Anaheim City Council Push to Legalize Cannabis Businesses Could Make Mayor’s Son a Wealthy Man

Rohan Sidhu (left) stands next to his father, Harry Sidhu, the night he was sworn in as mayor of Anaheim in December 2018.

Editor & Publisher

It almost didn’t happen, but at the end of the April 21st meeting of the Anaheim City Council, just as Mayor Harry Sidhu was making his final closing remarks, Councilwoman Lucille Kring abruptly interrupted him.

“Mis… Mister Mayor, first of all, I forgot to do an agenda item,” Kring interjected.

“O.K., Councilmember Kring. Go ahead,” Sidhu replied, sounding a bit exasperated.

“Really, really, really, really fast,” said Kring.

Then she continued:

Colleagues and members of the public as you may recall a few months ago I asked the staff to work with me to prepare an ordinance for our consideration to legalize cannabis businesses in Anaheim consistent with state law and in the alternative to bring to us a resolution to place the question of cannabis businesses before the voters in November. The work on that project has been slowed down somewhat because of the Coronavirus, but we are back up and running. If I would ask staff to finish up that work on the ordinance and bring it back to us at the next council meeting May the 5th, the ordinance can be reviewed and discussed by the council, and we may choose to adopt it. We may also decide that it is better to let the voters weigh in on this issue. So if the ordinance is not adopted on May 5th, then I’d like it to be ready to bring back on May 12th to put it on the November ballot. Either way, we’ll also need to place a ballot of a local cannabis tax measure so we can do that at a later date….

“I’m asking for a second and a third on my cannabis ordinance, ” Kring stated.

Councilman Jordan Brandman seconded her motion.

“I will do the third, not a problem Councilwoman. I will do the third. So it is agendized,” replied Sidhu.

Up until this moment, nobody has really known exactly what Mayor Sidhu’s opinions have been on the issue of cannabis. But for quite some time now, The Anaheim Investigator has been well aware of what Rohan Sidhu, his 23-year old son, thinks about it. In fact, if the City of Anaheim decides to legalize cannabis businesses, he is well-positioned to get rich from it.

The Mayor’s Son is a ‘Pot Entrepreneur’

Evidence The Investigator has uncovered shows that Mayor Sidhu’s son is a “pot entrepreneur.” Not only does Rohan run a firm that offers “design and operational consulting for the legal cannabis industry,” helping secure licenses for cannabis businesses across the state, but he boasts that he helped set up “OC’s largest Type 6 cannabis oil Extraction and Distillation facility” in 2018.

According to a document Rohan filed with the California Secretary of State on August 6, 2018, he states he is “Chief Executive Officer” of an entity called RSSC LLC, a limited liability company. He describes the type of “business or services” being offered as “Engineering Consulting.” The listed address, however, appears to be a private mail box located at a U.S. Post Office in downtown Los Angeles.

But the information posted on Rohan’s LinkedIn page is more revealing. He states that RSSC LLC was founded in January 2018–not August 2018–as was suggested in the document he filed with the Secretary of State. But to his credit, he goes into detail about what kind of “work” his firm really does: it helps cannabis businesses get their licenses and permits to operate legally.

Below is a reproduction of what Rohan typed:

RSSC LLC * Full-time
Jan 2018 – Present * 2 yrs 4 mos
Orange County, California Area

Design and Operational consulting for the legal Cannabis industry.
With our team of engineers, architects, attorneys, policy consultants, and designers we can make your cannabis industry dreams come true.

Our team is responsible for securing over 25 MCSB/BCC state issued cannabis licenses, across the state of California.

We can help guide you through State and City licensing processes and procedures for the Cannabis Industry.

We have over 15 client facilities currently operating compliantly, through the state.

We have expertise in Type 6, Type 7, Type N Cultivation Facilities, Distribution/Transportation, Retail, and Testing Lab design/management/compliance.

Consider us your allies through the states venture into legalization, and legislation. We can help interpret CA’s new laws, so you can operate your facilities without worry.

But that’s not all.

Between January and May 2018, Rohan also mentions he was “Co-Founder” of yet another entity called SW Ventures LLC.

Here is what he wrote:

Co-Founder – CTO
SW Ventures LLC * Full-time
Jan 2018 – May 2018 * 5 mos

Costa Mesa

Conception and design of OC’s largest Type 6 cannabis oil Extraction and Distillation facility. Developed a successful CUP application, with supplementary documents, for Costa Mesa City, approved by Planning Commission and City Council with 0 comments/concerns.

