Vanderbilt’s Election Lawyer Now Working On CATER’s Lawsuit Against Angels Negotiations

Anaheim Insider here.

Earlier this month, Superior Court Judge James Di Cesare smacked down the CATER lawsuit against September 2013 council approval of the now-defunct negotiations MOU with the Angels. His ruling dressed down CATER lawyer and blogger Greg Diamond but gave him one more chance to get it right (most likely to bullet-proof his ruling against being overturned on appeal).

Diamond and CATER President Cynthia Ward decided to do something smart and brought in another attorney, Chad Morgan. Judge Di Cesare had strongly criticized Diamond verbal diarrhea, which is absent from the amended complaint, which you can read here. Morgan is an attorney and campaign consultant, and was also chief of staff to former Assemblyman Allan Mansoor.

This is not Chad Morgan’s first legal foray into Anaheim politics. Last year, he successfully represented now-Councilman James Vanderbilt when he was defending his use of “educator” as a ballot title (After the election was over, Vanderbilt listed his occupation on his campaign reports as “Military Officer, US Army). Now, he’s representing CATER in suing the city that his former client helps govern.

Vanderbilt’s newly-hired council assistant is Helen Myers, a very close friend of CATER chief Cynthia Ward, who is the plaintiff in this CATER lawsuit. Myers was the treasurer of the Committee to Oppose Measure D, the campaign committee Mayor Tait used to fight the attempt to change mayoral terms to four two-year terms. Word on the inside was Vanderbilt initially wanted to split the position between Myers and Monika Koos, the wife of John Koos, owner of Core Communications (doing business as Core Development Services), which represents clients seeking approval for cel phone towers. According to his Form 700, Vanderbilt receives between $10,000 and $100,00 in annual income from Core Communications.

Perhaps that income is part of the $200,000 of his own money Vanderbilt spent on his city council campaign. That figure isn’t well known because he waited until December to deposit almost $100,000. According to October-December 2014 campaign filing, most of that went to pay his campaign consultant. It’s an unusual approach, but waiting until after the election kept it from being used as a potential hit piece.

43 comments

  1. The Judge told Diamond to keep the amended complaint under 12 pages. I count 15 pages. FAIL.

  2. At some point will we ever learn who the CATER members “lurking in the shadows” are?

    It’s been reported that Diamond doesn’t need much of an income, but I wonder about this guy, he looks like he doesn’t work cheap and has more to pay than a rented upstairs apartment and fifteen year old Ford Tarus.

    So WHO is funding CATER? CWard and company will argue they are not REQUIRED to list its member rolls. We get that. But, why in this quest for openness and honesty do they not live up to the spirit of openness?

    Makes you wonder if Diamond is just a Shill!

  3. Who is paying this new guys bills? I highly doubt he’s working pro bono!

  4. Going through the filing, the city did file within legal requirements for the meeting regardless of whether it was a holiday weekend. There was considerable public discussion and input on the matter including from Ms. Ward herself. The filing insists the council majority met in secret several times and had decided on the vote before coming to the meeting …isn’t there this thing called “evidence?” Proof that they had in fact met in secret? And with the MOUs a dead issue, what exactly are the asking the judge to rule on? But they want all future closed session meetings videotaped so council members can be studied and observed? Is Tait OK with this? If the judge goes along with this, then every city negotiation or action would require a public vote. Isn’t this why you have a representative form of government in the first place?

    • Dan Chmielewski, STOP IT.

      This is the internet. As such Greg Diamond and Cynthia Ward have no (I MEAN ZERO) time for reason and fact.

      Just so you know, Greg is willing to forgo a rent payment to further his cause (mind you, not his landlords)….Dig deep boys, as the onion is peeled back you get more skin….until there is nothing.

    • The phrase that appears throughout this amended complaint is “Upon information and belief,” which is legalese for “we heard someone say that this person did or said such-and-such.” It pretties up the paranoid belief of Ward, Diamond et al that there exists a giant but secret, well-coordinated conspiracy exquisitely pulling the levers of government power and action in Anaheim.

      This complaint sounds like an earlier filing by Diamond contending that Curt Pringle is using mind control to pull the strings of the council majority through the use of mind control, and that such mind control is a violation of the Brown Act.

