As many Friends now know, the City of Fullerton has decided to move on from bullying language to actually sue FFFF. Here’s a summation from The Voice of OC.
The City has also posted a ponderous press release on its website, written in the high dudgeon of a bureaucrat whom you suspect already realizes that diverting attention from his own bungling by blaming somebody else, may be harder to pull off than he had hoped. Here’s our $230,000 per year City Manager Ken Domer trying desperately to seize some sort of high moral ground:
“The City was forced into taking legal action to protect the privacy of current and former employees and the public, and to ensure compliance with applicable law to include the California Public Records Act,” stated Fullerton City Manager, Ken Domer. “We are working aggressively on behalf of those affected and took immediate actions to put in place a more secure information technology environment. These actions support our philosophy of transparent access to information while protecting confidential information from the unethical and illegal actions of a few.”
Now I don’t know about you, Friends, but I find the words “unethical” and “illegal” to be pretty funny tumbling out of the mouth of Domer, whose only aim in his short tenure in Fullerton seems to have been to fight a rear-guard action against transparency. Domer’s self-righteous indignation is comical coming from the lackey of serial liars on the City Council – people like Jan Flory who is, and always has been, dangerously allergic to the truth; like Jennifer Fitzgerald who has not yet seen an ethical barrier she couldn’t sidestep; and like Doug “Bud” Chaffee who was complicit in his wife’s phony carpetbagging address and stealing campaign signs she didn’t like.
We need only reflect on the way the City has bent over backwards to cover-up the scandal of Wild Ride Joe Felz to know that what Domer is peddling about is utter bullshit.
And as further proof (if we needed any), let us pause for a moment to consider the following snippet from Domer’s press release:
Based on evidence uncovered in our internal investigation and direction from the City Council, the City Attorney’s Office has now filed a complaint in Superior Court seeking a temporary restraining order against the involved Blog and its contributors.
Say what? Direction from the City Council? When O’ when did that ever occur? The issue of whether or not to take FFFF to court has never been publicly agendized and never voted on by the City Council. The subject has never been discussed by our marble-mouthed City Attorney, Dick Jones reporting out of Closed Session.
Domer says he has a “philosophy” of transparent access to information. His actions give us a crystal-clear view of what that philosophy really is: stall, hide, deceive, misrepresent, and ass-cover.
I watched this little gem of a clip from Bill Maher’s cable show last night. Bill rails against the added cost laden on to stuff simply because people can get away with it it.
In particular Maher notes the exorbitant cost of government projects, namely housing for the homeless and infrastructure where the “soft costs” including the inevitable army of “consultants” and lobbyists drives up the cost to absurdly comical levels. For the cost of building an “affordable” housing unit you could easily buy some homeless dude a condominium.
For those of us paying attention in Fullerton we have seen this in spades:
Five million bucks for a couple of traction elevators at the depot. Two million bucks for some crappy, rickety wood stairs at Hillcrest Park. The better part of a million bucks for a decorative bridge over the muddy ditch known as Brea Creek. Etc, etc., etc. The fact that these vanity efforts were totally unnecessary just adds insult to the injurious price tag.
The fact is that government building projects are grossly over-managed. There are architects and engineers galore; there are construction managers; there are general contractor’s project managers and superintendents coming out of the woodwork. And then there are the government’s “project managers” who manage virtually nothing but have blanketed themselves with warm layers of external “expertise” to insulate themselves against the inevitable sideways momentum of their next disaster.
Meanwhile the politicians who are elected to watch out for our interests are too lazy, ignorant, indifferent, or self-interested to give a damn.
The Voice of OC has a detailed story about how our city council approved giving half a million bucks to something called the Illumination Foundation to acquire and operate a homeless shelter somewhere in Fullerton.
As usual Jennifer Fitzgerald and Jan Flory pretended to care about the fact that the public has not been informed of the location of this place even though they know very well where it is. In the end they went along with their brethren Jesus Silva and Ahmad Zahra and voted 4-0 to commit $500,000 to this philanthropic endeavor (their philanthropy, our money). Bruce Whitaker was missing in action.
Of course Fitzgerald is running for re-election next year in District 1, so we can be certain the proposed property won’t be anywhere near her house, or that of Flory.
The cops always ask us, when we dare to criticize their unlawful, corrupt,or incompetent behavior: who are you going to call when you need help?Sometimes the question evolves into a statement: I hope we’re gonna be there when you need us. Then it always comes across as a thinly veiled bit of extortion on the part of those sworn to uphold “public safety,” and are taking public money (lots of it) to do so. I’m reminded of the mob shakedown racketeer: jeez, it will be a real shame if something is happening to youse guy’s nice bisness.
