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.
I’ve gotten some praise and taken some heat personally for being a part of bringing this blog back online after it’s hiatus because anybody who knows Fullerton politics knows that F.F.F.F. has it’s fans and its detractors. When I found out that there was a new owner I was excited and more so when asked if I wanted to participate as F.F.F.F. gives me an outlet to continue the writing I was doing on my own site without feeling like I’m still running for office. We were still in the planning stages when that memo from Chief Hughes popped up and now we’re off to the races.
We need to understand the context of this memo and why it matters lest the city sweep it under the rug and further erode trust in government.
To start we must admit that City Manager Joe Felz is culpable for his actions on the night of his accident but he is also culpable for the stain he has just put upon our city after 30+ years of work and it’s somewhat sad when a career might end in a downward trajectory. I barely know Joe Felz and up until now my interactions with him included me giving him grief to prove a lie the Mayor keeps telling about our roads. That said I have no personal animus towards him but the actions the night of the election by him and members of F.P.D. require due diligence and honest brokering of information which are two things constantly lacking from all levels government. For the sake of argument let us pretend that the most absurd rumor coming out of City Hall is true and he simply blew a tire coming around a turn and he was perfectly sober.
Felz himself, and the F.P.D. specifically, should have done everything in their power to remove any doubt or suspicion or wrongdoing to mitigate the allusion of impropriety, special treatment or worse. If he blew a tire and ran down Sappy McTree he could have left his car where it was and called AAA. He could have moved his car off of poor Sappy and parked and called AAA. Instead he decided to try and drive away and likely home. When Police arrived they could have done their jobs without getting the Chief involved until AFTER their initial assessments and inspections.
This isn’t armchair Monday morning quarterbacking or simple 20/20 hindsight because this is their job. Felz is the top man in our city and the F.P.D. has policy for this type of accident which we’ll get to in a minute. Everybody involved in this incident is paid handsomely to do their jobs and will help bankrupt our town with their pensions from these jobs so at a minimum we should expect that they do their jobs when called to a scene.
It’s now been a day since Chief Dan Hughes left us to go work for the Mouse. After all the praise he’s been showered with it’s time somebody said what too many of us are thinking and that’s that if the FPD stinks it stinks like a fish from the top down so we’re gonna take a quick look at the top.
First let us recall the letter to Joe Felz from Benjamin Lira outlining Hughes place in the chain of command corruption.
Dan Hughes didn’t think there was a problem with the FPD because he was a part of the problem and he certainly didn’t see a problem after he took over and made some changes that we can’t fully verify because of records laws and access that only our betters get. Some go as far as to claim he said the video of Kelly Thomas being beaten to death “wasn’t that bad”.
Dan Hughes was so confident in the goodness of his department that he was under the impression that only a vocal minority lost favor with the Police Department after the Thomas beating (Rincon, Mater, Major, Hampton, Nguyen, Mejia, et cetera). A vocal minority.
The actions of the FPD are what spurred the recall. FPD beat a man to death and then the council majority sat on their hands. Remember the recall? It led to three of those City Council Members being removed from office by a factor of 2-1. If only a vocal minority was against the Police than a even smaller minority was in favor of them going on this metric.
Hughes was the head of the Patrol Division at the time of the Kelly Thomas murder and said nothing as Spokesman Andrew Goodrich lied to the people of Fullerton about the boo-boos that FPD sustained in the process of their fucking up a guy, as Ramos promised, who committed the heinous crime of being homeless.
Hughes was on the same police force that the Genacco report said suffered from a Culture of Corruption and he did nothing on record to stop it. If there was a Culture of Corruption he was a part of it for 20+ years before we could prove it existed to enough people to notice. To pretend that he wasn’t a part of the problem is naive.
On his way out the door we learn that the FPD arrested a couple for being victims of a crime based on the word of actual criminals because apparently police work, like looking at the video that exonerates the true victims, was just too hard for this pillar of our community and his reformed department.
We Also learned on Wednesday that Chief Hughes left a parting gift for City Manager Joe Felz. Felz got to get away with an alleged DUI, if nothing else he got at least got away with destruction of city property because we’re told, well nothing. We’re told nothing. The only reason you know anything about this story is because we here at FFFF got ahold of a memo from Danny boy himself. It’s all hush-hush and will remain that way during the closed session at council on Tuesday.
Speaking of secrets.
Did you know that we already have a new Interim Chief? You’d think we residents would be allowed to know who’s running our Police Department. Suckers. You’re allowed to know what they tell you you’re allowed to know and when they tell you if they bother to even tell you. The ink is probably already dry on the contract and we don’t even know if it was legally opened up to candidates. Wanna bet that the Council rubber stamps the new Chief behind closed doors too?
The good thing for Disney and their new VP of Dineyland Security and Emergency Services is that at least he’ll have fewer DUIs to cover up for his bosses now that the House of Blues has left Downtown Disney.
