T-REX NO ROW

 

EVER GO IN ROW BOAT AND NOT ROW?

 

IT SAD. YOU GO WHERE CURRENT TAKE YOU.

 

T-REX THINK BUDGETS LIKE ROW BOAT. YOU NO ROW, YOU GO WHERE CURRENT TAKE YOU.

 

T-REX OLDER AND WISER THAN YOU, BUT MOSTLY T-REX TALLER, SO T-REX TAKE PICTURE OF WHAT’S COMING.

 

T-REX THINK MAYBE SOMEONE IN FULLERTON START ROWING.

New Taxes Are Coming . . . And Far Worse

The end comes soon.

We hear drums, drums in the deep.  They are coming.

They are coming.

Fullerton’s general fund hemorrhaged cash over the last half decade, losing tens of millions of reserves, and now stands at the bare legal minimum.  This blog, and others, warned Fullertonians of the looming fiscal cliff for some time, only to be dismissed by the powers that be as the hateful screed and wails from malcontents.

That cliff is here.

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Yes, two stadiums are too many

Regular readers know we have already covered the the proposed Fullerton College stadium in detail (see here, here and here). In a nutshell, the NOCCD Board of Trustees want to turn Sherbeck Field into a 4500 seat football stadium so the Hornets can play football in their own stadium instead of their current location, or the Fullerton High School stadium located less than three tenths of a mile away.

The horror.

The residents around Princeton Circle have been fighting this boondoggle for awhile and appear to be getting organized. They have website, http://www.sharethestadium.org,  and are passing out campaign signs, to spread the word that the Sherbeck Field proposal is a costly and unnecessary boondoggle and should be scrapped.

Admittedly, they don’t hammer on my biggest objection to the stadium – the fact that the funds to build it only exist because the voters passed Measure J in 2014, based on the (since reneged) promise to improve the Veterans Centers on campus, but perhaps their approach will be more effective long term. Either way, this is a good sign that the Trustees have a  well deserved fight on their hands.

Regardless of where you live, the conduct by the NOCCCD Trustees is a slap on the face for every taxpayer who believes in fiscal accountability and responsibility, or who believes politicians should keep their campaign promises. If you want to help the effort to force some accountability by the NOCCCD, be sure to pay the sharethestadium.org folks a visit.

The Petropulos Era is Over

The name Petropulos is long associated with Fullerton law enforcement circles.

John Petropulos was a Fullerton Police Officer between 1981 and 2010, rising to the position of Captain.  He also taught for many years at the Fullerton College Police Academy.  The chances are good that if someone you know attended the academy over the past decade or two, they know and have stories to tell about John Petropulos.

His son, Tim, was hired by the Fullerton Police Department in 2005 and was a Sergeant handling Internal Affairs.  Many believed Tim would follow in his dad’s footsteps, until he and Cpl. Brad Fernandes jumped ship this past week for the Irvine Police Department.

Tim’s departure is noteworthy because his transfer to Irvine PD came with a demotion from Sergeant to Police Officer.  Voluntary demotions are not unheard of, but certainly not the norm.

Adding to this strange turn of events, Irvine Police Chief Mike Hamel is currently married to Fullerton Police Lt. Kathryn Hamel, the sister of former Fullerton Police Captain George Crum.  Having a loved one in law enforcement is apparently necessary for upward and lateral mobility these days.

Lest anyone from the FPD come forward to bemoan that Fullerton doesn’t pay enough, you should know that Fullerton has paid less than other cities for a very long time.  This is nothing new.  So why are Fullerton Police officers quitting in droves for other departments?  Dan Hughes promised everyone for years this was now a reformed, and better-than-ever police department.  If true, why wouldn’t people want to stick around and be part of that?

Nails. Coffin. Dan Hughes’ legacy as police chief.  Meet your hammer.

Joe Felz Plea Destroys Disney Dan’s Deception

The Joe Felz Guilty Plea contains an explicit admission of driving under the influence of alcohol. This is an actual literal signed confession in his own handwriting. This can’t be good for the cops who conspired to drive Felz home instead of hold him to account for his actions. That would be (former?) Sergeant Jeff Corbett and former Chief Dan Hughes.

For those of you having a hard time reading that on your phone I’ll transcribe it:

“ON OR ABOUT 11-9-16 WHILE IN ORANGE COUNTY, I WILLFULLY AND UNLAWFULLY DROVE A VEHICLE UPON A HIGHWAY WITH WILLFUL AND WANTON DISREGARD FOR THE SAFETY OF PERSONS OR PROPERTY WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL”.

While. Under. The. Influence. Of. Alcohol.

I need some help here because I cannot for the life of me manage to square that with the following as written by then Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes:

“The sergeant conducted the assessment and made the determination that the city manager had consumed alcohol, but did not meet the criteria of 23152(a) CVC. The city manager was driven home and his vehicle was towed.”

