Mayor Pro Tem Drama Ends With Moreno’s Appointment

moreno feat AB

The weeks-long drama over the appointment of a mayor pro tem (MPT) ended with the appointment on January 9 of controversial District 3 Councilman Jose F. Moreno. Moreno, a left-wing Democrat, is up for re-election this year, and was given the politically valuable title by three Republicans – Mayor Tom Tait and Councilmembers Denise Barnes and James Vanderbilt.

The mayor pro tem presides at council meetings in the mayor’s absence, and often represents the mayor at events which the mayor can’t or won’t attend.

Prior to the MPT vote, the council unanimously approved a rotation policy prohibiting councilmembers from serving consecutive terms as mayor pro tem in order to ensure all councilmembers have the opportunity to serve. Councilmembers Kris Murray and Lucille Kring unsuccessfully sought to limit the rotation to councilmembers who are not up for re-election, in order to take the politics out of the position. The coucnil also directed staff to bring back potential policies to address the use of the MPT title for political purposes.

Republicans Boost Leftist Democrat’s Re-Election Prospects
The mayor pro tem saga has been bubbling since December 5, when Tait unsuccessfully nominated his ally Moreno for the position. While no addressed it directly, the reality underlying the drawn-out mayor pro tem saga was some councilmembers support Moreno’s re-election while others oppose it. Appointing him mayor pro tem helps him secure another term to pursue his ambitious progressive policy agenda.

Councilmember Barnes tried to defuse that argument by contending voters know what the mayor pro tem is and isn’t, implying the appointment would have no political impact. Moreno chimed in that he and others on the dias had used appointed positions in candidate statements and ballot titles.

James Vanderbilt, the out-going mayor pro tem, took an opposite tack:

It’s pretty clear I think if you’re on the school board of the planning commission or parks and rec or what have you and you’re the president or if you serve as the clerk and you’re not the president. The term mayor pro tem – I think it’s confusing. A lot of people ask me, “what does mayor pro tem mean?” And it sounds close enough to mayor that…it doesn’t provide the same kind of truth in advertising that some of the other positions state.

Vanderbilt’s point is on target. Many voters think the mayor is in charge of City Hall in some kind of executive capacity, and by association ascribe similar power and influence to the similar sounding mayor pro tem.

The vote itself unfolded without surprise. Vanderbilt nominated Moreno, and was joined by Tait and Barnes. Kring voted “no” while Murray and Steve Faessel abstained. Murray nomination of Faessel was defeated on a 3-1-2 vote: Tait and Moreno abstained, while Barnes voted against Faessel.

And if there were no political value to the title, there’d be no wrangling over it. Moreno was correct in stating the council is a political body, decisions like this are political ones that play a role in the political process. It is what it is.

Which lends an air of partisan political unreality to last week’s outcome. Moreno is primus inter pares of a long, ongoing effort to build a progressive Democrat infrastructure in central Orange County – along with other hard-core progressives politicos like local school board members Al Jabbar, Ryan Ruelas, Jose Paolo Magcalas, Walter Muneton, Jackie Rodarte (also his council aide), former Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen and AUHSD Superintendent Mike Matsuda. Suing Anaheim to impose by-district elections; teacher union-funded student political groups like AnaheimBROS and CROWN; introducing Ethnic Studies classes (aka progressive activist training class) into AUSHD schools; creating a city Youth Commission and stacking it with BROS and CROWN activists; working with radical groups like the New American Leaders Project to train progressive Democrats to run for local office in OC – all of it is part of building this political infrastructure for electing leftists.

They are building a machinery to defeat Republicans, elect leftist Democrats and implement progressive policies in Orange County. Anaheim – the largest, most important city in Orange County – is the big prize. A significant chunk of Tom Steyers $30 million voter mobilization campaign will be spent in north Orange County in coordination with this nascent political machine.

And three Anaheim City Council Republicans – Tait, Vanderbilt and Barnes – lent this progressive project a hand by boosting it’s leader’s re-election prospects with the mayor pro tem appointment. It’s like the British POWs helping the Japanese Army build the Bridge on the River Kwai – minus Alec Guinness’ “What have I done?” epiphany at the end of the movie.

Will it make the difference in Moreno’s re-election? Probably not, but who knows? Moreno was only elected by 72 votes. Last year, control of the lower house of the Virginia legislature was decided by a single vote in a single district. Council elections may be non-partisan, but the political goals of Moreno and Company are not. Why would any elected Republican give aid and comfort to the leader of a movement to make progressive, LA-style politics the dominant force in Orange County government?


  1. Barnes, Tait and Vanderbilt are not republicans. You’d think they OC GOP would recognize this but they’re asleep at the wheel!

  2. Some Daze are Diamonds

    Moreno needs to apologize for adding Julio Perez to his “Welcoming City” initiative. Perez is an alleged serial sex harasser. When will the OCLF fire him? Shame on Moreno

  3. Frustrated Reader

    Ethnic Studies classes are not progressive training classes. They are integral to understanding American national identity, which is shaped by various ethnicities and cultures. It helps students of all backgrounds understand and appreciate the diversity of America. It sounds like you might need to take some of these classes.

