What the Hell Does Staff Even Do?

Office Space Roads Meme
I have people skills goddammit!

At the last Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, City Staff asked the commission to approve a “Parks and Recreation Master Plan” on which they wanted to spend “$236,295 + $51,750 for an optional arts component”.

Parks and Rec Master Plan
A Quarter of a Million Bucks so Staff can outside their thinking…

What that amounts to is over 1/4 of a Million smackers so a consulting firm can put together a plan for how to do the jobs that we pay staff to do year in and year out. Here’s staff’s actual justification for why we need to pay for this “master plan”:

“Without a current masterplan, making decisions on what communities need in parks and amenities becomes very difficult. A large component of the master plan process is to ask the community what is important.”

Imagine sucking at your job so hard that you need to hire a consult to tell you how to prioritize your decision making process. They claim they need to hire somebody to talk to us plebs because, well, I assume that the denizens of the Crystal Palace that is City Hall might fear being dirtied and despoiled by the stain of the common folk.

The 2020 numbers aren’t up on Transparent California but as of 2019 (before they shitcanned the P&R Director Hugo Curiel), we were spending approximately $1,167,647.43 a year on staff. That’s in one year and doesn’t count the part timers who were mostly laid off in 2020.

That’s over a million dollars a year on payroll for people who don’t know how to prioritize or manage your parks. And no, I’m not being mean – they themselves asked to spend over $236k so SOMEBODY ELSE could “ask the community what is important”.

Parks Payroll 2019
All this money to not know what the hell to do around town…

What, the ever loving hell, do these people actually do? They don’t write grants because we hire consultants & vendors for that. They don’t design parks because we hire consultants and vendors for that. They don’t build parks because… yup – vendors and consultants. Hell, the funding for the parks largely comes from the Park Dwelling Fees which is a byproduct of what the Planning Department does so you can’t even credit P&R for THAT.

Every time we look around, City Hall is trying to throw more and more money at people to do the work of the very people inside City Hall because gosh darn it, it’s just so hard to put up a survey or ask a question on Facebook. So instead we need a connected vendor to wine and dine staff (to get the contract) so they can post on Nextdoor and hold useless “community meetings” where they spend their days trying to sell people on things they never wanted, asked for or need. This is how the Fox Block study session included the ridiculous “street car” and how we got a paid parking pilot in downtown.

Thankfully sound minds prevailed and this nonsense was voted down by the P&R commission but expect staff to take it straight to City Council and for the complicit council to approve this payout because if there’s one thing staff IS good at it – it’s convincing the idiots on the dais that staff is too inept to do their jobs but somehow too necessary to just outsource entirely.

Maybe some day enough residents will figure out how they’re getting screwed by these incompetent asshats at City Hall and demand accountability of our “elected leaders” but don’t count on it.

Fullerton’s Nuisance Noise and The Ongoing Saga of Incompetence and Corruption. Part 5

But wait, there's more!
But wait, there’s more!

When people talk about “government circles” you can believe they mean it: some things just keep circling around and around yet, like when you have a clogged sewer liner, the circling flotsam never goes down the drain.

New in town, but he caught on quickly…

And so it is with the City of Fullerton’s hapless Community Development Department that can’t seem to adopt a plan and stick to it; that can’t be honest and straight forward; that refuses to enforce its own code; and as we shall see in this final installment, steadfastly refuses to notify the public of what it’s up to.

When I left off, I noted the odd three-month hiatus of the latest noise go-round that was once again being disguised within broader land use code update  In February 2019, the Planning Department was again convened to review the matter, after two opponents of amplified outdoor music had been conveniently removed from the Commission. By this time the new and soon to be former  Planning Director, Ted White, was directing the charge to push for the noise free-for-all, likening the impending racket to the noise blast known as Broadway Avenue in Nashville – but in a good way.

