Last Pre-Election Meeting: Anaheim’s Trilogy of Terrible! Part 3: Appointing a Shredding Approver

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Who was that masked man?

Who was that masked man?

No, hiring former Cudahy contract City Attorney Arturo Fierro as an at-will City Attorney for the City of Anaheim, starting tomorrow, is not much better than hiring him with a six-month severance.  Yes, it would be less expensive for the City once he is removed.  But it gives him time to do the damage that the City Council might want done.

Fierro’s contract with the states that he will not be pursued legally by the City if he should provide it with bad advice and that the City will defend him if he is ever sued for giving bad advice.  This may be boilerplate language — I believe that Michael Houston had similar provisions in his contract — but they are particularly intolerable when bad legal advice — failing to err on the side of preserving documents — may be exactly what the outgoing City Council wants.

From November 9, when the outcome of the election will be over, through around Christmas Day (which is about the first instance when the incoming City Council can remove him), Fierro would be making some extremely significant decisions for the City, especially if the current Council majority looks likely to lose its power.  Some of those decisions could involve his being asked to wave his City Attorney wand and approve of actions that might be taken to constitute a cover-up of wrongdoing under the previous majority — as well as the man who will still be Anaheim’s City Manager, Paul Emery.

For many reasons, Fierro gives the appearance of being a creature controlled by Councilman Jordan Brandman, himself controlled by Former Mayor and current power-behind-the-scenes Curt Pringle.  His son is Brandman’s campaign manager; his daughter-in-law is Brandman’s Council aide; the Brandmans and Fierros have been working together for some time.  It would be entirely foreseeable for him to give legal advice regarding protecting the outgoing regime even against the wishes of the incoming one — which would not, in any event, be in a position to speak to him officially as a majority until December 13.

A lot of damage can be done in that time.  The tie-breaking vote, as is often the case, belongs to Lucille Kring, who is not as likely to have been involved in the inner workings of the current City Council majority, but has been content to follow the lead of Kris Murray and Brandman as issues arise before the Council.  A cover up would not be aimed at protecting her, both because she has the least to cover-up and she is the person whom the Pringle Ring can most easily cut loose.  It will be interesting to see whether she protects the rest of the majority nonetheless — which could be the act with the greatest likelihood of getting her personally into trouble.

The Anaheim City Council and much of its top Staff have been skating on the edge of legality for so long that it would be no surprise if they didn’t always stay in bounds.  Do we really want Jordan Brandman’s crony making the decisions about what to allow to be shredded and what to preserve?  There is a perfectly good, seemingly apolitical, Acting City Attorney in place right now, in the person of Kristin Pelletier.  She should be left in place, or replaced by some other apolitical attorney in the office, until the new Council can appoint a permanent replacement.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)