California’s Brown Act specifically enumerates when public agencies can meet in secret (Closed Session, they call it) away from the prying eyes of the nuisancy public that pays for the whole show. One of these exempt categories is “litigation,” in which secrecy is deemed to be okie-dokie. The problem is that government agencies, when given an inch will invariably take a mile.
But when you fail to specifically constrain the arm of government, they will invariably flex those muscles. And so it is that “litigation” has come to includeanticipated litigation which, of course, could cover just about anything, anywhere, at any time. And that label seems to give the City of Fullerton reason to believe it can omit the names of anticipated litigants. The anticipated litigants must, necessarily remain in the dark about what the government is about to do to them, while the government, for its part, gets a jump on its adversary. Of course this isn’t right, but what do rights have to do with the City of Fullerton government?
Let’s first take a look at the City’s Closed Session agenda for September 17:
Notice the final two items have been draped in the magical shroud of “anticipated litigation.” We may wonder what the Big Mystery is. Rumors are circulating that at least one of the the items in question is the City’s desire to sue humble little us, Friends for Fullerton’s Future, and that the council has voted to do so.Could that really be true? FFFF, of course, would be the last to know. But the City Attorney made no mention of such doings while “reporting out,” from the Closed Session. If they’re true, what are we to make of the rumors?
The City has already sent a couple of laughable nastigrams in our direction, both of which were duly ignored, so litigation is plausible, but only if the City initiates it. This means that it is the City instigating, not reacting to likely litigation, and begs the question of why this issue would not be a matter for public discourse. And it also suggests that it is the city manager and his bumbling lawyers who will have advocated this harassment to cover up their own corruption they didn’t want exposed.
Well, I’m sure that covering up its clownish behavior is the last thing the esteemed council, upright city manager and brilliant city lawyers would ever do, so it seems pretty certain everything will be made clear. One way or another.
Friends, an environmental symbiosis exists in nature when two organisms interact in a way that is mutually beneficial. In the course of human organizational activity we see such symbioses frequently. In the nasty intersection of government and politics such relationships are depressingly common. And nowhere can we see this operation in better form than in the way Fullerton’s politics intersect the management of police business, a business that affects everybody.
Let me begin my essay with a recitation of police behavior in our town that ought to give any decent person reason to give a second thought to nonsense pitched by both the government and the media.
In all of his endeavors Hughes was serially assisted by the smarmy and arrogant Andrew Goodrich, former union goon and, not coincidentally, the otiose and corpulent spokeshole for department. Friends will recall that it was Goodrich who immediately promulgated lies about cops getting broken bones in the aftermath of the Thomas bludgeoning by his cohorts. Goodrich was caught by FFFF over the years selling so much garbage that he was actually nominated for a coveted Fringie® in 2011.
Some of FPD’s bad behavior has suggested a sexual pervy streak running through the department, and a predilection for looking the other way about it. Albert “Alby Al” Rincon, instead of being fired and prosecuted by McKinley for sexual battery, continued to roam Fullerton’s streets looking for victims – gals he no doubt figured would keep their mouths shut. They didn’t, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands and the City a reprimand from a federal judge. Naturally no charges were ever filed.
Recently we’ve been favored with the story of tubby ginger boy Jose Paez, whose “crime” according to tough guy DA Todd Spitzer, was the unauthorized photographing of his victims. Unfortunately for the girls and women he associated with as a school officer in the FJUHSD, what he was taking pictures of was their undergarments – while they were being worn.
A few months ago the story leaked out about an enterprising young FPD lad named Christopher Chiu, who seems to have found a persuasive way to talk a young woman out of her clothes on the top of the Lemon/Chapman parking structure so he could examine her breasts and nether parts in search of “evidence.” Before the courtly charm of playing doctor wore off, he suggested his availability for a dinner date. Yikes.
Former Sergeant Jeff Corbettwas actaully rung up for obstructing justice although seamy stories about sexual escapades while on duty have been circulating for a long time. But to be fair to poor Jeff, it was sending Wild Ride Joe Felz home after the hit-and-run of Sappy McTree that got him busted.