In Nashnille hearing yourself think is highly overrated, I guess…

But this time there was another problem. The hearing hadn’t been properly noticed to the public as should have been the case, particularly since the noise issue  has such an impact on the citizenry.  George and Tony Bushala lawyered up and informed the City that it had failed to notify the public about what it was doing. Mr. White declared that the downtown noise issue would be removed from the discussion that night. But it wasn’t – not entirely – as other code sections that pertained to noise slipped through.

A compliant and complaisant Council adopted the zone code changes in April, 2019.

Matt Foulkes. The downward spiral is complete.

But the story was not over, because, well, Fullerton. The bar owners still needed to be pacified and the bar still needed to be lowered. By November 2020 Ted White was gone only to be replaced by an in-house lackey named Matt Foulkes who had been part of the ongoing mess since 2015, and knew exactly which side of his toast had the butter on it.

Accountability? It was never on the agenda.

So the downtown noise mess was brought back to the council again, where lame-duck members Jennifer Fitzgerald and her puppet, Jan Flory were guaranteed yes votes. But alas, once again the City failed to properly notice the public, and this time there was no way to hide the incompetence in a broader mish-mash of code changes. So the hearing was continued until…well, who knows when? Apparently Jeremy Popoff has fled the scene to Nashville to enjoy whatever douchebaggery he can find there, and Covid has silenced DTF – for now.

Stop the noise, consarn it!

But one thing is certain. The City’s downtown creation, AKA Dick Jones “monster” will continue to suck millions in resources out of the General Fund even as the bureaucrats continue to admire the mess they did nothing to stop and continue to characterize a liability as an asset. And because of that complete disconnect with reality, they will continue to push for a noise-a-palooza – no matter how long it takes.

Fullerton’s Nuisance Noise and The Ongoing Saga of Incompetence and Corruption. Part 4

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if government bureaucracies do the things they do because of incompetence, venality, or favoritism. In the never-ending story of Fullerton’s noise regulation all three seem to be uniquely intertwined.

What is inescapable is that the City of Fullerton has striven mightily to separate the issue of nuisance noise emanating from downtown outdoor areas from both enforcement and illegality.

SlidebarMotto
A few thou here and there worked wonders…

In 2011 the ridiculous Transportation Center Specific Plan finally made it legal to propagate amplified outdoor music, thus making Jeremey Popoff’s Slidebar appear honest, although he still didn’t have a legal Conditional Use Permit. But the new regulations for noise had no more effect than Popoff’s missing CUP because the City – cops and code enforcement – refused to enforce the regulations.

A standup guy walking tall.
.

What to do? Hmm. What about throwing the issue into a miasma of bureaucratic paper shuffling so that nobody would notice what you were doing, and downtown scofflaws could actually be absolved, de jure as well as de facto?

In August, 2014 the City tried this pitch with the idea that the Noise ordinance would be updated along with great swaths of the existing land use law to make thing, you know, easier to figure out. But downtown noise played a prominent part in the discussion, if not really in the staff report. The council approved noise studies as a mechanism, a cynic might say, to avoid cracking down on Popoff, Jack Franklin’s Roscoe’s, and their ilk, because that is exactly what happened.

I’m not going to do my job and you can’t make me…

2015 rolled around and the Community Development “professionals,” led by newly minted Director Karen Haluza, were again yakking it up about revising the Code. Well, these things take time, you know, and in the late summer of 2016 the City Council finally got around to passing Ordinance 3232, a revised Code, still, with intent of instilling commonsense and clarity. The definition of amplified music was scratched out pending future action.

But whatever the motivation, the ever-shifting sands of sound gave the bureaucrats, aided and abetted by the perpetual dishonesty of City Attorney Dick Jones, the pretext they needed to bat away complaints about the illegal noise – because the issues was under study and consideration!

New in town, but he caught on quickly…

The vicious circle took yet another revolution in June of 2018 when the Council was persuaded by yet another new planning director, Ted White, to pass a Resolution of Intent to once again revise the land use codes in the interests of commonsense and clarity. Of course the Noise Ordinance and downtown noise was actually a key driver in this conversation, too. Mr. White took it upon himself to introduce a new downtown noise map where any outdoor sound would be permitted; but, the standards – 70 decibels outside and 65 decibels inside – were not to be applied to the source, but to the sensitive receptor, and the burden of proof was clearly laid at the feet of the victim, not the perpetrator of the nuisance. The bureaucracy seemed oblivious to the Armageddon of Noise they were trying to create or the sensibilities of residents adjacent to the riot zone.

