Putative Talley-Departure Myth Demolished

Duane-RobertsLast week, Orange Juice Blog proprietor Vern Nelson posted his elaborate theorem on why the departure of Cristina Talley as Anaheim’s city attorney unavoidably involved race. Naturally, I disagree.

Vern concocted a narrative re-inventing Talley as an advocate for the Anaheim’s Latinos.  Nobody is really buying it, which isn’t surprising.

The most entertaining part, however, was reading left-wing Anaheim gadfly Duane Roberts take Vern’s narrative apart at the sinews. Here’s Roberts’ comment:

I don’t know the exact reason why Cristina Talley resigned her post, but there is no factual basis to some of the claims you’ve made in this article. Besides presenting wild speculation as fact, there is hard evidence which completely contradicts your assertions.

For example, at the March 6, 2012 meeting of the Anaheim City Council, Talley told then-Councilman Harry Sidhu that it was her opinion the city DID NOT violate the Brown act on January 24th when the vote was made to kick back $158 million in TOT revenues to subsidize Bill O’Connell’s Gardenwalk development.

From the minutes:

“Council Member Sidhu inquired whether the City Council had followed all procedures on the hotel subsidy agreement and had it been announced properly. Ms. Talley remarked there were no violations, to her knowledge, as well as no Brown Act violations regarding the January 24th decision.”

See the following link:


Lest ye think that the City Clerk made a typographical error, this exchange was recorded on video and is available online.

In regards to the argument Talley was pushed out because the “Brandman majority” was unhappy she offered an opinion that the City of Anaheim was in violation of the Voting Rights Act, I suppose its possible. But expressing that opinion doesn’t make her a zealous advocate for the interests of the “latino community” any more than if an attorney for Al Capone was a zealous advocate of alcohol prohibition when when advising his client that it was illegal to sell hooch.

I’ve dealt with Talley in the past when she was a Deputy City Attorney and saw nothing to indicate she was anything more than just a highly-paid lackey of the tiny handful of rich white people who run this town. She certainly fought me tooth and nail when I tried to force information out of the Anaheim Police Department about a highly unusual police operation that took place in the working-class Mexican neighborhood of Jeffrey-Lynne, that’s for sure.

Vern responded as best he could, which Duane met with this riposte (which includes Vern’s response):

“Well, it’s good to hear your experiences. I’m reporting what I hear from five or six other people who have known her and worked with her, and whom I trust.”

It’s an undeniable fact then-City Attorney Cristina Talley told then-Councilman Harry Sidhu on March 6, 2012 that his January 24th vote to give Bill O;Connell a $158 million TOT kickback for his Gardenwalk hotel project was not in violation of the Brown Act.

That your “sources” did not disclose this very critical piece of information to you calls into question their credibility. It also demonstrates that you do not do your homework to check their veracity.

“Interesting about what she said in March about the Brown Act. Do you dispute that she called the Jan 31 meeting in order to fix that problem,”

Got proof Talley called this meeting to order ostensibly for that purpose? If so, where is it? Understand that rumor, conjecture, and wild speculation about what goes on behind closed doors does not constitute evidence.

By the way, it was widely reported Mayor Tom Tait–not Talley–called the Jan. 31st meeting to order. He may have been concerned about a possible Brown Act violation. But if Talley felt the same way, there is no record of it anywhere.

“and that the meeting fell through due to the Murray-Eastman-Sidhu boycott?”

Do you think it’s quite possible they didn’t make an attempt to show up to that meeting partly because Talley never said anything to them about the Jan. 24th vote being in violation of the Brown Act?

“What’s my “wild speculation?” That the real reason for her firing was her CVRA opinion? That’s the impression of people who would certainly know, or have a very good guess – not exactly wild.”

The wild speculation I’m referring to is the grandiose narrative you conjured up suggesting Talley was this staunch advocate for the disenfranchised here in Anaheim because she allegedly believed the city was in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

Finally, after some additional back-and-forth, Roberts closed with this right upper-cut to what he aptly termed Nelson’s “fanciful narrative”:

Not only was your response speculative, but it wholly contradicted the fanciful narrative you conjured out of thin air that former City Attorney Cristina Talley was an honest and ethical public servant.

