It Was the Fullerton Hunger Games

And the Odds Were Not in District Three’s Favor

Do not be fooled; Fullerton had it’s first Quarter Quell on Tuesday and Councilman Greg Sebourn was put up as Tribute and didn’t make it out of the games alive. Somewhere a canon is being fired in his honor.

The vote was all about self-interest and gerrymandering and anybody who says otherwise is either lying to you or is too dishonest with themselves to know the truth. I’ll explain quickly.

The city never really gamed this out or explored any options legal or otherwise. I had asked, several times, if the city could require sitting At-Large Council members to resign their At-Large seat to run in for a District Seat and the response I got was “We don’t know if that’s legal”. Gee, if only we had a lawyer in the room during Council to answer these things or research them.

I also inquired if it could be made random in order to take the horse-trading and politics out of the equation and again crickets. All of this means that the city never gamed these basic scenarios out.

To make matters worse we had no study-session or talks about how this would play out post-election. The election happened, with a gerrymandered council approved map, and voila they voted on who got to stay and who got to go.

The real meat about this crap is that it was all race based if you read the complaints and lawsuits that got us here. There hadn’t been an Asian on council since X-Date or a Hispanic since X-Date and thus we got sued and the council settled. So the Council voted to put up District 5 under the guise of giving the Hispanic vote a voice. District 3 means that the likely scenario is that the Hispanic vote will have 2 voices on Council while the Asian vote will have none until 2020 when somebody can run for Fitzgerald’s seat only to have the District Map change in 2022 after the 2020 census. It played out this way because apparently;

  1. Jesus Silva is not Hispanic?
  2. Silva living 2 blocks from District 5 is too far for him to understand that district’s “unique voice”?
  3. The Asian vote doesn’t matter as much as protecting Fitzgerald?
  4. Oh and Sebourn gets the bum’s rush owing to reasons Whitaker has yet to articulate publicly.

I’ll admit that I don’t like the way Sebourn votes on a lot of issues. Further I think Fitzgerald is the worst kind of tax-and-spend bankruptcy-inducing fiscally irresponsible politician the GOP can muster and that’s saying a lot. However — at least with the GOP you get the theory of a sliver of a chance of maybe some fiscal sanity. With the next few years of belt-tightening, thanks to the greed of public safety and the insanity of CalPERS, we’re going to require more budget allies and not fewer. Throwing 1/2 of our current 3-2 fiscally responsible minority out with the bath-water in the hopes that 2018 will maybe, possibly, hopefully and somehow see some balance seems foolhardy to me.

I still contend that the map should have been chosen randomly but I prefer governmental honesty to political expedience and crony gamesmanship.

Now going forward should a Republican decide to run in 2020 against Silva I can only offer one bit of advice:

Haluza’s BID Bid Bites Dust

Haluza

On Tuesday night our esteemed City Council, a clan that can never say no to a bad idea, reviewed Community Development Director Karen Haluza’s Big Plan to begin the process to create a downtown BID. For the uninitiated, BID stands for Business Improvement District. FFFF already gave the Friends a heads up, here.

To remind you, a BID means a new property lax levy. In downtown the lion’s share of any tax is going to go to the cops, whose performance shutting down the booze culture gives zero confidence that more money in their direction is money well spent. The rest of the loot would probably be wasted on stupid, footling projects that give work to Haluza’s crack staff. Here’s an example of the sort of nonsense that gave our planners the warm and fuzzies before Redevelopment was abolished.

Anyway, the Council got an earful from a few property owners – including one who vehemently denied being notified of the hearing. FFFF will soon be highlighting the comments of this gentleman who poignantly observed that his property income is his retirement income, and, pointing to the uniformed Heroes in the back of the room trenchantly noted that nobody was talking about taking their retirement away.

Our lobbyist-councilperson Jennifer Fitzgerald, who no doubt oversaw this wretched swindle in the first place as a way to keep her bar-owner pals from having to pay to clean up their own mess, moved to continue the item indefinitely. The others didn’t have a whole lot to say, which is typical.

My belief is that we have not seen the last of this obnoxious dodge, a way for the city to get somebody else to pay for their disastrous bar-on-every corner policy.

Where’s Whitaker?

 

Lost in plain sight…
FFFF has been busy detailing the ridiculous waste of public money that is poured into a PR outlet pretending journalism called Behind the Badge. This on-line enterprise provides happy, pro-cop stories that are meant to put the police in a good light by sharing feel good stories of philanthropy, charity, empathy, blah, blah blah. The editor, Bill Rams, says his business is necessary because the innocent and naive cops are just so doggone rotten at tooting their own horns. So we pay to have our own force shoved back at us as veritable paragons of virtue. Is there a single person in Fullerton taken in by this claptrap?

