Joshua Ferguson: An Open Letter to Fullerton Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald.


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[Cross-posted, at Ryan Cantor’s urging, from Josh Ferguson’s blog – dated yesterday.]

Bennett, Fitzgerald

Bennett, Fitzgerald

Dear Mayor Fitzgerald,

We’ve met on a few occasions as we have attended candidate forums in this current election for Fullerton City Council, otherwise we don’t know one-another. We have some things in common in that we’re both parents and we both profess to love our town and want what’s best for our fellow residents. I would love to leave it at that but one of the reasons why I decided to run for City Council is because I don’t agree with your vision for our town. I believe us to be fundamentally at odds in regards to both the role of government and the job of those who represent we the people.

First let us talk about the obvious problem with your current employment and the issues it creates for our city and the trust people can have in their government.

The trust issue is easy thanks your refusal to release the client list of your employer, Orange County Lobbyist Curt Pringle & Associates. You’ve heard this numerous times and your response seems to be that we, the residents of Fullerton, should trust you to not be corrupt.

That’s not how the American form of government works, Mrs. Fitzgerald. It is incumbent upon you to prove that you’re not corrupt and not for the people to trust their government workers to be honest. One can look down the highway at the city of Bell or perhaps into the history books at Tammany Hall and see that political history is rife with people who abused the trust with which they were granted.

fitzgerald - bennett ad

You’ve heard all of this before but it bears repeating. Here in California we have a Revolving Door Law specifically to keep government officials from profiting from their civic duty and while you’re technically within the letter of the law you’re obviously violating the spirit of the law and that type of technicality is what so many people hate about our current system of government.

The second issue that most people don’t bring up often is the problem of needing to recuse yourself from votes. As we learn more about Curt Pringle’s Client List and you find yourself recusing yourself more and more often (Pathways, M.W.D., Jamboree Housing, etc) you are in effect denying the citizens a full voice on council. When many votes come up 3-2 it doesn’t make sense to have somebody on council who can possibly force a 2-2 tie due to a continuing string of conflicts of interest. The citizens deserve somebody who can represent us on all issues and not simply the issues yet to be tied to your boss.

Then we have the problem of potential conflicts that aren’t obvious to the FPCC or voters such as when you vote on items regarding the transportation center which could indirectly benefit your employer who is vested in the ARTIC ghost town in Anaheim. This bring us back to the trust issue to which I will quote our forefather Thomas Jefferson:

‘Let their actions refute such libels. Believe me, virtue is not long darkened by the clouds of calumny. In its course, it will shine forth like the sun at noon-day, and with its brightness disperse the fogs and vapours which obscured its rising light. When a man assumes a public trust, he should consider himself as public property, and justly liable to the inspection and vigilance of public opinion; and the more sensibly he is made to feel his dependence, the less danger will there be of his abuse of power — The abuse of power, that rock on which good governments, and the people’s rights, have been so often wrecked.’

Now that we’ve established my issue with your self-evident notion that people should trust your word we can move on to some issues of particular note. Let us start with the state of our roads.

In your ballot statement, and on the campaign trail, you regularly talk about how under your tenure our city now repairs 8 miles of road per year compared to less that was done previous to your sitting on council. So I checked and you can read about that journey HERE.

It’s now been two weeks since City Manager Joe Felz said he would get back to me with the numbers but the folks at City Hall just can’t seem to make them work. The Capital Improvement Program Overview says we repair about 4 miles of road per year and nothing points to the 8 mile number you seem fond of quoting. I don’t know if this is a focus group tested number but it doesn’t seem to come from reality. If we really do fix the roads in the way that you claim you should use data to back up your talking points because the bureaucratic bureaucracy is doing you no favors when nobody at City Hall, not even our City Manager, can support your assertion. That you paid to have a ballot statement and included this nugget of information in said ballot statement speaks to the veracity of the claim and the importance of its truth.

In the same ballot statement you profess of working to “balance our city budget”. Your website goes one further and claims that the budget is already balanced. Here’s a screen grab from your website from today, 22 October 2016:

fitzgerald screen grab

Here are the numbers taken from the city budgets upon which you have voted or presided as Mayor;

  • 2013/2014 =   -4,987,681
  • 2014/2015 = -17,125,264
  • 2015/2016 = -16,779,515
  • 2016=2017 =  -4,849,850

Those red numbers are negative because every single year we spend more money in our budget then we bring in through revenue. That’s not balancing a budget. That is the status quo of continuing debt which means that the quote in the above screen grab, “In Fullerton, our budget is balanced!” is simply not true.