The Planning Commission was finally scheduled to review the latest iteration of musical chairs in November, 2018; but the discussion was mysteriously continued for three months until February, 2019 by which time two opponents of amplified music, Nick Dunlap and Ryan Cantor had been removed from the Commission. A coincidence? Who knows? Stay tuned…

 

 

We’re All In This Together, Right?

Dunlap-Jung
Can these two help bring some accountability to Fullerton?

Or so we are led to believe. But our public employees come first, of course.

At last night’s council meeting the discussion rolled around to what to do with $34,000.000 that will be coming Fullerton’s way courtesy of the federal governments latest orgy of largesse. Fred Jung opened the discussion with an emphasis that the City’s massive infrastructure debt be addressed. That sentiment was echoed by Councilman Dunlap and Mayor Whitaker.

Then the predictable began.

Zahra OC Register Battery

Ahmad Zahra cautioned that there might be restrictions on the money of which we are unaware and not to “count our eggs.” Of course this is code for: protect our employees.

The train of thought was weak but it sure was short…

At the 5 hour and 20 minute mark, Jesus Silva raised the topic of making our employees whole for their wonderful pay reduction sacrifices during the pandemic; City Manager Domer, reminded the council that the various bargaining units had taken pay cuts with the understanding that they would be reimbursed when new revenue was discovered (Measure S passage, no doubt, or failing that more fed bailout).

https://fullerton.granicus.com/player/clip/1265?view_id=2&redirect=true

And that’s where the discussion wandered off into bureaucratic miasma with nothing resolved and no policy established. Once again the proverbial can was kicked down the road for another day.

Yet one thing is crystal clear. A public that has suffered itself tremendously over the past year, financially, psychologically, and personally is very likely to be on the hook to recompense public employees whose incomes, jobs, health insurance, and overall well-being was guaranteed (by us) throughout.

And that’s just the way it is.

 

 

Fix The Streets Damn It!

 

20. AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT UPDATE
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act which
programs over $1.9 trillion in relief funding related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Councilmember Jung requested, with concurrence from Mayor Whitaker, to hold an initial
discussion of local funding opportunities.
Recommendation:
Provide direction as appropriate

On tomorrow night’s council agenda we see that Item #20 is a discussion about what to do with the Democrat’s Federal relief dough, estimated to be in the neighborhood of $35,000,000. That’s a nice neighborhood, especially if you’re a stumblebum city manager like Ken Domer who is hanging on to quarter mil per year job by the skin of his teeth.

Domer-Decorations
Hitching to Blythe…

This pile o’ cash is undoubtedly already attracted the attention of the Hero unions who will be clamoring for equity, parity, and any other ity they can think up. And of course Domer has been complaining about his poor, overworked skeleton staff crew, too, so there’s that.

Measure S Covid Lie

I know that the bureaucrats will be applying pressure to use the money for payroll and pensions. How do we know this? Because that’s what they were pushing hard with the late and not lamented Measure S tax. We can be sure that staff will be doing the usual song and dance about what the Biden Bucks can and cannot be spent on.

Well, here’s what I say: $35,000,000 will pay for a whole lot of paving and a whole lot of sidewalk.

Dunlap-Jung
Can these two help bring some accountability to Fullerton?

It’s painfully obvious that Councilpersons Zahra and Silva will do whatever they’re told by the City Manager. Fortunately, Councilmen Dunlap and Jung know who they work for. And it isn’t the public employee unions. That leaves Mayor Bruce Whitaker who actually helped Jung get this item on the agenda for public discussion.

 

Fullerton’s Nuisance Noise and The Ongoing Saga of Incompetence and Corruption. Part 3

Okay. What have we learned so far about Fullerton’s long and corrupt attempt to avoid addressing the problem of amplified outdoor music?

