Fullerton Lies to Fight Transparency – Airport Edition

I’m not sure why Fullerton is so dedicated to being lying liars telling lies to just to tell them but that’s how they do.

Recently somebody put in a Public Records Request to find out if the City of Fullerton was in violation of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Grant Rules and risking a financial headache.

This all stems from Hanger 21 and their non-aeronautical use holding parties instead of making sure the space in question is used for actual aeronautical use as required by the FAA.

Public Records Request number 19-272 asked, and I quote;

“Please provide me with a list of non-aeronautical and aeronautical hangars at the Fullerton Airport.”

The response from the city was;

No Records Available

“The City does not maintain a list, and the Public Records Act does not require the City to create records in response to a request.”

Oh really.

Weird. This email from Airport Manager Brendan O’Reilly seems to say otherwise.

Non-Aero Uses at Airport

“Here’s what I wrote up for the eviction of the twelve non-aero tenants, along with the letter I sent out last February as a warning.”

So there’s a list of non-aeronautical tenants when the city needs it but not one when the city is required to disclose it? It sure seems that Brendan O’Reilly is making things up at his convenience to suit his immediate needs.

Oh Lying Liars and the Lies they tell.

This isn’t the first time that O’Reilly has been caught lying. He previously lied to the city about the airport having a waiver for non-aeronautical uses which the city doesn’t have. He got away with it because our council and staff are lazy, incompetent or both.

In the end, these lying liars who lie are going to cost you, the taxpayers, millions.

It’ll cost you when AirCombat wins their lawsuit because the city is illegally renting an aeronautical facility to a non-aeronautical user at below market rates AND the city purposely disqualified two applicants (including AirCombat) from the lease because Hanger 21 could pay more. BUT we rented to H21 at below market rate (if it wasn’t on an airport) because they could pay more than the tenants who would actually use the space for aeronautical uses which the city is legally required to prioritize.

Then it’ll cost you once more when Hangar 21 sues the city for estoppel for damages they incurred after the Feds force H21’s eviction from the property due to an illegal lease.

Oh. And don’t forget that the airport wasn’t even zoned to allow for Hanger21’s business when they were approved. Again, per Airport Manager O’Reilly:

Hanger21 PL Zoning

“After our EDAT meeting on October 5, it seems that we won’t be able to get CC approval for the item because of the PL Zoning issue.”

This is the bullshit Fullerton’s Council tolerates. This is the bullshit they will continue to tolerate because they don’t know any better. This is the bullshit we get to pay for because our City Council is too spineless to ask a single pointed question, let alone demand compliance with our own laws.

It isn’t going to get better until voters hold these nitwits accountable and make them responsible for their actions. Good luck getting that to happen.

Local Highschool Girl Shot and Killed by Officer Who is Yet to be Questioned

Hannah Linn Williams

A Fullerton police officer shot a 17yo female. A girl and minor by all objective standards considering she wasn’t of legal drinking, smoking, firearm purchasing or consenting age amongst other things. She was a teenager despite early reports claiming that she was a 17yo woman.

Woman. Which by definition means an adult female.

You just need to look at the Fullerton Observer’s link on the story to see they ran with the “Woman” bait before changing the headline.

17yo Woman

Anything to mitigate the damage and obscure the facts until people complain I guess.

This is where Police Cover-up culture hurts the reputation of police departments. If we take the District Attorney’s report at face value, that a replica Beretta was found “in the vehicle next to the victim”, even though witness statements say she outside of the vehicle, we could be looking at a terrible situation of suicide by cop.

But we don’t know the facts because the officer is legally entitled to not talk to investigators and when the officer does finally get interviewed the investigators will be constrained by what they can ask and how they can ask it thanks to laws putting officers above the rest of us.

I understand that the terrible laws protecting police exist, POBAR specifically, but the idea that an officer can take a life at 7pm on Friday and on the following Tuesday still isn’t been required to give a statement is just asinine. Memories change and fade and if a civilian had been the shooter in this situation there is no way they would have let the suspect walk away and not talk to investigators for 4 days. Police would be threatening walk-outs at the injustice because they’re hypocrites.

