Category Archives: Downtown Fullerton

Downtown Fullerton is characterized by bars, dance clubs, restaurants, specialty stores and coffee shops. But mostly bars and dance clubs.

Florentine Mob At it Again

The family goes way back

What is it about the Florentine Family and public right-of-way. We are all familiar with the theft of a public sidewalk back in 2003. Now the clan seems to think they are entitled to remove public parking in order to accommodate the people unlucky enough to order take-out.

First the sidewalk, now the parking. What’s next?

Sure, it’s more convenient to expropriate the on-street parking, but there’s plenty of room in the back parking lot for the comings and goings of their customers. Oh well. We can chalk it up to more self-entitled behavior from the folks who refuse to adhere to the City Code, and who forged a City document to try to push through an illegal CUP.

An even better question is who at City hall is responsible for this nonsense?

Good Golly. Goodbye Molly. Good Riddance

Put on a happy face.

According to The Fullerton Observer, North Orange County Community College District trustee, Molly McClanahan has pulled the plug on her career as an alleged overseer of the bureaucracy at the local junior colleges. Her seat will remain vacant until the November election, a rather telling sign of how critical the job is.

Knowledge just leads to complicity.

Of course Molly didn’t get on the board via an election like her successor will. No she got this job 25 years ago as a boohoo consolation prize for being recalled from the city council by the people of Fullerton in June, 1994. The cause? A completely unnecessary utility tax that was foisted on us to save the city from imminent destruction. Like her two compatriots, Don Bankhead and Buck Catlin she refused to leave the council until a judge forced the City to hold a replacement election. Same arrogance as ever, yesterday, today, tomorrow.

Lights out…

On the council Good Old Molly never veered from a completely predictable path. Always handy with a bubble-headed cliché, she was a constant supporter of Redevelopment boondoggles and expansions, and any other nonsense put in front of her by “staff.” Her supporters always bragged that she “did her homework.” Yet when it came time to take the test there was never anything that remotely smacked of intelligence or the willingness to vote alone, if necessary.

Likewise, McClanahan’s career trajectory over the past two and a half decades on the JC board has not deviated a bit in its pathetic parabola: cover for bureaucrats, never demand accountability from anyone, just do what you’re told. She was caught being wined and dined by bond salesmen who placed the massive bond on the ballot in 2016 under the phony guise of helping veterans, and that pretty much sums up her legacy.

 

Fingerprints, Fingerprints…

No two are alike…

Last Wednesday the City of Fullerton Planning Department and its Director – a guy named Matt Foulkes – set an item before the Planning Commission. It was a CUP amendment that would help The Florentine Mob bring their shaky agglomeration of scofflaws businesses into compliance with an ever-weakening system of controls for out-of-control bar owners in Downtown Fullerton.

Poor Joe. Read. Weep.

But Lo and Behold, Florentine had no okie-dokie from the property owner, Mario Marovic, to pursue said amendment as is required by Fullerton’s own code. Not much of a quandry, right? Cut and dried, right? Crystal clear?: Come back when you gt Marovic’s signature on our form.

And yet for some reason our esteemed and well-compensated staff decided that the issue wasn’t clear at all; that the very notion of property ownership was open to interpretation, and that a completely irrelevant legal case dredged up by Floretine’s personal consigliere was applicable and definitive; and, that an application form obviously doctored by Florentine was just fine and dandy.

Hmm. The plot thickens with a fraudulent document!

Now, how do you get from Point A to Point B? Well this is Fullerton, more especially Downtown Fullerton, where lawless saloon owners have been ignoring the law for years with the obvious connivance of staff and city councilpersons and city attorney.

The very history of the Florentine’s operation is a testament to the way some people in this town not only get special treatment, they get a free pass to ignore the law. Building in a public right-of-way without an encroachment permit? Check. Illegal night club? Check. Operating in in violation of conditional use permit conditions? Check.

