Tonight Doug Chaffee and Greg Sebourn leave the Fullerton City Council and Ahmad Zahra gets sworn in to be the first to represent District 5 on the dais. This wouldn’t be Fullerton if that’s all that was happening tonight – a simple transition of (some) power – but true to form our current Mayor (for a few more hours), Doug Chaffee, opted to ram a pet project down the council’s throat one last time. An unsolicited bid to turn the parking lot used for Train Days into a “boutique” hotel without the pesky bother of worrying about competition or opening a bid process. He wants this to happen now, NOW, NOW! because… reasons. It’s such a great idea that Chaffee doesn’t trust the council to pick it up without him which means he either thinks they’re too stupid to know a good thing when they see it or it’s not… wait for it… a good thing.
Ah the smell of cronyism.
While we’ll eventually get to say goodbye to a few members and add Ahmad which should be the only focus tonight, first we have to see if Jesus has been bought off and has changed his tune on competition. A tune that he sung only 2 weeks ago, mind you.
After that first crony, I mean agenda, item has been dealt with the council will move on to the actual (partial) transition of power.
For those not keeping track here’s what will happen tonight:
Jesus Silva moves from at-large to the District 3 representative. This will leave his at-large seat open until council decides to fill it or holds a special election.
Bruce Whitaker and Jennifer Fitzgerald will stay status quo.
After tonight we’ll also have a new Mayor (likely Silva) and a new Mayor Pro-Tem (likely Fitzgerald). As for the empty seat – don’t forget to comment on who you think will be the appointed council member in our Wheel of Replacement Candidates thread.
We doubt there will be any surprises tonight but we’ll keep you posted as always friends.
Just when I was preparing to see a new chapter of shenanigans in Fullerton coming from our new council, instead from the realm of ARE YOU F^&$&ING KIDDING ME comes Doug Chaffee trying to slap Fullerton with one more bit of cronyism before he leaves to play at the county level.
Less than two short weeks ago the council voted, 3-2 (Sebourn, Silva & Whitaker vs Fitzgerald & Chaffee) against an unsolicited bid for a hotel on the parking lot near the train station at Santa Fe and Ponoma. Cooler heads prevailed and a more open, transparent and honest process was suggested.
Now Chaffee, who per the City Manager agendized this item, wants to crush that transparency and openness in his last meeting this coming Tuesday. To make matters more unpalatable the council/staff arranged the agenda to swear in our new council member (Zahra) and say goodbye to the ones leaving (Sebourn & Chaffee) AFTER they vote again on this hotel nonsense. For the uninitiated there is a vendor who wants to build a hotel and Fitzgerald and Chaffee want to hand it off to them without opening a bid process to interested parties. It’s cronyism and backroom dealing 101.
This is truly a slap in the face to both Ahmad Zahra and District 5 as this new development would be in their neighborhood and the first District 5 candidate will have no say on it because the agenda lets Zahra join council mere moments AFTER this hotel’s fate is already decided.
This coming back this quickly means one thing and one thing only – somebody got to Silva* as he’s the likely weak link on this issue.
For reference here’s what Silva said about the ENA at the last meeting at approximately the 3:30:12 mark:
“I think an RFP, or a bidding, would help the city I think, would help us get the best possible product. Competition drives, brings out the best in you. And I think having that can bring out the best in the current applicant and someone else.”
We’ll see if Silva still believes this on Tuesday or if all of the sudden competition is less important than craven cronyism. Even if it’s the case that Silva changed his mind, does he really think so little of fellow Democrat Ahmad Zahra that he’ll prevent him from voting on an issue that residents of District 5 have officially elected him to decide on?
This is just dumb, unnecessary, and silly. One can’t help but wonder if this is really Doug Chaffee being that tone deaf or if it’s really retribution for Ahmad Zahra winning a seat his wife coveted in the first place.
Because, and let’s be honest, if Paulette Marshall Chaffee won this election, Doug wouldn’t be preventing her from voting on Tuesday.
*it’s possible that Whitaker or Sebourn were flipped but they had stronger arguments than Silva and are more ideologically opposed to cronyism.
Make taxpayers shell out $400,000 or meddle in an ongoing election.
That’s the quandary in front of our city council tonight in the form of agenda item 4:
4. FULLERTON MUNICIPAL CODE AMENDMENT REGARDING CITY COUNCIL VACANCIES
Consideration of an ordinance to repeal Fullerton Municipal Code Section 2.02.020 and follow procedure for filling City Council vacancies as set forth in Government Code Section 36512.
Without getting too much into the weeds the problem the city is trying to address is specific to the costs and ramifications of Jesus Silva winning the race for the District 3 council seat.
The voters in District 3 have 3 choices on their ballots; Greg Sebourn, Jesus Silva & Nickolas Wildstar. If either Sebourn or Wildstar wins this municipal code change does nothing in the foreseeable future.
If Jesus Silva wins then he vacates his current At-Large seat and we, by law, must hold a special election. That special election could cost us between $391,532 – $428,150 per the OC Registrar of Voters.
Silva likely didn’t even know he was risking socking the taxpayers with that hefty bill until somebody else pointed it out to him. Or perhaps he just didn’t care. That his wife was on council when the to be repealed ordinance was passed points more towards didn’t care than didn’t know.
We went through 2017 knowing this was an issue and the City Manager couldn’t be bothered to deal with it. Then most of 2018 came and went. Nothing. Instead of worrying about a near half a million dollar liability Ken Domer had the council worrying about which volunteers to fire from the various boards and committees around town. As a former member, I’m glad the Economic Development Committee is gone but if you’re going to muck with the municipal code perhaps worry about the parts costing us, or potentially costing us, real money before worrying about a committee that rarely met because it rarely had quorum.
Now this issue is on the City Agenda for the coming City Council meeting tonight. During an election.
Yes, the election is on 06 November but absentee ballots are already in the mail and thus the city is asking council to change the rules of elections DURING AN ELECTION. People will have already voted in District 3 BEFORE the council decides what to do tonight.
This is ridiculous.
I don’t want the city to have to spend $400,000 to fill a vacated seat if Silva wins in District 3. However – and this is a big however – Jesus Silva decided to run knowing that his run could cost us that much money and he did it anyways. That he did it anyways speaks to his character.
That is a political consideration and changing the rules during the election screams of a partisan fix to a problem Silva could have avoided by not throwing his at-large seat away in the quest for 2022 incumbency. Voters make decisions on issues that cost and matter less than $400k and deserve to judge this issue without council interference after the fact.
Odds are that the Fullerton City Council will vote tonight to fire the Library Board and replace it with themselves in a cynical attempt to steal property to offset some Police & Fire Pensions. Fitzgerald wants to do it, Chaffee wants to do it and it likely won’t take much effort to convince Silva to do it.
Why? Because the city needs to pad the budget to fill holes left by Public Safety Pensions and totally predictable but avoided CALPers issues.
Thus the City is planning, under Ken Domer’s guidance, to take property donated to the library to plug General Fund budget holes.
Donated. As in stealing charity. Love Fullerton, indeed.
This is the brainchild of Councilwoman Fitzgerald despite her original campaign rhetoric about libraries being a “core service”. I guess we can just add this to the long list of lies Jennifer Fitzgerald said to get elected. We’ll put this one right up there with her promise not to take a salary and to desire to implement zero based budgeting.
For those of you playing along at home we know that two of Fullerton’s Finest (Chief Hendricks & Captain Oliveras) have been put on a paid stay-cation (costing us approximately $1,955/day) for their conduct at a Lady Antebellum concert in Irvine. With City Manager Ken Domer putting Captain Bob Dunn in charge of FPD we are now being run by… Dunn & Domer.
It’s too bad this isn’t a comedy. Instead we’re finding ourselves in more typical Fullerton drama that a little transparency might have avoided. Alas instead of openness and honesty City Manager Ken Domer couldn’t be bothered to let anybody outside of the police department know what was happening in our town at the time, the next day or even the day after that.
In fact per a statement to the OC Register by Jennifer Fitzgerald it took Domer at least 3 days to inform his employers (City Council) of any details (if they have gotten any) and it has taken him 4 days to bother to release information to our fair city by way of a press release. It’s almost like he doesn’t know who he works for anymore.
Fullerton Councilwoman Jennifer Fitzgerald said she knows little about the incident, but “what I know of Chief Hendricks and Captain Oliveras is that they are fantastic guys and fantastic public servants and I look forward to the investigation being complete.”
Let us peruse this fascinating bit of PR garbage:
That’s quite a few words to say almost nothing of substance. What happened? How long is the leave? Was it criminal? Who’s investigating the case?
The City will not provide further information at this time, out of respect for the integrity of the ongoing investigations.
In other words “F U. You don’t have a right to know anything at all because integrity of an ongoing case”.
We already know from an email from the City of Irvine there is plenty to see here and we deserve details. I’m tired of this mentality that it’s okay to publicly and loudly (Instgram?!) shame societal nobodies when they screw up but when our overlords do the same all of the sudden we need to worry about “integrity” and bury the details behind a wall of BS.
The first bit of BS that we need to knock down here is that this isn’t just some boilerplate investigation that “related entirely to allegations of off-duty conduct”.
This is an allegation of battery against an EMT. By possibly armed off-duty officers. The alleged battery alone falls under CA Penal Code 243(c)(1) unless the injury was serious and then it elevates.
(c) (1) When a battery is committed against a[n][…] emergency medical technician […] engaged in the performance of his or her duties, whether on or off duty, […] and an injury is inflicted on that victim, the battery is punishable by a fine of not more than two thousand dollars ($2,000), by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months, or two or three years.
Next we have to ask who will oversee this investigation? Why were no arrests made for this alleged battery?
How is the District Attorney involved? Which internal investigator are we planning to hire? Is Irvine being allowed to investigate this case?
These are all pertinent questions especially considering the incestuous relationships we have with other departments. Remember that Irvine’s Chief of Police, Mike Hamel, is married to Katherine Hamel who herself is a Lieutenant under Captain Oliveras and Chief Hendricks.
Is Irvine’s Chief Hamel really going to investigate his wife’s boss? Is this why no arrests were made?
Regarding the “ongoing investigation” angle – that’s the same claptrap the city is still throwing at us over the Joe Felz accident and cover-up that happened 657 days ago. #SorryNotSorry that we can’t trust you and your comrades in obfuscation in the City Attorney’s office to come clean Mr. Domer.
If Fullerton’s City Manager Ken Domer really cared about transparency and “integrity” he wouldn’t hide behind subterfuge and lies of omission. He would tell we the citizenry about what is happening, how it is happening and how we can be assured that another Danny Hughes Felzian cover-up isn’t taking place in our city.
Domer would do well to read his own interview with the OC Register when he said;
You cannot operate local government without partnerships, without collaboration, without openness, transparency.
I’ll be on with John & Ken during the 3pm hour (1500) discussing this issue. You can listen live on KFI’s website or on your radio at AM640.
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.
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.
One year ago today I wrote my first piece for this site, Friends for Fullerton’s Future. It was on the tail end of my lackluster city council bid when I was approached to join the site. I was asked to keep up the writing that I was doing during my campaign but here instead of my own site to which I was agreeable. No timelines had been discussed or content hashed out but the premise was we would revive FFFF because nobody else was effectively putting a spotlight on Fullerton’s abysmal government.
Then Joe Felz killed Sappy McTree after drinking his way through every election party in downtown.
One year ago this morning Joe Felz “took a wide turn” and ran down a tree only for Fullerton’s Finest to be called to the scene of the crime and offer cookies and a glass of milk to our beleaguered city manager instead of the breathalyzer and night in the drunk tank any regular Joe would have received. (more…)
It’s been almost one year since former Fullerton City manager, Joe Felz, embarked on his infamous Wild Ride after an evening of drinking at election night parties in the Downtown Fullerton gin mills he worked so tirelessly to protect.
We all know how the drive home went wrong: Felz lost control of his vehicle on Glenwood Drive, drove over a tree, and tried to get away – in violation of the law. We also know that the Fullerton cops gave Joe a free pass and a ride home, many believe on the instructions of outgoing Cop-in-Charge, Danny “Gallahad” Hughes. That would be a crime, too – obstruction of justice, which is exactly what is asserted by District Attorney investigator, Abraham Santos.
Anyway, Felz has been charged with drunk driving by the DA, but the collusion to protect the City Manager has not been addressed and it never will be. That would set a very bad precedent, wouldn’t it?
On January 16, 2018 it looks like Wild Ride Felz is going to get his day in court as he has pleaded innocent to the charges. And since there is no evidence of his inebriation we all reckon the deal will be “dry reckless” driving, and case closed.
