We Get Mail…And Other Stuff

Here at FFFF HQ we always leave the door open for Fullerton citizens to share their issues. This instance is a little different. We received (anonymously) a statement that purports to be by a 5th District resident. I don’t know who wrote it, or in what context it was written. I don’t need to know. It is a well-written, eloquent, and damning indictment of Ahmad Zahra’s weepy, sleezy, self-serving 4 year tenure on the Fullerton City Council. And it’s all true.

Money talks…

Here’s the statement as we received it:

“1. Mr. Zahra denied the voters of Fullerton the opportunity to elect a member to a half term on the Fullerton City Council. Although he at first vocally supported an election to fill the at-large seat vacated by Jesus Silva on the Fullerton City Council, Mr. Zahra ultimately voted to appoint someone to the two year remainder of this term despite dozens of public speakers from all backgrounds pleading for a special election. Mr. Zahra argued that a special election would be too expensive, but went on to support at least one other questionable expenditure far in excess of the estimated cost of such an election.

“2. Following the appointment of Jan Flory to the aforementioned two year seat on the city council, she joined council member Jennifer Fitzgerald and Mr. Zahra himself in appointing Mr. Zahra to a paid seat on the Board of the Orange County Water District, supplanting the city’s then current representative, whose term had not yet expired. The vote gave the appearance of an obvious quid pro quo, wherein Mr. Zahra supported appointing Ms. Flory to the council in exchange for her support in appointing him as Fullerton’s representative to the OCWD.

“3. Mr. Zahra consistently voted to support spending over a million dollars on legal fees to sue two writers from the Friends for Fullerton’s Future blog who downloaded private files from an unguarded and publicly available folder on the city’s website— a folder to which the city itself had directed the bloggers. The blog’s publication of of at least some of these files revealed incompetence and malfeasance on the part of the city’s administration and police department. In addition to being an enormous waste of public funds on a suit the city was unlikely to win, this lawsuit represented a serious attack on freedom of the press, on par with legal actions taken against the publication of the Pentagon Papers fifty years ago—that is, an attempt by government to suppress publication of materials embarrassing to it and to punish news outlets who would do so. Council member Zahra’s support of this lawsuit alone should be reason for any news organization to decline to endorse him for public office.

“4. Mr. Zahra participated in a council subcommittee consisting of himself and then Council member Jennifer Fitzgerald. This economic development subcommittee held meetings behind closed doors with no publicly available agendas, no publicized meetings times or places, and no subsequent public notes. The public were not invited to attend. No one knows what was discussed in these meetings.

“5. No notes were ever made available from the aforementioned subcommittee meetings, but Mr. Zahra subsequently supported, with great enthusiasm, the development of the former Kimberly Clark property into a massive warehouse distribution site for Goodman Logistics, a frequent host of Amazon delivery services. It is no exaggeration to state that Goodman subsequently stripped the site of every living tree, including a perimeter of large, mature pine trees and groves of fruit trees that included the last orange tree orchard in Fullerton.

“6. Mr. Zahra falsely claimed authorship of a story about the Orange County Water District submitted for publication and ultimately published by The Fullerton Observer. Subsequent discovery that the article was actually authored by OCWD staff caused public embarrassment to the Observer and revealed that Mr. Zahra was willing to uncritically and deceptively pass along an agency’s public relations material to The Fullerton Observer as his own writing, casting clear doubt about the independence of his representation of Fullerton on the Board of this agency as well as his trustworthiness as a public official.

“7. Mr. Zahra has refused to reveal the ultimate disposition of criminal charges brought against him while serving on the council. Although the charges were reported by the Observer to have been dismissed, court records were sealed, denying the public the right to know what actually happened in the case of a public official accused of assault and vandalism. Whether or not the charges were judged to be justified, Mr. Zahra should have revealed exactly how this case proceeded and how it was ultimately concluded to dispel any doubt in the minds of his constituents.

“8. Mr. Zahra appointed to the Planning Commission, arguably the most important and powerful committee or commission in the city, a representative for a pro-development organization Her role as director of this organization represented a clear conflict of interest between her profession and her public service. She ultimately resigned from the Commission part way through her term with no prior notice during one of its meetings, leaving before the meeting has been concluded the the evening. Such an appointment, in my opinion, calls into question Mr. Zahra’s judgement.

“Additionally, we should remember that the 5th District was created to accommodate representation by the area’s largely Latinx population—the only such district in the city. Endorsing the only non-Latino in this contest would not seem to advance this goal.”