Why would Dan Hughes tell our city council that Mr. Felz did not meet the criteria of “23152(A) CVC” only for Felz, 405 days later, to rebuff him and admit to having done just that? It’s almost as if Hughes was lying to the city council and simply hoped this would go away on his way out of the door to Disney.

Let us be clear here for a minute and lay out the details as we know them:

  • No arrest was made at the scene of the crime. The police had Felz’s car towed and gave him a ride home.
  • No Citation was issued at the scene of the crime. Felz paid the bill for Sappy McTree, proof that he ran over public property, later.
  • No Breathalyzer was administered to the not-accused.
  • It was months later when the District Attorney finally filed charges.

Now ask yourself – In what world does Joe Felz admit, in his own writing on that plea deal, that he was driving under the influence if there wasn’t proof? That must be some damning video that the city refuses to release. Make no mistake here either – the city won’t release the video of the Felz incident unless forced to do so by the courts because doing the right thing is a foreign concept to our local government.

You add to that the allegations from former District Attorney investigator Abraham Santos that the DA wasn’t going to look into the possible criminal actions of Dan Hughes and his cabal of miscreants AND the current allegation that the Sergeant on the scene who administered the “Field Sobriety Test”, Jeff Corbett, was recently put on Administrative Leave over this very case and you have the makings of a conspiracy to subvert justice and engage in a cover-up.

I’ve put in records requests for the video from Felz’s “incident” and it has been denied by the city twice. Once under the old guard and once under the current crew. The legal reason for denying the release is 6254(f) for those who might want to know the minutia.

Essentially the city refuses to release the Felz incident bodycam/dashcam videos because they don’t have to? I don’t know because our City Attorney seems to pride himself on being a pompous ass.

From my conversations on and around this issue it basically boils down to this:

Joe Felz was friends with people and those friends don’t want him embarrassed by his own actions. We simple plebs who don’t live our lives feeding off of the government teat should just shut up and trust that our government is doing the right thing and that they have things under control. No evidence of this will be given because apparently in a Representative Democracy it is too much to ask for our government to prove their worth and not simply demand obedience of the ratepayers.

We will get no civilian oversight. We will get no details on the case. We will get no answers. We will get what they give us which amounts to lies and resentment coiffed in legalese. Well, that and Jennifer Fitzgerald’s sad, sad tears of sadness.

The trouble here is that the deference that is being afforded to Joe Felz to save him from embarrassment isn’t afforded to the little people who fall under the boot of our same government. Keep an eye on the F.P.D. Facebook Page if you want evidence of the double standard in place when it comes to haves/havenots. Here’s a pretty standard example of the dignity afforded to criminals not the City Manger:

FPD FB Double Standard

Joe Felz was City Manager which means the then Chief of Police worked with him and both were only answerable to the City Council. The same City Council who has all but turned a teary eye away from this whole issue. Even the illusion of City Council accountability has now changed with our new Chief’s new contract which actually delegates authority over the Chief of Police to the City Manager.

Let that sink in for a moment.

We have proof, in Joe Felz’s own writing, that he drove under the influence. We know from his payment for damages that he hit a tree. It is believed by many based upon photos from the scene that he attempted to flee the scene of the crime. We also know that despite all of this Dan Hughes decided to give him a pass on his criminal behavior despite not giving that pass to countless regular schmucks who mess up less in life. AFTER all of that our Council has not demanded public disclosure. They have not demanded any sort of oversight. And when the Contract for the new Chief of Police came up they opted to delegate their authority away to the position, the City Manger, who benefited from this very case of official corruption. This isn’t just not learning, this is doubling down on stupid.

It’s bad enough that we didn’t get anything positive out of such a terrible situation but we never even got a fight. Seemingly convinced of his own inability to sell an idea to the public or his fellow council members, even a basic idea like good government, then Mayor Whitaker couldn’t even be bothered to agendize anything even remotely relating to oversight or accountability in any facet of our city. To be fair the entire council is complicit in this problem, especially Jennifer Fitzgerald who was Mayor when the incident occurred, but they aren’t all running on their record of transparency for higher office so it needs to be pointed out.

BruceTransparency

This whole situation would be comedic if it wasn’t so pathetic and sad and infuriating.

While We Were Away: the Train Kept On Rolling

Enjoy the one way trip to insolvency

The last substantive article to run on FFFF site before its almost four year hiatus was this little gem about the “College Connector Study”, a $300,000 study designed to convince the Fullerton City Council that a streetcar system in costing (in their estimate) $140 million was exactly what the City of Fullerton needed. Why? Well, because building the streetcar would encourage high density development all along the rail line, turning Fullerton from a two story bedroom community into a six story high density, high traffic eyesore.

