Of all the money that former City Manager Wild Ride Joe Felz wasted during his shaky tenure, nothing was quite as egregious as the annual fifty grand Stumblejoe blew on Behind the Badge, a silly, pointless PR outlet that passed along empty feel-good tales involving Fullerton cops. No one knows if anyone even bothered reading this pabulum. The idea of us taxpayers actually forking over this dough in order to be administered unhealthy doses of saccharine PR back at us was bad enough. The fact that this policy decision was made, maintained and mismanaged by a bureaucratmade it worse.
Fortunately, last Tuesday, the City pulled the plug. City staff teed up the item as a cut – unless three councilmembers voted to save it. They didn’t. Here’s the video.
Of course cop supported candidates Bud Chaffee and Jesus Silva thought the whole idea was just peachy. Predictably, Jennifer Fitzgerald seemed to be going along. Bruce Whitaker and Greg Sebourn opposed wasting any more on this crap. Sebourn correctly pointed out that the cop union, having plenty of money to stick its snout in Fullerton politics, can easily afford to promote the good deeds of its membership.
Whatever changed Jennifer Fitzgerald’s mind to drop support for this ridiculous concept that has cost us $200,000 in the past four years remains a mystery, but she suddenly did a 180. Hopefully FFFF had something to do with the sudden shift to fiscal responsibility.
In the end the self-serving BS rhetoric of Chaffee and the feeble gibberish of Silva amounted to nothing and the council unanimously went along with the proposed package of cuts that included Behind the Badge.
Rest assured, Friends, FFFF will be following up with a Public Records Act request to get a copy of the termination notice.
Editor’s note: This was originally composed on March 3, moments before Joe Felz was charged with DUI hit-and-run. As such, the Renick agreement may have gone bottoms up. If not, well that just makes it more fun.
I have it on pretty good authority that our former City Manager (and now accused criminal Wild Ride Joe Felz) is picking up a consulting gig for Renick Cadillac down on Orangethorpe and Euclid.
Now what possible use would ol’ StumbleJoe be to a car dealership?
The story goes that Renick would like to acquire the site occupied by the Grand Inn which is situated right between the dealership and the asphalt lot on the corner of Euclid and Hill Avenue where Renick parks its spare Subarus. Looks like the idea may be to get the cops to start dishonestly documenting alleged bad activity at the motel. If you can harass the motel, the owner might have a lot more incentive to sell out.
Just so Renick can park its cars without having to drive out on Euclid. Really?
I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking this source may have it wrong. That maybe Renick is not planning on expanding at all, at least not for the long term; but that rather we are seeing a lot assemblage in order to build a future penitentiary-like apartment block.
Everyone is familiar with the politician’s reputation for telling untruths, which are generally more or less creative. Rare is the outright, black and white lie. Once in a while you find it in the politician who is supremely confident of their unaccountability – or clouded in a miasma of narcissistic delusion. Or both. It hardly matters which.
And so we have Jennifer Fitzgerald, who as mayor blatantly lied about the City having a balanced budget, and blatantly lied about the City fiscal prudence that created a balanced budget.
Ever since City Manager Joe Felz’s infamous Wild Ride on November 9th, 2016 folks have been wondering about the role of Fitzgerald in the unfolding scandal in which the FPD collected no evidence and gave a liquor-smelling Felz a ride home.
A few days ago our Friend, Travis Kiger made a Public Records Act request covering:
1. Call logs/detailed billing records for all mobile/landline phones used by Councilmember Jennifer Fitzgerald on November 9, 2016.
2. Call logs/detailed billing records for all mobile/landline phones used by Police Chief Danny Hughes on November 9, 2016.
This request covers all devices used by these public officials, regardless of ownership.
Here’s what Kiger got back:
But hey, wait a minute! What about that memo put out by Police Chief Dan Hughesrelating his communication about the incident to Fitzgerald. Remember that? Here he clearly states his communication with Madame Mayor over the Felz affair. The memo is dated November 9th!
And then there was the sad declaration from SparkyFitz herself that she got a call at 3:00 am on the morning of the 9th.Remember that? And are we seriously to believe that Fitzgerald had no city-related phone calls the day her dear friend drove over a tree on Glenwood Avenue? That’s nonsense.
Here we have the spectacle of a public official pretending that there are no records documenting these communications – a position belied by the written and oral statements of the communicants themselves.
And then there is the rather odd response regarding Hughes. The fact that he is no longer employed by the City is irrelevant information. The answer about “his” phone is equally evasive. Did Hughes use his own phone or a city-issued phone? We aren’t told. And more to the point, does a public record cease to exist because the recorder is no longer a government employee?