      • Pleading “on information belief” means that “we believe in good faith that this is true but we do not have personal knowledge about it.” If you think that this is anything other than standard practice in a complaint, which is a collection of allegations, please consult with your attorney and ask about it.

        We never assert “mind control.” We do assert something called a “pre-meeting collective concurrence,” which suffices to keep a subsequent public meeting of this sort from satisfying the requirements of the Open Meeting Laws.

        If the City wants to argue that it’s good enough for the members of the City Council to come in with their minds made up based on a staff report that relies almost entirely on material that was (1) not delivered on time, (2) not made available to the public, (3) delivered to Councilmembers outside of the sole approved process for doing so, (4) didn’t satisfy the purpose for which it was commissioned, (5) did not even do any analysis of Anaheim and the Angels in particular, and (6) was apparently largely cut-and-pasted from other documents, the City is entitled to do so.

        That would be just one more thing — like the asserted prerogative of the City to ignore the requirements of the City Charter and the State Constitution when it comes to bond indentures originating from the City Council simply putting on another hat — that the City Council majority can hope that the voters of Anaheim never come to understand. Meanwhile, we’ll just keep on trying to explain it to them. Having the hearing transcripts certainly helps.

        • “we believe in good faith that this is true but we do not have personal knowledge about it.”

          That’s just another way of saying you WANT to believe these allegations are true, but you don’t have anything to back it up.

          • Anaheim Insider, we believe in good faith that this is true based upon the credibility of first person statements, which CAN be determined truthful through the process of Discovery. It is called a Deposition, son. When completed with Discovery you then package what you have determined to be admissible as evidence and head into Trial where you lay it all out in front of the Judge. So you are far ahead of yourself, and the legal process, in demanding we lay all of our cards on the table right here and now. You have a nice day.

            • Says the same lady who routinely demands that her critics, and people she just dislikes, “lay their cards on the table.” It’s called a double standard, ma’am. Have a pleasant evening.

  5. Why I bother, I don’t know, but: to the comments.

    (1) [Anaheimster]: Your author didn’t post a copy of the Amended Complaint, so most readers will have no way to verify this, but: no, it’s 12 pages, including the signature block. The Verification Page doesn’t count, nor do the exhibits. My guess is that on whatever you read some pages may have run onto a second page based on printer settings.

    (2) [London Fell]: I don’t understand the “just a shill” comment. By far most of the value CATER has put into the case at this point is based on my uncompensated labor, which given a favorable decision will become compensated by the City (although they could have simply complied at the beginning and had no costs at all.) Besides the faithful old Taurus, we have two Priuses.

    (3) [Proud Colonist]: Like me, his work is uncompensated for now. He expects to receive a fee award when the case is completed.

    (4) [Chum]: This will have to be broken down into subparts:

