Reporters Committee on Press Freedom Files Amicus Supporting FFFF

On Sunday, 03 November 2019, the Reporters Committee on Press Freedom released an article [HERE] outlining their read on the case against us. They see the overreach and concern to journalists being posed by Fullerton’s read on the law.

“The prior restraint sought here is, of course, concerning. But this is the first case we’re aware of where the computer crime laws have been misused so brazenly against members of the news media. First, the conduct alleged — accessing publicly available documents over the public internet — is clearly not hacking. A court finding that accessing publicly available documents over the public internet constitutes hacking would pose serious concerns for data journalists.”

Two days later, 05 Nov, the same day the City Council voted 4-1 to continue the lawsuit against this blog and two of your humble friends, the RCPF filed an amicus brief supporting us in our appeals court effort to overturn the Temporary Restraining Order issued against us.

You can read the entire RCFP Amicus Brief [HERE]. Some highlights are as follows.

The allegations:

“The essence of the City’s allegations in this case is that bloggers reporting on newsworthy matters of clear public interest (namely, potential government misconduct) violated federal and state hacking laws by accessing information that was made available online by the City to all the world. The City claims it is entitled not only to an extraordinary prior restraint on publication but also damages, in part for claims against the City for breach of confidentiality caused by the City’s own cybersecurity lapses.”

This was not hacking:

“If Amicus’s reading of the declaration of the City’s information technology expert is correct, one did not even need a username or password to access files in the Dropbox account maintained by the City, in which it commingled allegedly sensitive and privileged information with material that it affirmatively invited public records requesters to download.”

The theft from a “house” analogy doesn’t work:

“A public website, including the Dropbox account here, is not like a “house.” When an entity chooses to make information available to the public on the internet, without a technical access restriction like a password, that information can legally be accessed by anyone.”

VPNs/TOR are industry practice:

“It is true that the use of a VPN and Tor serves to protect user anonymity, and that “even some journalists routinely use” them. Id. Indeed, the use of such services is not only commonplace among journalists—it is a recommended industry practice.”

“Everyone should be using encrypted services and applications to protect their communications. In fact, in 2017, the American Bar Association’s Committee on Ethics and Legal Responsibility recommended that lawyers use “high level encryption” or other “strong protective measures” to protect sensitive client information.”

Read the whole thing, it’s worth it. We’ll bring more updates as they happen.

The Seven Walls of Local Government: Wall #6 – The Long Arm of the Law

We’re from the government and we’re here to help. Ourselves.

(Ed. note: this post was first made on July 5th 2011 – a date that should resonate with Fullertonions; FFFF republished it in 2016; and now, given the City Council’s decision to employ legal harassment against FFFF bloggers, we repost, the themes in the essay being more apropos than ever ) 

And now Friends, here is installment #6 of Professor J.H. Habermeyer’s engaging essay on the relationship of local government agencies with their constituents.

The Sixth Wall

As we have already seen, the local government has formidable resources at its disposal to protect itself in its undertakings, no matter how inimical those doings may be to the very taxpayers who are footing the bill to defend them. And nowhere is this better illustrated than in the utilization by the bureaucracy of the legal system to thwart, frustrate, outlast, and outspend any civic opposition.

First I will note that judges are habitually riding calvary-like to the aid of fellow government authority. This is seen in the way that government action, often of dubious legal or constitutional foundation is tolerated with the tacit understanding that we need government and thus we need the people who run it; thus the individuals symbolize the institution and both must be protected for the common good of having government itself. It is a very egregious offense indeed that will cause a judge to act in a way that could undermine confidence in the very government of which he is a part.

And so judges themselves can be counted upon to defer to the bureaucrats and their experts and dispose of all sorts of embarrassing obstacles that separate a government from its desired object. Constitutional Amendments 4, 5 and 14 in particular seem to be the most annoying impediments, and are thus brushed aside with the most regularity. Anyone who doubts this need only look at the way our country’s police collect evidence and the way that urban renewal fiascoes have wreaked havoc on the very cities they were meant to revitalize; both with the disconcerting approbation of the nation’s jurists.

But to even advance to a courtroom takes time and money, again, two resources that the government agency has in abundance and which opponents can usually be counted upon to have very little. A city has its own attorney; if needed outside counsel may be employed at the taxpayer’s expense, which is to say at the expense of the very people who have shown the temerity to seek legal redress!

If, once before a judge, the nearly impossible occurs, and the opponents win a courtroom victory, the agency can be relied upon to seek appeal to a higher court, running up more cost and draining its antagonists even farther.

