What Happened to Fullerton’s Lieutenant Hamel?

The last time we wrote about Fullerton Police Lieutenant Kathryn Hamel it was to share the rumor we had heard that she was on admin leave.

“Word also has it that Katie Hamel, wife of Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel, has been put on leave but we’re trying to very that information and she would make, at least, #4 currently on leave.”

Today we’re wondering what she did to get fired.

We ask because “Dr.” Hamel appears to have a new career as the Dean of Criminology at the online diploma mill that is California Southern University.

Dr Dean Katie Hamel

 

We doubt she just walked away from her FPD gig with the total compensation package of over $230,000/year so the likelihood is that she was fired for cause.

Katie Hamel 2017 Pay

Anybody care to share the cause?

Profiles in Courage

During a quick stop at the on-line Fullerton Observer I read an article by Jane Rands about a dope forum held by the folks at NUFF – an organization of mostly geriatric liberals whose mission seems to be to promote safely pro-government candidates and causes. Aha, thought I, perhaps someone will stand up for the rights of the people of California who have voted twice for marijuana legalization and twice have been thwarted, whenever possible, by the Drug Warrior/Prison Industrial Complex.

Weed Tribunal

The three members of a panel, selected by who knows who, were Ahmad Zahra, Temp Fullerton Top Cop Bob Dunn, and some dude named Richard Ham about whom I know nothing.

Whatever hopes I had about this get together were quickly dashed reading the article. Smilin’ Zahra, it seems, once got a prescription for medical weed for his fibromyalgia, but was too chicken to try it. Scary stuff. Ever the wordy equivocator, Zahra seemed to be all for lots of regulation because gosh darn it, the kids have already been exposed to cannabis by illicit shops popping up next to schools.

The large and seemingly self-satisfied Chief Dunn, who used to be a spokeshole for the notorious Anaheim Police Department, gave the usual cop-blather about the evils of drugs (kiddies were getting into mom and dad’s digestible stash!) and reminding Fullerton’s tremulous seniors that drug driving is a crime. In typical police fashion he suggested that a confused public causes his boys “a lot of effort with little return.” Same ol’ bullshit the cops have been peddling for 60 years. In a grand gesture of philanthropy, however, he did let it be known that he and his posse intended to follow the law. Gee thanks, Bob.

The third member of the Dope Troika was Mr. Ham, a Korean business guy in some sort of hotel business. Good thing he was there, because somebody was able to point out the all the flaws in the present system where cities are allowed to opt-out of legalization and the ultimate consequences of California ridiculous 2016 referendum: the maintenance of an illegal, underground system of cultivation and distribution.

Zahra proclaimed the meeting a “good start” begging the question of why in the world anyone needs to start considering these issues. Why there is any confusion about marijuana in this state after over twenty years of legalization? It’s because the cops and the cowardly politicians don’t want clarity, they don’t want freedom and they don’t want to be deprived of the seizure asset income they get from the War on Drugs.

Mr. Zahra did accomplish one thing. Because of the presence of Mayor Jesus and Jan Flory he warned of the dangers of a Brown Act violation, chasing our stalwart mayor out of the room.

FFFF Classic – Apologies to Dick Jones; Welcome to Kharakhastan!

UPDATE: BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND #4! 

We have had a lot of fun on this site making fun of City Councilman Dick Jones and his clockwork-regular gaffes and buffooneries. But, when you’re right, you’re right. We teased him for his creation of what we thought was a purely imaginary place: Kharakhastan, and we had some fun at his expense. Well, aren’t we embarrassed! It turns out there really is such a place!

A little research by our International Geography and Socio-Ethnography Department uncovered the following information:

Kharakhastan is a small ethnic enclave located within the Republic of Kazakhstan (former Soviet SSR) that comprises 135,000 square kilometers with a population of approximately 211,000 (2006 census).

Kharakh wrestlers await competition at local festival
Kharakh wrestlers await competition at local festival

The geography consists of arid upland steppe ascending to sub-alpine terrain and ultimately to high peaks. The highest point is Krysighi Peak (formerly known as Mt. Stalin’s Birthday and later Worker’s Peak), at 5439 meters high. The main industry in Kharakhastan is animal husbandry including sheep and tapirs, although a burgeoning Asian market for an aphrodisiac distilled from beaver gonads has spawned a nascent beaver ranching business in the many small tributaries that descend Krysighi Peak.

A typical Kharakh family
A typical Kharakh family

The principal city in the Kharakhastan region is Pilgur, documented by the Venetian Marco Polo, and known for its splendid 16th Century mosque.

PilgurMosque

When Kazakhstan broke away from the former Soviet Union in 1991, Kharakastan declared its own independence as a sovereign republic, an independence that lasted a mere four days and was crushed by Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, who arrested Kharakh politcal headmen and outlawed the Kharakhastani People’s Liberation Party (LPKI).

Kharakhastan has never been recognized by the internatonal community, although former American President Bill Clinton toured the area in 2006 on a visit to Kazakhstan. The Reformed Kharakhastani People’s Liberation Party (LPKID) currently holds 3 seats in the Khazakh legislature.

Well, there you have it. Kharakhastan. Who knew? And to Dick Jones, our profound apologies!

The Turn Around. Another Lie from SparkyFitz

It’s a sad fact that most stories about political corruption and malfeasance end up getting drowned out by a tsunami of other news – often just more corruption and malfeasance. And so it is with Fullerton’s lobbycreature/councilmember Jennifer Fitzgerald – for whom no lie, shakedown or chisel can ever be too small. Here’s a post from almost two years ago when we uncovered that Fitzgerald, who publicly forswore council pay had started, in fact, to take the emoluments of her office.

 

Joined in mutual interest. The public is nowhere to be seen…

In March of this year our lobbyist-council person Jennifer Fitzgerald began to receive the typical council pay check, plus 100 bucks a month to not enroll in the City’s health insurance plan.

“So what?” you may be saying to yourself. Well, here’s the problem. In her self-promotion for political office in 2012 Fitzgerald got way up on her high horse about refusing compensation for “public service.” She even made a promise!

And that’s not all. Enjoy this lecture on the high moral ground Fitzgerald stakes out for herself in 2013. She made a big deal about her refusing compensation when she first joined the council. Could the moralizing get any thicker?

Between 2013 and now a lot has changed for Ms. Fitzgerald, most notably a vice presidency at Curt Pringle and Associates, the notorious lobby shop where no public asset is too valuable for cheap disposal. It may very well be that Fitzgerald now has a completely different attitude toward “public service” than she did five years ago.

Dr. Jones and his “Monster”

For those who may mistakenly believe the chaos and mayhem in Downtown Fullerton are of recent vintage, here’s a blast from the past, our favorite corn pone  fizishun, Dr. HeeHaw Dick Jones waxing poetic on the mess he made of DTF –  12 years ago!

Dr. Jones has a strange way of relating everything to babies, he goes from one end of the spectrum to the other, aka “flip flop”. He claims that he was the “Promoter” of the Downtown Bars and Dance Halls, yet he’s the Councilperson calling the downtown, “The Wild West” and “River City”. He’s “afraid” to go downtown after 10:00pm! As recent as September 16, 2008, he voted to subsidize the renegade dance halls, because they “need help”. Before you vote on November 4th, please pass this website on to your friends and neighbors!

Community Stakeholder Survey Says

Tonight the Fullerton city council will pretend to go over the results of the Community Stakeholder Survey that just recently wrapped up. Remember that survey? It’s where the city is going to, and I quote:

For the next strategic planning session, the City will conduct a community stakeholder survey prior to working with the City Council to develop Mission and Vision statements, and ultimately set goals to implement the Priority Policy Statements.

We don’t have nice roads but at least we’ll have mission and vision statements.

The whole reason for this dog and pony show is to pretend to do something productive while our roads literally crumble around us each day. We’re in a structural deficit and only balance our budgets by selling capital assets (city owned property) and by not filling vacant positions.

So when people complain that we’re understaffed the current and retired staff are entirely to blame for this problem because they’re eating all of our general fund.

As to the survey itself, how engaged were the people of Fullerton in regards to this important mission of vision questing?

Vision

Super engaged, so responsive. The whole city was interested in giving their two cents… Oh. No. Nevermind. Almost nobody even knew this things existed and fewer participated.

706 people responded and 9 sent in written statements via email. That’s it.

It was a truly terrible turnout.

But the city, using that whopping return of 706 survey responses and 9 written statements will march ahead ever ready as a city to talk about what our local government’s priorities should be going forward in an open and honest fashion.

(more…)

Enjoy Downtown While it Lasts

Downtown Fullerton

Fullerton’s City Council last Tuesday, as expected, voted to change the rules governing how bars operate in the city in order to facilitate having more bars and making them more profitable.

The crux of the change is that it was too hard for staff to do their jobs, and for the Police Chief to stop rubber stamping permits, so the city needed to change the rules. This time they mean to enforce them unlike the last decade+ they promise… kind of… well not really.

Not one council member got an answer of who was in violation of what rules they were changing and why it was so hard for community development, code enforcement and the police to use a checklist to sort it out and in fact Ted White’s answers on how Conditional Use Permits work negated his own arguments of the Title 15 change. But again, council was too inept and/or lazy to follow the logic of the change or to ask any real questions per the norm.

The council ALSO voted to launch a pilot program, which we all know will be permanent, for paid parking in downtown. This is a data driven program tracking who comes and goes how often and how long they stay based on license plate data. As we heard at the meeting the whole point was data, data, data and more data. You will be tracked and your data will likely be sold. It’s so data driven that the vendor, staff and council want you to punch in where you park even when you don’t have to pay for parking – just because you WANT to be tracked.

