Anaheim Has Become Unstableheim

unstableheim feat

Anaheim Insider Here.

What’s the most common word around Anaheim City Hall these days?

If you guessed “homeless,” you’re probably right. But a close second is “Interim.”

Anaheim has a Council-Manager form of government in which the professional City Staff receive policy direction from the elected City Council and carry out the day-to-day affairs of the City. In fact, the Anaheim City Charter specifically prohibits the Mayor and City Council from interfering in the day-to-day administration of the City, and limits the number of City employees who report directly to the Council to only three – the City Manager, the City Attorney, and the City Clerk.

So, it says a lot about how bad things have gotten in Anaheim under the Tait-Moreno regime that all three of those positions bear the “Interim” tag.  That’s right – for the first time anyone can recall in Anaheim’s history, the City is being run by an Interim City Manager, Interim City Attorney, and an Interim City Clerk.

Of course, the current Interim City Manager, Linda Andal, was elevated to the post from the City Clerk job after the Council voted to fire Paul Emery. And while Andal by most accounts is a perfectly nice person and was an very good City Clerk, her elevation to Interim City Manager came, our sources tell us, after several more prominent City Department heads turned down the position and the City Council could not agree on others. While Andal was indeed an excellent City Clerk, going from supervising a staff of 15 to becoming CEO of a billion-dollar municipal corporation is a big leap. This was apparent at last week’s Council meeting when City Council members repeatedly noted that Assistant City Manager Kristine Ridge – who was absent to attend a conference – was the City’s point person on several issues and unavailable to answer questions.

Andal’s ascension to Interim Manager also created a vacancy at City Clerk, now filled by Acting City Clerk Theresa Bass, at a time where public scrutiny of city government has risen to an all-time high and the City ‘s chief records keeper and answerer of Public Records Act request bears the “Interim” tag.

More importantly, the City Attorney position has been vacant for 16 months. The new Council majority, eager to flex their muscle, fired former City Attorney Arturo N. Fierro just before Christmas and just weeks after his appointment. Kristin A. Pelletier, who had served as Acting City Attorney for several months before Fierro’s appointment, was pressed back into the role, where she has continued this whole year. Our sources tell us Pelletier has no interest in the permanent job, and the City Council has finally begun to search for a permanent replacement earnestly.

Anaheim City Attorney is a plumb job. That it has remained vacant almost a year and half speaks volumes about how the chaos in City Hall. The fact that Tait-Moreno council majority they fired the last City Attorney a few weeks after he was hired is probably making it hard to attract top-notch candidates.  Who knows how long it will take to fill the City Manager position?

But the instability in Anaheim goes deeper the climate at City Hall under Tait-Moreno has been suffused with the kind of uncertainty, and tension that Anaheim has largely avoided for decades. The most recent and prominent example is the open warfare between Police Chief Raul Quezada and the Anaheim Police Association, who overwhelmingly voted “no confidence” in the Chief and recommended his immediate removal.

But even beyond this, I can recall the sadly bygone days when being a department head in a big, vibrant, exciting city like Anaheim was better than being the City Manager in other cities. Or when being the number two in a department in Anaheim was a bigger plum job that being the number one elsewhere. This is no longer the case in Tait-Moreno “Unstableheim.”

Take the recent departure of Jonathan Borrego, the former number two man in the Anaheim Planning Department and widely recognized as one of the best municipal planners in California. Borrego staffed the Anaheim Planning Commission and helped oversee a department that had attracted billions in private investment. Borrego left last month to become the Planning Director in Oceanside.

Oceanside is a perfectly fine medium-sized city. But the Planning Director job in Oceanside entails such creative jobs as redeveloping strip malls and some infill housing projects. The number two job in Anaheim oversees billion-dollar theme park expansions, the buildout of the Platinum Triangle, possible development of a new Angels Baseball Stadium and the surrounding parking lot, just to name but a few.

That a quality civic servant like Borrego would leave Anaheim for Oceanside is a huge win for Oceanside, and probably Borrego’s sanity, but clearly represents a flight of top talent from the toxic environment at City Hall under Tait-Moreno.

