Yesterday, in a special meeting, the City of Fullerton officially bowed to the inevitable and settled its retaliatory lawsuit against Joshua Ferguson, David Curlee, and this blog. The vote was 3-2 with Bruce Whitaker, Nick Dunlap and Fred Jung voting to end the bloodletting. Jesus Quirk Silva and Ahmad Zahra, who started the lawsuit and have stubbornly kept it alive, voted no. Whether they were laboring under the sunk cost fallacy or if it was simply a childish aversion to admitting their own culpability in the mess, will never be known.
It doesn’t happen very often that honest citizens can prevail against their government. In fact it almost never happens – a tribute to the tenacity of the courageous FFFF bloggers and their attorney, Kelly Aviles.
After a year and a half of lies, defamation, obstruction, incompetence, buffoonery, temporizing, more lying and running up huge legal bills the City has given up. Here are the main points:
$60,000 in compensatory damages to Ferguson and Curlee;
A public statement absolving Ferguson and Curlee of any culpability;
Legal fees for Kelly Aviles amounting to $230,000.
The winners here are justice (deliberately stalled, to be sure) and journalistic freedom against prior restraint; and, of course, any people who want to be able to get information that their own government is legally obligated to provide.
The losers, once again, are the taxpayers of Fullerton who are on the hook for $350,000 plus how ever much the legal team of Jones and Mayer have racked up – a sum estimated to be approaching $500,000.
Well, Friends, you can add as well as I can. At least three quarters of a million bucks to pursue this hare-brained retaliation against bloggers whose only desire was to get information from their own city government.
And so it is particularly amusing to consider the stammering, babbling statement from Jesus Quirk Silva that he was voting against the settlement because of his “fiduciary responsibility” to the people of Fullerton.
Too bad the other two vindictive and profligate architects of this disaster have conveniently exited from our political stage: Jan Flory has resubmerged herself into whatever nasty swamp will have her; and our former influence peddling Mayor-for-hire, Jennifer Fitzgerald, is fleeing the state entirely, having feasted on the Fullerton carcass until there was no more meat on the bones.
You have to hand it to government bureaucracies. They never give up on stupid ideas. But why should they? With all the time in world, huge amounts of money given to them by others, and with zero accountability, what is there for them to lose?
Specifically, I am talking about an item on the May 4th Agenda, dutifully approved by the City Council, to take $1.8 million in State grant money and $330,000 in Fullerton park money to design and build what they are pleased to call The Union Pacific Trail, Phase II.
Of course we all know that Phase I was a total waste of money – a weird “equestrian trail” (complete with pony railing) that has never seen a horse, that was attached to the poisoned and fenced off UP Park that dies a merciful death at Highland Avenue.
Our crack Deputy Parks Director, some person named Alice Loya pitched the item to a less than bedazzled Council, making sure to point out that the area was disadvantaged, an irony certainly lost on City bureaucrats whose job it has been to un-disadvantage this neighborhood over the past 50 years.
Let me share a paragraph from the staff report, that, as usual, is so full of lies to rationalize the scheme that one wonders if the City staff would ever pursue this nonsense if they had to use City funds to pay for it:
The proposed project will transform an existing 50 to 80 foot wide, blighted corridor into a greenbelt trail providing alternate transportation, linking the Transportation Center and several parks, including Independence Park at its terminus. This proposed trail aligns with the Hunt Branch Library to the west, providing potential future linkages. The total cost of the project is estimated at $2.1 million.
Lie Number One: Alternative transportation? What the Hell does that even mean? Walking?
Lie Number Two: the trail would not link anything to the Transportation Center since it would terminate at a narrow sidewalk behind the Ice House that includes a 90 degree turn. And of course just a week ago, or so, our very same staff tried to sneak through an idiot scheme to cut off the UP right-of-way completely with their private event center on the Poisoned Park site.
Lie Number Three: the proposed extension does not link “several” parks. It would indeed terminate at the Independence Park parking lot but the only other “park” it would touch is the fenced off Poisoned Park that nobody even wants.
