By now the Friends are well-aware of the attempt by Joe Florentine, the scofflaw proprietor of a restaurant and bar in downtown Fullerton, to fraudulently alter and submit official documents in pursuit of a Conditional Use Permit.
He even admitted it.
Reliable sources have indicated that a criminal investigation has been opened by the Fullerton Police Department based on a complaint filed by the property owner, Mario Marovic, and passed along to the District Attorney’s office.
Now the felonious miscreance of a Fullerton Florentine family member is about as newsworthy as a mailman bitten by a dog – no surprise there. Rather, the key facts of interest in this case are that Mr. Florentine had lots of help inside City Hall, including the Planning Director, the City Manager, and of course our top-notch City Attorney, Dick Jones, who finally had to recuse himself from dispensing laughable advice due to a conflict of interest.
Apparently, City Manager Ken Domer knew exactly what was happening and was determined to proceed with the fraud anyway.
It’s hard not to believe that some fall out from this conspiracy will land in the proximity of new Councilmembers Fred Jung and Nick Dunlap, who will certainly be averse to the radioactivity. The City Manager is already on the thinnest of ice after blowing $130,000 on a marginally legal PR campaign to promote Measure S, and then unsuccessfully trying to spend another 90 grand just before Christmas to hire an expert to try to fix the budget shortfall. City Managers are protected by contract but there is no contractual protection for a person who has violated the law. Will we soon be hiring a management search firm?
As always, Jones and Meyer are likewise compromised by their corrupt and incompetent and self-serving practices. But Dick Jones, like Talleyrand, always seems to be able to keep his head on his shoulders despite all the revolutions.
And what was the role of Mayor-for-hire Jennifer Fitzgerald, who was the evident and malignant influence around so much of the Fullerton’s recent mismanagement and the cover-ups that inevitably followed? It’s difficult to believe that she wasn’t pushing this through for the benefit of her pals, the Florentines.
Finally, if in fact, City leaders are found culpable in this conspiracy to commit fraud, what is the legal exposure to the taxpayers of Fullerton for both the legal costs incurred by the property owner in the case, and for other damages he may have suffered?
As FFFF learns more about the status of the case we will certainly share it. City Hall probably won’t.
It’s been 11 months and we still don’t have any answers, let alone accountability, over the forgery committed on behalf of the Florentine family with the apparent blessing of City staff.
For those new to this story, a fraudulent Conditional Use Permit “Master Application Form” was illegally modified to allow a tenet, Joe Florentine, to change the property rights of a property owned by somebody else.
When this story first came up, Dick Jones of Jones & Mayer, the City Attorney tried to run cover for the fraud by claiming that Florentine had standing to make changes to the property rights based on an old non-relevant case in San Francisco. What the City Attorney didn’t answer, and nobody on City staff has managed to explain to date, is why the City aided and abetted fraud and forgery?
Irrespective of the alleged ability of Florentine to request changes to his permitting, he didn’t have the right to falsify or forge a document.
115 (a) Every person who knowingly procures or offers any false or forged instrument to be filed, registered, or recorded in any public office within this state, which instrument, if genuine, might be filed, registered, or recorded under any law of this state or of the United States, is guilty of a felony.
We know that the Master Application Form was falsified, there is no question on that front. The area for the “Signature of Property Owner” was illegally replaced with “Signature of Applicant/Use Owner”. (more…)
My latest essay detailed the problem of corporate inertia and described how Fullerton’s government as a corporate body displays all the problems associated with stagnation, ossification and an inability do things any differently. And then of course, there’s the arrogance and secretiveness.
Here’s a prime example of a culture that is in need of electric shock therapy.
Last April I wrote a post about how the the City and property owner Mr. Mario Marovic had come to an agreement in the fall of 2022 about the latter’s removal of the infamous Florentine hijack of the sidewalk on Commonwealth Avenue. In return, Marovic got to open his two new saloons on the corner.
We now know what a foolish bargain it was for the City.
Marovic was supposed to start demolition the last week in March. That was five and a half months ago. As of mid-September this has not started, and there is no sign that it will ever start. Why not?
Some people may suspect that Mr. Marovic has cast his bread upon the City Council water, so to speak, either above or below the table. But there is also a more likely scenario: the City is simply continuing to cover up its own incompetence in the long, sad history of the sidewalk theft.
And at the center of this tale? City Attorney Dick Jones, who is the only player who has been involved in this mess from the proverbial Day One, and who continues, no doubt, to dispense his legal wisdom that has been so disastrous, and has included turning a blind eye to his own conflict of interest, and justifying forgery of an official City application.
There’s also a bigger picture.
The government of Fullerton has developed a noxious habit of ignoring its own rules and regulations in the downtown area; it has systematically ignored the scofflaws who own the bars, and in fact has coddled and pampered them. Both bureaucrats and elected have continued to portray downtown Fullerton as an achievement, a great success, a municipal asset, when in fact, the saloon culture has never been anything but an annual $1.5 million drain on the City’s budget.
Of course the pages of FFFF are full of stories that confirm the nature of the stasis that defines our city’s governance. What is the solution? That’s the theme of a future post.
It’s true that the gears of justice grind slowly and no where is that more true than in the case of the Florentine forgery. You remember that, right? Joe Florentine, proprietor of the family amalgamation of restaurants on the corner of Harbor and Commonwealth deliberately altered an official planning document so that he could pursue the Conditional Use Permit that he had never bothered to get. That was in January 2020.
The document was changed to make it look like Florentine was the owner of the property simply because he had a business there. His specious legal theory was backed up by City Attorney Dick Jones, who had his own conflict of interest in the matter and never should have been involved in the first place.
To their credit, the Planning Commission refused to deal with the matter and the application was dropped. But the forgery was not forgotten, as desired.
The real owner of the building, Mario Marovic became involved in a lawsuit with the City over this complicity by both the City Attorney and the City staff – most notably City Manager Ken Domer and Planning Director Matt Foulkes. When that case was settled to Mr. Marovic’s satisfaction ($25,000 courtesy of you and me) he proceeded to file a criminal complaint with the Fullerton Police Department.
That was over eight months ago.
Finally, we hear from folks at City Hall that the case is finally making its way to the District Attorney. Why it has taken the sleuths at the FPD almost nine months to refer this case to the DA can only be explained by a reluctance of the cops to make their compadre public employees look bad. The evidence was right there, on video. The perp admitted what he had done. A blind man could have processed this thing expeditiously. Well, fair is fair, I guess, and Fullerton’s City Managers have never once said or done anything to correct the rampant corruption in the police department.
Well, the hapless boob Domer is gone, kicked out after several years of gross incompetence and mismanagement; Foulkes fled to Buena Park – a step down – but presumably a step ahead of the axe. Both should be damn glad this issue hasn’t come up sooner because both were complicit in the forgery – and that in itself is a felony.
The Word out of City Hall is that the “Community Development” Director, Matt Foulkes, is hitting the road. All the way to neighboring Buena Park, a city half the size of Fullerton. This is not a lateral move.
Foulkes no doubt saw the proverbial handwriting on the wall and realized the long, long era of incompetence and no accountability in the Fullerton planning process was over.
The last straw may have been his ass-backward proposal to convert a park into a private event center masquerading as a aquaponic farm.
But Foulkes was by no means simply in over his head. He was part of The Fitzgerald and Domer team that deliberately ignored code enforcement downtown and who actually looked the other way when Joe Florentine forged an official city application document. And then there was the documented theft of the “Fullerton Rail District” name for his own secret plan that envisaged stack n’ pack housing to appease his SCAG overlords, and of course, the now-departed lobbyist, Jennifer Fitzgerald.
Maybe the next Director will be somebody capable of explaining things without a long string of jargon, nonsense and outright lies. It seems unlikely, but the Friends can always hope.
My human Friends have learned that your former Mayor-for-hire, and the best bestie of my former mistress, Jennifer Fitzgerald, is jumping ship from the Fullerton boat of which she spent years drilling holes in the bottom. But before she skips town she has planned at least one last scam to separate the gullible bipeds from their dough. This borders on some sort of abuse, and believe you me, I know a lot about abuse!
