More Fitzgerald Fun: Bid Rigging and Nest Feathering?

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

In Fullerton, reasonable people may be forgiven for their skepticism regarding the probity of the folks in City Hall causes them to consider cynical possibilities.

In this case, the object of scrutiny is once again our former Mayor-for-Hire, Jennifer Fitzgerald, who has ditched Fullerton after years of working as a lobbyist on our dime. On her way out the door, Fitzgerald got some sort of gig with a company called Tripepi Smith, an outfit that hires itself out to governments to promote stuff like bond floatations and new taxes.

Yes, that is the answer!

Well, so what? you say. Somebody at Tripepi Smith thinks Fitzy is a useful addition to their stable of government string pullers; and they also think there is some way in hell she can peddle her wares in Texas, where she has fled.

The thing of it is, Tripepi Smith was given a contract by the City of Fullerton in 2020 to broadcast City Council and Planning Commission meetings. But that’s not all. The first RFP went out early in the year and there was only one respondent. You guessed it: Tripepi Smith. The incumbent 25-year contractor cried foul, claiming he hadn’t been notified, despite assertions to the contrary from now-fired City Manager, Ken Domer. And it turns out that Domer’s second in charge, Antonia Graham, actually had a testimonial on Tripepi Smith’s web page from when she was employed by Huntington Beach.

The embarrassed council put the gig out to bid again in April, and in August 2020 Tripepi Smith was once again selected – over the incumbent – by a hand-picked collection of cities – one of whom Tripepi Smith actually works for.

Now, what Fitzgerald’s efforts in this peculiar procurement were is, of course, a matter of speculation. But we do know that she controlled what went on in City Hall, and we also know that when it came to personal opportunities, she never missed a trick. Was she in cahoots with Domer to make sure the applicant pool for this service was small and that Tripepi Smith would inevitably get the job? I can’t say. But I can say that a suspicious bid process was followed by some sort of personal opportunity for Jennifer Fitzgerald. That is all.

More Fitzgerald Fun

I’m not telling the truth and you can’t make me…

By now all the Friends know that our former Mayor-for-Hire, Jennifer Fitzgerald, has crammed all the loot she could stuff into her bags and is hightailing it for a state that has no extradition treaty. But her name still resonates, of course – a symbol of government treasury looting.

Well, here’s something interesting- a FitzySpark story that has several layers, each one suggestive of fraud.

For the past several years Fitzgerald reveled in the title of “Vice President” of Curt Pringle and Associates, an elevated title that suggests she was a valuable employee. But was she?

Here’s a snap from a report showing that Fitzgerald received a little government stimulus cheese to help out “payroll” for her little influence peddling operation “CL& Communications.”

If the cheese stinks, nibble on it…

Hmm. So she’s working for Pringle for years and yet collecting PPO money? And of course her little one man show has been around a lot longer than 2 years or less. In fact, here is some helpful corporate info on Fitzy’s biz:

Uh oh.

Please notice that CL7 Communications has been around since 2009. Has the government been defrauded? I don’t know. You could try asking Dick Jones. Notice also that this business continued to exist through the years when Fitzgerald was supposed to be an officer of Curt Pringle Associates.

Hmm.

Now for more fun, kindly observe:

Bailed out by you and me…
It’s in my interest and that means it’s good for everybody…

Well at least Pringle’s been around longer than two years so there’s a rare bit of honesty from the greasiest lobbyist in Orange County. He got $175,000, also for “payroll” and one wonders if that included 1099 payments to Jennifer Fitzgerald, who gives every indication of not being a Pringle employee at all, but rather a contractor. And if that’s true, Pringle and Fitzgerald have violated California employment labor law and the Federal tax Code. See, the IRS wants employers to pay for stuff like Social Security and Medicare through withholding; and the State wants to make sure employees are not being exploited, and that Worker’s Comp insurance is in place by the business.

Now I don’t know that SparkyFitz wasn’t a real employee of Pringle; and I don’t know if Pringle was faking it to dodge paying taxes. But something smells here, and it isn’t overripe government cheese.

The Trail of Tears

From 2000 and 2010. The idea may have been bad, but it sure was old.

You have to hand it to government bureaucracies. They never give up on stupid ideas. But why should they? With all the time in world, huge amounts of money given to them by others, and with zero accountability, what is there for them to lose?

Specifically, I am talking about an item on the May 4th Agenda, dutifully approved by the City Council, to take $1.8 million in State grant money and  $330,000 in Fullerton park money to design and build what they are pleased to call The Union Pacific Trail, Phase II.

Of course we all know that Phase I was a total waste of money – a weird “equestrian trail” (complete with pony railing) that has never seen a horse, that was attached to the poisoned and fenced off UP Park that dies a merciful death at Highland Avenue.

Hugo and Alice. One down, one to go…

Our crack Deputy Parks Director, some person named Alice Loya pitched the item to a less than bedazzled Council, making sure to point out that the area was disadvantaged, an irony certainly lost on City bureaucrats whose job it has been to un-disadvantage this neighborhood over the past 50 years.

Let me share a paragraph from the staff report, that, as usual, is so full of lies to rationalize the scheme that one wonders if the City staff would ever pursue this nonsense if they had to use City funds to pay for it:

The proposed project will transform an existing 50 to 80 foot wide, blighted corridor into a greenbelt trail providing alternate transportation, linking the Transportation Center and several parks, including Independence Park at its terminus. This proposed trail aligns with the Hunt Branch Library to the west, providing potential future linkages. The total cost of the project is estimated at $2.1 million.

