Who’s Cynthia Ward’s Source in City Hall?

Two recent Voice of OC stories made quite a lot out of a 2008 e-mail between Public Works Director Natalie Meeks and then-Mayor Curt Pringle. The e-mail didn’t live up to the hype. Anyone with some understanding of the issue could tell there was no “there,” there.

The origin of this e-mail tells its own story about shenanigans inside City Hall.

The official version is the e-mail appeared in response to a public record request from Tait-ally Cynthia Ward. According to the first Voice of OC article:

Ward says she received a tip from a City Hall source that the email showed the supposed misrepresentation.

“I had a piece of information passed along to me from an anonymous source that indicated that,” Ward said. “But I was never given any proof I could go to anybody with to force the issue, so I’ve been forced to just sit and wait and see if that piece of information turns up when they finally released the documents.”

Ward requested on Dec. 13 a slew of records related to the streetcar project, including emails and other communications between OCTA and city officials from 2007 to 2012.

This is the relevant text from Ward’s December 13 request:

I would like records of email or other written communications between Natalie Meeks, and/or OCTA’s Darryl
Johnson, and/or Kris Murray (both in her capacity as OCTA staff and current capacity as City Council member),
and/or Marty Desollar, and/or former Mayor Curt Pringle. This request includes personal email accounts used to
communicate regarding this taxpayer funded project.

The time frame is August 2007 to October 24, 2012, and the subject/search parameters are any communication related
to the “ARC” and/or “ Fixed Guideway” and/or “Alternatives Analysis” and/or “Go Local” project. I trust someone still
has records of former Mayor Pringle’s emails and written com

Ward obviously had a precise idea of the e-mail she was looking, thanks to her “City Hall source.”

According to other City Hall sources, the tipster is Mishal Montgomery, Mayor Tom Tait’s assistant. The e-mail itself is strong evidence of this. When the Voice of OC published the e-mail, it erased the print-out identifier at the bottom. Click here to see the unredacted version, which shows it was printed out on January 3 of this year from a Yahoo e-mail account.

Four people are on the e-mail chain’s distribution: Pringle, Meeks, External Affairs Manager Marty DeSollar and Danny Wu (who was city transportation planner at the time). Except for Pringle, each received the e-mail at their City of Anaheim e-mail accounts.

Notice that in response to Ward’s request, the e-mail wasn’t produced from the city’s database, but from the personal e-mail account of someone who was not on the original distribution list.

Anyone who has interacted with the Anaheim mayor’s office for the last several years knows that Montgomery primarily uses her Yahoo e-mail instead of her City of Anaheim e-mail. It’s hard to avoid concluding Montgomery is feeding Ward the information on which to base her public record act requests, which then ultimately produce media stories depicting people and projects opposed by the mayor in a negative light.

This was an especially deplorable instance of this pattern, since the Voice of OC practically accused Meeks and new OCTA CEO Darrell Johnson of breaking the law. It is an untrue, irresponsible allegation. That is clear to anyone with any understanding who reads the e-mail itself. But the unfair damage to their reputations is already done.

Transparency and the Public Records Act are valuable, beneficial tools. But manipulating the process to settle political scores and falsely injure reputations is wrong.

21 comments

  1. How does a government employee get by using a private email account? If she is using it for official business while in City Hall, is she trying to hide her activities from Public Record Requests? This seems highly unethical if that is the case. By so acting, has she inadvertently converted her “private emails” into public record? How would anyone know what is official business and what is personal? The entire account should be made public.

  2. Anaheim's Best Friend

    The question is who is your source, mr blogger? Everyone knows that the city blots out private email accounts listed on public records.

    S it wasn’t the Voice who blotted out the info about the Yahoo account. It was the city.

    Therefore somebody at City Hall leaked you an unredacted version of the email, which would clearly violate the city’s rules and violated that person’s privacy rights.

    Seems like your source broke the law.

