Author Archives: Joshua Ferguson

Fullerton to BEGIN to Make Very Difficult Decisions

I’ve been watching the votes trickle in over the previous week and a half just giddy at how much of a pounding both Measures S & U took here in Fullerton.

To the 25,215+/- of Fullerton voters who voted to ban fireworks – kick rocks. You suck. Conversely, thank you to the 37,560+/- who voted to keep fireworks, our community groups thank you and it’ll be nice to be able to launch fireworks in our front yards since it looks like we’re headed for perpetual lockdowns.

As for Measure S.

Krabs Squidword Laughing

Let us not forget Fullerton City Manager Ken Domer’s words on Measure S:

“In the event the local sales tax measure is not placed on the ballot or if it ultimately fails to gain voter approval in November, the City will continue to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible, but we will be forced to begin to make very difficult decisions regarding service levels and operations of programs in order to achieve balanced budgets over the succeeding years.”

City Hall got greedy, wasted our money to sell us on their graft and then they got slapped by 57% of voters.

Bob Laughing

I guess it’s time for City Hall to start making very difficult decisions. You know, the job we hired & pay them handsomely for as opposed to covering for dirty cops, virtue signaling for woke points and building stairs/bridges to nowhere.

Unions Lose Bid to Reinstate Bad Apples

It only took 8 years but the Trial Court has finally decided that Jay Cicinelli and Joseph Wolfe are not entitled to their jobs back at the Fullerton Police Department for beating Kelly Thomas to death.

Cicinelli Writ of Mandate Denied

Remember those protests a few months back about police accountability? Yeah, welcome to  Fullerton. We were bitching about these issues before it was cool.

Let us not kid ourselves here – the only way these guys were able to fund their lawsuits against the city, that we taxpayers have been paying to defend against for more than half a decade, is because they were largely (if not entirely) being funded by various police unions & police legal funds.

This is the type of justice system the police want and demand in their contracts and giveaways. This is what their bought and paid for candidates promise and deliver year in and year out. That the police unions will fight for years to reinstate a violent one-eyed sociopath who never should have been hired on in the first place should be, well, eye opening (pun intended).

Despite the caterwauling from union hacks & bureaucrats, we’ll never get the best and brightest no matter how much we spend when it takes this long to get rid of the most rotten of bad apples.

Now we get to wait and see if the unions fund an appeal to drag this nonsense out for another decade at our expense. Kelly Thomas was unavailable for comment as of this writing.

Only a clearly biased person could consider this a brutal and inhumane act. It is appalling the level of prejudice Cicinelli suffered.

Zahra Ignores History to Avoid Accountability

As I’ve outlined in previous posts, our City spends an inordinate amount of money on pay/pensions and less and less each year on actual infrastructure and things that benefit us, the local taxpayers.

I’m used to the pushback from the local BooHoos who love taxes, but I caught a post by City Council hack Ahmad Zahra claiming that our financial troubles are from past councils and that he wants to look forward.

Zahra Blame Shifting

“Regardless of how we got here…”

“Regardless of how we got here and who to blame, we’re here now and we’re on the bring.”

Our veritable Government Rafiki would have you believe that the sins of the past don’t matter because he wants to look to the future (but only when government incompetence is involved).

Rafiki In the Past

I honestly couldn’t eyeroll hard enough when I saw that nonsense from Zahra for the simple reason that Ahmad Zahra SUPPORTS the very financial sins that got us where we are today – being begged for more taxes so bureaucrats and union hacks can make more while watching our roads & our city crumble.

Because Zahra won’t tell you the truth or give you the facts, it’s time for a history lesson from yours truly.

Back in the day our then idiotic governor, Gray Davis, signed SB 400 which was sold on a lie (like most all legislation) that it would benefit government employees but wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime more in actual costs. Those benefits came in the form of a 3% at 50 pension formula which, despite the lies told to sell it, bit us in the ass because the government is full of thieving bastards who have no incentive to the tell the truth or worry about taxpayers. Oh, and they also suck at math and their jobs.