    (a) Yes, an agenda was filed at least 72 hours before the 5:00 meeting began. That’s not at issue.
    (b) There was no public discussion on the CSL Report, which the Council used to justify its precipitous actions, during public comment because we hadn’t been allowed to see it. Even five minutes would have allowed us to characterize it correctly as an empty PR exercise — and that’s BEFORE knowing that it was based on the misrepresentation that they had actually studied Anaheim
    (c) The “secret meetings” would have been “serial meetings” rather than everyone coming together at once. The complaint cites to resources that will help you understand the concept.
    (d) This is a complaint; it is supposed to contain solely allegations that, if even remotely plausible, are to be construed as true in order to defeat a demurrer motion. The judge’s previous criticism of me, and his page limit, were directed largely at my decision to have placed much evidence into the complaint when it was unnecessary and made it harder to follow. (It also was directed at my including too much argument.) Evidence will be expected only if and when we face a summary judgment motion.
    (e) With the MOU’s a dead issue, in the two Brown Act claims we are asking the judge on (1) deficiencies in their procedures that require reform and (2) the Lease Amendment giving the Angels an additional 29 months to get their act together so that they can be prepared to exit the current lease. Of course, the City Council could just pass the Lease Amendment again if it wished to — after following the proper notice procedures this time and probably also commissioning a study that wasn’t demanding a particular positive result and also based on a lie — but they haven’t. (You may wonder WHY they haven’t. So do we!)
    (f) Tapes (whether video or audio) of closed sessions would not be made routinely available. They would be more in the spirit of “preservation of evidence” in the event of a dispute over what happened therein.
    (g) However, yes, we do want footage of all five Councilmembers (and maybe also the City Manager and Attorney) in OPEN meetings to be available, because we believe that Councilmembers have been wrongfully communicating with outside figures (including interested parties) during deliberations, which we think defeats the purpose of the Brown Act. Lucille Kring admitted as much last month in open session.
    (h) No, not “every city negotiation or action would require a public vote.” I presume that this false allegation is based on the notion that tapes of closed session would be routinely available, rather than viewable only upon court order in response to a showing of cause — and probably kept confidential until and unless allowed to become part of a publicly available motion.
    (i) No, that’s not really “why we have a representative form of government”; that’s more about direct democracy being too unwieldy. The better question you may wish to ask yourself is: why do we have laws such as the California Public Records Act and the Open Meeting Laws (of which the Brown Act is one)? The answer is: to regain some of the accountability that we would otherwise give up as we move from direct to representative democracy. I had presumed that you understood that; if not, then now you may have a better idea of why we’re suing here. You may also be mixing this case up with the Bonds cases, where we WERE suing for a public vote, because that’s what it requires in the City Charter, the State Constitution, state statutory codes, etc. We still expect that to be put right, but by the San Diego case (in which we had intervened) rather than in the Anaheim cases.

    Thanks for your interest in CATER.

    • A). If it’s not an issue, why does CATER keep bringing it up?
      B) define “public discussion” here: does it mean public comments or the council discussing the matter in public in an open meeting?
      C) the complaint says secret meetings; perhaps you should have said serial meetings from the get-go. Then again, there’s no proof of this, only allegations. Isn’t the burden of proof on CATER?
      D). I look forward to you providing evidence
      E) I think the reason why they haven’t is the Angels have walked away from the table.
      F) and this will cost how much?
      G) choi gets texts on the dais in Irvine all the time. Those records are unavailable to me and I have asked for them.
      H and I). Only when Tait doesn’t get his way. Don’t you think it’s hypocritical for Cynthia to tell out of town bloggers to stay out of Anaheim while engaging in the San Diego case?

      • G) choi gets texts on the dais in Irvine all the time. Those records are unavailable to me and I have asked for them.

        Dan, I also agree those texts are PUBLIC RECORDS because while they are created on a personal device not controlled by or in the possession of the local agency they do appear to constitute ex parte communication during what is supposed to be an open and public meeting. If you believe you have the legal right to those public records, then why are you putting up with your own government refusing to make them available? CPRA offers you the remedy to challenge the City’s refusal to turn over those records, why would you NOT use it? That’s some challenge to the right wing noise machine you’ve got going on there, sir. They tell you no and you accept it and go sit in the corner? As much as I dislike your recent personality change I never figured you to back down from a fight if you thought you were right.

        • Sick of Politics

          So if a public official gets a private text, you think you deserve access? Could be a family member of friend texting. Should you have access to that?

          • If it were a city provided device, I could get it. On his personal device, I cannot. There were a couple of case laws cited in the response.

            • In this case Cynthia, the indenting of the tester and the subject matter was known. Choi disclosed it and the content of the message from the dais making the ex parte disclosure completed. I asked for a blanket record and was denied. You have to pick your battles

          • OK Dan, in that case i would also have dropped it, as it was fully disclosed. The issue is when there is no disclosure of source of material etc.

            Sick of Politics, YES during an OPEN PUBLIC MEETING the entire point of the meeting is to be OPEN AND PUBLIC. that means anything the legislative body knows, we know, that is our right. They may not make decisions based on info they did not share with us, which is really the backbone of the CATER suit here.

            As far as texting with family etc, there is a law that essentially translates from Latin, “he would decides must hear” and there is a requirement to PAY ATTENTION during the proceedings. So I don’t care if a leader is texting, sexting, or playing Angry Birds or Words with Friends, they are not there for that, while on that dais they are there to conduct the business of the people they serve. This is so important that quasi-judicial rulings have been overturned in court when it was shown the legislative body was not paying attention, because it indicates those leaders already made up their minds and were merely killing time until they could vote as they had already determined they would be voting, long before evidence or facts were presented to them.