    Isn’t that alot worse than your weak speculation that someone told Cynthia about the existence of an email, which Cynthia got in a perfectly legal PRA?

  3. Mishal Montgomery walks around City Hall like she is the sixth member of the council. She orders staff around, screams and yells at people, and constantly reminds people she is the Mayors COS. If she isn’t using a city email address like the rest of staff, it should be corrected.

  4. Is all this legal? Can the Mayor’s secretary have this much power? and can she use a private email? I have no clue but would like some legal eagle like to set me straight ?? I’ve never heard her name mentioned so often as in recent times… just maybe she is contributing to the nastiness at City Hall and the divides that are growing bigger by the day.

  5. If we cannot aim for credibility, how about accuracy?

    To begin with, you have taken the timeline of the request out of context. I made the request in December based on my own very real concerns about the streetcar project. My concerns are valid, and I have not written about them because I am waiting for the rest of the info to come in. I do know enough to tell you all about what they mean by “economic development” along the route, which is why I asked for the background info on WHY they made the decisions and route choices they made. There are holes in the documents posted to the internet, holes you could drive a truck through, and I want answers to issues concerning a lot of public money. I have been up front in my request, and I would have told you directly had you called-my number has not changed since you last used it Matt.

    I was NOT tipped off to any information in advance to tell me where to look. Emails were a very small slice of the request itself, which was primarily concerned with invoices, contracts, and public outreach. My request for emails was my way of trying to keep their decisions (and the very obvious change in direction mid-way through the project) in context. I asked for personal accounts knowing, as you do, that Curt Pringle used his Pringle and Associates account to conduct official business on behalf of the City, OCTA, and High Speed Rail. To this day I have not seen any proof that Mishal was included in the email loop, but I will admit that anyone could have been blind cc’ed on the messages, how would any of us know?

    I was contacted by someone at the end of January, after my request had been repeatedly delayed. While I did not catch a name, I was pretty sure I was speaking with someone in the City Attorney’s office, who wanted me to know that an email had surfaced, and while they were not entirely clear what it meant , the discovery apparently had set some people off who did not want it to be released. They were alerting me because the City Attorney had already declared the email to be a public document, and ordered it released to me, and there was some fear that it might be “lost” on its way to me. I do not believe the person to have been Mishal, but again if they gave me a name I did not catch it, and they hung up before I asked any questions. But the ”inside tip” you are so concerned with was simply notification that public records related to my inquiry had been ordered released to me. There was no confidential information released, and once again I did not know anything about this before I made the request.

    I want to make that part very, very clear, I made that request on my own. I have said it before in public forums, and the fact that this keeps becoming a theme might indicate you think I am lying. I wonder, are you so confident that I am lying, that you are willing to just come out and say that? Right here and now either you take my word for it that I made that request on my own, or call me a liar in a public forum. I worked my butt off to determine what information I needed, I am very proud of the detective work I have done to date-none of which has been released because I want to tell the entire story at once-and I do not appreciate you disparaging my ability to handle research on this level.

    That said, we have several issues here. The first is that Curt Pringle was clearly using his personal account to conduct business in his capacity as Mayor of Anaheim and OCTA Board member. I would have to check but I think he might also have been serving in his incompatible offices capacity at that point as well with HSR. Where is the outrage that the Mayor, serving as OCTA Board, was discussing official business with staff on his personal account?

    The other issue is, if this email came from the account of Mishal Montgomery, and the City never told me where it came from, it was just in a stack, but if it came from her account, perhaps forwarded from Curt or someone on staff, WHY did it come from there, and not Natalie Meeks who received the request as well? The email clearly fit my public records request, as confirmed by the City Attorney. So why was it not turned over by those staffers who were included on the email and named in the request?

