Friends for Fullerton’s Future on the News

Radiowaves

You may have heard that the City of Fullerton sent this blog, and me specifically, a Cease and Desist letter owing to some of the recent posts here, here & here by FFFF contributor Lonnie Machin.

Well KFI news picked up the story and has been running a few segments on the hour and the half-hour rotating in and out since yesterday. Here’s a sample of what’s been airing:

If you happen to have recorded a copy of the other pieces which aired let us know.

Fullerton’s City Prosecutor Threatened Me

Idiot Palmer is on the right

Thanks to our friend and contributor Lonnie Machin’s recent posts on this blog, the City of Fullerton has decided to send a Cease and Desist letter threatening me and “Friends for Fullerton [sic]” with legal action.

Cease and Desist - June 2019

The letter in it’s entirety is as follows:

Joshua Ferguson
Friends for Fullerton
Re: Cease and Desist – City of Fullerton Police Department

Dear Mr. Ferguson,

It has come to the attention of the City of Fullerton that you have recently published on your website documents which have clearly and undoubtedly been sourced from the confidential personnel files of several current and/or former Fullerton Police Officers. The State of California has statutorily recognized this right of confidentiality. (See Penal Code §§ 832.5, 832.7 and 832.8.) Any disclosure of such confidential records is strictly limited and must be authorized by a court order from a Superior Court judge. (See Evidence Code §§ 1043-1047; Pitchess v. Superior Court(1974) 11 Cal.3d 531 and its progeny.) Indeed, the Fullerton Police Department has an affirmative duty to resist attempts at unauthorized disclosure and the officers who are the subject of such records expect their right of privacy will be respected. (See Craig v. Municipal Court for the Inglewood Judicial District et al. (1979) 100 Cal.App.3d 69.) Finally, the improper disclosure of such records is prosecutable as a misdemeanor violation of law under Government Code section 1222 (See Attorney General Opinion, 82 Op. Att’y Gen. 246 (1999).) Any person facilitating the illegal disclosure of such documents in violation of the law may be prosecuted as either a principal in that crime or as an aider and abettor.

For all these reasons the City of Fullerton demands you immediately:

1. Remove these Confidential Documents from Your Blog within one hour of your receipt of this e-mailed cease and desist letter;

2. Refrain from posting any other Confidential Documents illegally obtained to Your Blog in the future:

3. That you immediately send to our office within 24 hours all Confidential Documents you and your employees have in your possession. You are also instructed not to make any copies of the Confidential Documents in any form (including but not limited to electronic, imaged, hard copies, etc.)

3. That you immediately delete all electronic copies of the Confidential Documents in your and your employees’ possession.

Your failure to follow these instructions can result in legal action being taken against Friends for Fullerton’s Future wherein the City will seek all necessary legal remedies.

We require your immediate compliance with this cease and desist letter. Notify the undersigned of your compliance with the above within 24 hours of your receipt of this correspondence.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Gregory P. Palmer
City Prosecutor
City of Fullerton

(more…)

Your Voice Means Nothing to City Hall

Nextdoor Water Rate Increase Notice

Last month Fullerton requested feedback via Nextdoor and elsewhere from citizens regarding the raising of our water rates because our city is incompetent and decided not to repair infrastructure over the last several decades and now the bill is coming due by way of broken and rotting pipes.

So what we paid for already we need to pay for again and this time they pinky swear they mean to fix things. For realsies.

Those of you familiar with this blog should know about the “7 Walls of Local Government” which is quite possibly one of the best series of posts on local government ever committed to words in the modern era. If you’re unfamiliar go give it a read and then come back.

The 7 Walls, to many people, is simply theoretical so I wanted to offer this Fullerton water rate issue as an example of the walls in practice.

So here we have a form of Local Government Wall #3 –The Performance.

With the current rate hike under consideration the city claimed that they wanted feedback and in order for your “protest” to be counted you needed to sign a letter and email or send it in to the city. One person per household or parcel so hopefully you weren’t a renter or had more than one opinion in your domicile.

Just emails wouldn’t count, social media posts wouldn’t count and ACTUALLY SPEAKING AGAINST the increase at council wouldn’t count. To quote the city’s own FAQ:

“However, oral comments at the Public Hearing will not qualify as a formal protest of the proposed rate action unless accompanied by a written protest setting forth the required information.”

