Mostly predictable banality and stupidity mark events in Fullerton political opinion, but every now and then something unexpected happens. In this case an opinion piece in the Fullerton Observer that takes the police department to task for its hyperventilation rap-riddled recruiting video that begins with loud, dramatic music accompanying a fake chase scene through downtown Fullerton that ends with a canine grabbing hold of the bad guy. The author complains (rightly) that the video obviously sends the wrong message to potential recruits who may be more interested in violent video games than in community policing.
Now juxtapose this video (especially the dog part) with the recent news out of the City Council closed session that announced a $8,600,000 settlement with the family of Hector Hernandez, who was shot a few years ago by Jonathan Ferrell of the FPD for defending himself against one of their attack dogs.
For years FFFF has been letting folks know that the Fullerton Police Department never reformed itself in the wake of the Chief “Patdown” Pat McKinley’s reign of error that culminated in the murder of Kelly Thomas. New Chief Mike Sellers took a vacation during the Kelly Thomas protests and bugged out on a stress leave and (tax free) disability retirement. The next Chief, Danny “Gallahad” Hughes – who was neck-deep in the Thomas killing cover-up – said we were misinformed, even as his boys gave drunk-driving City Manager Joe Felz a ride home, warm milk and a cookie. His successor, David Hendricks was arrested in Irvine for assaulting a paramedic and had to hit the road.
The current occupant of the Chief job, Bob Dunn, was the former spokesman for the Anaheim PD during the spate of cop shootings that incited riots. He’s the guy responsible for the recruiting video and its awful message to prospective, young Fullerton coplets. Dunn, too will be leaving soon after a short tenure – just like his immediate predecessors. Hopefully the new Chief will be more inclined to de-emphasize confrontation and escalation, armored vehicles and SWAT deployment as policing strategies.
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.
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.”
When things get tough, real leaders make difficult choices. And then there are those like Ahmad Zahra.
When Covid 19 rolled around in the spring of 2020 Fullerton was already looking at financial disaster. Years of unbalanced budgets were backfilled by reserve funds by the partnership Fitzgerald, Flory, Silva and Zahra. With the Covid lockdown things looked bleak.
What to do?
“I know” said Ahmad Zahra, “lets have a sales tax.”
And so the ill-fated Measure S was placed on the ballot by the same herd: Fitzgerald, Flory, Silva and Zahra. The proponents didn’t seem to care that sales taxes are inherently regressive, and Zahra seemed uninterested in the fact that his D5 constituents would be disproportionately hurt. Ironically, at the time, Zahra was hauling in $4,000 a month for a few hours time as an appointed member of the Orange County Water District Board.
Later, in 2021, when federal relief money rolled in to Fullerton, Zahra tried to direct funds away from infrastructure and into salaries and pension obligations.
Well, those chickens have come to roost. This mail piece landed in D5 mailboxes today:
For over a year Fullerton “Fire” Heroes have been pressing for Fullerton’s admission into the ranks of the OC Fire Authority, an agency that will give them more of what they crave: our money. We, as always pick-up the check.
Tuesday night, the Orange County Fire Authority proposal and the rebuttal were presented to Fullerton’s City Council, and the fire Heroes brought out the entire circus: wives, children, retired firefighters, Anaheim firefighters, Ahmad Zahra’s strange sycophant Bernard, and Ahmad permanent Plus One, Egleth Nuncci.
Of the OCFA, the Voice of OC recently wrote: “(They are) wrestling with some big issues right now, including a drop in staffing, stalled contract negotiations, along with an ever expanding wildfire season and a revolving door of fire chiefs over the past decade.”
Judging by the public comments from the fire Heroes and their supporters, this article aptly describes Fullerton.
Fullerton’s budget currently allocates an astounding $21.5 million dollars for fire Hero salaries. That is $21.5 million dollars more than as ever been allocated in general fund money for streets, roads, sidewalks or streetlights. It’s no wonder the city if falling apart. If the OCFA comes in it’s going to cost even more.
Of course, this enormous expense is humped by Fullerton taxpayers, who get the best EMT service $21.5 million dollars can buy because over 80% of all Fullerton “fire” calls are not fire calls. They are medical calls!
In the meeting, OCFA Chief Brian Fennessy says Fullerton fire is a department in crisis because they are losing so many fire Heroes to other departments.
According to Voice of OC reporting, in their last fire academy, OCFA wanted to recruit 50 fire heroes to help boost their staffing levels.
Why? Because staffing levels have “dropped to the point that firefighters are being regularly forced to pick up extra shifts.”
Sounds familiar Fullerton? Same complaints our Fullerton fire Heroes cry about their very own department.
“They (OCFA) got 19 firefighters, two of which quit within the first month to return to their old fire departments in the Inland Empire that were offering better pay and benefits.
“With that lack of new personnel, it’s putting stress on the existing staff, with many reporting they’re being forced to work dozens of hours of extra shifts against their will.”
A Fullerton fire Hero’s wife said the exact same thing at the Council meeting about the department that issues overtime to her “overworked” husband with such regularity, it is widely known in fire circles that overtime for fire heroes is a part of the salary.
There are a few certainties in life. Death. Taxes. And the pressure terrorism campaign from the Fullerton fire heroes will most certainly begin in earnest.
Zahra is bought and paid for by the Fullerton fire union, so he can’t say yes fast enough to the OCFA move. His fundraiser was dutifully attended by Fullerton Fire Union President Dan Lancaster, who snagged over $60,000 in overtime pay alone in 2020.
The fire union will definitely contribute on behalf of Ahmad’s campaign in the form of independent expenditures, of which for some reason they are always absolved.
The hypocrisy in criticizing a candidate taking donations from Tony Bushala or a John Saunders as being in the pocket of developers, but taking money from the fire heroes is beyond reproach.
Also, Fullerton’s fire union and its fearless leader Lancaster need to learn to count. Supporting Zahra gets you to 1 vote. Unless you can count to 3 Dan, you have nothing.
So support Zahra at your own peril or get better union representation that will get you better results.
Silva, Jung, Dunlap, and Whitaker can use the facts presented to see that the problems Fullerton’s department faces are the problems all departments countywide are facing. Even the glorious OCFA, when considering their sexual discrimination lawsuits, and recruiting issues, isn’t the shining city on the hill it claims to be.
The four will be the target of text, phone, and mail campaigns urging citizens to support their fire Heroes because the near 90% of their department that makes in excess of $100,000 (not counting overtime) they are not adequately compensated.
When council districts were finally created in Fullerton – in response to a lawsuit, one district was designed to support Fullerton’s large Latino community – District 5. In 2018 D5 elected a non-Latino which of course was surprising but perfectly legal. But what would Latinos think about a concerted effort by the OC Democratic party to make sure the Latino vote was divided to protect Ahmad Zahra, the non-Latino incumbent?
Enter Tony Castro, the dead-beat nobody who popped up out of nowhere and pulled election papers the day after Oscar Valadez, who has lived in D5 for over 20 years.
Recently FFFF has been bombarded with spam comments all of which came from Tony Castro himself. I took out the trash, but not before salvaging this little gobbet of that is quite revealing: a statement that Castro was approached by one Ajay Mohan:
This snippet has the ring of truth. There is an Ajay Mohan and he is the director of the OC Democrat Party. Here he is:
Now why would Mr. Mohan recruit an unknown, broke, Tony Castro to run against the incumbent who has the endorsement of Party Central? The answer is, unfortunately, crystal clear: to take votes away from Oscar Valadez. This dirty little trick is as old as elections themselves, of course, but to see the Dems do it to working class Latinos betrays a special sort of cynical mindset.
Which brings us to the OC Dem Party Chairperson, Ada Briceno, a Latina unionista who apparently has decided to bamboozle La Raza in support of the egregious Zahra – who has supported dope stores near schools, who battered a Latina woman, and who voted to give away a public park in the barrio to a private events center/caterer.
It seems so. Fullerton’s boys in blue sent out a text the other day that looked like this:
The outright lies pile up so fast you’d need wings to stay above the bullshit. Nobody is defunding the police and nobody has suggested doing so – even with the FPDs atrocious record of incompetence, misfeasance, abuse, criminality and oh yeah, sucking up half our budget. In Fullerton the Culture of Corruption gets what it wants. Always had.
The “enough is enough” line is funny, as is the “HELP SAFE FULLERTON NOW.” Maybe the cops can get their money back from whatever idiot wrote that bit of GED illiteracy. Comedy aside, the piece is just a compilation of outright lies.
Fullerton is not overwhelmed by violent crime, especially when you subtract the crime perpetrated by union members themselves.
Whitaker and Dunlap have never attempted to defund the police and has never suggested such a thing. That’s far left stuff that you’d expect to hear from SIlva or more likely Zahra – wanting to appease crazy supporters.
No one is suggesting “additional cuts” to public safety, which is impossible anyhow, because there haven’t been any cuts in the first place.
So what is the purpose of this nonsense? The cop union leadership has never been very bright, relying on bullying rather than strategy, although to them bullying is a strategy. What is the point attacking Whitaker and Dunlap, who aren’t up for re-election for 3 years?
They could be floating these trial balloons to see if they could instigate a recall. But Dunlap could easily beat that and Whitaker could beat it too without some sort of provocation. Or is this some sort of shot across the bow for Fred Jung, the man in the middle of recent budget wrangles? But, Jung isn’t up for re-election next year either, so that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Maybe the cop union just wants to throw its weight around to remind people that they are still around and collecting members’ dues.
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.
Before we publish the unedited video of our former City Manager, Joe Burt Felz, arrested for drunk driving, only to be taken home and tucked into bed by his own MADD recognized cops, let us share some highlights of the video as shared and analyzed by FFFFs own Joshua Ferguson. Ferguson was the target of a vindictive and highly expensive lawsuit courtesy of the City’s “I Can’t Believe It’s A Law Firm” of Jones and Mayer. And so it is appropriate for Joshua to remind us what happened – and to remind those not paying attention that the Felz catch and release was a far from isolated case of malfeasance by our police department and our esteemed leaders in City Hall.
There is no no doubt that Danny “Gallahad” Hughes lied to the City Council about Felz, and that the cops knew doing the right thing was professionally dangerous.
As Ferguson says, if there is a lesson to be learned in this long train of corruption, you can be sure that Councilmen Ahmad Zahra and Jesus Quirk Silva haven’t learned it. They voted until the bitter end to keep the moribund lawsuit against FFFF staggering along.