City of Fullerton Calls it Quits Against Bloggers/FFFF

ACLU, EFF, RCFP, ACLU SoCal

Yesterday, in a special meeting,  the City of Fullerton officially bowed to the inevitable and settled its retaliatory lawsuit against Joshua Ferguson, David Curlee, and this blog. The vote was 3-2 with Bruce Whitaker, Nick Dunlap and Fred Jung voting to end the bloodletting. Jesus Quirk Silva and Ahmad Zahra, who started the lawsuit and have stubbornly kept it alive, voted no. Whether they were laboring under the sunk cost fallacy or if it was simply a childish aversion to admitting their own culpability in the mess, will never be known.

Zahra-Busted
Why is this man smiling?

It doesn’t happen very often that honest citizens can prevail against their government. In fact it almost never happens – a tribute to the tenacity of the courageous FFFF bloggers and their attorney, Kelly Aviles.

After a year and a half of lies, defamation, obstruction, incompetence, buffoonery, temporizing, more lying and running up huge legal bills the City has given up. Here are the main points:

$60,000 in compensatory damages to Ferguson and Curlee;

A public statement absolving Ferguson and Curlee of any culpability;

Legal fees for Kelly Aviles amounting to $230,000.

The winners here are justice (deliberately stalled, to be sure) and journalistic freedom against prior restraint; and, of course, any people who want to be able to get information that their own government is legally obligated to provide.

The losers, once again, are the taxpayers of Fullerton who are on the hook for $350,000 plus how ever much the legal team of Jones and Mayer have racked up – a sum estimated to be approaching $500,000.

Well, Friends, you can add as well as I can. At least three quarters of a million bucks to pursue this hare-brained retaliation against bloggers whose only desire was to get information from their own city government.

The train of thought was weak but it sure was short…

And so it is particularly amusing to consider the stammering, babbling statement from Jesus Quirk Silva that he was voting against the settlement because of his “fiduciary responsibility” to the people of Fullerton.

Axis of Casual Corruption.

Too bad the other two vindictive and profligate architects of this disaster have conveniently exited from our political stage: Jan Flory has resubmerged herself into whatever nasty swamp will have her; and our former influence peddling Mayor-for-hire, Jennifer Fitzgerald, is fleeing the state entirely, having feasted on the Fullerton carcass until there was no more meat on the bones.

 

The Trail of Tears

From 2000 and 2010. The idea may have been bad, but it sure was old.

You have to hand it to government bureaucracies. They never give up on stupid ideas. But why should they? With all the time in world, huge amounts of money given to them by others, and with zero accountability, what is there for them to lose?

Specifically, I am talking about an item on the May 4th Agenda, dutifully approved by the City Council, to take $1.8 million in State grant money and  $330,000 in Fullerton park money to design and build what they are pleased to call The Union Pacific Trail, Phase II.

Of course we all know that Phase I was a total waste of money – a weird “equestrian trail” (complete with pony railing) that has never seen a horse, that was attached to the poisoned and fenced off UP Park that dies a merciful death at Highland Avenue.

Hugo and Alice. One down, one to go…

Our crack Deputy Parks Director, some person named Alice Loya pitched the item to a less than bedazzled Council, making sure to point out that the area was disadvantaged, an irony certainly lost on City bureaucrats whose job it has been to un-disadvantage this neighborhood over the past 50 years.

Let me share a paragraph from the staff report, that, as usual, is so full of lies to rationalize the scheme that one wonders if the City staff would ever pursue this nonsense if they had to use City funds to pay for it:

The proposed project will transform an existing 50 to 80 foot wide, blighted corridor into a greenbelt trail providing alternate transportation, linking the Transportation Center and several parks, including Independence Park at its terminus. This proposed trail aligns with the Hunt Branch Library to the west, providing potential future linkages. The total cost of the project is estimated at $2.1 million.

Hmm.

Lie Number One: Alternative transportation? What the Hell does that even mean? Walking?

Lie Number Two: the trail would not link anything to the Transportation Center since it would terminate at a narrow sidewalk behind the Ice House that includes a 90 degree turn. And of course just a week ago, or so, our very same staff tried to sneak through an idiot scheme to cut off the UP right-of-way completely with their private event center on the Poisoned Park site.

Lie Number Three: the proposed extension does not link “several” parks. It would indeed terminate at the Independence Park parking lot but the only other “park” it would touch is the fenced off Poisoned Park that nobody even wants.

Almost as good as a lie Number Four: the proposed trail would be virtually impossible to link to the “aligned” Hunt Branch Library, nearly a mile away, because gosh darn it, the rail siding is still being used by…the railroad. But what the Hell let’s throw out the chimera of “connectivity” to fool the dopes on the City Council, right? It’s always worked just fine in the past.