Rest assured, FFFF will be present to record and report the court proceedings.
Apparently Gretchen Cox, reactionary pal of J. Flory and J. Fitzgerald has become weary of “malcontents” wasting everybody’s time at City Council meetings. She seems to think all this attention to city employee malfeasance, misfeasance and dumbassfeasance reflects poorly on our great town, using the usual “blame the messenger” routine always deployed by people who have something to hide: like shoddy construction, unnecessary and mind-blowingly expensive boondoggles, drunken city managers, a corrupt police department and a budget that’s a few years away from going supernova.
But that’s not the interesting part. Not surprisingly, lobbyist city council creature Jennifer Fitzgerald is an enthusiastic member of this tribe; but, very tellingly, so is the ethically flexible Matthew Cunningham, whose job is proprietor of “Anaheim Blog” where he runs interference for uber-lobbyist Curt Pringle’s interests, praises Pringle’s political tools, and denigrates Pringle’s political opponents.
It’s pretty obvious that Pringle has set his slimy sights on Fullerton now that his Anaheim well is running dry. We are the pigeons he wants to pluck. Just think “College Town” and other possible gold mines where influence peddling moves things along.
And when Curt Pringle says “Fullerton First” what he really will mean is “Fullerton Next.”
Our lobbyist Councilperson Jennifer Fitzgerald has asked her supporters on Facebook to show up at tonight’s Council Meeting to support the purchase of land on Pearl Drive to be used as a park.
Our friend David already went over some of the ridiculousness of this purchase in a previous post but it bears getting a little more attention.
The first point to be made is that this item is on the Consent Calendar tonight. Consent Calendar items are items during a meeting that get no separate discussion and are voted on together unless specifically pulled for comment by a member of the public or council. A typical Consent Calendar item would be the minutes to a previous meeting or perhaps a legislative ordinance change forced upon us by Sacramento.
Under parliamentary rules governing City Council meetings, Consent Calendar items are reserved for items that are deemed to be non-controversial. They allow a City Council to save the bulk of it’s meeting time for issues in which there is a need for a serious public debate.
Often though the items end up being things that the city doesn’t want to discuss or scrutinize in detail. Tonight’s meeting has 12 consent calendar items with this purchase being the 10th.
The Consent Calendar is hardly the proper place to drop a $1.2Million+ project and it’s more amusing given that councilwoman Fitzgerald is asking for support on an item that is scheduled to take no public comments. It’s somewhat infuriating that the city of Fullerton is so free with money that it doesn’t feel the need to openly discuss an expenditure that is over 18x the median household income of our residents. Worse still when basic details of the deal are lacking from public view.
The parcel in question is slated for purchase with a whopping price tag of $755,500 based on a use assumption that is faulty at best (see David’s post). Then we have $148,000 for an unexplained “administrative settlement”. Then $300,000 for “improvement costs” that will of course be more than $300K owing to the additional paragraph stating that “An updated estimate will be established upon completion of the community meetings.”
What attachments or reference points do we have so we as a city can analyze this project? None. There is no explanation because a properly scanned, searchable PDF is too much work to manage at City Hall despite numerous requests over the years. I’m sure somebody will sound off that there have been “community meetings” that were announced on Nextdoor or some such nonsense so as to suggest the lack of need for the city to do it’s due diligence on transparency. This will likely come from the same people who complain about Public Records Requests from the public in a city known for a culture of corruption and abject secrecy.
Despite being an ongoing project, per the item’s own sparse agenda attachments, since 2002-2003 and we don’t have a breakdown of costs? A thorough estimate? A reason for the administrative settlement? A list of code enforcement violations?
Even the details we do get don’t tell the whole story.
“The amenities required being demolished”? How about we mention that the city paid over $19,000 for part of that very demolition? It seems that just about every pertinent detail has been washed from this item which maybe explains why it was on the consent calendar in the first place. You do have to the give the city credit for their optimism in hoping they could sneak this through the consent calendar knowing full well that we malcontents are always willing to call them on their shenanigans.
I reckon the only thing more infuriating than a bureaucrat putting forth this kind of lazy and shoddy work is a legislative body so uninterested in demanding real data and accountability that those bureaucrats know they can get away with this nonsense.
The old adage “Trust but verify” is absolutely foreign to the Fullerton City Council.