Indeed, documents from the Costa Mesa Planning Commission, including one report dated October 15, 2018, make it clear that SW Ventures LLC was seeking

a Conditional Use Permit for a marijuana manufacturing and distribution facility (SW Ventures, LLC) within a 7,178-square-foot tenant space of an existing industrial building. The proposed facility will include ethanol cannabis extraction, distillation, packaging and formulation and distribution of the final product in vaping pens, tablets/capsules, and edibles. Rooms include extraction and distillation, storage and packaging, and ancillary offices. Vehicles used for the distribution of cannabis products will be pulled into a secured area inside the building. The facility will have security systems (card readers, security cameras, etc.) throughout the facility. No cultivation of marijuana, or marijuana dispensary, is permitted.

With respect to Rohan’s ties to this firm, The Investigator couldn’t find his name on any incorporation documents that were submitted to the Secretary of State. However, a Form 460 that was filed with the City of Costa Mesa shows he gave a $249 to the “Figueredo-Wilson for City Council 2018” candidates committee on September 15, 2018. He listed SW Ventures LLC as being his “employer.”

Mayor’s Son Could Become a Wealthy Man

If the city decides to legalize cannabis businesses, Rohan could become a wealthy man. For one thing, “pot entrepreneurs” would flock here to set up operations. They would need a consultant like RSSC LLC to help them navigate the complex legal environment. reports firms like his “have been known to charge over $100,000” for their services, even take ownership stakes in cannabis businesses.

Given Anaheim’s historically low electricity rates, easy access to freeways, and large market of consumers–which also includes millions of tourists–it is not inconceivable it could become the “weed capital” of Orange County. Regardless, Mayor Sidhu’s son is well-positioned to get rich from it. And any vote his father makes in favor of legalization of cannabis businesses is a vote to make that possible.

Wife of Anaheim Blog Publisher is Involved in Anaheim First, Senior VP of Chamber of Commerce

Matthew and Laura Cunningham are greeted as they arrive at Mayor Harry Sidhu’s “State of the City” address at the City National Grove last March

Editor & Publisher

For several months now, Matthew Cunningham, the publisher of the Anaheim Blog, a website that covers city politics from a right-wing perspective, has shamelessly promoted Anaheim First, a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, as being a “grass-roots community organization.”

In one article after another, Cunningham has lauded it as a being a “non-political” group made up of “residents of all ages, from every walk of life and every part of the city” who got together “to develop a resident-driven plan for guiding city investment in their neighborhoods,” blasting critics who call it a “front” for big business.

But in all of the articles he has penned about Anaheim First so far, he has neglected to mention two crucial details. First, his wife, Laura Cunningham, has played a behind-the-scenes role in organizing “town hall forums” for this non-profit. And second, she has been Senior Vice President of the Anaheim Chamber at least since July.

This image remains the exclusive copyright property of the creator. No rights are granted unless written contracts are in place.

Laura Cunningham oversees a breakout group at the Anaheim First Neighborhood Leadership Summit on July 10th.

Hidden in Plain Sight

Laura’s involvement with Anaheim First isn’t exactly a secret. Her work for this group was first exposed by Gabriel San Roman, an investigative journalist for the now-defunct OC Weekly. In an article San Roman wrote back in September, he made the following observations while attending their first “town hall forum” in West Anaheim:

From the back of the room, Laura Cunningham directed [Karen] Gulley to wrap up her presentation so that the town hall could turn to breakout groups. She’s the wife of Anaheim Blog’s Matt Cunningham who, unsurprisingly, wrote uncritically of the event while finding an opportunity to hammer away at Unite Here Local 11 union members for crashing the discussion session. Todd Ament, Anaheim Chamber of Commerce president and Anaheim First board member, confirmed to the Weekly that Laura worked for the Chamber, but not Anaheim First. The distinction didn’t seem to matter much during the town hall–or after. Laura helped clean up the gym to close out the night.

Documents in the possession of the Anaheim Investigator corroborate his findings. One memorandum, typed up by Deputy City Manager Greg Garcia, recorded a meeting that took place at city hall on Friday, August 9th where city staff met with consultants involved in the “Anaheim First Community Assessment.”

“This is a meeting to discuss the next steps of the group and our role,” wrote Garcia. “PlaceWorks [a consulting firm hired by Anaheim First] will be a part of the meeting to talk us through their plan.” Attendees included representatives from the Anaheim Chamber: Todd Ament, President and CEO, and Laura, who was listed as a contact.

Emails show that Laura was quietly monitoring communications between Anaheim First, it’s consultants, and the City of Anaheim about arrangements being made to use public facilities for their “town hall forums.” Her email address “” is clearly visible on correspondence with city staff.

In another email obtained by the Investigator, Mike Lyster, Chief Communications Officer for the City of Anaheim, was contacted by Laura on August 21st about setting up a meeting with him on an unrelated matter. She signed off using the title “Senior Vice President.” Attached to it was the logo of the Anaheim Chamber.

Email-Cunningham Lyster

Despite the fact Laura has been Senior Vice President for several months now, the Anaheim Chamber has failed to update the staff directory on its website and list her as an employee. Her name, however, has begun to pop up elsewhere, such as on page 12 of the October issue of “Business Advocate,” their glossy newsletter.

Shilling for the Anaheim Chamber

But most curiously, Matthew Cunningham has said nary a word about Laura’s work with Anaheim First. Of course, to acknowledge this would tear to shreds the narrative he has woven about it being a “grass-roots community organization.” Since when do ordinary people recruit business executives to set up their neighborhood meetings?

Furthermore, his wife’s relationship with the Anaheim Chamber raises questions as to how the Anaheim Blog reports the news. For example, does the favorable coverage that Cunningham offers Anaheim First reflect his genuine love and affection for that group? Or is he really doing it because he wants to help his wife succeed at her job?

It should be noted that Cunningham is a political consultant. He runs a public relations firm called Pacific Strategies. On his LinkedIn page, a social media website for business professionals, he makes it no secret one of his “present past clients” has been the Anaheim Chamber. Even Ament himself has admitted this.

Cunningham has long since denied his blog is being paid for by the Anaheim Chamber. But does it really matter? Both he and his wife have received thousands of dollars of income from them over the years. Doesn’t that serve as a strong enough disincentive for him to post articles on his blog that they might not like? 

Anaheim First Director of Community Engagement is Daughter of Union Boss With Ties to Mayor, Chamber

This image remains the exclusive copyright property of the creator. No rights are granted unless written contracts are in place.At the March 5th “State of the City” Address, Mayor Harry Sidhu shakes hands with Xochitl Medrano, while her father, Ernesto Medrano, looks on.

Editor & Publisher

The Anaheim Investigator is in possession of evidence which now confirms that Xochitl Medrano, Director of Community Engagement for Anaheim First, a shady 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce to promote its interests, is the daughter of Ernesto Medrano, a member of the Anaheim First Advisory Council in District 5.

Up until now, Xochitl has been elusive when confronted with questions about her family ties to a certain Anaheim First member with the same last name. Back in May, when Gabriel San Roman of the OC Weekly first broached the issue, he reported she “didn’t address questions as to whether she’s the daughter by the same name of Anaheim First advisory council member Ernesto Medrano.”

But based on a careful review of dozens of photographs, screenshots of messages posted on social media, and various public records, the Investigator has determined that there is more than enough court-worthy evidence available to conclude that Xochitl is in fact Ernesto’s daughter.

Xotchil MedranoXochitl speaking at a WAND meeting.

Registered to vote in Whittier

Furthermore, the Investigator has evidence suggesting that at the time Xochitl became an Anaheim First director, she has never been an Anaheim resident, calling into question a claim she made at a June 12th meeting of the West Anaheim Neighborhood Development Council saying the reason why she joined this group was because “actual residents” invited her to become a part of it.

In reply to a question posed to Xochitl about how she “was asked to be involved” with Anaheim First, she offered a rambling response:

I was approached by actual residents and some of them come from District 5, and I also was approached by other residents from District 4 and they were talking about this group, and they just wanted to know more about it; and I also got to see the State of the City from the mayor. I watched that presentation and I was really interested to learn more about what it really takes to understand civic engagement and how it is not the same as political engagement.

But it would have been somewhat difficult for “actual residents” of any these districts to have “approached” her in person because public records make it clear she has never lived in Anaheim. For example, the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters database shows that Xochitl was–and still is–registered to vote at a home in the City of Whittier, in a neighborhood more than sixteen miles away.

One “actual resident” Xochitl was acquainted with, however, is her father, Ernesto, who is a resident of District 5. The Investigator obtained a photograph of her standing near him while shaking hands with Mayor Harry Sidhu at the March 5th “State of the City” Address at the City National Grove. A month after this encounter, she began boasting on Facebook that she “started a new job” with Anaheim First.

Who is Ernesto Medrano?

Ernesto Medrano is a “Business Representative” for the LA/OC Building & Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO, an “umbrella group representing 48 local unions and district councils in 14 trades” consisting of “more than 100,000 skilled men and women.” In return for project labor agreements, these unions champion giving developers millions of dollars in tax rebates to build four-diamond luxury hotels.

Last year, Medrano was a key spokesperson for the “No on Measure L” campaign, a political committee set up by the Anaheim Chamber to oppose a successful ballot initiative that raised wages for workers employed by taxpayer-subsidized hotels in the Anaheim Resort area. Documents filed with the city clerk show this committee received most of its funding from big hotel developers.

Medrano - Ament - OConnellErnesto Medrano, Todd Ament, and William O’Connell pose for the camera at a “No on Measure L” press conference in 2018.

