Tag Archives: The Other Dick Jones

Bruce Whitaker Voice of OC

Who’s Full of it? Whitaker or the City Attorney?

Bruce Whitaker Voice of OC

We’ve made it onto the Voice of OC again. The newest story [HERE] revolves around a fundamental problem with government secrecy – you never know who’s telling the truth after something nefarious happens.

According to City Attorney The Other Dick Jones™, the City Council voted in closed session back on 17 September to sue us for allegedly clicking links.

Council Member Bruce Whitaker, mind you, claims that no such vote happened back in September.

Only one of them can be telling the truth and with history as our guide we know where to place our bets.

To bolster their claims of a vote in September the City “cured” their illegal Brown Act violation two weeks ago on 05 November by allegedly re-voting to sue us 4-1 (Whitaker dissenting). But did they ever actually vote back in September or is that just a ruse being cooked up to make their case against us look less retaliatory?

Fullerton Stopped Us From Publishing Public Records

OCR- Top of the Fold

Fullerton is headed back to court tomorrow to try and fix what it claims is a “clerical error” in their Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against us here at FFFF. The TRO that’s already in front of the Court of Appeals and has mostly been stayed. The meat here is that the City Attorney did not incorporate into the TRO the list of files we’re alleged to have “hacked” by clicking links the city gave out to the world.

To try and fix their mistake, the City’s attorneys are running back to court to get the TRO fixed. This is all a part of their quest to search our digital lives to see if we have files they themselves admit they put on the internet.

For those just catching up, the core of the city’s illegal SLAPP case is that the public can only access information on the City’s website that the City has sent you a link and express permission to access/download.

This is preposterous and amounts to me calling you, dear reader, a “thief” and “hacker” if you click the “Contact” link on this page without me giving you express permission to click it despite me inviting you onto this page. This idiocy, if allowed to stand in court, will break the internet as we know it.

But in true Fullerton fashion it gets better.

You see, when the city was rushing to stomp on our First Amendment rights (despite Jan Flory expecting that to get struck down and Bruce Whitaker claiming there was no vote to do so at all), they couldn’t even be bothered to check their work. This is the list of files in question according to the City and the files we were restrained (gagged) from publishing or sharing:

TROed Public Records

Those red arrows are files that the City claims are public records disclosed as part of records requests according to the declaration of Mea Klein. You can likely spot other obvious public records on your own.

In other words – the city got a court to stop us from publishing and sharing records they themselves claim are public. Files the clerk’s office released to members of the public.

Let us contrast that with the City’s argument where they claim we should have known which files/folders on the city’s Dropbox account were public versus private before allegedly accessing anything. The City Attorney, as evidenced by this exhibit of their own creation, can’t discern public from allegedly private files. They not only admit to co-mingling files they have a legal duty to keep confidential with documents they have a legal duty to share with the public but they did it again in their TRO against us.

Allow me to repeat this very important point:

At the behest of our City Council, the City Attorney actually convinced a court to restrain us from publishing and sharing things they themselves admit are public records.

One might expect a little more due diligence when working to step on the First Amendment. We’ll see what the judge says tomorrow regarding this TRO update and we’ll keep you posted as this case continues.

SureJan

Jan Flory Knowingly Voted Against the 1st Amendment

JanFlory-Official

It’s not often that a sitting politician admits to violating the rights of the people but we’re seeing a lot of firsts here in Fullerton lately and the issue of ethics is no different.

Let us start by reminding the class that councilwoman Jan Flory is only currently on council because Ahmad Zahra sold out in record time and put her there. Despite Zahra’s peacocking and preening as a man of ethics and great concern for the Constitution and voting rights – he showed us early on that he’s an empty suit.

Now in an amusing twist of events it turns out that not only did Zahra and the council vote to kick our 1st Amendment rights in the teeth – his appointee Flory knew that what they were doing wasn’t going to hold up in the courts.

In a recent article [HERE] in the Voice of OC, Councilwoman Jan Flory said the following (emphasis added):

Councilwoman Jan Flory said while she respects the First Amendment, the privacy of city employees is also at stake. Like Whitaker, she said she couldn’t speak about the legal advice given to the Council during closed session.

I think that First Amendment rights trump everything else, but I believe that Kim Barlow has done a good job in that the city also wants to protect Mr. Ferguson’s First Amendment rights,” said Flory in a Nov. 8 phone interview.

She said the First Amendment isn’t the core issue.

“That’s not what’s at issue here. What’s at issue is he (Ferguson) obtained records that are private,” Flory said. “Or have some implications concerning the confidentiality of our city employees as well as members of the public.”

Flory also expected the publication gag order to get blocked, at least temporarily, she said.

“Was I shocked by it? No, not at all,” Flory said.

So Jan Flory, as a lawyer, expected the gag order to get blocked?

On what grounds could it possibly be blocked? On 1st Amendment grounds, perhaps?

Why? Because the gag order against publishing was and is an illegal prior restraint against the 1st Amendment and as a lawyer Jan Flory might be familiar with this particular point.

Now according to The Other Dick Jones™ at the last council meeting the entire council, Flory included, voted for this 1st Amendment violating gag order back in September despite Flory expecting it to be shot down.

There you have it folks.

Jan Flory “thinks that First Amendment rights trump everything else” but that didn’t stop her from voting to put the boot of government on the throat of OUR 1st Amendment rights when it suited the CYA needs of the city.

While fully expecting the courts to slap the city’s illegal SLAPP lawsuit/TRO – she voted against the 1st Amendment on 17 September 2019 and then did it again on 05 November 2019. I’m sorry Jan, but your postulating about the importance of the 1st Amendment is meaningless when you yourself voted against Freedom of the Press not once but twice.

You care about the 1st Amendment?

SureJan

Reporters Committee on Press Freedom Files Amicus Supporting FFFF

On Sunday, 03 November 2019, the Reporters Committee on Press Freedom released an article [HERE] outlining their read on the case against us. They see the overreach and concern to journalists being posed by Fullerton’s read on the law.

“The prior restraint sought here is, of course, concerning. But this is the first case we’re aware of where the computer crime laws have been misused so brazenly against members of the news media. First, the conduct alleged — accessing publicly available documents over the public internet — is clearly not hacking. A court finding that accessing publicly available documents over the public internet constitutes hacking would pose serious concerns for data journalists.”

Two days later, 05 Nov, the same day the City Council voted 4-1 to continue the lawsuit against this blog and two of your humble friends, the RCPF filed an amicus brief supporting us in our appeals court effort to overturn the Temporary Restraining Order issued against us.

You can read the entire RCFP Amicus Brief [HERE]. Some highlights are as follows.

The allegations:

“The essence of the City’s allegations in this case is that bloggers reporting on newsworthy matters of clear public interest (namely, potential government misconduct) violated federal and state hacking laws by accessing information that was made available online by the City to all the world. The City claims it is entitled not only to an extraordinary prior restraint on publication but also damages, in part for claims against the City for breach of confidentiality caused by the City’s own cybersecurity lapses.”

This was not hacking:

“If Amicus’s reading of the declaration of the City’s information technology expert is correct, one did not even need a username or password to access files in the Dropbox account maintained by the City, in which it commingled allegedly sensitive and privileged information with material that it affirmatively invited public records requesters to download.”

The theft from a “house” analogy doesn’t work:

“A public website, including the Dropbox account here, is not like a “house.” When an entity chooses to make information available to the public on the internet, without a technical access restriction like a password, that information can legally be accessed by anyone.”

VPNs/TOR are industry practice:

“It is true that the use of a VPN and Tor serves to protect user anonymity, and that “even some journalists routinely use” them. Id. Indeed, the use of such services is not only commonplace among journalists—it is a recommended industry practice.”

“Everyone should be using encrypted services and applications to protect their communications. In fact, in 2017, the American Bar Association’s Committee on Ethics and Legal Responsibility recommended that lawyers use “high level encryption” or other “strong protective measures” to protect sensitive client information.”

Read the whole thing, it’s worth it. We’ll bring more updates as they happen.

City of Fullerton Is Suing Me And This Blog

You may have already seen the story and/or press release from the City of Fullerton articulating their lawsuit against myself, Friends for Fullerton’s Future and others.

You can read the Voice of OC’s write up on this lawsuit from the city [HERE]:

“Fullerton city attorneys are heading into Orange County Superior Court Friday to ask a judge for a temporary restraining order against resident Joshua Ferguson and a local blog to keep them from deleting city records they obtained and also asking a judge to appoint someone to comb through electronic devices for the records.”

That lawsuit from the city is retaliation for a Public Records Lawsuit I filed against the city last week which was written up by the Voice of OC [HERE]:

“Fullerton residents may soon find out exactly how former City Manager Joe Felz was given a ride home by Fullerton police officers after hitting a tree and trying to flee the scene following drinking on election night in 2016, after resident Joshua Ferguson filed a lawsuit against the city to produce police body camera footage from that night.”

I will have more details in the near future but our current response is HERE]:

“The basic purpose of the First Amendment is to prevent the government from imposing prior restraints against the press. “Regardless of how beneficent-sounding the purposes of controlling the press might be,” the Court has “remain[ed] intensely skeptical about those measures that would allow government to insinuate itself into the editorial rooms of this Nation’s press.” (Nebraska Press, 427 U.S. at 560-561.)

“Consistent with that principle, over the last 75 years, the United States Supreme Court repeatedly has struck down prior restraints that limited the press’ right to report about court proceedings. The Court has made clear that a prior restraint may be contemplated only in the rarest circumstances, such as where necessary to prevent the dissemination of information about troop movements during wartime, Near, 283 U.S. at 716, or to “suppress[] information that would set in motion a nuclear
holocaust.” (New York Times, 403 U.S. at 726 (Brennan, J., concurring).)

“This case does not come close to presenting such extraordinary circumstances. Thus, the City cannot prevail as a matter of law, regardless of how the records were originally obtained. The City’s requests are flatly unconstitutional in and Defendants, therefore, respectfully request this Court denying the City’s request in its entirely.”

More to come as these two cases play out in court.

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

Continue reading

Downtown Fullerton

Enjoy Downtown While it Lasts

Downtown Fullerton

Fullerton’s City Council last Tuesday, as expected, voted to change the rules governing how bars operate in the city in order to facilitate having more bars and making them more profitable.

The crux of the change is that it was too hard for staff to do their jobs, and for the Police Chief to stop rubber stamping permits, so the city needed to change the rules. This time they mean to enforce them unlike the last decade+ they promise… kind of… well not really.

Not one council member got an answer of who was in violation of what rules they were changing and why it was so hard for community development, code enforcement and the police to use a checklist to sort it out and in fact Ted White’s answers on how Conditional Use Permits work negated his own arguments of the Title 15 change. But again, council was too inept and/or lazy to follow the logic of the change or to ask any real questions per the norm.

The council ALSO voted to launch a pilot program, which we all know will be permanent, for paid parking in downtown. This is a data driven program tracking who comes and goes how often and how long they stay based on license plate data. As we heard at the meeting the whole point was data, data, data and more data. You will be tracked and your data will likely be sold. It’s so data driven that the vendor, staff and council want you to punch in where you park even when you don’t have to pay for parking – just because you WANT to be tracked.

Data Breach

When council asked who owned the servers the vendor claimed it was a “cloud based server” and that’s where the questions stopped. We don’t know what data is kept, where it is kept, which servers are used or who our travel data is being sold to – all because council couldn’t be bothered to ask.

It was a pathetic meeting full of incompetence, malfeasance and laughable gaffs. The Other Dick Jones™ got torn into by both Fitzgerald and Zahra for how they can/can’t handle an agenda item and when the city clerk offered helpful info the council just blanker her. It was probably the worst example of governing I’ve seen in years.

Individually the council members didn’t do themselves any favors in the integrity or intelligence departments. Continue reading

Will Ahmad Zahra Hold Firm?

AhmadZahra

Back in December, in his first at-bat, Ahmad Zahra surprised me by speaking of the Constitution and transparency whilst simultaneously voting against FitzSilva in their attempt to appoint Jan Flory to Council. Zahra was on fire with gems such as:

“My decision is going to be contingent upon us making sure that the appointment process is fair and open and transparent. So until we can make that decision, I don’t see how we should take votes away from people.

“The question is, is there a fairer and open and more transparent process than voting itself? Can we come up with that? Can we come up with something better than what the Constitution come up with? That is my question for the council. I’m leaving my decision until I hear other council members.”

Tonight we get to find out if Zahra is a man of principle standing by his own talking points at the last meeting or if that was all simply a clever flex to show who has the real authority on this issue in an effort to get his preferred pick onto council.

For those new to the story here’s the gist as I understand it —

Jesus Silva wanted incumbency in 2022 and thus opted to run for the District 3 seat on council.

Council then chose to change the law ON ELECTION DAY in the case Silva beat Sebourn in order to limit the options for voters.

