What Happened to Fullerton’s Lieutenant Hamel?

The last time we wrote about Fullerton Police Lieutenant Kathryn Hamel it was to share the rumor we had heard that she was on admin leave.

“Word also has it that Katie Hamel, wife of Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel, has been put on leave but we’re trying to very that information and she would make, at least, #4 currently on leave.”

Today we’re wondering what she did to get fired.

We ask because “Dr.” Hamel appears to have a new career as the Dean of Criminology at the online diploma mill that is California Southern University.

Dr Dean Katie Hamel

 

We doubt she just walked away from her FPD gig with the total compensation package of over $230,000/year so the likelihood is that she was fired for cause.

Katie Hamel 2017 Pay

Anybody care to share the cause?

A Fullerton Staffing Question

Hero Pay

The Fullerton Firefighters are pushing a narrative that they’re understaffed and underpaid on social media, so let’s talk about it.

We constantly hear about how underfunded, unpaid, underappreciated, undereverything our Police and Fire Depts are from the “Hero Deserve” crowd and the opposite side likes to point to pay rates, pension spiking, double dipping, medical presumptive, lies about early death, OT abuse, CalPERS costs and other fiscal rebuttals.

But what we almost never talk about is how we actually implement service and if we do things in a smart, fiscally sound or even common sense way in our departments. Our City Council won’t touch these issues because they’re petrified of the unions spending campaign money against them or they’re colluding with the unions in order to get those sweet, sweet endorsements.

Since council won’t discuss these things openly I figured we can do it ourselves before dropping numerous records requests.

Therefore for the sake of starting discussions I’ll drop two topics;

  1. If our fire engines, with a crew of 4, have a max of 2 Paramedics on board and 85% (per their statements) of their calls are medical then what do the other 2+ crew members do during the majority of these calls? Are they glorified Uber just taxiing the paramedics around? What do they do at the hospital? How much time do these non-paramedics spend doing crowd control and the like?
  2. Every time I see a police stop or call where the police department is at a scene I see multiple vehicles on scene. To the casual observer it seems that there are multiple units at every stop seen. I understand the premise of needing or wanting backup but why not drive around in pairs so you have backup with you at all times instead of needing to wait for it and waste the resources (gas, etc) on another vehicle?

Does anybody have stats on these things? How many calls for FFD are actually medical? How many calls does each crew actually respond to and what do they do on scene? How much OT is accumulated for passive activities?

How many calls does FPD respond to and how many of those calls require backup? How much backup typically responds? What’s the response time for this backup? How is this different for traffic stops versus calls for service?

I think as the city prepares for budget meetings with so much of our budget going towards salaries and pensions these numbers should be discussed and be as transparent as possible. If we need to pay people more to retain them we need to make sure we’re getting the most bang for our buck and the best, most logical and fiscally sound, service possible.

Anybody want to dive into these questions?

Fullerton Puts Favoritism over Fire Safety

We’ve received, via a Public Records Request, some of Community Development Director Ted White’s text messages with downtown bar owner Joe Florentine. It looks like Mr. White is working for Florentine which explains a lot:

Ted White Florentine Texts a Ted White Florentine Texts b

To clear this up, those “issues” that Mr. Florentine is talking about include all of his violations of the municipal code and his Conditional Use Permit – specifically his illegal refusal to install fire sprinklers.

Florentines CUP Fire Sprinklers

Florentine is in gross violation and Ted White is pushing a big change to the municipal code through council in order to facilitate Florentine’s bad behavior.

While Mr. White likes to talk about how hard his job is, how impossible enforcement is and how outdated it is to look at “lumens” regarding lighting – he doesn’t admit that fire safety isn’t on his list of priorities – nor is actually doing his job.

Florentine’s properties on the corner of Harbor and Commonwealth, the largest bar / nightclub in all of Downtown Fullerton, as far as we can tell, is the ONLY business given a pass on fire and life safety issues.

We also have it on good authority that Mr. White tried to illegally INCREASE the occupancy at Florentine’s properties, in violation of the law, while ignoring the fire sprinkler issue that has been ignored by staff for 10+ years. Why? Why potentially put more people at risk?