A Reminder…The People of the State of California vs. Ahmad Zahra (B9447693)

Fullerton 5th District Councilman Ahmad Zahra seems to have adopted the strategy of rewriting his previous interaction with the wheels of justice, to wit: he was not arrested because nobody cuffed him and tossed him in the FPD slammer. And oh, by the way, “there was no case.”

Well there sure was a case, Friends.

Here’s what it looks like:

Looks guilty to me…

Zahra has previously claimed he was somehow exonerated, too, although he seems to think that statement is satisfactory. And yet other than his say so, he has shown no evidence to show the DA dropped the case – for any reason. Meantime, a source in the DAs office has indicated that Zahra pled guilty, did community service of some sort, and had his criminal record safely sealed.

Liar

Here is a fun video in which District 5 Councilman Ahmad Zahra stumbles and stutters his way into denying that he was arrested for battery and vandalism. It happened right outside his fundraising party when protesters showed up.

With some coaching from a masked friend he concludes that there was no “case,” and no arrest because he was not handcuffed and was not taken to a jail cell.

It was not an arrest says Zahra because some “citizen” (in air quotation marks) did something.

Uh huh. Get a kick out of how Zahra tries to incriminate Tony Bushala of something dishonest; the woman rightly points out that it is Zahra who was elected to represent Fullerton and who needs to come clean.

The confrontation then disolves into Zahra’s Spanish speaking camp followers adding a little ethic flavor like they constantly do at council meetings.

Well the thing is simple. The District Attorney, Todd Spitzer charged this miscreant with crimes, so the fact that he may or may not have spent some time in the FPD lock up is hilariously irrelevant.

Come clean Ahmad. If there was no case you can prove it by sharing the correspondence from the DA saying so. But one thing will always be undeniable: you were arrested and charged. No getting away from that albatross around your neck.

Hansburg Says Sayonara

Kids just love to walk…

Last Wednesday, Elizabeth Hansburg quit the Fullerton Planning Commission.

FFFF has already introduced Ms. Hansburg to the Friends, noting her involvement in the drive to cover Fullerton in penitentiary-like apartment blocks. Her “non-profit” is used to provide Astroturf support for developers of huge housing projects and of course donations from said developers are always welcome.

Ms. Hansburg was also part of the shadowing clan that developed a new housing plan that almost nobody knew anything about until it was conceptually presented the the City Council. The idea was (and is) to achieve the preposterous new housing unit needs count – 13,000 -proffered by SCAG, the Southern California Association of Government – an unelected agency run by and for bureaucrats and their Big Ideas.

Well, anyhow, Hansburg has had enough. Here’s her petulant good-bye speech at the end of the meeting in which she attacks the City Council, bemoans the loss of her beloved fellow 5th Columnists in City Hall, and of course praises the contemptible camera hog and credit thief, Ahmad Zahra.

Consistently awful…

Self-righteous, indignant, know-it-all. Hansburg went out of her way to promote God-awful projects that were intrusive, obnoxious, and promised a tsunami of negative impacts on our neighborhoods including more parking disasters.

Good riddance. This is exactly the sort of person that causes regular folks to be wary of self-proclaimed “experts” and the bureaucracies they love so dearly. Now she can peddle her services to developers free from legitimate charges of conflict of interest.

The Deal

When he’s not lecturing us on ethics, Fullerton City Councilman Ahmad Zahra climbs down from his high horse to participate in all sorts of activities that don’t seem very ethical at all.

Zahra-Busted
It’s the though that counts…

We have seen how he became embroiled in a battery and vandalism case in which he had the record permanently sealed. He claims exoneration but word has escaped the DAs office that Zahra pleaded guilty, did community service had had his record expunged.

We have also seen how Zahra claimed authorship of Water District-related articles actually ghost-written by a district bureaucrat; and how he tried to leverage this pseudo-expertise to keep his well-compensated seat on that board.

Grab it and consume it as fast as you can…

Then there’s the about-face Zahra played on the suckers of Fullerton when he announced that the open seat on the Council should be decided by a vote, and then promptly voted to appoint Jan Flory to the vacancy at the behest of Jennifer Fitzgerald.

The closer you look, the worse it gets.

And that last bit is what this story is about. The deal that Zahra cut with Fitzgerald to appoint Flory and get himself appointed to the lucrative Orange County Water District Board, a board that pays stipends for all sorts of meetings and sub-committee meetings.

