Fullerton’s Nuisance Noise and The Ongoing Saga of Incompetence and Corruption. Part 3

Okay. What have we learned so far about Fullerton’s long and corrupt attempt to avoid addressing the problem of amplified outdoor music?

I’m not going to do my job and you can’t make me…

First we have learned that Fullerton’s “experts” in the Planning and Code Enforcement divisions have been serially uninterested in enforcing their own laws in an effort to appease and placate scofflaw bars in the financial sinkhole known as downtown Fullerton.

Second we have learned that you can’t make government bureaucrats do their jobs if they don’t want to do them.

Stop the noise, consarn it!

Way back in 2009 City Hall knew it had a problem on its hands as the metastasizing and illegal clubs began sharing their good times with everybody else. A “consultant” called Bon Terra was engaged to to a noise study and the City Council, at the time, voted to maintain the existing code that prohibited outdoor music.

But saying something and doing something about it reflects a mammoth void in Fullerton, and the bureaucrats in City Hall don’t give up on an issue until one way or another, they get what they want.

Yes, that is the answer!

And in 2012 they got a friend, Jennifer Fitzgerald, who was more than happy to run interference for people who had no qualms about violating the noise and land-use law.

You can take the douche out of the bag…

And so, over the next seven years, the Noise Nuisance continued, most notably at The Slidebar, a club that was illegally operating without a CUP. And even as the nuisance continued, the City embarked on a campaign to eliminate any restrictions at all. Complaints were invariably batted away by Planning Directors Karen Haluza, Ted White, and Matt Foulkes who, along with our egregious City Attorney, Dick Jones kept citing studies and new plans, and whatever else they could use as a pretext for doing nothing.

Matt Foulkes. The downward spiral is complete.

Finally by 2019, it became apparent that the goal was to permit an acoustic free-for-all in downtown Fullerton.

 

Fullerton’s Nuisance Noise and The Ongoing Saga of Incompetence and Corruption. Part 2

Al Zelinka. Failing to the top.

In the past 10 years or so, Fullerton has had four different planning directors: Al Zelinka, Karen Haluza, Ted White, and most recently an individual named Matt Foulkes. Pop quiz: what else do these folks have in common?

Haluza. The closer you looked, the worse it got.

Time’s up. Answer: none of them enforced the city’s noise ordinances, and each seemed to be dedicated to ignoring zoning and land use regulations in downtown Fullerton. We’ll get to the “why” of it in a later post. For now I want to point out the trajectory of this mess. As scofflaws like Jeremy Popoff’s odious Slidebar and the Florentine Mob’s various enterprises refused to comply with our laws, the Planning Directors noted above began an ongoing project to lower and lower the legal bar until even the lowest nematode could wriggle over it.

Ted White didn’t leave his fingerprints…he thinks…

Now if we contemplate this downward spiral of our “experts” in the Planning Department and Code Enforcement we notice that it hit a virtual rock bottom in January 2019 when Matt Foulkes pretended that he didn’t know what a property owner was and approved the submission of an official document forged by Joe Florentine pretending that he, Florentine, was an “owner.”

Matt Foulkes. The downward spiral is complete.

Of course all of this malfeasance was amply documented here on the FFFF blog. And guess what? Nobody in City Hall cared; or to be more precise, nobody cares, still. See, in Fullerton incompetency and blatant corruption are so common on the part of our City Attorney, Dick Jones and the cadre of drunk, venal and just plain dumb City Managers and staff that our threshold for outrage is as low is almost worn away.

But not quite. Stay tuned for noise. And by noise I mean the noise generated by city staff to ignore, dilute, obfuscate and dodge the Noise Ordinances.

Fullerton’s Nuisance Noise and The Ongoing Saga of Incompetence and Corruption. Part 1

Flory in search of the proverbial yard arm.

FFFF has published lots of posts about the way in which our highly paid “experts” in City Hall have made it their business to run interference for the numerous scofflaw bar and “club” owners downtown when it comes to ignoring annoyances like Conditions of Approval and the municipal code’s Noise Ordinance.

In City Hall, doing the right thing just wasn’t gonna happen…

Both topics have been addressed in the same way: if they can, they simply ignore the situation. The blind eye approach has worked most of time. When it hasn’t, Step 2 is invoked. Step 2 is to diligently pursue making the laws laxer, so lax in fact, that the lawbreaking is no longer lawbreaking. This bureaucratic gambit is really nice because the Planning Department Staff can always claim that something is in the works that will address the situation. Of course that’s a lie. What’s really happening is that the department is trying really hard to come up with a legal absolution so low even the lowest douchebag can slither over it.