    • I’ve seen the course proposal and syllabus for the AUHSD Ethnic Studies class. Is it necessary for students to spend a month learning how to be community organizers in order to appreciate America’s ethnic diversity? There is no lack of emphasis on racial/ethnic/cultural diversity in public education. On the contrary – it is practically a cult. Jose Magcalas’s origination of Ethnic Studies in AUSHD had and has an explicitly ideological purpose.

  4. Standing on the beach yelling at the ocean isn’t going to stop the tide coming in. The times are changing and the pace is accelerating. Better days ahead for Anaheim!

  5. When asked to vote, vote on principle not what you are told to do.

    Or get out.

    • I guess giving away public assets for private gain can be construed as a “principle.” There was a lot of that going on for five years. Lots of principle.

      • Longtime Resident

        For private gain? Are you saying that former Councilman Tom Tait gained financially when he voted for $500 million in bond financing for the resort, when he voted to establish the ticket tax exemption, or when he voted to waive sales tax for Garden Walk developer or when he voted to establish hotel giveaways for some of his family’s oldest friends? Or are you talking about how many clients his company has gained that do business in Anaheim during his time as Mayor leading to more and more recusals by the Mayor on important City business. Only one person on the council has benefited by private financial gain!

  6. OK, let’s ask the important questions and who will best fix them?

    Addressing problems like the Homeless Camps and public safety.

    Crime in General
    (and siding with the ACLU, when they publish a report that is pushed as an agenda item against the Anaheim Police Department, then admits to multiple, large mistakes in the report that drastically changes it to the city, but refuses to do so publically, does not help).

    Illegal Street Racing

    Minor crimes like thefts of homes and items like parcels, vehicle break ins, etc.

    The Coyote problem and removing the treat to humans and their pets.

    Working with businesses to develop Beach Boulevard and West Anaheim. (Based on how Anaheim Gardenwalk was treated in its Development agreement in 2017, who would sign an agreement today for Beach and Lincoln?)

    How about the money losing ARTIC and finding businesses to operate inside of it.

    Permit Parking, RV Parking, and traffic in general. Refusual to work with Disney to address the traffic mess around the resort that happens on a regular basis on Katella, Harbor and other nearby public streets. Disney proposed to build (at their own cost) a new parking structure near the I-5 to help eleviate the problem, but the city placed road blocks on the project.

    Anaheim will be a host city of the 2028 Olympics, this will bring in a lot of tourists and their money, but only if we start building more Hotels and related businesses to keep the guestsin Anaheim, and not Long Beach or downtown LA.

    I don’t see the current council doing much about theseimportant issues for Anaheim Residents.

  7. Some Daze are Diamonds

    Jose has huge stones to attend the women’s march in SanTanna. When his brother-in-law was convicted of domestic violence, Moreno asked the judge NOT to give him jail time. Moreno included his close buddy Julio Perez – now being investigated for sexually harassing female employees – Welcoming City task force. And let’s not talk about Moreno protege Victor Valladeres, another alleged wife beater. Moreno is not only silent, he supports these creeps. What a pendejo.

  8. I have been a Constitution Republican since late 70’s before Ronald Reagan ran for President. I live by what must be conveniently forgotten Republican “Preamble” of 1984 which clearly states our Republican party values and still applicable. Using that to help guide my beliefs, in my opinion the choices those 3 council members have recently made, suggests they no longer, if ever, believed in Republican values or have Anaheim’s best interest at heart.

    If you need reminding of what real Republican values and priorites are read our Preamble of 1984 here

    Clearly, key council members and the Mayor have chosen to politicize a city leadership post so a friend and obvious “progressive Democrat” (odd bedfellows) can remain politically relevant and conceivably influence Anaheim’s future, and not in a good way. That not only reflects poor judgment but signals the Mayor and his compadres have lost sight of what Republican values and prioritres mean to leadership or maybe they been masquerading. Whichever it is, in my eyes, choices like this suggest they have lost sight of being public servants that hold high the trust and responsibility voters gave them.

    Politicians. Exactly what Anaheim does NOT need driving our City Council. Anaheim citizens need to make a change. Consider J.Mac for Mayor. He’s not a politician. J.Mac is an Anaheim small business owner, a family man that lives in Anaheim but most important has a long history of Anaheim civic volunteer work and helping children in our community in hopes of making our city a better place for its culturally diverse people.


    Jose Moreno what are you doing to to get then pot dispensaries out of our neighborhoods?

  10. Pedro: Many are with you and have the same questions. Warren Higa who are you to question Pedro? Lets generate revenue APD by ticketing all those at parks that are smoking weed out in the open. Get the neighborhoods cleaned up, the parks cleaned up, the SART fully cleaned up. What is the leadership in Anaheim doing to make our quality of life – quality? Maybe they should let themselves lead with Do unto others. Meaning what they do to our neighborhoods, would they do to theirs? Don’t ask other neighborhoods to live any differently than you do.

    Clean it up and make all respect the laws as they will be enforced for all.

    • I’m the guy who is challenging “Pedro” to back up his statement about pot dispensaries in our neighborhoods with a some facts. Pedro? Pedro….?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Skip to toolbar