College Town – Still Not Ready for Prime Time

 

An appropriate mascot

It’s back! Thanks to our tireless activist Joshua Ferguson, who snapped this picture up during a recent visit to City Hall this morning:


College Town originally came up before the Planning Commission on February 10, 2016.  Opposition was so strong to the plan the opposition’s “Our Town Not College Town” signs started springing up faster than mushrooms and the Planning Commission meeting was packed with angry residents opposed to the proposal (full disclosure: I played a significant part in organizing the opposition to that plan). In the end, five members of the Planning Commission agreed that adding 10,000 residents while diverting even more traffic to Chapman by closing a portion of Nutwood was a ridiculously ill conceived the idea and the proposal was tabled.

So what is the new and presumably improved plan for College Town? Your guess is as good as mine, but the early picture isn’t encouraging.

See that website on the picture? The one that says www.collegetownfullerton.com? Go ahead and click the link. Here’s a screen capture of what you found when you checked as of todays’ date:

All of your Nutwoods are belonging to us

According to Google’s English/ Japanese translator the phrase above translates to “Chat lady’s job contents and rewards.” Your guess is as good as mine what that actually means, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean “so tell us what you think about College Town.”

So how did this happen? Apparently, the City registered collegetownfullerton.com back in 2011, but they apparently allowed the domain name to lapse, allowing Chat lady here to swoop in an take over the domain around September 15, 2016.

Everybody supports College Town! Pay raises for everyone!!

A little personal anecdote: back in the 2012-2013 timeframe, the City complied with the notice requirement by sending out notice for around a dozen meetings with a smaller number of invitees (just 2 or so blocks at a time would be notified of each meeting) rather than inviting everyone in the affected area to one single meeting. The “informational” meetings would then be set up in the Chapman Park clubhouse, and they would set up for a full house, even though only a few people would actually show up, which the City used to create the impression that opposition to the concept was non-existent.

As infuriating as that strategy was, I had to at least admire its ingenuity. Personally I would have preferred that the City and Cal State Fullerton actually listened to residents before trying to shove their little sandwich down our throats a second time, but it is at least comforting to see that the Ernst Blofeld-level strategist behind the original campaign has been replaced by Dr. Evil. Off to a heck of a start.

Behind the Bullshit Goes Bye-Bye

We’re great guys. Or else…

Of all the money that former City Manager Wild Ride Joe Felz wasted during his shaky tenure, nothing was quite as egregious as the annual fifty grand Stumblejoe blew on Behind the Badge, a silly, pointless PR outlet that passed along empty feel-good tales involving Fullerton cops. No one knows if anyone even bothered reading this pabulum. The idea of us taxpayers actually forking over this dough in order to be administered unhealthy doses of saccharine PR back at us was bad enough. The fact that this policy decision was made, maintained and mismanaged by a bureaucrat made it worse.

Fortunately, last Tuesday, the City pulled the plug. City staff teed up the item as a cut – unless three councilmembers voted to save it. They didn’t. Here’s the video.

Of course cop supported candidates Bud Chaffee and Jesus Silva thought the whole idea was just peachy. Predictably, Jennifer Fitzgerald seemed to be going along. Bruce Whitaker and Greg Sebourn opposed wasting any more on this crap. Sebourn correctly pointed out that the cop union, having plenty of money to stick its snout in Fullerton politics, can easily afford to promote the good deeds of its membership.

Whatever changed Jennifer Fitzgerald’s mind to drop support for this ridiculous concept that has cost us $200,000 in the past four years remains a mystery, but she suddenly did a 180. Hopefully FFFF had something to do with the sudden shift to fiscal responsibility.

In the end the self-serving BS rhetoric of Chaffee and the feeble gibberish of Silva amounted to nothing and the council unanimously went along with the proposed package of cuts that included Behind the Badge.

Rest assured, Friends, FFFF will be following up with a Public Records Act request to get a copy of the termination notice.

 

Our Police Force Could be Second to None. An Essay

No, seriously. I mean it.

And not like Doug “Bud” Chaffee means it when he says our fire department is “second to none.” The unintentional irony of Chaffee’s words escapes the Hero worshipers. He’s right. Our fire department is second to none because they are all virtually the same. Same standards, same recruiting pool, same ridiculously grand benefits, same sense of unearned entitlement. Response times? The differences are statistically minuscule, statewide.

But back to the cops.

