The Weasel Words of Dick Jones Regarding Joe Felz

After tonight’s Fullerton City Council meeting all signs point to City Manager Joe Felz being out of a job, likely from early retirement after he runs out the clock on his vacation time. Allow me to explain.

Joe Felz was a no-show at last night’s Council meeting and the City Attorney, Dick Jones, relayed a nothingburger of an apology from Felz during the Open Session and said that Felz was taking a 2-week leave of absence. Mr. Jones then requested that the council agendize an emergency* item for the same meeting, last night, to appoint an Acting City Manager which they did.

There is zero reason to appoint an Acting City Manager if somebody is on a voluntary leave for 2 weeks. Do we appoint an Acting City Manager anytime the City Manager goes on vacation? No. Was it an emergency? No. This is ridiculous. How ridiculous you ask? Well…

Pursuant to California Government Code we don’t even NEED a City Manager owing to Fullerton being a General Law City.

36501.  The government of a general law city is vested in:
   (a) A city council of at least five members.
   (b) A city clerk.
   (c) A city treasurer.
   (d) A chief of police.
   (e) A fire chief.
   (f) Any subordinate officers or employees provided by law.

Notice that there is no “City Manager” on that list.

So our City Council just appointed a person, Gretchen Beatty, to a position that we don’t even legally need because our City Manager is on a 2-week leave. Funny how the City Attorney missed that little nuance in the law or as I like to call it – his job. Dick Jones asked that a non-issue be agendized unless of course more is going on behind the scenes that can’t be discussed with us common rabble known as residents.

Now here’s where the weasel words really come into play. Mr. Jones stated that Gretchen Beatty would be acting City Manager not until Felz came back from leave but rather until the City Council relieved her. He’s a lawyer who chooses his words carefully so this means something.

To really drive this point home it should be noted that during Public Comments people spoke up about the Joe Felz / Sappy McTree incident and Mr. Jones made a point that the details of the investigation couldn’t be released until this “Personnel Matter” is resolved. He also said that it was an ongoing criminal review and it would go to the D.A. for a “Potential Criminal Prosecution”. Further he said, and Mayor Fitzgerald asked him to repeat, that the Bodycam footage couldn’t be released pursuant to California Government Code 6254F.

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A Sober Take on the FPD & Joe Felz

I’ve gotten some praise and taken some heat personally for being a part of bringing this blog back online after it’s hiatus because anybody who knows Fullerton politics knows that F.F.F.F. has it’s fans and its detractors. When I found out that there was a new owner I was excited and more so when asked if I wanted to participate as F.F.F.F. gives me an outlet to continue the writing I was doing on my own site without feeling like I’m still running for office.  We were still in the planning stages when that memo from Chief Hughes popped up and now we’re off to the races.

We need to understand the context of this memo and why it matters lest the city sweep it under the rug and further erode trust in government.

To start we must admit that City Manager Joe Felz is culpable for his actions on the night of his accident but he is also culpable for the stain he has just put upon our city after 30+ years of work and it’s somewhat sad when a career might end in a downward trajectory. I barely know Joe Felz and up until now my interactions with him included me giving him grief to prove a lie the Mayor keeps telling about our roads. That said I have no personal animus towards him but the actions the night of the election by him and members of F.P.D. require due diligence and honest brokering of information which are two things constantly lacking from all levels government. For the sake of argument let us pretend that the most absurd rumor coming out of City Hall is true and he simply blew a tire coming around a turn and he was perfectly sober.

Felz himself, and the F.P.D. specifically, should have done everything in their power to remove any doubt or suspicion or wrongdoing to mitigate the allusion of impropriety, special treatment or worse. If he blew a tire and ran down Sappy McTree he could have left his car where it was and called AAA. He could have moved his car off of poor Sappy and parked and called AAA. Instead he decided to try and drive away and likely home. When Police arrived they could have done their jobs without getting the Chief involved until AFTER their initial assessments and inspections.

This isn’t armchair Monday morning quarterbacking or simple 20/20 hindsight because this is their job. Felz is the top man in our city and the F.P.D. has policy for this type of accident which we’ll get to in a minute. Everybody involved in this incident is paid handsomely to do their jobs and will help bankrupt our town with their pensions from these jobs so at a minimum we should expect that they do their jobs when called to a scene.

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“Personnel Matter” is Bureaucrat for “Misdemeanor”

Both The OC Weekly and The OC Register have picked up the Uber-Failus story of Joe Felz.

According to The Register the City Attorney, Greg Palmer, said “the incident is a personnel matter but declined to elaborate”.

Let us look at that “Personnel Matter” shall we? First we’ll reference our fallen Sappy McTree.

Dearly Departed Sappy McTree
Dearly Departed Sappy McTree

According to Chief Hughes’ memo to City Council “the city manager was involved in a minor single vehicle collision”. Okay. That explains the tree but not what happened.

