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.
Well, it looks like more loose change has fallen into Fullerton’s municipal sofa. A lot more. And it’s all so funny. The one thing the Fullerton train station didn’t need was another pair of elevator structures; and the last place they needed it was right next to the existing ones.
But that’s where they’re going. That’s right. A new elevators right next to the old ones that the City has failed so spectacularly at maintaining. “Wait, Joe,” I can hear you saying. “Tell us, for the love of SparkyFitz’s God, this is some sort of cruel joke.”
The joke’s on all of us. Even people who have never been to the Fullerton choo-choo station.The whole thing is costing taxpayers $4,000,000 which is almost three times the amount the exiting one cost 22 years ago. The arguments in favor of building this are laughable as you might imagine, and immediately prove that other taxpayers are picking up most of the tab – as it turns out, money funneled through the bottomless suck hole known as OCTA.
For instance we “had” to build a new set of elevators rather than repair the existing ones. Why? Taking the existing elevators out of service for a long period of time would result in ADA lawsuit. There is not a single filament of proof for these assertions but hey, that money ‘s got to be spent by somebody, right? For $4,000,000 you could set up a daily ADA access shuttle for 20 freaking years. Of course there is also an existing gate opened by a remote control that could access the other side of the tracks at ZERO cost.
But wait!!! (as they said on those old TV steak knife commercials). The new toy is not free to the people of Fullerton after all. A new agenda item asks for an extra $600,000 due to cost overruns. Just a few lost nickels in Allan Roeder’s couch, right? And listen to the string of incompetencies by our Engineering Department that caused the extra cost:
“An additional $ 600,000 is required for the BNSF flagging requirements, unforeseen utility conflicts, escalated cost in securing the elevator subcontractor and additional assistant in construction administration. Due to OCTA funding constraints, only direct construction-related costs will be reimbursable.”
Of course it would be nice if some one on our illustrious city council bothered to ask why a contract was awarded two years prematurely, and why our staff needs “additional assistant” (sic) to administer this simple project, or maybe why the job wasn’t rebid. But they won’t.
And so we witness the comical spectacle of two sets of elevator structures side by side, each slowly deteriorating, until 20 years from now some over-paid idiot proposes a third, because as any artist knows, three objects in a picture are much more aesthetically pleasing than two.
The Discovery Cube is a pretty neat venue for kids of all ages. Anyone who has driven the 5 freeway through Santa Ana can’t miss the place.
Discovery’s VP of Sales Lobbying Sean Fitzgerald is married to Fullerton Lobbyist-Councilwoman Jennifer Fitzgerald. City money began flowing to Discovery Cube within a year of Sean taking the job.
Following a promotion in 2014, this press release described Sean Fitzgerald’s new position:
“As Vice President, Sales and Strategic Development, Fitzgerald works directly with the Center’s leadership on a variety of growth-related initiatives. This includes developing new strategic partnerships with municipalities, corporations and other non-profits and serving as a key member of the team working to open DSC’s new Los Angeles facility later this year. In addition, Fitzgerald oversees a sales team working to fulfill the Center’s sales goals in field trips, outreach programming and partner education programs.”
CalRecycle awards Beverage Container Recycling Grant money to municipalities every year for various recycling programs. Public education is one of several options with which to spend the money.
Since 2012, the City has been paying for thousands of FSD sixth graders to learn about recycling at Discovery Cube to the tune of $27 per kid. (more…)
On the City’s website, right above a news release about an upcoming osteoporosis seminar at the Community Center, we discover that the City Council has unanimously chosen a replacement for Joe Felz. Felz, you will recall, drove off of Glenwood Avenue, ran over a tree, blew a tire and tried to drive away in his crippled vehicle.
Allan Roeder, former City Manger of Costa Mesa, is the replacement, on an interim basis. He is part of a small pool of extremely expensive place holders brought in like bullpen pitchers, when the starter gets into trouble in the late innings. These already pensioned-off fellows go on to rake in enormous second incomes while already collecting their massive CalPers checks every month.
The new guy was hired yesterday in a Special, Behind-Closed-Doors meeting of the City Council.
Why the City needs to pay somebody a hundred grand for a five or six month stint is a question you should ask one of your “unanimous” council who seem to be oblivious to the fact that the City is running massive deficits every year, already. Oh well, it’s not their money, right?
Here is our new Mayor, Bruce Whitaker extolling the virtues of Mr. Roeder:
“We are happy to have someone as established and seasoned as Mr. Roeder to serve our city,” said Fullerton Mayor, Bruce Whitaker. “Allan’s experience will be welcomed at City Hall and he will be a valuable asset to the entire city until we appoint a permanent city manager.”
Now did Mr. Whitaker actually say that? Let’s hope it was a canned quotation put in his mouth by some overpaid “public information officer.” Having Felz around for the past six or seven years is proof positive that from a strictly practical perspective we don’t even need a city manager, and would probably have been a lot better off without the last one we had.
Well, now we have one that can absorb the blame for whatever unfortunate happenstances come our way in the first half of 2017, and be off down the road to the nearest bank.
Friends, here’s some more fun Jonesiana, a video compiled some years ago by the FFFF Moving Pictures Division. Enjoy the HeeHaw, oxytoxins, coughs and croups – and control, control control, Dick Jones-style!
When it came to boneheaded belligerent bombast there was no one quite like former (and recalled) councilman Dick Jones. Here he is in 2007 and 2008 pontificating about downtown Fullerton and the “monster” he created. His endless fixation on the same tired baby/bathwater cliche remains hilarious as he twists it around and around inside his befuddled noggin. If anybody can explain what a “ruly teenager” looks like, please let us know.
The FFFF editorial staff have enjoyed long hours of amusement courtesy of the corn-pone explursions of Ol’ Country Doc Jones captured on this video. The string of priceless HeeHawisms just gets better with age.
Meantime nothing has changed in downtown Fullerton – except the passage of ten long years and more of “yesterday’s felons” than ever.
We’re getting used to things like a City Manager involved in a crash getting a free ride home and no questions asked; for years downtown bars and night clubs have been masquerading as restaurants; Hell, we even had one club owner build a room addition on a public sidewalk and get away with it. How many FPD crimes large and small have been hushed up, made to go away? Who really knows?
But if ever a Fullerton resident wanted to find an example of how there are two sets of standards that apply to folks in our town, he need look no farther than a greasy institution called The Slidebar Rock-N-Roll Kitchen.
When it comes to double standards, no one quite succeeds like Jeremy Popoff, proprietor of the Slidebar.
Even if you are not a boozed up troublemaker from Norco, you may have heard of this place and its owner. This was the establishment from whence came the phony call that eventually cost Kelly Thomas his life five years ago. But this isn’t the story of a bar that wanted to get rid of a “nuisance.” No, this post is about a nuisance. A big one.
See, the Slidebar transforms into an entertainment venue at various times during the day, and every night. But the Slidebar has no Conditional Use Permit to so operate as required by the Fullerton Municipal Code. Why is that? Most likely because such a CUP would formally require noise monitoring. And there’s the problem.
Here’s a noise sampling from just outside this venerable establishment:
The Slidebar has been violating both the City’s noise ordinances and the noise levels established in the Transportation Center Specific Plan for years. The cops won’t do anything about it and neither, apparently, will the people paid to enforce the city’s code.
Stories have been circulating for years that the Slidebar treated Fullerton cops to free food and drink. Is this true? I don’t know, but it certainly gives pause – for a lot of reasons, maybe the least of which is an FPD lack of appetite for clamping down on this public nuisance.
And consider this: Mr. Popoff has made it his business to grease the political gears in Fullerton via campaign contributions. Big time. And is it any surprise that this fine establishment regularly hosts election night parties for incumbent city councilmembers?
