New procurement card policies are being implemented at City Hall this week. That’s a good start and something to be cautiously optimistic about.
Until such changes extend to the merits of things like conferences and travel, any such reform will be of limited value because it’s all interrelated. Employees from all departments have had a reputation of being sent to conferences, staying for a couple hours, then skipping out on the rest to play tourist, play golf, or be entertained. Some have joked about these trips being “paycations” — as in the City pays them to go on vacation.
CalNENA is the California chapter of the National Emergency Number Association, a trade organization for 911 dispatchers. Without any consideration for the City’s bleak financial outlook, or the value of such a trip, the Police Department sent two dispatchers to the annual conference in San Diego. That shouldn’t be too expensive, right?
Another day, and another reason to question the fiscal insanity at the City of Fullerton. The Police Department paid over $3900 for this freezer which is a mere 3.9 cubic feet in size. The typical residential refrigerator-freezer holds anywhere from 18 to 25 cubic feet, so this unit is far smaller than it appears.
The police will be quick to say how essential this is to preserve forensic evidence like DNA. I can’t fault them for buying a unit with temperature alarms, but you know what’s funny? Medical grade freezers used by pharmacies, similar in size and features, cost anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 the price, maybe even less.
Wasteful spending is nothing new around here, but this serves as a great opportunity to look at the City’s flawed procurement policies.
The freezer was not purchased by the City’s Purchasing Agent. The Police Department doesn’t think the City’s procurement rules apply to them, so they bypass City Hall in most cases, and order whatever they want themselves.
“Reasonable effort shall be made to obtain three or more competitive bids for procurement of goods or services.” This sounds like a good policy except that it allows a City employee to solicit bids for their preferred piece of equipment, and preferred manufacturer, no matter how unnecessary or overpriced.
They didn’t get bids for a small freezer sufficient to store forensic evidence. They got bids for this specific Follett FZR4P-00-00 freezer, which was already leaps and bounds more expensive than comparable options from other manufacturers. Basically, we acquired the Mercedes-Benz of freezers, but that’s all fine and dandy because the Police Department got three bids as specified in the procurement policy.
There’s no excuse to overpay because somebody is too lazy to research alternatives perfectly acceptable in a similar work environment, and yet, the City of Fullerton does this over and over and over again.
Axon, formerly known as Taser International, is the manufacturer of tasers and body cameras worn by officers of the Fullerton Police Department.
In 2014, Felz and Hughes went before the City Council to beg for $650,534 over a five-year period to pay for body cameras from Taser International. The actual cost will far exceed that amount, but that’s unfortunately typical of the false assurances made by those two. You can read the agenda letter here where Dan Hughes did his best impression of a salesman for Taser International. There was never any competitive bidding process for those body cameras, which is obscene given the large price tag.
Fast forward to this past June. Gary Sirin of the Fullerton Police Department was sent to the Axon Accelerate Conference Fleece-A-Thon in Scottsdale, AZ. We paid $899 for him to attend the conference, $580.87 for lodging at the Westin, and it appears another $363.19 for travel expenses. I presume he was also on the clock and being paid for his time.
So what actually took place at this conference? Axon did a write up themselves that talks about demonstrating new products and strategies to prevent disclosure of body camera footage to the public. Once again, an insulting waste of City funds.
The Police Department apparently never got the memo about Fullerton having a fiscal crisis, or else they just don’t care.
I think it’s the latter, but in any event, these ridiculous conferences all over the United States and Canada on the City dime need to stop.
The Fullerton PD just publicized these photos of a patrol car that was tagged with graffiti by a downtown reveler over the weekend. The vandalism allegedly occurred while the officers were away on “proactive” foot patrol.
The social media pronouncement was accompanied by some humorous posturing, including the hashtag #WeWillFindYou.
Now anyone who’s filed a graffiti or vandalism report in the city of Fullerton knows that these types of crime reports usually get stuffed in a drawer, dismissed as non-priorities. You’d be lucky if you can get a cop to come out and take a report, let alone collect evidence and track down the perp.
In this case, some egos have been offended and so we might expect to see some sort of minimal effort expended. But I wouldn’t count on it.