Hundreds of photographs reviewed by the Investigator show Medrano was a “special guest” at Mayor Sidhu’s “Victory Party” at his four-acre Anaheim Hills estate last December. Other persons also in attendance were Todd Ament, CEO of the Anaheim Chamber, William O’Connell, developer of the JW Marriot hotel, and Jordan Brandman, a Councilman and close friend of Medrano.

In a recent cover story, the OC Weekly reported that between July 2018 and June 2019, Medrano received “36 tickets from resort-friendly council members, mostly to Angel games, tallying a total face value of $6,980.” But it doesn’t stop there: The Investigator has evidence some of these same “resort-friendly” politicians have showered him with thousands of dollars worth of tickets in previous years as well.

Friends of Ament and Sidhu

It should be no surprise to anybody that Ernesto Medrano’s daughter ended up as a director for Anaheim First. Through his work as a spokesperson with the  “No on Measure L” committee, he formed close ties with Ament, who not only is CEO of the Anaheim Chamber, but he is one of the founders of Anaheim First and serves on its Board of Directors. Ament is in a position to decide who gets hired by that entity.

Nobody should be shocked to learn that former Councilwoman Kris Murray and Leslie Swan are also employed in key positions with Anaheim First. Besides the fact both of them are known political operatives, they have been friends with Ament for years through their affiliation with the Anaheim Hills Community Council, whose non-profit he controls. And like Medrano, both of them have ties to Sidhu.


As the Investigator did with our article revealing Murray’s hidden role with Anaheim First, we believe exposing these relationships not only helps underscore the political nature of this group, but to show how fraudulent it is. The Anaheim Chamber is trying to dupe people into thinking this is a “grassroots organization,” when in reality, it is a private club of mostly Sidhu lackeys handpicked to promote their agenda.

Chain of Emails Strongly Suggest Former Councilwoman Kris Murray is a Paid Consultant for Anaheim First

Murray Sidhu CastroKris Murray with Mayor-elect Harry Sidhu and Amelia Castro (now a member of Anaheim First’s Board of Directors) at the Disneyland Hotel in 2018.

Editor & Publisher

A chain of emails the Anaheim Investigator recently obtained from the City of Anaheim during a routine California Public Records Act request strongly suggest that Kris Murray, a former Anaheim City Councilwoman, is working as a paid consultant for Anaheim First, a shadowy 501(c)3 nonprofit group created by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce to promote its interests.

The first email in the chain, written by Xochitl Medrano, Director of Community Engagement for Anaheim First, consists of a message “reaching out” to David Belmer, Director of the Planning and Building Department, “on behalf of Leslie Swan and Kris Murray with Anaheim First,” inviting him to speak to their members later that month at the Chamber’s office near Angel Stadium.

It is reproduced here in its entirety:

From: Xochitl Medrano <>
Sent: Monday, June 10, 2019 12:10 PM
To: David Belmer <>
Cc: Leslie <>
Subject: Inviting you to speak again to Anaheim First members


I tried leaving you a voicemail on your office line but I wanted to make sure you also have my email. My name is Xochitl Medrano and I am reaching out to you on behalf of Leslie Swan and Kris Murray with Anaheim First.

We would love for you to speak again to Anaheim First members at our Onboarding meetings to talk about how the city’s Planning & Building Department operates and what residents should know about zoning. We are hoping you are available on June 19th and June 26th (both at 5:30 pm at the Chamber).

If you can let us know at your earliest convenience that would be most helpful. Also, if you cannot attend and would be able to send someone that would be great too!

Thank you.


Xochitl Medrano.
Director, Community Engagement

2099 S. State College
Anaheim, CA 92806

In response, Belmer told Xochitl:

Hi Xochitl. I am out of town at a family reunion on the 19th but available on June 26. Does it work if I only attend on the 26th?

The next day, Leslie Swan, Director of Anaheim First, jumped in by sending out an email graciously thanking Belmer for “accepting to speak to the Anaheim First Neighborhood Leadership Council on June 26th.” But Swan then quietly added Murray to the discussion, using the email address of her political consulting firm, KLM Strategies:

From: Leslie Swan <>
Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2019 11:05 AM
To: David Belmer <>; Xochitl Medrano <>; Kris
Murray <>
Subject: Re: Inviting you to speak again to Anaheim First members

Hi David, thank you for accepting to speak to the Anaheim First Neighborhood Leadership Council on June 26th. These are additional members, 10 for each district. We offered two dates for convenience purposes. Since we are splitting up the group in two sessions is there anyone in your office that could walk through the presentation you shared with us last September and Q and A’s? In our meeting here with the consultants, there was mention that many community members do not understand zoning and planning. We thought your presentation to Anaheim First Advisory Board in September is one that is on point with the process of the upcoming assessment. If you could assist us with someone from your office on the 19th it would be greatly appreciated. We are looking to have the meeting here at the Chamber 2099 S. State College Blvd. Suite 650, Anaheim at 5:30 pm. If there is any change on the location we will reach out to you. Enjoy your family reunion!


Leslie Swan
Director Anaheim First
2099 S. State College

Anaheim, CA 92806

A copy of the entire chain of emails can be downloaded here.

What role Murray has played in Anaheim First has been the subject of widespread speculation for several months now. Hundreds of photos reviewed by the Investigator clearly show Murray has been a visible presence at their secret meetings, including one held at the Anaheim Convention Center on March 13th where she was seated next to Councilman Jordan Brandman.

naheim First-Convention Center--(3-13-19)Mayor Sidhu speaks to members of Anaheim First during a secret meeting at the Convention Center while Brandman eats a salad and Murray snaps photos.

The emails the Investigator uncovered not only reveal that Murray’s involvement in Anaheim First is much deeper than what is publicly known, but they underscore the political nature of this group. Murray and Swan are friends of Mayor Sidhu. So is Xochitl‘s father, Ernesto Medrano. In fact, all three were guests at Sidhu’s victory party at his Anaheim Hills estate last December.

For matter of record, the Investigator sent two emails to Anaheim First asking for more information about Murray’s work for their group.

The following questions were posed:

Is she an employee or independent contractor? How much compensation is she getting? Is she being paid a regular salary? Or a flat fee?

A similar message was sent to Murray at the email address she uses for KLM Strategies.

But so far, they haven’t responded.

Businessman Boasted To Anaheim Police Chief He Will Fund The Law Enforcement Accountability Network

Gennaco Taormina Faessal II

Michael Gennaco, William Taormina, and Stephen Faessel sitting together at the June 25th “Garden Party Fundraiser” for the Law Enforcement Accountability Network, an ACLU-backed group run by Theresa Smith.

Editor & Publisher

William Taormina boasted to Police Chief Raul Quezada and Deputy Chief Julian Harvey that he intended to support the ACLU-backed Law Enforcement Accountability Network “financially and with my time,” according to an email the Anaheim Investigator obtained from the Anaheim Police Department through a California Public Records Act request filed back in August.

The email in question, dated Wednesday, June 28, 2017, was sent out by Taormina to Quezada and Harvey three days after he made a $1,000 donation to LEAN at their June 25th “Garden Party Fundraiser,” held at the Villa Park home of Belinda Escobosa-Helzer, former Director of the Orange County office of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

“Dear Raul and Julian,” Taormina began:

Over this last weekend, I attended a garden party held in honor of Teresa [sic] Smith’s son, Caesar Cruz. The party was meant to raise money for the new organization that Teresa started known as LEAN (Law Enforcement Accountability Network). The party was a success with about 50 attendees including both Councilmen Steve Faessel and Jose Moreno. I intend to support this organization financially and with my time because I believe it is going to be a positive relationship builder between our law enforcement community and the folks that are presently less supportive of us. We need to keep building bridges and Teresa is an excellent spokesperson for her side of the equation.

In the same email, Taormina also urged Quezada to appoint Yesenia Rojas, a resident of Anna Drive, a working-class neighborhood in Central Anaheim, to his advisory board saying “she is all about the underserved, the youth, and quality of life in our neighborhoods, especially hers….”

“Thank you for you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. It is an honor to serve alongside you both,” he concluded.

A copy of the email can be downloaded here.

Who is William Taormina?

As the Investigator previously reported, William Taormina is a wealthy real estate developer who serves on the advisory board of Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada. He has been on this body since September 2005 when former Police Chief John Welter created it “as a vehicle to advise and counsel him on matters affecting public safety and to act as a sounding board for police/community relations.”

Before William started dabbling in real estate full-time, both he and his brother Vincent ran Taormina Industries Inc., a solid-waste disposal company founded by their father in 1948. According to the Los Angeles Times, the privately held firm was a $100 million operation that served more than one million curbside customers in Anaheim, Brea, Garden Grove, Placentia, Villa Park, Yorba Linda and Colton.

In 1997, Taormina Industries merged into Republic Industries Inc., a trash hauling company then-controlled by H. Wayne Huizenga, a multi-billionaire, in a deal worth about $250 million in stock. “Brothers William and Vincent Taormina will receive 6.5 million shares [from Republic] and will operate the Anaheim company as a separate unit under its own name,” the Times reported.

Over the past thirty years, Taormina has been a major player in Anaheim city politics, pouring tens of thousands of dollars of cash into the campaigns of candidates and elected officials, both Democrat and Republican alike.

