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 bureaucratmade 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.
Next Tuesday’s Council meeting brings us another Budget Show, one more in a line of footling meetings strung out like faux pearls on a cheap necklace. This one is particularly entertaining since it acknowledges a big structural deficit that the suggested cost savings will do almost nothing to correct: “modest” revenue increases are broadly suggested, but apart from some fee increases and one-time sale of “surplus” property nothing meaningful is proposed. Obviously the recommendation for a utility tax or a sales tax increase will be sprung like a rabbit out of the magician’s hat at the last moment.
One entertaining bit of the agenda memo is the inclusion of a small table identifying some of City Manager Allan Roeder’s “loose sofa change,” giving the impression that maybe, just maybe, Mr. Roeder regrets his previous offhand dismissal of a $50,000 per year contract that accomplishes nothing as not worthy of councilmanic attention. Of course I am referring to the ridiculously conceived and suspiciously ill-managed “Behind the Badge” agreement that was improperly contracted by Wild Ride Joe Felz in the first place.
Well, good for Roeder, even though desperate times call for desperate measures And it takes a lot of desperation for a City bureaucrat to even tacitly acknowledge the expendability of a contract. The irony here is thick. It is the exploding pension cost of the Fullerton police Department that is breaking our bank. Even as we pay for the cops to peddle their dopey PR right back at us.
Another black eye for Danny Hughes’ “reformed” police department. It looks like Miguel “Sonny” Siliceo is being tuned up by the DA for submitting a false police report, a report that was subsequently used by the DA to prosecute some downtown bar-hopping schmo.
Unlike 2011, Siliceo’s assertions were apparently belied by data from cop video recorders and the case against Mr. Schmo was dropped – a situation so remarkable for our cops-über-alles DA that the lies of Siliceo must have been stupendously blatant. The complaint is a felony.
Sonny seems to be on leave now so it will be interesting to see how this unfolds. And it makes us wonder how many of the other arrests that Siliceo participated in were on the level.
There is a term for a plea agreement for those drivers who may or may not have been legally impaired when they were pulled over by the cops. It’s charmingly called “dry reckless” and means that the police and the DA aren’t sure they can pin a DUI rap on the driver, and the driver would rather take a big insurance premium hit than take his chances in court.
And that is exactly what is going to happen with Joe Felz, he of the November 9th, 2016 Wild Ride. The DA can’t win a DUI case against Felz because our sterling police department refused to collect any evidence. And Felz will be more than satisfied with making the stigma of “drunk diver” go away, and no mandatory license suspension. Once the DUI part vanishes, the cops will only be on the hook to explain why they didn’t at least give Wild Ride Joe a traffic ticket for his careening out of control (while driving uphill) on Glenwood Avenue. And that’s nothing for a force that has a history of making up stuff on the witness stand.
Video evidence may or may not ultimately be produced, depending on the daily whim of the DA, but it won’t matter since all the relevant charges will have been dismissed, with all the legal niceties observed.
The constant public glorification by the city government of the Fullerton cops who hand out the most DUI citations has become parody worthy: public awards ceremonies at council meetings, plaques, gushing adulation from representatives of MADD. And of course there are the saccharine and witless write-ups in the taxpayer funded cop PR outlet Behind the Badge.
It’s really pretty amusing, all that self-congratulation. But when it comes to the issue of how come the FPD didn’t arrest Joe Felz for DUI in the early morning of November 9, 2016, all we hear are the proverbial crickets from Bill Rams and Lou Ponsi. Instead of arresting Felz, they deliberately refused to collect evidence, drove him home, and tucked him into bed. And that’s not amusing at all. That’s obstruction of justice – a felony – and absolute proof that there are two sets of rules – rules for the cops, and the rules by which they are only too happy to arrest citizens. It’s obvious that this big Fullerton DUI-fest has nothing, or very little to do, really, with public safety
What does it all mean? I think I figured it out. Arresting DUI suspects is comparatively easy. And the results are fun to trot out at council meetings. Since downtown Fullerton has all sorts of bars with lots and lots drunks the game is even easier. But does anybody propose curtailing the culture of booze, barf, and binge? Of course not. Arresting drunk drivers is like shooting fish in a barrel. It’s easy.
It’s profitable to provide the liquor to get the losers get drunk, and it’s profitable for the cops to haul ’em in. Except when it’s one of their own. Or the City Manager.
It’s also an excellent distraction from all the bad news generated by bad behaving Fullerton cops, including, ironically, many who have been publicly honored for their DUI heroics. It sure seems like the celebrations of DUI arrests have risen parallel to the numbers of Fullerton cops identified for their own lawlessness.
Being a good cop is really hard, supposedly. At least that’s what Behind the Badge and all the police apologists keep telling us. So let’s talk about other sorts of crime – apart from the barrel fish, that is.
How many crimes does the FPD halt or reduce? How many crimes does the FPD prevent? Who knows? More easily quantified: how many legitimate crimes (not “resisting arrest,” sorry boys) are actually solved? How come the FPD never publishes such statistics? I am much more interested in a statistical analysis of the FPD’s success in solving crimes than I am in the number of drunks they pull over. But we never ever hear about that. Why not? As we pay out ever greater salaries and benefits to cops whose jobs are getting demonstrably safer,is there any indication that these extravagant increases are getting us anything other than a bigger unfunded pension liability?
The parade of DUI dog and pony shows at council meetings will no doubt continue. Of course the next one will be acutely embarrassing for the cops, and for people like Jennifer Fitzgerald and Doug “Bud” Chaffee – unswerving loyalists of the FPD Culture of Corruption; and embarrassing even for Bruce Whitaker, no friend of bad cops, but who seemingly lacks the courage to confront the issue of the taxpayer funded Behind the Badge, as it peddles its bullshit in the face of embarrassing reality.
