FFFF supports causes that promote intelligent, responsible and accountable government in Fullerton and Orange County
Author: Mr. Peabody
Mr. Peabody is a Child of Aquarius, a former hard drug user, and a devotee of lawn bowling. He abandoned a profitable career as an curb address number painter to fulfill a lifetime dream of mastering the zither.
Back on September 20, 2020 Fullerton 5th District Councilman Ahmad Zahra was arrested by his own cops. Subsequently, the DA, Todd Spitzer, charged Zahra with battery and vandalism.
This spring it seems that all traces of the case vanished into the ether. At a council meeting, Zahra said the charges were dropped by Spitzer and that he was exonerated, and that he and his mother were themselves somehow victimized. Then a story from a DA employee leaked; and the tale was not one of exoneration, but of a guilty plea, some community service and a petition by Zahra and accepted by the court, to expunge the record of his malfeasance completely.
Enter “Monica F.” Or to be precise, re-enter.
This woman was named in the original charges of both the battery and vandalism ascribed to Zahra. Zahra claimed at the council meeting he had never met this person who showed up at his mother’s abode scaring the poor woman. And that’s it, a half story that may contain some elements accuracy, but that may also be irrelevant to the charges, per se.
The other day FFFF noticed that somebody had anonymously requested records relating to Zahra and a specific address on Foxborough Place on 9/2/20. The City responded with the precise language they used to blow off a FFFF PRA request on the same case. So the City acknowledges that the address in question is related to the charges filed by the DA. Oops.
Sure enough, a quick internet search revealed the house on Foxborough Place as the home of the Farias family, one of whom is named Monica. A coincidence? Well, maybe, but that would be pretty hard to invest any credulity in at all.
What is Monica F’s relationship to Zahra and/or his former husband? Who knows? But when the cops on are called and somebody is charged with crimes by the District Attorney, everybody has embarked on a serious path. And the public has the right to know what the hell is going on, especially when that somebody charged with crimes is an elected representative of the people.
While scanning the City of Fullerton public records requests the other day, I came across this interesting tidbit, requester, not yet known:
And the fact that this particular request is related to our bad boy’s bad day is reflected in the City’s perfunctory response:
2671 Foxborough Place. Why is this address of significance to the events of that day? Is this house the home of any of the principals in the Zahra battery and vandalism case? I don’t know for sure, but somebody thinks it’s relevant, and of course it’s all a big secret as far as our city government is concerned.
For months the legal jeopardy of 5th District Councilman Ahmad Zahra was a matter of speculation among Fullerton council-watchers. Zahra of course, had been arrested by his own cops and charged with battery and vandalism by the District Attorney Todd Spitzer – stemming from a September 2020 incident. Then, recently, the case miraculously disappeared from the public record. But now a source within the DAs office suggests Zahra’s recitation of these events is a self-serving tissue of lies.
Just a couple of weeks ago folks watching the City Council meeting were treated to fine example of victimology on display when Zahra declaimed the wrongs committed against him by false testimony; his declaration that he had been exonerated; his claim that he had somehow fallen prey to an antiquated justice system; that it was actually he and his poor, frightened mom who were the victims!
Here’s what Zahra subsequently said to the intrepid reporter for the Fullerton Observer, doubling down on his tale: “I was exonerated, but of course some have since tried to politicize this very unfortunate family matter. My case was clear-cut, but I feel for those with less clarity in their cases, that end up being hurt, in what is sometimes a difficult justice system to navigate.” A
But was any of that even true?
The informed source in the DAs office has completely contradicted Zahra’s story. In the revised version of the tale, Zahra pled guilty, did community service, and because his record was clean, the case was closed and expunged.
Now I don’t know about you, but to me this second account actually has the ring of truth about it. We probably won’t find out the truth now that the case is gone like the wind, but one thing is certain – this episode is going to hang around Zahra’s neck like an albatross in next year’s election.
At Tuesday’s council meeting District Five representative Ahmad Zahra finally addressed the issue of his arrest and the subsequent charges of battery and vandalism levelled by the District Attorney. Well, sort of. What came out of Zahra’s mouth was a classic expatiation of painful vindication, meant, I guess, to justify the fact that his record had simply vanished.
Oh the agony! We were informed of a contentious divorce; of a mother “at-risk”; of veritable victimhood that was a distraction from the community serves he provides; of an “archaic” justice system; and of course his “clear cut” vindication.
It’s pretty hard to swallow the woeful mush from this arrogant little clam, whose demeanor on the city council has made it very easy to entertain a ring of plausibility to the charges. Something made his own cops arrest Zahra; and something caused the DA to charge Zahra. Obviously some deal was cut; or some witnesses persuaded themselves, or were persuaded, that testifying was not in their best interest.
Mr. Zahra can pontificate, preen and wander around Fullerton taking credit for others’ work until next year when his one and only job is on the line. Then the fun will begin.
As the friends already know, Last fall Fullerton Councilman Ahmad Zahra was arrested by his own cops because of some fracas he got himself involved in. He was charged by the DA with battery and vandalism.