Hmm.

Lie Number One: Alternative transportation? What the Hell does that even mean? Walking?

Lie Number Two: the trail would not link anything to the Transportation Center since it would terminate at a narrow sidewalk behind the Ice House that includes a 90 degree turn. And of course just a week ago, or so, our very same staff tried to sneak through an idiot scheme to cut off the UP right-of-way completely with their private event center on the Poisoned Park site.

Lie Number Three: the proposed extension does not link “several” parks. It would indeed terminate at the Independence Park parking lot but the only other “park” it would touch is the fenced off Poisoned Park that nobody even wants.

Almost as good as a lie Number Four: the proposed trail would be virtually impossible to link to the “aligned” Hunt Branch Library, nearly a mile away, because gosh darn it, the rail siding is still being used by…the railroad. But what the Hell let’s throw out the chimera of “connectivity” to fool the dopes on the City Council, right? It’s always worked just fine in the past.

Almost as good as a lie Number Five: when has the City ever built anything on time and on budget? That proposed cost would sky rocket, of course, as Fullerton’s army of staff, consultants, and design professionals hump the “greenbelt” into submission. Remember the wooden steps at Hillcrest Park and the elevator-from-Hell at the Depot?

Maybe it looks better when the sun goes down…

But what wasn’t said was much more important than the propaganda ink spilled to promote this idiocy: nobody will use this “trail” since it passes through sketchy industrial zoned property, completely empty at night, and would remain, just like it is now, an attractive nuisance that the taxpayers will be on the hook to maintain out of the General Fund.

Dunlap-Jung
Can these two help bring some accountability to Fullerton?

On the bright side, members of the new Council commonsense majority pointed out that Staff was already devising a top-secret Specific Plan for the area, and gee, wouldn’t it make sense not to piecemeal things like Planning Director Matt Foulkes  tried to do on the ill-fated aquaponic farm/event center? They did treat the item as still very provisional, but FFFF knows better – we know that government money once available, will be spent, most likely on something nobody outside City Hall wants.

Zahra-Busted
Why is this man smiling?

Naturally, Councilman-in-search-of-camera-opportunity, Ahmad Zahra scrounged up some of his usual misguided acolytes to beat the drum for this utter waste of $2.1 million bucks. After all, this project would be mostly paid for with “free money” of the sort “progressives” love to accept, then waste. We need look no further than the $1,000000 Core and Corridors Specific Plan, paid for by the State Sustainability Commission, that was quietly abandoned, never to see the light of day. And ironically, the old UP Right of Way passes right through the middle of two of the C&C Specific Plan Areas, suggesting to me, at lest, that the City is not, and never has been interested in the well-being of the part of Fullerton accept as something to play with.

 

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?

Cho Collects Corrupt Cronies

Barf Man Returneth…

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:

What do we have here?

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.

 

Is Fitzgerald Out?

I’m not telling the truth and you can’t make me…

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.

Pringle and Fitzgerald

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:

  1. Promise to take no pay or benefits, and then doing just that.
  2. Lying about a “balanced budget” for years while depleting reserve funds to pay for ever-greater pension obligations.
  3. Covering up the drunk driving of her best buddy, City Manager Joe Felz, a spectacle that has embarrassed the City, ever since.
  4. Ignoring the roads of Fullerton until they have become the worst in Orange County , as determined by the OCTA.
  5. Presiding over the shoddy or incompetent  construction of vanity projects that put money in the pockets of her campaign contributor.
  6. Working as a lobbyist while representing the City of Fullerton.
Axis of Casual Corruption.

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.

 

Don Bankhead Dead

The thing that many people thought inconceivable has happened. Don Bankhead, former Fullerton city councilman, has gone on to his reward.

On Earth, Bankhead’s reward was being the only person in the 170 year history of California to be recalled twice from the same office.

Details are non-existent to the general public since no published obituary is readily available. However the Loma Vista website informs us:

James “Don” Bankhead
Saturday, January 4, 2020 at 12:30 p.m.
Graveside Service

Note – I found this write-up on-line. No mention of 2 recalls. Still the only thing other than my own post. Sort of sad.

https://everloved.com/life-of/james-bankhead-sr/obituary/

Can We Finally Say Good Riddance to Dick Jones?

Marblemouth and Mayer Pulling Out?

Word has seeped out from the once hermetically sealed walls of City Hall that we may not have Richard “Dick” Jones, Esq. to kick around much longer. It would seem, if the rumors are true, that Good Ol’ Dick has had enough of screwing the taxpayers of Fullerton with his pettifogging, self-serving legal advice and is “retiring” with all of his ill-gotten spoils.

Where there’s smoke…

Well, possibly not all his spoils, because he must believe his “I Can’t Believe Its A Law Firm” will have some residual value after Mudslide oozes off.

Now I don’t know about you, Friends, but a collection of lawyers that includes Kimberly Barlow and Gregory Roosevelt Palmer doesn’t seem like it could be worth very much to me; but Jones is supposedly pitching the continued services of his collection of miscreants, so he must plan on keeping his name on the letterhead and probably receiving revenue thereby.

Let slip the dogs of law…

Will our city councilcreatures keep this gang on retainer? After the abysmal performance of Jones in the pas it’s hard to imagine anybody wanting them around, at all. Of course this is the same gaggle that has kept Jones, et al., on the clock for over twenty years – and that’s a lot of bungling and cover-ups.