One of the Worst Decisions

Your Fullerton City Council majority — consisting of Fitzgerald, Chaffee, and Silva — made one of the worst decisions in recent memory last night.

Desperate to protect their pensions, and to keep pension contributions at a minimum, the Fullerton Police Officer’s Association (FPOA) approached the City about extending their contract.  They voted yes.

CalPERS pension costs are skyrocketing as a result of poor investment returns, and far too optimistic rates of return.  To “correct” this problem, CalPERS is demanding the City of Fullerton pay more in the years ahead.  The table shows pension costs for FPOA members which consist of Police Officers, Police Corporals, Police Sergeants, and a small handful of non-sworn civilian employees, such as Police Dispatchers.

The table above uses the current fiscal year as a baseline (on the bottom row) to get a feel for the pain ahead.  Beyond the current fiscal year, the projected pension costs for FPOA employees will cost Fullerton residents — at the very least — an additional $12.3 million through June 2022.

That’s $12.3 million of new money the City of Fullerton doesn’t presently have.

The timeline of the FPOA contract status is illustrated above with the agreed to “concessions” which are disingenuous at best.  As noted, the contract extension runs to 2021 at the earliest, and possibly 2022 if FPOA decides to exercise that option.

You might be thinking to yourself, wait a minute, if their current contract expires June 30, 2019, why not negotiate a new contract at that time to get a better handle on the escalating pension costs?  That’s precisely the problem.  Instead of acting in good faith for Fullerton residents, council members Fitzgerald, Chaffee, and Silva rolled over to satisfy the public safety unions that paid big money to help them get elected.

The worst part about the FPOA contract, and the extension handed out last night, is the City cannot reopen negotiations to combat rising pension costs.  The promises are now etched in stone through 2021 or 2022 regardless of what CalPERS does.

All very troubling, not just for basic principles, but because the California Supreme Court is expected to rule in 2018 on the so-called “California Rule” which prevents government agencies from reducing already promised pension benefits.  The court’s decision will carry significant implications either way.  If they overturn or modify the “California Rule,” Fullerton could have sought to renegotiate FPOA pension benefits upon the expiration of the contract in June 2019 and saved Fullerton residents millions of dollars.  Conversely, if the “California Rule” is upheld, CalPERS will likely respond by further lowering the discount rate (assumed rate of return).  A lower discount rate will cost the City of Fullerton tens of millions more in the coming years.

At last night’s meeting, the introduction of a new financial forecasting tool was presented earlier in the night, before the FPOA extension came up for a vote.  The gentleman making the presentation noted that his model predicts a U.S. recession in the year 2020 — right in the middle of the FPOA extension.  I was at the meeting and brought this up when it came time for the FPOA vote.  I also pointed out that Fullerton’s brand new City Treasurer, who started on January 8th — just eight days prior — should be given a chance to review the FPOA proposal and offer his thoughts to the City Council.  After all, the existing FPOA contract didn’t expire for another 18 months, so what’s the rush?

Council member Sebourn registered his opposition to the FPOA proposal, and then, without another council member saying a word, it passed with a 3-2 vote, Sebourn and Whitaker voting no.

Last night’s recklessness puts us a couple steps closer to municipal bankruptcy.  When the Library is forced to cut hours or close completely, when Parks and Recreation has to shutter the community center, when Public Works has to stop paving streets and repairing broken water mains, you now know exactly which three council members to thank.  It was failure on full display.  As usual.

Musical Captains

It is official — Tom Oliveras and Bob Dunn are the new Captains of the Fullerton Police Department.

They replace Danny Hughes favorites John Siko and Scott Rudisil, who, pension spike completed, decided to retire.  Some in the department question the timing, openly wondering if new Chief Dave Hendricks helped to accelerate their departure.  Don’t be surprised if they land new jobs at The Mouse.  Dan Hughes pulled strings to get his buddy, Lt. Mike Chocek, a new job a Disneyland.  Chocek abruptly quit in 2017 for his new position at Disneyland.

Oliveras has been with the Fullerton PD since 1992, and has kept a low profile all these years.  That’s probably a good thing.

Bob Dunn is the fascinating choice, as he left the Anaheim Police Department as a Lieutenant, and was hired just days ago by the Fullerton Police Department as a Captain.