Data Breach

When council asked who owned the servers the vendor claimed it was a “cloud based server” and that’s where the questions stopped. We don’t know what data is kept, where it is kept, which servers are used or who our travel data is being sold to – all because council couldn’t be bothered to ask.

It was a pathetic meeting full of incompetence, malfeasance and laughable gaffs. The Other Dick Jones™ got torn into by both Fitzgerald and Zahra for how they can/can’t handle an agenda item and when the city clerk offered helpful info the council just blanker her. It was probably the worst example of governing I’ve seen in years.

Individually the council members didn’t do themselves any favors in the integrity or intelligence departments. (more…)

A Fullerton Staffing Question

Hero Pay

The Fullerton Firefighters are pushing a narrative that they’re understaffed and underpaid on social media, so let’s talk about it.

We constantly hear about how underfunded, unpaid, underappreciated, undereverything our Police and Fire Depts are from the “Hero Deserve” crowd and the opposite side likes to point to pay rates, pension spiking, double dipping, medical presumptive, lies about early death, OT abuse, CalPERS costs and other fiscal rebuttals.

But what we almost never talk about is how we actually implement service and if we do things in a smart, fiscally sound or even common sense way in our departments. Our City Council won’t touch these issues because they’re petrified of the unions spending campaign money against them or they’re colluding with the unions in order to get those sweet, sweet endorsements.

Since council won’t discuss these things openly I figured we can do it ourselves before dropping numerous records requests.

Therefore for the sake of starting discussions I’ll drop two topics;

  1. If our fire engines, with a crew of 4, have a max of 2 Paramedics on board and 85% (per their statements) of their calls are medical then what do the other 2+ crew members do during the majority of these calls? Are they glorified Uber just taxiing the paramedics around? What do they do at the hospital? How much time do these non-paramedics spend doing crowd control and the like?
  2. Every time I see a police stop or call where the police department is at a scene I see multiple vehicles on scene. To the casual observer it seems that there are multiple units at every stop seen. I understand the premise of needing or wanting backup but why not drive around in pairs so you have backup with you at all times instead of needing to wait for it and waste the resources (gas, etc) on another vehicle?

Does anybody have stats on these things? How many calls for FFD are actually medical? How many calls does each crew actually respond to and what do they do on scene? How much OT is accumulated for passive activities?

How many calls does FPD respond to and how many of those calls require backup? How much backup typically responds? What’s the response time for this backup? How is this different for traffic stops versus calls for service?

I think as the city prepares for budget meetings with so much of our budget going towards salaries and pensions these numbers should be discussed and be as transparent as possible. If we need to pay people more to retain them we need to make sure we’re getting the most bang for our buck and the best, most logical and fiscally sound, service possible.

Anybody want to dive into these questions?

Let’s Talk More about Privacy

Big Brother Watching

Tonight our City Council is going to allow the Fullerton Police Department to use asset forfeiture money to purchase two automated license plate readers or ALPRs.

According to the paperwork these devices are used to allow police to drive around and scan the license plate of all cars on both sides of a street at up to 160mph. Tonight this is being sold as a way to enforce parking as part of the Downtown Parking Pilot Program as recommended by staff and the vendor SP+.

But these devices have a dark big brother side to them in how the data is shared and stored.

Apparently Fullerton has had these types of devices since 2008 (as referenced in my earlier post) despite the staff report tonight alluding to their newness. I’m betting the devices are currently being used for covertly tracking specific criminals in the same way that FPD uses the cellphone data capturing “Stingray” that they borrow from Anaheim.

Regardless of how the ALPRs are currently being used,  they aren’t a new concept as far as I can tell for the city or police department owing to our involvement in the UASI.

Urban Area Security Initiative

In the staff report, as a way to sell these ALPRs, it is mentioned that the city currently “chalks” tires to check for parking violations.

Why are our parking enforcers “chalking” tires when they have electronic equipment to do that for them? Does that equipment no longer function? Was there a problem with the implementation of the previous “digital chalking”. Nobody knows because no data, details or explanations are being provided by staff – yet again.

The big issue here, according to the ACLU and others, is that these devices are also used to keep track of where people go and how long they stay at those locations. The police department can track your movements and build a pattern of your activities and then share that data with other agencies.

Do the police really need a record of what church everybody goes to? What about who goes to the local AA/NA meetings? Local clinic? Political rallies/events/protests? Do you want the police to have a record of every time you visited your lover or possible mistress/paramour for the politicians in the room?

Caught Cheating

All of your activities are now that much easier to track and store with this technology and there needs to be safeguards against abuse and misuse.

