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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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…
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?
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
If you recall, I’m suing Fullerton because they suck at following the law when it comes to turning over records – especially related to police or employee misconduct.
By way of example as it is also a part of my case, let us focus on the case that brought me to this blog – FPD giving then City Manager Joe Felz a ride home after he drunkenly hit a tree on election night in 2016.
At that time the City wasn’t legally required to tell us anything because the public had no right to know when the people we pay break the law and the cops cover it up. This blog doggedly pursued the story and forced the city to do an investigation. That’s right, we forced their hands.
That investigation led to the termination of one Sergeant Rodger Corbett for falsifying a police report. Instead of Corbett doing his job, Joe Felz was given a ride home because despite FPD celebrating and getting awards for all of the drunks they pull over in Fullerton, hypocrisy and special favors was the order of the day when the law pertained for Fitzgerald friend Felz.
Skip ahead and in 2019 the law changed when SB1421 went into effect. That law change required police to turn over files on various issues including “sustained findings” of dishonesty which includes falsifying reports. As such I requested the pertinent files in the Felz caper on 01 January 2019 and here we are two weeks away from the 2 year anniversary of that request with no records to show for it.
I sued the city in Oct 2019. It’s now mid-December 2020. So much for transparency. (more…)
In a previous post I alluded to Jan Flory’s alleged investments in the weed industry. Today I’m confirming it (as others have) and shedding light on a possible reason for her willingness to vote for an ordinance to put weed in neighborhoods despite HER OWN expectations that a buffer be added later.
A buffer that cannot be added until AFTER the ordinance goes into effect.
So not only did Jan Flory open us up to litigation by expecting a future council to take away zoning rights from landowners, playing along with The Other Dick Jones as he gave terrible legal advice which pushes Fullerton closer to being sued (all under the negligent eye of City Manager Ken Domer), but she ALSO voted to possibly enrich herself in the process. (more…)
It’s high time the Fullerton City Council fired City Manager Ken Domer and the City’s resident law firm Jones & Mayer. They have opened the city up to too much litigation (including a public records lawsuit I have against the City) and frankly are incapable of doing their jobs in an honest and professional way.
Allow me to explain by way of legal weed in Fullerton. (more…)
It’s been 11 months and we still don’t have any answers, let alone accountability, over the forgery committed on behalf of the Florentine family with the apparent blessing of City staff.
For those new to this story, a fraudulent Conditional Use Permit “Master Application Form” was illegally modified to allow a tenet, Joe Florentine, to change the property rights of a property owned by somebody else.
When this story first came up, Dick Jones of Jones & Mayer, the City Attorney tried to run cover for the fraud by claiming that Florentine had standing to make changes to the property rights based on an old non-relevant case in San Francisco. What the City Attorney didn’t answer, and nobody on City staff has managed to explain to date, is why the City aided and abetted fraud and forgery?
Irrespective of the alleged ability of Florentine to request changes to his permitting, he didn’t have the right to falsify or forge a document.
115 (a) Every person who knowingly procures or offers any false or forged instrument to be filed, registered, or recorded in any public office within this state, which instrument, if genuine, might be filed, registered, or recorded under any law of this state or of the United States, is guilty of a felony.
We know that the Master Application Form was falsified, there is no question on that front. The area for the “Signature of Property Owner” was illegally replaced with “Signature of Applicant/Use Owner”. (more…)