Fullerton’s Version of Transparency

I’m not going to wax poetic or waste time building a narrative or telling a story today. Today I just want to lay out a simple example on how Fullerton deals with transparency.

On Wednesday, 16 November 2016 at about 9:00 PM, a Fullerton Parks and Recreation vehicle collided with another car at the intersection of Highland and Chapman.

Not long after learning about it I put in a Public Records Request asking for information on the case, vehicle and so forth and got little to nothing back. So I just ignored the issue and waited.

Up until that point nearly nothing had been reported (if anything) on this accident and the city had said nothing. Being that this is a city owned, meaning taxpayer funded, vehicle we should expect at least some acknowledgement as to what happened or even that it happened.

Instead we got crickets.

I started asking around again and rumor has it that the driver was intoxicated and three parks employees were in the vehicle and all were subsequently fired.

So recently I again put in a Public Records Request asking about such information. That request was denied on a grip of what I call “so sue us” or “you have remedies” grounds.

Then I put in another Public Records Request asking for, and I quote:

“…I now want all information released to the public about the incident involving that vehicle including any PRRs responded to, emails sent or received, reports released, press releases, etc.”

And the response from the city was:

“There are no records responsive to your request.”

When I asked for clarity:

“Is it the city’s position that nothing has been said in any way about this incident?”

They doubled down with:

“There are no available records regarding the incident.”

No available records regarding this:

No available information says the city, not even an email.

So city employees can destroy a city vehicle, which allegedly is still sitting at the Basque yard, not to mention possibly damage private property and we poor plebeians aren’t allowed to know anything all while our pompous and pretentious council pretends to care about transparency.

In all this time they could have asked for an update, asked staff what happened, explained why they might not be able to talk about a public incident (lawsuit, etc) but no. They sat and asked no questions and offered no insights.

So the next time our Council, Planning Commission, City Staff or City Manager claim to care about transparency just point to this incident and laugh at them. Laugh at them and then possibly give them the finger.

Flory Puts Grudge Over Law

Brown Act

Well, it took precisely one meeting for Jan Flory to bring her bitter, mean spirited and petty nonsense back to the dais. And we have Ahmad Zahra to thank for that return. With the claim of experience and I quote, “no scandals”, as her selling points before being anointed I suppose it’s once again up to us malcontents to knock those talking points down.

In what was clearly a Brown Act violation the council voted to shank Bruce Whitaker and remove him from the Orange County Water Board and replace him with Zahra before Whitaker’s term has expired.

Gee, it doesn’t look like they agendized that…

The City Manager was contacted about this possibly illegal action and “after further consideration” from the city attorney they’ve repealed the illegal action and put it back on the agenda to make sure they shank Whitaker legally. Let us be honest here and admit that The Other Dick Jones™ never gave this any consideration in the first place. Man, not even one meeting with Flory back and the law has already been thrown to four-winds over the pettiest of nonsense. So much for experience and lack of scandals – something we’ll be talking more about in the coming days.

This move to go after Whitaker was payback from 2016 pure and simple.

It stems from Flory being bitter because after she left council in 2016 she wasn’t reappointed to the Orange County Water District board despite bringing a group of FlorBots to city council to lobby for her. The council voted at that time to appoint Whitaker under the premise that Flory was no longer on council by her own choosing and a sitting council member should represent the citizens of Fullerton on the advisory board. This was a decision I supported at the time and stand by today. Flory at last week’s meeting lamented her being removed “mid-term” from the board which is absolute revisionist history but alas now she’s playing up being a victim with a false narrative. Oy.

Add this to Fitzgrald’s willingness to take a stab at Whitaker at any time over nearly any issue and Zahra’s complete lack of guiding principles and this is what Fullerton gets. It’s gross, it’s petty, it was illegal and it’s going to be the new normal.

Despite neither Whitaker or Zahra being mentioned in the agenda and Zahra only being mentioned in the agenda materials relating to Flory appointing people to boards, hence the Brown Act violation and repealing of the outcome, Whitaker was removed and Zahra was put in his place.

Hmm, that doesn’t seem to be what they did last night…

A cynical mind would wonder if this is what Zahra was promised in exchange for selling out the citizens of Fullerton in the Flory appointment farce. Being that the OCWD appointment wasn’t on the agenda, outside of it being listed as something the council (not Flory) appoints one would be hard pressed to believe that Whitaker’s removal wasn’t planned in advance. Silva having a well written and prepared statement also points to this being pre-planned which ALSO likely means a serial meeting was held – also violating the Brown Act. Good luck proving all that, but it’s the way things are done in Open and Transparent Fullerton – just ask Zahra how many candidates he met with privately during the vacancy process for proof of this concept.

