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.

 

Parks Director Told to Hit Road

Hugo came, Hugo left…

Today the City Manager, Ken Domer notified the Parks Commission that he was canning Hugo Curiel, the guy who’s been in charge of the Parks Department for 7 years, or so. Here’s the mealy-mouthed text:

Was the handwriting on the wall?

So there was “no one single issue” leaving us to wonder what the real reasons were for letting Hugo go-go. We know it wasn’t the extravagant waste of money on a Hillcrest Park bridge; we know it wasn’t for the incredibly bungled wooden stairs project; we know it wasn’t because he ignored maintenance of existing parks; we know it wasn’t for the Strange Case of the Flipped Over SUV; we know it wasn’t because he proposed almost a million bucks to buy a 15,000 square foot lot to build a park on. Mr. Curiel survived all those disasters with his Fullerton career doing just fine.

Domer-Decorations
Hitching to Needles…

So what was it? I don’t know but it must have been something very bad, even though Domer is clear that the firing wasn’t “for cause.” So maybe it was just personal in some way, requiring “a different direction” whatever the Hell that means. And maybe it was meant as a pre-emptive bloodletting meant to forestall future personnel whackings closer to the Domer domicile.

Florentine Forgery/Fraud Case To Go to DA?

The family goes way back…

By now the Friends are well-aware of the attempt by Joe Florentine, the scofflaw proprietor of a restaurant and bar in downtown Fullerton, to fraudulently alter and submit official documents in pursuit of a Conditional Use Permit.

He even admitted it.

Reliable sources have indicated that a criminal investigation has been opened by the Fullerton Police Department based on a complaint filed by the property owner, Mario Marovic, and passed along to the District Attorney’s office.

Now the felonious miscreance of a Fullerton Florentine family member is about as newsworthy as a mailman bitten by a dog – no surprise there. Rather, the key facts of interest in this case are that Mr. Florentine had lots of help inside City Hall, including the Planning Director, the City Manager, and of course our top-notch City Attorney, Dick Jones, who finally had to recuse himself from dispensing laughable advice due to a conflict of interest.

Domer-Decorations
Hitching to Blythe…

Apparently, City Manager Ken Domer knew exactly what was happening and was determined to proceed with the fraud anyway.

It’s hard not to believe that some fall out from this conspiracy will land in the proximity of new Councilmembers Fred Jung and Nick Dunlap, who will certainly be averse to the radioactivity. The City Manager is already on the thinnest of ice after blowing $130,000 on a marginally legal PR campaign to promote Measure S, and then unsuccessfully trying to spend another 90 grand just before Christmas to hire an expert to try to fix the budget shortfall.  City Managers are protected by contract but there is no contractual protection for a person who has violated the law. Will we soon be hiring a management search firm?

dick-jones
Staying awake long enough to break the law…

As always, Jones and Meyer are likewise compromised by their corrupt and incompetent and self-serving practices. But Dick Jones, like Talleyrand, always seems to be able to keep his head on his shoulders despite all the revolutions.

Leaving Fullerton even worse off than she found it…

 

And what was the role of Mayor-for-hire Jennifer Fitzgerald, who was the evident and malignant influence around so much of the Fullerton’s recent mismanagement and the cover-ups that inevitably followed? It’s difficult to believe that she wasn’t pushing this through for the benefit of her pals, the Florentines.

Finally, if in fact, City leaders are found culpable in this conspiracy to commit fraud, what is the legal exposure to the taxpayers of Fullerton for both the legal costs incurred by the property owner in the case, and for other damages he may have suffered?

As FFFF learns more about the status of the case we will certainly share it. City Hall probably won’t.

 

Rumblings In Sunny Hills

Back on August 18th, out esteemed City Council began the process of declaring a strip of property along Bastanchury Road to be “surplus.”

The vote was 4-1 with Bruce Whitaker in opposition.

Down on the farm…

The obvious purpose of this strategy is to to sell the property to an affordable housing developer so that the politicians can feel good about themselves and maybe raise some fundraising dough. For Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald this most likely means a lobbying opportunity after December when her presence on the council will mercifully come to an end. Why? Because developer selection and rezoning can be budged along by Pringle and Associates on whose street corner Fitzgerald plies her trade.

But not everybody is happy and there is an election in a month.

The natives are restless…

The locals on the hills behind the proposed development naturally object, as do environmentally-minded people who want the site preserved as opens space. The locals have even come up with a website and are advertising their displeasure with the City Council.

Fred in nature…

And naturally this has become a sudden election year issue for the District 1 council seat. Fred Jung has already made his position known that he prefers the open space option. On the other hand, his opponent, Andrew Cho, was hand-picked by Fitzgerald to have a reliable vote on the council. But not only is Fitzgerald gone this fall, but so is her pal Jan Flory which means that after the election there could be three potential votes to save this site as open space.

The Council passed this item with the usual “this is only the first step in the process” bullshit that begins the process of cloaking another hot mess in the mantle of inevitability. For the folk of District 1, however, the story may take a different turn than the City house-acrats and politicians are hoping for.

 

The Sacrifice

Whenever government gets itself into a bind, the first impulse of our bureaucratic overlords and their elected representatives is to resort to the taxpayers for relief. In Fullerton the case is not much different except that here, allegedly, managers and department heads have agreed to 5% and 10% cuts, respectively during our time of troubles. Likewise, according the the union boss, rank-and-file paper pushers have been told to accept the same 5% deal. Whether this gesture of sacrifice is meant to be reimbursed if the proposed 17% sales tax increase is approved by voters remains to be seen.

