Barnes Pushes 56% Pay Hike For Tait’s Council Assistant; And Other Hypocrisy


Anaheim Insider here. It’s been a while.

Christmas is coming early for Mishal Montgomery, Mayor Tom Tait’s policy aide and consigliere, in the form of a 56% pay increase.

Last week, in her second official act as the District 1 councilmember, Denise Barnes read from a prepared statement directing city staff to place this huge pay hike on the December 20 agenda. Her first official act was agendizing a vote to kill the streetcar project, saying her constituents don’t want it. But do District 1 voters want to boost the pay of mayor’s on-staff hatchetperson by $40,000? From $71,453 to $111,453? Is giving a six-figure salary to someone who works for one city official – the Mayor – something District 1 voters asked for or that Barnes campaigned for? No, it’s not.

The Barnes-Tait-Montgomery rationale is that Anaheim has “an at-large mayor and six council districts.” Anaheim has had an at-large mayor since 1992. The change to district elections is irrelevant to the mayor’s duties, which haven’t changed. The job is no bigger now than it was when Tait took office. It’s arguably been diminished. Barnes’ justification is just spin. If Tait’s council aide deserves to be paid $111,453 a year because he was elected city-wide, then so do the council aides of Councilmembers Kris Murray and James Vanderbilt.

Barnes’ request made plain she is Tait’s sock-puppet, an extension of his political will. It speaks volumes that her request for staff to look into more programming for District 1 parks had to wait until after she attended to Tait’s political priorities. Tait and Montgomery recruited Barnes. Montgomery actively lobbied West Anaheim activists to get on board with her campaign. ,She managed Barnes then, and manages her now.

The Mayor should have agendized this request himself; instead, he and his council aide used Barnes to do it, leaving their recruit to take any political blowback for a spending request that does nothing for District 1 residents.

Montgomery stage-managed the Tait-Barnes-Vanderbilt-Moreno agenda-packing show last Tuesday. Barnes’ request to boost Montgomery into the six-figure compensation range was part of careful pre-council meeting coordination among Team Tait. This was most laughably obvious in the case of Councilman Vanderbilt’s request to set the council-approval threshold for spending items at “$500,000.”  Vanderbilt was clear as a bell. There was no mistaking he said “five hundred thousand dollars.” But since Mayor knew that Vanderbilt was supposed to say $50,000, he pretended not to hear what everyone else did in order to prompt his council ally to say the correct amount.

What makes the difference is how badly this whole show reeks of hypocrisy. How many times have all of us heard Mayor Tait complain about major items being placed on the council agenda without (in his opinion) giving residents enough time to review? On the GardenWalk deal, on the Angels negotiation framework, on the TOT tax rebate deals with Disney and the Wincome Group. “What’s the rush?” Tait asked when the latter deals were on the agenda and he wanted the vote continued until he’d returned from a meaningless photo op at the White House.

This Tuesday, maybe Mayor Tait can explain what the rush is now? The council meets on January 10 and 24. Why can’t he wait until the holidays are over and Anaheim residents have an opportunity to focus and review his team’s over-stuffed agenda?

Those rules only apply to Tait’s opponents and policies he opposes. Heaven forbid he should follow those standards himself! So, with only a few days notice, he and his council aide schedule a bunch of major votes for the council to take up on on December 20, when Anaheimers are shopping, traveling, wrapping presents and generally having their time taken up balancing work, family and preparing for the biggest holiday of the year. Team Tait deliberately packs the council agenda with their political agenda when they know Anaheim residents aren’t paying attention. These are the same people who drone endlessly about transparency and bringing City Hall “closer to the people,” but they decide to make big changes at City Hall when the people are totally distracted by the Christmas holiday.

If there is a place above and beyond hypocrisy, that’s where Team Tait is living.

To the victor go the spoils. But after six years of insufferable moral posturing and self-righteous lecturing, the least Mayor Tait and his allies could do is apply to themselves the same standards they apply to others. Shameless.


  1. To the winners go the spoils. The cable car should have been never even started, hopefully good riddance, a raise for an office flunky, oh well and 158 mill to rich developers is OK? Let’s see what the new folks bring to the table. Your side lost

    • Tait voted to set up the hotel policies in the 90s. Your disdain should be directed at him as well if you think it’s wrong. He also voted to split the sales tax with the developers of the failed GardenWalk mall. Taits hypocrisy continues with his pathetic opposition now to the policies he supported as a council member. Including when he and Zemel pushed through funding for INS agents in Anaheim jails and worked in congress to strengthen deportation proceedings against illegal aliens and now he wants to turn Anaheim into a sanctuary city to harbor criminal aliens. He is the all time flip or flop – and OCGOPs Legialator of the Year. It’s no wonder my party gave up control at the state and city level. They are enabling this guy every step of the way.

  2. Apples and oranges, Larry. But the fact that you don’t see this is cronyism and wrong speaks volumes.

  3. The street car was already turned over to OCTA where it belongs by the prior council. This is just showmanship for the sake of thumping their chests in collective opposition to a transportation project that would have always required county and federal approval and funding. Laughable if the hypocrisy wasn’t so painful. And what about the worst of the agenda packing – turning Anaheim into a sanctuary city! All while residents aren’t looking. Tait – YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED AND SO SHOULD THE COUNTY GOP WHO STAND BY SILENT.

    We will become Santa Anaheim in the next two years as a result of the policies and practices of this clown car driven by Tait. Time for those that can to get out!

  4. This an outrage! To think that the city of Anaheim would allow its mayor have a full time Assistant at a cost of 11 cents per resident is horrifying. If we allow this type of stuff to go on Kris and Lucy will run out of money to give to their developer donors. Matt, we need you to stand up to this because at 40k per bite who knows where we will get the next 158 million to give away to the rich and connected.

    • Of course with a city that is larger than St. Louis, Pittsburg and Cincinnati, it is worth asking why our mayor doesn’t have a full time aid.
      And we don’t have to look too far back to the childish action taken by the Kris Lucy and Jordan to try and punish the mayor for not playing ball with them. So while the tried to give away millions to arte moreno and the Disney street car boondoggle and the the 7 million dollar remodel attempt for white people to play tennis in East anaheim…they called the elimination of the mayor’s full time Assistant prudent tax payer oversight. Hahahahahahaha.

  5. More hypocrisy from the Tait brigade. Rail against Murray and Kring while we pad our personal crony’s pension. What’s in the kool aide he’s serving all of you at Belsomme?

  6. We completely lost.

    Thank you to the volunteers who pushed for things in west Anaheim that were finally focused on.

    But I bet it’s over for all of it now.

    If the FIRST thing on her agenda is to give someone else a raise, (a HUGE raise) says a lot.

    We would prefer that money go to West Anaheim improvements and upgrading. And I would have personally preferred our District 1 representative to speak for us.

    I told you so!

    Thanks a lot Denise.

    • This not a huge raise. This pay is in line to with what is typical for a full time Assistant for a city of our size. Believe me this council will be focused on the western side of our city. It will be a daily with battle because Kris and Lucy will keep obstruct and try to redirect to their rich friends.

      • She isn’t full time HG. She is part time. And all the aides have the same classification and pay scale. So why is this not being offered to ALL aides?
        Kris Murray was the one who has been helping West Anaheim. She hasn’t obstructed anything out there!

      • It’s not a huge raise. It’s enormous and unnecessary for a weak mayor system.

  7. Call a crony a crony…the old majority, which includes the Planning Commission, was the absolute definition of cronyism.

  8. $111k for 30 hours a week to someone who is a glorified secretary. Nice work if you can get it. Where is Diamond, Nelson, Ward, Zenger, Cantor, and Henry Lipton who scream bloody murder when someone they don’t like gets a government job at excessive pay? Thus is $19k short of what Zenger tried to sue the county for when he tried to get a government job back after being fired. But then Dave would at least gave out in 37-1/2 hour week

    • Dan you are recycling incorrect information. You are really lame. How about you ask about the change to her job description before you rehash false or at least outdated information. Very lazy!

      • Is she offering Lapdances to the new council majority in addition to smooching Lady Ward?

      • Anaheim is a city manager run city; Tait is a weak mayor; basically same authority as any other council member. Paying an aide that much? Do the other six council members get a bump in budget too? Montgomery’s pension is the only one Tait cares about….certainly not the pensions of other city employees.

  9. The agenda also allocates $400,000 for Tait’s Drug Free Anaheim program.

    • Now THAT … is hard for me to wrap my head around.

      If I’m understanding right, $400 K to give rides to rehab centers … to drug addicts who decide to turn themselves in to the police? All three or four times that might conceivably happen during a year?

  10. I guess this is what you call “crony government”!

  11. A Real West Anaheim Resident

    As someone who lives in District 1, this is not something I want. I am for the streetcars, and against an aid who is part time making over 100k. If this is what Denise thinks is important to District 1, I think its time to move to a new district where someone who actually knows what their doing represents instead of someone who the mayor uses to get his agenda across. So much for neighbors electing neighbors….

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