But enough small talk. FFFF received correspondence today from a Fullerton resident who believes he recently made a big mistake calling the FPD instead of just relying on the kindness of strangers.
Here is the story in his very own words – as addressed to the Police Chief, the City Council and the District Attorney.
Date: Sunday, September 29, 2019
To: Fullerton Police Chief, City Council Members, Orange County District Attorneys Office
From: Toby R Oliver, Fullerton resident
A call by me to the Fullerton Police Department last night for help in finding a mother and two-year old son has exploded into at hellish nightmare after FPD Sergeants decided to arrest said mother for doing nothing more than getting lost.
My wife and mother of our three sons, Pranee Sribunruang, now sits in the Santa Ana Jail on $100,000 bail, charged with felony child endangerment because two Fullerton Police Sergeants decided it was their duty to put her there after she went for a walk, got lost and took several hours to make it back home.
FPD Sergeants Brandon Clyde and Emmanuel Pulido pitched a mission of help and concern when I met them out front of our home last night, pulling out all the stops to help find Pranee and our two-year-old son Leo. Then just as the Sheriff’s Department blood hound was about to be given her scent, Pranee stepped out of a vehicle that had pulled up, driven by a good semaritan who found her and Leo at a gas station and brought them home.
This is when it all changed.
Immediately, Pranee was someone who had done something wrong. Forcing her to sit on the curb, out came a thosand questions from the officers. Where did you go? What were you doing? Who were you with? “What do you mean you wanted to walk to Norwalk, you can’t walk to Norwalk,” Sergeant Pulido spewed. I tried to step in, and the officers pulled me away, saying this and that about needing to talk to her separately. One of the junior officers brought me aside and tried to calm me down, “We just want to help her, find out what’s going on,” he said. “Go inside and I’ll call you out in a minute.”
I waited a few minutes, went back outside and Pranee was gone. I asked where she was. “She is being arrested,” they said. “For what,” I replied, “which car is she in?” They wouldn’t tell me, and they wouldn’t tell me what she was being charged with. “You’ll find out Tuesday,” one of them said. Then I saw her head up against the back side window of one of the patrol cars. I went toward her, grabbed at the window and said “babe.” I didn’t know what to say. It had all gone horribly wrong, so quick. And I was responsible because I had called the FPD for their help.
Before I could do anything else, one of the officers jumped in the car and tore off down the street, leaving me there looking after her. I still didn’t really understand what was happening. This was supposed to be about finding Pranee and Leo. Now they were taking her away before I could even hug her.
Pranee is the kindest person I know. Her life is about showing kindess to others. Everyone she meets falls in love with her and her kind spirit. She had never been arrested before. She never even had a speeding ticket. No misdemeanors, no arguments with anyone (except me, her husband), and certainly never any child neglect or endangerment. The only way you knew she was mad at you was when she didn’t speak to you. Now she sits in the Santa Ana County Jail thanks to Sergeants Pulido and Clyde, and our family is torn apart.
The officers asked me earlier in the night, “has she ever threatened to harm herself or her son.” No I said emphatically. Her and I have had our issues, as most couples do. And she has experienced some depression recently, and we are working on this and trying to seek some mental health treatment. All this I told the officers, but sergeants Clyde and Pulido took this to mean something very different.
There was no harm to my son Leo. There was no endangerment, unless walking on the sidewalk at night is felony endangerment in today’s Southern California. Clyde and Pulido just didn’t like her explanation that she wanted to walk to Norwalk to see a friend and trade jewelry. I had explained to them that I had her only debit card because I had misplaced mine the day before, or, she told the officers, she would have taken Uber. Her phone had no service, so she couldn’t call us. It just didn’t add up for Clyde and Pulido so they decided “she met the criteria” and ripped apart our family, just at the moment we were reunited.
Now, I realize the worse thing I did that night was to call FPD, because in the end she made it home on her own – even though we were all very worried – and we would all be home together tonight enjoying each other. Instead FPD has torn our family apart, and we are lost. Never will I seek the aide of FPD again.
And one last thing, I don’t blame Clyde and Pulido as much as I blame the FPD. Where would they get this attitude, this aggressive nature? Where would they get the idea that somebody needed to go to jail in this situation. This is training that comes from the top, and that is your real problem Police Chief and City Councilmembers. Something very rotten is at the heart of your police department, and you need to do something about it.
Toby R Oliver
Now of course this is only Mr. Oliver’s story, but as stories go, it seems to have a degree of verisimilitude. The City will have its own version of the tale, no doubt, even if we are never allowed to see it.