Apart from uncontrolled libido, the gallant gents of the FPD have often displayed their ethical sensibility in an orgy of mayhem against people who hadn’t done anything wrong, or by simply revealing how little they care for the basic concepts of justice. Maybe the cultural shift to full-on violence and callousness was the result of Pat McKinley’s well-known militarization of the FPD.
Jay Cicinelli is known across the globe as the goon who smashed in Kelly Thomas’s face with a Taser handle and admitted it on tape. This one-eyed jack was employed by McKinley as a favor to an old LAPD crony. Now this twice disqualified creep actually wants (or wants us to believe he does) his job back!
Our obese old pal Manuel Ramos had a long history of lazy and oafish behavior as an FPD cop, culminating in the actions that instigated Kelly Thomas’s death. Bully? Check. Overweight slob? Check. Natural born prick? Double Check. FPD material all the way.
Over the years FFFF has related stories from the citizenry about abusive and violent behavior of Fullerton’s cops, particularly those patrolling downtown open air booze court. But none of these stories can equal the brutality and the callous treatment of Veth Mam by one Kenton Hampton. See, Hampton’s official version of the story got real fuzzy after it became clear that his recollection of events strained even the credulity of an OC jury past the breaking point, especially when video evidence showed up in court. During a downtown scuffle involving the cops, Hampton arrived by car upon the scene and knocked the phone camera out of the hand of an innocent bystander, Mam, who was giving away about 100 lbs. to Officer Hampton. After throwing the hapless Mam around like a rag doll, Hampton tossed him in the Fullerton clink where he was charged with assaulting a cop, a story Hampton testified to under oath. Was he ever punished? Of course not. Under “Chief Danny” Big Bad Ham seems to have been promoted to a desk job.
And then there is the laundry list of incompetence or indifference. We first met Miguel “Sonny” Siliceo as he tagged one Emanuel Martinez who spent five months at Theo Lacy courtesy of a deliberate misidentification. Spoke-sphincter Andrew Goodrich comforted us with the words “we try to arrest the right guy.” Years later Siliceo, in a different matter, was convicted of filing a false police report, something very, very hard to accomplish.
And to round out our categories of misconduct, we must pause, I suppose, at least for a moment to reflect on a few of the various petty crimes and thievery perpetrated by our boys and girls in blue.Todd Major ripped off Explorer Scouts to feed his pill habit.April Baughman ripped off the property room of $50,000. Kelly Mejia tried to boost an i-Pad right under the watchful security cameras at the Miami airport. Hugo Garcia was apparently told his services were no longer required after being busted for purloining something or other (off duty, of course; on duty the man was a veritable saint). And then there was the tale of Officer Timothy Gibert, another MADD awardee who got popped out in the high desert defrauding home improvement stores. Just how many small-time thieves and pickpockets we have employed over the years will never be known for sure.
So, finally, let’s end this painful revelation with the not-so funny story about Josh Eddleman and Jerrie Harvey two innocent people jailed and prosecuted due to the bungling of newly minted “detective” Barry Coffman, best known for his enthusiastic handing out of tickets for “excessive horning.” Once againSpokesanus Goodrich informed the public that the FPD really, does try to arrest the right people, gosh darn it, a statement so insincere that maybe not even David Whiting would believe it.
Of course this quivering pyramid of gelatin was the President of the Fullerton Peace Officer’s Association for years and years, supporting political candidates who could be counted on to serve and protect his wayward union members while bestowing lavish pay and benefits.
And here is the nexus of casual corruption: without a compliant city council and their hand-picked city manager, this sad litany of crime and no punishment would be an awful lot shorter. The cop union, along with their “firefighter” brethren and sistren diligently help elect reliable stooges to the city council through vast campaign spending via their political action committees. And what a roll call of dunderheads, incompetents, buffoons, seniles, lackeys and assorted political grifters they have greased into office.
Don’t forget the lengthy corn-pone career of possibly third degree syphilitic Doc Hee Haw – Dick Jones – who once blurted to an aggrieved citizen at a council meeting “you won’t get anywhere bad-mouthing the police in this town.”