These pensions are calculated on highest pay which means that after 30 years on the job, officers would qualify for 90% of the highest pay for the rest of their lives. This was also grandfathered and given to people who were never promised it during employment or contract negotiations.

This next part is very important and needs to be repeated. This pension giveaway isn’t based on averages or aggregates. If an officer worked patrol for 27 years making $75k/year and then jumped into command in the last few years of the job making $150/year, his pension would be based on that $150/year.

So Officer Friendly here will get 90% of $150k for the rest of his life and contrary to popular mythology the average officer outlives the average taxpayer.

The math on this problem is simple. 90% of $150k is $135k/year meaning the officer in this scenario will get $60,000 MORE in retirement every year than he earned over the first 27 years of his career.

But wait, there's more!

But wait, there’s more!

This is a “defined benefit”. That means that if the State screws up in their planning (what? no!) and under-funds the pension funds (in this case CalPERS) then Officer Friendly loses nothing. If the market goes to hell (like when the State kills the economy over a virus) you can kiss your 401K goodbye but not so if you work for the government. They lose nothing, nadda, zip, zilch. That’s right, zero. Here in CA we have what’s known as “The California Rule” which was made up by the courts to say that once you promise a government employee something you can never take it away regardless of how bad it may hurt you. If your city promised the moon and stars to the police and then goes bankrupt, you the taxpayer still owe them the moon and the stars.

This has been fiddled with slightly over the years and newer hires get 3% at 55 but all of the problems still persist.

Which brings us back to Ahmad Zahra. Governor Davis passed the law that allowed that 3% @ 50 formula but it had to be approved in contracts at the local level. Here in Fullerton it passed in 2002 in a 5-0 vote with City Council members Bankhead, Clesceri, Jones, Norby and…. Jan Flory all voting to screw us financially well into the future.

Fullerton Vote SB400

These are the names of our destroyers

Skip ahead to 2018 when Jesus Silva vacated his at-large council seat to run in District 3. That newly open seat was filled when Zahra, who had previously signaled a preference for representative democracy, opted to apparently sell his integrity for a seat on the water board and became the deciding vote in appointing the very same Jan Flory back onto Fullerton’s City Council.

There’s a lot of depth to this speculative story but to summarize, Flory was hopping mad that Bruce Whitaker got put on Water Board (a lucrative job) in her place when she left council in 2016 and wanted revenge. The fix was in with Fitzgerald & Silva to replace Whitaker with Zahra should Zahra sell out his pretend principles and gift the open council seat to Flory. Lo and behold he voted for Flory and immediately Whitaker got replaced by Zahra on the Water Board.

Zahra had no clue what the water board but he did what was best for Zahra. Same with Measure S. He doesn’t care that taxes hit the poorest hardest despite living in the poorest district in Fullerton – he needs the Union Hero endorsement so screw the poors if it helps his career. This is man who champions vanity projects while ignoring police oversight all while demanding more and more of your hard earned money via taxation which he calls “revenue”.

This is why Zahra wants to “regardless” his way out of the blame game and ignore who got us into this mess – because the weasel doesn’t want you to know that he endorsed and voted to put one of the very architects of our local financial misery BACK onto the council less than 2 years ago. That he supports the very things that got us into this mess and will continue to support bleeding you dry as long as it benefits him.

And this isn’t just a case of Ahmad being in the majority. Without his vote Jan Flory wouldn’t and couldn’t have been appointed because there were only 4 council members at the time and Bruce Whitaker was a solid no vote against Flory.

Jan “3% @ 50” Flory is only currently back on council thanks to Ahmad Zahra so don’t believe his Rafiki schtick. His actions matter, not his empty and pathetic rhetoric.

Buying Better Pensions One Tax at a Time

…so far.

That’s right, the local hero unions dropped $10,000 each to try to help sell you on raising your taxes. As always we have to stop and ask “why?”.