Why is this fascinating, you ask?  Because FFFF’s biggest fan, Lt. Andrew Goodrich, was rumored to want the empty Captain seat.  After completing a Master’s Degree in recent months from the prestigious Capella University, we’re told Goodrich viewed himself as the heir apparent for the Captain seat.  That is, until he was blindsided by the hiring of Dunn.

Oh well, Andrew Goodrich is more than welcome to leave Fullerton if he so chooses.

Your diploma is in the mail. No refunds.

The Burgeoning Field to Replace the Little Corporal

The good times were over…

It was easy to predict that after his announcement that he was quitting Congress at the end of the year, a host of would-be successors would jump in to replace Ed Royce (R-Security State). And so it has transpired. The lure of Congress is too hard to resist for the career politician – just think White House photo ops and no term limits.

There were already a bunch of Democrats challenging Royce, none of whom I had even heard of. It’s the Republican crowd that is of interest because the top vote getter of this tribe will probably reach the November run-off; possibly even against another member of the same club. We’ll ignore the no-names and the Fruit Loops.

No there, there…

First there is Young Kim, a wholly owned subsidiary of Royce, who has in fact, endorsed her to carry on his sterling legacy. Kim lost her last election as an Assembly incumbent, and that doesn’t bode well for the cynical north OC “Asian Strategy” that also failed so spectacularly in 2016 for Sukhee Kang and Ling Ling Chang. Poor Young may have access to some of Ed’s left over campaign dough, but she has the problem of coming across as just another empty suit and the puppet of her husband who created her political career, such as it it.

4th District County Supervisor Shawn Nelson’s suit is far from empty, his record at the County has been a complete disappointment. Elected in 2010 on a platform of accountability, pension reform and a full cross-departmental audit, he immediately ditched accountability, engineered a massive pension for himself, and has done nothing to shrink the bureaucracy or establish any kind of bureaucratic competency. Just the opposite, in fact. Fullerton residents will recall that Nelson tried to look good at the County by sneaking a homeless shelter into strip center next to an elementary school and a residential neighborhood in East Fullerton.

Hula Huff (image borrowed without permission from the Fullerton Rag)

Then there is former State Senator, Bob Huff, the former legislative waterboy for Redevelopment and occasional Traditional Values panderer who was termed out of his Sacramento gig and who also lost his last election – a try for LA County Board of Supervisors. Huff may count on an influx of money from people who used to lobby him, and of course the very deep pockets of his patron, Ed Roski, who owns the City of Industry. Huff is the veritable poster boy for government griftery. It’s hard to see how Huff can get any traction in OC against other ‘pugs, but he’s wishin’ and hopin.’

That’s it for now although we may see other entries. At present, there are no candidates who can run on a real conservative record, although they will certainly tell you otherwise as they invade our mailboxes with their trash.

A Trip Up and Down Memory Lane…AKA The Pine Wood Stairs.

“Pine Wood Stairs” looked a lot better in concept than in reality…

Back in May, FFFF documented the lamentable construction disaster of the Pinewood Stairs, a $1.6 million boondoggle created by City staff, whose construction defects were so bad and so plentiful that a reasonable person might even inquire about how we could get our money back. In fact, City Councilman Sebourn mumbled something about getting our money back, then said he was just kidding. Bruce Whitaker said nothing at all. On Facebook City Hall bureaucracy advocate Gretchen Cox cooked up a story about some alleged City “report” that exonerated all concerned.

Nine months have passed and I thought it might be interesting to revisit the site of the fiasco and share a visual tour to take another look.

Here’s a typical example of a project with nobody in charge and nobody who knows what they’re doing.

The caisson footings with the wood posts are almost all cracked; some of the posts aren’t even vertical. Some of the caissons are out of plumb, too.

Aspects of the construction reveal building that was cobbled together to make the contraption fit together.

 

Now, as then, the wooden rails are extremely rough and splintiferous.

Rough cut

The lack of quality workmanship, structural and cosmetic remains in evidence. And those fraying cable ends? Why, they’ve been taped! Of course the tape is falling off.

Simple things – like removing the cardboard tube form from the caissons seem to have eluded the City’s crack inspection team. Crack. Get it?

