Although it has no doubt escaped notice by many, last Monday was the 10-year anniversary of the bludgeoning of Kelly Thomas by a gang wearing the colors of the Fullerton Police Department. This Saturday will mark the date his family removed the homeless, schizophrenic man from artificial life support.
But the Friends haven’t forgotten. And we haven’t forgotten that people who did this to Kelly Thomas were acquitted by a bone-head jury; that the FPD was never reformed; that the police department over the past decade has continued to employ and deploy angry, prevaricating, larcenous police officers; that the FPD sucks up half our budget. And we will never forget how Fullerton’s “establishment” liberals hid behind their drawn curtains in fright when justice was demanded, and instead tried to divert attention to the homeless problem.
And let’s never forget the millions paid out to Kelly Thomas’s mother and father.
No, Sharon Quirk, this was not about socks. It was about a dead man, chocked to death in his own blood.
Well, so what? you say. Somebody at Tripepi Smith thinks Fitzy is a useful addition to their stable of government string pullers; and they also think there is some way in hell she can peddle her wares in Texas, where she has fled.
The embarrassed council put the gig out to bid again in April, and in August 2020 Tripepi Smith was once again selected – over the incumbent – by a hand-picked collection of cities – one of whom Tripepi Smith actually works for.
Now, what Fitzgerald’s efforts in this peculiar procurement were is, of course, a matter of speculation. But we do know that she controlled what went on in City Hall, and we also know that when it came to personal opportunities, she never missed a trick. Was she in cahoots with Domer to make sure the applicant pool for this service was small and that Tripepi Smith would inevitably get the job? I can’t say. But I can say that a suspicious bid process was followed by some sort of personal opportunity for Jennifer Fitzgerald. That is all.
If you thought having a City Attorney’s office suing bloggers to cover up their incompetence was bad and unethical, you’ll love this:
Fullerton’s joke of a law firm Jones & Mayer has left their front steps in a state of decrepit disrepair for at least 6 months. Their office is located at 3777 N. Harbor Blvd, alongside a busy sidewalk. Imagine taking your young child for a walk, losing sight for a quick second, and then watching them crack their head open on that rusty steel mess, protected only by a 2×4?
Or how about working here under the assumption that that temporary railing is well-secured? Look closely, it isn’t.
Let’s see what constitutes a “public nuisance” within the City of Fullerton:
Who would have thought the City Attorney is the poster child of how best to violate 6.01.030 (A) and (B) many times over?
I hope the irony of this is not lost on you. This is a law firm who makes their living advising cities on “public nuisance” cases all over California, presiding over administrative hearings, and in some cases prosecuting land owners who refuse to make repairs for the very same type of neglect and disrepair pictured above.
Time and time again, the arrogance of City Attorney Dick Jones is just stunning. He interprets or disregards the law in whichever way is most convenient for his interests. In case you’ve forgotten, now would be a good time to review Dick Jones’ attempt to steal a pension from CalPERS by faking himself as a City of Westminster employee. He knew better then, and he knows better now but just doesn’t care, and that’s the problem.
The Word out of City Hall is that the “Community Development” Director, Matt Foulkes, is hitting the road. All the way to neighboring Buena Park, a city half the size of Fullerton. This is not a lateral move.
Foulkes no doubt saw the proverbial handwriting on the wall and realized the long, long era of incompetence and no accountability in the Fullerton planning process was over.
The last straw may have been his ass-backward proposal to convert a park into a private event center masquerading as a aquaponic farm.
But Foulkes was by no means simply in over his head. He was part of The Fitzgerald and Domer team that deliberately ignored code enforcement downtown and who actually looked the other way when Joe Florentine forged an official city application document. And then there was the documented theft of the “Fullerton Rail District” name for his own secret plan that envisaged stack n’ pack housing to appease his SCAG overlords, and of course, the now-departed lobbyist, Jennifer Fitzgerald.