Several other senior officials have recently left the Anaheim Public Utilities Department, the number two and three officials at Economic & Community Development are also gone, as has the top staffer at the Anaheim Workforce Investment Board.

The Tait-Moreno council majority has achieved the remarkable feat of making the City of Anaheim a place talented civil servants try to leave.

If Anaheim sees any further top departures, as we hear rumors of, there could almost literally be no one left capable of moving forward the policy directives of a City Council majority already known for heavy on substance and low on accomplishments.

19 comments

  1. I am thoroughly enjoying your articles.

  2. Rather this than the Pringle ctowd. Only thing he did was promote himself and hire security guards for an election that is still being talked about nearly 20 years later

    • Larry, I think that is an unfair and inaccurate characterization of Curt Pringle’s tenure as mayor. Also, the claim that he hired the poll guards is a myth, but it has been repeated so many times in the intervening three decades that many people unfortunately think it is true. I doubt any current or former elected official in Orange County can match his record of accomplishment in state and local government.

      • Fast and loose with the word myth there, boss.

        He clearly knew about it. He probably directed it. He obviously participated with it.

        In any case, he bears responsibility for that horrible incident that was designed to benefit his campaign. That you’re out excusing it speaks loudly to your ignorance, lack of character, or likely both.

  3. Nailed it. Tait is weak and feckless. Moreno can’t do anything without Tait’s blessing. Will the Welcoming City effort progress due to California’s pending sanctuary state status?

    Add the unstable idiots at the microphone every week. Fitzgerald, Diamond, Ward, Vern Nelson.

  4. Many employee’s at the City of Anaheim are unhappy. The HR department is probably the most toxic and corrupt department to work. There is zero stability anywhere. All there is, is changes when new people come onboard that hinder and harm the program set in place. Change is good, but understanding the process then making change is the logical thing to do. Where once the COA was the best place to work, it is now mediocre at best.

    • You can add the Human Resources Department to the list of interim management. Jason Motsick has held the position of acting Director of Human Resources for well over a year. Interestingly, when they held the recruitment in January 2016, Jason didn’t even get past the first phase of the recruitment process. His self-interest, and that of his top managers and their immediate circles is helping to create the toxic environment that Susie is talking about. The Human Resources Department is the first contact that most prospective employees have with the city. As a department, they should have effective management that can portray the city in a professional manner that will attract and RETAIN top professionals.

  5. Let’s not forget that the Tait-marino regime are trying to dissolve city departments and people are leaving before he does it. Tait and Marino are only jockeying for a legacy. They will leave office without ever really accomplishing anything big like ARTIC so they cry foul and point to how bad Pringle was. Just look at the whole messy thing between marino and Murray. He’s been trying to discount her every step of the way for her Operation Home SAFE program because he wants his focus group to get credit for helping to solve the homeless problem. And calling Anaheim residents…His people…really rubbed everyone wrong. They are not HIS people… We need to remove the arrogance and get back to hiring quality people for our city.

    • outsiger2, bingo…you hit the nail on the head! it seems that everyone has forgotten that back in 1996ish when Tait, a council member at the time, tried to get rid of the utilities dept. for the city of Anaheim to Edison and Enron…and we all know where Enron ended up… and that his departing words were…I’ll be back! and has messed up every thing since he came back. if left to him, he would contract EVERY THING out leaving the city in the most dire straights. also, if the city council really wanted to help the homeless, then why don’t THEY open THEIR homes and put them in THEIR vacant bedrooms??? in ending, if we want top quality people working for the RESIDENTS of Anaheim, then WE need to QUIT VOTING in the ignorance and arrogance

  6. Let’s recall jose moreno. He’s tried to stick his nose in every district. Who does he think he is? His task force has done nothing to resolve the issue on the river trail, but waste time and money. Rather, he lobbied to further entrench the homeless by installing portable potties. He is an ego maniac who thinks we are not intelligent enough to catch on to what he is up to. During council meetings he can not even hide his contempt for any other view point other than his. We are on to him. At the worst we can get him out in one more year.