And Mr. White isn’t alone in his belief that one man is above the rules and laws in Fullerton.

Every single year the Fullerton Police Chief, currently Robert Dunn, issues Florentine a Live Entertainment Permit threatening to enforce the applicable laws/permits. And every year the Chief does nothing but wield his rubber stamp for downtown law breakers. This is worse than the old joke of the UN saying “Stop! Or we’ll yell ‘Stop!’ again!” because our Chief can’t even be bothered to use the “S” word. (more…)

Arson at the Melody Inn?

We here at FFFF over the years have pointed out the Florentine sidewalk theft and more recently the sham of city oversight in Florentine’s decade+ refusal to install fire sprinklers.

Those stories led a reader to send us a video that may make that fire sprinkler issue way worse in context. It’s a story about what allegedly happened at Florentine’s Melody Inn back in 1989 in Downtown Fullerton.

Give it a watch and let us know what you think.

A Question from Podunk

Those of us in the cheap seats out in Podunk have noticed something odd and can’t quite figure it out and we’re hoping that some of you friends have some answers.

The problem is that Joe Florentine operates a night club in clear violation of the Fullerton Municipal Code and possibly CA Law if not just CA building codes. How so? His nightclubs located at 100-104 N Harbor Blvd, and which have a combined occupancy of over 300 people, are lacking fire sprinklers. Feel free to check for the permits yourself to verify.

Fire sprinklers, mind you, which were a condition of his Conditional Use Permit back in 2008.

Florentines CUP Fire Sprinklers

The CUP from 2008 on this issue fully states (our emphasis):

“12. The 2008 Building Code requires that restaurants and drinking establishments with a fire occupancy of 100 persons or more are required to install fire sprinklers. As a result, the business owner is required to add fire sprinklers as a matter of approval. Because this is a Building Code requirement, the Planning Commission does not have discretion to waive this requirement. Staff has recommended a condition to assure that the work be performed within a specified timeframe of the use approval, or else the CUP will be brought back to the Planning Commission for revocation.”

Here’s the California Building Code for those who are curious, keep in mind that Florentine’s is said to be about 8,000 sqf:

2016 Building Fire Code

His business qualifies as requiring fire sprinklers. His conditional use permit requires him to have fire sprinklers. Yet he has no fire sprinklers.

Why are there no fire sprinklers?

Why hasn’t his Conditional Use Permit been revoked as required by law?

For 10+ years Florentine has been operating the largest restaurant / night club against the law and for 10+ years our staff has done nothing about it. Even though Fire and Life Safety are the issues at hand.

OK, that’s not fair to staff. They have done something. They’ve willfully ignored fire codes, building codes and public safety. We’ve got to give credit where credit is due and nothing in this case certainly is something.

Despite that 2008 Conditional Use Permit threatening a mandatory revocation, the city has never once enforced the issue of fire sprinklers let alone considered bringing his CUP back for possible revocation. Not Once. In all that time our useless Planning Commission has been too inept to ask tough questions of staff or for a list of gross violators to even notice this glaring slap against their preening authority.

But wait for it, it gets better.

Each year like clockwork the ever rotating Fullerton Police Chief signs off on Florentine’s Live Entertainment Permit making FPD complicit in this glaring life safety fail. Here’s an example from 2016/17:

Florentines LE Permit 2016

Check #7.

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

The Chief of Police is signing off on Live Entertainment Permits and claiming that conditions of use, such as fire sprinklers, will be enforced while NEVER ONCE ENFORCING THEM in well over a decade.

While Community Development Director Ted White likes to talk about needed changes to the municipal code, specifically Title 15 which passed our clueless Planning Commission, he mentions lights and lumens and outdated technology. It sure is curious that he never bothered to mention Fire Safety and how he, his staff, nor any staff across Fullerton, can be bothered to enforce those issues and laws either. Nevermind flagrant violations of state law, HOLY CRAP LOOK AT THOSE LUMENS! We just can’t measure those time to change the codes!

While he’s baffling our clueless leaders and representatives on the dais with bullshit, he’s letting guys like Florentine violate safety concerns because… why exactly?

