Rumors of increased criminal activity are wafting out of city hall again. A few employees of the Public Works department are in hot water for some sort of embezzlement/kick-back scheme down at the city yard. Criminal charges are in the offing.
It’s not clear to us who was involved or what was stolen. City leaders are keeping quiet right now, but hopefully they will inform the public soon.
If you have any information to contribute, please drop us a line. Discretion is our thing.
Let’s say you bought a house in Fullerton at the peak of the housing market. The market has mostly recovered but the house is only worth what you originally paid. However, when you receive your tax bill, the Franchise Tax Board assesses it higher, so there is more than a $1,000 difference in what you think you should pay and what you are actually charged. So you send a letter to the Franchise Tax Board disputing the charge and explaining why you believe your bill should be lower.
According to our State Senator Josh Newman, what you just did was costly and unnecessary. You see, that letter disputing the $1000+ charge cost 49 cents to mail, and the letter isn’t guaranteed to get you that refund you want.
That’s pretty much the takeaway from this recent editorial from Mr. Newman, which ran on Page 2 of our local Fullerton Observer Newspaper. Senator Newman’s response to the anger over his vote to raise taxes by over $52 billion over ten years in an already overtaxed state is pure misdirection, asking his supporters to instead ask recall proponents “why they’d waste $2.5 million on a recall petition rather than put 34 more teachers in our schools, 16 more firefighters in our communities, or 13 more cops on our streets.”
Of course the answer is really simple: Because $52 billion is more money than $2.5 million. About $51.9975 billion more.
Elsewhere in the editorial, Senator Newman does get around to justifying his vote and that the increased spending on roads was necessary due to the poor condition they are in. Nobody in Fullerton would dispute that, but the reason for the problem is grossly out of whack spending priorities, not a lack of revenue.
Take the examples Newman cites himself. He bemoans the fact that the alleged $2.5 million recall cost could put 13 more cops on our street and not the fact that, by his own admission, putting a single police officer on our streets costs over $192,000 per year in the first place due to the grossly unsustainable public employee benefits we dole out. He bemoans the horrible condition of our roads and not the fact that the 18 cent per gallon tax we already pay has been diverted into the fiscal vortex that is high speed rail – and even when Caltrans does spend money on roads, overpayment and delays have come to be accepted as inevitable.
This is why your constituents are angry, Senator Newman, and this is why they are listening to (as you put it) “shock jocks” and signing the recall petition in droves. We are tired of excuses and we are tired of politicians who choose to represent the interest in Sacramento that want to keep this unsustainable benefit machine chugging along at the taxpayers’ expense.
In the event you are reading this yourself, Senator, I don’t say any of this with rancor and I still like you personally, but you are working against my interests and those of hundreds of thousands of your constituents in Sacramento and it has to stop. And babbling about millions while your policies are costing tens of billions isn’t going to save you.
Here’s the final (for now) installment of the series by our Friend “Fullerton Engineer” documenting the sad history of the project to add a couple of elevators to the existing tower/bridge structure at the Depot. Remarkably, none of our elected representatives seems the least bit curious about the downward trajectory of this project, or the ultimate tap into our Facility Capital Repair Fund, a fund that was never intended to pay for new construction, particularly for projects never needed in the first place.
The best way of avoiding embarrassing information is not to ask embarrassing questions. It’s not their money.
It took over five years, but the astonishingly high cost of an elevator addition project at the Fullerton train station finally hit Fullerton taxpayers directly in 2017.
The project that the public never asked for and doesn’t need was initiated based not on necessisity, but on the availability of money from Sacramento; and later, OCTA came to the funding rescue. But the delays piled up – year after year, and OCTA would no longer pay the bill. So in March, the City Engineer, Don Hoppe, came hat in hand and asked the Fullerton taxpayers for money. Lots of it. Here’s the staff report.
