Fullerton City Council member Ahmad Zahra has landed in the OC Register for his battery & vandalism charges. While I was busy getting the court records to break this story, the Register has opted to… give you little by way of new details and a lot by way of telling you how stunning and brave and bravely stunning Ahmad Zahra is in their puff piece downplaying the alleged battery.
Looks at this sentence:
Fullerton Councilman Ahmad Zahra faces two misdemeanor charges of vandalism and battery stemming from a September altercation in which he allegedly damaged a woman’s cellphone.
“In which he allegedly damaged a women’s cellphone” isn’t exactly the big takeaway when battery is on the list of charges. This is a suck up piece if ever I read one. Even the sub-head of “Misdemeanor charges stem from a damaged cell phone” downplays the charges.
In the article, and again I quote, “Details of the alleged crimes were not available.”. You can’t admit you know nothing and then claim with any confidence that you know from where the charges stem.
Cite your sources and give details. Otherwise stop pushing narrative as if it’s news. Saavedra has been around too long to be this sloppy.
But hey at least he managed to give us Zahra’s life story full of as much puffery as is possible in under 250 words.
If the charges are real then none of the petty details of Zahra’s upbringing, life, religion and sexual orientation are relevant to the story.
If the charges aren’t real then, you guessed it, none of that matters either.
You see, his personal backstory isn’t relevant to his pending charges unless he is being targeted because of any one or a collection of the things in said story and there is no evidence or even an accusation that such is the case.
Why Tony Saavedra would spend more words worrying about identitarian nonsense than the charges in question speaks volumes to the usefulness of the OC Register as a reliable news source. Maybe, per Zahra’s not-so-clever barbs at us, they’re “aspiring to be fake news”.
Today we were Front Page, Above the Fold in the Sunday edition of the Orange County Register [HERE]. The article was good overall and addressed many of the issues surrounding the ludicrous case the City has lodged against us.
This comes on the heals of several articles which have been written by The Voice of OC [HERE], [HERE], [HERE], [HERE] & [HERE] as they have been on the ball and running hard with this story. The Voice is local, fact-based journalism at it’s finest.
We got some good coverage of the story over at ShadowProof [HERE] which itself was picked up by the paper the Florida Oracle [HERE].
The Orange Juice Blog brilliantly took the city to task for being not just incompetent but downright evil [HERE].
The FullertonRag showed their support for dropping this case [HERE] in a perfect example of understanding that we don’t all need to get along in this fine town on all things to align on principles of utmost importance.
Then of course we have the great write-up by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press [HERE]. It should be noted that this influential group also filed an amicus brief on our behalf in the appellate court supporting the striking down of the unconstitutional prior restraint issued against us by the trial court.
A lot has happened since the city took us to court a little over two weeks ago and it’s not over yet. Other reporting groups, First Amendment organizations and journalists have reached out for comment and we are fully expecting more news in the days to follow leading up the trial on 21 November.
Nearly all of those articles have been objective fact based or on our side for obvious reasons. However – If you’re concerned about having a Fair and Balanced view on this lawsuit you can check out the city’s side of things by heading over to the Fullerton Observer Pravda where they’re doing a bang up job reporting all the news that City Hall sees free to print.
We’ll keep you updated and post more stories both here and to Facebook as they appear so if we miss one please leave it in the comments or tag us on FB.
Friday’s edition of the Orange County Register has a puff piece on how much progress Fullerton’s Police Department made in dealing with the homeless population. I can’t comment on the quality of the article, however, because I was unable to make it past this quote from Bob Dunn in the very first paragraph:
“Eight years have passed since the fatal beating of a homeless, schizophrenic Kelly Thomas by Fullerton police, but the tragedy remains a “deep wound” in the department’s psyche, says the city’s new police chief.”
Since our Police Chief is apparently unfamiliar with the meaning of the word “perspective”, allow me to provide some.
Kelly Thomas was a troubled individual, but he was a human being, and on July 5, 2011 he was essentially tortured to death in full view of hundreds of witnesses, all while apologizing and begging for his father. THAT is tragedy of Kelly Thomas, not the psychic boo boos the Police Department may have suffered.
If Paulette Marshall Chaffee receives the most votes in the District 5 Election on 06 November – will she resign the office or allow herself to be sworn in?
It’s not a tough question but Mrs. Chaffee has refused to talk to anybody or answer any questions. I emailed both campaigns asking for comment before posting the original sign theft post. No comments or responses came. Likewise Voice of OC, KTLA, Fox11 and the OCRegister have all tried to get various answers from her to no avail. She has ignored them all. She has also, by way of her silence, manipulated the voters in District 5 by sending mixed signals.
With her signs still hanging all over the district, her mail still hitting voter mailboxes and her husband’s campaign overlapping her own race (which throws a few percentage points at her by sheer name association) she is, by all visible metrics, still running despite her Facebook and website deactivations.
With consideration of how power signs can be in an election, which I know from personal experience, I opted to do some research.
I started by looking at her 460 disclosure forms and found that she used Cogs South and Impact Signs to print and place her campaign signs. The signs cost her $470.oo to place ($3/sign plus distance charge).
Cogs South are the local go-to for signs and are great people to work with so I also took the liberty of giving them a call. When I asked if a candidate could pay Impact Signs to remove signs I was assured the answer was yes with the only qualifier of it maybe taking a few days. When I asked how much it would cost to have the signs removed, being that that $3/sign cost included post-election takedowns, I was told no more than that cost again. Most likely less.
Even if we assume the same cost per sign again, it would cost Paulette Marshall Chaffee one phone call and $470.00 to have her signs removed from around District 5.
That’s what Chaffee is unwilling to spend to show that she really is suspending her campaign. (more…)
It’s junk mail season and time to keep an eye on the nonsense being sent out by and for candidates and issues. One of the best pieces we’ve seen thus far in the cycle is this little nugget from the CADEM’s supporting Sharon Quirk-Silva for Assembly.
They believe HER.
The irony and timing on this is pretty great considering that Quirk-Silva herself is being investigated by the State Assembly for political retaliation against Daniel Fierro, by way of trying to pressure fellow (D) Fullerton council candidate Ahmad Zahra into dropping Fierro as a client.
But they believe HER.
If you make a sexual assault claim against an SQS ally she’ll allegedly retaliate against you, as will her husband Council member Jesus Silva.
And yet they believe HER.
This is partisan schtick at it’s worst and I almost expect this to backfire spectacularly.
Where was this #IBelieveHer version of Sharon Quirk-Silva when Fullerton Officer Albert Rincon was being accused of sexually assaulting 7 women and costing the taxpayers of Fullerton $350,000?
Where was this #IBelieveHer Quirk-Silva when a judge said of that case:
“At the end of the day, the city put Rincon back onto the streets to continue arresting women despite a pattern of sexual harassment allegations. A reasonable juror could conclude based on these facts, that the city simply did not care what officers did to women during arrest,”.
For those of you wondering about the timeline on all this regarding Rincon and Quirk-Silva – from that same Oct 2011 article:
The Rincon case began in 2008, when Kari Bode and Gina Nastasi accused Rincon of groping them and exposing their breasts. They sued the department in 2009.
So where was #IBelieveHer Sharon Quirk-Silva when Officer Albert Rincon was allegedly molesting women on our city streets?
Oh. She was Mayor.
She was Mayor again in 2012 AFTER that Judge rebuked Fullerton for doing essentially nothing to an officer accused of at least 7 known alleged accounts of sexual assault under the color of authority.
And she seems to have done nothing. Apparently appeasing the police union was more important than Believing those women.
To make matters worse – Sharon Quirk-Silva just 6 short weeks ago, voted AGAINSTSB1421 AND AB748.
After Jerry Brown sided against SQS and signed both of those bills into law, the ACLU stated:
“Together, SB 1421 and AB 748 will shine a much-needed light on police violence and abuse. Specifically, SB 1421 restores the public’s right to know how departments investigate and hold accountable those officers who abuse their power to frame, sexually assault, or kill members of the public. AB 748 will ensure law enforcement agencies throughout the state release police recordings of serious uses of force, including body camera footage, which are valuable tools for civilian oversight at a time of growing concern with police violence.”
SB 1421 is especially problematic for Quirk-Silva’s “#IBelieveHer” narrative in that it will make public some information specific to the powers of police officers, especially regarding sexual assault tied to the abuse of power to coerce a victim into sexual acts.
SB1421 directly addresses the problems with Officer Rincon and how it was handled within FPD and our city. Thus despite her firsthand knowledge of the problems being addressed by these bills from her time as our Mayor she opted to side with those who would abuse their power rather than the victims and the public seeking information about bad actors in uniform.
Yet they believe HER.
This is because Sharon Quirk-Silva apparently only “Believes Her” when the “her” in question can be used as a political cudgel against her opponents or to rally her more rabid base of supporters. When it comes to actually believing victims of sexual assault, in the end Sharon Quirk-Silva’ actions speak louder than her words. She can be counted on to run the gamut of doing nothing to actively, allegedly, trying to silence the victim and ultimately voted to keep information about official misconduct quiet.
A while back some anonymous Friend dropped off what appears to be leaked financial statements from Rusty Kennedy’s non-profit, the Orange County Human Relations Council. The files didn’t receive much attention from FFFF at the time, but this week one of our readers recently pointed out Rusty has been down at the county begging for a new $250,000 infusion to fund additional employees for his private non-profit.
OK, let’s take a look at his financial statements. If you believe that this leaked budget is authentic (I do), an additional $250,000 per year from the county taxpayers would conveniently cover the Council’s projected loss for 2016.
Now that’s not very good, is it? Running a non-profit at a 20% annual loss is cause for concern. But of course this is a private 501(c)(3), so that’s normally a problem for Rusty’s private board members to worry about.
Or is it? What if Rusty is groveling for cash at the county just pay for existing expenses, rather than hiring the three new people as promised? The group already receives substantial funding from the county and local cities. Why should the county give more money to a group that can’t balance its budget? Furthermore, it’s hard to tell if there’s any real value in Rusty’s services, or if his organization offers any sort of efficiency. Program expenses aren’t identified in this budget at all. Why not?
Here’s one clue hidden within the documents: Salaries, Benefits, and Payroll Taxes account for 98.1% of their budgeted revenue. With salaries eating up the entire budget, one might wonder if this whole operation isn’t just some make-work project for Rusty and his friends.
There’s one more concern. Rusty has collected a lot of donations over the years by pretending that his non-profit is actually an empowered county agency. Many of his donors are misinformed, which is why the county recently insisted he stop using the county logo and misappropriating the name of the similarly-named Orange County Human Relations Commission. Furthermore, there is at least one board member who hold seats in both organizations – a glaring conflict of interest that the county has yet to resolve.
Altogether, these documents paint a pretty dim picture for Rusty’s personally lucrative public/private amalgamation. Will county supervisors continue to dump money into Kennedy’s opaque and unaccountable mess of an organization? And how much are individual OC cities paying into Rusty’s perpetual self-employment apparatus? Do Orange County residents receive any real value from this public/private partnership, or is it time to scrape this useless barnacle off the county barge?
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.
Well, the short answer is that if they don’t get a call from the Chief of Police telling you to drive the dude home, they’ve got their man. And if they’re lucky they get to keep his impounded his car.
Seriously, though, the virtually useless OC Register ran another one of its slanted, pro cop pieces yesterday about the evils of mary-j-wanna, and I wouldn’t even bother posting about it except that it featured the images and words of Fullerton’s expert dope detecting cops.
The extreme irony of Fullerton cops being set up as exemplars in the detection of impaired drivers seems to have escaped the writers and editors at the Register, given the department’s behavior in the case of the Missing Maniacal Motorist, former City Manager, Joe Felz, who was apprehended after jumping a Glenwood Avenue curb, uprooting a tree, and trying to drive off. Despite emitting an odor of alcohol strong enough to be detected by a cop on the scene, the boyz in blue gave Joe a pass and a ride home. I’m not sure, but he may have been tucked into bed, and gotten a glass of warm milk and a cookie, too.
Way back in 2010 I offered a post attacking Norberto Santana and his relatively new blog Voice of OC. The title was “The Sad Degenerate World of Norberto Santana.” It was a pretty tough post attacking Santana’s objectivity given the fact of his financial backing by the OCEA union and what some of us perceived as slanted reporting. I won’t go into any more detail. You can check out the original post, here.
Well, over six years have passed and I, like many others have come to appreciate the good things Norberto and the Voice of OC have done uncovering the bad behavior of many of our so-called “conservative” leaders in Orange County. The Voice has been particularly effective uncovering the influence peddling going on in Anaheim, but also covering the County level, where the Board of Supervisors have been working us over like we were peons on their plantation. Their Board’s latest little tactic is to limit public comment to just 3 minutes per person, per meeting. Pretty shameful, right?
With an almost complete lack of competent news coverage on local stuff from the mainstream media, it is more important than ever that we recognize and financially support the the Voice of OC.
Both The OC Weekly and The OC Register have picked up the Uber-Failus story of Joe Felz.
According to The Register the City Attorney, Greg Palmer, said “the incident is a personnel matter but declined to elaborate”.
Let us look at that “Personnel Matter” shall we? First we’ll reference our fallen Sappy McTree.
According to Chief Hughes’ memo to City Council “the city manager was involved in a minor single vehicle collision”. Okay. That explains the tree but not what happened.
For context Sappy McTree is knocked down facing West which means that he left this mortal coil after being struck from an Easterly direction. The following is a photo of a skid mark which starts near Sappy’s remains and continues west.
It continues for 176ft. How do we know? Because we measured it.
“So what?” some of you will comment. The “So What” is California Vehicle Code 20002 (emphasis mine):