Please note Mr. Oliver’s two conclusions: namely, that it would have been far better for him to have never called the Fullerton Police Department at all; and that there must be an ingrained culture of aggression and inhumanity in the department. As to the first conclusion, I leave that for others to determine. As to the second issue, those of us watching the FPD and the way it operates, have long ago detected a wide vein of callousness that accompanied the criminal and abusive behavior by its employees.
So what will come of all this except embarrassment for his family and big legal bills for Mr. Oliver? He won’t get any satisfaction from his communicants, that’s for sure, or even an apology. No, for the FPD admits of no error as its careening incompetence smashes across the lives of the people who have had the misfortune to be in their way.
California’s Brown Act specifically enumerates when public agencies can meet in secret (Closed Session, they call it) away from the prying eyes of the nuisancy public that pays for the whole show. One of these exempt categories is “litigation,” in which secrecy is deemed to be okie-dokie. The problem is that government agencies, when given an inch will invariably take a mile.
But when you fail to specifically constrain the arm of government, they will invariably flex those muscles. And so it is that “litigation” has come to includeanticipated litigation which, of course, could cover just about anything, anywhere, at any time. And that label seems to give the City of Fullerton reason to believe it can omit the names of anticipated litigants. The anticipated litigants must, necessarily remain in the dark about what the government is about to do to them, while the government, for its part, gets a jump on its adversary. Of course this isn’t right, but what do rights have to do with the City of Fullerton government?
Let’s first take a look at the City’s Closed Session agenda for September 17:
Notice the final two items have been draped in the magical shroud of “anticipated litigation.” We may wonder what the Big Mystery is. Rumors are circulating that at least one of the the items in question is the City’s desire to sue humble little us, Friends for Fullerton’s Future, and that the council has voted to do so.Could that really be true? FFFF, of course, would be the last to know. But the City Attorney made no mention of such doings while “reporting out,” from the Closed Session. If they’re true, what are we to make of the rumors?
The City has already sent a couple of laughable nastigrams in our direction, both of which were duly ignored, so litigation is plausible, but only if the City initiates it. This means that it is the City instigating, not reacting to likely litigation, and begs the question of why this issue would not be a matter for public discourse. And it also suggests that it is the city manager and his bumbling lawyers who will have advocated this harassment to cover up their own corruption they didn’t want exposed.
Well, I’m sure that covering up its clownish behavior is the last thing the esteemed council, upright city manager and brilliant city lawyers would ever do, so it seems pretty certain everything will be made clear. One way or another.
First we get to hear the obligatory boohoo tale from our imbecile mayor, Jesus Silva about how a cop with a growing family just can’t afford to live with the paltry crumbs doled out by the taxpayers of Fullerton.
Then we get to hear from our $230,000 a year City Manager, Ken Domer, as he focuses his keen, analytical mind on the issue:
“We’re about 18th in pay, but we’re also the sixth largest city in Orange County. So our pay is clearly not where it should be,” Domer said.
Notice how this dull blade conflates city population with deserved cop pay? This is just insulting. Is he that stupid or just have that low opinion of our intelligence? And notice the language: “clearly not where it should be” as if perhaps his moronic formula is actually validated somewhere by a scale he just made up. No, Domer, what’s not where it should be is the monster salary we pay you not to be stupid – or at least not to say stupid things that end up in the media.
If anybody cares, the vote was 4-1 with Bruce Whitaker voting no. The rest, of course, went along for the ride, even though the City’s finances are so precarious Silva is promising a new tax on the ballot next year. And no doubt the cop union that is more interested in keeping dues paying members than in the well-being of our city will be backing it big time.
And as our decrepit roads and infrastructure deteriorate ever farther, they will be used by the cops and the bureaucrats to leverage more revenue from us. Revenue that will go right back into employee compensation for the people who brought us the bad roads in the first place, and who have cultivated and protected the FPD Culture of Corruption.
Folks here at FFFF have been prognosticating a new tax for several years. Even as councilcreatures Jennifer Fitzgerald and Jan Flory lied to the public by telling them the budget was balanced, we’ve been watching the strategic reserve fund dwindle away to almost nothing, leveling off last year only because so many positions were vacant.
The fact is that ever-escalating “public safety” pay and benefits, and a ruinous CalPERS pension debt have created what budget bean counters call a structural deficit; meaning, that the annual red-ink baths are a permanent condition that you can’t weasel your way out of selling marginal city-owned properties.
And so the harsh and inescapable reality has finally come home, like a wayward vulture, to roost. And harsh realities always trump the happy lies of politicians. It’s just a matter of time.