Almost as good as a lie Number Four: the proposed trail would be virtually impossible to link to the “aligned” Hunt Branch Library, nearly a mile away, because gosh darn it, the rail siding is still being used by…the railroad. But what the Hell let’s throw out the chimera of “connectivity” to fool the dopes on the City Council, right? It’s always worked just fine in the past.
Almost as good as a lie Number Five: when has the City ever built anything on time and on budget? That proposed cost would sky rocket, of course, as Fullerton’s army of staff, consultants, and design professionals hump the “greenbelt” into submission. Remember the wooden steps at Hillcrest Park and the elevator-from-Hell at the Depot?
But what wasn’t said was much more important than the propaganda ink spilled to promote this idiocy:nobody will use this “trail” since it passes through sketchy industrial zoned property, completely empty at night, and would remain, just like it is now, an attractive nuisance that the taxpayers will be on the hook to maintain out of the General Fund.
On the bright side, members of the new Council commonsense majority pointed out that Staff was already devising a top-secret Specific Plan for the area, and gee, wouldn’t it make sense not to piecemeal things like Planning Director Matt Foulkes tried to do on the ill-fated aquaponic farm/event center? They did treat the item as still very provisional, but FFFF knows better – we know that government money once available, will be spent, most likely on something nobody outside City Hall wants.
Naturally, Councilman-in-search-of-camera-opportunity, Ahmad Zahra scrounged up some of his usual misguided acolytes to beat the drum for this utter waste of $2.1 million bucks. After all, this project would be mostly paid for with “free money” of the sort “progressives” love to accept, then waste. We need look no further than the $1,000000 Core and Corridors Specific Plan, paid for by the State Sustainability Commission, that was quietly abandoned, never to see the light of day. And ironically, the old UP Right of Way passes right through the middle of two of the C&C Specific Plan Areas, suggesting to me, at lest, that the City is not, and never has been interested in the well-being of the part of Fullerton accept as something to play with.
An institution, namely our City Council, that has been moribund/and, or corrupt and cowardly for at least 40 years has finally sprouted a few darling buds, raising hopes that our future is no longer simply a matter of waiting for mental and moral entropy to render our city into a puddle of putrification.
Well, what happened? you ask. Last night the City Council pronounced a loud no to bureaucracy- driven nonsense. Let me explain.
Yesterday evening the Council took up the matter, again, of extending an “Exclusive Negotiating Agreement” or ENR, with some guy who wanted to put a non-profit aquaponic farm on the site of our embarrassingly fenced off Union Pacific Park on Truslow Avenue. The biggest trouble (among many) was that this type of venture is thoroughly dependent upon the financial kindness of strangers and can’t possibly sustain itself.
No problem there! said our Planning Director and incoherent word salad shooter, Matt Foulkes. The aquaponic farm shall be surrounded by a fence and a hedge, and a private event center to pay for it all! In true staff fashion a last minute “letter of intent” from an event coordinator was offered up yesterday afternoon to show the marvelous potential of converting a park into a private facility – open now and then to the public – at the convenience of the operator.
Councilman Ahmad Zahra was in fine fettle – drumming up a handful of forlornly ignorant boosters; and his hapless colleague Jesus Silva stammered and stuttered support for this nonsense as well as his limited ability permits. He moved for an extension of the agreement
But then the fun started: several speakers pointed out both the idiocy of making a deal with a single, impecunious guy. Other pointed out the hypocrisy and nonsense of permitting an event facility that has no parking.
Mayor Bruce Whitaker cogently and patiently explained his rationale for offering a substitute motion to end the deal then and there: the park is part of a much larger Specific Plan area being developed (behind closed doors) and it made no sense to pursue piecemeal development with a single individual on the 1.7 acre site.
Councilman Nick Dunlap echoed that idea and observed, kindly, that the aquaponic guy already had 18 months to work something out with nothing to show for it. Like Whitaker he suggested an RFP process to determine ideas for the site.
