What is it About OCTA and Bikes?

What is it about the Orange County Transportation Agency and its love of bicycle boondoggles? We know they are obligated to pretend they care about multi-modal transportation, but why the silliness? FFFF readers will recall we talked about the ludicrous $800 per bike ride fiasco overseen by former County Supervisor and OCTA Boardmember, Shawn Nelson.

Sturdy looking, but up to the challenge? 

Now it appears that Nelson’s sclerotic successor, Fullerton’s own Prince of Potholes, Doug “Bud” Chaffee is following in the noble tradition.

 

I just received a self-promoting e-mail from Supervisor Chaffee touting OCTA bike day. For ten bucks you get bike training, a nifty bike helmet, bike lights and a delicious lunch. What the subsidy for these days of fun is the public is not informed. However the impoverished need not worry; for “scholarships” are available on a limited basis although we are not enlightened as to who might qualify, and how. The provided link says nothing about “scholarships.”

Now while there’s nothing wrong with bicycle safety, per se, one wonders why we are paying for classes on how to ride a bike, and on “fun” bike tours and “advanced” bicycling skills. And why does the public have to pay for the political promotion of “public servants?”

 

Lack of Control at OC Animal Control

 

The tabby had other plans…

Once in a while we here at FFFF like to shine a spotlight on some of the more ludicrous doings down on the County farm, and today’s special comes from a Friend who wants to be known as Stephanie. Apparently, Steph had an encounter with the good folks at OC Animal Control recently and decided to share her story. Here it is:

Dear FFFF,

I’d like to relate an experience I’ve recently had with the county’s animal control people. I was breaking up a cat fight between my cat and a stray when my pet in a real excited state bit my hand pretty badly. Fortunately the nurse at urgent care warned me that they were legally required to report the incident to the County and my cat would have to be quarantined under County supervision, all because of rabies. This was ridiculous because my cat had just got its rabies vaccination.

Sure enough, the Animal Control people started showing up a few days later. I made up a story about getting bit by a stray somewhere and after returning for further interrogation several times they finally sent me this letter:

All clear. Since 1956.

Wow! Medically cleared by Animal Control! The funniest part of this letter is the reassuring reminder that no cat has contracted rabies in Orange County in 62 years. What’s not so funny is the time, resources, and bureaucratic rigmarole involved in an incident that was nobody’s business but hers.

Breaking News: Fullerton Threatens Local Blog – Again

The city is threatening to sue us… again.

Let’s have a look at the newest letter from the city (PDF HERE) before getting into why this is happening:

Dear Ms. Aviles:

VIA CERTIFIED MAIL RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED

As legal counsel for the City of Fullerton, I write, pursuant to California Government Code section 6204 et seq., to notify you, as legal counsel to the owner(s) and/or operator(s) of the Friends for Fullerton’s Future (FFFF) blog, that the City of Fullerton has reasonable grounds to believe that owner(s) and/or operator(s) of the FFFF blog are in unlawful possession of records belonging to the City of Fullerton. The records were taken and used by FFFF blog owner(s) and/or operator(s) without the City’s authorization and fall within the definition of “record” under California Government Code Section 6204(a)(2), as well as the definition of “public records” under California Government Code § 6252(e), and are described as follows:

Any and all records obtained from the City of Fullerton’s Dropbox account (https://cityoffullerton.com/outbox) that were not directly provided by the City to Joshua Ferguson or any of FFFF’s agents or associates through an emailed link, including, but not limited to, records contained in a folder named “prl 919 – Josh Ferguson.”

Therefore, pursuant to Govemmentt Code section 6204, within twenty (20) calendar days of receiving this notice, the owner(s) and/or operator(s) of the Friends for Fullerton’s Future blog are hereby directed to either:

  1. (1)  Return the above-referenced records to the City of Fullerton, as previously requested; or
  2. (2)  Respond in writing and declare why the above-referenced records do not belong to the City of Fullerton. Ifthe owner(s) and/or operator(s) of the Friends for Fullerton’s Future blog do not deliver the above-described records, or do not respond adequately to this notice and its demand within the required time, we will immediately thereafter petition the Superior Court of Orange County for an order requiring the return of these records.

