Former City Manager Chris Meyer Shares Wisdom; Recipients Underwhelmed

You supply the caption…

Our new city council members recently received this unsolicited e-mail from former City Manager Chris Meyer:

Council Members, you might want to consider the attached article from Oakland on police commissions/ oversight, before you decide how you want to proceed.  It is very instructive on the challenges you may face.  Since the procedures for disciplinary action for police officers are embodied in their labor contract (which is subject the collective bargaining process under MMB, PERB; and other State laws, as well as long established city policy), and since the current contract with the optional extension, doesn’t expire until 2014, an oversight commission would be a ineffective, and generally useless until a new contract was mutually agreed upon, or imposed unilaterally on the POA.

Instead, you may want to focus on appointing a permanent Chief of Police for the time being, and see if the problems can be resolved that way.  As to the Council appointing a Chief of Police, go ahead and give it a try.  It will be interesting to see how the Chief interfaces with the Council, and implements both your individual, and collective agendas. You might want to ask Shawn, Sharon, or Pam what the closed session discussion was like when the most recent Chief was selected.  You will note that in the City Manager Ordinance, that the CM is required to consult with the Council on the selection of the Chief. That means that at least three Council Members need to concur with the CM’s recommendation in order for it to happen, unless of course the CM is planning on looking for a new job. For all practical purposes at least four members of the Council need to concur, as no Chief candidate will take a job on a 3/2 vote.The Council also interviews the final three candidates for the job, and can direct the appointment. Generally the CM can work with any of the top three, so the selection is responsive to the Councils direction, and desires.  Finally, ask yourself this question?  Do you want to be responsible for the Chief’s actions.  Remember that will require you to fall on your collective swords, as well as the Chief, if something like Kelly happens again. And, just a reminder, the Chief gets POBAR protection, and presumptive clause protection for medical conditions related to the incident, or the job, so you would be gone long before he, or she would, as you would bear the ultimate responsibility.

Chris Meyer
City Manager, Retired

The part I love is the former City Manager trying to scare the new council members into the same craven cowardliness that tanked the last crew. Do you want to be responsible for the Chief’s actions?

Well, hell yes!!

Leaders lead. The poor, brainless bastards that just got recalled failed to lead. They let “the system” take charge; the result was a disaster. Comically, the otiose Meyer derives his entire screed on the premise that “things just happen.”  But Meyer fails to grasp one basic truth: things just happen when nobody is in charge.

Typically, Meyer omits to remind the new council that he was in charge as the Fullerton Police Department slid down the greasy slope of corruption. Typical? Yes, indeed. The old, corrupt regime never took responsibility for its actions. And a bloated pustule like Meyer could make $200,000 a year coaching his three sawdust-brained puppets to dodge the accountability they were elected to assume.

Chris Meyer Gets His

Just when you thought you’d seen every kind of gluttony, along comes former City Manager and Recall opponent, Chris Meyer to give new meaning to the concept of pigging out.


Here is a summary of Meyer’s final day payout as he bid the taxpayers of Fullerton adios:

Yes, folks you read that right. Almost $110,000 of unused sick days and vacation days racked up by Meyer in our service. Well, really in his own service. And that one massive payday on January 7th put Meyer into the Fullerton high roller club for the entire year of 2011.

The worst part, of course, is that Mr. Meyer presided over Fullerton for about ten years – as the disastrous 3@50 pension was enacted, as the FPD Culture of Corruption went into full swing, as Downtown Fullerton became a boozy free-for-all, as the City illegally added a 10% tax to our water bill each and every month, and as the City’s infrastructure began falling into a massive sinkhole.

It'll take decades to fill that in.

And had not Shawn Nelson blown the whistle on him in 2008, he would have gotten away with another pension spike for the paper pushers – himself included.

The Meyer regime passed on a financial and infrastructure legacy of debt to future generations without an apparent pang of remorse. In his world we are just there to pay the bills and keep our mouths shut.

Fullerton’s $100,000 Pension Club Increases Girth by 41%

Here’s a republication of a post from early November. It details the extravagant pension payouts bestowed upon Fullerton employees. Of particular note are the number of rank and file cops and firemen on the list. How did they get there? Courtesy of enormous salaries and of course the disastrous 3@50 formula approved by Council barnacles Bankhead and Jones. That single decision created a massive unfunded actuarial liability that is the legal responsibility of every citizen of Fullerton.

