Of all the money that former City Manager Wild Ride Joe Felz wasted during his shaky tenure, nothing was quite as egregious as the annual fifty grand Stumblejoe blew on Behind the Badge, a silly, pointless PR outlet that passed along empty feel-good tales involving Fullerton cops. No one knows if anyone even bothered reading this pabulum. The idea of us taxpayers actually forking over this dough in order to be administered unhealthy doses of saccharine PR back at us was bad enough. The fact that this policy decision was made, maintained and mismanaged by a bureaucratmade it worse.
Fortunately, last Tuesday, the City pulled the plug. City staff teed up the item as a cut – unless three councilmembers voted to save it. They didn’t. Here’s the video.
Of course cop supported candidates Bud Chaffee and Jesus Silva thought the whole idea was just peachy. Predictably, Jennifer Fitzgerald seemed to be going along. Bruce Whitaker and Greg Sebourn opposed wasting any more on this crap. Sebourn correctly pointed out that the cop union, having plenty of money to stick its snout in Fullerton politics, can easily afford to promote the good deeds of its membership.
Whatever changed Jennifer Fitzgerald’s mind to drop support for this ridiculous concept that has cost us $200,000 in the past four years remains a mystery, but she suddenly did a 180. Hopefully FFFF had something to do with the sudden shift to fiscal responsibility.
In the end the self-serving BS rhetoric of Chaffee and the feeble gibberish of Silva amounted to nothing and the council unanimously went along with the proposed package of cuts that included Behind the Badge.
Rest assured, Friends, FFFF will be following up with a Public Records Act request to get a copy of the termination notice.
File this one under predictable public employee union self-service. The Orange County Employee Association has endorsed the carpetbagging candidacy of Joe Kerr to represent our 4th Supervisorial District.
The OCEA is a big union that represents the vast majority of County employees. As such, it is always involving itself in County politics, placing it’s own interests in the path of accountable, affordable government. And what better mission for a labor union than to elect one of its own – a former union boss, in fact.
It’s not surprising that the union would place its own self-interest ahead of the public. They obviously see nothing wrong with a guy who lives in a rich, South County enclave trying to represent the working class neighborhoods of north Orange County; or if they do, it takes a distant back seat to electing somebody that will pay attention to their needs. And their needs are ever greater pay and benefits, regardless of the quality of service they provide.
This “early endorsement” serves only one purpose: to clear the field of potential Democrat opponents for the carpetbagging Kerr.
In 2010 the field for this seat was cluttered with several Democrat small fry and none of them made the November run off. And that’s something the unionistas prefer to avoid this time around.
Another would-be County Supervisor has declared his 2018 candidacy for the 4th District. His name is Joe Kerr. He is a Democrat. He is also the former boss of the union that represented the Orange County Fire Authority. As such it was his sole responsibility to shove his hand as hard and as deep into the pockets of the taxpayers as possible to provide his members with spectacular pay and pensions, and to perpetuate a scam in which his members enriched themselves on a gamed overtime system.
Voters will not hear about that from Mr. Kerr, of course, even as he brings in “public safety” union bucks to grease his campaign, We will hear that Joe is Fire Hero and Deserves.
Will the voters go for this? I don’t know. Right now Fullerton is facing a massive fiscal drain due to the exploding pension costs of the cops and the “fire fighters.” Having one of the chief perpetrators of this meltdown trying to run for public office seems ill-timed.
Next Tuesday’s Council meeting brings us another Budget Show, one more in a line of footling meetings strung out like faux pearls on a cheap necklace. This one is particularly entertaining since it acknowledges a big structural deficit that the suggested cost savings will do almost nothing to correct: “modest” revenue increases are broadly suggested, but apart from some fee increases and one-time sale of “surplus” property nothing meaningful is proposed. Obviously the recommendation for a utility tax or a sales tax increase will be sprung like a rabbit out of the magician’s hat at the last moment.
