Archives for posts with tag: Michael Gennaco

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Where is the First Fullerton Police Department Audit by Michael Gennaco’s Office of Independent Review?

In September, 2013, The Fullerton City Council brushed aside attempts by local residents to create responsible, local oversight of the city’s own police department to instead hire Michael Gennaco’s Office of Independent Review (OIR) to periodically audit some functions of the Fullerton Police Department (FPD). With only Council member Bruce Whitaker dissenting, a 4 to 1 majority approved an agreement—one that wasn’t even available in the council’s printed agenda—to pay OIR $ 120,000 over a two year trial period for the annual audits. That was over a year and half ago. The first audit, covering the year 2014, should have have been performed, a report submitted, and that report released to the public by now. Where is it? When can the public expect to find out what the OIR had to say about the FPD’s performance over the last year? What did we get for $ 60,000 this year? Is it a secret?

Kelly Thomas Tape

January 13 marks the first anniversary of two officers charged in the death of Kelly Thomas being found not guilty by a jury, and the announcement by the office of the District Attorney that charges against a third officer would be dropped. This anniversary will be observed at 6:30 tonight at Kelly’s Corner, 123 E. Santa Fe Avenue, near the spot where the schizophrenic homeless man was beaten so severely by Fullerton police officers that he never regained consciousness.

In the three and a half years since his death, Kelly’s final heartbreaking cries of “Dad! Help me. Help me. Help me, dad!” as officers pummeled him with blows have been echoed by gasps of “I can’t breathe” by a more recent victim of unjustified police violence. Others had no chance to speak before being gunned down. Although nationwide killings by police have been, with some justification, cited as acts of racism against people of color, the killing of Kelly Thomas, who was white, demonstrated that unprovoked and/or excessive acts of violence by police officers against civilians (and sometimes themselves) in the United States is an equal opportunity epidemic.

A year ago a police helicopter hovered overhead as an angry, but peaceful, crowd pondered the state of their society, where a man’s beating death could be captured on videotape, but the perpetrators could go completely unpunished by the law. On that night, it seemed that only those outraged by these circumstances would be subject to the force of the law.

Three and a half years after the killing of Mr. Thomas, the three officers originally charged in his death have been fired, but three more present at the scene are still on the force. There is still no public oversight of the Fullerton Police Department. Instead, the Office of Independent Review was contracted to periodically audit materials selected by the Chief of Police from it’s own internal affairs investigations. We await the public release of the first review…

Seven candidates, including two incumbents, have filed papers to run for two open seats on the Fullerton City Council. The election takes place on November 4, with vote by mail ballots available a month earlier.

The field consists of Jane Rands, Sean Paden, Doug Chaffee, Greg Sebourn, Larry Bennett, Rick Alvarez, and Bill Chaffee.

Let’s take a look at who they are and who they are likely to serve if elected, ladies first.

Jane Rands

Jane Rands

Jane Rands is a software engineer who was the top vote getter of candidates not funded by either developers or the police or fire union in the Nov. 2012 General Election. Other than Doug Chaffee, she is the only candidate in this race with a record of opposing 2012’s Measure W, Chevron’s plan to develop Coyote Hills. She is a board member of the Friends of Coyote Hills.

She is also a co-founder of the Police Oversight Proposal Committee (POPC), who formulated a plan for civilian oversight of the Fullerton Police Department in the aftermath of the killing of Kelly Thomas by FPD officers.

She was recently a member of the city’s Downtown Core and Corridors Specific Plan (DCCSP) Advisory Committee, but is working with Friends for a Livable Fullerton‘s Jane Reifer to organize residents and business owners opposed to the plan’s fast-tracking of high density development in some parts of Fullerton. Jane Rands currently serves on and is a past chair of the Bicycle Users Subcommittee, where she has worked to ensure that the city holds true to a vision of increased mobility and safety for cycling on Fullerton streets. She opposed the closing of the Hunt Branch Library. She has contributed stories to the Fullerton Observer.

Sean Paden

Sean Paden

Former Planning Commissioner Sean Paden, who also ran in 2012, is a construction attorney known for his critical stance on the city’s unfunded pension liability. His refreshingly direct statement calls out the city for increasing water fees while water pipes “burst from neglect.” He suggests instituting a 401K retirement plan for future city employees as a solution to the current budget busting pension plans. He is a current member of the Design Review Committee.

Sean Paden has also been active with POPC. He was instrumental in drafting and presenting an proposed civilian oversight ordinance, ultimately rejected by the City Council, available as a separate page on the Rag. He contributes to the Fullerton Association of Concerned Taxpayers (FACT) website. He supported Measure W in 2012.