    What is going on with the City of Anaheim’s leadership is very telling and shameful.

  7. Pringle was the worst
    Sop building Townhouses, Apartments,. Stop creating minimum wage jobs and promoting 1,000 of jobs here in Anaheim.Overcrowding, no parking, Str, no parking.it’s a mess…Stop Building…Past Council has caused this mess….

    • Mayor Curt Pringle left a meaningful and enduring impression on Anaheim with freedom friendly policies and a culture of entrepreneurship. His eight years of wholesome leadership embraced the best in everyone and everyone appreciated his non-judgmental approach. Curt Pringle believes in shared prosperity and is instrumental in creating thousands of jobs at every level. He embraced citizen participation in government and protected and valued our right to free speech.

  8. Neighbor to neighbor

    No need to blame anyone in particular, just look at the pitiful mess Anaheim is now, and look at who’s running it.

    It literally speaks for itself.
    The damage has been done.

  9. Marijuana Laws are expanding in January. I want to know where each of our city council members stand in regard to the issuance of business licenses for those selling marijuana for recreational use. What is Anaheim’s position and what are the positions of each council member. There goes the neighborhoods.

  10. Can you do a story on Anaheim Councils position on Marijuana business licenses, to include each members position. Please

  11. Transition is inevitable. The future belongs to those persons, both within and outside the current system, that anticipate and embrace the post-status quo reality.

    There are a number of factors that suggest a coming changing of the guard, such as increasing rigidity, opaquenes and insularity. But I would look for what I would describe as a last desperate effort, a grand singular motion by the old guard to retain its authority. Not only will this effort inevitably involve foolish risks, but it will also signal instability.

    The old guard, as on display here, will of course attempt to discredit what will come next so as to defend itself. And while I sympathize with that concern, it is not the correct strategy. We should be focused on what, or rather who, comes next because, say what you will, transition is the inevitable way of things.

  12. Nothing will change much but the minimum to satisfy the APPEASE of the people putting on the MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL. UNTIL Tait- Moreno and their’s council backer nothing will change too much. If was up to me I would start cleaning up this mess with a RECALL !!!!!!!! RECALL!!! RECALL!!!. I’m almost ready to started it myself and start cleaning house that the big money backer like DISNEYLAND AND DEVELOPER can’t influence. There is more homes for sale now in my neighborhood than before SUBPRIME. Everyone in get on both the city council and county supervisors because this is a complex problem. Throwing a bunch of money at this problem will be only like a band-aid. NOTHING IS REALLY GOING TO CHANGE BUT WHAT HAVE TO APPEASE THE VOTING MAJORITY UNTIL TAIT- MORENO IS GONE. DO WE HAVE TERMS LIMITS?

  13. Gentlemen. May I assume many of you are city employees, yes? I’m going to assume your dissatisfied with the leadership or lack thereof, of the Mayor and City Manager, yes? I’m also going to assume you have not gone to the source of your concerns to give them an opportunity to justify their positions(s).

    I’m a native Anaheimer and active stakeholder, concerned with the disjointed culture effecting the priorities, productivity and decisions on issues effecting the quality of life of the people of whom you serve. I see that folks feel comfortable using this platform to bitch and moan about spicific city personnel but fail to clearly articulate specific bones of contention. What’s up with that?

    I listened to County Supervisor Todd Spitzer’s impromptu interview with radio personalities Ken & Dave, on the subject of the Santa Ana Riverbed homeless encampment fiasco. When an ill prepared Spitzer was asked how the homeless population was allowed to grow to critical mass, he bumbled, stumbled and mumbled in a failed attempt to shift blame to the City Counsel and minimize his responsibility as a responsible actor. I believe Spitser ‘s image and credibility as Senior County Executive has been damaged beyond repair.

    lastly, it appears that a spoaksperson has not been designated to provide timely updates on the progress of Councelwoman Murray’s Sana.Ana riverbed encampment project.. I pursued the City Counsel meeting schedule and found no open items-of-interest or itinerary to address the status of the project. Thank you for your time and interest in my observations.

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