Can you please repeat that? Hard to believe any of you humans would pay a hydrant pee to listen to Fitzgerald opine on any subject, but this topic is so funny that it’s even funny up here in doggie heaven.
What qualities make a good city manager? Well, let’s ask.
How about refusing to reform a criminal enterprise known as the FPD?
How about letting millions of gallons of expensive MWD water leak out of Laguna Lake with zero accountability?
How about years of unbalanced budgets leading to the brink of fiscal disaster?
How about serial neglect of the city fragile infrastructure?
How about getting drunk and running over a tree, and then trying to drive off?
How about covering up a Parks N’ Rec vehicle crash?
How about turning a blind eye to serial code violations?
How about continuing to foster the myth that downtown Fullerton is some sort of financial asset?
How about turning a blind eye to forgery of official city documents?
How about stonewalling on required release of public documents?
How about wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on crony “consultants”?
How about mismanaging construction projects as simple as wooden stairs and elevator additions?
How about enabling vanity projects like unused ceremonial bridges and dry duck ponds?
How about wasting a million dollars in state money on an idiotic and unpopular Specific Plan?
How about acceding to the demands of regional agencies for housing demands?
How about developing an entire Specific Plan behind everybody’s back – except the housing bureaucrats and do-gooders?
Arf! That’s only some of the stuff I can remember happening under the watch of Fitzgerald’s two city managers – the drunken stumblebum, Joe Felz, and the equally incompetent, likely sober, Ken Domer, neither of whom could run a dog kennel, as well I know.
For Jennifer Fitzgerald the only skill that mattered from a city manager was to accommodate her desires, desires that often as not ended up costing the citizens and taxpayers of Fullerton one way or another. She was a “master” all right. A master of manipulating a feeble system of political hacks and corruptible bureaucrats.
Hopefully some female human attending this gathering will be smart enough to ask some of the specifics of Fullerton’s city management disasters, but I doubt it.
Late yesterday afternoon the City of Fullerton announced that City Manager Ken Domer is quitting. Observers have noted a growing dissatisfaction by a majority of the council with Domer’s lack of management ability.
The City press release quotes Domer, thus: “I really can’t stay any longer. It used to be so easy to do the things I do, in the way I do them. Now I have to try to answer embarrassing questions all the time. It’s not supposed to work like that.”
Most recently Domer tried to get the council to go along with privatizing the business registration function – a move that would actually cost the City money, and, by relocating an existing employee, maintain the current employee headcount. This item was rejected by the City Council in a 3-2 vote, now a familiar trend.
In the press release, Domer continues: “I will always value my four years in Fullerton. Working with Jennifer Fitzgerald and Jan Flory was so rewarding for me. And I mean that literally. And of course Jesus Quirk Silva and Ahmad Zahra always had my back, and I had theirs.”
In his brief tenure as City Manager Domer will be remembered for unbalanced budgets, a failed sales tax scam, crumbling infrastructure, lack of code enforcement, bending over backward for downtown bar scofflaws, ridiculous vanity construction projects and many other accomplishments. But he may be best remembered for the City’s reckless lawsuit against this very blog, and the incredibly corrupt decision to approve Joe Florentine’s forgery of an official city planning document.
When reached for comment, former councilperson Jennifer Fixgerald noted, “Ken Domer is a real treasure; a pleasure to work with; worth his weight in gold.”
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:
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.
Well, now that the names of those receiving Trump Bucks as part of the Great Federal Covid Giveaway 2020 have been published, we here at FFFF thought we’d see if we could dig up some local recipients of government welfare, you know, just to see if we knew any names on the list.
So our City Attorney has fallen on hard times and lined up for a bailout. I really wonder if this is the sort of “business” anybody envisioned when the light bulb went on. Jones has made a fortune dispensing bad advice to cities across Southern California and here in Fullerton he has made a name for himself by suing honest citizens to hide his own errors. On one issue alone, Jones managed to cock up the law, participate in a conflict of interest, and support the forgery of public documents