District 1 Councilmember Denise Barnes Priority Number 1: Massive Compensation Hike For Mayor’s Assistant

Anaheim Insider here.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, rarely have so many work so hard to increase the pay of so few. Actually, just one person: Mishal Montgomery, Mayor Tait’s chief policy whisperer and hatchetman.

$87,000. All in with benefits and such, the cost of taxpayers of the newly-created “Chief Policy Advisor to the Mayor”?: a whopping $158,000.  That is almost as much  as the total compensation for the entire Anaheim City Council.

District 1 Councilmember Denise Barnes has been fighting for this hefty pay increase for Mongtomery since being sworn into office last month. It was one of the first things out of her heavily-scripted mouth at the December swearing in ceremony. Montgomery is the only council aide who is also an actual city employee; officially, she is classified as a Part Time Budget Analyst II. Barnes wants to create an entirely new full-time staff position for Montgomery.

According to the staff report:

For Fiscal Year 2016/2017, the total cost for the full-time classification is approximately $158,000 (salary and burden), which includes an increase in personnel expenses of $87,000 for the remainder of the fiscal year. Previous action has already been taken to address approximately $40,000 of the anticipated increase. The City Administration Department has identified savings in their budget to offset the increase so there is no net impact to the General Fund. The City Council budget will be increased by $47,000 with a corresponding decrease in City Administration.

Dan Chmielewski gives a run-down of Montgomery’s compensation history in her part-time position:

In 2010, Montgomery’s total pay — including pension, overtime and benefits — was $79,624.  All for part-time work.

In 2011, it was $87,123. Still part-time.

In 2012, $86,365.  Still part-time.

In 2013, it was cut to $43,987; still part-time. The difference in pay was routed to a computer training problem for Latino families in the Ponderosa neighborhood of Anaheim.

In 2014, it was $59,334 which included overtime for part-time work.

In 2015, she made $62,498, and was still part-time.  All compensation records are public and her title was Budget Analyst II.

For a Mayor and a Council majority so against to cronyism, doubling the pay of a part-time employee loyal to the Mayor is the very definition of cronyism.  But its different when Tait does it.

If approved, Montgomery’s new job will be the first and only new job created in Anaheim by the new council majority which seemingly has no plans to actually create jobs in a city that really needs them.

District 1 residents must be wondering why their nominal representative on the City Council is fixated on securing a huge pay increase for the Mayor’s assistant. Does anyone recall Barnes campaign mailers asking voters to support her so she could give the Mayor’s assistant a massive $47,000 pay hike? Barnes would never have been elected if her actual priorities were on public display for voters to see. As it was, she barely squeaked in with 27% in a large candidate field against divided opposition. Not that that has stopped her and other members of Tait’s personality cult from behaving as though Barnes won a mandate.

West Anaheimers look forward to hearing Barnes read talking points written by her handlers explaining how her unrelenting efforts to boost Montgomery’s take-home pay will trickle down to the benefit of District 1 residents. Will the self-appointed taxpayer watchogs from CATER be on hand to question this massive compensation increase for a single individual?

At least this episode demonstrates that when it comes to Mayor Tom Tait’s image as the taxpayer’s friend, the emperor has no clothes. Not only does Tait want a massive compensation increase for his council aide; at the last council meeting, he exclaimed that he needs at least two or three council aides! Why not go all the way and make the mayor a full-time position?

Will the Voice of OC weigh in with a scathing article about this cronyism? The Voice went crazy every time a supervisor’s aide got a job with a county agency. Will the Voice “hold the powerful accountable” when it comes to the obvious political payoff using taxpayer dollars?

Let’s review what Councilmember Barnes has done for District 1 so far. She attended a WAND meeting and took notes, leaving it to Councilman James Vanderbilt (who recently moved to District 2) to speak. At the last council meeting, staff prepared a report listing which parks are in District 1. And she agendized an anti-streetcar resolution that satisfies part of her master’s agenda but does nothing for District 1.

The acid test for Barnes will come when and if her council ally Jose F. Moreno brings forward a motion to repeal city ordinances prohibiting camping and storing personal property in city parks. This would turn District 1 parks into homeless camps. If Barnes intends to represent the interests of her constituents, she’ll vote no.