I’m not going to do my job and you can’t make me…

First we have learned that Fullerton’s “experts” in the Planning and Code Enforcement divisions have been serially uninterested in enforcing their own laws in an effort to appease and placate scofflaw bars in the financial sinkhole known as downtown Fullerton.

Second we have learned that you can’t make government bureaucrats do their jobs if they don’t want to do them.

Stop the noise, consarn it!

Way back in 2009 City Hall knew it had a problem on its hands as the metastasizing and illegal clubs began sharing their good times with everybody else. A “consultant” called Bon Terra was engaged to to a noise study and the City Council, at the time, voted to maintain the existing code that prohibited outdoor music.

But saying something and doing something about it reflects a mammoth void in Fullerton, and the bureaucrats in City Hall don’t give up on an issue until one way or another, they get what they want.

Yes, that is the answer!

And in 2012 they got a friend, Jennifer Fitzgerald, who was more than happy to run interference for people who had no qualms about violating the noise and land-use law.

You can take the douche out of the bag…

And so, over the next seven years, the Noise Nuisance continued, most notably at The Slidebar, a club that was illegally operating without a CUP. And even as the nuisance continued, the City embarked on a campaign to eliminate any restrictions at all. Complaints were invariably batted away by Planning Directors Karen Haluza, Ted White, and Matt Foulkes who, along with our egregious City Attorney, Dick Jones kept citing studies and new plans, and whatever else they could use as a pretext for doing nothing.

Matt Foulkes. The downward spiral is complete.

Finally by 2019, it became apparent that the goal was to permit an acoustic free-for-all in downtown Fullerton.

 

Fullerton’s Nuisance Noise and The Ongoing Saga of Incompetence and Corruption. Part 2

Al Zelinka. Failing to the top.

In the past 10 years or so, Fullerton has had four different planning directors: Al Zelinka, Karen Haluza, Ted White, and most recently an individual named Matt Foulkes. Pop quiz: what else do these folks have in common?

Haluza. The closer you looked, the worse it got.

Time’s up. Answer: none of them enforced the city’s noise ordinances, and each seemed to be dedicated to ignoring zoning and land use regulations in downtown Fullerton. We’ll get to the “why” of it in a later post. For now I want to point out the trajectory of this mess. As scofflaws like Jeremy Popoff’s odious Slidebar and the Florentine Mob’s various enterprises refused to comply with our laws, the Planning Directors noted above began an ongoing project to lower and lower the legal bar until even the lowest nematode could wriggle over it.

Ted White didn’t leave his fingerprints…he thinks…

Now if we contemplate this downward spiral of our “experts” in the Planning Department and Code Enforcement we notice that it hit a virtual rock bottom in January 2019 when Matt Foulkes pretended that he didn’t know what a property owner was and approved the submission of an official document forged by Joe Florentine pretending that he, Florentine, was an “owner.”

Matt Foulkes. The downward spiral is complete.

Of course all of this malfeasance was amply documented here on the FFFF blog. And guess what? Nobody in City Hall cared; or to be more precise, nobody cares, still. See, in Fullerton incompetency and blatant corruption are so common on the part of our City Attorney, Dick Jones and the cadre of drunk, venal and just plain dumb City Managers and staff that our threshold for outrage is as low is almost worn away.

But not quite. Stay tuned for noise. And by noise I mean the noise generated by city staff to ignore, dilute, obfuscate and dodge the Noise Ordinances.

Fullerton’s Nuisance Noise and The Ongoing Saga of Incompetence and Corruption. Part 1

Flory in search of the proverbial yard arm.

FFFF has published lots of posts about the way in which our highly paid “experts” in City Hall have made it their business to run interference for the numerous scofflaw bar and “club” owners downtown when it comes to ignoring annoyances like Conditions of Approval and the municipal code’s Noise Ordinance.