Maybe the next Director will be somebody capable of explaining things without a long string of jargon, nonsense and outright lies. It seems unlikely, but the Friends can always hope.
My human Friends have learned that your former Mayor-for-hire, and the best bestie of my former mistress, Jennifer Fitzgerald, is jumping ship from the Fullerton boat of which she spent years drilling holes in the bottom. But before she skips town she has planned at least one last scam to separate the gullible bipeds from their dough. This borders on some sort of abuse, and believe you me, I know a lot about abuse!
Can you please repeat that? Hard to believe any of you humans would pay a hydrant pee to listen to Fitzgerald opine on any subject, but this topic is so funny that it’s even funny up here in doggie heaven.
What qualities make a good city manager? Well, let’s ask.
How about refusing to reform a criminal enterprise known as the FPD?
How about letting millions of gallons of expensive MWD water leak out of Laguna Lake with zero accountability?
How about years of unbalanced budgets leading to the brink of fiscal disaster?
How about serial neglect of the city fragile infrastructure?
How about getting drunk and running over a tree, and then trying to drive off?
How about covering up a Parks N’ Rec vehicle crash?
How about turning a blind eye to serial code violations?
How about continuing to foster the myth that downtown Fullerton is some sort of financial asset?
How about turning a blind eye to forgery of official city documents?
How about stonewalling on required release of public documents?
How about wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on crony “consultants”?
How about mismanaging construction projects as simple as wooden stairs and elevator additions?
How about enabling vanity projects like unused ceremonial bridges and dry duck ponds?
How about wasting a million dollars in state money on an idiotic and unpopular Specific Plan?
How about acceding to the demands of regional agencies for housing demands?
How about developing an entire Specific Plan behind everybody’s back – except the housing bureaucrats and do-gooders?
Arf! That’s only some of the stuff I can remember happening under the watch of Fitzgerald’s two city managers – the drunken stumblebum, Joe Felz, and the equally incompetent, likely sober, Ken Domer, neither of whom could run a dog kennel, as well I know.
For Jennifer Fitzgerald the only skill that mattered from a city manager was to accommodate her desires, desires that often as not ended up costing the citizens and taxpayers of Fullerton one way or another. She was a “master” all right. A master of manipulating a feeble system of political hacks and corruptible bureaucrats.
Hopefully some female human attending this gathering will be smart enough to ask some of the specifics of Fullerton’s city management disasters, but I doubt it.
Last Tuesday the Fullerton City Council majority finally got sick and tired enough with their hapless City Manager to tell him to take a hike. The votes to oust Ken Domer came from Bruce Whitaker, Nick Dunlap and Fred Jung.
Insiders are suggesting that his temporary replacement will be none other than Police Chief Robert Dunn.
The Council is meeting Tuesday to discuss a replacement appointment.
And when you think about it, the only real question is why it took so long.
By any measurable standards, Ken Domer was not very good at his job. He took too long to address the City’s structural budget deficits, and when he did, his solution was to raise sales taxes – taxes not even aimed at our horrible infrastructure.
Under Domer we saw the deliberate ignoring of noise code violation enforcement and the effort to dilute the relevant codes. We saw the the aiding and abetting of a permit applicant who forged official planning documents. We saw idiotic and unsupervised vanity construction projects. We saw stupid things like the recently killed “aquaponics farm” and the connivance required to begin a Specific Plan without any input from the community or even the City Council.
We saw a string of “consultants” hired out of the blue to perform tasks that Domer and his highly paid staff should have been able to do in their sleep.
Why the underqualified Domer was ever hired in the first place will probably always remain a mystery, except that it makes perfect sense that Jennifer Fitzgerald, our former Mayor-for-hire, wanted someone who would reliably do what she wanted without asking any embarrassing questions.
Along with walking legal catastrophe, Dick Jones, Domer was certainly complicit in the vindictive lawsuit waged by the City against FFFF bloggers, a disastrous strategy that will cost the tax-payers plenty.