Here’s a tidbit from Tuesday’s upcoming Fullerton City Council Closed Session Agenda. The Closed Session is where the council secretes itself away from public scrutiny to discuss lawsuits and personnel and real estate deals.
#2 deals with the replacement of of our recently departed PoChief, Danny Hughes, who was last seen applying his fingerprints all over a case involving helping out a pal in serious trouble.
#4 deals with the “performance evaluation” of the very person Hughes helped out – his boss, City Manager, Joe Felz, who was seen early Wednesday morning swerving down Glenwood Ave on his rims, after ploughing over a tree in the parkway, unable to negotiate the intersection at Highland Avenue in a, um, er, ahem, competent manner.
I’ve got it on pretty good authority that item 4 was agendized by the City Attorney; but at whose behest? Will the topic of Mr. Felz’s Wild Ride come up? How about the apparent cover up that is now being investigated not only by us, but by numerous mainstream media outlets?
Could there be action taken? If there were we would never know, because this is “personnel matter” not a criminal one – as the very same City Attorney has informed the media.
Both The OC Weekly and The OC Register have picked up the Uber-Failus story of Joe Felz.
According to The Register the City Attorney, Greg Palmer, said “the incident is a personnel matter but declined to elaborate”.
Let us look at that “Personnel Matter” shall we? First we’ll reference our fallen Sappy McTree.
According to Chief Hughes’ memo to City Council “the city manager was involved in a minor single vehicle collision”. Okay. That explains the tree but not what happened.
For context Sappy McTree is knocked down facing West which means that he left this mortal coil after being struck from an Easterly direction. The following is a photo of a skid mark which starts near Sappy’s remains and continues west.
It continues for 176ft. How do we know? Because we measured it.
“So what?” some of you will comment. The “So What” is California Vehicle Code 20002 (emphasis mine):
We kicked off our relaunch by letting you all know that City Manager Joe Felz was in an alleged DUI accident at the wee hours on 09 November 2016 following some possible revelry in Downtown Fullerton where he was allegedly spotted at three bars before allegedly running down a tree. We showed you some photos of the poor innocent tree that was taken from our fair city far too soon. We showed you gouges in the road that will likely get pushed up the queue for our Mayor’s 8-Mile-Per-Year charade of a repair estimate.
We here at FFFF are trying to piece together what happened and are looking to see if Joe Felz was released with a criminal citation as per the FPD Policy Manual section 420.3.3 but this is where the transparency problems come into play. We aren’t allowed to know much and certainly not in a timely fashion. Even council members are forbidden from talking about pending or current investigations regarding current city employees. They won’t, or can’t, even confirm if such cases are in fact pending or current. The City can take 1-2 weeks to get back to records requests because they under-staff the transparency while going heavy on the revenue generators.
With Chief Dan Hughes on his way out the door to go work as the Mouse’s Top Cop we have an interesting problem on our hands.
You see in our fair city the City Manager makes the appointments to Interim Chief should a vacancy appear. This means that Joe Felz will likely be appointing the very person in charge of the Fullerton Police Department which is tied into a possible pending or ongoing investigation of our own City Manager Joe Felz. How nice it must be to know that you get to choose the guy or gal who could be tasked with sweeping your alleged dirty deed under the rug. While it is true that Chief Hughes cites possibly bringing in the CHP to investigate, owing to a conflict of interest, it is still his own officers who would be called to testify about the scene should this alleged crime go to trial.
I’ve read the Fullerton Police Department Policy Manual on DUIs and I can’t figure out why in this alleged case the Chief of Police needed to be involved in a simple DUI. Notified sure. Directly involved though? According to the Manual, section 514.2.6 specifically, Exigent Circumstances exist with chemical tests because of the non-permanent nature of the chemicals (allegedly alcohol in this case). Taking the time to call the Watch Commander who then takes the time to call the Chief who then has to call back in theory could allow the alleged blood alcohol level of our allegedly drunk City Manager to drop to a point of allegedly legal sobriety.
Of course that brings us to section 514.2.2 of the aforementioned FPD Police Manual. That states;
If the arrested person chooses a breath test and it can be accomplished without undue delay, the arrested person shall first be transported to the jail for breath testing preparatory to booking.
I don’t see any mention of transporting anybody to the Jail, a whopping 0.6 miles away, but I suppose that’s because the “field sobriety test” had nothing to do with actually testing for chemicals in the blood. If a chemical test had been completed that long drive to the Jail would have happened and been mentioned in the Chief’s memo to City Council which it was not.
Expect to hear a lot about the “ongoing investigation” and remember kids that you too can allegedly drive drunk and have the on scene officer call the watch commander who then calls the Chief of Police who then calls back to give the go ahead to the on scene officer to do his/her job. You might even get a free ride home. Oh wait. No. Most of us would simply be arrested and have our cars towed to the impound.
We at Friends for Fullerton’s Future can report and confirm that Fullerton City Manager Joe Felz was involved in an alleged DUI accident last night.
