Tait and Allies Pack Council Agenda For Blitz Votes Shortly Before Christmas

What could be termed The Tait Reaction has commenced in Anaheim with the swearing-in of four new councilmembers last night, the mayor and his new council allies had a laundry list of major policy changes placed on the December 20 city council agenda.

Four new city council members were sworn in last night: Denise Barnes in District 1; Jose F. Moreno in District 3; incumbent Lucille Kring in District 4 and Steve Faessel in District 5. Barnes and Moreno are close political allies of Mayor Tait; together with Councilman James Vanderbilt, they give Tait a working council majority – the personal political Holy Grail toward which the mayor has been striving since 2012.

After the swearing in and the casting of lots to determine which of the four will serve a two-year term (see related OC Daily story here) Tait and allies Barnes and Vanderbilt directed staff to place a host of major policy items on next week’s council agenda.

Mayor Tait agenda requests:

Cancelling the Hotel Incentive Policy

  • Restructuring city boards and commissions, and possible action on city appointments to regional boards (such as the Orange County Water District).
  • Restoring the power of the mayor to place items on the council agenda at any time (a power that no mayor prior to Tait enjoyed). Currently, the mayor is limited to agendizing items in public during council comments, just like his council colleagues.
  • Firing Interim City Attorney Arturo Fierro – who was appointed to that job five weeks ago – and replacing him with Assistant City Attorney Kristin Pelletier.
  • Cancelling the city’s event sponsorship contract with the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce (political payback for the Chamber’s support of candidates and policies which the mayor has opposed).

Councilwoman Denise Barnes requested placing these items on the December 20 agenda:

  • “A motion to once and for all kill the Angels streetcar project.”
  • Increasing the budget of the office of the mayor to allow for a full-time policy staff person.
  • “I would like to see a plan for improving park programming, greening our sports fields and other areas and exploring how we can identify funding for these needs.  I would like to have a full assessment of all our parks, but especially the ones that have suffered the most neglect.” It’s unclear how city staff will be able to generate that plan during the next 48 hours, considering the council agenda will be published on Friday afternoon.

Councilman Vanderbilt asked staff to “bring back an agenda item to empower council to approve all expenditures of $50,000 or more.” The current threshold for mandatory council approval is $100,000.

Several times in the past few years Mayor Tait has vehemently complained when he believed the council was voting on major issues without giving the public adequate time for review and comment. This summer, he asked the council to continue a scheduled vote on the TOT rebate agreements with Disney and the Wincome Group, saying there was “no rush.” When the council approved the non-binding framework for Angels negotiations, the mayor denounced the timing because it took place the day after a holiday.

Some Anaheim observers noted the disconnect between those criticisms (which involved policies the mayor opposed) and Tait’s headlong rush to agendize nearly ten major council votes just a few days before Christmas when few Anaheim residents are paying attention, with only a few days notice and little time for staff preparation.

“The double standard is breathtaking,” noted one long-time Anaheim activist. “It’s situational political morality.”

After Andal announced he’d was getting a two-year term, Councilman Jose Moreno quipped, ““I had some agenda items I’m going to accelerate now!”  He gave direction to staff on some policy initiatives he wants put on the council agenda, although he specified only one for the December 20 agenda: a task force for “immigrant integration” to explore making Anaheim a “Welcoming City.”

Moreno’s request has begged the question of whether he is seeking sanctuary city status for Anaheim under a more euphemistic name. Moreno stated his strong and unequivocal support for sanctuary city status during the campaign, but backtracked to a more nuanced stance when Univision asked him last week if he would pursue sanctuary city status for Anaheim.

Here’s what was actually said last night:

Moreno: “I’d like to explore together with Mayor Tait the idea of making Anaheim a Welcoming City called Welcome Anaheim that includes a set of policy tools and promising practices from around the country of how we can best assure all of our residents that their city values them, that their city will integrate them, and that they will be honored with respect and dignity despite any impositions made by federal authorities that might transgress their rights as human beings.” [emphasis added]

 Tait: “Absolutely”

Moreno: “So for the December 20 agenda I’d like to consider, if the mayor might consider, establishing a task force to look at welcoming Anaheim, a task force for immigrant integration, so that we can all reach together as neighbors, in our City of Kindness.”

The underlined phrase is virtually indistinguishable from sanctuary city rhetoric; it also raises the question of how Councilman Moreno believes American immigration officials are violating the human rights of illegal immigrants?

Moreno made several other specific agenda requests: after quoting Cesar Chavez “from the farm workers struggle,” he asked staff to agendize establishing a Youth Commission “so that we might develop a robust and sustainable commission of youth that will provide their input and their insights to our city.”

Members of AnaheimBROS clubs from AUHSD high schools have been active for many months as ground soldiers in advancing Moreno’s political ambitions. Some believe this initiative is intended to institutionalize a school-to-progressive-political-activism pipeline.

Moreno also directed staff “to present us with an exploration of policies across our state…of ordinances that provide greater transparency, what are often called sunshine ordinances, to assure the people that all transactions of the people are under the light of day.”