            Our leaders are obligated under both the law and their pledge of office, to conduct meetings where they share all relative information with the public they serve, they treat all parties equally and are willing to hear what all sides present without personal bias, they pay attention as facts are presented, and they rule in a fair and equitable manner in keeping with the best interests of the community as a whole, and not based on their own interests, either economic interests or personal relationships.

            Anyone who does not understand that needs to not be serving in office. Now tell me how I am wrong. I’ll wait here.

            • “This is so important that quasi-judicial rulings have been overturned in court when it was shown the legislative body was not paying attention, because it indicates those leaders already made up their minds and were merely killing time until they could vote as they had already determined they would be voting, long before evidence or facts were presented to them.”

              and when it doesn’t go your way, file a lawsuit. Do you honestly think the outcome of the Sept

            • “This is so important that quasi-judicial rulings have been overturned in court when it was shown the legislative body was not paying attention, because it indicates those leaders already made up their minds and were merely killing time until they could vote as they had already determined they would be voting, long before evidence or facts were presented to them.”

              and when it doesn’t go your way, file a lawsuit. Do you honestly think the outcome of the Sept

              • message truncated: ….Sept 3 meeting would have been any different? I don’t.

                • Does Cynthia Ward adhere to her own standard? Are we supposed to believe she NEVER has her mind made up before each public hearing on each agenda item before the OC Cemetery District Board? For example, Ward already had her mind made up to try to kill the OC Cemetery District’s contract with Curt Pringle and Associates. Spares us your hypocrisy, Cynthia.

                  • Had she coordinated with a majority of the Board prior to the meeting about that and obtained a collective consensus to vote a particular way regardless of what happened at the meeting, you might have a point.

                    • Cynthia didn’t stipulate such a condition, Greg. She stated flatly that elected and appointed officials like her shouldn’t have their minds made up before voting at a public hearing. And she admitted to doing exactly what she said she’s not supposed to do, and to doing it to stick it to a vendor for personal reasons.

            • Sick of Politics

              Paying attention to a meeting has no legal bearing on whether you’re entitled to private information. Yes, members should be giving their attention. But should they receive a private text, it’s not your right to see it. You’re compairing apples and oranges.
              Maybe a parent keeps their phone on when their kid is sick at home. There could be a myriad of reasons. None of which are any of your business or mine. Should an elected be so engrossed that they don’t pay attention during an open meeting, then that’s an entirely different issue.
              People have a right to privacy. Even politicians.

      • Not AT issue, rather than not AN issue, Chum.

        • why does CATER keep bringing it up? The city was in compliance, Mr. Father-of-the-Year.

          • Item 30–end of page 5 jumping to page 6; the Labor Day weekend whine rears its ugly head. Why is this a big deal? The city properly noticed the meeting. And the Sept 3 meeting was packed with people. So what is the point of bringing this up?

  6. A.I. did link to the complaint, Greg – in the second paragraph.

  7. Stand for Anaheim

    Why is everyone so quiet here when it comes to Vanderbilt. This is his trusted lawyer- who no doubt was referred to him by Tait. Is it reasonable to this that Tait is connected to CATER? Now Vanderbilt?

    • Little distinction between Tait/Vanderbilt/CATER. Sad to see the city subjected to this.

      • Stand for Anaheim

        Anaheim Jack- I disagree with you. Many believe there is a huge connection. Folks need to look into that more. What would the public think if Tait was helping CATER sue the city. Doesn’t anyone think that is a breach of his oath of office?

        • True.

          I neglected to add that John Koos’ CORE Public Affairs was a paid consultant to the Tom Tait’s re-election campaign. Word is he’s the one who recruited Vanderbilt. Then Vanderbilt tried to hire Koos’ wife as his council aide, which didn’t pass internal muster; presumably because Vanderbilt receives significant income from the Koos’ via CORE Communications. Given that, why would Vanderbilt even make the attempt?

          He does hire Helen Myers, who sent her teenage daughter up during public comments in 2013 to call Jordan Brandman a “monster.” That was in addition to harsh attacks from Helen and her husband. Smart way to alienate your council colleague right off the bat.

