The Infection of Unaccountable Money

This is the second in a series of posts written by our Friend, Fullerton Engineer.

Anybody who thinks the problem with transportation and “transit” funds  is that there aren’t enough of them, either isn’t paying attention or is profiting off of the notion – either as a government bureaucrat, a consultant, a lobbyist, or an engineering construction contractor. The partisan political yappers can be added to the list too.

California government is awash with money. It is also awash with the characters and interests listed above, who all stand to gain from the new Gas Tax that will be levied on everybody else. Sure, everybody benefits, right? And the mantra of “our infrastructure is crumbling?” It sounds dire and maybe it is. But the solution is not new taxes, but effective and accountable use of the resources we already have. Until our governments can demonstrate that they are responsible stewards of what they have, why entrust them with any more?

As was recently noted on this blog, governments are rarely penalized for their misuse of their property, and the same goes for misuse of existing funds; and it would never occur to the transportation lobby to shape up. Why bother, when a helpful Legislature is more than happy to raise taxes and then start handing out salvers of freshly slaughtered pork? The simple fact is that grant funds from a distant government attracts a long line of bureaucratic applicants willing to spend that money in any fashion that meets the bare minimum of requirements from other bureaucrats in Sacramento. This diffusion of authority and ultimately the lack of coherent oversight is at the root of California’s current infrastructure woes. The fact that every dollar sent off to Washington or Sacramento or even collected by OCTA comes back after a big whack has been taken off the top only exacerbates the situation.

And then there is the problem of “transit” projects, a bottomless well of bureaucratic mismanagement, political corruption, and misuse of public funds for pet boondoggle projects that provide minimal, if any benefit to the public, but lots of benefit to the people entrusted with spending the money and those receiving it.

It may have been expensive, but it sure was unnecessary…

Which brings me to case of The People of Fullerton v. the Added Train Station Elevators,  a study that will examine the long and painful (and ongoing) history of this completely unnecessary project that is quickly approaching a $5,000,000 price tag. This comedy of errors and overspending was to be paid for with funds from sources apart from Fullerton’s Capital Funds, namely State transportation funds Prop 1B and Prop 118,  and of course the completely mismanaged OC Measure M Renewal funds. When somebody else is picking up the check it’s a lot easier to lose sight of priorities and interest in accountability. In this instance the availability of this play money has acted like a disease that has rendered everyone senseless and indifferent – a sort of malaise in which no one seems to care about what they are doing or how much it costs.

Fullerton Engineer

The Rip Off

We have been asked by one of our Friends to publish the following post:

Now that our Legislature has passed the obscene Gas Tax, the usual liberal Democrat suspects have popped up to add their voices in high hosanna to the deed. Their script, as usual, is the old, tired mantra of affiliating more taxes with good government, as if the two things had more than a distant correlation. Generalities are the stock-in-trade of this crew. It’s too bad the opponents also tend to speak in generalities about the existing waste in government transportation planning and execution.

I’m going to talk about waste in government, too. But I am going to do it with specifics in near-future posts that will closely examine a “transportation” project that was planned entirely with earmarked transportation funds to demonstrate the crazy, almost obscene ways in which these funds were budgeted, and are being spent.

Does a single project represent a current state of affairs? Given the fact that the State and County governments are always “educating” us about their strict compliance with rules and regulations, and given the fact that the County Measure M extension, for instance, was sold with the idea of a rigorous auditing process complete with Oversight Committee, I am going to posit an affirmative answer to my question and challenge someone to prove me wrong. This should be easy if indeed I am wrong.

Held up by wishful thinking…

So what’s the project? Is it some distant, unknown pork boondoggle in some liberal, urban bastion? Ah, no. It is the ridiculously conceived, horrendously over budgeted and overstaffed, and seemingly bungled-out-of-the-gate elevator addition project at Fullerton’s own train station.

Fullerton Engineer

It’s Official. Fullerton has the Worst Roads in Orange County

Not bad.

Well done, Fullerton.

A recent report from the OCTA lists OC cities’ “pavement condition indexes” and Fullerton shows up at the very bottom.

And the projected future conditions look even worse.

But that doesn’t stop councilmember Jennifer Fitzgerald from shamelessly touting the “success” of her road repair efforts in her campaign material.

Here’s a video of councilmembers Fitzgerald, Flory, Chaffee and Popoff making excuses for the sad condition of our asphalt.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRIfK4HbC18&t=48s

 

Joe Felz Got A New Job?

Editor’s note: This was originally composed on March 3, moments before Joe Felz was charged with DUI hit-and-run. As such, the Renick agreement may have gone bottoms up. If not, well that just makes it more fun.

A toast to all my good ideas…

I have it on pretty good authority that our former City Manager (and now accused criminal Wild Ride Joe Felz) is picking up a consulting gig for Renick Cadillac down on Orangethorpe and Euclid.

Now what possible use would ol’ StumbleJoe be to a car dealership?

The story goes that Renick would like to acquire the site occupied by the Grand Inn which is situated right between the dealership and the asphalt lot on the corner of Euclid and Hill Avenue where Renick parks its spare Subarus. Looks like the idea may be to get the cops to start dishonestly documenting alleged bad activity at the motel. If you can harass the motel, the owner might have a lot more incentive to sell out.

Just so Renick can park its cars without having to drive out on Euclid. Really?

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking this source may have it wrong. That maybe Renick is not planning on expanding at all, at least not for the long term; but that rather we are seeing a lot assemblage in order to build a future penitentiary-like apartment block.

Assistant to the Assistant

Remember when we told you about the poor “Mayor’s assistant” who’s job mysteriously appeared and disappeared right alongside Jennifer Fitzgerald’s mayorship?

Well, the position seems to have re-appeared… this time as an Assistant to the Assistant (City Manager), Nichole Bernard.

Not pictured: Assistant

From the February 14th Economic Development Commission minutes:

Now what Ms. Bernard needs assistance with is anybody’s guess. We don’t even know what she does, especially now that her mentor Wild Ride Felz is gone. Will the assistant pick up Starbucks lattes? Pack Nicole’s unmentionables for the next useless Vegas or South Korea junket? Who knows?

More to the point, when and how was this mysterious job ever budgeted and approved by the City Council? 

Note how the position may not be filled until summer. Why is that? In a well-run operation it might have something to do with a semi-responsible fiscal mentality – don’t hire someone to a completely unnecessary job until someone has figured out how to tame the out-of-control Felz/Fitzgerald Budget.

In Fullerton it’s maybe just that hard to find a qualified candidate for a glorified flunky position.

Felz Mouthpiece Shares Thought With FFFF

You may recall that the notice for Joe Felz’ criminal charges was sent to the “Law Offices of Bob Hickey” in Fullerton. Ok, so Joe hired a DUI defense attorney. That’s smart.

Well, Mr. Robert Hickey seems to be a new reader of our humble blog. Last night he stopped by our Facebook page and left us with a brief critique of a post on the Hillcrest Park stairs. That’s not smart.

Another dissatisfied reader.

Get Run Over, Get Paid

Remember David Tovar, the bike rider guy who got rammed from behind by an unmarked Fullerton police vehicle? In case you don’t, here’s an interview from 2012:

Tovar later filed a civil rights suit against the city of Fullerton, claiming that officer Bryan Bybee intentionally used the vehicle as a deadly weapon.

The city predictably responded by denying all claims.

Well, we went spelunking through settlement agreements approved by City Hall and discovered that the taxpayers up coughed up $20,000 to David Tovar for one of our cops chasing, and crashing into him.

 

Whitaker Wants to Hear More From You; Bored, Tired, Cranky Fitzgerald Wants to Hear Less

Watch as Mayor Bruce Whitaker restores the public’s full speaking time. Following in Jan Flory’s footsteps, Jennifer Fitzgerald puts her disdain for the public on full display. Councilman Silva shows a healthy attitude about hearing from the public and staying up late from time to time: “It’s what we do.”

When lobbyist Fitzgerald began her mayoral term last year, she cut public speaking time to 3 minutes. Of course she gave out-of-town developers all the time in the world.

While We Were Away: AJ’s Story

For a few weeks now, we have been looking back on the fraud, waste and abuse that occurred in Fullerton during our hiatus. And we’ve had a few good laughs, unfortunately at our own expense. But Friends, today things are about to take a more sinister turn. Why? Because the story involves not only misuse of public funds, but also police surveillance of lawful activity, police assault on citizens, and the punitive misuse the criminal justice system by the cops and the district attorney.

This story from 2014 is best told in the colorful language of Mr. Stephen Baxter, and so FFFF gives you his words:

These photos, all captured on Jan 18th 2014, by OC Weekly photographer, Josue Rivas, document the temporary escape of Aj Redkey, aka Anaheim James, one of the most peaceful protesters I know, a member of in-league press, and perhaps my best friend on the planet.

We had organized a protest in reaction to the acquittal of a OC jury of the three Fullerton Police officers charged in the murder of a local homeless man, named Kelly Thomas. AJ had been filming the protest all day, because cops behave better when they know they are being filmed, so when the decision was made to break up our protest and arrest people, those filming were the first targeted by the police. These cops actually tried to run AJ down in their car, AJ leaped the hood Starsky and Hutch style, and Josue captured the rest seconds later.

After monitoring our FB page (this according to the police report) 3 months later AJ was arrested at an Autism event in Pasadena. Six Fullerton cops drove to Pasadena to arrest my peaceful friend. Why? because by him outrunning them he had embarrassed fat, slow, over paid cops with giant egos.

After spending almost $10,000 defending these charges at a jury trial, All charges against AJ were dropped.

The sad fact is that “THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE” Don’t fool yourself.

Also, AJ IS A FUCKING HERO. HE COULD HAVE PLEAD FOR A $500 FINE, INSTEAD HE FOUGHT IT AND FACED 6 MONTHS IN JAIL. HOW MANY OF US WOULD HAVE THE STONES TO DO THAT?

Now ask yourself how many resources and how much of your tax dollars were wasted by Fullerton PD and the DA’s office.

Does any of this shit matter to you? If not, your are the fucking problem.

Parks and Wreck

Sometimes what our City Hall doesn’t say can be almost as illuminating as their press releases.

On Wednesday, November 16 at about 9:00 PM, a Fullerton Parks and Recreation vehicle collided with another car at the intersection of Highland and Chapman. Ouch.

Sure looks like somebody ran a red light, then blammo!

What’s odd about this unfortunate accident is that the City never said a word to the public about the horrible-looking incident. Who was involved? Was anyone badly hurt? Who caused the accident? Why was a Parks and Rec employee driving around late at night? So many questions, and no answers.

What’s the big secret? Maybe there’s a reason for the radio silence.

It makes one wonder if this accident might not be the fault of a government employee, perhaps even driving a city-owned vehicle after hours. If so, look for big damages coming our way.