I understand that as somebody who works in Public Relations you must often find yourself in situations where a client needs a certain message sent out and you have to massage the truth to fulfill a contract. But you seem to have forgotten that as Mayor your job isn’t to be in Public Relations and massaging data is a bad thing. If you cannot separate the tasks with your conflicting jobs I would point out that you took that job with Pringle and have spent countless thousands of other people’s money in order to be on our council.

As for being a “volunteer” for our city I find that statement infuriating because you got your current Vice President job at Lobbyist Curt Pringle & Associates AFTER you were elected onto council. It’s easy to give up $9K a year in salary when you’re likely picking up 6-7 figures working for Pringle. I’ve also never met an honest volunteer who spends so much of other people’s money for the privilege of spending their money.

Which brings us nicely around to your campaign funding and your funding of Larry Bennett’s campaign. With the exception of the Education PAC funding Jonathan Mansoori’s campaign, the largest single donor in this election cycle looks to have been you to candidate Larry Bennett and that’s only counting direct contributions. You’ve also paid for mailers on his behalf as you fund his ability to campaign with you to secure your majority on council.

Those of us who pay attention know that there is a power balance on our city council with you voting across the aisle for more high-density, larger public safety payouts and so forth. Logically, being a Republican who is supported by the likes of Ed Royce and most Republican leaning organizations, you would be voting with the limited government Republicans on your own council but instead you constantly vote against them. The 3-2 Split has been you voting with Flory (D) and Chaffee (D) against Whitaker (R) and Sebourn (R). I find this odd but it’s very telling for the voters to know how Bennett plans on voting due to your funding. Bennett will be your third vote against truly limited government as he takes over for Flory.

I take umbrage with Bennett because he is a part, as are you to a lesser degree, of the “Culture of Complacency” that cost our city millions in liabilities, put multiple stains on our collective reputation and killed a schizophrenic man for the crime of not committing a crime. Kelly Thomas getting killed finally forced some light to be shown on the culture that had been built by our previous police chiefs and our previous city councils (but I repeat myself) and we rightly recalled three council members for their negligent leadership.

Larry Bennett was against the recall and is still in-cahoots with the people who helped build the problematic culture of complacency. By funding him you are telling Fullerton that you have little problem with the status quo & little problem with the old guard that cost us so dearly.

Paid for by Fitzgerald for Fullerton

Paid for by Fitzgerald for Fullerton

Regarding the anti-recall issue from several years ago both of you this election cycle have received contributions to your campaigns from recalled city councilman Pat McKinley, the former Fullerton Police Chief who hired Jay Cicinelli. Remember that the Gennaco report is quoted as saying Cicinell’s words

“convey (a) savage person who is willing to abuse his position of authority to exact street punishment to citizens he encounters.”

They supported this man who acted like a monster & either built or simply continued the system that allowed him to work and act so savagely. I have yet to hear a public apology from any of these men.

Bennett has also received contributions from recalled city councilmen J. Don Bankhead and Dick Jones. Mrs. Fitzgerald, you taking a single donation from McKinley might be forgiven if you didn’t know about it because it was lost under the Scrooge McDuck piles of money, somewhere in the over $100,000 range if I heard correctly, you’ve been raising for your campaign war chest. However, considering that your campaign looks to be one of the biggest contributors to Bennett’s campaign you’re clearly fully on board with his rubber-stamp culture of complacency point of view and that is unforgivable.

bennett form 1

bennett form 2

You cannot want to put “Fullerton First” when you’re beholden to those who have a record of putting us last every chance that they get on every issue before them. We cannot move forward as a city if we keep the same people, the same ideas, the same system and the same complacency in place year in and year out.

If you are the person you claim to be you would be writing me this letter if our situations were reversed and that should make you pause and consider your priorities and what is best for our town. I know many people call you out for many things and that is the nature of being in the public eye. My goal here is to highlight that many people do this not out of personal animus, as I have nothing against you personally, but out of the belief that you have either lost your way or are simply the wrong person to represent the people of Fullerton if we are ever to really fix the things that are broken and fulfill the promises we make to our residents.

Sincerely,

Joshua Ferguson


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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.