Fullerton Observer Fails at Local Journalism

I’m glad to see that Woodward and Bernstein over at the Fullerton Observer have decided to deviate from their usual city council puffery in order to run a twopart summary of the Mueller Report. Lord knows not enough people are covering THAT story in the media. It sure shows the local journalist chops at work in the local media to… rehash what the entire global media establishment won’t shut up about.

Observer Mueller

Normally I wouldn’t take time out of my day to poke fun at the Observer but I need to point something out for the sake of clarity. If you search for the Observer on Google or go to their About Us page they ask for money from people in order to… wait for it:

Protect local journalism –”

I’m pretty sure this website has broken more local news in Fullerton in the last few weeks alone than the Observer has in a decade and we got hit with an ethically and legally dubious Cease and Desist letter from the “City Prosecutor” for our efforts.

When we were being threatened by City Hall where was the Observer? They’ve been silent on the whole issue because of course they have been. They likely won’t report on anything critical of the city we’ve published without us identifying our sources but no source info is needed for that Cease and Desist letter and yet still radio silence.

Sadly, as has been the case for far too long, if the Observer isn’t crying about the liberal cause-de-jour they’re spending their column space blowing smoke up the skirts of city bureaucrats and avoiding any issue that might shed light on how things actually function in our local government. It may be a bad look to call one’s staff “journalists” if you function more as a local government PR firm.

Maybe after the city follows up on their anti-First Amendment threats against this blog, and one of our contributors, the Observer will have raised enough money to “protect local journalism” in order to actually write about the issue. But don’t hold your breath.

Maybe the Story is Down Here

Enough Excuses, this Recall is Newman’s Own Fault

The Tax Bear Cometh

Here’s a thought experiment for you.

Let’s say you bought a house in Fullerton at the peak of the housing market. The market has mostly recovered but the house is only worth what you originally paid. However, when you receive your tax bill, the Franchise Tax Board assesses it higher, so there is more than a $1,000 difference in what you think you should pay and what you are actually charged. So you send a letter to the Franchise Tax Board disputing the charge and explaining why you believe your bill should be lower.

According to our State Senator Josh Newman, what you just did was costly and unnecessary. You see, that letter disputing the $1000+ charge cost 49 cents to mail, and the letter isn’t guaranteed to get you that refund you want.

That’s pretty much the takeaway from this recent editorial from Mr. Newman, which ran on Page 2 of our local Fullerton Observer Newspaper. Senator Newman’s response to the anger over his vote to raise taxes by over $52 billion over ten years in an already overtaxed state is pure misdirection, asking his supporters to instead ask recall proponents “why they’d waste $2.5 million on a recall petition rather than put 34 more teachers in our schools, 16 more firefighters in our communities, or 13 more cops on our streets.”

Of course the answer is really simple: Because $52 billion is more money than $2.5 million. About $51.9975 billion more.

Don’t think about the $1000 tax you shouldn’t have to pay. Think about the two bubble gum balls you could buy with this money instead.

Elsewhere in the editorial, Senator Newman does get around to justifying his vote and that the increased spending on roads was necessary due to the poor condition they are in. Nobody in Fullerton would dispute that, but the reason for the problem is grossly out of whack spending priorities, not a lack of revenue.

Take the examples Newman cites himself. He bemoans the fact that the alleged $2.5 million recall cost could put 13 more cops on our street and not the fact that, by his own admission, putting a single police officer on our streets costs over $192,000 per year in the first place due to the grossly unsustainable public employee benefits we dole out. He bemoans the horrible condition of our roads and not the fact that the 18 cent per gallon tax we already pay has been diverted into the fiscal vortex that is high speed rail – and even when Caltrans does spend money on roads, overpayment and delays have come to be accepted as inevitable.

This is why your constituents are angry, Senator Newman, and this is why they are listening to (as you put it) “shock jocks” and signing the recall petition in droves. We are tired of excuses and we are tired of politicians who choose to represent the interest in Sacramento that want to keep this unsustainable benefit machine chugging along at the taxpayers’ expense.

In the event you are reading this yourself, Senator, I don’t say any of this with rancor and I still like you personally, but you are working against my interests and those of hundreds of thousands of your constituents in Sacramento and it has to stop. And babbling about millions while your policies are costing tens of billions isn’t going to save you.

The Yellowing Submarine Sinks Deeper

Dive! Dive!

You have to wonder about the integrity of an avowedly left-wing media effort that is so desperate to prop up and defend local government that it will…well, read on.