Measure S - Hero Donations

It’s a drop in the bucket for how much they’ll get in return

It can’t be to fix the roads because the unions don’t care about your roads or infrastructure as most of their members don’t live in Fullerton. If they DID care about such things they wouldn’t act like mercenaries demanding unsustainable pay, playing cities against each other, while watching your city crumble.

So why did each hero union drop $10k? Because, as we’ve been saying for some time now, Measure S is just a pension tax. Allow me to illustrate the problem with our budget USING the budget.

This is the oldest budget I can find online currently and it’s from 2004-05. I’ve added the percentages in total dollars. Remember, this is from 15 years ago.

2004-05 Budget Breakdown

Follow the money…

And THIS is from this year’s budget. I’ve added the percentages to correspond to the previous example.

2019-20 Budget Breakdown

Lookie where all of the money goes…

Do you see the issue?

In the 15 years between these budgets, the budget TOTAL has gone up by over $20,000,000 (20 Million) and in that same amount of time the Police/Fire budgets have gone from consuming 26% of the budget to now consuming 37% of it.

That’s NOT just the General Fund. That’s the entire budget – all special taxes, grants, all of it.

Right there in plain math, that is where your money for roads & infrastructure went.

It should surprise precisely nobody that the city is demanding more money for infrastructure considering that they’ve been systematically cutting it for decades to give it away in payroll and pensions.

Now this is important: The total budget increased by 11.71% over fifteen years.

An 11% increase in the total size of the pie and still the heroes ate an additional 11% MORE (a larger slice) of the budget for a growth of $25Million+ in Public Safety spending over those 15 years.

It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out what’s happening here and why it might be a problem. This is not an issue of revenue. Fullerton takes in more tax revenue than it ever has in the city’s entire history. Every single new dollar that came in from your sales and property taxes, every single one, went straight to public safety salaries, benefits and pensions. It went to fund their outdated and ridiculous service models / toys (such as using a ladder truck to respond to every third passed out drunk or rolling 6 police cars up on every DUI).

And there you have it. This is why our roads suck and our pipes are bursting. This is why our water rates went up and will continue to go up. And yes, this is why the heroes dropped $20,000, so far, into trying to convince you to tax yourselves and your neighbors more. It’s also why the same types of people get endorsed by Police and Fire Unions year after year. The bought and paid for candidates will always make sure the heroes have their lifted trucks and river toys before you have safe roads.

There is no such thing as enough when it comes to taking your money and the return on investment for the unions here is enormous. This isn’t about bias, union hating, or “anarchy” as Ahmad Zahra likes to pretend. This is about simple math – the kind Jesus Silva claims to have taught but refuses to understand. Just look at the city’s own numbers.

Criminal

Fullerton Admits to Criminal Incompetence

The City of Fullerton today admitted that they broke multiple laws in how they utilized Dropbox to illegally store what they claim are private and confidential files.

A few weeks back my attorney submitted a records request which the city just partially responded to today with any substance. There’s a lot of legal nonsense and lawfare going on here but one thing stood out related to Dropbox.

CPRA Fullerton Dropbox Response

No contract you say?

This is interesting because the Federal Department of Health and Human Services has very strict rules governing how you can and cannot store & transmit health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). The two important issues here are known as the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule.

Basically you have to be smart in how you store personal medical files. To facilitate this Dropbox uses what is known as a Business associate agreement (BAA) which constitutes a contract. NOT ONLY do you have to sign this contract (electronically is fine) but it also, according to Dropbox’s terms, “must be in place before the transfer of [Personal Health Information] PHI from the covered entity to the business associate”.

The user, in this case the City of Fullerton, would also need to make sure THEY THEMSELVES comply with Federal Laws related to PHI.

Had the City of Fullerton’s attorneys done their job they would have seen this in the “getting started with HIPPA guide” from Dropbox:

“If your team handles Protected Health Information (PHI), you can configure your account so folders, links, and Paper docs can’t be shared with people outside of your team. When team members create shared folders, they can further customize the folders’ settings and choose the appropriate level of access — edit or view-only”

But wait – aren’t we being sued in part because we allegedly went to the City of Fullerton’s Dropbox account and “illegally” accessed files and information including personal heaslth records?

The City Council sure seemed to think that was the case. Back on 14 November 2019, City Council Member Ahmad Zahra asked me the following on Facebook (emphasis added):

“However, I’d like to ask you a question: Regardless of how or why it was obtained, do you hold in your possession any private and confidential city employee information that includes social security numbers, health records or other personal information?”

How would that be possible unless the City of Fullerton, who only alleges we accessed their Dropbox account, put such files into said Dropbox folder?

Because that’s exactly what they did – according to their own court filings they put these records into an unsecured Dropbox folder they opened up to the world.

Health Records on Dropbox

And furthermore, according to the City’s most recent court filing which was filed today:

Unaware of Access

They just ignored basic security because… reasons

“The City was unaware Appellants were accessing materials not intended for them to which the City had not specifically directed them or given them permission to access.”

That ALONE ignores basic access controls in clear violation of the HIPPA Security Rule:

“The standards require covered entities to implement basic safeguards to protect electronic protected health information from unauthorized access, alteration, deletion, and transmission.”

They city admits to putting PHI online and not verifying who was accessing, or even who had access, to such information. But at least they took the security of the files themselves seriously in compliance with State & Federal laws, correct?

Not even close.

Reused Passwords

Reused Passwords.

Unfortunately, City staff reused passwords, so that passwords to other files and folders within the City’s Dropbox account, to which Appellants were not given direction or permission to access, could be guessed by Appellants.”

“Reused passwords”. Let that sink in for a minute. Yeah, total violation of Federal HIPPA laws.

But wait, there's more!

But wait, there’s more!

Because Dropbox requires a Business Associate Agreement BEFORE you can place Personal Health Information on their servers, and the City claims they have no such agreement (ie contract) AND that they didn’t follow Dropbox’s access requirements, then they are in violation of the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act of 1986 (CFAA) & the state variant (CDAFA) for being, and I quote with a great bit or irony, in “excess of authorization”.

Jones & Mayer opened the City of Fullerton up to an unknown number of lawsuits with their wanton disregard for the most basic of security protocols.

On top of the hacking crimes against Dropbox, this is a Department of Health & Human Services Civil Rights lawsuit waiting to happen. No wonder Jones & Mayer are spending so much time papering the courts with bullshittery to hide their illegal actions and gross incompetence from the City. It’d be a real shame if the impacted people, who the city was legally required to notify, were to file federal complaints over Privacy [HERE] or Security [HERE] against Fullerton.

As an aside, the city claims emails referencing “dropbox,” “cityoffullerton/com/outbox,” “Fullerton!,” “Full3rtOn!,” or “synoptek” from 2015 to 10/24/2019 yielded 9,700 results. Even AFTER excluding “Fullerton!” & “Full3rtOn!” owing to the wildcard nature of the “!” they claim 9,700 results and they want about $21,000 to sort and redact them. They totally weren’t sharing this information we “hacked” far and wide. Right.

This is yet another example of how the City of Fullerton wastes your money. The cost to sue us is a colossal waste to taxpayers for the sole purpose of covering up the City Attorney’s mistakes and the impending lawsuits over HIPPA will likewise come out of your taxes without a single bureaucrat or attorney being held accountable for their crimes/incompetence.

Pinnochio Liar

Just Like Covid, Fullerton’s Lies Have No Cure

Don’t believe the lies being peddled by the Chamber of Commerce, Lobbyist hacks or the City Council. Covid-19 is just the perfect and newest excuse to put lipstick on the the pig that is City Council’s inability to spend your money with any responsibility.

Measure S Covid Lie

Exploiting the pandemic to cover up their incompetence

The City, which has been working on this sales tax for well over a year, simply wants to tax you more – the people with a median household income of $73,360 and a 13.4% poverty rate – so 300+ government workers can have total compensation packages worth over $100,000 and that $30,000,000 (30 Million+!) price tag is just the most obvious top layer of why Fullerton is broke.

