The Empire Strikes Back!: WHO IS TONY BUSHALA?

You thought we were going to take this lying down?

The boys in the White Van are back, out of rehab, and once again patrolling the streets of OC.

Tanned, rested, and ready.

They have intercepted and decoded a file containing the following video emanating from Dick Ackerman’s topiary compound within a top-secreted gated community in Irvine. Will this hit-piece be effective in salvaging the political careers of the Three Blind Mice? Will it resonate? You decide!

“Dick” Ackerman Moral Weathervane of the Anti-recall Team. Part 3.

Heh, heh. When nobody was looking the collection plate went missing.

When you are a moral vacuum like Dick Ackerman, you really don’t stand for much of anything except your own well-being. Public service? Hell, no! It’s all about personal service. Everything else is just platitudes and bull shit.

An indication of Mr. Ackerman’s future career path was clearly established with the creation of a fake charity by his wife that was simply a mechanism to get state legislators (one of whom was Mr. Ackerman) alone on Maui with lobbyists for big corporate interests who actually paid for the whole junket. Ackerman is hilariously quoted as saying how beneficial these get togethers were, as if being lobbied in Sacramento (instead of Hawaii by the same cast of characters) was somehow just so much more darned inefficient. FFFF posted all about the utterly phony Pacific Policy Research Foundation, here.

I don't even know how I got into the room...

That was just the start of Mr. Ackerman exploiting Mrs. Ackerman for family gain. And it wasn’t enough that The Dickster got the missus on the Metropolitan Water Board where she naturally supported huge water rate increases (true, that bar was already set really, really low).

In the summer of 2009, while The Dick was illegally lobbying the State Legislature in the sordid the OC Fair Swindle, his protege, 72nd  District Assemblyman Mike Duvall was caught bragging of nasty sexual accomplishments with a lobbyist; maybe the idea of nasty accomplishments with lobbyists ignited a fire in Dick’s political loins. By the end of September his wife, Linda Ackerwoman was running to replace the disgraced Duvall!

Now people endowed with a normal dose of shame would have simply receded into the background after the man they promoted was busted for moral turpitude. But the Ackermans are not so endowed. Dick’s immediate impulse was to promote the candidacy of the wife, a woman who had, apparently, never even held a job except as a “consultant” raiding her husband’s campaign accounts.

Well, okay. Lot’s of unqualified dimwits run for the Legislature. The real problem was that the Ackermans didn’t even live in the district. The Ackermans live in a top-secret gated community in Irvine! The State Constitution says you have to live in a district a year, but what the Hell, the State Constitution is for losers!

So Dick and Linda cooked up a fake address in the rumpus room of a Fullerton stooge. Well, technically they were carpetbaggers; but since nobody really believed they spent a night living in Fullerton a better word applies: fraud.

You mean they never really lived here. I guess I slept through that. Again.

As expected, Mrs. Ackerwoman got the endorsements of the Three Deteriorating Dinosaurs, all the statewide Redevelopment money, and the big corporate interest lobbyists. They ran one of the slimiest campaign anybody could remember. It hardly mattered. The Ackermans still lost to Chris Norby by a whopping 20 points in the Republican Primary. Within a few weeks they had reregistered to vote in the leafy precincts where their Irvine mini-McMansion is located. How’s that for a big F-you, Fullerton?

The point of the story is simple:  there is no basement so low that Dick Ackerman & Co. won’t crawl into it in order to pull a string or make a buck. And if you don’t recognize Dick as the moral barometer of the anti-recall campaign, you don’t know Dick.

“Dick” Ackerman The Moral Weathervane of the Anti-recall Team. Part 2.

Swimming in taxpayer gravy is hard to give up...

Let’s just say you’re a termed-out California state senator who, through the vagaries of a law that requires a two-thirds majority to pass a budget, became a Playah in the capital. Bocce and cigars with the Celebro-Guv.

