The Word out of City Hall is that the “Community Development” Director, Matt Foulkes, is hitting the road. All the way to neighboring Buena Park, a city half the size of Fullerton. This is not a lateral move.
Foulkes no doubt saw the proverbial handwriting on the wall and realized the long, long era of incompetence and no accountability in the Fullerton planning process was over.
The last straw may have been his ass-backward proposal to convert a park into a private event center masquerading as a aquaponic farm.
But Foulkes was by no means simply in over his head. He was part of The Fitzgerald and Domer team that deliberately ignored code enforcement downtown and who actually looked the other way when Joe Florentine forged an official city application document. And then there was the documented theft of the “Fullerton Rail District” name for his own secret plan that envisaged stack n’ pack housing to appease his SCAG overlords, and of course, the now-departed lobbyist, Jennifer Fitzgerald.
Maybe the next Director will be somebody capable of explaining things without a long string of jargon, nonsense and outright lies. It seems unlikely, but the Friends can always hope.
Last Tuesday the Fullerton City Council majority finally got sick and tired enough with their hapless City Manager to tell him to take a hike. The votes to oust Ken Domer came from Bruce Whitaker, Nick Dunlap and Fred Jung.
Insiders are suggesting that his temporary replacement will be none other than Police Chief Robert Dunn.
The Council is meeting Tuesday to discuss a replacement appointment.
And when you think about it, the only real question is why it took so long.
By any measurable standards, Ken Domer was not very good at his job. He took too long to address the City’s structural budget deficits, and when he did, his solution was to raise sales taxes – taxes not even aimed at our horrible infrastructure.
Under Domer we saw the deliberate ignoring of noise code violation enforcement and the effort to dilute the relevant codes. We saw the the aiding and abetting of a permit applicant who forged official planning documents. We saw idiotic and unsupervised vanity construction projects. We saw stupid things like the recently killed “aquaponics farm” and the connivance required to begin a Specific Plan without any input from the community or even the City Council.
We saw a string of “consultants” hired out of the blue to perform tasks that Domer and his highly paid staff should have been able to do in their sleep.
Why the underqualified Domer was ever hired in the first place will probably always remain a mystery, except that it makes perfect sense that Jennifer Fitzgerald, our former Mayor-for-hire, wanted someone who would reliably do what she wanted without asking any embarrassing questions.
Along with walking legal catastrophe, Dick Jones, Domer was certainly complicit in the vindictive lawsuit waged by the City against FFFF bloggers, a disastrous strategy that will cost the tax-payers plenty.
But it was the ill-fated and duplicitous Measure S sales tax scam that really iced the cake. It was designed as a rescue for the pay and pensions of Fullerton’s full-time public employees, who, during the pandemic, have continued to enjoy pay and benefits while many of Fullerton’s residents and business were suffering the cruelty of a real world unprotected by the largesse dispensed by government union-friendly politicians.
Well, Domer is gone, but it would be a waste of time and tears to mourn his departure. He is getting a month’s pay and benefits up front worth $25,000. And then he will begetting 9 months’ pay and benefits courtesy of a contract extension granted just two month before last November’s election by Fitzgerald and her council cronies Ahmad Zahra, Jan Flory, and Jesus Silva. That’s another $25,000. Per month. And the bonanza of Domer’s pension spike in Fullerton will be a cost borne by all of us for a long, long time.
The people of Fullerton have been awful good to the Domer family.
An institution, namely our City Council, that has been moribund/and, or corrupt and cowardly for at least 40 years has finally sprouted a few darling buds, raising hopes that our future is no longer simply a matter of waiting for mental and moral entropy to render our city into a puddle of putrification.
Well, what happened? you ask. Last night the City Council pronounced a loud no to bureaucracy- driven nonsense. Let me explain.
Yesterday evening the Council took up the matter, again, of extending an “Exclusive Negotiating Agreement” or ENR, with some guy who wanted to put a non-profit aquaponic farm on the site of our embarrassingly fenced off Union Pacific Park on Truslow Avenue. The biggest trouble (among many) was that this type of venture is thoroughly dependent upon the financial kindness of strangers and can’t possibly sustain itself.
No problem there! said our Planning Director and incoherent word salad shooter, Matt Foulkes. The aquaponic farm shall be surrounded by a fence and a hedge, and a private event center to pay for it all! In true staff fashion a last minute “letter of intent” from an event coordinator was offered up yesterday afternoon to show the marvelous potential of converting a park into a private facility – open now and then to the public – at the convenience of the operator.