So the government mandated lockdowns over Covid, the “two weeks to flatten the curve”, is just a convenient excuse for what the city has been planning for quite some time. Here’s the meeting minutes from the Infrastructure committee from back in January where City Manager Domer indicated, and I quote, “a need to raise revenue potentially through a sales tax measure”. That was 15 January 2020, 4 days BEFORE America’s first known Covid positive patient walked into a Washington clinic complaining of a cough and fever.

Sales Tax on INRAC

This has been in the works for well over a year

In fact, the city hired a PR firm, FM3, to poll people back in November of 2019 in order to gauge interest on a sales tax. This survey started BEFORE even China had a known positive case.

FM3 Survey

It’s been in the works ever since the city finally admitted we were right

That pre-Covid survey directly asked people, related to a sales tax increase: “Q. If the election were held today, do you think you would vote “yes” in favor of this measure or “no” to oppose it?” and gave a sample ballot measure that is remarkably similar to what is on this November’s ballot.

Sales Tax Ballot Q Survey

Vote NO!

So don’t believe their lies and excuses as to why they so desperately need to tax you more now. The city wanted this tax long before the world knew Covid was a thing & will say and do anything to take more of your money.

Vote NO on Measure S.

Your Roads Suck & Measure S Won’t Fix Them

The City of Fullerton is spending your money to promote a new sales tax to you. They want you to vote yes on Measure S in order to raise the sales tax in Fullerton. Don’t be a sucker.

True, they’re promising roads and infrastructure and all of the goodies that government is supposedly designed to provide. The problem is that they spend exactly ZERO of your local taxes on these things right now.

Zero of your Property Taxes go to the roads and infrastructure.
Zero of your Sales Taxes go to the roads and infrastructure.
It’s the same with all of the fees and permits, licenses and so forth.

Despite taxing people in Fullerton to the tune of over $97 Million dollars, not one dime goes to the most basic of road work. Seems like we could fill a lot of potholes with +/- $97 Million dollars a year.

So how does our little amount of road work happen?

After the City squanders all of the tax money you give them directly, mostly on salaries and benefits, they then rely on OTHER government agencies to tax you further in order to do the terrible job they do on keeping your city nice. Remember SB1? When Newman jacked up the taxes on every gallon of gas you buy? Yeah, that was because your city government doesn’t actually care about your city and they use the State (where your vote barely matters) as bad cop to their incompetent cop.

Here’s a snippet from Fullerton’s budget to outline my point:

Zero Dollars to CIP

Don’t worry, they promise they’ll spend more if you give them more

That “-” denotes exactly zip, zilch, nadda dollars.

The City Council of Fullerton cares so deeply about keeping your city nice that they can’t be bothered to allocate a single dollar out of the $97Million General Fund – a General Fund that comes directly from your property & sales taxes – to basic upkeep.

I cannot stress this point enough.

Oh they’ll promise that they pave “8 miles of road a year” or whatever hogwash they’re peddling during election season, but in reality they can’t be bothered to tell a single union “No” in order to keep the alignment of your car from freaking out.

So where DOES that money go? Here’s a chart that sums it up:

Taxes to Public Safety

What a coincidence that those lines match up so nicely…

That is a chart from our own David Curlee showing Fullerton’s Property & Sales taxes that you pay laid next to the amount the City spends on Police & Fire. Notice how they line up? The Police Department eats every single dollar (and some) brought in to the City through Property Taxes and Fire eats all of your Sales Taxes. They don’t do that directly of course, they have accounting gimmicks and various funds to try and hide this from you but this is basic math minus bureaucratic bullshittery we’re showing you.

That’s right. That’s where ALL of your money goes and a large chunk of that is to pensions for guys who retire at 55 and will outlive all of us.

And along comes Measure S.