    For those keeping score, it is now 2 months since I put in that request and I still do not have the documents. They have turned over what they estimate to be a third of the documents. Meanwhile, the project has been approved by City Council, and the Transit Committee at OCTA. So they are moving forward when they cannot provide me with the basic documents to explain how they came to their conclusions-and they are doing it all with THREEE HUNDRED AND NINETEEN MILLION DOLLARS of OUR MONEY. I think that is worth looking into. How about you?
    If you want to talk about ripping on reputations, I hope you keep ISP info on the comments that lack the stones to come out with their names. Because while I do not know Mishal Montgomery well , she seems very nice, and I have no doubt that the accusations here are based on her loyalty to Mayor Tait.

    So I will be looking for her phone number, and alerting her to the incredible character assassination taking place over here in comments. Libel is libel even if said anonymously. So whoever is making those snotty remarks better be able to back them up. And if you can back them up, tell me-has she always participated in this behavior? Did she do it when Curt Pringle was Mayor? Did Curt look the other way? Or did she ignore the potential to extract goodies while she had the ear of a far more powerful leader, and suddenly begin throwing her weight around only when she was working for the poor guy totally isolated on Council and unable to really maximize the extortion your readers claim she is committing?

    By the way, Happy Valentine’s Day.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      “I have been up front in my request, and I would have told you directly had you called-my number has not changed since you last used it Matt.”

      Cynthia, in case you missed it, this is Anaheim Insider’s post. I write probably 90% of the posts on this blog, but not all of them.

      But I still have to laugh at your moral outrage over not being called for comment. I’ve seen you publish mucho speculation and allegations over the years about a number of people, including me. I sincerely doubt you ever called any of them. I know you have never called me – and my phone number hasn’t changed since the last time you used it.

      So before you point out the speck in someone else’s eye, Cynthia, try removing the plank from your own.

    • Cynthia, you can be really hypocritical sometimes. How can you get so worked up over this story considering your own past actions?

      What about when you falsely accused a fellow Colony resident of stealing funds from the neighborhood association? So much for being “able to back them up.” Because it wasn’t true.

      I’ve read comments by you accusing Curt Pringle of trying to fleece Anaheim taxpayers for his own benefit, or controlling councilmembers. But you don’t back that up, either. Because it isn’t true.

      You did your best to muddy up Steve Lodge’s reputation with your ridiculous lawsuit, and you were very secretive about how you paid for it, who your lawyer was, how you found one of the top election lawyers in California.

      You helped fuel the Voice of OC story practically accusing Natalie Meeks and Darrell Johnson of trying to defraud the federal government. That’s a lot more serious than anything being said about Mishal Montgomery in this story with less evidence, but you just piled on.

      You’re throwing a fit over this article, but you’re silent when Jason Young writes blog posts over and over accusing Gail Eastman or Kris Murray of lying and corruption. You never tell Jason that he’d “better be able to that up.” Because you don’t seem to mind when your opponents are libeled.

      Tom Tait’s family paid for a mailer to all Anaheim voters, misleading them into thinking Jordan Brandman was under a criminal investigation. So did the OCEA. You know that Jordan is as honest as the day is long. You were not only silent about that assassination of Jordan’s character, but you praise the assassins. Did you take to the blogs to denounce that smear? No.

      There’s no libel here. Whoever Anaheim Insider is, he or she wrote that this infamous e-mail came from a private e-mail account. Which appears to be true. He/she believes it was produced by Mishal Montgomery to comply with a public record request. I don’t know if it was Ms. Montgomery, but how is it libelous to say she complied with a public record request?

      I’m sorry to have spent the time writing this comment, Cynthia. But for too long you have been running around maligning good people and stirring up crap where no crap exists, and ignoring it when it is your allies and friends stirring it up, and all the while going on about how honest you are and how much you value honesty and wish people would just be honest. Really honest people don’t go around saying how honest they are.

      • Amen.

        You forgot to mention how Cynthia Ward served as Shawn Nelson’s hatchet lady when he appointed her to the OC Cemetery District with the mission of killing Curt Pringle & Associates contract with the district. Personal payback. Yes, Cynthia has such high and lofty motives.

