“Boutique” Hotel Lumbers Along

Enhanced with genuine brick veneer!

An item on last week’s Closed Session council meeting just caught my eye. The item identified the southeast corner of Pomona Avenue and Santa Fe, location of the previously discussed “boutique” hotel proposal. I last reported it here, when the Council voted 4-1 to let the unsolicited, single proposal issue get a time extension. As usual the lone no vote came from Bruce Whitaker. The July 6th item just says “terms and price” so that it can be hidden behind the Brown Act exemption.

Huh?

When the City Attorney emerged he declared that this harebrained idea was moving ahead on a 3-2 vote to authorize a Letter of Intent to approve a development agreement. Hmm. We know that Jesus Quirk Silva would go for it. After all, he already changed his vote once to move this along – way back in December of 2018 as a parting gift to Doug “Bud” Chaffee. And Ahmad Zahra is always a reliable vote to support some stupid government giveaway or overreach.

Dunlap-Jung
One of them?

So that leaves councilmen Nick Dunlap, Fred Jung and the aforementioned Whitaker. It is really hard to believe that Whitaker would suddenly change course 180 degrees from a previous commonsense, conservative position. Dunlap and Jung have so far shown unusual sales resistance when it comes to ridiculous bullshit so it’s hard to see either one going for this. But obviously, one of the three did. Who was it, and why? We were not told by the City Attorney and the minutes do not include such potentially embarrassing things.

And this will be a giveaway. You and I own that parcel of land that is currently providing popular parking for Transportation Center commuters. What is the land truly worth? If the Council continues on this reckless course to support a massive public subsidy to for an idea that has no basis in market demand, we may never know.

The days of the Fullerton Redevelopment Agency writing checks to fly-by-night developers, scammers, and other corporate welfare queens is over; but the so-called Successor Agency is perfectly capable of handing over real estate and getting nothing in return. And that looks likely to happen as the story of Fullerton’s unsolicited boutique hotel lurches forward.

 

 

A Manfro All Seasons

The Man from Manfro

Who is Eddie Manfro? I asked myself the other day. Name sounds familiar.

See, I had seen the name pop up on a Fullerton City Council agenda as somebody who was involved as a participant, along with our former City Manager, Ken Domer, in carrying on labor negotiations with the City’s  labor unions.

Hmm. Where had I heard that name before? Then it hit me. He’s the former City Manager of Westminster, who quit last year to become some sort of “human resources” expert whose supposed abilities were now for sale. Apparently Ken Domer was in the market for Manfro’s “expertise.”  If the thought of a couple of bungling bureaucrats negotiating on your behalf makes you a little uneasey, well…but, I digress.

Here’s why I remember Eddie Manfro: he’s the City Manager who willingly participated in the Dick Jones  scam in Westminster, where our ethically plugged-up City Attorney pretended to be a city employee to qualify for the CalPERS pension system and even went so far as to submit fraudulent time cards to line up with the sham. I believe these are all crimes.

No, I wasn’t asleep. I was praying…

And Eddie Manfro went along with the scam; and now, surprise, he is getting work from another agency in Dick Joneses stable of fine municipalities.

How did Eddie acquire this gig, that’s what I would like to know. And when for God’s freaking sake is  Fullerton’s City Council finally going get rid of the incompetent, corrupt, and utterly self-serving, the Dickensianly awful, the I Can’t Believe It’s a Law Firm® of Jones and Mayer?

 

Jones “Public Nuisance” Mayer

If you thought having a City Attorney’s office suing bloggers to cover up their incompetence was bad and unethical, you’ll love this:

Fullerton’s joke of a law firm Jones & Mayer has left their front steps in a state of decrepit disrepair for at least 6 months.  Their office is located at 3777 N. Harbor Blvd, alongside a busy sidewalk.  Imagine taking your young child for a walk, losing sight for a quick second, and then watching them crack their head open on that rusty steel mess, protected only by a 2×4?

Or how about working here under the assumption that that temporary railing is well-secured?  Look closely, it isn’t.

Let’s see what constitutes a “public nuisance” within the City of Fullerton:

Who would have thought the City Attorney is the poster child of how best to violate 6.01.030 (A) and (B) many times over?

I hope the irony of this is not lost on you.  This is a law firm who makes their living advising cities on “public nuisance” cases all over California, presiding over administrative hearings, and in some cases prosecuting land owners who refuse to make repairs for the very same type of neglect and disrepair pictured above.

Time and time again, the arrogance of City Attorney Dick Jones is just stunning.  He interprets or disregards the law in whichever way is most convenient for his interests.  In case you’ve forgotten, now would be a good time to review Dick Jones’ attempt to steal a pension from CalPERS by faking himself as a City of Westminster employee.  He knew better then, and he knows better now but just doesn’t care, and that’s the problem.

My story as a FFFF defendant

Most readers of this blog are well aware of the recent settlement between the City of Fullerton, FFFF, Joshua Ferguson, and myself.