And, just to be clear, that was the argument in favor of wasting $140+ million on the streetcar.

What, you thought I was kidding?

Based on that report, three members of the Fullerton City Council (Chaffee, Fitzgerald and Flory) voted to make a streetcar part of the City’s transportation plan.

For the next three years, progress on the streetcar has stalled, and a competing proposal in Anaheim (this one estimated at $325 million) was shot down by the City Council after a coalition of good government activists ousted the Chamber backed majority from power. Unfortunately (to borrow the tagline for the Friday the 13th Part VI poster), nothing this evil ever dies, and the Fullerton Trolley is back. And like all bad horror sequels, it’s even bigger and more elaborate than before, while making even less sense.

I present to you, the Orange County Centerline:

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains. Round the decay. Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare.

The Centerline (something which has been in various stages of development at OCTA for over a decade) incorporates the Fullerton plan, along with a proposed streetcar line through Santa Ana, and several other lines. The plan is to run the line all the way through Harbor Boulevard all the way up to the transportation center. This would probably explain why that streetcar has been popping up on the artist conception for the Fox Block (image above).

OCTA recently provided a presentation to the Fullerton City Council at Tuesday’s meeting, which can be found here . No mention of which government entity will pay for the project, but even if the OCTA picks up the entire tab, we will at a minimum be on the hook for the maintenance cost , just as Anaheim is with the ARTIC Wasteland. Anaheim taxpayers have been forced to dip into the general fund for every year of ARTIC’s operation, as the revenue generated ($1.6 million) is nowhere near enough to pay the operation ($3.9 million). But hey – the City of Anaheim was given a fancy trophy for agreeing to shoulder these expenses, so the tradeoff was totally worth it, in some people’s eyes.

The trophy is huge, gaudy, expensive, tacky, unnecessary and completely impractical. It’s the perfect metaphor.

The Streetcar/ trolley concept is an absolutely terrible idea for too many reasons to count. The cost is astronomical , the benefit miniscule, it will render the streets it is located on un-drivable (seriously, just picture trying to make it through Downtown Fullerton with that thing blocking traffic). Oh, and it will also further undermine bus service in the county, because the cost of running a streetcar line is substantially higher than rapid bus service.

So to sum up, the OCTA wants to take Orange County into the twenty first century by spending hundreds of millions of dollars developing a nineteenth century technology designed to service people who don’t need it, at the expense of the bus riders who do. Sadly, this is about par for the course for state and county government, minus the exceptionally high price tag. Lets give the Center Line project – and every other streetcar project proposed in Orange County – the quick, merciful death it deserves.

One of the Worst Decisions

Your Fullerton City Council majority — consisting of Fitzgerald, Chaffee, and Silva — made one of the worst decisions in recent memory last night.

Desperate to protect their pensions, and to keep pension contributions at a minimum, the Fullerton Police Officer’s Association (FPOA) approached the City about extending their contract.  They voted yes.

CalPERS pension costs are skyrocketing as a result of poor investment returns, and far too optimistic rates of return.  To “correct” this problem, CalPERS is demanding the City of Fullerton pay more in the years ahead.  The table shows pension costs for FPOA members which consist of Police Officers, Police Corporals, Police Sergeants, and a small handful of non-sworn civilian employees, such as Police Dispatchers.

The table above uses the current fiscal year as a baseline (on the bottom row) to get a feel for the pain ahead.  Beyond the current fiscal year, the projected pension costs for FPOA employees will cost Fullerton residents — at the very least — an additional $12.3 million through June 2022.

That’s $12.3 million of new money the City of Fullerton doesn’t presently have.

The timeline of the FPOA contract status is illustrated above with the agreed to “concessions” which are disingenuous at best.  As noted, the contract extension runs to 2021 at the earliest, and possibly 2022 if FPOA decides to exercise that option.

You might be thinking to yourself, wait a minute, if their current contract expires June 30, 2019, why not negotiate a new contract at that time to get a better handle on the escalating pension costs?  That’s precisely the problem.  Instead of acting in good faith for Fullerton residents, council members Fitzgerald, Chaffee, and Silva rolled over to satisfy the public safety unions that paid big money to help them get elected.

The worst part about the FPOA contract, and the extension handed out last night, is the City cannot reopen negotiations to combat rising pension costs.  The promises are now etched in stone through 2021 or 2022 regardless of what CalPERS does.

All very troubling, not just for basic principles, but because the California Supreme Court is expected to rule in 2018 on the so-called “California Rule” which prevents government agencies from reducing already promised pension benefits.  The court’s decision will carry significant implications either way.  If they overturn or modify the “California Rule,” Fullerton could have sought to renegotiate FPOA pension benefits upon the expiration of the contract in June 2019 and saved Fullerton residents millions of dollars.  Conversely, if the “California Rule” is upheld, CalPERS will likely respond by further lowering the discount rate (assumed rate of return).  A lower discount rate will cost the City of Fullerton tens of millions more in the coming years.