Councilman Ahmad Zahra was in fine fettle – drumming up a handful of forlornly ignorant boosters; and his hapless colleague Jesus Silva stammered and stuttered support for this nonsense as well as his limited ability permits. He moved for an extension of the agreement
But then the fun started: several speakers pointed out both the idiocy of making a deal with a single, impecunious guy. Other pointed out the hypocrisy and nonsense of permitting an event facility that has no parking.
Mayor Bruce Whitaker cogently and patiently explained his rationale for offering a substitute motion to end the deal then and there: the park is part of a much larger Specific Plan area being developed (behind closed doors) and it made no sense to pursue piecemeal development with a single individual on the 1.7 acre site.
Councilman Nick Dunlap echoed that idea and observed, kindly, that the aquaponic guy already had 18 months to work something out with nothing to show for it. Like Whitaker he suggested an RFP process to determine ideas for the site.
Finally Councilman Fred Jung unloaded on the hot mess, decrying the City’s inability to address the park over the years and the arrogance of city staff thinking it could determine what was best for “the community.”
In the end Whitaker’s substitute motion carried the day 3-2 with Zahra and Silva trying desperately to defend the honor, competence and integrity of a planning staff that hasn’t got any of those qualities.
Former OC 4th District candidate for Supervisor, Coto Joe Kerr, has decided his latest campaign for Supervisor needed a little more clarity. Maybe this was because his website failed to indicate which of the seats he was going for this time. This announcement identifies his target: the 5th DIstrict.
Late yesterday afternoon the City of Fullerton announced that City Manager Ken Domer is quitting. Observers have noted a growing dissatisfaction by a majority of the council with Domer’s lack of management ability.
The City press release quotes Domer, thus: “I really can’t stay any longer. It used to be so easy to do the things I do, in the way I do them. Now I have to try to answer embarrassing questions all the time. It’s not supposed to work like that.”
Most recently Domer tried to get the council to go along with privatizing the business registration function – a move that would actually cost the City money, and, by relocating an existing employee, maintain the current employee headcount. This item was rejected by the City Council in a 3-2 vote, now a familiar trend.
In the press release, Domer continues: “I will always value my four years in Fullerton. Working with Jennifer Fitzgerald and Jan Flory was so rewarding for me. And I mean that literally. And of course Jesus Quirk Silva and Ahmad Zahra always had my back, and I had theirs.”
In his brief tenure as City Manager Domer will be remembered for unbalanced budgets, a failed sales tax scam, crumbling infrastructure, lack of code enforcement, bending over backward for downtown bar scofflaws, ridiculous vanity construction projects and many other accomplishments. But he may be best remembered for the City’s reckless lawsuit against this very blog, and the incredibly corrupt decision to approve Joe Florentine’s forgery of an official city planning document.
When reached for comment, former councilperson Jennifer Fixgerald noted, “Ken Domer is a real treasure; a pleasure to work with; worth his weight in gold.”
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Pulled from the City of Fullerton’s website, here is the official ballot statement of opposition to the new sales tax proposed by our Mayor-for-hire. Jennifer Fitzgerald. If you think about it the tax proposal is a monumental indictment of the tenure of Fitzgerald and her yes vote, Jan Flory, on the city council. Employee pay raise after pay raise, unbalanced budget after unbalanced budget.
VOTE NO! Ask yourself: Does the City of Fullerton need even more money from me? If this tax passes, every time you make a purchase, you will pay 9% sales tax in Fullerton, the second highest sales tax in Orange County. The ballot measure title is deceitful. This massive tax increase is not dedicated to fix Fullerton streets, which are rated the worst in Orange County by OCTA. Rather, the money would go into the General Fund and could be used for anything. This 1.25% sales tax increase would be permanent. It is general, not specific, meaning the City Council could spend this money on salaries and pension benefits for City Administrators and other City employees. Over the past decade, Fullerton’s failed leadership spent nearly all revenue increases on salaries and pension benefits: Since 2011, sales tax revenue grew by 51%, property tax revenues increased 52%. Between 2015-16, Council majority approved $19.5 million in pay increases. Since 2011, the Council raised its two largest department budgets 41% and 55%. In 2019 alone, according to Transparent California: 146 City of Fullerton employees received over $200,000 in total compensation, while 51 employees received over 249,000 in total compensation. Fullerton pension recipients collected over $43 million. The City has already increased water rates by a whopping 29% since June 2019, and is scheduled to increase rates again by another 11% next July 1st. The facts are: the City had plenty of money to repair our roads many years ago had it adopted sensible reforms and reasonable, balanced budgets. Fullerton should already have smooth streets and water pipes that do not routinely burst. Vote NO on higher sales taxes!
Anti Measure K activist Tony Bushala has lodged a formal request to OC District Attorney Todd Spitzer to investigate whether Fullerton Joint Union High School personnel illegally campaigned for the March 3rd bond effort.
According to State law, it is impermissible to expend public resources on behalf of an election. It’s a crime. Public agencies do it all the time, of course, and generally do it with impunity. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s flagrant. Yet rarely does anybody challenge the behavior. But Mr. Bushala has. Below is a facsimile of an e-mail he sent to Spitzer today.
FFFF has already noted the school district personnel intimately involved in the K scam, and the idea that no district resources were used in the campaign is laughable. The District has already been caught using graduation tickets to bribe kids into “volunteering” for the campaign. Likewise school fences were used for pro-K banners. It’s easily conceivable that the people listed in the campaign reports used District communication networks and even physical space to try to foist K on the taxpayers.
Well, good luck Tony in your endeavor. You’ve already helped save home owners hundreds of million on the K and J grabs.
By now you Friends are well aware of the flaming crash and burn known as Yes on K – the $300,000,000 Fullerton Joint Union High School bond grab that was hammered at the March 3rd polls. Yes, we know about the scam: the last minute approval, the deceit and flim-flam, the illegal use of public facilities and personnel to foist this bureaucratic-inspired, taxpayer funded joyride on the public.
Maybe the worst offense by the educrats and their pals who worked behind the curtain for Measure K was the way in which the legal campaign reporting requirements were mysteriously dodged – no records of the Yes on K campaign were to be found on either the Secretary of State’s website, or on the Orange County Registrar of Voters’ pages. How come? We’ll never know because those in charge of such things don’t care and know they are shielded by a system that tolerates it.
But that omission spurred a complaint by anti-K activist Tony Bushala, whose complaint produced, finally, an actual record by the Yes On K Committee. Now we finally get to know who funded this dumpster fire, who organized it, and who profited by it.
First, let’s examine the names of the contributors. You’ll notice that there aren’t very many. And please note that there are are no citizens listed. None. Just parasites of the educrational system: architects and engineers, all. People who have been cajoled, sweet talked, coaxed into giving money – lots of money – to the cause.
Something called Ghataode Barron Architects got stuck for an amazing 50 grand. Let’s remember that name, folks. Another happy contributor was pjhm, a lower case sucker looking to make bank on our dime. And there’s an architectural consultant from North Carolina? Really? Our overpaid administrators had to work overtime to find somebody across the country , Little Diversified,that was dumb enough to be shaken down for a lost cause. Obviously, the Newport Beach office didn’t inform corporate about how little $49,900 buys you in Fullerton these days. Finally, let us not overlook PBK, another architectural operation that has gotten greasy-fat off over priced school construction.
Fortunately the campaign filings also reveal some of the educrats who got themselves reimbursed out of petty cash for “phone bank supplies,” whatever that means. Here they are:
Hmm. Will Mynster. Now where have I seen that name before? Oh, right Principle of Troys HS and an architect himself – an architect of illegal use of public school resources and property for campaign purposes. Renee Gates is an Assistant principal in the district. So is Dan Sage. So is Caroline llewellyn. So is Jacqueline Barry. So is Marvin Atkins. So is Marcene Guerro. So is Steve Garcia. So is Belinda Mountjoy. So is Katie Wright. So is Jill Davis. Adam Baily has graduated to full-fledged principal. Todd Butcher is the guy in charge of construction for the district – a guy whose livelihood depends on a flow of cash from these massive bonds. What these six-figure educrats were reimbursed for remains a secret, although one supposes that manning the phone bank as the campaign took on salt water required lots of pizza and red wine. The real point here, of course, is that the whole operation was run by well-paid public employees with a personal interest in the outcome – and no private citizens, at all.
And finally we come to the campaign consultant, who, along with some unnamed bond salesman shares the credit for this fiasco, although we should be thankful for their failure.. The name is Clifford Moss, who charged the District, er, um, the Committee over $30,000 in “fees,” not counting what they raked in as overhead on stuff like crummy mailers and yard signs. Clifford Moss. Hilariously Cliff’ got their ass handed them by a local guy, Tony Bushala, who didn’t cost anybody else anything. And it looks like Clifford Moss’s Laura Crotty, who somehow managed to spend fifty bucks on name tags, won’t be bragging about her 2018 100% campaign win rate anymore.
The Yes on K campaign blew over a hundred grand, outspent the opposition 10 to 1 and still lost in the “Education Community.” For those in the business that might suggest a rough road ahead – almost as bad as Fullerton’s notorious potholes. But the K Committee left almost 90 grand in the locker room, so don’t be surprised Dear Friends if they don’t try to slip this onto a future ballot at the end of some little-advertised board meeting.