Woe to the Charitable Donor

The City — but mostly the police department — periodically receives donations from various groups.  The donors range from businesses like McCoy Mills Ford, to local service groups such as the Elks Lodge, Rotary Clubs, Ebell Club, or even Fullerton residents.  Before anyone pummels me in the comments section for something I didn’t say, I have nothing against these groups and I’m sure their intentions are good.

That being said, I suspect nobody realizes how their money is being (mis)spent once it leaves their hands and enters the City coffers.

  • After acceptance by the City Council, the money is generally moved to the “95” Trust/Slush Fund where donations, deposits, and other miscellaneous cash is kept.
  • The 95 Fund is not part of the City’s budget.  The City Council does not currently vote on expenditures from this fund.
  • The 95 Fund is not audited, or included — like other funds — in the City’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR).

Lax oversight and false promises should not come as a surprise.  Such is the case when the Fullerton Rotary Foundation gave $500 for the police Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).  Former Police Chief Dan Hughes made the following claim in his agenda letter to the City Council:

Below are the procurement card transactions for the last two-plus years on the RSVP account.  Remember, Dan Hughes said the money would be used for supplies and equipment

Apparently food is considered “supplies” and awards and trophies are “equipment”?

Dan Hughes made other questionable assurances about donated money.  To the best of my knowledge, there is no such fund (account) in memory of FPD officers Jerry Hatch or Tommy De La Rosa.  Nothing appears in the Chart of Accounts for either of their names.  (anybody in the know, feel free to correct me)

Paul Hatch, who donated $500, is the father of deceased FPD officer Jerry Hatch.  One has to wonder if Dan Hughes told the elder Hatch that, indeed, there was a fund in his son’s name — when, in reality, there probably isn’t one.

The Fullerton PD, like many others, has an Explorer program for teenagers.  If we take the website at face value, the meetings and duties resemble a college class coupled with part-time job.  Surprise!  The procurement card purchases tell a different story.  Pizza parties, bowling, airsoft games, trampoline jumping, $2100 of coins, and enough kettle corn to induce a coma.  They even charged some RSVP expenses to this account by mistake.

The check registers for the same time period show a handful of checks issued:

October 14, 2016 — Learning for Life  $18.75
September 16, 2016 — Orange County Law Enforcement Explorer Advisor Association (OCLEEAA)  $300.00
August 19, 2016 — Andrew Coyle  $127.16 
March 4, 2016 — Learning for Life  $41.25 
December 11, 2015 — Learning for Life  $250.00  
October 23, 2015 — Orange County Law Enforcement Explorer Advisor Association (OCLEEAA)  $300.00 
March 13, 2015 — Learning for Life  $355.00  

Moral of the story?  They spent more on bowling, pizza, and buffalo wings than on any educational materials for the explorers.

A sad state of affairs.

22 Replies to “Woe to the Charitable Donor”

  1. There is absolutely no doubt that Felz was running the loosest of ships. It makes you wonder about the really big sleights of hand involving budget transfers.

  2. Remember the fireman’s fund? That was finally ised to send the fire boys up to Yosemite for steak dinners and nice hotel rooms.

    Oh yeah, and to look for the knuckleheads who jumped in the lake.

  3. Thanks for a great post.

    “Public Safety” at play. And we, the citizens are complicit in this small-time swindle. Disgusting. This is almost as bad as that phony cop fundraiser where they pretend your donations are going toward local charities but just disappear into the union’s PAC. And YOU get a decal.

  4. With all poverty and suffering going on in Fullerton, CA, USA and in the world, why would anyone donate to FPD? The top 100 FPD earners average $203k a year. Cops can retire earlier than most of us and enjoy a fatty pension for life. The unfortunate families with deceased cops sure miss their late love ones, but are well taken care of without donations. Programs like the explorer program would be more fruitful run by other organizations. Sad state of affairs.

    1. “Cops can retire earlier than most of us”

      At age 50, cops can retire earlier than all of us. We get to retire at 67. And we pay for their retirement as we keep working.

  5. “Cops can retire earlier than most of us”

    At age 50, cops can retire earlier than all of us. We get to retire at 67. And we pay for their retirement as we keep working.

