Tait Nominates CATER Member for City Commission; Leos for Council Again?

Anaheim Insider here.

Last week, Mayor Tom Tait tried and failed to convince his City Council colleagues to increase his council assistant budget from $60,000 to $100,000 a year. It was a long, contentious discussion. Tait’s council assistant, Mishal Montgomery, is the only council assistant who is vested in the CALPERS retirement system. Consequently, employing her under those circumstances is much costlier than for the other councilmembers’ assistants, who are either independent contractors or do not participate in CALPERS.

TheLiberalOC.com’s Dan Chmielewski published his thoughts on the matter:

Tait held up slides of other cities thoughout California with what the staff levels and mayoral budgets were, but failed to mention these cities have a “strong mayor” model and are not professionally managed like Anaheim is.  He would have been better off using nearby Santa Ana as a model since that city is almost identical in size to Anaheim and has a city manager form of government with the Mayor holding some ceremonial responsibilities.

Montgomery’s quandary is to take home a larger paycheck or contribute money to her pension.

But if Tait really feels Montgomery is underpaid, he has some options:

1. He can pay her from leftover campaign funds.  It’s not illegal or unethical. But Tait would prefer to do this with other people’s money — mainly the taxpayers.

2. He could have the Tait family trust write her checks to supplement her earnings while Montgomery maximizes her pension.

3.  Tait could offer Montgomery a job with his family business at any salary he wants.

4.  Tait could launch a “GoFundMe” page and encourage people in Anaheim to contribute to Montgomery’s paycheck.  I’m sure every member of CATER will make a generous contribution.

This is only part of Dan’s post, which is actually much longer and covers the gap between the Mayor’s pension reform rhetoric and his actions to protect his assistant’s pension.

Tait Pushes CATER Member Brian Chuchua for Budget Commission Slots

Chuchua Quirk-Silva TV adThis week, the City Council had to fill two vacancies on the Budget, Investment and
Technology Commission. According to the staff report, this commission “acts as an advisory body to the City Council in matters pertaining to the short and long range financial planning and funding of City activities, the investment of City funds invested by the City Treasurer, and the use of information technology that will assist in the accomplishment of the City’s goals and objectives.”

For the first vacancy, Councilmember Lucille Kring nominated Dale Laizure, Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray nominated Danny Fura(sp?) and Tait nominated Brian Chuchua.

Chuchua is a devoted follower of Mayor Tait and one of three known members of CATER, which has been costing Anaheim taxapyers hundreds of thousands of dollars with a failed lawsuit against the Convention Center expansion, and a soon-to-fail lawsuit against the now-expired negotiation MOU with the Angels. Chuchua also supports the city imposing a “gate” tax on entry into Disneyland, Angel Stadium and the Honda Center.  An interesting choice to advise the city on city finances and funding.

Tait and Councilmenber James Vanderbilt voted for Chuchua, but the other three councilmembers abstained (the custom for councilmembers opposed to a nomination is to abstain rather than be impolite and vote “no”).  Fura(sp?) recieved the votes of all four councilmembers with Tait abstaining (but later making it unanimous).

Tait again nominated Chuchua for the second vacancy, and Councilmember Jordan Brandman nominated Steve Martinez.

Once again, only Tait and Vanderbilt voted for Chuchua. Following that vote, Martinez was appointed unanimously.

It Looks Like John Leos Will Make A Third Run For City Council

Two-time council candidate John Leos recently told a source he is going to run for City Council in 2016.

leos-and-tait-with-no-on-321 - CopyLeos ran in 2010 and 2012. He is on the Board of Directors of the Orange County Employees Association, the public employee union that represents Anaheim city employees though its affiliate, the Anaheim Municipal Employees Association. The OCEA spent a combined total of about $600,000 on behalf of Leos in 2010 and 2012, and he was part of Team Tait in 2012.

Leos was an active supporter liberal Democrat Jose F. Moreno’s council campaign last year. He and Moreno were both steamed about Kris Murray’s poposed charter amendment to require a 2/3 majority vote of the City Council in order to place a tax increase on the ballot. If adopted, Murray’s “Anaheim Taxpayer Protection Act” would make it harder to Leos and Moreno (if one or both are elected to City Council in the future) to increase taxes.

Leos lives in south Anaheim near the 57 Freeway , and would presumably run in whichever council district that includes his neighborhood.  One question is whether he’ll again have Tait’s endorsement and the support of the OCEA’s deep pockets.

27 comments

  1. Ah, the “gate tax” issue. Would you clarify as to whether you lobby for Disneyland?

    Keep talking about the bond lawsuit. It takes a while for it to sink in with people that the city wants to be able to spend a half billion dollars of taxpayer money through a cut-out organization composed of the City Council itself without the proposal ever having to go before the voters. Speaking for CATER, we appreciate your efforts in getting out that word as to what financial chicanery we were trying to stop.

    And yes, 3-2 majority is 3-2. Big news there.