Well, if you are of a certain mindset, the thought of returning to good, honest toil as a private citizen is probably the farthest thing from your mind. Instead, you look around to see how you can capitalize off of all those political connections you made cutting deals and grinding the uncomfortable corners off of the truth. You recall fondly when the greasers, lobbyists, and bagmen were kissing your skinny ass and funding your campaigns. Lobbying is a lot more fun than real work. You want to become one!

And so it was when Dick Ackerman left Sacramento; and so it was for anybody willing to put Ackerman on their payroll. After all, who wants to hire a 70-year old, small-time lawyer to draw up wills for grandpa? No one, that’s who. And Nossaman, the big law firm that employed Dick obviously wanted him as a lobbyist, despite the website description that comically claims Ackerman is some sort of legal expert in a wide array of issues.

By nature lobbyists are supposed to remain low-profile, operate in the shadows and behind closed doors. What the partners at Nossaman think about Ackerman’s recent embarrassing high profile behavior is anybody’s guess, but it can’t be too good; and apparently Dick ain’t bringing home much bacon, either, which is the worst offense of all.

But so much for the long preamble. The purpose of Part 2 (and of Part 3) of this squalid tale is to relate some of what Ackerman has been up to lately, and to point out to anybody who cares, the low ethical trajectory of the leader of the anti-recall circus.

Termed out in 2008, Ackerman almost immediately latched on to an opportunity presented by his ethical soul mate, Dave Ellis: the Great OC Fair Swindle of 2009, an attempt to convert select members of the Board of Directors into a non-profit entity that would buy the Orange County Fairgrounds from a cash-strapped State, and run it for their own fun and profit. Ackerman’s role was buried in an obscure land-use contract with a company called LSA, presumably so nobody would know what the hell was going on.

Dave Ellis seen soon after emerging from the Fullerton sewer system. The transition to an oxygen breathing life-form was slow and painful...

Part of the deal involved slipping the necessary whereases into the state budget in the summer of 2009, and part of Ackerman’s job was to make sure legislators got the job done. But wait a minute, Dick! State legislators have to wait a full year before they can lobby their former colleagues! That’s the law.

When the details of Ackerman’s behavior became public in the fall of 2009, he twisted and turned the very meaning of the English language in order to squirm off the hook on which he had impaled himself. And it would have been in vain, too, except that our sleepy DA had clearly given instructions to his staff to whitewash Ackerman’s role. Not looking for evidence is a great way of not finding any.

It worked for a while, in 2010. Then in early 2011 Norberto Santana of the Voice of OC broke the story: he had copies of Ackerman’s billing invoices, and Ackerman’s scope of work – documents the DA thought unnecessary to collect, and they clearly revealed the truth about Ackerman – lobbying legislators was part of the contract, and The Dickster had made calls to several members of the Legislature, including locals Solorio and Correa. No bueno!

Although the DAs spokestress Susan Schroeder disingenuously invited anybody to submit new evidence for the DAs lethargic consideration, nobody did. And Ackerman slithered away, probably bragging, like John Mitchell to his cronies, that no one had laid a glove on him.

Stay tuned for Part 3, in which we explore carpetbagging for fun and profit!

“Dick” Ackerman, Moral Weathervane of the Anti-recall Team. Part 1

Heh, heh. They'll never find out...

Some of our loyal readers have asked us who Dick Ackerman is, and why is he the leader of the opposition to the recall of the Three Shop Worn Stooges on the Fullerton City Council: Jones, Bankhead, and McKinley.

Good question. After all, Ackerman is a resident of Irvine, and although he used to live in Fullerton a long, long time ago, it’s not immediately apparent why he should care about defending the Three Burned Out Bulbs on the council.

Well, these three did support Ackerman’s utterly unqualified wife when the Dickster tried to get her into the Legislature by cooking up a fake address in Fullerton.

But there’s more, and as you may have guessed, it’s the cash nexus. You see, ever since Ackerman termed out of the Legislature he’s been looking to grease his skids peddling the influence he accrued on the taxpayer’s dime. He is employed for lobbying purposes by a law firm called Nossaman; but rather than bring in business he’s actually become embroiled in embarrassing ethical and illegal incidents (more on that in Part 2). The word on Easy Street is that he’s got to bring in some do-re-mi to Nossaman and PDQ, or he’s out.

