Crime Wave Continues

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.

Something stinks.

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.

Felz’ Plea Deal Looking Sweeter

Today Joe Felz’ attorney Bob Hickey entered North Court and had a closed door meeting with the DA and the judge. When they emerged, the pre-trial hearing had been rescheduled once again to August 14. The delays clearly represent the formation of some sort of plea deal for Felz. The whole darn thing got me thinkin’…

File photo

Plea deals occur because both the DA and the accused want to avoid the cost of a trial. Normally the DA would have the upper hand, as he has the ability to offer reduced charges and penalties. The defendant comes to the table with nothing except the ability to waste the DA’s time, at a great personal cost. Lawyers are expensive.

In Felz’ case, there was an extra card to play. Felz knew that a trial burdened the DA and the City of Fullerton with the added threat of public exposure. Police Chief Danny Hughes and Sergeant Jeff Corbett had committed obstruction of justice that night when drunk driving Felz was driven home instead of being arrested. The city and its police department needed to keep this quiet and keep themselves free from any courtroom scrutiny. Felz, on the other hand, didn’t have much to lose.

In case you forgot.

When DA Investigator Abraham Santos’ blew the whistle in May, the odds tilted heavily in Felz’ favor. For the DA, a Felz DUI trial suddenly meant the opportunity for Hickey to dig into the Hughes/DA collusion. The threat of reputational damage to both the institutions and the individual players is suddenly enormous leverage against the DA. Hell, Hickey might even be able to get Santos to testify against the DA and Hughes on the stand. Savage!

So today things aren’t looking to good for the prosecution, who’s already mired in scandal and has little to gain from pushing the Felz case anyway (what’s another DUI conviction? North Court is full of ’em.) While each delay keeps Felz unemployable for a bit longer, it also brings the promise of a dropped case or a neutered plea deal. Keep your eyes out for either one.

The New Guy

The highly-desired position of Fullerton City Manager has been awarded to one “Kenneth Domer,” currently assistant city manager down in Huntington Beach. Domer has also served in management roles in Placentia and Villa Park.

Flounder

Mr. Domer’s total compensation will be on par with that of the former disgraced city manager, Joe Felz.

Managing the peaceful and serene hamlet of Fullerton is not for the weak-minded, as previous occupants of this lofty position ended up seeking answers in the bottom of a bottle. If former Council member Pat “I hired them all” McKinley labeled Joe Felz the “Albert Pujols of City Managers,” how can this new Flounder hope to succeed? Hopefully this flat fish of a City Manager will take full advantage of the soothing presence of Nicole “can do” Bernard.

Unhinged

Last weekend OC Democratic Party official Jeff LeTourneau approached a Newman recall table at the Fullerton Walmart and began shouting profanities. “Which one of you assholes is the gay?” he screams, along with “You are a fucking disgrace to any gay person I know, you piece of shit.”

Video was captured by one of the recall signature gatherers and has just been posted to Fox News.

State Senator Josh Newman and the rest of the CA Democratic party are apparently not returning any calls regarding the incident.

Coming Up For Air

In FFFF’s early days, this blog noted how the Fullerton Observer and its “editor” Sharon Kennedy would bend over backwards to avoid printing anything that might embarrass City officialdom. In the years after that blog post, the Observer remained true to form. It continually went to bat for the bureaucrats in increasingly shameful ways, even when it violated the tenets of the Yellowing Observer’s own professed liberalism. The culmination, perhaps, was the Observer’s series of misdirections and avoidances in the wake of the Kelly Thomas murder in 2011.

It’s dark in here.

But wait. One of our Friends just noticed that the front page of the latest Observer includes an unexpected headline. The article seems to acknowledge the recent claims of corruption in city hall as asserted by the OC DA investigator Abraham Santos.

The piece discusses the facts of the claims against Dan Hughes and Joe Felz without the insertion of Kennedy’s usual dismissive editorial remarks. How could this happen? Is Kennedy turning over a new leaf?

No. This is the work of the Observer’s new co-editor, Jesse La Tour. How he managed to slip this honest piece of work past Kennedy, we may never know.

Proud Leaders in DUI Enforcement

The Fullerton PD marketing apparatus is still trying to convince the public that some sort of equitable enforcement of DUI exists. Check out today’s promulgation:

This is the very same police department that attempted to cover up a DUI collision committed by its own city manager just a few months ago. Now that we know former police chief Dan Hughes was committing criminal obstruction of justice (according to the OCDA investigator assigned to the case), this propaganda seems even more ridiculous.

One more thing to note: Temporary police chief Hinig is gone, and so Fullerton police are being led by Dan Hughes’ own hand-picked captains Siko and Rudisil. While Hughes’ legacy of corruption and obstruction may become the subject of interest in the ongoing federal probes into the OCDA, it is silly to think that our police department’s age of shame ended with Hughes’ departure.

A Day in the Life of an Assistant to the City Manager/Economic Development Manager

For a while now we’ve been trying to figure out how Nichole Bernard wrangled herself the title of Assistant to the City Manager/Economic Development Manager under the leadership of the departed Joe Felz. Even more perplexing is that nobody can figure out what she actually does all day, or what value she provides to the taxpayers of Fullerton.

Well, in an effort to shed some light on the subject, we recently got a hold of Nicole Bernard’s Outlook calendar. The documents have been dutifully provided to you below.

The one on the right

Nicole Bernard Calendar 2015 – Nicole Bernard Calendar 2016

According to these reports, Ms. Bernard calendared at least 80 mid-day working hours last year for the Fullerton College Foundation – not her employer – the City of Fullerton. That’s the equivalent of two working weeks. Mrs. Bernard is apparently the board president of the FCF.

Former City Manager, Joe Felz, Bernard’s patron, obviously let her do whatever she wanted, including using her office to host meetings for non-city business.

Step into my office, Chuck

Of course running a private non-profit is not part of Ms. Bernard’s day job, but she seems to have confused the two. It’s also notable that she took home $174,102.16 in pay and benefits last year from the City of Fullerton. How much of that grandiose salary was wasted on unofficial business, we will never know.  But we do know that Ms. Bernard spends a substantial amount of her work time doing whatever the hell she wants, and that’s not OK.

Readers, please feel free to peruse the calendars and note anything else of interest.

The Parks & Rec Manipulation of Public Comments

Readers of this blog know good and well the many failures of the Pine Forest Stairs at Hillcrest Park, not to mention the $724,000 bridge to nowhere that will soon become reality.

What you probably don’t know about are the shenanigans used by City Hall to influence the City Council vote.

Funding for the bridge, fountain, and “Great Lawn” improvements was approved on a 3-2 vote (Whitaker and Sebourn: No) at the May 16 City Council meeting.  A couple weeks earlier, I made a records request for documentation on Hillcrest Park.

Jennifer Fitzgerald’s appointee to the Parks and Recreation Commission, Gretchen Cox, made public comments in support of the project.  Having skimmed through the e-mails provided by City Hall the day before, I thought to myself, wait a minute, portions of her comments sounded awfully familiar.

As it turns out, my suspicions were correct.  A week prior, Parks & Recreation Director Hugo Curiel had one of his employees, Doug Pickard, e-mail Gretchen Cox a list of “talking points” to assist her in making attacks on Councilmembers Sebourn and Silva:

Portions of the e-mail were in fact used by Gretchen Cox during public comments.  Let’s go back and compare the e-mail to what she actually said.  This ought to be fun! (more…)

Can We Get A Refund For The Stairs?

It happened pretty quickly, just like a UFO sighting, and just as rare: a Fullerton councilperson suggesting accountability. But here you see Greg Sebourn raising the embarrassing subject of the lamentable Hillcrest Park “stairs to nowhere.”

If you’ve been paying attention, you know very well by now that these rickety looking wooden “exercise” stairs are a $1.6 million waste, a genuine Fullerton-type boondoggle that nobody outside City Hall wanted; a mess compounded by what can only be called substandard materials, workmanship and incompetent oversight – and that’s being charitable.

No, Greg, we cannot get a refund and good luck finding anybody to second a motion to do a full and complete audit of this project to find out how and why the whole thing went sideways so badly.

More Pine Forest Steps Fail

In case you needed any more evidence of the slipshod way the “exercise stairs” at Hillcrest Park were built, I offer in evidence some images taken by the FFFF Construction Field Documentation Team (CFDT) that has been awfully busy lately examining the many failures at the “Pine Forest Stairs” to nowhere.

Here is what the foundations are supposed to look like:

Here is what happened at one location. The top of the caisson was too high and had to be broken out to accommodate a post or cross beam supporting the stair stringer. Unfortunately the rebar in the caisson has been exposed to rust away and eventually spall the concrete.

Here’s a location where a large chunk of the caisson has mysteriously broken off. Here there is no reinforcing steel in sight.

And finally, here’s an example of what can happen when you decide to sink a big 6″x 6″ wood post into concrete:

Apparently many of the caissons are already cracking just like this one. Are these structures even safe? Will our common seismic events cause serious problems? I’m not privy to those answers, but I can tell you that there’s no way I’m getting on those things.

And just for fun, note that the contractor reworked the top the caisson to get water to run off. This sloppy effort is going to flake off – exposing the post to a permanent puddle.

It’s hard to believe that “professionals” inside and outside of City Hall were extremely well paid to oversee this hodgepodge of construction horrors, but there you have it. $1.6 million dollars and this is the best Fullerton can do.