Anyway, a few weeks ago I posted a letter that had been sent to our mayor, Bruce Whitaker, about the Back the Badge contract, an irresponsible, staff-driven, no-bid, fixed-fee arrangement that has no intelligible scope of work, no way to measure effectiveness, and the management of which had been badly bungled by former City Manager Wild Ride Joe Felz.

Could greatness be thrust upon him?
Well, two City Council meetings have passed and nothing has been agendized by our mayor to discuss this $4000 per month mess, a waste made particularly acute by last week’s doom-and-gloom budget forecast. Does Mr. Whitaker condone this insulting $50,000 a year boondoggle while Fullerton’s ship keeps taking on oceans of red ink? How does he condone not even talking about it? I don’t know, but maybe somebody will go to the next meeting and ask him.

The Liar

The new, official City Bird

We are used to politicians lying to us, especially when they are running for office. Sometimes the lies are more or less fuzzy, but once in a while the lies are staggeringly blatant. So blatant, in fact, that we must assume the politician believes the electorate are idiots.

Bored and angry. Accountability? It was never on the agenda.

And so it was last year with then-lobbyist-mayor and humble vessel of God, Jennifer Fitzgerald, whose campaign rhetoric deliberately misled the public into believing everything was just fine with Fullerton’s financial state of affairs. Here are a couple of pearls from her little chest of jewels:

BALANCED BUDGET

While other cities in Orange County are trying to raise sales taxes to prevent insolvency, in Fullerton, our budget is balanced!  Our five-year financial forecast shows a balanced budget to 2020.  We’ve done this by making the most of our assets and minimizing our liabilities.  

REDUCED UNFUNDED PENSION LIABILITY

With conservative fiscal management and successful revenue strategies, Fullerton has been able to reduce its unfunded liabilities. This is a long-term strategy, with a short-term goal to achieve what is a generally accepted adequate level of funding of 80% of liabilities.

It didn’t take long for that hot-air balloon of happy talk to sail away. Barely three months after Fitzgerald’s re-election she had to listen as the Director of Administrative Services, Julia James, at last week’s budget workshop, tell the exact opposite story. Due to continuing unbalanced budgets and exploding pension costs, the City is following in the footsteps of Stanton and Westminster with a built-in, structural budget deficit. Naturally the cops and the “fire fighters” bloated salaries and pensions are the principle cause of the impending disaster.

James mentioned taxes as a solution. Any takers?

How long will it be before our temporary City Manager, who has absolutely nothing to lose, begins crisis public meetings meant to gin up support for a Fullerton sales tax increase? And how long will it be before the people who voted for her realize that “SparkyFitz” Fitzgerald would have said, and did say anything to get re-elected?

 

 

 

 

The Enduring Legacy of Manny Ramos, Danny Hughes, and the Culture of Corruption

 

The gift that keeps giving…

Okay, Friends, here’s a blast from the past.

Back on the first day of summer in 2011 Fullerton cop Manny Ramos allegedly roughed up a handicapped dude in an Albertsons parking lot and threw him into the Fullerton clink. Mark Edwin Walker was charged with all sorts of nastiness like resisting arrest and public intoxication.

Manny’s badge of honor awaits a band aid.

FFFF wrote about this back in 2012. We noted that the phony charges dreamed up by the supremely fat and lazy Ramos were thrown out by a judge. Ramos was lucky. He didn’t even have to commit perjury (like several of his colleagues have done) to back up his story.

And now, our perusal of recent City settlements shows that Walker got paid $20,000 in nuisance money – given the happy fact that twisted cops in OC can pretty much do any goddamn thing they want with impunity.

Ya see, it’s all about perception. That’s why I hired a PR guy…and always pose in front of a flag.

Of course 20 grand is chump change and the Fullerton taxpayers are a lot luckier than they deserve to be, if you think about it. Unfortunately, the real cost to Fullerton happened a few weeks later when Ramos harassed, intimidated and instigated the activity that led to the death of Kelly Thomas. That one was caught on video and cost $5,900,000 (if you don’t count hundreds of thousand in legal fees). And who was in charge of the walrus with the bad attitude, and who later insisted that those of us who observed a Culture of Corruption in the FPD were misinformed? Why none other than former PoChief Danny “Gallahad” Hughes.

