Breaking News: Fullerton Threatens Local Blog – Again

The city is threatening to sue us… again.

Let’s have a look at the newest letter from the city (PDF HERE) before getting into why this is happening:

Dear Ms. Aviles:


As legal counsel for the City of Fullerton, I write, pursuant to California Government Code section 6204 et seq., to notify you, as legal counsel to the owner(s) and/or operator(s) of the Friends for Fullerton’s Future (FFFF) blog, that the City of Fullerton has reasonable grounds to believe that owner(s) and/or operator(s) of the FFFF blog are in unlawful possession of records belonging to the City of Fullerton. The records were taken and used by FFFF blog owner(s) and/or operator(s) without the City’s authorization and fall within the definition of “record” under California Government Code Section 6204(a)(2), as well as the definition of “public records” under California Government Code § 6252(e), and are described as follows:

Any and all records obtained from the City of Fullerton’s Dropbox account ( that were not directly provided by the City to Joshua Ferguson or any of FFFF’s agents or associates through an emailed link, including, but not limited to, records contained in a folder named “prl 919 – Josh Ferguson.”

Therefore, pursuant to Govemmentt Code section 6204, within twenty (20) calendar days of receiving this notice, the owner(s) and/or operator(s) of the Friends for Fullerton’s Future blog are hereby directed to either:

  1. (1)  Return the above-referenced records to the City of Fullerton, as previously requested; or
  2. (2)  Respond in writing and declare why the above-referenced records do not belong to the City of Fullerton. Ifthe owner(s) and/or operator(s) of the Friends for Fullerton’s Future blog do not deliver the above-described records, or do not respond adequately to this notice and its demand within the required time, we will immediately thereafter petition the Superior Court of Orange County for an order requiring the return of these records.

We further note that the FFFF blog has posted many of the confidential City documents after receipt of our office’s June 13, 2019 cease-and-desist email. (A copy of that email is enclosed herein). Many, if not all, of the confidential City records posted to the FFFF blog are explicitly exempted from disclosure under the California Public Records Act, would not have been provided to Mr. Ferguson or FFFF agents or associates in response to a Public Records Act request, and could only have been obtained without the City’s express authorization. Such records posted to the FFFF blog are confidential and exempt from disclosure pursuant to the following authorities:

  • “Preliminary drafts, notes, or interagency or intra-agency memoranda that are not retained by the public agency in the ordinary course of business, if the public interest in withholding those records clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254(a);
  • “Records pertaining to pending litigation to which the public agency is a party, or to claims made pursuant to Division 3.6 (commencing with Section 810), until the pending litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254(b);
  • “Personnel, medical, or similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254(c);
  • Law enforcement investigative records. Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254(f); and
  • “Records, the disclosure of which is exempted or prohibited pursuant to federal or state law, including, but not limited to, provisions of the Evidence Code relating to privilege.” Cal. Gov’t Code § 6254(k), which includes the following privileges:

o Attorney-client privileged records. Cal. Evid. Code 950 et seq.; Roberts v. City of Palmdale, 5 Cal. 4th 363 (1993);

o Attorney work product. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 2018.010 et seq.;
o Peace officer personnel records. Cal. Penal Code § 832.7 et seq.; and o Confidential closed session information. Cal. Gov’t Code § 54963.

FFFF’s unauthorized access and misuse of the City’s clearly privileged and exempted documents constitute a violation of California Penal Code section 502, which grants civil remedies (including compensatory damages, attorney’s fees and potential punitive damages) to any persons or entities injured by any violations thereof. See Cal. Pen. Code § 502(c), (e).

As such, unless FFFF complies with the demands set forth in the City’s June 13, 2019 cease and desist letter within 24 hours, the City will have no choice but to pursue all criminal and civil remedies available to it under the law.

Bruce A. Lindsay

Fullerton Cease and Desist 2 Page 01 Fullerton Cease and Desist 2 Page 02

What is this all about?