Basic design oversight problems were jerryrigged and never addressed properly at all.

Weird features that are nothing but potential for risk management headaches and taxpayer payouts are still much in evidence – like this trip hazard. Shrug, indeed.

Loose cables. Down the hill goes the toddler.

As usual, maintenance of  public property remains a challenge for the City. Loose ends are not their specialty.

How hard is it to keep a tree alive? Don’t bother asking. You won’t get an answer.

The effects of the inevitable pedestrian shortcuts betray both design and maintenance failure. It looked better on paper.

We have been reassured by people who don’t know what they are talking about that everything was just grand about this grand failure; but, the evidence did and still does point to the exact opposite: a project that suffered from fundamental design shortcomings, incompetent and careless construction, a construction manager whose only function seems to have been to cash our check, and inspectors who were (and probably still are) a disgrace to their profession.

As you can see driving up Harbor, the City is now building its splendid new entry to the park – including a bridge – costing millions and accomplishing nothing but wasting park construction resources. Apart from the obvious uselessness of the project I have to wonder if it will suffer from the same dereliction that informs the so-called “Pinewood Stairs.” Nothing leads me to hope for the contrary.

Ed Endorses Young Kim

No there, there…

Running true to form, Ed Royce (R- Bad Dye Job) has apparently endorsed his vacuous protege, Young Kim, to replace him in Congress. It would seem that the job of County Supervisor isn’t as inviting an opportunity for this dedicated public servant to be serviced by the public.

Yes. I could do that job.

This really isn’t much of a surprise, given the Little Corporal’s penchant to endorse unqualified candidates for office. Of course a ling cod would make a better congresscritter than Young Kim, but that cuts no ice with Royce, whose career has been marked by a decided indifference to the well-being of his constituents.

The Village People just called…

This is good news for Tim Shaw who is now the only Republican candidate for 4th District County Supervisor, and as things stand, would certainly make a run-off against the Democrat’s carpetbaggin’ union goon, Coto Joe Kerr.

Still doesn’t live in district…

Good Bye and Good Riddance

Ed Royce, holding forth to a mesmerized audience. (Image pilfered from Voice of OC)

The Voice of OC is reporting that our congresscritter, Ed Royce has had enough congresscrittering and is quitting his seat next January. This will be seen a great news for the Democrats who were targeting this seat due to a recent increase in their own party’s registration, and who believe that the S.S. Trumptanic vortex will suck all sorts of Republicans down to Davey Jones’ Locker.

I don’t know about that, but I do know it will be wonderful to get shed of Ed. Set aside Royce’s dutiful loyalty to our new, budget-busting  security state and his willingness to vote for tax bills he hadn’t read. Instead let’s focus on his dismal record meddling in the local political affairs of Fullerton.

For almost 25 years he has backed city council (and Legislature) candidates of the worst Republican stripe – dimwitted and vapid RINOs like Pat McKinley Leland Wilson, Julie Sa and Mike Clesceri; creepy slouches like Larry Bennett; sleepy nincompoops like Don Bankhead; a useless carpetbagtress like Linda Ackerman;  and let’s never forget: Dick Jones, Doc HeeHaw, the clownish donkey from Galveston who seemed to take joy in bullying his constituents and braying utter nonsense. Royce could not have cared less about sticking us with this parade of non-entities. He obviously didn’t care if Fullerton developed no new generation of real conservative leadership. What mattered was to elect hollow shelled Republicans that posed no threat to him, and to keep potential Democrat challengers from becoming potential in the first place.

Well, so long, Ed.

Whitaker’s Website

One of our Friends has notified FFFF that Fullerton councilman and State Senate Recall candidate Bruce Whitaker has a website dedicated to his Senate run which is supposed to happen in 2018 – if the Democrats in the legislature quit stalling and stop making up new rules as they see fit.

You can access the new venture through the old address www.brucewhitaker.com or you can go directly, here:  www.visualyft.com/bruce.

Feel free to share your thoughts.

Joe Felz’s Wild Ride Ends in Plea Deal

The wheels of justice in the Joe Felz case have finally ground to a halt with Mr. Felz finally taking the plea deal we all knew was coming.

