What’s a Million Dollars Between Friends?


Our lobbyist Councilperson Jennifer Fitzgerald has asked her supporters on Facebook to show up at tonight’s Council Meeting to support the purchase of land on Pearl Drive to be used as a park.

Our friend David already went over some of the ridiculousness of this purchase in a previous post but it bears getting a little more attention.

The first point to be made is that this item is on the Consent Calendar tonight. Consent Calendar items are items during a meeting that get no separate discussion and are voted on together unless specifically pulled for comment by a member of the public or council. A typical Consent Calendar item would be the minutes to a previous meeting or perhaps a legislative ordinance change forced upon us by Sacramento.

A typical definition of a consent calendar would be as follows:

Under parliamentary rules governing City Council meetings, Consent Calendar items are reserved for items that are deemed to be non-controversial. They allow a City Council to save the bulk of it’s meeting time for issues in which there is a need for a serious public debate.

Often though the items end up being things that the city doesn’t want to discuss or scrutinize in detail. Tonight’s meeting has 12 consent calendar items with this purchase being the 10th.

The Consent Calendar is hardly the proper place to drop a $1.2Million+ project and it’s more amusing given that councilwoman Fitzgerald is asking for support on an item that is scheduled to take no public comments. It’s somewhat infuriating that the city of Fullerton is so free with money that it doesn’t feel the need to openly discuss an expenditure that is over 18x the median household income of our residents. Worse still when basic details of the deal are lacking from public view.

The parcel in question is slated for purchase with a whopping price tag of $755,500 based on a use assumption that is faulty at best (see David’s post). Then we have $148,000 for an unexplained “administrative settlement”. Then $300,000 for “improvement costs” that will of course be more than $300K owing to the additional paragraph stating that “An updated estimate will be established upon completion of the community meetings.”

What attachments or reference points do we have so we as a city can analyze this project? None. There is no explanation because a properly scanned, searchable PDF is too much work to manage at City Hall despite numerous requests over the years. I’m sure somebody will sound off that there have been “community meetings” that were announced on Nextdoor or some such nonsense so as to suggest the lack of need for the city to do it’s due diligence on transparency. This will likely come from the same people who complain about Public Records Requests from the public in a city known for a culture of corruption and abject secrecy.

Despite being an ongoing project, per the item’s own sparse agenda attachments, since 2002-2003 and we don’t have a breakdown of costs? A thorough estimate? A reason for the administrative settlement? A list of code enforcement violations?

Even the details we do get don’t tell the whole story.

“The amenities required being demolished”? How about we mention that the city paid over $19,000 for part of that very demolition? It seems that just about every pertinent detail has been washed from this item which maybe explains why it was on the consent calendar in the first place. You do have to the give the city credit for their optimism in hoping they could sneak this through the consent calendar knowing full well that we malcontents are always willing to call them on their shenanigans.

I reckon the only thing more infuriating than a bureaucrat putting forth this kind of lazy and shoddy work is a legislative body so uninterested in demanding real data and accountability that those bureaucrats know they can get away with this nonsense.

The old adage “Trust but verify” is absolutely foreign to the Fullerton City Council.

Prioritizing Park Dwelling Fees

Taken 27 April. Same Status to Date.

At the last City Council meeting it was asked by the public and re-asked by Council member Sebourn why Park Dwelling Fees cannot be utilized for maintenance in existing parks. At approximately the 3:41:00 mark in said meeting Parks Director Curiel stated it was owing to an ordinance and Interim City Manager Roeder specified that it was State Law which is where the conversation ended.

I would like to set the record straight from my layman’s perspective.

First and foremost let us explain Park Dwelling Fees. They are fees that developers have to pay the city in order to build new places for people to live within the city. $X/Room. That money is then used for Bridges to Nowhere and temporary stairs that cannot be repaired. What it is not used for is maintenance on our existing parks.