If you were an honest person with a sound work ethic what would you do to work for the absolute best police force in the State of California? Would you work for less money than you could in a department with a worse, or much worse reputation? Maybe not if you really had the sense of excellence that is pretended by all police departments, but that we know to be a pure myth. You are not a parasite, or a racist, or a belligerent fool with a gun and a Taser who is delighted to have a union that will oppose any real investigations into bad behavior, and that has no qualms about possibly bankrupting the city that employs you.

Wouldn’t it be great to have 150 great cops who are interested in serving the public and a lot less inserted in grabbing what they can under the delusion that somehow the taxpayer should be eternally grateful to any thug or idiot with a badge and a pistol and a club?

How can this happen? Not by denying the obvious Culture of Corruption that has become the unfortunate hallmark of our department, and that was vigorously denied by our former Chief, Dan Hughes who spent the final twenty years of his career being nurtured by the culture, and nurturing it in turn. No. We need an outside agent who is rigorously analytical, ethically sound and emotionally confident. Somebody like Joseph McNamara immediately springs to mind. And then you start recruiting decent, empathetic, intelligent human beings – not messed up LAPD castoffs, perverts, kleptomaniacs, self-righteous thieves, lazy sociopaths, paranoid thugs and drug addicts who become liabilities the day they are hired. You institute a culture in which bad behavior will result in termination, not cover up.

In the meantime the lazy, stupid and violent bad cops would be weeded out as quickly as possible under the ridiculous two-tiered justice system known as POBR.

It will take years. Maybe 10 or 15.

The sooner we start, the better.

The Desperation Has Arrived

In case you weren’t already convinced, Tuesday’s study session agenda provides ample evidence that Jennifer Fitzgerald lied when she said Fullerton has a balanced budget.  She also boasted during her campaign that Fullerton, unlike other cities, didn’t have special sales taxes because we manage our finances (better).  Short of widespread cuts citywide, that scenario — city sales taxes — looks to be nearly inevitable in the near future:

While not part of the public budget workshop, the City Council will confer in Closed Session beforehand about the (likely) sale of 15 City-owned parcels across town:

The City never provides more than a parcel number, so I’ve taken the liberty of capturing a screen shot of each parcel from the county’s GIS viewer and added a brief description.

After all, these are public assets.  We deserve to know which parcels of public land City Hall is seeking to dispose of.

 

Hunt Branch Library — parcels 030-290-16 and 030-290-21

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How Fitzcal Irresponsibility Drove Us Over the Cliff

“Hey, it was balanced for a few seconds!” Jennifer Fitzgerald, probably

Now that the City of Fullerton is finally admitting that our budget is not balanced!, contrary to Jennifer Fitzgerald’s campaign claims, this would be a good time to revisit how we got here in the first place.

The City of Fullerton website includes links for the minutes and agenda for the last four years of city council meetings and beyond and can be found here.  You’ll find that on October 20, 2015, Fitzgerald voted for the Memorandum of Agreement with the Fullerton Municipal Employees Federation 1200 (resolution 2015-52), which provided increased costs of $5,595,576 over the next four years, and then voted for the contract at the second reading on November 3, 2015. The resolution passed 3-2.

But that’s not all, not by a long shot.

On November 3, 2015, Fitzgerald voted for the Memorandum of Agreement with the Fullerton Police Officers’ Association – Safety and Dispatcher Units (resolution 2015-59), which provided increased costs of $9,502,904 over the next four years, and then voted for the contract at the second reading on November 17, 2015. The resolution passed 3-2.

Fitzcal responsibility.

On February 16, 2016, Fitzgerald voted for the Memorandum of Agreement with the Fullerton Firefighters’ Association (resolution 2016-16), which provided increased costs to the city of $1,959,821 over the next two years, and then voted for the contract at the second reading on March 1, 2016. The resolution passed 3-2.

On April 5, 2016, Fitzgerald voted for the Memorandum of Agreement with the Fullerton Management Association (resolution 2016-23), which increased costs to the city of $1,175,030 over the next four years, and then voted for the contract at the second reading on April 19, 2016. The resolution passed 3-2.

Also on April 5, and again on April 19, 2016, Fitzgerald voted for a revised resolution providing for raises to confidential non-represented employees (resolution 2016-24), which increased costs to the city of $391,857 over the next four years. The resolution passed 3-2.