Gee, it’s almost like they wanted to limit it as much as possible all while claiming to be doing far beyond the bare minimum that’s legally required by law.

But they totally cared about your opinions or so they’d like you to believe and even told council.

Being one to not trust bureaucrats I challenged them on the premise and requested what they did with the “protests” they received up to and during the council meeting in question.

Here is the response:

Water Rate Increase Protests

They “were received, recorded and read by Public Works” and council only got a “response letter”.

That “response letter” was prepared early in order to be included in the agenda packet for the city council meeting on 04 June 2019 and was released to the public at approximately 6:15pm on 30 May 2019.

What this means is that council never received your protest prior to voting and thus those making the decision to raise your rates never heard what you had to say before voting.

Better yet – staff RESPONDED TO your “protest” possibly before you even made it. Any protest that came in after 30 May 2019 and before the item closed on Tuesday was just totally ignored. (more…)

Your Water Rates are Going Up

Water Rate Increase June 2019

I’m not going to try and convince you that your water rates shouldn’t go up – that would be a futile effort at this point as too many of you are happy to rob your neighbors for things you think matter despite the costs and associated corruption.

I’m likewise not going to try and convince you of the malfeasance and incompetence of our city council as that too would waste my time on this lovely Taco Tuesday.

Instead I’ll simply point you to what happened the last time the city screwed the people of Fullerton on their water rates:

Ultimately the illegal water rates, along with the Kelly Thomas murder, helped fuel a recall.

Why mention these things? Because Jan Flory was on council when you were being robbed last time, as was Jesus Silva’s wife, Sharon Quirk-Silva. Jennifer Fitzgerald was the heir-apparent of the three recalled council members who were happily robbing us blind. Ahmad Zhara is on the water board (and Poseidon will rob you more when he supports that boondoggle). Bruce Whitaker is the only council member who will voice concern but that concern will likely go nowhere.

They deserve to be yelled at, mocked and ridiculed for their stupidity and corruption. Mercilessly.

Here’s the basic increase schedule. Enjoy. If you live in an older house with a slightly larger intake pipe prepare to eat an additional $182.76 next year (and more each subsequent year) because screw you.

Water Rate Increase June 2019 B

So tonight when staff and the council play the “we as a city NEED this money for rotting pipes” card you’ll know whom to laugh at profusely. The same jackasses that routinely steal your money to pad pensions and payroll for services which have been denied to you and your neighbors for literal generations.

This current water rate increase is another opportunity to raise your rates/taxes to pay for salaries and pensions to the people actively NOT FIXING the things you play them to fix. But this time they’ll fix it all, they promise. Or something. And if they muck it up again and just steal like normal oh well, the next crop of jackoffs in City Hall will wash their hands of the past and start the process of robbing you anew.

Congrats Fullerton, you’re about to get screwed again. You should be used to it by now.

Community Stakeholder Survey Says

Tonight the Fullerton city council will pretend to go over the results of the Community Stakeholder Survey that just recently wrapped up. Remember that survey? It’s where the city is going to, and I quote:

For the next strategic planning session, the City will conduct a community stakeholder survey prior to working with the City Council to develop Mission and Vision statements, and ultimately set goals to implement the Priority Policy Statements.

We don’t have nice roads but at least we’ll have mission and vision statements.

The whole reason for this dog and pony show is to pretend to do something productive while our roads literally crumble around us each day. We’re in a structural deficit and only balance our budgets by selling capital assets (city owned property) and by not filling vacant positions.

So when people complain that we’re understaffed the current and retired staff are entirely to blame for this problem because they’re eating all of our general fund.

As to the survey itself, how engaged were the people of Fullerton in regards to this important mission of vision questing?

Vision

Super engaged, so responsive. The whole city was interested in giving their two cents… Oh. No. Nevermind. Almost nobody even knew this things existed and fewer participated.

706 people responded and 9 sent in written statements via email. That’s it.

It was a truly terrible turnout.

But the city, using that whopping return of 706 survey responses and 9 written statements will march ahead ever ready as a city to talk about what our local government’s priorities should be going forward in an open and honest fashion.