You can take the douche out of the bag…

At every step of the way, the scofflaws – Jeremy Popoff of Slidebar fame and the Florentine Mob spring most readily to mind – lubricate the gears of Fullerton’s small town political machine who have seemed ever-ready to support the law breaking.

While we here at FFFF have extensively covered the abuse of CUPs and other land use issues, the history of the ongoing issue of nuisance noise traces a perfect trajectory of incompetence or casual corruption, or most likely, of both.

The story spans three city managers, four planning directors and a whole slew of elected ciphers who would rather defend purveyors of nuisance over the right of their constituents to quiet enjoyment of their property.

 

Fullerton Dems to Light $68k on Fire

This Tuesday, at the request of the Fire Heroes Union, the Fullerton City Council will vote (likely 3-2) to light $68,000 dollars on fire to get a bid from the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA).

What’s $68k between friends?

This is a scam and just a waste of your tax dollars.

Don’t believe the fiscal lies being told here, none of the disingenuous liars who will vote for this care about your tax dollars and they’re certainly not going to get rid of Fullerton’s Fire Department to jump to OCFA.

The entire point of this bullshit bid is leverage to justify a raise for the Fire Department. Nothing more, nothing less.

I’ll prove it by using Council’s own agenda from the exact same meeting this coming Tuesday:

When you join OCFA you typically lease all of your equipment to them at no cost and all of your fire facilities for $1/year (as Garden Grove did a few years ago).

To take this bid seriously, you would have to believe that council is SERIOUSLY considering a bid to change to OCFA and is simultaneously spending $1,546,683.30 to buy Fullerton Fire a new ladder truck that they’ll just gift to OCFA to use as they see fit.

If we went to OCFA, it is them and not us who would decide where trucks (apparatus) would be stationed in order to best serve the cities under their jurisdiction. Thus it makes zero sense for Fullerton to buy a new truck when it might not even stay in Fullerton.

These conflicting agenda items would make no logical sense if this bullshit OCFA bid was serious. But it’s not serious.

This is just the council Dems lighting your tax dollars on fire, well, because screw you, they need to help a union argue for more of your money later during negotiations. Silva, Jung and Zahra refuse to take their role as representatives of the residents seriously any time a union rears it’s ugly head and this is just another gross example.

If the Fire Heroes Union wants this bid so bad they can pay for it their damn selves considering they have no issues spending their own money to try and raise your taxes (Measure S campaigning) or to pick your City Council (campaign contributions).

Your roads suck, your services are getting more expensive and you’re constantly being asked to do more with less by City Hall and City Council. Hell, the City asked you to donate Christmas decorations this last season because they’re so broke.

Domer-Decorations
Hitching to Needles…

But not broke enough to avoid spending $65k of your money to help a union at the negotiating table.

If this bid was serious then the council would be getting bids from LA Fire and Placentia as well as OCFA. That’s how you find out the best services with the most benefits fort he residents at the best price – by shopping around. So of course they don’t want to do any of that.

Later this year when the City is selling everything not nailed down, and a few things that are, remember this moment when these disingenuous liars spent your money on political theater to help out the unions who will always put their interests above your safety.

Zahra Cares As Long As Somebody Else Does the Work for Him

Zahra-Busted
Why is this man smiling?

I get quite a lot of pushback from people around town for picking on District 5 Council member Ahmad Zahra. Leaving out the partisan hacks, the biggest pushback I get is from people who, naively, genuinely believe that he puts in the work and cares about their interests. The single biggest issue of contention from these fine well meaning folk is Fullerton’s water. Constantly we hear about how much Zahra cares about the quality of our water. After all, his caring was the key reason people bemoaned his not being re-appointed to the Orange County Water District (OCWD).

The evidence of his caring most commonly referenced are usually the articles he wrote for the Fullerton Observer on water. Such as HERE and HERE and HERE.

But what if I told you that he only cares so long as somebody else is doing the heavy lifting and/or thinking for him?

The truth is that Ahmad Zahra, like many politicians, wants you to believe that he does the homework because he cares about you, while in reality he’s nothing more than a puppet.

Here are those three Fullerton Observer articles “by” Ahmad Zahra side-by-side with the original counterparts as written by a spokeshole for the OCWD:

Recently said spokeshole retired from OCWD which means you can expect the quality of Zahra’s “writing” to change as well.

