Anaheim Investigator

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ACLU-Backed ‘Anti-Police Activist’ Group Got Tickets Worth $2,108 From Anaheim Mayor, Councilmen

Smith & Faessel

Theresa Smith, the “anti-police activist” founder of LEAN, with Stephen Faessel, an Anaheim City Councilman, who was elected to his seat with $17,389 worth of support from the Anaheim Police Association.

By DUANE ROBERTS
Editor & Publisher

On Thursday, June 29, 2017, an article entitled, “Councilman Moreno Honored By Anaheim Police Critics,” was posted on the Anaheim Blog, a right-wing website run by Matthew Cunningham, a well-connected public relations consultant, by a person who uses the pseudonym, Anaheim Insider.

Insider, a regular contributor to that blog, reported about a special event which took place earlier that week where Anaheim City Councilman Jose Moreno, who represents the Third District, received an award from a group characterized as being started by “anti-police activists.”

“This past weekend,” Insider wrote, “Moreno was awarded the Public Service Award by the Law Enforcement Accountability Network, or LEAN“:

LEAN was started by local anti-police activists who frequent Anaheim City Council meetings to criticize the police in the harshest, over-the-top terms. It is ‘fiscally sponsored’ by the ACLU. Despite the group’s soft-pedaled official ‘we want to improve policing’ rhetoric, the people behind it view the police as violent, anti-Latino trigger-happy thugs and are in the bait of denouncing officer-involved shootings as ‘murders.’

In an attempt to prove his point, Insider zeroed in on comments one attendee made on her Facebook page, claiming she “helped organize the protest” in the Palais neighborhood “that predictably degenerated into a riot, leading to ‘protesters’ vandalizing the home of an elderly couple of breaking car windows.”

“This is the spirit of LEAN supporters, and they’ve let us know that Jose F. Moreno is their kind of councilmember,” Insider said.

But a two-month investigation by the Anaheim Investigator has uncovered dozens of photographs, emails, and other evidence, some of it obtained from the City of Anaheim through California Public Records Act requests, suggesting Insider’s account of this event was not only inaccurate, but misleading. Contrary to Insider’s assertion that “LEAN supporters” were people who “view the police as violent, anti-Latino trigger-happy thugs,” photos show that several prominent Anaheim politicians and businessmen, all of whom have close ties to law enforcement, attended this function.

The Investigator has learned the aforementioned event Insider made reference to was a June 25th “Garden Party Fundraiser” for LEAN, a non-profit organization founded by Theresa Smith, whose son, Caesar Cruz, was shot to death by Anaheim Police in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in 2009.

A copy of an email invitation dated Monday, June 19, 2017 sent out by LEAN to Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait states the venue for this function was the Villa Park home of Belinda Escobosa-Helzer, former Director for the Orange County office of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

Smith & Moreno

Smith with Councilman Moreno.

Photos clearly show Moreno was present, but he wasn’t the only politician there. Another attendee was Stephen Faessel, an Anaheim City Councilman who was elected to his Fifth District seat in 2016 with $15,488.80 worth of support from the Anaheim Police Officer’s Association Independent Expenditure Committee. A careful review of California Form 460 paperwork the “Faessel for City Council 2016” committee filed with the City Clerk shows the Anaheim Police Association PAC also gave his campaign $1,900 in cash.

Other photos show Michael Gennaco, a former trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, who runs the OIR Group, a Playa Del Rey law firm that has a $125,000 a year contract with the City of Anaheim to provide auditing services for the Anaheim Police Department.

Smith & Gennaco

Smith with Michael Gennaco.

One notable person that attended was William Taormina, a wealthy real estate developer, who serves on the advisory board of Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada. He is also Chairman Emeritus of the Anaheim Community Foundation, a non-profit which has managed tens of thousands of dollars in funds for Kash for K-9’s, Cops 4 Kids, and other programs supported by the Anaheim Police Department.