Silva took home the ring on election day and in winning he vacated his at-large seat which runs until 2020.

Then in December the dynamic duo of Jennifer Fitzgerald and Jesus Silva testily complained that they needed Ahmad to go along to get along in order for them to get what they wanted. Zahra didn’t go along which brings us to today.

Tonight we’ll watch as FitzSilva likely tries to lay it on thick and blame Ahmad for the cost of the election should he choose transparency and an election (as he did back in December). This is posturing bollocks but I’m wondering if he’ll stand firm. Both he and our residents need to know that the fault here lies partially with Silva for running, partially with council for changing the city ordinance, ON ELECTION DAY, to facilitate this choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, but really the fault lies with our City Attorney The Other Dick Jones for offering terrible advice and putting us in this situation in the first place. Zahra is blameless here on the issue of cost should he choose openness and transparency by way of a special election.

dick-jones

Prepare for the same shenanigans with FitzSilva promising a fictionally transparent process in this city which is allergic to the very premise of transparency. The same transparency which had Jan Flory meeting with at least 2 (if not 3) current council members and bringing a cabal of people to lobby for her to be appointed without the citizenry any the wiser. THAT type of so-called transparency should be rejected and here’s hoping that Councilman Zahra continues to impress the way he did during at his last at-bat.

Felz After a Fortnight

The last official word we heard on the status of our City Manager post the Sappy McTree incident was that, besides apologizing, Joe Felz was on leave for 2 weeks.

The Official Story, if you recall, started on 15 November 2016 when the City Attorney, “The Other Dick Jones“, told us that City Manager Joe Felz would be on leave for 2-weeks which prompted Jones to ask Mayor Fitzgerald to immediately put forth an emergency motion to appoint Gretchen Beatty as “Acting City Manager” and once that was done she’d stay in the Acting City Manager position until the Council voted to remove Ms. Beatty from said position. None of this was 1) an emergency or 2) needed as legally we don’t need a City Manager but I don’t expect the City Attorney to bother with such details as State Law.

The pertinent issue is that nobody on Council bothered to ask timely questions on this matter and so the fact that there wouldn’t be a Council meeting 2 weeks later (yesterday) never came up. Now 2-weeks has passed with the next Council Meeting scheduled for 06 December 2016 and it’s at THAT meeting that the Council would have the first opportunity to remove Ms. Beatty from her Acting position in order to put Joe Felz into his chair again.

joe-felz-up-close

Does that mean that Mr. Felz is back now twiddling his thumbs with nothing to do (2-weeks later as stated) or that he’ll stay gone until next week when the Council can remove Ms. Beatty from her Acting position or later due to the ongoing Felz/FPD investigation? Who knows with answers not exactly forthcoming from City Hall. We won’t even know if it’ll be on the Council Agenda until this coming Friday night.

As for the inevitable “What difference does a week make?” question I will posture that it speaks to the nature of our City Government and the way our city is run. It’s slapdash thinking & haphazard decisions over even such basic calendar items that showcases the culture in City Hall where there is almost zero attention paid to details. This sort of intellectual laziness is how we end up with unaccountable bureaucrats spending time in Las Vegas or elsewhere while the city bleeds red ink and puts our kids further into debt with only high-density boondoggles on, and blocking, the horizon in order to offset the bloated spending.

We shouldn’t have to point this sort of stuff out but our so-called leaders can’t be bothered to do the jobs they voluntarily took and that leaves us, the malcontents and rabble-rousers,  to do the job of making sure that somebody is paying attention.

Trust the System that Can’t be Trusted

Remember when Our Mayor, Jennifer Fitzgerald, had the City Attorney, “The Other Dick Jones“, repeat the city’s position on the Joe Felz alleged D.U.I. incident?

That they’re looking into it, via an outside investigative group without subpoena power that is answerable only to the City Brass, and that any potential criminal charges would be forwarded to the District Attorney?

It’s a good thing that we can trust the District Attorney, Tony Rackauckas, to be interested in the law and to not be too cozy with Law Enforcement.

Oh wait. Nevermind.

In the latest episode of “You’ve Got to be F*^%ing Kidding Me” the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has kept the entire D.A.’s office off of the most high-profile shooting case in county history for misconduct. All because the D.A. is too cozy with Law Enforcement and doesn’t follow the law.

Continue reading