The officer might be justified in the actions of Friday night, the officer might not be but the idea that the Department and District Attorney can besmirch the victim with the release of the replica information while hiding everything else behind an “ongoing investigation” stinks to high hell. We don’t know where the shooting took place (inside or outside the vehicle), if the “replica” was next to, near or around the suspect or what led to the Officer’s vehicle colliding with the suspects. We don’t know the officer’s name even. Imagine if somebody shot her on school grounds – do you think 72 hours later we still wouldn’t know the name of the shooter, justified or not? Hell, the little we do know is about the replica and we didn’t know it was a BB gun for days.

17yo Shot on Freeway

It doesn’t help the situation that Fullerton PD doesn’t deserve our trust. There are too many cases of lying cops, cheating cops, cops stealing and cops committing terrible acts being ignored, buried or outright covered up. And all of it is typically hidden behind a Blue Wall of Silence because “the brotherhood” trumps ethics, morality and doing the right thing nearly every time in every situation. Hero and Deserve is the ethos of City Hall and City Council regardless of the situation.

Fullerton PD, until the law required the release of documents, was happy to not tell you that one of their officers was fired for making a female suspect strip so he could shine a flashlight at her crotch and then later asking her on a date.

They were happy to not tell parents what a school resource officer might have been doing with lewd photos of their sons and daughters.

They were happy to hide Officer DUIs and worse.

This department settled with a Lieutenant in a way to specifically avoid disclosure laws.

They’re happy to bury evidence, delete videos and lie to the public. Remember the officer’s “broken bones” that Andrew Goodrich proclaimed after the Kelly Thomas incident? No bones were broken but that statement was never publicly retracted once it was in the wild.

And again, the Officer has yet to talk to investigators now 4 days out from the fatal shooting. Half a week later and the one person personally involved in the events leading up to the intentional killing of a 17yo girl has not even said anything to authorities.

I don’t believe in the Eric Holder idea of never letting a crises go to waste but if anything good comes out of this death than maybe changing POBAR, the Police Officer’s Bill of Rights, can be that change.

POBAR is nothing but a law that obstructs justice, delays investigations and puts the safety of an officer’s job above the truth and facts. It gives officers rights and privileges they would never accept for anybody else under investigation. The police would complain endlessly about being handcuffed by such legislation if it applied to all people equally and thus it needs to land in the dustbin of history next to all other terrible laws which pervert justice.

Justice is supposed to be blind, not blind, deaf, and dumb for one protected class of heroes.

Is Fullerton PD Illegally Destroying Records?

destroy-evidence

Last September it was revealed that the Long Beach Police Department was using a phone app, known as TigerText, to send encrypted and self-deleting messages. From the article:

Two of the officers claimed that they were also instructed by their superiors to use the app to “have conversations with other officers that wouldn’t be discoverable”.

The City of Long Beach paid for an independent review which found no wrongdoing, owing that the city and investigator claimed that the messages were “transitory” and thus exempt from disclosure.

This transitory argument should sound familiar as it’s the same argument which was made by the Orange County Supervisors, including now District Attorney Todd Spitzer, when they voted to destroy “transitory” records including texts and emails.

So what does this have to do with Fullerton PD?

TigerText was being used in Long Beach when our now former Chief David Hendricks was Deputy Chief in that department. The idea that he wasn’t using or didn’t know that TigerText was being utilized for years under his command is laughable.

Knowing the above, one of our friends put in a records request asking if the city of Fullerton was using Tigertext or a similar app known as Signal and what the policies and procedures were around such software.

From Chief Dunn himself:

TigetText

“Hi ma’am…this question was floating around here last week…I am not familiar with any use of either of those messaging apps…I am aware that we use other apps that may do the same thing however…”

According to our Current Police Chief the city does in fact use similar software, in what capacity it is unknown, and they have no policies or procedures in place over how to use such software or to help mitigate abuses.