Doug Chaffee

Doug Chaffee

Currently serving as mayor for 2014, Attorney Doug Chaffee ran three times before finally being elected in a recall election he did not seem to support. He opposed Measure W in that election, and is the only member of the City Council who actively supports saving Coyote Hills from development (or “overdevelopment,” as he has frequently said in the past). No other current Council member has shown leadership on the impasse between Chevron’s continuing plans for residential and commercial development on the site and the decisive vote against development by over 60% of Fullerton voters two years ago.

Doug Chaffee has also championed the need for a local homeless shelter, working with county officials to open one just over the border in Anaheim. However, he has resisted any meaningful oversight of the troubled Fullerton Police Department, preferring instead to outsource the job to the Office of Independent Review, and going so far as to don a police union sponsored “I (Love) Fullerton Police” t-shirt on the Council dais in 2012.

Greg Sebourn

Greg Sebourn

Current Mayor Pro Tem Greg Sebourn, a land surveyor, ran as a no-nonsense guardian of the public treasury in 2012, one of three candidates backed by the Recall election’s organizer and financier Tony Bushala. Mr. Bushala has since declined to support him, largely over his vote against seeking an outside bid for police services from the OC Sheriff’s Department shortly after taking office (Mr. Bushala appears to have effectively exited the entire political scene at this time). The position endeared Mr. Sebourn to the police union at the time, but it’s hard to imagine them backing him for office when there are other more pliable candidates in the race. Later, he voted with the majority to contract with the Office of Independent Review to provide periodic audits of the police department when it became obvious that there were not enough votes to adopt POPC’s civilian oversight ordinance.

Greg Sebourn opposed the water rate formula (supported by Council members Jennifer Fitzgerald, Doug Chaffee, and Jan Flory) that was designed to retain an inflated portion of the illegal water surcharge that had been funneled into the general fund for years. He also opposed closing the Hunt Branch Library, along with Bruce Whitaker, while the aforementioned trio supported temporarily leasing the facility to neighboring Grace Ministries International. He supported Measure W in 2012.

Larry Bennett

Larry Bennett

Former Planning Commissioner Larry Bennett, a financial planner, is essentially an old guard candidate endorsed by many of the same people who tried to keep Don Bankhead, Dick Jones, and Pat McKinley in office two years ago. Voters can decide for themselves whether or not his management of the disastrously ineffective Anti-Recall campaign lends credibility to his administrative abilities, although he can hardly be blamed for losing an election on behalf of such an unpopular and oblivious trio. He pledges to fix Fullerton’s roads and sidewalks and to make pensions sustainable, but is endorsed by the same recalled Council members who helped to cause these same problems. He supported Measure W in 2012.

Rick Alvarez

Rick Alvarez

Current Planning Commissioner Rick Alvarez, who owns a security business, has recently been spotted at both Republican and Democrat meetings looking for support. In 2012 he bizarrely suggested that warehouses ought to be built on West Coyote Hills instead of houses, offering a solution that pleased nobody. It’s hard to figure out exactly why he is running, but he has gained the support of the Fullerton Firefighters Association (union), who have so far contributed $5,000 to his campaign. He was backed by the police union two years ago to the tune of $30,000 in independent expenditures on his and Jan Flory’s behalf. He supported Measure W in 2012.

(Sorry, no picture of Bill Chaffee available)

Bill Chaffee, who lists no profession and did not file a statement, is the brother of Doug Chaffee. It is anyone’s guess why he is running for a City Council seat, although he has publicly criticized his brother in the past. There will be conspiracies about people putting him up to it to confuse voters, to be sure, but the Rag hasn’t seen or heard any evidence to support any theory other than that he decided to do it on his own. His stance on Measure W in 2012 is unknown.

We’ll follow these campaigns in greater detail in the weeks to come, but the best advice the Rag can give is to pay close attention to who is funding each candidate. Can a Council member be objective about a development proposal if they’ve accepted campaign contributions from a landowner or builder? What about signing off on a labor agreement with a union that has contributed money?

With the apparent exit of Tony Bushala from politics, the only real kingmakers now are the police and fire unions, developers, and wealthy landowners who generally want zoning changes like the DCCSP that allow for more development on their properties.  Elected officials like Ed Royce and Sharon Quirk-Silva also play a role by offering endorsements that carry weight with different swaths of the electorate, as do the endorsements of the OC Register and the Fullerton Observer.

If you want to see someone succeed who isn’t beholden to big monied interest groups, then be prepared to contribute time and money to that candidate or risk getting an unresponsive City Council more interested in pleasing the special interests who finance their campaigns than listening to Fullerton’s residents.

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