Early on the morning of August 18th our City Council voted to appoint an advisory committee to consider drawing a new district map for Fullerton council seats. The Council decided to keep final approval for themselves.
You may recall that the City voters adopted districts in 2016 as part of the legal settlement with minority groups. That map was cooked up behind the scenes by Jennifer Fitzgerald with the assistance of downtown bar owners whose aim appeared to be splitting up downtown into 5 parts, three of which were each connected to their main body by tenuous electoral tissue. Naturally, the one and only map went along on the ballot with the question of having districts at all. Amazingly, all the councilmembers, including Bruce Whitaker went along with the sham, gerrymandered map, whose ostensible author, Jeremy Popoff, was Fullerton’s worst scofflaw bar owner.
The process of redistricting is almost always a charade with just enough public participation to look sort of legit. This time will be no different. It’s bound to consume staff time and require the services of a friendly consultant and a subscription to web-based demographic software.
It’s hardly necessary. Fullerton naturally divides into clear-cut areas of “communities of interest” both geographically and ethnically. So here’s my suggestion for a new map. I offer it humbly to the Friends, and the deciders, free of charge.
Consolidation, compaction, clarity. Northwest, North Central, East, South Central and Southwest. Gee, that was easy.
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…
Okay. What have we learned so far about Fullerton’s long and corrupt attempt to avoid addressing the problem of amplified outdoor music?
First we have learned that Fullerton’s “experts” in the Planning and Code Enforcement divisions have been serially uninterested in enforcing their own laws in an effort to appease and placate scofflaw bars in the financial sinkhole known as downtown Fullerton.
Second we have learned that you can’t make government bureaucrats do their jobs if they don’t want to do them.
Way back in 2009 City Hall knew it had a problem on its hands as the metastasizing and illegal clubs began sharing their good times with everybody else. A “consultant” called Bon Terra was engaged to to a noise study and the City Council, at the time, voted to maintain the existing code that prohibited outdoor music.
But saying something and doing something about it reflects a mammoth void in Fullerton, and the bureaucrats in City Hall don’t give up on an issue until one way or another, they get what they want.
And in 2012 they got a friend, Jennifer Fitzgerald, who was more than happy to run interference for people who had no qualms about violating the noise and land-use law.
And so, over the next seven years, the Noise Nuisance continued, most notably at The Slidebar, a club that was illegally operating without a CUP. And even as the nuisance continued, the City embarked on a campaign to eliminate any restrictions at all. Complaints were invariably batted away by Planning Directors Karen Haluza, Ted White, and Matt Foulkes who, along with our egregious City Attorney, Dick Jones kept citing studies and new plans, and whatever else they could use as a pretext for doing nothing.
Finally by 2019, it became apparent that the goal was to permit an acoustic free-for-all in downtown Fullerton.
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.
FFFF has published lots of posts about the way in which our highly paid “experts” in City Hall have made it their business to run interference for the numerous scofflaw bar and “club” owners downtown when it comes to ignoring annoyances like Conditions of Approval and the municipal code’s Noise Ordinance.
Both topics have been addressed in the same way: if they can, they simply ignore the situation. The blind eye approach has worked most of time. When it hasn’t, Step 2 is invoked. Step 2 is to diligently pursue making the laws laxer, so lax in fact, that the lawbreaking is no longer lawbreaking. This bureaucratic gambit is really nice because the Planning Department Staff can always claim that something is in the works that will address the situation. Of course that’s a lie. What’s really happening is that the department is trying really hard to come up with a legal absolution so low even the lowest douchebag can slither over it.
At every step of the way, the scofflaws – Jeremy Popoff of Slidebar fame and the Florentine Mob spring most readily to mind – lubricate the gears of Fullerton’s small town political machine who have seemed ever-ready to support the law breaking.
While we here at FFFF have extensively covered the abuse of CUPs and other land use issues, the history of the ongoing issue of nuisance noise traces a perfect trajectory of incompetence or casual corruption, or most likely, of both.