For those in the cheap seats we at Friends For Fullerton’s Future broke news story after new story by publishing documents that the city didn’t want disclosed and tying those documents to local events and items of public interest. Those stories include, but are not limited to:

The city settling with a police officer to sidestep disclosure laws regarding police misconduct.

The results of a Body Worn Camera audit for a School Resource Police Officer who had, what appears to be, child pornography on his (or perhaps department issued) cell phone.

An insurance payout for an accident that destroyed a city vehicle.

Likely fraud by city employees costing over $50,000 worth of waste/theft.

Possible Accounting fraud within the city budget used to hide salary costs.

A city council member specifically targeting one businesses.

Massive Police Overtime abuse that went on for 6 years.

Evidence that the city is lying and violating the California Public Records Act.

And more, and more, and more, and more, and more, and more, and more and more.

In short, they’re mad that we’re doing what journalists are supposed to do daily. We’re using information to piece together stories in order to inform the public.

These latest threats are meant to serve as a chilling effect to silence people who would dare impugn the character of Fullerton with facts the city wants obscured. I’m hesitant to head to city hall or go to council meetings lately knowing that the city is targeting me personally for the use of free speech on this news site / blog. And that’s really the point of these types of threats – to silence dissenters.

How will we respond to this latest salvo by the city? I reckon we’ll confer with our legal counsel and act accordingly.

Fullerton’s City Prosecutor Threatened Me

Idiot Palmer is on the right

Thanks to our friend and contributor Lonnie Machin’s recent posts on this blog, the City of Fullerton has decided to send a Cease and Desist letter threatening me and “Friends for Fullerton [sic]” with legal action.

Cease and Desist - June 2019

The letter in it’s entirety is as follows:

Joshua Ferguson
Friends for Fullerton
Re: Cease and Desist – City of Fullerton Police Department

Dear Mr. Ferguson,

It has come to the attention of the City of Fullerton that you have recently published on your website documents which have clearly and undoubtedly been sourced from the confidential personnel files of several current and/or former Fullerton Police Officers. The State of California has statutorily recognized this right of confidentiality. (See Penal Code §§ 832.5, 832.7 and 832.8.) Any disclosure of such confidential records is strictly limited and must be authorized by a court order from a Superior Court judge. (See Evidence Code §§ 1043-1047; Pitchess v. Superior Court(1974) 11 Cal.3d 531 and its progeny.) Indeed, the Fullerton Police Department has an affirmative duty to resist attempts at unauthorized disclosure and the officers who are the subject of such records expect their right of privacy will be respected. (See Craig v. Municipal Court for the Inglewood Judicial District et al. (1979) 100 Cal.App.3d 69.) Finally, the improper disclosure of such records is prosecutable as a misdemeanor violation of law under Government Code section 1222 (See Attorney General Opinion, 82 Op. Att’y Gen. 246 (1999).) Any person facilitating the illegal disclosure of such documents in violation of the law may be prosecuted as either a principal in that crime or as an aider and abettor.

For all these reasons the City of Fullerton demands you immediately:

1. Remove these Confidential Documents from Your Blog within one hour of your receipt of this e-mailed cease and desist letter;

2. Refrain from posting any other Confidential Documents illegally obtained to Your Blog in the future:

3. That you immediately send to our office within 24 hours all Confidential Documents you and your employees have in your possession. You are also instructed not to make any copies of the Confidential Documents in any form (including but not limited to electronic, imaged, hard copies, etc.)

3. That you immediately delete all electronic copies of the Confidential Documents in your and your employees’ possession.

Your failure to follow these instructions can result in legal action being taken against Friends for Fullerton’s Future wherein the City will seek all necessary legal remedies.

We require your immediate compliance with this cease and desist letter. Notify the undersigned of your compliance with the above within 24 hours of your receipt of this correspondence.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Gregory P. Palmer
City Prosecutor
City of Fullerton


Dick Jones the Developer?