  6. Anaheim714 – Kris Murray has used her private e-mail account when communicating with me. It seems to be quite commonplace at Anaheim City Hall.

    City Employee – those are pretty nasty accusations. Do you have any facts to back it up?

    Anna – the only nastiness I have seen is the comments I read everyday on this blog by people like you who hide behind an alias.

    Jason Y.

  7. Once again, Anaheim Insider quotes sources but doesn’t name names. Great reporting job. For all we know you just made your accusations to serve the purpose of this slanted blog.

    Jason Y.

    • It all is starting to make sense now. The Mayor’s aide is behind his attempts to make trouble and trying to deflect attention from his dealings with the City Attorney.

      Is this the same part-time aide that the Mayor was paying almost $100,000 a year (tax payer money)….until the City Council caught him?

  8. I do offer my apology, I failed to see it was Anaheim Insider writing this and not Matt Cunningham. I will try to pay more attention in the future,although a larger font size for authors would be helpful, the names blend with the title and disappear completely once you click on the actual story.

    I suspect it was also Matt who deleted the exchange from the potentially libelous comments against the Mayor’s assistant, and I thank you for that. While I am sure there must be some bad blood there I think the attacks were way out of line, and I do appreciate that at least some form of civility may be in play. Since my comments have to wait for moderation and I know Gustavo’s are often deleted entirely, it is clear someone is approving or denying what is posted here and yet they allowed unproven and nasty things to be said about an individual. So whoever came in and cleaned that up this morning, I thank you.

    That said,in allowing someone to post anonymously on his blog, Matt is in essence putting his credibility on the line on behalf of Anaheim Insider. Matt is saying that he trusts this individual enough to hand them the car keys and his Driver’s License and Insurance since the driver prefers to operate without their own ID. Not sure that is wise given the issues that cropped up last night. However it is Matt’s blog, Matt’s choice. How well do you know and trust this Anaheim Insider? This is someone who refuses to use their own name to write publicly. If they say something that gets you in hot water are they likely to stand up and take the heat with you?

    .

    • Cynthia Ward you get caught lying again, you blame it on “font size” and then ramble on for several paragraphs. Really?

  9. Mishal claims to have years of experience but she was a scheduler in Long Beach! She is the source of all of the toxicity in Anaheim and on the 7th floor. City Employee is correct. Ask anyone on the 7th floor (with the exception of Tait and Mishal of course). Someone should also check her FPPC forms. She has LONG exploited gifts from others. Also, who is paying her now? Thought the aide budgets changed! She should not even be on the 7th floor anymore.

    Finally, on the email….so Pringle, Meeks, Wu and DeSollar are on the email. The question is “who forwarded it to Mishal?” It is either Pringle or DeSollar. I doubt it was Pringle (but someone can ask him). Perhaps it was DeSollar (maybe more investigatory work should be odne there).

    Well done, Anaheim Insider….whomever you are!

  10. So let’s make sure I got this right;

    Your position is that someone inside City Hall had an email they were not supposed to have, in a private email account whose provider services 310 million other accounts. And while you have an unredacted copy of the email that seems to indicate it was leaked to you outside of the legal system established by the City Attorney, it is OK for you to have that copy but the City Attorney should not have released a redacted copy to me, lest I jump to conclusions about the guilt of innocent people I have not charged with guilt. You further seem to theorize that the person who received the copy should be accused of conducting government business on private accounts even though there is no record of them responding, but the email’s clear documentation of Curt Pringle discussing government business on his personal account is somehow OK, and now we will blame the whole thing on the Mayor’s Assistant who you conveniently already hate, because she has an account with the email provider that also services 310 million other users one of which at some time possessed this email.

