On Mandates And Phony “People v. Special Interests” Narratives

The ballot counting is virtually done. Let’s take another look at the Anaheim city council results and consider what they mean.



The most obvious consequence, of course, is that Mayor Tom Tait has, on his third try, secured an ostensible majority on the city council – due to narrow wins by two of his four candidates: Denise Barnes in District 1 and Jose F. Moreno in District 3.

Naturally, Team Tait acolytes are hailing this as a victory for “the people” against “the special interests.” Some even try to present it as some sort of mandate from “the people” – reflecting their proclivity for attaching the sobriquet “The People’s ______” to their preferred political outcomes. Neither is the case.

With the partial exception of District 1, this was contest between two opposing coalitions of political interests.  Any attempt to portray the Tait Slate wins as representative of a victory for “the people” melts upon closer examination.

The highest vote share achieved by any Tait Slate candidate was Jose Moreno’s 36%; were the other 67% voting for “the special interests”? Are two-thirds of District 3 voters and three-quarters of District 1 votes not “the people”? Of course not. Activists and gadflies peddling the “it’s now the People’s Council” line are functioning as propagandists.

Compare Moreno’s vote share to the 42% garnered by Lucille Kring and Steve Faessel in their respective contests.

In terms of raw votes, Team Tait candidates received a collective 16,937 votes – that’s only 12% of the Anaheim electorate and fewer than the 19,205 votes earned by the business-public safety coalition candidates. In a city with 139,584 voters, can either total be said to represent a city-wide mandate? Is that even possible in the era of by-district elections.

Can Denise Barnes be said to have any kind of mandate when 73% of her constituents opted to vote for someone else? [And this would have applied to Steve Chavez Lodge or Leonard Lahtinen had they been the winners by the same margin.]

If anything, these results – especially in Districts 1 and 3 – make the case for implementing a run-off system to ensure each council district is represented by a councilmember for whom at least have the participating citizens voted.

What is certain is the balance of power on the council has swung toward Mayor Tom Tait – a majority of the council are his allies. So what does that mean?

The mayor talks about reducing regulations – but this assumes he needed this new council majority to do so when in truth he has always had the votes on council to accomplish that goal. Councilmembers Kris Murray and Gail Eastman were both strong supporters of his Regulatory Reform Task Force initiative – and Tait tried hard to defeat them for re-election (and succeeded in Eastman’s case).

The new council majority can certainly repeal the Hotel Incentive Policy – primarily a symbolic victory as it is unclear if any additional developers were planning to apply.

Any attempt by the Tait majority to renege on existing agreements approved under the Hotel Incentive Policy would likely embroil the city in very expensive litigation with a murky chance of prevailing. It’s worth remembering that Mayor Tait and his allies frequently cited high litigation costs when urging capitulation in the California Voting Rights Act lawsuit filed by Moreno and the ACLU. Shouldn’t argue against precipitate action here? Or do costs only matter when useful for undermining policies one opposes?

It’s also unclear how such a vote would go down. Would Jose Moreno vote to repeal the TOT tax rebate agreement with Disney – and thereby costing his UNITE-HERE Local 11 allies all that dues revenue from hundreds of new members? Furthermore, it would be inconsistent to repeal the Wincome Group agreements while leaving Disney’s in place – unless Moreno isn’t really opposed to the Hotel Incentive Policy in principle, but merely opposed to approving such deals with including a “labor peace” agreement.

There’s talk about going after the gate tax (de facto) moratorium. Good luck with that one. Disney and the Anaheim City Council entered into a contractual agreement in good faith – and Disney is keeping its end of the bargain. Does anyone really think the new Tait majority would be able to pull off a double-cross like that – based on a goofy interpretation of the city charter – without being flambéed in court?

Like Robespierrists at the height of the French Revolution, there’s also murmurings of marching counter-revolutionaries to the guillotine – beginning with City Manager Paul Emery.

Emery’s transgression: not “sharing” Mayor Tait’s “vision for the city [of] creating a culture of kindness…and focusing on the community.” Let’s suppose Emery is terminated for insufficient fealty to Mayor Tait’s personal vision. Two years from now, when a new mayor takes the oath of office, does he or she get to pick another city manager who shares whatever his or her “vision” for Anaheim is? Is the mayor a strong man whose personal vision trumps those of individual councilmembers?

City manager’s aren’t policy makers; they’re managers who implement the policy set by the council. Is it reasonable to think Paul Emery would refuse to implement whatever future policies are adopted by the council? Does Anaheim really need its fifth city manager in five years? I don’t recall any Tait Slate candidate asking voters to elect them so they could fire the city manager. This smacks of vengeance, not good governance.


  1. Matt, in the city of kindness getting hopped up on Meth, stealing a car, running from the cops then shooting at them when the catch you, is OK. In fact it’s liscense to run for office.

    In the city of kindness, “A man of the people”stands by silently while his sister gets BEATEN, TORTURED AND ABUSED, then asks for leinancy for the accused. That allows him some strange right to run for office.

    In the city of kindness, the mayors wife rails on about the sins of homosexuality while recruiting the most aggressive anti-equality forces.

    In the city of kindness, 1,000 men, women and children live in tents along the Santa Ana river, starving, freezing and homeless. Allthewhile the “kind” mayor claims the city limit is the center point of the river and the homeless are Orange’s problem.

    How kind.

    • Brad when has Julie Tait spoken about the sins of homosexuality? My husband and I count here as a friend and have never heard anything anti-LGBT.

      • I never heard of that either Jason, and I know her well. I don’t think Jeff has ever heard of anything like that from Julie either. It’s some urban legend the kleptos have come up with that gains credibility in their little clique with repetition.

  2. We can thank the once a majority of kring ,brandman and murray who paid more attention to helping themselfves and their “friends” than to helping the residents they serve. The now majority will be put to the test but at least they can try to be kind, unlike the now SILENT majority who were in no way kind. We can only hope kring draws the short straw. What will be nice is to sit and watch murray, and kring be the lame ducks. Exactly what they deserve1

  3. West Anaheim is still waiting for help. Not one physical change has happened yet that anyone can see. What a shame to see it get worse, and council enjoying every catered, priveledged, benefit. Everyone watches everything they will do. And we will hold EVERYONE accountable, as it is their job to fix the past mistakes and better our community….WEST ANAHEIM.
    They ran for that job, so go on, PROVE TO US YOU MEAN IT. WE ARE WATCHING.

  4. West Anaheim suffers from bad development decisions in the 70s and 80s. The council over the past few years has funded programs to eradicate slum conditions in rental property with more than 20,000 units cleaned up in the past two years in west Anaheim. They’ve also approved the Beach Blvd specific plan which will improve businesses and landscaping thoughtout the corridor. There have been park upgrades, major improvements in graffiti abatement and increases in public safety. The constant drum of attacks on the city and council are just false and more economic development is coming similar to the successful programs downtown. These negative comments are demoralizing to city staff who are working every day to serve residents east to west. Now that the election is over could this possibly stop for awhile?

    • It will stop when those elected to serve the people do just that, serve the people. The negative comments are out of frustration that they are not being served. Many in South Anaheim feel the same way, unhappy with the decisions made by those entrusted to serve in our best interest.

  5. What decisions do you oppose – increasing police and fire, opening new city parks and community centers, expanding library hours, eliminating graffiti, balancing the city budget, paving streets, keeping power and water rates low??? This negativity doesn’t hold water when you talk about the facts. If you don’t like the city’s economic programs they were put in place by Tait and his colleagues when he was on the council in the 90s. All of the dogma you are throwing at the current council was actually started by him so give us all a break.

    • One doesn’t need to look hard to see the obvoous difference in the west from the downtown area. Please note one obvious, physical, finished change you can see, with your eyes, here in westside. Please do not mention the parks, that was Disney. Name one finished job! Any new construction?? New FINISHED improvement??? Name one. One! It has nothing to do with elections, it’s just westside has a reputation for being last on the list in Anaheim.
      Always has.
      We will be happy when we can walk around at night again. And in many places, daytime.

      • Good points West Anaheimer. It is also interesting to note that while Denise Barnes ran a campaign that was anti Disney, she was working at the Disney Park events all summer raising money for WAND. How hypocritical.
        She is also going around asking various residents to help mentor her because she doesn’t know what she is doing. This is who Tait hand picked for council?
        Let’s hope she picks the 2 year seat. Even that will be torture.

  6. I’m not as experienced a spinner as Matt, but here’s my spin, and I think it’s got a good point to it: When one side is outspent TWELVE TO ONE (and also has their base cut into by fake candidates like Joe Moreno, Linda Lobatos, and Jennifer Rivera) and they STILL win, to me that’s not landslide territory, but it IS Mandate Territory.

    • that belonged on a different story, if you don’t mind deleting it

    • Don’t sell yourself short, Vern: that is some tremendous spinning on your part. There’s no mandate in winning with 37% and a margin of 70-plus votes. Or with 27% of the vote. None.

      Furthermore, your disingenuous attempt to dismiss Lobatos and Joe Moreno and Rivera as “fake” candidates is laughable? A candidate is fake if you find their presence on the ballot inconvenient? I’m sure you have some cooked-up explanation of what a fake” candidate is: feel free to share it.

  7. Yes. Fake candidates. Jennifer does it every time. Jennifer and Jojo made it to ZERO forums, Linda made it to one. Nobody knows what any of them stand for. It’s the height of disingenuousness to pretend they’re there for any reason but to bleed votes from low-info Latinos. But go ahead, keep that pretense up.

    • So, Jennifer Rivera and Joe Moreno exercise their constitutional right to run for office, and you yell “fake!” because they didn’t go to any candidate forums. So what? Attending candidate forums doesn’t make one a “real” candidate. According to that reasoning, candidates who skip forums – for example, Denise Barnes or Jose Moreno – become less “real” and more “fake” as a result. Angle Van Stark and Freddie Fitzgerald went to every candidate forum, and their combined vote total in District 1 was less than either Lobatos or Rivera. The hard truth, Vern, is that candidate forums are usually a waste of time (and primarily an opportunity to commit gaffes – ask Mark Lopez). For example, do you think there were more half-a-dozen undecided voters at the October 24 candidate forum organized by lefty groups (and packed with Moreno Youth activists, courtesy of the AUHSD)?

      Jennifer Rivera put up banner signs (just like your wife did) and it’s my understanding Joe Moreno walked precincts (just like your wife did). But somehow you’ve been endowed with the power and wisdom to write them off as “fake” because you’re upset they ran at all.

      news flash for you, Vern: ordinary people with no chance to be elected run for office all the time. They often spend no money and do nothing but put their name on the ballot. That doesn’t make them “fake.”

      Furthermore, what is disingenuous is for you to pretend you know Jennifer Rivera or Linda Lobatos or Joe Moreno ran at all. This was Lobatos second run for local elected office. In my experience, activists like her run not because they necessarily think they’ll win, but because it’s their way of getting their voice heard – and it’s a bonus if they’re actually elected. I’m guessing opposition to Jose F. Moreno was probably at least part of her motivation; you and your comrades think he walks water, but there are quite a few people – regular people – in Anaheim who don’t share in your adoration.

      Finally – it’s revealing you believe Jose F. Moreno voters to be “low-info Latinos.”

    • did you just insult Latino voters Vern? Low info? I think you did and owe them an apology

  8. PS. Outspent TWELVE TO ONE. And won!

  9. I saw one sign for Joe Moreno towards the end and never saw him walking District 4

  10. No but I live in District 4 and am active in my community. One sign, no one I know got a knock on their door, not one mailer or call.

  11. Without A Promise

    I am not certain that there will be any difference. Despite all the bluster. The newly elected council still has to govern.

    We know how that works despite the dellusions.

  12. joe moreno was a fake candidate and should be ashamed

  13. LowInformationLatinoVotet

    Don’t forget to come to the swearing in ceremony on January 13 says Dr. Jose Moreno details matter

  14. Dr. Jose Moreno will be sworn in on December 13, 2016 this Tuesday. That is why the council needs to push this matter on Euclid and Cerritos to a special Monday meeting because Jose and the other new council members may not vote the way the developer needs or has been promised.

  15. The property known as Tom’s Farms never went up for sale. Somehow a developer has bought the property, let it go, and now the city council will step in and vote to develop it and change the zoning, because the property is seedy and in dire need of development. This is the same story as on Cerritos. But, somehow the same thing always happens, no matter what the people want or is best for them the council votes in favor of the developer…look who is on the planning commission and council. We will see who lucille kring serves if she passes this.

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