But it was the ill-fated and duplicitous Measure S sales tax scam that really iced the cake. It was designed as a rescue for the pay and pensions of Fullerton’s full-time public employees, who, during the pandemic, have continued to enjoy pay and benefits while many of Fullerton’s residents and business were suffering the cruelty of a real world unprotected by the largesse dispensed by government union-friendly politicians.
Well, Domer is gone, but it would be a waste of time and tears to mourn his departure. He is getting a month’s pay and benefits up front worth $25,000. And then he will begetting 9 months’ pay and benefits courtesy of a contract extension granted just two month before last November’s election by Fitzgerald and her council cronies Ahmad Zahra, Jan Flory, and Jesus Silva. That’s another $25,000. Per month. And the bonanza of Domer’s pension spike in Fullerton will be a cost borne by all of us for a long, long time.
The people of Fullerton have been awful good to the Domer family.
Friends, you may be excused for not knowing who Elizabeth Hansberg is. Very few people know, or care who is on their Planning Commission. But it matters.
Elizabeth Hansberg is our current Planning Commission Chairperson, appointed by the egregious Ahmad Zahra. “So what?” I can hear you saying. Well, contemplate this: she says she is an urban planner, and boy, does she have an urban plan for Fullerton: 13,000 new housing units is the plan, a concept that would increase our population by as much as 33%, upward of 200,000.
“What’s this?” you ask. Here’s the deal. Ms. Hansberg is a “housing advocate” which means jamming as many apartment blocks as is possible into Fullerton. The non-profit she started – People for Housing, now affiliated with something called YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) lobbies government agencies to build housing units. And lots of them. The website brags about lobbying the Fullerton City Council with images of yet another Planning Commissioner in tow – some political opportunist weenie called Jose Trinidad Castaneda,
Their mission is to pursue the current philosophy current in Sacramento to build hundreds of thousands of new units no matter the impact on the current property owners, the infrastructure or the environment. Slow Growth and sustainability advocates are her nemesis.
Naturally this has raised accusation that her movement is nothing but a pawn of the big development interests who are desperate to sink their shafts into the mine of cross-zoning in-fill housing monstrosities. Her cohorts deny this charge, but it still rings true. Why? Because she actually solicits opportunities from developers to engage in political advocacy on their behalf. It’s right there on the website. It gives every indication of being little more than a self-congratulatory shake-down effort.
So who does fund People for Housing, and what are the implications of having this person on our Planning Commission?
When people talk about “government circles” you can believe they mean it: some things just keep circling around and around yet, like when you have a clogged sewer liner, the circling flotsam never goes down the drain.
And so it is with the City of Fullerton’s hapless Community Development Department that can’t seem to adopt a plan and stick to it; that can’t be honest and straight forward; that refuses to enforce its own code; and as we shall see in this final installment, steadfastly refuses to notify the public of what it’s up to.
When I left off, I noted the odd three-month hiatus of the latest noise go-round that was once again being disguised within broader land use code update In February 2019, the Planning Department was again convened to review the matter, after two opponents of amplified outdoor music had been conveniently removed from the Commission. By this time the new and soon to be former Planning Director, Ted White, was directing the charge to push for the noise free-for-all, likening the impending racket to the noise blast known as Broadway Avenue in Nashville – but in a good way.
But this time there was another problem. The hearing hadn’t been properly noticed to the public as should have been the case, particularly since the noise issue has such an impact on the citizenry. George and Tony Bushala lawyered up and informed the City that it had failed to notify the public about what it was doing. Mr. White declared that the downtown noise issue would be removed from the discussion that night. But it wasn’t – not entirely – as other code sections that pertained to noise slipped through.
A compliant and complaisant Council adopted the zone code changes in April, 2019.