Finally Councilman Fred Jung unloaded on the hot mess, decrying the City’s inability to address the park over the years and the arrogance of city staff thinking it could determine what was best for “the community.”
In the end Whitaker’s substitute motion carried the day 3-2 with Zahra and Silva trying desperately to defend the honor, competence and integrity of a planning staff that hasn’t got any of those qualities.
Former OC 4th District candidate for Supervisor, Coto Joe Kerr, has decided his latest campaign for Supervisor needed a little more clarity. Maybe this was because his website failed to indicate which of the seats he was going for this time. This announcement identifies his target: the 5th DIstrict.
Hmm. Former Fullerton Councilcreature for Hire, Jennifer Fitzgerald, may be getting out of Dodge. Word out and about is that Jennifer Fitzgerald wants to move. Out of Fullerton? I don’t know.
I’m sure not complaining about it, I’m hardly even wondering why.
During Jen’s 8-year career driving Fullerton to the precipice of insolvency and immanent infrastructure collapse, she made it pretty clear that she was in it for whatever she could get out of it for herself, her campaign supporters and her boss, lobbyist Curt Pringle. Her last, desperate flail at influence peddling occurred in last fall’s election when her puppet candidate, Andrew Cho, dredged from the obscure depths of anonymity, was defeated by Fred Jung,
Now there are only two candidates willing to be “influenced” Fitzgerald: Jesus Quirk Silva and Ahmad Zahra. And the latter may soon have his legal troubles advertised for his constituents to peruse.
So maybe Fitzy figures it’s time to abandon the smoking wreckage she masterminded courtesy of two utterly incompetent but willing co-conspirators – Joe Felz and Ken Domer.
I get quite a lot of pushback from people around town for picking on District 5 Council member Ahmad Zahra. Leaving out the partisan hacks, the biggest pushback I get is from people who, naively, genuinely believe that he puts in the work and cares about their interests. The single biggest issue of contention from these fine well meaning folk is Fullerton’s water. Constantly we hear about how much Zahra cares about the quality of our water. After all, his caring was the key reason people bemoaned his not being re-appointed to the Orange County Water District (OCWD).
The evidence of his caring most commonly referenced are usually the articles he wrote for the Fullerton Observer on water. Such as HERE and HERE and HERE.
But what if I told you that he only cares so long as somebody else is doing the heavy lifting and/or thinking for him?
The truth is that Ahmad Zahra, like many politicians, wants you to believe that he does the homework because he cares about you, while in reality he’s nothing more than a puppet.
Here are those three Fullerton Observer articles “by” Ahmad Zahra side-by-side with the original counterparts as written by a spokeshole for the OCWD:
Recently said spokeshole retired from OCWD which means you can expect the quality of Zahra’s “writing” to change as well.
Why do I care about this ghostwriting?
First of all it’s because he’s pretending that this is his work as evidenced by the “By Ahmad Zahra” byline over at Press Release Central, the Fullerton Observer.
Second, it’s because it shows who Zahra was really working for while over at OCWD. His job as Fullerton’s Representative at OCWD was to represent Fullerton’s interests – the interests of we residents – but somehow he decided that instead he would represent the interests of OCWD going so far as to pass off their PR as his own ideas and work.
Like most dishonest puppets in government he forgot the very role he promised the people he would do while chasing the gravy that was his $40k+/year stipend from OCWD.
I didn’t expect anything else from this peacocking faux-pontificator but many people around town took him seriously that he was serious and that’s why this matters.
The best defense for Zahra here is that he had somebody rewrite OCWD’s work just enough to not be straight up ghost-writing. Even he knew that he had to make the PR look a little less PR-ey to get passed the “eagle eyes” over at the Observer who only publish City Hall’s propaganda without question.
