Residents are wondering what’s really behind the “Welcoming Anaheim” immigration task force, a proposal by progressive Democrat Councilman Jose F. Moreno and Mayor Tom Tait. Concerns were only heightened after a recent exchange when Councilmember Kris Murray asked for full transparency for the task force meetings – which Tait and Moreno vocally opposed.
The immigration task force is the latest in a series of city initiatives aiming to build up “social muscle” and “connection.” This one is aimed at the city’s immigrant population in order to make them feel more valued. Leaving aside whether self-esteem building is a core function of city government, the apprehension stems from Moreno’s open support for making Anaheim a sanctuary city and the overlap between sanctuary city status and being a “Welcoming City.”
For the February 7 Anaheim City Council meeting, Councilmember Kris Murray had agendized an action to apply full public transparency to the Welcoming Anaheim Task Force – including livecasting the meetings and archiving the video for viewing by residents and others unable to attend the meetings. Moreno objected and tacitly accused Murray of being a bigot, criticizing her request as “dog whistle politics.” [More about that exchange here.]
Mayor Tom Tait pushed back hard, going so far as to say it was “a mistake on my part” to have sought council creation of the task force, since that action made it subject to the Brown Act open government law. He took up Councilman James Vanderbilt’s suggestion to “un-couple” the task force from Brown Act transparency rules by repealing the original council authorization:
As it turns out, there is no item on today’s agenda to rescind the city council action authorization of the Welcoming Anaheim Task Force, and there won’t be according to several sources. Presumably the mayor and Councilman Moreno decided rescinding the council authorization so the task force could operate outside of transparency laws was not worth the negative public perception of such a course. The first Welcoming Anaheim Task Force meeting took place on February 17 (more on that later) and subsequent meetings will be publicly noticed and open to the public.