Fish This: Burning the Budget

Some things in life are perfectly predicable.  Things like physics and math.  They’re not really that difficult to understand, but some people in our society are a little slower than others.

For example, next week there will be idiots who put a frozen turkey into a vat of hot liquid fat because #Merica.  Despite many public service announcements to the contrary, stupidity will have its unavoidable and predicable consequences.

Tonight Fullertonians will miss out on the discussion taking place behind closed doors at City Hall concerning the state of the city’s budget.  Voters won’t get to hear about the new contract negotiations designed to help the massive multi-million dollar structural deficit, the $100,000,000 in deferred infrastructure maintenance, or the equally massive unfunded pension debt.  Instead, we’ll get a null report from The Other Dick Jones ™, and the facade of all being well will continue into this year’s planned First Night festivities.

Like so many idiots with a tank of propane, recent City Councils had fair warning of the current financial crisis.  The math just isn’t that hard to understand.  Every year, every single year, since each of their elections, Fullerton has spent more from the general fund than it has taken in.  Tens of millions of dollars in reserves have evaporated.  *POOF* gone, without a trace.

At the current rate, Fullerton may be bankrupt in two years.

This Thanksgiving, while you’re enjoying your non-idiot prepared bird, I want you to remember tonight’s secret city council meeting.  I also want you to remember a meeting held just last year.

Just last year, the council authorized the largest pay raises for staff in a decade.

“The budget is balanced!” — Jennifer Fitzgerald

“Fullerton is in excellent financial shape!’ — Jan Flory

Well, the math simply doesn’t lie.  The budget was not balanced and the city was not in excellent financial shape.  Jen and Jan dunked their frozen bird and lambasted all the chronic malcontents who protested their fine stewardship.

*POOF*

Like that, Joe Felz hit a tree, and their financial bird exploded, the raging predictable disaster apparent for all to see.

Tonight the Fullerton City Council will likely authorize reducing pay and benefits for city employees, just in time for the holidays.  When this is over, some employees will have their salaries reduced or their hours cut.  Others will simply lose their jobs.  Many of those individuals are good people who do good work. This isn’t their fault, but it will be their house that gets burned down and it will be their life that gets ruined.

Now Jen and Jan, two of those responsible for dunking this turkey?  Don’t worry.  They’ll be fine.  Jen just gave herself a $9000 raise and Jan retired.

Seems just, don’t you think?

Where’s Dino? Part 2

A few weeks ago FFFF ran a post on the status on Dino Skokos, the FJC security goon and “disabled” former LA Deputy Sheriff who beat up and handcuffed a kid on campus in October, 2016. Right after the video of the event went viral, the district snapped into defense mode, placing Skokos on administrative leave and putting its lawyer to work on an in-house “investigation.” FJC President, Greg Schulz declared his dedication to reaching a conclusion of the incident.

The Schulz Factor: happy-looking but not credible…

The winter had passed; spring had come and gone. Summer was well along when in July, Schulz was directly confronted on the subject. In Schulz’s long and winding stream of nonsense a shiny pearl accidentally popped out of its oyster in the river bottom sludge: Skokos “was not going to be an employee of the district.

What that meant was anybody’s guess, and some, like me, were skeptical. Was Skokos still on leave? If so, why? Who knew?

So FFFF followed up on an earlier Public records Act request that had been ignored. When that was intentionally misunderstood we filed yet another one. And finally we finally got this:

According to this list, Skokos was on admin leave – meaning he was getting paid for doing nothing – until the end of September, two full months after Schulz said he was no longer going to be an employee of the district, and almost an entire year after he assaulted that kid.  And coincidentally (or not) that date corresponds exactly with the peculiar day projected earlier in the summer that Skokos was to come off administrative leave.

There was confusion on campus…

And here’s the last insult to public transparency on the part of Schulz & Co.: we have no idea whether Skokos is still employed by the district – whether at FJC, Cypress, district HQ, or at some other locale.

So how about it Greg? You promised a conclusion to this incident over a year ago. Did that promise include actually telling us about it?

In the likely event that no answer will be forthcoming from Schulz, you might try broaching the subject by our able and eager Trustee, Molly McClanahan, who has a long history of demanding accountability from her bureaucratic underlings.

Put on a happy face.

No, that’s not quite right, is it?

 

Happy Felziversary

Poor Sappy.
Poor Sappy. So young, so vibrant…

One year ago today I wrote my first piece for this site, Friends for Fullerton’s Future. It was on the tail end of my lackluster city council bid when I was approached to join the site. I was asked to keep up the writing that I was doing during my campaign but here instead of my own site to which I was agreeable. No timelines had been discussed or content hashed out but the premise was we would revive FFFF because nobody else was effectively putting a spotlight on Fullerton’s abysmal government.

Then Joe Felz killed Sappy McTree after drinking his way through every election party in downtown.

One year ago this morning Joe Felz “took a wide turn” and ran down a tree only for Fullerton’s Finest to be called to the scene of the crime and offer cookies and a glass of milk to our beleaguered city manager instead of the breathalyzer and night in the drunk tank any regular Joe would have received. (more…)

Our Amazon.com Problem

Anyone following my recent posts knows the City has a problem with proper usage of the VISA procurement cards.

