Is Tony Bushala OC's Newest Kingmaker?

The founder of Friends for Fullerton's Future blog says his war on bad government didn't start with the Kelly Thomas beating, and it's not over yet

Bushala wasn't alone in his frustration with McKinley, Bankhead and Jones. "McKinley, being a police chief for 16 years, knew exactly what was going on," says Ron Thomas, who also recounts a meeting he had with Jones immediately after his son's death. When he asked Jones for answers about what happened to Kelly, Thomas says Jones looked at him and said, "I have no clue what the police department does."

Adds Thomas, "If there were a city government and a mayor that cared, these officers wouldn't have been on the street. These three guys never cared."

The first major protest against the city's police and elected leaders took place on July 30; gathered across the street from the police station were about 250 people, a cross-section of society armed with signs reading, "Serve and Protect Not Beat and Neglect" and, "Lock 'em up for Murder." They were joined by almost all of Southern California's television and radio stations, finally covering what Friends for Fullerton's Future had been reporting for weeks.

The weekly protests and Friends for Fullerton's Future's ceaseless coverage produced results. On Aug. 11, 2011, Michael Sellers, then Fullerton's chief of police, retreated from the spotlight, claiming unspecified health problems; he retired on Feb. 18.

But the biggest bombshell came on Sept. 21, 2011, when Rackauckas filed homicide charges against Ramos, whom he charged with involuntarily manslaughter second-degree murder, and Cicinelli, for involuntary manslaughter and excessive force.

By then, however, Bushala had already moved from posting updates to the Thomas beating story to laying the groundwork for what quickly became a mission to unseat the majority of the five-member City Council. On the same day Sellers took his medical leave, Bushala filed paperwork creating the Committee Supporting the Recall of Pat McKinley, Don Bankhead and F. Richard "Dick" Jones. Publicly available campaign statements show Bushala and his older brother George have contributed $168,422 of their money to finance the effort.

On Aug. 19, just eight days after Bushala's recall effort went public, a group of law-enforcement unions—the Fullerton Police Officers Association, the Riverside Police Association, the Peace Officers Research Association and the Southern California Alliance of Law Enforcement—joined forces to fight the new committee. The group provided tens of thousands of dollars to fund the Protect Fullerton-Recall NO committee, which was formed by one of Bushala's favorite blogging targets, Ackerman, as well as Larry Bennett, a Fullerton planning commissioner.

Bennett claims Bushala is using the recall effort to advance his own narrow political interests as a would-be kingmaker. "Somebody who wants to spend that kind of money wants some quid pro quo in return, I believe," Bennett says. "He has a history of crossing swords with the city. He has a lot of property in town; there are code-enforcement issues that have been levied against the various properties. I think that part of it might be just to eliminate any hassle he might have from city staff moving forward."

"He's making things up," responds Bushala. "They've filed several complaints with the [California Fair Political Practices Commission]; I have hid absolutely nothing of my finances and timely filed all my paperwork." Bushala's voice increases in volume as he speaks. "He's made every claim in the world. Every time I write a check or do any political-action committee, it's all documented. He's trying to say I'm misleading people; he's full of it. He's full of himself."

On its website, the anti-recall campaign implies Bushala fleeced taxpayers thanks to the settlement he received from OCTA. Bushala points out that Ackerman represents the development firm St. Anton Partners, which, along with several other firms, applied for a subsidy from the redevelopment agency to develop a project in Fullerton's SOCO district. A city committee ranked St. Anton's project as sixth based on specific criteria, including availability of low-income housing.

"When it went to the City Council for a vote, [St. Anton Partners] got awarded $9.5 million," Bushala says. "So they went from sixth place to first, basically. I believe that happened because of the pressure with the recall, and Dick Ackerman has supported the three who are being recalled during their elections."

Bennett defends the council's decision to award the contract to St. Anton Partners, saying the initial ranking didn't properly weight the financial return on the investment. He claims that prior to the vote, a newly hired city manager re-evaluated the project's ranking. "So when they all came back and that [new] weighting was applied, the one unit that Dick Ackerman was pushing went up the list because you were getting a lot more units for a lot less subsidy," he says.

