The Bald Ambition of Ahmad Zahra

It must be real hard when you have to spend all your time brandishing you brand, especially when you’ve been in office three years and accomplished nothing. What to do? Run for higher office!

Zahra OC Register Battery
The smile betrayed an ulterior motive…

And so Fullerton’s own Ahmad Zahra is said to be setting his sights on our old friend, lackluster 4th District County Supervisor Doug Chaffee, whose accomplishments down on the County Farm are as threadbare as Zahra’s on our City Council.

Word has trickled up to our Political Snooping Unit that Zahra has been actively seeking support and endorsements for such a quixotic effort. How this will work out will remain to be seen, but it is rumored that the Democratic Party of OC isn’t real happy with Chaffee, who gives every appearance of being the abject and senile OC Board of Supervisor Chair, Andrew Do.

I can see all sorts of amusement value in this sort of thing and maybe it will come to pass. It seems like an effort designed to promote his name for the Fall 2020 Fullerton council election. Chaffee has money and can always get lot’s more from County lobbyists and other assorted bagmen. And he, like the other Supervisors abuse the law about using public money for political outreach.

Zahra, on the other hand, has no money, no job in which to earn any, and except for his few hundred social media dupes, no following. Not much hope there, but hope proverbially springs eternal.

Chaffee has accomplished as little at the County as he did on the Fullerton City Council, which is to say, nothing. But at least his record with law enforcement is more or less unimpeachable – if you don’t count helping his wife stash stolen campaign signs. Zahra has a bigger problem.

Arrested and charged with battery and vandalism in September, 2020, Zahra says the case was dropped. But a leak out of the DAs office presents the story of a guilty plea, community service and a record wiped clean and/or sealed. That last part can be disputed, but the first part is undeniable even thought the Fullerton cops and City Attorney Dick Jones have suppressed evidence of the arrest and booking – just like they did with the case of former drunk driving City Manager, Joe Felz.

Well, on the positive side one or more Democrat challengers to Chaffee’s shaky throne might induce a decent conservative (if such a creature hasn’t disappeared with the unicorns and the hippogriffs) into the mix and keep Chaffee from getting 50% of the primary vote, causing a General Election runoff.

New County Districts Approved

In case you weren’t paying attention (and care), our beloved County Board of Supervisors approved a new district map this week.

All sorts of fun and games took place to get this little self-serving project done, and all sorts of political angles were contemplated, no doubt. Central county actually got a new district number altogether, while other districts morphed to suit the tastes of our political lords and masters. Here’s the map:

The 4th District – represented by the seemingly senile and genuinely corrupt rodent, Doug Chaffee, lost a chunk of Anaheim between Harbor and the 57 Freeway and gained the southern half of Buena Park and the garden spot known as Stanton. Here’s their City Motto:

Community Pride and Forward Vision identifies Stanton as a place where innovation and pride in the community are an important aspect of life. Residents enjoy major retail opportunities, active civic volunteers and business-friendly City organizations.

I wonder if there are going to be any legal challenges to this map. It has flaws. The idea of putting Mission Viejo in the same district as Yorba Linda seems absurd. Costa Mesa is now in District 5, but it’s a damn long haul from South Coast Plaza to the real south coast at San Clemente. Irvine is divided between districts and so are Garden Grove and Orange; Anaheim is split into 3 separate district pieces. Buena Park and Fountain Valley are reunited.

But any real legal challenge would have to come from injured “communities of interest,” which means aggrieved minority groups, mainly. District 2 looks suspiciously like a “packed” Latino enclave, but this would probably be to the liking of residents there who will finally get a non-Vietnamese-American Supervisor.

The head and the hat were a perfect fit…

In our 4th District we can be sure his minions were weighing the likelihood of potential challengers to Chaffee. There are none in either Stanton or Buena Park. Losing southeast Anaheim was no political loss.

So it remains to be seen if anybody in north Orange County is willing to take on an incumbent Democrat – no matter how vulnerable (and useless) he is.

The Joe Felz Case and the Culture of Corruption

Before we publish the unedited video of our former City Manager, Joe Burt Felz, arrested for drunk driving, only to be taken home and tucked into bed by his own MADD recognized cops, let us share some highlights of the video as shared and analyzed by FFFFs own Joshua Ferguson. Ferguson was the target of a vindictive and highly expensive lawsuit courtesy of the City’s “I Can’t Believe It’s A Law Firm” of Jones and Mayer. And so it is appropriate for Joshua to remind us what happened – and to remind those not paying attention that the Felz catch and release was a far from isolated case of malfeasance by our police department and our esteemed leaders in City Hall.

There is no no doubt that Danny “Gallahad” Hughes lied to the City Council about Felz, and that the cops knew doing the right thing was professionally dangerous.

As Ferguson says, if there is a lesson to be learned in this long train of corruption, you can be sure that Councilmen Ahmad Zahra and Jesus Quirk Silva haven’t learned it. They voted until the bitter end to keep the moribund lawsuit against FFFF staggering along.

Redistricting A’ Comin’

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.

Fullerton’s Nuisance Noise and The Ongoing Saga of Incompetence and Corruption. Part 4

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.

SlidebarMotto
A few thou here and there worked wonders…

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.

A standup guy walking tall.
.

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.

I’m not going to do my job and you can’t make me…

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!

New in town, but he caught on quickly…

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…

 

 

Fullerton’s Nuisance Noise and The Ongoing Saga of Incompetence and Corruption. Part 3

Okay. What have we learned so far about Fullerton’s long and corrupt attempt to avoid addressing the problem of amplified outdoor music?

I’m not going to do my job and you can’t make me…

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.

Stop the noise, consarn it!

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.

Yes, that is the answer!

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.

You can take the douche out of the bag…

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.

Matt Foulkes. The downward spiral is complete.

Finally by 2019, it became apparent that the goal was to permit an acoustic free-for-all in downtown Fullerton.

 

Fullerton’s Nuisance Noise and The Ongoing Saga of Incompetence and Corruption. Part 2

Al Zelinka. Failing to the top.

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?

Haluza. The closer you looked, the worse it got.

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.

Ted White didn’t leave his fingerprints…he thinks…

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.”

Matt Foulkes. The downward spiral is complete.

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.

Fullerton’s Nuisance Noise and The Ongoing Saga of Incompetence and Corruption. Part 1

Flory in search of the proverbial yard arm.

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.

In City Hall, doing the right thing just wasn’t gonna happen…

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.

You can take the douche out of the bag…

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.

 

The Florentine Mob Pulls Out

Sit down and grab some sidewalk, brother…

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.

  1. Joe Florentine accused by former employee of torching his own business – The Melody Inn – back in the late 1980s.
  2. Tony Florentine magically converts an outside dining permit into a permanent structure built across a public sidewalk in the early 2000s.
  3. Tony’s bright kid, Joe, illegally converts the family restaurant into an illegal night club in the mid 2000s.
  4. In 2012 Papa Tony files phoney FPPC complaint against Tony Bushala in an effort to help his Gang of Three avoid recall. Complaint denied.
  5. After gaining a CUP to operate as a club, Joe Florentine never installs the fire sprinkler system required of the CUP.
  6. Seeking approval of yet another CUP in 2019-2020 even though the terms of the previous CUP had never been met,  Joe Florentine forged and had notarized an application that by-passed the building owner, thus placing the City in legal jeopardy.
  7. Last spring the Florentines decided they were entitled to remove on-street parking in order to help themselves.

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?

Andrew Cho Steals Images, Gets Busted

Bankruptcy Lawyer Bad Cho

Remember the political campaign that got started by a bankruptcy lawyer pretending his vocation was “Fullerton Parent” and who was endorsed by a gaggle of political crooks, liars and bagmen?

Well, it appears the crooked campaign of Andrew Cho got itself in trouble by heisting images from the Friends of Coyote Hills website in order to strike an environmentally friendly posture.

The hills are alive with the sound of Muzak…

Matthew Leslie writes about the heist at The Fullerton Rag.

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.