Better Than A Plastic Snowman

So you’ve already signed the petitions to recall McKinley, Bankhead and Jones, but now you’re wondering what else you can do to help the cause…

Show your neighbors that you demand responsible and accountable government. Head on over to the Fullerton Recall website and order yourself some of these nifty yard signs – for free!

One Side - Stop Out-of-Control Pensions
The Other Side - Stop the Illegal Water Tax

The Definition of a Cover-Up

FFFF had a chance to sit down with councilmember Bruce Whitaker to let him explain how the police department and city management deliberately withheld critical information and misled elected decision makers in the immediate aftermath of the Kelly Thomas death.

As you listen, be sure to reflect on the atmosphere of fear and distrust that permeated Fullerton in the weeks immediately following the murder; remember that we were told to remain calm and patient, and that we were to trust our leaders who supposedly had access to all the information that we did not.

Later we found out that our leaders knew nothing, and the city let accused killers roam free with badges and guns while we were kept in the dark.


It’s Been 5 Months Since a Man was Murdered by the Fullerton Police. Who’s Been Fired?


Ramos and Cicinelli, the two men charged in the murder of Kelly Thomas, got three months of paid vacation. Now they’re on unpaid leave, but they still have not been fired.

What about officers Hampton, Wolfe, Blatney and Craig who were accomplices in the brutal beating? Nope. Still employed. Still getting paid.

And the FPD management who allowed the six officers to collude on their reports? We still don’t know who’s responsible for that mess. But nobody was fired.

Chief Sellers, who went on vacation, returned only to hide under his desk, and then foraged up a doctors note to dodge his responsiblies while Fullerton suffered? Not fired.

How about Jones and Meyer, the city attorneys who have worked so hard to conceal the department’s criminal activity from the public eye for all those years? They’re still here. And they’re probably making more than ever.

And the City Manager, who’s supposed to be responsible for all city employees and their actions? Not fired. But he did try to give himself a raise.

And finally, the three councilmembers who’ve been overseeing this mess for 56 collective years, who did nothing but insult the murder victim and defend the police department responsible for his death? They’re still here, and they’re still deflecting responsibility for the actions of the city they’re supposed to be running.

Five months have passed and not a single soul has lost their job for their involvement in a murder under color of authority.  That’s a pretty stark contrast to those of us in the real world, where people are often fired for showing up to work late or taking a nap on the clock.

But not in Fullerton. This year we have witnessed a demonstration of a power structure so perverse that it can insulate itself from the most heinous of crimes with almost no remorse or repercussions.

A Year Without DUI Checkpoints

Last year this blog exposed the DUI/drivers license checkpoint con that was being operated by the Fullerton PD, here. The checkpoints allowed the PD to stop and interrogate hundreds of innocent drivers while boosting their own overtime pay, sucking up impound fees and filling the pockets of their friends at the impound yard, all under the false pretense of catching drunk drivers (a task handled much more efficiently and constitutionally by DUI patrols.)

A year ago the final checkpoint event was quietly cancelled and we haven’t heard a peep since, lending credence to our assertion that the checkpoints have always been ineffective and wasteful…so much so that nobody’s even noticed now that they’re gone.

Well, there’s one group who probably noticed: those two-dozen cops who are now missing out on the easy overtime pay. Standing around, drinking coffee and causing traffic jams just doesn’t pay like it used to.

Howard Jarvis Will Challenge Fullerton’s Illegal Water Tax

It looks like our city may be in for another lawsuit. Check out this letter that was sent from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association just before Turkey Day (emphasis mine):

Mr. Joe Felz, City Manager
City of Fullerton
303 W Commonwealth Avenue
Fullerton,CA 92832

Re:  Water Department “In Lieu Fees”

Jack Dean, a friend of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, has brought to our attention that the City of Fullerton pads the rates charged to water customers in order to transfer funds from the Water Fund to the General Fund.  These transfers appear in the City’s Budget under Water Fund expenses and General Fund revenue as a 10% in-lieu franchise fee.  We believe the fee and revenue transfers are illegal.

If a private company provided water service to the residents of Fullerton, the City could charge the private company a negotiated franchise fee for occupying public rights of way with its pipelines.  That is not the case in Fullerton, however, as the City operates its own municipal water utility.  The rates the City may charge are governed by the California Constitution, which limits rates to just the amount required to provide service, and prohibits transferring rate revenue for use elsewhere.

California Constitution article XIII D § 6(b) states in relevant part: “(1) Revenues derived from the fee or charge shall not exceed the funds required to provide the property related service. (2) Revenues derived from the fee or charge shall not be used for any purpose other than that for which the fee or charge was imposed.”

