My story as a FFFF defendant

Most readers of this blog are well aware of the recent settlement between the City of Fullerton, FFFF, Joshua Ferguson, and myself.

Joshua did a great job explaining various aspects of our lawsuit in a video, and why we settled. I encourage you to watch if you haven’t already. Until now, I’ve been pretty quiet about this lawsuit and haven’t said much. In an effort to clear our names, I’d like to dispute some of the City’s claims and share new information you might find interesting.

This is what the City’s Dropbox account looked like.

Typing www.cityoffullerton.com/outbox into a web browser redirected anybody to this open and unsecured Dropbox account. The City went out of their way to disable security controls to make it possible for all users to see all files.

Notice some of the files have our last names, Curlee and Ferguson, in the file name itself. Who wouldn’t download a file named for you?

The City told us about the Dropbox in the first place.

The City of Fullerton, first through public records disclosures, and later directly, via written and verbal communication, offered to use Dropbox for public records requests made by us. If the Dropbox was such a secret (it wasn’t) they should have redacted the link from our records requests, and not made it available for public records disclosures. After all, the security of confidential city records is THEIR responsibility. Yet they failed miserably and tried to blame us for it.

We received dozens of city e-mails showing the Dropbox link in plain view. Here’s an example:

This was not a link to some internal computer system, nor an external system that required a username/password. This was wide open for the entire world to see and download whatever they wanted.

The City’s Director of IT was fired, quit, or told to retire.

Numerous City employees reported to us that Fullerton’s director of IT, Helen Hall, was fired, quit, or told to retire after the Dropbox documents were published. We also heard stories of her being placed on administrative leave and escorted off the property. I really don’t know which version is accurate. What I do know is Helen Hall no longer works for the City of Fullerton.

Now-fired City Manager Ken Domer made no effort to contact me.

Ken Domer

Recently fired City Manager Ken Domer made no effort whatsoever to contact me before the onset of litigation. That’s strange since he had my e-mail address and phone number. We had several friendly conversations and he knew exactly who I was. For a guy who tried to portray himself as a fiscal conservative, or at least a fiscally-responsible public servant, he couldn’t have failed worse. The reality is I would have talked to him about this issue, but he made no effort to even try. Ken, I hope you give this some thought while you’re unemployed as you single-handedly made Fullerton’s fiscal problems a whole lot worse. At least $800,000 worse.

Gretchen Beatty

Former HR Director Gretchen Beatty jumped ship (to a higher paying gig at the City of Anaheim) a few months after the lawsuit was filed. She too had my e-mail address and phone number, and made no effort to contact me before the lawsuit was filed.

You might remember the City sent a cease-and-desist email to Joshua and followed that up with a letter to the FFFF attorney Kelly Aviles and neither letter mentions my name at all. They had all the means necessary to send the same letters and emails directly to my inbox, but didn’t do it. How fun is that to get sued completely by surprise?

The City’s supposed IT “evidence” against me was nonsense.

They hired some guy named Matthew Strebe from a company called Connetic to do an IT analysis to support the lawsuit. In his declaration, he wrote the following:

Huh? Read that over a few times. How is it an “inescapable conclusion” that the TOR user was me when in the preceding sentence it was an “unidentified user utilizing TOR?” You can’t have it both ways, Matthew Strebe. This type of shoddy IT analysis is what the City paid thousands and thousands of our tax dollars for.

When I receive public record disclosures from the City Clerk’s office, I normally forward those e-mails to several people throughout Fullerton as soon as my phone beeps with a new email. I figure if those records requests interest me, who knows, other people might find them interesting as well. Additionally, I’ve had trouble with AT&T and Time Warner timing out when downloading large files from Dropbox. In the past, I would ask a friend to download Dropbox files for me, then re-upload to another file sharing service that worked better.

All of this to say that just because a link provided to me was downloaded by a Tor browser does not mean I downloaded it. Besides, the technology behind the Tor Browser makes it 100% impossible to prove who downloaded what anyway.

Our well-accomplished IT expert John Bambanek – whose services were provided free of charge thanks to the Electronic Frontier Foundation – saw right through Matthew Strebe’s poor analysis and had this to say when we settled:

Chris Tennyson

One of the things that angered me most about the lawsuit is their naming of Joshua’s co-worker Chris Tennyson as a defendant. I knew of Chris Tennyson because he worked at the camera store for many years and I had seen him there. But get this – to this day, I’ve never once talked to Chris Tennyson. Not in person, and not by phone, text, email, or other means. He literally has nothing to do with this blog.

Kim Barlow and her other bully attorneys at Jones & Mayer knew this all along, and yet they sued him anyway to drive a wedge between Joshua, the camera store, and to destroy their friendship in the process. They succeeded.

How horrible to be sued for something your co-worker allegedly did wrong in his personal life that’s unrelated to your field of work? That’s cruel and unusual punishment in my opinion.

The City dropped Chris from the lawsuit as soon as they had declarations from him and the camera store owners helping the City’s shoddy case. This shows there was never an investigation done and that nobody was talked to or questioned until AFTER the lawsuit was initiated.