Joshua did a great job explaining various aspects of our lawsuit in a video, and why we settled. I encourage you to watch if you haven’t already. Until now, I’ve been pretty quiet about this lawsuit and haven’t said much. In an effort to clear our names, I’d like to dispute some of the City’s claims and share new information you might find interesting.

This is what the City’s Dropbox account looked like.

Typing www.cityoffullerton.com/outbox into a web browser redirected anybody to this open and unsecured Dropbox account. The City went out of their way to disable security controls to make it possible for all users to see all files.

Notice some of the files have our last names, Curlee and Ferguson, in the file name itself. Who wouldn’t download a file named for you?

(more…)

The Dead Kennedys & Others

Now that the City of Fullerton’s retaliatory lawsuit against FFFF bloggers Joshua Ferguson and David Curlee has finally done its inevitable Zeppelin Hindenburg act, some folks who promoted and nurtured the despicable assault on freedom are already trying to rewrite their participation.

Don’t get too close. They bite…

Kimberly Barlow, Esquiress of the lamentable law firm of Jones, Mayer and Gecko is saying she’s just “happy the City got its documents back” another disingenuous swipe at Ferguson and Curlee who never deprived Barlow of anything; her “happiness” is costing us $750,000, at least , but she forgot to tell the reporter this inconvenient fact.

Zahra-Busted
Why is this man smiling?

Ahmad Zahra the hapless, preening poseur, and insufferable boohoo gasbag is now claiming that he was a “fan” of settling this lawsuit, a statement completely unsupported by any fact as the City continued its legal harassment of FFFF.

The track record was poor…

Then there’s Sharon Kennedy, the (former, supposedly) proprietor of the Fullerton Observer. In a comment string at their blog, Kennedy is now denying her involvement defaming our bloggers and pretending that her involvement was strictly objective. Unfortunately for her, the facts suggesst a slimy collaboration with the City and Jones, Mayer and Gecko. Her “expert” who claimed that she hired him, produced an opinion that was a joint statement to the Observer and an official Declaration to the Court in the case. How that happened and who, if anybody remunerated this self-styled expert is unknown – so far, but it looks suspicious as all Hell. Commenters are questioning Kennedy, but she isn’t answering. And naturally, the expert conveniently backed up the long-since debunked statement of the City’s own “expert.”

Kennedy can claim innocence all she wants, but her track record of venom toward this blog and really toward anybody else whose honesty threatens the well-being of government employees is well-known, and the malice might be pretty easy to prove in court if anybody cared to hold her accountable.

Well, the rats can scurry off the SS Jones, Mayer and Gecko as quick as their little legs will hurry them along. But the facts are incontrovertible and somebody, and soon, is going to have to pay the proverbial piper – just like the taxpayers are going to have to pay for the horrible and intentional malice of City Hall and its lawyers.

 

 

Fullerton’s Nuisance Noise and The Ongoing Saga of Incompetence and Corruption. Part 4

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if government bureaucracies do the things they do because of incompetence, venality, or favoritism. In the never-ending story of Fullerton’s noise regulation all three seem to be uniquely intertwined.

What is inescapable is that the City of Fullerton has striven mightily to separate the issue of nuisance noise emanating from downtown outdoor areas from both enforcement and illegality.

SlidebarMotto
A few thou here and there worked wonders…

In 2011 the ridiculous Transportation Center Specific Plan finally made it legal to propagate amplified outdoor music, thus making Jeremey Popoff’s Slidebar appear honest, although he still didn’t have a legal Conditional Use Permit. But the new regulations for noise had no more effect than Popoff’s missing CUP because the City – cops and code enforcement – refused to enforce the regulations.

A standup guy walking tall.
.

What to do? Hmm. What about throwing the issue into a miasma of bureaucratic paper shuffling so that nobody would notice what you were doing, and downtown scofflaws could actually be absolved, de jure as well as de facto?

In August, 2014 the City tried this pitch with the idea that the Noise ordinance would be updated along with great swaths of the existing land use law to make thing, you know, easier to figure out. But downtown noise played a prominent part in the discussion, if not really in the staff report. The council approved noise studies as a mechanism, a cynic might say, to avoid cracking down on Popoff, Jack Franklin’s Roscoe’s, and their ilk, because that is exactly what happened.

I’m not going to do my job and you can’t make me…

2015 rolled around and the Community Development “professionals,” led by newly minted Director Karen Haluza, were again yakking it up about revising the Code. Well, these things take time, you know, and in the late summer of 2016 the City Council finally got around to passing Ordinance 3232, a revised Code, still, with intent of instilling commonsense and clarity. The definition of amplified music was scratched out pending future action.

But whatever the motivation, the ever-shifting sands of sound gave the bureaucrats, aided and abetted by the perpetual dishonesty of City Attorney Dick Jones, the pretext they needed to bat away complaints about the illegal noise – because the issues was under study and consideration!

