Parks Director Told to Hit Road

Hugo came, Hugo left…

Today the City Manager, Ken Domer notified the Parks Commission that he was canning Hugo Curiel, the guy who’s been in charge of the Parks Department for 7 years, or so. Here’s the mealy-mouthed text:

Was the handwriting on the wall?

So there was “no one single issue” leaving us to wonder what the real reasons were for letting Hugo go-go. We know it wasn’t the extravagant waste of money on a Hillcrest Park bridge; we know it wasn’t for the incredibly bungled wooden stairs project; we know it wasn’t because he ignored maintenance of existing parks; we know it wasn’t for the Strange Case of the Flipped Over SUV; we know it wasn’t because he proposed almost a million bucks to buy a 15,000 square foot lot to build a park on. Mr. Curiel survived all those disasters with his Fullerton career doing just fine.

Hitching to Needles…

So what was it? I don’t know but it must have been something very bad, even though Domer is clear that the firing wasn’t “for cause.” So maybe it was just personal in some way, requiring “a different direction” whatever the Hell that means. And maybe it was meant as a pre-emptive bloodletting meant to forestall future personnel whackings closer to the Domer domicile.

46 Replies to “Parks Director Told to Hit Road”

  1. Last June, my mother and I visited Hillcrest Park. Residents since 1956, we both had many fond memories of this park. June, 2020 this park showed off its gang bang graffiti, weeds, swaths of dirt replacing grass and bushes, and crumbling stone stairs built during the Great Depression and maintained for decades until now.
    City “O” Fullerton personifies so well the results of incompetent to outright evil, self-serving bureaucrats who persevere with the blessings of a clueless to uncaring city council.

    1. Hillcrest Park has been neglected for 50 years. The true needs have never been addressed and staff has used it to feather its own nest. You almost have to conclude that the neglect has been intentional.

  2. The reason it isn’t “for cause” is that Domer knows a legal challenge could result in all sorts of skeletons tumbling out of the closet.

  3. I demand the author of this post, and the administrator of this blog to take this post down immediately and write a post about all the good things Mr. Curiel did for our fine City of Fullerton.

    1. I will forward this demand this to the FFFF Request/Complaints Department for review and consideration.

      The normal turnaround time is approximates five business days, although in extraordinary circumcisions the entire Council of Elders can be convened.

      Please be patient.

      1. I stand by my comment. Hugo was smart and spearheaded some innovative projects in just 7 years.

        He had the foresight to convince 4 outstanding city leaders to vote to spend over a million bucks to build a bride over the water canal from Harbor Blvd. to Hillcrest Park. Even though there wee dozens of other access points to the park.

        But, Hugo’s brilliant bridge design is wide enough for two new car lanes, and then some!

        And most importantly, its a safe haven for homeless folks to post up to rest for a few days after a meth binge.

        Gonna miss you, Hugo! Thanks for all the good work.

    2. I will say that Hugo was very friendly and courteous to the residents of the City whose concerns he ignored.

      1. ” I will say that Hugo was very friendly and courteous to the residents of the City……”

        Hmmm. You must have missed most, if not all, of the city council and Parks and Rec meetings when Hugo was present.

        1. That behavior was reserved for the residents who didn’t know their place and expected him to actually do his job.

    1. Fullerton Council tells our city Manager what to do.
      Believe it or not, no council oversight.
      I was shocked to find out.

  4. Add to the list of blunders the failure to notice that Laguna Lake was leaking water, and had been for years, until the ten year statute of limitations to sue the contractor and engineer who performed the repair lapsed.

    1. Yeah, that was a boner on wheels. As I recall, staff said nothing for years while they were pumping prime dollar MWD water into the leaking bucket. I’m not sure you can pin that one on poor ol’ Hugolino. That was a Don Hoppe original.

  5. Let the blood-letting begin. Fullerton can become a test case for reining in bad performers and do-nothing staff. Here’s some suggestions for the new guys:

    No more “Deputy City Manager” job. Total waste.
    Get rid of the Public Works Director who’s never been on a construction site.
    Make the City Manager fire the City Attorney ASAP, then fire the City Manager, too.

  6. Speaking of Parks director, Hugo Curiel, and his predecessor, Joe Felz, the now disgraced, ex-city manager of Fullerton, fondly known as not knowing what he was doing as city manager because he only had a degree in sociology and not degrees in finance or public administration, the saying only constant is change does not apply to the city of Fullerton as its cronyism still elbows out those persons with qualifications and ability for the Joes and Hugos.

    1. Sadly true. I wouldn’t hire a CM who didn’t have some practical expertise in something, ANYTHING. Felz was in w-a-a-a-ay over his head and was known mostly for drinking at schmooze events. He was completely dependent on direction from Fitzgerald. Ditto this Domer bozo who climbed the tree from political appointee to city manager. Anybody paying that guy a quarter mil plus benefits is incompetent, too – Silva and Zahra.

  7. I rarely visit any of the parks and really don’t have a good knowledge of any failings of Hugo Curiel.

    Given the reorganization going forward this strikes me more of a City finally coming to the realization that their budget is out of control and cost cutting in the extreme is urgently needed. Wonder if there is money in the City budget for Lotto tickets? 🙂

    It will be interesting to see who the replacement is (“January 2022 at the earliest”?), whether someone will actually be hired as a replacement, and, if so, what their salary will be. Going a year without a fairly major position being filled is highly unusual.

    1. Yep, the fallout from the city’s pension debt crisis is reaching all the way up to the department heads. Nobody is safe.

      If you still work there, get out now.

      1. And we can find somebody to do a better job for a hell of a lot less – the new normal in California. The public employees have only themselves to blame through their greed.

        1. “ And we can find somebody to do a better job for a hell of a lot less “ haha You’re right, their called illegal immigrants. And I’m sure they can do your job, too!

  8. Ken did this to save money- pretty obvious. If it was for cause, he’d be hiring a new director. Always conspiracies with you people.

    1. If that were true then why didn’t Domer fire the fire chief instead? Adam Loeser is about as useful as hen shit on a pump handle. He’s a fire union goon at heart so we can thank him for the out of control costs of his fire “heroes.” Hey Domer, if you wanna save real money, reform that black hole of money called the Fullerton Fire Department.

    2. It’s probable that it was for both cost savings AND to eliminate one more source of serial incompetence.

  9. They need to look at the person that is supposed to hold contactors accountable just take a drive on Commonwealth and take a look at the slipshod work that the city is paying top dollar for.

    1. And meanwhile Hillcrest is full of dean and dying trees, eroding hillsides, and deteriorating asphalt. Well done asshats.

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