Bushala's supporters, including Whitaker, say his critics are misinformed. "Tony's foremost detractors seldom deal with facts when trying to be critical of his efforts," he says. "They attempt to vilify him in an emotional way. And I think that's a litmus test."

* * *

On an unseasonably hot afternoon, Bushala is walking through the transportation center. He stops by the Fullerton train station, a beige, Santa Fe-style building bisected by a breezeway that Bushala says he has spent nearly $491,000 faithfully restoring; $40,000 went to the city upfront to put the building on the National Register of Historic Places. The station houses a coffee shop run by his sister, as well as an office run by the attorney whose discarded junk mail was found in Thomas' backpack the night he was beaten. The building is just 100 yards south from the site of the beating.

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72 comments
Gloria
Gloria

"I don't know if he was being a dick so much as he was just being a little lazy to not get out of the car," recalls Bushala. "You see somebody you know, you stand up and shake their hand." To Tony, by your own words you stated that "he simply extended his hand, meaning he did shake your hand. What did you expect him to do get our of his car and kiss your ass? Maybe there is where the problem started, his way of telling you that he was not going to be one of your flunkies. ONE YOU COULD'NT BUY AND THIS PISSED YOU OFF.......

Someoneyouusedtoknow
Someoneyouusedtoknow

Hey Tony...the TRUTH about you is gonna hit you hard!!! You must of forgotten the days of you cruising in your blue convertible Mercedes down Truslow & Malden to "pick up" you're a lying sack of shit!!! You may have all these people fooled, but KARMAS a BITCH you scum bag!!!

PrisonReformMvt
PrisonReformMvt

WholeTruth2012-why dont YOU tell the whole truth on how you harass others? How you go around leaving nasty comments everywhere there is a Kelly Thomas article? How I would NOT allow your comments to be published on my blog? How I now have your IP address because YOU dummy, had no idea my blog logs that information. I know more about you than you would probably like at this point -so its time you Stop with the harassment, stop with your lies.....and stop with your slander. In fact- just shut up.

Paul Hertz
Paul Hertz

No way would Ramos or Cicinelli would be charged without the continual pressure from FFFF bloggers. This includes the downtown demonstrations that were picked up by news organizations around the country. This takes guts and FFFF has guts.

☣  Porno the Clown  ☣
☣ Porno the Clown ☣

Without the hard work by Tony Bushala and Kelly's dad, Ron Thomas, Kelly's death would have been swept under the rug. Tony should be on the cover of Time magazine as well.

Ivn
Ivn

it's just that Orange County has never learned to live with itself well enough to have policing as strict as it has become.Ur poor too bad time to get hurt,ur a homeless in someones way, time to get hurt.Gunna Obey, if not then U get HURT.See what Orange County has to deal with if any of the problem Cities are going to allow for poor people to have a life.Look at the average middle class White person who gets locked up.OC Sheriffs can make any man bleed real good.I can pray for Any of you who get the Cops on your A_ _. Your life is going to make a change for the worst and that's for life.Huh,California will be a deep dark hole for many more poor people as OC hungers for an industry . .And not a Drug Industry either.

Jon
Jon

I think the work Tony did in regards to the Kelly case is admirable. I also think his efforts to finance a recall and build a city council majority that would benefit him are not. Also, interesting that the article did not mention Ron's view of the recall and be has publicly said that his son's death has been used to further political agendas of FFF...

A-nonymous
A-nonymous

Hey Tony, never-ever compromise the truth for anything else. It takes a lot of balls these days to do the right thing and every man seems to have his price apparently. It's important that you stick to what is right, we need people to fight for the right things. I lost my job as a cop because I wasn't aggressive enough but I can hang my hat on that I always did what was the right thing. You are in the position to do the right thing, continue to do it. You have a lot of supporters out there.

Dan C.
Dan C.

I don't understand what all the hubbub is about here.

MY BLOG repeatedly hit's on HARD political events and issues. recently I myself wrote about Michele Martinez hairstyle. There are things that matter to OC, in Irvine, we have much more important issues, like Beth Krom and building 2,800 houses on the Great Pork land.

