Ann Smith and CTA tactics
Around the year 2000, California Teachers
Association (CTA), which is controlled by its
executive director Carolyn Doggett and its
chief counsel Beverly tucker, developed a
policy of expanded cooperation with school
districts in some areas--including allowing
School districts to violate the law against
teachers--apparently in order to expand
influence of CTA at district level.
This policy had disastrous effect on Castle
Park Elementary in CVESD.
(At about the same time, Ann Smith's
unhealthy cooperation with San Diego
Mayor Dick Murphy was having even more
disastrous effects on San Diego.)
Maura Larkins wrote the following letter to
CTA President Wayne Johnson to let him
know about Ann Smith's unethical conduct.
It didn't bother him one bit.
January 26, 2002
To: Wayne Johnson
From: Maura Larkins
I’m concerned about a possible conflict of
interest. I was under the impression that
my meeting on January 11 with attorney
Ann Smith might lead to her representing
Is she one of the “two lawyers” Tim has
consulted with? She did not tell me that.
If she is, she has already taken positions
against me. How could she advise me
Had Ann Smith previously advised Tim not
to advocate for me vis a vis the School
District regarding violations of the
contract? Had she helped concoct
justifications for your and Beverly Tucker’s
decision not to advocate for me?
If so, there is a serious problem--a
violation of legal professional ethics has
occurred. I was brought into Ann Smith’s
office on January 11, 2002 under the
impression that I was meeting a lawyer
who might sue the district on my behalf!
Ann Smith asked me a lot of questions
about my case. I never would have gone
to the meeting if I had known that she had
been supporting CTA’s positions
P.S. I am enclosing my correspondence
with Ms. Smith. My first letter to her
certainly touched a nerve! She apparently
became extremely emotional. She
claimed (falsely) that I called her a “liar” in
my letter! (Both my letter and her letter
are attached.) She also accused me of
being dishonest! Honesty is my strong suit
so she didn’t succeed in touching a nerve in
me. My words are the complete truth.
Michael Aguirre, San Diego's City Attorney who is
trying to reform a city whose leaders' actions
caused it to be dubbed Enron by the Sea,
recently deposed attorney Ann Smith.
To those of us who know Ann Smith, it's no
surprise that her deposition went nowhere until
Judge Barton agreed to oversee the deposition
in his chambers.
Here's a snippet from Mike Aguirre's blog,
which can be reached from the City Attorney
"Tuesday morning, Superior Court Judge Jeffrey
B. Barton granted our request that the pension
case deposition of Municipal Employee
Association (MEA) attorney Ann Smith take
place in his chambers, under his
supervision, so that he can preside over
the taking of her deposition. The deposition
will continue Wednesday, August 23, in Superior
Court Department #69, at 9 a.m."
Mr. Aguirre soon caught Ann Smith and her client
Judie Italiano contradicting each other. Which
one do you believe? Or could it be that neither
one is truthful?
Here is Aguirre's blog for August 21, 2006:
"Last week Municipal Employee Association
(MEA) attorney Ann M. Smith and MEA
president Judie Italiano gave conflicting
testimony. Earlier this year, Ms. Smith testified
in the preliminary criminal hearing for the
former pension trustees who have been charged
by the District Attorney. She swore, under oath,
that former City Manager Michael Uberuaga
had communicated to the MEA on the
afternoon of 11 July 2002 (the day the
pension board approved Manager's
Proposal 2), that the City had "abandoned"
the requirement that the Board approve the
City's plan to underfund the pension before
certain of the board members could get
San Diego Metropolitan
Ann Smith and Chula Vista
San Diego employment lawyer Ann M. Smith,
infamous for her close association to MEA's
Judie Italiano and the criminal pension deal
that turned San Diego into "Enron by the
Sea," represented CTA operative Tim O'Neill
and Chula Vista Educators in January 2002
in the Maura Larkins case.