Sharon Quirk-Silva was marginally smart enough to dodge the Kelly Thomas fallout and the subsequent recall. But like almost all of Fullerton’s liberal establishment crowd, she blamed the murder on homelessness, not on bad cops. She ignored the cover-up, and did nothing about the Albert Rincon matter, despite proclaiming her outrage on the nightly news wherein we learned she has daughters.
Of course Doug was in need of assistance himself when his carpetbaggin’ wife, Paulette was busted on video stealing campaign signs on private property.
The cop union knows when it has a live one on the line, and never has that bee more true of Jan Flory, who not only trotted around the city council track in the 1990s, she did so again in 2012 with the help of a hundred thou’ of union scrilla. Maybe her vote on the [email protected] was fondly remembered, but more likely the support was for favors to come. Of course she delivered by approving pay raises and by paying out vast legal settlements against Fullerton police that avoided the embarrassment of ugly stuff getting out at trial. Everything gets hushed up and we pay for the silence. And of course, no, reform was not on the table.
No story of the symbiosis between cops and politicians in Fullerton is complete without mention of our lobbyist councilcreature Jennifer Fitzgerald, who has a career monetizing her job “representing” you and me. Jen’ has made it her specialty to cozy up to the cops, including pay raises, quiet settlements costing us millions, and even wasting $50K a year on the utterly moronic “Behind the Badge” propaganda embarrassment. Holier than holy, her best pal was “Chief Danny” with whom she may have conspired, in the early morning of November 9, 2016, to have the cops drive drunken, hit-and-run Joe Burt Felz home and then tuck him in with a warm glass of milk.
And most recently we see the completely dim and inarticulate Jesus Silva, installed in office courtesy of the police union. One wonders how this nincompoop manages to get his shoelaces tied without help, and yet we can be sure of one thing – he will slavishly follow the example of his better half, Sharon Quirk in support of the people who put him in office.
Just in case you were still wondering about his competence and priorities, our Supervisor, Doug “Bud” Chaffee has helped out with his latest insipid e-mail. The latest installment invites nominations for something called a “4th District Kindness Award.” No, I am not making this up. Here it is:
Now coming from a dyed-in-the-wool SOB like Chaffee this is really a bit much. His record of screwing the people of Fullerton through incompetence, spleen, rancid deal making with FitzFlory; and his aiding and abetting his criminal wife in stealing campaign signs and creating a phony residence to run for office, would lead a normal person to suspect that kindness in any form is the last thing on Chaffee’s shrinking mind.
If someone takes the time to review the history of Fullerton over the past forty years, one thing becomes shockingly clear: when it comes to building things, maintaining things and planning for things, the City government just can’t do much of anything right. And yet over this long history, the City and the public seem to have the shortest of memories.
For the denizens of City Hall, the fact that the jalopy has no rear view mirror makes perfect sense. After all, if you’re pulling down well over a hundred Gs, with a trampoline retirement coming your way, why spoil things with strange notions like accountability and responsibility? It’s so much easier to pretend nothing bad has happened.
The people who live here on the other hand, have no such incentive; quite the reverse, in fact. So how come constant repetition of the disastrous lessons from the past are tolerated? Is it easier to just ignore the millions upon millions wasted in foolish vanity projects, make-work comedies, and deteriorating infrastructure? Maybe.
But I hope that by continuing the drumbeat started on this brave blog 11 years ago, sooner or later the populace will wake up to the ineptitude and dissimulation by its highly paid, and so far untouchable masters of disaster.
And so join me Friends as I take you on trip down memory lane, Fullerton style.
Today almost nobody remembers the comical City endeavor to transform Harbor Boulevard in the early 80s by removing on-street parking, adding medians, spike-laden, pod-dropping floss silk trees, and bizarre concrete peristyles along the sidewalks. Comical, did I say? It would have been funny except that it doomed the businesses along Harbor to slow entropy. The ridiculous peristyles were soon removed but the rest of the mess lasted for decades and many of the hideous trees and broken sidewalks are still there as a reminder that the City is perfectly willing to waste millions on hare-brained, concept-of-the-day tomfoolery that gives them something to do.