Why do I care about this ghostwriting?

First of all it’s because he’s pretending that this is his work as evidenced by the “By Ahmad Zahra” byline over at Press Release Central, the Fullerton Observer.

Second, it’s because it shows who Zahra was really working for while over at OCWD. His job as Fullerton’s Representative at OCWD was to represent Fullerton’s interests – the interests of we residents – but somehow he decided that instead he would represent the interests of OCWD going so far as to pass off their PR as his own ideas and work.

Like most dishonest puppets in government he forgot the very role he promised the people he would do while chasing the gravy that was his $40k+/year stipend from OCWD.

I didn’t expect anything else from this peacocking faux-pontificator but many people around town took him seriously that he was serious and that’s why this matters.

The best defense for Zahra here is that he had somebody rewrite OCWD’s work just enough to not be straight up ghost-writing. Even he knew that he had to make the PR look a little less PR-ey to get passed the “eagle eyes” over at the Observer who only publish City Hall’s propaganda without question.

Perhaps one of the saddest things is people actually believe that Zahra isn’t your typical politician because he checked all the right boxes and said all the right things. He claims he is so different and he really cares, but at the end of the day, he’s just as much the same bought and paid for crony who needs a PR rep to write his own words for him.

Whitaker Re-elected to OC Water Board

This is water…

 

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.

Zahra-Busted
Why is this man smiling?

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!

Too much scotch, not enough 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.

 

 

Ahmad Zahra Recall Clears First Hurdle

The recall against Fullerton City Council member Ahmad Zahra has cleared the first hurdle and the required number of signatures on the “Notice of Intention” have been verified by the Fullerton City Clerk.

Zahra Recall Verification 3

The reasons for recalling Zahra, for those new to the story, are that he lied to his constituents and that he’s charged with vandalism and battery against a woman. From the copy of the Notice of Intention I was sent:

Zahra Recall NOI as Approved
sounds serious…

Soon the question of removing Zahra from office will head to the voters of Fullerton’s District 5. Ultimately they will decide if a man accused of battery against a women should be allowed to continue to serve on Fullerton’s City Council.

Until then our council needs to decide if he should be allowed to represent Fullerton on boards and commissions going forward. Do we want him as our public face right now in light of his pending criminal charges? Or should we look to public servants to have honesty, integrity and to stand up for what’s right?

I’ll leave that for Zahra to answer:

Zahra IBelieveHer
follow the bouncing ethics…

It’s only fair to expect Fullerton City Council man Jesus Silva, his wife and our Assembly representative Sharon Quirk-Silva as well as the rest of the OC Democrats to #BelieveHer in the case of Zahra’s battery charge against a woman of color. It’s what they told us they stand for after all…

SQS Ford Irony
But just her?

There are a few more procedural hurdles before the fine folks of District 5 can sign the official recall petition to force an election to remove Zahra from office.

We’ll keep you posted as to the ongoing progress of this recall effort to save District 5 from the machinations of their current self-serving wannabe politician.

The Cost of The Florentine Sidewalk Scam

Gone, but not quite forgotten…

Of course everybody is now familiar with how, in 2003, the Florentine Mob successfully put a permanent building on an area that only had an “outside dining” encroachment agreement. The details of the case reveal an incompetence and misfeasance on the part of city staff that is truly mind-numbing, the principle party being F. Paul Dudley, Planning Director, who “approved” the illegal permanent structure as it was being built in June, 2003. He also  seems to have personally approved a loan to the Florentine crew, and rental terms on the space that weren’t approved by the City Council.

dick-jones
Staying awake long enough to break the law…

Of course it wouldn’t be Fullerton unless our legal-eagle Dick Jones also played a part in the fiasco, and in the inevitable cover-up. He actually put his signature on a completely different agreement in August, 2003 – two months after Dudley did his sleazy back-room deal. How’s that for staggering incompetence?

The gun was smoking badly…

Note that “for some reason” the agreement was not formally executed until August. For some reason? Jesus H., Jones, did you even bother to ask why you signed something that was obsolete, or why in Hell you were signing it?

So the embarrassing enclosure was allowed to continue in July, 2003 even though the furor continued for months, and the deal was finally buried in 2004 whereby the parties involved, Shawn Nelson, Don Bankhead, Dick Jones, Mike Clesceri and Leland Wilson surely hoped it was forever interred.

