Rumors of increased criminal activity are wafting out of city hall again. A few employees of the Public Works department are in hot water for some sort of embezzlement/kick-back scheme down at the city yard. Criminal charges are in the offing.
It’s not clear to us who was involved or what was stolen. City leaders are keeping quiet right now, but hopefully they will inform the public soon.
If you have any information to contribute, please drop us a line. Discretion is our thing.
Today Joe Felz’ attorney Bob Hickey entered North Court and had a closed door meeting with the DA and the judge. When they emerged, the pre-trial hearing had been rescheduled once again to August 14. The delays clearly represent the formation of some sort of plea deal for Felz. The whole darn thing got me thinkin’…
Plea deals occur because both the DA and the accused want to avoid the cost of a trial. Normally the DA would have the upper hand, as he has the ability to offer reduced charges and penalties. The defendant comes to the table with nothing except the ability to waste the DA’s time, at a great personal cost. Lawyers are expensive.
In Felz’ case, there was an extra card to play. Felz knew that a trial burdened the DA and the City of Fullerton with the added threat of public exposure. Police Chief Danny Hughes and Sergeant Jeff Corbett had committed obstruction of justice that night when drunk driving Felz was driven home instead of being arrested. The city and its police department needed to keep this quiet and keep themselves free from any courtroom scrutiny. Felz, on the other hand, didn’t have much to lose.
When DA Investigator Abraham Santos’ blew the whistle in May, the odds tilted heavily in Felz’ favor. For the DA, a Felz DUI trial suddenly meant the opportunity for Hickey to dig into the Hughes/DA collusion. The threat of reputational damage to both the institutions and the individual players is suddenly enormous leverage against the DA. Hell, Hickey might even be able to get Santos to testify against the DA and Hughes on the stand. Savage!
So today things aren’t looking to good for the prosecution, who’s already mired in scandal and has little to gain from pushing the Felz case anyway (what’s another DUI conviction? North Court is full of ’em.) While each delay keeps Felz unemployable for a bit longer, it also brings the promise of a dropped case or a neutered plea deal. Keep your eyes out for either one.
Remember last year when Jan Flory claimed she was ‘retiring’ from City politics? Much to our chagrin, that never happened. Instead, she’s taken up a new calling with close pal Gretchen Cox.
A Friend was gracious enough to share a letter they plastered all over the neighborhood last month:
This isn’t some altruistic idea in the name of public safety. Gretchen and Jan simply have an aversion to the aesthetics of said land, with Gretchen living two houses away and Jan living further up the hill.
Leave it to these numbskulls to use traffic hazard as a ploy for the City to dole out money for appearances. The intersection already has a traffic signal and the frequency of traffic accidents is no worse than other major intersections across the city. Don’t like the appearance of the land? Fine. Focus on that. Don’t try to lump traffic concerns in at the same time.
What’s more, the timing of the letter is particularly obnoxious given that the property was listed for sale in February. Were they hoping to derail a potential sale so the City could swoop in and acquire the parcel?
Since the letter was written, the property has gone into escrow. What an awful way to welcome someone to the neighborhood.
For a while now we’ve been trying to figure out how Nichole Bernard wrangled herself the title of Assistant to the City Manager/Economic Development Manager under the leadership of the departed Joe Felz. Even more perplexing is that nobody can figure out what she actually does all day, or what value she provides to the taxpayers of Fullerton.
Well, in an effort to shed some light on the subject, we recently got a hold of Nicole Bernard’s Outlook calendar. The documents have been dutifully provided to you below.
According to these reports, Ms. Bernard calendared at least 80 mid-day working hours last year for the Fullerton College Foundation – not her employer – the City of Fullerton. That’s the equivalent of two working weeks. Mrs. Bernard is apparently the board president of the FCF.
Former City Manager, Joe Felz, Bernard’s patron, obviously let her do whatever she wanted, including using her office to host meetings for non-city business.
Of course running a private non-profit is not part of Ms. Bernard’s day job, but she seems to have confused the two. It’s also notable that she took home $174,102.16 in pay and benefits last year from the City of Fullerton. How much of that grandiose salary was wasted on unofficial business, we will never know. But we do know that Ms. Bernard spends a substantial amount of her work time doing whatever the hell she wants, and that’s not OK.
Readers, please feel free to peruse the calendars and note anything else of interest.
We’re constantly told that policing in Fullerton is physically demanding work that necessitates extreme financial compensation. Without multi-million dollar pensions, we’re warned, our city may not be able to afford the best of the best. And so for decades we’ve been paying, and we’ve been paying quite a bit.
At least it’s good to know we’re getting the best.
A while back some anonymous Friend dropped off what appears to be leaked financial statements from Rusty Kennedy’s non-profit, the Orange County Human Relations Council. The files didn’t receive much attention from FFFF at the time, but this week one of our readers recently pointed out Rusty has been down at the county begging for a new $250,000 infusion to fund additional employees for his private non-profit.
OK, let’s take a look at his financial statements. If you believe that this leaked budget is authentic (I do), an additional $250,000 per year from the county taxpayers would conveniently cover the Council’s projected loss for 2016.
Now that’s not very good, is it? Running a non-profit at a 20% annual loss is cause for concern. But of course this is a private 501(c)(3), so that’s normally a problem for Rusty’s private board members to worry about.
Or is it? What if Rusty is groveling for cash at the county just pay for existing expenses, rather than hiring the three new people as promised? The group already receives substantial funding from the county and local cities. Why should the county give more money to a group that can’t balance its budget? Furthermore, it’s hard to tell if there’s any real value in Rusty’s services, or if his organization offers any sort of efficiency. Program expenses aren’t identified in this budget at all. Why not?
Here’s one clue hidden within the documents: Salaries, Benefits, and Payroll Taxes account for 98.1% of their budgeted revenue. With salaries eating up the entire budget, one might wonder if this whole operation isn’t just some make-work project for Rusty and his friends.
There’s one more concern. Rusty has collected a lot of donations over the years by pretending that his non-profit is actually an empowered county agency. Many of his donors are misinformed, which is why the county recently insisted he stop using the county logo and misappropriating the name of the similarly-named Orange County Human Relations Commission. Furthermore, there is at least one board member who hold seats in both organizations – a glaring conflict of interest that the county has yet to resolve.
Altogether, these documents paint a pretty dim picture for Rusty’s personally lucrative public/private amalgamation. Will county supervisors continue to dump money into Kennedy’s opaque and unaccountable mess of an organization? And how much are individual OC cities paying into Rusty’s perpetual self-employment apparatus? Do Orange County residents receive any real value from this public/private partnership, or is it time to scrape this useless barnacle off the county barge?
FFFF was just sent a few pages from the latest budget proposals, which the Fullerton City Council will soon vote on. The true costs of Fullerton’s pension debt are coming to bear, as the proposals call for the elimination for firefighters, police corporals, maintenance workers and security guard services.
These reductions will be necessary in order to offset significant increases in CalPERS pension payments for existing employees. Most of the budget is allocated to staffing, so city staff claims there are very few non-staffing cuts to be made.
From here, it will only get worse. CalPERS will continue to lower its discount rate, triggering higher bills for cities across the state. We are looking at many more reductions in services and increases in taxes and fees over the next few years.
Will our council have the guts to pull the trigger and start making severe cuts now? Or will they postpone action until insolvency becomes inevitable?