Anaheim City Manager: Paul Emery is OUT, but With Extra $50K+ Severance. Interim is LINDA ANDAL!




[Ed. Note: We’ve brought in longtime Anaheim activist Cynthia Ward to cover what looks like big news coming today regarding City Manager Paul Emery!]

“Paul Emery, you have schemed to give away almost a billion dollars of what should be the City’s wealth and income over the next few generations and you tried to give away even more than that! What are you going to do next?”
“I’m going to DISNEYLAND!”

During the Closed Session portion of today’s Anaheim City Council meeting, our elected leaders will be discussing — or, by the time you read this, have discussed — the continued employment of one Paul Emery, City Manager.


(California Government Code 54957(b)(1 ))

2.            PUBLIC EMPLOYEE APPOINTMENT  (California Government Code 54957(b)(1))
Interim City Manager


(Subdivision (a) of Section 54957.6 of the Government Code)
Agency Designated Representatives: Acting City Attorney
Position(s): (Interim) City Manager


Significant exposure to litigation pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (d) of California Government Code Section 54956.9:  One potential case

This is no surprise, given that his employment contract ensured him a full year’s severance at nearly $300,000 if he was fired or asked to resign prior to July 1, 2017. As of the first of the month it will only cost the taxpayers $150K to send him home with a cardboard box filled with the contents of his desk. You may have recalled that employment contract, first approved the SAME NIGHT Emery had also facilitated the rebate (NOT exemption) of Gate Tax back to Disney on July 7, 2015. Good soldier!

Now I don’t like celebrating the demise of someone’s career. But I am also not the one who chose to kill his career; that decision was made by Paul Emery when he chose to become the lap dog that fits within the leather bag matching Kris Murray’s shoes.

I know, I know, that is a big bag.

I know that City staff serves at the pleasure of the Council. I also know that City Managers of the past have managed to keep their jobs and not hand their integrity over to their elected overlords like a pair of soiled shorts being handed to Mom for washing, hoping nobody sees the handoff. Paul Emery chose the short-term benefits of a job enabling the short-sighted political will of the Murray Majority over the long range health of his career as a whole, or the health of the City he was tasked with leading. There is nobody to blame for that choice other than Paul Emery.

Nor can we fault the current Council majority for discussing in Closed Session something the Mayor put on the Agenda.  The voters of Anaheim shouted loud enough to overcome the Disney bucks poured into the last two elections, giving the new majority a mandate to grab a big broom and a bottle of disinfectant and get to work at City Hall. Now they are doing that job, or at least discussing a key element of it, and it is up to us to have their backs and support them in the job we sent them in to do.

Call it “draining the swamp” or “cleaning house,” but it needs to be done. The stench of self-interest is simply too thick at City Hall to get any self-respecting professionals to come take new jobs, which is why we are STILL without a permanent City Attorney. By the way: the revolving door of executive staff is not the responsibility of the Mayor, who (as they reveled in at the time) lacked any real power for the last six years.  The panic-patrol needs to look to who DID have the power to make decisions and create the toxic environment those professionals have been asked to work in.

Some of the more hysteria-driven keyboard warriors are up in arms over the tragic loss of the great, visionary leadership of Paul Emery at the helm of the SS Anaheim. The “record” of success cited in justification for his existence on the public payroll is simply Emery’s willingness to do the bidding of the Council majority. They forward the latest “big idea” whispered in their ear over cocktails and campaign checks, and Emery dutifully runs off to have his CMO minions use that budget line of “misc professional services” that grows with each new budget. They return a few months later with a neatly packaged report from some schlock-house willing to paper over their heart’s desire with a consultant study, and — whaddya know? — doling out public funds to the pals of the Council majority is now nothing more than “following staff’s recommendation!” How convenient. (For them.)

Yes, I can see how they would not want to lose such a valuable asset as someone with the authority to push their agenda through the public pipeline without any visible hint of discomfort from some long buried ethical standard that screams, “You are screwing the grandchildren of Anaheim!” That would certainly be a combination very difficult to replicate. Here’s hoping.