No seriously, why? Why are we tolerating staff, our Planning Commission, and our City Council blatantly ignoring the law while they spoon feed us nonsense about lumen measurement?

This is an endemic problem. That Live Entertainment Permit as seen on the Fullerton website actually needs to be signed off on by multiple departments:

LE Permit App

How is that nobody in the Building, Code Enforcement or the Fire Department has a problem with such a large venue with such a large civilian capacity each weekend being in clear violation of fire codes?

Joe Florentine actually made the case in front of the Planning Commission recently that the Live Entertainment Permit process was too arduous. Let that sink in. The dude who’s breaking the law and putting people’s lives at risk has the sadz because the process, that is letting him slip by with his lawlessness, wants the process to be easier!

South Park Balls
An artist representation of Joe Florentine after speaking to Planning Commission.

Maybe you can figure out why right now, this weekend of St. Paddy’s Day which is one of the heaviest drinking days of the year, the city is going to continue to put hundreds of people at risk in Florentine’s night clubs.

The city knows Joe Florentine operates his bars outside the law. He is legally required to protect the public he allows in his doors, but refuses to do so. We know it, we tolerate it, and we even sign off on it at least once a year.

Why is this important? Why should you care that your city staff ignores the law and signs off on Florentine’s shenanigans?

Because this means YOU, the taxpayers of Fullerton, are on the hook for an accident in Florentine’s bars.

You, through the Police Chief & Fire Department, signed off on his entertainment permits to pack his bars.

You, through your Council, Staff and City Manager, told him he was safe, every year. You told him he’s a good operator despite obvious evidence to the contrary.

So what happens when, God forbid, there’s a fire like the Ghost Ship in Oakland where fire sprinklers were also lacking?

Who pays restitution? Little ol’ Joe with his big house and big pool up on the hill?

NO! You do! You pay! Just like you always pay when staff and council refuse to do their jobs. You signed the dotted line that blessed all his illegal bullshit and then you did nothing about it.

You get what you vote for, Fullerton. This weekend your vote will be used again to tolerate putting hundreds of people at risk. You voted for people to not enforce life safety laws, you voted to not enforce alcohol service laws, and you voted to not enforce zoning laws.

When will you have enough?

What Does Downtown Cost?

There’s an old rumored study that is often referenced, but not in detail, that says that Downtown Fullerton costs the city about $1million/year in a general fund subsidy.

Meaning that according to the available data we have the city subsidizes the bar scene out of money that could be doing things for us such as fixing our roads. But how much is downtown actually costing us?

No clue. This study is only ever referenced in passing and no numbers are ever presented.

Back in Oct 2017, when City Staff was selling council on a “Downtown Parking Plan”, which is nothing more than handing over our free city owned parking to bar owners at night so they can charge people and profit, they referenced this subsidy:

2017 Downtown Subsidy

Then again in Feb 2019, when staff was pitching the same parking nonsense they used the same allusion to a subsidy:

2019 Downtown Subsidy

To sort this out we asked how this subsidy is calculated because there is no way our City Staff, Manager and Council are so lazy as to rely on a years old, and disputed, study to determine new and current costs associated with how we run our city’s finances. Today the city got back to us.

Here’s the response in full from the city’s Administrative Services Director:

The comment was meant as a general comment and to briefly mention that future items would come before the Council. More specifically, this comment is based upon my understanding that a report was produced several years ago that demonstrated that there was an approximately $900K-$1M general fund subsidy for the Downtown area at the time the report was produced. There isn’t a more recent calculation of the subsidy that I am aware of.

Whoops. Turns out that we don’t know what Downtown costs. And yes, we are relying on a year’s old study to justify offsetting costs without know those very costs. Actually it might not even be a study. It could just be a guess, because we don’t know.

This answer is worse than it seems as it actually implies that the city has no idea what taxes we get from downtown and how those relate to what we spend to maintain and patrol said downtown. It also means that they don’t even know if there is or is not a subsidy and what it might be in [current year]. Heck, we could be throwing $xMil/year into downtown with police/fire costs (and the associated pensions) alone and not even know it. Or care to know it.