Almost as good as a lie Number Five: when has the City ever built anything on time and on budget? That proposed cost would sky rocket, of course, as Fullerton’s army of staff, consultants, and design professionals hump the “greenbelt” into submission. Remember the wooden steps at Hillcrest Park and the elevator-from-Hell at the Depot?

Maybe it looks better when the sun goes down…

But what wasn’t said was much more important than the propaganda ink spilled to promote this idiocy: nobody will use this “trail” since it passes through sketchy industrial zoned property, completely empty at night, and would remain, just like it is now, an attractive nuisance that the taxpayers will be on the hook to maintain out of the General Fund.

Dunlap-Jung
Can these two help bring some accountability to Fullerton?

On the bright side, members of the new Council commonsense majority pointed out that Staff was already devising a top-secret Specific Plan for the area, and gee, wouldn’t it make sense not to piecemeal things like Planning Director Matt Foulkes  tried to do on the ill-fated aquaponic farm/event center? They did treat the item as still very provisional, but FFFF knows better – we know that government money once available, will be spent, most likely on something nobody outside City Hall wants.

Zahra-Busted
Why is this man smiling?

Naturally, Councilman-in-search-of-camera-opportunity, Ahmad Zahra scrounged up some of his usual misguided acolytes to beat the drum for this utter waste of $2.1 million bucks. After all, this project would be mostly paid for with “free money” of the sort “progressives” love to accept, then waste. We need look no further than the $1,000000 Core and Corridors Specific Plan, paid for by the State Sustainability Commission, that was quietly abandoned, never to see the light of day. And ironically, the old UP Right of Way passes right through the middle of two of the C&C Specific Plan Areas, suggesting to me, at lest, that the City is not, and never has been interested in the well-being of the part of Fullerton accept as something to play with.

 

Joe Kerr Follow-Up

Lives in a District, but which one?

Friends, as part of our ongoing fight against carpetbaggers, and even worse, perjuring faux-carpetbaggers, we here at FFFF like to follow up on the activities of failed carpetbaggers of all sorts – the legit ‘baggers, and the liar ‘baggers.

Here are some of the villains:

2009 Linda Ackerwoman – State Assembly (Irvine) 1 fake address

2010 Harry Sidhu, 4th District Supervisor (Anaheim Hills) 2 fake addresses

2010 Lorraine Galloway, 4th District Supervisor (Anaheim Hills) 3 fake addresses

2016 Sukhee Kang, State Senate (Irvine) Moved back to Irvine after election, if he ever lived here at all

2018 Joe Kerr, County Supervisor (Coto de Caza) 2 fake addresses

2018 Pilferin’ Paulette Marshall Chaffee. Fullerton CC 5th District (Fullerton 2nd District) 1 fake address

2020 Arunii Thakur, Fullerton 4th District (Fullerton 1st District) 1 fake address

I’d be smiling, too!

Guess what? Our former pal Joe Kerr, the union boss and well-public pensioned resident of 5th District Coto de Caza is running for County Supervisor. Again. In 2018 this miscreant cooked up fake addresses in Brea, and then in Placentia to run in the 4th District. We documented Coto Joe’s misbehaving and put his name at the bottom of our list!

An alert 4th District Friend has dialed in and notified us that Joe has not given up on elective politics and is giving it another go. The why is probably easier to answer now than the where.

Going to his Joe Kerr for County Supervisor website doesn’t inform us about his current declared office – or residence – leading cynical observers to suppose his ultimate dwelling locale is still a matter of convenient political flux. That’s not much of a confidence builder for somebody who is intent on emphasizing his hero-ness.

For once again Joe is touting his courage and leadership skills, honed, no doubt by leading the Orange County Fire Fighters union as it gouged its way deep into our solvency.

Even I beat this loser…

Last time Kerr was beaten by the hapless Bud Chaffee, so whichever district he decides to call home when the time comes, I really have wonder about his chances.

Fitzgerald Quitting Fullerton?

Grab it and consume it as fast as you can…

Hmm. Former Fullerton Councilcreature for Hire, Jennifer Fitzgerald, may be getting out of Dodge. Word out and about is that Jennifer Fitzgerald wants to move. Out of Fullerton? I don’t know.

I’m sure not complaining about it, I’m hardly even wondering why.

See ya.

During Jen’s 8-year career driving Fullerton to the precipice of insolvency and immanent infrastructure collapse, she made it pretty clear that she was in it for whatever she could get out of it for herself, her campaign supporters and her boss, lobbyist Curt Pringle. Her last, desperate flail at influence peddling occurred in last fall’s election when her puppet candidate, Andrew Cho, dredged from the obscure depths of anonymity, was defeated by Fred Jung,

Zahra-Busted
Why is this man smiling?