We further note that the FFFF blog has posted many of the confidential City documents after receipt of our office’s June 13, 2019 cease-and-desist email. (A copy of that email is enclosed herein). Many, if not all, of the confidential City records posted to the FFFF blog are explicitly exempted from disclosure under the California Public Records Act, would not have been provided to Mr. Ferguson or FFFF agents or associates in response to a Public Records Act request, and could only have been obtained without the City’s express authorization. Such records posted to the FFFF blog are confidential and exempt from disclosure pursuant to the following authorities:

  • “Preliminary drafts, notes, or interagency or intra-agency memoranda that are not retained by the public agency in the ordinary course of business, if the public interest in withholding those records clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254(a);
  • “Records pertaining to pending litigation to which the public agency is a party, or to claims made pursuant to Division 3.6 (commencing with Section 810), until the pending litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254(b);
  • “Personnel, medical, or similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254(c);
  • Law enforcement investigative records. Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254(f); and
  • “Records, the disclosure of which is exempted or prohibited pursuant to federal or state law, including, but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254(k), which includes the following privileges:

o Attorney-client privileged records. Cal. Evid. Code 950 et seq.; Roberts v. City of Palmdale, 5 Cal. 4th 363 (1993);

o Attorney work product. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 2018.010 et seq.;
o Peace officer personnel records. Cal. Penal Code § 832.7 et seq.; and o Confidential closed session information. Cal. Gov’t Code § 54963.

FFFF’s unauthorized access and misuse of the City’s clearly privileged and exempted documents constitute a violation of California Penal Code section 502, which grants civil remedies (including compensatory damages, attorney’s fees and potential punitive damages) to any persons or entities injured by any violations thereof. See Cal. Pen. Code § 502(c), (e).

As such, unless FFFF complies with the demands set forth in the City’s June 13, 2019 cease and desist letter within 24 hours, the City will have no choice but to pursue all criminal and civil remedies available to it under the law.

Bruce A. Lindsay

Fullerton Cease and Desist 2 Page 01 Fullerton Cease and Desist 2 Page 02

What is this all about?

For those in the cheap seats we at Friends For Fullerton’s Future broke news story after new story by publishing documents that the city didn’t want disclosed and tying those documents to local events and items of public interest. Those stories include, but are not limited to:

The city settling with a police officer to sidestep disclosure laws regarding police misconduct.

The results of a Body Worn Camera audit for a School Resource Police Officer who had, what appears to be, child pornography on his (or perhaps department issued) cell phone.

An insurance payout for an accident that destroyed a city vehicle.

Likely fraud by city employees costing over $50,000 worth of waste/theft.

Possible Accounting fraud within the city budget used to hide salary costs.

A city council member specifically targeting one businesses.

Massive Police Overtime abuse that went on for 6 years.

Evidence that the city is lying and violating the California Public Records Act.

And more, and more, and more, and more, and more, and more, and more and more.

In short, they’re mad that we’re doing what journalists are supposed to do daily. We’re using information to piece together stories in order to inform the public.

These latest threats are meant to serve as a chilling effect to silence people who would dare impugn the character of Fullerton with facts the city wants obscured. I’m hesitant to head to city hall or go to council meetings lately knowing that the city is targeting me personally for the use of free speech on this news site / blog. And that’s really the point of these types of threats – to silence dissenters.

How will we respond to this latest salvo by the city? I reckon we’ll confer with our legal counsel and act accordingly.

Fullerton Lies to Fight Transparency – Airport Edition

I’m not sure why Fullerton is so dedicated to being lying liars telling lies to just to tell them but that’s how they do.

Recently somebody put in a Public Records Request to find out if the City of Fullerton was in violation of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Grant Rules and risking a financial headache.

This all stems from Hanger 21 and their non-aeronautical use holding parties instead of making sure the space in question is used for actual aeronautical use as required by the FAA.

Public Records Request number 19-272 asked, and I quote;

“Please provide me with a list of non-aeronautical and aeronautical hangars at the Fullerton Airport.”

The response from the city was;

No Records Available

“The City does not maintain a list, and the Public Records Act does not require the City to create records in response to a request.”

Oh really.

Weird. This email from Airport Manager Brendan O’Reilly seems to say otherwise.

Non-Aero Uses at Airport

“Here’s what I wrote up for the eviction of the twelve non-aero tenants, along with the letter I sent out last February as a warning.”

So there’s a list of non-aeronautical tenants when the city needs it but not one when the city is required to disclose it? It sure seems that Brendan O’Reilly is making things up at his convenience to suit his immediate needs.

Oh Lying Liars and the Lies they tell.