Late last year three downtown properties along E. Amerige Ave. were purchased for $1.3 million by a trust named after one Richard Jones and what is presumably his wife. Hey, that’s the same name as Fullerton’s long-time city attorney of the firm Jones and Mayer.

New homeowner

Yes, it’s the same guy. He bought these three lots for $1,300,000 last last year. That’s a $100 per sq ft, which is kind of pricey for bare dirt. Fortunately the property also contained two old homes. Which one is Dick moving in to?

He never had a chance. Last week a Friend noticed that the two homes had quietly been bulldozed and the 1/3 acre lot stood bare. In preparation for what, we don’t know.

What we do know is that Attorney Jones has been hankering to build some high density commercial property somewhere near downtown. We also know that these properties are in several special parking districts, which means that Dick may be able to erect a structure that forces the burden of parking onto his neighbors or on to public lots and streets, exacerbating Fullerton’s parking problems.

Now that Dick is ready to build up, will years of swapping favors for city staff and kicking up dust to camouflage the city council’s failures finally pay off? We already know that he has no problem ripping off his clients for millions of dollars in unearned pensions. Are there any more ethical lapses or conflicts of interest looming alongside Dick’s road to riches? We’ll find out.

The Odd Case of the Client Newsletter


Okay, you may have painfully listened to the five-minute drone of Fullerton City Attorney Richard Jones on a previous post, explaining why no information was forthcoming in the Case of the City Manager and the Dead Parkway Tree. Sorry to inflict that on you, but no pain, no gain, as they say.

If your cerebral synapses are sufficiently recovered, reflect back on what Mr. Jones, Esq. said, and what he was asked to repeat twice by our Mayor, about electronic records generated at the scene and how they could not be released via PRA request because they were part of an “ongoing investigation;” but moreover, because they were somehow part of some sort of double-top secret “personnel” proceedings.

But wait! A quick trip to Jones and Meyer’s website newsletter to clients (we are clients, aren’t we?) reveals some interesting case law that seems to show exactly the opposite of the malarkey Jones was pitching to a remarkably incurious Council the other night. Here’s the synopsis:


See? The video was created before any administrative investigation, or internal affairs investigation even started.

So let’s get this straight. A “client alert” sent out less than four months ago seems to contradict what Jones said, and reiterated twice on Tuesday night. Hmm. Hopefully someone can drop by to explain why the case of City Manager Joe Felz isn’t covered by the Greenson case finding by the Court of Appeal.

Jones & Mayer. More Failure.

Now that the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer’s Association has weighed in on the issue of Fullerton’s 10% water tax with the suggestion of potential legal action, it seems an opportune time to consider the quality of legal support the City receives from its high-priced lawyers, Jones & Mayer.

Specifically, how can anybody explain the fact that the City Attorney Richard Jones has overlooked the obvious fact that the City of Fullerton’s in-lieu franchise fee of 10% was nothing but an illegal utility tax that was never substantiated by any objective study as required by Prop 218; and that it amounts to paying costs for alleged services that far exceed the actual cost of any services rendered to the water users, in violation of the State Constitution. Every year since he was hired in the early 90’s Attorney Jones’ bosses on the City Council approved water rates that automatically passed along this tax to the rate payers. Of course discussion of the embarrassing 10% add-on was avoided like the plague and was quickly dismissed when anybody brought it up.

Well, Friends, the answer is pretty simple: Attorney Jones wasn’t representing the interests of the people of Fullerton, he was representing the interests of the City staff and city councils who depended on that annual $2.5 million rip-off to close their General Fund budget gaps. That’s right, the General Fund that goes to pay the salaries of City employees;  that goes to pay the Council’s stipends, insurance, and car allowances; that goes to pay the for the Council’s junkets to fancy hotels to attend League of Cities meetings; and that goes to pay pensions – including those gaudy six-figure pension bonanzas of Councilmembers Don Bankhead and Pat McKinley.

The reason for employing an attorney is to get sound legal advice, not to have someone tell you what you want to hear; or, even worse, not tell you what he thinks you don’t want to hear. But such is evidently not the case in Fullerton.