For context Sappy McTree is knocked down facing West which means that he left this mortal coil after being struck from an Easterly direction. The following is a photo of a skid mark which starts near Sappy’s remains and continues west.

Fleeing the Scene?
Fleeing the Scene?

It continues for 176ft. How do we know? Because we measured it.

176ft Skid Mark
176ft Skid Mark

“So what?” some of you will comment. The “So What” is California Vehicle Code 20002 (emphasis mine):

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Would You Like to Phone a Friend?

We kicked off our relaunch by letting you all know that City Manager Joe Felz was in an alleged DUI accident at the wee hours on 09 November 2016 following some possible revelry in Downtown Fullerton where he was allegedly spotted at three bars before allegedly running down a tree. We showed you some photos of the poor innocent tree that was taken from our fair city far too soon. We showed you gouges in the road that will likely get pushed up the queue for our Mayor’s 8-Mile-Per-Year charade of a repair estimate.

We here at FFFF are trying to piece together what happened and are looking to see if Joe Felz was released with a criminal citation as per the FPD Policy Manual section 420.3.3 but this is where the transparency problems come into play. We aren’t allowed to know much and certainly not in a timely fashion. Even council members are forbidden from talking about pending or current investigations regarding current city employees. They won’t, or can’t, even confirm if such cases are in fact pending or current. The City can take 1-2 weeks to get back to records requests because they under-staff the transparency while going heavy on the revenue generators.

With Chief Dan Hughes on his way out the door to go work as the Mouse’s Top Cop we have an interesting problem on our hands.

You see in our fair city the City Manager makes the appointments to Interim Chief should a vacancy appear. This means that Joe Felz will likely be appointing the very person in charge of the Fullerton Police Department which is tied into a possible pending or ongoing investigation of our own City Manager Joe Felz. How nice it must be to know that you get to choose the guy or gal who could be tasked with sweeping your alleged dirty deed under the rug. While it is true that Chief Hughes cites possibly bringing in the CHP to investigate, owing to a conflict of interest, it is still his own officers who would be called to testify about the scene should this alleged crime go to trial.

I’ve read the Fullerton Police Department Policy Manual on DUIs and I can’t figure out why in this alleged case the Chief of Police needed to be involved in a simple DUI. Notified sure. Directly involved though? According to the Manual, section 514.2.6 specifically, Exigent Circumstances exist with chemical tests because of the non-permanent nature of the chemicals (allegedly alcohol in this case). Taking the time to call the Watch Commander who then takes the time to call the Chief who then has to call back in theory could allow the alleged blood alcohol level of our allegedly drunk City Manager to drop to a point of allegedly legal sobriety.

Of course that brings us to section 514.2.2 of the aforementioned FPD Police Manual. That states;

If the arrested person chooses a breath test and it can be accomplished without undue delay, the arrested person shall first be transported to the jail for breath testing preparatory to booking.

fullerton-police-department-policy-manual

I don’t see any mention of transporting anybody to the Jail, a whopping 0.6 miles away, but I suppose that’s because the “field sobriety test” had nothing to do with actually testing for chemicals in the blood. If a chemical test had been completed that long drive to the Jail would have happened and been mentioned in the Chief’s memo to City Council which it was not.

jail-felzcrash

 

Expect to hear a lot about the “ongoing investigation” and remember kids that you too can allegedly drive drunk and have the on scene officer call the watch commander who then calls the Chief of Police who then calls back to give the go ahead to the on scene officer to do his/her job. You might even get a free ride home. Oh wait. No. Most of us would simply be arrested and have our cars towed to the impound.

City Manager Felz Involved in Potential DUI Accident After Election Night Celebration

We at Friends for Fullerton’s Future can report and confirm that Fullerton City Manager Joe Felz was involved in an alleged DUI accident last night.

Coming home from the Downtown Bar scene where several election parties were taking place, Mr. Felz allegedly lost control of his vehicle.

According to the internal memo below, outgoing Police Chief Dan Hughes was informed of the situation and having allegedly passed a field sobriety test Mr. Felz was driven home by officers and his car was towed.

We are awaiting details as to the length of time between accident, phone call to the chief, field sobriety test and ride home.

Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald was informed at the time per procedure but no comments have been forthcoming.

felz-memo

View the memo from police chief Danny Hughes

Thankfully it looks like nobody was hurt when Mr. Felz lost control of his vehicle as the only injury seems to be the death of an unsuspecting city tree.

Sad Tree
Sad Tree

Mr. Felz may have left a piece of his vehicle behind after doing what looks like considerable street damage. There was no word in the memo about potential charges for destruction of property, littering or the like.

A piece of the vehicle
A piece of the vehicle

A different car was in his parking spot today at City Hall suggesting the seriousness of the damage to his Subaru.

img_9800-1.jpg

We will keep you posted as this story evolves.

Oh and in case you missed it the Friends For Fullerton’s Future are back.