The city should know the costs of police, fire, maintenance and the potential lost business opportunities. Should.

What does Downtown Fullerton cost us as a city? We don’t have a clear idea.

Not a damn clue, actually. The city doesn’t know and hasn’t cared enough to find out in years. They’ll talk about taxes and selling capital assets and making plans to charge for parking and raising the noise levels – pretty much anything to benefit the bar scene, the very businesses that might be costing the city more money to maintain than they bring in in tax revenue. Why?

If you want to know why we have a structural deficit, why our roads suck, why our parks are often left to rot — This is why. We elect people who are too lazy to care about such basic government issues like costs and they in turn hire people who only care about costs or risks when it benefits the newest, shiniest 5 Year Plan they’re selling to that same council that hired them.

This is why things can’t get better until we stop letting council get away with polishing the brass on the Titanic while it sinks.

Flory’s Indecent Exposure

When Jan Flory came back to council she extolled her virtue of no scandals – and then her son Mike clearly decided – Challenge Accepted.

Mike Flory Photo

We really don’t want to write about this issue but it’s one which points to a pattern of problematic behavior that needs to be addressed. A pattern of behavior by a man who works around minors for the OC DA’s office and was recently convicted of PC 415(2) – Disturbing the Peace – in a case that originally involved a battery charge, PC M242, allegedly against a minor.

This new story is pretty simple. Somebody wanted a photo of Tickle from the show Moonshiners and that somebody asked the question of the wrong Mike. Instead of sending the message to Mike [Redacted] they sent it to Mike Flory. And instead of getting a photo of Tickle they got a photo of Flory’s junk.

To make this news it needs to be stated that that somebody – was Mike Flory’s niece.

Our victim’s own 8yo daughter was sitting with her when the offending message came in and she quickly deleted it so no, we will not be showing the photo here on FFFF but to satiate your dirty bird desires here is a stunt cock:

A Better Cock

When his niece, who we should clarify was a flower girl in his wedding, got upset he doubled down claiming to want to “get up in those guts”. To his niece.

Now we’re no prudes and we normally don’t care who sends what to whom consensually – but this was an unsolicited genital pick sent to a family member. All from a man works for the DA’s office in the Juvenile justice department.

How do we know this happened absent the photo? We had to verify a few things.

First we have the messages that came after the offending photo:

Flory Call Log 01

Flory Call Log 02

You’ll notice on that first screenshot that the phone # is 714-305-5648. How do we know that’s Mike Flory?

Well, that was a small problem. As many of us have to remain anonymous here on FFFF due to retaliation and threats we didn’t exactly want to call a Deputy DA so we punched the number into the internet and up camethe State Bar of California website with:

Mike Flory State Bar

The allegation then is that Mr. Flory is sending unsolicited dick pics from the phone # he has registered with the State Bar of California. Before people start complaining that this is Doxxing, no it isn’t as Mr. Flory has provided this to the State Bar as public information and it is easily searchable as just demonstrated.

But there’s no photo so how do we know one was sent? That’s what call logs are for:

Flory Call-Log

We wanted to make sure there was a “there” there before running this piece and after some due diligence have every reason to believe that this happened as described to us based on the phone calls and texts we have had with Mr. Flory’s niece as well as the supplied evidence and a few character witnesses we have spoken to in the last few weeks.

This is an issue of integrity and ethics but also one of propriety in a District Attorney’s office which has been plagued with years of scandals, cover-ups and bad actors. This is a chance for our new District Attorney, Todd Spitzer, to show us that he doesn’t tolerate such behavior in his ranks and that he expects his staff to be better examples to the public they serve. To be humble and apologetic instead of sickos with no sense of shame.

We offer this as a challenge. The ball is in your court Mr. Spitzer. Are you going to continue the sordid legacy of Tony Rackauckas and stand behind such behavior or are you going to try to finally bring some dignity to the OC DA’s office? We and many others will be watching.

Embrace DUIs or Move to Podunk

cronyism

Last night the Planning Commission voted to loosen the rules on bars while promising, yet again, that the city will hold bad actors in our downtown accountable.

