At last night’s Fullerton City Council meeting (21 March 2017) I spoke on Agenda Item 3 regarding budget strategies. Amongst other comments I asked for clarification on what was meant by “Structural Deficit” considering that both Fitzgerald and former Councilwoman Jan Flory constantly claimed we have/had a balanced budget. I asked what changed overnight to take us from a balanced budget on 08 November 2016 into a “Structural deficit” today.
What I got regarding an answer was Councilwoman Fitzgerald dodging the question and blaming Sacramento and the CalPERS rate change. And I quote:
“And I will go ahead and answer the question that was brought up over balanced budgets and what happened overnight and I will tell you, I mean, for former Council member Flory and I, when we talked about balanced budgets. Our 5 year projections, every year showed a balanced budget and what happened overnight is CalPERS decreased the amount of returns that they assumed that we were going to receive. So, that is what happened to those 5 year projections to change them.”
There are some hidden costs to government that are hidden in plain sight. One of these costs is the amount we pay in settlements for various lawsuits.
Some settlements are easy to figure out. We know why the City of Fullerton paid the family of Kelly Thomas close to 6 Million dollars. When somebody goes after the city for work related issues, however, it is much less clear what we’re paying for or why we’re paying.
What we do know is how much we’ve paid. Here’s the total we’ve paid from 2010-2016 in Worker’s Compensation Settlements.
Owing to privacy laws we can’t know who got what and why so be certain that there are shenanigans going on with some of these payouts.
That’s the thing about government. No matter how much you think it’s costing you, it’s always costing you and your children more.
FFFF has tracked the obscene waste of taxpayer money – $200,000 so far – on a vacuous, pro-cop PR outlet run by Cornerstone Communication called “Back the Badge.” We have noted a supremely fuzzy contract, approved only by a bureaucrat and managed in the most slip-shod fashion.
On February 2nd, Mr. Travis Kiger sent a communication about it to Mayor Bruce Whitaker. We faithfully reproduce it, here:
After reviewing the contract, purchase orders and payments to Cornerstone Communications, along with the communication from the city below, it is clear that the City Manager issued the contract and payments improperly.
City code 2.64.050 and city policy requires a Formal Bid Procedure be followed for awards over $50,000. On 3/28/2013, the City Manager signed a contract with Cornerstone Communications not to exceed $40,000 with no evidence of a Formal Bid Procedure. On 5/20/13, less than 2 months later, the city issued a purchase order extending the contract by 6 months and $23,000. This PO brought the total contract value to $63,000 in the first year. This maneuvering suggests that the City Manager intentionally bypassed the city’s requirement for a formal bid procedure.
This issue is even more alarming considering that City Manager and the Chief of Police had an existing relationship with Bill Rams, the proprietor of Cornerstone Communications, prior to the initial contract issuance.
Additionally, there were $32,000 of payments to Cornerstone Communications from 4/1/14 through 11/1/14 that were made without an active contract or purchase order. This is an egregious error that is further complicated by city management’s pre-existing relationship with the vendor.
There are other problems with this vendor relationship. Purchase orders were issued in excess of the contracted amounts and term without an updated contract. The contract is open ended, vague and does not provide for specific performance. The contract does not require the vendor to deliver performance reporting, nor is there evidence that the vendor provided evidence of effectiveness of deliverables, which is customary in online marketing agreements.
Given the improper nature of the issuance of the contract, which was renewed over four consecutive years without the approval of the City Council, and the sudden departure of the City Manager who oversaw this contract, I strongly believe the council should review the contract and payments to Cornerstone Communications at a public meeting immediately.
An acquaintance reminded me the the other day of the ridiculous OCTA “Bike Share” program of a couple years ago – one of the most embarrassing boondoggles on record, and proof that regional government agencies are just as bad as our own city when it comes to throwing our money away.
The OCTA is always ready, able and willing to waste money – some of it comparatively small amounts, and some of it (think ARTIC) monstrously large. The common theme is that hardly anybody knows about it before the dough is blown, or after because the mainstream media is so good at keeping government unaccountable.
This is the tale of Bike Share, a supposedly “green” initiative, and thus free from the constraints of economic common sense.