This giant privacy concern is why the ACLU, EFF, 10th Amendment Center and others are against the use of these devices without strict controls. Surprisingly enough the CA State Legislature mostly agrees with them.

According to the Electronic Freedom Foundation, CA law, in effect since 2016, requires agencies deploying automated license plate readers to divulge:

  • The authorized purposes for using the ALPR system and collecting ALPR information.
  • A description of the job title or other designation of the employees and independent contractors who are authorized to use or access the ALPR system, or to collect ALPR information. The policy shall identify the training requirements necessary for those authorized employees and independent contractors.
  • A description of how the ALPR system will be monitored to ensure the security of the information and compliance with applicable privacy laws.
  • The purposes of, process for, and restrictions on, the sale, sharing, or transfer of ALPR information to other persons.
  • The title of the official custodian, or owner, of the ALPR system responsible for implementing this section.
  • A description of the reasonable measures that will be used to ensure the accuracy of ALPR information and correct data errors.
  • The length of time ALPR information will be retained, and the process the ALPR operator will utilize to determine if and when to destroy retained ALPR information.

Sadly you can scour tonight’s staff report and you won’t find any of this information. You also won’t find these requirements on the website or city archive which begs a question of legal compliance.

But it’s more irritating than that. If this was an issue of non-compliance by virtue of the law changing AFTER we already had the equipment (purchase in 2008, law change in 2016) it would be one thing. It would be illegal but an issue chalked up to oversight and city attorney incompetence. But no. Two years ago our city agreed to remain in what is known as the Urban Areas Security Initiative and we’re in clear violation of that grant process as well:

UASI PII Requirement

I’ve looked for this “publicly-available policy” to no-avail on the city servers. Honestly though I shouldn’t have to look for such information when staff is asking the council to address the license plate readers tonight – the policy in question should have been included and explained in the staff report.

An example of compliance with the law regarding your privacy and how the city handles it related to ALPRs can be seen with the city of Cypress’s Police Department Manual. This is what should have been included tonight before council votes upon such the ALPR issue.

Fullerton, however, gives us this:

FPD Policy Manual

If you look at the top of that page you’ll it was put up back when David Hendricks was Chief of Police.

Chief Hendricks went on admin leave back on 25 August of last year before resigning. So our Police Department hasn’t had a publicly available policy manual for AT LEAST 7 months & 22 days. The best I can find is a policy manual from 2012 on archive.org and the section of ALPRs (page 322) is not compliant with the 2016 state law.

Way to go team. Way to be transparent and compliant with the law. Way be ahead of the curve and to put the interests of the people first. Oh wait. Nevermind on all counts.

Why does staff, let alone council, not care about your privacy? Why do they think it’s okay to violate CA law and their own grant agreements regarding your privacy & transparency? Why is the hunt for more downtown money more important than addressing such fundamental concerns?

I’d tell you to find out tonight but we all know that they’re going to gloss over this issue with some allusions to trust, heroes and the like after being called on their nonsense.

Regardless of who’s on council this is just the Fullerton way I suppose.

Tonight the Downtown Bars Win

cronyism

The Fullerton City Council is about to hand the Downtown Restaurateurs Bar Owners two big wins and they’re going to continue to slap down the privacy of those in Fullerton in the process.

The first big win for the bars is in changing the rules around operating a bar in the Downtown area. This is partially because city staff thinks it’s too hard to do their jobs regarding enforcement. It’s just so hard to tell the couple of bars without Conditional Use Permits that they’re operating illegally.

The truth here is that it’s so hard to enforce anything downtown because council won’t let staff or the police department do their jobs so they all have to turn a blind eye to illegal operators and this change to Title 15 allows the downtown scofflaws to now operate *mostly* legally.

Except those without CUPs which the city will continue to ignore because favors and cronyism.

This is being sold as a way to make enforcement easier but let’s be real here – every year for a decade+ the Chief of Police (each of them) has signed off on Live Entertainment Permits which themselves say CUPs will be enforced. Our Chiefs of Police rubber stamp LE Permits for businesses that operate without required fire / life safety requirements.

So if the Police Chief is going to turn a blind eye to life safety in order to rubber stamp a permit for a favored business owner why should we believe that these new relaxed rules will be enforced? Because we’re supposed to “trust” these corrupt kleptocrats.

This Title 15 Change is being pushed to allow “legal non-conforming businesses” to now operate quasi-legally but staff won’t even tell use who that applies to in Downtown. We’re offering a form of amnesty without talking about who gets it and for what and if that’s even a good thing.

Ted White will likely prattle on about lumens and the percentage of tint on a window as cover but there are real concerns being omitted here. Why? Because saying “no, we allowed a business to illegally board up their windows with flammable material without fire sprinklers in clear violation of their CUP” doesn’t sound as easy to wash away in a rhetorical flourish such as “how do we know what 15% tint looks like”? (more…)