Perhaps one of the saddest things is people actually believe that Zahra isn’t your typical politician because he checked all the right boxes and said all the right things. He claims he is so different and he really cares, but at the end of the day, he’s just as much the same bought and paid for crony who needs a PR rep to write his own words for him.
The hacks over at the Los Angeles Times are super concerned that Adan Ortega was removed from his non-paying gig as Fullerton’s representative to the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) because he’s a champion of the working classes or some shit. I don’t know, I lost interest in their most recent #MeToo story when I remembered that Fullerton City Council member Ahmad Zahra has been charged with battery against a woman of color and the LA Times has said precisely ZERO about the story.
Their interest in such topics tend to have a very partisan flavor and it’s both predictable and boring.
Because of course they did, the LAT omitted that Ortega is a racist because he’s the fashionable type of racist that the LAT employs and endorses. They also omitted that he’s a grifter who quite literally is a lobbyist in the municipal water industry and therefore is logically conflicted out of putting the residents of Fullerton first in his now former position on the MWD.
Gee, it’s almost like there were good reasons to replace Mr. Ortega outside of the claims being made by the local union hacks. I could point to his $5000/mo consulting gig over in 29 Palms (Page 70) or perhaps that MWD was even a client of his but that would be journalism.
Sadly the press was too busy reprinting the talking points of Ortega’s allies to get into the details of a basic google search.
Because of their tedious brand of hackery, the press, largely, should not be taken seriously or at face value until they either admit their biases or start acting like honest reporters. A good place to start would be to report about the news as it relates to ALL elected officials as opposed to just those accused of wrongthink.
By way of example they could avoid talking, relentlessly, about Tito Ortiz not wearing a mask because of the dangers of Covid-19 while simultaneously ignoring that Ahmad Zahra violated social distancing guidelines in order to, allegedly, batter a women of color. Unless of course he allegedly battered her from 6 feet away.
But of course this won’t happen because journalism is thinly veiled activism and almost nobody wants to agitate against their own allies. They don’t want to lose out on an invite to the socially distanced soirees.
This isn’t an issue isolated to the wasteland of Los Angeles either.
ALL of the other major outlets, both in print and on Tv, who couldn’t get enough of Tito are guilty of the same partisan hackery. The OC Register, to their credit, ran a puff piece talking about how stunning and brave and bravely stunning Zahra is in reference to his being charged with battery but the rest of the gang have been nowhere to be seen. I expected better from the Voice of OC but alas they too have fallen victim to this consensus of reporting conformity.
While City Hall continues to attack us in the courts and pretend we’re not journalists, I’d like you to remember that we’re the ONLY local source willing to upset the status quo to tell you the truth whether you want to hear it or not.
Last night the City Council voted to appoint Bruce Whitaker To the OC Water District Board of Directors. The term of the previous incumbent, Ahmad Zahra had expired at the end of 2020.
The vote was 3-1-1, with Whitaker, Jung and Dunlap voting for Whitaker; Zahra nominated and voted for himself; Jesus Silva decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and abstained.
It was not for lack of trying to keep this paying gig that Zahra relinquished his job. No, Indeed, for a line of scripted commenters tried valiantly to praise Zahra to the Heavens, why, Good God! The man practically invented water!
The funniest commenter was none other than Fullerton’s Mistress of Disaster, Jan Flory, who joined in to share in the hosannas for Zahra. She read her script okay, but it included her statement that Zahra had actually authored articles about water,,,for the Fullerton Observer.
Whitaker was clearly the better choice. The water board has jurisdiction over the aquafer on which we sit. The district has massive financial reserves paid by us in ad valorem taxes. And in the past decade the OCWD has been at the center of a massive rip-off called Poseidon, a desalinization scam meant to provide more water to OC county for the purposes of south county development.
Unlike Zahra, Whitaker will not posture on the board for publicity and to be able to pretend some imagined expertise. He won’t use the agency to promote his own agenda and his own political prospects. And Whitaker is not currently charged with crimes by his own police department; nor is he under threat of recall by his district constituents.