Tim O'Neill and current and former CVE
presidents Jim Groth and Gina Boyd were
covering up multiple violations of law
against CVE member Maura Larkins. The
illegal actions had been initiated by
now-infamous teacher Robin Donlan.
Attorney Smith welcomed Maura Larkins
into her office under the pretext that she
might sue Chula Vista Elementary School
District for its illegal actions against Larkins.
San Diego City Attorney Mike
Aguirre, and MEA's Ann Smith
and Judie Italiano
Voice of San Diego letter to the editor
regarding pension reform
comment by Point Loma Resident
July 10, 2008
"Victoria...there's never been, & never will
be, an unemployment problem within the
City's ranks, so why would we need to pay
more? We paid more compensation to the
President of SEDC and look what that
extra compensation got us...more
corruption, not more competence!"
But in a Hotsheet bulletin sent to MEA
members the next day, Ms. Italiano told her
membership the condition had been "met" --
not "abandoned," as claimed by Ms. Smith in
her sworn testimony in the current D.A. criminal
Last Friday Ms. Smith testified in her deposition
that Ms. Italiano's Hotsheet was wrong. A
hearing regarding Ms. Smith's deposition will be
held in Superior Court Judge Jeffrey B. Barton's
chambers on Tuesday, August 22, at 9 a.m.
Paying more sometimes
brings more corruption,
not more competence
letter to CTA President
Wayne Johnson regarding
Ann Smith tactics
Ann Marie Smith - #120733
Current Status: Active
Address Tosdal Smith Steiner & Wax
401 W 'A' St #320
San Diego, CA, 92101 Phone
Number (619) 239-7200
Fax Number (619) 239-6048
District District 9
Undergraduate School No
County San Diego Law School
12/16/1985 Admitted to The State
Bar of California
January 17, 2002
To: Ann Smith
From: Maura Larkins
I'm writing to confirm some elements of our
meeting of January 11, 2002.
You said that the district has no obligation to
pay me. I said I believed you, and that I
couldn't think of any reason you would lie to
me. (I now think I was wrong on both counts.)
I had been led to understand that you were a
private attorney who would take legal action
against the district on my behalf if legally
appropriate. I understood that CTA would pay
for the first hour of consultation, and that I
would pay for all other hours worked unless
CTA made a special arrangement. I had been
told by Tim that at least half of my one-hour
consultation with you would be private.
You told me that I had to go back to work even
though my safety is at risk, and even though
the district has violated the contract and the
law and basic standards of decency in my case
with total impunity, and even though CVE
refuses to either enforce the contract or to
address the district's egregious behavior in
another manner. You said if I were damaged
again after I went back to work, I should grieve
again. It should be noted that you said this with
a straight face.
I am wondering exactly what, if anything, the
district might possibly do to me that would
induce CVE to go to arbitration on my behalf.
You made a point of questioning Tim in a loud
voice as to when the contract had expired. But
I asked Tim if there was an MOU (memorandum
of understanding), and he said, "yes." So the
contract is still in force. I'm wondering if one of
the reasons for not going to bat for me is
political. Politics is how CTA got into this mess
in the first place. Gina didn't want to ruffle the
feathers of my accusers right before her
reelection. In fact, she kept stroking them with
phone conversations and concessions when
she had no business taking the side of one
teacher against another. I was ordered by CTA
to "be quiet" about what had been done to me.
Now history repeats itself. This time CTA
doesn't want to ruffle the district's feathers.
The contract is a point of pride--the more
money CTA gets in the contract, the better it
looks. But why would it work so hard for a
contract that it won't enforce? Because CTA
only cares about how it looks on the outside,
not about the moral decay within. It thinks that
the world will never know the truth. It thinks
that it can keep its true portrait hidden, like
Dorian's Gray's. It thinks it can destroy one
innocent teacher for the financial gain of other
teachers (and increased dues!), without
anyone ever questioning its ethics.
You asked me questions about my sick leave. I
don't think I gave you the answers you were
looking for. You were all set to write down my
words, but you seemed unhappy with them,
and ceased writing.
I informed you and Tim that my benefits had
been cancelled in November, TWO DAYS after
I filed grievances. This action was clearly
retaliatory. It occurred two and a half MONTHS
after my pay was stopped. It was a bolt out of
I informed you and Tim that my June 9
grievance received no response from the
district, and my May 29 grievance received no
Level II response. I had waived time lines for
responding to these grievances until November
21, so I should have received responses on
December 3. Tim denied repeatedly that this
was true, although he had received copies of
all grievances and all district responses. Then
Tim said that the district denies all my
grievances anyway, so what difference does it
I said that it would increase my trust in Tim if he
would insist that the district obey JUST ONE
SMALL PART OF THE CONTRACT.
Apparently you and Tim have decided not to
enforce any part of the contract.
I think it's not only wrong, it's foolish to continue
to violate the principles that CTA stands for.
MEA attorney Ann Smith has always before
had plenty to say when Judie Italiano, MEA
President and, later, MEA manager, had a
Judie and Ann seemed to be an
inseparable pair. So where is Ann Smith
now that Judie has resigned?
Italiano Out, Union
Probe Forwarded to
Voice of San Diego
By RANI GUPTA
May 29, 2009
Three years ago, the head of City Hall's largest union
became embroiled in a controversy over charging
thousands of dollars at casinos, department stores,
and other shops on her official credit cards.
Judie Italiano and her supporters fended off a
challenge to her leadership and pooh-poohed an
investigation by then-City Attorney Mike Aguirre, saying
she had nothing to hide.
On Friday the Municipal Employees Association board
announced that Italiano had resigned [click here for
letter from board to members] after the organization
started an investigation into her personal use of the
union's credit cards, which she stopped only briefly
after the charges came to light in 2006, according to
union President Tony Ruiz.
Union officials also have referred the matter to the
District Attorney's Office to see if criminal charges are
warranted, Ruiz said.
The resignation marks a dramatic end for the career of
a long-time City Hall fixture who defiantly defended both
her union and her own actions as the city's financial
problems and pension scandal unfolded this decade.
Ruiz said Italiano was put on leave May 12 when the
new charges were discovered and resigned in the
midst of the investigation. She cut the union a check for
$13,903, covering credit card charges, interest and
vacation time that Italiano had taken but not yet accrued,
MEA Letter to Members (pdf)
Union Battle Turns Inward (Aug. 29, 2006)
Suit Filed Against Italiano (May 6)
The Hall: A Blog on Local Politics
"In sum, Ann, what were you thinking?"
The union also has no plans to drop a lawsuit against the
pension system alleging Italiano has a right to a pension despite
a determination that the act giving her a city pension violated
federal tax regulations.
[Maura Larkins' note: It would seem that Ann Smith is
still hard at work, striving to fill Judie Italiano's pockets
with public money.]
After Italiano's credit card charges came to light in 2006, the union changed its
policies to prohibit personal use of the union credit cards and Italiano agreed to pay
back the money she had charged, Ruiz said. Previously, he said, there was an
informal arrangement allowing use of the cards as long as personal charges were
Ruiz said Italiano stopped charging personal expenses on her card for a while but
resumed making personal charges starting in November 2006 and continuing
through February 2009. Ruiz said he discovered the charges while preparing his
first budget as board president...
|"We were all taken in by Judie," Ruiz said. "She [said]
she would not be doing this type of behavior anymore.
We put these policies in place and she agreed to these
policies, and she breached our trust."
[Maura Larkins' note: I'm not sure I believe you, Mr.
Ruiz. I think I believe Bud Simpson:
"Judie pretty much had the board of directors eating
out of her hand," Simpson said. "She's done a pretty
good job for them and, as a result, she makes sure she
has the executive committee handpicked."
Simpson added that the general membership didn't
appear to care. "Just as long as you take care of us,
we'll forgive minor indiscretions," he said.]
More on internal disagreements in the MEA
Union Battle Turns Inward
By SAM HODGSON Voice Staff Writer
Voice of San Diego
Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2006 | The labor union that has long been at the
heart of the city’s ongoing financial struggles is quietly suffering one of its
most divisive internal battles in the organization’s 80-year history.
With its leaders already heading up the opposition to City Attorney Mike
Aguirre, the more than 6,000-member Municipal Employees Association
is facing what former president Judie Italiano describes as "the first
contentious election this organization has had since its inception in 1926."
And the battle comes complete with all the catch words of the city's larger
political struggle: allegations of corruption, a lack of transparency and
Italiano stepped down as president earlier this year after more than two
decades. But she remains the face of the organization and its manager.
She has become the focus of criticisms by former Vice President Linda
French and a slate of self-proclaimed reformists who are attempting to
oust interim President John Torres and the rest of the MEA’s executive
At a time when financial and political crises have split City Hall along strict
factional lines, the discontent sowed by the city's high-profile problems
has trickled down into the very organizations fighting the battles.
But this struggle isn't about court cases and retirement benefits. It's
about French and Italiano.
Archives: Italiano Steps Down (May 11, 2006)
Both sides believe in the battle to preserve their pension benefits, which
has become a centerpiece of City Hall life as Aguirre aggressively
pursues a rollback of a decade's worth of employee benefit boosts. If he
succeeds, all MEA members could see their future pension checks
chopped down considerably.
Then there's a third party: those white-collar city workers who want
nothing to do with the union or its politics, saying they don't get much for
"I don’t want to be a part of it anyway," said Keith Strehle, an employee in
the Wastewater Department, "whether Linda French or anyone else is
French v. Italiano
French criticizes the pension underfunding that set off much of the city's
unrest and is a key culprit in a pension deficit that's estimated to be $1.4
billion. She says the action, which required union acquiescence,
damaged the credibility of city workers.
However, she agrees with Italiano on one point: Both defend the
challenged legality of employee's retirement benefits. Both vow to protect
"What’s done is done, and now we’ve got to move on with it," French
said. "Rolling them back is going to be a big mistake for everyone."
French blames those mistakes in part on Torres, who is one of six city
employees facing criminal conflict-of-interest charges, accused of
underfunding the city’s pension system in exchange for increasing
benefits of employees -- including his own. Torres served on the pension
board when it approved a controversial 2002 pension funding agreement.
Recently, she highlighted Torres’ pending court battle by posting a note
on her website titled “Kroll Report Details Misconduct of John Torres and
Others that Lead to Financial Crisis.”
The message takes excerpts from the 18-month investigation into City
Hall that she says implicate Torres in violating state conflict of interest
laws in the underfunding of the city’s pension system. She also cites a
section that defends the legality of the benefits.
"According to the Kroll Report, we will be able to retain our pension
benefits," she goes on to say, "not because of our leadership but despite
Italiano too has long been a leading voice in the fight to maintain the
pension benefits. She frequently spars with Aguirre over the legality of
the benefits and says that it is in the best interest of employees to
support someone for office who runs on an original platform, rather than
simply attacking their opponents.
French’s campaign calls into question Italiano’s leadership and integrity,
saying she is the root of the union’s problems, and that she is the puppet
master that pulls the strings of President John Torres.
Italiano has also faced accusations of nepotism this year for using the
union to employ her family members. Her husband, Jeff Carr and brother-
in-law Brian Balla both work in MEA’s labor relations office. Her grandson,
Ryan McWilliams also works for MEA, doing what spokesperson Cathleen
Higgins described as "grunt work."
Italiano says that French is launching an attack campaign with no real
platform other than cutting down the current leaders of the organization.
"I don’t want to respond to [the criticisms] because they’re a bunch of
garbage, half-truths and lies that are really damaging to this
organization," Italiano said. "What she’s doing is tearing down the line of
defense that most employees rely on. She’s damaging the very
organization she says she wants to protect."
Meanwhile, Italiano said that French’s campaign against Torres may be a
bit premature. He has not yet announced his candidacy for office, and
Italiano said he may not do so.
"I don’t know that John Torres is going to run," Italiano said. "He’s been
talking to people to see if it’s right.
“Linda has already come out in the worst kind of betrayal possible by
throwing John’s reality of his trial out and trying to discredit him. It’s not
working. Many of the employees see him as the martyr for their
Not My Union
Every time Ed Harris gets a paycheck, he looks at it and sees
deductions. Most of them he doesn’t mind paying -- its part of his duty as
an American and a San Diegan.
Federal income tax and Social Security -- no problem. State income tax
and Medicare -- all in a day’s work. Municipal Employee Association
dues? "I’m pissed," Harris said. "Because I just paid for a service that isn’t
Harris is one city employee who doesn’t mind going on the record to
speak out against the more than-6,000 member union and its current
Since 2004, all city employees have been required by state law to pay
union fees whether they chose to be a member or not. Many of the
employees, such as Harris, opt to become voluntary members, meaning
they pay about $1.50 more per period than involuntary members and
receive the right to vote and attend MEA events. He said he still pays the
fee simply for the right to vote.
Harris wants to see French in office because he thinks that Italiano and
Torres have damaged the credibility of his union. "The citizens of San
Diego need to see that the union is making a change in order to regain
their support," he said.
Still, some employees, such as Strehle, who has worked in the city’s
Wastewater Department for more than a decade, don’t care who leads
their union and don’t want to be a part of the MEA in the first place.
"I call it extortion," Strehle said of the requirement to pay union fees. "And
I’ve told them that."
Employees such as Strehle have $18.16 deducted from their biweekly
paycheck. Voluntary members such as Harris pay $19.64.
Italiano recognizes that some employees in the union are upset. She
blames the union's infighting on people like Aguirre, who has led the
charge to have the workers’ benefits rolled back.
"I think he’s set a tone for our city that isn't the kindest and gentlest,"
Italiano said. "I think that has now trickled down into our union."
Strehle is not fazed by Aguirre’s attempts to have the benefit boosts
undone, however, and says it's all part of normal court proceedings.
"I think that if the court rules that they’re illegal, then so be it," Strehle
said. "I don’t think that’s going to happen because of the repercussions
of the litigation, they’re just going to let it slide.
"I guess I kind of shoot myself in the foot by saying that. Maybe I’m a little
too loyal to the cause of the city. But, at some point, people should be
willing to give a little back. Maybe that’s a little too noble, but that’s just
how I feel."
Attorney Ann M. Smith
Michael Zucchet, a former city councilman who has been
consulting for MEA, is acting as general manager while the
organization seeks a permanent replacement.
Ruiz said Italiano received no severance pay as part of her departure and was not
fired because she resigned before the investigation was finished. Italiano will also
keep a car the union bought for her, which Zucchet said was not a company car and
was given to Italiano previously as part of her compensation.
Linda French, who brought many of the allegations to light when she
campaigned for MEA president in 2006, believes board members are
also culpable for wasting hard-earned member dues.
"I look at them as an accessory after the fact, and that's what we've
been talking about all along," she said.
This month, French filed a lawsuit seeking to remove Italiano as MEA's
general manager. The other plaintiff was Ed Harris, who is leading a
push to remove the lifeguards from MEA and join the Teamsters. Harris
said he felt MEA's announcement vindicated his concerns and hoped
that prosecutors who have previously been referred evidence of
Italiano's deeds would now file charges against her.
In September 2006, a confidential investigation by Aguirre, recently
obtained by voiceofsandiego.org, detailed allegations against Italiano,
in which former employees said Italiano had used MEA funds for
personal loans to her relatives and staff, used union money to buy
property and funded trips to Las Vegas and the races.
Bud Simpson, a former MEA employee who now lives in Idaho, was
among those questioned for Aguirre's report, which was reportedly sent
to the District Attorney's Office and the state attorney general but never
resulted in charges.
In an interview earlier this month, Simpson told voiceofsandiego.org that
the MEA office staff went to Las Vegas for his birthday and frequently
made trips for others' birthdays. He said Italiano's power within the
organization allowed her to misuse cards with impunity.
"Judie pretty much had the board of directors eating out of her
hand," Simpson said. "She's done a pretty good job for them
and, as a result, she makes sure she has the executive
Simpson added that the general membership didn't appear to
care. "Just as long as you take care of us, we'll forgive minor
indiscretions," he said.
Simpson was fired in 2003, a move he said made way for Italiano to hire
her husband, Jeff Carr. Ruiz said there's no cause to terminate Carr
because he's not accused of wrongdoing but said the organization is
"coming to an agreement" on terms of his separation from MEA.
Likewise, Ruiz said there's no cause to end the union's relationship with
Italiano's son, who will continue to provide health benefits to members...
Shortly before Italiano resigned, MEA
members Linda French and Ed Harris filed
a lawsuit against her.
|San Diego Education Report
July 27, 2012
A city employees' labor
union on Friday urged a
judge to put a
overhaul on hold while it
hammers out details of
retirement plan for new
Ann Smith, an attorney
for the San Diego
Association, asked for
a delay that would last
only until the city and its
unions could work out
details of the new plan,
which will apply to all
new hires except police
officers. She predicted a
deal could be approved
by the City Council as
early as late October.
A delay of a few months
seems unlikely to
seriously threaten the
pension overhaul, but
City Attorney Jan
Goldsmith urged that it
take effect immediately
secretary of state
certifies the election
results, which is
expected next month. He
raised the prospect of a
hiring freeze if the city is
blocked from putting the
plan into effect.
San Diego Superior
Court Judge Luis Vargas
made no ruling after
nearly two hours of
arguments. He plans to
issue a written decision
The June ballot measure
passed by a 2-to-1
margin, and a similar
initiative in San Jose
also scored a lopsided
victory. The votes in
California's second- and
seeking to cut pension
payments in state
capitols and city halls
across the nation.
Nearly 116,000 San
Diego voters signed
petitions to get the
measure on the ballot. It
imposes a six-year
freeze on pay levels
used to determine
pension benefits unless
a two-thirds majority of
the City Council votes to
override it, and it
requires the 401(k)-style
plans for new hires.
"It is a classic
constitutional exercise of
the initiative process,"
Goldsmith told the judge.
The labor union attorney
did not ask the judge to
delay the measure while
it wages a broad legal
Board sued the city in
February after unions
complained to the board
of unfair labor practices.
The unions contend
Mayor Jerry Sanders
and other city officials
circumvented state labor
law by failing to consult
them before putting the
question to voters. They
say the mayor, as the
city's lead negotiator,
was required to go first
to the negotiating table.
Sanders, who attended
Friday's hearing, has
said he was exercising
his First Amendment
rights as a private citizen
when he advocated for
analyst estimates the
freeze on "pensionable
pay" will save the city
$963 million over 30
years. The switch to
401(k)-style plans is
expected to cost $13
million, although it would
shift the risk of
investment losses from
taxpayers to employees.
The San Jose measure
would force current
police officers and
firefighters, to pay much
more toward their
retirements or accept
lower benefits. New hires
would receive less
Unions representing San
Jose police officers and
firefighters claimed in
lawsuits filed last month
in state court that the
measure violates their
San Diego and San
Jose, like many states
and cities, have
struggled to maintain
basic services as
pension obligations have
What Ann Smith is
doing in 2012: