At last night’s Fullerton City Council meeting (21 March 2017) I spoke on Agenda Item 3 regarding budget strategies. Amongst other comments I asked for clarification on what was meant by “Structural Deficit” considering that both Fitzgerald and former Councilwoman Jan Flory constantly claimed we have/had a balanced budget. I asked what changed overnight to take us from a balanced budget on 08 November 2016 into a “Structural deficit” today.
What I got regarding an answer was Councilwoman Fitzgerald dodging the question and blaming Sacramento and the CalPERS rate change. And I quote:
“And I will go ahead and answer the question that was brought up over balanced budgets and what happened overnight and I will tell you, I mean, for former Council member Flory and I, when we talked about balanced budgets. Our 5 year projections, every year showed a balanced budget and what happened overnight is CalPERS decreased the amount of returns that they assumed that we were going to receive. So, that is what happened to those 5 year projections to change them.”
There is a term for a plea agreement for those drivers who may or may not have been legally impaired when they were pulled over by the cops. It’s charmingly called “dry reckless” and means that the police and the DA aren’t sure they can pin a DUI rap on the driver, and the driver would rather take a big insurance premium hit than take his chances in court.
And that is exactly what is going to happen with Joe Felz, he of the November 9th, 2016 Wild Ride. The DA can’t win a DUI case against Felz because our sterling police department refused to collect any evidence. And Felz will be more than satisfied with making the stigma of “drunk diver” go away, and no mandatory license suspension. Once the DUI part vanishes, the cops will only be on the hook to explain why they didn’t at least give Wild Ride Joe a traffic ticket for his careening out of control (while driving uphill) on Glenwood Avenue. And that’s nothing for a force that has a history of making up stuff on the witness stand.
Video evidence may or may not ultimately be produced, depending on the daily whim of the DA, but it won’t matter since all the relevant charges will have been dismissed, with all the legal niceties observed.
An acquaintance reminded me the the other day of the ridiculous OCTA “Bike Share” program of a couple years ago – one of the most embarrassing boondoggles on record, and proof that regional government agencies are just as bad as our own city when it comes to throwing our money away.
The OCTA is always ready, able and willing to waste money – some of it comparatively small amounts, and some of it (think ARTIC) monstrously large. The common theme is that hardly anybody knows about it before the dough is blown, or after because the mainstream media is so good at keeping government unaccountable.
This is the tale of Bike Share, a supposedly “green” initiative, and thus free from the constraints of economic common sense.
Back in 2012 OCTA invested in a program where people could rent bicycles from a public rack and return them. To somebody it seemed like a plausible idea. The OCTA chose our city as the test lab because of all the college kids who like to take a commuter train to Fullerton.
Surprise! Bike Nation, a client of Curt Pringle and Associates (the current employer of Council-lobbyist Jennifer Fitzgerald) got the contract to run the program. Better qualified vendors were rejected by the OCTA Board. And the cooperative guy who made the motion to approve Bike Nation and proceed with the program? None other than our own 4th District Supervisor Shawn Nelson. According to the Voice of OC, the cost of the program was $700,000; the per bike ride subsidy was an astonishing $800.
At the end of a couple years the magnitude of the Bike Share stupidity became clear. Almost no one signed up for the membership subscription and almost nobody was using the bicycles, bikes that were heavy and unwieldy. Some of them broke down after they had been washed. The vendor blamed the OCTA, the OCTA blamed the vendor; but we paid for it.
And Nelson? He didn’t return a Voice of OC call asking for comment.
UPDATE: a keen-eyed friend wrote in to inform us of a couple interesting facts about the City’s “Back the badge” documents. First, the original contract and the first purchase order don’t agree. The PO describes a one-year term while the contract is for only six months. Second there is no PO that covers the period from May to November 2014. The City’s controller should not have been able to write checks without a PO to write checks against, so something is fishy there.
FFFF has already shared with the Friends here some of the more ludicrous aspects of “Back the Badge” a PR outlet for cop departments and unions that we pay for.
The whole shabby deception is so bad we decided to dig a little deeper to see just how the Fullerton taxpayers got hooked into paying for the cops to peddle their propaganda – to us.
The documents we received indicate a completely non-transparent, slipshod City-vendor relationship in which deliverables are sketchy, and grossly overvalued.
First, it’s important to point out that this relationship was approved in secret by former City Manager Joe Felz in spring 2013, presumably under his spending authority. The City Council may have been informed, but the public most assuredly was not. Even Felz must have been aware of the possible public blowback against this nonsense. And he undoubtedly had the support of council persons Flory, Chaffee and Fitzgerald in trying to keep this gross squandering of public funds out of the public eye.
