At last night’s Fullerton City Council meeting (21 March 2017) I spoke on Agenda Item 3 regarding budget strategies. Amongst other comments I asked for clarification on what was meant by “Structural Deficit” considering that both Fitzgerald and former Councilwoman Jan Flory constantly claimed we have/had a balanced budget. I asked what changed overnight to take us from a balanced budget on 08 November 2016 into a “Structural deficit” today.
What I got regarding an answer was Councilwoman Fitzgerald dodging the question and blaming Sacramento and the CalPERS rate change. And I quote:
“And I will go ahead and answer the question that was brought up over balanced budgets and what happened overnight and I will tell you, I mean, for former Council member Flory and I, when we talked about balanced budgets. Our 5 year projections, every year showed a balanced budget and what happened overnight is CalPERS decreased the amount of returns that they assumed that we were going to receive. So, that is what happened to those 5 year projections to change them.”
While on his way to work back in 1975 one of F.P.D.’s own, officer Jerry Hatch, was killed by a drunk driver. Skip ahead a few decades and we have signs on the 91FRWY to honor him. Last July F.P.D. held a special event to honor Officer Hatch with his family and former colleagues.
This is because F.P.D. cares about their brethren. They likewise care about Drunk Driving based on the praise their officers receive when they get awards from M.A.D.D..
Which beggars the question of why was F.P.D. so willing to spit on Officer Hatch’s memory by allowing favors, politics or whatever it was to get in the way of doing their jobs on the morning of 09 November 2016? Why would they send the message that drunk driving is A-O.K. so long as the driver is connected enough?
For all of their continuous grandstanding they were perfectly fine with letting an “alleged” drunk driver walk in the hopes that he didn’t mow down another of their brethren.
On the fateful morning of 09 November 2016, good friend of former Mayor Fitzgerald and all around guy, Joe Felz left our quaint city to spend time with his family. Owing to why Mr. Felz actually separated himself from his position (the 10th highest paid City Manager in California) it’s a bit of a surprise to learn that his family doesn’t reside in the Fullerton Jail.
Amazingly we have a District Attorney who magically found evidence for charges four months after an incident that Fullerton P.D. couldn’t find on the scene. F.P.D. even managed to phone their friend, Chief Danny Hughes, for help and couldn’t find even a citable offense under Sappy McTree or Felz’s missing mud-flap.
Fullerton gives out hundreds of D.U.I. tickets each year. What with 62 liquor licenses in the Downtown Fullerton area alone that’s not as impressive a feat as we’d imagine but F.P.D. is proud of their D.U.I. tickets.
If one looks at the headlines from the Public Relations firm Behind the Badge, which the City of Fullerton pays $50,000+/year, you would think we take drunk driving very, very seriously.
The point is clear that our city and our Fullerton Police Department claim to care deeply about Drunk Driving.
Behind the Badge likewise takes D.U.I.s seriously but are nothing more than a mouthpiece for F.P.D as evidence by the results when one searches “Felz” on their site:
B.t.B. wrote several pieces about Officer Hatch but have remained completely silent on the entire Felz affair. It’s not news, just good news.
Just for the sake or irony let us look at one more link from our paid P.R. flacks over at Behind the Badge:
FORMER FULLERTON CITY MANAGER CHARGED WITH DUI AND HIT AND RUN ON ELECTION NIGHT
FULLERTON, Calif. – The former city manager of Fullerton was charged today with driving under the influence and hit and run on election night. Joseph Burt Felz, 58, Fullerton, is charged with one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of alcohol and one misdemeanor count of hit and run with property damage. If convicted, Felz faces a maximum sentence of one year in county jail. The defendant is scheduled to be arraigned on April 3, 2017, at 8:30 a.m. in Department N-8, North Justice Center, Fullerton.
On Nov. 8, 2016, Felz is accused of driving a vehicle under the influence in a residential area of Fullerton, driving over a curb and striking a tree. A witness to the incident called 911 and the Fullerton Police Department (FPD) responded and located Felz nearby. Felz is accused of unlawfully failing to stop his vehicle immediately.
FPD initially responded to the scene and then transferred the case to the OCDA for further investigation and legal review.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Nichols of the Special Prosecutions Unit is prosecuting this case.
Updated 4:50 PM:
An anonymous source has sent in the following regarding the DA’s decision to charge Joe Felz with two misdemeanors.
Former Fullerton City Manager Joe Felz is being charged with TWO Misdemeanors, DUI and Hit & Run, for his wild ride on 09 November 2016. After nearly 4 months of nothing and obfuscating from the Fullerton City Attorney as well as the Orange County District Attorney’s Office it looks like something is finally being sorted out.
There are some hidden costs to government that are hidden in plain sight. One of these costs is the amount we pay in settlements for various lawsuits.
Some settlements are easy to figure out. We know why the City of Fullerton paid the family of Kelly Thomas close to 6 Million dollars. When somebody goes after the city for work related issues, however, it is much less clear what we’re paying for or why we’re paying.
What we do know is how much we’ve paid. Here’s the total we’ve paid from 2010-2016 in Worker’s Compensation Settlements.
Owing to privacy laws we can’t know who got what and why so be certain that there are shenanigans going on with some of these payouts.
That’s the thing about government. No matter how much you think it’s costing you, it’s always costing you and your children more.
Do not be fooled; Fullerton had it’s first Quarter Quell on Tuesday and Councilman Greg Sebourn was put up as Tribute and didn’t make it out of the games alive. Somewhere a canon is being fired in his honor.
The vote was all about self-interest and gerrymandering and anybody who says otherwise is either lying to you or is too dishonest with themselves to know the truth. I’ll explain quickly.
The city never really gamed this out or explored any options legal or otherwise. I had asked, several times, if the city could require sitting At-Large Council members to resign their At-Large seat to run in for a District Seat and the response I got was “We don’t know if that’s legal”. Gee, if only we had a lawyer in the room during Council to answer these things or research them.
I also inquired if it could be made random in order to take the horse-trading and politics out of the equation and again crickets. All of this means that the city never gamed these basic scenarios out.
To make matters worse we had no study-session or talks about how this would play out post-election. The election happened, with a gerrymandered council approved map, and voila they voted on who got to stay and who got to go.
The real meat about this crap is that it was all race based if you read the complaints and lawsuits that got us here. There hadn’t been an Asian on council since X-Date or a Hispanic since X-Date and thus we got sued and the council settled. So the Council voted to put up District 5 under the guise of giving the Hispanic vote a voice. District 3 means that the likely scenario is that the Hispanic vote will have 2 voices on Council while the Asian vote will have none until 2020 when somebody can run for Fitzgerald’s seat only to have the District Map change in 2022 after the 2020 census. It played out this way because apparently;
Jesus Silva is not Hispanic?
Silva living 2 blocks from District 5 is too far for him to understand that district’s “unique voice”?
The Asian vote doesn’t matter as much as protecting Fitzgerald?
Oh and Sebourn gets the bum’s rush owing to reasons Whitaker has yet to articulate publicly.
I’ll admit that I don’t like the way Sebourn votes on a lot of issues. Further I think Fitzgerald is the worst kind of tax-and-spend bankruptcy-inducing fiscally irresponsible politician the GOP can muster and that’s saying a lot. However — at least with the GOP you get the theory of a sliver of a chance of maybe some fiscal sanity. With the next few years of belt-tightening, thanks to the greed of public safety and the insanity of CalPERS, we’re going to require more budget allies and not fewer. Throwing 1/2 of our current 3-2 fiscally responsible minority out with the bath-water in the hopes that 2018 will maybe, possibly, hopefully and somehow see some balance seems foolhardy to me.
I still contend that the map should have been chosen randomly but I prefer governmental honesty to political expedience and crony gamesmanship.
Now going forward should a Republican decide to run in 2020 against Silva I can only offer one bit of advice:
Tuesday night the Fullerton City Council held a study session on the Joint Powers Authority (J.P.A.) regarding the merger of the Fullerton & Brea fire departments. The Fullerton Fire Department (F.F.D.) showed up in force, along with friends from as far away as Arizona and beyond, to hijack the meeting.
This meeting was all about a long overdue J.P.A. feasibility study and the direction council wanted staff to take.
Instead it turned into a parade of union shills, firefighters and fellow travelers complaining that they want more staff. Specifically they want all engines to be 4-man units which would cost the city somewhere around a cool $2 Million a year.
Safety and staffing weren’t a very high priority when F.F.D. was demanding their Multi-Million dollar raise the last time they sat at the table. But they want to eat our cake and have it too because no price is too high for the city so few of them live in.
For the curious at heart here’s a photo from the scene outside of City Hall during the meeting. Notice the hazard lights to warn people of the important emergency work happening.