In City Hall, doing the right thing just wasn’t gonna happen…

Both topics have been addressed in the same way: if they can, they simply ignore the situation. The blind eye approach has worked most of time. When it hasn’t, Step 2 is invoked. Step 2 is to diligently pursue making the laws laxer, so lax in fact, that the lawbreaking is no longer lawbreaking. This bureaucratic gambit is really nice because the Planning Department Staff can always claim that something is in the works that will address the situation. Of course that’s a lie. What’s really happening is that the department is trying really hard to come up with a legal absolution so low even the lowest douchebag can slither over it.

You can take the douche out of the bag…

At every step of the way, the scofflaws – Jeremy Popoff of Slidebar fame and the Florentine Mob spring most readily to mind – lubricate the gears of Fullerton’s small town political machine who have seemed ever-ready to support the law breaking.

While we here at FFFF have extensively covered the abuse of CUPs and other land use issues, the history of the ongoing issue of nuisance noise traces a perfect trajectory of incompetence or casual corruption, or most likely, of both.

The story spans three city managers, four planning directors and a whole slew of elected ciphers who would rather defend purveyors of nuisance over the right of their constituents to quiet enjoyment of their property.

 

Fullerton Dems to Light $68k on Fire

This Tuesday, at the request of the Fire Heroes Union, the Fullerton City Council will vote (likely 3-2) to light $68,000 dollars on fire to get a bid from the Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA).

What’s $68k between friends?

This is a scam and just a waste of your tax dollars.

Don’t believe the fiscal lies being told here, none of the disingenuous liars who will vote for this care about your tax dollars and they’re certainly not going to get rid of Fullerton’s Fire Department to jump to OCFA.

The entire point of this bullshit bid is leverage to justify a raise for the Fire Department. Nothing more, nothing less.

I’ll prove it by using Council’s own agenda from the exact same meeting this coming Tuesday:

When you join OCFA you typically lease all of your equipment to them at no cost and all of your fire facilities for $1/year (as Garden Grove did a few years ago).

To take this bid seriously, you would have to believe that council is SERIOUSLY considering a bid to change to OCFA and is simultaneously spending $1,546,683.30 to buy Fullerton Fire a new ladder truck that they’ll just gift to OCFA to use as they see fit.

If we went to OCFA, it is them and not us who would decide where trucks (apparatus) would be stationed in order to best serve the cities under their jurisdiction. Thus it makes zero sense for Fullerton to buy a new truck when it might not even stay in Fullerton.

These conflicting agenda items would make no logical sense if this bullshit OCFA bid was serious. But it’s not serious.

This is just the council Dems lighting your tax dollars on fire, well, because screw you, they need to help a union argue for more of your money later during negotiations. Silva, Jung and Zahra refuse to take their role as representatives of the residents seriously any time a union rears it’s ugly head and this is just another gross example.

If the Fire Heroes Union wants this bid so bad they can pay for it their damn selves considering they have no issues spending their own money to try and raise your taxes (Measure S campaigning) or to pick your City Council (campaign contributions).

Your roads suck, your services are getting more expensive and you’re constantly being asked to do more with less by City Hall and City Council. Hell, the City asked you to donate Christmas decorations this last season because they’re so broke.

Domer-Decorations
Hitching to Needles…

But not broke enough to avoid spending $65k of your money to help a union at the negotiating table.

If this bid was serious then the council would be getting bids from LA Fire and Placentia as well as OCFA. That’s how you find out the best services with the most benefits fort he residents at the best price – by shopping around. So of course they don’t want to do any of that.

Later this year when the City is selling everything not nailed down, and a few things that are, remember this moment when these disingenuous liars spent your money on political theater to help out the unions who will always put their interests above your safety.

Fullerton Planning Commission Out-Stupids Itself

Maybe they won’t notice the corruption…

The two default positions of government are corruption and stupidity but this coming week the Fullerton Planning Commission is about to engage in the latter to try and hide the former.

This week’s Planning Commission meeting, as chaired by Elizabeth Hansburg, will be spent pretending to not know what “is” is in order to try and obfuscate the fact that City Hall is acting like corrupt jackasses picking winners and losers.