The Fullerton Observer and its obtuse editor, Sharon Kennedy, have now resorted to republishing pieces written by the pro-cop union shill “Behind the Badge.” The taxpayers pick up the tab for that lame propaganda.

It’s true.

In it’s latest journalistic effort, we see on page 12 a “story” scribbled by the utterly servile Lou Ponsi. There is no explanation as to where this tidbit comes from. Is Ponsi now an “Observer?” But a simple hunch led me to Ponsi’s new source of income. Sure enough. Kennedy has just passed along a reprint from “Back the Badge.”

The sole purpose of Behind the Badge is to make Fullerton’s cop apparatus look good, no matter what, by running feel-good stories. And Sharon Kennedy’s mission is making Fullerton’s government look good, no matter what. I guess it makes sense in a perverted kind of way.

At least we don’t have to pay for the Fullerton Observer.

Amerige Court Becomes Amerige Commons

Hello Fullerton Friends. I’ve been gone for a few weeks owing to the Flu, Family, Festivus and other merriment this time of year. I hope you’re all enjoying your holidays whichever ones you choose to enjoy. Feeling better I wanted to start to dive into some of the public records requests I’ve received from the city but my wife wants me to write about Amerige Court. As my Grandfather once told me that the two most important words in a marriage are “Yes, Dear” I suppose I’m going to have to write about Amerige Court.

For those who don’t keep track of Fullerton boondoggles year in and year out Amerige Court was originally planned to be a 9-Story Mixed Use monstrosity which would sit on the property that is currently some of the most heavily utilized parking for Downtown Fullerton straddling Amerige Avenue between Harbor Blvd and Malden Avenue.

The plus side, at the time of inception anyways, was that it would provide Downtown with 150% of the parking that was (and is) currently available with the downside being every other aspect of this plan. When people got wind of it the city pushed the plan into a “Study Session” where it was cut down from 9 stories to a more reasonable size and the 150% parking requirement was nixed because why not take the only good thing away from the plan. (more…)

The Yellowing Submarine

Things never looked better for Fullerton.
Things never looked better for Fullerton.

An alert Friend directed our attention to the Fullerton Observer’s “reporting” of the recent Joe Felz/Danny Hughes Glenwood Ave. Road Rally. Here’s the article. As usual the Observer does its level best to downplay the incident –  since for the Yellowing Observers City Hall can do no wrong. If you want, you can see it here. Below is a facsimile.

Journalism at it's finest!
Journalism at it’s finest!

Let’s enjoy some of the unintended hilarity.

First notice that neither the chief player in this drama, nor even his august title are mentioned in the headline, a rather glaring omission, one would think.

It is not until the end of the second paragraph that we discover the tree killer is our beloved city manager; and it wasn’t until the next sentence that he is identified – only as “Mr. Felz.”

None of the pertinent facts are shared: that Felz had been drinking; that he had tried to drive away; that he had been given a pass on the breathalyzer test that would have been forced on you or me, or even Sharon Kennedy, editor of this mess.

Ironically, Page 6 contains a saccharine farewell to Chief Dan Hughes, whose last official task as chief was to make sure his boss got a safe ride home and tucked into bed without the worry of an annoying and embarrassing DUI rap. Thanks for the solid, man!

“Leaked to a local blog.” Ha ha! Yes, indeed! But no mention of the evil FFFF, where original and dangerous attitudes prevail! Jeez, even Sappy McTree got more shine than we did.

And finally: “…witnessing a driver (you mean THE driver) trying to maneuver his vehicle off the causeway.”

Causeway? Just like The Observer of old: error riddled, incompetent, supine and illiterate.

Two Kinds of Deflection

In the wake of the Kelly Thomas murder at the hands of the FPD, two different yet eerily similar tactics emerged for deflecting responsibility away from the cops.

Fullerton’s antique liberal crowd quickly banded together so that society itself could be blamed, not the FPD: the problem was not murderous, corrupt or even incompetent cops. Oh, no. The problem was one of homelessness and the solution was to provide a homeless shelter! Why Kelly would probably even be alive today!

On the other hand, the anonymous cop-protectors keep insisting that the problem lay with poor parenting for Kelly’s death, as if a schizophrenic, 35 year-old man was somehow the responsibility of his parents, and as if that somehow exculpates the six cops who beat him to death and stood around laughing as he died in a pool of his own blood.

Of course both groups relied heavily upon a completely comical whitewash of the FPD Culture of Corruption by paid-for opinion of Michael Gennaco.

Two different cliques, two very similar tactics.