Which circuitously brings us to the latest round of “affordable” housing projects in Fullerton, the kind of housing that costs two or three times as much to build as the regular kind, and the sort that Dick Ackerman vociferously opposed on principal when he was on the Fullerton City Council. Well that was then, before Ackerman discovered he could profit handsomely from them. Now he is a lobbyist for one of the so-called developers, St. Anton’s Partners, who, not surprisingly, received the promise of millions of dollars in City Redevelopment subsidies from Jones, Bankhead and McKinley on a project just a few weeks ago. Jones, Bankhead and McKinley were so eager to pay off Ackerman that they actually tried to rush through their vote before the public hearing was even held!

And that’s why Ackerman needs to keep Fullerton’s Three Blind Bobbleheads in office, no matter what. There is no noble purpose, no moral justification, no principle at stake. There’s just a big potential payday for Ackerman and his employer, Nossaman. And if you don’t understand that, you don’t know Dick.

Stay tuned for Part 2, in which we share a little Dick Ackerman retrospective.



Corruption. Bent As A Dog’s Hind Leg: The Tricky Dick Ackerman Legacy

Oh no, not again.

We’ve got it on really good authority that former city councilman, State legislator, and current Irvine resident, Dick Ackerman is going to be heading up the anti-recall effort for Fullerton’s Three Blind Mice: Jones, Bankhead, and McKinley. For those of you who don’t recall the name Ackerman, run through our FFFF archives to discover what sort of moral fiber that this individual is composed of. We busted The Dickster cooking up a fake address in 2009 for his incompetent wife to run in our Assembly district although they actually live in Irvine (note: the Mrs was endorsed by Jones, Bankhead, and McKinley). We caught the old lady operating a fake charity for lobbyists so she and Dick could get free trips to Maui. We also cheered when the Voice of OC finally uncovered the smoking gun that tied Ackerman to illegal lobbying on behalf of the crooked OC Fair Board as we had been reporting all along.

See anything you like?

Only a few days ago we shared a notice for an upcoming country club event in which Ackerman will hold forth on how to manage a lynch-type mob.

That boy's gonna be real good to me...soon!

Well, now you know the sort of character we’re dealing with here. But what you might not know is that Dick Ackerman, who works for The Nossaman law firm was recently gifted with a huge windfall by his old pals Jones, Bankhead, and McKinley. See, on August 16th The Three Blind Mice ignored their own professional staff’s recommendation, and instead presented Nossaman’s client, St. Anton Partners a multi-million dollar subsidy on a  60 units per acre low income housing project on Santa Fe Avenue! No wonder Dicky Boy was hanging out at the Council meeting all night and had to endure outraged citizens attacking the incompetence and stoogery of his three puppets on the council for three long hours.

Just for added fun here’s Ackerman’s blurb from the Nossaman website:

He assists companies, individuals, groups, and public agencies in their interactions with governments at the local, county, state, and federal levels. In addition, Mr. Ackerman assists clients in dealing with government and special districts on how to get through the political process.

In layman’s parlance, Ackerman is a political fixer, an influence peddler, and a lobbyist. Just the sort of guy who would spring to the defense of his trio of myopic rodent pals on the Fullerton City Council.

Here’s the page from the staff report listing the scores of the various “developers” seeking official City endorsement that will pave the way for millions in taxpayer subsidies. Check out Ackerman’s crew, St. Anton. Eighth freakin’ place! And yet Jones, Bankhead and McKinley decided to award millions to the guy who will be running their recall campaign. Stink? Much?

The second most ironic thing about this sad but illuminating story is that when he was on the city council in the 1980s, Ackerman was the most steadfast opponent of publicly subsidized housing in Fullerton. Well, that was then and this is now. See, when you’re a ‘puglican and money’s at stake, principles go right down the toilet. The most ironic thing is that in 1994 Ackerman also championed the cause of three incompetent buffoons who were being recalled. He lost that one, too.