  1. Barnes ran a campaign stating she was a voice for district 1. What a joke! How does this benefit district 1!!!!

  2. Everyone is watching. Not one physical change has happened in West Anaheim.
    It has only gotten worse.
    We need HELP. We need change. We need to be a priority.
    Make a f****** difference for our neighborhood!
    We are watching!

  3. I can think if 5 issues right off the bat that can take priority over a pay raise. I would like to see something soon.

  4. Anaheim City Council,
    I have reviewed the council agenda for January 24, 2017 and have the following concerns:
    Item 21
    Item 21 transitions the Mayor’s part time aide position into a full time position with the title Chief Advisor. The new position brings the annual salary and burden to the city at $158,000. Under Anaheim’s City Charter 504, “the mayor shall have the same rights, privileges and powers and duties as are held by members of the City Council and shall be regarded as a member of City Council for all purposes…” This is commonly referred to as a council-manager form of government. As a member of the Charter Review Committee, we were advised that this form of municipal government was lauded as one of the most effective. During that review, there was no effort by council, staff or residents to change this style of government. Given those facts, I do not believe it is fair to extend an additional budgetary allotment to the Mayor’s seat without extending the same budgetary benefit to the other council members. If the charter agreement states all members have the same rights and privileges, then those rights should extend to budgetary allotments as well.
    Item 27
    Item 27 is a review and possible repeal of the camping and storage of personal property ordinance. As outlined in the staff report, the City of Anaheim is doing an enormous amount to try and combat the homeless crisis and extend assistance to those in need. I believe that repealing the camping ordinance will take us ten steps backward. If our goal is to end homelessness, then our policies should be geared to pulling people out of homelessness, not keeping them in it. Residents in my district have seen the negative consequences of camps in our parks and public spaces. Our parks are for recreation and should be a safe and fun spot for families and kids to play. Rescinding this policy will have a very direct and harmful impact on our neighborhoods. It took residents a long time to help clean up parks like Reid and Maxwell, why would we want to erase that progress and forfeit our use of them?
    The second component that has been discussed as part of item 27 is the concept of Safe Zones. Safe Zones do NOT work and far from safe. In nearly every city that has tried them, it has resulted in failure. All we are doing is moving the problem from the parks and flood channels to another location. Whether camping at the park or amassing tents on a public lot, the problems are identical. When you drive by Angel Stadium and see the encampments along the riverbed, does that look “safe”?
    I have and will continue to support the outreach that Anaheim offers to our homeless community. However, opening our parks, neighborhoods and business communities into a giant tent city will do more harm than good; nor will it get us any closer to solving the crisis. The US Inter agency Council on Homelessness agreed- the formation of encampments does NOT represent an end to homelessness. There are many components to solving the homeless problem, and yes, one of those is enforcement.

  5. Don’t worry, Nick Gerda at the VoiceofOC(EA) is on this story, preparing a complete expose’ of the hypocrisy, the BLATANT theft and waste of taxpayer funds, Tait’s ties to ANTI-EQUALITY mogul Howard Ahmanson and the failure of district elections in Anaheim.

  6. Well, the full time salary is great pay is it really needed? I’m sure she did a lot more than 1 actual work related job as you claim. Master degree or not these public sector jobs should be compensated hourly with minimal retirement benefits.

  7. WAresident – you got me thinking and I looked at the charter. Our charter in section 607 says that only the city manager can hire and fire employees and at the Council has no authority to direct the city manager to do that. Actually, if they try to hire they are in violation and that is against the law. In section 700 only certain city employees can be hired by the Council. Maybe the answer is that the Council cannot hire any assistants. Maybe we need to drain the swamp in order to save it. No city assistants for anyone. It seems to be against the charter. Let’s have professional staff and not political hacks help out our city.

  8. City of Boulder lists this job on Glassdoor as a salary of 57,000- 70,000 with the average being 57,000. (full- time) This took very little time to find. There is no justification for this type of salary. Crazy high

  9. Montgomery went from 62,000 and listed as a budget analyst ll to this pay hike and title? What is Tom Tait’s salary? This should not be awarded

  10. So much time is being wasted on the pay raise issue. Is a pay raise going to improve the quality of life in WA? Would be nice to see time spent on parking issues, cleaning up our parks, Motels issues along Lincoln and Beach where two murders have occurred in the last couple of months that made the news. Wasn’t that closed down motel supposed to be gone by the end of this month?

