Fitzgerald’s 5 Year Deception

At last night’s Fullerton City Council meeting (21 March 2017) I spoke on Agenda Item 3 regarding budget strategies. Amongst other comments I asked for clarification on what was meant by “Structural Deficit” considering that both Fitzgerald and former Councilwoman Jan Flory constantly claimed we have/had a balanced budget. I asked what changed overnight to take us from a balanced budget on 08 November 2016 into a “Structural deficit” today.

Structural Deficit Evidence

What I got regarding an answer was Councilwoman Fitzgerald dodging the question and blaming Sacramento and the CalPERS rate change. And I quote:

“And I will go ahead and answer the question that was brought up over balanced budgets and what happened overnight and I will tell you, I mean, for former Council member Flory and I, when we talked about balanced budgets. Our 5 year projections, every year showed a balanced budget and what happened overnight is CalPERS decreased the amount of returns that they assumed that we were going to receive. So, that is what happened to those 5 year projections to change them.”

There’s a lot to unpack so strap in kiddos.

First of all I didn’t ask about the 5 year projections. I asked about the budget. For reference on the distinction let us look at Fitzgerald for Fullerton -dot- com:

Budget versus Forecast

On her website there is an “Issues” section and in that section is a sub-topic of “Balanced Budget”. The very first line in the Balanced Budget topic section of her website claims that our budget was balanced. Technically she claims our budget is still balanced owing to the current status of said website for the literal folk. The very next sentence talks of the forecast.

Just say anything…

This is not a distinction without a difference and thus her answer is bollocks. The difference matters because our City Council doesn’t vote on forecasts. The Fullerton City Council votes on Budgets and Councilwoman Fitzgerald knows that we don’t have a 5 year budget.

We run a two-year budget and the second year is always revised because it’s always wrong. There is no budget 3, 4 or 5 years out. The closest thing we have to 5 year budgets are fanciful financial forecasts. Forecasts which are simply projections based upon unicorns, leprechauns and an economy that never falters.

Here is the actual cover page for the 2 year budget for which Fitzgerald voted:

Notice that it doesn’t cover 5 years.

That’s the very budget that she claims is balanced – 2015-2016 / 2016-2017. If it’s balanced then we should be able to prove that simply by looking at that budget and doing some math.

For the adopted 2015-2016 budget we have a Total Proposed Budget of $181,271,869.00 and from that we subtract the Total Revenues of $164,492,354.00 which equals = -$16,779,515.00.

For the adopted 2016-2017 budget we have Total Proposed Budget of $180,677,527.00 and from that we subtract the Total Revenues of $173,865,383.00 which equals = -$6,812,144.00.

That’s a two year running total of NEGATIVE $23,591,659.00 and the end of the line for the amazing disappearing balanced budget. The budget that was approved per City Resolution 2015-31 on a 3-2 vote.

Sacramento didn’t sandbag our amazing budgetary skills with a reduced CalPERS rate (that takes place over three fiscal years). The real culprit is that 3 of our 5 council members suck at math.

If we remember back to our friend Sean Paden’s post about the salary increases you’ll note that over the last 4 years our council ADDED $19,507,953.00 in expenditures and the attached CalPERS obligations that come with those increases.

While it is true that those CalPERS rate changes are going to hurt us it should be pointed out that the rate change was announced on 21 December 2016 and we were running a structural deficit before that time all the while promising the farm to public safety. It should also be noted that CalPERS rates can only sink us if we promise things we cannot afford and over-extend ourselves. We had unfunded pension obligations long before the rate change and the change simply makes them worse for wear.

To blame a retirement Ponsi-Scheme for our financial woes is disingenuous at best. Fitzgerald, like all of the other acting Democrats on council, simply expected the chickens to come home to roost long after she had moved on to bigger and better things.

Having now shown that the budgets weren’t balanced and that Fitzgerald’s blaming of CalPERS is largely misplaced let us be generous and look at that 5 year fantasy forecast just to make sure we didn’t miss anything:

If you do the basic math of subtracting expenditures from revenues you’ll see a negative trend in EVERY YEAR except FY 2019-2020. Let’s backtrack. Last night Councilwoman Fitzgerald said:

“Our 5 year projections, every year showed a balanced budget…”

Not true. It was only balanced at the very end which happens to be the year with the most pixie dust sprinkled into the formula.

Her website on the other hand said:

“Our five-year financial forecast shows a balanced budget to 2020.”

TO 2020. Not through 2020. That’s a semantic trap and nothing more. Even that simple trap is only true in the technical sense being that you can’t disprove wishful thinking.

