Anaheim Insider here.
It’s unusual for a City Council to oust a City Manager, especially when the normal indicators of city government health are generally positive. Anaheim’s tax revenues are up, civic improvements are being funded and moving through the pipeline, the city’s convention and tourism economy continue growing, major economic investment is taking place. Other Orange County cities would kill to be in Anaheim’s shoes.
So why is Mayor Tom Tait pushing to fire City Manager Paul Emery? He got City Manager Tom Wood fired in 2011 with no explanation. Will he and his Council majority do that to Emery and the public?
One reason cited by numerous insiders is Emery won’t soft-pedal enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance. The ordinance is overwhelmingly supported by Anaheim residents, who desire more stringent enforcement, if anything. Tait has always been a reluctant backer who has expressed support for non-enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance during cold weather so the homeless can camp in city parks. Tait’s close ally Councilman Jose F. Moreno has made no secret of his opposition to the anti-camping ordinance, either as a candidate or since his election to City Council. He stacked his homeless policy working group with homeless advocates who support repeal and subscribe to the radical view that the homeless have a constitutional right to sleep on public property.
At the June 20 City Council meeting, Mayor Tait spoke several times of his interest in creating city-sanctioned homeless encampments. He said he specifically wants the homeless policy working group to looking into it, and spoke approvingly of a plan by anti-camping ordinance opponent Nancy West’s “Al Fresco Gardens” plan for a city-sponsored homeless camp on the old Karcher property at Harbor and the 91 Freeway.
It’s becoming apparent the homeless working group is a Trojan Horse f0r accomplishing repeal of the anti-camping ordinance and building a network of city-sanctioned homeless camps around Anaheim like they have in Seattle. Having a compliant City Manager who was a creature of the Tait Majority would simplify things by making such policy changes seem staff instead of Council-driven. The Tait Majority doesn’t see Emery as their creature.
Another motive could be the quiet conflict-of-interest controversy surrounding District 1 Councilmember Denise Barnes. The California Fair Political Practices Commission fined Barnes for failing to disclose reportable income from companies owned by Disney Worldwide Services/ABC Inc. A complaint has apparently been filed with the OC District Attorney and the state Attorney General claiming she therefore had a conflict of interest prohibiting her from voting on a number of Council items.
Anaheim resident Linda Barnett sent this letter to the city yesterday asking if the City will “nullify each of the council actions where Councilowman Denise Barnes participated illegally.” That would presumably require re-agendizing those votes. Since several were decided on a 4-3 vote, abstentions by Barnes would alter the outcomes.
The character and independence of the City Manager would weigh heavily on whether that happened. And the Tait Council Majority would rather not have those items brought back for a re-vote.
If Emery is terminated, it’s an open question if the public will ever be told why since the council vote will be taken in closed session. If it happens, the Mayor and his allies owe the public an explanation.