As a thoughtful commenter reminds us, below, McKinley, Bankhead, and Jones were so eager to accomodate their pal Ackerman that they pushed through a vote and then had to rescind it because they never held a public hearing. Another example of Three Blind Stooge FAIL.


How To Manage A Lynch-type Mob

The Orange County Association of Cities is an organization of repuglicans who just can’t stand the thought of big, authoritarian government unless they are milking it for all it’s worth. So it is fitting indeed that this operation should employ former Fullerton City Councilman and State legislator, Dick Ackerman, to teach its members how to “manage” a lynch-type mob (us). Such management presumably means deception, flattery, cajoling, bamboozlement, and ultimately doing nothing.

The choice of Ackerman cannot have been accidental, for he is one of the biggest enemies of government transparency in the State. You may remember some of our posts on Dickie Boy. We busted him cooking up a fake address in Fullerton so his old lady could carpetbag her way into the Assembly and perpetuate Dick’s cozy relationship with big lobbyists. Speaking of lobbyists we also uncovered the Ackermans’ scam non-profit, a gig run by lobbyists to pay for Hawaiian vacations for Dick and his slimy pals in the Legislature. And then of course there was the OC Fair scandal in which Ackerman illegally lobbied his former colleagues in Sacramento. Ackerman’s own billings did him in when exposed by our friends at the Voice of OC(EA). (Parenthetically, the latter incident was the subject of a DA whitewash – hmm).

Ironically, Ackerman has been on of the biggest supporters and promoters of the immensely incompetent and arrogant Three Blind Mice, who presumably, can be relied upon to trek down to the Tustin Ranch Golf Club and hobnob with their repuglican kinfolk and learn from the Dickster all about “shocking crises and what went wrong.”

Come to think about it, maybe Bankhead, Jones, and McKinley should be teaching this course; that is, if they are capable of learning anything at all.


DA Invites New Investigation of Ackerman Lobbying

You can talk to my lawyer.

In a follow-up post today The Voice of OC(EA) Norberto Santana describes the (lack of) investigation by our do-nothing DA Tony Rackauckas into the evident illegal lobbying of fellow repuglican Dick Ackerman. Of course the DA could find no wrondoing. Not looking for evidence is an excellent way of not finding any.

Now that Ackerman’s actual invoices have surfaced, revealing what we have know for over a year, and what was based on the Dickster’s own words, the DA seems to be a little nervous. Here’s what his spokesholess Susan Kang Schroeder had to say:

“The evidence we had supports the findings we made,” she said. “If anyone has further evidence that is contrary to the evidence we have, we’ll be glad to look at it. And it may bring us to a different result.”

Further evidence. Of course she means all that embarrassing stuff that would have actually been part of any sincere investigation in the first place, and that would have freed the DA from having to rely entirely on Ackerman’s say-so for the truth. But the important thing here is that the DA is apparently welcoming new evidence. And since that evidence has already been published on a blog and is in the public domain, may we assume a new and this time an honest investigation is in the offing?

Hold your breath if you feel like it!

The Bad Penny That Keeps Popping Up: Ackerman The Lobbyist

The smile turned to painful grimmace as the appendage was pulled ever farther into the wringer.

Over at the Voice of OC(EA) Norberto Santana reports that his uncovering of Dick Ackerman’s billing logs from his days as a lobbyist for the rogue Fair Board has spurred a formal investigation by the State Fair Political Practices Commission.

See, former legislators are prohibited from lobbying their former colleagues for one year after their departure. Ackerman left the State Senate at the end of 2008 and started making those embarrassing calls in the summer of 2009 – in order to facilitate the sale of the Orange County Fair to a secret cabal made up of its own Boardmembers. We first wrote about that a-way back here in the fall of 2009 passing along the excellent work of the OC Progressive and Vern Nelson at the Orange Juice blog.

See that guy over there? He didn't do anything wrong. He told me to say that.

Of course the most embarrassing part of this slimy episode was the way one year later our do-nothing DA Tony Rackauckas tried to whitewash the whole stinking affair in order to protect his ‘puglet pals. See, T-Rack has plenty of time to harass Toyota and Muslim students at UCI, but apprently he has a lot less taste for going after political miscreants of either party.