The spectacle of free citizens in a democracy suing their own government is not a pretty one and while public agencies will avoid it, once joined, it is a battle that they will never voluntarily quit: for defeat means professional humiliation and a chink in the armor of their alleged expertise and professionalism. There is no cheap lawyer’s trick they will not deploy to win, including technicalities in the law that work to their advantage and to the disadvantage of their supposed employers.

It is a desperate man who engages his own government in a legal dispute.

The Seven Walls of Local Government

<< Wall #5:  Time Is Not On Your Side | Wall # 7 – Playing With The Houses Money>>

Friends for Ferguson Family’s Future

Many of you have asked how to help our named bloggers sued by the City of Fullerton for doing nothing more than telling the truth. In addition to being absurd, the City of Fullerton also decided to be cruel and named one of our blogger’s employers in their ridiculous lawsuit without cause or merit, which resulted in said blogger’s unemployment. It’s likely the city’s onslaught will continue for months if not years.

The First Amendment exists to prevent this exact occurrence: Government using its considerable resources to destroy the life of individuals who criticize those in power. Here we are in 2019 watching it happen. Joshua Ferguson and his wife have three children. As a result of the city refusing to accept responsibility for its actions and instead accusing Ferguson of being a criminal; rent payments, Christmas, and the basic necessities of life are all under serious duress.

Fellow Fullerton Friend and Fullerton Parks and Recreation Commissioner Erik Wehn established a fundraising page for Joshua Ferguson this morning. We encourage all of you who value speaking truth to power and our fundamental American liberties to donate to the Ferguson cause. I don’t have to tell those of you who know this particular family that the Fergusons value their own hard work and being put in a position to accept charity is extremely difficult, but desperate times call for corresponding measures.

Joshua Ferguson has taken on corruption in the city of Fullerton and needs your help!

Last week Joshua Ferguson announced he had filed suit to get access to documents Fullerton is legally required to produce (thanks to CA Senate Bill 1421) concerning police lying, cheating, stealing, molesting, and beating of people. Guess what he received a week later as a direct consequence of standing up to the entrenched and belligerent interests at city hall? A retaliatory, anti-First Amendment lawsuit including Joshua and his employer, who had no involvement in what the suit alleges.

Not wanting to cause harm to his employer of ten years, Joshua resigned.

Now Joshua has a very expensive fight ahead of him and a family to feed.

Out of concern for his family, Joshua hesitated to take this fight on, but he wants his three kids to learn to stand up for what’s right, no matter the risk.

Now it’s our turn to do our part, uphold that principle, and remind others that if you fight the good fight you won’t be alone.

Please consider donating what you can to help Joshua fight the culture of corruption in Fullerton.

Erik Wehn

We often take for granted the cost of defending our right to free speech. It’s hard to miss the young men and women fighting for our country, but it’s easy to miss the patriot at the podium during a town council meeting who gets abused by the state for exercising a fundamental right.

Not all of us are brave enough to stake a personal cost in the fight for freedom. Joshua’s wife and three kids will personally bear this burden for us, the very least we can do is lighten the load.

Donate, help Ferguson fight back, and share widely.

Fullerton Retaliates, Threatens Family to Cover for Bad Cops

For some lawyers, every problem is a nail. Don’t like what you see? Take it personally and swing a hammer as hard as you possibly can. Damn the consequences and damn the people involved, what matters is your pride and smiting that heretical nail.

Unfortunately for Fullerton taxpayers, that’s exactly the mentality of the legal wunderkind at Jones and Mayer. Annoy the city and get the legal equivalent of “See these fists? They’re getting ready to fuck you up.” We all know how well that strategy of bullying and brunt stupidity worked out for all of us the last time around. Yet here we are, repeating history, and somehow expecting a different result.

Many of you wonder why the many writers associated with this humble blog post under fake names. Some of us own property, some of us have kids, some of us have parents in Fullerton, and some of us own businesses in town. All of us have been threatened by city employees as a result of our participation in local politics. Most of us don’t want to have our lives turned upside down because we want the city to fix potholes instead of covering for employees who lie, cheat, steal, and occasionally beat members of the public. A few of us are made of tougher stuff and attach the real and personal consequences of speaking up for the public to their livelihood. Sometimes it’s a black sedan parked across the street from your house, sometimes it’s a little something special left in your trash can, others it’s anonymous letters sent to clients and employers, and for some (now former) contributors to this blog it’s literally two men dressed in black wearing a silver badge showing up on your doorstep at 11pm telling you and your wife it’s time to leave town. Most of you won’t believe any of that, but to one degree or another, every single one of us had something occur within six months of criticising a member of city council or a senior employee at the city or union. Fullerton plays for keeps, so keep your mouth shut or bad things will happen.