But that’s not the point of this post.

The point of this post is to ask whether anybody has requested the same sacrifice from our Heroes – the guys and gals who provide “public safety” services to us peons. Word out of City Hall is that no offers have been made voluntarily and none have been demanded. Could it be that’s because the Hero unions are much richer and much more political than the organization representing other city workers?

We are always being bombarded by Hero propaganda that promotes the selfless service and sacrifices by people who ride around in cop cars and fire trucks. Well, I’ll believe that when these worthy public servants step up to the proverbial plate and take the same haircut as everybody else.

Ballot Argument Against The New Sales Tax

Leaving Fullerton City hall a lot worse off than she found it…

Pulled from the City of Fullerton’s website, here is the official ballot statement of opposition to the new sales tax proposed by our Mayor-for-hire. Jennifer Fitzgerald. If you think about it the tax proposal is a monumental indictment of the tenure of Fitzgerald and her yes vote, Jan Flory, on the city council. Employee pay raise after pay raise, unbalanced budget after unbalanced budget.

VOTE NO!
Ask yourself: Does the City of Fullerton need even more money from me? If this tax
passes, every time you make a purchase, you will pay 9% sales tax in Fullerton, the
second highest sales tax in Orange County.
The ballot measure title is deceitful. This massive tax increase is not dedicated to fix
Fullerton streets, which are rated the worst in Orange County by OCTA. Rather, the
money would go into the General Fund and could be used for anything.
This 1.25% sales tax increase would be permanent. It is general, not specific, meaning
the City Council could spend this money on salaries and pension benefits for City
Administrators and other City employees.
Over the past decade, Fullerton’s failed leadership spent nearly all revenue increases on
salaries and pension benefits:
Since 2011, sales tax revenue grew by 51%, property tax revenues increased 52%.
Between 2015-16, Council majority approved $19.5 million in pay increases.
Since 2011, the Council raised its two largest department budgets 41% and 55%.
In 2019 alone, according to Transparent California: 146 City of Fullerton employees
received over $200,000 in total compensation, while 51 employees received over
249,000 in total compensation. Fullerton pension recipients collected over $43 million.
The City has already increased water rates by a whopping 29% since June 2019, and is
scheduled to increase rates again by another 11% next July 1st.
The facts are: the City had plenty of money to repair our roads many years ago had it
adopted sensible reforms and reasonable, balanced budgets. Fullerton should already
have smooth streets and water pipes that do not routinely burst.
Vote NO on higher sales taxes!

Joe Felz in the News. Again.

I’ll drink to that!

Entertainers and politicians are often cited as saying there is no such thing as bad publicity.

However, former Fullerton City Manager Joe Burt Felz is not a professional politician or entertainer, although his political machinations and his alcohol-induced behavior have been cause for entertainment.

You will certainly recall Felz’s now infamous “Wild Ride” in which the badly inebriated Felz took a wide turn on Glenview Drive, ran over poor Sappy McTree, and then tried to elude the cops on on three tires. His subsequent catch and release by a corrupt Fullerton Police Department is now the stuff of legend – and the cover-up of which is the cause of the City’s egregious lawsuit against Joshua Ferguson and this very humble blog.

Well it turns out Joe has been misbehavin’ and not following his court mandated service. His probation was revoked on December 6, 2019.

Oops!

A hearing to to review Poor Joe Burt’s violation was held December, last.

Who knows if Felz has ever bothered to delve into the mysteries of Victim Impact Counseling? And who knows if he got, or will get a pass because, after all, judges are just public employees in silly robes? And they always stick together.

Courtroom Showdown!

Hero. Deserves.

This week FFFF and local hero Joshua Ferguson do battle in a courtroom with the defenders of incompetence and opacity – the City of Fullerton, represented by in incomparably stupid and corrupt law firm Jones and Mayer. The Voice of OC outlines the details here, so I’ll let it go at that, other than to remark on the sad state of affairs when a citizen is sued by his own government in retribution for what they did.

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.

Florentine Mob Steps in Pile of Own Excrement. Again.

Sit down and grab some sidewalk, brother…

According to Voice of OC, our old pals the Florentines, pere et fil, are at it again.

The family goes way back

This clan of scofflaws has a long history of violating Fullerton’s municipal code so it should be no surprise to learn about their most recent hi-jinks.

Apart from rumors of arson and arboricide, FFFF readers have been treated to the Florentine saga of scandalous sidewalk theft, illegal dance floors, and operating in violation of the requirements of a conditional use permit.

The latest offense, which came to light at yesterday’s Planning Commission meeting is an application for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) amendment that was not authorized by the property owner, a guy named Mario Marovic. The Fullerton Municipal Code explicitly requires property owner authorization for a CUP. Instead, the actual application form was digitally modified to show that the Florentines themselves could now authorize the amendment.  The person who signed the form, Joe Florentine, the junior member of the gang, claims he has no idea how the form got altered.

 

Ken Domer
Domer. Just following orders…

Once something starts giving off a bad odor it’s pretty certain that it’s only going to get worse. Many questions need to be answered, pretty damn quick: Why did the planning department process an application they must have known violated the law? Why did our crack City Attorney Dick Jones decide to accept the strange legal reasoning of Florentine’s lawyer? Did the City Manager, Ken Domer, direct the Planing Director to ignore the law? If Domer did, was it on orders from Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald, who has been running interference for scofflaw bar owner in downtown Fullerton for eight years of mayhem?

So many question.