(more…)

Enjoy Downtown While it Lasts

Downtown Fullerton

Fullerton’s City Council last Tuesday, as expected, voted to change the rules governing how bars operate in the city in order to facilitate having more bars and making them more profitable.

The crux of the change is that it was too hard for staff to do their jobs, and for the Police Chief to stop rubber stamping permits, so the city needed to change the rules. This time they mean to enforce them unlike the last decade+ they promise… kind of… well not really.

Not one council member got an answer of who was in violation of what rules they were changing and why it was so hard for community development, code enforcement and the police to use a checklist to sort it out and in fact Ted White’s answers on how Conditional Use Permits work negated his own arguments of the Title 15 change. But again, council was too inept and/or lazy to follow the logic of the change or to ask any real questions per the norm.

The council ALSO voted to launch a pilot program, which we all know will be permanent, for paid parking in downtown. This is a data driven program tracking who comes and goes how often and how long they stay based on license plate data. As we heard at the meeting the whole point was data, data, data and more data. You will be tracked and your data will likely be sold. It’s so data driven that the vendor, staff and council want you to punch in where you park even when you don’t have to pay for parking – just because you WANT to be tracked.

Data Breach

When council asked who owned the servers the vendor claimed it was a “cloud based server” and that’s where the questions stopped. We don’t know what data is kept, where it is kept, which servers are used or who our travel data is being sold to – all because council couldn’t be bothered to ask.

It was a pathetic meeting full of incompetence, malfeasance and laughable gaffs. The Other Dick Jones™ got torn into by both Fitzgerald and Zahra for how they can/can’t handle an agenda item and when the city clerk offered helpful info the council just blanker her. It was probably the worst example of governing I’ve seen in years.

Individually the council members didn’t do themselves any favors in the integrity or intelligence departments. (more…)

Let’s Talk More about Privacy

Big Brother Watching

Tonight our City Council is going to allow the Fullerton Police Department to use asset forfeiture money to purchase two automated license plate readers or ALPRs.

According to the paperwork these devices are used to allow police to drive around and scan the license plate of all cars on both sides of a street at up to 160mph. Tonight this is being sold as a way to enforce parking as part of the Downtown Parking Pilot Program as recommended by staff and the vendor SP+.

But these devices have a dark big brother side to them in how the data is shared and stored.

Apparently Fullerton has had these types of devices since 2008 (as referenced in my earlier post) despite the staff report tonight alluding to their newness. I’m betting the devices are currently being used for covertly tracking specific criminals in the same way that FPD uses the cellphone data capturing “Stingray” that they borrow from Anaheim.

Regardless of how the ALPRs are currently being used,  they aren’t a new concept as far as I can tell for the city or police department owing to our involvement in the UASI.

Urban Area Security Initiative

In the staff report, as a way to sell these ALPRs, it is mentioned that the city currently “chalks” tires to check for parking violations.

Why are our parking enforcers “chalking” tires when they have electronic equipment to do that for them? Does that equipment no longer function? Was there a problem with the implementation of the previous “digital chalking”. Nobody knows because no data, details or explanations are being provided by staff – yet again.

The big issue here, according to the ACLU and others, is that these devices are also used to keep track of where people go and how long they stay at those locations. The police department can track your movements and build a pattern of your activities and then share that data with other agencies.

Do the police really need a record of what church everybody goes to? What about who goes to the local AA/NA meetings? Local clinic? Political rallies/events/protests? Do you want the police to have a record of every time you visited your lover or possible mistress/paramour for the politicians in the room?

Caught Cheating

All of your activities are now that much easier to track and store with this technology and there needs to be safeguards against abuse and misuse.

This giant privacy concern is why the ACLU, EFF, 10th Amendment Center and others are against the use of these devices without strict controls. Surprisingly enough the CA State Legislature mostly agrees with them.