What I have heard from pretty reliable sources is that the lowest-level planner, Christine Hernandez, the poor sap whose name appears on the staff report to the Commission, was directed to process the application by her boss, Matt Foulkes; and that Foulkes in turn, was directed by his boss, City Manager Ken Domer to make sure this was approved. At this point it doesn’t take a rocket engineer to figure out that there is only one force in Fullerton irresistible enough to try to push through an illegal land use application and to make allegedly professional staff turn a blind eye to a forged document that violated their own law. Do I have to spell it out? Okay: Jennifer Fitzgerald, our lobbyist-mayor, that’s who.

Yes, that is the answer!

Nobody has been propping up reckless bar owners more than Fitzgerald, ranging from massive taxpayer subsidies for cops and clean-ups, ignoring nuisance violations, and even going so far as to pimp an utterly ridiculous district map concocted by the gin joints to dilute council control over their week-end war zone. Whenever a bar owner steps on his weenie or needs a favor, Fitzgerald throws herself into breech to help a pal out.

Play it again, Ken…

If I’m wrong Fitzgerald will get an apology. But I’m very confident I’m not wrong. And this time the truth may come out, even though this is Fullerton. Mr. Marovic’s lawyer is bound to demand all communications on this matter between staff and councilmembers, and godspeed, to that, say I.

Let’s find out whose fingerprints are on the latest Fullerton municipal humiliation.

Meanwhile, Back @ The Ranch – Part 3

dick-jones

Mudslide and Mayer. Staying awake long enough to sign the invoice…

Fighting your own incompetent and belligerent government can be distracting. And so rather than be distracted, I’ve been playing catch-up with some more of the doings of our idiocracy since the City’s legal lizards tried to stomp on our 1st Amendment rights.

Back on October 1, our esteemed council took on the business of people camping out in their cars. Naturally, the problem needed to be institutionalized, and institutionalized it was – by giving the Illumination Foundation a contract up to $100,000 to run a site-specific car and RV park. FFFF correspondent T-REX covered the story, here.

Play it again, Ken…

With their usual political courage, the council directed that their City Manager, Ken Domer, could decide the location and thereby let a bureaucrat insulate them from the repercussions of their own decision.

Now that location is known – the alley and public parking between the historic Western marketing Building and the Elephant Packing House, a building on the National Register of Historic Places.

Maybe the less said, the better…

Well, fine, say I. This site is directly adjacent to the crown jewel of Fullerton’s Failures, the so-called Union Pacific Park, or, as it is charmingly referred to by neighbors, The Poison Park. it seems right and proper that the City deposit one failure next to another, which is already situated across Harbor Boulevard from one of Fullerton’s first Redevelopment boondoggles, the Allen Hotel eyesore.

Redevelopment Redux…

And stay tuned for episode 4, in which the Poison Park returns to the agenda, and the Fullerton City Council steps on its own weenie again.

Meanwhile, Back @ the Ranch – Part 1

Don’t let the size fool you. This one’s mean…

As you Friends can imagine the FFFF  industrial complex has been engaged, mano a mano, with the yapping legal beagles employed by the City.

But now I take a break from the marblemouthed drone of Dick  Jones’s lies  to catch up our Dear Readers with other events of the past few months. If you supposed that the spotlight of media attention on its legal mischief has caused Fullerton politicians and bureaucrats to call a pause to its idiotic endeavors, boy, would you be wrong.

Be sure to visit the roof garden…the view of the auto repair shop next door will be amazing!

In October, the proposed dee-veloper of a “boutique” hotel on a parking lot next to the Santa Fe Depot gave a show for us rubes.

You may recall this dubious project – Doug “Bud” Chaffee’s parting gift to us: approval of an exclusive negotiating agreement based on the developer’s unsolicited proposal for a hotel on what is now a parking lot. Nobody had ever heard of this bold impresario before, but no matter. Jennifer Fitzgerald has always wanted one of these “boutique” hotels, even though it was never in the Transportation Center Specific Plan she kept foisting on us all those years.