Now there are only two candidates willing to be “influenced” Fitzgerald: Jesus Quirk Silva and Ahmad Zahra. And the latter may soon have his legal troubles advertised for his constituents to peruse.

I’ll drink to that!

So maybe Fitzy figures it’s time to abandon the smoking wreckage she masterminded courtesy of two utterly incompetent but willing co-conspirators – Joe Felz and Ken Domer.

Maybe she figures her work here is done.

We’re All In This Together, Right?

Dunlap-Jung
Can these two help bring some accountability to Fullerton?

Or so we are led to believe. But our public employees come first, of course.

At last night’s council meeting the discussion rolled around to what to do with $34,000.000 that will be coming Fullerton’s way courtesy of the federal governments latest orgy of largesse. Fred Jung opened the discussion with an emphasis that the City’s massive infrastructure debt be addressed. That sentiment was echoed by Councilman Dunlap and Mayor Whitaker.

Then the predictable began.

Zahra OC Register Battery

Ahmad Zahra cautioned that there might be restrictions on the money of which we are unaware and not to “count our eggs.” Of course this is code for: protect our employees.

The train of thought was weak but it sure was short…

At the 5 hour and 20 minute mark, Jesus Silva raised the topic of making our employees whole for their wonderful pay reduction sacrifices during the pandemic; City Manager Domer, reminded the council that the various bargaining units had taken pay cuts with the understanding that they would be reimbursed when new revenue was discovered (Measure S passage, no doubt, or failing that more fed bailout).

https://fullerton.granicus.com/player/clip/1265?view_id=2&redirect=true

And that’s where the discussion wandered off into bureaucratic miasma with nothing resolved and no policy established. Once again the proverbial can was kicked down the road for another day.

Yet one thing is crystal clear. A public that has suffered itself tremendously over the past year, financially, psychologically, and personally is very likely to be on the hook to recompense public employees whose incomes, jobs, health insurance, and overall well-being was guaranteed (by us) throughout.

And that’s just the way it is.

 

 

Fix The Streets Damn It!

 

20. AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT UPDATE
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act which
programs over $1.9 trillion in relief funding related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Councilmember Jung requested, with concurrence from Mayor Whitaker, to hold an initial
discussion of local funding opportunities.
Recommendation:
Provide direction as appropriate

On tomorrow night’s council agenda we see that Item #20 is a discussion about what to do with the Democrat’s Federal relief dough, estimated to be in the neighborhood of $35,000,000. That’s a nice neighborhood, especially if you’re a stumblebum city manager like Ken Domer who is hanging on to quarter mil per year job by the skin of his teeth.

Domer-Decorations
Hitching to Blythe…

This pile o’ cash is undoubtedly already attracted the attention of the Hero unions who will be clamoring for equity, parity, and any other ity they can think up. And of course Domer has been complaining about his poor, overworked skeleton staff crew, too, so there’s that.

Measure S Covid Lie

I know that the bureaucrats will be applying pressure to use the money for payroll and pensions. How do we know this? Because that’s what they were pushing hard with the late and not lamented Measure S tax. We can be sure that staff will be doing the usual song and dance about what the Biden Bucks can and cannot be spent on.

Well, here’s what I say: $35,000,000 will pay for a whole lot of paving and a whole lot of sidewalk.

Dunlap-Jung
Can these two help bring some accountability to Fullerton?

It’s painfully obvious that Councilpersons Zahra and Silva will do whatever they’re told by the City Manager. Fortunately, Councilmen Dunlap and Jung know who they work for. And it isn’t the public employee unions. That leaves Mayor Bruce Whitaker who actually helped Jung get this item on the agenda for public discussion.

 

Whitaker Re-elected to OC Water Board

This is water…

 

Last night the City Council voted to appoint Bruce Whitaker To the OC Water District Board of Directors. The term of the previous incumbent, Ahmad Zahra had expired at the end of 2020.

The vote was 3-1-1, with Whitaker, Jung and Dunlap voting for Whitaker; Zahra nominated and voted for himself; Jesus Silva decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and abstained.

Zahra-Busted
Why is this man smiling?

It was not for lack of trying to keep this paying gig that Zahra relinquished his job. No, Indeed, for a line of scripted commenters tried valiantly to praise Zahra to the Heavens, why, Good God! The man practically invented water!

Too much scotch, not enough water…

The funniest commenter was none other than Fullerton’s Mistress of Disaster, Jan Flory, who joined in to share in the hosannas for Zahra. She read her script okay, but it included her statement that Zahra had actually authored articles about water,,,for the Fullerton Observer.

Whitaker was clearly the better choice. The water board has jurisdiction over the aquafer on which we sit. The district has massive financial reserves paid by us in ad valorem taxes. And in the past decade the OCWD has been at the center of a massive rip-off called Poseidon, a desalinization scam meant to provide more water to OC county for the purposes of south county development.