If Talley privately advised the council prior to the Jan. 24th vote.on the hotel subsidy that it was in violation of the Brown Act, but told Sidhu at a later meeting it was not, that means she openly lied to the public.

On the one hand you assert Talley was a “stellar” attorney who worked on behalf of Anaheim’s downtrodden. But you’re now hinting she will lie on her employer’s behalf to keep her $250K a year job.

Duane Roberts and I share little, if any, common ground in terms of political philosophy. But he masterful deconstructed Nelson’s attempt to spin Talley’s exit into some sort of racial incident.


  1. I don’t agree with Duane Roberts on much but he always appears to lean over backward to be forthright and consistent – in other words he does not spin myth as fact to make political points. I have new respect for him.

    Interesting that he got Vern Nelson to admit that he got his “facts” from 5-6 people he trusts – translation: a few political allies or better yet, because Lorri Galloway said so…

  2. Yeah, I sure wasn’t expecting that “friendly fire” from Duane! It’s obvious that he doesn’t like Talley and doesn’t like me making her out to be some kind of hero. And maybe he’s right to a degree. But when you get fired for doing the right thing, that can make you an unlikely hero, or at least a symbol.

    It took me a little while to figure out how to respond to the fact that Talley did say that to Sidhu in March. When – d’oh! – it occurred to me. Naturally you didn’t reprint my final and best response:

    “Of COURSE when Harry asked his stupid question in March, IN PUBLIC, two months after the vote had already been cast, and one month since the city was already being sued, Talley answered the way she did. She’s the freakin City Attorney. The City is her client. For her to say ‘Yeah, we’re in violation’ while the City’s being sued would have been GROSS incompetence and actual grounds for firing.

    “It was as lame for Harry to ask that question in public as most things he does. But this certainly has no bearing on how she advised the council in closed session, BEFORE the fateful vote.

    “And the fact remains – the special meeting on the 31st WAS her solution to the Brown Act violation, whether it was called by her or the Mayor. Boycotting that meeting, the Pringle majority doubled down on their violation.”

    Well, Matt, enjoy your new friend; but my “Talley Departure Myth” is far from “demolished,” let alone “masterfully.” I still contend that Talley – one of only three Latina City Attorneys in all California – was fired for advising the city they need to move to districting – which will especially empower Latinos. And all Anaheim people should be mad about that, but especially Anaheim Latinos. My point in a nutshell.

    By the way you and Duane might have a field day with the new video of the Talley Rally (c/o Jason) which I have added to the end of my story. And I’ll have a new Anaheim piece out tomorrow, that oughtta irritate you and your patrons.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      I included Duane’s reply to that comment by you. Duane is right. Either way, you are saying Talley lied if she said one thing in January and another in March. Did the law change during that time?

      And if I may weigh in on this part of your comment:

      “Talley answered the way she did. She’s the freakin City Attorney. The City is her client. For her to say ‘Yeah, we’re in violation’ while the City’s being sued would have been GROSS incompetence and actual grounds for firing.”

      Wasn’t she also the “freakin’ City Attorney” when she said she thought the city was in violation of the CVRA? And isn’t the city being sued on that? According to your reasoning above, that would be gross incompetence and actual grounds for firing.

      Oh my — you just rebutted your own arguments against getting rid of Talley.

      Vern, you can’t have it both ways. You might want to think through your next narrative a little more carefully.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      “And I’ll have a new Anaheim piece out tomorrow…”

      If it’s anything like the last opus, I’ll have to block out some time to trudge through it.

      • Why is this comment still awaiting moderation, Matt? And if you don’t mind, can you correct “billing records” to “invoice” – since you made us all wait so long!

    • Can you site one public comment where the city attorney recommended the council move to districts or any statement she made to the council giving an opinion on this issue? I work for the city and no one at City Hall had any idea where she stood on this issue – as far as anyone at city hall was aware, she was impartial and at no time gave any indication where she stood on the subject.

      • Matthew Cunningham

        You know, you are probably right. I suddenly feel like a fool for assuming Vern and other Rally for Talley-types know what they are talking about.