The story spans three city managers, four planning directors and a whole slew of elected ciphers who would rather defend purveyors of nuisance over the right of their constituents to quiet enjoyment of their property.
It’s taken well over thirty years, but apparently the Family of Tony Florentine is calling quits in downtown Fullerton. Normally, such an occasion would be cause for gratitude, reflection, fond memories, etc., etc., ect.
But not in this case.
The reason nobody is indulging in kind reminiscence is simple. Over the years the family has been in on, and accused of some very shady stuff. Forget about shitty food and consider the following fun events, documented right here on the pages of FFFF, even if ignored by City staff, the Fullerton Police Department and the Fullerton Fire Department.
It’s hard to say what other misdeeds and actual crimes have been committed by the Florentines, over the years. Stories abound. But what we know gives us plenty of reason not to consider their departure with any sort of remorse.
And the very continuation of the bad behavior gives us plenty of reason to ruminate on the political climate that permitted the ongoing flagrance and fraud. Decision makers in City Hall have been running interference for, enabling, and diligently looking the other way through this little reign of terror. Does anybody care? The old City Councils never did. Will the new one?
The funny thing about this is the obvious attempt to cover ground lost to Cho’s opponent, Fred Jung, on the open space issue. Cho has been repeatedly hit by Fullerton Taxpayers For Reform as a puppet of overdevelopment lobbyist Jennifer Fitzgerald, our departing Mayor-for-Hire who has her fingerprints all over every apartment prison block built in Fullerton over the past 8 years.
When FFFF first introduced Andrew Cho to the Friends we noted that his list of “endorsers” was a veritable rogues’ gallery of political crooks, swindlers and liars. And now the collection is complete:
It is right and proper that the Cho, the hapless stooge of outgoing Mayor-for-Hire Jennifer Fitzgerald should have the backing of “Democrat” Doug “Bud” Chaffee, the senile and incompetent clown who let Fullerton go to Hell even as he bought himself a job at the County. It’s also perfectly predictable. Lobbyist Curt Pringle, who employs Fitzgerald is a big fundraiser for Chaffee, obviously expecting favors in return. This is one of them.
And let’s never forget Chaffee’s better half Paulette Marshall, whose well-documented political hijinks and actual crimes, must have been well-known to hubby.
But the recommendation that bankruptcy lawyer Cho’s record in “financial recovery” is somehow an asset should cause even the dimmest wit to ponder Fullerton’s future with Cho on the council dais.
Rumor is circulating that our Mayor-for-Hire, lobbyist Jennifer Fitzgerald isn’t going to be running for election to represent District 1 in Fullerton this fall. Good news, indeed, if true, for those who care about honest, competent government.
But is it true? No pronouncements have been forthcoming from the woman herself which suggests that the rumor isn’t true, or that the influence peddler is going to try to slide in a candidate of her own choosing – one who may just be amenable to continuing the Culture of Corruption in the FPD and the Culture of Incompetence in City Hall.
What her departure might mean for her future value for the swamp known as Pringle and Associates remains to be seen.
Well, I guess we’ll know in about six weeks. And if Her Highness is just playing games and is going to run after all, we’ll be reminding voters of her:
Promise to take no pay or benefits, and then doing just that.
Lying about a “balanced budget” for years while depleting reserve funds to pay for ever-greater pension obligations.
Covering up the drunk driving of her best buddy, City Manager Joe Felz, a spectacle that has embarrassed the City, ever since.
Ignoring the roads of Fullerton until they have become the worst in Orange County , as determined by the OCTA.
Presiding over the shoddy or incompetent construction of vanity projects that put money in the pockets of her campaign contributor.
Working as a lobbyist while representing the City of Fullerton.
So bring it on Jen.’ We’ve been paying attention and we’re gonna make sure your neighbors know all about your record. Stooge endorsement from recalled former council buffoons, corrupt liberals and government camp followers and a new tsunami of prevarication ain’t gonna cut it in 2020.