Next Tuesday’s Council meeting brings us another Budget Show, one more in a line of footling meetings strung out like faux pearls on a cheap necklace. This one is particularly entertaining since it acknowledges a big structural deficit that the suggested cost savings will do almost nothing to correct: “modest” revenue increases are broadly suggested, but apart from some fee increases and one-time sale of “surplus” property nothing meaningful is proposed. Obviously the recommendation for a utility tax or a sales tax increase will be sprung like a rabbit out of the magician’s hat at the last moment.
One entertaining bit of the agenda memo is the inclusion of a small table identifying some of City Manager Allan Roeder’s “loose sofa change,” giving the impression that maybe, just maybe, Mr. Roeder regrets his previous offhand dismissal of a $50,000 per year contract that accomplishes nothing as not worthy of councilmanic attention. Of course I am referring to the ridiculously conceived and suspiciously ill-managed “Behind the Badge” agreement that was improperly contracted by Wild Ride Joe Felz in the first place.
Well, good for Roeder, even though desperate times call for desperate measures And it takes a lot of desperation for a City bureaucrat to even tacitly acknowledge the expendability of a contract. The irony here is thick. It is the exploding pension cost of the Fullerton police Department that is breaking our bank. Even as we pay for the cops to peddle their dopey PR right back at us.
Another black eye for Danny Hughes’ “reformed” police department. It looks like Miguel “Sonny” Siliceo is being tuned up by the DA for submitting a false police report, a report that was subsequently used by the DA to prosecute some downtown bar-hopping schmo.
Unlike 2011, Siliceo’s assertions were apparently belied by data from cop video recorders and the case against Mr. Schmo was dropped – a situation so remarkable for our cops-über-alles DA that the lies of Siliceo must have been stupendously blatant. The complaint is a felony.
Sonny seems to be on leave now so it will be interesting to see how this unfolds. And it makes us wonder how many of the other arrests that Siliceo participated in were on the level.
There is a term for a plea agreement for those drivers who may or may not have been legally impaired when they were pulled over by the cops. It’s charmingly called “dry reckless” and means that the police and the DA aren’t sure they can pin a DUI rap on the driver, and the driver would rather take a big insurance premium hit than take his chances in court.
And that is exactly what is going to happen with Joe Felz, he of the November 9th, 2016 Wild Ride. The DA can’t win a DUI case against Felz because our sterling police department refused to collect any evidence. And Felz will be more than satisfied with making the stigma of “drunk diver” go away, and no mandatory license suspension. Once the DUI part vanishes, the cops will only be on the hook to explain why they didn’t at least give Wild Ride Joe a traffic ticket for his careening out of control (while driving uphill) on Glenwood Avenue. And that’s nothing for a force that has a history of making up stuff on the witness stand.
Video evidence may or may not ultimately be produced, depending on the daily whim of the DA, but it won’t matter since all the relevant charges will have been dismissed, with all the legal niceties observed.
The constant public glorification by the city government of the Fullerton cops who hand out the most DUI citations has become parody worthy: public awards ceremonies at council meetings, plaques, gushing adulation from representatives of MADD. And of course there are the saccharine and witless write-ups in the taxpayer funded cop PR outlet Behind the Badge.
It’s really pretty amusing, all that self-congratulation. But when it comes to the issue of how come the FPD didn’t arrest Joe Felz for DUI in the early morning of November 9, 2016, all we hear are the proverbial crickets from Bill Rams and Lou Ponsi. Instead of arresting Felz, they deliberately refused to collect evidence, drove him home, and tucked him into bed. And that’s not amusing at all. That’s obstruction of justice – a felony – and absolute proof that there are two sets of rules – rules for the cops, and the rules by which they are only too happy to arrest citizens. It’s obvious that this big Fullerton DUI-fest has nothing, or very little to do, really, with public safety
What does it all mean? I think I figured it out. Arresting DUI suspects is comparatively easy. And the results are fun to trot out at council meetings. Since downtown Fullerton has all sorts of bars with lots and lots drunks the game is even easier. But does anybody propose curtailing the culture of booze, barf, and binge? Of course not. Arresting drunk drivers is like shooting fish in a barrel. It’s easy.
It’s profitable to provide the liquor to get the losers get drunk, and it’s profitable for the cops to haul ’em in. Except when it’s one of their own. Or the City Manager.
It’s also an excellent distraction from all the bad news generated by bad behaving Fullerton cops, including, ironically, many who have been publicly honored for their DUI heroics. It sure seems like the celebrations of DUI arrests have risen parallel to the numbers of Fullerton cops identified for their own lawlessness.