Conclusion

I do have more to write about and will break that out in new posts over the coming days. This post is plenty long enough for now.

In conclusion, I want to thank Bruce Whitaker, Nick Dunlap, and Fred Jung on the Fullerton City Council for voting to settle. Thank you for wanting to put this behind us. Thank you for recognizing the evil done by the previous City Council majority and undoing it all. We appreciate you.

18 Replies to “My story as a FFFF defendant”

  1. “Evil done by the previous City Council majority” says everythin. Thanx for battlin for the lil guy David.

  2. Thank you, David Curley, Joshua Ferguson, and all the 4F bloggers who have worked tirelessly to keep City hall in check. And for shining the light bright enough so the average Joe, Fullerton resident, like myself, can see who our elected’s are really working for.

    What a complete waste of our tax dollars! Times are finally changing for the interest of honesty and Fullerton residents.

    Again, thank you, Ferguson, Curley, and 4F!

    NO MORE SILVA! NO MORE ZAHRA!

    1. When you watch meeting replay the public comments are all negative to everyone but Zahra & Silva. They must be liked huh.

  3. The definition of gratitude is thanking someone for their kindness. Because Ferguson and Curlee shared with the public the readily accessible city of Fullerton’s documents that showed its city council and staff engaged in cronyism, corruption , police abuse and misuse of public monies, they were persecuted by the deep,pockets of this city and defamed in Sharon Kennedy’s Fullerton Observer who judged them “hackers” stealing city of Fullerton’s private documents. Ferguson and Curlee stood up for decency and truth for us, the good people,of Fullerton, even though they were threatened with legal, onerous prosecution and judged by paid “experts” as criminals in the media. These two refused to back down, instead ther persevered for us. My gratitude goes to Curlee and Ferguson for their brave efforts.

    1. I agree with Van that thanks is due Ferguson, Curlee, their excellent lawyer, and ACLU, among others, for showing all of us the insecurity of the way the city was handling sensitive files by sending direct links to the dropbox to anyone. And I am happy that the entire unnecessary ordeal they were put through ended in a settlement to them. Ferguson’s idea that litigation and duties of city attorney should be separated is also excellent. The Observer tried to get Ferguson to tell his story for the paper but he declined. The paper did ask an IT expert for his opinion of the city expert’s report – as we would concerning any topic we do not have expertise on – but that opinion was his own. The paper has always put the blame on the city lax handling of files and was against suing the bloggers.

      1. Your “expert” conveniently agreed with the bullshit peddled by the city’s stooge. And that opinion was that Ferguson and Curlee were hackers and thieves. Van is absolutely correct. I hope they consider legal action against YOU.

      2. You asked an expert? Who was that? A family friend? We all know the story now. Your expert submitted a brief to the court that misled the local idiot judge. You were part of that, all the way. You may soon be living in one of those RVs on Walnut Avenue.

  4. Matthew Strebe of Connetic is a fraud who tried to mislead the court and censor journalists.

  5. Jan Flory
    Jennifer Fitzgerald
    Ahmad Zahra
    Jesus Silva
    Ken Domer
    Dick Jones
    Kimberly Barlow

    …all engaged in the abuse of public resources and authority in an attempt to silence and destroy the lives of journalists who uncovered their corruption.

    This was an act of pure evil. Destroy them all.

    1. You are right Jan Flory like a bad penny just can’t resist a chance to come back to city hall and destroy any tiny bit of decency left there..will she come back again? Be afraid.
      Jen Fitzy crapping all over Fullerton and moving to Texas has anyone warned them?
      Zahra and Silva all for one and one for both…learning you can only fool some people some of the time. People are learning how self centered they both can be and Zarah is just a cruel bully to all who haven’t bowed to kiss his smelly feet. Maybe they should both quit council and work for Pringle. Unless Pringle doesn’t hire woman beaters? Has Zarah gone to jail yet?
      Jones probably should retire and Barlow has always been sent out as an attack dog …
      Pass the word..these people are not our allies.

  6. When will you be suing the “pure evil” people to disrupt their lives and mercilessly harass them in the same manner they treated you?

  7. Wait a minute. Did Jones & Mayer upload any documents to this open Dropbox? If so, they are liable for negligent handling of the city’s data and they had a huge conflict of interest throughout this entire debacle.

    The city (and its creditors) should look into recovering damages from Jones & Mayer.

    1. Yes, agreed and agreed.

      Their representation of the City was in violation of California Rules of Professional Conduct 1.7(b) which states that “A lawyer shall not, without informed written consent* from each affected client… represent a client if there is a significant risk
      the lawyer’s representation of the client will be materially limited by the lawyer’s
      responsibilities to or relationships with another client… or by the lawyer’s own interests.” It was clearly in their firm’s interest to conclude that the security failure did not occur as a result of their negligence; therefore they were inclined to look for someone, anyone to blame for the mishandling of the data.

  8. So, did you publish all of the interesting documents that were found within the City’s Dropbox or was there anything else that we should know about?

    Thanks for all that you do.

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