A backroom deal over the OCWD seat would certainly explain Zahra’s immediate about face and willingness to throw transparency and openness out of the window in support of the bitter bureaucracy booster and “scandal free” Flory family.

Well, they are The Heart of the City!

It’s rather sad as Zahra seemed like a man of principle for precisely one meeting. Since then we’re seeing more and more evidence that he has no integrity and this last Tuesday continues to confirm that he’s a man of little character and a whole lot of bluster. While he works to build his legacy and name recognition we’ll be here to keep you appraised of his and his cohort’s shenanigans and malfeasance. We’ll also keep your appraised of “scandal free” and “ready to go” Jan Flory’s performance.

Downtown Rules Apply or They Don’t

welcome-to-fullerton

I’m in Downtown Fullerton as I type this post. Specifically I’m at an office space some friends and I are thinking about renting for our podcasts, the same office space I used for the live video on Flory’s appointment. I’m here because I wanted to reshoot that video owing to the technical and delivery problems of my first ham-handed efforts and I wanted to see how practical this space is for our purposes at night.

I knew the train schedules and checked the sound levels with a decibel meter for quality and started figuring out some of the technical things I wanted or needed to change. Then 8pm hit and I encountered something I hadn’t really planned around – live music emanating from across the transportation center.

Let’s get to brass tacks here; it was coming from the Slidebar – a favorite punching bag of commenters here on FFFF and some of the people I know around town. But this is a problem for me because generally I LIKE the Slidebar. I know Jeremy and he’s always been civil with me. I know Josh and he allowed me to take photos inside the bar back when I shot bands for a hobby. I have little desire to bother people I have no beef with personally and who have been cool with me historically.

SlidebarMotto

When I go after things I try to focus on issues and the people I think are causing the problems. I spill a lot of digital ink railing against Fitzgerald, Silva, now Zahra and so forth because I think they’re bad leaders and corrupt politicians – but I try to leave their personal businesses and family lives out of my posts, comments and claims as best I can because that’s not where my interests rest unless those things prove to be connected to some form of political corruption, grandstanding or malfeasance.

But tonight I got irritated. I got irritated because this city plays favorites and that favoritism, while common everywhere, shouldn’t exist from government and shouldn’t impinge on my ability to do my work in an office I want to rent. Further, the city lies about basic provable things because they think nobody will bother to call them out on their nonsense. I saw this when Fitzgerald ran all over Fullerton claiming our budget was balanced. I saw this when the city lied about Red Oak’s bonafides to convince the council to approve a zone change. I saw it and heard it again tonight.

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Zahra Sheds Integrity in Record Time

Jesus Silva, Jennifer Fitzgerald and Ahmad Zahra just manipulated you and the entire city for the sole purpose of putting Jan Flory back on city council.

Jan (Staff is the heart of the city) Flory.

Jan (3% at 50 Pension Crisis) Flory.

Jan (Hold no one accountable ever) Flory.

This woman was and will be a train wreck for council because she has zero regard for our budgets, has never shown a desire to hold people accountable and is nothing but a shill for those who are supposed to work for us.

I’m not sure why Zahra would have neutered himself by giving FitzSilva their third vote on every agenda item. I’m not sure why Zahra would have given Chevron 3 votes to develop Coyote Hills when he campaigned against that issue.

I’m not sure why Zahra would have switched in less than a month from a man of votings rights and constitutional principles to selling out and playing along in a mockery of an appointment process.

No. Sorry, I am sure why. Ahmad Zahra is just another in a long line of hacks who will lecture us from the dais while having no principles himself. Just like his pal Josh Newman – another self-righteous and pompous ass who thinks it’s okay to lie to your face as long as it gets him into power and the good graces of his corrupt party. He’ll spout wiki-quotes and nonsense for the sole reason of justifying his incompetence and malfeasance.

Zahra can preen and pretend to care about our budget all he wants. He can use whatever emotional ploy to try and justify an appointment process. What he cannot do is pretend that the reasons for an appointment excuse his actions in participating in a farce of a process that was the antithesis of the open and transparent system we were promised.

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My Council Speech from Tonight

I really don’t have much to say that I haven’t said at this dais before, or which hasn’t been reported by local media such as the Voice of OC.

It’s my opinion that this whole process has been riddled with malfeasance and corruption since the get-go. Yes Councilmember Zahra, there is plenty of blame to go around and money is an issue but that doesn’t excuse the way the city has handled this issue including changing our municipal code on election day.

Tonight’s issue has been so mired in the muck that even after you directed staff to reach out to the Neighbors United for Fullerton to have them change their meeting agenda and NUFF was gracious enough to accommodate your last minute favor – two of you snubbed them, disrespected the citizens, abdicated your moral authority on even the pretense of openness and transparency and you insulted all of the people who put themselves up for consideration.

I know about the lobbying by power brokers and the behind the scenes closed door meetings on both sides of the aisle as you preen and haggle to get your anointed pick onto the dais.

It was obvious a month ago who was the favorite before we the people even knew how the process would play out legally. That’s how baked into the cake the corruption and dishonesty is in Fullerton.

But I’m here to dare you to be better than you think you can be and better than you have been in the past. I’m here to dare you to be open and honest and to give the people a chance to vote for their own representation with a special election.

Regarding cost, It may have been hard to look at a struggling mother and explain where this $400,000 might be spent but as a struggling father of 3 I ask if you looked her in the face and explained why 70+% of our general fund goes to salaries and pensions to support people to do jobs we then don’t have the funds to complete – such as our aging infrastructure including that dark park?

If the cost is truly too much to bear then I can offer you a compromise. Everybody who tunes into these meetings knows that Whitaker doesn’t like me because I ran in the Newman recall instead of supporting him. Silva doesn’t like me for calling him out both here and on the FFFF blog time and again. Fitzgerald – well that list to too long to recount here but suffice it to say she and I won’t be getting tea anytime soon. And Zahra – he’ll learn if he hasn’t already.

I’m the one guy none of you wants up on that dais. I’m a “chronic malcontent”, I pick on everybody in power, I don’t smile enough and I have this beard. I have it on good authority that this beard alone disqualifies me with half of the city.

And all of that means that I can’t win reelection. I obviously won’t be tightly allied with any of you so you’ll have to compromise and work together to find solutions that aren’t one-sided nonsense and best of all my blogging by virtue of the brown act will all but need to cease and who of you wouldn’t see that as a bonus?

You know I’ve read the budget, you know I’m well versed in city issues and oh who are we kidding here – even if I was the best candidate this was done before it started. I didn’t throw my name in because I wanted the position – I put my name in to highlight the corruption and ridiculousness of this travesty of a process. The process ended up being worse than I anticipated so my goals were on point.

In summation I dare you to be better than yourselves. To actually embrace openness and transparency and to give the people the voice that you’ve been trying so hard to deny them.

29 Jan Council Vacancy Agenda

The following came through from the City Clerk’s office regarding the agenda for tonight’s special meeting:

“Following applicant presentations, City Council will hear public comments regarding filling the City Council vacancy.  After public comments, City Council will deliberate and vote to appoint an applicant to fill the vacancy through December 2020.”


It looks like the cat is out of the bag and this farce can be put to bed. The council is going to appoint somebody and all discussions related to a special election and the integrity of voting rights, transparency and openness is and was just gloss. You can’t claim to be open and transparent when you’ve already decided, without public notification and input, on the council’s decision before the “special meeting” meant to decide the very issue of direction.

Don’t think the council has decided already? Then ask yourself why 2 of 4 council members couldn’t even be bothered to show up to the Neighbors United for Fullerton (NUFF) forum last night? Not one of them was present for the entire event, a whole whopping 2 hours of their precious time was too much to give up for this oh so important open process.

Silva gave an opening statement and Whitaker stayed the longest which is amusing considering he voted for a special election and was the only voice really against this sham. The “public forum” that council directed staff to ask about and that council voted to approve and that NUFF was kind enough to host – was too much of a hassle for our council to attend. Go figure.

NUFF by the way deserves a hearty thank you from the citizens of Fullerton for rearranging their agenda to accommodate this charade. It’s not NUFF’s fault that Fullerton’s council acts like Fullerton’s council. NUFF did a great job all around and I personally thank them.

On a personal note, it was nice to see Josh Newman acting like the man I voted for in 2016 and not the man we recalled from office in 2018. I know he loathes me, which is fine, but you wouldn’t have known it last night which is what mattered.

Back to the travesty of the appointment process – with all of the behind the scenes meetings, deal making and huckstering going on right now it’s anybody’s guess how long it’ll take tonight for the anointed one to finally be appointed.

Should the obvious not happen, the council has a pretty good crop of people if they’re looking to find the least suitable, most mathematically challenged applicant to rubber stamp higher taxes and less accountability for staff. I counted at least 3 people in last night’s beauty pageant who wouldn’t hold anybody accountable or demand fiscal restraint – which really is a hallmark of Fullerton’s electeds.

I’m probably the only person who put in an application who can unite the council – but that’s because they’re united in not wanting me anywhere near that dais. Heck, I’m pretty confident that I wouldn’t want me anywhere near that dais.

As far as beauty pageants go I was the best dressed but we never made it to the swimsuit competition or special talents so that was sad. Maybe tonight will be different. Maybe not.

City Hall Forgets to be Open and Transparent

City Hall is closed today and that’s a problem.

It’s a problem because the deadline has passed for City Council Vacancy applications and we don’t know what really happens next and by we I mean both applicants and the public. According to the city website there will be an applicant forum co-sponsored by the City of Fullerton and the Neighbors United for Fullerton on Monday, 29 January followed by a special meeting on Tuesday, 29 January. That’s all we know:

NUFF Candidate Meeting

If you look at the NUFF Facebook page it tells us that this applicant forum will run from 6:45pm to 8:30pm.

That’s it.

What does that mean? Will there be a debate?  A meet and greet? Will people be able to pose questions of specific applicants or the group? Who will be moderating this event? What should the applicants plan to do, say or bring? As of today, NUFF’s website has not been updated to reflect the change to an applicant forum from the previous “Priorities for Fullerton” agenda and thus leaves us wondering.

The most we know is that the event is scheduled for 105 minutes to vet 25 applicants which basic math tells us is about 4 minutes per applicant if each one was just allowed to speak freely without time taken out for questions, moderation or standard event management.

So really plan to hear each person speak for 2 minutes if they’re lucky.

How will the NUFF forum play into Tuesday’s Council Special Meeting? Is City Staff or Council asking the questions on Monday and using that data Tuesday? Or is Monday just gloss for the citizens while the city council plans to run their own public hearing on Tuesday?

Will the council be announcing an appointee on Tuesday? Will they be interviewing people at this Special Meeting? Will applicants be asked questions or given a chance to speak outside of public comments?

Again, no idea.

Quimby

Why no idea? Because the city has provided almost zero information on this process and the council has left things so open that anything could happen on Tuesday. This “Open and Transparent” process that we were promised by the council has been anything but. We know applicants are meeting with council members but not who with whom or where and when. My goal in being an applicant was to give you fine residents the inside scoop on how this would play out and as I suspected it is the antithesis of the openness that we were promised.

I have not received a single phone call or email about what happens next. Irrespective of my position on wanting a special election I should still be afforded the same information as any other applicant so this tells me nobody is being told anything.

And to circle back to why this is so ridiculous, City Hall is closed today so we won’t get any information until Monday, the day of the Nuff event and the day before the Special Meeting if we’re given information at that point. The corruption and/or incompetence was baked into the cake before this process was even started, hence the lobbying for and by prospective applicants *cough* Jan Flory *cough* before it even started.

I’ll keep you posted if anything changes but I’m guessing we’ll have a long weekend of behind the scenes wheeling and dealing with nothing given out for public consumption. So open. So Honest. So Transparent.

For full disclosure I have not spoken to or met with a single council member which should be pretty obvious as not a one would entertain me for council even were I serious. They aren’t even pretending very well at this point.

24 People Vie for Open Seat

Council Applicants

The deadline for council applications has passed and 24 people want the open council seat that Jesus Silva caused to be vacated.

24!?

Technically there are 25 names but I threw my name in not to try for it but to show the ridiculousness that is this process. However 24 peeps actually think they have a shot in this Battle Royale which is just funny.

I’m not that naive, desperate or inane to want this position let alone think I have a shot. Don’t believe me? I listed my kids and my cat as references.

FitzSilva showed their cards last month and we can spot the various partisan stalking horses in the field pretty easily.

Otherwise this list is both a Who’s Who of wannabes and simultaneously a Who’s Who of Who? I’m pretty active in Fullerton politics and some of these people I couldn’t pick out of a police lineup.

I don’t hate a few names but won’t back anybody for obvious reasons.