Now let us skip ahead to this last week when a Superior Court Judge ruled against the OC Supervisors in the ongoing case over their transitory records policy. The County’s argument fell apart because the word “transitory” exists nowhere in disclosure laws.

With that ruling it certainly looks like the OC Supervisors broke the law to hide as much as possible which is pretty much par for the course from that legislative body.

Let’s circle back to Fullerton with that ruling established thus far.

Is Fullerton PD is still using a similar app to TigerText, as Chief Dunn admitted, and are they also using it to destroy “transitory” records illegally?

Will the City Manager or City Council even bother to investigate this issue and further will they follow the law if PD is found to be in violation? Don’t count on it.

Fullerton Observer Fails at Local Journalism

I’m glad to see that Woodward and Bernstein over at the Fullerton Observer have decided to deviate from their usual city council puffery in order to run a twopart summary of the Mueller Report. Lord knows not enough people are covering THAT story in the media. It sure shows the local journalist chops at work in the local media to… rehash what the entire global media establishment won’t shut up about.

Observer Mueller

Normally I wouldn’t take time out of my day to poke fun at the Observer but I need to point something out for the sake of clarity. If you search for the Observer on Google or go to their About Us page they ask for money from people in order to… wait for it:

Protect local journalism –”

I’m pretty sure this website has broken more local news in Fullerton in the last few weeks alone than the Observer has in a decade and we got hit with an ethically and legally dubious Cease and Desist letter from the “City Prosecutor” for our efforts.

When we were being threatened by City Hall where was the Observer? They’ve been silent on the whole issue because of course they have been. They likely won’t report on anything critical of the city we’ve published without us identifying our sources but no source info is needed for that Cease and Desist letter and yet still radio silence.

Sadly, as has been the case for far too long, if the Observer isn’t crying about the liberal cause-de-jour they’re spending their column space blowing smoke up the skirts of city bureaucrats and avoiding any issue that might shed light on how things actually function in our local government. It may be a bad look to call one’s staff “journalists” if you function more as a local government PR firm.

Maybe after the city follows up on their anti-First Amendment threats against this blog, and one of our contributors, the Observer will have raised enough money to “protect local journalism” in order to actually write about the issue. But don’t hold your breath.

Maybe the Story is Down Here

More of Felz’s Accounting Manipulation

Felz Larger
For a long time we had inklings and heard rumors that former City Manager Joe Felz monkeyed with the accounting around City Hall and fudged as much as possible while pretending, with the likes of Jennifer Fitzgerald that our budget was “balanced”. It was plainly obvious when the Redevelopment Agency was shuttered by State law and yet nobody lost a job that Felz’s priorities were not with fiscal restraint. It was just as obvious when nobody on City Council questioned it that he was bound to keep on keeping on.

So now we have a new small example of how Felz and everybody down the food chain ran our city (emphasis in original):

Kevin City Council Meetings

“Years ago after the Kelly Thomas incident, Joe had authorized a part-time parks & rec employee to hang around in the lobby during Council meetings for (I’m assuming) crowd control or some type of assistance.  I just found out today that these employees’ time, averaging 5 hours per Council night, is being charged to Public Works landscaping, apparently because Joe thought that budget had money???? (not).  Public Works has finally gotten wind of it and says no more, which I absolutely agree with.  Either this coverage should cease, or it should be charged to the City Council’s budget (for which there is absolutely no room).

Please provide direction to affected parties as appropriate.”

While this looks like small potatoes, it goes to the ethics and opaque way Fullerton’s finances were run and the willful ignorance on the part of council.  This payroll game is another case of something which ran for literal years before somebody found it by accident at which point the “Oh shit do something” brigade started worrying about details they long ignored.

If payroll for employees is buried in the wrong departments what other money is being used inappropriately around City Hall?