Here’s a fun story from the Orange Juice Blog about our lobbyist-councilperson, Jennifer Fitzgerald, partying it up with the Slidebar proprietor, perhaps star-struck by Mr. Popoff’s low-grade celebrity and other mysterious charms. This was at precisely the same time that Mr. Popoff became such an expert at demographics and cartography that his districting map was chosen at the last minute by our feeble city council – unanimously. The sole purpose of that map was to illegally carve up downtown Fullerton – an indisputable “community of interest” – into five districts, thus ensuring that the downtown residents would never have a say in the governance of the open air saloon where they live. And the completely nonsensical ballot statement in favor of this gerrymandered embarrassment was written by none other than…Fitzgerald.
But back to the CUP and noise issues: would it be too cynical to suppose that Popoff’s connections to Ms. Fitzgerald is one of of the reasons this business continues to break the law with impunity?
In the first installment of this two-part series we saw examples of how a mere two downtown Fullerton bars (one illegally operating as a night club) had racked up a massive inventory of misdeeds, amounting to hundreds of cop calls in a few years. Just imagine how tough it is for the Fullerton Police Department to manage all this madness, night after night. And what happens to cop service calls in the rest of the city. Poor cops, right?
Yet before we shed any tears over the FPD and the horrible burden they bear, let us contemplate a “story” from the cop union website that glowingly talks about the special relationship that exists between downtown booze peddlers and our boyz in blue. Here are some choice quotations from the article:
Business in downtown Fullerton is booming.
Thousands of people flock from all over Southern California for the food and atmosphere – and to have a good time.
Police officials want to keep it that way.
In downtown Fullerton last year, officers made 562 drunken driving arrests, including 13 DUI crashes. There were also dozens of assaults.
“We could put 100 cops downtown, but we’d be swatting flies,” said Lt. Andrew Goodrich. “We want to work together to solve this.”
Added Police Chief Dan Hughes: “We want downtown to continue to flourish.”
Slidebar owner Jeremy Popoff had already convened a group of owners, calling it the “Downtown Restaurant Association.”
Do you see the absurd disconnect? Booming, flourishing business? Sandwiched between the happy horseshit talk are the startling statistics of our downtown, open-air saloon. The police are not only tolerating Crazytown, a situation they admit they can’t control, they are aiding-and-abetting it. Why? We certainly know that some bar owners like Popoff are politically connected – his place operates without the CUP the City legally requires of a night club. Then there are the recurring and disturbing stories about cops getting free food and drink at some of these bars – like Popoff’s place. These are stories that nobody has denied.
So are the cops just trying to make the best of a bad situation, or has the culture of the department finally become as gin-pickled with downtown booze as the rest of the City political establishment? I believe the department has enjoined a pretty sick symbiotic relationship with the downtown culture. And notice how the good ladies of MADD, the FPDs 5th Column, have never been mobilized against this massive affront to sober driving? Coincidence? I think not.
It’s obvious that there is zero political will from our city council to do a damn thing about the problem they created over the years. Just the reverse, in fact. Notice how our council unanimously agreed to carving up downtown among five separate council districts so as to dilute the influence of actual voters in that undeniable “community of interest?” The ballot statement supporting that mess was written by none other than our Lobbyist-Mayor, Jennifer Fitzgerald. Hmm.
As for Popoff, he can join with his fellow merchants of martinis and call themselves a”restaurant association;” they can pretend to play nice even while they are racking up ever-lengthening lists of police calls; what they can’t do, at least now that people are finally paying attention, is pretend that their operations aren’t draining financial resources from the average Fullerton family and putting it in their own bank accounts.
The annual downtown fiscal deficit to the taxpayer is well over a $1,500,000 – that’s ten bucks for every man, woman and child in Fullerton; somehow business is booming – but not the City’s General Fund.
And now, returning to the “article” cited, above: let’s have our new amigo, Mr. Gregg Honour, the control-your-bars consultant, whose attention has been drawn to downtown Fullerton and to FFFF, take us home:
Gregg Hanour, former owner of the Shark Club in Costa Mesa and author of “A Business Approach to Reducing Drunk Driving,” said police departments typically conduct undercover stings to build a case to remove a troubled bar.
