Team Tait Strikes Back

Last week, while Anaheim residents shopped, wrapped presents and were otherwise distracted preparing for Christmas Day, Mayor Tom Tait’s the newly-ensconced council majority plowed through a long list of major policy shifts they had piled onto the agenda with a few days notice.

Mayor Tait employed the symbolism of dais to emphasize the new order. Rather than seating the councilmembers in numerical order according to their district number, he placed District 3 Councilman Jose F. Moreno to his right, District 1 Councilwoman Denise Barnes to his left, Councilman James Vanderbilt to her left, with Councilmembers Kris Murray, Lucille Kring (District 4) and Steve Faessel (District 5) on the fringes of the dais.

The council meeting dragged on until past 1:00 a.m. as the council took up urgent matters as when the mayor can place something on the council agenda, making the mayor’s assistant a full-time job bundled with a 56% pay increase to $111,000, and launching a crypto-Sanctuary City initiative.

Agenda Power, Pay Hike For Mayoral Aide and Chamber Contract
Mayor Tait brushed aside criticisms that he and his allies were engaged in the same high-handed behavior of which they had accused the old council majority. It took a few hours to get to the first item on the discussion calendar: giving the mayor’s ability to place items on upcoming council agendas between council meetings. Given the thick fog of drama in which the mayor and his allies have enshrouded this issue, some background is in order. While previous mayors had informally exercised this power on occasion, it was only formalized after Tom Tait assumed the office. As the conflict between the mayor and the council majority deepened, the majority acted to restore the mayor’s formal agendizing power to equal footing with the rest of the city council – in front of the public during the council comments period of council meetings. That act – and the manner in which it was done – have been a sore spot ever since.

Last week, Mayor Tait termed this formal extra-conciliar agendizing power as something that was “take from me (not from the office) and said restoring it was “about righting a wrong.”  The rhetoric expended on this matter would lead one to believe the machinery of city government had been undermined. The reality is it is a procedural issue for which valid arguments can be made either way and upon which reasonable people can disagree. Elevating it to a moral issue is a stretch.

Although there was a very lengthy back-and-forth discussion, the outcome was never in doubt and the motion passed.

Next up was a $40,000 boost in pay for Mishal Montgomery, who has been Mayor Tait’s council aide since he took office, and was Mayor Curt Pringle’s council aide during his eight years in office. This matter had been placed on the agenda by newly-elected District 1 Councilwoman Denise Barnes; Montgomery recruited Barnes to run and was heavily involved in her campaign. Barnes’ move drew flack from West Anaheim activists to who thought District 1 needs deserved higher priority than how much the mayor’s assistant was being paid.

Again, there was lengthy discussion – during which both Councilmembers Kris Murray and Lucille Kring the reason the mayor exhausted his council aide budget before the end of the fiscal year is Montgomery is a city employee with a pension and benefits; the aides to Murray, Kring and other councilmembers are independent contractors.

Council aides are part-time positions; the budget for each position automatically ratchets up each year and currently stands at $71,000. Barnes moved to create an entirely new full-time position of assistant to the mayor salaried at $111.000 a year. Mayor Tait said the position should really be called “chief of staff;” he acknowledged he only had a staff of one but said he thinks the mayor’s office should have “several” full-time employees.

Barnes’ motion was adopted 5-2.

The next item was the city’s sponsorship agreement with the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, under which the city is a participating sponsors in a few events such as the Anaheim Job Fair. This was thinly veiled political payback by the mayor against the Chamber, which has disagreed with Tait’s stances on major issues like the Hotel Incentive Policy and negotiations with the Angels.

Murray and Kring mounted a valiant but doomed defense of the agreement, which the council voted to let expire without renewal.

Hotel Incentive Policy, Crypto-Sanctuary City Status
If any issue has defined Tait’s quest for control of the council, it is the city’s long-standing policy of utilizing partial Transient Occupancy Tax revenue turn-backs to attract luxury hotel development. The mayor’s stark reaction to the 2012 GardenWalk agreement permanently fracture a close alliance with his council colleagues, and led to often strange alliances in four-year effort to tilt the council majority in his favor.

Actually, both Tait and Kring asked to have repealing the Hotel Incentive Policy placed on the agenda; Kring’s reason was it had served it already served its purpose, with five 4-Diamond hotels coming to the Resort District.

Again, the outcome was never in doubt and the repeal passed unopposed. There was enthusiastic talk among the mayor’s amen corner of going after the TOT incentive agreements approved earlier this year with Disney and the Wincome Group. However, that appears unlikely as it would expose the city to litigation it would almost certainly lose.

