Tag Archives: Ted White

Pringle and Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald Targeted Restaurant D’Vine

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.

Fitzgerald DVine

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.

FitzSlidebarParty

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:

Title 15 Change - ARUP CUP

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.

Ted White - Jeremy Slidebar

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.

Florentines-LE-Permit-2016

“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.

cronyism

Tonight the Downtown Bars Win

cronyism

The Fullerton City Council is about to hand the Downtown Restaurateurs Bar Owners two big wins and they’re going to continue to slap down the privacy of those in Fullerton in the process.

The first big win for the bars is in changing the rules around operating a bar in the Downtown area. This is partially because city staff thinks it’s too hard to do their jobs regarding enforcement. It’s just so hard to tell the couple of bars without Conditional Use Permits that they’re operating illegally.

The truth here is that it’s so hard to enforce anything downtown because council won’t let staff or the police department do their jobs so they all have to turn a blind eye to illegal operators and this change to Title 15 allows the downtown scofflaws to now operate *mostly* legally.

Except those without CUPs which the city will continue to ignore because favors and cronyism.

This is being sold as a way to make enforcement easier but let’s be real here – every year for a decade+ the Chief of Police (each of them) has signed off on Live Entertainment Permits which themselves say CUPs will be enforced. Our Chiefs of Police rubber stamp LE Permits for businesses that operate without required fire / life safety requirements.

So if the Police Chief is going to turn a blind eye to life safety in order to rubber stamp a permit for a favored business owner why should we believe that these new relaxed rules will be enforced? Because we’re supposed to “trust” these corrupt kleptocrats.

This Title 15 Change is being pushed to allow “legal non-conforming businesses” to now operate quasi-legally but staff won’t even tell use who that applies to in Downtown. We’re offering a form of amnesty without talking about who gets it and for what and if that’s even a good thing.

Ted White will likely prattle on about lumens and the percentage of tint on a window as cover but there are real concerns being omitted here. Why? Because saying “no, we allowed a business to illegally board up their windows with flammable material without fire sprinklers in clear violation of their CUP” doesn’t sound as easy to wash away in a rhetorical flourish such as “how do we know what 15% tint looks like”? Continue reading

Fullerton Puts Favoritism over Fire Safety

We’ve received, via a Public Records Request, some of Community Development Director Ted White’s text messages with downtown bar owner Joe Florentine. It looks like Mr. White is working for Florentine which explains a lot:

Ted White Florentine Texts a Ted White Florentine Texts b

To clear this up, those “issues” that Mr. Florentine is talking about include all of his violations of the municipal code and his Conditional Use Permit – specifically his illegal refusal to install fire sprinklers.

Florentines CUP Fire Sprinklers

Florentine is in gross violation and Ted White is pushing a big change to the municipal code through council in order to facilitate Florentine’s bad behavior.

While Mr. White likes to talk about how hard his job is, how impossible enforcement is and how outdated it is to look at “lumens” regarding lighting – he doesn’t admit that fire safety isn’t on his list of priorities – nor is actually doing his job.

Florentine’s properties on the corner of Harbor and Commonwealth, the largest bar / nightclub in all of Downtown Fullerton, as far as we can tell, is the ONLY business given a pass on fire and life safety issues.

We also have it on good authority that Mr. White tried to illegally INCREASE the occupancy at Florentine’s properties, in violation of the law, while ignoring the fire sprinkler issue that has been ignored by staff for 10+ years. Why? Why potentially put more people at risk?

And Mr. White isn’t alone in his belief that one man is above the rules and laws in Fullerton.

Every single year the Fullerton Police Chief, currently Robert Dunn, issues Florentine a Live Entertainment Permit threatening to enforce the applicable laws/permits. And every year the Chief does nothing but wield his rubber stamp for downtown law breakers. This is worse than the old joke of the UN saying “Stop! Or we’ll yell ‘Stop!’ again!” because our Chief can’t even be bothered to use the “S” word. Continue reading

A Question from Podunk

Those of us in the cheap seats out in Podunk have noticed something odd and can’t quite figure it out and we’re hoping that some of you friends have some answers.

The problem is that Joe Florentine operates a night club in clear violation of the Fullerton Municipal Code and possibly CA Law if not just CA building codes. How so? His nightclubs located at 100-104 N Harbor Blvd, and which have a combined occupancy of over 300 people, are lacking fire sprinklers. Feel free to check for the permits yourself to verify.

Fire sprinklers, mind you, which were a condition of his Conditional Use Permit back in 2008.

Florentines CUP Fire Sprinklers

The CUP from 2008 on this issue fully states (our emphasis):

“12. The 2008 Building Code requires that restaurants and drinking establishments with a fire occupancy of 100 persons or more are required to install fire sprinklers. As a result, the business owner is required to add fire sprinklers as a matter of approval. Because this is a Building Code requirement, the Planning Commission does not have discretion to waive this requirement. Staff has recommended a condition to assure that the work be performed within a specified timeframe of the use approval, or else the CUP will be brought back to the Planning Commission for revocation.”

Here’s the California Building Code for those who are curious, keep in mind that Florentine’s is said to be about 8,000 sqf:

2016 Building Fire Code

His business qualifies as requiring fire sprinklers. His conditional use permit requires him to have fire sprinklers. Yet he has no fire sprinklers.

Why are there no fire sprinklers?

Why hasn’t his Conditional Use Permit been revoked as required by law?

For 10+ years Florentine has been operating the largest restaurant / night club against the law and for 10+ years our staff has done nothing about it. Even though Fire and Life Safety are the issues at hand.

OK, that’s not fair to staff. They have done something. They’ve willfully ignored fire codes, building codes and public safety. We’ve got to give credit where credit is due and nothing in this case certainly is something.

Despite that 2008 Conditional Use Permit threatening a mandatory revocation, the city has never once enforced the issue of fire sprinklers let alone considered bringing his CUP back for possible revocation. Not Once. In all that time our useless Planning Commission has been too inept to ask tough questions of staff or for a list of gross violators to even notice this glaring slap against their preening authority.

But wait for it, it gets better.

Each year like clockwork the ever rotating Fullerton Police Chief signs off on Florentine’s Live Entertainment Permit making FPD complicit in this glaring life safety fail. Here’s an example from 2016/17:

Florentines LE Permit 2016

Check #7.

“7. The C.U.P (if applicable) shall be strictly enforced.”

The Chief of Police is signing off on Live Entertainment Permits and claiming that conditions of use, such as fire sprinklers, will be enforced while NEVER ONCE ENFORCING THEM in well over a decade.

While Community Development Director Ted White likes to talk about needed changes to the municipal code, specifically Title 15 which passed our clueless Planning Commission, he mentions lights and lumens and outdated technology. It sure is curious that he never bothered to mention Fire Safety and how he, his staff, nor any staff across Fullerton, can be bothered to enforce those issues and laws either. Nevermind flagrant violations of state law, HOLY CRAP LOOK AT THOSE LUMENS! We just can’t measure those time to change the codes!

While he’s baffling our clueless leaders and representatives on the dais with bullshit, he’s letting guys like Florentine violate safety concerns because… why exactly?

No seriously, why? Why are we tolerating staff, our Planning Commission, and our City Council blatantly ignoring the law while they spoon feed us nonsense about lumen measurement?

This is an endemic problem. That Live Entertainment Permit as seen on the Fullerton website actually needs to be signed off on by multiple departments:

LE Permit App

How is that nobody in the Building, Code Enforcement or the Fire Department has a problem with such a large venue with such a large civilian capacity each weekend being in clear violation of fire codes?

Joe Florentine actually made the case in front of the Planning Commission recently that the Live Entertainment Permit process was too arduous. Let that sink in. The dude who’s breaking the law and putting people’s lives at risk has the sadz because the process, that is letting him slip by with his lawlessness, wants the process to be easier!

South Park Balls

An artist representation of Joe Florentine after speaking to Planning Commission.

Maybe you can figure out why right now, this weekend of St. Paddy’s Day which is one of the heaviest drinking days of the year, the city is going to continue to put hundreds of people at risk in Florentine’s night clubs.

The city knows Joe Florentine operates his bars outside the law. He is legally required to protect the public he allows in his doors, but refuses to do so. We know it, we tolerate it, and we even sign off on it at least once a year.

Why is this important? Why should you care that your city staff ignores the law and signs off on Florentine’s shenanigans?

Because this means YOU, the taxpayers of Fullerton, are on the hook for an accident in Florentine’s bars.

You, through the Police Chief & Fire Department, signed off on his entertainment permits to pack his bars.

You, through your Council, Staff and City Manager, told him he was safe, every year. You told him he’s a good operator despite obvious evidence to the contrary.

So what happens when, God forbid, there’s a fire like the Ghost Ship in Oakland where fire sprinklers were also lacking?

Who pays restitution? Little ol’ Joe with his big house and big pool up on the hill?

NO! You do! You pay! Just like you always pay when staff and council refuse to do their jobs. You signed the dotted line that blessed all his illegal bullshit and then you did nothing about it.

You get what you vote for, Fullerton. This weekend your vote will be used again to tolerate putting hundreds of people at risk. You voted for people to not enforce life safety laws, you voted to not enforce alcohol service laws, and you voted to not enforce zoning laws.

When will you have enough?

cronyism

City is Still Shilling for Bar Owners

cronyism

For the last, well forever really, the city has been trying to figure out how to change downtown to make it more… something. I can’t quite figure it out. By the looks of it the only goals City Staff have are to pack as many residents into as many high-density apartment complexes as possible and to hand over as much of Downtown to the local “restauranteurs” which is Ted White (Director of Community Development) for “Bar Owners”.

This past Wednesday night one such plan hit our Planning Commission. The plan was 70+ pages of muddled definitions and empty promises. I’ll summarize:

City Staff has been ignoring their jobs and our municipal code for 15+ years because reasons. It’s hard to do the job we pay them to do so they want to do less of it and they want to relax the rules so the rule-breakers have fewer rules they have to break while making piles of money.

Instead of cleaning up bad definitions and attempting to hold businesses responsible for the melees enveloping downtown each weekend, the city would rather permanently legalize downtown getting louder and more rowdy with the promises that this time, with no indication of staffing changes or practical enforcement, they’ll hold bar owners to a standard of behavior, or perhaps a guideline, or at least an amorphous shape resembling a line if you squint really hard.

It reminds me an old UN Peacekeeper joke where whenever they see somebody doing something wrong they yell “Stop! Or I’ll Yell “Stop!” Again!”. This time they mean it for realsies.

Ultimately Wednesday’s item was held until a possible study session in January and a new meeting in February, which is when we’re totally screwed. The bar owners will get everything they want and then some come February because the Planning Commission is changing. A lot. Continue reading