According to the Electronic Freedom Foundation, CA law, in effect since 2016, requires agencies deploying automated license plate readers to divulge:

  • The authorized purposes for using the ALPR system and collecting ALPR information.
  • A description of the job title or other designation of the employees and independent contractors who are authorized to use or access the ALPR system, or to collect ALPR information. The policy shall identify the training requirements necessary for those authorized employees and independent contractors.
  • A description of how the ALPR system will be monitored to ensure the security of the information and compliance with applicable privacy laws.
  • The purposes of, process for, and restrictions on, the sale, sharing, or transfer of ALPR information to other persons.
  • The title of the official custodian, or owner, of the ALPR system responsible for implementing this section.
  • A description of the reasonable measures that will be used to ensure the accuracy of ALPR information and correct data errors.
  • The length of time ALPR information will be retained, and the process the ALPR operator will utilize to determine if and when to destroy retained ALPR information.

Sadly you can scour tonight’s staff report and you won’t find any of this information. You also won’t find these requirements on the website or city archive which begs a question of legal compliance.

But it’s more irritating than that. If this was an issue of non-compliance by virtue of the law changing AFTER we already had the equipment (purchase in 2008, law change in 2016) it would be one thing. It would be illegal but an issue chalked up to oversight and city attorney incompetence. But no. Two years ago our city agreed to remain in what is known as the Urban Areas Security Initiative and we’re in clear violation of that grant process as well:

UASI PII Requirement

I’ve looked for this “publicly-available policy” to no-avail on the city servers. Honestly though I shouldn’t have to look for such information when staff is asking the council to address the license plate readers tonight – the policy in question should have been included and explained in the staff report.

An example of compliance with the law regarding your privacy and how the city handles it related to ALPRs can be seen with the city of Cypress’s Police Department Manual. This is what should have been included tonight before council votes upon such the ALPR issue.

Fullerton, however, gives us this:

FPD Policy Manual

If you look at the top of that page you’ll it was put up back when David Hendricks was Chief of Police.

Chief Hendricks went on admin leave back on 25 August of last year before resigning. So our Police Department hasn’t had a publicly available policy manual for AT LEAST 7 months & 22 days. The best I can find is a policy manual from 2012 on archive.org and the section of ALPRs (page 322) is not compliant with the 2016 state law.

Way to go team. Way to be transparent and compliant with the law. Way be ahead of the curve and to put the interests of the people first. Oh wait. Nevermind on all counts.

Why does staff, let alone council, not care about your privacy? Why do they think it’s okay to violate CA law and their own grant agreements regarding your privacy & transparency? Why is the hunt for more downtown money more important than addressing such fundamental concerns?

I’d tell you to find out tonight but we all know that they’re going to gloss over this issue with some allusions to trust, heroes and the like after being called on their nonsense.

Regardless of who’s on council this is just the Fullerton way I suppose.

Tonight the Downtown Bars Win

cronyism

The Fullerton City Council is about to hand the Downtown Restaurateurs Bar Owners two big wins and they’re going to continue to slap down the privacy of those in Fullerton in the process.

The first big win for the bars is in changing the rules around operating a bar in the Downtown area. This is partially because city staff thinks it’s too hard to do their jobs regarding enforcement. It’s just so hard to tell the couple of bars without Conditional Use Permits that they’re operating illegally.

The truth here is that it’s so hard to enforce anything downtown because council won’t let staff or the police department do their jobs so they all have to turn a blind eye to illegal operators and this change to Title 15 allows the downtown scofflaws to now operate *mostly* legally.

Except those without CUPs which the city will continue to ignore because favors and cronyism.

This is being sold as a way to make enforcement easier but let’s be real here – every year for a decade+ the Chief of Police (each of them) has signed off on Live Entertainment Permits which themselves say CUPs will be enforced. Our Chiefs of Police rubber stamp LE Permits for businesses that operate without required fire / life safety requirements.

So if the Police Chief is going to turn a blind eye to life safety in order to rubber stamp a permit for a favored business owner why should we believe that these new relaxed rules will be enforced? Because we’re supposed to “trust” these corrupt kleptocrats.

This Title 15 Change is being pushed to allow “legal non-conforming businesses” to now operate quasi-legally but staff won’t even tell use who that applies to in Downtown. We’re offering a form of amnesty without talking about who gets it and for what and if that’s even a good thing.