Ok, so in this case the “is” in question is the phrase “property owner” but the sentiment of obfuscation by semantically playing games is the same.

Here’s the verbatim “background and analysis” from next week’s meeting:

“The City’s land use applications require completion by or authorization from the corresponding property owner”. The Fullerton Municipal Code (FMC) defines “fee owner”. Throughout the FMC, various forms of “owner” are identified as the party to file a land use application. While these terms are commonly understood to all identify the legal owner of a real property, these amendments will clarify what constitutes a property owner.”

This is just blustering bullshit because PC and City Hall got caught with their pants down while trying to violate the law in favor of a preferred business.

Never once in the history of Fullerton has the phrase “property owner” been in contention until City Hall tried to pass off a fabricated Conditional Use Permit in violation of the City’s municipal code. You can read about that particular scam [HERE] & [HERE]. Pretending to not know what words mean after the fact is what liars do to avoid accountability.

If the Planning Commission really didn’t know what “Property Owner” meant it would call into question years of decisions spanning PC and City Council. It would call into question tons of zoning, permitting and a lot of the work being done in the planning department.

None of that is being brought up in this agenda item because Planning Commission isn’t worried about any of that – precisely because they know they’re full of shit and this is a distraction.

But how do I know this isn’t honest stupidity as opposed to corrupt pretend stupidity to cover-up an attempted fraud? Because CA law supersedes the Municipal Code and CA law already clarifies who a “property owner” is and that’s the person who holds the title and pays the property taxes.

I’ll point your attention to the California Department of Real Estate’s website which gives you a nice little history [HERE] of why property has an owner in CA. But let’s just jump to page 55 to get to the meat (bold emphasis added):

OWNERSHIP OF REAL PROPERTY All property has an owner, the government – federal, state, or local— or some private party or entity (typically referred to as persons). Very broadly, an estate in real property may be owned in the following ways: 1. Sole or several ownership; 2. Joint, common, or community ownership; a. Tenancy in common; b. Joint tenancy; c. Community property; or, d. Partnership interests. 3. Ownership by other lawfully created entities. SOLE OR SEVERAL OWNERSHIP Sole or several ownership is defined to mean ownership by one person. Being the sole owner, one person enjoys the benefits of the property and is subject to the accompanying burdens, such as the payment of taxes. Subject to applicable federal and state law, a sole owner is free to dispose of property at will. Typically, only the sole owner’s signature is required on the instrument of transfer/deed of conveyance. See Civil Code Section 681.

When The Other Dick Jones™️ sided with Florentine’s asinine “legal opinion” that Florentine was entitled to bypass the law, all he did was perpetuate a fraud on behalf of City Hall.

It was never in question that Joe Florentine wasn’t the required owner needed for his Conditional Use Permit and the City knew it from day one. Why they chose to pick sides is anybody’s guess but that’s government here in Fullerton.

However – if that isn’t clear enough for the nitwits on Planning Commission let’s look at the requirements for noticing zoning and land use decisions in the Fullerton Municipal Code:

Ah. So we have to refer back to State law again. Here’s the highlighted CA Gov Code:

So the Fullerton Municipal Code says that before a public hearing, of which Chair Hansburg has participated in who knows how many in her years on Planning Commission, the city must notify people based on a State Law that defines a property owner by looking at the “equalized assessment roll” or in laymen’s terms – tax rolls.

It’s never been a question of who owns what property in Fullerton or what the Conditional Use Permit meant by “Property Owner”.

This is bullshitery and bluster to bury bureaucratic bungling. If you don’t believe me – just look at the City of Fullerton’s own Development Portal:

You can’t make up this level of disingenuous asshattery.

This is Fullerton efficiency for you. Staff’s time and several meetings will be wasted to get to the bottom of the meaning of a phrase in common usage – meanwhile nobody is being held to account for how we got to this level of stupid in the first place. If this is what we can expect from the current planning commission we’re in for a long, rough ride on the Idiot Express.