Coming home from the Downtown Bar scene where several election parties were taking place, Mr. Felz allegedly lost control of his vehicle.
According to the internal memo below, outgoing Police Chief Dan Hughes was informed of the situation and having allegedly passed a field sobriety test Mr. Felz was driven home by officers and his car was towed.
We are awaiting details as to the length of time between accident, phone call to the chief, field sobriety test and ride home.
Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald was informed at the time per procedure but no comments have been forthcoming.
Thankfully it looks like nobody was hurt when Mr. Felz lost control of his vehicle as the only injury seems to be the death of an unsuspecting city tree.
Mr. Felz may have left a piece of his vehicle behind after doing what looks like considerable street damage. There was no word in the memo about potential charges for destruction of property, littering or the like.
A different car was in his parking spot today at City Hall suggesting the seriousness of the damage to his Subaru.
We will keep you posted as this story evolves.
Oh and in case you missed it the Friends For Fullerton’s Future are back.
Tonight the council will rush to promote captain Hughes to police chief; the very man who was supposed to be leading the patrol division when his officers earned themselves murder charges just last year.
It’s not easy to do damage control when you keep inviting more questions that you are pretending to answer. Of course when you are dealing with the incurious stooges at the OC Register maybe you believe you’re getting away with it.
The latest episode in the FPD PR campaign is an attempt by Acting Chief Dan Hughes to deflect criticism by acknowledging the error of letting his cops watch the Kelly Thomas murder video before writing their reports, a thing he finally admits he’s never heard of before.
Hughes said he argued against letting the officers watch the tape, in part because civilians suspected of misconduct would not be given the same opportunity. He said he did not think it was illegal or unethical, but did fear it would erode public trust in the investigation. “That was a mistake from our department,” he said.
Here we see Danny Boy defending himself: he argued with some unnamed somebody, somewhere, somehow, against letting the killers watch the video, but we are meant to believe that he was overruled. But by whom? Chief Sellers wasn’t there. Was he contacted? He was Hughes’ only boss. Was it a fellow captain? If so what was that man’s name? Lou Ponsi doesn’t seem to be very curious. Of course there is the very real possibility that Hughes is just lying to protect himself well after the fact. And notice that the mistake was made by “the department” an entity that can’t be disciplined.
Eleven months after the fact Hughes would have us believe he was oh, so concerned about the severity of the incident. And yet we now know that last fall, many weeks after Hughes had seen the video and heard the audio, he was insinuating to protesters that the after they actually viewed the video their outrage would be mollified. Hmm.
The rest of the story is just a pathetic attempt to take credit for the investigation and ultimate prosecution of Ramos and Cicinelli. Read this tripe and try not to barf:
But even as the officers collected their thoughts, crime-scene technicians and detectives were picking over the scene of the bloody confrontation with Kelly Thomas as if it had been an officer-involved shooting, Hughes said. The criminal case now facing two of those officers, he said, was built in large part on the police work done by their own department.
But, he said, it was Fullerton police work that put Fullerton police officers in criminal court. He pointed to the words of District Attorney Tony Rackauckas: “They went to the scene, they preserved the evidence, they did all the things they were supposed to do.”
A video of the confrontation spliced with audio from the officers’ recordings, produced by the Fullerton police, was the centerpiece of a recent preliminary hearing for Ramos and Cicinelli. They were ordered to stand trial, Ramos on charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, Cicinelli on charges of involuntary manslaughter and excessive force.
“It doesn’t matter who the defendants are,” Hughes said. “We are part of the prosecution team.”
Oh, brother, what a load of unadulterated bullshit passed along by the compliant scribes at the Register. Nobody “picked over” anything. We’ve already shown pictures of cops trampling all over the crime scene, and as far as collecting evidence is concerned, the only things collected were the cell phones and camera film of witnesses who happened to record the murder. The idea of the FPD investigating itself is utterly comical.
And, ultimately it’s still all about “poor communication,” really. Not much worse than a little bad luck if you think about it.
“I don’t believe there was any intention at all to mislead our community,” Hughes said. But, he added, “we should have did a better job” of communicating – a common theme in his account of the aftermath of Kelly Thomas’ death. In the future, he said, he and his top commanders will handle public communication duties during major incidents.
The department, he said, “did a very poor job of communicating to the community.”
Unfortunately the slug who was tasked with public communication, and who failed so dismally either through incompetence or malice, was actually just promoted a few weeks ago. What’s that Dan, we can’t hear you?
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out just a couple of the of the other instances of biased writing by the pathetic little fool, Ponsi. We have seen the obnoxious description of the cops “collecting their thoughts” as opposed to, say, “getting their stories straight.” You can’t note how Thomas is described as “rangy” a term that is certainly more threatening than “skinny,” because this has now been removed out of the post. But there is still the utterly objectionable use of the phrase: “As the confrontation escalated,” a literary device meant to deflect responsibility for the crime from the cops Ramos and Wolfe to some unknown cosmic force. Things just happen.