Archives for posts with tag: Joe Felz
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Destruction of public property…

In the early morning hours following election celebrations in downtown Fullerton, City Manager Joe Felz drove his car over a curb in a residential neighborhood, mowing down a young tree in the parkway and leaving pieces of his vehicle there. According to neighbors, he eventually freed the car from the curb and drove it down the street for a short distance, effectively leaving the scene of an accident that involved damage to public property. The police who responded to the call of a concerned neighbor described him as emitting an odor of alcohol. The Chief of Police, set to retire just two days later, was called. He reportedly gave instructions for a field sobriety test, which Mr. Felz reportedly passed. No other test for alcohol inebriation was given, as far as we know, and Mr Felz was driven to his nearby home, evidently without any legal citation.

Although a final report of the incident is supposed to be forthcoming (?), the circumstances raise too many questions for Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald to remain silent. Residents may reasonably ask whether or not the City Manager was given special treatment by the outgoing Chief of Police, or by the officers at the scene, who would certainly not have called the Chief if just about anyone else had been discovered in similar circumstances. In light of unconfirmed reports that those officers were not happy about driving Mr. Felz home without further action, an independent investigation is needed, including a review of the officers’ body cams.

Now that the story has been picked up by the news media, including KCAL 9 News, who aired a segment about it last night, Mayor Fitzgerald needs to make a statement about what the city intends to do to reassure Fullerton residents that the situation will be resolved in a fair, just, and transparent manner. Four years ago three members of the Fullerton City Council, including sitting Mayor Dick Jones, were swept from office for their inadequate response to a more serious, but similarly disconcerting incident, when a man was effectively beaten to death by officers of the Fullerton Police Department for no evident reason. A perceived lack of action on the part of city officials left Fullerton under national scrutiny while Chief of Police Michael Sellers embarked on a vacation.

As of today, Fullerton has no Chief of Police because Michael Sellers’ replacement Dan Hughes has left the position to go work for Disneyland. His interim replacement will be named by City Manager Joe Felz. This arrangement is intolerable under the present circumstances, and the Mayor and City Council of Fullerton need to communicate what they are going to do about it, now.

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Someone had a bad night…Photo from FFFF blog.

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.

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Perhaps the broken streets help to slow down out of control cars? Photo from FFFF blog.


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Spare parts…Photo from FFFF blog.

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.

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“Emitting an odor of alcohol…”

 

Hunt Banner

Your public library, closed indefinitely. Will it be funded by the Fullerton City Council, or sold off as surplus property?

Matthew Leslie

The Early March edition of the Fullerton Observer (End or Reopening of Hunt Branch Library?) reports that The Fullerton Public Library Board of Trustees met on February 25, and voted to recommend to the City Council that the Hunt Branch Library either be funded with $ 1.3 million for annual operations or be considered surplus property. Grace Ministries International (GMI) has been leasing the facility for the less-than-princely sum of $ 1,500.00 per month since its abrupt closure in 2013 amidst reports that library staffers did not feel safe so near the then-burgeoning homeless encampment nearby.

According to the Fullerton Observer account, it was none other than retired City Manager Chris Meyer who first proposed selling the library at the Thursday meeting, in response to the city council’s past failure to fund it. The suggestion came during a discussion of an agenda item to provide direction about the Hunt’s future, now that GMI’s lease period is expiring. Rag readers will recall that it was Chris Meyer himself who wrote to this very blog nearly three years ago to repudiate the notion that the Hunt would be permanently closed, and eventually sold. (The Beginning of the End of the Hunt?)

At that time, Mr. Meyer suggested that the Hunt could be utilized to provide a “wide range of services, including a library, and media access center, and whatever the community needs. It is my belief that after the homeless issue at the branch is addressed, and the City’s budget recovers, there will be an opportunity for a renaissance of the facility, and the adjacent park,” he wrote. Mr. Meyer’s attempts to reassure Rag readers concluded with the admonition that, “This is not the beginning of the end, but rather the start of a new, and much more diverse role for Hunt in the southwest community.”

Three years on, Mr. Meyer’s turnabout position to sell a public library he formerly predicted would enjoy a “renaissance” might not even result in a public sale of the facility, however, because current City Manager Joe Felz, who once served as Mr. Meyer’s assistant, is reported to have suggested that the city should “sole source” the sale of the Hunt to the church directly. “They (GMI) have been accommodating by inviting people to see the architecture,”  he is reported to have said in the Observer.

As the Rag noted in its last story, despite assurances from City Hall that the William Pereira designed Hunt library would be the subject of an historic preservation designation, no such protection for the facility has been achieved in the nearly three years since the library was closed. City Manager Joe Felz seems to think that GMI, who continue to lease the property, should now be offered the purchase of the library exclusive of any other buyers. This brazenly proffered triple foul would not only permanently rob the people of Fullerton of a public library, but add insult to injury by selling the mid-century architectural gem with no legal assurances that it wouldn’t be torn down, and without even offering it to the highest bidder.

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