Sooner or Later, Social Justice For Kelly Thomas

It’s funny, in a sick sort of way, but the very types who used to bray the loudest about the need for “social justice” have been virtually silent in Fullerton in the wake of the Kelly Thomas murder at the hands of members of an out-of-control police department.

The graying establishment Democrats had been hiding behind their drawn chintz curtains, curled up in an intellectual fetal position on their plastic slip-covered Naugahyde sofas. It was just too scary and, well, controversial to say anything, let alone actually do anything.

Fortunately, others, such as Stephan Baxter, Marlena Carrillo and Lauren Becker are willing to keep up the pressure.

Here is a link to Becker’s website that reminds us exactly what a Culture of Corruption can do, and try to get away with, when left to its own devices. It also reminds us what we can do to push back against an entrenched system.

The bars stayed open and the bands played on…

Democrats like Jan Flory, and Molly McClanahan and Pam Keller didn’t say a word in the aftermath of the murder. No, they only got outraged when people outside their cozy little circle took the reins of government out of the hands of three incompetent old fools.

These people are a lot more worried about the fate of the bureaucracy than they are about the people of Fullerton. All of them.


County Supervisor Wants To Take Budget Axe to Human Relations Commission

Just do it.

What is the Orange County Human Relations Commission? It is a County Commission whose mission seems to be get everybody to just get along. Calming the roiling waters of bigotry and racial insensitivity is one goal, seemingly a good one, until you start to realize that this operation has no way of demonstrating that is actually doing anything productive, and tracks a mere handful of incidents annually.

The taxpayers of Orange County currently give something called the Human Relations Council $300,000 a year to provide staffing for the Orange County Human Relations Commission. Confusing? Not to Rusty Kennedy the Executive Director. He pulls in his pension as a former County employee and gets paid all over again by us to do his good deeds via the office of the Council.

4th District Supervisor Shawn Nelson has seen and heard enough and wants to cut that down to $100,000 – just enough to cover some sort of police/community reconciliation program. Nelson seems particularly perturbed that in the wake of the Kelly Thomas killing Rusty Kennedy was MIA. I’m not surprised by Kennedy’s absence. FFFF posted about that, here, and here.

Of course when it came time to host a big collaborative boohoo session, er, I mean Task Force on Homelessness, Rusty was Johnny-on-the-spot, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Kelly Thomas’s main problem was not that he was homeless, but that he was the victim of a real hate crime. But Kennedy needs the cops to shill for his continued County-supplied budget, and it really wouldn’t look good if he started accusing the cops of hate crimes. Those letters of support would sure dry up in a hurry.

Anyhow, Kennedy’s contract is on the County Board of Supervisor’s agenda for next Tuesday morning and you can be sure all the squishy feel-gooders and race hustlers will be out in force – the very same church and synagogue pulpit preachers who were utterly mute after Kelly Thomas was murdered.

Liberals, Progressives and the Fullerton Recall

We got our hands on this editorial from CSUF professor Jonathan Taylor after it was rejected for publication by the Fullerton Observer, apparently because they will not run letters in support of or against the recall (unless you pay for an advertisement, that is.)

Well, we have no such limitations. Enjoy!

Liberals and progressives should support the Fullerton recall.

As a longtime supporter of progressive politics and Democratic candidates, I call on all liberal and progressive voters to put party politics aside and support the Fullerton recall.

The reasons are simple.  Our nation is undergoing an epidemic of police brutality.  More police departments are currently under investigation by the US Justice Department than at any time in history. The excessive force used in the crackdown on the Occupy movement last fall was a wakeup call (for anyone not from Fullerton).  The Kelly Thomas killing and the protest movement it has led to and which has its clearest political expression in the Fullerton recall is thus not just a local issue.  Communities, activists, and law enforcement agencies around the country are watching the unprecedented non-partisan, grassroots movement against police violence that has seemingly come out of nowhere to directly challenge our rogue police department and city political establishment.  Liberals and Democrats can be on the right side of history and support this movement, or they can side with the forces of oppression and resistance to meaningful reform. The choice has never been more clear.

Two main arguments have been put forward against the recall. One is based on a falsehood, the other on misplaced priorities.

The falsehood is that because businessman and blogger Tony Bushala has funded much of the recall effort out of his own pocket, that somehow “Fullerton is for sale” and that Bushala stands to make a sizeable fortune out of this investment.  It is wise to be cynical about business influence on politics – take for example former Fullerton mayor, recall opponent, and astounding redevelopment beneficiary Dick Ackerman. But nobody has been able to demonstrate how Bushala’s businesses – which largely restore historic buildings – would benefit financially from the recall.  Anybody who has taken the time to talk with Tony Bushala, or to read the blog that he and city council candidate Travis Kiger run understands that what drives their efforts is outrage, not the prospect of financial gain.