      • That’s not EXACTLY the reason you should feel like a fool, Matt.

        You thought you found an inconsistency in my argument, and you didn’t. A city attorney who knows her job does not say IN PUBLIC that her client is in violation of the law. Whether it’s on the Brown Act violation re the GardenWalk Giveaway, or whether it’s on the Voting Rights Act. (And that doesn’t make her a liar either; though it could make a councilmember who goads her to do that malicious or a moron.)

        There isn’t a public record of where she stands on either question. So you and Duane can feel free to disbelieve me. Although it COULD eventually be public record if she sues.

        • Talley, as City Attorney, is responsible for ensuring the council agenda, including the noticing, is compliant with the Brown Act.

          Vern, with a straight face, is claiming Talley informed the council, in closed session, that the GardenWalk item was not Brown Act-compliant, i.e. she said she didn’t do her job correctly.

          Vern goes on to say that two months later, Talley, in response to Harry Sidhu’s question in open session, contradicted herself and said the GardenWalk vote did not violate the Brown Act.

          If she knew it was a Brown Act Violation, then she is knowingly assisting the council in violating the law, which is grounds for being disbarred.

          Quit digging the hole any deeper, Vern. Your defense of Talley isn’t doing her any favors.

          • You leave out from your story that she and the Mayor scheduled another meeting a week later, Jan. 31, to remedy the situation for the council, and the Giveaway Three boycotted that meeting. Have you just stepped in to this discussion, or are you purposely leaving out that part?

            • Matthew Cunningham

              Vern, Talley didn’t call that council meeting, despite your having claimed, – more than once — that she did. The city attorney cannot call a council meeting.

              And that “boycott” line is another myth. Sidhu had back surgery scheduled, for example. Eastman had vacation plans, as I understand.

              Either way, in my opinion, the meeting was pointless and it was a mistake to call it. Are special meetings to be called whenever one side of an issue is asleep at the switch and doesn’t show up?

          • California Rules of Professional Responsibility, Rule 3-110 Failing to Act Competently:
            A member shall not intentionally … fail to perform legal services with competence.

            If she knew there was a violation she could have said she was unable to answer Sidhu’s question, instead she doubled down on saying there is no violation. She should be reported to the State Bar.

        • Mr. Nelson – are you saying that you’ve been privvy to some closed session advice? So essentially, the council members you consort with and there are only two – Tait and Galloway – are leading you to believe she made her opinions known on GardenWalk and Districting in closed session. That’s rich since any ethical council members and even Talley cannot dispute those claims without violating the Brown Act. This is classic Tait and Galloway – play as dirty as possible by having others do the dirty work. Which makes you sir their chump.

  3. Matthew Cunningham

    “A city attorney who knows her job does not say IN PUBLIC that her client is in violation of the law.”

    That is just not so, Vern. Where do you get this stuff?

    “There isn’t a public record of where she stands on either question.”

    And yet you declare, as established fact, what you claim are Talley’s stands on both questions! Alice in Wonderland time.

  4. You are all missing the point. Mayor Tait called a special/ urgency meeting of the council 25 hours before the meeting was to be held on January 31. He clearly stated he wanted to rescind the action of approval of the economic assistance agreement. He never determined whether any of his colleagues were available to meet at that time. And he certainly didnt call the meeting to “help” advance the Gardenwalk economic assistance agreement.

    The potential Brown Act violation was NEVER discussed, not at the Jan 31 meeting or at the March meeting. So it is incorrect to assume that Talley knew of a violation and tried to fix it at the Jan 31 meeting.

    BUT if she did know, it could have easily been fixed. If the city attorney, or any member of the council, for that matter persisted, the entire agreement could have been noticed and put on any subsequent agenda for a “re-vote.” That would have indeed happened if the city attorney thought there was a Brown Act violation on a previous action.

    • Plus one for creative use of “25 hours” to mean 3 days.

      • No- you are not correct sir! The mayor called a special meeting and this meeting was noticed 25 hours ahead of time (avoiding the Brown Act requirements all together) — the meeting was called by the mayor on Monday, January 30, 2012 at 4PM for the meeting to be held on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 5PM.

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