It is critical to recognize the contract for what it is: a fixed fee arrangement in which the vendor gets his contracted monthly amount regardless of what he actually accomplishes. These sorts of contracts are comparatively rare in government precisely because they are not tied to specific scopes of work. In essence there is no real oversight at all, even if anybody felt like doing it – which they didn’t.
If you peruse the invoices you will find all sorts of weird “deliverables” of intangible sort like “PR services,” “OC Register columns,” and “Fullerton News Tribune” just the sorts of things that are impossible to value and make you wonder if the real media was in collusion with Back the Badge. FFFF has already noted how the Yellowing Fullerton Observer has published an article, verbatim, from Back the Badge, here.
Of course some of the contractual items like “traffic/performance reports” yielded no responsive documents in our public records request. Anyway, as I noted it above it hardly matters.
One extra-contractual proposal sent to former Chief Danny “Galahad” Hughes offers 40,000 print copies of “Behind the badge Fullerton magazine” for a mere twenty grand. Who approved that, and where did these print copies go? That we shall likely never know, as the police PR mechanisms are obviously none of our damn business, even though we are bankroller and target audience.
My favorite item in the proposals from Back the Badge is something called “crisis counseling.” This must be a service that is called upon when something really bad occurs and the cops need to polish up that road apple, and quick! So did Back the Badge spring into crisis counseling mode the night their benefactor, Joe Felz, smelling of liquor, drove off Glenwood Avenue, and was given a free pass and a ride home by the Fullerton Police Department?
On December 17, 2016, the City issued a new Purchase Order for more of those valuable Back the Badge services. The invoice cites the brand-new interim Chief but there is no reference to the Acting City Manager since by this time Joe Felz was long gone, the victim of his own reckless behavior. So who authorized the issuance of this new PO? The police chief, whoever he is, has no such spending authority. It seems as if the Culture of Opacity and Unaccountability is humming along on auto pilot.
Well, this is Fullerton and if you want to find out what is going on – well, good luck with that.
It is common for government to bury waste carefully, neatly hidden away from the citizens who pay for it. Other times, they shove it right in your face like an ether-soaked rag.
That’s what happened at Chief Danny Hughes’ grand farewell party on November 10th. Fortunately, one neighbor filed an hour-long interactive grievance and shared with us the highlights.
Helicopter overhead, fire engines, barricades, officers, SWAT trucks, oh my!
The cast of characters does not disappoint. Look carefully for the appearance an oblivious “Patdown” Pat “I hired them all” McPension. Watch the FPOA thank Hughes for staying “on course” through “the lowest parts” of FPD history (when their constant misdeeds were finally exposed to the public). Listen to Jan Flory offer a cringe-worthy come-hither to her “Big Boy” Hughes, warn him of the “five-headed beast” that is the city council, and then trumpet her slavish dependence on city staff. Don’t forget to note Stan Berry, the OCDA investigator and FPD buddy boy who was first charged with looking into the Kelly Thomas murder. I’m glad he was able to maintain good relations.
If you were able to retain your lunch through all of that, congratulations. Now think about the hundreds of Fullerton commuters and residents who were caught in the traffic blockades on two major roads during rush hour. The police force parked their equipment and their posteriors in the middle of the roadway for this pointless pomp and circumstance, holding the public and its safety in complete disregard.
Of course the most comic part of this display of flags and armaments (think Soviet May Day parade) is the fact that just two days before, Mr. Integrity ordered his boyz to give City Manager, Joe Felz a free ride home with no Breathalyzer test after having careened though a sleepy Fullerton neighborhood after an evening of partying in the gin mills of downtown Fullerton.
Friends, here’s some more fun Jonesiana, a video compiled some years ago by the FFFF Moving Pictures Division. Enjoy the HeeHaw, oxytoxins, coughs and croups – and control, control control, Dick Jones-style!
When it came to boneheaded belligerent bombast there was no one quite like former (and recalled) councilman Dick Jones. Here he is in 2007 and 2008 pontificating about downtown Fullerton and the “monster” he created. His endless fixation on the same tired baby/bathwater cliche remains hilarious as he twists it around and around inside his befuddled noggin. If anybody can explain what a “ruly teenager” looks like, please let us know.
The FFFF editorial staff have enjoyed long hours of amusement courtesy of the corn-pone explursions of Ol’ Country Doc Jones captured on this video. The string of priceless HeeHawisms just gets better with age.
Meantime nothing has changed in downtown Fullerton – except the passage of ten long years and more of “yesterday’s felons” than ever.
Once again the Boys & Girls in Blue have decided to insult the residents of Fullerton with a poorly timed Press Release via the F.P.D. Facebook Page where they tell that we need to “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and that they’ll be “stepping up enforcement” of impaired driving laws.