Notice how the various and diverse issues are all thrown together into a single sum – $600,000. We see added cost for the railroad flagging for some unexplained reason; the curiosity of “unforeseen” utilities on a well-developed site; an unknown amount to pay for the escalated cost of the elevator subcontractor; and finally, an unspecified amount to cover “additional assistant (sic) in contract administration” a nebulous term, but a category clearly meant to cover the ongoing cost of someone in the Public Works department. The final item is particularly ironic given the amounts already contracted with private companies for construction support and management on this very small project.
The simple fact that these items are lumped together can only be explained by an attempt to obfuscate the nature and trues costs of the ongoing delay. And those delay costs are increasing even now, as the project seems to have stalled again.
Friends, here is another in a series of posts about Fullerton’s ill-fated “Elevators to Nowhere” series by “Fullerton Engineer”
In following the trajectory of the new elevator project at the Fullerton train station I have described a project that the public neither wanted nor needed, that had its genesis in the simple availability of “free money” way back in 2011 – six long years ago.
Although the design contract was let in 2013,the project was not bid until 2015when the low bid came in 22% higher than anticipated. The construction contract was awarded anyway. With numerous ancillary “management” contracts, the project budget had grown to $4,000,000. By 2017 that figure had ballooned to an astonishing $4,600,000.
And yet construction didn’t start until February, 2016 and when it did it was only for some minor ADA toilet room modifications adjacent to the AMTRAK ticket office.
You can see in the project billing submitted by Woodcliff Corporation, the contractor, a few items related to bonds, mobilization and the bathroom work in February 2016 – a year after the contract bid. Nothing was billed against the elevator items at all, except for crediting the structural steel shop drawings for $55,000. Over 14 months later the structural steel has not been erected.In fact, the foundations for the steel structure haven’t even been built, as the site sits empty with minor demolition having taken place and some lighting conduit rerouted.
If any delay claims have been submitted by Woodcliff, those documents have not been shared, although delay claims are certainly coming, and escalation costs are already starting to accrue, although we don’t know how much because the costs were intentionally lumped together with other completely unrelated items in the March 2017 staff report.
As I noted in an earlier post the cause of all these delays is not known by the public because the Public Works staff doesn’t want the public to know that things have obviously gone wrong, very wrong; and, that the inexplicable and unexplained delays have finally cost the taxpayers of Fullerton directly. The money is no longer free.
Since at least 2013, Fullerton’s EV Freemegachurch has been paying for and hosting a lunch as a gift to City of Fullerton employees. Probably not coincidentally, 2013 is when EV Free congregant Jennifer Fizgerald began her first year on the Fullerton City Council. Last year the event included a tri-tip lunch and “prizes and a raffle to win gift cards to local Fullerton businesses.”These events must cost the church thousands of dollars.
It should be crystal clear why it’s wrong for an organization to buy lunch for city employees, one or all. This church frequently petitions the city on land use issues, and it even hires city police to manage its parking. If a business like Chevron or Red Oak Development or Renick Cadillac tried to glad hand City functionaries and employees like this, the public would be outraged. It is a clear conflict of interest for city employees to accept gifts like this.
For its part, the church ought to revisit Scripture as it relates to Pharisaical behavior. I don’t remember Jesus Christ or his disciples buying lunch for the Romans, but then Jesus didn’t have two denarii to rub together.
The action of the city government, led by City Manager Joe Felz, in accepting these gifts, is appalling and not only exhibited a complete lack of judgment and awareness, but placed the City in the position of a gift-receiver from an entity that does substantial business in Fullerton. If an individual were the sole recipient of this largess questions of integrity would immediately follow. That Joe Felz entangled the people of Fullerton in this situation is deplorable.
And where has our City Council been on this? MIA, as in so many other things.
Here is a recent comment from one of our Friends, Just Off Euclid, in response to watching another one of those super-expensive “State of the City” videos that we buy to make City Hall and the politicians therein, look good.