This is especially problematic as salaries and benefits eat up ever more of our general fund and we find ourselves with unsafe parks and deferred maintenance. We put plywood up over damage (nearly 6-weeks later and counting), or worse, while our $6-figure employees tell us we don’t have the budget to keep our kids safe. It’s infuriating. (more…)

Extending Fullerton’s Outdoor Saloon

Tonight’s meeting has a rather large agenda…

Fullerton has a vibrant night life with thousands of patrons being served by the 60+ establishments with liquor licenses within the Downtown region alone. While it is true that some businesses don’t operate within the law and the city turns a blind eye to its own municipal code when it suits them it cannot be denied that business is good in the good old outdoor saloon game.

But business could be better if only bars and nightclubs didn’t have to stop serving people.

Never fear. The California Senate has come to the rescue by passing SB-384 which will allow local municipalities to keep the bars open and beer slinging until 4am. There is a lot of support in Sacramento for this bill as it passed the Senate 27-4-4 with our own Senator Newman being one of those Aye votes. It next goes to the Assembly so only time will tell how Quirk-Silva will vote in that chamber.

The more fun question to ponder is how her husband and the rest of the (D) council majority will vote once it passes. Will they allow Fullerton to keep the doors open longer if only to keep FPD’s OT flowing as freely as the booze? Will they manage to get a handle of the municipal code before acquiescing to their bar and nightclub owning campaign donors? Will they vote against it thereby hindering the number of awards FPD can rack up from MADD?

Honored by MADD (Mother’s Against Drunk Driving) for their efforts in getting drunk drivers off the road are Fullerton PD Officers Cary Tong, left, Timothy Gibert, Jonathan Munoz, Corporal Ryan Warner and Officer Miguel Siliceo.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC
*** Officer Siliceo’s name on the plaque is misspelled as Sihiceo. ***

Personally I think this bill is stupid because it would mean that bars would have to close down at 4AM and could open again at 6AM. Booze would have to stop flowing for 2 hours. 2 HOURS?! Why not just go Vegas style and end the cut-off altogether? That seems like a smarter play then pretending that turning off the tap for 2 hours will keep people from over drinking.

How do you friends think this will play out in council chambers and on the streets of Downtown? Let us know in the comments.

If you need inspiration for your comments please let Dick Jones be your guide.

Fullerton’s Leaderless Ghost Ship

It’s been six months since Police Chief Danny Hughes left Fullerton to go work for the mouse. Six months since the alleged cover-up that didn’t save Joe Felz from early retirement.

In that six months we had an interim Police Chief in David Hinig and an interim City Manager in Allen Roeder. Well, Hinig has maxed out how much he can be paid by CalPERS so he’s jumped ship and based on timing alone we can calculate that Mr. Roeder will be on his way out sometime in mid-July.

That will once again leave Fullerton without an official City Manager & without a Police Chief to add to our lacking Community Development Director, Museum Director and on and on and on.

It’s almost as if we can’t get great candidates in spite of having no money, a divided city council, a police department knee-deep in a cover-up scandal and on and on and on.

Why wouldn’t new people want to come on board to answer to a council that would rather build bridges to nowhere instead of maintaining what we already have in place? Why wouldn’t somebody new want to grab the tiller of the S.S. Fullerton while it’s sinking? They’ll have the full support of the council majority providing polishing the brass is the only priority on this particular Titanic.

DA Investigator Blows Whistle on Felz DUI Coverup

Add Another Item for the DOJ and State Attorneys to Investigate

The Joe Felz DUI case just took another wide turn and this time not over a tree. New allegations have arisen within the Orange County District Attorney’s Office:

One of the allegations, listed only by [investigator Abraham] Santos, involves an election night car crash by Fullerton’s then City Manager Joe Felz on Nov. 9, 2016. A Fullerton police officer, who responded to the scene, notified the city’s then Police Chief Dan Hughes, who contacted a police sergeant and allegedly told him to drive Felz home instead of arresting him.

Santos’ investigation later concluded that Hughes was calling in a favor allegedly owed by a sergeant. That sergeant, according to Santos’ claim, had once been caught having sex in a police car but was never disciplined.

“Chief Hughes covered up the misconduct by his sergeant and, when he needed him in the Joe Felz DUI/attempted hit-and-run case, (the sergeant) repaid the favor to Chief Hughes,” said the claim.

