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As some of you may know, I’ve been hanging around Bushala blog Friends for Fullerton’s Future (aka “FFFF” or “4F”) this year, serving as a not so much a fly in the ointment as a daub of penicillin in the petri dish of streptococcus. I actually started my trips there out of respect for the blog’s role in reporting on the Kelly Thomas killing — and secure in the notion that if Vern is friends with Bushala and some others they must not be so bad — with my expectation being that I’d agree with them about half of the time. Indeed, I do agree with them about half of the time. Unfortunately, most all of what they choose to write and comment about is the other half.
What I found is a horror show — nasty, snotty stories about local politics with a commentariat made up of equal parts WWE fan base and the mutants screaming “One of Us!” in the movie Freaks. I like it there. So long as one is impervious to insult, and in that context that comes pretty easy, it’s like engaging in a gigantic Nerf-sword fight with nine-year-olds. All you have to do is have a sense of humor and keep slugging. Watching the various purges is sort of sad — “Et tu, Sebourn?” — but that’s fundamentally not my concern.
One sport I engage in there is a game I call “Spot the Distortion.” A recent round of this began a few weeks ago when they started going after Jan Flory, former Councilperson and current Council candidate who has the temerity to possibly knock an FFFFster candidate or two off of the City Council. While they make a great show of appearing to engage merely in joyous blood sport, clearly she has them worried. Half a dozen times, a dozen times, I’ve lost count by now, they’ve recently posted the same photo of Jan Flory that you see on the left of the upper graphic.
The implication: Jan Flory was drunk in public. (They also accuse her of being a floozy and all sorts of other things, but “drunk” is the main allegation.)
This bothered me, because “drunk” was not clearly evident from the photo and I’ve learned not to trust what I’m told on FFFF. It could have been wild dancing; it could have been her being a good sport and pretending to be drunk, as for a demonstration of field sobriety tests. I put forth hypotheses like this a few times and was assured that no, no, she really was drunk, by various people claiming to have been there who saw it with their own eyes.
I don’t want to take too much time to collect the insults and attacks on Flory, but I’ll leave a space below for inserting updates from FFFF’s recent archives.
[WATCH THIS SPACE!]
Flory published a statement on the photo today in Facebook. It turns out that — yep, she was drunk! But … Spot the Distortion!
TRUTH OR LIE? Jan is a Drunk
For nearly three years now, the Friends for Fullerton’s Future blog, has repeatedly published a picture of me taking a field sobriety test and nearly tipping over in the process. It’s actually a pretty cool picture, but the inference is not. The 4-Fs want you to believe that I am a drunk.
The picture was taken 12 years ago at a Sunrise Rotary event staged at Coyote Hills Golf Course to demonstrate the ill effects of alcohol. My fellow imbibers were Kathy Hammer and Dr. Bob Dolan. The “testing” was conducted by the Fullerton Police Department.
Kathy, Dr. Dolan and I arrived at 6:00 a.m. to begin the demonstration. By the time our fellow Rotarians arrived at 7:30 a.m., we were a pretty happy group. As the meeting progressed, the police would have us breathe into a Breathalyzer to determine our blood alcohol levels and then conduct a field sobriety test.
These events are often referred to as “wet labs”, and the object is to heighten awareness of the serious effects of drinking and driving. My son, Rob, who works as a Public Defender, participated in a wet lab this past year. The event was sponsored by the North Orange County Bar Association and was held at the Fullerton Elks Lodge.The 4-F mantra is to “support candidates and causes that promote intelligent, responsible and accountable government in Fullerton and Orange County.” Reading that, one would think that the 4-F blog would do its level best to publish “intelligent, responsible and accountable” posts. Not true. What the blog does is to poke, bully, insult, ridicule and downright defame and slander some of the best people in our town. Along the way, the 4-F group seems to consider “age” a defect, and repeatedly insults people based on age.As illustration, check out the August 19th post entitled, “A Day at the Races”. The caption for the picture is, “See if you can find the old nag.” In the header for the post, the 4-F writes, “How they got a T shirt on the that old nag is anybody’s guess.” The “old nag” is me. This is a post from Jan Flory’s Dead Dog, obviously an “intelligent, responsible and accountable” source.Now, are you sitting down? Travis Kiger, our newly elected council member, is paid $4,000 a month to work for the 4-F blog. Is he Jan Flory’s Dead Dog? or is he just the handler for her dead dog? Either way, the 4-Fs have had their day and they are going down. The reason is that no intelligent, responsible and accountable reader will ever take this nonsense seriously. It transcends smarmy. It is laughable at best; pathetic at worst.And one other thing,–I haven’t had a dog since 1985. My two cats won’t allow it.
So, yes, she was drunk in public — at an event presented by the Police and the Orange County Bar Association to teach the public about the evils of drunk driving (and, I’m guessing, of the difficulty of estimating one’s own degree of intoxication while intoxicated.) In other words, she was being a good sport and taking part in a useful educational event. What a scandal!
It’s things like that — being able to solve the mystery of the distortion — that keep me coming back to FFFF. It’s sort of like talking to them about how whether all of Fullerton’s “Illegal Water Tax” is actually illegal — and what court said so. (I’ve more recently raised the question of whether it made sense to reimburse landlords for water tax money that was passed onto their tenants, wondering if this presents a windfall, but I’m going to have to say that a lot more times before getting a reply. )
I don’t object to FFFF having their own cultish echo chamber, but it becomes a problem when it starts intruding on public affairs. The notion that other people read the FFFF site and believe the distortions (or lies, or misleading statements, let’s not quibble) is disturbing. Part of the “power” of the group comes from almost all of its commenters and authors (Greg Sebourn, Travis Kiger, and Stanley Fiala being honorable exceptions) its wearing the equivalent of the Guy Fawkes masks that some people in Occupy put on — which I don’t especially like there either. So when Flory asks whether Travis Kiger is the person who poses and posts as “Jan Flory’s Dog,” writing stories attacking her, I think that’s the wrong question. My question, to the uncostumed Travis Kiger, is instead: do you think that these sorts of anonymous attacks on her are OK? Do you at least see any downside to them, like their potential tendency to encourage people to “bear false witness”?
Speaking of which, I do want to call attention to one thing because it looks like a potential misstep (and of course the FFFFwads, quickly forgiving themselves their own sins, are all over it. If there’s one thing they know how to do, it’s to go after the scent of blood.) Flory asserts that Travis Kiger, the own site’s webmaster as well as FFFF’s, makes $4000/month from his work with FFFF. Judging by the amount that I understand Vern pays him, I find Flory’s allegation doubtful. If she can substantiate it, fine; if not, I hope that she’ll retract it (and perhaps burn her source, or her source’s source.)
Now it may be that there are other ways that money makes its way from the Bushala vault to Kiger; this I do not know. I don’t know from where Travis makes his money at all, actually. But if it’s from a slightly different way, that should be clarified. After all, responsible people in politics don’t want to benefit from distortions! Right?