For Jones & Mayer placing the interests of the staff and defending the indefensible is nothing new. And the price tag for this string failures has mounted over the years. Let’s take a moment and reflect upon some of these issues. Hmm. So many to choose from. Here’s a sampling:

Good grief, this is pretty embarrassing. It’s clear that the City Attorney is more interested in harassing the citizens of Fullerton than in sticking up for their rights. And this seems like a pretty good barometer to assess the attitude of the council majority – Bankhead, Jones, and McKinley.

Crime and Cover Up: The Pastor Raid Debacle Gets Ugly

FFFF has been trying to obtain the police report filed after several Fullerton police officers conducted a narcotics raid on the wrong house and held an innocent pastor and his family at gunpoint last year (read the story here).

Since the family presented a copy of the police report to the council at a public meeting, that document is now undeniably a public record. But the cops and the city administrators love to keep secrets when they blow it, and thus have deployed one ornery city attorney to block out any sunshine on this case. God forbid the public learns about the mistakes it’s own cops are making.

We have the right to remain silent

But here’s where it gets weird. In this email below, the city attorney justifies keeping the report secret by admitting that crimes were committed when the cops entered the wrong house with guns drawn!


After reviewing the police records in a light most favorable to the Nordells if the entry made by the officers were unlawful they may have been victims of several crimes, namely assault, trespass and a civil rights violation. If the officers did enter with guns drawn, they more than likely experienced the fear that goes accompanied with such entry. While, we are not acknowledging any of those unlawful acts occurred it does establish that they are victims of a crime. As victims of a crime they were the only party entitled to obtain the police report under Gov Code 6254 (f).

Kathya M. Oliva
Jones & Mayer

Let’s go over that again. Did our city just deny a public records request by confirming that its officers committed assault, trespass and civil rights violations? Pretty much. Admitting guilt to cover your tracks is a novel approach to criminal defense.

FFFF’s response? If there was a crime committed against the family, the incident should have been referred to the DA for prosecution. Was it? If not, covering up the report because there “may have” been a crime doesn’t hold legal water.

Our question was met with a friendly invitation to sue the city in Superior Court…which is actually a great idea. I can’t think of a better way to bring more attention to this issue.

A Fig Tree and the Suppression of Evidence of Harassment

Should the city actively seek to suppress any evidence of harassment by city staff from the court record when prosecuting code violations? That’s exactly what’s happening in the strange case of an allegedly overgrown fig tree in south Fullerton.

A few weeks ago this woman, henceforth known as “The Fig Tree Lady,” came before council to tell her side of the story in a code enforcement case against her fig tree, which was allegedly hanging over a public sidewalk last year. The Fig Lady accused city staff of singling her out for criminal prosecution as retribution for her embarrassing victory over the city attorney (Jones & Mayer) several years prior.

That same day, the city attorney had filed a motion in court to suppress any evidence of harassment by City employees.

The fig lady’s guilt or innocence will be decided in court, and is not really the point here. But why is the city using it’s legal muscle to suppress any evidence that it’s code enforcement officers might be harassing citizens?

What if this woman did have evidence that the city attorney and staff were giving her case “special treatment”? Shouldn’t she be able to make her case to the judge? Is someone using the city’s expensive legal resources to bully and silence this outspoken critic in some sort of personal vendetta as the Fig Lady claims?

Exhibit A: The overgrown fig tree

If the motion is granted, the woman would not even be allowed to submit this current photo of her tree (courtesy of Greg Sebourn) as evidence that the situation has been corrected.

Obviously the tree is not a threat anymore. Why is the city attorney still spending our money to silence and prosecute this woman? And are they really worried that she could prove her claims of harassment?

Time to Tow Jones & Mayer Away?

Attorneys are expensive for a reason… they’re supposed to be smarter than the rest of us. But once again our high-priced legal experts from Jones and Mayer have failed to impress.