Much like Newman’s SB1 lie, Measure S is full of promises that require you to suspend disbelief and history in order to believe. The same city that prioritizes precisely ZERO of those $97 Million in taxes to keeping up our infrastructure NOW wants you to believe that they can be trusted to do the right thing with Millions more of your money if you give it to them.

Don’t do it. Don’t believe them. Don’t trust them. Don’t give them another dime of your money until they learn how to prioritize spending what they already take from all of us every year.

If you give them more money, they will absolutely spend every dollar on whatever strikes their fancy and when your roads still suck in years to come they’ll put their hat back in their hands and start the begging all over again. End this abusive relationship. They don’t steal from you because they love you, they do it because you won’t fight back.

Join the fight. Vote NO on Measure S.

Air Combat Planes

Fullerton Loses Another $1.2Million+ of Your Money to Incompetence

No, not against us… yet. Or against the Rock Wagner family for that Kathryn Hamel created wrongful death nonsense. You know the one, that’s the case that led to Hamel “resigning” and the city illegally dropping their sustained findings against her. Yeah, that’s gonna be a pricey lawsuit as well.

But no, this particular million dollar lawsuit stems from the Fullerton Airport Manager, Brendan O’Reilly, lying about when a hangar contract with former tenant Air Combat ended to illegally take said hangar from them to give it to the City Council favored/connected event company Hangar 21.

Air Combat Contract Lies

You have to wonder who was pulling O’Rielly’s strings to make his lie so often…

The ruling was aired live on Wednesday (no archived footage is available), and it hasn’t been released in writing yet, but for those who watched live were able to witness the jury side with Air Combat. The jury agreed that the City lied about the start/end date of Air Combat’s contract and awarded Air Combat $1.2Million in damages. That number will move around a bit as legal fees and other costs are calculated by the judge but it’s a huge slap in the face for Fullerton taxpayers and another black eye for CIty Hall / City Council.

Chalk one more loss up to Jones & Mayer and our incompetent City Staff. I hope you enjoy continually paying out for this nonsense because more is coming (see above).

It was an obvious case of corruption/incompetence at all levels of City Hall & Council that allowed this to happen and nobody, I repeat nobody, at City Hall is being held accountable for this million dollar loss that was entirely avoidable. And THAT dear Friends is the real reason the City wants to raise your taxes with Measure S – because being responsible with your tax dollars is just too darn hard.

Defame Some Malcontents, Get a Million Bucks

System Failure Matrix

A while back I talked about how the City, as a byproduct of suing us, found out that their network was broken despite years of paying IT “Professionals” and outside contractors to run the network. Nobody was held accountable and we’ve yet to be told EXACTLY what “Glass Box Technology” did to earn their initial $500,000.00 contract+ off contract money.

Except Glass Box did write a pretty dumb Declaration on behalf of the City in this patently ridiculous lawsuit against this blog. So this *could* just be good old crony corporatist back scratching. Who knows, the City ain’t sayin’.

Glass Box Stole Data

This Grifter Claimed we “Stole Data” and conflated the Network with Dropbox

I also mentioned how the City managed to go over that budget by about $41k. What’s $40k+ between friends anyways?

Well it turns out that the City kept on writing checks to Glass Box without renewing their contract, terms or telling anybody what was being purchased with your hard earn tax dollars.

From the time of my last post until their new IT contract was signed, the City went ahead and spent an additional $487,995.02 ON TOP of the $41k they were already over budget.

Glass Box Checks Sept 2020

That brings the Grand Total of “Whoops we need to fix things” emergency funding to $1,029,446.27.

I hope you think it’s worth it despite the City Council or City Staff not giving you a substantial reason for why they needed to spend a few miles of road repairs worth of your tax money.

Do you want to know why the City is trying to tax everything you buy in Fullerton come November? It’s stupid decisions like these which just throw good money after bad with nary a reason or real explanation.

As if you needed more reasons to vote No on S, don’t reward bad behavior and irresponsible stupidity. Yes, signs are available.

No On S

Don’t Reward the City’s Stupidity