OC Register Spotlights Unstableheim

unstableheim update feat AB

Anaheim Insider here.

The OC Register has picked up the “Unstableheim” story chronicled here for months, publishing a story about the cascade of  vacancies at the top reaches of Anaheim City Hall:

For those interested in any of several top posts at Anaheim City Hall, a little wariness would be understandable.

In the past five years Anaheim has had three city managers, the last of whom resigned in July at the council’s urging after less than two years on the job.

Also in that time, three city attorneys have come and gone, and the police chief resigned in October after settling a claim against the city.

Now the City Council is looking to fill those positions, and some wonder whether the recent turnover could be seen by potential applicants as a liability.

Unmentioned: Anaheim also has an Acting City Clerk and an Acting Human Resources Director.

Councilman Jose F. Moreno downplayed the situation:

“There’s a narrative that could be presented that there’s a lot of instability, people are leaving, they don’t want to be here,” Councilman Jose Moreno said, though he added the large pool of people who applied for the city attorney job contradicts that.

The instability isn’t a “narrative;” it’s a reality. Anaheim used to develop its future leadership internally. Staff moved up through the ranks and acquired greater operational experience and knowledge, in preparation for stepping into vacancies at the top of the City Hall pyramid.

Now, they’re leaving for other cities.

The article notes the declining professional longevity of Anaheim city managers:

Some of Anaheim’s city managers have served for years, and others’ tenure was a matter of months. Here are the city executives of the last three decades.

Jim Ruth: April 1988 to December 2001

David Morgan: December 2001 to June 2009

Tom Wood: July 2009 to June 2012

Bob Wingenroth: June 2012 to June 2013

Marcie Edwards: July 2013 to March 2014

Paul Emery: July 2015 to July 2017

What this list doesn’t explain is that, as I mentioned, Anaheim developed talent for internal succession. For example, Jim Ruth’s successor as city manager, Dave Morgan, was a career Anaheim city employee who was assistant city manager under Ruth. Morgan’s successor, Tom Wood, had been assistant city manager under both Morgan and Ruth.

That went for senior staff positions. For example, Joel Fick wokred his way up through the city’s Planning Department, running that department for years before being named Deputy City Manager in 2003, the position from which he retired in 2009.

Nowadays, instead of sticking around and moving up, talented and experienced staff are moving out. Deputy Planning Director Jonathan Borrego left this year to become planning director for Oceanside. No knock on that seaside community, but the $2 billion Disneyland Resort expansion, several luxury hotels projects in the Resort, West Anaheim development initiatives and other projects are much more professionally challenging than anything Oceanside has going.

Yet the environment in City Hall has become so toxic that running the planning department in a sleepy Marine town is more attractive.

The Dave Morgans, Tom Woods and Joel Ficks used to represent the norm in Anaheim City Hall. Assistant City Manager Kristine Ridge is from that mold, and she’s jumping ship to be Laguna Niguel’s city manager. You don’t spend 25 years working your way to the number-two spot and leave when the city is hunting for a city manager unless you knew the councilmember powers-that-be would block you.

Pot, Meet Kettle
In the hypocrisy department, UNITE-HERE Local 11’s Martin Lopez scores a special mention for complaining to the OC Register about long, contentious council meetings:

“They argue about things for hours” at meetings, said Martin Lopez, secretary of Unite Here Local 11, which represents hotel workers. “That needs to change. We cannot continue operating like that.”

Lopez was one of the ringleaders who were so loud and thoroughly disruptive when they didn’t get their way at December 2015, that the meeting had to be shut down. He and his boss Ada Briceno and the rest of their goon squad shut down the meeting intentionally, and bragged they would do it again if their demands were not met.

But that was OK.

This is where OC Register reporting on Anaheim could benefit if its writers had some institutional memory going back even a few years.


  1. Anaheim, at least, it takes our minds off of national government issues, taxes, medical and sexual harassment issues. Maybe no government officials is better??

  2. jose tries to use words to look smart, he is not smart. Rather, he is foolish to think the majority is buying what he is selling. He is a snake oil salesman and will be run out of town. RECALL JOSE

  3. Martin Lopez is a rabble rouser who has spoken and disrupted many council meetings. He is trying to present himself as our next District 4 leader. I say basta, the whole group has got to go. NO TO MARTIN

  4. KATE STEINLE: Justice was rendered but it was not served. What is wrong with California? How can this happen. My heart hurts for her family. My heart hurts for her father who witnessed this horrific crime perpetrated on his lovely daughter while they were out for a walk. My heart hurts for her. My heart hurts so badly that our politics in California allowed this to happen.

    We can not let this go. We must rise up and seek justice for Kate. The repeat offender who killed her needs to be help liable civily and our California governement entities/officials should also be held accountable as well. The shooter had a long criminal past and had multiple deportations. Those that allowed this criminal to be free to commit this crime have Kate Steinle’s blood on their hands.

    Kate Steinle’s life mattered.

  5. Sorry, just sad and angry.

  6. District 5 Resident

    I am disgusted and beyond sad and angry with city council. Nothing is going the way it should…perhaps hittibg rock bottom, the residents should take over and rebuild the city from the ground to the top! There are many of us residents who have background skills, experiences, and education to rebuild our city. However, it may just be a pipe dream. P.S. I never liked Councilman Jose…too cocky and he believes every resident will ride on his bandwagon! Not me!

  7. In the spirit of the Continuios Improvement Process, which principles and execution protocols are the foundation for Total Quality Management (TQM), should be considered for implantation by the City Council, as a tool to collect realtime, unabated data on the public’s opinions regarding the performance of City Hall’s leadership and their views on a City recall of the bad actors, retarding the growth, continuity and image of their beloved Anaheim. TQM is also the source for developing the metric’s for the Continuous Improvement Process (CIP) of one’s area of responsibility’s.

    If TQM was studied and adopted as the trailhead back to excellence the implementation of the process of developing a comprehensive Public Servey, distributed to all residents via post or electronically, should be the first and is the most gleaning step of theTQM application. Its purpose Is threefold: First – to secure the attitudes and opinions directly from the Hores’ Mouths of what’s wrong with the City, Second – the data collected would likely result in the preverbal “shit hitting the fan” within the walls of mediocracy of City Hall., prompting real concern for for livelihood of those screwing things up and Three – providing a goof proof answer for reclamation effective services.

    I can’t emphasize enough, the efficacy of TQM to restore not only the functionality of City Management, but also, it will restore the confidence and pride in our most critical resource, The Citizenry of the Great Late City of Anaheim. So, Please, consider the suggestion from a humble man with years of TQM experience and explore the possibilities
    of its value. to the City Executive’s and City Council’s areas of operation.

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