Taormina has also donated generously to many local charities and non-profits. He is  the founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Anaheim Community Foundation, an organization that not only has provided financial support for many different senior and youth programs, but has been responsible for managing tens of thousands of dollars in funds for Kash for K-9’s, Cops 4 Kids, and other projects supported by the Anaheim Police Department.

Despite his presence at the ACLU fundraiser, Taormina is no liberal. Back in 2012, Taormina and his family, both directly and through businesses under their control, gave $5,250 in campaign contributions to a city council candidate by the name of Steven Chavez Lodge, an ex-Santa Ana Police detective, who had been sued multiple times in state and federal courts for alleged “police brutality.” Later that same year, the Register quoted him as asking then-Police Chief Welter why there wasn’t a “blanket [gang] injunction” on the entire City of Anaheim to fight crime. The LA Weekly reported in 2014 that Taormina successfully pressured the MUZEO Museum and Cultural Center to cancel a “graffiti” art exhibit featuring the works of prominent Mexican muralists.

For more about the June 25th “Garden Party Fundraiser” for LEAN, please click here.

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.

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 …

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


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.

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.

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

Anaheim Police & the KKK: Police Emails Suggest Police Chief Lied About Pearson Park Rally Time


Police Chief Raul Quezada’s claim his department was clueless as to when and where the Ku Klux Klan would arrive at Pearson Park on Saturday, Feb. 27th is contradicted by police emails

Editor & Publisher

On the evening of Tuesday, March 1, 2016, Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait requested that Police Chief Raul Quezada give a report to the city council about “police response” to a bloody melee that occurred at Pearson Park three days earlier, where a group of anti-racist counter-protesters violently clashed with Ku Klux Klan members, some armed with knives, who came to town to hold a “White Lives Do Matter” rally.

When Chief Quezada stepped up to the podium, he thanked the Mayor and Council for giving him the “opportunity to provide some insight” into this issue, allowing him to “share and clarify some of the facts.” He pointed out that its “important that our community, including those in attendance and those who are watching, maintain the confidence in the police department because we are in fact here to serve them.”

Quezada began his comments by stating that the Anaheim Police Department was “made aware” of the pending rally when a Klan member contacted them asking for security:

We were made aware of the protest on the 23rd or a few days prior to that with respect to via a telephone call from one of the Klan members. During that conversation, there was a request to hire police officers to protect them. That is not our function. We provided alternatives, which they did not take.

“At the time of that conversation,” he said, “the Klan indicated they would be here at 1:30 in the afternoon. That is not the time they arrived [last Saturday]. They arrived at closer to 11:30.”

The Chief then spent the next couple of minutes giving a brief rundown of how prepared his officers were in handling anything that transpired at Pearson Park. In closing remarks, he veered back to the Klan, essentially hinting that they unexpectedly showed up at a time and place they weren’t scheduled to be present.

[T]he information we never have specifically is what time they were going to arrive, where they’re going to park. They can park down the street, walk their way. That information is not something we [had] available. Nor that’s something that is mandated that they share with us. Any protest can take place at any time and does not have to be notification of the police department. Sometimes out of courtesy, they make the phone call.

Again, in this instance, the police department was prepared. We had adequate resources available. The KKK arrived two hours prior to the notification of the scheduled time that they were supposed to be there; that they had communicated with us.

“Very good, I think the time sequence is important,” Tait said to the Chief after he finished his presentation.

But The Anaheim Investigator is in possession of internal police emails, obtained under a California Public Records Act request, which not only contradict the Chief’s claim his department was clueless about when and where the Klansmen would be at Pearson Park that day, but they suggest he’s made misleading statements about the “time sequence,” both to the city council and members of the general public.

The emails begin with one with the subject header, “KKK Rally,” sent out on Wednesday, February 24th to Lieutenant Curtis Faulkner, the Community Policing Team District Commander for the Central and East Districts. According to Detective Chuck Schroth of the Criminal Intelligence Unit, he received a voice message from Charles Donner, a 51-year old Klansman who lives in San Francisco.

“Lt Faulkner,” wrote Schroth, “I received a voice mail from ‘Chuck Donner.'”:

He was asking for uniformed protection for their upcoming march because of issues with “non-whites” last year. In the VM Mr. Donner said the desk sgt gave him my number. Mr. Donner requested a call back at [INFORMATION REDACTED].

Let me know if you want me to do anything with this.

“We don’t provide for uniformed protection unless they want to pay for police services,” Faulkner replied. “[The Community Policing Team] will contact Mr. Donner.”

Two days later, on the morning of Friday, February 26th–roughly 24-hours before the rally–Sergeant Chris Masilon, a Community Policing Team officer, emailed Faulkner. “[Donner] left me a VM,” he wrote. “He informed me they are going to hire their own ARMED SECURITY. I’ve called him back and left a VM.”