Back in 2012 OCTA invested in a program where people could rent bicycles from a public rack and return them. To somebody it seemed like a plausible idea. The OCTA chose our city as the test lab because of all the college kids who like to take a commuter train to Fullerton.
Surprise! Bike Nation, a client of Curt Pringle and Associates (the current employer of Council-lobbyist Jennifer Fitzgerald) got the contract to run the program. Better qualified vendors were rejected by the OCTA Board. And the cooperative guy who made the motion to approve Bike Nation and proceed with the program? None other than our own 4th District Supervisor Shawn Nelson. According to the Voice of OC, the cost of the program was $700,000; the per bike ride subsidy was an astonishing $800.
At the end of a couple years the magnitude of the Bike Share stupidity became clear. Almost no one signed up for the membership subscription and almost nobody was using the bicycles, bikes that were heavy and unwieldy. Some of them broke down after they had been washed. The vendor blamed the OCTA, the OCTA blamed the vendor; but we paid for it.
And Nelson? He didn’t return a Voice of OC call asking for comment.
The Fullerton Police Department has also been a collaborator in the craziness “working with” the dysfunctional culture, following political orders and smelling lots of overtime, no doubt, and maybe even relishing the opportunity to crack a few 909 noggins once in a while.
And of course, the media has been utterly silent on the $1.5 million abuse of the City budget, the drunken violence, the sexual assaults, the broken laws, the mega bonanza for the subsidized, out-of-control bar owners.
The Case of the Disappearing/Reappearing Balanced Budget
Many of you may recall that during my campaign for Fullerton City Council I wrote an Open Letter to Jennifer Fitzgerald. I’d like to revisit the issue of Mrs. Fitzgerald’s oft-repeated myth of a balanced budget.
On her website as well as on campaign literature she made the point that our budget is balanced. I offer as evidence a screen-grab from her campaign website from 22 October 2016;
I won’t re-litigate the whole letter here but suffice it to say I wasn’t happy about her Public Relations spin on our overspending by at least 43 Million Dollars during her tenure.
I’m bringing this all up due to agenda item #2 from last night’s Council Meeting. The council voted 5-0 to receive and file the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ending 30 June 2016. Inside the CAFR was one little nugget really stood out to me when reading the report.
In the past FFFF has been critical of Rusty Kennedy and his ridiculous “OC Human Relations” operations that for decades has sucked off of taxpayer revenue to fund it’s feel-good enterprises. Back in 2011 we noted Kennedy’s moral absenteeism here and here when the Fullerton cops killed a helpless homeless man. See, Rusty has always needed the cops to pop up at County budget time and extol his dubious virtues. He and his Old Guard liberal pals were more than happy to paint the Kelly Thomas killing as an issue in which the poor cops just lacked proper training dealing with those troublesome homeless people.
In 2011 the County decided to end its “in-house” effort and contract the function of supporting the completely unnecessary Human relations Commission. So what happened? Rusty retired to a six-fugure pension and then got paid allover again as a contractor. That’s how our government works.
Anyway, it appears that now Kennedy’s OC Human Relations is actually going to have to submit a bid to continue its heretofore monopoly on official County good deed doing, and Rusty is soliciting your help.
From: Rusty Kennedy <[email protected]> Date: January 13, 2017 at 10:46:32 AM PST To: Rusty Kennedy <[email protected]> Subject:Urgent Request for BRIEF Letter of Support
OC Human Relations was created 25 years ago to support programs of the Orange County Human Relations Commission. As a non-profit organization OC Human Relations has grown into a highly professional organization providing model programs in Police Community Relations, Community Building, Dispute Resolution, Reconciliation, and Diverse Community relations.
Almost 6 years ago the Board of Supervisors eliminated the public staff of the Commission and contracted with our non-profit, OC Human Relations, to provide staff support for the Commission. We are not applying through the County BidSync system to continue this contract.
We have to submit letters of support with our bid before the end of the month, so time is of the essence.
A simple letter such as below is all that is needed.
Possible Model for Letters of Support for OC Human Relations, feel free to add or modify in any manner you wish, on your letterhead, and e-mail a copy to me: [email protected]
Thank you in advance.
Rusty Kennedy, CEO
OC Human Relations
To Whom It May Concern:
I write on behalf of (your organization) to express my support for the good work of OC Human Relations.
We have worked with OC Human Relations for ( # years) on (type of cases, projects we collaborate on).
OC Human Relations is a highly professional organization that we look to for helping on (type of case or project) and plan to continue to do so.
(your name and title)
(your organization’s name)
Rusty Kennedy, Chief Executive Officer
OC Human Relations |1300 S. Grand, Bldg B, Santa Ana, CA 92705 | 714.480.6585
Having fun at Rusty Kennedy’s expense may be entertaining, but really there is a bigger question: why do the taxpayers have to pay for a function that routinely grandstands over a mere handful of “hate crimes” and that includes in its repertoire mediation between cops and abused citizens – especially when that “service” means turning a blind eye to police brutality, excessive force, and even homicide.
A real moron, right? FFFF questioned whether this “detective” could find his own ass in the dark. Unfortunately, Inspector Clouseau was not just an annoying, half-bright stumblebum. He was also the the sort of degenerate who would involve himself in a sexual relationship with a woman in a domestic/child custody dispute in which he had become a witness. That thought alone makes me cringe. Was it sexual extortion? The whole thing was completely piggish.
When you read that article did you enjoy the part where Chief Danny Galahad blames the woman for her “poor choices?”
“I understand your frustration with former officer Ron Bair, but you have blamed him for your situation, the judge, and now three additional members of our department,” Hughes told Castaneda. “You may also want to consider the poor choices you have made to contribute to your current situation.”
You have to admire the balls it takes to offer moral admonishment to the victim of one of your employees and the subsequent law enforcement cover-up. He doesn’t bother to mention that his stand-up officer was conveniently retired in 2013 (see page 35).
For some reason that reminds me of former Chief “Patdown” Pat McKinley casually blaming Albert Rincon sexual assault victims for not being like the women who attended his stupid “She Bear” book signings.
The Discovery Cube is a pretty neat venue for kids of all ages. Anyone who has driven the 5 freeway through Santa Ana can’t miss the place.
Discovery’s VP of Sales Lobbying Sean Fitzgerald is married to Fullerton Lobbyist-Councilwoman Jennifer Fitzgerald. City money began flowing to Discovery Cube within a year of Sean taking the job.
Following a promotion in 2014, this press release described Sean Fitzgerald’s new position:
“As Vice President, Sales and Strategic Development, Fitzgerald works directly with the Center’s leadership on a variety of growth-related initiatives. This includes developing new strategic partnerships with municipalities, corporations and other non-profits and serving as a key member of the team working to open DSC’s new Los Angeles facility later this year. In addition, Fitzgerald oversees a sales team working to fulfill the Center’s sales goals in field trips, outreach programming and partner education programs.”
CalRecycle awards Beverage Container Recycling Grant money to municipalities every year for various recycling programs. Public education is one of several options with which to spend the money.
Since 2012, the City has been paying for thousands of FSD sixth graders to learn about recycling at Discovery Cube to the tune of $27 per kid. (more…)
When life is on the line every second matters. PulsePoint is designed to allow people with C.P.R. training to respond to emergencies. It’s brilliant.
According to their own website:
Through the use of modern, location-aware mobile devices PulsePoint is building applications that work with local public safety agencies to improve communications with citizens and empower them to help reduce the millions of annual deaths from Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
Know C.P.R.? Check a box and it’ll show you calls needing C.P.R. and notify you if you’re near.
Got it? The entire point is to allow people to respond to medical emergencies in a timely manner. The App is literally about saving lives. And I mean literally in the actual sense here.
Why am I writing this?
Because here’s a screenshot of Fullerton Fire Department activity from tonight:
And here’s a screenshot from the Orange County Fire Authority:
Did you catch what’s missing from the F.F.D. data?
Medical Calls. Literally the whole point of the App.
We share data with an App designed to help with medical calls and yet we, as a city, omit medical calls.
This is bureaucratic bureaucracy at it’s best. We’ll participate so long as we don’t have to actually, you know, participate. It’s not like this is about trying to save lives or anything.