After 405 days of waiting Joe Felz has finally admitted guilt to reckless driving. Of course he has been given a pass on his alleged drunk driving and his proven destruction of property by our oh-so-competent District Attorney’s office.

I wonder how many nobodies get the same treatment? I’d reckon not too many if the constant MADD awards presented to FPD at City Hall are any indication.

Mr. Felz will have to pay restitution, $390 in fines, serve 40 hours of community service, attend “victim impact counseling”, serve 3 months in the “first offender alcohol program” and spend 3 years on “informal” probation with no mandatory supervision if reading this correctly.

This is a curious case where the county and courts have agreed that Felz has a big enough of an alcohol problem to warrant going into a 3-month program. His problem, which resulted in him crashing his car and ensuing property damage somehow was not bad enough to justify taking his license away as happens with so many poor saps caught up in Fullerton’s outdoor saloon who hit nothing. Curious the way power protects power.

With the “ongoing investigation” over maybe now we can get to the truth of what really transpired the fateful night of 08/09 November 2016.

City of Fullerton, OC Animal Care preparing to Euthanize Your Wallet

Still have any money left over after the state gas tax increases (thanks, Josh Newman), the likely loss of SALT deductions in Congress (thanks, Ed Royce), plus all the state, local and national income, property and sales taxes, licenses, and fees we already pay? Well, too bad, because OC Animal Care and the City of Fullerton are cooking up a new scheme to take even more of your money. And it all comes down to the first law of holes, government style: when you find yourself in a hole, keep digging and hope nobody notices.

On Tuesday, December 19, 2017, the City Council will again be voting on substantial fee increases, this time for the services provided by OC Animal Care. If passed, the licensing cost for a neutered dog will be $51 per year, and the per day impound fee for any lost dog or cat will be increased to $136, plus an initial $205 impound fee on top of the daily fee, and so on; the full list is available here.

According to OC Animal Care, the fee increases are necessary because their current operating budget is only enough to pay for half of the services they provide (with the other half coming out of the participating cities’ general fund).

This shortfall is blamed on the recent decisions in Garden Grove, Stanton, Laguna Hills and Rancho Santa Margarita to contract with alternate animal care facilities. However, the problem is not that these cities left OC Animal Care, but that OC Animal Care’s services are already so expensive that it was in their financial best interest to leave the program in the first place. For example, the City of Garden Grove contracted with Orange County Humane Society in Huntington Beach after their annual payments to OC Animal Care increased from $729,000 to $1.3 million in just four years, and the City believes they will save over $8 million over the next ten years thanks to the switch.

So why hasn’t Fullerton joined these other cities? An opportunity did exist to opt out back in May 17, 2016, when OC Animal Care needed its members to commit to participate in the construction of a new shelter on the Tustin Air Base property.

However, the City Council squandered the opportunity in a 4-1 vote, placing the city on the hook for its share of the construction costs for the new facility without even placing an RFP out to private animal care providers. Even if we were to back out now, we might be on the hook for the cost of construction of this shelter. Oh, and Fullerton currently has an evergreen contract with OC Animal Care because, of course we do, so any effort to extricate ourselves from this failed government program will be complicated to say the least.

Keep the Evergreen Contract or the dog gets it!

But enough is enough. It is time to stop excusing poorly run government programs and to start demanding that we get our money’s worth.

LA County Firefighters Back 5th District Resident For 4th District Supervisor

Good union luvin’ for Coto Joe

Sounds about right. A “public safety” union is endorsing union boss and massive pension receiver, Coto Joe Kerr for Orange County Supervisor.

What’s really funny is that the union isn’t even from Orange County. It’s actually from Los Angeles County and is hired by the City of La Habra to run around town making paramedic calls and  firehouse chili. So I guess it’s appropriate that the out-of-town union is endorsing a candidate who is out-of-town, too.

Who knew “firefighting” paid so well? Well, almost everybody…

As we have amply documented, Joe Kerr lives in a million dollar McMansion in Coto de Caza, a long, long way from our 4th District. In fact it’s just about as far as you can get and still be in The OC. But Joe has concocted a “residence” in Brea and has sworn on his voter registration that that’s where he lives.

Well, I ain’t a-swallerin’ that.