Why? Because if voters really understood that brass at FPD really do intimidate submitters of official complaints from women sexually assaulted by officers, really do lie under oath to protect those on their side of the thin blue line, and really do withhold backup from officers who report evil cops to internal affairs, they’d revolt and throw enablers like Jennifer Fitzgerald, Jan Flory, Doug Chaffee, and the recalled bald tires out of town on a rail. While the abuse at the fire department and non-public safety positions is comparatively much less severe, we still have evidence of employees drinking on the job, destroying city assets, stealing property, and using their official capacity to profit both on and off the taxpayer clock. This stuff literally happens every single month and FFFF is the only local information provider willing to publish accounts exposing just how bad things are.

Want to know why our roads look like shit? Well, read the archive. You’re not dealing with decision makers who are pure as the driven snow. They have a vested personal monetary and political interest to keep the public in the dark.

So, I put it to you reader. If you were a city official wanting to keep the voters in the dark, what’s the best way to make sure facts, accounts, or even just rumors make their way out into the public for consumption?

Clean up the city? Stop the lying, cheating, stealing, pussy grabbing, and beating of people?

Come clean and ask for forgiveness? Simply tell the truth about lying, cheating, stealing, pussy grabbing, and beating of people?

What about just locking it down and staying quiet. Just don’t acknowledge the lying, cheating, stealing, pussy grabbing, or beating of people?

Nope.

Fullerton goes with it’s version “WE ARE SPARTA!” method of attacking the messenger. Don’t like that your lying, cheating, stealing, pussy grabbing and beating of people is getting out in public? Break the knees of anyone telling that story and your problem gets solved real quick. After all, if it fails, it’s not like you’re going to jail for wrecking someone’s life.

Last week, one of our writers Joshua Ferguson, announced he had filed suit to get access to documents Fullerton is legally required to produce concerning city employees lying, cheating, stealing, pussy grabbing, and beating of people. Guess what FFFF received a week later as a direct consequence of standing up to the entrenched and belligerent interests at city hall?

That’s right, two of our named authors are being sued. Along with an employer.

Why? Because the city knows exactly what will happen. Screw mortgage payments, screw tuition bills, and screw putting food on the table: You didn’t shut up when we told you to, so now we’re doing to take your whole fucking life away because we can. Enjoy these fists fucking you up. Good-bye paycheck and hello desperation.

In the end, perhaps the court will see this isn’t even a thinly veiled attempt to attack the public’s right to know, free speech, and the fundamental precept that the government shouldn’t use its resources to go about wrecking lives. If that happens, it will be years or months from now, you will pay the bill, and the damage caused by Jones and Mayer swinging their hammer will be done. This blog has 3236 articles and counting. Hundreds of news stories emanating from bad things at city hall were broken here. All of that threatens to come to an end because our writers won’t risk being attacked by the local powers at be for telling the truth.

Be that as it may reader, remember this: Your roads look like shit because people like Jennifer Fitzgerald and those who support her would rather spend her time attacking messengers and threatening families than make hard choices about how big the raises should be for those who endorse her campaigns for office.

This is your Fullerton. If the endless supply of stories concerning lying, cheating, stealing, pussy grabbing, and beating of people hasn’t gotten your attention yet, maybe this latest round of intimidation will. In the meantime, your roads are as shitty today as they were yesterday, and they’ll still be shitty tomorrow when this lawsuit moves forward.

Transparency 101

As many Friends now know, the City of Fullerton has decided to move on from bullying language to actually sue FFFF. Here’s a summation from The Voice of OC.

Ken Domer
Domer. So much less there than meets the eye.

The City has also posted a ponderous press release on its website, written in the high dudgeon of a bureaucrat whom you suspect already realizes that diverting attention from his own bungling by blaming somebody else, may be harder to pull off than he had hoped. Here’s our $230,000 per year City Manager Ken Domer trying desperately to seize some sort of high moral ground:

“The City was forced into taking legal action to protect the privacy of current and former employees and the public, and to ensure compliance with applicable law to include the California Public Records Act,” stated Fullerton City Manager, Ken Domer. “We are working aggressively on behalf of those affected and took immediate actions to put in place a more secure information technology environment. These actions support our philosophy of transparent access to information while protecting confidential information from the unethical and illegal actions of a few.”