One of these people is a tax and spender. So is the other…

In case you don’t remember, I bring your attention to the record of our dimwitted and unintelligible mayor, Jesus Quirk Silva, who changed his vote from the previous meeting to make this absurdity move along. He even made up fake “experts” who supposedly changed his mind.

Anyhow, it seems this newly minted “hotelier” thinks downtown Fullerton is “dilapidated” and needs his special kind of remedy – a boutique hotel for all those fancy swells who haunt DTF’s exclusive nightclubs and other highfalutin venues. The pictures, however, suggest a six story stucco box with some brick veneer stuck on the front to satisfy the locals sensibilities.

Carpenter ants are a nuisance if not properly controlled…

And at this meeting a strange apparition appeared: a bunch of carpenter union goons in jobsite safety vests. Presumably their presence was meant to impress upon the assembled citizenry how necessary such city-supported boondoggles are to their well-being.  It’s become common for this in Anaheim, but this is ridiculous. It wasn’t even a public hearing where such theatrics might persuade the more feeble-minded decision maker.

Apparently, word has not yet got out from City hall about whether this harebrained scheme is going to be subsidized with free or discounted land, but I’d be willing to bet on that. After all, this City is not for sale. If you’re connected with the city council you just step up and take what you want.

The Dysfunction of Downtown Fullerton

Friends for Fullerton’s Future just received a disturbing story accompanied by a photograph that seems to encapsulate the Downtown Fullerton experience:

Hey, FFFF, I wanted to send along a story about what happened to me a few weeks ago. About 2 am a friend and I were walking along the north side of Commonwealth. Across the street we could see some kind of free-for-all going on. Then the crowd ran off leaving two people lying on the ground. By the time we crossed over to see what the damage was, the Fullerton police had arrived. The two people, a guy and a woman, were bloodied and obviously beaten. One of the cops saw me observing the scene and asked if I wanted to be arrested.

Rather than provide information about what we had seen, we decided to move on. But before we left I turned around and took this picture showing the woman pleading with four cops who appeared indifferent to whatever physical abuse she had suffered.

Sad. 

Yes, Friend, it is sad. Our “leaders” have created, nurtured, and encouraged a culture of mayhem where sometimes it’s hard to tell the victim from the perpetrator and where the cops are seemingly anesthetized to the weekly blood bath.

More Good Times; Stompin’ at the Slidebar

Who’s on first?

A couple of weeks ago Jeremy Popoff’s Slidebar employees and clientele provided more examples of the sort of high class behavior favored by our city council and particularly our lobbyist/councilcreature Jennifer Fitzgerald who has been running cover for Popoff for years and years. You may recall that Slidebar has never gotten the required CUP even as city officials like Fitzgerald, Bruce Whitaker and Party Planner Ted White have schmoozed and petted its miscreant owner.

Hiding the tats won’t help…

Everybody seems to be ignoring Slidebar’s violation of planning and nuisance laws until the laws can be watered down so much even a professional douchebag can slime by without comment.

Here’s the video

At the outset you can see a bouncer on theft serially pound some hapless dude already on the ground and then go for a head stomp for good measure.

In the open-air saloon known as Downtown Fullerton it’s often virtually impossible to distinguish between the bad behavior of the bar-hopping patrons and the low-lifes hired to control them.

 

Pringle and Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald Targeted Restaurant D’Vine

While it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody paying attention that the government, at all levels, only works for those who are well connected and make the correct donations. Usually proving this truism is often difficult but we came across an example here in Fullerton that seemed noteworthy.

It appears that Mayor Pro-Tem, and Curt Pringle & Associates VP, Jennifer Fitzgerald decided to weaponize our city government to go after the business “D/Vine” for “word on the street” indicating that they had a promoter in violation of the municipal code.

Fitzgerald DVine

That seems innocuous and even reasonable from a law and order and agency perspective. After all, what’s the problem with a council member & Mayor Pro-Tem being worried about a business running afoul of local law?

Nothing if the local laws were applied equally and in a just manner. But we know that to not be the case.

While Fitzgerald is super worried about public safety over who promotes what music at D’Vine she gleefully ignores other violators of our municipal code when it benefits her. As an example of such would be when she holds events and parties at The Slidebar.

FitzSlidebarParty

The Slidebar which for years has violated local amplified sound ordinances while operating without so much as a Condition Use Permit or even an Administrative Restaurant Use Permit (ARUP).

For those new to these issues – in this city you cannot operate a restaurant without an ARUP and you can’t sell alcohol and have live entertainment with a CUP and a Live Entertainment Permit. The following screenshot is from the City Staff’s own presentation to City Council on April 16th, 2019:

Title 15 Change - ARUP CUP

The Slidebar only has the Live Entertainment Permit despite not legally qualified to have one thanks to their just ignoring the law regarding the ARUP/CUP. Nearly every other business is required to have these permits and for 7 years Fitzgerald has said bupkss about it.

Fitzgerald, like so many others on the dais before and still, has no problem holding fundraisers and heaping praise on some businesses in clear violation of the most basic of rules required to run a bar in downtown but when the wrong promoter plans the wrong type of music – now there’s a need for a call to action. Rally the troops! Tally-Ho! The scourge of banda music must be stopped… because Banda music is… bad?

Let’s look at that. Banda music is what exactly? From Wikipedia:

Banda is a term to designate a style of Mexican music and the musical ensemble in which wind instruments, mostly of brass and percussion, are performed.”

This is something Fullertonians have complained about before it seems but I didn’t realize it was such a problem. I sort of expect to hear this music at places like Revolucion Cantina and in fact they have a “Banda Wednesday”. This negates the idea that the music itself is a problem.

The shooting is a cause for concern if you’re worried about what CAUSED the shooting… but if it isn’t the music causing people to be shot (because the shooting happened during a “Purge” themed Halloween party playing Hip-Hop) then Fitzgerald must blame the promoter?

Can a promoter rationally be blamed for the wrong people showing up to a show? Fullerton doens’t seem to blame the local bars for bringing in undesirables who urinate, vomit, fight and graffiti all over downtown. Hell, Fitzgerald herself recently blamed “Pre-Gaming” in the parking lots for much of the mayhem and DUIs around town.

Thus using Fitzgerald’s own local logic let us dispense with the idea that the promoter caused the shooting in Riverside. After all, it might have been “pre-gaming” in a parking structure that led to the shooting. To do otherwise would be an especially comical problem when we have a fire & life safety issue in downtown related to a business owner whose family is alleged to have burned one of their own previous businesses to the ground.

Because city staff works at the behest of the City Manager and the City Manager works at the whim of the City Council, when the council says “Jump!” or “Look Away!” that’s exactly what happens. No need to apply the law evenly or justly – just do what the bought and paid for council demands.

It’s sickening that the city can look into D’Vine for their banda/promoter problem while simultaneously Community Development Director Ted White was exchanging text messages with Joe Florentine and emails with Jeremy Popoff, local bar owners, in the build up to municipal code changes of how Florentine’s & Popoff’s businesses, and all bars, would be regulated despite their own flaunting of the laws.

Ted White - Jeremy Slidebar

While Ted White was looking into the ARUP/CUP status of D’Vine he was ignoring the very real problems regarding Florentine being, for over a decade, in violation of life safety requirements. To recap – Florentine has refused to follow his own Conditional Use Permit (CUP) requiring fire sprinklers and the city has refused to enforce that CUP up to and including the Chief of Police rubber stamping Florentine’s Live Entertainment Permits year in and year out despite those permits also requiring adherence to the CUP.

Florentines-LE-Permit-2016

“The C.U.P. (if applicable) shall be strictly enforced.”