    • If you haven’t figured out that Tait is a disaster for this city, then you are willfully not paying attention.

    • Who would pay a gate tax, Greg? Disney? Or ticket purchasers? If you think it is the former, proceed immediately to a remedial economic course. Of course, it is the latter. Disney would merely collect the tax for the city, as any vendor subject to a sales tax does. If you favor taxing all those families already paying a significant sum to enjoy the park, then just say so.

      • A $1 surcharge on a $99 ticket, prior to their spending maybe another $100 on food and souvenirs? Yes, that would clearly break them. The 6.5% state gate tax at Disney World in Florida is why no one goes there anymore. And those poor consumers, sent into penury by an additional dollar!

        So lucky that Kris Murray is there to protect visitors from regressive taxation! (She’s NEVER going to live that one down!)

        • Dan Chmielewski

          Disneyworld attendance increased from 17.5 million in 2012 to 18.5 million in 2013.

          • Dan Chmielewski

            It’s a cinch Greg won’t have to pay a gate tax. thats an expensive ticket and he needs that money for another ballot statement in a race he has no prayer to win

  2. Funny, the voters of Anaheim didn’t seem to agree with you Jack.

    • Incumbents who are popular and seeking re-election against weak opponents increase their voter share from the previous election. Tait did the opposite, getting fewer votes, both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the vote.

      If positions had been reversed, with a Councilman Tait challenging a Mayor Kring, the outcome would have been about the same.

      • When did you realize that Kring and Galloway were weak opponents? Did Matt scrub all of your (plural) “Tait’s in Trouble!!” predictions from the site?

      • That’s ridiculous.

        It’s so ridiculous, only a completely anonymous person would even attempt to pass it off as the truth.

        • Tait 2010: 33,340 votes for 54.4% of the vote.

          Tait 2014: 24,116 votes for 53.4% of the vote.

          Not ridiculous, Ryan. True.

          • I see you didn’t do well in math.

            2010, 3 party race. 2014, 4 party race.

            2014 had 33% more ways to split a vote than 2010. That’s significant.

            Your conclusion ignores a well financed candidate from the same party as the incumbent mayor. Why you’re choosing to ignore that isn’t exactly hard to guess.

            Again, ridiculous. But keep at it.

            Incidentally, since you bring it up, Tom Tait absolutely destroyed Lucille Kring in November.

            De.

            Stroyed.

  3. WAIT! We only get smacked for the hundreds of thousands in legal fees on the Convention Center heist? Greg, these guys totally missed the TEN MILLION to Turner Construction for construction delays. Seriously, if you are going to make us the villains, can we go big? Go ask Kevin Dow about what CATER cost the City….go ahead. I will wait here…

  4. Cynthia Ward is deranged. The courts dismiss the frivolous claims she brings forward delaying construction and then she blames the contractor for escalation of costs for delays she causes? What’s most disturbing is the “only” comment when trying to make everyone overlook the hundreds of thousands she cost Anaheim taxpayers.

    • The Court never determined them to be frivolous. The court simply accepted a legal theory so bold and ambitious — that a city council can vote to create a separate entity composed of themselves, then join with that second entity to create a third entity (also run entiely by themselves) which is not bound by the City Charter, then put on the hats of that separate entity and commit the city to a half billion dollars of borrowing that commits their general fund without the popular vote that would be required if the city council did it by themselves — that it has somehow chosen never to explain it clearly to the Anaheim electorate.

      And you consider our opposing that crazy and evasive scheme to have been FRIVOLOUS? No wonder you don’t write under your own name!

      • “The court simply accepted a legal theory so bold and ambitious…”

        It’s a bit more than a “legal theory,” Greg. It’s been litigated and the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of it. Were you ignorant of the Rider decision when you embarked on this wasteful errand? You talk as if Anaheim’s legal team invented this public financing mechanism out of thin air. Little wonder you are faring so poorly in court.

        • I don’t consider Rider to have been on-point with the extreme extrapolation of it that Anaheim promoted, One Who Thinks He Knows. When the San Diego appeal gets to the Supreme Court, we’ll see who’s right.

          By the way, since you invoke Rider — are you an attorney or some type of trained parrot?

          • Neither, Greg. It isn’t difficult to learn about the Rider decision with a little research on the subject.

  5. Really? And Anaheim tells us here in West Anaheim we don’t have the money to improve our area of the city?
    Thanks.

    A small vine was requested to hide our graffiti….and denied…but I can see your priorities.

  6. j,

    I was not blaming the contractor, I was pointing out that since I was being blamed for every sin against humanity short of global warming this blog had somehow missed the 10 million the City Attorney also blamed us for. Way more to that story to come later. Not only would I NOT blame the contractor, I would say Turner has been one of the more sane and stabilizing influences in this entire train wreck.

    I am genuinely sorry that City Hall has made West Anaheim such a low priority for decades, I grew up in West Anaheim and it makes me very sad to drive through the areas of my childhood and see how poorly maintained sections have become. Believe it or not that is WHY CATER fights so hard against the crony capitalism, if we cannot afford some vines to prevent graffiti how are we supposed to support basic service levels when the bond payments come due? We have existing bonds with balloon payments coming due soon, payments that do not show up in the City staff’s reports on our financial positions when promoting more spending. We have to figure out how to cover those escalating costs pretty quickly. In addition, the bonds just funded for the Convention Center (and a lot of them before this) are not revenue bonds, they do not have a specific revenue stream to protect the General Fund from down years in the economy, those payments will come from our General Fund no matter how badly tourism may tank. Anyone remember post 9-11 Anaheim? We were also running a deficit again in the recession years at the end of Pringle’s administration. So we cannot say the money is always there. What are we going to cut from the already to-the-bone budget that cannot fund even basic costs like vines in order to cover even higher bond payments?

    BTW contact me directly, I can be found easily online (I clearly cannot contact you to make the offer as I have no idea who you might be) I will look into getting some vines donated for you without the City. In central Anaheim we shoulder a lot of our own costs and neighborhood clean ups in desperation because the City won’t, and I will try to find a source for vines if I have to donate them myself. We all need to work together and help each other to get what the neighborhoods need from City Hall because they keep diverting resources to their friends, using bogus reports to make it look like a good thing. It is infuriating, but a reality.

    So back to the CATER bond suit, City Council sat there in a public hearing insisting that bonds that were CLEARLY NOT revenue bonds, with staff admitting they came from the General Fund, were not going to be approved by voters. Then we got to court and Anaheim’s lawyers found a loophole in which judiciary interference permits City leaders to bypass compliance with the City Charter. So never mind that the taxpaying citizens of Anaheim made it clear we want input before our leaders mortgage our future, the City found a way to ignore the expressed will of the people using a loophole. That is not the same claim they made during the pubic hearing is it? Anyone believe Kring, Murray, and Brandman will sit in a Public Hearing and admit they used a loophole to get around compliance with the expressed wishes of the citizens as outlined by the City Charter? Nope, easier to claim they were revenue bonds and CATER was wrong. By the way, we have the transcript which will be posted shortly and you can see for yourselves that what the City’s lawyers argued was nowhere close to what we were told in the Public hearing.

    But please, keep blaming citizens who are tired of seeing our money misspent to help a handful of the leaders’ buddies while our neighborhoods go without something as basic as vines for graffiti abatement.

    J, my offer stands to help you get vines. Take it or not, but if not I don’t want to hear any fussing later.

  7. Cynthia, please stop acting as if you speak for the citizens of Anaheim, or any significant portion of them. You were the only Anaheim resident at the council meeting at which the Convention Center expansion package was approved who spoke against it. And you weren’t breathing fire then like you are now. You change your mind and allegiances so often that there’s little reason to give credence to your repeated Chicken Little tantrums.

  8. Watch it again, I spoke in favor of the expansion, I see the benefits of being able to have one event in session while another loads in and out. I asked to ensure that the General Fund was protected, as dictated by the City Charter, and staff and Council did their little tap dance around the truth with phrases like “minimizing risk” etc.

    You know what, the only people to speak on the subject who did not have an economic tie of some sort to the project were myself and Jose Moreno, and while you may dispute how many members we represent I guarantee between us we represent more everyday average Anaheim residents without ties to the Resort than anyone at the podium speaking in favor of it. Thanks for pointing that out.

    So where was the outpouring of support for this project from the rest of Anaheim’s 350,00 inhabitants who were not looking for funded freebies? And why did the glossy mailer from the Chamber with Kris Murray’s smiling mug on it telling the world “I vote YES” not bother to tell those same taxpayers she says yes to blowing off the restrictions clearly in place in the City Charter to mortgage their futures without their permission? Yet despite not being told the whole truth about where the money was coming from, taxpayers STILL failed to head for City Hall that night to cheer on the project. So where is the ANAHEIM support FOR bonding our future to the tune of half a billion dollars for an improvement that even its own proponents admit DURING THE APPROVAL will be obsolete long before the bonds are paid? Lucille Kring tells us we should be planning the next soon-to-be-obsolete expansion as we break ground on this one. Not exactly a fiscally conservative pay-as-you-go platform.

    • Did you purchase your home on a pay-as-you-go basis?

      • I’m sorry– did you seriously just equate residential finance with municipal finance?

        WOW.

        One Who Knows, indeed.

    • Cynthia, I can guarantee the Average everyday Anaheim resident has no idea what CATER is and what it stands for. Have you ever been to your city’s Downtown Farmer’s market? While I was buying some produce, I asked about 20 random people, men and women, older and younger, white and Latino, “Do you know about CATER?” “Do you support CATER?” Most thought I was asking about a caterer. Not a single person knew anything about you or your group even when I brought up the Angels lease and convention center expansion.

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