The newly revived Friends for Fullerton’s Future blog is reporting that Fullerton City Manager Joe Felz was involved in a single car accident early this morning, following a night spent at several election night parties downtown. Skid marks and pieces of what are said to be his own vehicle can be seen in the photographs below, along with a young tree flattened in the parkway of W. Glenwood Drive.
As yesterday’s national election has taught us, you just can’t make this stuff up…
Earlier today outgoing Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes issued a memo to Fullerton’s five City Council members apprising them of Joe Felz’s involvement in a single car accident in the Golden Hills residential neighborhood. It begins thus:
“On November 9, 2016 at approximately 0130 hours FPD officers were dispatched to 255 W. Glenwood regarding a possible collision where the vehicle had struck a curb and was stuck on the sidewalk. The driver was later determined to be city manager Joe Felz.”
Our first questions ought to be why were police dispatched in the first place (who called them)? and how much later was it “determined” who the driver of the “disabled” car was?
The next paragraph begins with a real kicker:
“I received a telephone call at my residence from the Watch Commander who informed me that the city manager was involved in a minor single vehicle collision and that the sergeant believed the city manager was emitting an odor of alcohol.”
So investigating officers always call the Watch Commander (who, by the way, we are told was none other than former Fullerton Public Information Officer Andrew Goodrich, famous for his highly spun press releases about Kelly Thomas, following the beating that effectively killed him) when they find a motorist who smells of alcohol? And where was Mr. Felz when this preliminary determination was made? At the scene of the accident? or not? Does the Watch Commander always call the off-duty Chief of Police under these circumstances?
“I informed the Watch Commander that I would call the sergeant to obtain additional information and that I would have the field sergeant conduct a preliminary assessment by performing Field Sobriety Tests and if the sergeant believed there was a level of intoxication that met the criteria to be a violation of the law, we would contact the CHP to investigate.”
Why is the Chief of Police calling the sergeant directly?
“I provided the above directions to the field sergeant and also briefly spoke to the city manager on the phone to explain what protocol would be followed. The sergeant conducted the assessment and made the determination that the city manager had consumed alcohol, but did not meet the criteria of 23152(a) CVC. The city manager was driven home and his vehicle was towed.”
The sergeant evidently concluded that Mr. Felz was not intoxicated, but he did crash his car into a curb, disabling the car and mowing down a city tree on a street he must travel twice a day, at least? How long after the accident was this test administered? The Rag received an independent report of a witness seeing the car being towed at around 3:00 a.m., an hour and a half after Chief Hughes reports the police to have been dispatched to the scene.
The memo from Chief Hughes concludes…
“During this time period, I also contacted Mayor Fitzgerald and informed her I was following the protocol of notifying the mayor about the contact with the city manager. I informed the mayor of the directions I had provided to the field sergeant and that I would re-contact her when the investigation was complete. Her only instructions were to follow normal procedures.
A collision report was documented under case 2016-74804 and a supplemental report will be completed by the sergeant documenting the assessment of the city manager.”
Outwardly, it would seem form Chief Hughes’ memo that he followed a procedure designed to ensure transparency and provide an avenue to place the investigation in the hands of the CHP, if warranted, thus removing any potential conflict of interest that would be inherent to him investigating his own boss for a possible crime. However, no oversight is guaranteed the people of Fullerton over Chief Hughes’ actions. We can await the report to which he refers at the end of the memo, but in a case like this one the need for a real Police Commission becomes obvious, even if we will, presumably, have a body cam recording available?
The Rag understands that at least one news outlet, the Voice of OC, is working on the story.