Yes, he did.
There are all sorts of names for boobs and knuckleheads that keep making the same sorts of mistakes over and over again. Boob and knucklehead just sprang to mind first.
And so there are many descriptive terms for the collective known as the City of Fullerton, an entity that just can’t seem to help itself avoid the avoidable.
Exhibit A for the prosecution: the idiotic “boutique” hotel at the Transportation Center, brainchild of the corrupt and fortunately departed Councilcreature-for-hire, Jennifer Fitzgerald.
FFFF has followed the 5 years-long trajectory of this nonsense as it has metastasized into a giant tail-wagging-the-dog embarrassment that leaves a sensible person almost speechless. As the remote plausibility of a hotel brought forward, unsolicited, by an unfunded “developer,” Westpark, became obvious to even the densest observer, a new consortium including TA Partners proposed another prison block apartment attached to the hotel.
In December 2022 there was still no concrete plan, just promises of this and that. But time was running out for people in City Hall who are addicted to this deal. See, it involved the disposal of public property that had been developed as parking for Metrolink riders; this meant declaring it “surplus” despite its obvious utility, and starting in 2023 the State of California was requiring surplus land be offered up to the low-income housing cartel. What to do?
Get rid of the property ASAP was the City’s solution, before the end of 2022 – even though there was no final plan or entitlements in place. There was no approved site plan and project density details to hold to the sale – either by the City or by the “developer.” The development agreement protected the City’s interest in the property – up to a point, but created an entanglement of interests during and after escrow and incrementally pulled the City into a potential morass of unintended consequences.
So the sales agreement and the deeding of the City property was approved before the end of the year. Fred Jung and Nick Dunlap wisely opposed this fiasco, but were in the minority. FFFF just posted the story of Shana Charles’s dumbass rationale for approving, and of course Ahmad Zahra was all for this because he probably believed he could squeeze some cash out of TA Partner’s Johnny Lu along the way. The third vote? It came from none other than Bruce Whitaker, who seems mostly just confused, and even less inclined to show diligent energy that ever.
All along, Whitaker seems to have bought into the nonsense that this property was legitimately surplus, despite its obvious utility to the people of Fullerton. Not wanting subsidized housing, he was willing to go along with the stupid hotel concept; but even he should have balked when the mess ran of the highchair and spilled on the floor. But he didn’t, doubling down on his own incompetence and in the end getting what he didn’t want in the first place.
So the sale went though, followed in the next few months by land use discretionary review and approval instead of all this happening at the same time which is the way it should have happened. Any problematic results of this mismatch may become apparent soon.
The finalized proposal came before the Fullerton Planning Commission last week. I’ll be describing that in the next post.
The trouble with being away so much last summer and fall was that I missed all sorts of Fullerton-related stuff. And one of those things was the separation of Tony Florentine from his Earthly cares.
The Florentine paterfamilias, bar owner and restaurateur passed on to his reward back in July of 2022.
FFFF has been diligently following the activities of Tony and his offspring, Joe, in a series of posts going back well over ten years.
We documented how in 2012, Tony loudly inserted himself into the anti-Recall campaign as a staunch supporter of Fullerton’s incompetent Old Guard councilmembers Jones, Bankhead and McKinley, parroting the nonsense peddled by his old Rotary pal, Dick Ackerman. He had lots of good reasons for defending the boobs as they let him run illegal entertainment in his business establishment, and as he and his son did everything they could to dodge the City-ordained -and not enforced – conditions of approval for use permits.
But the history went farther back. In 2003 Tony got the City to look the other way as he purloined a public sidewalk and got away with it, creating a legal headache that still hasn’t gone away. The Florentines pulled out in 2020 and left the City as landlords of a building extension that the co-joined building owner didn’t own.
Years before that, if we can believe a former associate, in 1989 Tony took a torch to his business, The Melody Inn, that also destroyed one of the oldest buildings in Fullerton and began an embarrassing Redevelopment boondoggle.
Whether or not Tony once drove a copper spike into a street tree because it was blocking his sign is a matter of conjecture, but that’s the tale told by some old Fullertonions.