They made the same empty promises staff, Planning Commission and Council have been giving the people of Fullerton for well over a decade despite any substantial actions. They can’t even be bothered to close businesses without permits but hey, trust them this time because this time they mean it. Really.

During public comments Joe Florentine suggested if you don’t like the DUI culture that you move to Podunk.

This actually happened.

The guy who stole a sidewalk thinks the entire city belongs to him and his beer shilling compatriots. He and other bar owners in attendance also tried to blame “pre-gaming” and 7-11 for all of the drunks sent out onto our decrepit roads at 2am.

Not one member of the Planning Commission asked about negative impacts, what was already being done, why nobody is ever shut down or brought before them and not one of them bothered to challenge staff or the owners on why they all supported alleged “penalties”. These people are all shameless and useless.

But Mr. Florentine put the idea out there that you either accept his vision of Fullerton or leave so I present for your consideration the vision that these guys have as this is what they support, want and endorse year in and year out.

Here is a map of the DUIs in Fullerton in 2018. Google Maps wouldn’t let us show duplicates so if 5 DUIs happened at the same spot there is only one pin.

Fullerton 2018 DUIs
Duplicate locations were omitted.

Here’s just Downtown for 2018:

2018 DUIs Downtown
Duplicate locations were omitted.

There were 636 DUIs in Fullerton in 2017, 633 in 2018 and with 80 DUIs so far this year the city is on track to keep up with this yearly average.

Nobody last night seemed to care about the carnage, mayhem or dangers on our roads so long as it makes the right businesses a profit (while driving other businesses out). What’s sad is that this idea of a Bar-Only Downtown is ruining a part of town many of us love.

But hey, if you don’t like having 1.7 DUIs a day in Fullerton (and that’s who is caught mind you) then just move to Podunk. After all, according to Joe Florentine this is a college town and we need to focus on serving students (who for the first three years of college are too young to drink mind you).

Maybe when a DUI hits the stolen sidewalk on Harbor, instead of innocent businesses like the Ophthalmologist on Orangethorpe, Mr. Florentine will change his tune on the unaccountable behavior he continues to support.

Fullerton DUI Feb 2019

Until then except more the same and be happy about it or do something to change the focus of our city council. Or hey – maybe just move to Podunk.

Former Fullerton Police Chief – Guilty

Former Fullerton Police Chief David Hendricks and former Fullerton Police Captain Tom Oliveras have both plead guilty to charges related to their scuffle last year.

According to the LA Times:

“A former Fullerton police chief and one of his captains plead guilty Monday to misdemeanor charges for starting a fight with paramedics at a Lady Antebellum concert last summer in Irvine while off-duty, an incident which forced the chief to resign.”

Also from the LAT:

“Neither will serve jail time. As part of their plea deals with prosecutors, Hendricks had two counts of battery on emergency workers and one count of resisting arrest dismissed, while Oliveras had one count each of battery on a peace officer and resisting arrest dismissed.”

This is the same charge that Deputy DA Mike Flory was found guilty of a few days ago. Sure must be nice to work for the state – you can punch, choke and hit public safety members (or just hit kids allegedly in Flory’s case) and get slapped on the wrist with “disturbing the peace”. You’d think with all of the pay, benefits and praise we give these people in their professions the least taxpayers could expect is some actual discipline when they screw up but nope. We’re lucky to ever even learn the details when “public safety” members cause harm – just ask Fullerton City Hall as they continue to block every request regarding legally required transparency.

Just another day with Fullerton’s finest.

Flory Gets Probation

Mike Flory Photo

It looks like OC Deputy District Attorney Mike Flory copped a plea today over in Riverside.

Here’s the terms of DDA Flory’s probation:

This means that we now have a Deputy District Attorney on probation overseeing the kids in the juvie system. Todd Spitzer sure is off to a great start following in TRack’s footsteps.

If people were to look into this Flory character what else might come out? Time will certainly tell.

If nothing else we know that the petty anger management apple didn’t fall far from the newly appointed tree.

FloryCampagn2012