But the story was not over, because, well, Fullerton. The bar owners still needed to be pacified and the bar still needed to be lowered. By November 2020 Ted White was gone only to be replaced by an in-house lackey named Matt Foulkes who had been part of the ongoing mess since 2015, and knew exactly which side of his toast had the butter on it.
So the downtown noise mess was brought back to the council again, where lame-duck members Jennifer Fitzgerald and her puppet, Jan Flory were guaranteed yes votes. But alas, once again the City failed to properly notice the public, and this time there was no way to hide the incompetence in a broader mish-mash of code changes.So the hearing was continued until…well, who knows when? Apparently Jeremy Popoff has fled the scene to Nashville to enjoy whatever douchebaggery he can find there, and Covid has silenced DTF – for now.
But one thing is certain. The City’s downtown creation, AKA Dick Jones “monster” will continue to suck millions in resources out of the General Fund even as the bureaucrats continue to admire the mess they did nothing to stop and continue to characterize a liability as an asset. And because of that complete disconnect with reality, they will continue to push for a noise-a-palooza – no matter how long it takes.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if government bureaucracies do the things they do because of incompetence, venality, or favoritism. In the never-ending story of Fullerton’s noise regulation all three seem to be uniquely intertwined.
What is inescapable is that the City of Fullerton has striven mightily to separate the issue of nuisance noise emanating from downtown outdoor areas from both enforcement and illegality.
In 2011 the ridiculous Transportation Center Specific Plan finally made it legal to propagate amplified outdoor music, thus making Jeremey Popoff’s Slidebar appear honest, although he still didn’t have a legal Conditional Use Permit. But the new regulations for noise had no more effect than Popoff’s missing CUP because the City – cops and code enforcement – refused to enforce the regulations.
What to do? Hmm. What about throwing the issue into a miasma of bureaucratic paper shuffling so that nobody would notice what you were doing, and downtown scofflaws could actually be absolved, de jure as well as de facto?
In August, 2014 the City tried this pitch with the idea that the Noise ordinance would be updated along with great swaths of the existing land use law to make thing, you know, easier to figure out. But downtown noise played a prominent part in the discussion, if not really in the staff report. The council approved noise studies as a mechanism, a cynic might say, to avoid cracking down on Popoff, Jack Franklin’s Roscoe’s, and their ilk, because that is exactly what happened.
2015 rolled around and the Community Development “professionals,” led by newly minted Director Karen Haluza, were again yakking it up about revising the Code. Well, these things take time, you know, and in the late summer of 2016 the City Council finally got around to passing Ordinance 3232, a revised Code, still, with intent of instilling commonsense and clarity. The definition of amplified music was scratched out pending future action.
But whatever the motivation, the ever-shifting sands of sound gave the bureaucrats, aided and abetted by the perpetual dishonesty of City Attorney Dick Jones, the pretext they needed to bat away complaints about the illegal noise – because the issues was under study and consideration!
The vicious circle took yet another revolution in June of 2018 when the Council was persuaded by yet another new planning director, Ted White, to pass a Resolution of Intent to once again revise the land use codes in the interests of commonsense and clarity. Of course the Noise Ordinance and downtown noise was actually a key driver in this conversation, too. Mr. White took it upon himself to introduce a new downtown noise map where any outdoor sound would be permitted; but, the standards – 70 decibels outside and 65 decibels inside – were not to be applied to the source, but to the sensitive receptor, and the burden of proof was clearly laid at the feet of the victim, not the perpetrator of the nuisance. The bureaucracy seemed oblivious to the Armageddon of Noise they were trying to create or the sensibilities of residents adjacent to the riot zone.
The Planning Commission was finally scheduled to review the latest iteration of musical chairs in November, 2018; but the discussion was mysteriously continued for three months until February, 2019 by which time two opponents of amplified music, Nick Dunlap and Ryan Cantor had been removed from the Commission. A coincidence? Who knows? Stay tuned…
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?
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.
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.”
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.