It’s nice to have a clear cut example of the city picking and choosing winners and losers. This email from Fitzgerald about D’Vine shows us clearly that our city responds to issues immediately when the council says jump all the while turning a blind eye to worse problems from similar businesses in the same neighborhood. I guess it really does pay to own the right council members.

Downtown Fullerton

Enjoy Downtown While it Lasts

Downtown Fullerton

Fullerton’s City Council last Tuesday, as expected, voted to change the rules governing how bars operate in the city in order to facilitate having more bars and making them more profitable.

The crux of the change is that it was too hard for staff to do their jobs, and for the Police Chief to stop rubber stamping permits, so the city needed to change the rules. This time they mean to enforce them unlike the last decade+ they promise… kind of… well not really.

Not one council member got an answer of who was in violation of what rules they were changing and why it was so hard for community development, code enforcement and the police to use a checklist to sort it out and in fact Ted White’s answers on how Conditional Use Permits work negated his own arguments of the Title 15 change. But again, council was too inept and/or lazy to follow the logic of the change or to ask any real questions per the norm.

The council ALSO voted to launch a pilot program, which we all know will be permanent, for paid parking in downtown. This is a data driven program tracking who comes and goes how often and how long they stay based on license plate data. As we heard at the meeting the whole point was data, data, data and more data. You will be tracked and your data will likely be sold. It’s so data driven that the vendor, staff and council want you to punch in where you park even when you don’t have to pay for parking – just because you WANT to be tracked.

Data Breach

When council asked who owned the servers the vendor claimed it was a “cloud based server” and that’s where the questions stopped. We don’t know what data is kept, where it is kept, which servers are used or who our travel data is being sold to – all because council couldn’t be bothered to ask.

It was a pathetic meeting full of incompetence, malfeasance and laughable gaffs. The Other Dick Jones™ got torn into by both Fitzgerald and Zahra for how they can/can’t handle an agenda item and when the city clerk offered helpful info the council just blanker her. It was probably the worst example of governing I’ve seen in years.

Individually the council members didn’t do themselves any favors in the integrity or intelligence departments. Continue reading

cronyism

Tonight the Downtown Bars Win

cronyism

The Fullerton City Council is about to hand the Downtown Restaurateurs Bar Owners two big wins and they’re going to continue to slap down the privacy of those in Fullerton in the process.

The first big win for the bars is in changing the rules around operating a bar in the Downtown area. This is partially because city staff thinks it’s too hard to do their jobs regarding enforcement. It’s just so hard to tell the couple of bars without Conditional Use Permits that they’re operating illegally.

The truth here is that it’s so hard to enforce anything downtown because council won’t let staff or the police department do their jobs so they all have to turn a blind eye to illegal operators and this change to Title 15 allows the downtown scofflaws to now operate *mostly* legally.

Except those without CUPs which the city will continue to ignore because favors and cronyism.

This is being sold as a way to make enforcement easier but let’s be real here – every year for a decade+ the Chief of Police (each of them) has signed off on Live Entertainment Permits which themselves say CUPs will be enforced. Our Chiefs of Police rubber stamp LE Permits for businesses that operate without required fire / life safety requirements.

So if the Police Chief is going to turn a blind eye to life safety in order to rubber stamp a permit for a favored business owner why should we believe that these new relaxed rules will be enforced? Because we’re supposed to “trust” these corrupt kleptocrats.

This Title 15 Change is being pushed to allow “legal non-conforming businesses” to now operate quasi-legally but staff won’t even tell use who that applies to in Downtown. We’re offering a form of amnesty without talking about who gets it and for what and if that’s even a good thing.

Ted White will likely prattle on about lumens and the percentage of tint on a window as cover but there are real concerns being omitted here. Why? Because saying “no, we allowed a business to illegally board up their windows with flammable material without fire sprinklers in clear violation of their CUP” doesn’t sound as easy to wash away in a rhetorical flourish such as “how do we know what 15% tint looks like”? Continue reading