Thanks for sharing that nauseating bit of municipal self-promotion. I note:
Whitaker sitting in front of Laguna Lake where untold millions of gallons of prime MWD water were lost with no apology, no accountability, no responsibility. Fitzgerald brazenly bragging about the moronic stairs to nowhere. Donwtown stakeholders are committed she says. Committed to what? Profit at our expense. Sebourn, with his ass parked in the Corporate Yard as the streets of Fullerton crumble; “we’re ready” he boasts. ready for what?
And then the images of the vast Joe Felz/Karen Haluza stack n’ pack tenement blocks. Who is the target audience for that? Developers, I guess.
Jesus. How much did this bullshit cost?
We don’t know how much it cost. Not yet anyway. But here are some invoices that indicate the cost of 2015 and 2016 productions:
In 2015, the former Mayor of Irvine moved into a gated Fullerton neighborhood to run for the State Senate. His name is Sukhee Kang and his embarrassing and embarrassingly expensive campaign ended in a primary election disaster when he came in last, behind Fullerton’s Josh Newman.
Poor Sukhee had nothing to offer except a disastrous record in Irvine, a phony ballot designation as an educator, a vanity press “autobiography” written by somebody else, the dubious title of carpetbagger, and of course a long list of Democrat party big shots from up and down California who were unconcerned over the ethical problems of an incompetent politician moving into a district to hijack it for his own political aggrandizement.
One of Sukhee’s imbecile Democrat apologists actually tried to make it seem like a perfectly reasonable move – he and Mrs. Sukhee were just a couple of lonely, restless empty-nesters on the move. In reality the ploy was a race-based scam that necessitated hiding Sukhee’s political origins and record.
And now this poor fool is gone – back to Irvine according to Thy Vo of Voice of OC, thus abandoning his wafer-thin commitment to north Orange County. FFFF checked. Sure enough, Sukhee sold his golf course house on November 16, 2016 – eight days after the general Election created a new, Democrat State Senate incumbent. And after his realtor’s commission got paid, Sukhee took another loss.
And here’s the fun, ironic bit. The campaign guy who took over the Josh Newman senate campaign after Sukhee hit the showers, a person named Derek Humphrey, is also working for our latest carpetbagging opportunist – millionaire union executive Joe Kerr, who, in reality lives in ritzy Coto de Caza and wants to be a county supervisor for us. Once again the Democrat establishment seems intent on coalescing around a man who is blithely unconcerned about the ethical problem of carpetbaggery – at least so long as victory seems even remotely plausible.
You would think Mr. Humphrey would be acutely aware of the pitfalls of north county carpetbagging, but, hey, a job’s a job, right?
For our local historians, and Humpy, too, here is a list of well-off carpetbaggers who have recently failed when folks in north Orange County were made aware that a carpetbagger was on the loose:
Fullerton Police Chief and current Cast Member Copper at the Walt Disney Corporation Danny Hughes was compelled to testify at a nuisance hearing today, 24 April 2017, at Fullerton City Hall.
During the hearing he was asked, under oath, about his involvement in the Joe Felz DUI disaster. According to an article in the Voice of OC, Hughes claimed that Felz was afforded some sort of “objectivity” by the orders he issued to his officers that night. He also had some choice words about Fullerton. Let’s go to the audio (transcribed below without his “uhs”):
“When there is a, especially in the city of Fullerton, where there is somebody, whether it be a City Council Member or in this particular case the City Manager, those types of incidents are gonna, what I would describe, blow up. No matter what that decision is made regarding the outcome of that case there there will be allegations and conspiracy theories and all sorts of information that comes from that. So, uh, generally speaking the supervisor would notify a Lieutenant, that Lieutenant would notify the Captain, the Captain would generally either make the decision or contact me.”
Allegations and Conspiracy Theories. How quaint. That’s almost as cute as when Pat McKinley tried blaming the Kelly Thomas protests on “outside agitators”.
