While it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody paying attention that the government, at all levels, only works for those who are well connected and make the correct donations. Usually proving this truism is often difficult but we came across an example here in Fullerton that seemed noteworthy.
It appears that Mayor Pro-Tem, and Curt Pringle & Associates VP, Jennifer Fitzgerald decided to weaponize our city government to go after the business “D/Vine” for “word on the street” indicating that they had a promoter in violation of the municipal code.
That seems innocuous and even reasonable from a law and order and agency perspective. After all, what’s the problem with a council member & Mayor Pro-Tem being worried about a business running afoul of local law?
Nothing if the local laws were applied equally and in a just manner. But we know that to not be the case.
While Fitzgerald is super worried about public safety over who promotes what music at D’Vine she gleefully ignores other violators of our municipal code when it benefits her. As an example of such would be when she holds events and parties at The Slidebar.
The Slidebar which for years has violated local amplified sound ordinances while operating without so much as a Condition Use Permit or even an Administrative Restaurant Use Permit (ARUP).
For those new to these issues – in this city you cannot operate a restaurant without an ARUP and you can’t sell alcohol and have live entertainment with a CUP and a Live Entertainment Permit. The following screenshot is from the City Staff’s own presentation to City Council on April 16th, 2019:
The Slidebar only has the Live Entertainment Permit despite not legally qualified to have one thanks to their just ignoring the law regarding the ARUP/CUP. Nearly every other business is required to have these permits and for 7 years Fitzgerald has said bupkss about it.
Fitzgerald, like so many others on the dais before and still, has no problem holding fundraisers and heaping praise on some businesses in clear violation of the most basic of rules required to run a bar in downtown but when the wrong promoter plans the wrong type of music – now there’s a need for a call to action. Rally the troops! Tally-Ho! The scourge of banda music must be stopped… because Banda music is… bad?
Let’s look at that. Banda music is what exactly? From Wikipedia:
“Banda is a term to designate a style of Mexican music and the musical ensemble in which wind instruments, mostly of brass and percussion, are performed.”
This is something Fullertonians have complained about before it seems but I didn’t realize it was such a problem. I sort of expect to hear this music at places like Revolucion Cantina and in fact they have a “Banda Wednesday”. This negates the idea that the music itself is a problem.
The shooting is a cause for concern if you’re worried about what CAUSED the shooting… but if it isn’t the music causing people to be shot (because the shooting happened during a “Purge” themed Halloween party playing Hip-Hop) then Fitzgerald must blame the promoter?
Can a promoter rationally be blamed for the wrong people showing up to a show? Fullerton doens’t seem to blame the local bars for bringing in undesirables who urinate, vomit, fight and graffiti all over downtown. Hell, Fitzgerald herself recently blamed “Pre-Gaming” in the parking lots for much of the mayhem and DUIs around town.
Thus using Fitzgerald’s own local logic let us dispense with the idea that the promoter caused the shooting in Riverside. After all, it might have been “pre-gaming” in a parking structure that led to the shooting. To do otherwise would be an especially comical problem when we have a fire & life safety issue in downtown related to a business owner whose family is alleged to have burned one of their own previous businesses to the ground.
Because city staff works at the behest of the City Manager and the City Manager works at the whim of the City Council, when the council says “Jump!” or “Look Away!” that’s exactly what happens. No need to apply the law evenly or justly – just do what the bought and paid for council demands.
It’s sickening that the city can look into D’Vine for their banda/promoter problem while simultaneously Community Development Director Ted White was exchanging text messages with Joe Florentine and emails with Jeremy Popoff, local bar owners, in the build up to municipal code changes of how Florentine’s & Popoff’s businesses, and all bars, would be regulated despite their own flaunting of the laws.
While Ted White was looking into the ARUP/CUP status of D’Vine he was ignoring the very real problems regarding Florentine being, for over a decade, in violation of life safety requirements. To recap – Florentine has refused to follow his own Conditional Use Permit (CUP) requiring fire sprinklers and the city has refused to enforce that CUP up to and including the Chief of Police rubber stamping Florentine’s Live Entertainment Permits year in and year out despite those permits also requiring adherence to the CUP.
“The C.U.P. (if applicable) shall be strictly enforced.”
It’s nice to have a clear cut example of the city picking and choosing winners and losers. This email from Fitzgerald about D’Vine shows us clearly that our city responds to issues immediately when the council says jump all the while turning a blind eye to worse problems from similar businesses in the same neighborhood. I guess it really does pay to own the right council members.