And on December 6, 2016, Fitzgerald voted for the Memorandum of Agreement with the Fullerton Police Management Association, which increased costs to the city of $882,492 over the next four years. The resolution passed 3-2. Oh, and if you’re interested, this was the meeting where outgoing councilmember Jan Flory berated Josh Ferguson for having the temerity to claim our budget wasn’t balanced and we were exhausting our reserves (starting at around 1:21:00).

Over the course of her first term in office (the December 6 hearing was a lame duck session), Jennifer Fitzgerald voted for pay increases totaling nineteen million five hundred and seven thousand nine hundred and fifty three dollars ($19,507,953) over a four year span – or almost five million dollars per year. And Fitzgerald’s vote was crucial for the passage of each and every one of these pay increases.

And let’s not forget the numerous “side letters” Fitzgerald approved over the years as well – including one for $500,000 on November 5, 2013, for $450,000 on March 4, 2014, for $60,000 per year on April 15, 2014 (to “adjust” Fullerton Fire Management’s pay to bring it into parity with Brea’s), and for $202,00 on November 14, 2014, plus several other agreements for less than $100,000. Oh, and let’s not also forget the $4.9 million settlement of Ron Thomas’s lawsuit which Fitzgerald also voted to authorize, which will be indirectly paid for by the city through increased insurance premiums for decades to come.

So Jennifer Fitzerald didn’t just mislead voters about our supposedly balanced! budget. – she was one of the architect of our current fiscal mess in the first place.

Behind the Badge: The No-Bid No No and An Email to the Council

I rescued a cat. The beat down on that kid never happened.

FFFF has tracked the obscene waste of taxpayer money – $200,000 so far – on a vacuous, pro-cop PR outlet run by Cornerstone Communication called “Back the Badge.” We have noted a supremely fuzzy contract, approved only by a bureaucrat and managed in the most slip-shod fashion.

On February 2nd, Mr. Travis Kiger sent a communication about it to Mayor Bruce Whitaker. We faithfully reproduce it, here:

Mayor Whitaker,

After reviewing the contract, purchase orders and payments to Cornerstone Communications, along with the communication from the city below, it is clear that the City Manager issued the contract and payments improperly.

City code 2.64.050 and city policy requires a Formal Bid Procedure be followed for awards over $50,000. On 3/28/2013, the City Manager signed a contract with Cornerstone Communications not to exceed $40,000 with no evidence of a Formal Bid Procedure. On 5/20/13, less than 2 months later, the city issued a purchase order extending the contract by 6 months and $23,000. This PO brought the total contract value to $63,000 in the first year. This maneuvering suggests that the City Manager intentionally bypassed the city’s requirement for a formal bid procedure.

This issue is even more alarming considering that City Manager and the Chief of Police had an existing relationship with Bill Rams, the proprietor of Cornerstone Communications, prior to the initial contract issuance.

Additionally, there were $32,000 of payments to Cornerstone Communications from 4/1/14 through 11/1/14 that were made without an active contract or purchase order. This is an egregious error that is further complicated by city management’s pre-existing relationship with the vendor.

There are other problems with this vendor relationship. Purchase orders were issued in excess of the contracted amounts and term without an updated contract. The contract is open ended, vague and does not provide for specific performance. The contract does not require the vendor to deliver performance reporting, nor is there evidence that the vendor provided evidence of effectiveness of deliverables, which is customary in online marketing agreements.

Given the improper nature of the issuance of the contract, which was renewed over four consecutive years without the approval of the City Council, and the sudden departure of the City Manager who oversaw this contract, I strongly believe the council should review the contract and payments to Cornerstone Communications at a public meeting immediately.

Thank you,

Travis Kiger

Email re Cornerstone Communications

Cornerstone Communications Contract and Invoices

Now let’s see what Mr. Whitaker and the City will do with it, if anything.

JPA Business Plan: Prey on sick and dying people

Just watch the video.

“The ambulances will have to wait their turn.”   Did you catch that last part?

Just the opposite will happen if the ambulance component of this JPA proposal goes forward. The ambulances will be going straight for your wallet, and more than ever before.

Yesterday, I talked about the JPA Feasibility Study authored by Citygate Associates LLC that showed little, if any, reason to merge the Fullerton and Brea Fire departments. A separate study on ambulance service was sought from a company named A. P. Triton, LLC.

The ambulance study makes its bias against private ambulance companies known from the very start. They denigrate private companies for making a profit, then propose ways for the JPA to do exactly the same, with rates far beyond what is being charged now.