Joe Florentine was happy to follow in dad’s footsteps as he continued to dodge installing required fire sprinklers in the Tuscany Club and even went so far as forging an official City planning document granting himself use authority over the building he rented because he had a lease there. That fiasco cost us $25,000, not counting legal eagle Dick Jones’s time. The Florentines just seemed to think that laws and rules were nothing but inconveniences to avoid.
So belatedly FFFF says farewell to Mr. Florentine – who brought a little Jersey color to our drab town. In parting it has to be said that neither he or his kid are that important in and of themselves, but they symbolize a governmental culture of incompetence, and a willingness in City Hall to tolerate scofflaws that have become synonymous with Fullerton.
Why crazy? Well it’s not really crazy at all if you’re “Jacob” Poozhikala, the scofflaw proprietor of the notorious downtown gin joint at Harbor and Commonwealth.
JP23 is just the sort of place that the creators of DTF’s nightlife economy didn’t envision and yet have done nothing to stop.
Mr. JP has been in violation of conditions placed on his permits seemingly forever, and the City government just can’t seem to screw up the courage to tell Mr. JP to go screw himself once and for all. The list of violations over the years reminds me of a lurid passage in a Dickens novel – occupancy violations crowding, cover charges, illegal occupation of substandard spaces, illegal site use (shipping containers!), etc. Even the minor requirements laid upon Mr. JP, such as exterior lighting have just been ignored.
Friends may also remember JP 23 from the incidents involving a woman who claimed she was drugged in JP23 and raped in the nearby City-owned parking structure. When protesters pestered JP23, Mr. JP’s immediate response was to sue the woman for slander and libel. He was even accused of assaulting protesters.
Without delving into the details of that awful story I will only say that the patrons of the place probably don’t exercise the greatest judgment in the first place.
So what’s the latest?
Last week the City Council received an update on the status of this enterprise. Apparently, Mr. JP says he has been planning to sell his business to an eager young nephew, a gambit that has gained even more time for Poozhikala to evade making the remedial requirements demanded by the City. The alleged nephew-sale was supposed to happen last November, but still hasn’t been consummated. There are still the outstanding deficiencies to be rectified, and then there is the looming problem of the all-important new entertainment permit that has to be approved.
Our old pal, handjob lawyer Gregory Palmer stood up to bring the Council a status update on the whole affair. It was like watching an old jalopy lumber down the street. It was painful to watch this cut-rate pettifogger trying not to say things that were spelled out in the staff report, the funniest of which was:
It was very clear to all of us in the room with Mr. Pathiyil that he was nothing more than a “straw man” put up by Jacob Poozhikala to avoid his responsibility, and that Mr.Pathiyil was not a bona fide purchaser.”
In their communications, Mr. JP has declared to the City that apart from “training” his young protégé on the intricacies and mysteries of saloon owning, he will have no interest in the ongoing business. The City staff report laconically informs us that:
The purchase price for all of the business equipment, inventory and packaging; books, records and files, trademarks and trade names, as well as goodwill, was zero dollars ($0.00).
However, for some unstated reason, Mr. JP intends to remain the principle tenant of the building and supposedly collect rent from his nephew.
Mayor Jung correctly observed the unlikelihood of Poozhikala letting go of the reins. It does seem pretty likely, as the staff report warned, that The Pooz is using his nephew to act as a decoy so a new business can be established with a new entertainment permit, unsullied by the business’s long history of bad behavior.
Finally, the report was received and filed, the issue of the permits still in the works.
And so the saga of JP23 sags along. And aren’t law-abiding citizens, taxpayers, and the owners of legitimate businesses indeed justified in calling this never-ending pas-de-deux with Mr. JP what it is? It’s crazy.
FFFF has been reporting on the doings of our fine police department for years. Every now and then we’ll get a missive from a citizen complaining about selective and an random harassment by one of our finest, in this case by a fellow named Rolando, who relates his tale, below. Perhaps one of our esteemed councilmembers will care enough to look into the matter. Yeah, right.
To Whom it may concern:
My Name is Rolando. I was harassed and Threatened by officer who infracted me.
After the officer illegally pulled me over on commonwealth ave and impounded my Truck and trailer and Threatened me that I will never operate in Fullerton ever again, that he was going to see to it at commonwealth ave location. officer refused to write me a ticket simply because he did not have to since I own the vehicle.