  6. I’ve always been terrible at math.

    The other day I tried counting my fingers and toes but never made it past 21.

  7. The asset seizure fund composed of monies from selling of seized cars & impound fees goes to buy things new raincoats and upgraded military style kevlar vests. Shouldn’t theses funds go back to help the poor communities from which they mostly orriginated from?

  8. What sort of currency is “FPD coins?”

    I think that needs some ‘splainin.’ I think I’m getting a strong whiff of Chief Danny “Galahad” Hughes.

    1. These are what are known as “challenge coins”. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Challenge_coin. Rasport in Placentia, CA sells challenge coins as well as other police/fire/military related items – see http://poastore.com/search.aspx?find=coins. Note that the prices shown are retail; I’m sure that prices are much lower in quantity. Still, $2105 is a large number of coins for an explorer post.

      Another recent order for around $800 for coins went to Adrenaline Challenge Coins in Mission Viejo, CA. See http://www.adrenalinechallengecoins.com for main site, http://www.adrenalinechallengecoins.com/pricing.html for pricing. Cost from Adrenaline Challenge varies from $2.50 to $3.95 per coin depending on size (1.5″, 1.75″, or 2.0″), style, and quantity. Orders under 100 have a $40 to $60 per side for a “die mold fee”.

      Why am I bringing all this up?

      While I get that the point of challenge coins (please see the Wikipedia article) is to “build teamwork and camaraderie”, to coin a phrase (sorry, couldn’t resist), etc, but should we be buying $2900 worth of coins for the police explorer program and the fire department? Particularly from the 95 funds, where we have no idea who the actual benefactors really are. Assuming that the prices from Adrenaline Challenge are close that from RaSport, $2100 for the most expensive coin is 560 coins. When I was in explorers, I certainly never saw an explorer post with over 500 members. Maybe a tenth that. I can’t help but wonder, did some of that money go for other uses besides the explorer program? You would think that the police and fire unions would have money for what most people would consider a boondoggle. They can buy their own coins.

      Speaking of nonnegotiable coins, has anyone else seen the large 2″ diameter “Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald” coin? The one with the knockoff (not a copy, but close) of the City of Fullerton seal in a nice black velvet presentation case? I hear that she gave out at least a few hundred just before the election. I’ve never heard of any other mayor having a custom coin made with their name prominently displayed on the front above the fake city seal. I certainly have no evidence either way, but, considering Ms. Fitzgerald’s rather loose definition of ethics, it does make one wonder just exactly who paid for those coins.

      1. “Speaking of nonnegotiable coins, has anyone else seen the large 2″ diameter “Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald” coin? The one with the knockoff (not a copy, but close) of the City of Fullerton seal in a nice black velvet presentation case? I hear that she gave out at least a few hundred just before the election.”

        First, who would want one? Second, who would want to give one away?

        You asked “who else saw one?” meaning you did. Where did you see it?

        1. Only a big ego hands out coins minted with her own name. Every day that goes by Fitzgerald sickens us more.

            1. Here I had a chance to actually see one of these coins and I missed the error on one side.

              It says:

              “Excellence in Service”

              Shouldn’t it also have added: “To Pringle and Associates”?

        2. I want one of the Fitzgerald coins. In 25 years they will be worth a fortune and I will read to my grandchildren off the local history books: “J. Fitzgerald, the Mayor of Fullerton who self-ordered these coins, became widely famous for her craftiness at fooling over 20,000 of her voters on the balancing of the city budgets ”
          I do not care the coins are not legal tender,…good investment guaranteed

  9. If you donate money to government, you are either dumb as hell or you’re getting something intangible in return.

  10. Dan Hughes uses “award” to describe donated money to Fullerton Police Department(FPD). Awards are given for achievements. Not even a hint of a specific achievement mentioned to justify money given to this entity. FPD gets money from organizations and individuals who foolishly want it used for good causes but fail to include this stipulation with their wads of cash. So these donations given in the hope of creating a better society by bettering FPD buy lots of pizzas and trinkets. This is Fullerton, they should not expect much from our public servants.

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