Well, now it’s 2020. The legal party responsible to remove and restore the encroachment area has fled the scene, and the embarrassment of the Florentine addition that squats on public property, remains.

The owner of the rest of the building, Mr. Mario Marivic is apparently embroiled in a legal fight with the FloMob, and good luck to him. But good luck to us, too. Because we, the citizens of Fullerton, have an unowned room addition on our right-of-way, and the people on the hook for its possible removal are gone. Mr. Marovic is under no obligation to remove the structure, and he is not even under any obligation to pay the measly 25 cents per foot that the egregious F. Paul Dudley “negotiated” with the Florentines. The City’s options are limited: it can terminate the encroachment and pay to remove the building addition itself, or it can negotiate a new lease agreement with Marovic, and the sidewalk stays as is. Either way, the public loses.

So this Ghost of Incompetence Past continues to haunt us almost 20 years after the con was consummated. Mr. Dudley has been six-figure pensioned, and the inept councilmen who were indifferent to the notion of government accountability are dead or moved on. But Attorney Dick Jones is still around, profiting off of the gullibility, incompetence and militant ignorance of our “leaders.”

OC Register Emphasizes Stunning and Brave Aspect of Battery

Zahra OC Register Battery

Fullerton City Council member Ahmad Zahra has landed in the OC Register for his battery & vandalism charges. While I was busy getting the court records to break this story, the Register has opted to… give you little by way of new details and a lot by way of telling you how stunning and brave and bravely stunning Ahmad Zahra is in their puff piece downplaying the alleged battery.

Looks at this sentence:

Fullerton Councilman Ahmad Zahra faces two misdemeanor charges of vandalism and battery stemming from a September altercation in which he allegedly damaged a woman’s cellphone.

“In which he allegedly damaged a women’s cellphone” isn’t exactly the big takeaway when battery is on the list of charges. This is a suck up piece if ever I read one. Even the sub-head of “Misdemeanor charges stem from a damaged cell phone” downplays the charges.

In the article, and again I quote, “Details of the alleged crimes were not available.”.  You can’t admit you know nothing and then claim with any confidence that you know from where the charges stem.

Cite your sources and give details. Otherwise stop pushing narrative as if it’s news. Saavedra has been around too long to be this sloppy.

But hey at least he managed to give us Zahra’s life story full of as much puffery as is possible in under 250 words.

If the charges are real then none of the petty details of Zahra’s upbringing, life, religion and sexual orientation are relevant to the story.

If the charges aren’t real then, you guessed it, none of that matters either.

You see, his personal backstory isn’t relevant to his pending charges unless he is being targeted because of any one or a collection of the things in said story and there is no evidence or even an accusation that such is the case.

Why Tony Saavedra would spend more words worrying about identitarian nonsense than the charges in question speaks volumes to the usefulness of the OC Register as a reliable news source. Maybe, per Zahra’s not-so-clever barbs at us, they’re “aspiring to be fake news”.

Ahmad Zahra Avoids Transparency, Calls Cops Liars

Zahra-Busted

Jesse La Tour over at the Fullerton Observer saw our post and went and asked Ahmad Zahra for a response to the pending charges against him for battery and vandalism. Check out his response:

When asked for a statement from the Observer, Zahra wrote via e-mail, “I deny each and every allegation and am innocent of the charges. I am confident that the truth will come out and expect to be fully exonerated.”

Notice how he doesn’t bother to actually explain anything or offer any defense. This is a typical strategy for politicians who expect you to forget about something while they wheel and deal to make the charges against them disappear down the memoryhole.

The problem here is that this isn’t a he-said/she-said problem – this is an actual arrest by a Fullerton Police Officer and charges filed by the District Attorney.

For Zahra to be innocent of the charges it means that the arresting officer, one Officer Brayley, falsified a police report and the District Attorney filed false charges.

Zahra’s implied allegations are very serious from a sitting Fullerton City Council member and deserve to be investigated. Do we have rogue officers arresting innocent people in Fullerton? Is our District Attorney filing charges which contradict the truth?

We deserve to know.

In the words of Fullerton City Council member Ahmad Zahra himself, as captured by The Fullerton Rag:

“I want you to know that YOUR City, YOUR Chief and YOUR Police Department are committed to accountability, and transparency, and the highest safety standards.”

Let’s see some accountability. Let’s see some transparency. Let’s make sure our officers aren’t arresting innocent people and smearing members of our city. We call on Fullerton PD to release the body camera footage immediately.