Next up was District 3 Councilman Jose Moreno’s request for the formation of a mayoral task force to make Anaheim a “Welcoming City.” As noted in OC Daily, this is essentially Sanctuary City-Lite – there’s no meaningful distinction between the two.

Moreno has been cagey about offering specifics about this initiative. He skillfully parried several attempts by both Murray and Kring to elicit specifics with long explanations which explained nothing. When Murray requested that each coiuncilmember be allowed an appointment to the task force, Moreno and Tait both politely but firmly refused. It was obvious this had been cooked up between them some time ago and they’re determined to keep control of it – hence the “mayoral” task force.

Councilwoman Barnes asked Moreno directly whether this was Sanctuary City status in disguise; Moreno cautioned her against being alarmed by “red flags.”

Notwithstanding his intentional vagueness, Moreno several times brought the discussion back to the impending inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. He described as “exciting” demands by the radical advocacy group OCCORD that the mayoral task force recommend no deportations of any illegal immigrant in Anaheim and that the city welcome “anybody from any part of the world without any questions.”

Taken together with Moreno’s strong recent endorsement of Sanctuary City status for Anaheim and his rhetorical record on illegal immigration, the reasonable conclusion is this mayoral task force is designed as a more politically palatable, PR-friendly version.

When the vote was called, it only garnered four votes – Tait, Moreno, Vanderbilt and Faessel – with Murray and Kring abstaining and Barnes voting no.

Streetcar, Mayor Pro Tem, Board and Commissions, Interim City Attorney
Item 45 was requested by Barnes to “provide staff direction on a request to discontinue the Anaheim Street Car Project.” It’s only a request because the project is entirely in the hands of the Orange County Transportation Authority. However, it’s certainly an obstacle to its completion if the city council of the city for which it is proposed switches from support to opposition.

This passed on a vote of 5-2, with Murray and Kring opposed.

It was past midnight when the annual appointment of the Mayor Pro Tem was discharged without controversy. Councilman Faessel nominated Vanderbilt to succeed Kring in the position, which the council approved unanimously.

City Boards, Commissions and Regional Appointments
In September, Mayor Tait and then-Councilman Jordan Brandman expressed their desire to re-structuring city boards and commissions to reflect the shift to district elections, and it was assumed Tait agendized this item for that reason.

That assumption proved correct, as the mayor stated his desire to make city boards and commissions district-based, with each councilmember controlling the appointment for his or her district. However, he acceded to continue this radical change at the request of Kring, who cited the late hour.

Kring did ask for a decision on re-appointing her to the OC Sanitation District. She noted she was up for chairmanship of this giant special district – the first women in line for OCSD leadership since former Anaheim Councilwoman Shirley McCracken. However, since that vote was scheduled to take place prior to the next council meeting in January, Kring requested resolution of her appointment that evening, per Tait’s agenda item.

After some discussion, the new majority decline Kring’s request and continued the entire item to January.

The final item of apparently overriding importance was an item requested by Mayor Tait a week earlier, which was to fire Arturo Fierro from the job to which the council had appointed him five weeks earlier: Interim City Attorney.

Tait offered no reason other than he thought the appointment should have been made by the “new district-based council.” This is an argument Tait advanced on several different issues in the months before the November election.

Councilman Murray ably rebutted that sophistry by asking the mayor “at which point is the city council no longer responsible for governing? Is it one month [before the election]? Two months? Six months? At one point will you stop doing your duties for the residents of Anaheim because there’s a new election on the horizon? Or do you govern up until midnight of the last day you were elected to serve?”

Her query went unanswered. It will be interesting to see if the mayor follows his own direction and goes into self-imposed lame-duck status months before his term ends.

Murray also pointed out the mayor could have requested suspension of the interim city attorney search at any time, but never did so.

Kring noted that despite the months-long duration of the search process, the recruiter had difficulty attracting a lot of applicants due to the toxic council dynamic.

Rather than giving Fierro more than 5 weeks to prove himself by continuing the month-to-month contract, the council voted 5-2 give him the heave-ho. It would be enlightening for any of those five councilmembers to explain how they believe this decision will enhance Anaheim’s ability to attract top-notch applicants for the permanent position.

All in all, there were few surprises. There were policies Mayor Tait wanted to end, others he wanted to advance, and others his allies wanted to push. And he had the votes to do it. As it has ever been, elections have consequences.


  1. Let’s see. For now, I’ll just take on the “Welcoming Anaheim” thing.

    You and Dan are both wrong. It’s not, as you say, “crypto-sanctuary” but of course you probably know that, it’s just your intent to scare anti-Sanctuary Republicans.