Having gone all through all of that we can now unequivocally state that even the very idea of a balanced five year budget forecast is bollocks. Therefore councilwoman Fitzgerald’s disingenuous dodge last night about the five year forecast and our mythical balanced budgets is absolute unmitigated bollocks. The closest thing that we have to a 5 year budget is a 5 year plan to which I offer the following:

26 Replies to “Fitzgerald’s 5 Year Deception”

  1. Fitzgerald should respectfully resign from the council for misleading the public and failure to fulfill her fiduciary duties by not being forthright with the Fullerton taxpayers!

  2. There are documents signed by her as Mayor in 2016 attesting to the fact that 2015-2016 closed with a deficit . Guess what? She went on campaigning and lying on the balanced budget. How can she sit there, at the City Council Meetings, and keep a straight face and say all this bs???

  3. We at CalPERS don’t just “drop” a bill on your lap. Cities are told far in advance what projections are. Lies by Fitz.

  4. Jennifer Fitzgerald has never, not once, voted for a balanced budget since her first budget vote in 2013.

    Every single budget she’s approved has had a structural deficit. All of them.

    The woman is a shameless liar who thinks we’re all stupid. We can read and do math, Councilman.

    Please join us.

  5. She finally concedes that she blew it, but she’s still trying to blame someone else.

    Just accept it, Fitzgerald. You screwed up. Stop lying. Stop misdirecting.

  6. I’m beginning to wonder where Jennifer got the notion of a balanced budget in the first place. She has demonstrated over and over again that she cannot read and make even the simplest of inferences from financial documents. A person that inept would not be able to conclude a balanced budget exists.

    Did her dear friend and disgraced former City Manager Joe Felz lie to her about the budget?

    Failing to fact check whatever she was told, and then using those claims as campaign material, makes her the owner of those non-truths just the same.

    1. I think you are missing the point with Fitzgerald.

      She operates in a corrupt world of political perception where facts and realities only exist insofar as they are helpful income generators.

      Everyone knows a balanced budget is good, therefore the statement has politcal utility. And political utility is fungible in her universe. It means successful influence peddling opportunity.

      Nobody had to tell her the budget was balanced, she just said it was, knowing that the saying so was useful and, as it turned out, was fee of accountability – until now, of course.

      Does this make it a lie? I believe the answer is, inescapably, yes.

      1. I was giving her the benefit of the doubt. Why would I do that? I have no clue except to be nice.

        Of the 20,000 people who voted for Fitz, if one of them were to deny everything you just wrote, they probably cannot escape the point I originally made: dealing with City finances is beyond her skill level, and every Fullerton resident will be worse off for years to come because of her many failures in that regard.

        1. She doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. No politician does. Give them an inch of your trust and they will take a mile.

          I think she is plenty smart enough to understand the budget; it ain’t rocket science. I just think the facts contained therein would create no cognitive response from her other than political self-interest. That being the case, why even bother reading the budget when claiming it is balanced saves so much time.

        2. I think we can agree that she probably didn’t bother reading the budget – whether she has the intelligence to understand it or not.

          1. Doc I have to ask you if you watched the video of Jumbo Jennifer Fatzgerald’s response to Mssr. David Curlee inquiry and noted the distinct snarl that she displays while responding?

            Is this snarl not a universal sign of contempt for the residents of Fullerton who’s behalf that Mssr. Curlee is asking these questions of Fatz?

            Should we advise other residents not try to pet this snarling dog?


            Please advise.

            1. Yes. A high degree of contempt.

              I have no idea if her shots are current so i would advise caution.

            2. Jan Flory always exhibited the same contempt for anybody who had the temerity to question the city staff. Sickening display of arrogant hatred.

  7. Political deception and incompetence; inseparably. Up to June the 2016-17 general fund had a projected seven figure deficit. On June 7 2016, it about balanced and, as we know, in Jan or Feb 2017 had again a seven figure projected deficit. CalPers? Sacramento? Nonsense! How about going for 3 month budgets instead of 2 year budgets?.. Fitzgerald must go.

  8. Typical professional politician. If you were a business owner or manager would you hire someone that had no experience or education to do a job? Well we as voters do that every day. We hire people with no skills except the ability to lie and convince us that they can do the job competently, and then relax while they all just tell us what we want to hear. “Don’t worry, it’s all under control, it’ll be fine.
    Then when we find out they lied and didn’t, or couldn’t, do the job we hired them for, we act surprised and instead of firing them, as we did in 2011/12, we keep them on the job. So who’s really to blame the incompetent liars or the business owners who hired and keep them on the job?

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