And there’s Pat McPension, the architect of the FPD Culture of Corruption, who makes $121K off of us each year for doing nothing.

This list will no doubt receive a lot of attention during the recall campaign

– Joe Sipowicz

Originally published November 4, 2011

Another year has passed and another set of City of Fullerton retirees have added to the growing unfunded pension liability that will plague us for generations. In fact, membership has swelled by a startling 41% this year alone.

The most notable new member is retired City Manager Chris Meyer, who has plopped himself in the second spot with a $170,984.52 per year reward for all the time he spent carefully overlooking the mismanagement of the Fullerton PD and the vast expansion of the city’s pension debt.

Meyer was spotted at yesterday’s anti-recall fundraiser, too. That’s no surprise to us, since Bankhead and Jones did attempt a retroactive pension spike in 2008 that would have sent Meyer’s own pension into orbit just a few years before his exit.

Name  Annual  Position
JAMES “JIM” REED  $  173,524.32 Fire
CHRISTOPHE “CHRIS” G MEYER  $  170,984.52 City Manager
KAREN LINDSEY-MACDONALD  $  165,285.48 Police
GREGORY E MAYES  $  156,047.40 Police
JOHN T PETROPULOS  $  152,784.60 Police
GEOFFREY L SPALDING  $  151,770.96 Police
JOHN S GODLEWSKI  $  145,499.04 Community Development Director
DANIEL F CHIDESTER  $  145,049.28 Fire
MICHAEL C MAYNARD  $  144,678.00 Police
GARY M DOMINGUEZ  $  143,618.76 Fire
ALLEN W BURKS  $  139,186.44 Police
FRANK P DUDLEY  $  139,120.44 Development Services Director
DOUGLAS L CAVE  $  136,626.96 Police
ANTONIO H HERNANDEZ  $  132,549.36 Police
H S HUNT  $  131,591.40 Parks and Rec Director
STEVEN M MATSON  $  130,359.84 Police
RONNY T ROWELL  $  130,225.32 Police
GLENN L STEINBRINK  $  129,608.16 Administrative Director
MARK H FLANNERY  $  125,723.64 Director of Personnel
RICHARD W RILEY  $  125,304.00 Fire
DAVID J STANKO  $  125,147.04 Police
TERRY W STRINGHAM  $  125,062.80 Fire
ROBERT E HODSON  $  124,810.08 Director of Engineering
ROBERT “BOB” B RICHARDSON  $  123,441.48 Police
GEORGE E NEWMAN  $  122,964.60
DANIEL R BECERRA  $  121,643.64 Police
NEAL R BALDWIN  $  121,363.80 Police
DAVID M DUNCAN  $  121,131.96 Fire
ALFRED R CASAS  $  120,549.96 Police
PATRICK E MCKINLEY  $  120,381.96 Chief of Police
PHILIP A GOEHRING  $  119,719.92 Police
TERRENCE L SCHULZ  $  118,629.84 Fire
BRAD A HOCKERSMITH  $  118,629.48 Fire
BONNIE J CLANIN  $  118,302.12 Police
JEFFREY E ROOP  $  118,198.20 Police
DONALD R PEARCE  $  112,341.96 Police
CAROLYN E JOHNSON  $  111,509.88 Library Director
TIMOTHY JANOVICK  $  111,069.12
KURT J BERTUZZI  $  110,653.56 Fire
PAUL C TURNEY  $  110,022.00
RONALD B GILLETT  $  109,764.48 Police
LINDA J KING  $  109,553.40 Police
ARTHUR D WIECHMANN  $  108,368.40 Police
JONATHON E MCAULAY  $  106,163.76 Fire
JOHN W PIERSON  $  105,626.04 Police
VICKI L MAGLIOCCO  $  105,533.40 Fire
GREGORY E ABERCROMBIE  $  105,351.00 Police
WILLIAM D KENDRICK  $  105,310.92 Police
RICHARD A HUTCHINSON  $  104,986.56 Fire
HUGH L BERRY  $  104,544.12 Assistant City Manager
MARVIN B WILDER  $  102,941.64
MICHAEL L BURGES  $  101,931.00
MICHAEL L FIELDS  $  101,318.52 Police
CHRIS P HARRIS  $  100,730.64 Fire
KENNETH R HEAD  $  100,526.40 Police
Total Monthly $568,146.80
Total Annually $6,817,761.60

Source: CFFR Pension Database

Battle of the Downtown Chrises

Tonight Fullerton residents have their choice of attending the special Earth Day Fullerton Market and/or attending one of two presentations, one by newly minted Assemblyman Chris Norby and one by the venerable Fullerton City Manager Chris Meyer.  Take your pick:

Assemblyman Chris Norby invites citizens to share their thoughts on taxes, education, transportation or any other issue important to them.

7:00 – 9:00 pm, Fullerton Senior Center, 340 W. Commonwealth Ave.


City Councilwoman Sharon Quirk-Silva introduces citizens to the people who keep the city running smoothly and efficiently.  Guest speaker will be City Manager Chris Meyer.

7:30 pm, Fullerton Museum Center, 301 N. Pomona Ave.

Or you can just drink in the beer garden.  But there are so many things to talk about with both of them, so I do hope you will attend one or the other.

Chris Meyer; Local Hero? Hardly.

If you don't watch out, I'll take the credit...
If you don't watch out, I may take your wallet, too!

In case any of you Friends happened to come across this 10/12/09 blog post in The Register, by Teri Sforza, you might have come away with the idea that Fullerton City Manager Chris Meyer was the white knight who came to Fullerton taxpayer’s rescue last year when the unions proposed to increase their retirement formula.

The usually healthy skepticism of  Ms. Sforza seems to have been suspended in her conversations with Chris Meyer. He fooled her into thinking that he was the fiscally responsible official who put a stop to the craziness.

Wrong! That person was Councilman Shawn Nelson – who the blew the whistle on Meyer & Co., who had been trying for months to push the deal through quietly, behind closed doors. The poor public suckers who are ultimately on the hook weren’t supposed to know what was going on, so the agenda items were not described. It was only after Nelson went public with the news that a pension spike was on the way, and Steve Greenhut of the Register brought wider scrutiny to the secret plan, that it was ultimately dropped. The fact that the market had really tanked by then helped.

For Meyer to try to grab the credit a year later is pretty low. Especially when he was one of the prime architects of the plan. He must think we have real short memories. Here’s your real hero:

Shawn Nelson

Ultimately the credit goes to Nelson for the fortunate turn of events. For Meyer to take credit for any of this is just laughable.

City Council Left in Dark Over Fate of Park; Say, Who In Hell Elected That Guy, Anyway?

While watching the youtube clip of David Espinosa tee off on the Union Pacific Park and the comment by City Manager Chris Meyer that the park was being shut down, we got to thinking. The Mayor was clearly not told by anybody that the park was being closed down – observe the standard “we’ll fix it, thanks, move along” comment by Bankhead followed by Meyer’s explanation.

Meyer went on to say that the problem of what to do with this “park” was being passed to the Community Services Commission for ponderment.

And we say: who in Hell gave Chris Meyer the authority to shut down a public park? Why wasn’t the Council asked to make this decision and how come they were never even told about it before the apparent revelation at the council meeting? Who gave Meyer the authority to assign this problem to anybody, let alone a lower committee without even informing the Council of his plans? Why wasn’t this issue agendized and discussed, in public, by the City Council?

These are mostly rhetorical questions, of course. The City’s staff wants to sweep this acute embarrassment under the municipal rug and the only way to do that is not to tell anybody. Even their bosses.

meyersIt also makes us wonder how much else in Fullerton has being undertaken by the City Manager on his own hook. It’s one thing to execute policy laid down by elected officials; it’s quite another thing to start taking on major policy decisions, and worse still, not tell anybody. Unfortunately this situation is symptomatic of two long-standing problems in Fullerton, two problems that fit together like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle.

First is the perfect willingness of our elected city council persons to abdicate their own policy-making responsibility and simply show up for the meetings, the Rotary lunches, the Chamber mixers, and the ribbon cuttings; second is the perfect willingness of the city managers to step into the authority void and run the show any damn way they please. It’s a perverse symbiosis.