One of our fine stable of anonymous sources has informed us that former Fullerton star DUI cop Timothy Gibertwas on the scene of former City Manager Joe Felz’s Wild Ride. Since the event in question has been deliberately shrouded in mystery, I can’t confirm if this is accurate, but I can say that if true, the needle in the FFFF irony meter just jumped into the red zone.
See, like Mr. Felz, Mr. Gibert has recently found himself in hot water with the District Attorney, albeit (I love writing “albeit”) in San Bernardino County where he and some pals are accused of some nitwit scheme to rip off Home Depot with returned merchandise.
How funny. Was the decorated DUI Hero there the night the Joe Felz flashed his get Out of Jail Free card after careening off Glenwood Avenue, ploughing over a parkway tree and trying to drive off on his rims? Yeah, that would be ironic.
Uh, oh. More bad news for the Fullerton Police Department Culture of Excellence. It seems as if one of Fullerton’s Finest and top DUI arrester Timothy Gibert has been arrested himself in San Bernardino for all sorts of nasty behavior – grand theft and conspiracy. The scam was…oops. The “alleged” scam was to return merchandise bought at a discount for a full refund at a Home Depot out in Apple Valley.
You can read all about Gibert’s sterling DUI arrest record at Behind the Badge, if you can fight the gag reflex, but you most assuredly will not be reading about Gibert’s arrest at his house in Victorville. Instead you can read about it in theDaily Titan, of all places. Kudos to the kids for some real reporting – kids who in their young careers have already accomplished a lot more than pathetic cop toady Lou Ponsi ever did.
While on his way to work back in 1975 one of F.P.D.’s own, officer Jerry Hatch, was killed by a drunk driver. Skip ahead a few decades and we have signs on the 91FRWY to honor him. Last July F.P.D. held a special event to honor Officer Hatch with his family and former colleagues.
This is because F.P.D. cares about their brethren. They likewise care about Drunk Driving based on the praise their officers receive when they get awards from M.A.D.D..
Which beggars the question of why was F.P.D. so willing to spit on Officer Hatch’s memory by allowing favors, politics or whatever it was to get in the way of doing their jobs on the morning of 09 November 2016? Why would they send the message that drunk driving is A-O.K. so long as the driver is connected enough?
For all of their continuous grandstanding they were perfectly fine with letting an “alleged” drunk driver walk in the hopes that he didn’t mow down another of their brethren.
On the fateful morning of 09 November 2016, good friend of former Mayor Fitzgerald and all around guy, Joe Felz left our quaint city to spend time with his family. Owing to why Mr. Felz actually separated himself from his position (the 10th highest paid City Manager in California) it’s a bit of a surprise to learn that his family doesn’t reside in the Fullerton Jail.
Amazingly we have a District Attorney who magically found evidence for charges four months after an incident that Fullerton P.D. couldn’t find on the scene. F.P.D. even managed to phone their friend, Chief Danny Hughes, for help and couldn’t find even a citable offense under Sappy McTree or Felz’s missing mud-flap.
Fullerton gives out hundreds of D.U.I. tickets each year. What with 62 liquor licenses in the Downtown Fullerton area alone that’s not as impressive a feat as we’d imagine but F.P.D. is proud of their D.U.I. tickets.
If one looks at the headlines from the Public Relations firm Behind the Badge, which the City of Fullerton pays $50,000+/year, you would think we take drunk driving very, very seriously.
The point is clear that our city and our Fullerton Police Department claim to care deeply about Drunk Driving.
Behind the Badge likewise takes D.U.I.s seriously but are nothing more than a mouthpiece for F.P.D as evidence by the results when one searches “Felz” on their site:
B.t.B. wrote several pieces about Officer Hatch but have remained completely silent on the entire Felz affair. It’s not news, just good news.
Just for the sake or irony let us look at one more link from our paid P.R. flacks over at Behind the Badge:
But not in a way that brings anybody any civic pride.
Ms. Pollinger is a well-intentioned person, but she is off target to praise the justice system for collaring itself a bad boy, presumably because the ladder of justice has no top and no bottom. Since the Fullerton cops intentionally failed to collect any evidence and didn’t arrest anybody, there is no crime to prosecute. And anybody who believes this little stage show isn’t designed to tank has taken too many rips on Sergeant Bonghit Schoen’s magical nugg pipe.
There is an old saying: “it’s the least I can do.”
And once in a while you get to see the least someone can really do without doing anything at all.
At the last “budget workshop” (cue: a sales tax is coming music), David Curlee brought up the idiocy of the worthless and mismanaged “Behind the Badge” contract – a 50 Grand per year repository of feel-good stories about our police department’s tender employees who, apparently, would rather be well-thought of for anything besides honest police work.
At this prompting, our mayor, Bruce Whitaker raised the issue – where, right on cue, it was peremptorily shot down by our $100 per hour Interim City Manager, Alan Roeder, as chump change that fell into the sofa cushions and isn’t worth digging around for. He warns Whitaker about “obsessing” over such loose change.
And there the matter seems to have died.
Of course if Whitaker had done his job in the first place and agendized the issue as a stand alone item at a regular meeting, this dismissive bullshit could not have occurred. The Behind the Badge embarrassment could not have been written off as an irrelevant, small-picture nothing instead of what it is – a blatant rip-off of the taxpayers that has run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past four years.
And consider this question: how many other loose change contracts, approved by no one other that Wild Ride Joe Felz, are still out there accomplishing nothing? And did any of our council stalwarts bother to make Roeder explain exactly what the monetary level of significance is before he will deign to consider it? We know it’s not $50,000 a year. Is it $100,000? $500,000? A million? Of course not.
Total leadership failure. The litmus test is done. Now we know why Roeder was hired in the first place: