In FFFF’s early days, this blog noted how the Fullerton Observer and its “editor” Sharon Kennedy would bend over backwards to avoid printing anything that might embarrass City officialdom. In the years after that blog post, the Observer remained true to form. It continually went to bat for the bureaucrats in increasingly shameful ways, even when it violated the tenets of the Yellowing Observer’s own professed liberalism. The culmination, perhaps, was the Observer’s series of misdirections and avoidances in the wake of the Kelly Thomas murder in 2011.
But wait. One of our Friends just noticed that the front page of the latest Observer includes an unexpected headline. The article seems to acknowledge the recent claims of corruption in city hall as asserted by the OC DA investigator Abraham Santos.
The piece discusses the facts of the claims against Dan Hughes and Joe Felz without the insertion of Kennedy’s usual dismissive editorial remarks. How could this happen? Is Kennedy turning over a new leaf?
No. This is the work of the Observer’s new co-editor, Jesse La Tour. How he managed to slip this honest piece of work past Kennedy, we may never know.
Remember that quasi-judicial nuisance hearing against the Grand Inn back in April? The one where former police chief Danny Hughes went under oath and accidentally told us that Joe Felz was drunk when he crashed his car and got a ride home from the Fullerton PD?
After some wrangling down at city hall, FFFF finally got its hands on the entire hearing transcript, which you can view here.
The transcript reveals that former city manager Joe Felz did meet with developer Urban West to discuss purchasing, assembling and rezoning the four lots on Euclid and Orangethorpe to build high-density apartments, which included a large lot owned by Renick Cadillac. Unfortunately for Felz and Co., one of the lots was owned by an unwilling participant, the Grand Inn.
Coincidentally (or not), these development meetings occurred just prior to a long, expensive effort by the Fullerton Police to document the Grand Inn as a public nuisance in order to shut it down. Was the sudden crackdown on the Grand Inn related to the Felz/Renick/Urban West development deal? Of course Felz denied the accusation under oath, much like he denies being drunk when he crashed into a poor sapling on Highland. But to the reasonable observer, it stinks like hell. In Fullerton, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
If you still haven’t connected the dots yet, consider the PD’s year-long effort to attribute nearby crimes to the Grand Inn in the context of the police department’s complete disregard for the large volume of calls stemming from the actual public nuisance that is the Slidebar.
In true Fullerton fashion, Mr. Felz could not get through the hearing without invoking his right to not incriminate himself.
Back to the development scheme – which would not be complete without the insertion of our favorite lobbyist/councilperson. In the testimony we learn that Jennifer Fitzgerald had met with Renick and Felz at least once in the early stages of this fiasco. We’ll never know the depth of her involvement with the developer, or whether she was wearing her lobbyist hat or her elected official hat at the time. But we can assume she was aware of the value of her vote, should a lucrative zone change come before the council in the near future.
Either way, Renick and Urban West seem to have given up on the deal, since Renick is now rebuilding its showrooms. But the city is stuck pursuing it’s selective enforcement action against the Grand Inn (or are they?). More taxpayer money goes down the drain while nothing is accomplished.
The Fullerton PD marketing apparatus is still trying to convince the public that some sort of equitable enforcement of DUI exists. Check out today’s promulgation:
This is the very same police department that attempted to cover up a DUI collision committed by its own city manager just a few months ago. Now that we know former police chief Dan Hughes was committing criminal obstruction of justice (according to the OCDA investigator assigned to the case), this propaganda seems even more ridiculous.
One more thing to note: Temporary police chief Hinig is gone, and so Fullerton police are being led by Dan Hughes’ own hand-picked captains Siko and Rudisil. While Hughes’ legacy of corruption and obstruction may become the subject of interest in the ongoing federal probes into the OCDA, it is silly to think that our police department’s age of shame ended with Hughes’ departure.
If you were worried that Fullerton police officers were beginning to shed their reputation as some of the most boorish and careless cops in Orange County, don’t be.
Here’s a story about a well-regarded Fullerton businessman who was recently provoked into becoming a national bicycle advocate. He even decided to travel to Washington DC to lobby for bicycle safety on behalf of Fullerton’s cyclists. What drove Mr. Joel Maus to take on this cause?
Three months ago he was riding downtown on a street without a bike lane. As he rode the slight downhill of a railroad undercrossing he noticed a metal drainage grate directly in his path. To avoid it, he looked over his shoulder and took the lane to make sure no one tried to pass him dangerously. Then he heard a loud “honk” and the crescendo of an engine behind him as someone swerved into the other lane and went around him.
Someone wasn’t happy to see Joel riding in the lane. And that someone was a Fullerton police officer.
Joel was riding legally and safely. The officer was rude and reckless. Frustrated and determined to do something about it; that night he went home, created a simple logo, and made his first post on the Bike Fullerton Instagram account.
All of city hall’s feeble and self-serving efforts to project itself as some sort of promoter of bicycling were nearly undone by one imprudent cop who doesn’t seem to care much at all about the risk of smearing Mr. Maus all over the road. Of course this behavior continues to be tolerated by our neglectful city management and a spineless, self-interested city council.
Add Another Item for the DOJ and State Attorneys to Investigate
The Joe Felz DUI case just took another wide turn and this time not over a tree. New allegations have arisen within the Orange County District Attorney’s Office:
One of the allegations, listed only by [investigator Abraham] Santos, involves an election night car crash by Fullerton’s then City Manager Joe Felz on Nov. 9, 2016. A Fullerton police officer, who responded to the scene, notified the city’s then Police Chief Dan Hughes, who contacted a police sergeant and allegedly told him to drive Felz home instead of arresting him.
Santos’ investigation later concluded that Hughes was calling in a favor allegedly owed by a sergeant. That sergeant, according to Santos’ claim, had once been caught having sex in a police car but was never disciplined.
“Chief Hughes covered up the misconduct by his sergeant and, when he needed him in the Joe Felz DUI/attempted hit-and-run case, (the sergeant) repaid the favor to Chief Hughes,” said the claim.
Santos’ subsequent investigation of the incident concluded that Hughes “criminally obstructed justice.” But the county never filed a charge against Hughes. Santos, in his claim, said Assistant District Attorney Ibrahim Baytieh told him, “I am friends with Chief Hughes and we are only going to be investigating the DUI and nothing else.”
Let us repeat part of that for emphasis.
“Santos’ subsequent investigation of the incident concluded that Hughes “criminally obstructed justice.””
This isn’t your run of the mill water-cooler talk either as it was disclosed in an official complaint with the OCDA’s office. Pertinent Screenshots as follows:
This seems to be par for the course for the OCDA being that Supervisor Todd Spitzer has asked the US Department of Justice to take over their operations owing to an ongoing Jail Snitch scandal amogst other trying issues. Things have gotten pretty bad at the OCDA. So much so that the U.S. Dept. of Justice, the California Attorney General & the Orange County Grand Jury are all separately investigating the OCDA for “systemic” cheating in the jail snitch program. While speculative it wouldn’t be surprising for this Felz DUI Cover-up case to be sucked into the investigations.
We in Fullerton were told time and again that Hughes reformed the department. We were told that he was the man we needed for the job. If these allegations are true it means that not only did he cover-up previous misconduct regarding officer Corbett but he then used that previous cover-up to bury another more egregious case. One cannot have a reformed department if the man in charge is not only participating in coverups but using them as leverage for later ones.
If the rot at FPD started with the head down did it permeate other parts of our city as well? If an Assistant District Attorney refused to look into Hughes owing to a personal friendship did others likewise turn a blind eye to corruption and criminal wrongdoings? Considering how often our own Jennifer Fitzgerald proclaimed her friendship to both Hughes and Felz one must wonder how much misconduct she was aware of and if she was aware did she help cover anything up while she’s been on council?
Fullerton Police Chief and current Cast Member Copper at the Walt Disney Corporation Danny Hughes was compelled to testify at a nuisance hearing today, 24 April 2017, at Fullerton City Hall.
During the hearing he was asked, under oath, about his involvement in the Joe Felz DUI disaster. According to an article in the Voice of OC, Hughes claimed that Felz was afforded some sort of “objectivity” by the orders he issued to his officers that night. He also had some choice words about Fullerton. Let’s go to the audio (transcribed below without his “uhs”):
“When there is a, especially in the city of Fullerton, where there is somebody, whether it be a City Council Member or in this particular case the City Manager, those types of incidents are gonna, what I would describe, blow up. No matter what that decision is made regarding the outcome of that case there there will be allegations and conspiracy theories and all sorts of information that comes from that. So, uh, generally speaking the supervisor would notify a Lieutenant, that Lieutenant would notify the Captain, the Captain would generally either make the decision or contact me.”
Allegations and Conspiracy Theories. How quaint. That’s almost as cute as when Pat McKinley tried blaming the Kelly Thomas protests on “outside agitators”.
Let me break this down for former Chief Hughes and the cops in the audience.
That same “If you aren’t a criminal so what are you afraid of?” maxim that you all love so much? It applies double to you. Our fair residents have no reason to trust the FPD after the years and years of corruption and corrupt officers that just can’t help themselves from turning to the dark side. Bad Apples you say? Maybe, but I don’t see any heroes stepping up to put them down. I don’t see officers testifying against their corrupt allies. My inbox isn’t exactly brimming with HeroMail™ regarding what needs to change on the inside. Maybe if that blue wall of silence didn’t protect violent felonious acts and sexual predators we wouldn’t feel the need to make “allegations” about your culture of corruption.
Further to the point the Felz incident has nothing to do with the outcomes of a “case” but rather with the circumspect treatment at the scene of a crime. Nobody cares if everybody on city staff was called that night because what matters is that AFTER the calls were made the officers on the scene opted to not do their jobs be it by choice or by following possibly illegal orders.
Hughes stated in his own memo that Felz smelled of alcohol and yet nobody made sure that the situation was beyond reproach by administering a breathalyzer. Felz was treated differently than the thousands of drunks that are arrested yearly here in Fullerton and that’s how you end up with “allegations” and “information that comes from that”.
As for the “conspiracy theories” comment? The idea that Hughes was complicit in a Felz cover-up isn’t the stuff of conspiracies as that’s just simple deductive reasoning. THIS is a Conspiracy:
Exit Question: In the above audio Hughes claims the following:
“So, uh, generally speaking the supervisor would notify a Lieutenant, that Lieutenant would notify the Captain, the Captain would generally either make the decision or contact me.”
I believe the Watch Commander from Hughes’ own memo above was Lieutenant Andrew Goodrich. So was protocol and the chain of command, generally speaking, broken when Lieutenant Goodrich called Hughes and not his Captain? And if so, why?
One of the more startling examples of stupid waste at Fullerton City Hall has been the exorbitant expense of Behind the Badge: fifty large ones a year for former bad OC Register “journalists” to publish and disseminate pro-cop propaganda pabulum. It was all phony crap meant to obscure the real news about the FPD: a litany of bad behavior and criminal activity that over the past decade has spanned the breadth of the California Penal Code. Fortunately, thanks to the Friends this ridiculous waste is coming to an end. We wanted to make sure, too, so we requested the good bye letter.
And here is our temporary police chief Dave Hinig, hand-wringing over the loss of what can only be described as no loss at all for the taxpayer:
Is this some sort of sick joke? Value? To whom? Certainly not for the people who were paying out almost $250,000 over the past four years.
And what’s really laughable is all this lachrymose bullshit over a contract that was made in secret, was grossly mismanaged, and that had no actual requirements for performance – even if Joe Felz had had any inclination to oversee what he initiated.
Well, anyway, Behind the Badge is going away although why we have to pay another $8000 for two more months of this unadulterated literary manure is beyond me.
City Hall did something really helpful this week. The Clerk’s Office worked with Administrative Services to post very detailed budget documents online in advance of next Tuesday’s City Council budget workshop. I asked if this could be done and they made it happen 24 hours later. Thank you!
Budget detail of this depth has never been provided to the public. This is a big step in the right direction, and likely never would have happened if Joe Felz was still in charge.
From this cache of documents, we are able to see the type of General Fund waste that Dan Hughes justified during his tenure as police chief. The next time you call the Police Department and are told no officers are available to respond to a call for service, just remember where his priorities were.
Much of this is charitable and/or personal expenses. Dan Hughes was Fullerton’s highest compensated employee in 2015 with $358,403 in wages and benefits. He should have paid these expenses out of his own pocket, or simply not at all.
Let us not forget that it was the City Council — led by Fitzgerald, Flory, and Chaffee — that let him get away with shenanigans like this.
One can only hope the current City Council sees fit to finally end this nonsense.