No Conflict of Interest, Huh?

Anaheim Insider here.

The Orange County Register has picked up the issue of whether Mayor Tom Tait can and should serve on the OCTA Board of Directors since the company that he owns and runs has a $330,000 contract with OCTA. The contract runs for another 19 months, and so far OCTA has paid Tait & Associates $127,483.

It is certainly a conflict of interest when judged against the conflict standard established by the mayor himself. Maybe he’s giving himself a waiver.

It’s OK If The Contract Isn’t Too Big?
In the Register, Tait claims he can vote “fairly” as an OCTA Director, but that’s not the issue.

“If I didn’t feel I could serve fairly, I wouldn’t do it,” Tait said of his upcoming two-year term on the OCTA board.

Tait told the reporter that “It’s not a large contract.”  Does that matter? Would it be a conflict if it were for $1 million or $5 million instead? Does that mean he would not be able to vote “fairly” if the contract were bigger?

Tait still hasn’t answered the question of why it is a conflict for him to vote on OCTA-related items on the council agenda that have no financial impact at all on him or his company, but it is not a conflict to vote himself on the board of directors of a public agency that is paying him for work. He told the reporter he abstains because the City Attorney told him he should:

Tait currently abstains on any OCTA-related issue that goes before the Anaheim City Council, saying that he is avoiding a conflict-of-interest based on advice from the city attorney.

This is a disingenuous answer because Tait has always abstained from voting on items where he imagines the perception of a conflict might exist, even when there is no legal conflict, no matter who the City Attorney was. It’s his decision and his standard, not the City Attorney’s.

The Anaheim City Charter doesn’t say Anaheim city employees can serve on the City Council as long as they “abstain on anything involving” their jobs. It prohibits them from serving absolutely because it is an inherent conflict for them to have plenary authority over their jobs and over those who supervise them.

By the same token, Tait, as an OCTA Director, has authority over the staff who oversee his contract and will vote on all sort of matters directly affecting them and their jobs. What if OCTA staff to whom Tait & Associates report have a different but important item before the Board of Directors? Will Mayor Tait abstain on any matter that has any impact on any OCTA department or staff member with any connection to his contract?

If he follows the conflict-of-interest standard he established for himself years ago as an Anaheim councilmember, Tait will probably be abstaining left and right at OCTA board meetings. Or he might follow the new and different standard he has created for himself regarding OCTA.

Why Take Out Eastman?
Tom Tait still hasn’t explained why he booted Gail Eastman from the OCTA Board so he could take the spot for himself. He told the OC Register:

“I want to make sure the taxpayers’ money is spent wisely,” Tait said. “I also want to reduce commute times on our roads and freeways and increase mobility for those who don’t drive.”

Does he think Eastman didn’t want to do the same things? In the year since he voted to appoint Eastman to the OCTA, Tait never said so. He never said anything on the matter, and still hasn’t. Strange for Mayor Transparency to be so untransparent about his motives.

At the end of the day, Mayor Tait is operating under a double-standard, violating his own principles and being disingenuous about his motives.

No comments

  1. Again, it’s completely disingenuous to not include the vote.

    EXCLUDING Tait’s vote, Eastman got walloped. She wasn’t the victim of some great conspiracy; she didn’t have the support of the electorate.

    Why didn’t she have the support of the mayors?

    Well, maybe they thought she was dicking their constituents over in favor of pet projects, who knows. Oh, wait– THEY KNOW. Draft an e-mail, Insider.

    Open, shut, done.

    • Your comment doesn’t really address the point. Tait had a personal and established conflict of interest standard that he threw out the window to run against Eastman. Tait touts himself as a champion of open and transparent government, but then offers no justification as to why he would toss out his conflict of interest standard. None of that is relevant to the final vote count.

      • Has anyone who writes for this blog asked the Mayor or are we just watching an attempt to spin straw into gold here? I mean jeez, this is what– the 3rd post in two days?

        Anywho, Jack– I think the “no confidence” vote in Eastman is more of a story. It’s certainly more interesting.

        • Why do you care how often anyone posts about a topic? Your comments fix on irrelevant points no one is making, claim this is all no big deal or complain this is being discussed at all.

          • You’re one of those writers that just causes me to nod in disbelief, but that’s cool. I’m sure that’s how most people feel about me.

            Look bro (or sis), it’s the same complaint on each write up you’ve got. Ask the guy the question directly and stop framing it like it was some wild west duel. Eastman got shoved out by a substantial margin. It wasn’t trickery, chicanery, or cloak and dagger black ops– she got shellacked with a up and down vote. It wasn’t even close.

            Rather than discuss that and it’s significance, particularly since the rest of the GOP in Anaheim is more concerned with how the party is going to treat November 2014 and this is as good a barometer as any, you keep mulling around a question for public consumption that you have put absolutely zero effort into solving yourself.

            Zero calls to the city attorney, I’m sure.
            Zero calls to the three other mayors who cast a vote.
            Zero calls to the OCTA director
            Zero calls to Tate.

            All the while hiding behind a cheap veil of anonymity to support people with time, money, and power to support themselves.

        • A “no confidence” vote??? Now THAT is a claim that needs a little more research before being made. I’d be willing to bet a pretty penny most those votes were cast without knowing the first thing about Eastman or Tait, other than Tait has the title of Mayor.

          And to your other question, I think everyone here would like to hear from the Mayor on this. There have been many posts to that exact point. I hope he addresses the overriding concern we all seem to now share, agreed?

    • Mr Cantor keeps going back to the vote. The fact is that Tait only needed one vote because its the population weighted seat so when Whitacker nominated him, the vote was already decided. The Mayors who voted with him were likely doing it as a courtesy at that point two of whom had never been engaged at city selection before. Whats surprising and was more telling than the final talley was the courage of Placentia and Buena Park who voted with Gail as a show of solidarity against Taits bully politics.

  2. Sometimes in the application of kindness you have to allow people to reap what they sow.

    Did the Orange County Register ever post this Mayor’s reply to Kris Murray’s op-ed about him recently?

  3. Can somebody PLEASE file an FPPC complaint on him? This is RIDICULOUS!

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