The Allen Hotel, was Fullerton’s first foray into “affordable” housing back in the late 80s. It was a slum, alright and thirty years after the City’s bungling acquisition, the site is just begging for more “redevelopment.” Will it get it?
The CSUF Stadium & Fundraising Fiasco of 1990 ought to give plenty of pause to those contemplating Big Projects with public money. The brainchild of slimy City Councilman and later slimy State Senator, Dick Ackerman, the idea was to build a permanent home for the CSUF football team. Only trouble was that the $15,000,000 stadium was completed the same year the plug was pulled on a dismal gridiron program. In typical fashion, the City invested in a fundraising plan in which a company was hired at a cost of several hundred thou to raise money, and didn’t. Oops!
The horror story “Knowlwood Corner” is a veritable textbook case of government bureaucratic misfeasance, from start to finish. The story started in the early 90s and dragged on for years and years; when the signature building was finally built, the missing second floor became a perfect symbol for this misadventure. From stupid economic micromanagement to horrible architecture, this one touched all the bases – and it took seven years to do so.
The Bank of Italy Building was another disaster from the early 90s, but one that actually gutted an historic building. Millions in public money were wasted to pay for something that never should have been undertaken in the first place.
The North Platform remodel of 1992-93 proved that no matter how bungled things were in Fullerton, it could always get worse. A landscape architect was hired to place as many impediments between passengers and trains as was humanly possible. Some of the citizens got wise, and half the crap was ripped out. Heads rolled in City Hall. Oh, wait, no they didn’t.
Few folks now remember the Fairway Toyota dealership expansion fiasco from the mid-90s that required threatening an old lady with eminent domain and then closing off Elm Avenue forever. The City’s investment disappeared like an early summer morning’s dew when the dealership took off for Anaheim a few years later. After years of housing a used car dealership, the City permitted the development of another massive cliff dwelling along Harbor Boulevard. The losses were never accounted for but at least the neighbors got a nice view and early shade.
Fullerton’s Corporate Yard expansion was a mid-nineties project that left the City gasping for air. Despite hiring an outside construction manager and paying him a couple hundred grand, the project dissolved into a litigation mess that only escaped public embarrassment because nobody on the City Council gave a damn. Settlement details vanished into the haze.
The so-called Poison Park on Truslow Avenue may set the standard for Fullerton incompetence, although admittedly, the competition is fierce. In the late 90s, the City had Redevelopment money to burn and just couldn’t wait to do so. So they bought a piece of industrial property and built a park that nobody outside City Hall wanted. Cost? $3,000,000. Of course the site attracted gang members and drug dealers as predicted. Worse still, the land was contaminated and the “park” fenced off. It’s been like that for almost 15 years. And Counting.
No story of Fullerton calamities would be complete without once again sharing the tale of the Florentine Sidewalk Hijacking, in which a permit for “outside dining” was transformed one day by the Florentine Mob into a permanent building blocking half a public sidewalk. The Big City Planner, Paul Dudley, said everything was peachy. He was lying, of course, but did anybody really care?
Some people might conclude that the majority of Fullerton’s disasters can be laid at the feet of the Redevelopment Agency (really just the City Council) and well-pensioned, inept managers like Terry Galvin and Gary Chaplusky. When they weren’t slapping brick veneer on anything that didn’t move, they were screwing everything else up, too. But when we regard the history of Laguna Lake we enter into the realm of Fullerton’s Parks and Engineering mamalukes. After spending a small fortune on renovating the lake, the thing leaked like a sieve. Hundreds of millions of premium MWD gallons were pumped into the thing to keep it full. The public and council were left in the dark, even as citizens were told to conserve water in their homes. Did anyone in charge give a damn? Did anyone ask how much money and water were squandered over the years? Of course not. This is Fullerton. We could ask Engineering Director Don Hoppe for details, except that he is now comfortably retired and pulling down a massive pension.