We successfully litigated this issue several years ago in lawsuits against the cities of Roseville and Fresno.  The courts in those two cases ruled that a city’s utility enterprise can reimburse the General Fund for actual, documented expenditures incurred on behalf of the utility, such as the utility’s use of the City Attorney’s services, or the utility’s share of a common insurance fund.  However, the utility cannot serve as a supplemental source of revenue for the General Fund.  As the court in the Roseville case said:

“[T]he in-lieu fee violates section 6(b) of Proposition 218 in a more direct way. Roseville concedes that ‘[r]evenue from the in [-]lieu franchise fee is placed in [Roseville’s] general fund to pay for general governmental services. It has not been pledged, formally or informally[,] for any specific purpose.’ This concession runs afoul of section 6(b)(2) that ‘[r]evenues derived from the fee or charge shall not be used for any purpose other than that for which the fee or charge was imposed.’ It also contravenes section 6(b)(5) that ‘[n]o fee or charge may be imposed for general governmental services.’”Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. v. City of Roseville (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 637, 650.

By this letter we are formally requesting the City of Fullerton to stop charging the 10% in-lieu franchise fee, and to adjust its customers’ water rates accordingly.

If the City believes its 10% in-lieu franchise fee is legally defensible, then please consider this letter a request under the California Public Records Act for copies of the study(s) and/or accounting(s) that itemize General Fund costs on behalf of the Water Fund totaling exactly 10% each year.

Your response by December 10, 2011, would be appreciated.


Timothy A. Bittle
Director of Legal Affairs

The tax became a big issue back in July, when a guy named Jack Dean from the Fullerton Association of Concerned Taxpayers pointed out the illegality of this water tax to the council (during an attempt to double water rates.)

Well, it’s been four months now, and Fullerton residents are STILL PAYING that illegal tax on every water bill.

Of course Bankhead, Jones and McKinley are waiting for the city attorney to find a way to squeeze that tax through a legal loophole, instead of rescinding it and refunding the money they’ve been helping the city steal from taxpayers since Prop 218 passed fifteen years ago.

How about a refund?

Cicinelli’s Disability Scam Starts to Unravel

Uh oh! The LA Times discovered that one of the cops who beat Kelly Thomas to death is still getting a hefty disability pension from the LAPD, even though he was also pulling down a full salary to work here in Fullerton for the last 12 years.

The story is complete with an internal memo suggesting how unfortunate it would be if the public caught on to the scam. “We might get some unwanted attention if anybody notices that he will still be getting paid 70% of a P-II salary (tax-free) from LAFPP until we’re allowed to get the Board to address it?” says one government employee to another.

Too late. The truth is that the fully disabled Jay Cicinelli should have never been put back on patrol with only one eye, he should never have had the opportunity to pull that disability scam, and he definitely shouldn’t have been around to beat an innocent homeless man to death.

We won’t let you forget that Fullerton has Pat McKinley to thank for that chain of events.

I hired that guy.

Of course McKinley is still boldly maintaining he made all the right choices; that he’s being unfairly attacked for his well-tuned judge of character, his brilliant plan to stock Fullerton with LAPD rejects and his 17 years of coddling criminal behavior in what would become one of the world’s most renowned local police forces.

At least there’s something to be said for his persistence.

How About a Debate?

The following is an open letter from Chris Thompson of the Fullerton Recall to Larry Bennett, the Chairman of Protect Fullerton – Recall No (the anti-recall campaign). It was emailed directly to Larry a few moments ago.

Dear Larry Bennett,

As one of the supporters of the Fullerton Recall, I would like to publicly invite the leaders of the anti-recall committee known as Protect Fullerton – Recall No to debate the issues of this campaign. We believe that the public would benefit tremendously from your organization answering our questions publicly and openly and by the leaders of the Fullerton Recall answering yours. We are utterly open to any venue, format, time or circumstance as long as a public vetting of ideas, issues and values is the goal. Our preference would be to include the three council members involved, but we are willing to debate only the anti-recall supporters and leaders. In the hope of encouraging your participation, we are willing to call for recall supporters to stand down and even disallow protests and signage if the law allows. In fact, if it is your preference, a forum could be held in a closed environment so long as both sides are allowed to video the event in its entirety. We are willing to discuss format, rules and participants and are likely to defer to your wishes as long as the forum allows for bringing our assertions and yours into the light of day.

We have made many assertions about Pat McKinley, Don Bankhead and Dick Jones’ failure to lead. You have answered with many claims of self-interest and political axe-grinding by recall supporters. I think one thing that you and I can and will agree on is that the truth of these claims are very important to the Fullerton community.

Simply stated, if Tony Bushala is pursuing this recall for the sake of his own business interests at the expense of the taxpayers, it absolutely serves the voters of Fullerton to be educated on this reality. In fact, if I become convinced of this, I will cease to be a political ally of Tony’s. In turn, if McKinley, Bankhead and Jones have placed the protection of… and interests of public employee unions and their supporters ahead of the interests of the voters, this should be brought to light.

If right and truth are on your side, I can see little downside to this proposal for your campaign. I know that you have my number and email Larry. I look forward to hearing from you.


Chris Thompson, Representative
The Fullerton Recall

A Real Cast of Characters

Here’s the entire episode of today’s Inside OC show; it’s a full blown battle of wits on why the recallees deserve to be thrown out of office in the wake of their catastrophic failure to lead.

In it you will find a furious debate between Chris Thompson and the anti-recall team’s Chief Distraction Officer, Larry Bennett, along with Bruce Whitaker’s accusation of an FPD cover-up in the aftermath of the Kelly Thomas murder.

Finally, the show closes with a sad, sad interview with Pat McKinley, who claims he still doesn’t understand the accusations against him and his police department, although he does summon enough mental clarity to remind us that Officer Manny Ramos’ criminal defense attorney is very highly regarded.

That Paid Leave Keeps Adding Up

Update: Added one “Officer N” who was accidentally left out of the FPD report, bringing the total to 9 officers.

These days there are quite a few Fullerton cops getting paid to surf the couch and watch CHiPs reruns while the rest of the crew are picking up extra overtime to cover their shifts. That pays out at time-and-a-half.

I could get used to this.

In the last two months, there were NINE Fullerton police officers chilling out on paid leave while their conduct is supposedly being investigated.

A Little Bit About Chief Sellers

Here’s a re-post of a story that Travis did in March 2010 on now AWOL Chief Sellers. It seems that Sellers was pretty good at slingin’ the ol’community policing lingo and didn’t seem like the sort of guy that would cultivate a corrupt, out of control goon squad.

What neither Travis nor any of us knew was that Sellers was doing very little to impress this philosophy onto the crew of thugs, misfits, whackjobs, and pickpockets he inherited from Pat McPension. Unfortunately for us, Chief McPension had cultivated quite a nasty little garden over his 17 year command.

But let’s not shed any misplaced tears for Sellers. Even tho’ McPension left him a considerable criminal element, he appears to have done nothing to weed out the noxious blooms in the FPD flower bed during his abortive, two-year stint as Chief.

– Joe Sipowicz

Last week Sharon Quirk-Silva invited me to join her public chat with Fullerton Police Chief Michael Sellers at the Fullerton Museum Center. Chief Sellers answered a variety of questions from Fullerton’s usual cluster of civic participants. Some were there to ask legitimate questions, while others used the open Q&A format to primarily talk about themselves under the guise of asking a question (the excessive use of the perpendicular pronoun reveals the intentions of the self-important).

The most vacuous question of the night came from school board candidate Aaruni Thakur, who was interested in the number of Baker to Vegas trophies displayed in the lobby of the police department. While some of us at FFFF would never question the opportunity to make a mockery of the ‘ol dog and pony show, it struck me as a missed opportunity for the untested school board candidate who should have been impressing us with his civic insight.

So on to Chief Sellers. He gave most of the answers that one would expect, citing crime statistics elaborating on existing department policies. Nothing surprising or terribly revealing.

But here’s what struck me: I listened to the Chief of Police for an hour and a half, and not once did I catch a hint of the authoritarianism that tends to seep out of career law enforcement bureaucrats. He never implied that he “knew what’s best for the people”. His responses to controversial questions on marijuana dispensaries and homeless disturbances were telling – Sellers said he can only enforce the laws that the People enact, regardless of his personal feelings on the issues.

Sellers came across as genuinely amiable to policing methods that seek to reduce crime through community interaction, rather than relying purely on brute-force suppression and mindless “law and order” approaches that alienate law enforcement agencies from the people whom they are supposed to serve. Officers are encouraged to build relationships and find long-term solutions to crime problems, rather than just cycle junkies and gang bangers through our failing prison system.

I left feeling surprisingly satisfied with the police chief appointment that our city council made last year. Hopefully Sellers turns out to be “tough on crime” without being tough on the rest of us.