    It’s also not, as Dan says, a toothless “Sanctuary Lite” that promises and fails to protect undocumented immigrants. He’s probably not smart enough to realize his lie, but he IS trying hard to do the converse of you and make liberal Sanctuary enthusiasts feel disillusioned with Jose.

    “Sanctuary” is about local authorities refusing to co-operate with Federal immigration authorities. And this “Welcoming” thing has nothing to do with that. As Jose told his colleagues, “Just look at the website,” It’s a nationwide anti-xenophobia campaign that various locales have signed on to, looks more geared to people from war-torn nations like Syria than Mexico, and has nothing to do with defying immigration authorities.

    A little loose and undefined for me, but as Jose says, each city makes of it what they want to. You-all keep up your propaganda though, it looks like you’ve got Denise’s constituency spooked!

    • Vern, you need to dig a little deeper. Start by educating yourself by reading the article I wrote in OC Daily. For example, the Welcoming City v. Sanctuary City page of the website to which you refer.

      And do you honestly believe, I lughtnof his Mechista views on illegal immigration, that Moreno has suddenly backed-off his support for sanctuary city status?

      • Vern, I started at the welcoming city website before I even started writing. There’s no explicit protection from federal immigration laws on that site. Jose says “go to the website”…I did. A task force to study what exactly? When SantaAna doesn’t quibble on sanctuary city status and moves before Trump takes office, what does the professor have to study? Rebranding a weak sauce idea that doesn’t go far enough?

        And Vern, smart guys like you, Greg and Dave have way too much time on your hands.

  2. And how ’bout that Faessel!

  3. The whole “welcoming city” vs. “sanctuary city” thing is very interesting to me.

    Sounds like a new cash stream for a guy in 42″ Hanes underwear sitting behind a computer screen!

  4. It’s clear Moreno won’t propose a thing without checking with Tom Tait first. Weak, pathetic council member.

  5. It’s funny how your opening sentences imply this was a last minute meeting snuck in while residents were preparing for the holidays.
    In actuality, it was a regularly scheduled meeting on the 2016 calendar. It was, also, so well attended that the chamber was full as was the lobby . People waited up to 3 hours in the lobby and were still unable to get into council chambers.

    • IKR? (Oh, that’s what the kids say these days. It means “I know, right?”)

    • Of course it was a regularly scheduled meeting. I never said or implied otherwise. And on previous occasions when the mayor complained about items being agendize during with what he believed insufficient time for the public to consider them – those were also regularly scheduled meetings. Do you believe the mayor’s complaints had merit? But it is OK to engage in the behavior one denounces in others?

      Also, many -if not most – of the people in the chamber were there for the street parking item, not the Ttam Tait action list.

      • Classic propagandist line. “You implied such and such.” “Ah but I never literally SAID such and such.”

      • Actually there were approximately 20-25 people there for the permit parking issues – I know because we talked to most of them. This was a small fraction of the hundreds of people there.

        • Ok. My primary point is that it other than those folks, it’s the usual suspects who are regulars or semi-regulars – not ordinary, everyday residents.

          • Except that, when Jeanine described, above, how overflowing the chambers were, and how most people left without being able to talk, she was telling the truth.

            Anyway, stop telling us what sort of crowd was there. How would you know?

            • “Us”? Are you the some sort of vanguard of the proletariat, and I need your permission to speak? I watched the council meeting video and also spoke to people who were there. Sorry so many people left without being able to talk – you can thank the new majority you so deeply venerate (and for whom you eagerly propagandize) for unnecessarily packing the agenda.

            • The average person doesn’t attend these meetings and doesn’t care to. The same 50-100 “partisans” attend week in and out (representing the same interests on all sides). It’s foolish and innacurate to suggest otherwise so your “us” is merely the same people week after week. No Minds are changed by these recurring partisan speakers many of whom are broken records of scripted special interests. All an overflow indicates is more organization by a partisan faction on the issue of the day. Fake news. I defy you to identify someone whose recently spoken but not attended a meeting in the past several months and not spoken previously … other than those speaking on parking restrictions.

              • There WERE several, Wack, including many that gave up on waiting to speak, but you got me … I am not going to go through the video listing them, so believe what you want.

                It’s a shame you people are so negative about all the positive changes happening in this town, LOL…

                • No there weren’t. Fake news. Like usual. Same 50-100 folks on both sides. Saying the the same thing meeting after meeting. Sadly those that do show up to talk about problems in their neighborhoods – like the parking permit issue – have to wait for hours to get their 3 minutes while the Council wades thru the cast of extras that show up. And I made no comment about the direction of the city good or bad. But thanks for implying something that wasn’t said. More fake news …

  6. Maybe people don’t attend because the past council showed that you could not fight them. You could present evidence of your position on an issue and if it did not suit their agenda you were voted against. The old majority voted in the best interest of whomever they served, and it was not the people. This is fact and can be substantiated by fact checking their voting history. That being said many people have given up trying to be heard and see it as a waste of time. I wish the LA Times would look into the past council and the planning commission and expose them like they are doing in Los Angeles. Further, in the past the meetings have been held at 5:00 making it hard to attend for many with jobs. You see that council did not want you to attend. This council wants people to attend and hopefully they will change the time so people can. They want to empower the people, but it will take some doing after all that has been done.

  7. You only like one side, yours. Happy New Year and with a new majority!

  8. People did NOT feel like what they said mattered with the old council. This is because the council consistently did not listen. They voted with the best interest of those they served rather than voting with the best interest of the people the residents they serve. This is fact and can be substantiated by examining the voting history of the old council. That is why many are disenchanted., the old “can’t fight city hall.” Further, the old council made it hard to go to a meeting by setting the time at 5:00. People work and could not get there at that time, another sign that the council really did not care if the residents came to the meetings. It would be great if the LA Times examined these issues in Anaheim, voting history and compare the campaign contributions with the voting history and expose it like they are doing in Los Angeles. It is a new year and starting off with a new City Council. I believe they will act in the best interest of Anaheim’s people. We may not like all the new council will do but acting in our best interest will go a long way to repair what has already been done!

    • Well it apparently matters, to the council if you live in the “Pleasant Hills of Brea”. For whatever that’s worth to the average Anaheim resident.

      • WhoisCATER what are you saying?

        • What I am saying is self described “activists” from outside the city, namely, Brea and Buena Park appear to have the new councils ear, or so they claim. That flys in the face of neighbors electing neighbors.

          I’ll give Vern Nelson this much, he married and moved into Anaheim after years of complaining about it. But the others are as disingenous as Jose Moreno’s political veiws.

      • You’re right Anaheim, that didn’t make any sense. It was a lazy gratuitous jab at my colleague Greg Diamond, who lives in Brea but cares about Anaheim. They do that on this blog and Liberal OC when they run out of arguments – the Diamond cracks flake off them like dandruff.

    • Rubbish. Add up all the votes in each district. They overwhelm the votes cast for the “winners”. Plurality voting is like the electoral colledge … majority looses. We should have a runoff system.

      • Whine whine whine. We could do the same sore-loser math to show that most voters voted against you kleptos.

        In District 1, votes for Mark, Angel and Freddie woulda almost all gone to Denise (and maybe some to Lawrence) NOT to Lodge.

        In District 3, Rivera and Lobatos voters who THOUGHT they were voting for a Latino Democrat, woulda mostly gone to Jose; and a lot of Robert Nelson’s voters who wanted change and reform would have also chosen Jose over Jordan.

        • Sick of Politics

          So apparently Vern has a crystal ball in his head and can tell who people would’ve voted for! Last I checked, Vern is buddies with Daniels. So if those votes would’ve gone to Denise, why did he run?
          And if those votes would’ve gone to Denise, it’s fair to assume that votes for Orlando Perez or Leonard Lahtinen would’ve gone to Steve Lodge.

        • You just proved my point that plurality votes, while the system dealt in the charter, is a poor way to implement “neighborhood representation”. You seem to agree that a lack of a majority vote winner leaves open to many arguments that there is no clear mandate to do much of anything. Thanks.

  9. The winners won and the votes were added up….

    • We won fair and square, in spite of the other side’s 12 to 1 funding advantage AND their use of fake candidates Jennifer Rivera, Joe Moreno and Linda Lobatos. So I say we won big even IF the numbers were close.

      • Vern, they were no more “fake candidates” than your wife was a fake candidate. That is such an unfair and absurd charge.

        • Where do you get off claiming those individuals were fake candidates? What about Robert Nelson who ran solely as a spoiler to Brandman? You are such a whiner along with Cynthia Ward and others on your blog.

          • Whiner? Nah, the word is braggart. Despite everything you people threw at us, we still triumphed!

          • There were fake candidates in Anaheim’s recent election. Joe Moreno took votes from Jose and Arturo Ferreras. The pressure came from Disney. Disney or their associates spent big money and pulled out all the stops, paying for an onslaught of flyers full of lies about the candidates that would not vote their way. Even paying for sign twirlers in an effort to retain the majority that votes in their favor. I hope LA Times is going to expose Anaheim like they are doing in LA.

            • “Joe Moreno took votes from Jose and Arturo Ferreras.”

              Really? Now you’re claiming Joe Moreno was running simultaneously in two different council districts?

              No wonder you don’t want to attach your real name to your comments.

              • There were “fake” candidates in Anaheim’s election. Joe Moreno created confusion by having a similar name but was put on the ballot to take votes from Ferreras. What else could it be if he did no campaigning other than hanging two signs? Unfortunately it partially worked but we did get a new majority! That is not a claim.

                • Every election, there are lots of city council candidates in different cities who end up doing little or no campaigning. Are all of them “fake”?

                  • “Lots?” In this case Joe Moreno was not a candidate who tried all he could to get elected to represent the people of District 4. He did not campaign, walk precincts, or advertise his message. He did not earnestly try to get elected. “Fake: a thing that is not genuine, a forgery, a sham.”

                    • Yes, “lots.” In any city council election there are usually candidates who do nothing more than get their name on the ballot. Maybe they don’t have money to do more than that. Maybe they had big ideas about campaigning, but didn’t follow through for whatever reason. Who knows. The fact is it happens often, and it doesn’t make them “fake” candidates.

                      Conversely, you often see candidates who put significant time, energy and money into their campaigns and do poorly on Election Day. Arturo Ferreras spent nearly $25,000 on his race, had staff and volunteers and actively walked precincts. And he lost. It wasn’t even close. You ought to consider that while he is a nice man, he might not have been a very good candidate.

    • How many days till Eastan beats Moreno for the 3rd district? Murray beats the crap out of Mayor Tait’s hand picked successors for the mayorship. Vanderbilt loses reelection because of his soft stance on sanctuary city and.Trump with the conservative electorate.

      • What a joke of a prediction. Read the charter. Murray can’t run for mayor – Anaheim has two term limits whether it’s council or mayor. She can’t run. The Tait cabal needs a new boogeyman.

    • I think the point being made here is the council has a pro Tait majority but in 2016, the majority of voters supported other non-Tait ticket candidates. Sort of like Hillary getting more votes than any candidate ever for president but losing the electoral college. Tait has a majority but no mandate.

      • Bingo. Amend charter to require a runoff since we now have districts. Otherwise the “winner” has a thin mandate and is easily exposed to recall based on the low number needed to get a recall ballot forced – 10 purcent.

  10. District 4 needs help. We have a growing homeless problem, and crime is up, where is our representation? We have a problem with parking that forces those living inside the “Resort” to plead for permit parking and where is our representation? Not one STR has put their “house” for sale and the time is running short, where our representation? No one has seen our represention walking the district, where is our representation?

    • What do you propose to do about the homeless problem in Anaheim?

      • Not leaving them on the street in the pouring rain for starters. Further, not profess as a District 4 representative to have worked at resolving the districts issues when I have not. Many of those homeless have serious issues that need to be addressed for their safety and for the safety of those around them. This is one issue in District 4 that I pointed out , the others are STR’S, a massive parking problem, and the thoughtless development, these are issues that the old council either refused to face or actually allowed which increases the aforementioned issues. I simply asked where is District 4’s representation.

        • “Not leaving them on the street in the pouring rain for starters.”

          So where would you put them?

          “Many of those homeless have serious issues that need to be addressed for their safety and for the safety of those around them”

          How do you propose addressing them?

        • Many areas in Anaheim have parking issues. Much of it as a result of multiple families living in single family homes or apartments,
          Also, the Mayor is the one who is has been complaining about permit parking. So what’s the solution then?

  11. Doing nothing for them is not the answer. I have worked with the homeless and it is a complex issue. Each case is different because the individuals needing help have different problems. They need help on a case by case issue. Also, you only fixate on this one issue in District 4. While it is the most important, I pointed out we have several serious issues that are not being properly addressed. Representation in District 4 on these issues has been ineffective at best and the problems continue to grow. Your questions seem to not be posed to have a problem solving conversation instead they appear baiting.

  12. I did answer you. Each individual has to be engaged and helped individually based on their issues. What don’t you understand about that? I stated we have no representation and our issues remain. True statement. Should I put on my crime fighting cape and solve the issues myself? What it takes is residents that care enough to shine a light on issues encouraging our representation to move to try to solve our issues, or if need be elect representation that will. Lout.

Leave a Reply

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


Skip to toolbar