Santos’ subsequent investigation of the incident concluded that Hughes “criminally obstructed justice.” But the county never filed a charge against Hughes. Santos, in his claim, said Assistant District Attorney Ibrahim Baytieh told him, “I am friends with Chief Hughes and we are only going to be investigating the DUI and nothing else.”

Let us repeat part of that for emphasis.

“Santos’ subsequent investigation of the incident concluded that Hughes “criminally obstructed justice.””

This isn’t your run of the mill water-cooler talk either as it was disclosed in an official complaint with the OCDA’s office. Pertinent Screenshots as follows:

DA Complaint abt Felz Case

DA Complaint abt Felz Case2

This seems to be par for the course for the OCDA being that Supervisor Todd Spitzer has asked the US Department of Justice to take over their operations owing to an ongoing Jail Snitch scandal amogst other trying issues. Things have gotten pretty bad at the OCDA. So much so that the U.S. Dept. of Justice, the California Attorney General & the Orange County Grand Jury are all separately investigating the OCDA for “systemic” cheating in the jail snitch program. While speculative it wouldn’t be surprising for this Felz DUI Cover-up case to be sucked into the investigations.

We in Fullerton were told time and again that Hughes reformed the department. We were told that he was the man we needed for the job. If these allegations are true it means that not only did he cover-up previous misconduct regarding officer Corbett but he then used that previous cover-up to bury another more egregious case. One cannot have a reformed department if the man in charge is not only participating in coverups but using them as leverage for later ones.

If the rot at FPD started with the head down did it permeate other parts of our city as well? If an Assistant District Attorney refused to look into Hughes owing to a personal friendship did others likewise turn a blind eye to corruption and criminal wrongdoings? Considering how often our own Jennifer Fitzgerald proclaimed her friendship to both Hughes and Felz one must wonder how much misconduct she was aware of and if she was aware did she help cover anything up while she’s been on council?

This further begs the question of how Disney feels about having a potential felon in Fantasyland?

Disney Danny.

Moonbeam’s Money is Coming to Fullerton

That’s right. Governor Brown just announced that he is personally raising money for Fullerton. Not IN Fullerton, mind you.

And well, it’s not for the people of Fullerton either.

Brown is inviting his lobbyist pals to a $4,400 Sacramento dinner in order to raise money to defend Fullerton’s hapless Senator Josh Newman and the car tax Newman helped secure. You know, the one that he recently dumped on Fullerton motorists (along with the rest of California) because the answer is Sacramento to government malfeasance and bad behavior is always MOAR Money.

Bend over
Here’s the story (contains egregious LA Times popups. Do not click).

Brown is headlining a fundraiser on May 23 at de Vere’s Irish Pub in Sacramento, billed as an event to support Newman’s reelection campaign. Donors are asked to give up to $4,400 to Newman’s 2020 Senate campaign committee, although the money can be shifted to fighting a recall measure if one qualifies.

Give to “Newman’s 2020 campaign committee, although…”. Isn’t that cute? It’s almost as if this isn’t specifically FOR the recall. Once he’s out of office maybe Senator Newman can save some of those $4,400 donations to buy himself another posh vacation in Saint Lucia after the recall is over. If he’s lucky maybe he’ll have the bad news before his trip this time around.

It’s always amazing to watch politicians and their lobbyist friends soak up booze while reaching for their wallets for the sole purpose of being able to continue to pick our wallets clean.

For those of you who cannot afford a $4,400 posh dinner and are actually impacted by this new highway robbery masquerading as a transportation tax feel free to sign the petition to recall Senator Newman. You can pick up and sign the petition if you’re a registered voter in District 29 this Thursday between 2-6pm (1400-1800). KFI’s John & Ken as well as KOGO’s Carl DeMaio will be live broadcasting from the ARCO Gas Station at 519 S. Harbor Blvd here in Fullerton.

Desperate to Celebrate Mediocrity

This Saturday, 06 May 2017 at 10:00 the city of Fullerton is having a Grand Opening for the new “Pine Wood Stairs” at Hillcrest Park. To which the natural response should be something along the lines of “They’re stairs. Why do you need a ‘Grand Opening’ for a set of stairs?”.