My Co-Blogger has made fun of Michele "Snooki" Martinez and others, even though he lives in Long Beach. We joke about our enemies weight, but reserve the right to joke about thiers.

Simply put, The Hero's convention this weekend (where we'll be in FULL COSTUME) does far more for society than these silly stories about Murder and Police Abuse.

Mox- how come you didn't cover MY TRIP TO THE FARMERS MARKET?????

Teatrocometa
Teatrocometa

I was informed of a blog concerning a reply to an article on Tony Bushala in OC WeeklyWhere Tony speaks of the friendship we had at one time and of his encounter with officer Manuel Ramos, my nephew. I have not found the blog and would appreciate to this person to please print your name next time when you comment your opinions on other people's relationships or attitudes toward others. As for myself, I need not anyone replying on my behalf, thank you.

Teatrocometa
Teatrocometa

Tony was NEVER best friends with Manuel"s uncle or was ever considered a friend by Manuel"s mom. But what Bushala so conviniently chose to leave out is that Manuel"s uncle worked with the homeless in Fullerton for many years and founded FIES along with Barbara Johnson. Manuel as a boy spent many hours at his uncle"s side at the shelter volunteering. The picture that the media has chosen to paint of him is far removed from the person that his family and friends know and love.Tony and George Bushala have a lot to learn about friendship.

Alex
Alex

Thank god people like Tony Bushala exist, and especially that they have money, that is the ability to spread the message about the corrupt "public servants".

Worms, District Attorney Rackauckas, and Turtles are all proud Birds, they won't start flying until you KICK them.

Keeper of Justice
Keeper of Justice

Go Tony. No wonder people talk ridiculous, insane, unsubstantiated, criminal shit about him, he will expose their dirty laundry in a second and they don't like that. Haha. I'm with you Tony.

Bighenry
Bighenry

Ron is not a retired deputy, he didn't even have a career as a cop. He never made probation and was fired from OCSD for incompetence.

Wholetruth2012
Wholetruth2012

That's just your sad little opinion. All blogs log IP addresses.I don't harass anyone . I speak my mind. Don't confuse what I do with what YOU do.What I say is the TRUTH the WHOLETRUTH.

Wholetruth2012
Wholetruth2012

It takes ego, and Tony's is as big as they come. People with any intelligence can see thru his feigned modesty. He doesn't care about the material wealth his daddy's money will buy. Political Power is what he buys and it hasn't come cheap just ask Chris Norby.

Wholetruth2012
Wholetruth2012

Yes without Ron Thomas' hard work especially with his son............

Ron once used his jujitsu skills to apprehend his son, wrestling Kelly into his car from a Yorba Linda park using wristlocks. A lot of things I did with Kelly were very painful. But what are the alternatives?” -Orange Coast Magazine, March 2012

When something could have been done to actually help Kelly, Ron would tell local police departments that he (Kelly) was their problem now.

But wait is there a big payday in the horizon? Talk about a media whore!There is not a medium that Ron Thomas does not want his mug on...now he cares.Why not especially when Peter Tilden throws in a Spa day.

FullertonStalker
FullertonStalker

Prove that he will financially benefit from the recall. Oh yeah, that's right, you can't. He doesn't take redevelopment funds like "Dick" Ackerman.

Bferguson
Bferguson

Actually Jon, if you take a closer look, Ron did refer to the recall. I'll post it here for your review:

"If there were a city government and a mayor that cared, these officers wouldn't have been on the street. These three guys never cared."

liar
liar

You can't fix stupid with duct tape

Kataustintx
Kataustintx

Go to hell manuels family n supporters! Karma is coming u dipstick no good killer blood running thru ur viens

liar
liar

ok, Teatrocometa -that's a great real name

Joe Blow
Joe Blow

Your nephew is a cold-blooded killer. And he's fat :) Rumor has it fatso lost 75 pounds recently. Such a shame he couldn't keep himself in shape while working for FPD. I'm sure knowing you caused the death of an innocent man is harmful to your health. Manny should take the easy way out.