Jesse La Tour over at the Fullerton Observer saw our post and went and asked Ahmad Zahra for a response to the pending charges against him for battery and vandalism. Check out his response:
When asked for a statement from the Observer, Zahra wrote via e-mail, “I deny each and every allegation and am innocent of the charges. I am confident that the truth will come out and expect to be fully exonerated.”
Notice how he doesn’t bother to actually explain anything or offer any defense. This is a typical strategy for politicians who expect you to forget about something while they wheel and deal to make the charges against them disappear down the memoryhole.
The problem here is that this isn’t a he-said/she-said problem – this is an actual arrest by a Fullerton Police Officer and charges filed by the District Attorney.
For Zahra to be innocent of the charges it means that the arresting officer, one Officer Brayley, falsified a police report and the District Attorney filed false charges.
Zahra’s implied allegations are very serious from a sitting Fullerton City Council member and deserve to be investigated. Do we have rogue officers arresting innocent people in Fullerton? Is our District Attorney filing charges which contradict the truth?
We deserve to know.
In the words of Fullerton City Council member Ahmad Zahra himself, as captured by The Fullerton Rag:
“I want you to know that YOUR City, YOUR Chief and YOUR Police Department are committed to accountability, and transparency, and the highest safety standards.”
Let’s see some accountability. Let’s see some transparency. Let’s make sure our officers aren’t arresting innocent people and smearing members of our city. We call on Fullerton PD to release the body camera footage immediately.
Fullerton Council member and wannabe Mayor Pro-Tem Ahmad Zahra has been charged with battery & vandalism here in Fullerton.
You can find a copy of the complaint as filed by the Orange County District Attorney [HERE]. The counts are as follows (emphasis in original):
“Count 1: On or about September 20, 2020, in violation of Sections 594(a) / (b) (2) (A) of the Penal Code (VANDALISM UNDER $400), a MISDEMEANOR, AHMAD ZAHRA did maliciously and unlawfully deface with graffiti and other inscribed material, damage, and destroy CELL PHONE, real and personal property belonging to MONICA F, in an amount less than four hundred dollars ($400).
“COUNT 2: On or about September 20, 2020, in violation of Section 242 of the Penal Code, (BATTERY), a MISDEMEANOR, AHMAD ZAHRA, did willfully and unlawfully use force and violence upon the person of MONICA F.”
The incidents appear to have taken place on 20 September 2020 with nary a word from anybody at City Hall to the public. It looks like Fullerton is once again up to their old Joe Felz & Chief Hendricks tricks.
Before anybody question is there is perhaps ANOTHER Ahmad Zahra being charged, here’s the incident log from Fullerton PD (with Ahmad’s address redacted by me):
Here is the case detail should you want to confirm it yourself with an OC Courts Criminal Case search:
He was arrested for assault but charged with battery as seen in the arrest report versus the criminal complaint filed by the DA.
The arresting officer put “240” which is:
240. An assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with a present ability, to commit a violent injury on the person of another.
The Courts have him charged with “242” which is:
242. A battery is any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.
When Zahra was whining and preening that he deserved to be Mayor Pro-Tem he was lying by omission and not telling you that he was, AT THAT VERY MOMENT, facing charges for battery and ticketed with vandalism in what looks like a possible domestic violence crime.
Seems that Zahra was sanctimoniously complaining about what he himself called a “ceremonial” position all the while hoping you wouldn’t find out about his apparent criminal conduct.
We’ll continue to follow this story as it develops. If nothing else it should be interesting to see which OC Dems run to Zahra’s defense or if they’ll stay quiet while hoping, just like with everything else that smears their team, if they ignore it long enough maybe it will just go away and inconvenient victims, including #YesAllWomen, be damned.
If we’re lucky we might get a patented CA (D) “I made a bad mistake, I should have stood up and … drove back to my house” or maybe the “I was set up” defense. Who knows, maybe those are only reserved for the higher-ups in the party.