charities and their good works. Except that there’s no details and no information about a charitable deduction. And what kind of gullible numbskull would make a charitable donation via the cop union? I’ll answer that: someone who shouldn’t have access to cash or credit.
The recipient is told that somehow his donation will “make a difference” to “fallen heroes” although this is not explained; possibly because Fullerton’s one and only “fallen hero” fell twenty-seven years ago.
But the union, that pours tens of thousands of dollars into each Fullerton politcal campaign to elect lackeys on the council like Flory, Chaffee and Fitzgerald, wants you to know how much they appreciate your generosity. Give a hundred bucks and get a lapel pin! Give $250 and you can add a “toy K9” to your bric-a-brac shelf! Double down on that and you will get a “custom” plaque you may hang on your den wall – right next to the plaque with the singing rubber bass.
For the guy with only fifty dollars to part with, you, sir, will get a decal for your car window, although Mr. Stewart assures us that it will not get you preferential treatment should you be unlucky enough to fall into the clutches of the FPD. Still you have to wonder if, maybe, former City Manager, Joe Felz wasn’t displaying a decal the nigh he jumped a Glenwood Avenue curb, ran over a tree, tried to get away and was subsequently driven home by grateful members of the FPOA.
In the first installment of this two-part series we saw examples of how a mere two downtown Fullerton bars (one illegally operating as a night club) had racked up a massive inventory of misdeeds, amounting to hundreds of cop calls in a few years. Just imagine how tough it is for the Fullerton Police Department to manage all this madness, night after night. And what happens to cop service calls in the rest of the city. Poor cops, right?
Yet before we shed any tears over the FPD and the horrible burden they bear, let us contemplate a “story” from the cop union website that glowingly talks about the special relationship that exists between downtown booze peddlers and our boyz in blue. Here are some choice quotations from the article:
Business in downtown Fullerton is booming.
Thousands of people flock from all over Southern California for the food and atmosphere – and to have a good time.
Police officials want to keep it that way.
In downtown Fullerton last year, officers made 562 drunken driving arrests, including 13 DUI crashes. There were also dozens of assaults.
“We could put 100 cops downtown, but we’d be swatting flies,” said Lt. Andrew Goodrich. “We want to work together to solve this.”
Added Police Chief Dan Hughes: “We want downtown to continue to flourish.”
Slidebar owner Jeremy Popoff had already convened a group of owners, calling it the “Downtown Restaurant Association.”
Do you see the absurd disconnect? Booming, flourishing business? Sandwiched between the happy horseshit talk are the startling statistics of our downtown, open-air saloon. The police are not only tolerating Crazytown, a situation they admit they can’t control, they are aiding-and-abetting it. Why? We certainly know that some bar owners like Popoff are politically connected – his place operates without the CUP the City legally requires of a night club. Then there are the recurring and disturbing stories about cops getting free food and drink at some of these bars – like Popoff’s place. These are stories that nobody has denied.
So are the cops just trying to make the best of a bad situation, or has the culture of the department finally become as gin-pickled with downtown booze as the rest of the City political establishment? I believe the department has enjoined a pretty sick symbiotic relationship with the downtown culture. And notice how the good ladies of MADD, the FPDs 5th Column, have never been mobilized against this massive affront to sober driving? Coincidence? I think not.
It’s obvious that there is zero political will from our city council to do a damn thing about the problem they created over the years. Just the reverse, in fact. Notice how our council unanimously agreed to carving up downtown among five separate council districts so as to dilute the influence of actual voters in that undeniable “community of interest?” The ballot statement supporting that mess was written by none other than our Lobbyist-Mayor, Jennifer Fitzgerald. Hmm.
As for Popoff, he can join with his fellow merchants of martinis and call themselves a”restaurant association;” they can pretend to play nice even while they are racking up ever-lengthening lists of police calls; what they can’t do, at least now that people are finally paying attention, is pretend that their operations aren’t draining financial resources from the average Fullerton family and putting it in their own bank accounts.
The annual downtown fiscal deficit to the taxpayer is well over a $1,500,000 – that’s ten bucks for every man, woman and child in Fullerton; somehow business is booming – but not the City’s General Fund.
And now, returning to the “article” cited, above: let’s have our new amigo, Mr. Gregg Honour, the control-your-bars consultant, whose attention has been drawn to downtown Fullerton and to FFFF, take us home:
Gregg Hanour, former owner of the Shark Club in Costa Mesa and author of “A Business Approach to Reducing Drunk Driving,” said police departments typically conduct undercover stings to build a case to remove a troubled bar.
“You’re lucky,” he told the bar owners. “Your police department wants to work with you.”
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.
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.
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.
Item 7 on Tuesday’s City Council Agenda brings back a sore subject: paying back the water users who’ve been ripped off by years of an illegal 10% tax on their water bill.
Thanks to the previous council the plug was finally pulled on this scam last year. But that was then, and liberals Chaffee and Flory won’t want to give back anything that was pilfered from the taxpayers. So what a bout Jennifer Fitzgerald? She’s supposed to be a Republican, but in Fullerton that hasn’t meant much and she was a die-hard supporter of the Three Bald Tires.
7. WATER UTILITY OPERATIONS
Over the past two years, the City has conducted a review of its Water Utility operations in order to have a comprehensive overview of water utility infrastructure needs, rates and rate structures and define General Fund costs related to operations of the Water Fund.
Recommendation by the Engineering Department:
1. Determine the cost for services provided by the City to the Water Utility.
2. Establish the total amount of refund to be issued (following a cost for service determination).
3. Determine the timing of refunds (one-time or multi-year payments).
4. Establish an Appeals Board to address refund complaints and any other billing conflicts.
5. Authorize the mailing of the required Proposition 218 notice which begins the 45-day comment period related to the proposed “pass-through’ of water supply cost water rate increase.
6. Authorize the update of the July 2011 “Comprehensive Water Rate Study Report” which outlines the recommended infrastructure needs and funding plans.
7. Direct staff to make any necessary City financing processes to implement Council direction.
Here’s my prediction: just as in 2011, the “cost study” will be rigged to jack up the value of City services to the Water Fund to get as close to 10% as possible. Then there will be no need for a refund and no need for an apology for illegally swiping $27,000,000 to pay for their own perks and pensions.