The Quick Brown Fox

Governor Jerry Brown paid a visit to downtown Fullerton on Wednesday, where it looks like he took a tour of the still-unfinished Fullerton Fox Theater with a rabble of current and former local officials in tow. Surely he was impressed.

OK, maybe not.

But why would Jerry Brown fly down to Fullerton to look inside some flopped redevelopment project?

One could guess that battleground Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva invited Brown to pitch some sort of state subsidy to rescue the project; a thinly veiled attempt to buy voters in one district with the rest of the state’s resources. You can tell an opportunity is at hand by the way the local bush league politicos are salivating all over Brown’s loafers. Hopefully someone had a towel handy.

But all of that is just fine. Why shouldn’t residents of Escondido, Bakersfield and Elk Grove pay for decades of Fullerton’s redevelopment screw ups? Mr. Brown, if there’s money to burn on a movie theater, maybe you can fix our decrepit roads and crumbling bridges, too?

Our Wallets Are Getting Tased

Axon, formerly known as Taser International, is the manufacturer of tasers and body cameras worn by officers of the Fullerton Police Department.

In 2014, Felz and Hughes went before the City Council to beg for $650,534 over a five-year period to pay for body cameras from Taser International.  The actual cost will far exceed that amount, but that’s unfortunately typical of the false assurances made by those two.  You can read the agenda letter here where Dan Hughes did his best impression of a salesman for Taser International.  There was never any competitive bidding process for those body cameras, which is obscene given the large price tag.

Fast forward to this past June.  Gary Sirin of the Fullerton Police Department was sent to the Axon Accelerate Conference Fleece-A-Thon in Scottsdale, AZ.  We paid $899 for him to attend the conference, $580.87 for lodging at the Westin, and it appears another $363.19 for travel expenses.  I presume he was also on the clock and being paid for his time.

So what actually took place at this conference?  Axon did a write up themselves that talks about demonstrating new products and strategies to prevent disclosure of body camera footage to the public.  Once again, an insulting waste of City funds.

The Police Department apparently never got the memo about Fullerton having a fiscal crisis, or else they just don’t care.

I think it’s the latter, but in any event, these ridiculous conferences all over the United States and Canada on the City dime need to stop.

Lemmon Head

Wouldn’t it be nice if every City employee consistently set the bar for professionalism?

Michael Lemmon, of the Fullerton Fire Department, thought it was perfectly okay to purchase these inappropriate mugs using taxpayer money on his City-issued VISA card.

A couple months later, Michael Lemmon decided the Fire Department needed more coffee mugs, so he purchased these — again on the taxpayer’s dime:

 

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Pay The Lady: Nepotism At Its Worst

Today’s ethical lapse comes to us courtesy of the Fullerton Fire Department.  See those shirts pictured above?  Fire Captain Brian Seymour ordered nine of them for some kind of “Peer Support”.

Once the use tax is factored in, we paid about $40 per shirt.

Check out the reconciliation report.  One can clearly see the purchaser was Brian Seymour.

Below, we see the invoice from the vendor, Linksoul, where the salesperson was Mary Seymour.  Wait a minute, that must be a coincidence.  No City employee would be foolish enough to use taxpayer money to purchase unnecessary clothing from a relative’s clothing business, right?

 

Mary Seymour is the Fire Captain’s wife.  Linksoul is a clothing company started by her brother.  A couple minutes with Google was enough to locate this article from Carlsbad Magazine with a quote about nepotism that couldn’t be more ironic under the circumstances.

Hinman, W. (2014, March & April). The Man Makes The Clothes. Carlsbad Magazine, 38-43.

So while the City of Fullerton prepares to be crushed under the weight of CalPERS pension obligations, we have people like Brian Seymour not just wasting our money — he’s sending cash to his wife’s family business.

Brian Seymour made $294,761 last year in pay and benefits.  Why didn’t he pay for these shirts with his own money?

Did anyone make him reimburse the City?   Whose idea were these shirts, anyway?  Perhaps most important is why didn’t it occur to Brian Seymour that sending money to the family business was improper, and likely a violation of City policy and/or State Law?

Thanks to a certain FFD employee for bringing this to our attention.  You know who you are.

Bad Neighbor!

Would you give neighbors access to your bank account?

No? That would probably come as a shock to some at City Hall where (at least) three City of Brea employees have been issued VISA procurement cards belonging to the City of Fullerton.

Fullerton and Brea have a shared Fire Department command staff.  The Fire Chief, Deputy Chiefs, Division Chiefs, Battalion Chiefs, and an EMS manager perform services for both cities, even though they remain employees of the City where they came from.  Those from Brea have been given the Fullerton VISA cards.  Now, I can hear some people uttering phrases like “so what,” and “who cares,” and “what’s the problem?”  I can help you with that.

Fullerton Fire Station 3 on Acacia Ave was the recipient of five La-Z-Boy recliners, on the City VISA card.  The purchaser?  Chris Guerrero, a Brea employee.  The supervisor approving the purchase?  Kathy Schaefer, another Brea employee.  And where did the money come from?  Fullerton.

The receipt raises another question because Engine 3, based at this fire station, only has a crew of three.  So why purchase five recliners?

I’d bet money the extra recliners are for the CARE Ambulance employees based at Station 3.  Nothing in the housing agreement between the City and CARE Ambulance talks about furnishings, so the recliners appear to be a gift.

A gift from Brea employees using Fullerton’s money.

