The Insidious Theft of Our Sovereignty

UPDATE: As noted in the comment from Chris Thompson below, he did not learn about the Beechwood situation (whatever it is) from FFFF. This was my error. I misread the following comment made by Thompson in yesterday’s post: 

For clarity’s sake, I have NOT been briefed on any aspect of this story beyond the information which has been made publicly available in the meeting posted here.

I read this to mean that he had not been briefed at all. I do not know if he had an independent briefing from Hovey, but he was actually at the meeting in question. My mistake. I have edited the text below. 

In the past few days in Fullerton we have witnessed the usurpation of public sovereignty by government employees and contractors who seem to believe it is their right, not our representative’s, to determine what sorts of information the duly elected representatives are, or are not permitted to see.

First, was the protracted saga of Fullerton City councilman Bruce Whitaker, who for seven moths has been trying to get access to the video of  FPD cops beating Kelly Thomas to death. This is a pretty reasonable request, you would think, given the fact that the cops have watched and re-watched the video (Acting Chief Dan Hughes says he’s seen it 400 times); it’s been viewed by the DA; it’s been  watched by Cicinelli and Ramos’s lawyers; apparently it’s even been watched by Ron Thomas, father of the dead man. But for some reason the City Manager and City Attorney believe they have the authority to deny access of this public document to Bruce Whitaker, and have used the majority vote of the Three Dim Bulbs to continue to deny Whitaker access.

This is just an outrageous usurpation of the authority that accrues to elected officials by virtue of their popular election. Despite what the bureaucrats and their die-hard elected supporters believe, the sovereignty invested in the elected is indivisible and should never be confused with the practical exigency of majority rule that determines policy and decides the quotidian issues of managing a city.

And then, we have the very recent sad spectacle of a Fullerton School District trustee, Chris Thompson, not being adequately briefed on a matter involving a teacher at Beechwood Elementary School – a matter so serious that the Fullerton police were called in to investigate it, and an emergency parent meeting held. Whatever is going on, the Superintendant, Mitch Hovey decided that the trustees didn’t need to know about it.

The question of whether other trustees besides Thompson were briefed remains to be ascertained, and if so that would make matters even worse.

But here’s the really bad part. According to Thompson: Dr. Hovey informed me that he had been advised by the district’s law firm as to what information he could and could not give to the board members. He did confirm that he knows more than we do. 

Say what? That law firm doesn’t work for Hovey; it works for the Board of Trustees who hired them. It has no business collaborating with the Superintendent to decide what information can and can’t be parceled out to the Board. And anybody who doesn’t grasp this basic tenet shouldn’t be on the Board or work for it, either.

As Assemblyman Norby pointed out in his newsletter, it is both the right and the responsibility of elected officials to have reasonable access to public property and documents in order to do their jobs. The Legislative Counsel for the State of California said so. This precept is all about accountability and responsibility in our representative democracy.

So why is this basic concept being flagrantly flouted by Fullerton’s bureaucrats? Who is in charge here, indeed?


30 Replies to “The Insidious Theft of Our Sovereignty”

  1. Government officials need to stop playing poker as if they are the house with all the cards in their favor.

    It is time to bring down the house.

  2. I want to make it clear that I did NOT learn of an investigation through Fullerton’s Future. Superintendent Hovey absolutely contacted me both Sunday night (we did not connect) as well as Monday morning to let me know that an investigation was under way. I would concur with all other characterizations about what has transpired in this post. It would be my preference that Mr. Sipowicz (whoever you are) correct that fact in this post, but at least I have clarified it here. – Chris Thompson, FSD Trustee

    1. Thanks for the clarification, Chris. I agree that it would be important to have this correction made in Mr. Sipowicz’s post.

  3. The notion that one council member cannot be given access to public records without the support of a majority of his/her council members is absurd.

    We must realize that the U.S. has become a balkanized country. What do I mean by that? I simply mean that group rights has overcome and over shadowed our overall rights as citizens.

    When you place the welfare of public employees over the overall rights of the citizens who pay their salaries, you naturally create problems. When seniors’ rights are more important than children’s rights, you create problems. When the welfare of your particular ethnic, religious, or political group is more important to you than the overall welfare of all U.S. citizens, it becomes a problem.

    Why do police and fire unions give tens of thousands of certain candidates for office? They want their narrow goals protected and expanded?