New in town, but he caught on quickly…

The vicious circle took yet another revolution in June of 2018 when the Council was persuaded by yet another new planning director, Ted White, to pass a Resolution of Intent to once again revise the land use codes in the interests of commonsense and clarity. Of course the Noise Ordinance and downtown noise was actually a key driver in this conversation, too. Mr. White took it upon himself to introduce a new downtown noise map where any outdoor sound would be permitted; but, the standards – 70 decibels outside and 65 decibels inside – were not to be applied to the source, but to the sensitive receptor, and the burden of proof was clearly laid at the feet of the victim, not the perpetrator of the nuisance. The bureaucracy seemed oblivious to the Armageddon of Noise they were trying to create or the sensibilities of residents adjacent to the riot zone.

The Planning Commission was finally scheduled to review the latest iteration of musical chairs in November, 2018; but the discussion was mysteriously continued for three months until February, 2019 by which time two opponents of amplified music, Nick Dunlap and Ryan Cantor had been removed from the Commission. A coincidence? Who knows? Stay tuned…

 

 

Fullerton’s Nuisance Noise and The Ongoing Saga of Incompetence and Corruption. Part 2

Al Zelinka. Failing to the top.

In the past 10 years or so, Fullerton has had four different planning directors: Al Zelinka, Karen Haluza, Ted White, and most recently an individual named Matt Foulkes. Pop quiz: what else do these folks have in common?

Haluza. The closer you looked, the worse it got.

Time’s up. Answer: none of them enforced the city’s noise ordinances, and each seemed to be dedicated to ignoring zoning and land use regulations in downtown Fullerton. We’ll get to the “why” of it in a later post. For now I want to point out the trajectory of this mess. As scofflaws like Jeremy Popoff’s odious Slidebar and the Florentine Mob’s various enterprises refused to comply with our laws, the Planning Directors noted above began an ongoing project to lower and lower the legal bar until even the lowest nematode could wriggle over it.

Ted White didn’t leave his fingerprints…he thinks…

Now if we contemplate this downward spiral of our “experts” in the Planning Department and Code Enforcement we notice that it hit a virtual rock bottom in January 2019 when Matt Foulkes pretended that he didn’t know what a property owner was and approved the submission of an official document forged by Joe Florentine pretending that he, Florentine, was an “owner.”

Matt Foulkes. The downward spiral is complete.

Of course all of this malfeasance was amply documented here on the FFFF blog. And guess what? Nobody in City Hall cared; or to be more precise, nobody cares, still. See, in Fullerton incompetency and blatant corruption are so common on the part of our City Attorney, Dick Jones and the cadre of drunk, venal and just plain dumb City Managers and staff that our threshold for outrage is as low is almost worn away.

But not quite. Stay tuned for noise. And by noise I mean the noise generated by city staff to ignore, dilute, obfuscate and dodge the Noise Ordinances.

ACLU Joins EFF and Reporter’s Committee In Support of FFFF

ACLU, EFF, RCFP, ACLU SoCal
The ACLU, ACLU of SoCal, EFF & RCFP Join FFFF

Yesterday the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Southern California & the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) filed a joint amicus brief in support of us here at Friend’s for Fullerton’s Future in our ongoing legal battle with the City of Fullerton. Here’s a sample:

“Rather than accept responsibility for its own failure to limit public access to information, the City instead is attempting to stretch computer crime laws to punish those journalists—first, for uncovering unflattering information and, later, for publishing it.”

Likewise, The Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a separate amicus brief supporting FFFF against the City of Fullerton. Here’s a sample:

“Amicus is not aware of any case where a federal or state anti-hacking law has been misused so brazenly to target routine newsgathering—namely, the collection of government information available to any internet user.”

On the City’s side of the ledger is an amicus filed by the League of California Cities – a group the City PAYS to belong to with your tax money and they managed to argue nothing relevant to the case. Here’s a sample:

“However, hosting this information electronically presents a variety of cybersecurity issues for local governments, many of whom have limited budgets for network and security systems, outdated technology, and limited IT staff to implement organizational safeguards to protect against cybersecurity breaches and/or human error.”

They’re arguing that the City has a limited budget and it’s gosh darn tough to “implement organizational safeguards to protect against… human error”. I can’t laugh hard enough at that premise knowing their payroll and the gross negligence the city itself is claiming.

They’re all fascinating reads in different aspects.

Ultimately you know the City messed up big and that Jones & Mayer gave terrible legal advice when the ACLU et al are siding with us on the merits. The Fullerton City Council might want to consider taking a hard look at these new briefs before just blithely listening to Kim Barlow and The Other Dick Jones™ again.

I’d like to personally thank the ACLU, ACLU of SoCal, the EFF & the RCFP for their support in this exhausting case. Without their support, and the support you friends, this would be a much harder fight on all of us here at FFFF. It’s nice to have real allies when the other “journalism” outfit here in Fullerton enlisted a hack to fight against us.

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.