    And while the email means nothing the individual held onto this meaningless email for years, all the time remembering the content of the meaningless email, then suddenly leaking it at just the right time so that I could make an overly broad request for information that sends City staff on a 5 year span wild goose chase, which you call a “precise idea” of what I was looking for, which turns out to not reflect wrongdoing anyway. And waiting far beyond the accusations of Mayor Pringle’s incompatible offices (OCTA and Anaheim are clearly discussed together in relation to a project that ties into high speed rail) when the email could really have hurt those involved, and waiting until long after the Mayor’s office staff budget was reduced and the email can no longer help the Mayor’s assistant, she leaked the email to me during a period in which it does her no apparent good, in the belief that I will run off and make baseless accusations about the people in the email, even though they are really innocent and how dare I say otherwise, even though I have said nothing. And just because I have not actually blogged or otherwise written about the email I should be abused anyway, since I might someday write about it, and I certainly made the request for documents that should have been on the internet anyway, so I am guilty for having the innocent but guilty looking email turn up so that someone might misunderstand its meaning.
    At the very least I should certainly be demonized because Voice of OC wrote about the email, because it is my fault that I told Adam I felt like I was being stonewalled on a request and thus Voice of OC requested what I was asking for, therefore I am clearly to blame for the email’s discovery and the blaming of innocent people I have never accused of doing anything-other than delaying a public records request and protesting just a little too hard over the release of an email that means nothing anyway so we should all just move along-except you all won’t stop writing about it.

    I’m sorry, what was your point again?

    In contrast, my position is that I was researching a very expensive, taxpayer-funded transportation boondoggle, something I am known for doing (high speed rail anyone?) and using the research skills even my enemies will admit I possess, I put in a request covering very broad but logical parameters connected to the people whose names are on the public documents for the project which are openly posted on the internet, which does not take a brain surgeon to establish. A number of emails surfaced, panicking someone at City Hall who apparently thought that the perfectly innocent message would automatically be misunderstood and unfairly used against them, therefore fighting against the release of the email while providing bloggers with an unredacted copy that bypassed the editing process required by the City Attorney prior to release, but I am to ignore the email because there is nothing to it even though you have put more time and energy into giving it attention than I have. While someone I cannot identify but am fairly certain was not Mishal Montgomery told me the email had turned up and was already cleared by the City Attorney as a public document and therefore not a secret they could not tell me about, someone had put up such a fight about releasing it there was fear that I might not ever see it, which certainly left me curious at best.

    To date, I have received roughly a third of the promised documents, while the City staff involved in my inquiry keeps moving forward in promoting a self-serving project while not releasing the documents that justify moving forward on the project. At every turn I am subjected to character assassination for the simple crime of having asked for public information related to the expenditure of hundreds of millions in public money, by people so angry at something I have not yet written about that lacking anything valid to beat me with they are digging up false accusations from years ago and twisting it until gossip becomes gospel, in an effort to either discourage me into dropping it and getting on with my life or discrediting me so nobody listens when I do write about it.
    Now which theory makes more sense? Only those not on the payroll need answer that, please.

    Which brings us back to the question; where did YOU get the unredacted copy? Yes, I will be asking the City Attorney’s office if it is legal for someone to have been issued that copy.

    Now for the comments;

    “Colony Babe”, you missed an exchange that took place Thursday night, in which someone said what looked like potentially libelous comments about Mishal Montgomery (far above and beyond the email “conspiracy”) and it was to those comments I was responding. They were deleted rather early so the partial remaining thread did not reflect what I was responding to, which understandably caused confusion.

    That said, if I am to respond to every ugly and false piece of character assassination written about me over here, I would be a very busy woman indeed. It is not for me to defend myself from baseless gossip, it is for you to prove what you are saying about me, and so far you have completely missed the mark.