Decoded, this sounds like District 3 councilmember wants an Anaheim version of the OCCORD-sponsored Sunshine Ordinance adopted by Santa Ana a few years ago, and include lobbyist registration and elements of the CRONY initiative recently advanced by the Orange County Employees Association.


  1. resident of West anaheim

    One needs to question, at this low time in west Anaheim, why the first thing on an agenda from the person representing west Anaheim (Denise Barnes) would be to ask for Taits aide to get more money? West Anaheim would clearly benefit greater with an over site position to watch our funds better, not give away more when this area is collapsing from poor decisions.
    One may ask, really? THAT was the highest priority Denise?

    • Barnes asked to be the voice of district 1 but clearly she is just the voice for Tait. How disgusting. District 1 has many issues to be addressed and this is what she chose to prioritize. She sure made her intentions crystal clear.

    • First was to pull the knife out of Toms back. His aides wages were cut way back and this will save one almost homeless person…
      And she is essential to figuring out how to get more money for West Anaheim, she is the city know it all and has been hamstrung for years! So first priority is to allow the Mayors aide to work full time and figure out how to solve all the other problems!
      Then defund Anaheim Chamber of Commerce that contributes to Disney candidates!
      They should also defund Visit Anaheim as they contribute to the PACs also!

      • Matthew Cunningham

        Not to bother you with facts and details, but…

        The Anaheim Chamber of Commerse doesn’t contribute to candidates. The Anaheim Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee – a separate entity – does, as is it’s right to do in a free republic. I would refer you to the U.S. Constitution to refresh yourself.

        Mishal Montgomery’s pay was not cut. Each councilmember (including the mayor) has a budget for a council assistant. A few years ago, the council brought the mayor’s budget in-line with the councimembers’ budgets.

        Some councilmembers, like Kris Murray, contract out the council assistant duties. Mishal Montgomery is a city-employee, and when you total up the pay, benefits and pension costs it is a more expensive option the mayor has chosen -and it eats up his budget more quickly.

        The reason for creating council assistants in the first place was to lessen councilmembers overdependence on staff for information and give them their own independent research ability. It wasn’t supposed to be chief-of-staff/scheduler/policy aide all rolled into one.

        And finally, Kris Murray has been West Anaheim’s best friend on this council. Your contention that West Anaheim will get no help unless Mayor Tait gets a bigger office budget is totally absurd.

      • Wake up, Mike. This is tawdry political payback.

        Mishal Montgomery recruited Denise Barnes to run for council, and has spent the last nine months or so lobbying West Anaheim activists to support Barnes. Now she’s running Barnes like a case officer runs a mole. Montgomery will probably hand-pick Barnes’ council assistant, if she hasn’t already. And now she has a landing spot in case Tait is unable to elect a successor who will keep Montgomery on until she hits the magic 20-year mark as a city employee. Gotta get that pension, no matter what!

        Tait and Montgomery are using Barnes like a sock-puppet. Tait didn’t even have the nerve to ask for his own budget increase. He and Montgomery had Barnes do their dirty work for them. Mishal probably wrote Barnes’ acceptance speech and her directions to staff during council communications.

        Like I said, Barnes’ request is payback for the man and woman who are pulling her strings.

  2. Mr. Moreno,
    Stop asking for things in the name of the city of kindness. Ask residents instead. We will tell you we have nothing in common with your ideas.
    How exactly did you EVER get a voice? As my sax teacher told me, telling me, he must not do his homework.
    Please resign.

  3. So in the city of “Kindness”, the mayors FIRST priority is political retribution (revenge), towards those with whom he disagrees (Chamber Of Commerce). Meanwhile an estimated 788 humans, including CHILDREN, VETERANS and VERY ILL people are sleeping in tents along the Santa Ana river in front of what is supposed to be a major rain event.

    Now, in addition to being a health issue, this is a public safety issue which promises to put lives at risk.

    I would give giggling Tom Tait a lot more credence, if he stood up and said:

    “We have serious disagreements, we have serious problems, but we are going to set that aside for aminute and try and do something about this crisis along the Santa Ana river.” He should have picked up the phone to Shawn Nelson, Do and Bishop Vann, Mayor Smith (whose city shares the problem) and her brother, the rector of Christ Cathedral and DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING.

    Instead, we have to be a welcoming city, whatever the hell that means.

    These guys are a joke.

    • WE must do something about the homeless. They cost conservatively $20,000 a year to keep them on the street. $40,000 in incarcerate.
      A police officer told me that 1/2 the calls are for transients. So if they were in a few safe areas and monitored then that would take a tremendous pressure off the police.
      There is another location on Harbor and the 91 frw bought for a 600 bed homeless shelter blocked by the previous majority Jordan in particuluar. We could just clear the land to start, put in grass and make it a safe zone with restrooms and showers.
      Other safe zones could be by La Palma park. We could bring in restrooms and showers for those along the river bed. The Angels could open up Angels homes – little homes all along the river banks with bathrooms and showers. This has been done in other cities.
      Come to the city council and lets move on this but not at the first meeting if that is OK?
      Mike Robbins

      • Matthew Cunningham

        “They cost conservatively $20,000 a year to keep them on the street. $40,000 in incarcerate.”

        “They,” Mike? All all homeless the same?

        Here’s an idea: convert all the soon-to-be STRs to mini-homeless shelters. The ones retro-fitted to house 10 or more people would be ideal and ready-to-go. Simply pay the STR owners to house the homeless in them. Given your evident deep compassion for the homeless, you would be the perfect person to advocate this win-win solution.

        • Love it. The city should buy the STR Properties and can house a combination of Homeless and Jose’s “underprivleded”. Heck his low cost housing inititive should fill them sons a bitches up in NO TIME, to use a Southerner Term.

  4. When will overflow apartment parking be addressed? Once quiet clean streets in our neighborhoods are becoming dumping grounds for cars that belong to apartment residents that live blocks away.

    • You neighborhood is a parking lot too? South Anaheim has a terrible problem. There is a lot of permit parking and more to come. City gets the revenue

    • South Anaheim has a very bad parking issue as well

    • Same thing in Santa Ana – overflow of cars parked in residential neighborhoods – due to overcrowding in apartments and in the neighborhoods.

      On top of that – Santa Ana staff desires to greatly liberalize restrictions on so-called “granny flats” – above and beyond the new State of California “Second Dwelling Unit” requirements.

      I’ve suggested that SA city staff go on a one hour “ride along” of already over-crowded residential street parking – say between the hours of 7:00 & 8:00 pm any night. They can then retire to their out of city guard gated communities.

      • I am sure officials would represent their own neighborhoods vigorously. We need to overhaul the “Planning Commission.” They are despicable. They do not think about others, just their own agenda. Again they would not let what happens in our neighborhoods happen in theirs.

        • Maybe once they’re done screwing around with pay raises they can get to the real issues that effect people’s lives in W Anaheim. If we don’t start seeing changes soon this whole election will be for nothing and I’ll remember who didn’t work for my neighborhood.

  5. The Tait-Barnes-Vanderbilt-Moreno agenda-packing show was written and directed by Mishal Montgomery. Mishal and Vanderbilt were spotted at lunch that day, literally comparing notes. Like Matt pointed out in his article, Tait knew Vanderbilt was supposed to say $50,000 instead of $500,000, but lied in public by pretending he didn’t hear what Vanderbilt said. Wouldn’t it have been refreshingly honest of Tait to have said, “James, you were supposed to say $50,000, not $500,000.”

    Funny how Cynthia Ward and Greg Diamond and company are silent about the obvious collusion among a majority of the council outside the public eye. I guess potential or apparent Brown Act violations are OK when it is their heroes are who doing it.

  6. Council agenda has posted. It includes resolution regarding making anaheim a sanctuary city as well as increasing Mishal’s pay by $40,000. That’s $105,000 for part time work.

    • No, it’s for a Welcoming City, not a Sanctuary City. http://local.anaheim.net/docs_agend/questys_pub/8477/8507/8509/12093/12094/Staff%20Report12094.pdf

      It might be easier for Moreno to get this status agreed upon by the other six Republicans on the dais but its not nearly as strong as the Sanctuary City status Santa Ana passed. I find this disappointing. Anaheim should be a sanctuary city. The difference between bold statements on the campaign versus statements from the council member’s chair

      • Matthew Cunningham

        I have to disagree with you on Welcoming v. Sanctuary City status. It’s really a distinction without a difference, especially when you consider Moreno’s immigration views and rhetoric.

        • Wow, finally something Dan and Matt disagree on – Is Jose a wimpy milksop because he’s trying to pass off faux-sanctuary, or is Jose a dangerous demagogue who’s trying to sneak in actual sanctuary? Either way, they can agree that Jose sucks.

          • Matthew Cunningham

            I don’t think Jose Moreno “sucks.” I do think that his politics suck, that his economic ideas are unrealistic and don’t work, and that he offers no real solutions to the problems he talks about.

      • Well then so should Irvine. Perhaps you can convince Melissa to propose a sanctuary city status for your own city. If she doesn’t do it because it wouldn’t pass, or because of electoral low back, then surely that would be acceptable to you — even though you wouldn’t accept those rationales if they came from Dr. Moreno.

          • Matthew Cunningham

            “BOOM”? How? Melissa Fox didn’t campaign on making Irvine a Sanctuary city.

            Moreno gave his fire-breathing support to sanctuary city status at the October 24 candidate forum, then last week he toldDenise Barnes to be wary of “red flags” when she walked if that’s what his Welcoming Anaheim task force is all about.

            And that’s exactly what it’s about. Even while he avoided giving straight answers to Kris murraya and Lucille Kring. Moreno always brought the discussion on it back to Trump and “what might happen” in a few weeks. Anyone who doesn’t understand this is a camel’s-nose-in-the-tent approach to making Anaheim a sanctuary city is deliberately deluding themselves.

  7. Those living in Anaheim should be the ones commenting and solving its issues.

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