Tokers Towner
Tokers Towner

Nobody painted a picture of Marrano Ramos, we saw what he did on the survailence video

Joe Blow
Joe Blow

I'm so glad Ramos helped homeless people as a child. I did too. Now I'm off to murder a couple. Do I get bonus points for if they have disabilities? I've worked w/ Special Olympics. Also, just last week I donated some money to CHOC. Might as well kill a couple kids too. I never knew charity could be so fun!

Guest
Guest

If all that is true, it doesn't take away from the fact that he murdered Kelly Thomas.

Wholetruth2012
Wholetruth2012

Or want to run for the office of Attorney General.

Teatrocometa
Teatrocometa

What about Tony"s dirty laundry? What about the skeleton"s in his closet? They are next to his crystal meth>

Kataustintx
Kataustintx

Who cares!!! Stupid idiots! Got nothing to do w his sons murder by that fattttt lard azz

Demur
Demur

Oh, well that changes everything.Kelly wasn't beaten to death. You idiot.

Ron Thomas
Ron Thomas

I don’t go into my Military or Law Enforcement careers as it has nothing to do with the murder of my son. Everything that I do is about Kelly, none of it is about me. Keep making up all the crap that you want about me that you want. None of it matters as I am busy helping to put murdering cops in prison. Who knows, maybe your one of them.

demur
demur

You are a huge throbbing weiner and will always be one.May you go thru everything you spitefully spew vomit on and make up lies about.

Every good person you try to drag thru the gates of hell with you (which by the way, you will be busting wide open), you evil SOB, with nonsense is being recorded and you will have to answer to them.

demur
demur

derrrr, you are a mental patient.

☣  Porno the Clown  ☣
☣ Porno the Clown ☣

Do you personally know the Thomas family, are you privy to all the efforts family made to help Kelly for decades prior the the Fullerton cops murdering him? Based on your comments here I can say you do not know the family.

What is clear is that you fully support the Fullerton cops who murdered Kelly. Kelly was well known in the area and the cops knew full well he was mentally ill ... yet the assholes chose to ignore all that and to use Kelly for their own sick sport. Face it, the Fullerton PD has a long history of abusing citizens and covering it up. Well, the city is now on the hook for countless millions in pay outs on the backs of the cities fine citizens.

Glad to know what side of the fence you are on asshole!

Gigi905
Gigi905

Joe..you really blow!

Wholetruth2012
Wholetruth2012

He did not murder anyone he was just dealing with a person whose own family had to use force with:Ron once used his jujitsu skills to apprehend his son, wrestling Kelly into his car from a Yorba Linda park using wristlocks. "A lot of things I did with Kelly were very painful. But what are the alternatives?” -Orange Coast Magazine, March 2012

Kataustintx
Kataustintx

Lol! Nice try murderer!! Ur goin to prison fat boy! No menudo

bugface
bugface

prove it , you dirty scum

Wonder what skeletons are in YOUR mamas closet

Wholetryth2012
Wholetryth2012

STOP telling the press that you were with the OCSD then and we will stop calling you on it.

Wholetruth2012
Wholetruth2012

You don't want to go into your Law Enforcement career because you did not have one! You were kicked out because you were incompetent. TELL THE TRUTH RON!

Wholetruth2012
Wholetruth2012

So we shouldn't ask you how you enjoyed your spa day courtesy of Peter Tilden?

Onyx
Onyx

The main problem, Ron, is that you had been running around touting this long career in law enforcement & extensive investigative experience.

IMHO, it just made you look bad.

And, no, I'm not one of the "murdering cops". Just somebody who has integrity.

Wholetruth2012
Wholetruth2012

Integrity is not something within Ron Thomas' brief.

Kataustintx
Kataustintx

U fat jerk !! We know its taco luver!! Pr his kids r wife ? Pic a relative. I wouldnt show who i really was either at this point. Id be leaving fat boy before he goes to meet his new boyfriends in prison! I know they hear kellys cries every nite!!! U will bow hear our cries for justice fatt boy !!! We are going to take ur freedom and maybe just maybe ur new boyfriend will use latex on u !!! Pucker up luver boy !! Anticipation of going to jail is part of my pleasure w u!! U know ull be cinvicted dont u !!!!

 
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