Ted White will likely prattle on about lumens and the percentage of tint on a window as cover but there are real concerns being omitted here. Why? Because saying “no, we allowed a business to illegally board up their windows with flammable material without fire sprinklers in clear violation of their CUP” doesn’t sound as easy to wash away in a rhetorical flourish such as “how do we know what 15% tint looks like”? (more…)

Government’s Stupid Priorities – Survey Edition

Office Space - Bobs

The city is once again trying to figure out how to do their jobs, this time by holding a “community stakeholder survey“. I kid you not. They want us t0 take a survey so they can figure out what it is they’re supposed to do be up there in City Hall.

From the website:

Over a year ago, the City held its first strategic planning session to introduce the concept of strategic planning and development of Priority Policy Statements. Strategic Planning is a well established process to help local governments (and private sector businesses) conduct an assessment and set goals and objectives for use of their available resources. The effort last year focused on establishing three Priority Policy Statements — Fiscal and Organizational Stability, Public Safety, and Infrastructure and City Assets.

For the next strategic planning session, the City will conduct a community stakeholder survey prior to working with the City Council to develop Mission and Vision statements, and ultimately set goals to implement the Priority Policy Statements.

They had a strategic planning session and they came to the conclusion that they needed Fiscal and Organizational Stability (which we don’t have), Public Safety (which we can’t afford), and Infrastructure and City Assets (which we don’t maintain and keep selling).

If you asked them BEFORE that planning session what their priorities were supposed to be do you think the answers would have been materially different?

Of course not. So now, after spending time and money for no point, we get to move to Round Two in the dog and pony show of figure out how government is supposed to work.

This is the type of thing a business does when a disrupter comes in and they lose market share or when a business is first starting – not something a government should be doing because they’re too bought and paid for to remember the point of a municipal government.

“Priority Policy Statements”. What a joke.

How many staff hours are wasted on crap like this? You want to know what the job of the city is? Do the things you’re paid to do – like fix our damn roads you nitwits.

More negativity. Just think positive!

You tax us specifically to do some things and to maintain other things. While government apologists and statists preen that “taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilized society” the city sure make it impossible to be civilized when the very streets we drive on cause road rage.

City Staff’s / Council’s job is to read and balance a budget and then prioritize the things we citizens cannot do on our own – like paving damn roads.

That’s basically it. We allegedly form governments to do things we cannot do on our own so that’s what needs to be done.

You don’t need a survey and to hold meetings to figure out these priorities. That’s just a dodge to avoid doing actual hard work. This is the TPS report system of government and everybody who came up with and supports this process should be ashamed of themselves.

TPS Reports

But by all means I encourage everybody to take the survey and give the city an earful, they deserve it and it doesn’t really matter anyways. This city is immune to actual criticisms or stakeholder input. Hell, our rotating Chiefs of Police turn a blind eye to life safety issues if it means appeasing a favored bar owner. That should give you a barometer for our complacent and corrupt Fullerton is from top to bottom.

Costs of Transparency

So Fullerton has decided to publish the weekly records request log. Okay, it’s a public document so I don’t care about that and I’ve never been shy about my involvement in local politics.

But this newest document is just horseshit and screw the city bureaucrats for their disingenuous blame shifting.

Why the rage? Read the line items.

Weekly PRR Log

Staff / Attorney Time?!

Attorney Cost?!

If the city didn’t hide everything and lie about what is released into the public domain there wouldn’t be a need for much “staff time” and/or “attorney cost”.

I’ll prove my point.

Here’s a line of from the current log:

Weekly Log - Joshua

This request, for what should be public data, allegedly cost the city just shy of $100.

Here’s what was returned:

19-101 PRR

There. Are. No. Available. Records.

None. Nothing was returned. So the city called the attorney to go over what exactly?

This request was related to an accident where Parks employees wrecked a city vehicle. Since the date of that incident the city has buried the details without so much as saying a single word to the ratepayers who owned that vehicle. Not one word. Not one answer. No acknowledgement and no pretense of accountability.

So not only was the city not transparent to the people, which is the norm for these nitwits, they paid the attorney to double down and hide everything while returning zero records and admitting nothing.

This is just a line item to shame and blame the people who put in requests by pointing out the costs of transparency.

If the city is going to lie, obstruct, hide information and then try and shame us with bullshit costs I say bring it on. Let’s do this. I’m going to try and get the high score now. Who’s up to the challenge?