    Let us start thinking of solutions for all. For policies and practices that makes the whole stronger, not one group over another.

    It will be only then, that this great country of ours can get back on track and move forward with opportunity and justice for all!

    We must start thinking and more importantly acting as citizens in concert for the greater good and not the selfish wants of a particular group or cause.

    Special rights and privileges for the few is not the America I grew up in and it is not the America I want my son to inherit.

    My argument has come full circle. Because I believe it starts with us teaching our children to be better citizens and human beings.

    It starts with teaching them that we are all part of a family call America. The greatest country ever!

    1. You may think it absurd that a single member of the Council, should have this ‘right’; I think the attorney is on pretty firm ground denying that ‘right’ as he works for the Council, not the individuals who comprise the Council. You can huff and puff all you want; but, until you change the majority on the Council you will be shit out of luck.

      1. So if a council majority wanted to deny Whitaker the right to see the weekly agenda, they could? I don’t think that’s how it works.

      2. He works for the council but he has an obligation to provide them with sound legal advice – which in this case is to acknowledge that the right to inspect City property and documents does not inhere in a council majority’s whim. Leg. Counsel said so.

        This is not about having a council majority. But we’re going to have that soon, too.

  4. Thanks for making the correction/editing the text. I value accuracy and I appreciate it when FFFF bloggers correct inaccurate statements that are brought to their attention.

  5. The issue is important. Time and tim again we see elected officials like the three bald tires who WANT to be led around like cattle by staff – just so long as they are able get freebies, stipends, go to ribbon cuttings and receive empty deference.

    People like Bankhead, Jone, McKinley and the four other FSD trustees are only too happy to sell OUR birthright for a little gratification of their big egos.

  6. Any law firm employed by the City or School District ought to be communicating with the City Manager or Superintendent by way of the elected officials acting as the intermediary.

    This means:
    1. All written correspondence between the law firm and City Manager or Superintendent must be cc’ed to all elected officials.

    2. Phone calls between the two sides are setup as conference calls with at least one elected official listening in. Phone calls need to be recorded and made available to the elected officials when this isn’t possible.

    3. Deviation from this protocol is grounds for immediate termination of the City Manager or Superintendent and termination of the contract with the law firm. I would go a step further and make this a criminal misdemeanor, at least under the City’s municipal code…not sure if the School Board has any legislative authority to do the same.

    Our current arrangement exists because 95% of all City Councils and School Boards are too stupid to challenge the “power” of the law firm that never existed in the first place.

  7. Don’t any of you remember the concept of the executive wash room? The privileged get keys to it so that the lowly riff raff can’t come in. Any council getting the kind of advice that these bozos are receiving should know that their legal council can get into hot water too for giving such advice. At the end of all this we will get the information and the legal adviser giving out this illegal advice will never work for this council (and maybe anybody else) again.

  8. did you know Mitch Hovey can walk on water?

    SPIN never stops in this great city of fullerton.

    appointed or elected officials most of them are just concerned about their bank account, benefits & etc. etc. etc.

    they are here to serve, serve themselves.

    we need a lot of hail mary.

  9. Are any parents outraged enough to protest? Its time to put more pressure on the failed leadership in our city.

  10. #19 by Lifesaving Service on March 1, 2012
    For Samara and Fullerton City Council.

    Long Beach Police Officer ordered to stand trial on 18 felony counts of domestic violence (March 1st, 2012)

    LOS ANGELES — A 29-year-old Long Beach Police Department officer was ordered Wednesday to stand trial on multiple counts of domestic violence in a case of alleged ongoing abuse that included beatings with police issued-equipment and death threats.

  11. who hired april? probably it was part of her training.

    same shit different day.

    any good news about fullerton?

    1. Good news -yes the recall is in full swing and the establishment lackeys are full of termites. We also have a lot of bright young people up and coming in this city that are awakening because of the awakening of their parents. The righteous indignation of the public is beginning to crest. We are all Friends For Fullerton’s Future and it will be a bright one.

      1. Well said once again Truthseeker.

        Thank you FFFF for keeping the citizens of Fullerton properly informed.

  12. “Theft of Our Sovereignty” is overstated.

    Unelected administrators and attorneys cannot by force steal sovereignty. It is handed to them–by default–by those elected officials who fail to lead and willingly rubber stamp decisions made by others.

    Call it the “Bell Syndrome”.

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