Don’t expect our City Manager to explain how this problem ran for so long and who is being held to account or for our City Council to ask any tough questions or to even address this or any similar issues. That would be out of character and would require them to be open, honest and accountable.

Fullerton Brass Thought Money Was No Object

FPD Badge

Back in April of 2017 we wrote a piece about FPD giving taxpayers the middle finger regarding spending cuts within the department. During budget meetings the Police Department offered the PR outfit “Behind the Badge” up for tribute in their paltry cost savings plan and that was pretty much it.

For context, during this time it was mentioned that the police department burned through over $1Million a year in overtime (OT) pay.

FPD OT

What most people didn’t know, hilariously, is that the Chief of Police himself didn’t know how that money was being spent (emphasis added):

Hendricks OT

“I can be made aware I am spending a lot of money in overtime, but a detailed accounting of that overtime is not available.  We have codes for court overtime but, to my understanding, that is all.  If the OT was spent to maintain minimum staffing I do not know.  If the OT was due to a community event I do not know.  If the OT was due to extended shift overtime I do not know.

That is from the former Chief of Police himself. If Overtime was due to a community event, minimum staffing or extended shift OT he didn’t know.

Let that sink in for a minute.

The Chief of Police didn’t (and likely doesn’t still) know how OT was being used in his own department. And this went on for literal years before Hendricks got here.

Chief_Hendricks_Headshot_Photo-1[1]

This is where I give former Chief Hendricks some praise for at least in one aspect attempting to right a ship that the council, city manager and former Chiefs had let float adrift. Let us not forget that the officers who took the OT never brought it up or questioned it as they were perfectly happy to ride the OT gravy-train into Fullerton’s fiscal ruin.

But wait, there’s MORE! Not only was the Chief unaware of how OT was being spent, we were also burning through OT as standard operating procedure (emphasis added):

Hendricks No Object

“In the last six years following KT’s death, ALL community events and requests were taken on and a large number of them were done on overtime.  This was the case up until I got here.  I was unaware the marching orders were “do everything and money is no object” until literally last week.  In the prior months, I had used personal discernment to tell Community Services to say “no” to some things and, instead to offer an on duty Watch Commander or  a beat cop or sergeant to simply swing by and say hi.  No exaggeration, if someone asked for a PD display of canines, SWAT and all their equipment etc., we gave it to them.  Most of those things happened on the weekend and many of the individuals responding did so on overtime.”

The mentality was “do everything and money is no object” for 6 years until Hendricks put a stop to it. This was likely a Dan Hughes and/or Joe Felz thing that just sat uncontested by our lazy, incompetent and/or corrupt city staff and council because the idea that the council didn’t know about it is laughable. The only way they didn’t know about this is because willful ignorance is bliss in council chambers and feigning ignorance works too well with low information voters.

If nothing else this shows a complete lack of budgetary seriousness for at least six years from our City Councils, City Managers, HR Director and Police Chiefs in that time. You can’t seriously talk about balancing a budget and being conscious of costs when you have standing orders that “money is no object” and your Chief of Police is ignorant of how the money in a $1Million+ budgetary item is being allocated and spent.

Fight a Paramedic, Win a $100K

Chief_Hendricks_Headshot_Photo-1[1]

Remember when Chief Hendricks left Fullerton after his run-in with some paramedics at a Lady Antebellum concert?

It looks like we hired a PR firm to polish the turd of a Press Release and even the consultant admitted that Domer slobbering all over Hendricks looked bad since we were paying Hendricks to leave (emphasis added):

Hendricks Draft Notes

“We’ve had a chance to look at the draft releases and to read your summary of where things stand. We are concerned that if there is an quotation in the release from you – and the settlement with the Chief is made public later – this could come back to hurt you and diminish your credibility, since people will wonder why you spoke so effusively about a person who was effectively paid to leave.”

But how much did we pay him? Over $100K, that’s how much.

Hendricks Dollars Value

Most people who get charged with battery get a perp walk and not a golden handshake. It must be nice to live on that side of the government. This, for obvious reasons, was left out of the press release.