Why? Because politicians and bureaucrats love to celebrate anything that can result in a photo-op, self-congratulatory award or chance to pretend to care about their jobs or city. In this case that celebratory nature has taken on the smell of desperation only slightly masked by Pine.

David has already posted a great piece explaining some of the many problems with Fullerton’s new Stairs to Nowhere, or in city parlance “The Pine Wood Stairs”. I decided to check them out myself and see what was what and I was, shall we say, less than thrilled with the experience.

All of my hilarious ranting aside there is one major thing that needs to be pointed out. Does THIS:

“Pine Wood Stairs” concept.
Look like THIS:

The Actual “Pine Wood Stairs”.
Different angles. Yadda, Yadda. Look at the design and construction. Except for both the drawing and the actual project having wood planks is anything the same? Or were we, once again, sold a lie? Celebrate! Cut a Ribbon even! Yay!

And before some bureaucratic bootlickers come on here to try and justify this misdirection and waste of funds, I’m looking at your Mrs. “We Held Oh So Many Meetings”, let me point out THIS:

Fitness Stairs?
That’s currently going around on Facebook announcing the “Grand Opening” to these stairs. Currently. As in the stairs already exist and people are still being sold the concept drawing and not what was actually built.

I like that there is a “FREE Intro Stairs Exercise Class” because nobody knows how to use stairs. At least they found a selling point for the stairs to nowhere – exercise! You too can get in shape after fighting for parking in order to use our stairs to nowhere. It’s a good thing we’ve cornered the market on poorly built stairs in a park we don’t maintain (and won’t maintain), otherwise people might want to exercise somewhere convenient and then how would we justify these stairs? I mean we had to spend the Park Dwelling money on something other than buying land in Coyote Hills or just maintaining our current parks. So Exercise Stairs. Pine Wood Exercise Stairs. To Nowhere.

Oy.

FPD Insults the Taxpayers Yet Again

On Tuesday the City Council held a special Budget Workshop to go over options to keep us from going to insolvency thanks to CalPERS. All departments were asked to come up with cuts to their budgets in spite of the fact that public safety is the biggest driver of our debt.

Miraculously when forced government bureaucrats were able to find it in themselves to not throw tax money away. That it takes a fiscal crisis for the government to care about spending other people’s money is infuriating but not shocking. Ultimately most departments either offered to not fill positions or cut back on $50 boxes of paperclips or whatever frivolity they found.

FFD brought up the idea to negotiate a contract with CARE Ambulance to net the City a cool $1Million in new revenue. They qualified/blackmailed it by saying that they’d have to lay off 3 Heroes if that Ambulance idea was shot down. However, knowing that the council won’t let go of any hero staff at least FFD came to table with something. What did FPD put on the table?

They put up four police officer positions. This was so laughable that staff, during the presentation, reiterated that this wasn’t going to happen and was put there because FPD had to put something.

So FPD effectively offered to cut nothing. NADA.

Fitzgerald straight up said during the meeting that she wouldn’t vote to reduce Hero staffing. At a previous meeting she tried to save the paltry $48,000 for the horrible Behind the Badge PR nonsense and I doubt she’d even let us cut that $25K in legal fees given the choice.

The department, knowing that there aren’t three votes on council to reduce FPD staff, gave the Fullerton taxpayers the middle finger by not even trying to reduce their budgets. I don’t know, maybe don’t blow through so much ammo down at the range for starters ($58K/Year). Maybe end a few subscriptions or cut back on the pay-cations we send heroes on all the time. How about you stop beating people or wrongfully arresting folks and save us some settlement money at the very least? Something? Anything?

We’re good guys. Or else…

Nope, just a big old F-U.

An F-U to the taxpayers from the very people bankrupting us so they can retire 20 years before any of us with their ridiculous 6-figure pensions. The only thing worse than the Interim Chief giving us all the bird is Fitzgerald sitting up on the dais, her fake (R) self to blame for our ever increasing debt, going along with this hogwash.

They don’t want to cut personnel? Fine. Cut something. Come back to us when you want to act like adults and not petulant children unwilling to give up even one toy.