And that is why so many people have begun to hear stories that Councilcreature Jesus “Don’t Call Me Jeesis” Silva is sending up the trial balloon of a sales tax on the November 2020 general election ballot. The choice of that date is cynical since the General Election is will produce an electorate much more sympathetic to tax and spend policies of liberals like Silva, Ahmad Zahra, Flory and of course Fitzgerald. The seeds will be officially sown during the 2020-21 budget kabuki next spring. I am giving huge odds.
It’s going to happen. Zahra and Silva are not up for re-election so they must figure they’re safe; Flory is the lamest of lame ducks, a flightless bird, in fact, and thoughtful Friends have already suggested that she was put back on the council precisely for an automatic yes vote on a new tax. After all Flory’s first love has always been public emplyees.
And this leaves Fitzgerald, an erstwhile Republican free to oppose the vote putting the tax on the ballot in order to unburden herself of running for re-election with the tax monkey on her back – exactly where it belongs.
The pieces are now pretty much in place. The only question is how much the FPD Culture of Corruption and their buddies lounging in the “firehouse” are willing to invest in their shakedown.
If someone takes the time to review the history of Fullerton over the past forty years, one thing becomes shockingly clear: when it comes to building things, maintaining things and planning for things, the City government just can’t do much of anything right. And yet over this long history, the City and the public seem to have the shortest of memories.
For the denizens of City Hall, the fact that the jalopy has no rear view mirror makes perfect sense. After all, if you’re pulling down well over a hundred Gs, with a trampoline retirement coming your way, why spoil things with strange notions like accountability and responsibility? It’s so much easier to pretend nothing bad has happened.
The people who live here on the other hand, have no such incentive; quite the reverse, in fact. So how come constant repetition of the disastrous lessons from the past are tolerated? Is it easier to just ignore the millions upon millions wasted in foolish vanity projects, make-work comedies, and deteriorating infrastructure? Maybe.
But I hope that by continuing the drumbeat started on this brave blog 11 years ago, sooner or later the populace will wake up to the ineptitude and dissimulation by its highly paid, and so far untouchable masters of disaster.
And so join me Friends as I take you on trip down memory lane, Fullerton style.
Today almost nobody remembers the comical City endeavor to transform Harbor Boulevard in the early 80s by removing on-street parking, adding medians, spike-laden, pod-dropping floss silk trees, and bizarre concrete peristyles along the sidewalks. Comical, did I say? It would have been funny except that it doomed the businesses along Harbor to slow entropy. The ridiculous peristyles were soon removed but the rest of the mess lasted for decades and many of the hideous trees and broken sidewalks are still there as a reminder that the City is perfectly willing to waste millions on hare-brained, concept-of-the-day tomfoolery that gives them something to do.
The Allen Hotel, was Fullerton’s first foray into “affordable” housing back in the late 80s. It was a slum, alright and thirty years after the City’s bungling acquisition, the site is just begging for more “redevelopment.” Will it get it?
The CSUF Stadium & Fundraising Fiasco of 1990 ought to give plenty of pause to those contemplating Big Projects with public money. The brainchild of slimy City Councilman and later slimy State Senator, Dick Ackerman, the idea was to build a permanent home for the CSUF football team. Only trouble was that the $15,000,000 stadium was completed the same year the plug was pulled on a dismal gridiron program. In typical fashion, the City invested in a fundraising plan in which a company was hired at a cost of several hundred thou to raise money, and didn’t. Oops!
The horror story “Knowlwood Corner” is a veritable textbook case of government bureaucratic misfeasance, from start to finish. The story started in the early 90s and dragged on for years and years; when the signature building was finally built, the missing second floor became a perfect symbol for this misadventure. From stupid economic micromanagement to horrible architecture, this one touched all the bases – and it took seven years to do so.
The Bank of Italy Building was another disaster from the early 90s, but one that actually gutted an historic building. Millions in public money were wasted to pay for something that never should have been undertaken in the first place.
The North Platform remodel of 1992-93 proved that no matter how bungled things were in Fullerton, it could always get worse. A landscape architect was hired to place as many impediments between passengers and trains as was humanly possible. Some of the citizens got wise, and half the crap was ripped out. Heads rolled in City Hall. Oh, wait, no they didn’t.
Few folks now remember the Fairway Toyota dealership expansion fiasco from the mid-90s that required threatening an old lady with eminent domain and then closing off Elm Avenue forever. The City’s investment disappeared like an early summer morning’s dew when the dealership took off for Anaheim a few years later. After years of housing a used car dealership, the City permitted the development of another massive cliff dwelling along Harbor Boulevard. The losses were never accounted for but at least the neighbors got a nice view and early shade.
Fullerton’s Corporate Yard expansion was a mid-nineties project that left the City gasping for air. Despite hiring an outside construction manager and paying him a couple hundred grand, the project dissolved into a litigation mess that only escaped public embarrassment because nobody on the City Council gave a damn. Settlement details vanished into the haze.
The so-called Poison Park on Truslow Avenue may set the standard for Fullerton incompetence, although admittedly, the competition is fierce. In the late 90s, the City had Redevelopment money to burn and just couldn’t wait to do so. So they bought a piece of industrial property and built a park that nobody outside City Hall wanted. Cost? $3,000,000. Of course the site attracted gang members and drug dealers as predicted. Worse still, the land was contaminated and the “park” fenced off. It’s been like that for almost 15 years. And Counting.
No story of Fullerton calamities would be complete without once again sharing the tale of the Florentine Sidewalk Hijacking, in which a permit for “outside dining” was transformed one day by the Florentine Mob into a permanent building blocking half a public sidewalk. The Big City Planner, Paul Dudley, said everything was peachy. He was lying, of course, but did anybody really care?
Some people might conclude that the majority of Fullerton’s disasters can be laid at the feet of the Redevelopment Agency (really just the City Council) and well-pensioned, inept managers like Terry Galvin and Gary Chaplusky. When they weren’t slapping brick veneer on anything that didn’t move, they were screwing everything else up, too. But when we regard the history of Laguna Lake we enter into the realm of Fullerton’s Parks and Engineering mamalukes. After spending a small fortune on renovating the lake, the thing leaked like a sieve. Hundreds of millions of premium MWD gallons were pumped into the thing to keep it full. The public and council were left in the dark, even as citizens were told to conserve water in their homes. Did anyone in charge give a damn? Did anyone ask how much money and water were squandered over the years? Of course not. This is Fullerton. We could ask Engineering Director Don Hoppe for details, except that he is now comfortably retired and pulling down a massive pension.
Our professional planners, have been knee deep in Fullerton’s morass. Over-development (see example, above) has been fostered and nowhere was this better seen than in the Core and Corridors Specific Plan. This idiotic plan wasted a million bucks of State money without a backward glance after the whole thing was finally dumped on the QT – too stupid even for Fullerton. Did anybody ask for their money back? Nope. And yet a link to a blank web page titled Core and Corridors still exists! Hope springs eternal.
The 2000s proved that nobody in City Hall or out, was learning anything, even after the expensive failures of the 90s. The “West Harbor Improvement” project in 2009, was an endeavor so unnecessary that it could only be proposed in Fullerton, where government “place making” has never succeeded. The alley is a barf zone behind a bunch of bars that only needs hosing down every Sunday morning.
This litany of disasters, follies and debacles brings us to the Pinewood Stairs at Hillcrest Park which put on display the incompetence of the designer, the city staff, the construction manager, and a contractor who couldn’t build a sand box to code. Wasting $1.6 million is bad enough; permitting the code violations and construction deficiencies go unfixed is even worse. Barely two years old, the ramshackle structure moves more than the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
And over all these years Fullerton’s “leaders have neglected our aging infrastructure and permitted zone changes allowing for massive new development that has lined the pockets of developers and political campaign coffers, and left the rest of us with even more traffic and more burden on our roads and pipes.
Friends for Fullerton’s Future just received a disturbing story accompanied by a photograph that seems to encapsulate the Downtown Fullerton experience:
Hey, FFFF, I wanted to send along a story about what happened to me a few weeks ago. About 2 am a friend and I were walking along the north side of Commonwealth. Across the street we could see some kind of free-for-all going on. Then the crowd ran off leaving two people lying on the ground. By the time we crossed over to see what the damage was, the Fullerton police had arrived. The two people, a guy and a woman, were bloodied and obviously beaten. One of the cops saw me observing the scene and asked if I wanted to be arrested.
Rather than provide information about what we had seen, we decided to move on. But before we left I turned around and took this picture showing the woman pleading with four cops who appeared indifferent to whatever physical abuse she had suffered.
Yes, Friend, it is sad. Our “leaders” have created, nurtured, and encouraged a culture of mayhem where sometimes it’s hard to tell the victim from the perpetrator and where the cops are seemingly anesthetized to the weekly blood bath.
For every problem that isn’t a nail, there’s a moron ready to swing a hammer.
20 Days ago FFFF got another threatening letter from the City that said if we don’t stop reporting news and telling the public the truth about what’s actually happening in their town, apparently there will be consequences.