One entertaining bit of the agenda memo is the inclusion of a small table identifying some of City Manager Allan Roeder’s “loose sofa change,” giving the impression that maybe, just maybe, Mr. Roeder regrets his previous offhand dismissal of a $50,000 per year contract that accomplishes nothing as not worthy of councilmanic attention. Of course I am referring to the ridiculously conceived and suspiciously ill-managed “Behind the Badge” agreement that was improperly contracted by Wild Ride Joe Felz in the first place.
Well, good for Roeder, even though desperate times call for desperate measures And it takes a lot of desperation for a City bureaucrat to even tacitly acknowledge the expendability of a contract. The irony here is thick. It is the exploding pension cost of the Fullerton police Department that is breaking our bank. Even as we pay for the cops to peddle their dopey PR right back at us.
Another black eye for Danny Hughes’ “reformed” police department. It looks like Miguel “Sonny” Siliceo is being tuned up by the DA for submitting a false police report, a report that was subsequently used by the DA to prosecute some downtown bar-hopping schmo.
Unlike 2011, Siliceo’s assertions were apparently belied by data from cop video recorders and the case against Mr. Schmo was dropped – a situation so remarkable for our cops-über-alles DA that the lies of Siliceo must have been stupendously blatant. The complaint is a felony.
Sonny seems to be on leave now so it will be interesting to see how this unfolds. And it makes us wonder how many of the other arrests that Siliceo participated in were on the level.
The constant public glorification by the city government of the Fullerton cops who hand out the most DUI citations has become parody worthy: public awards ceremonies at council meetings, plaques, gushing adulation from representatives of MADD. And of course there are the saccharine and witless write-ups in the taxpayer funded cop PR outlet Behind the Badge.
It’s really pretty amusing, all that self-congratulation. But when it comes to the issue of how come the FPD didn’t arrest Joe Felz for DUI in the early morning of November 9, 2016, all we hear are the proverbial crickets from Bill Rams and Lou Ponsi. Instead of arresting Felz, they deliberately refused to collect evidence, drove him home, and tucked him into bed. And that’s not amusing at all. That’s obstruction of justice – a felony – and absolute proof that there are two sets of rules – rules for the cops, and the rules by which they are only too happy to arrest citizens. It’s obvious that this big Fullerton DUI-fest has nothing, or very little to do, really, with public safety
What does it all mean? I think I figured it out. Arresting DUI suspects is comparatively easy. And the results are fun to trot out at council meetings. Since downtown Fullerton has all sorts of bars with lots and lots drunks the game is even easier. But does anybody propose curtailing the culture of booze, barf, and binge? Of course not. Arresting drunk drivers is like shooting fish in a barrel. It’s easy.
It’s profitable to provide the liquor to get the losers get drunk, and it’s profitable for the cops to haul ’em in. Except when it’s one of their own. Or the City Manager.
It’s also an excellent distraction from all the bad news generated by bad behaving Fullerton cops, including, ironically, many who have been publicly honored for their DUI heroics. It sure seems like the celebrations of DUI arrests have risen parallel to the numbers of Fullerton cops identified for their own lawlessness.
Being a good cop is really hard, supposedly. At least that’s what Behind the Badge and all the police apologists keep telling us. So let’s talk about other sorts of crime – apart from the barrel fish, that is.
How many crimes does the FPD halt or reduce? How many crimes does the FPD prevent? Who knows? More easily quantified: how many legitimate crimes (not “resisting arrest,” sorry boys) are actually solved? How come the FPD never publishes such statistics? I am much more interested in a statistical analysis of the FPD’s success in solving crimes than I am in the number of drunks they pull over. But we never ever hear about that. Why not? As we pay out ever greater salaries and benefits to cops whose jobs are getting demonstrably safer,is there any indication that these extravagant increases are getting us anything other than a bigger unfunded pension liability?
The parade of DUI dog and pony shows at council meetings will no doubt continue. Of course the next one will be acutely embarrassing for the cops, and for people like Jennifer Fitzgerald and Doug “Bud” Chaffee – unswerving loyalists of the FPD Culture of Corruption; and embarrassing even for Bruce Whitaker, no friend of bad cops, but who seemingly lacks the courage to confront the issue of the taxpayer funded Behind the Badge, as it peddles its bullshit in the face of embarrassing reality.
