Tag Archives: Balanced Budget

Felz Larger

More of Felz’s Accounting Manipulation

Felz Larger
For a long time we had inklings and heard rumors that former City Manager Joe Felz monkeyed with the accounting around City Hall and fudged as much as possible while pretending, with the likes of Jennifer Fitzgerald that our budget was “balanced”. It was plainly obvious when the Redevelopment Agency was shuttered by State law and yet nobody lost a job that Felz’s priorities were not with fiscal restraint. It was just as obvious when nobody on City Council questioned it that he was bound to keep on keeping on.

So now we have a new small example of how Felz and everybody down the food chain ran our city (emphasis in original):

Kevin City Council Meetings

“Years ago after the Kelly Thomas incident, Joe had authorized a part-time parks & rec employee to hang around in the lobby during Council meetings for (I’m assuming) crowd control or some type of assistance.  I just found out today that these employees’ time, averaging 5 hours per Council night, is being charged to Public Works landscaping, apparently because Joe thought that budget had money???? (not).  Public Works has finally gotten wind of it and says no more, which I absolutely agree with.  Either this coverage should cease, or it should be charged to the City Council’s budget (for which there is absolutely no room).

Please provide direction to affected parties as appropriate.”

While this looks like small potatoes, it goes to the ethics and opaque way Fullerton’s finances were run and the willful ignorance on the part of council.  This payroll game is another case of something which ran for literal years before somebody found it by accident at which point the “Oh shit do something” brigade started worrying about details they long ignored.

If payroll for employees is buried in the wrong departments what other money is being used inappropriately around City Hall?

Don’t expect our City Manager to explain how this problem ran for so long and who is being held to account or for our City Council to ask any tough questions or to even address this or any similar issues. That would be out of character and would require them to be open, honest and accountable.

Fullerton Police Challenge coins

Fullerton Brass Thought Money Was No Object

FPD Badge

Back in April of 2017 we wrote a piece about FPD giving taxpayers the middle finger regarding spending cuts within the department. During budget meetings the Police Department offered the PR outfit “Behind the Badge” up for tribute in their paltry cost savings plan and that was pretty much it.

For context, during this time it was mentioned that the police department burned through over $1Million a year in overtime (OT) pay.

FPD OT

What most people didn’t know, hilariously, is that the Chief of Police himself didn’t know how that money was being spent (emphasis added):

Hendricks OT

“I can be made aware I am spending a lot of money in overtime, but a detailed accounting of that overtime is not available.  We have codes for court overtime but, to my understanding, that is all.  If the OT was spent to maintain minimum staffing I do not know.  If the OT was due to a community event I do not know.  If the OT was due to extended shift overtime I do not know.

That is from the former Chief of Police himself. If Overtime was due to a community event, minimum staffing or extended shift OT he didn’t know.

Let that sink in for a minute.

The Chief of Police didn’t (and likely doesn’t still) know how OT was being used in his own department. And this went on for literal years before Hendricks got here.

Chief_Hendricks_Headshot_Photo-1[1]

This is where I give former Chief Hendricks some praise for at least in one aspect attempting to right a ship that the council, city manager and former Chiefs had let float adrift. Let us not forget that the officers who took the OT never brought it up or questioned it as they were perfectly happy to ride the OT gravy-train into Fullerton’s fiscal ruin.

But wait, there’s MORE! Not only was the Chief unaware of how OT was being spent, we were also burning through OT as standard operating procedure (emphasis added):

Hendricks No Object

“In the last six years following KT’s death, ALL community events and requests were taken on and a large number of them were done on overtime.  This was the case up until I got here.  I was unaware the marching orders were “do everything and money is no object” until literally last week.  In the prior months, I had used personal discernment to tell Community Services to say “no” to some things and, instead to offer an on duty Watch Commander or  a beat cop or sergeant to simply swing by and say hi.  No exaggeration, if someone asked for a PD display of canines, SWAT and all their equipment etc., we gave it to them.  Most of those things happened on the weekend and many of the individuals responding did so on overtime.”

The mentality was “do everything and money is no object” for 6 years until Hendricks put a stop to it. This was likely a Dan Hughes and/or Joe Felz thing that just sat uncontested by our lazy, incompetent and/or corrupt city staff and council because the idea that the council didn’t know about it is laughable. The only way they didn’t know about this is because willful ignorance is bliss in council chambers and feigning ignorance works too well with low information voters.

If nothing else this shows a complete lack of budgetary seriousness for at least six years from our City Councils, City Managers, HR Director and Police Chiefs in that time. You can’t seriously talk about balancing a budget and being conscious of costs when you have standing orders that “money is no object” and your Chief of Police is ignorant of how the money in a $1Million+ budgetary item is being allocated and spent.

Fish This: Burning the Budget

Some things in life are perfectly predicable.  Things like physics and math.  They’re not really that difficult to understand, but some people in our society are a little slower than others.

For example, next week there will be idiots who put a frozen turkey into a vat of hot liquid fat because #Merica.  Despite many public service announcements to the contrary, stupidity will have its unavoidable and predicable consequences.

Tonight Fullertonians will miss out on the discussion taking place behind closed doors at City Hall concerning the state of the city’s budget.  Voters won’t get to hear about the new contract negotiations designed to help the massive multi-million dollar structural deficit, the $100,000,000 in deferred infrastructure maintenance, or the equally massive unfunded pension debt.  Instead, we’ll get a null report from The Other Dick Jones ™, and the facade of all being well will continue into this year’s planned First Night festivities.

Like so many idiots with a tank of propane, recent City Councils had fair warning of the current financial crisis.  The math just isn’t that hard to understand.  Every year, every single year, since each of their elections, Fullerton has spent more from the general fund than it has taken in.  Tens of millions of dollars in reserves have evaporated.  *POOF* gone, without a trace.

At the current rate, Fullerton may be bankrupt in two years.

This Thanksgiving, while you’re enjoying your non-idiot prepared bird, I want you to remember tonight’s secret city council meeting.  I also want you to remember a meeting held just last year.

Just last year, the council authorized the largest pay raises for staff in a decade.

“The budget is balanced!” — Jennifer Fitzgerald

“Fullerton is in excellent financial shape!’ — Jan Flory

Well, the math simply doesn’t lie.  The budget was not balanced and the city was not in excellent financial shape.  Jen and Jan dunked their frozen bird and lambasted all the chronic malcontents who protested their fine stewardship.

*POOF*

Like that, Joe Felz hit a tree, and their financial bird exploded, the raging predictable disaster apparent for all to see.

Tonight the Fullerton City Council will likely authorize reducing pay and benefits for city employees, just in time for the holidays.  When this is over, some employees will have their salaries reduced or their hours cut.  Others will simply lose their jobs.  Many of those individuals are good people who do good work. This isn’t their fault, but it will be their house that gets burned down and it will be their life that gets ruined.

Now Jen and Jan, two of those responsible for dunking this turkey?  Don’t worry.  They’ll be fine.  Jen just gave herself a $9000 raise and Jan retired.

Seems just, don’t you think?

Fitzgerald’s 5 Year Deception

https://youtu.be/69Wp9PSn_S8

At last night’s Fullerton City Council meeting (21 March 2017) I spoke on Agenda Item 3 regarding budget strategies. Amongst other comments I asked for clarification on what was meant by “Structural Deficit” considering that both Fitzgerald and former Councilwoman Jan Flory constantly claimed we have/had a balanced budget. I asked what changed overnight to take us from a balanced budget on 08 November 2016 into a “Structural deficit” today.

Structural Deficit Evidence

What I got regarding an answer was Councilwoman Fitzgerald dodging the question and blaming Sacramento and the CalPERS rate change. And I quote:

“And I will go ahead and answer the question that was brought up over balanced budgets and what happened overnight and I will tell you, I mean, for former Council member Flory and I, when we talked about balanced budgets. Our 5 year projections, every year showed a balanced budget and what happened overnight is CalPERS decreased the amount of returns that they assumed that we were going to receive. So, that is what happened to those 5 year projections to change them.”

There’s a lot to unpack so strap in kiddos.

Continue reading

The Desperation Has Arrived

In case you weren’t already convinced, Tuesday’s study session agenda provides ample evidence that Jennifer Fitzgerald lied when she said Fullerton has a balanced budget.  She also boasted during her campaign that Fullerton, unlike other cities, didn’t have special sales taxes because we manage our finances (better).  Short of widespread cuts citywide, that scenario — city sales taxes — looks to be nearly inevitable in the near future:

While not part of the public budget workshop, the City Council will confer in Closed Session beforehand about the (likely) sale of 15 City-owned parcels across town:

The City never provides more than a parcel number, so I’ve taken the liberty of capturing a screen shot of each parcel from the county’s GIS viewer and added a brief description.

After all, these are public assets.  We deserve to know which parcels of public land City Hall is seeking to dispose of.

 

Hunt Branch Library — parcels 030-290-16 and 030-290-21

Continue reading

The Slow Drip of Deficit Spending – Part 1 of an Endless Series

The Mayor likes to say that we have a “Balanced Budget” and that we’re making great strides on our roads, parks, et cetera. All of this in spite of closing the Hunt Branch Library, having rundown parks and having to beg, borrow and steal from our City reserves every year to keep the lights on. Why?

Oh, because we send people to Canada. That’s one reason why.

canada1

canada2

We sent five people to Canada because apparently PowerPoint, Video Conferencing and YouTube don’t cost the taxpayers enough money.

As far as we can tell the City of Fullerton sent Anthony J. Bogart (Police Sergeant), Cesar A. Navarro (Lead Police Dispatcher)m Julie A. Langstaff (Police Technical Services Manager), Christopher J. Overtoom (Information Systems Assistant) & Helen M. Hall (Information Technology Manager) to a conference in Ontario about “Thinking Forward” in policing. But hey, at least according to the agenda they got to attend a Curling Bonspiel on our dime so it wasn’t a total waste of money.

current_conference_agenda

Stay tuned as we show off some more bang that we’re getting for our collective bucks.