Hmm. Of course justice never quite runs the same course for elected folks as it does for the rest of us and we are left wondering what went on the scenes to make this record simply vanish. Was it a political deal? DA Todd Spitzer and his underling Shawn Nelson have never been known for their ethical behavior. On the other hand it may well be that the other people involved in this set-to have been persuaded that they wouldn’t make very good witnesses.
An item on last week’s Closed Session council meeting just caught my eye. The item identified the southeast corner of Pomona Avenue and Santa Fe, location of the previously discussed “boutique” hotel proposal. I last reported it here, when the Council voted 4-1 to let the unsolicited, single proposal issue get a time extension. As usual the lone no vote came from Bruce Whitaker. The July 6th item just says “terms and price” so that it can be hidden behind the Brown Act exemption.
When the City Attorney emerged he declared that this harebrained idea was moving ahead on a 3-2 vote to authorize a Letter of Intent to approve a development agreement. Hmm. We know that Jesus Quirk Silva would go for it. After all, he already changed his vote once to move this along – way back in December of 2018 as a parting gift to Doug “Bud” Chaffee. And Ahmad Zahra is always a reliable vote to support some stupid government giveaway or overreach.
So that leaves councilmen Nick Dunlap, Fred Jung and the aforementioned Whitaker. It is really hard to believe that Whitaker would suddenly change course 180 degrees from a previous commonsense, conservative position. Dunlap and Jung have so far shown unusual sales resistance when it comes to ridiculous bullshit so it’s hard to see either one going for this. But obviously, one of the three did. Who was it, and why? We were not told by the City Attorney and the minutes do not include such potentially embarrassing things.
And this will be a giveaway. You and I own that parcel of land that is currently providing popular parking for Transportation Center commuters. What is the land truly worth? If the Council continues on this reckless course to support a massive public subsidy to for an idea that has no basis in market demand, we may never know.
The days of the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency writing checks to fly-by-night developers, scammers, and other corporate welfare queens is over; but the so-called Successor Agency is perfectly capable of handing over real estate and getting nothing in return. And that looks likely to happen as the story of Fullerton’s unsolicited boutique hotel lurches forward.
The Florentine Mob may be gone; the douchebag Jeremy Popoff has popped off somewhere; but the battlefield known as Downtown Fullerton – created and nurtured by our own government is still in fine form. And by fine form, I mean gunfire.
The FPD has announced that it has apprehended one of our stand up DTF patrons who allegedly fired shots a the JP23 “restaurant” following an altercation therein.
Somebody got shot. Here’s part of the cop’s statement (self-congratulatory bullshit omitted):
On Tuesday, July 6, 2021, at approximately 1:03 AM, Fullerton Police Officers responded to 101 S. Harbor Boulevard, JP23 Urban Kitchen and Bar, regarding a subject who had been shot.
Upon arrival, Officers located a 24-year-old male with a single gunshot wound. Officers immediately rendered aid to the victim, and he was transported to a local trauma center. It was determined the gunshot wound was not life-threatening and the victim was expected to survive.
So once again the establishment known as JP23 finds itself in the middle of crime, although most of the crime at this place comes from the refusal of the owner to obey the Fullerton Municipal Code and his own Conditional Use Permit.
Oh, well. I guess there’s a certain amount of psychological reassurance that some things just don’t change. And mayhem in Downtown Fullerton appears to be one of them.
By now all the Friends know that our former Mayor-for-Hire, Jennifer Fitzgerald, has crammed all the loot she could stuff into her bags and is hightailing it for a state that has no extradition treaty. But her name still resonates, of course – a symbol of government treasury looting.
Well, here’s something interesting- a FitzySpark story that has several layers, each one suggestive of fraud.
For the past several years Fitzgerald reveled in the title of “Vice President” of Curt Pringle and Associates, an elevated title that suggests she was a valuable employee. But was she?
Here’s a snap from a report showing that Fitzgerald received a little government stimulus cheese to help out “payroll” for her little influence peddling operation “CL& Communications.”
Hmm. So she’s working for Pringle for years and yet collecting PPO money? And of course her little one man show has been around a lot longer than 2 years or less. In fact, here is some helpful corporate info on Fitzy’s biz:
Please notice that CL7 Communications has been around since 2009. Has the government been defrauded? I don’t know. You could try asking Dick Jones. Notice also that this business continued to exist through the years when Fitzgerald was supposed to be an officer of Curt Pringle Associates.
Now for more fun, kindly observe:
Well at least Pringle’s been around longer than two years so there’s a rare bit of honesty from the greasiest lobbyist in Orange County. He got $175,000, also for “payroll” and one wonders if that included 1099 payments to Jennifer Fitzgerald, who gives every indication of not being a Pringle employee at all, but rather a contractor. And if that’s true, Pringle and Fitzgerald have violated California employment labor law and the Federal tax Code. See, the IRS wants employers to pay for stuff like Social Security and Medicare through withholding; and the State wants to make sure employees are not being exploited, and that Worker’s Comp insurance is in place by the business.
Now I don’t know that SparkyFitz wasn’t a real employee of Pringle; and I don’t know if Pringle was faking it to dodge paying taxes. But something smells here, and it isn’t overripe government cheese.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.