This has got to stop. The results have been amply catalogued on the pages of this blog. And they aren’t very pretty.

Redevelopment Hustlers Undermine Own Credibility on Expansion Plan

Loyal Friends, on June 16th the city council again demonstrated why the process behind selecting the boundaries of the proposed expansion area are almost completely arbitrary. The council voted 3-1 to remove 7 selected properties from the area.

kids donkey 3300407850_3670652f0e

The criteria employed in the deselection are these:

  • the properties are on boundaries,
  • they are not necessary
  • and the owners simply ask to be removed.

Now some cynical folks might surmise that these exclusions were just done to shut people up,  including former Congressman Bill Dannemeyer, in fact we have already suggested that very same thought.


What is inescapable is the conclusion that if these 7 properties are not necessary than they never should have been included in the first place. How many haphazard lines drawn on a consultant draft table include non-blighted properties?  The statistics presented by the lone dissenting vote, Shawn Nelson suggest very many  indeed.

We suspect the city staff and their consultant are pursuing an age old strategy:  grab all you can, get, and then hang on to as much of it as you can.


Red Light Cameras Trashed, Legal Blunders Swept Under the Rug

Fullerton has terminated a dubious partnership with failing red light camera vendor Nestor Traffic Systems after the contract for operation of the cameras was declared to be illegal by an appeals court last year. It’s a long story, but stick with us as we tell this tale of inept vendor selection and blatant disregard for the law in Fullerton…

Why won't this thing turn on?
The end of an error

A long time ago, Fullerton signed a contract with Nestor Traffic Systems to provide red-light cameras throughout the city in an attempt to increase ticket revenue and reduce accidents at popular intersections. At the time, the contract included a clause that allowed the city’s payment to be negotiated down if ticket issuance was lower than expected.

Just about anyone could see that the vendor now had a financial incentive to keep the number of tickets high — that’s a problem. At the time, case law had already dictated that vendors could not benefit from the number of red light tickets issued. Eventually these rulings would become codified into state law.

When the city inquired about how this new California law might affect the contract, the vendor essentially said “Don’t worry, we’ll change it if we get caught.” Sound familiar? That’s how it goes in Fullerton. So our representatives carelessly signed on the dotted line and the police department kept giving out red light tickets illegally.

It didn’t take long for one angry citizen to file a lawsuit, and in 2008 an appellate court ruled that the tickets were being given out unlawfully. Issuance of red light tickets immediately stopped.

After the city lost the appeal, a whirlwind of suspicious events transpired:

  1. Failure to Appear – The city of Fullerton didn’t even know that they had lost the appeal until the Register called them for the story. It turns out that the city never showed up for the appeal. The city’s crack legal team at Jones and Meyers attempted to have the original ruling overturned by filing a 26-page Writ of Mandate in May. The request claims that the Fullerton PD was never serviced with a notice of an appeal, even though the court docket says otherwise. The PD’s request was denied, and that’s the last we’ve heard of the case.
  2. The Right to Remain Silent – For the council meeting on 2/3/09, the city staff put together an amendment of the Nestor contract to end the city’s lawbreaking ways, as other cities had already done. But when the item came up for discussion, city manager Chris Meyer mysteriously got cold feet and proposed that the item be moved forward “to a date uncertain”. The council instantaneously and unanimously agreed to put this item off without further questioning. In fact, the council moved so quickly that a gentleman named Dr. Arnold Vagts had to demand his right to speak on the issue later that evening. Why were they so quick to sweep this item under the rug? It turns out that Dr. Vagts had sent a series of emails earlier in the day threatening a class action lawsuit against the city, demanding that the city return all illegal ticket revenues to the victims. If not, the city risks “millions of dollars in lawsuits”, according to Vagts.
  3. In June, after months of silence, we’re finally told us that the red light camera contract with Nestor has been canceled, and that all of the cameras will be removed.

Last week our Friend at made a records request to find out how much the city had spent on legal fees to fight this lost case. In a written reply to a direct question, Sgt. Steve Williams said “No legal council (sic) was retained to prosecute the case by the Fullerton police department.” We believe this to be either a blatant misdirection or perhaps an outright lie, since the city’s contract attorney did write the aforementioned 26-page writ for the case. Lawyers don’t work for free.

How much is this legal wrangling costing us? Why is the city spending time and money to fight a lost court case? We suspect that the legal liabilities and risk of expensive lawsuits are piling up while the city tries to keep this issue quiet.

To top it all off,  a successful class-action lawsuit against the city would probably leave taxpayers holding the bill for years of red light revenue, as it is unlikely that the city will be able to turn around and sue Nestor for their part in this tragedy. The company has severe financial problems, including a recent descent into receivership and failure to pay subcontractors for the installation of additional cameras in Fullerton.

When we lose a class action lawsuit, who will pay? Will anyone admit error and appologize for wasting our time and money? Stay tuned as more scandelous details come to light.

(More) Tasers About to Hit the Streets of Fullerton

Tonight, the city council will consider the acceptance of a $41,410 Justice Assistance Grant (Homeland Security stuff) to purchase 35 tasers for the police department. Do we need tasers in Fullerton? Judith Kaluzny raises some good questions in this letter to the council.

jkcl15047_150Dear City Council Members:

I see you will consider the purchase of 35 taser guns, number 8 on June 16 agenda.

Tasers have been outlawed in several states, including New York, Rhode Island, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and in a number of cities, including Chicago, Baltimore, Indianapolis, and Philadelphia.

The use of tasers can lead to lawsuits for cities.  There have been many lawsuits over mis- or mal- use. Do  we really want to get into this dubious technology?

Judith A. Kaluzny, Mediator and Lawyer

The new ones are even better.
Smile now, cry later

Amnesty International provides a few examples of taser abuse:

  • December 20, 2007, Daytona Beach, FL – Elizabeth Beeland was struck by a Taser after she became loud and unruly at a Best Buy store. Video
  • November 14, 2006, Los Angeles, CA – Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a student at UCLA, neglected to show his student identification card at the library. He was then asked to leave, and when he refused he was struck by a Taser multiple times. Video
  • September 17, 2007, Gainesville, FL – Andrew Meyer persistently questioned Senator John Kerry at a university forum. University of Florida police tried to escort him from the auditorium and later struck him with a Taser for resisting arrest. Video

Did NOCCCD Bond Oversight Committee Overlook Stadium Embarrassment?

It’s a sad truth that government projects just don’t seem to have much accountability. There are always lots of impressive titles handed out, but nobody ever seems to have a grip on what’s going on.

Oh no, not again!
Oh no, not again!

Take the NOCCCD Football field-to-stadium sleight-of-hand that took place at FJC. Somehow a project was altered without any policy review, CEQA documentation, or public notification. It only became a problem when neighbors found out about the deception and loudly protested. Who approved these changes? And who is this person’s boss?  We’d like to find out who is responsible for the now very expensive and increasingly embarrassing switcheroo.


And let’s not forget the so-called Oversight Committee – a group of individuals who were either kept in the dark or who had their eyes closed. It’s hard to find anybody who really takes these committees seriously, except perhaps voters who are persuaded by the Bond Salesmen that the committee will actually ensure some sort of accountability for the public’s hundreds of millions of dollars. Nevertheless, there they are, and so they have a responsibility to the public.

In June of 2005, the Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Director, Thresa Harvey was appointed to the North Orange County Community College District  Citizens Bond Oversight Committee as a representative of a “taxpayer group.” We’re not sure what a taxpayer group is since we all pay taxes (well most of us, anyway). In any case it was and is her job to comprehend what’s going on with the bond revenue projects. Was she misled? Did she even know what was going on?

Jeez, maybe we need to do this more often...
Jeez, maybe we need to do this more often...

Things have gotten to the point where even Fullerton’s City Manager Chris Meyer has produced a letter claiming the stadium violates the City’s General Plan, and the City is demanding an EIR. This is doubly ironic, since he routinely attends Chamber of Commerce Board meetings where Harvey can usually be found; and also because the City has been signally deficient when in come to CEQA compliance of its own favored projects.

But, to return to our main story: Who is accountable for this gridiron fiasco? Will we ever know? Probably not. But in the meantime the NOCCCD is facing the increased likelihood of an amended EIR for their stadium and some fancy footwork in the backfield if they want to build it.

Hundreds of Hornet fans disguised as empty seats...
Hundreds of Hornet fans disguised as empty seats...