There was a protest today in Fullerton, like many cities around the country, sparked by the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis. People are justifiably angry about the actions of the officers involved who killed Mr. Floyd.
This blog has long stood against police misconduct and abuses of authority from the Pre-Kelly Thomas days to my ongoing lawsuit trying to expose the ongoing Culture of Corruption within the City of Fullerton.
We’re allies on the issues of abuses of authority and unaccountable police.
That said I implore you to focus your anger.
Police abuse people not for such a simple issue as wrongthink. Manual Ramos threatening Kelly Thomas with his balled up fists wasn’t a Black vs. White issue. When 50% of the Officers fired for the murder of George Floyd are POCs it breaks the lazy narrative.
Police do terrible things because we as a society let them. We tell them it’s okay. We condone and support their actions. We give them endless benefits in their checks and qualified immunity in the courts.
We do it every election at the ballot box.
In 2016 Jennifer Fitzgerald, our current Mayor, won election with more votes than any candidate has ever received in the city of Fullerton. She won with these numbers despite being the biggest bootlicker on council since the 3 council members we recalled.
During her tenure, this woman has caused our budget to be absolutely CONSUMED by police pay and benefits. Public safety currently accounts for more than $7 out of every $10 we spend in our general fund. This is ridiculous but it has no end in sight and we’re getting less and less for it.
Our city cannot afford to fix our roads because she and those like her have never seen a police pension or pay raise she didn’t adamantly support.
Meanwhile she has fought, tooth and nail, against any meaningful reform of the Fullerton Police Department from her seat on council. She glad hands police and supports their militarization at every opportunity. She has supported asset seizures which is when the city steals your property to pad their budgets. She has gone so far as to support hiding records from the public by not demanding the City follow basic public records laws. Hell, this blog got sued for showing that FPD is RIGHT NOW doing everything they can to AVOID publicly disclosing wrongdoing by their officers.
This blog exposed a pervert cop who was caught filming up a 16 year old’s skirt while assigned to Fullerton High School and her solution was to vote, multiple times, to SUE US. Oversight? Accountability? Assurances that there is chain of custody and accountability? That FPD won’t turn more of our kids into victims of sex crimes? She’s been as quiet as a church mouse on those issues because she puts bad cops over our kids & our city as a whole.
Did you know that Fullerton purchased 160 AR-15s? That’s more than one PER officer. Why? Why does FPD need that kind of firepower? It certainly isn’t to protect you. And if it’s not to protect you, it’s to protect the very police that our elected officials refuse to hold accountable from you.
Fitzgerald eagerly supported this purchase and militarization without hesitation. As did Jesus Silva & County Supervisor Doug Chaffee.
They do the bidding of the Fullerton Police Officer’s Association and the FPOA cares about one thing and one thing only – keeping cops with fat wallets above the law at your expense. Remember that the less accountable they are, the more you pay when they screw up. Those millions that Fullerton paid Ron Thomas certainly didn’t come out of any police pensions or FPOA bake sale.
In the near decade since Kelly Thomas was murdered we have seen no meaningful reform of the Fullerton Police Department. No transparency. No real oversight. Jennifer Fitzgerald has now been Mayor twice in that time. She was put onto council in the election months after the recall resulting from the Kelly Thomas murder – she even ran on exploring changes to the police department and it was all bullshit to placate you. She allegedly refused to even watch the Kelly Thomas video unless her buddy, Chief Danny Hughes, was there to guide her opinion. Imagine somebody saying that about the George Floyd video – that they wouldn’t watch it without the Commander in charge to guide them through it? That’s our Mayor.
If you care about police accountability. If you care about justice. If you care about any of the things the protesters claim to care about in this moment of national outrage – make your voice heard at the ballot box AND the in the streets.
Don’t forget. Don’t get complacent. Vote against anybody who puts the FPOA above we the people. Kick the Jennifer Fitzgeralds with their constant bootlicking to the curb. Be a part of the change that stops the platitudes.