A former Anaheim commissioner publicly alleged last week that City Councilman Stephen Faessel sent the police to his home late one night, at the start of this month.
Those claims came the same night another council member, Jordan Brandman, weathered public scrutiny over his behavior from the dais, which has since prompted calls for a Human Resources investigation at City Hall .
“On July 2, between 8 and 9 p.m, two Anaheim police officers knocked on my front door,” said Larry Larsen, a former Sister City commissioner, during public comments at the City Council’s July 13 meeting. “They were there at the behest of Mr. Faessel.”
Faessel is a member of the elected council’s majority.
It’s a majority with which Larsen has intensely sparred — namely in April, when Larsen’s public use of the term “China virus” drove a push by the majority to boot him from the Sister City Commission.
His ouster played into a long political battle between the majority and their staunch critic and opponent on the dais, Councilman Jose Moreno, who appointed Larsen. In turn, the council majority, in denouncing Larsen’s remarks, also took time to aim at Moreno in April.
Larsen on July 13 said the police were told to “investigate the possibility of me creating some kind of terrorist diversion or distraction on the July 4 parade” in Anaheim Hills — a notion Larsen refuted as “outrageous” because he was set to take part in the city’s parade.
“Is this what this city has come to, some kind of fascist city where a city councilman can use the police to carry out their wishes and demands?” Larsen said.
He then addressed the man at the center of the dais that night:
“Is that where we’ve come to, Harry?” Larsen said, addressing Mayor Harry Sidhu, seen as the leader of the council majority.
Faessel didn’t respond to phone and text messages seeking comment Thursday.
Anaheim city spokesperson Mike Lyster, called for comment, responded with a text message:
“We are aware of and are looking into the matter but do not have anything to share at this point.”
Anaheim Police Sgt. Shane Carringer, reached for comment over the phone Thursday, only said he was aware of a public records request filed in connection with the incident, but didn’t have any more information about it.
Larsen — when passed the phone by local politics observer Vern Nelson, who was with him Thursday — told Voice of OC he filed a public records request over the incident “to see the police report he (Faessel) filed and then the report the police filed.”
“Stephen’s known me for 20 years,” Larsen said on Thursday, but declined to comment further, saying he wants to see what his records request yields.
At the July 13 meeting, he said the police won’t find anything on his record that speaks to a so-called terrorist threat:
“I’m sure the police ran me through all their computers, and I’m sure they checked every social media platform there is … I don’t do social media and I don’t even have a moving violation on my record.”
From the public podium, he demanded “an investigation by the city and police department on the false charges that require our policemen to waste their time and city money to come knock on our door.”
“I also demand Mr. Faessel be suspended immediately from the City Council until the results of the investigation are reported,” Larsen said.
He went on to say, however, that the officers who knocked on his door that night of July 2 “were exemplary.”
“You couldn’t have asked for more professional, first-rate policemen, and I want Chief (Jorge) Cisneros to know that,” Larsen said.
For Faessel “to accuse a citizen of potentially being a terrorist is just outrageous,” Larsen added.
He ultimately found himself running out of speaking time at the meeting, to which Sidhu threatened to remove Larsen from the podium with police officers, at one point saying he would ask “my policemen” to escort him away.
It all happened the same night that another member of the council majority, Jordan Brandman, found himself at the center of public scrutiny over a set of disparaging and vulgar text messages about an ex-rival council member, Denise Barnes.
The texts, which were leaked to Nelson and published through local politics forum Orange Juice Blog, prompted a public push by Moreno for a Human Resources Dept. investigation into Brandman’s behavior, alleging the problem went further:
Staff are “very concerned about … their level of feeling safe on the seventh floor in our building, given your comments,” Moreno said at the July 13 council meeting.
People like Barnes and Moreno that night increasingly questioned whether Brandman had been displaying “unstable” behavior in recent months.
Brandman responded that night by saying he had nothing to hide.
It also led to a public disclosure by Brandman that he sought unspecified help for his behavior last year, months after approving the controversial and consequential sale of Angel Stadium.
The controversy has also energized a recall effort against him, initiated by Vern Nelson, which is also getting organizing and precinct-walking help from Barnes herself.
On top of the texts, Nelson said the recall is largely fueled by Brandman’s vote to sell Angel Stadium, among a host of other controversial votes Brandman made over the years.
Brandman, on July 13, said he’s since received the help he needed.
Brandon Pho is a Voice of OC staff writer and corps member at Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @photherecord.
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