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
This 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 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.