Making Commission Appointments Council District-Based Is Unnecessary And Ill-Considered

Mayor Tait wants to re-structure the city’s commissions and boards so members are appointed from council districts, just as the city council is elected on a by-district basis. That way, councilmembers would control appointments from their districts to each commission and board. Those appointees would have to be residents of the district they represent (with the exception of the at-large mayor).

While there’s a superficial logic to this scheme, it’s a flawed scheme. There’s no compelling policy rationale, and no problem for which this is a solution. It’s change for the sake of change – a progressive political value, to be sure, but hardly an example of conservative governance.

For starters, this would have the effect of restricting opportunities for Anaheim citizens to serve on the city’s boards and commissions.  Generally speaking, council members will tend to appoint their political supporters. Constituents on their councilmember’s naughty list will be shut out. This dynamic would be compounded by the fact that under by-district election, Anaheim council members will rarely be elected by majorities – and often by small pluralities. In District 1, for example, 73% of the voter supported someone other than Councilwoman Denise Barnes.

The tendency will be for council members to use their appointment powers to build their political operation within their district, shutting out anyone who isn’t on “their” team. That will certainly be the case with the current majority – anyone doubting that is blind to the intensely political nature of its constituencies. This tendency would be particularly pronounced in District 3 under Councilman Jose F. Moreno. Progressive activists are keen practitioners of dictum that personnel is policy – the central Orange County’s cadre especially so.  

Not exactly in keeping with the “neighbors representing neighbors” spirit used to sell by-district elections to the voters. 

Politics are inseparable from government, but since boards and commissions aren’t policy-making bodies, limiting the intrusion of politics into their operation is a desirable thing. Districting, though, would enhance the propensity for politicization. This would be most pronounced in bodies like the Planning Commission where the temptation to engage in policy-making and parochial politicking is greatest. Will the “district prerogative” mentality seep in to Planning Commission rulings? If a an applicant’s project is in District X, is the planning commissioner from that district accorded deference by his or her colleagues? If so, is it fair to the applicant to be at the mercy of a single member (and vulnerable to the abuses to which this kind of politicization leads)?

Even its districting proponents will concede that parochialism is inherent in cities governed under by-district council election systems. Rather than extending that dynamic throughout the city’s commissions and boards, it would be preferable to leave the current at-large system in place as a counterbalance to council district parochialism. Furthermore, it would afford citizens  more opportunities for public service by denying councilmembers a choke hold on appointments from their districts.

Anaheim’s experiment in by-district governance is just a few months old, and the city council itself is still split between members elected at-large and by-district. The prudent thing is to see how this shakes out and impacts the dynamics of governing before rushing to render appointments to city boards and commissions district-based simply for the sake of doing so.

22 comments

  1. So after years Kring Murray and Brandman shutting out everyone who was not on their team you are concerned that it might come back that way in them.

    After seeing how petty and childish those three acted while in power I can understand why you might worry that they..and really you and curt would be worried that what goes around might come around.

    The people have spoken and there is a new majority. I have faith that they will govern in the service of all of Anaheim.

    Restructuring the appointed positions so there is fair representation from all parts of the city is good governance. Perhaps a blow to the power structure that has been so good ripped heavily in favor connected business owners and those that lived in Anaheim Hills.

    I know you live in Orange, but if you took a drive down around our neighborhoods you would see that we have quite a bit of diversity. And if you took the time to speak to the people in our neighborhoods you would find many honest, intelligent, capable people.

    • “I know you live in Orange, but if you took a drive down around our neighborhoods you would see that we have quite a bit of diversity.”

      I’ll respond to the rest of your comment later, Mike…but wow – way to get into the racial stereotyping there about Orange. You should try taking a drive in my very ethnically diverse neighborhood sometime, Mike. We have lots of hard-working, middle class people of all races, ethnicities, ages and backgrounds.

      • I never said anything about race or ethnicity. It appears that you are a little sensitive in that area.

        What I meant by my comment on your residence in Orange is that you are out of touch. I never see you volunteering in our community. If I ever start to stick my nose in the politics of Orange I will do more than drive by. Since your greedy little hands are all over political machine in Anaheim you should get more involved.

        • “What I meant by my comment on your residence in Orange is that you are out of touch.”

          Right. Because it follows logically that no one who lives in Orange can possibly understand what is going on in Anaheim.

          You know, Mike – when I take the short walk from my house to the Santa Ana River Trail, I often gaze across the river and wonder, “What is that strange and unknowable land that lies yonder a few hundred yards away?”

        • Best of all is I posted a reasoned and reasonable critique of the mayor’s proposed restructuring of city boards and commissions, and you respond with personal attacks while hiding behind a fake name.

          Well done.

    • Kring, Murray and Brandman are poor representations of the people they serve. I call on the LA Times to do the same expose on campaign contributions on them that was done in LA. “When obstacles arise change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.” The people have voted we have changed direction, one that is center around what is best for the people of Anaheim.

  2. Longtime Anaheim Resident

    The commenters here attacking the previous council are not making factual statements. The commission appointments have been diverse and the residents represent all areas of Anaheim. More misinformaition from bloggers attacking the city and the council. If Tait plans to gut all commissions unilaterally then he will be attacking city residents and not the people he dislikes on the council. More hate from the Mayor of Kindness!

    • Haha..I’m sure it’s not the real Mike m. Commenting above. But it’s a funny irony that matsuda is running the auhsd into the ground.

  3. this mayor has got to be stop 90 percent of people who work for the city hate the mayor heis trying to chase the angelout of anaheim his dislike for the 2 biggest employers in anaheim he is chasing both awaythe angels and disneyland who by the way were here long before the mayor live in anaheim ii came to anaheim long before mayor i move to anaheim in 1955 and still here he is only looking for money get rid of tate his time has come and gone

  4. The demand for the People’s Map says otherwise. The people were not represented by the previous council and their commission appointments, and that is why this change has happened. The council and commissions of the previous majority had their chance and the residents of Anaheim did not think they used that chance for the residents betterment so they lobbied for the People’s Map to give others a chance to serve. The people have asked Mayor Tait to change Anaheim. The residents of Anaheim changed direction to reach their goal, a better Anaheim for those who LIVE in Anaheim. Published/spoken campaign promises and voting history are facts, not misinformation.

  5. “The people were not represented by the previous council and their commission appointments..”

    OK. Just for a second, can you stop talking in meaningless generalities? Who exactly are “the people” you’re always claiming want this thing or that thing, or oppose this or support that? Honestly, you sound like a hack for the old Soviet organ Pravda.

  6. That sounds like a personal attack. “I don’t go the personal attack route, I don’t like to or need to in order to make an argument.” That sounds like a personal attack to me.

  7. The “people” are those that LIVE in Anaheim. The “people” are the residents that so wanted change that they brought about the People’s Map and the most recent election. I stand behind my opinions because they are based on fact. It appears you need to go back through the past meetings and study the voting history of the past council to see why the residents of Anaheim felt under represented. View the video and watch the people asking for this thing or that thing and then see how the council voted.

    • The people who serve on boards are residents of Anaheim. Most of the boards are not paying positions. People serve out of a desire to serve their city. Period. If the mayor wants to use his majority to remove people from boards simply for not supporting him then he’s showing his true colors.
      Look at the city website and see how few people actually apply for boards. The system now works.
      As far as representation, there are many of us who don’t feel represented by the mayor or his slate. Should we draw a new “people’s map”?

    • Hooey! I guess by your logic Howard Amanhson should not have “participated” in the system to elect a council based on personal connections with the Mayor since he doesn’t live here. Nor should any of the miryad of people that clog public comments be entitled to “participate” who also do not live here. Guess what, Anaheim, there are stakeholders in the city that are not voters in the city. And if you don’t think that to be the case, be very weary of the current majority who was supported by outsiders.

      • I agree….this is scary because Tait is closely aligned with devoted communists most notably nose moreno, than Rueles and Mike matsuda.

        I don’t get how Tait remains a Republican when his closest allies are such communists. For instance did you know Matsuda has centralized power at the district office while cutting jobs at all the schools. For the first time auhsd has been put on a budget alert by the county due to his reckless and misguided spending. Of course he has money to pay for a ridicuas law suit against our right to choose charter schools. Another cost is all the employs that are on paid administrative leave because they didn’t fall in line with his leftist ideology he exaggerated charges against him that will cost the district millions once all the lawsuits are settled.

        We can’t let Tait do to Anaheim what Matsuda has done to AUHSD. Believe me it’s a mess.

  8. “…change for the sake of change – a progressive political value, to be sure…”

    uh, what “progressive tract” did you read that in?

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