Below, we have a door opener purchased by Fire Captain Bil Gallio and shipped to the family business — Gallio Motorsports.  Given the nature of the item, this may have been a legitimate City purchase and shipped to the wrong address.

 

Fullerton doesn’t have a centralized ordering point, or a designated person, for Amazon.com purchases.  Instead, employees order items for the City using individual Amazon.com accounts, which for most people, are probably used for personal items as well.  That means home and work purchases are co-mingled together in the same account.

That could easily explain items shipped to the wrong address if the employee making the purchase forgets to override the defaults stored by Amazon.

Lest anyone think I’m constantly throwing rocks without ever offering a solution, here you go:  Amazon Business for Government  Nearly every instance of improper spending could have been prevented using that tool.

Please Cap Pic

Someone sent in this image of  Fullerton City Councilman Doug “Bud” Chaffee and his mate Paulette Marshall. I’m not sure why. Maybe the friends can shed some illumination on this with a helpful caption.

Grant Funding: No Accountability

Fullerton’s increasing reliance on grant funding comes with one consistent problem — poor or no accountability across the board.  Last week, I wrote about the Police Department’s $3900 mini-freezer and was called out in the comments section as follows:

It was paid for with money from the state from Prop 69 you morons. You can purchase items that are related to dna collection. Google is your friend.

The commenter was likely referring to this notation where Captain Siko wrote “Prop 69 grant.”

Captain Siko, and the person leaving the comment, are both wrong.

They charged the freezer to special subprogram 6188, which is the Justice Assistance Grant 2016.  The page below is from the Chart of Accounts posted to the City website.

The Justice Assistance Grant is Federal funding offered to state and local law enforcement for various purposes.  JAG awards are not at all related to Prop 69 revenues.

Fullerton’s share of the funding comes via the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, who is charged with managing compliance.  No lawyer is needed to see that Fullerton has a compliance problem.  The full agreement can be found here but I’m going to post a few snippets below.

2. SUBGRANTEE shall be reimbursed with said JAG funds only for expenditures
necessary to acquire personal property or equipment as set forth in Attachment A hereto
[hereinafter called “grant property and equipment”] or to perform such other grant functions, if
any, for which Attachment A specifies that SUBGRANTEE may utilize grant funds.

8. By executing this Agreement, SUBGRANTEE agrees to comply with and be fully
bound by this Agreement and all applicable provisions of Attachments A, B, C, D and E
hereto. SUBGRANTEE shall notify COUNTY immediately upon discovery that it has not
abided or no longer will abide by any applicable provision of this Agreement or Attachments A,
B, C, D or E hereto.

15. COUNTY may terminate this Agreement and be relieved of the payment of any
consideration to SUBGRANTEE if a) SUBGRANTEE fails to perform any of the covenants
contained in this Agreement, including the applicable terms of Attachments A, B, C, D and E
hereto, at the time and in the manner herein provided, or b) COUNTY loses funding under the
grant. In the event of termination, COUNTY may proceed with the work in any manner
deemed proper by COUNTY.

Now would be a good time (more…)

Need a pen?

Need a pen or pencil?  How about a coloring book, a fire badge sticker, or a hat to keep your head dry from the rain this weekend?

I guess it’s a good thing Fullerton is swimming in surplus cash.  Oh, wait…

Nearly $1,700 for this stuff despite it being known all year long that we’re in a budget crisis.  The entire amount was charged to General Fund accounts.

 

Who Is Paulette Marshall?

Good question. She is the spouse of Fullerton Councilman Doug “Bud” Chaffee, and has often been considered the brains of the operation.

She is also rumored to be a future council candidate from the 2nd District once that district comes up for election – now slated for 2020. Here is Ms. Marshall attending an underpass opening ceremony. She’s the one over on the left wearing the purple jacket.

Here’s a close up.

But wait. Why is she even there? She doesn’t hold any official position in the city. And even more importantly, why is she wearing a City of Fullerton badge bearing the official city seal?  How did she get that badge and why is she wearing it?

A cynical person might suspect that Ms. Marshall is posing in a photo op like this for future campaign material, projecting the subliminal message of “incumbent.” But that would be extremely unethical and really hard to credit.

Where’s Dino?

 

Three long months ago FFFF updated the story of FJCs rogue “Campus Safety Officer”, Dino Skokos. You remember Dino, right? He’s the former LA Deputy Sheriff, who, while enjoying a $48K annual disability pension courtesy of LA County taxpayers, and while costing us $75,000 per year us as a guard at FJC, was caught on video assaulting some skinny kid for refusing to identify himself. Be sure to watch the video if you need to remind yourself.

That was over a year ago. Yes, the Earth has made an entire revolution of the Sun, and then some.

Skokos was placed on administrative leave way back on October 14, 2016. And what has been going on in the twelve month interim?

There was confusion on campus…

FFFF has serially reported that the North Orange County Community College District orchestrated some sort of “investigation,” conducted by their own special government defense lawyer. But FJC President, Greg Schulz ain’t saying anything after all this time except for spouting some embarrassingly contradictory double talk.

So what’s the status of Dino Skokos? And has there been any legal action by the kid who he choke slammed up against a wall and then threw to the ground? Who knows? Not the public, that’s for sure.

Remember when Schulz promised the college’s full dedication in reaching a conclusion regarding the incident? I guess that never included letting the public know what was going on.