Some things, like toenail fungus, never seem to go away. And one of them, apparently, is Jay Cicinelli. He is the disabled, one-eyed Fullerton cop who, on the hot July night in 2011, gently kicked Kelly Thomas in the head with his knee and compassionately smashed his face with a taser. At least that’s how Cicinelli’s lawyer wants you to remember it.
The City fired Cicinelli and his pals Manuel Ramos and Joe Wolfe for violating police department policy. Of course on the witness stand FPD’s genial Corporal Punishment T. Rubio exonerated the behavior Ramos, Wolfe and Cicinelli by contradicting his own department, and thus giving a brain-dead jury ammunition to acquit the three of the criminal charges brought by our useless DA, Tony Rackaukas. Of course Rackaukas had every opportunity to skewer the integrity of Rubio who sure seemed to be committing perjury, but the DA didn’t. The whole episode appeared to be nothing other than a grand plan to obfuscate the reality of what happened to Kelly Thomas.
Anyhow, the actions of Cicinelli and their relation to department policy seem to be key in an appalling effort by Cicinelli to seek reinstatement to the FPD, and to no doubt rake in five years worth of back pay and benefits. Well, this is California and the cop unions have us by the proverbial balls, so Cicinelli’s reinstatement is not only plausible, it is highly possible, proving what little control the people have over their “public safety” employees. Here are the relevant docs. Try to keep your last meal down.
One of our Friends pointed out this sad tale, as reported in The OC Weekly, a story of brutal gullibility, incompetence and indifference in which once again, the FPD is responsible for the prosecution of innocent people who end up spending a considerable amount of time in the County lock-up. Andrew Goodrich has informed the public, however insincerely, that the FPD really does try to arrest the right people. But when you read the case of Josh Eddleman and Jerrie Harvey, you really have wonder.
The other day FFFF ran a post on recent efforts by the Fullerton Police Department to share its Heroic doings with the public. Some were struck by the blatant and ongoing hypocrisy of the department’s alleged attitude toward DUI driving, given the fact that our former drunk-driving City Manager, Joe Felz, was given a free pass by the FPD after running off the road, plowing over a tree, and trying to escape the scene of the crime.
I’m struck by the constant effort of the department to spin PR yarns to make itself look good – despite all the evidence to the contrary. Get a load of the “while you were sleeping” shtick. It’s the old “we Heroes are keeping the streets of Fullerton safe while you get to sleep safe and sound – and how can you put a price tag on that?” routine. This relentless drum beat of the upbeat continues long after Chief Danny “Galahad” Hughes‘ departure, meaning that the strategy of fooling the public into mistaking a tsunami of PR for reform, is alive and well.
Anyway, I though I’d share a few other FPD activities that happened while we were sleeping, or maybe even when we were wide awake, sort of a public service announcement. Please observe the veritable FPD crime wave:
On July 18, 2017, the Fullerton City Council will vote on whether to approve staff recommendation to hire David Hendricks as Chief of Police of the Fullerton Police Department.
According to his resume, posted online with the staff report, Hendricks has served in the Internal Affairs Division of the LBDP and has “managed approximately 400 Internal Affairs investigations per year.” Per he resume, he also “(p)resented preliminary and formalized complaint cases to the Chief of Police and executive team” and “(r)eviewed police officer use of force/ identify patterns or problems.”
Given that Hendricks has been directly involved in investigating use of force claims and Internal Affairs divisions, it would have been extremely helpful to know what his thoughts on this 2013 beating of Porfiro Santos-Lopez, while lying on his back:
Or his thoughts on the $2.5 million settlement, reached after a plaintiff jury verdict, to two cousins who had filed an excessive force lawsuit arising out of a police beating by Officers David Faris and Michael Hynes, which was caught on camera in 2010.
Actually, thanks to Transparent California, we already know the answer. Both Officers involved in the $2.5 million settlement are still employed with the Long Beach Police Department as of 2016, as is Victor Ortiz, one of the two officers responsible for the spray nozzle shooting death and subsequent $6.5 million lawsuit.
