Tait Majority Creates $165,000 Full-Time Position For Mayor’s Part-Time Aide

mishal montgomery moreno featIt was another long Anaheim City Council meeting, dragging on until past midnight – and even then the council was only able to move through a fraction of the discussion items on the agenda. The eyes of the Tait majority are bigger than its agenda stomach.

At least on hour was consumed in wrangling over District 1 Councilwomen Denise Barnes request to create a new, full-time city position for Mayor Tom Tait’s part-time policy advisor, Mishal Montgomery, a polarizing figure in City Hall. Montgomery has worked for the city since 2003, first as Mayor Curt Pringle’s policy aide and then with Tait. Montgomery recruited Barnes to run for council, worked with mixed success to line up endorsements for her among West Anaheim activists, and generally served as her political mentor.

Last month, the new council majority restored funding for Montgomery’s position to its pre-2012 level (which was about $40,000 more than councilmembers received for their policy aide budgets) and moved her from part-time to full-time (30 to 40 hours per week). That action put her at $111,450 in compensation. Since this necessitated inventing a brand-new job classification, Barnes directed staff to return with the new position.

Barnes read a statement to introduce her item but remained silent for the rest of the debate, while Tait vocally championed what was ostensibly Barnes’ idea. The mayor even had a slide ready making the apples-to-oranges comparison between the part-time Mayor of Anaheim’s one policy aide versus the multiple policy aides enjoyed by the full-time, strong-mayors of other, much larger California cities. At one point, District 5 Councilman Steve Faessel asked Mayor Tait if he was having Barnes advance this issue on his behalf (the mayor didn’t answer).

Much of the initial wrangling over the new, grandly-titled “Chief Policy Advisor to the Mayor” slot stemmed from a confusing staff report. A layman reading it would have had difficulty discerning how much Montgomery would be making in her new job – not least due to seriously mistaken budget figures.

There was intense debate over how much Montgomery would be making as of July 1: total compensation of up to $165,000 (inclusive of salary, sick and vacation pay, pension and medical benefits).

Tait’s pitch was basically that he should have a full-time policy aide and that Montgomery has been making the same $47-per-hour rate for years.  He pointed out she doesn’t use the city’s medical insurance (her husband is a public school teacher and presumably has them). Tait also contended that as “mayor of a city of 350,000” he needs a “full-time person” at City Hall to make “decisions for me” when he was absent. Unmentioned was the fact that the office of mayor doesn’t have responsibility for running the city – that belongs to the city manager.

Other members of the council, led by Kris Murray, objected to the skyrocketing compensation and took issue with Tait comparing the Anaheim mayor with those of bigger cities where it is a full-time executive position.

District 5 Councilmenber Lucille Kring tried turning the new district-based system back on districting advocate Tait, saying his need for a full-time assistant position was lessened because councilmembers would collectively be tending more closely to the needs of their constituents.

District 3 Councilman Jose F. Moreno followed the mayor’s general its-not-that-much-more-money tack.  After staff noted the compensation range for Montgomery’s new position is 23% higher than market rate for comparable positions in other cities, Moreno waved it off: “Yeah, maybe it’s 23 percent above the market [rate] but it’s one person doing the job of seven.” It remains unclear which seven people’s jobs she is doing.

While long and bitter, the debate was ultimately academic because Mayor Tait had four votes to create a new, full-time, highly compensated job for his loyal assistant. A motion by Murray to continue the item failed 4-3 (Murray, Kring and Faessel voting to continue) and the new position was approved 5-2 (Murray and Kring opposed).

Montgomery is city employee with a pension, not an independent contractor. The new position represents a significant increase in pay, and in turn a significant increase in her pension as she closes in on the 20-year mark with Anaheim.

19 comments

  1. Shameful. I’m embarrassed for them, because they clearly are not.

  2. How is not an issue when the mayor admits that mishal is making decisions for him. She’s not the elected, he is. So we have an unelected person making decisions with zero accountability.

  3. Longtime Anaheim Resident

    I just hope the general public wakes up to this guy’s hypocrisy. Do as I say, not as I do. The others of his “majority” have made it clear they couldn’t care less about representing anyone other than Tait. This is 100 percent pure cronyism. Disgusting.

  4. Matt underestimates how Montgomery hit the jackpot here thanks to our supposedly conservative mayor.

    Remember, she already had 11 years with the County of Los Angeles when she started working for Curt Pringle.

    Let’s say Mishal hangs it up when Tait is termed out in December 2018. She’ll have about 27 years in CalPERS at that point, taking home at least $106,000 in salary in her highest three earning years. Under the city’s 2.7% at 55 formula, she could retire in two years with a $77,000 annual pension.

    CHA-CHING!

    Let’s say Tait is able to elect his chosen successor. Since the price of a Tait endorsement will be keeping this female Rasputin as “Chief Policy Advisor to the Mayor,” Mishal may have set herself on course to scoop up a six-figure city pension!

    DOUBLE CHA-CHING! That’s some pension kindness for ya!

    • Interesting comment. By the way has anyone heard who the successor to the Mayor might be or who will run for Mayor. Here is what I have heard on the streets keeping in mind my network of information sucks and all this is unverified.

      For Mayor (in no particular order):

      Paul Kott
      Harry Sidu
      Lorri Galloway
      James Vanderbilt
      Jose Moreno
      Lucille Kring (can she run?)
      Mishel Montgomery

      How about District 6?:

      Kris Murray (Can she run?)
      Harry Sidu
      Lorri Galloway
      Brian Chuchua
      Steven Albert Chavez Lodge

      District 2

      James Vanderbilt
      Steven Albert Chavez Lodge

      • Longtime Anaheim Resident

        Your informants are not on their game. Lucille and Murray are termed out. Neither can run. Also, informed word on the street is Ashleigh Aitken is running for Mayor and she’s the candidate to beat. Born and raised in Anaheim and raising her beautiful family in Anaheim. She has been a long time commissioner in the city and very engaged in democratic leadership. Moreno couldn’t win citywide and will be in a battle to keep his seat on the council. Mishal Montgomery doesn’t live in Anaheim and it’s far fetched to think she would move and give up her taxpayer-funded-salaried lottery ticket!

        • Longtime Anaheim Resident

          Last point. No way Sidhu or Galloway run for sixth district. They would consider it beneath them. I’ve heard both are seriously considering a run for Mayor.

      • Steven Albert Chavez Lodge? Why doesn’t he just go away?

  5. Does the City Manager have a say in this? What is his position and if he does have a say in this HOW and WHY can he have allowed this to happen. (May have answered some of my own question) Really, can we question him as well. This seems so wrong.

  6. If I read our charter correctly, the only people the Councill gets to hire are the clerk, city manager, city attorney and treasurer. Our charter also says the Council can’t intrude into the area of requiring certain hirings. Maybe its time to stop all council aides since their hiring by the Council seems illegal.

  7. This is just like what Matsuda has done in the auhsd. While in the middle of a budget crisis he gave himself and his kiddie Corp a 19 percent raise. He also has promoted several of his classified buddies to pay that is at the level of a principal even though they don’t have college degrees. All this by a mega egotistical maniac that has never been a site administrator. Thanks Al Jabbar. Thanks Jose Moreno.

  8. Stoner Jeff, may be right. The local cop’s don’t care about petty stuff like this, but you know who does?

    Someone does:

    https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/

    America’s OLDEST law enforcement agency, takes shipping narcotics across state lines SERIOUSLY. So I filled out a complaint linked the Anaheim City Council video and requested an investigation.

    Other concerned citizens that wish to curb illegal drug activity should do the same. Be sure and mention Jeff by name, The fed’s are well aware of him.

  9. THEY ALL NEED TO BE CALLED OUT

  10. Matsuda got his buddy Al to get the school board to give him a 16 percent raise pushing his compensation well over 300k. All this for guy with no credentials and has led the district into financial crisis.

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