At last night’s meeting, the introduction of a new financial forecasting tool was presented earlier in the night, before the FPOA extension came up for a vote.  The gentleman making the presentation noted that his model predicts a U.S. recession in the year 2020 — right in the middle of the FPOA extension.  I was at the meeting and brought this up when it came time for the FPOA vote.  I also pointed out that Fullerton’s brand new City Treasurer, who started on January 8th — just eight days prior — should be given a chance to review the FPOA proposal and offer his thoughts to the City Council.  After all, the existing FPOA contract didn’t expire for another 18 months, so what’s the rush?

Council member Sebourn registered his opposition to the FPOA proposal, and then, without another council member saying a word, it passed with a 3-2 vote, Sebourn and Whitaker voting no.

Last night’s recklessness puts us a couple steps closer to municipal bankruptcy.  When the Library is forced to cut hours or close completely, when Parks and Recreation has to shutter the community center, when Public Works has to stop paving streets and repairing broken water mains, you now know exactly which three council members to thank.  It was failure on full display.  As usual.

Musical Captains

It is official — Tom Oliveras and Bob Dunn are the new Captains of the Fullerton Police Department.

They replace Danny Hughes favorites John Siko and Scott Rudisil, who, pension spike completed, decided to retire.  Some in the department question the timing, openly wondering if new Chief Dave Hendricks helped to accelerate their departure.  Don’t be surprised if they land new jobs at The Mouse.  Dan Hughes pulled strings to get his buddy, Lt. Mike Chocek, a new job a Disneyland.  Chocek abruptly quit in 2017 for his new position at Disneyland.

Oliveras has been with the Fullerton PD since 1992, and has kept a low profile all these years.  That’s probably a good thing.

Bob Dunn is the fascinating choice, as he left the Anaheim Police Department as a Lieutenant, and was hired just days ago by the Fullerton Police Department as a Captain.

Why is this fascinating, you ask?  Because FFFF’s biggest fan, Lt. Andrew Goodrich, was rumored to want the empty Captain seat.  After completing a Master’s Degree in recent months from the prestigious Capella University, we’re told Goodrich viewed himself as the heir apparent for the Captain seat.  That is, until he was blindsided by the hiring of Dunn.

Oh well, Andrew Goodrich is more than welcome to leave Fullerton if he so chooses.

Your diploma is in the mail. No refunds.

The Burgeoning Field to Replace the Little Corporal

The good times were over…

It was easy to predict that after his announcement that he was quitting Congress at the end of the year, a host of would-be successors would jump in to replace Ed Royce (R-Security State). And so it has transpired. The lure of Congress is too hard to resist for the career politician – just think White House photo ops and no term limits.

There were already a bunch of Democrats challenging Royce, none of whom I had even heard of. It’s the Republican crowd that is of interest because the top vote getter of this tribe will probably reach the November run-off; possibly even against another member of the same club. We’ll ignore the no-names and the Fruit Loops.

No there, there…

First there is Young Kim, a wholly owned subsidiary of Royce, who has in fact, endorsed her to carry on his sterling legacy. Kim lost her last election as an Assembly incumbent, and that doesn’t bode well for the cynical north OC “Asian Strategy” that also failed so spectacularly in 2016 for Sukhee Kang and Ling Ling Chang. Poor Young may have access to some of Ed’s left over campaign dough, but she has the problem of coming across as just another empty suit and the puppet of her husband who created her political career, such as it it.

4th District County Supervisor Shawn Nelson’s suit is far from empty, his record at the County has been a complete disappointment. Elected in 2010 on a platform of accountability, pension reform and a full cross-departmental audit, he immediately ditched accountability, engineered a massive pension for himself, and has done nothing to shrink the bureaucracy or establish any kind of bureaucratic competency. Just the opposite, in fact. Fullerton residents will recall that Nelson tried to look good at the County by sneaking a homeless shelter into strip center next to an elementary school and a residential neighborhood in East Fullerton.

Hula Huff (image borrowed without permission from the Fullerton Rag)

Then there is former State Senator, Bob Huff, the former legislative waterboy for Redevelopment and occasional Traditional Values panderer who was termed out of his Sacramento gig and who also lost his last election – a try for LA County Board of Supervisors. Huff may count on an influx of money from people who used to lobby him, and of course the very deep pockets of his patron, Ed Roski, who owns the City of Industry. Huff is the veritable poster boy for government griftery. It’s hard to see how Huff can get any traction in OC against other ‘pugs, but he’s wishin’ and hopin.’

That’s it for now although we may see other entries. At present, there are no candidates who can run on a real conservative record, although they will certainly tell you otherwise as they invade our mailboxes with their trash.