Uh, oh. More bad news for the Fullerton Police Department Culture of Excellence. It seems as if one of Fullerton’s Finest and top DUI arrester Timothy Gibert has been arrested himself in San Bernardino for all sorts of nasty behavior – grand theft and conspiracy. The scam was…oops. The “alleged” scam was to return merchandise bought at a discount for a full refund at a Home Depot out in Apple Valley.
You can read all about Gibert’s sterling DUI arrest record at Behind the Badge, if you can fight the gag reflex, but you most assuredly will not be reading about Gibert’s arrest at his house in Victorville. Instead you can read about it in theDaily Titan, of all places. Kudos to the kids for some real reporting – kids who in their young careers have already accomplished a lot more than pathetic cop toady Lou Ponsi ever did.
Over at the OC Weekly, Gustavo Arellano got his hands on the deposition tapes for the civil trial of Melissa Nicole Lindgren. She was the young Nicholas Jr. High teacher who is doing 4 years in state prison for lewd acts against three Fullerton students.
Despite numerous warning signs, the abuse occurred under the school administrators noses for several years before she was finally arrested in 2014.
Mr. Arellano’s article goes into great detail, but here is the most important question:
Who is responsible for leaving this predator in the classroom after numerous warning signs?
Let’s take a look at the suspects:
The Fullerton Police Department: Received an anonymous letter alleging inappropriate activity with students. Detectives claim they investigated the issues, but they ultimately cleared the teacher. According to one inside source, the FPD’s failed investigation actually hampered the school district’s ability to take action.
Matthew Barnett, Nicholas principal: Noted many warning signs, but ultimately “couldn’t put his finger” on Lindgren’s indiscretions until she was arrested. He also forgot to interview Lindgren about the accusations in the anonymous letter. Barnett has since been promoted to “Director of Educational Services” at the Fullerton School District.
The Fullerton School Board: Fairly useless in disciplinary matters. Most of the school board is content to take cover behind state laws that prevent them from resolving personnel issues. The one action the board did take responsibility for: paying a $3.25 million settlement to Lindgren’s victims.
The teachers’ union: School administrators will tell you that their investigatory and disciplinary powers are extremely limited by special state laws that protect deviant teachers like Lindgren. These laws are put into place by elected officials at the behest of the powerful California Teachers Association. These protections clearly hindered the district’s ability to investigate and terminate a child predator in their midst.
So back to the question. Who is responsible for allowing this teacher to run wild?
Take your pick. But wherever blame is cast, there is one certainty that nobody will admit: The Fullerton School District can’t offer any assurance of your child’s safety. And everyone involved seems to be OK with that.
There is an old saying: “it’s the least I can do.”
And once in a while you get to see the least someone can really do without doing anything at all.
At the last “budget workshop” (cue: a sales tax is coming music), David Curlee brought up the idiocy of the worthless and mismanaged “Behind the Badge” contract – a 50 Grand per year repository of feel-good stories about our police department’s tender employees who, apparently, would rather be well-thought of for anything besides honest police work.
At this prompting, our mayor, Bruce Whitaker raised the issue – where, right on cue, it was peremptorily shot down by our $100 per hour Interim City Manager, Alan Roeder, as chump change that fell into the sofa cushions and isn’t worth digging around for. He warns Whitaker about “obsessing” over such loose change.
And there the matter seems to have died.
Of course if Whitaker had done his job in the first place and agendized the issue as a stand alone item at a regular meeting, this dismissive bullshit could not have occurred. The Behind the Badge embarrassment could not have been written off as an irrelevant, small-picture nothing instead of what it is – a blatant rip-off of the taxpayers that has run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past four years.
And consider this question: how many other loose change contracts, approved by no one other that Wild Ride Joe Felz, are still out there accomplishing nothing? And did any of our council stalwarts bother to make Roeder explain exactly what the monetary level of significance is before he will deign to consider it? We know it’s not $50,000 a year. Is it $100,000? $500,000? A million? Of course not.
Total leadership failure. The litmus test is done. Now we know why Roeder was hired in the first place: