Talley-gate, Race, and the GardenWalk Brown Act violation


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Fired City Attorney Talley, framed uncomfortably by two wretched servants to power, Cunningham and Brandman.

My old nemesis Matt Cunningham has penned what he seems to consider a righteous demolition of my first piece on the firing of Cristina Talley, in which the thesaurus-toting hack refers to MY story as a “90-proof left-wing exhortation at the perfervid Orange Juice Blog.”

But if you go back and read my piece, a couple problems become immediately apparent:  First of all, it was 120-proof;  Secondly, there was absolutely nothing left-wing about it.   (Matt claims that it is left-wing simply because I mention Talley’s race in the piece a few times.)

But there is no longer a left or right in Anaheim.  I hung out again with the Mayor today and we talked about exactly this.  I see the two sides in contemporary Anaheim as democracy vs plutocracy.  Another wise observer of the scene has suggested “people who are just out for themselves” vs “people who care about the community.”

Up until now I’ve refused to link to Matt’s blog, for reasons I’ve discussed elsewhere, but now I’m starting to see AnaheimBlog.net as valuable in a way, in an instructive way, as a sort of object lesson, an ugly one, a foil.  As I told Matt, it’s fitting that the main blogospheric voice of the Anaheim plutocracy is someone who requires payment and will not reveal the source of that payment.

I straightened out a few of Matt’s mistruths in the comments over there, but I think a couple of the more egregious ones deserve their own responses here.  So, first…

Is Talley Responsible for the Council’s GardenWalk Brown Act Violation?

The most convenient and acceptable pretext the corporatist council majority can come up with for firing Ms Talley is that she allowed them to violate the Brown Act when approving that $158 million GardenWalk giveaway, January 24 of last year.  That she supposedly didn’t warn them, didn’t do her job, let them fall RIGHT into that embarrassing trap!  And to lazy readers or journalists that makes sense, with the firing following so soon after the judge’s stern ruling.  But did it really happen that way?

1.  Obviously if Talley specifically warned the council, it was in closed session, and I can’t know about it.  And yet I am sure she DID warn them, whether you believe me or not.   The sources I talk to are VERY careful not to reveal the contents of closed meetings.  But a perceptive guy can tell, from silences, gaps in conversations, meticulous wordings.  And then later when your story’s done, and people who would know say that your story is “completely accurate” … well, doubts tend to vanish.  So, believe THAT or not, I think the facts will come out in litigation soon enough and will no longer be a secret.

2.  Then there’s this:  the council majority has never claimed that Talley didn’t warn them.  (They let their flying monkeys say that, mostly anonymously.)  The only one of the three corporatists who has spoken to the press, and GIVEN THAT IMPRESSION, is Gail Eastman, and this is the relevant Register passage:

Councilwoman Gail Eastman said the court decision was a reason that she wanted a “new direction” with the city attorney.

“It’s been a pretty uncomfortable year for all of us,” said Eastman, one of three council members who voted in favor of the tax deal.

That’s Gail Eastman, who, even though I believe her political priorities are twisted all to hell, is a devout religious woman and wouldn’t purposely tell an all-out lie.  And she’s not saying the council wasn’t warned, she’s just babbling vaguely.

3.  And here’s the coup de grâce -  this one’s public knowledge, even if everyone has conveniently forgot:  Directly after the council majority’s Jan 24 Brown Act violation, Talley OFFERED THEM A WAY OUT OF IT by scheduling a special meeting the following Tuesday, the 31st, and noticing it on the preceding Friday.  That way the public could have their say and the Council could re-visit the vote properly and legally.  And if you can remember back that far, the Jan 31 special meeting was attended by Tait, Galloway, the city attorney and manager, many members of the public … and BOYCOTTED by Murray, Eastman, and Sidhu.  (With the supreme assclown Sidhu actually bitching about what a waste of money turning on the lights in the building was, after just having given away $158 million.)

No, Cristina Talley is EXONERATED from any dereliction regarding that episode.  Quite the opposite – the fact that she DID warn the corporatists against this giveaway was a strike AGAINST her in their eyes, as was her position on districting and the Voting Rights Act, as was her insistence on making public documents available to Anaheim’s citizen muckrakers.  The corporatists have loathed her for at least a year, and you can see that she had to go … but only for doing the right thing.

Finally – is Talley’s race relevant to the story, and how?

Cunningham’s main point is in his title, Talley Firing Reveals Left’s Obsession With Race.   In his view (and that of a couple of my own white, male, reactionary commenters) the fact Talley is Latina has no place in the story, unless I’m claiming she was fired for being Latina, or that she was specially qualified for the job by being Latina.  Which of course would be absurd things to say.  I’m sure if the council majority could find a Latina attorney who would let them do whatever the hell they wanted they’d be overjoyed – what a treasure that person would be!  (Lorri puzzles wryly:  “Yeah, how come there is no Latina like that?”)

Well actually, I’m almost on the same page as Matt there – I generally avoid mentioning race when I can.  For one thing I’m conscious of my readership here and think most of my points can be made without that.  And also, I’d like to think we are all getting closer and closer to a place where race doesn’t matter.  For example when I advocate for districting, I emphasize how it helps level the playing field for ALL of us – even though I know the districting lawsuit had to be framed in terms of race for technical reasons.

But there was no way to avoid race in the Talley saga.

Consider.  One of only three Latina City Attorneys in all of California (and it’s easy for us white folks to forget how important to historically disfranchised minorities are their highest-achieving compatriots) gets fired MAINLY for advocating for a policy that will help Latinos achieve better representation and participation in the city – and this just after Brandman baffles the town with a gratuitous new policy for translating meetings into Spanish – an obvious, clumsy attempt to pre-empt any Latino resentment.  Insult on injury, that’s called.

I’m told I’m playing the dread “race card” by mentioning all this.  And that that is a bad thing.  And I am a self-reflective guy.  So I do ask myself, “Am I playing the race card here?  And is that a bad thing?”

And after some reflection, I say, “Yes, I guess so!  If there’s a time and place for the Race Card, this is it!”  Too many Anaheim Latinos have been stupid, either not voting or voting thoughtlessly for whatever Democrat people like Loretta Sanchez tell them to.

The nonpartisan organizations that have been registering them en masse have educated them about the districting issue, and the new Latino voters who have heard about it are very excited and supportive of that reform.  But those nonpartisan organizations can’t tell them who to vote for, so they end up going and voting for exactly the candidate who will put off districting as long as possible – just because he’s a Democrat.

I want Anaheim Latinos who voted for Jordan Brandman, or didn’t vote, to know what a STUPID mistake they made.   They should have paid more attention and voted for Republican John Leos – John and ANYBODY but Brandman or Lodge.  And this is a perfect moment to show them what a mistake they made, to rub it in their face, so they think a little harder next time.

That’s right, Latinos of Anaheim – Brandman, Murray and Eastman, the folks with the nice Disney mailers, FIRED your exemplary Latina City Attorney because she was advocating for YOUR interests – but don’t worry, you can get meetings translated into Spanish now, to know a little better exactly how you’re being screwed over.

Oh, the Talley Rally was good.

High points, thanks to Jason Young’s “Save Anaheim” blog:


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist in Orange County. Performs regularly with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem, and at regular concerts at the Huntington Beach Central Library.