Gretchen Cox and Fullerton First

Quadrangle of Casual Corruption and Fullerton First brain trust. Gretch’ is the one in the middle. The rest you already know.

Apparently Gretchen Cox, reactionary pal of J. Flory and J. Fitzgerald has become weary of “malcontents” wasting everybody’s time at City Council meetings. She seems to think all this attention to city employee malfeasance, misfeasance and dumbassfeasance reflects poorly on our great town, using the usual “blame the messenger” routine always deployed by people who have something to hide: like shoddy construction, unnecessary and mind-blowingly expensive boondoggles, drunken city managers, a corrupt police department and a budget that’s a few years away from going supernova.

Quick, get clear of the impending collapse…

Her strategy is to drown out the cries off honest men and women with hosannas of praise for everything Fullerton. But she needs a choir. So she started a facebook group laughingly called “Fullerton First” where she limits the membership to folk of her own stripe. And what a membership list it is. Here you will find a lot of familiar faces, including sad sack stooge Larry Bennett, incompetent planner Paul Dudley, serial liar-cop Andrew Goodrich, and dim-bulb government apologist Jan Flory, who is w-a-a-a-y past her stated expiration date. That alone should tell you all you need to know about Fullerton First.

The closer you look, the worse it gets…

But that’s not the interesting part. Not surprisingly, lobbyist city council creature Jennifer Fitzgerald is an enthusiastic member of this tribe; but, very tellingly, so is the ethically flexible Matthew Cunningham, whose job is proprietor of “Anaheim Blog” where he runs interference for uber-lobbyist Curt Pringle’s interests, praises Pringle’s political tools, and denigrates Pringle’s political opponents.

You can’t hurt me. I’ve got no moral compass…

And of course Ms. Fitzgerald also “works” for Pringle. She is his “Vice President of Minor Scams and Local Government Taxpayer Ripoffs” where she enjoys mixing business with pleasure.

An unbreakable chemical bond

It’s pretty obvious that Pringle has set his slimy sights on Fullerton now that his Anaheim well is running dry. We are the pigeons he wants to pluck. Just think “College Town” and other possible gold mines where influence peddling moves things along.

And when Curt Pringle says “Fullerton First” what he really will mean is “Fullerton Next.”

What’s a Million Dollars Between Friends?


Our lobbyist Councilperson Jennifer Fitzgerald has asked her supporters on Facebook to show up at tonight’s Council Meeting to support the purchase of land on Pearl Drive to be used as a park.

Our friend David already went over some of the ridiculousness of this purchase in a previous post but it bears getting a little more attention.

The first point to be made is that this item is on the Consent Calendar tonight. Consent Calendar items are items during a meeting that get no separate discussion and are voted on together unless specifically pulled for comment by a member of the public or council. A typical Consent Calendar item would be the minutes to a previous meeting or perhaps a legislative ordinance change forced upon us by Sacramento.

A typical definition of a consent calendar would be as follows:

Under parliamentary rules governing City Council meetings, Consent Calendar items are reserved for items that are deemed to be non-controversial. They allow a City Council to save the bulk of it’s meeting time for issues in which there is a need for a serious public debate.

Often though the items end up being things that the city doesn’t want to discuss or scrutinize in detail. Tonight’s meeting has 12 consent calendar items with this purchase being the 10th.

The Consent Calendar is hardly the proper place to drop a $1.2Million+ project and it’s more amusing given that councilwoman Fitzgerald is asking for support on an item that is scheduled to take no public comments. It’s somewhat infuriating that the city of Fullerton is so free with money that it doesn’t feel the need to openly discuss an expenditure that is over 18x the median household income of our residents. Worse still when basic details of the deal are lacking from public view.

The parcel in question is slated for purchase with a whopping price tag of $755,500 based on a use assumption that is faulty at best (see David’s post). Then we have $148,000 for an unexplained “administrative settlement”. Then $300,000 for “improvement costs” that will of course be more than $300K owing to the additional paragraph stating that “An updated estimate will be established upon completion of the community meetings.”

What attachments or reference points do we have so we as a city can analyze this project? None. There is no explanation because a properly scanned, searchable PDF is too much work to manage at City Hall despite numerous requests over the years. I’m sure somebody will sound off that there have been “community meetings” that were announced on Nextdoor or some such nonsense so as to suggest the lack of need for the city to do it’s due diligence on transparency. This will likely come from the same people who complain about Public Records Requests from the public in a city known for a culture of corruption and abject secrecy.