The consultant spends considerable time salivating over revenue collection potential.

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Behind the Badge – The Gravy Train

No civilians were harmed in the making of this satire…

UPDATE: a keen-eyed friend wrote in to inform us of a couple interesting facts about the City’s “Back the badge” documents. First, the original contract and the first purchase order don’t agree. The PO describes a one-year term while the contract is for only six months. Second there is no PO that covers the period from May to November 2014. The City’s controller should not have been able to write checks without a PO to write checks against, so something is fishy there.

FFFF has already shared with the Friends here some of the more ludicrous aspects of “Back the Badge” a PR outlet for cop departments and unions that we pay for.

The whole shabby deception is so bad we decided to dig a little deeper to see just how the Fullerton taxpayers got hooked into paying for the cops to peddle their propaganda – to us.

Here are the documents we were given.

The documents we received indicate a completely non-transparent, slipshod City-vendor relationship in which deliverables are sketchy, and grossly overvalued.

Danny says you are either ignorant or misinformed!!!

First, it’s important to point out that this relationship was approved in secret by former City Manager Joe Felz in spring 2013, presumably under his spending authority. The City Council may have been informed, but the public most assuredly was not. Even Felz must have been aware of the possible public blowback against this nonsense. And he undoubtedly had the support of council persons Flory, Chaffee and Fitzgerald in trying to keep this gross squandering of public funds out of the public eye.

It is critical to recognize the contract for what it is: a fixed fee arrangement in which the vendor gets his contracted monthly amount regardless of what he actually accomplishes. These sorts of contracts are comparatively rare in government precisely because they are not tied to specific scopes of work. In essence there is no real oversight at all, even if anybody felt like doing it – which they didn’t.

The Blue Crew

If you peruse the invoices you will find all sorts of weird “deliverables” of intangible sort like “PR services,” “OC Register columns,” and “Fullerton News Tribune” just the sorts of things that are impossible to value and make you wonder if the real media was in collusion with Back the Badge. FFFF has already noted how the Yellowing Fullerton Observer has published an article, verbatim, from Back the Badge, here.

Of course some of the contractual items like “traffic/performance reports” yielded no responsive documents in our public records request. Anyway, as I noted it above it hardly matters.

One extra-contractual proposal sent to former Chief Danny “Galahad” Hughes offers 40,000 print copies of “Behind the badge Fullerton magazine” for a mere twenty grand.  Who approved that, and where did these print copies go? That we shall likely never know, as the police PR mechanisms are obviously none of our damn business, even though we are bankroller and target audience.

Before we only had to pay him to make stuff up…

My favorite item in the proposals from Back the Badge is something called “crisis counseling.” This must be a service that is called upon when something really bad occurs and the cops need to polish up that road apple, and quick! So did Back the Badge spring into crisis counseling mode the night their benefactor, Joe Felz, smelling of liquor, drove off Glenwood Avenue, and was given a free pass and a ride home by the Fullerton Police Department?

On December 17, 2016, the City issued a new Purchase Order for more of those valuable Back the Badge services. The invoice cites the brand-new interim Chief but there is no reference to the Acting City Manager since by this time Joe Felz was long gone, the victim of his own reckless behavior. So who authorized the issuance of this new PO? The police chief, whoever he is, has no such spending authority. It seems as if the Culture of Opacity and Unaccountability is humming along on auto pilot.

Well, this is Fullerton and if you want to find out what is going on – well, good luck with that.

 

 

Ready for Another Water Rate Increase?

Probably the biggest vote at tomorrow’s City Council meeting is the Red Oak development . Josh Ferguson has already discussed that issue in his excellent article here so there’s no need for me to pile on (just read it if you haven’t already).

What I do want to do is draw attention to another vote on the City Council. Agenda Item #8 includes the appointment of Fullerton’s representative to the Fullerton Water Board.

This is our current representative.

Now, while Jan Flory has come under a lot of deserved criticism from this blog over the years, and in fact supported three separate water rate increases in a single year while on the City Council, it is only fair to mention that she has been appropriately skeptical on the Poseidon development, which if approved will raise our water rates even further – although it is also only fair to point out that she has recently signaled she would be willing to support the project to maintain her position on the board.

Poseidon Water is a desalination developer that who wants to build a $1 billion desalination plant in Huntington Beach, and wants the Orange County Water District to help guaranty construction of the project AND agree to purchase 56,000 acre feet (eighteen billion gallons) for more money than the County currently pays to import water, for the next fifty years.

