Cristina Talley, Anaheim's Former City Attorney, Not the Crusader Yaktivists Make Her Out to Be

Cristina Talley
The 'Rally for Talley' held outside the steps of Anaheim City Hall last week was the latest public display of support for former city attorney Cristina Talley. Since then, there's been a raging debate in the blogopshere as to the circumstances surrounding her sudden, forced resignation during the January 29 city council meeting.

Rally organizers cried foul and the press release for the event claimed she was ousted by the council majority for advising against the controversial $158 million GardenWalk hotel tax giveaway. Her supporters also insist that Talley was of the opinion that the city was in violation of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA), an allegation made in an ACLU lawsuit claiming Latino political disenfranchisement via an at-large electoral system. And because Talley had that stance, Anaheim's city council pushed her out.

"All I know is that I got that from very, very good reliable sources," rally organizer Joanne Sosa relayed in an interview on-site.

"We feel that they have their agenda," Sosa added later, referring to the council majority that yaktivists insist pushed Talley out for being a virtuous Adelita. "It's the Disney agenda. It's business as usual."

Better yet, Talley is Latina, or a Lawtina to be more exact! That spices things up even more on the question of district elections. Not since Married With Children's hilarious reporter Miranda Veracruz de la Hoya Cardenal has so many sudden Spanish names been trotted out in succession. Talley was no longer Talley. She was Cristina Lourdes Sierra Montes Talley!

But a crusader? Hardly.

Worth noting is an exchange between then-Councilman Harry Sidhu and then-City Attorney Talley during a March 6, 2012 city council meeting regarding the $158 million giveaway. Opponents of the deal had just lawyered up and filed a lawsuit alleging, among other things, that a Brown Act violation had occurred.

"Madame City Attorney was there any Brown Act violation here?" Sidhu inquired pompously during the meeting.

"We do not believe that the council violated in any manner the Brown Act in connection with this January 24th decision," Talley responded. If she had previously advised councilmembers to the contrary, she made no such assertion as a matter of public record. Months later, an Orange County Superior Court judge ruled in December that a violation of the Brown Act had indeed occurred.

Gabriel San Román / OC Weekly
Council district lawsuit plaintiff Amin David at the Rally for Talley

"We heard that there's a lot of emails and a lot of things that have been purged and destroyed," Sosa offered as a response to the question about the Sidhu-Talley exchange."I think there's going to be a lot more to the story."

On the subsidy side of things, there is, indeed, more from that same meeting. Mayor Tait wanted to put forth an initiative during discussion of the issue that would rescind the GardenWalk hotel project agreement. Talley responded by noting the numerous legal challenges that could result from doing so, and Tait's push went nowhere. Hardly Dolores Huerta!

As to the question of the ACLU lawsuit, its latest court documents, obtained by the Weekly,  were filed two weeks before she was pressured into resigning and tell a different story. They show she was supervising an active legal battle against the plaintiffs, including Rally for Talley participant Amin David and Anaheim City School District trustee (and #28 on our Scariest People list last year) Jose Moreno.

On August 2 last year, Talley publicly reported during a closed session that she had retained two private firms to fight the lawsuit with a unanimous vote of council. Talley would assume a "supervisory oversight role," according to the city, while the other firms would handle the "day to day" litigation. And Talley's team is fighting the ACLU suit with all they got. In the latest Orange County Superior Court responses, filed on January 16, 2013, Team Talley denied that racially-polarized voting is equitable to vote dilution and discrimination. They also described as a "red herring" the notion put forth by the ACLU that without the CVRA, Anaheim would be free to discriminate against minority voters.

With all this, if the former city attorney expressed private concerns with the GardenWalk subsidy vote, she publicly stated after the fact that it wasn't in violation of the Brown Act. If Talley believed the city was discriminating against Latino voters, she sure didn't mind supervising an entrenched legal battle in opposition to that position.

The cost of the litigation for Anaheim at the year's end, by the way? $287,000 and counting...

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‘Sup, Gabo.

This is about me and Duane, although in gentlemanly fashion you leave our names out of it.I was the one who wrote about Talley as a Latina attorney fired for pushing the Anaheim council toward districting, Duane was the one who wrote in disputing that, and he was soon gleefully joined by the mercenary Matt Cunningham, and now you.

It’s hard to tell where you guys are coming from – well, not Cunningham – we know HE’s getting paid by people who want to keep Anaheim’s status quo going and delay district elections as long as possible.But if your charge is just that I gilded Talley’s lily a tad – making her out to be some “Adelita” when she was merely a competent public servant – then I cop to that hyperbole – it seemed harmless and helpful.

Or is this a meta thing, and your point is that bloggers shouldn’t print anything as fact that can’t be proven through the public record?A lot of what I write does come from confidential sources speaking “out of school” about closed sessions and such.Duane will say I’m being “used” by people who have their own “political agendas.”After a moment’s reflection I will respond “DUH.”The “political agenda” of my sources (who can be guessed by anyone in their sleep with one hand behind their back) is the same as mine – and, I’d thought, yours and Duane’s – we want to see Anaheim move to district elections, for better democracy and enfranchisement of the poor, and to stop the hemorrhaging of money fighting the ACLU.

I’ll give you a little more detail.Cristina Talley consistently advised the Council that, “Sure, we can fight this ACLU lawsuit if you really want to, but it’s going to be difficult, lengthy and expensive.”That’s not what Murray, Eastman, and their allies wanted to hear.They wanted to hear “Yay team!Let’s go defeat the California Voting Rights Act!”(Which is really what they’re trying to do.)

It’s silly of you, hermano, to bring up the fact that Talley “led the charge” in defending Anaheim against the districting lawsuit, as well as her answer to the assclown Sidhu about GardenWalk Brown Act violation – it was her fucking job to do what these weasels ordered her to!Okay, she was NOT La Cucaracha or Rosa Parks – she COULD have just quit her quarter-million-a-year job, right?But she WAS fired for telling these dillwads what they didn’t want to hear, and that is something.

YOU LOT – especially Gustavo – should be trying to help this reform happen.I got Gustavo, a while back, to admit that districting would be a good thing, even though he dislikes and distrusts the “yaktivists” that got the ball rolling on it.This is not a time for us to be sniping at each other.

Or not.I don’t mind being the premier progressive blogger writing about Anaheim, I suppose.I’m hoping you keep your eyes open for this – their new secret plan to bring back the GardenWalk Giveaway, bigger and badder than ever!!!

Mitchell_Young topcommenter

 "Better yet, Talley is Latina, or a Lawtina to be more exact!"

Really? I was gonna balance my comment about that hot academic with a 'hey, cute white woman'. But I guess that won't work now. 

gabrielsanroman topcommenter

@chezvern Vern -- First off, this is not about you. I attended the rally as media. I asked Sosa about the March 6 exchange before Roberts challenged you on your blog. I remember it quite vividly. It is relevant no matter how much you try to find a loophole out of it. 

Now you introduce details that suggests she advised council from a dispassionate legal standpoint. What I did is simply clarify her role in the CVRA lawsuit as an overseer for the two private firms doing the dirty work and check in on the lawsuit's status as close to the forced resignation as possible. All of this is public record and speaks to Talley's functionary, institutional role which overrides everything. 

And if you fashion yourself as the 'premier progressive' Anaheim blogger, go ahead Paul Revere! Thank you for all your efforts in returning a reactionary xenophobe like Lucille Kring back to the dais!


@gabrielsanroman @chezvern Hah.  Heh.  If I thought I really helped get Kring back in, I would feel pretty bad, but I think it was foreordained.

Still, let's have a beer soon.

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