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We are now in the moment when evidence begins to accrue so as to favor one or another story regarding what really motivated the Fullerton recall. I don’t mean what motivated the voters: that was pretty clearly the killing of Kelly Thomas and the weak response of the Council to it. I’d say the same is true of the signature gatherers and demonstrators. I mean, what motivated the proponents — and most of all, the chief funder of it all, Tony “Deep Pockets” Bushala.
Scenario 1 — which I have to say, I believed when I first headed to FFFF half a year or so ago — is that Tony and the FFFFster leaders were really, legitimately, exercised over the killing of Kelly Thomas and wanted to make sure that those policing Fullerton would never allow it again. This is very likely true of voters, but not necessarily true of leaders.
Scenario 2 is that Tony and his gang, despite not liking it when a harmless homeless guy is killed, were just using the Kelly Thomas killing as a way of electing a majority to the City Council that would implement their anti-tax, anti-pension, anti-union, anti-public employee agenda.
(People within the FFFF cult have of course been frantically upset at the notion that Scenario 2, rather than Scenario 1, could have been the real primary motivation for the recall. For them, where Kelly Thomas has become a saint to whom they write letters (don’t make me link to it), contemplating whether the recall was not really about Kelly is a sin on the level of musing about whether Jesus was mostly after the publicity.)
Up until now, there has been no real way to tell which scenario has more support. The recall leaders’ actions would have been pretty much the same under Scenario 1 and Scenario 2 — because both of them required constant flogging of the Kelly Thomas story. They certainly didn’t campaign primarily (or hardly at all) on “bankrupt the city and void the pensions” or whatever they have in mind. It was only after the recall that the paths they would take under Scenario 1 and Scenario 2 would diverge.
(Perhaps you’ll recall that I asked candidates to go on the record as to whether they’d pursue bankruptcy to break existing pension obligations. Sebourn answered (with sort of a maybe); Kiger and Levinson didn’t. Tony, on OJB, said that he knew enough to keep his mouth shut until the sale is done.)
So I’ve been waiting for is to compare the seriousness: are they taking more serious steps to ensure that there’s no more Kelly Thomas-like situations or to conduct a war on public employees. They seem to be VERY serious about the latter — to an extent that will probably surprise voters and may bring Travis Kiger’s rein on City Council (and maybe Bruce Whitaker’s as well) to an early end.
You hear talk these days around Fullerton city government and you read on FFFF about plans to eliminate the Fullerton Police Department and outsource to the Sheriff’s Department — based on the hunger to relieve Fullerton of all pension obligations and without much consideration of whether the OCSD really would have acted much differently than the FPD did in that situation. You also hear about the possibility of following Stockton into municipal bankruptcy.
Fullerton is in nowhere near the sort of bad financial shape that Stockton is in — something robustly denied on FFFF, of course — but the solution to that appears to get it into that level of shape. But how could one do that? You’d have to do something like try to cut off a significant portion of the city’s revenue and in fact try to push through 30 years of refunds for homeowners — which is exactly what the yammering is about the “illegal water tax.” If Fullerton doesn’t look bankrupt, the reasoning seems to be, make it look bankrupt!
On the other hand, how serious are they about preventing police abuse? Well, feast your eyes on the latest FFFF brainchild — bringing in failed Sheriff’s candidate and Michele Bachmann worshiper Bill Hunt to head the FPD. Now I’m not going to address the merits of Bill Hunt for Top Cop yet — if some of the commenters are right, he’s a friend of Bushala’s, so one can’t say that he lacks the primary qualification — but what’s really interesting about the discussion there, which I urge you to read, is the question that isn’t asked:
“Is there reason to think that he’d have been, and in the future would be, less likely than Dan Hughes to have a police force that would engage in police brutality?”
The clamoring for Bill Hunt — <b>without any apparent exploration of his history or philosophy regarding police abuse</b>, which should be a major concern for those who are serious about wanting to reduce police abuse — suggests that they’re not really very serious about that at all. They just want their guy in power — someone who is likely to let the well-connected smoke dope in peace while limiting application of the laws to the less fortunate sons and daughters.
The final results aren’t in, in the competition between the two scenarios, but I’d say that at this point Scenario 2 looks like it’s winning by a mile.