This isn’t the first time that O’Reilly has been caught lying. He previously lied to the city about the airport having a waiver for non-aeronautical uses which the city doesn’t have. He got away with it because our council and staff are lazy, incompetent or both.

In the end, these lying liars who lie are going to cost you, the taxpayers, millions.

It’ll cost you when AirCombat wins their lawsuit because the city is illegally renting an aeronautical facility to a non-aeronautical user at below market rates AND the city purposely disqualified two applicants (including AirCombat) from the lease because Hanger 21 could pay more. BUT we rented to H21 at below market rate (if it wasn’t on an airport) because they could pay more than the tenants who would actually use the space for aeronautical uses which the city is legally required to prioritize.

Then it’ll cost you once more when Hangar 21 sues the city for estoppel for damages they incurred after the Feds force H21’s eviction from the property due to an illegal lease.

Oh. And don’t forget that the airport wasn’t even zoned to allow for Hanger21’s business when they were approved. Again, per Airport Manager O’Reilly:

Hanger21 PL Zoning

“After our EDAT meeting on October 5, it seems that we won’t be able to get CC approval for the item because of the PL Zoning issue.”

This is the bullshit Fullerton’s Council tolerates. This is the bullshit they will continue to tolerate because they don’t know any better. This is the bullshit we get to pay for because our City Council is too spineless to ask a single pointed question, let alone demand compliance with our own laws.

It isn’t going to get better until voters hold these nitwits accountable and make them responsible for their actions. Good luck getting that to happen.

Your Tax Dollars at Waste

The City has been telling us for years that we’re poor — we need paid parking to maintain the downtown, we need a city sales tax to pay for infrastructure repair, we need higher fees to offset higher pension costs, yada yada yada.

That’s an interesting plea given the inordinate waste that is funded by the City’s General Fund.

When it comes to essential services like investigating crimes, approving building plans, or scheduling a fire inspection — we are told they are short-staffed, and the City can’t afford extra manpower — yet there’s plenty of cash for stuff like what you see below:

$600 of our tax dollars to a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization

 

$420 for a Fire Department party at the airport

$640 for toy lapel pins to give to children

 

Suicide by Cop vs. Murder by Cop

17yo Shot on Freeway

For some people the release of video showing  the “justified” July 5th shooting of a female teenager by a Fullerton policeman is cause for celebration. Well, we can store that information in the Sad Troll folder and move on. Really, though, one must linger over the sad state of affairs when the FPD has to broadly publicize the fact that their man didn’t kill anybody illegally, with malice or by incompetence.

What a difference eight years make, right? For on July 5th, 2011, and in the months following, the FPD made every effort to hide, lie about, obfuscate, deflect, and misdirect information in the wake of their illegitimate killing of the homeless man, Kelly Thomas.

Has the FPD opened a new chapter in its relationship with the public that supports it?

Maybe. I don’t know, but I doubt it.

When there is exculpatory evidence, it seems, the police are only too happy to release information; thus, within one week of the recent event, the dead teenage girl’s demise was the subject of an FPD press video, complete with  slow motion footage showing what happened. And yet when police actions are reckless, incompetent, or even criminal, the PR apparatus retreats into the bunker and cannot say a word.

We’re gonna kick your ass…

This is the twisted legacy of former Chief Pat “I Hired Them All” McKinley and the goon squad he imported from the LAPD.

What we have here is failure to communicate…

As we saw with McKinley’s second successor, Chief Danny “Galahad” Hughes, when something bad goes down the department has taken the position that the best medicine is not overdue reform, clean-up and real accountability, but a stiff dose of community relations and departmental tours. This, even as Hughes himself participated in the most dubious undertakings.

We aren’t very nice, but we sure are expensive…

Maybe someday police departments like FPD will come to realize that covering up for bad police work is itself bad police work; that the public that pays for their salaries, benefits and early “retirement” ought to be served instead of abused; and maybe, just maybe, people in California will start getting honest answers and timely, truthful information instead of phony or non-existent “internal” investigations, shifting stories, and outright deception from the police.

 

Local Highschool Girl Shot and Killed by Officer Who is Yet to be Questioned

Hannah Linn Williams

A Fullerton police officer shot a 17yo female. A girl and minor by all objective standards considering she wasn’t of legal drinking, smoking, firearm purchasing or consenting age amongst other things. She was a teenager despite early reports claiming that she was a 17yo woman.

Woman. Which by definition means an adult female.

