When you were a kid your parents most likely told you what parents have been telling their children for thousands of years: if you don’t take care of your toys you won’t have any toys to take care of.
Too bad such admonitions are often lost on the custodians of public property. How often have you seen property owned by you and me left without proper maintenance or even abused by it’s supposed caretakers? It happens all the time, and with impunity. But how often have you seen a government actually refused resources because they can’t take care of what they already have? That’s right. I can’t remember a single instance, either.
It’s bad enough the new elevators are unnecessary; they are also in the wrong location since so many commuters will use the Harbor Boulevard underpass to get where they want to go – to the bridge that gets them to the huge parking structure west of Harbor.
But the most unkindest cut of all is the brutal fact that the existing bridge is a disgrace to the entire City. The glass elevators have been etched with so much tagging that they are becoming opaque; the paint, where it hasn’t peeled off, is discolored and oxidized; and the steel stair steps are rusted through. The deformed stair treads have been patched here and there with caulking, and that, too, is decaying.
So next time somebody like Jan Flory or Jennifer Fitzgerald sneeringly defends of the “experts” in City Hall, please point them in the direction of the Fullerton Transportation Center; and remind them that thanks to the ever-generous taxpayers nobody in City Hall has to worry about breaking their toys. New ones will always be handed out.
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.”
Another black eye for Danny Hughes’ “reformed” police department. It looks like Miguel “Sonny” Siliceo is being tuned up by the DA for submitting a false police report, a report that was subsequently used by the DA to prosecute some downtown bar-hopping schmo.
Unlike 2011, Siliceo’s assertions were apparently belied by data from cop video recorders and the case against Mr. Schmo was dropped – a situation so remarkable for our cops-über-alles DA that the lies of Siliceo must have been stupendously blatant. The complaint is a felony.
Sonny seems to be on leave now so it will be interesting to see how this unfolds. And it makes us wonder how many of the other arrests that Siliceo participated in were on the level.
Yesterday, one of our Friends shared a rather entertaining video clip of our lobbyist-councilwoman Jennifer “SparkFitz” Fitzgerald unburdening herself of thoughts at Grace Winter Fest. Her interlocutor is Sam Han, her former Planning Commission appointee, and the guy who stood up and said his church, Grace Ministry International, supported the bar owner’s council districting map.
Yea, verily, the Lord sure moves in mysterious ways, doesn’t he, Sam.
Here’s a snippet:
Poor Jen, has lost her pals in City Hall – her bureaucratic enabler, Wild Ride Joe Felz, and her political enabler, the obnoxious Jan Flory – both of whom “had her back;” or to be more accurate, both let her get away with her cultivation of out-of-town developers and her protection of the moral and economic sinkhole that Downtown Fullerton has become. Well, God is good, says the lobbyist, and her recent depression over the rather cavalier way The Almighty has diverted her control of City Hall must be for some greater purpose. Her depression has turned to excitement. Hallelujah! Almost a miracle!
Did you enjoy the end where the unctuous Han asks the audience (most of whom probably didn’t have a clue what SparkFitz was talking about) to “get excited with her?”
Back on the first day of summer in 2011 Fullerton cop Manny Ramos allegedly roughed up a handicapped dude in an Albertsons parking lot and threw him into the Fullerton clink. Mark Edwin Walker was charged with all sorts of nastiness like resisting arrest and public intoxication.
FFFF wrote about this back in 2012. We noted that the phony charges dreamed up by the supremely fat and lazy Ramos were thrown out by a judge. Ramos was lucky. He didn’t even have to commit perjury (like several of his colleagues have done) to back up his story.
And now, our perusal of recent City settlements shows that Walker got paid $20,000 in nuisance money – given the happy fact that twisted cops in OC can pretty much do any goddamn thing they want with impunity.
Of course 20 grand is chump change and the Fullerton taxpayers are a lot luckier than they deserve to be, if you think about it. Unfortunately, the real cost to Fullerton happened a few weeks later when Ramos harassed, intimidated and instigated the activity that led to the death of Kelly Thomas. That one was caught on video and cost $5,900,000(if you don’t count hundreds of thousand in legal fees). And who was in charge of the walrus with the bad attitude, and who later insisted that those of us who observed a Culture of Corruption in the FPD were misinformed? Why none other than former PoChief Danny “Gallahad” Hughes.
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.
The Case of the Disappearing/Reappearing Balanced Budget
Many of you may recall that during my campaign for Fullerton City Council I wrote an Open Letter to Jennifer Fitzgerald. I’d like to revisit the issue of Mrs. Fitzgerald’s oft-repeated myth of a balanced budget.
On her website as well as on campaign literature she made the point that our budget is balanced. I offer as evidence a screen-grab from her campaign website from 22 October 2016;
I won’t re-litigate the whole letter here but suffice it to say I wasn’t happy about her Public Relations spin on our overspending by at least 43 Million Dollars during her tenure.
I’m bringing this all up due to agenda item #2 from last night’s Council Meeting. The council voted 5-0 to receive and file the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ending 30 June 2016. Inside the CAFR was one little nugget really stood out to me when reading the report.
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.
Below is a video from late 2015 featuring Ron Thomas, the father of Kelly Thomas, who had just gotten a massive check courtesy of the taxpayers of Fullerton.
First, enjoy the feeble bleating of “city attorney” Dana Fox who is just soooooo darn glad the settlement bought peace of mind so everybody can “move on,” although, damn, that’s a pretty high price tag. Of course it ain’t coming out of his pocket, or “Patdown” Pat “I hired them all” McKinley’s, or Manuel Ramos’s or Jay Cicinelli’s or Joe Wolfe’s. We picked up the check for this, just like we always have for the FPD Culture of Corruption, and as with all settlements, the public who pays the freight never gets to learn key information – in this case the extent to which Captain Dan Hughes and former Chief McKinley may have helped cover up the mess and perhaps even if there was collusion between the cops and originator of the phony phone call that led to Thomas’s death. Naturally, neither Hughes, Joe Felz, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Jan Flory or Doug “Bud” Chaffee wanted a trial.
And Ron Thomas himself may have wanted to avoid a trial, too, since that would have meant a jury and the general public would have found out that he sold the picture of his broken, comatose son for publication on FFFF – for $1200.
Anyway, at the end of this video you will hear Ron Thomas exclaim that the big settlement is an admission of liability by the City, by which he really meant us taxpayers. He says that’s all he ever wanted. Did that make you feel any better?
And now we pivot just slightly to another video, this one from 2011, wherein Ron Thomas has alerted the media that he is going to donate all of any lawsuit or settlement amount to the homeless.
Now at least we can be satisfied that some good has come out of the Kelly Thomas murder, even if we had to pay for it – $6,000,000 so far, not counting the invoices forwarded by Mssrs. Jones & Meyer, Fox, and of course the ever helpful hazmat clean-up crew run by Michael Gennaco. At least $4.9 million (less Gary Mardirossian‘s giant fee) is being given to homeless programs. Right, Ron?
FFFF has written about this particular scam before: the Fullerton cop union sends out a pleading request for donations to…itself. Now the supplicant is FPOA boss, Stewart Hamilton, and he writes to you just before Christmas – the Season of Giving!
The thing is so illogical, so dumb, and is really nothing more than pandering to the brainless, or maybe kids with access to their parent’s debit card.
Here’s the latest version of the plea for your hard-earned dough:
Notice first the emotional supplication from behind the Thin Blue Line: we’re there for you now we need you! Well, they want your money, that’s for sure, as will become evident by the end of the letter.
But no, it’s really not about money, see, it’s about family! “Knowing we are not alone” makes all the difference. Alone? They’ve got a over a hundred members plus a completely subservient city council majority.
The cheapest and dirtiest part of this greasy swindle is tying it to helping local charities and their good works. Except that there’s no details and no information about a charitable deduction. And what kind of gullible numbskull would make a charitable donation via the cop union? I’ll answer that: someone who shouldn’t have access to cash or credit.
The recipient is told that somehow his donation will “make a difference” to “fallen heroes” although this is not explained; possibly because Fullerton’s one and only “fallen hero” fell twenty-seven years ago.
But the union, that pours tens of thousands of dollars into each Fullerton politcal campaign to elect lackeys on the council like Flory, Chaffee and Fitzgerald, wants you to know how much they appreciate your generosity. Give a hundred bucks and get a lapel pin! Give $250 and you can add a “toy K9” to your bric-a-brac shelf! Double down on that and you will get a “custom” plaque you may hang on your den wall – right next to the plaque with the singing rubber bass.
For the guy with only fifty dollars to part with, you, sir, will get a decal for your car window, although Mr. Stewart assures us that it will not get you preferential treatment should you be unlucky enough to fall into the clutches of the FPD. Still you have to wonder if, maybe, former City Manager, Joe Felz wasn’t displaying a decal the nigh he jumped a Glenwood Avenue curb, ran over a tree, tried to get away and was subsequently driven home by grateful members of the FPOA.