City Hall Forgets to be Open and Transparent

City Hall is closed today and that’s a problem.

It’s a problem because the deadline has passed for City Council Vacancy applications and we don’t know what really happens next and by we I mean both applicants and the public. According to the city website there will be an applicant forum co-sponsored by the City of Fullerton and the Neighbors United for Fullerton on Monday, 29 January followed by a special meeting on Tuesday, 29 January. That’s all we know:

NUFF Candidate Meeting

If you look at the NUFF Facebook page it tells us that this applicant forum will run from 6:45pm to 8:30pm.

That’s it.

What does that mean? Will there be a debate?  A meet and greet? Will people be able to pose questions of specific applicants or the group? Who will be moderating this event? What should the applicants plan to do, say or bring? As of today, NUFF’s website has not been updated to reflect the change to an applicant forum from the previous “Priorities for Fullerton” agenda and thus leaves us wondering.

The most we know is that the event is scheduled for 105 minutes to vet 25 applicants which basic math tells us is about 4 minutes per applicant if each one was just allowed to speak freely without time taken out for questions, moderation or standard event management.

So really plan to hear each person speak for 2 minutes if they’re lucky.

How will the NUFF forum play into Tuesday’s Council Special Meeting? Is City Staff or Council asking the questions on Monday and using that data Tuesday? Or is Monday just gloss for the citizens while the city council plans to run their own public hearing on Tuesday?

Will the council be announcing an appointee on Tuesday? Will they be interviewing people at this Special Meeting? Will applicants be asked questions or given a chance to speak outside of public comments?

Again, no idea.

Quimby

Why no idea? Because the city has provided almost zero information on this process and the council has left things so open that anything could happen on Tuesday. This “Open and Transparent” process that we were promised by the council has been anything but. We know applicants are meeting with council members but not who with whom or where and when. My goal in being an applicant was to give you fine residents the inside scoop on how this would play out and as I suspected it is the antithesis of the openness that we were promised.

I have not received a single phone call or email about what happens next. Irrespective of my position on wanting a special election I should still be afforded the same information as any other applicant so this tells me nobody is being told anything.

And to circle back to why this is so ridiculous, City Hall is closed today so we won’t get any information until Monday, the day of the Nuff event and the day before the Special Meeting if we’re given information at that point. The corruption and/or incompetence was baked into the cake before this process was even started, hence the lobbying for and by prospective applicants *cough* Jan Flory *cough* before it even started.

I’ll keep you posted if anything changes but I’m guessing we’ll have a long weekend of behind the scenes wheeling and dealing with nothing given out for public consumption. So open. So Honest. So Transparent.

For full disclosure I have not spoken to or met with a single council member which should be pretty obvious as not a one would entertain me for council even were I serious. They aren’t even pretending very well at this point.

24 People Vie for Open Seat

Council Applicants

The deadline for council applications has passed and 24 people want the open council seat that Jesus Silva caused to be vacated.

24!?

Technically there are 25 names but I threw my name in not to try for it but to show the ridiculousness that is this process. However 24 peeps actually think they have a shot in this Battle Royale which is just funny.

I’m not that naive, desperate or inane to want this position let alone think I have a shot. Don’t believe me? I listed my kids and my cat as references.

FitzSilva showed their cards last month and we can spot the various partisan stalking horses in the field pretty easily.

Otherwise this list is both a Who’s Who of wannabes and simultaneously a Who’s Who of Who? I’m pretty active in Fullerton politics and some of these people I couldn’t pick out of a police lineup.

I don’t hate a few names but won’t back anybody for obvious reasons.

Gotta love the pretentiousness of some of these applications. 29 pages? Really Mr. Freeman? Come on, nobody cares enough to read that much about a potential appointee. One dude actually included his transcripts but I want to know why he didn’t go all the way back to Kindergarten? We need all of the info apparently so what is he hiding?

I kid, I kid.

Some people are just overeager for power and prestige and don’t know any better. Others of us know that this game was rigged before the board was set out and just find it funny.

Ok maybe that last one is just me.

I’m officially not backing anybody but myself in this nonsense because I don’t want anybody to be appointed. Like I said at council, I don’t care if there are 4 or 5 voices on the dais because despite all of these years with 5 lukewarm bodies up there they have yet to produce so much as a balanced budget.

Obviously I Applied for Council

To quote Larry Bennett from 2016, “It’s Political Silly Season” and thus of course I joined the barrage of people (20 and counting?!) who applied to the open council seat in this ludicrous appointment process. My Application is HERE for those interested in the lulz and my 400 word-vomit blurb is as follows:

In order to fill this position the council needs a majority to approve an applicant. Not the voters, mind you. The voters get short shrift here and are told that in our representative democracy it’s good enough to be told who represents them.

In reality, this whole process – from our gerrymandered districts to our inability to vote upon our own representation – is sad and rather pathetic.

Our council has run up our pension debt while crying that Sacramento mismanaged the money we keep shoveling their direction year in and year out. When warned that a problem was coming we citizens were laughed at, ridiculed and ignored.