But the truth will out, as they say. And the Ackerman deal just keeps resurfacing. Of course the FPPPC has no real authority except to levy fines  and it looks to me like a real prosecutor is really what’s called for here.

Disbarment, anyone?

The Voice of OC(EA) Shoots; Scores!

Hell, yes! Pookas 'n everything...

Okay, we’ve had some harsh criticism of the Voice of OC in the past, but today Norberto Santana came out with a great expose about OC Fair-employed lobbyist Dick Ackerman, husband of former carpetbaggress Linda, both of whom are residents of Irvine.

I told the DA everything was on the up and up. And that's what he went with!

Last year our do-nothing DA whitewashed Ackerman’s role in the ’09 OC Fair sale matter, saying he didn’t lobby the Legislature in violation of State law. How did the DA reach this conclusion? It wasn’t through investigative work, that’s for damn sure. Naturally, Amen Corner repuglicans like Matthew J. Cunningham crowed when the whitewash came out, but they’ll be eating crow soon enough. See, Santana got hold of Ackerman’s Nossaman Law Firm’s original billing records. And even though those records were laundered through some “environmental” consulting firm called LSA, the details prove what we here at FFFF have known since the fall of 2009: Ackerman was acting as a lobbyist and that in 2010 the DA was covering it up. The Nossaman billing records show phone calls to members of the State Legislature at $500 an hour. And that was illegal.

I gotta eat the feathers, too?

We didn’t have the billing, of course. We just had Dicky-boy’s own words:

“In order for the fair to be sold, it would require budget language to authorize the state to sell it,” he said. “I did some preliminary work to get the language in the budget.”

Preliminary work? Well, that’s one way of describing it; and that pesky budget language sure wasn’t going to jump into the bill all by itself, now was it?

Well, Friends, don’t expect any legal remedies anytime soon. Just remember the name: Ackerman. When you hear it, or read it, or smell it, you can bet some monkey business is afoot.

Orange County Fair Morass Gets Morassier; And Ackerman Questions Linger

Last week a judge stepped in to slow down the sale of the OC Fairgounds to a private developer as reported by the Voice of OC(EA). Seems hizzoner wants some time to look into all the allegations of hanky-panky that have been swirling around for the past year.

I have no evidence that that guy over there lied to me, and I don't intend to look for any.

More allegations of monkey business at the fair that creates a pattern of obfuscation, disingenuousness, and misfeasance that goes back well over a year.

But wait, hasn’t Tony Rackaukas already blessed the doings with his benediction? Yep, but despite our do-nothing DA’s whitewash of the entire 2009 Summer of Fair Love, lots of people have lingering questions about the role of some of OCs leading repuglicans in this whole mess.

Those doubts are fueled by a guy named David Padilla, a Fair trustee who apparently didn’t go along with his colleagues who were busted trying to create their own entity to acquire the property. As reported in the Daily Pilot, here, and the Voice, here, Padilla, who was recently removed from the Board by outgoing Governor Schwarzenegger, still has lots of unanswered questions himself. And even a few assertions.

One of the most intriguing parts of the story was this:

Among the things the board does not know are details of the activities of the law firm of Nossaman LLP through former State Sen. Dick Ackerman as well as the activities of the county’s lobbyist, Platinum Advisors, which has close ties to county GOP Chairman Scott Baugh.

Padilla was the only board member to respond to public inquiries and records requests for information on the role of both individuals. Padilla said earlier this year that he was told Ackerman was only paid $19,000 for his work.

“I have recently determined, after months of inquiry, they were paid over $150,000 for services I have not been able to get answers for,” Padilla said. “It was my intention to continue to press for the details on both these issues.”

A repuglican warrior does battle on the steps of the Capitol...

We know that the DA has found nothing untoward in Ackerman’s behavior, despite Ackerman’s own morphing tale, but $150,000 grand would pay for a helluva lot of schmoozing with the Guv, and it’s about time the public found out exactly what Dickie Boy was up to in Sacramento during those long hot summer days of 2009, including billings, invoices, and diaries.