Total compensation of the officers in question, give or take about $9.1 million.
As for the Portofino-Lopez beating, it was described by the Internal Affairs Department itself as a “by the book” arrest in 2013.
The Fullerton Police Department needs reform. The head of an internal affairs division that has a proven track record of excusing and soft peddling officer misconduct charges is not the solution.
Mr. David Hendricks, currently employed by the Long Beach Police Department was recently tapped to by someone, somewhere, somehow to become our new police chief. Here’s the July 12th press release from the City’s website:
Apart from several obnoxious things about this press release (including the tacit presumption that this recommendation for appointment – that was made by who knows who – will be rubber stamped by the City Council), we will consider the information contained in the final sentence, to wit: a Masters of Public Administration degree from something called “Andrew Jackson University” in Birmingham, Alabama.
The FFFF Academic Accreditation team immediately sprang into action, and what they discovered doesn’t suggest academic accomplishment of any sort. Andrew Jackson University was created by a couple of lawyers in the mid-90s who decided that hardworking folk needed an online opportunity to pursue advanced education. Or so the story went. But those familiar with the for-profit diploma mill industry know the story well: these establishments are created to separate saps from their money, and often to separate taxpayers from unpaid student loans underwritten by the government.
Andrew Jackson University – unaccredited by anybody – has now been bought and sold twice since its inception and its “location,” if nothing other than a PO box, has been changed successively from San Francisco to Salt Lake City. It is now called “New Charter University” and is owned by financial investors.
FFFF reached out to knowledgeable experts in this field to learn more about such institutions.
Erasmus Alberus, Professor Emeritus of Academic Ethics at the University of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan told FFFF “these institutions exist merely to give the impression that those who have paid the requisite tuition have attained some sort of academic accomplishment. They haven’t. The purpose is to enhance career and income possibilities through this impression.”
Even more scathing was the assessment of Sabrina Plath, Director of Professional Development at the Thorstein Veblen Center in Valparaiso, Indiana. Says Ms. Plath: It is an ongoing scandal how mail order diplomas are used to leverage career promotion, and salary and benefit enhancement, especially at the expense of the public.”
And so these questions remain to be answered: who was impressed enough by a graduate of Andrew Jackson University that he is recommended for hire as our new police chief with salary and benefits approaching $300,000 a year? Was this laughable non-degree from a phony academic institution a material fact in his selection? Did anybody even care?
Good luck trying to find out. But if you care about this, and if you care about the fact that a press release announced this recommendation before the City Council even decided on a candidate, go to the meeting on the 18th and enjoy the fun.
In the early morning hours of the very same day that six FPD cops harassed, attacked and left Kelly Thomas to die in the gutter, four of their bad apple brethren had a run-in only a few yards away with the Ortiz brothers – Luiz and Antonio – a couple of downtown Fullerton bar patrons.
Here are the names of the four cops: Bryan Bybee, Billy Phu, Emanuel Pulido and Matthew Martinez. Remember the names. According to the complaint Bybee began the July 5, 2011 altercation by attacking Antonio with a baton while his colleagues joined in the fun and also went to work on Luiz. The beat down ended with the usual ride to the Fullerton Jail, lack of medical attention to the beaten Antonio, refusal to pursue an internal investigation following Antonio’s formal complaint, and the eventual filing of criminal charges by our illustrious DA – who never seems to tire of prosecuting citizens based on fraudulent FPD reports.
Miraculously, Luiz was acquitted 11-1 by an OC jury in 2016, and the DA dropped the charges against Antonio – giving plenty of credence to the allegations made by the brothers in a civil suit against the taxpayers of Fullerton, a suit that was recently settled for the tidy sum of $280,000, only about $1.90 of which will come out of the pocket of Jan Flory, or Jennifer Fitzgerald or Pat “I Hired Them All” McKinley, or any of the other vocal cop apologists who bask in the warmth of Fullerton First membership.
Four more demerit badges for former Chief Danny “Galahad” Hughes’ boy scout sash, even as he rakes in a $20K per month pension.
Here are the relevant documents. Read ’em and weep.