This Press Release is actually dated yesterday, 13 December 2016, the EXACT same day that it was announced at the Special City Council Meeting that the City Manager, Joe Felz, has left his position with the city. Weepy words from Jennifer Fitzgerald notwithstanding we know that Felz left owing to his own alleged D.U.I. Hit-&-Run that F.P.D. and the City Attorney are still attempting to cover up with boilerplate legal obfuscation and the myth of an ongoing investigation.
From the Press Release;
“We want to keep our roads safe for the holiday travelers, so we will have zero tolerance for drunk or drugged driving.”
F.P.D. will have zero tolerance. Zero! None I dare say.
Unless of course you’re part of the upper echelon of our City’s Bureaucratic Bureaucracy and can get the Police Chief on speed dial.
I figured the award for most clueless response to the Felz departure would go to Fitzgerald & Flory for their nonsense praise but this press release might take the cake. To be fair the F.P.D. probably didn’t know that Felz was on the way out when they wrote this little public service announcement but they certainly knew of their own culpability in the continuing culture of city corruption.
Word on the street is that City Hall is glad to be rid of Felz and now they’re just itching to get rid of his sycophantic entourage that continues to make city life miserable. Stay tuned as we might be able to help with some of that as time passes. If any intrepid City Employees want to help foster some more changes you know how to reach out to us here at F.F.F.F..
How fitting. Soon to be former councilwoman Ms. Jan Flory, one of the principal architects and mother hen of downtown Fullerton’s out-of-control culture of vodka. vomit and vehicular mayhem, is tossing herself a going away party. And naturally it’s at one of Fullerton’s fine dining establishments bars.
Here’s the outreach:
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Jan Flory [mailto:[email protected]] Sent: Wednesday, December 07, 2016 11:07 AM Subject:
As you know, the new council will be seated on 12/13/16 at 6:30 p.m. Would you pls get the word out that I will be having a soiree at Joe’s Bar and Grill after that council meeting. I’ll have appetizers and a no-host bar to celebrate my leaving the council. That doesn’t sound right, but it will be better than a funeral. People will probably start showing up between 7:30 and 8.
Thanks a bunch and thank you for keeping so many people informed.
You would think a Fullerton City Councilperson would be a little reluctant to have a political party at a downtown saloon given what happened the last time this occurred – five scant weeks ago.
You’ve got to love the message of the “soiree”:
“I’ll have appetizers and a no-host bar to celebrate my leaving the council.”
Maybe Flory figures if you have to buy your own drinks you’ll be a lot less likely to get drunk, drive off the road on the way home and require the interim police chief to cover up the whole mess.
We probably won’t be there, but we’ll be celebrating, too.
I got a letter from Fullerton’s Lobbyist-Mayor, Jennifer Fitzgerald congratulating “us” for rising above it by re-electing her. I love it when personal-agenda laden politicians complain about “negativity.” Generally they are just reacting to embarrassing scrutiny they’d rather not have to endure.
Here’s the missive:
Ms. Fitzgerald is happy to share the issues she “campaigned on.” Road repair, more, and higher paid cops, and get this… a balanced budget! Now we all know that Fullerton’s budget has not been balanced since she got on the City Council four years ago. We’ve been leaking red ink worse than Laguna Lake has been leaking Grade A MWD water. The amount during Fitzgerald’s tenure runs in the millions. So not only is she still lying about having a balanced budget, but any other pipe dreams like cops and parks are going to have to come at the cost of draining our reserve funds even more.
Of course this means nothing to Ms. Fitzgerald. After all she is all about politics, not governance. She is a Vice President of Curt Pringle & Associates, an operation that has tried its level best to rip off Anaheim taxpayers to benefit Pringle’s clients. She will be long gone by the time Fullerton goes into receivership.
I really like the part about ensuring “that every Fullerton neighborhood is served well by its city government.” I guess that excludes the people who live in and around downtown Fullerton: it was only recently carved up into five separate council districts by Ms. Fitzgerald and her downtown bar pals like a Christmas ham, precisely for the purpose of disenfranchising the residents while the drunken party rolls merrily along.
And then there’s the part about having a “community-wide discussion” about providing library services for Southwest Fullerton. Quite delicious irony coming from the head of a city government that can’t afford to keep the Hunt Branch Library open; or does she really believe nobody is paying attention?
Finally, I note that “working positively together” is code: what it really means is not criticizing the massive budget deficits; not complaining because there is no adult supervision over the cops; looking the other way as the Lobbyist-Mayor herself helps cover up the madcap motoring adventures of her City Manager returning home from her own election night party.
Well, you know, I just don’t feel like it.
And now, Friends, please share any negative banter in the comments section we thoughtfully provide, below.