How much more? The specific amount has been something of a moving target, but this appears to be the current plan:

(Blue represents what we currently pay to MDW, red, green and purple represent the crony capitalism surtax)

Keep in mind that while (per their own admission) Poseidon is about twice as expensive as MWD water, water purchased from MWD is itself far more expensive than the groundwater which Poseidon would displace, which is, essentially, free, minus the cost associated with pumping and/or replacing the groundwater. Also, Poseidon is angling for a “Take or Pay” contract with OCWD, meaning the ratepayers buy their water first, even if we don’t need it, regardless of whether we have an abundance of free ground water, water in Lake Mead or water we will have to flush to the ocean because our capacity is full.

So who will the Council appoint? Bruce Whitaker (a Poseidon critic) was the City’s appointee from 2013-2014, until he was deposed for voting against the interests of a client of Curt Pringle & Associates, and Doug Chaffee sought the appointment in 2012, so he may seek it again. Flory wants it as well, despite no longer being on the council and no obvious base of support, so it seems to be between Whitaker and Chaffee. With opposition to the Poseidon plant growing at the county level this could be an important vote for the future of this project – and your future water rates.

Rusty Needs You!

In the past FFFF has been critical of Rusty Kennedy and his ridiculous “OC Human Relations” operations that for decades has sucked off of taxpayer revenue to fund it’s feel-good enterprises. Back in 2011 we noted Kennedy’s moral absenteeism here and here when the Fullerton cops killed a helpless homeless man. See, Rusty has always needed the cops to pop up at County budget time and extol his dubious virtues. He and his Old Guard liberal pals were more than happy to paint the Kelly Thomas killing as an issue in which the poor cops just lacked proper training dealing with those troublesome homeless people.

In 2012 Kennedy showed his true colors by canvasing Anaheim’s Ana Drive barrio in the aftermath of the widespread unrest and duplicitously turning over information he collected to the Chief of Police; not long afterwards he was lobbying the City of Anaheim to run a proposed police oversight committee.

In 2011 the County decided to end its “in-house” effort and contract the function of supporting the completely unnecessary Human relations Commission. So what happened? Rusty retired to a six-fugure pension and then got paid allover again as a contractor. That’s how our government works.

Anyway, it appears that now Kennedy’s OC Human Relations is actually going to have to submit a bid to continue its heretofore monopoly on official County good deed doing, and Rusty is soliciting your help.

From: Rusty Kennedy <[email protected]>
Date: January 13, 2017 at 10:46:32 AM PST
To: Rusty Kennedy <[email protected]>
Subject: Urgent Request for BRIEF Letter of Support

Dear Friends

OC Human Relations was created 25 years ago to support programs of the Orange County Human Relations Commission.  As a non-profit organization OC Human Relations has grown into a highly professional organization providing model programs in Police Community Relations, Community Building, Dispute Resolution, Reconciliation, and Diverse Community relations.

Almost 6 years ago the Board of Supervisors eliminated the public staff of the Commission and contracted with our non-profit, OC Human Relations, to provide staff support for the Commission.  We are not applying through the County BidSync system to continue this contract.

We have to submit letters of support with our bid before the end of the month, so time is of the essence.

A simple letter such as below is all that is needed.

Possible Model for Letters of Support for OC Human Relations, feel free to add or modify in any manner you wish, on your letterhead, and e-mail a copy to me: [email protected]

Thank you in advance.

Rusty Kennedy, CEO

OC Human Relations

Date

To Whom It May Concern:

I write on behalf of ­(your organization) to express my support for the good work of OC Human Relations.

We have worked with OC Human Relations for ( # years) on (type of cases, projects we collaborate on).

OC Human Relations is a highly professional organization that we look to for helping on (type of case or project) and plan to continue to do so.

Sincerely,

(your name and title)

(your organization’s name)

Rusty Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer

OC Human Relations | 1300 S. Grand, Bldg B, Santa Ana, CA 92705 | 714.480.6585

www.ochumanrelations.org | Join Our Email List

Having fun at Rusty Kennedy’s expense may be entertaining, but really there is a bigger question: why do the taxpayers have to pay for a function that routinely grandstands over a mere handful of “hate crimes” and that includes in its repertoire mediation between cops and abused citizens – especially when that “service” means turning a blind eye to police brutality, excessive force, and even homicide.