Check this out:

Just before Zahra was replaced on the Water Board in 2021 by Bruce Whitaker, the District paid $10,000 to “CL7” for something called a “OC Water Special Water Insert.” I don’t know what that means, but I do know that CL7 is the name of Jennifer Fitzgerald’s side biz – when she wasn’t using the City to make bank for lobbyist Curt Pringle. So what’s going on here? A little gravy slopping out of the boat, or a legitimate job for a real public service? Knowing Fitzgerald’s complete lack of ethical compass and her influence peddling, I would bet on the former. Easy enough to find out: a PRA on the work order and a sample of the work product, and maybe any correspondence regarding this contract ought to do it.

And did Zahra have a role in this little handout? Was this a little payback for getting appointed in the first place? These sorts of little deals happen in OC political/government circles all the time. It’s all just easy government cheese. Maybe Zahra will be forthcoming about what this was all about. Maybe, but don’t count on it.

Joe Felz’s Wild Ride -The Full Monty

Starring former Fullerton City Manager, Joe Burt Felz who got drunk on Election Night 2016, drove over a tree, and tried to escape from his own cops. There is something sort of pathetic about Felz, errand boy and water bearer for Jennifer Fitzgerald, saying over and over that his turn blinker wasn’t working and how he became befuddled, until one of his own policemen tells him to stop yammering about it.

As one of the cops said: “it’s the Chief’s call.” Subsequently Chief Danny “Gallahad” Hughes lied to the Council about the affair even as Felz tried to quietly pay for the tree and move on.

The City of Fullerton tried for years to keep this under wraps because it implicated our MADD rewarded police themselves in incompetent and illegal activity. FFFF sued the City to get the videos, and in retribution two bloggers were personally sued by the City for legal activity, a lawsuit that cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands and that finally exonerated David Curlee and Joshua Ferguson.

Housing Scam Averted

Here at FFFF we like to praise our City Council when they do something smart; when they don’t we smack them on the snout with a rolled-up copy of the yellowing Fullerton Observer.

Movin’ on up…

Well, Lo and Behold! On Tuesday, last, the Council voted 3-2 to shitcan a horrible scam cooked up by California’s houseocrats to reward developers and speculators by taking over market rate housing at The Aspect apartment project and control rents – for people who make between $102,000 and $123,000. Yes, you read that rightly, Friends. According to our experts, if you make more than that, by definition, your housing is “market rate.” The perniciousness of this scam cannot be overemphasized. A new term has been cooked up to describe these unfortunate six-figure po’ folks: the Missing Middle.

The way this scheme works is that the City cuts a deal with the California Statewide Community Development Authority – a perfectly opaque agency, to be sure. The CSCDA floats a bond, the proceeds of which will buy out the existing owner, rewards up-front the agents and speculators who put the rancid deal together; management will be left in the hands of other parasites who are in on the deal, too. Did I mention that the sale price may well exceed market appraisal? Well, why not?

A little luxury for the “workforce.”

The funniest part of this may have been the revelation that the complex has a 98% occupancy rate – an astounding number – people who can ALREADY afford to live there! And these good folks will be the recipients of the small lowering of rents – or be forced to move out if they don’t have a long-term lease..

A reasonable person may well wonder why ANY of this is necessary, and the answer from the government Wohnungen uber alles crowd will be so crammed with feel-good bullshit that you know right away it’s a scam.

One of the problems is that because the apartment project is now owned by the government the property owner (CSCDA) pays no property tax; in order to sweeten the deal on The Aspect, the promoters promised a “Host City Fee,” essentially an annual tribute to the City. Meanwhile other entities are just shit-out-of-luck.

The enormity of this nonsense is pretty significant; all one has to do is look to Anaheim – a pay to play town where the City has spent gargantuan amounts buying up big apartment projects and rewarding the lobbyists like Curt Pringle, who skim right off the top of this sort of crap.

Well, finally, back to council meeting. Councilmembers Whitaker, Dunlap and Jung were adamantly opposed to this, to their credit. Not surprisingly, Zahra and Quirk-Silva who petitioned to put this item on the agenda were all-in for it, babbling phrases like “outside the box” and “innovative thinking” and brushing aside concerns about unknown details full of devils.

Thanks to Jung, Dunlap and Whitaker, and of course shame on Zahra and Quirk-Silva who were very clearly in the pocket of whichever lobbyist was promoting this idiocy.

Adam Loeser, Dishonest Fire Chief

Loeser

The last time I wrote on this topic, I pointed out that Fullerton/Brea Fire Chief Adam Loeser is a union puppet, using his authority as fire chief to advocate for the interests of the IAFF fire union.