That’s three of four fire trucks (3 pictured, 4th out of view) blocking half of Amerige so they could show support and lobby the council to do their bidding. Truly heroic work. Considering they were wearing their blue fire shirts and were on call, which means in uniform, I’m not sure how they weren’t in violation of the law. Specifically; California Government Code Section 3206:
3206. No officer or employee of a local agency shall participate in political activities of any kind while in uniform.
The Case of the Disappearing/Reappearing Balanced Budget
Many of you may recall that during my campaign for Fullerton City Council I wrote an Open Letter to Jennifer Fitzgerald. I’d like to revisit the issue of Mrs. Fitzgerald’s oft-repeated myth of a balanced budget.
On her website as well as on campaign literature she made the point that our budget is balanced. I offer as evidence a screen-grab from her campaign website from 22 October 2016;
I won’t re-litigate the whole letter here but suffice it to say I wasn’t happy about her Public Relations spin on our overspending by at least 43 Million Dollars during her tenure.
I’m bringing this all up due to agenda item #2 from last night’s Council Meeting. The council voted 5-0 to receive and file the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ending 30 June 2016. Inside the CAFR was one little nugget really stood out to me when reading the report.
And My Field-trip to Fact-Check Red Oak Investments
This coming Tuesday the Fullerton City Council has a packed agenda and the most noise I’ve heard over the agenda is regarding the Red Oak Development. For the uninitiated that is the “Mixed-Use” Apartment complex that is being proposed at 600 W. Commonwealth where the Chevy dealership once sat.
I’ve written about this project elsewhere but I really want to dive into some of the rhetoric of Red Oak Investments.
When this project was in front of the planning commission back in September the spokesman for Red Oak, Alex Wong said the following:
“This project creates rich, new open spaces that are usable and accessible by the public. The courtyard on Chestnut is very similar in dimension and character to the charming courtyard that is in front of the Dripp Cafe and Stadtgarten. Very similar situation but twin courtyards that match each other on both sides of Williamson are coincidentally are very similar to the situation we have at Wilshire and Pomona, the plaza by the museum. And those are really special spaces. This is a private development but it is proposing to create public spaces that are usable both the people that live there and people who are also in the neighborhood whether they’re working or living there.”
I almost fell out of my chair laughing at this comment and spoke up in the public comments that these “public courtyards” wouldn’t stay public. I also called out the fact that the “open courtyard” at Stadtgarten is behind a wall and through a private entrance which isn’t exactly public nor open. This was false advertising at best and deceptive at worst. (more…)
This is one of those of stories that is so amazing as to not be believed. Orange County Fire Authority’s Station 61, in Buena Park by Knott’s Berry Farm, burned down this morning.
In these rains.
A fire station. Burned down. In the rain. Let that sink in for a few moments.
When I looked at PulsePoint it looked really, really bad because 49 separate units had been dispatched.
Somebody must have lost an iPad considering everybody got out okay and yet two Chaplain Units were dispatched.
While certainly a troubling thing to happen this is a great example of priorities. How many of these units, many of which were likely redundant and unnecessary, were dispatched for the sake of being dispatched.
Had this not been a Fire Station it is doubtful that this many units would have been on scene.
Just a few weeks ago there was a story in the OC Register about this station. Buena Park was planning to sink $13 Million in to fixing this 50-year-old station. Now it’s gone and they’ll have no choice but to replace it.
Prepare to see Fullerton’s Ladder Truck in and around Buena Park more often until OCFA replaces Ladder Truck 61. That $1Million+ OCFA truck, along with tons of other equipment became scrap in the fire.
The City of Fullerton is the process, through the planning commission, of bringing another abomination of a project back to life. What was once “Amerige Court” will now be “Amerige Commons”.
The key reason that the Amerige Commons project is being resurrected is because we allegedly need it. Need being the operative word thanks to our supposed housing and retail shortfall. Or so says the city. Again. Again. And yet again. I’m starting to wonder what the word need even means anymore in this town. Or any town for that matter.
City folk say that our residential vacancy rate is X% and to the city that alone correlates need. In a market economy you would look at what’s selling and adjust to reflect the market. Therefore if single family homes are the fastest sellers you would work to build more single family homes. If you wanted to court a younger population you would build in their price-range. However we’re talking about government and not a market economy and in this case the only sales that matter are the votes of our council members and the developers locked most of those sales up years ago.
If we take the city planners seriously we are forced to focus on the need issue so what do we really need here in Fullerton? (more…)