Bruce Whitaker’s Cash Cow

The other evening the Fullerton City Council discussed the issue of letting bar owners cram more of their top-shelf patrons into downtown Fullerton night clubs, a move that the bar owners ludicrously claim will actually help with all that mayhem that occurs on a typical week-end evening. As a tangent, the idea of taxing the generators of all the trouble came up.

Here is our esteemed Mayor, Bruce Whitaker, calmly explaining why some sort of public revenue generating scheme would a bad idea.

This is so disingenuous in several aspects that it’s hard to know where to start. The idea that the private business interests are the best at providing some sort of “management” at the lowest cost is absurd given the fact that the taxpayers are already  providing vastly subsidized security and maintenance in the downtown war zone.  It is the o-so trustworthy bar owners (that Whitaker claims have the biggest stake in a smoothly operating downtown) who benefit from public services they aren’t paying for.

Whitaker knows very well that the open air saloon known as Downtown Fullerton costs the taxpayers more than $1,500,000 per year. It’s a classic money pit. The irony is rich. The idea that the city government might milk DTF is absolutely absurd. The fact is that Whitaker’s bar-owner campaign contributors are making money on the backs of the rest of us – and Whitaker – despite his rhetoric – knows this damn well.

The real point is that once again Whitaker and his spineless council colleagues are going to bat for their saloon owning pals, people who have stolen public sidewalks, habitually violated the City’s noise ordinances, whose patrons wreak havoc on our streets and on themselves every night. Whitaker and the City Council have not only turned looking the other way into a full-time job, they have gone out of their way to prop up and publicly subsidize the booze peddlers they enabled in the first place.

And as usual, the rest of us pick up the bar tab.

Faux Cost Reductions

The City Council was warned earlier this year that (long overdue) changes at CalPERS to tackle pension debts would spell fiscal disaster for Fullerton.  This problem is very much real and will be quite painful in the years to come.

What isn’t real was the feigned appearance of City Hall trying to cut expenses.  Truth be told, nobody at the City seems to care.

Remember the Hillcrest Park ‘Pine Forest Stairs’ ceremony, which lasted maybe 30 minutes, and was attended by forty or fifty people?

The balloons you see above cost the taxpayers $776.51.  Were they necessary?  Of course not.

Meanwhile, at other locations across town, the never-ending waste from Parks and Recreation continues unabated.  $350 for two hours of face painting and a clown to blow up balloons.

Another $450 down the drain for a game of Human Foosball.

These aren’t unusual expenditures — this stuff goes on all the time.

So this is the cue for [new City Manager] Ken Domer to step up and make this nonsense go away.  It’s also a cue for the City Council to hold him accountable in that regard.

FPD Making Movie Magic

The cops actually paid money for a big, stupid McGruff the Crime Dog helmet, which they used to produce this terrible video. I have no idea where the trench coat came from, nor do I want to know.

The film has reached 36 views on YouTube since it was published in July.

I’d be happier of the Fullerton police got out of the moronic video business, quit the relentless PR campaign, and just stuck to honest public service.

Toll Road Scofflaw Dan Hughes

Dan Hughes’ career as police chief came to a pretty embarrassing end in November 2016.  OCDA investigator Abraham Santos opined that Hughes criminally obstructed justice when he ordered Joe Felz be driven home without an arrest after the now infamous DUI collision.  As a result, Santos is now fighting for his career, the result of him blowing the whistle on the OCDA’s refusal to press charges.

Like any politician who lacks integrity, Hughes always tried to portray himself as an upstanding citizen.  How ironic because this past July, the Fullerton Police Department learned that a toll was never paid on SR-73 all the way back in December 2015.

You guessed correctly — the vehicle involved was the unmarked City-owned sedan assigned to Dan Hughes.

I haven’t included all of the e-mails back and forth, but suffice it to say, several City employees wasted numerous hours trying to pin down whose car it was, and to ultimately reduce the toll penalties due.

Hughes has a couple of options here:

  1. Own up to his mistake.  Reimburse the City for the toll and penalties due.  Prove to his old department, his peers, current employees and Disney management that he really is a man of integrity.  If this was an error on the part of the toll roads, offer some sort of plausible explanation of what happened that day.
  2. Be a coward.  Do and say nothing.  Make the residents of Fullerton pay for yet another one of his failures.  Hide behind the half a million he rakes in annually between CalPERS and Disneyland.

This will be really interesting because I fully expect him to choose the second option.  I hope he proves me wrong.

DEA Helicopter Crashes at Fullerton Airport

There was a crash at the Fullerton Airport this morning. By the time the media arrived, the FAA registration numbers on the tail had been carefully covered up with a tarp. Initial media reports indicate that nobody was injured and the media was instructed to start calling it a “hard landing” instead of a crash. The the rotors broke and the back fell off.


Despite the effort to deidentify the plane, an ABC7 reporter posted a photograph that shows the aircraft as a Eurocopter AS 350 with the FAA registration of N515ET. Aircraft registry websites show that the helicopter has a history of operating in Southern California.

What’s special about this bird? It was initially registered to the US Department of Justice in 2006 until its ownership was transferred in 2011, along with 14 other planes owned by the Drug Enforcement Agency, to a suspected DEA front company called Chaparral Air Group.

Well, there it is. The DEA was secretly operating out of the Fullerton Airport, and then they crashed their expensive toy. And now you’ll get to buy them a new one.