“You’re lucky,” he told the bar owners. “Your police department wants to work with you.”
It is often said that nature abhors a vacuum. I think government ineptitude and corruption does, too. For a void created in the latter case attracts all sorts of opportunists looking to get ahead. Just consider the Gennaco affair for a moment: an out-of-control police department and a city government that wanted it to stay that way, called on the “professional” services of Michael Gennaco to make sure nothing was done at all.
The other day our crack team of investigators discovered that a fellow named Gregg Hanour had made public records requests for police calls to two of downtown Fullerton’s fine dining establishments night clubs – Bourbon Street and our old friends at Slidebar Rock ‘N Roll Something-or-other. Mr. Hanour is a former bar owner who now makes it his business to explore ways in which bars can quit annoying the municipalities in which they are located, abide by the permits that let them operate, and control their rowdy and inebriated customers, etc. Apparently, one of the main strategies offered by Mr. Hanour is to get bartenders to quit serving alcohol to drunks.
Downtown Fullerton must occupy a bunch of Hanour’s business development resources, given the completely out-of-control booze and barf culture that appertains. Good God! Just look at these two rap sheets:
Of course we are all familiar with the Slidebar and its checkered history. What most people in Fullerton don’t realize is that Slidebar is currently operating illegally as a night club. That’s right. This establishment has no conditional use permit, and every time something untoward goes on there a tremor of fear should pass through the City’s Risk Management Department. That’s because the City has intentionally looked the other way while Slidebar and it’s politically connected owner Jeremy Popoff keep the doors open and the drink flowing.
The real possibility of injury or assault or worse is evident in the long list of police calls to this bar. Can the City be held responsible for the consequences of letting this place run without the necessary permits? I don’t know. Shall we ask the City Attorney?
Our old friend the historian Karl Marx wrote: History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.
And so in Fullerton we have had the spectacle of Jan Flory, a councilperson who worked us over good for two dismal terms in office, was driven out, and who returned 10 years later to provide the final act of a deplorable career.
Back in 1994 Flory ran as the Establishment candidate to push back against the reform-minded Recall that dared to drive out the incumbent stooges who imposed an unnecessary utility tax. She was the perfect candidate to advertise the fear and loathing the Old Guard had for anybody outside their inner circle.
And every step along this trail of tears she palpably dripped bitter venom for those who dared cross the “experts” at City Hall. Tragedy, indeed.
From 2002 to 2012 we were mercifully spared the the effluence of vindictive spleen sprayed on anybody who had the temerity to question what was going on in their own government.
But in 2012 the moribund Establishment needed someone to ride to their rescue; and to defend, deny, excuse, ignore and cover-up the serial crimes committed by the police department; and to fight the agenda begun by a new council majority, ushered in by yet another recall perpetrated by unwashed outsiders. Who better to call upon than the old warhorse, herself.
Yes she won, by a scant 29 votes, and she immediately resumed her old role. Yet something was missing. Yes, the muumuus and wood beads were still there, and so was the old, surgically implanted steel rod. The complete lack of humor, grace or introspection suggested the Flory of old. But you could tell. Her heart wasn’t in it. Her performance was thin, shadow-like, even as she continued the water rip-off, covered-up the FPD Culture of Corruption with gargantuan out-of-court settlements, approved four non-balanced budgets – raiding reserves $43,000,000, approved more massive apartment blocks – activities that in the past would have brought a smug, self-satisfied smirk to her sneer. But the old joy was gone.
The third act was a farce – even until the inevitable bitter end: as left she hoped to give Fullerton a parting gift – the sad sack and detumescent Larry Bennet, whose job would have been to keep the “For Sale” sign over the sliding doors of City Hall.
Ah, well. Now, Mrs Flory departs again, hopefully for the final time. And as we see this petulant shrew out the door, let’s always remember her words from the 2012 campaign: to my lights… the city department heads are the heart of the city.