Despite being an ongoing project, per the item’s own sparse agenda attachments, since 2002-2003 and we don’t have a breakdown of costs? A thorough estimate? A reason for the administrative settlement? A list of code enforcement violations?

Even the details we do get don’t tell the whole story.

“The amenities required being demolished”? How about we mention that the city paid over $19,000 for part of that very demolition? It seems that just about every pertinent detail has been washed from this item which maybe explains why it was on the consent calendar in the first place. You do have to the give the city credit for their optimism in hoping they could sneak this through the consent calendar knowing full well that we malcontents are always willing to call them on their shenanigans.

I reckon the only thing more infuriating than a bureaucrat putting forth this kind of lazy and shoddy work is a legislative body so uninterested in demanding real data and accountability that those bureaucrats know they can get away with this nonsense.

The old adage “Trust but verify” is absolutely foreign to the Fullerton City Council.

Felz’ Plea Deal Looking Sweeter

Today Joe Felz’ attorney Bob Hickey entered North Court and had a closed door meeting with the DA and the judge. When they emerged, the pre-trial hearing had been rescheduled once again to August 14. The delays clearly represent the formation of some sort of plea deal for Felz. The whole darn thing got me thinkin’…

File photo

Plea deals occur because both the DA and the accused want to avoid the cost of a trial. Normally the DA would have the upper hand, as he has the ability to offer reduced charges and penalties. The defendant comes to the table with nothing except the ability to waste the DA’s time, at a great personal cost. Lawyers are expensive.

In Felz’ case, there was an extra card to play. Felz knew that a trial burdened the DA and the City of Fullerton with the added threat of public exposure. Police Chief Danny Hughes and Sergeant Jeff Corbett had committed obstruction of justice that night when drunk driving Felz was driven home instead of being arrested. The city and its police department needed to keep this quiet and keep themselves free from any courtroom scrutiny. Felz, on the other hand, didn’t have much to lose.

In case you forgot.

When DA Investigator Abraham Santos’ blew the whistle in May, the odds tilted heavily in Felz’ favor. For the DA, a Felz DUI trial suddenly meant the opportunity for Hickey to dig into the Hughes/DA collusion. The threat of reputational damage to both the institutions and the individual players is suddenly enormous leverage against the DA. Hell, Hickey might even be able to get Santos to testify against the DA and Hughes on the stand. Savage!

So today things aren’t looking to good for the prosecution, who’s already mired in scandal and has little to gain from pushing the Felz case anyway (what’s another DUI conviction? North Court is full of ’em.) While each delay keeps Felz unemployable for a bit longer, it also brings the promise of a dropped case or a neutered plea deal. Keep your eyes out for either one.

An Empty Shell of a Man

Last week California was showered with editorials criticizing state Democrats for their underhanded retroactive gimping of the recall process to protect state senator Josh Newman.

It’s lonely at the top. Also at the bottom.

Here are a few of them:

The Democrats’ cynical move to protect one of their own – Los Angeles Times

Democrats push a phony election ‘fix’ – San Francisco Chronicle

Reject legislation to stymie recall elections – Los Angeles Daily News

Democrats Embrace Banana-Republic Tactics – American Spectator

Democrats playing dirty to save Newman from recall – OC Register

In at least one interview Newman himself has supported the effort to delay his own recall, although he avoided directly voting for it. Newman’s abutment of this electoral abuse of power illustrates his rapid degeneration from virginal statesman to shrugging beneficiary of political treachery. If any of the public’s trust in Newman remained after his vote for the regressive gas tax, it’s all but gone now.

On the bright side, recall organizers have vowed to mount constitutional challenges that will attempt to restore California voters’ right to recall government officials.

The New Guy

The highly-desired position of Fullerton City Manager has been awarded to one “Kenneth Domer,” currently assistant city manager down in Huntington Beach. Domer has also served in management roles in Placentia and Villa Park.

Flounder

Mr. Domer’s total compensation will be on par with that of the former disgraced city manager, Joe Felz.