Lacking a viable record of accomplishment for their good solider, the fever swamp then tries to drum up imagined consequences for jettisoning Paul Emery, including the hiring of a school administrator with no experience in municipal government (something that has not been put on any agenda and lacks a single piece of “evidence” in support.) Yes, the Council could also appoint Curt Pringle to the post, with about as much validity as the Matsuda claim. But it’s the internet, so any bit of fiction is worthy of publishing. Here, hold my soda while I down this pack of pop rocks. Thanks.

Then in another bit of sock puppetry, our old friend, “Anaheim Insider” returns, to say Emery is being sacked because Mayor Tait and Dr. Moreno want to abolish the anti-camping ordinance and let the homeless overrun our city, steal our cars and our women, sell drugs to our children, dump crabgrass weed seeds on our lawns, and salt the earth so our roses never grow back. Hey, if we can’t get the public to show up and demand the retention of Paul Emery we can at least get them screaming about the possible outcome. Right? Gotta earn those Chamber checks somehow. Way to go, Anaheim Blog!

Other than the ability to follow orders like a good soldier, and ride a wave of strong economic recovery that would have lifted Anaheim’s budget totals with or without Emery in the driver’s seat, his defenders have no valid argument for why we should keep him in not-even-that-low six-figure paychecks.

Certainly they can’t suddenly be concerned about the career and personal lives of senior staff. Not after cheering for the dismissal of City Attorney Christina Talley, based on the rock solid reasoning of, “There’s just something about her….” And hey — anyone want to ask Bob Wingenroth what caused him to flee for the nearest exit, taking a lower placed position with about half the pay in a smaller less prestigious city, despite having just sold his beloved home in Arizona, purchased a home in Anaheim, and with his daughter just being accepted to a local school?

The fever swamp wants to blame ALL of the senior staff exodus on the mayor, the one person at City Hall lacking the power of a majority for 6 of his 8 years in office. Seems legit.

How about if we look beyond the hysteria being ginned up by claims as realistic as leaving lover’s lane with a murderer’s hook dangling from the passenger side door? How about we try being grown-ups and actually review Emery’s track record of administration? We need only rewind the Betamax of City events to the last few months and search for the conversation that Paul Emery does NOT seem to have had with anyone. If it HAD happened, it would have gone something like this;

Hey you guys remember last June when the City Council committed a misdemeanor by violating the Municipal Code? They promised a whole lot of people they would do that EVERY June, so shouldn’t we fix that pretty soon so the Council doesn’t KEEP committing misdemeanors every June when we run that Pride flag up the pole?”

That this conversation did NOT happen makes one of the best cases for his leaving Anaheim with his belongings in a cardboard box.

How does one FORGET their employers broke the law they are responsible for enforcing?  Here it is: Anaheim municipal code (11.08.040).

Go ahead and claim that is not worthy of dismissal. I will wait for you here

Now, Kris Murray made some comments during the May 23, 2017 meeting that indicated she and Jordan Brandman likely knew on June 21, 2016 that the violation of Muni Code was taking place, and they were counting on staff to “fix it” after the fact. And they should certainly be asked (under oath) about that, because a knowing violation of the Municipal Code is addressed in the State’s PENAL CODE. In fact, the memory of Kris Murray and her claim that Jordan Brandman’s memory concurred was so strong that someone repeated the argument to Chumley, who included the info in his blog post of May 22(You can read that over there now, since it looks like Dan’s check (he signs the front of) to GoDaddy this month was finally covered.)

In that blog post, he also says the Progressive Interfaith Alliance of Orange County also repeated the same info, clearly from the same (faulty) source! Dan’s page says Council KNEW there was a conflict but were assured that City Staff would fix it. And in their minds this somehow justifies the violation of the law. Rules for thee, not for me?

When the council approved the annual flying of the gay pride flag in June 2016, this concern was brought forward by staff and council overruled them unanimously.  Greg Garcia, the deputy city manager, assured the council — which included the author of the motion, then-Councilmember Jordan Brandman, the only LGBTQ member of the council — that this code section would be resolved by January 2017.

This didn’t happen.

Now, city staff is recommending to provide “recognition mitigation.” Garcia says he learned this upon further review. This is a lie.  There’s a recorded meeting where this issue was discussed and he was the presenter. It’s hard to cover your ass when it’s exposed on video.  Revisionist history?”

As it turns out, a review of the 2016 meeting video shows that Jordan cut off staff before Greg Garcia could give a Staff Report!  And then, the item was discussed and approved without a word from staff! So the faulty memory — that all involved moved forward knowing that they were (*wink-wink*) going to “fix the problem later” — was not correct.

Mayor Tait was also pretty shocked in May 2017, when Murray brought this up, insisting she recalled MANY discussions with staff about this issue. One way or the other, Paul Emery was in up to his eyeballs in a major problem, one he failed to go public with, one he failed to privately fix.

But whether Emery knew before the meeting that resulted in the violation of City law, he insists he DID know after the fact, that he/his staff received “direction” to bring back a fix, and simply failed to do so. How does one FORGET to fix something that big? This is not like forgetting one of the Council members does not want tomatoes on their Corner Bakery sandwiches delivered before the Council meeting to stave off starvation (while us civilians sit in Chambers and STARVE.  Not that we’re complaining.)

Paul Emery FORGOT his employers broke the law and were counting on him to fix it before they broke the law again on an ongoing basis for an ongoing, recurring, annual event!

THAT, RIGHT THERE, is worthy of dismissal!

But wait — let’s look at how Emery explained that.

May 23, 2017 Paul Emery opened the meeting with an apology, and admission that, “we received direction almost a year ago” a request from Council to come back with changes to the Municipal Code. Beyond his failure to fix it, was his concept of what “direction” from Council looks like — because it seems to have a fluid definition.

Emery claims he “received direction” to bring back changes to the Municipal Code. But that “direction” was not made in any public meeting. It certainly was not done in the context of Council Communications, which if you recall from the 8 am “emergency” meeting called by Jordan Brandman for September 30, 2013, required all elected leaders to submit their requests for future agendas during Council Communications. This was so closely adhered to that the Mayor of Anaheim’s request for a future item regarding one of the most hotly contested civil rights issues in the history of our community — district elections — was dismissed outright by the very same City Manager we now discuss.

Council minutes show that Mayor Tait made a request at the December 15, 2015 meeting to direct staff to put the People’s Map on the agenda for January 12, 2016. That request by the independently elected Mayor was REJECTED by the City Manager, who took it upon himself to make that call, because the request was not made during Council Communications.

Now to Emery’s credit, he DID manage to ALSO ignore the direction from unnamed Council members outside of Council Communications to bring back the changes to Muni Code for the Pride Flag. But for him to outright take upon himself the authority to ignore the requests of those elected to make such decisions, without even explaining his reason for ignoring them so a remedy may be offered, is certainly worthy of being fired. At the very least.

Now this is where Kris Murray has a choice to make. Her hand-picked enabler threw himself on his sword in taking blame for the Great Pride Flag Fiasco of 2017. Will Murray let him take the heat?

There is no question his actions are cause for firing. Will she cop to her part in this to save him?

And, if she lets him go down for what she and Brandman insisted on doing in 2016, it is a warning to the other staff at City Hall who are so convinced her ability to begin every sentence with, “I would like to thank staff for their hard work on this,” is some offer to cover them when they get nailed for enabling her misdeeds. Gee, it looks like City staff might get to feel what it is like to be screwed over by Kris Murray. The taxpayers of Anaheim are well accustomed to it.

It will be interesting to see, at 5 pm tonight, who is sitting in Paul Emery’s chair in Chambers.

[Ed. Note: If you’re at the meeting, report who’s in that Chair in comments — and tune in for a follow-up story later!]

About Cynthia Ward

I am a truth-teller. It gets me in trouble. But if you ask me if a dress makes you look fat, I will tell you so, and help select another, before you go on television and realize it for yourself. My real friends are expected to be truthful with me as well. A secret shared will be taken to my grave, but lie to me, and it will end up here…on these pages… especially if you are tasked with the stewardship of public resources. I am a registered Republican who disdains the local GOP power structure, a born-again Christian who supports everyone’s right to spend their lives with the partner of their choosing. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister. I am a loyal friend to those who merit that friendship and when crossed I am a bitch with a capital C. I do not fit into a box, nor do I see others through the stereotypes that politics and public affairs so often tries to shoehorn us into. I think for myself, and so do you. Welcome to our shared space in this world.