“It’s a public park, they can’t have armed security,” Faulkner responded.

Within fifteen minutes, the Lieutenant received another email from Masilon:

OK I just talked to [Donner]. I told him he cannot have armed security in the park, so he is going to scrap his security plan. If he decides to hire non armed security, he will call me back and let me know.

He is approximating 20 people in his group and they will be protesting on the west side of the park near Harbor Blvd.

Hours are 1200 – 1400

Rocio said they were talking about this event on KROQ this am. [sic]

“Copy thanks Chris,” Faulkner shot back.

The existence of these emails are quite revealing in that they contain information which  undermines–if not decimates–Chief Quezada’s misleading claim that the Klan unexpectedly showed up to Pearson Park at 11:30 a.m. According to multiple eyewitness accounts, a handful of Klansmen in a black Chevrolet sport utility vehicle arrived near the Southwest corner of the park shortly after 12-noon–the exact same time (and place) Donner told Sergeant Masilon they would be there.

Additionally, the Klan’s arrival time was documented, albeit indirectly, by Sergeant Daron Wyatt, Public Information Officer for the Anaheim Police Department, who issued a press release later stating that “[a]t approximately 12:10 pm on Saturday, violence erupted when six suspected members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) arrived on the south side of Pearson Park for a planned walking protest.” In an updated press release, he wrote that violence “erupted just after noon.”

The Investigator is baffled as to the reason why Quezada would risk his reputation to disseminate false information about the Klan’s arrival time. Recently, his department has come under fire for failing to deploy uniformed officers to “keep the peace” at Pearson Park. One can speculate this is a form of “damage control”: by arguing the Klan unexpectedly showed up on scene, he can say his officers didn’t have enough time to take appropriate measures to keep them away from counter-protesters.

In a future posting, The Investigator plans to explore the issue of “media spin” further and critically examine allegations made by the OC Weekly that the Anaheim Police Department spread disinformation about the exact time of the Klan rally before it happened to confuse counter-protesters. Although it’s unclear if this occurred, The Investigator is in possession of evidence showing the police disseminated false information about this matter hours after the Klan communicated with them.

[Below are the police emails used for this article]


Internal Police Emails 1 of 3

APD Internal Emails, 1 of 3


Internal Police Emails 2 of 3

APD Internal Emails, 2 of 3


Internal Police Emails 3 of 3

APD Internal Emails, 3 of 3


On Pins & Needles: Retiring Police Chief Told Officials Anaheim Could Face ‘More Civil Unrest’


Retiring Anaheim Police Chief John Welter warned public officials back in May he was “very concerned” high tensions between cops and residents in Leatrice-Wakefield could spark “more civil unrest.”

Editor & Publisher

According to copies of several emails the Anaheim Investigator obtained through a California Public Records Act request, retiring Anaheim Police Chief John Welter told the Mayor and City Council back in May he was “very concerned” escalating tensions between cops and residents in the Leatrice-Wakefield neighborhood, a working-class Mexican community located about one mile Southeast of the Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks, could lead to a confrontation where somebody “will eventually cross the line and get arrested,” sparking “more civil unrest.”

All of the emails in question, which were sent to Susan Ray, an administrator for the Office of the Mayor and City Council, on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, touch upon a “major event” which occurred in that neighborhood the prior evening where the Anaheim Police Department deployed 12 patrol units, including two Sergeants and the Watch Commander, to handle a crowd “watching and yelling” at officers responding to a “disturbance” call. This incident was considered so serious the city activated its “Emergency Virtual Operations Center,” something usually done when a natural disaster, plane crash, or act of terrorism occurs.

In an email Chief Welter shot off about the incident the very next day, he contemptuously dismissed the crowd as being a “group of criminal residents” who feel “they have the right and power to drive the police from neighborhoods.” He complained “[t]hese incidence [sic] of community interference and threats to police have been going on for months now. I predict that someone will eventually cross the line and get arrested. Depending on who, when and where that arrest occurs, it will very likely cause more civil unrest.” In closing, he added: “These actions will only get worse as the criminal element gain power.”

The text of Welter’s email is as follows:

Good afternoon, At the bottom of this email is information on police/community activities that has me very concerned. I covered this situation at our monthly Department Head meeting on May 1. These incidence [sic] of community interference and threats to police have been going on for months now. I predict that someone will eventually cross the line and get arrested. Depending on who, when and where that arrest occurs, it will very likely cause more civil unrest.

I’m bringing this to your attention because of the increasing examples of disrespect and insults to others by many in Anaheim. When a group of criminal residents feels as though they have the right and power to drive the police from neighborhoods, we will have a very difficult time protecting the law abiding residents from escalating violence.

There have been instances of resident interference that prevented officers from engaging in routine activities like impounding abandoned or stolen cars. On one occasion, the resident interference provided an opportunity for a potential criminal suspect to evade police detainment during an investigation.

These actions will only get worse as the criminal element gain power. The law abiding residents will be the true losers in the end. Police will be made to be the ‘murderers’, ‘assassins’, and ‘criminals.’ And certain members of our community will use all of this as a platform to drive their individual agendas.

Attached to Welter’s email was several messages he exchanged with Captain Jarret Young earlier that same day. At 7:38 a.m., the Captain blasted out an email to all high-ranking members of the Anaheim Police Department offering them a brief summary of what transpired in the Leatrice-Wakefield neighborhood the night before. The brouhaha first began when “[o]fficers were handling a call in the alley of Wakefield,” typed Young. It was there, he said, that they encountered “subject on a scooter or bike” who “began yelling and resisting” when they “attempted to detain” him:


Ref this call … Lt Hale called me last night. Officers were handling a call in the alley of Wakefield when they were confront [sic] by a 415 (Disturbance) subject on a scooter or bike. When the officers attempted to detain the 415 subject he began yelling and resisting. Several residents came out to the alley and a crowd gathered. Most of the crowd was anti-police. Officers called for code 3 assistance. [REDACTED] responded to the help call along with several other units.

The mother and family of Martin Hernandez were some of the people in the crowd. When they saw [REDACTED] they focused their attention on him.

Lt Hale got [REDACTED] out of there and attempted to calm down the family/crowd.

I think there was only one arrest made.

I sent a message to Lt. Trapp to have the CPT [Community Policing Team] officers to reach out to their contacts in the neighborhood today and make sure they correct any misinformation about what happened.

I will pull the call and the reports when I get in later this morning.

At around 8:58 a.m., Welter asked:

What time was this? Approximately [h]ow many cops and residents?

Young later replied:

The time was about 2250 hrs…. After the call for assistance 12 units total went on-scene. This includes two sergeants and the WC. [Watch Commander]

According to the report about 60 residents were out watching and yelling at the officers.

In the first email cited above, the City of Anaheim redacted the name of the officer whom Young stated was hurriedly whisked out of the Leatrice-Wakefield neighborhood by Lieutenant Frank Hale, claiming various provisions of the California Public Records Act enabled them to withhold information about his identity. But the Anaheim Investigator has subsequently spoken to a witness who was present in the back alley at the time the incident occurred, and they have alleged the officer was Dan Hurtado, a policeman who shot and killed Martin Angel Hernandez, a 21-year old resident of that community, on Tuesday, March 6, 2012.

The aforementioned correspondence offers proof of something the Anaheim Investigator has always suspected but was unable to confirm up until now: that Anna Drive was only one of many working-class Mexican communities where tensions between cops and residents had been running high for months on end. In Leatrice-Wakefield, hostility toward the police never simmered down after Hernandez‘ death. If anything, it intensified as local residents continued organizing marches, vigils, and protests. The police have literally been on pins and needles in these neighborhoods; they have had to proceed very cautiously to avoid stirring up more anger.

In the aftermath of a week of “civil unrest” that had roiled the City of Anaheim in late July 2012, Leatrice-Wakefield was specifically identified by the Anaheim Police Department as one of ten neighborhoods in Central and South Anaheim that were considered to be “hot zones.” According to a copy of a highly confidential 43-page “Incident Action Plan” that was leaked to the public via the internet, police officers assigned to patrol this community one weekend were ordered by their superiors to adhere to “civil unrest protocols” at all times, donning “all appropriate PPE [Personal Protective Equipment]” as needed.

In respect to Welter’s remarks about “criminal residents,” the Anaheim Investigator doesn’t lend much credence to them. Although we can’t dismiss the possibility persons engaged in illegal activities might invoke the cry of “police brutality” as a ploy to discourage cops from investigating their wrongdoing, it is our opinion his comments reflect those of a man bitter his last year as Anaheim’s top lawman was sullied by intense criticism. But this was a partly a product of his own doing: had Welter not been so lackadaisical toward the spate of fatal officer-involved shootings that occurred under his watch, things might have turned out differently.

[Below are electronic reproductions of some of the documents referred to in this article. Click on them to enlarge.] 

John Welter to City Council Re EVOC Advisory 1 of 3

John Welter to City Council Re: Advisory, Wednesday, May 1, 2013 (1 of 3)

John Welter to City Council Re EVOC Advisory 2 of 3

John Welter to City Council Re: Advisory, Wednesday, May 1, 2013 (3 of 3)

John Welter to City Council Re EVOC Advisory 3 of 3

John Welter to City Council Re: Advisory, Wednesday, May 1, 2013 (3 of 3)


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