The Investigator has confirmed that Taormina wrote out a $1,000 check to LEAN at their June 25th fundraiser–a huge amount of money, especially since James Gilliam, Deputy Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California, boasted on Facebook: “We helped [Smith] raise almost $4,000 this afternoon.”

Bill Taormina behind Smith in Plaid Shirt

William Taormina (in the plaid shirt) sitting behind Smith.

But the biggest donor to LEAN, however, was not Taormina: it was the City of Anaheim. Emails, letters, and documents the Investigator obtained under Public Records Act requests show that Mayor Tait and Councilmen Faessel and Moreno collectively donated sports tickets worth $2,108. According to a California Form 802, “Agency Report of Ceremonial Role Events and Ticket/Pass Distributions,” Tait gave LEAN four “suite” tickets at Angels Stadium for a baseball game between the Los Angeles Angels and the Oakland Athletics. The tickets were valued at $225 each, or $900 total. Another Form 802 shows Moreno also gave LEAN four “suite” tickets at Angels Stadium also worth $900, but for a different game. As for Faessel, his contribution was much smaller, but still significant. A Form 802 reports he donated four “suite” tickets at the Honda Center for a “P&G Gymnastics Championship,” valued at $77 each, or $308 total, a fact later verified via email by Crystal Norman, his former Senior Policy Aide.

The Investigator has learned all of the sports tickets LEAN received from the Mayor and the Councilmen were put up for “silent auction” during the fundraiser. But the winning bidders didn’t receive the actual tickets that day. Instead, they were given a form letter printed on official City of Anaheim stationery, each signed by Tait, Faessal, or Moreno, that entitled the bearer to contact the Office of the Mayor and City Council to make arrangements to pick up the tickets they won. “Enjoy and thank you for supporting LEAN,” all of them said.

A copy of Tait’s letter is below:

Tait Letter re LEAN

All together, the Investigator calculates that Tait, Faessal, Moreno, and Taormina, made donations to LEAN worth a whopping $3,108. Of the estimated 50 people in attendance at the June 25th “Garden Party Fundraiser,” nobody contributed as much to the financial success of this benefit as did these four men.

But all of this begs the following question: Why are members of Anaheim’s political and business elite, all of whom have close ties to law enforcement, showering LEAN with gifts and money?

Stay tuned …

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Anaheim Police & the KKK: Office of Independent Review ‘Investigates’ Complaint Against Police Chief Raul Quezada

quezada-public-safety-board

The Office of Independent Review is “investigating” a complaint filed last year alleging that Police Chief Raul Quezada made “inaccurate, false, and misleading statements” to the Anaheim City Council and Public Safety Board.

By DUANE ROBERTS
Editor & Publisher

The Office of Independent Review, a law firm run by Michael Gennaco, a former trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, is currently “investigating” a complaint filed last year which alleged that Police Chief Raul Quezada made “inaccurate, false, and misleading statements” to the Anaheim City Council, Public Safety Board, and general public about the “time sequence” of events that took place in Pearson Park on Saturday, February 27, 2016, where a violent confrontation ensued between knife-wielding members of the Ku Klux Klan and anti-racist counter-protesters.

The complaint in question, filed by Duane Roberts, Editor and Publisher of the Anaheim Investigator blog, was hand-delivered to City Manager Paul Emery at the Tuesday, April 12, 2016 meeting of the Anaheim City Council. Emery later forwarded it to Bill McCleod, then-Human Resources Director for the City of Anaheim, who was “directed to undertake an investigation.” In a terse letter dated Monday, May 20, 2016, McCleod stated that after interviewing “many witnesses, reviewing … correspondence and attachments, and other materials as necessary,” he concluded the “allegations are not supported by the evidence.”

At the Thursday, December 15, 2016 meeting of the Public Safety Board, Forrest Turpen and Robert Nelson, the respective Chair and Vice-Chair of that body, resurrected the complaint. At the end of the meeting, Nelson queried Emery about “the complaint made by Mr. Roberts.” He then made a “motion to recommend to the City Manager that the Office of Independent Review Group review the complaint made by Mr. Roberts,” which was seconded by Turpen. According to the minutes, out of the six commissioners that were present that night, five voted in favor of the motion, with only one abstention.

Despite some initial resistance to the idea, Emery told The Investigator that given “public interest” in this matter, he “handed over the HR [investigative] file to Gennaco” in mid-January–a fact that was confirmed at last Thursday night’s meeting of the Public Safety Board. When Nelson asked Gennaco how their review of “Mr. Roberts complaint” was going, he gave two word response: “very well.” When pressed further by Turpen if whether or not the Office of Independent Review was merely “auditing” or “investigating” the complaint,  Gennaco replied that he could not disclose that information at this time.

Anaheim Police & the KKK: Email Shows Top Brass Went Into Damage Control Mode After Park Clash

Steve Marcin
Police Captain Steve Marcin sent an email to his lieutenants saying top brass was “not allowing misguided public comments or media spin” to “misrepresent” police response at Pearson Park.

By DUANE ROBERTS
Editor & Publisher

A copy of an email the Anaheim Investigator obtained through a California Public Records Act request last month shows that Steve Marcin, Captain of the Field Services Division of the Anaheim Police Department, with the support of Deputy Chief Dan Cahill, told lieutenants under his command that, in the aftermath of the Saturday, February 27th clash between knife-wielding Klansmen and anti-racist counter-protesters at Pearson Park, top brass was “not allowing misguided public comments or media spin” about police activity that day “to misrepresent our operational planning, uniformed response and investigative follow up.”

Marcin’s email, entitled “KKK Follow Up” and dated Wednesday, March 2, 2016, urged all “captains, lieutenants and sergeants” to “step up” and keep “our officers informed” about the February 27th incident, while the “Chief and Deputy Chiefs” were “working this issue externally.” As an example, he cited the fact they all “marched” at an “Anaheim Peace Rally” that took place on Monday, February 29th–a highly unusual move especially since Sergeant Daron Wyatt, Public Information Officer for the Anaheim Police Department, was quoted a few days earlier as saying “we don’t want [to] look like we are taking anyone’s side” in a protest.

Furthermore, Marcin wrote that “[t]he Chiefs and a number of captains attended the city council meeting” on Tuesday, March 1st and “listened to inaccurate, accusatory, and misinformed public comments about our preparation, response and investigation with respect to” police response to the violence at Pearson Park the previous Saturday. “The Chief,” typed Marcin,addressed the Council in front of the audience. The Chief stood steadfast in setting the record straight…. The Chief emphasized that APD personnel were prepared and that our response and investigation was prompt, appropriate, fair, and complete.”

The text of Marcin’s email is as follows:

PLEASE communicate the following with your teams at your earliest convenience. It’s important for them to know our Chief and staff are supporting our teams and not allowing misguided public comments or media spin to misrepresent our operational planning, uniformed response and investigative follow up.

Anaheim Peace Rally — Monday February 29:
APD [Anaheim Police Department] Press Releases have made a point to note that virtually all of the people involved in Saturday’s violence were not from Anaheim. Consequently, a number of Anaheim faith based groups, non-profit organizations, community groups, political leaders and department heads held a peace rally in Pearson Park then walked to City Hall. Our Chief and Deputy Chiefs attended this rally and marched with the other Anaheim residents. The message of the event was that Anaheim does not want violence and that we as a city, stand for constitutional rights and public safety. The Chiefs attended to demonstrate APD’s support of this stance. A few individuals attempted to disrupt the march with their own agenda. However the organizers and virtually all of the participants stuck with the message that the Anaheim community denounces violence. It was important the Chiefs represented us all at that event.