Our professional planners, have been knee deep in Fullerton’s morass. Over-development (see example, above) has been fostered and nowhere was this better seen than in the Core and Corridors Specific Plan. This idiotic plan wasted a million bucks of State money without a backward glance after the whole thing was finally dumped on the QT – too stupid even for Fullerton. Did anybody ask for their money back? Nope. And yet a link to a blank web page titled Core and Corridors still exists! Hope springs eternal.
The 2000s proved that nobody in City Hall or out, was learning anything, even after the expensive failures of the 90s. The “West Harbor Improvement” project in 2009, was an endeavor so unnecessary that it could only be proposed in Fullerton, where government “place making” has never succeeded. The alley is a barf zone behind a bunch of bars that only needs hosing down every Sunday morning.
This litany of disasters, follies and debacles brings us to the Pinewood Stairs at Hillcrest Park which put on display the incompetence of the designer, the city staff, the construction manager, and a contractor who couldn’t build a sand box to code. Wasting $1.6 million is bad enough; permitting the code violations and construction deficiencies go unfixed is even worse. Barely two years old, the ramshackle structure moves more than the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
And over all these years Fullerton’s “leaders have neglected our aging infrastructure and permitted zone changes allowing for massive new development that has lined the pockets of developers and political campaign coffers, and left the rest of us with even more traffic and more burden on our roads and pipes.
Friends for Fullerton’s Future just received a disturbing story accompanied by a photograph that seems to encapsulate the Downtown Fullerton experience:
Hey, FFFF, I wanted to send along a story about what happened to me a few weeks ago. About 2 am a friend and I were walking along the north side of Commonwealth. Across the street we could see some kind of free-for-all going on. Then the crowd ran off leaving two people lying on the ground. By the time we crossed over to see what the damage was, the Fullerton police had arrived. The two people, a guy and a woman, were bloodied and obviously beaten. One of the cops saw me observing the scene and asked if I wanted to be arrested.
Rather than provide information about what we had seen, we decided to move on. But before we left I turned around and took this picture showing the woman pleading with four cops who appeared indifferent to whatever physical abuse she had suffered.
Yes, Friend, it is sad. Our “leaders” have created, nurtured, and encouraged a culture of mayhem where sometimes it’s hard to tell the victim from the perpetrator and where the cops are seemingly anesthetized to the weekly blood bath.
A couple of weeks ago Jeremy Popoff’s Slidebar employees and clientele provided more examples of the sort of high class behavior favored by our city council and particularly our lobbyist/councilcreature Jennifer Fitzgerald who has been running cover for Popoff for years and years. You may recall that Slidebar has never gotten the required CUP even as city officials like Fitzgerald, Bruce Whitaker and Party Planner Ted White have schmoozed and petted its miscreant owner.
Everybody seems to be ignoring Slidebar’s violation of planning and nuisance laws until the laws can be watered down so much even a professional douchebag can slime by without comment.
A Friend just forwarded me a press release from Josh Newman’s campaign to get back his old job – the one he got recalled from after gas taxing his constituents, rich and poor alike, in order to support the State’s featherbedded transportation bureaucracy and infrastructure lobbyists.
The gas tax was nothing other than a free-up of state resources to help support the ridiculous High Speed Rail boondoggle that has made Californias a laughing stock.
And right on cue, these same special interests have rewarded Newman with their endorsements.
ORANGE COUNTY, CA — In another indication of his wide-ranging support from working men and women in the rematch race to represent California’s 29th State Senate District, today U.S. Army veteran, businessman and former State Senator Josh Newman secured endorsements from Ironworkers Local 433 and the Professional Engineers in California Government.
