Mayor Tom Tait published on op-ed in yesterday’s OC Register articulating what he sees as the challenges facing Anaheim and his characterizations of why Anaheim voters should support John Leos and Lucille Kring for Anaheim City Council.

Few people would disagree with much of what Mayor Tait states in his op-ed about Anaheim, and there are areas where I respectfully disagree with his characterizations — most strongly with his recommendation of John Leos.

Most importantly, there is what is missing from the op-ed and what I believe is the crux of this election: the bold attempt by a powerful government union, the Orange County Employees Association, to place an active member and former officer on the Anaheim City Council.

To this end, OCEA has invested $350,000 dollars. I sincerely doubt OCEA, during its entire existence,  has ever — ever — committed that much to electing a single candidate. In addition, a government union umbrella PAC has invested an additional $138,000 to elect Leos.

The Anaheim Municipal Employees Association — the union representing most Anaheim city employees — is an affiliate of the OCEA.  John Leos is an OCEA shop steward, and until earlier this year was on the Board of Directors of the OCEA and the OCEA political action committee.

Although directed at school board elections, this exhortation from a mailer I recently received from another government union, the California School Employees Association, clearly states the stakes in Anaheim:

“Elect your bosses! Classified employees have the unique opportunity to elect our bosses. Whether you are voting for your local school board, board of trustees members or a local ballot initiative, please consider CSEA’s endorsements. Electing pro-education candidates not only enhances your community, but also creates your work environment.”

In its own words, here is a government union restating the axiom that public employee unions are government organized as a special interest — to install those with the power to approve changes to pay, benefits and work rules. As it says in the CSEA mailer, what the OCEA’s support of John Leos is an attempt to elect the OCEA/AMEA’s boss.

And that is dangerous to limited government, as Franklin Delano Roosevelt – no enemy of big government — recognized:

“All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations.”

I have met and conversed Leos a few times during the last few years. He is a very nice, very friendly man and strikes me as someone who would be a great neighbor.

But OCEA isn’t opening the financial floodgates to support him because he is a nice fellow. OCEA is not a charity. Sometimes the union will enter a race and spend large in order to impress its members that it is “fighting for them,” but this isn’t a case of political bread and circuses. The OCEA is government, organized as a special interest. It is the nature of OCEA to oppose conservative government reform, because conservative government reform involves reducing the size and scope of government — including the outsourcing of city services to provide the same or higher level of service to the public, for the same or lower cost.

That is the central issue in this election — or ought to be. Will Anaheim continue as the kind of city it has been, or will its politics come to more closely resemble the government-union dominated cities of Los Angeles County?