You just need to look at the Fullerton Observer’s link on the story to see they ran with the “Woman” bait before changing the headline.

17yo Woman

Anything to mitigate the damage and obscure the facts until people complain I guess.

This is where Police Cover-up culture hurts the reputation of police departments. If we take the District Attorney’s report at face value, that a replica Beretta was found “in the vehicle next to the victim”, even though witness statements say she outside of the vehicle, we could be looking at a terrible situation of suicide by cop.

But we don’t know the facts because the officer is legally entitled to not talk to investigators and when the officer does finally get interviewed the investigators will be constrained by what they can ask and how they can ask it thanks to laws putting officers above the rest of us.

I understand that the terrible laws protecting police exist, POBAR specifically, but the idea that an officer can take a life at 7pm on Friday and on the following Tuesday still isn’t been required to give a statement is just asinine. Memories change and fade and if a civilian had been the shooter in this situation there is no way they would have let the suspect walk away and not talk to investigators for 4 days. Police would be threatening walk-outs at the injustice because they’re hypocrites.

The officer might be justified in the actions of Friday night, the officer might not be but the idea that the Department and District Attorney can besmirch the victim with the release of the replica information while hiding everything else behind an “ongoing investigation” stinks to high hell. We don’t know where the shooting took place (inside or outside the vehicle), if the “replica” was next to, near or around the suspect or what led to the Officer’s vehicle colliding with the suspects. We don’t know the officer’s name even. Imagine if somebody shot her on school grounds – do you think 72 hours later we still wouldn’t know the name of the shooter, justified or not? Hell, the little we do know is about the replica and we didn’t know it was a BB gun for days.

17yo Shot on Freeway

It doesn’t help the situation that Fullerton PD doesn’t deserve our trust. There are too many cases of lying cops, cheating cops, cops stealing and cops committing terrible acts being ignored, buried or outright covered up. And all of it is typically hidden behind a Blue Wall of Silence because “the brotherhood” trumps ethics, morality and doing the right thing nearly every time in every situation. Hero and Deserve is the ethos of City Hall and City Council regardless of the situation.

Fullerton PD, until the law required the release of documents, was happy to not tell you that one of their officers was fired for making a female suspect strip so he could shine a flashlight at her crotch and then later asking her on a date.

They were happy to not tell parents what a school resource officer might have been doing with lewd photos of their sons and daughters.

They were happy to hide Officer DUIs and worse.

This department settled with a Lieutenant in a way to specifically avoid disclosure laws.

They’re happy to bury evidence, delete videos and lie to the public. Remember the officer’s “broken bones” that Andrew Goodrich proclaimed after the Kelly Thomas incident? No bones were broken but that statement was never publicly retracted once it was in the wild.

And again, the Officer has yet to talk to investigators now 4 days out from the fatal shooting. Half a week later and the one person personally involved in the events leading up to the intentional killing of a 17yo girl has not even said anything to authorities.

I don’t believe in the Eric Holder idea of never letting a crises go to waste but if anything good comes out of this death than maybe changing POBAR, the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights, can be that change.

POBAR is nothing but a law that obstructs justice, delays investigations and puts the safety of an officer’s job above the truth and facts. It gives officers rights and privileges they would never accept for anybody else under investigation. The police would complain endlessly about being handcuffed by such legislation if it applied to all people equally and thus it needs to land in the dustbin of history next to all other terrible laws which pervert justice.

Justice is supposed to be blind, not blind, deaf, and dumb for one protected class of heroes.

Is Fullerton PD Illegally Destroying Records?

destroy-evidence

Last September it was revealed that the Long Beach Police Department was using a phone app, known as TigerText, to send encrypted and self-deleting messages. From the article:

Two of the officers claimed that they were also instructed by their superiors to use the app to “have conversations with other officers that wouldn’t be discoverable”.

The City of Long Beach paid for an independent review which found no wrongdoing, owing that the city and investigator claimed that the messages were “transitory” and thus exempt from disclosure.

This transitory argument should sound familiar as it’s the same argument which was made by the Orange County Supervisors, including now District Attorney Todd Spitzer, when they voted to destroy “transitory” records including texts and emails.

So what does this have to do with Fullerton PD?

TigerText was being used in Long Beach when our now former Chief David Hendricks was Deputy Chief in that department. The idea that he wasn’t using or didn’t know that TigerText was being utilized for years under his command is laughable.