Managing the peaceful and serene hamlet of Fullerton is not for the weak-minded, as previous occupants of this lofty position ended up seeking answers in the bottom of a bottle. If former Council member Pat “I hired them all” McKinley labeled Joe Felz the “Albert Pujols of City Managers,” how can this new Flounder hope to succeed? Hopefully this flat fish of a City Manager will take full advantage of the soothing presence of Nicole “can do” Bernard.

We Get Mail ─ Jan Flory and Gretchen Cox up to No Good

Remember last year when Jan Flory claimed she was ‘retiring’ from City politics?  Much to our chagrin, that never happened.  Instead, she’s taken up a new calling with close pal Gretchen Cox.

A Friend was gracious enough to share a letter they plastered all over the neighborhood last month:

This isn’t some altruistic idea in the name of public safety.  Gretchen and Jan simply have an aversion to the aesthetics of said land, with Gretchen living two houses away and Jan living further up the hill.

Leave it to these numbskulls to use traffic hazard as a ploy for the City to dole out money for appearances.  The intersection already has a traffic signal and the frequency of traffic accidents is no worse than other major intersections across the city.  Don’t like the appearance of the land?  Fine.  Focus on that.  Don’t try to lump traffic concerns in at the same time.

What’s more, the timing of the letter is particularly obnoxious given that the property was listed for sale in February.  Were they hoping to derail a potential sale so the City could swoop in and acquire the parcel?

Since the letter was written, the property has gone into escrow.  What an awful way to welcome someone to the neighborhood.

Kangaroo Court Transcript Reveals Felzian Development Scheme

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.

It got ugly real fast.

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.

Your honor, I do not recall…

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.

It was just a meeting.

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.

Fullerton’s Leaderless Ghost Ship

It’s been six months since Police Chief Danny Hughes left Fullerton to go work for the mouse. Six months since the alleged cover-up that didn’t save Joe Felz from early retirement.

In that six months we had an interim Police Chief in David Hinig and an interim City Manager in Allen Roeder. Well, Hinig has maxed out how much he can be paid by CalPERS so he’s jumped ship and based on timing alone we can calculate that Mr. Roeder will be on his way out sometime in mid-July.

That will once again leave Fullerton without an official City Manager & without a Police Chief to add to our lacking Community Development Director, Museum Director and on and on and on.

It’s almost as if we can’t get great candidates in spite of having no money, a divided city council, a police department knee-deep in a cover-up scandal and on and on and on.

Why wouldn’t new people want to come on board to answer to a council that would rather build bridges to nowhere instead of maintaining what we already have in place? Why wouldn’t somebody new want to grab the tiller of the S.S. Fullerton while it’s sinking? They’ll have the full support of the council majority providing polishing the brass is the only priority on this particular Titanic.

DA Investigator Blows Whistle on Felz DUI Coverup

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:

DA Complaint abt Felz Case

DA Complaint abt Felz Case2

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?

This further begs the question of how Disney feels about having a potential felon in Fantasyland?

Disney Danny.

A Day in the Life of an Assistant to the City Manager/Economic Development Manager

For a while now we’ve been trying to figure out how Nichole Bernard wrangled herself the title of Assistant to the City Manager/Economic Development Manager under the leadership of the departed Joe Felz. Even more perplexing is that nobody can figure out what she actually does all day, or what value she provides to the taxpayers of Fullerton.

Well, in an effort to shed some light on the subject, we recently got a hold of Nicole Bernard’s Outlook calendar. The documents have been dutifully provided to you below.

The one on the right

Nicole Bernard Calendar 2015 – Nicole Bernard Calendar 2016

According to these reports, Ms. Bernard calendared at least 80 mid-day working hours last year for the Fullerton College Foundation – not her employer – the City of Fullerton. That’s the equivalent of two working weeks. Mrs. Bernard is apparently the board president of the FCF.

Former City Manager, Joe Felz, Bernard’s patron, obviously let her do whatever she wanted, including using her office to host meetings for non-city business.

Step into my office, Chuck

Of course running a private non-profit is not part of Ms. Bernard’s day job, but she seems to have confused the two. It’s also notable that she took home $174,102.16 in pay and benefits last year from the City of Fullerton. How much of that grandiose salary was wasted on unofficial business, we will never know.  But we do know that Ms. Bernard spends a substantial amount of her work time doing whatever the hell she wants, and that’s not OK.

Readers, please feel free to peruse the calendars and note anything else of interest.