In haste to find a new revenue generating scheme, the Fullerton Police Department worked with Jones & Mayer attorney Elena Gerli (of former bicycle nuisance fame) to draw up an ordinance that would raise towing fees and create a new “franchise opportunity” within the city. For Fullerton motorists, that translates to more fees for the same ‘ol service. But I digress.

A series of tow operators gave detailed testimony that passing the ordinance would be a violation of several state laws. The City Attorney then gave a sketchy rebuttal (more on this subject in a future post) that failed to mitigate the council’s concerns, Sharon Quirk-Silva quickly took the lead in sending the attorney back to the drawing board and calling for a study session to prevent another legal mess for our city.

Was our attorney outsmarted by a group of tow truck drivers? It seems like it. We’ll find out in a few more weeks, but not until they’ve squeezed out another round of billable hours.

Why do I feel like we’ve been here before? Let’s see…  a bureaucracy’s insatiable desire to increase revenue combined with poor legal advice, leading to eventual lawsuits and thus diverting any potential “profits” into the welcoming arms of Jones and Mayer.

Ah yes, it’s the red light camera disaster all over again.

Kudos to Sharon Quirk-Silva For Independence and Accountability

At last Tuesday’s council meeting our elected representatives were served up a tasty morsel from their attorney Dick Jones. He was peddling a load of BS about it being city policy that Planning Commissioners not consider the economic feasibility of subsidized projects. We’ve already documented Jones’ baloney here.

But Sharon Quirk-Silva, would have none of it. She challenged Jones on the supposed policy, and suggested, correctly, that the project be reconsidered in the light of a full review by the Planning Commission. She had the support of Planning Commissioner Scott Lansburg, who actually showed up to indicate that for him at least, the project would have received different treatment had he been permitted to consider the practical economics of the thing.  Good for him.

Attorney Jones of course, pushed back, conjuring up the frightening manitou of “litigation” to chase stray councilmembers back onto their reservation. Now, gee, where have we seen that tactic before?

Meanwhile, Don Bankhead seemed a lot more interested in attending the upcoming ground breaking ceremony (where he can wear a specially painted gold hard hat) than in reining in the Richman/Olson Co. disaster.

In the end nothing came of hearing it except that the Council might have “study sessions” on the matter; which, if it ever happens, will no doubt be steered right back into the direction the city staff wants – at which point Attorney Jones made-up “policy” will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Attorney Dick Jones Spins Out New City Policy To Cover Posterior

He droned. And droned. And droned some more. When he was done his crapola lay before the City Council and public like the steaming load of road apples it was.

Well like they say, the road apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Back in November City Attorney (Junior Grade) Tom Duarte had told the Planning Commission that their range of review on the ghastly Richman housing project did not include economic considerations. At Tuesday night’s city council meeting his boss, City Attorney Dick Jones, defended his boy by cooking up a line of nonsense about city “policy” precluding the Planning Commission from considering economic viability factors in its review of projects, even apparently a highly subsidized one like the Richman disaster-in-the-making. As you can see he keeps blathering on about “historic” roles and “prior direction” blah, blah, blah.

By the time of Tuesday’s meeting, even the city planning staff had admitted that there was nothing to preclude economic consideration by the commission. To the contrary, a detailed staff memo by city planner Al Zelinka documented the many instances where such review was not only appropriate, but required.  As expected, staff started waffling again at the meeting, but we already have it from them, in writing! We shared it with you here. Since the legal jig was up, Jones fell back on his lame-ass “policy” response.

And we challenge attorney Jones to point out exactly which council resolution(s) puts that alleged “policy” into effect. hell, go ahead and point out a single vote that established this policy. Go ahead, Mr. Jones. Do it. Enlighten us. Prove to us that you are not merely protecting the ill-advised action of your employee.

As an odd footnote,  Jones noted that Planning Commissions do review and advise on development disposition agreements. Which begs the question: on this highly subsidized housing project, why didn’t they?