Gotta love the pretentiousness of some of these applications. 29 pages? Really Mr. Freeman? Come on, nobody cares enough to read that much about a potential appointee. One dude actually included his transcripts but I want to know why he didn’t go all the way back to Kindergarten? We need all of the info apparently so what is he hiding?

I kid, I kid.

Some people are just overeager for power and prestige and don’t know any better. Others of us know that this game was rigged before the board was set out and just find it funny.

Ok maybe that last one is just me.

I’m officially not backing anybody but myself in this nonsense because I don’t want anybody to be appointed. Like I said at council, I don’t care if there are 4 or 5 voices on the dais because despite all of these years with 5 lukewarm bodies up there they have yet to produce so much as a balanced budget.

Obviously I Applied for Council

To quote Larry Bennett from 2016, “It’s Political Silly Season” and thus of course I joined the barrage of people (20 and counting?!) who applied to the open council seat in this ludicrous appointment process. My Application is HERE for those interested in the lulz and my 400 word-vomit blurb is as follows:

In order to fill this position the council needs a majority to approve an applicant. Not the voters, mind you. The voters get short shrift here and are told that in our representative democracy it’s good enough to be told who represents them.

In reality, this whole process – from our gerrymandered districts to our inability to vote upon our own representation – is sad and rather pathetic.

Our council has run up our pension debt while crying that Sacramento mismanaged the money we keep shoveling their direction year in and year out. When warned that a problem was coming we citizens were laughed at, ridiculed and ignored.

Worse than ignoring us malcontents and gadflies, our council has ignored our infrastructure, sat idle while we were illegally taxed and over-charged on our water bills, resisted any form of police oversight or accountability, all but abandoned the Hunt Library, caused a lawsuit over Coyote Hills and on and on and on.

We call ourselves “The Education Community” but we refuse to learn from our mistakes. We refuse to be honest, we refuse to be knowledgable and forward thinking unless it lines the right pockets or benefits the rights constituencies.

And yet here we are waiting for our historically negligent and pompous council to tell us who is worthy to join them up on the dais.

To make it worse here I am offering myself up as tribute. I’m not adding my name into the veritable Goblet of Fire because I think I can win over the council or because I think I’m a good choice – I’m doing it because I want to highlight how ridiculous of a process this is in the first place.

When I ran for Council in 2016 I had to get 20 people to sign papers saying they supported the idea of me running to represent them. Today I don’t need even one. Not a single citizen has to support me to throw my name into the mix, not a single person has to walk for me or talk me up to their neighbors and worst of all not a single person has to vote for me.

I can’t get 1, let alone 3 votes from council, but neither should anybody else.

To paraphrase Denis from “The Holy Grail”, You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just ’cause some watery tart threw a council majority at you!

No, I don’t expect to be appointed or even interviewed. Yes, I’m aware that this is transparency theater. See you all at the NUFF event on Monday.

Fullerton’s Council Beauty Pageant

Ike-Pageant

After some debate, a short delay and a little snapping by Jennifer Fitzgerald, a council majority opted to hold a beauty pageant to decide which crony will get to join them on the dais.

The city is accepting applications for contestants who are interested in the job of city council without the need to actually convince the citizenry to vote for them.

We won’t know who all is running until the application process ends but we’ve already heard some names and most of them are terrible if you care about the city budget or basic math skills.

In the ongoing process the council will pretend to view and vet the candidates in an “open and transparent” process which means closed door meetings and private wheeling and dealing with a dash of favors and/or threats for good measure.

There will be a “candidate forum” sponsored by the Neighbors United for Fullerton but really it doesn’t matter who you like or what they say to the public because the council is making this decision regardless of your thoughts or opinions. You have no real voice in this process despite empty promises to the contrary.

Let us not kid ourselves, despite applications being due by Wed, 23 January and the NUFF forum being on the 28th, this will be a done deal long before you get a chance to even know who’s all in the running and who can twirl a baton the best.

The meetings are already happening and the deals are already being struck – hence Fitzgerald, Flory and the Flor-Bots all shilling for Flory back in December before this process even started.

You can apply if you’re a masochist or you can just show up to the forum and council meeting to watch the slew of candidates take 8 boilerplate questions about the roads and zero about pension reform and overspending. Overall don’t expect the public face of this charade to matter much in the actual decision making process.

However if you want to pretend like you have a chance to be on city council and believe you have what it takes to beat back the leviathan and fix our structural deficit then all you have to do is fill out a few pieces of paper to apply. Apply Today. The more the merrier.

Cheerocracy