Knowing the above, one of our friends put in a records request asking if the city of Fullerton was using Tigertext or a similar app known as Signal and what the policies and procedures were around such software.

From Chief Dunn himself:

TigetText

“Hi ma’am…this question was floating around here last week…I am not familiar with any use of either of those messaging apps…I am aware that we use other apps that may do the same thing however…”

According to our Current Police Chief the city does in fact use similar software, in what capacity it is unknown, and they have no policies or procedures in place over how to use such software or to help mitigate abuses.

Now let us skip ahead to this last week when a Superior Court Judge ruled against the OC Supervisors in the ongoing case over their transitory records policy. The County’s argument fell apart because the word “transitory” exists nowhere in disclosure laws.

With that ruling it certainly looks like the OC Supervisors broke the law to hide as much as possible which is pretty much par for the course from that legislative body.

Let’s circle back to Fullerton with that ruling established thus far.

Is Fullerton PD is still using a similar app to TigerText, as Chief Dunn admitted, and are they also using it to destroy “transitory” records illegally?

Will the City Manager or City Council even bother to investigate this issue and further will they follow the law if PD is found to be in violation? Don’t count on it.

Fullerton Observer Fails at Local Journalism

I’m glad to see that Woodward and Bernstein over at the Fullerton Observer have decided to deviate from their usual city council puffery in order to run a twopart summary of the Mueller Report. Lord knows not enough people are covering THAT story in the media. It sure shows the local journalist chops at work in the local media to… rehash what the entire global media establishment won’t shut up about.

Observer Mueller

Normally I wouldn’t take time out of my day to poke fun at the Observer but I need to point something out for the sake of clarity. If you search for the Observer on Google or go to their About Us page they ask for money from people in order to… wait for it:

Protect local journalism –”

I’m pretty sure this website has broken more local news in Fullerton in the last few weeks alone than the Observer has in a decade and we got hit with an ethically and legally dubious Cease and Desist letter from the “City Prosecutor” for our efforts.

When we were being threatened by City Hall where was the Observer? They’ve been silent on the whole issue because of course they have been. They likely won’t report on anything critical of the city we’ve published without us identifying our sources but no source info is needed for that Cease and Desist letter and yet still radio silence.

Sadly, as has been the case for far too long, if the Observer isn’t crying about the liberal cause-de-jour they’re spending their column space blowing smoke up the skirts of city bureaucrats and avoiding any issue that might shed light on how things actually function in our local government. It may be a bad look to call one’s staff “journalists” if you function more as a local government PR firm.

Maybe after the city follows up on their anti-First Amendment threats against this blog, and one of our contributors, the Observer will have raised enough money to “protect local journalism” in order to actually write about the issue. But don’t hold your breath.

Maybe the Story is Down Here

More of Felz’s Accounting Manipulation

Felz Larger
For a long time we had inklings and heard rumors that former City Manager Joe Felz monkeyed with the accounting around City Hall and fudged as much as possible while pretending, with the likes of Jennifer Fitzgerald that our budget was “balanced”. It was plainly obvious when the Redevelopment Agency was shuttered by State law and yet nobody lost a job that Felz’s priorities were not with fiscal restraint. It was just as obvious when nobody on City Council questioned it that he was bound to keep on keeping on.

So now we have a new small example of how Felz and everybody down the food chain ran our city (emphasis in original):

Kevin City Council Meetings

“Years ago after the Kelly Thomas incident, Joe had authorized a part-time parks & rec employee to hang around in the lobby during Council meetings for (I’m assuming) crowd control or some type of assistance.  I just found out today that these employees’ time, averaging 5 hours per Council night, is being charged to Public Works landscaping, apparently because Joe thought that budget had money???? (not).  Public Works has finally gotten wind of it and says no more, which I absolutely agree with.  Either this coverage should cease, or it should be charged to the City Council’s budget (for which there is absolutely no room).

Please provide direction to affected parties as appropriate.”

While this looks like small potatoes, it goes to the ethics and opaque way Fullerton’s finances were run and the willful ignorance on the part of council.  This payroll game is another case of something which ran for literal years before somebody found it by accident at which point the “Oh shit do something” brigade started worrying about details they long ignored.

If payroll for employees is buried in the wrong departments what other money is being used inappropriately around City Hall?

Don’t expect our City Manager to explain how this problem ran for so long and who is being held to account or for our City Council to ask any tough questions or to even address this or any similar issues. That would be out of character and would require them to be open, honest and accountable.