City Council Meeting – March 1:
The Chiefs and a number of captains attended the city council meeting last night. We listened to inaccurate, accusatory, and misinformed public comments about our preparation, response and investigation with respect to Saturday. At the conclusion of public comments, the Chief addressed the Council in front of the audience. The Chief stood steadfast in setting the record straight. Anaheim Police had a plan to allow the public to exercise 1st amendment rights and would respond if needed to keep the peace or if violence occurred. Once the attack began, APD responded swiftly, regained control and conducted a thorough and complete investigation. Filing decisions are now with the OCDA. [Orange County District Attorney] The Chief emphasized that APD personnel were prepared and that our response and investigation was prompt, appropriate, fair, and complete.

I see firsthand how our Chiefs are working this issue externally. It is up to us to work it internally. The Chiefs are doing what they’re paid to do. We as captains, lieutenants and sergeants need to step up and do what we’re paid to do….. This department belongs to all of us. Let’s ensure we take good care of it by keeping our officers informed, maintaining a consistent message, and addressing any misguided or misinformed comments promptly.

The Investigator believes that Marcin’s email is a classic textbook example of what experts in the fields of business management, organizational theory, and public relations would call crisis containment and damage control. The actions it makes reference to were essentially part of a calculated strategy undertaken by top brass to minimize the negative impact the bloody Pearson Park skirmish had on the image of the Anaheim Police Department.

According to an article published in the Handbook of Research on Crisis Leadership in Organizations, when a business firm is suddenly confronted with a crisis that poses a serious threat to its well-being, its leaders quickly “turn to … activities” that limit “reputational and financial threats to the organization.” Although The Investigator realizes the Anaheim Police Department isn’t a “business,” it does function remarkably similar to one.

The following quotes neatly summarize the unwritten goals of Marcin’s email:

When crises cannot be avoided, despite careful planning or prevention activities, leaders must turn to the activities associated with crisis containment and damage control …. Crisis containment is defined as the decisions and actions aimed at mitigating the severity of the crisis, and, specifically, limiting the reputational and financial threats to the organization ….

[E]ffective crisis containment and damage control requires consistent message and communication to key stakeholders. In fact, the competency most closely identified with crisis leadership behavior is the ability to communicate effectively. Very often, the type of communication observed during a crisis event is one that is rooted in the public relations tradition and attempts to position the [organization] or the problem in relatively favorable terms. In other words, crisis communication is used to positively shape the stakeholders’ perceptions of the crisis and the organization. During the damage control or containment phase of a crisis, leaders will identify and connect with key organizational personnel, provide or solicit necessary information and instruction, and attempt to restore calmness or provide reassurance to affected constituents.

For the record, The Investigator has never had any objections to the Anaheim Police Department presenting an honest and truthful account about what  precautions it took to mitigate the possibility that violence would erupt between Klansmen and counter-protesters at Pearson Park. What The Investigator opposes, however, were any attempts by top brass to misrepresent the facts about what transpired that day, not only to cover-up any mistakes or tactical errors that might have been made, but to manipulate public opinion.

That being said, The Investigator has proof suggesting that this is indeed what has occurred. There is evidence that Police Chief Raul Quezada has made misleading statements both to the Anaheim City Council and the Anaheim Public Safety Board when he claimed that his department didn’t know when and where the Klan would be at Pearson Park. Police emails obtained under a California Public Records Act request show that they did in fact know that information roughly 24-hours before they were expected to appear.

And contrary to the assertion that Marcin made in his email that the “investigation” into this matter was “prompt, appropriate, fair, and complete,” the OC Weekly has interviewed Tom Bibyan, one of the counter-protesters at Pearson Park who was allegedly stabbed by Charles Donner, a Klansman. Bibyan asserts he did nothing to provoke the violent assault that left him hospitalized for four days. Yet, as of the date of this posting, detectives from the Anaheim Police Department have still not interviewed him to get his side of the story. Why not?

[Below is Captain Marcin’s email]

Marcin Email 1 of 2

Marcin Email 1 of 2

Marcin Email 2 of 2

Marcin Email 2 of 2

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