Both unions released statements following the announced endorsements:
“Courage, integrity and doing the right thing matters. That’s why we’re pleased to give Josh Newman our enthusiastic support in his 2020 rematch campaign. Josh is a political rarity – in the face of adversity – he bravely stood up for the people and did the right thing time and again. We know Josh will be a fierce and outspoken leader for working families and a pro-middle class agenda in the State Senate. We look forward to helping him win this race.” -Ironworkers Local 433 Business Agent Paul Moreno
“The Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG) is pleased to announce our endorsement of Josh Newman for State Senate District 29. Josh has worked to create and protect good-paying jobs; invest in infrastructure, and education; safeguard collective bargaining, organizing in the workplace and retirement benefits; expand access to healthcare; and all the while, grow and strengthen our middle-class economy. We support Josh Newman for Senate because we support fierce defenders of our working families.” -Professional Engineers in California Government President Cathrina Barros
The signal is loud and clear: Newman supports bureaucrats and boondoggles above the public – so much so that he was and will be willing to load the burden of regressive taxes on the very constituents the liberal Democrats are always bleating so loudly about – poor minority folks.
A few days ago we shared a story from one of our Friends about the futility and general dopiness of the house cat rabies protocol at the County’s animal police department. The gist was that if you get bit by your cat a medical facility will report you to the good folks at OC Animal Care, an agency that seems more dedicated to avoiding embarrassment than caring for our four-footed friends.
We noted with some amusement that the department admits that there hasn’t been a case of a cat contracting rabies in OC for 62 years.
One of our commenters, Joel, noted that there is a “Rabies Control Desk.” I didn’t believe it so a made a public records request just to see. Sure enough, there is a desk!
Once in a while we here at FFFF like to shine a spotlight on some of the more ludicrous doings down on the County farm, and today’s special comes from a Friend who wants to be known as Stephanie. Apparently, Steph had an encounter with the good folks at OC Animal Control recently and decided to share her story. Here it is:
I’d like to relate an experience I’ve recently had with the county’s animal control people. I was breaking up a cat fight between my cat and a stray when my pet in a real excited state bit my hand pretty badly. Fortunately the nurse at urgent care warned me that they were legally required to report the incident to the County and my cat would have to be quarantined under County supervision, all because of rabies. This was ridiculous because my cat had just got its rabies vaccination.
Sure enough, the Animal Control people started showing up a few days later. I made up a story about getting bit by a stray somewhere and after returning for further interrogation several times they finally sent me this letter:
Wow! Medically cleared by Animal Control! The funniest part of this letter is the reassuring reminder that no cat has contracted rabies in Orange County in 62 years. What’s not so funny is the time, resources, and bureaucratic rigmarole involved in an incident that was nobody’s business but hers.
For some people the release of video showing the “justified” July 5th shooting of a female teenager by a Fullerton policeman is cause for celebration. Well, we can store that information in the Sad Troll folder and move on. Really, though, one must linger over the sad state of affairs when the FPD has to broadly publicize the fact that their man didn’t kill anybody illegally, with malice or by incompetence.
What a difference eight years make, right? For on July 5th, 2011, and in the months following, the FPD made every effort to hide, lie about, obfuscate, deflect, and misdirect information in the wake of their illegitimate killing of the homeless man, Kelly Thomas.
Has the FPD opened a new chapter in its relationship with the public that supports it?
Maybe. I don’t know, but I doubt it.
When there is exculpatory evidence, it seems, the police are only too happy to release information; thus, within one week of the recent event, the dead teenage girl’s demise was the subject of an FPD press video, complete with slow motion footage showing what happened. And yet when police actions are reckless, incompetent, or even criminal, the PR apparatus retreats into the bunker and cannot say a word.
This is the twisted legacy of former Chief Pat “I Hired Them All” McKinley and the goon squad he imported from the LAPD.
As we saw with McKinley’s second successor, Chief Danny “Galahad” Hughes, when something bad goes down the department has taken the position that the best medicine is not overdue reform, clean-up and real accountability, but a stiff dose of community relations and departmental tours. This, even as Hughes himself participated in the most dubious undertakings.
Maybe someday police departments like FPD will come to realize that covering up for bad police work is itself bad police work; that the public that pays for their salaries, benefits and early “retirement” ought to be served instead of abused; and maybe, just maybe, people in California will start getting honest answers and timely, truthful information instead of phony or non-existent “internal” investigations, shifting stories, and outright deception from the police.