Now I don’t know about you, Friends, but I find the words “unethical” and “illegal” to be pretty funny tumbling out of the mouth of Domer, whose only aim in his short tenure in Fullerton seems to have been to fight a rear-guard action against transparency. Domer’s self-righteous indignation is comical coming from the lackey of serial liars on the City Council – people like Jan Flory who is, and always has been, dangerously allergic to the truth; like Jennifer Fitzgerald who has not yet seen an ethical barrier she couldn’t sidestep; and like Doug “Bud” Chaffee who was complicit in his wife’s phony carpetbagging address and stealing campaign signs she didn’t like.

The budget is balanced and the cops are tip-top. Or else.

We need only reflect on the way the City has bent over backwards to cover-up the scandal of Wild Ride Joe Felz to know that what Domer is peddling about is utter bullshit.

And as further proof (if we needed any), let us pause for a moment to consider the following snippet from Domer’s press release:

Based on evidence uncovered in our internal investigation and direction from the City Council, the City Attorney’s Office has now filed a complaint in Superior Court seeking a temporary restraining order against the involved Blog and its contributors.

Say what? Direction from the City Council? When O’ when did that ever occur? The issue of whether or not to take FFFF to court has never been publicly agendized and never voted on by the City Council. The subject has never been discussed by our marble-mouthed City Attorney, Dick Jones reporting out of Closed Session.

Domer says he has a “philosophy” of transparent access to information. His actions give us a crystal-clear view of what that philosophy really is: stall, hide, deceive, misrepresent, and ass-cover.

 

City of Fullerton Is Suing Me And This Blog

You may have already seen the story and/or press release from the City of Fullerton articulating their lawsuit against myself, Friends for Fullerton’s Future and others.

You can read the Voice of OC’s write up on this lawsuit from the city [HERE]:

“Fullerton city attorneys are heading into Orange County Superior Court Friday to ask a judge for a temporary restraining order against resident Joshua Ferguson and a local blog to keep them from deleting city records they obtained and also asking a judge to appoint someone to comb through electronic devices for the records.”

That lawsuit from the city is retaliation for a Public Records Lawsuit I filed against the city last week which was written up by the Voice of OC [HERE]:

“Fullerton residents may soon find out exactly how former City Manager Joe Felz was given a ride home by Fullerton police officers after hitting a tree and trying to flee the scene following drinking on election night in 2016, after resident Joshua Ferguson filed a lawsuit against the city to produce police body camera footage from that night.”

I will have more details in the near future but our current response is HERE]:

“The basic purpose of the First Amendment is to prevent the government from imposing prior restraints against the press. “Regardless of how beneficent-sounding the purposes of controlling the press might be,” the Court has “remain[ed] intensely skeptical about those measures that would allow government to insinuate itself into the editorial rooms of this Nation’s press.” (Nebraska Press, 427 U.S. at 560-561.)

“Consistent with that principle, over the last 75 years, the United States Supreme Court repeatedly has struck down prior restraints that limited the press’ right to report about court proceedings. The Court has made clear that a prior restraint may be contemplated only in the rarest circumstances, such as where necessary to prevent the dissemination of information about troop movements during wartime, Near, 283 U.S. at 716, or to “suppress[] information that would set in motion a nuclear
holocaust.” (New York Times, 403 U.S. at 726 (Brennan, J., concurring).)

“This case does not come close to presenting such extraordinary circumstances. Thus, the City cannot prevail as a matter of law, regardless of how the records were originally obtained. The City’s requests are flatly unconstitutional in and Defendants, therefore, respectfully request this Court denying the City’s request in its entirely.”

More to come as these two cases play out in court.

Bob Dunn – Killing of Kelly Thomas a “deep wound” – to the Fullerton Police Department

You have got to be kidding me.

Friday’s edition of the Orange County Register has a puff piece on how much progress Fullerton’s Police Department made in dealing with the homeless population. I can’t comment on the quality of the article, however, because I was unable to make it past this quote from Bob Dunn in the very first paragraph:

“Eight years have passed since the fatal beating of a homeless, schizophrenic Kelly Thomas by Fullerton police, but the tragedy remains a “deep wound” in the department’s psyche, says the city’s new police chief.”

Since our Police Chief is apparently unfamiliar with the meaning of the word “perspective”, allow me to provide some.

