The sad part about Joe Felz’ retirement is that running over a tree, while likely under the influence of alcohol, might have actually improved his legacy as City Manager. How is that possible? Easy. The tree incident is a convenient distraction at an optimal time. Except for the anonymous letter penned by City employees a couple weeks ago, few people are talking about his actual job performance which deserves just as much scrutiny.
One of his biggest failures is that he not only tolerated, but actively participated in deceiving the public through various means, be it omission, obfuscation, or just outright lying to people. He wasn’t crafty about concealing it either – agenda letters and staff reports sent to the City Council and others were chock full of half-truths, non-truths, and other nonsense designed to mislead the public.
I think we ought to be forgiving in the case of legitimate mistakes or typos. None of us are perfect, so transposed digits, or maybe a missing word here or there, isn’t the end of the world provided it doesn’t materially influence a decision. The point where it ceases to be a “mistake” or “typo” and, thus, becomes completely unacceptable, is when people offering up this information stick to their guns and defiantly defend such errors as being gospel.
In case you missed the last installment of the Brea Dam fiasco, one point of contention concerning the golf course was converting the Lease to a Management Agreement with American Golf.
Parks and Recreation Administrative Manager Alice Loya went before the City Council in November 2010 and said American Golf would receive a $500,000 “Management Fee” with 1% annual increases. Minus payment to a couple American Golf managers, this constitutes guaranteed profit to American Golf, a perk they never enjoyed in the past.
Ms. Loya offered the following Powerpoint slide which affirmed the $500,000 figure:
Guess what? The Management Fee actually began at $670,000 – not $500,000 – as depicted by the signed agreement, below:
Surely they will admit to their mistakes and set the record straight, right?
When I first went public with the problems at the Brea Dam, the Fullerton Observer tossed some softballs at Parks and Rec Director Hugo Curiel, who offered up this response:
Hugo Curiel conceded I was correct without saying it. $58,000 multiplied by 12 months is $696,000 – very close to the real amount paid out in FY 14-15. Since there were numerous unresolved issues, the Parks and Recreation Commission took up the Brea Dam matter a bit further.
Two months after the Fullerton Observer article was published (above), a presentation was prepared by Hugo Curiel / Alice Loya for the January 11, 2016 Parks and Rec meeting that reverted back to the incorrect $500K figure. No joke – you can’t make this stuff up!
In the very next slide, they changed their mind again and said the AGC Management Fee “Payment” was $587,000 in FY 2014-15.
Hugo and Alice came back at the March 14, 2016 Parks and Rec meeting with yet another version in the staff report. This time, the management fee was $500K with the American Golf management salaries ($170K) being a separate item. Strange how that distinction is not noted anywhere else!
By the way, the City’s accounting ledger for the Brea Dam Fund showed a total Management Fee pay out of $694,328.40 in FY 2014-15.
For anybody keeping track, Parks and Rec claimed the actual amount was $500,000 three different times, $587,000 another time, $500,000 plus $170,000 in salaries a different time, and approx $696,000 ($58,000 monthly) circa 2015 just once.
That’s six answers and only the last one had any semblance of truth to it.
No matter what you call this, be it misrepresentation, dishonesty, outright lying, or whatever you want, the City is on the hook for an additional $2.7 million in guaranteed payments over the course of the 15 year agreement.
Facts are never their friends, and they will go to great efforts to defeat them.
To be continued…