    “Colony Babe”, I remember the discussion you refer to, and if you go read it again (I am sure it is in the Colony email group archives) you will see that my accusation did not involve the neighborhood association, nor was it about theft or stealing. I did refer to some pretty ugly behavior from some who are seen as reputable community leaders, trying to show that those who defame my reputation may not have the most spotless of motives. In fact, it seems like the handful of egomaniacal personalities that make a serious effort to discredit me before anyone listens to me repeat the ugly behavior in the Colony behave just like the writers and comments posted in this blog. I wonder, could there be a connection? Ya think?

    Every one of the actions I cited in that angry rant to the Colony that day have been DOCUMENTED in Meeting Minutes, bank statements, and Treasurer’s reports, allowing me to back up everything I said. To whom shall I send those records?

    At the time I saw nothing to be gained for any of us in going public with what I knew was not intentional bad behavior. People make mistakes, if they are people of good character they apologize and make it right, in this case they chose instead to assassinate my character as if I was the bad guy when they had screwed up. I am sorry they chose to deal with it that way.

    It was not until I became their target that I defended myself, and frankly defended a neighbor whose ONLY sin was in being one of my best friends. I felt it was only right to make sure the neighbors reading their ugly attacks understood that their motives might not be pure. Even then I have never shared names. Do I need to?

    Some of those I griped about that day go driving around the neighborhoods, into areas they never frequent in their day to day activities, actively looking for people they can turn in to Code Enforcement for violations that do not affect them and would not be seen by them if they were not out with a map looking for violators in their own self-appointed police force. So it makes a thin argument to claim I am the one stirring up trouble for innocent people unprovoked. Sadly many of them have gone on to greater responsibilities, so yes I am watching to see if they screw up at a higher level like they did when they thought nobody was looking. But as yet I have not said anything. It is those at this site who bring attention to the past. How is that working out for you?
    Back to the stewardship of public resources.

    “Biff 2”-are you trying to make a case that the contract with Curt Pringle and Associates was a wise investment for taxpayers who were getting their money’s worth, and I killed it simply out of spite? The Contract was signed before I got there, the contract period was up for renewal, and as a Board (I cannot do this alone) the District chose not to renew for the next period, something we were well within our rights to do. Now if we dropped CP&A and gave the deal to a buddy, you might have an argument, but we never gave it to anyone, we no longer needed an outside consultant and were spending what I recall to be $5,000 a month for something I thought we could produce in-house.

    That is what I was brought in to do, it was the ONLY thing I was brought in to do during the one and only term of office I agreed to serve. I was brought in to be a good steward of public resources at the Orange County Cemetery District, and I am proud of what I have accomplished there. Dave Ellis is welcome to dig into my records, I hope he is charging his mystery client a bloody fortune, because he will find that I have voted against every pay raise for ourselves that a Trustee tried to push through, I fought against an attempt to get ipads for Board members, and I have donated untold volunteer hours to help avoid consultants fees when possible. By the way, if you live in the County those are YOUR taxes I saved. You are welcome.

  11. Cynthia, you are wasting SO much of your precious time fighting with these anonymous dillwads, which is just what they want. Just let me and Jason shoot spitballs at them. You’ve got more important things to do.

  12. I know, and I am pretty much done, primarily because I think they are pretty much done. If this is all they have it is not worth my time, and if they had more they would have used it by now. They are throwing rocks and sticks because they have no real weapons. My arguments are not meant for them anyway, they showed up at the party already looking for a fight, and their egos are too immense to admit having made a mistake even when i point out their errors. On the other hand, there are innocent civilians that might stumble across this site by mistake, and I am not going to allow my name to be muddied without putting up some defense.

  13. CW- your name is muddled all around town because you did that to yourself. MANY of these folks commenting seem to have a common despise for you. How is that possible? Perhaps you should take a long hard look in the mirror.

  14. yes, Vern….CW has “very important things to do.” I certain that is the case.

  15. Cynthia and Vern could stand to look in the mirror and look up the word succinct in the dictionary. I’m bored two sentences in to all of their diatribes – which are always short on fact and long on wind.

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