Worse than ignoring us malcontents and gadflies, our council has ignored our infrastructure, sat idle while we were illegally taxed and over-charged on our water bills, resisted any form of police oversight or accountability, all but abandoned the Hunt Library, caused a lawsuit over Coyote Hills and on and on and on.

We call ourselves “The Education Community” but we refuse to learn from our mistakes. We refuse to be honest, we refuse to be knowledgable and forward thinking unless it lines the right pockets or benefits the rights constituencies.

And yet here we are waiting for our historically negligent and pompous council to tell us who is worthy to join them up on the dais.

To make it worse here I am offering myself up as tribute. I’m not adding my name into the veritable Goblet of Fire because I think I can win over the council or because I think I’m a good choice – I’m doing it because I want to highlight how ridiculous of a process this is in the first place.

When I ran for Council in 2016 I had to get 20 people to sign papers saying they supported the idea of me running to represent them. Today I don’t need even one. Not a single citizen has to support me to throw my name into the mix, not a single person has to walk for me or talk me up to their neighbors and worst of all not a single person has to vote for me.

I can’t get 1, let alone 3 votes from council, but neither should anybody else.

To paraphrase Denis from “The Holy Grail”, You can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just ’cause some watery tart threw a council majority at you!

No, I don’t expect to be appointed or even interviewed. Yes, I’m aware that this is transparency theater. See you all at the NUFF event on Monday.

Fullerton’s Council Beauty Pageant

Ike-Pageant

After some debate, a short delay and a little snapping by Jennifer Fitzgerald, a council majority opted to hold a beauty pageant to decide which crony will get to join them on the dais.

The city is accepting applications for contestants who are interested in the job of city council without the need to actually convince the citizenry to vote for them.

We won’t know who all is running until the application process ends but we’ve already heard some names and most of them are terrible if you care about the city budget or basic math skills.

In the ongoing process the council will pretend to view and vet the candidates in an “open and transparent” process which means closed door meetings and private wheeling and dealing with a dash of favors and/or threats for good measure.

There will be a “candidate forum” sponsored by the Neighbors United for Fullerton but really it doesn’t matter who you like or what they say to the public because the council is making this decision regardless of your thoughts or opinions. You have no real voice in this process despite empty promises to the contrary.

Let us not kid ourselves, despite applications being due by Wed, 23 January and the NUFF forum being on the 28th, this will be a done deal long before you get a chance to even know who’s all in the running and who can twirl a baton the best.

The meetings are already happening and the deals are already being struck – hence Fitzgerald, Flory and the Flor-Bots all shilling for Flory back in December before this process even started.

You can apply if you’re a masochist or you can just show up to the forum and council meeting to watch the slew of candidates take 8 boilerplate questions about the roads and zero about pension reform and overspending. Overall don’t expect the public face of this charade to matter much in the actual decision making process.

However if you want to pretend like you have a chance to be on city council and believe you have what it takes to beat back the leviathan and fix our structural deficit then all you have to do is fill out a few pieces of paper to apply. Apply Today. The more the merrier.

Cheerocracy

Will Ahmad Zahra Hold Firm?

AhmadZahra

Back in December, in his first at-bat, Ahmad Zahra surprised me by speaking of the Constitution and transparency whilst simultaneously voting against FitzSilva in their attempt to appoint Jan Flory to Council. Zahra was on fire with gems such as:

“My decision is going to be contingent upon us making sure that the appointment process is fair and open and transparent. So until we can make that decision, I don’t see how we should take votes away from people.

“The question is, is there a fairer and open and more transparent process than voting itself? Can we come up with that? Can we come up with something better than what the Constitution come up with? That is my question for the council. I’m leaving my decision until I hear other council members.”

Tonight we get to find out if Zahra is a man of principle standing by his own talking points at the last meeting or if that was all simply a clever flex to show who has the real authority on this issue in an effort to get his preferred pick onto council.

For those new to the story here’s the gist as I understand it —

Jesus Silva wanted incumbency in 2022 and thus opted to run for the District 3 seat on council.

Council then chose to change the law ON ELECTION DAY in the case Silva beat Sebourn in order to limit the options for voters.

Silva took home the ring on election day and in winning he vacated his at-large seat which runs until 2020.

Then in December the dynamic duo of Jennifer Fitzgerald and Jesus Silva testily complained that they needed Ahmad to go along to get along in order for them to get what they wanted. Zahra didn’t go along which brings us to today.