After 2 hours i travel to the Fullerton police station to pay the release fee for the impound yard and as I had conclude my business and walked out of the building, come’s running out the door a cadet Named YOONE to recall me back to the front desk. Officer request!. I returned to meet the Very man himself whom impounded my vehicles trailer to further harassment and threatening because the cadet made a mistake of not notifying the officer and released my truck but not my trailer and cars. Keep in mind this officer was off his shift and out of uniform to pull me back in the front desk lobby and harass and threaten me. Is this normal ?? I don’t think so. It does not feel right to me. No I’m wondering what more is this officer willing to do ;he has a personal problem with me.
The officer is pursuing a figment of his imagination to hold hostage my property and bankrupt me financially by acquiring daily charges at the tow yard.
I asked to speak with the watch commander to no avail. I was asked by the staff to leave and not return until I bring back special requests that I am not required too. He is abusing his power as a law enforcement.
My only doing wrong was crossing his path.
I was over weight on my trailer while parked in the street.
This should of been a citation or in this case an impound, pay fee’s release property and go to court.
They are asking me to provide a MC permit. I don’t fall under that requirement because I am not a class A. The officer know that. I can’t get a appointment with the chief or anyone who is not bias.
I don’t know why officer’s take it personal for a person who is actually a functioning ,providing citizen that pay tax.
How can they request respect when they abuse the power we citizens appoint to them.
Do you have insight on how to recover in promptly or who to talk to ?
Pls help if you can.
Someone once said there is no such thing as bad publicity. I’m not sure about that.
There’s no denying it. Until Zahra shows some proof that he was exonerated as he claims, his criminal record is now history.
Our geriatric and corrupt County Supervisor is in big trouble. How do I know? Because Doug Chaffee sent out a hit piece mailer against his opponent, Sunny Park of Buena Park. It’s pretty unusual for an incumbent Supervisor to even acknowledge the existence of their opponent so Chaffee’ is scrambling with only 6 weeks until the election.
But that’s not the point of the post. Dig this:
Notice that first bit, the part about Sunny swiping campaign signs? Since when does Chaffee even think that’s a problem? After all, he helped his wife, Pilferin’ Paulette, hide the campaign signs she stole in their garage back in 2018. I don’t recall Chaffe ever reflecting on the “unfairness” to Paulette’s opponents, or the “jeopardy to election integrity.” What a swine.
Anyway, the big difference between the two cases is that Sunny took her chances in court, and won her case. Doug Chaffee’s old lady pleaded guilty to get her record expunged and then claimed she was never convicted of anything. In fact, during the 2020 OC School Board election she sued Tim Shaw of La Habra for claiming that she had been convicted. She and her husband decided to play the political martyr routine.
Well nobody ever accused the Chaffee Crime Clan of honesty, so there’s that. And nobody ever accused them of ironic humor, so they’re breaking new ground.
Slimy politicians trying to buy votes is nothing new. It should be illegal. Hell, it probably is. Orange County Supervisors do it out of their offices all the time and always have. But this effort from the rodent-like Doug Chaffee, our man in Santa Ana takes the proverbial cake.
I have no idea how many of his constituents would want to do anything with Chaffee, but I bet there aren’t many. But Chaffee’s unpopularity isn’t the point. The point is people working out of a public facility doing campaign work is illegal. And that’s exactly what this.
The Fullerton Collaborative hosted a candidate forum, which featured some good questions and some not so good. It featured 5 out of 6 City Council candidates running in Districts 3 and 5 this year. Shana Charles received a hall pass and did not stay for the forum.
Ahmad Zahra was his usual full of himself self. The notorious man who never wasted a selfie opportunity was untruthful, effortlessly deceived the audience, remaining true to his duplicitous self.
Here’s a list of the many, oh, so many lies.
LIE #1: “The district I’ve called home for the last 21 years.”
TRUTH: Zahra’s voter registration record doesn’t agree.
LIE #2: “As a medical doctor.”
TRUTH: Zahra is not a licensed medical doctor or a medical professional of any kind.
LIE #3: “The budget needs to be reflective of the needs of our community.”
TRUTH: Zahra wasted a million dollars of the people’s money frivolously suing a local blog and its authors, and were it not for the new Council, that bill would still be accumulating. A million dollars would have paid for a fire engine and more than a handful of Parks and Recs, Police, or Firefighter, or Maintenance employees.
LIE #4: “We have a shortage of staff and we need to invest in those areas.”
TRUTH: Zahra had an opportunity to pass a budget with a 1% cut and $1 million dollars to the City Manager to fill staffing concerns. He voted no, not once, but on three different City Council meetings.
LIE #5: “I would love to see more drug programs and engaging our school district on drug prevention programs.”
TRUTH: Zahra advocated for publicly and voted for on four separate occasions to have weed sold in Fullerton with only a 100 foot buffer zones to schools or homes or churches or parks.
LIE #6: “Supportive housing is crucial, but we need to make sure we are also outreaching and creating transparency.”
TRUTH: 1600 Commonwealth is an affordable housing development and so little transparency and outreach was done that the neighbors protested en masse and killed the deal with Pathways of Hope because of lack of outreach and transparency.
LIE #7: “We need to make sure our parks are maintained and cleaned.”
TRUTH: Zahra voted to give away Union Pacific Park in the heart of his district to a for-profit event planner for weddings.
LIE #8: “I have been one of the most engaged Council members. Everybody knows I’m out there.”
TRUTH: Woodcrest neighborhood mothers and residents have come to one Council meeting after another in the past 2 years complaining about Zahra’s lack of accessibility and lack of engagement with them. But then again, they are not kissing his ass and stroking his giant ego. He works with the Center for Healthy Neighborhoods. Why? Because their director donates to his campaign and their employee Egleth Nuncci is his permanent tag-a-long. No other non-profit or community group gets any engagement from Zahra.
LIE #9: “We also need to expand our ability to do corporate partnerships.”
TRUTH: Zahra strong armed Republic Services, the City’s trash hauler to give his pet project city in a foreign country a trash truck and then promptly took a selfie and credit for saving democracy. That’s not a corporate partner. That is a quid pro quo.
LIE #10: “I have worked with this Council, despite sometimes the hard times and differences we’ve had.”
TRUTH: Zahra only works for and with Zahra. He has no contact with his Council colleagues. So how are you working with this Council, Ahmad?
LIE #11: “Be faithful with my votes.”
TRUTH: Zahra made an impassioned speech about how important voting was in his country of Syria and that the at large Council seat vacated by Jesus Quirk-Silva should be determined in a special election to betray the people and his faith in democracy the very next meeting and appoint the elderly disaster Jan Flory, who in turn voted to appoint him to the Orange County Water District and its healthy stipend, one he took without objection and then donated to his campaign.
LIE #12: “We see so many Councilmembers come and then they make backroom deals.”
TRUTH: See TRUTH #11.
The truth is Ahmad Zahra is nothing more than a serial liar. Things come apart so easily when they are held together by lies. It’s always the ones with dirty hands doing all the finger pointing isn’t it?
When council districts were finally created in Fullerton – in response to a lawsuit, one district was designed to support Fullerton’s large Latino community – District 5. In 2018 D5 elected a non-Latino which of course was surprising but perfectly legal. But what would Latinos think about a concerted effort by the OC Democratic party to make sure the Latino vote was divided to protect Ahmad Zahra, the non-Latino incumbent?
Enter Tony Castro, the dead-beat nobody who popped up out of nowhere and pulled election papers the day after Oscar Valadez, who has lived in D5 for over 20 years.
Recently FFFF has been bombarded with spam comments all of which came from Tony Castro himself. I took out the trash, but not before salvaging this little gobbet of that is quite revealing: a statement that Castro was approached by one Ajay Mohan:
This snippet has the ring of truth. There is an Ajay Mohan and he is the director of the OC Democrat Party. Here he is:
Now why would Mr. Mohan recruit an unknown, broke, Tony Castro to run against the incumbent who has the endorsement of Party Central? The answer is, unfortunately, crystal clear: to take votes away from Oscar Valadez. This dirty little trick is as old as elections themselves, of course, but to see the Dems do it to working class Latinos betrays a special sort of cynical mindset.
Which brings us to the OC Dem Party Chairperson, Ada Briceno, a Latina unionista who apparently has decided to bamboozle La Raza in support of the egregious Zahra – who has supported dope stores near schools, who battered a Latina woman, and who voted to give away a public park in the barrio to a private events center/caterer.