What I didn’t tell you at the time is he flat out lied in his agenda letter to the City Council. The real reason, the more pressing reason, for seeking cancellation of the automatic aid agreement with the City of Placentia is to settle a dispute the union clowns filed with the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). In the first agenda letter, he said the City Council should cancel because, “The current Automatic Aid Agreement between Fullerton and Placentia and its corresponding Memorandum of Understanding outline specific deliverables and capabilities. The City of Placentia has not sufficiently met many of these deliverables and capabilities to the satisfaction of the City of Fullerton Fire Department.”

Nowhere in there did he mention the pending litigation before the PERB that forces the City Council to vote on this matter to determine if the matter will proceed to a PERB hearing or not. If the City Council does what Loeser and the fire union want, the union has agreed to drop the matter before the PERB.

An honest public servant would have included this vital information in the initial agenda letter. I’m even told members of the City Council had no idea the PERB dispute existed until a couple weeks ago, even though it was first filed over a year ago.

Don’t take my word for it, compare his agenda letters. The first is the September 21, 2021 letter and the second is the October 5, 2021. (Note: the matter was continued from the September meeting, so this concerns the exact same issue)

October 5, 2021 version:

To add insult to injury, Adam Loeser put this item on the Consent Calendar where it can be rammed through without discussion – unless the public, or a member of the City Council, requests it to be “pulled” for discussion. The Consent Calendar is used for routine matters that don’t warrant discussion, such as approving the minutes from the prior meeting. This is not a routine matter, automatic/mutual aid agreements are amended or cancelled like this maybe once every 30 or 40 years.

Loeser, in his usual arrogant form, first lies to the public. The second time around — after he was told to fix the agenda letter, by you know, telling the truth — put it on the consent calendar in hopes he won’t have to explain himself.

These types of self-serving public servants are the worst of the worst.

Redistricting A’ Comin’

Early on the morning of August 18th our City Council voted to appoint an advisory committee to consider drawing a new district map for Fullerton council seats. The Council decided to keep final approval for themselves.

You may recall that the City voters adopted districts in 2016 as part of the legal settlement with minority groups. That map was cooked up behind the scenes by Jennifer Fitzgerald with the assistance of downtown bar owners whose aim appeared to be splitting up downtown into 5 parts, three of which were each connected to their main body by tenuous electoral tissue. Naturally, the one and only map went along on the ballot with the question of having districts at all. Amazingly, all the councilmembers, including Bruce Whitaker went along with the sham, gerrymandered map, whose ostensible author, Jeremy Popoff, was Fullerton’s worst scofflaw bar owner.

The process of redistricting is almost always a charade with just enough public participation to look sort of legit. This time will be no different. It’s bound to consume staff time and require the services of a friendly consultant and a subscription to web-based demographic software.

It’s hardly necessary. Fullerton naturally divides into clear-cut areas of “communities of interest” both geographically and ethnically. So here’s my suggestion for a new map. I offer it humbly to the Friends, and the deciders, free of charge.

Consolidation, compaction, clarity. Northwest, North Central, East, South Central and Southwest. Gee, that was easy.

A Manfro All Seasons

The Man from Manfro

Who is Eddie Manfro? I asked myself the other day. Name sounds familiar.

See, I had seen the name pop up on a Fullerton City Council agenda as somebody who was involved as a participant, along with our former City Manager, Ken Domer, in carrying on labor negotiations with the City’s  labor unions.

Hmm. Where had I heard that name before? Then it hit me. He’s the former City Manager of Westminster, who quit last year to become some sort of “human resources” expert whose supposed abilities were now for sale. Apparently Ken Domer was in the market for Manfro’s “expertise.”  If the thought of a couple of bungling bureaucrats negotiating on your behalf makes you a little uneasey, well…but, I digress.

Here’s why I remember Eddie Manfro: he’s the City Manager who willingly participated in the Dick Jones  scam in Westminster, where our ethically plugged-up City Attorney pretended to be a city employee to qualify for the CalPERS pension system and even went so far as to submit fraudulent time cards to line up with the sham. I believe these are all crimes.

No, I wasn’t asleep. I was praying…

And Eddie Manfro went along with the scam; and now, surprise, he is getting work from another agency in Dick Joneses stable of fine municipalities.

How did Eddie acquire this gig, that’s what I would like to know. And when for God’s freaking sake is  Fullerton’s City Council finally going get rid of the incompetent, corrupt, and utterly self-serving, the Dickensianly awful, the I Can’t Believe It’s a Law Firm® of Jones and Mayer?