Being a good cop is really hard, supposedly. At least that’s what Behind the Badge and all the police apologists keep telling us. So let’s talk about other sorts of crime – apart from the barrel fish, that is.
How many crimes does the FPD halt or reduce? How many crimes does the FPD prevent? Who knows? More easily quantified: how many legitimate crimes (not “resisting arrest,” sorry boys) are actually solved? How come the FPD never publishes such statistics? I am much more interested in a statistical analysis of the FPD’s success in solving crimes than I am in the number of drunks they pull over. But we never ever hear about that. Why not? As we pay out ever greater salaries and benefits to cops whose jobs are getting demonstrably safer,is there any indication that these extravagant increases are getting us anything other than a bigger unfunded pension liability?
The parade of DUI dog and pony shows at council meetings will no doubt continue. Of course the next one will be acutely embarrassing for the cops, and for people like Jennifer Fitzgerald and Doug “Bud” Chaffee – unswerving loyalists of the FPD Culture of Corruption; and embarrassing even for Bruce Whitaker, no friend of bad cops, but who seemingly lacks the courage to confront the issue of the taxpayer funded Behind the Badge, as it peddles its bullshit in the face of embarrassing reality.
One of our fine stable of anonymous sources has informed us that former Fullerton star DUI cop Timothy Gibertwas on the scene of former City Manager Joe Felz’s Wild Ride. Since the event in question has been deliberately shrouded in mystery, I can’t confirm if this is accurate, but I can say that if true, the needle in the FFFF irony meter just jumped into the red zone.
See, like Mr. Felz, Mr. Gibert has recently found himself in hot water with the District Attorney, albeit (I love writing “albeit”) in San Bernardino County where he and some pals are accused of some nitwit scheme to rip off Home Depot with returned merchandise.
How funny. Was the decorated DUI Hero there the night the Joe Felz flashed his get Out of Jail Free card after careening off Glenwood Avenue, ploughing over a parkway tree and trying to drive off on his rims? Yeah, that would be ironic.
Uh, oh. More bad news for the Fullerton Police Department Culture of Excellence. It seems as if one of Fullerton’s Finest and top DUI arrester Timothy Gibert has been arrested himself in San Bernardino for all sorts of nasty behavior – grand theft and conspiracy. The scam was…oops. The “alleged” scam was to return merchandise bought at a discount for a full refund at a Home Depot out in Apple Valley.
You can read all about Gibert’s sterling DUI arrest record at Behind the Badge, if you can fight the gag reflex, but you most assuredly will not be reading about Gibert’s arrest at his house in Victorville. Instead you can read about it in theDaily Titan, of all places. Kudos to the kids for some real reporting – kids who in their young careers have already accomplished a lot more than pathetic cop toady Lou Ponsi ever did.
Over at the OC Weekly, Gustavo Arellano got his hands on the deposition tapes for the civil trial of Melissa Nicole Lindgren. She was the young Nicholas Jr. High teacher who is doing 4 years in state prison for lewd acts against three Fullerton students.
Despite numerous warning signs, the abuse occurred under the school administrators noses for several years before she was finally arrested in 2014.
Mr. Arellano’s article goes into great detail, but here is the most important question:
Who is responsible for leaving this predator in the classroom after numerous warning signs?
Let’s take a look at the suspects:
The Fullerton Police Department: Received an anonymous letter alleging inappropriate activity with students. Detectives claim they investigated the issues, but they ultimately cleared the teacher. According to one inside source, the FPD’s failed investigation actually hampered the school district’s ability to take action.
Matthew Barnett, Nicholas principal: Noted many warning signs, but ultimately “couldn’t put his finger” on Lindgren’s indiscretions until she was arrested. He also forgot to interview Lindgren about the accusations in the anonymous letter. Barnett has since been promoted to “Director of Educational Services” at the Fullerton School District.
The Fullerton School Board: Fairly useless in disciplinary matters. Most of the school board is content to take cover behind state laws that prevent them from resolving personnel issues. The one action the board did take responsibility for: paying a $3.25 million settlement to Lindgren’s victims.
The teachers’ union: School administrators will tell you that their investigatory and disciplinary powers are extremely limited by special state laws that protect deviant teachers like Lindgren. These laws are put into place by elected officials at the behest of the powerful California Teachers Association. These protections clearly hindered the district’s ability to investigate and terminate a child predator in their midst.
So back to the question. Who is responsible for allowing this teacher to run wild?
Take your pick. But wherever blame is cast, there is one certainty that nobody will admit: The Fullerton School District can’t offer any assurance of your child’s safety. And everyone involved seems to be OK with that.