Tonight we’ll watch as FitzSilva likely tries to lay it on thick and blame Ahmad for the cost of the election should he choose transparency and an election (as he did back in December). This is posturing bollocks but I’m wondering if he’ll stand firm. Both he and our residents need to know that the fault here lies partially with Silva for running, partially with council for changing the city ordinance, ON ELECTION DAY, to facilitate this choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, but really the fault lies with our City Attorney The Other Dick Jones for offering terrible advice and putting us in this situation in the first place. Zahra is blameless here on the issue of cost should he choose openness and transparency by way of a special election.

dick-jones

Prepare for the same shenanigans with FitzSilva promising a fictionally transparent process in this city which is allergic to the very premise of transparency. The same transparency which had Jan Flory meeting with at least 2 (if not 3) current council members and bringing a cabal of people to lobby for her to be appointed without the citizenry any the wiser. THAT type of so-called transparency should be rejected and here’s hoping that Councilman Zahra continues to impress the way he did during at his last at-bat.

You Gotta Spin It to Win It!

Looks like Fullerton will reconsider its options concerning the existing City Council vacancy tomorrow.  The current agenda goes into detail concerning the city’s options, including when a Special Election might be held, how much it would cost, and what a plan might look like if the Council were to appoint to fill the vacancy by February 2.

We’ve been trying to keep tabs on who’s playing Fullerton’s version of Game of Thrones here. So far, the only person known to openly campaign for the seat is former councilwoman Jan Flory.

So, which option will it be?

A) An unelected bench warmer who likely has no moral authority to do anything other than break tie votes

or

B) Taxpayers spending $400,000 to elect an independently wealthy or political action committee dominated Fullertonian who is only running to secure incumbency in District 1, 2, or 4 for another election in 2020?

Don’t you love choices with no downsides?

Find out who wins (someone) and who loses (you) tomorrow, when we play WHEEL. OF. REPLACEMENT CANDIDATES!

A Hill. Wrapped in Plastic

A few weeks ago while at a local eating establishment in the Downtown area a gentleman stopped me by name, which isn’t always a good thing in malcontentville, and asked me to inquire about the plastic sheeting up near the YMCA.

You may have seen it while driving North on Harbor Blvd:

YMCA-Plastic

So ask I did. Here is the recent answer according to some undisclosed source at the Public Works Department as communicated by the Clerk’s office:

YMCA-Plastic-Email

“Plastic sheeting the slope on Harbor Blvd is done with City staff and costs about $12,000. We have been sheeting the slope for 6+ years.”

I’ve not sent in followup requests for invoices or details about this particular project but I’m sure if somebody wanted to do so the city would be happy to explain why spending at least $72K for this particular issue/area is the best solution and has been the best solution for over half a decade.

What say you friends? Is this project worth $12k/year for who knows how long?

More for Less in Public Works

It looks like Fullerton is again in the business of paying more for less when it comes to hiring bureaucrats to bureaucrat. One of our newest hires, Mary “Meg” McWade, who is set to replace Don Hoppe is going to be paid $195,000 + bennies. This despite some questions about qualifications.

Being that the Director of Public Works is also the City of Fullerton’s “Civil Engineer” it is preferred that our Director be, well, a certified engineer.

If you look at the qualifications for this Director position you’ll find:

I suppose emphasis on preferred. (more…)

It’s SB1421 Day

Today is the Day.

Today Police records are supposed to become a little more transparent and officers with “sustained” complaints (and a few other issues) get to share with the world their bad deeds by virtue of some Sacramento mandated sunshine disinfectant. With SB1421 to the rescue we might finally get to see what happens behind union closed doors when officers misbehave.

The law changing and becoming effective today, owing to the holiday, convinced some friends to put in a few records requests based on suggestions which we complied and others which were emailed to us after this post dropped.

Thanks to everybody who shared what they knew and pointed us in a few interesting directions. I was copied on the request and it contains over 40 officers both current and former, most of whom we believe to have had sustained findings against them. Because police departments refuse to tell us who has findings against them we had to take quite a few guesses based on the best information we could obtain. That or pay FPD $250+ to maybe compile a list per their Public Information Officer.

Being that we’re volunteers who don’t run ads or try to monetize FFFF we opted against the $250 check to FPD.

With the requests in the virtual mail we should be seeing some interesting things provided that the records aren’t obfuscated, buried and denied. We’ll keep you posted as things come back or don’t.

We’re also always open to suggestions so if we missed anybody let us know the details in the comments or via email. Who did what and where should we look? What officers had sustained findings in other departments? We’ll send requests for those records as well.

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Who Are the Bad Apples?

Bad Cop

Over the years we here at Friends for Fullerton’s Future have written about what feels like countless stories on the culture of corruption. A lot of facts, some rumors and a lot of annoyance as the city, police department and union goons do everything in their power to keep all of us from knowing anything even slightly negative happening behind the badges of our betters.

Well, on January 1st, 2019 California law changes to allow a little bit of information to eek its way past the Blue Wall of Silence. Thanks to the usually ridiculous California legislature and soon to be former Governor Jerry Brown, we’ll be able to learn about some of the actions perpetuated by some of the officers around the state. Here’s the law in question.

You’ll want to read section C and the bits about lies and dishonesty. I previously had it quoted it here but it’s too much legalese to blockquote. Basically if it’s proven that a cop lies or falsifies a report you can get the records of those findings.

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