 

Walker v Fullerton Complaint

Walker settlement agreement

Behind the Bullshit: Poor, Poor Pitiful Me

It was only a matter of time before the laughable pro-cop PR outlet called Behind the Badge (that we pay for) went from trying to impress us with Fullerton cops’ good works to putting the poor lads on the psychiatrist’s couch.

Service pistol concealed in robes…

A typical BtB “article” reads like a veritable life of Saint Francis of Assisi, in which the sick are healed, the hungry are fed, and the homeless housed. But not the piece I’m writing about today. It was crayoned by a well-pensioned Anaheim former cop called Joe Vargas, and it refers to a Pew Research Center report about a survey that allegedly proves how tough and dangerous cops say their work is, what with all those suspicious black folks and noisy critics doing all that complaining. Why, Good Heavens! They are almost afraid to go out on the streets, seemingly.

Off course Mr. Vargas fails to inform his readers that the survey is all about impressions and opinions and doesn’t provide a nickle’s worth of statistical information about the real risk involved in being a police officer. It’s all about feelings.

And now let’s enjoy the self-serving takeaway provided by Fullerton’s police union:

I have a different question…

Oooh. Scary stuff!

Here’s an alternative question: does the cops’ ability to be shielded from the consequences of their own illegal behavior by POBAR, and by a justice system and by union-elected politicians that coddle and protect them at the price of justice itself, impact public safety? Of course we all know the answer to that.

By the way, it’s too bad Vargas doesn’t cite results shared in the entire Pew article, which paints a much less dire picture of how cops view their  jobs. But Behind the Badge is  pure for-profit propaganda, so expecting an honest essay from Officer Joe is a lot like expecting a good reason for someone to end up in the Fullerton jail.

 

 

Kelly Thomas Jury Foreman Plays Victim; Gets No Sympathy As John & Ken Rip Him A New One

Yesterday a strange creature crawled out of the ooze – a fellow named “Roy” (fake name), who claimed to be the jury foreman in the 2013 Kelly Thomas murder trial.

This pathetic SOB sent in a request for a hearing on the John and Ken radio show to set the record straight about the verdict. Why now? Apparently he and his fellow pumpkins on the jury have been subjected to all sorts of mean social media ridicule and threats (he says), even after three years. It didn’t take John and Ken long to get sick of this whiner’s attempt to dodge, deflect and then diminish what the cops did to a skinny, sick, homeless guy.

You know “Roy” is soon to get his ass handed to him when he describes, Lou Ponsi-like, the brutal assault as a “scuffle,”

“Roy” doesn’t recognize Ramos trying to intimidate Kelly, and it doesn’t bother him a bit that Wolfe actually struck the blow that caused Kelly to run – a perfectly natural move for someone who has been threatened and hit with a cop club.  Those provocations were really at the heart of the episode: the entire drama was caused, deliberately, by Ramos and Wolfe.

It is particularly nauseating to listen to this moron explain away Cicinelli pulverizing Kelly’s face as a necessary tactic against the struggling homeless man; and then declaring that Kelly died not of facial injury anyhow, but by “chest compression” whatever the Hell this dimwit thinks that means. The fact is that the blood inhaled from Kelly’s severe facial injuries caused asphyxiation at the same time the cops sat on his chest.

And of course this human vegetable ignores the aftermath – the Fullerton cops willfully ignored the unconscious guy who was dying in the gutter – as they got their little scrapes band-aided by paramedics.

File this one under “better to keep your mouth shut asshole, and just go away.”

Get Run Over, Get Paid

Remember David Tovar, the bike rider guy who got rammed from behind by an unmarked Fullerton police vehicle? In case you don’t, here’s an interview from 2012:

Tovar later filed a civil rights suit against the city of Fullerton, claiming that officer Bryan Bybee intentionally used the vehicle as a deadly weapon.

The city predictably responded by denying all claims.

Well, we went spelunking through settlement agreements approved by City Hall and discovered that the taxpayers up coughed up $20,000 to David Tovar for one of our cops chasing, and crashing into him.

 

Good Afternoon. It’s January 30, 2017…

and Fullerton College safety officer Dino Skokos is still on paid administrative leave.

Come to think of it, we’re still waiting for the word on Fullerton PD’s criminal investigation into this assault and battery. Do you think they ever started one?

Nothing intelligent was forthcoming…

And what have we heard from Fulleron’s representative on the NOCCCD Board? Deafening silence, of course.