This outrage is outrage we ALL should be feeling regardless of party affiliation or ideology.  Kelly Thomas was not the first victim of police brutality in Fullerton; I personally have talked with three other individuals, each with a shockingly horrific tale of violent and unjustified treatment at the hands of Fullerton police, and there are countless other victims dating back decades. But the killing of Kelly Thomas is unique in its brutality – it is one of the worst acts of police violence this country has seen, far surpassing for instance the brutality and severity of the Rodney King beating.

The misplaced priority is the idea that this outrage is somehow too much. The recall movement and the street protestors have been referred to as a “lynch mob,” as if the anger and determination for change aroused by seeing Kelly Thomas’s bloodstains on the pavement and hearing his desperate screams and cries as he was literally beaten and crushed to death are somehow “improper.”   Members of the community and longstanding local political figures, many of them Democrats, have appealed to a sense of propriety and gentility as a rationale to oppose the recall.  This is beyond contemptible. A breach of decorum cannot be compared to brutality, torture, and murder. I am at a loss as to how members of our community can fail to understand this.

Anger is an appropriate emotion when a situation of dramatic injustice is exposed. This anger is being appropriately channeled into a movement which calls for the replacement of the city leadership with ballots, not pitchforks. What better sign of the maturity of a movement could there be?  Whether the city council members up for recall were directly responsible for the escalating police violence and brutality that led to Kelly Thomas’s death, or whether they simply failed to respond adequately to the challenges of an out-of-control police department are reasonable issues for debate.  What is not debatable is that the entire country, if not the world, is watching a citizens’ revolt against the Fullerton police; that this movement is primarily (though not completely) led by Libertarians and Republicans; and that liberals and progressives are faced with a stark choice: support candidates who promise to clean up our police department and prevent these atrocities from happening again, or support the status quo.  Any person who would let partisanship, propriety, or political affiliation dictate their vote at this point in Fullerton is a person without moral backbone or principal.  It just so happens that the council members being recalled are Republicans.  Were they Democrats, Greens, Communists, Libertarians, Whigs, Black Panthers or Mugwumps it wouldn’t matter – they must go.

Progressive voters need to remember their values. Core liberal and progressive values include support for human rights, social justice, civil liberties, and compassion for the downtrodden. That means we do not tolerate rogue police officers killing schizophrenic homeless men in our midst; assaulting innocent college students for fun; making false arrests to cover their incompetence and violence; arresting and torturing citizens because they showed insufficient respect and the other atrocities that have been uncovered as our citizenry diligently investigates our local police. Last summer I was startled to discover that Libertarians and Republicans, at least the good ones, not only agree with this, they’re actually motivated to do something about it.  In fact, they have led the charge, and they deserve our support.

There are many good candidates for city council who demonstrate their unequivocal commitment to the values I mention above, and they are not largely Democrats. Liberal and progressive Democratic voters must work with Republicans and Independents to replace the current city council with individuals who echo the community’s legitimate outrage and demonstrate commitment to true reform.


Jonathan Taylor
Professor of Geography
California State University, Fullerton

Are “Conscience” Dems Abandoning Doug Chaffee?

Could be. Since July 2011 Recall candidate Doug Chaffee has been the invisible man. No presence at protests, no support of the Recall, no denunciation of the recall, no comment on the Culture of Corruption in the FPD, no defense of the McKinley police regime, either.

Matt Rowe

Some Democrats who supported Chaffee in 2010 are jumping ship – to independent candidate Matt Rowe. They are claiming that Chaffee is just a mealy-mouthed guy who wants to get elected without saying a damn thing substantive.

Here is a letter from Stephan and Noelle Baxter, and William Zdan sent to our friends at The Fullertonian. It’s a hard-hitting piece, born of the frustration of a politician who is so petrified of saying anything that he says nothing, and evidently stands for nothing.

The choice of Rowe over Doug Chaffee is the proverbial no-brainer. When you check out Chaffee’s supporters you’ll you’ll see the Old Guard Left like Molly McClanahan and Jan Flory who sat on their hands and kept their mouth shut in the wake of the Kelly Thomas murder. Many of his supporters actually oppose the recall and that speaks volumes about what they expect from their boy. He’s even being supported behind the scenes by repuglicans like Dick Ackerman and his sleazy ilk who apparently see in Chaffee their Main Chance.