  11. I totally agree. Too much time and money. We need help in South Anaheim as well. What has been done to deserve this kind of money/title? Has it been earned? What does the mayor make in salary?

  12. Denise Barnes made a 12 item list in August of HER 12 top priorities.
    Homelessness was #11, and k-12 education was 1st, but the city council has nothing to do with that, run for school board if that’s your priority. Our district 1 representative has an obligation to address the biggest issues facing us, which is: transient population, crime and helping us get better businesses. When we do not have enough money for extra help but giving more money to ONE council aid to the amount of 158,000.00 a year just isn’t one of them. Priorities.

  13. Lyndies was supposed to be demo’d in July. JULY! If you look at how many businesses opened in downtown Anaheim since then, and compare with the help they have given us in west Anaheim, it’s obvious who gets help first. I would love for them to put that kind of energy into cleaning up the worst intersection in Anaheim (Beach and Ball), then, and only then, start looking at other areas. And increasing wages.

    Not fair!!!!
    What ever happened to integrity?

  14. how will Dr. Moreno vote? That raise would support a family of 6 in District 3

  15. What about her pension??? Dan Chmielewski at the Liberal OC posted portions of Tait’s 2015 State of the City speech in March of that year.

    It sounded like this: “This (pension reform) is an issue in almost every larger city in America and Anaheim is certainly not immune. Here in Anaheim, we have a public pension hole of more than $500 million dollars. To put this in perspective, our annual general fund budget is about half that. This matters for two significant reasons. First, money that goes into higher pension contributions is money we don’t have to serve our citizens. It’s the crowding out effect – crowding out our ability to build parks, roads, public safety and create a thriving business environment. Second, retirement benefits are guaranteed. If there’s not enough money then there’s ultimately only two ways to get it – raise taxes or cut services. This is the reality.”

    It’s not just about her salary, folks.

  16. Okay. It seems people have got a little carried away here. The total salary is not 158,000. That number is estimate on all salary, overtime, health benefits, expenses, and retirement costs.

    A salary of under 100k is in line for such a key position in one of America’s largest and most kind cities.

    • It’s not under $100k. Get a grip. We will be paying her pension for decades. Nothing but hypocrisy. Tom Tait never separates out other public employees from their pensions but we aren’t supposed to count pension funding for his personal aide and close friend. It’s all taxpayer funding people! CRONYISM from the PEOPLES COUNCIL.

  17. Then why isn’t it being offered to all aides? In the spirit of kindness and all….

  18. Was there a public process to ascertain she was the best candidate for the job?

  19. Look around west Anaheim. This is the greediest waste of time ever. We need so much help here. Another fatal stabbing on Magnolia and Ball at 2am today, people can’t find jobs, our parks and Beach blvd is in the toilet. Should Denise push for Montgomery get $158,000.00 a year? No matter how you look at it, it’s greedy, wrong, unfair, unnecessary, and its a waste of our precious, precious time giving it attention. At this point, she should be given the same amount as other aides, and Denise should fight for us, not her. PERIOD.

    • I watched that painful discussion last night from home and the city finance department is estimating the total compensation at $165,000. They also looked at other similar agencies to do some sort of comparison and said the pay she was getting was “23 percent over market rate”. Tom Tait went ballistic when members of the council including members of his “majority” asked basic personnel questions. This was straight up cronyism and nothing more. The “People’s Council” pushed it through even without a defined job description or accurate estimate on full year costs. No fiscal stewardship. No kindness.

    • The reality is the Mishal Montgomery play is coming from her and Tait. Their hands are in Barnes’ back and she moves her lips like a ventriloquist dummy. When she ever says anything, that is. You might as well put a cardboard cut-out of Barnes in that chair because she hardly contributes a thing to council deliberations.

      What I’m saying is the REAL councilmember from District 1 is Tait and Montgomery. Good luck with that.

  20. Everyone who voted her in, you had it coming, so don’t complain!

  21. Why is that there is so much hate directed at this lady? She is not reason a man got stabbed last night or to blame for the problems in seat Anaheim. God bless her for stepping forward and trying to make her community better. She is only one member that supported the mayor on this it seems that your hate is misguided

    • It’s not hate. It’s fairly directed criticism. Her job is to protect her constituents and she’s failing miserably.

      • Haha….well considering she has been in job for only a few weeks, you failing grade is not credible. Let out in a way you might understand. Ronald trump must given a failing grade too because we still have crime, debt and terrorism threats. Both leaders are taking bold action to fix problems, if after four years you still believe she has not done enough, I will listen your criticism with an open mind but at this point you are being partisan and have lost all credibility.

        • Thank you master speller for your commentary. All of the bold actions taken by Barnes have not been directed toward district 1. I have yet to see her address any problems there. So far, it’s just showing how much of a puppet she is. If that’s your definition of bold leadership, then it’s no wonder your handle is taitforgov.

  22. This is for taitforgov: when you voted Denise in, (unless this Mishal trying to defend herself) did you also say: the very first thing I want for west Anaheim in district 1 and the reason why we voted you in is so you can increase Mishal’s wage, FIRST THING, to a incredibly ridiculous amount. I didn’t think do. She should represent us, at least speak up, defend our area, stop shadowing Tait and just do her job. Even her own aid is Taits campaign mgr. Just concentrate on District 1, NOT MISHALS BANK ACCOUNT!

    • Upgrading the mayor’s assistant to fill time status will help the city function. This is a large and complex city and hiring a full time person to work for our elected leader makes sense to me. I have never met Ms. Montgomery but gather that she is hard working and efficient and will trust that that our mayor has asked for this based on what he needs and her proven competency. As for the salary her base salary is lower than most of our police officers and firemen. Once again save the harsh judgement of Mrs Barnes for at least a few more months on the job. If you are not happy with her ablity to advocate for the west side your mud might stick a little better but right now it’s rather ridiculous.

      • Are you really comparing what she does to those that put their life on the line every day?
        I’m sure she’s educated and competent. That’s not the issue. The mayor has the entire city staff at his disposal. There’s no need for this at all other than cronyism.
        My harsh judgement will continue as Barnes is not taking action to,help district 1. She’s helping her “good friend” Mishal. What’s ridiculous is that Barnes is a puppet for the mayor instead of putting the interests of her own district first.

        • The Mayor has the entire city staff at his disposal?

          I’m sorry, but that’s just flat out ridiculous. Anyone, literally anyone, who’s spent any time paying attention to Anaheim in the last five years knows the exact opposite is true.

          You didn’t have much credibility to start with, but what you had is completely gone now.

  23. Longtime Anaheim Resident

    If tait thought it was so important to make his political aide full time why didn’t he ask for it? Why did the request come from another office anyway? This whole think stinks to high heaven.

    • It stunk to high heaven when the previous majority cut Ms. Montgomery’s hours just to get at the mayor. This is such a silly politically motivated strand. The mayor of Anaheim needs a full time assistant. That’s all. Good night.

      • They didn’t cut her hours to get to the mayor. They brought all council aides into the same pay range. If mishal deserves $47 an hour, then so do the other aides with similar qualifications.

      • Longtime Anaheim Resident

        Everyone should go back and watch the tape. Tait actually says more than once that she needs this salary because she backs him up and in many cases his his representative. WTH? She is an unelected staffer – and he’s basically making her a defacto vice mayor at huge taxpayer expense. She will make more than the entire council body combined and they were elected by WE THE PEOPLE! Now tait is saying she’s also his anointed stand in. He should resign or be recalled if he’s incapable of fullfiling his duties. I can’t believe this isn’t the story. The pay is obscene but the fact that he has her serve in his stead is unconscionable and a violation of the city’s charter!

      • “The mayor of Anaheim needs a full time assistant.”

        That is your opinion. One can certainly make a legitimate case for that – and against it. Reasonable people can come to different conclusions here. But it’s one thing go from merely restoring his policy aide budget to being higher than those of councilmembers. It’s another when one of the very first uses of the mayor’s new majority is to turn that part-time spot into a newly-created, full-time city staff position. People can legitimately disagree with whether that is necessary.

  24. Where can we find salary listings for the Mayor, City Council and all aides?

  25. Mishal is going to make policy decisions when Tait’s not there. Is she superior to the city manager?

    Jose has never hired or managed anyone. She does the work of 7? Sure.

  26. I came across an article written by the California City Management Foundation that clearly spells out the difference between a Council-Manager Government and a Strong Mayor Government. Tait is not a Strong Mayor. He is on equal footing with the other members of the council with the exception of “honorary” duties. We have a City Manager who’s job it is to run the City, not Tait’s. A reasonable explanation as to why he thinks Mishal Montgomery is able to perform “his” functions and with that kind of pay is due.

  27. Tried to find Tait’s salary, must be buried I could not find it on this site. Does anyone know his salary, city council’s salary? What I did see is a lot of very well paid city employees.

    • Here it is: http://transparentcalifornia.com/salaries/search/?a=anaheim&q=mayor&y=2015

      Tait made about $24,250 in 2015. As Mayor, he has routinely voted against contracts for city workers and rails regularly about their pensions — except when it comes to Ms. Montgomery.

      My question is under what authority will Ms. Montgomery have to make decisions on behalf of the Mayor? Doesn’t this job require a change to the city council? She reports to Tait and not the city manager? Or is she appointed by Tait and is managed by the city manager?

      What’s clear here is cronyism is alive and well in Anaheim by the very people who railed against it for years. It’s not the dollar amount that’s at stake here, but the principle.

  28. In this economy, in front of everyone, and not embarrassed at all. Shameful. Greedy. Self promoting,

  29. Interesting Salary Chart from OC Register….

    Council aides
    Council aide budget, which include pay, benefits and administrative costs, through June 30:
    Mayor Tom Tait
    Full-time city employee, $125,000 for 12 months

    Mayor Pro Tem James Vanderbilt
    One part-time city employee, $71,450 for 12 months

    Council Member Kris Murray
    Two contract employees, up to $71,450 combined for
    12 months

    Council Member Denise Barnes
    One contracted employee, $41,000 for six months

    Council Member Jose F. Moreno
    Two part-time city employees, $41,620 combined for six months

    Council Member Lucille Kring

    Council Member Stephen Faessel
    Two part-time city employees, $41,620 combined for six months
    So we know that Mayor Tait got his full time policy aide.

    The make up for the other city council aides are very telling. The city council members are budgeted around $80,000 a year to spend on council aides.

    I’ve heard that the tendency is to split the money between one aide that concentrates on policy guidance and a second aide that concentrates on interfacing with residents to resolve issues within the community.

    Murray, Moreno and Faessel appear to be following that model.

    Vanderbilt has a single employee, who has been trying to manage both duties.

    I hear Kring’s assistant resigned and moved out of the area. Perhaps Kring’s looking for a replacement.

    Barnes’ single aide is Matt Holder. Holder is part of Lewis Consulting Group, a highly sought after Republican Campaign Strategy firm. That screams all policy and a very expensive hourly fee. I doubt the few hours that can be purchased with Barnes’ budge will be spent doing the grunt work of interfacing with the residents of District 1, identifying their concerns and coordinating with the different city departments to bring about resolutions.

  30. Longtime Anaheim Resident

    Well I watched the debate online again and Mayor Tait repeatedly said that the numbers staff were giving were not accurate. He said several times his staffer was only getting 10 more hours a week at $47 an hour to make her full time. That ALL he wanted was a full time aide and he deserves it as a Mayor of a large city. So if I do the math that should be 10 hours a week x $47 x 4 weeks a month x 12 months a year = $26,320. If that’s all he or she wanted how did his budget get raised to $165,000. The taxpayers need a refund or an apology for the lie he’s selling to line her pockets with our money.

  31. Gang related shooting on Ball Rd in Anaheim? Things are not getting better. How was this raise earned? Can this moeny not be put to better use?

    • Longtime Anaheim Resident

      Better use? How about an additional librarian, community services officer, or after school program coordinator for at-risk kids?? Every use would be a better use for our tax dollars. This was obscene cronyism.

  32. Moreno isfullofshit

    Tait and Barns are requesting more money for this aid because they are incompetent and depend on her to guide them. Maybe i should write up the next thing Tait will say publicly. Is that what it is. If seen mayor Tait in action and he is not very bright. This shows how he is now running the city.

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