Let me break this down for former Chief Hughes and the cops in the audience.
That same “If you aren’t a criminal so what are you afraid of?” maxim that you all love so much? It applies double to you. Our fair residents have no reason to trust the FPD after the years and years of corruption and corrupt officers that just can’t help themselves from turning to the dark side. Bad Apples you say? Maybe, but I don’t see any heroes stepping up to put them down. I don’t see officers testifying against their corrupt allies. My inbox isn’t exactly brimming with HeroMail™ regarding what needs to change on the inside. Maybe if that blue wall of silence didn’t protect violent felonious acts and sexual predators we wouldn’t feel the need to make “allegations” about your culture of corruption.
Further to the point the Felz incident has nothing to do with the outcomes of a “case” but rather with the circumspect treatment at the scene of a crime. Nobody cares if everybody on city staff was called that night because what matters is that AFTER the calls were made the officers on the scene opted to not do their jobs be it by choice or by following possibly illegal orders.
Hughes stated in his own memo that Felz smelled of alcohol and yet nobody made sure that the situation was beyond reproach by administering a breathalyzer. Felz was treated differently than the thousands of drunks that are arrested yearly here in Fullerton and that’s how you end up with “allegations” and “information that comes from that”.
As for the “conspiracy theories” comment? The idea that Hughes was complicit in a Felz cover-up isn’t the stuff of conspiracies as that’s just simple deductive reasoning. THIS is a Conspiracy:
Exit Question: In the above audio Hughes claims the following:
“So, uh, generally speaking the supervisor would notify a Lieutenant, that Lieutenant would notify the Captain, the Captain would generally either make the decision or contact me.”
I believe the Watch Commander from Hughes’ own memo above was Lieutenant Andrew Goodrich. So was protocol and the chain of command, generally speaking, broken when Lieutenant Goodrich called Hughes and not his Captain? And if so, why?
One of the more startling examples of stupid waste at Fullerton City Hall has been the exorbitant expense of Behind the Badge: fifty large ones a year for former bad OC Register “journalists” to publish and disseminate pro-cop propaganda pabulum. It was all phony crap meant to obscure the real news about the FPD: a litany of bad behavior and criminal activity that over the past decade has spanned the breadth of the California Penal Code. Fortunately, thanks to the Friends this ridiculous waste is coming to an end. We wanted to make sure, too, so we requested the good bye letter.
And here is our temporary police chief Dave Hinig, hand-wringing over the loss of what can only be described as no loss at all for the taxpayer:
Is this some sort of sick joke? Value? To whom? Certainly not for the people who were paying out almost $250,000 over the past four years.
And what’s really laughable is all this lachrymose bullshit over a contract that was made in secret, was grossly mismanaged, and that had no actual requirements for performance – even if Joe Felz had had any inclination to oversee what he initiated.
Well, anyway, Behind the Badge is going away although why we have to pay another $8000 for two more months of this unadulterated literary manure is beyond me.
How funny. When you hire a lawyer the City’s legal minions suddenly realize that peddling bullshit may just have ramifications. They become slightly less obnoxious to the citizens they are supposed to be working for.
In the case of Jennifer Fitzgerald’s phone records from the early morning of November 9th, 2016, the public was first told that there were no responsive records. FFFF knew that was a lie because Fitzgerald herself admitted she was in communication with the police chief, Danny “Galahad” Hughes that night; and Hughes memorialized his conversations with councilmembers the very next day in a written memo.
That was when FFFF decided to lawyer up.
Well, here’s the response FFFF attorney, Kelly Aviles, received to her first demand letter. Mostly it’s a clarification about what FFFF wants. But the final page of the response contains this priceless gem:
Seems it was all just a “miscommunication,” donchaknow, in which the poor, befuddled lobbyist-councilwoman Fitzgerald thought members of the public were seeking information about some whole other day, you know, just for the heck of it. But boy was she hustling to cooperate when she found out what FFFF really wanted!