Unlike Zahra, Whitaker will not posture on the board for publicity and to be able to pretend some imagined expertise. He won’t use the agency to promote his own agenda and his own political prospects. And Whitaker is not currently charged with crimes by his own police department; nor is he under threat of recall by his district constituents.

 

 

Florentine Forgery/Fraud Case To Go to DA?

The family goes way back…

By now the Friends are well-aware of the attempt by Joe Florentine, the scofflaw proprietor of a restaurant and bar in downtown Fullerton, to fraudulently alter and submit official documents in pursuit of a Conditional Use Permit.

He even admitted it.

Reliable sources have indicated that a criminal investigation has been opened by the Fullerton Police Department based on a complaint filed by the property owner, Mario Marovic, and passed along to the District Attorney’s office.

Now the felonious miscreance of a Fullerton Florentine family member is about as newsworthy as a mailman bitten by a dog – no surprise there. Rather, the key facts of interest in this case are that Mr. Florentine had lots of help inside City Hall, including the Planning Director, the City Manager, and of course our top-notch City Attorney, Dick Jones, who finally had to recuse himself from dispensing laughable advice due to a conflict of interest.

Domer-Decorations
Hitching to Blythe…

Apparently, City Manager Ken Domer knew exactly what was happening and was determined to proceed with the fraud anyway.

It’s hard not to believe that some fall out from this conspiracy will land in the proximity of new Councilmembers Fred Jung and Nick Dunlap, who will certainly be averse to the radioactivity. The City Manager is already on the thinnest of ice after blowing $130,000 on a marginally legal PR campaign to promote Measure S, and then unsuccessfully trying to spend another 90 grand just before Christmas to hire an expert to try to fix the budget shortfall.  City Managers are protected by contract but there is no contractual protection for a person who has violated the law. Will we soon be hiring a management search firm?

dick-jones
Staying awake long enough to break the law…

As always, Jones and Meyer are likewise compromised by their corrupt and incompetent and self-serving practices. But Dick Jones, like Talleyrand, always seems to be able to keep his head on his shoulders despite all the revolutions.

Leaving Fullerton even worse off than she found it…

 

And what was the role of Mayor-for-hire Jennifer Fitzgerald, who was the evident and malignant influence around so much of the Fullerton’s recent mismanagement and the cover-ups that inevitably followed? It’s difficult to believe that she wasn’t pushing this through for the benefit of her pals, the Florentines.

Finally, if in fact, City leaders are found culpable in this conspiracy to commit fraud, what is the legal exposure to the taxpayers of Fullerton for both the legal costs incurred by the property owner in the case, and for other damages he may have suffered?

As FFFF learns more about the status of the case we will certainly share it. City Hall probably won’t.

 

The Florentine Mob Pulls Out

Sit down and grab some sidewalk, brother…

It’s taken well over thirty years, but apparently the Family of Tony Florentine is calling quits in downtown Fullerton. Normally, such an occasion would be cause for gratitude, reflection, fond memories, etc., etc., ect.

But not in this case.

The reason nobody is indulging in kind reminiscence is simple. Over the years the family has been in on, and accused of some very shady stuff. Forget about shitty food and consider the following fun events, documented right here on the pages of FFFF, even if ignored by City staff, the Fullerton Police Department and the Fullerton Fire Department.

  1. Joe Florentine accused by former employee of torching his own business – The Melody Inn – back in the late 1980s.
  2. Tony Florentine magically converts an outside dining permit into a permanent structure built across a public sidewalk in the early 2000s.
  3. Tony’s bright kid, Joe, illegally converts the family restaurant into an illegal night club in the mid 2000s.
  4. In 2012 Papa Tony files phoney FPPC complaint against Tony Bushala in an effort to help his Gang of Three avoid recall. Complaint denied.
  5. After gaining a CUP to operate as a club, Joe Florentine never installs the fire sprinkler system required of the CUP.
  6. Seeking approval of yet another CUP in 2019-2020 even though the terms of the previous CUP had never been met,  Joe Florentine forged and had notarized an application that by-passed the building owner, thus placing the City in legal jeopardy.
  7. Last spring the Florentines decided they were entitled to remove on-street parking in order to help themselves.

It’s hard to say what other misdeeds and actual crimes have been committed by the Florentines, over the years. Stories abound. But what we know gives us plenty of reason not to consider their departure with any sort of remorse.

And the very continuation of the bad behavior gives us plenty of reason to ruminate on the political climate that permitted the ongoing flagrance and fraud. Decision makers in City Hall have been running interference for, enabling, and diligently looking the other way through this little reign of terror. Does anybody care? The old City Councils never did. Will the new one?