          Myers will be Mishal Montgomery’s conduit to keeping tabs on Vanderbilt and keeping him in line. Montgomery did the same to Kris Murray, who hired her council assistant based on Montgomery’s recommendation and later found out her assistant was functioning more as Montgomery’s than Murray’s aide

          Another question: where does Vanderbilt get $200,000 to spend on a city council campaign? According to Transparent California, his regular pay in 2013 was $35,553, with total comp of $51,849. Another site, FindtheData.com, says his 2013 base pay was $68,576 with $5,070 from “unreported sources.” Whatever that means. Either way, it’s surprising to see a candidate earning at that level, in his peak earning years, have $200K lying around to spend on a council campaign. If Vanderbilt had been allied with the council majority instead of Tait, the local media would have been asking questions.

          • I suppose that if I were you, I too would run for the safety of extraneous digressions as quickly as possible.

            What people asked is: does CATER communicate with Tait and Vanderbilt about the subject matter of the lawsuit, directly or through conduits. And the answer is: No. They’re a couple of Boy Scouts; even if we were so disposed, they would not talk to us about the substance of the lawsuit, our plans, etc. And we are not so disposed.

            Not knowing who you are or how you know what you claim to know, I don’t see the point of giving any credulity to anything you say above that isn’t objectively verifiable elsewhere. Were you even involved in last year’s campaigns?

    • Vanderbilt is pretty unimpressive. A Tait rubber stamp

  8. http://occd.commpro.com//images/occd/minutes/minutes_dec_7_2011.pdf

    http://occd.commpro.com//images/occd/minutes/minutes_Jan_4_2011.pdf

    Anaheim Insider, now that is fun. All this time you thought I was appointed to a board as a brand new member, and within one meeting managed to exert such powers of persuasion that I forced a roomful of intelligent and capable adults who know their District better than I ever hope to, into doing the bidding of the newbie? OK, if that is where you want to go with it, I am not going to dispute it, largely because it is certain to piss off the crew at CP and A even more than knowing that losing their $5k a month make-work contract was a happy accident.

    Now if we are done deflecting, would you like to address the CASE and its merits?

    The double standard over here is precious. You spend all your time crying out, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” when it comes to the back room deals being made at Anaheim City Hall. Yep, tell me again how Kris Murray had NO IDEA the Gate Tax moratorium expired in 2016, like it NEVER came up while she and Carrie were vacationing together. How about another press release insisting Legends Hospitality and CSL are not the same company and have nothing to do with each other. Boy have I got some email for you.

    But let someone who specializes in the type of law CATER happens to need come on board to practice the type of law he practices, and there is conspiracy at CATER HQ.

    Y’all have been so fully immersed in a world where one powerful figure calls the shots and little satellite pseudo-powers pretend they have some say in their own futures, that you imagine the rest of us play that game too. Sorry to disappoint, but a whole lot of Anaheim residents did not like the deals presented by Charles Black, including media outlets all over America, are they all in on it too?

    If you want to start playing the game of interconnectivity, we can go there but we are going to be here for a while. Shall we list the incestuous relationships by importance or alphabetically?

    Alex Winsberg. Todd Ament.
    Barrios. Black.
    Cordero. Checketts
    Here’s one, Weston Scott Johnson. Do we list him by W, S, or J?

    • Cynthia, you stated here that public officials such as you are morally, legally obligated to have an open mind at public hearings, not prejudge or go into them with minds already made up. You’ve now admitted that you did violated that standard, which you hold others to, from the start! You went into a public hearing with your mind already made up on how you would vote. It’s surprising you publicly admit your hypocrisy, but thanks for doing so.

      • Before I get started, Helen Myers did not “send” her daughter to do anything, Cara has a mind of her own and I would bet her folks tried to talk her OUT of speaking, knowing the negative attention it would bring her. Cara was genuinely crushed that someone she had looked up to (Brandman) was behaving in such a mean spirited way toward the Mayor that Cara had come to admire. If you watch the video, Cara was crying, and that same video shows Brandman wearing the same look as the neighborhood bully when pulling the wings off butterflies. Cara (and my own family) wonder where the Jordan we once knew disappeared to. He was NOT at the dais the morning of September 30, 2013. But thanks for the old news.

        So you are angry because the Cemetery Board voted to NOT spend $60k per year of public money on a consultant not everyone was happy with long before I ever got there?

        So tell me how the brand new board member got people she had never met before to meet together ahead of her first meeting and come to collective concurrence to NOT renew a consultant’s contract. Perhaps we were bought off by the consultant we replaced Pringle with? Oh wait, no, we did not hire a new consultant, so how does this harm the public?

        Now, are we going to talk about the lawsuit? or was a post about the lawsuit merely an excuse to begin yet another character assassination? Address the issues in the suit, if you can, because we certainly will be.

        The public deserves a fair and open process in which our business may be conducted, overseen by leaders who come to the table with their own likes and dislikes but willing to set them aside for the common good. Anything short of that can and should be opposed, as taxpayers we are not obligated to sit by silently like sheep to be fleeced simply because YOU don’t like being held accountable.

  9. Anaheim Outsider

    The BEST two lines words in this thread:

    CATER HQ

    What is that a broom closet in Cynthia’s Wards closet? With their swelling membership rolls and all.

    Two known people (Cynthia and Brian) can tie up progress, cost a city TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.
    Imagine what they could do if they expanded to three or four members and upgraded to Diamonds kitchen table office!

    • AI, my funky old house has a number of odd quirks, but a broom closet inside my closet is not one of them.

      CATER roughly doubles in size of support each month, which was admittedly slow going at first but like compound interest on bind balloon payments it adds up quickly. I would bet there are more real individuals in support of CATER than are reflected in the sock puppetry here, but the fact is we need not prove it, because if CATER was truly only two Anaheim citizens standing for our right to equitable government, it would be sufficient. A single taxpayer has standing in the eyes of the court to enforce their rights, whether you like it or not is immaterial.

      And you underestimate the cost to taxpayers in fighting for public rights. The city council chose to spend over TWO HUNDRED thousand on legal fees to Rutan and Tucker rather than let its own citizens vote for or against the bonds, with the flimsy excuse that waiting for the election would delay construction. But threatened litigation already put them on notice of delays, and when finished, that several hundred thousands to Mark Austin and company saved the City ONE WEEK before the election could have decided the issue fairly! that stubborn refusal to let citizens vote in whether to mortgage our futures WILL appear on opposition pieces against Kring and Brandman because while CATER does not participate in politics, I will make sure as a private citizen that these public records find their way into the hands of anyone who challenges those two for their seats. and Murray’s public declaration in the Chamber mailer (I need to remember to mail that to FPPC, talk about predetermined outcomes) will follow her into any attempt for higher office she aims for.

      If you were referring to the costs on the Angels case, council could have headed that off with ONE vote to void actions, present info for public review and comment, thus permitting us to openly mock council for believing a 13 page collection of baseless fluff, and seriously tear into staff for presenting it, and then vote again, as Murray claimed in her swearing in that she stood by every vote of her first term but when given the chance preferred not to stand by it.

      The public records request only asks that the city give us documents they won’t give us, which are not exempt from disclosure (like who Charles Black shared dinner with after the Sep 3 meeting, when he charged taxpayers the cost of his meal at The Ranch and charged for his time to eat it.) “dinner with xxx” redacts name of companion, as atty client privilege. Since we already know who his client is and we already know who he is negotiating with, how would that info be confidential ? The longer the city digs in the more we dig up to show even more missing from what should have been disclosed September 30 so if you want to blame someone for escalating costs don’t blame CATER, blame the City Tty failure to disclose public records and city staff playing games with Brown Act etc. of course now we have also added the need for judicial oversight of the council actions going forward since the actions appear ongoing and deliberate and unlikely to stop absent outside intervention.

      It’s time to take responsibility for failure to perform as a public agency is required..and it is not the fault of CATER that City Hall doesn’t understand this is not their private game they make up the rules for. Or is it McDonalds fault that their patrons are fat and unhealthy or the fault of tobacco companies that their customers die from cancer? People make choices, and when those choices have consequences it is not the fault of enforcement. Time to own it.

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