Kelly Thomas was a troubled individual, but he was a human being, and on July 5, 2011 he was essentially tortured to death in full view of hundreds of witnesses, all while apologizing and begging for his father. THAT is tragedy of Kelly Thomas, not the psychic boo boos the Police Department may have suffered.

Some things never change.

New Lawsuit Against Fullerton Alleges Police Misconduct & Cover-Ups

 

A lot has happened in Fullerton over the last several years and while my involvement has waned ever since the City threatened me civilly and criminally because I happen to be associated with this blog, and this blog published embarrassing things City Hall would rather hide from the people, I have remained committed to finding the truth and speaking up against the vapid and self-serving corruption of our council majority & the city hall they oversee.

In my capacity as a chronic malcontent these last few years I have made numerous records requests looking for information and many of those requests have been ignored, delayed or denied owing to dubious legal claims or just outright misrepresentations of the law. As such I have opted to sue the city of Fullerton for violations of the California Public Records Act.

The now filed Petition for Writ of Mandate alleges that the City of Fullerton has violated the CPRA in regards to my records requests related to no less than 5 separate issues.

Back when I first started filing requests, specifically for the body worn camera and dash cam videos of the Joe Felz DUI incident, the city was able to hide behind a lack of enforceable disclosure laws as SB1421 was not yet the law of the land. Cities did/do this because they know it takes a lot of time, effort and commitment to make them comply with disclosure laws.

Here in Fullerton the arrogance got so bad that they didn’t even try to hide their disdain for the public and transparency. At one point after claiming the Felz video was exempt from disclosure owing to the non-existent sham investigation, City Attorney Gregory Palmer asserted to me; “If you are dissatisfied with the response you have remedies”.

“You have remedies”

Skip ahead a few years and it turns out I DO have remedies and I have opted to act upon them. Hence this lawsuit.

For those interested, the lawsuit reads as follows (after the jump, emphasis in original, exhibits in the Writ link above):

(more…)

Pilfering Paulette On The Comeback Trail

Most people, after having been nabbed committing trespass and theft would at least lay low for a respectable period of time.

Paulette Stolen Sign
Caught Red Handed

But Paulette Marshall Chaffee, the former carpetbagging sign thief who quit the Fullerton City Council race less than a year ago is not respectable. She has decided to run for the Orange County Board of Education, a fairly obscure and almost totally opaque local agency.

One of our attentive Friends actually received a push poll promoting this miscreant. Just in case you don’t know a push poll is one of those phony calls that ask questions like: “if you knew Paulette Marshall invented a cure for cancer would you be more or less likely to vote for her?”

Paulette Sign Thief
Oops, She Did it Again

Well, I have a question of my own: what in the world are this woman’s qualifications? She can’t even steal campaign signs without getting busted.

Paulette and her doddering husband Doug “Bud” Chaffee have a long history of arrogance and indifference to the people of Fullerton, and so this move shouldn’t be too surprising.

And neither should it be surprising that we, the good folks at FFFF, will be conducting our own outreach: if you knew Paulette Marshall Chaffee plead guilty to theft would you be more or less likely to vote for her?

The High Price of Building Our Future

It may have been expensive, but it sure was unnecessary…

I watched this little gem of a clip from Bill Maher’s cable show last night. Bill rails against the added cost laden on to stuff simply because people can get away with it it.

In particular Maher notes the exorbitant cost of government projects, namely housing for the homeless and infrastructure where the “soft costs” including the inevitable army of “consultants” and lobbyists drives up the cost to absurdly comical levels. For the cost of building an “affordable” housing unit you could easily buy some homeless dude a condominium.

For those of us paying attention in Fullerton we have seen this in spades:

Five million bucks for a couple of traction elevators at the depot. Two million bucks for some crappy, rickety wood stairs at Hillcrest Park. The better part of a million bucks for a decorative bridge over the muddy ditch known as Brea Creek. Etc, etc., etc. The fact that these vanity efforts were totally unnecessary just adds insult to the injurious price tag.

The fact is that government building projects are grossly over-managed. There are architects and engineers galore; there are construction managers; there are general contractor’s project managers and superintendents coming out of the woodwork. And then there are the government’s “project managers” who manage virtually nothing but have blanketed themselves with warm layers of external “expertise” to insulate themselves against the inevitable sideways momentum of their next disaster.

Meanwhile the politicians who are elected to watch out for our interests are too lazy, ignorant, indifferent, or self-interested to give a damn.