Fitzgerald Targeted Restaurant D’Vine

While it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody paying attention that the government, at all levels, only works for those who are well connected and make the correct donations. Usually proving this truism is often difficult but we came across an example here in Fullerton that seemed noteworthy.

It appears that Mayor Pro-Tem, and Curt Pringle & Associates VP, Jennifer Fitzgerald decided to weaponize our city government to go after the business “D/Vine” for “word on the street” indicating that they had a promoter in violation of the municipal code.

Fitzgerald DVine

That seems innocuous and even reasonable from a law and order and agency perspective. After all, what’s the problem with a council member & Mayor Pro-Tem being worried about a business running afoul of local law?

Nothing if the local laws were applied equally and in a just manner. But we know that to not be the case.

While Fitzgerald is super worried about public safety over who promotes what music at D’Vine she gleefully ignores other violators of our municipal code when it benefits her. As an example of such would be when she holds events and parties at The Slidebar.

FitzSlidebarParty

The Slidebar which for years has violated local amplified sound ordinances while operating without so much as a Condition Use Permit or even an Administrative Restaurant Use Permit (ARUP).

For those new to these issues – in this city you cannot operate a restaurant without an ARUP and you can’t sell alcohol and have live entertainment with a CUP and a Live Entertainment Permit. The following screenshot is from the City Staff’s own presentation to City Council on April 16th, 2019:

Title 15 Change - ARUP CUP

The Slidebar only has the Live Entertainment Permit despite not legally qualified to have one thanks to their just ignoring the law regarding the ARUP/CUP. Nearly every other business is required to have these permits and for 7 years Fitzgerald has said bupkss about it.

Fitzgerald, like so many others on the dais before and still, has no problem holding fundraisers and heaping praise on some businesses in clear violation of the most basic of rules required to run a bar in downtown but when the wrong promoter plans the wrong type of music – now there’s a need for a call to action. Rally the troops! Tally-Ho! The scourge of banda music must be stopped… because Banda music is… bad?

Let’s look at that. Banda music is what exactly? From Wikipedia:

Banda is a term to designate a style of Mexican music and the musical ensemble in which wind instruments, mostly of brass and percussion, are performed.”

This is something Fullertonians have complained about before it seems but I didn’t realize it was such a problem. I sort of expect to hear this music at places like Revolucion Cantina and in fact they have a “Banda Wednesday”. This negates the idea that the music itself is a problem.

The shooting is a cause for concern if you’re worried about what CAUSED the shooting… but if it isn’t the music causing people to be shot (because the shooting happened during a “Purge” themed Halloween party playing Hip-Hop) then Fitzgerald must blame the promoter?

Can a promoter rationally be blamed for the wrong people showing up to a show? Fullerton doens’t seem to blame the local bars for bringing in undesirables who urinate, vomit, fight and graffiti all over downtown. Hell, Fitzgerald herself recently blamed “Pre-Gaming” in the parking lots for much of the mayhem and DUIs around town.

Thus using Fitzgerald’s own local logic let us dispense with the idea that the promoter caused the shooting in Riverside. After all, it might have been “pre-gaming” in a parking structure that led to the shooting. To do otherwise would be an especially comical problem when we have a fire & life safety issue in downtown related to a business owner whose family is alleged to have burned one of their own previous businesses to the ground.

Because city staff works at the behest of the City Manager and the City Manager works at the whim of the City Council, when the council says “Jump!” or “Look Away!” that’s exactly what happens. No need to apply the law evenly or justly – just do what the bought and paid for council demands.

It’s sickening that the city can look into D’Vine for their banda/promoter problem while simultaneously Community Development Director Ted White was exchanging text messages with Joe Florentine and emails with Jeremy Popoff, local bar owners, in the build up to municipal code changes of how Florentine’s & Popoff’s businesses, and all bars, would be regulated despite their own flaunting of the laws.

Ted White - Jeremy Slidebar

While Ted White was looking into the ARUP/CUP status of D’Vine he was ignoring the very real problems regarding Florentine being, for over a decade, in violation of life safety requirements. To recap – Florentine has refused to follow his own Conditional Use Permit (CUP) requiring fire sprinklers and the city has refused to enforce that CUP up to and including the Chief of Police rubber stamping Florentine’s Live Entertainment Permits year in and year out despite those permits also requiring adherence to the CUP.

Florentines-LE-Permit-2016

“The C.U.P. (if applicable) shall be strictly enforced.”

It’s nice to have a clear cut example of the city picking and choosing winners and losers. This email from Fitzgerald about D’Vine shows us clearly that our city responds to issues immediately when the council says jump all the while turning a blind eye to worse problems from similar businesses in the same neighborhood. I guess it really does pay to own the right council members.

More Nepotism at the Fullerton Police Department

 

We found an interesting aside to the Officer Brian Hagopian file that was released under SB1421. The file includes, as part of the investigation, a memo written from “Sergeart [Redacted]” talking about his wife, Officer [Redacted].

Rios Nepotism

We know from our previous writing on Officer Hagopian regarding his (still?) outstanding arrest warrant in Riverside county that he was in a relationship with one Miss Perez, the sister of one Officer Hazel (Perez) Rios.

Officer Hazel Rios, of the Patrol Division, is the wife of Lieutenant Tony Rios, of the Operation Division-Patrol.

I know police work can often be a family business but how is it not a conflict of interest having one’s spouse below you in the chain of command?

Tony Rios

Hazel Rios

Also, why is he writing a letter about an Officer Hagopian, who his sister-in-law is dating regarding text messages his wife was told about by her sister? As an officer shouldn’t Hazel Rios be the one writing this memo to remove a degree of separation at the very least?

What happens if Officer Rios does something out of policy? Does her Lieutenant Husband get a say? Or are we to believe that his co-workers will be tough and fair on their colleagues wife? What happens if Lieutenant Rios does something wrong? Do we expect his wife to report him? We have a hard enough time getting officers to penetrate the Blue Wall of Silence, let alone to do so against a spouse.

We have so many questions and predictably can expect zero answers in return.

What Happened to Officer Christopher Chiu?

Chiu-FPD-Awards-Promotion

The City of Fullerton has, belatedly and selectively, released some police misconduct records. Despite the law changing on January 1st, 2019 and it now being the end of June, we have a whopping three files to look at on the city website.

The first of these files is regarding former Officer Chistopher Chiu.

What did Officer Chiu allegedly do?

He allegedly sexually assaulted a woman in a downtown parking structure, that’s what:

Chiu Sexual Assault

But not just any woman – the 19yo daughter of a fellow police officer.

Chiu Victim's Dad

After the alleged sexual assault, Officer Chiu also allegedly had the audacity to ask the victim out on a date:

Chiu Victim Date

No criminal charges came out of this case as by disabling his Body Worn Camera (BWC) there was little evidence of the alleged acts outside of victim and witness statements. Chiu was proven to have been in the parking structure at the time of the alleged incident, outside of his own patrol zone. However the victim was initially afraid of how her dad would respond and ultimately seems to have refused to press charges leading the District Attorney to drop the case.

If this happened as described she was brave to come forward especially without audio/video evidence of the allegations. If it didn’t happen then Chiu should have had his BWC activated to prove his innocence.

Ultimately the allegations against Chiu were sustained which was enough for administrative action but not for a criminal case.

Instead of a termination Chiu was allowed to resign via a settlement agreement where the city agreed to a no-fault, no-liability agreement allowing Chiu the freedom from the stigma of his actions which at a minimum include policy violations and at worse alleged sexual assault under the color of authority.

Chiu Settlement

Were it not for SB1421 the public wouldn’t be allowed to know any of this information and so much more that is coming which is precisely the way the Police Unions want it.

We’ll continue to keep you posted as we learn more.