Showdown At Tomorrow’s Council Meeting Over More Pay for Mayor’s Aide

UPDATED – 7:55 pm, March 5 – Mayor Tait pulled the item, but it died for lack of a second.

Tomorrow night, the Anaheim City Council will discuss whether to appropriate an additional $30,000 to continue paying the salary of Mayor Tom Tait’s part-time council assistant, Mishal Montogomery, through this June, the end of the fiscal year. Although it is on the consent calendar, it is sure to be pulled for a lively debate.

Last June, just before the start of the new fiscal year, the City Council acted to reduce the mayor’s personnel budget from $100,000 to the $60,000 level of councilmembers, and then voted to shift the $40,000 balance to the Ponderosa Library computer training program. Councilmembers Harry Sidhu, Kris Murray and Gail Eastman voted in favor, while Mayor Tom Tait and Councilmember Lorri Galloway opposed the reduction (although Galloway voted in favor of shifting the $40,000 to the Ponderosa Library.

As a result, Mayor Tait needed to either adjust Mishal Montgomery’s compensation or run out of money to pay her mid-way through the fiscal year and gamble that the council would approve a supplemental appropriation. Considering Montgomery is a polarizing figure in Anaheim City Hall, that is a gamble with long odds.

It raises serious questions: should the mayor have a personnel budget that is 50% to 67% larger than his council colleagues? Since the mayor didn’t operate within his reduced personnel budget in a way that ensured Montgomery could be paid through June, should he be rewarded with a mid-year appropriation that equates to asking the council to rescind its June 2012 vote? Would that be fair to council members who operate within their personnel budgets?

Although partisans from the council factions will surely question each others’ motives, no one can dispute that since June of the last year the Mayor has known with mathematical certainty that if he didn’t revise his personnel budget to change how much he paid his council aide, he would run out of money to pay her well before the end of the fiscal year. He didn’t make those adjustments, and his council colleagues will have to decide if it is fair to reward that with more money.

Two of the councilmembers who voted to reduce the mayor’s budget in June, Eastman and Murray, are still there and sure to stand by their votes. Since Mayor Tait was behind funding for a harsh hit piece in the last election that attacked Councilmember Jordan Brandman’s integrity, it’s tough to see him voting to boost the mayor’s personnel budget. Councilmember Kring is more of a question mark. Tait endorsed and supported her in the election, and she’s on the host committee for his March 14 re-election fundraser. On the other hand, she would hhave been elected with or witout his endorsement, and does she want to vote to reward the mayor for not dealing with the budgetary reduction approved by the council last year?

We will see where the chips fall tomorrow nght.

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  1. Let me get this straight – the mayor feels compelled to pay his part time council aide nearly $100K? So if she were full time, this is a position that according to the mayor would warrant $200K? Does she also get a pension and benefits? This seems ludicrous – does this woman provide any specialized service that any admin assistant couldn’t provide and why did he wait until the funding was gone to address this budget issue? I would rather see the city fund libraries, police, fire and pot holes over his part time assistant.

  2. AnonymousCityWorker

    I wish I made ten thousand dollars a month for part-time work. Must be nice.

  3. Good article. I don’t expect we’ll see any coverage of this by Adam Elmahrek at Voice of OCEA. Or if he does, he’ll spin it as The Evil Council Majority ganging up on Tom Tait.

  4. Can’t wait to hear Tait try and defend this action. Completely offensive.

  5. Oh, you people are so naive – that $100K is just the BEGINNING of what Mishal makes each year, sort of her base pay – basically what she gets for putting on her Ferragamo shoes in the morning. When you add up all her bonuses and perks, as she explained to me over shark and Chivas at The Catch recently, she brings home easily seven digits – and for doing nearly nothing, compared to those poor slobs slaving away for Murray, Eastman and Brandman. What a gig.


    • Do you think the council should approve the Mayor’s request?

      • Vern Nelson supports Tait’s request – I could not be more surprised. A part time assistant deserves $100K – these guys have no moral boundaries. If this were anyone other than Tait, they would storm city hall and call for protests. You are seriously dispacable.

        • Actually I would NOT support a part-time assistant getting $100K. You guys have fun playing in your own reality though.

          • Vern, I have hard time accepting that you would be so non-chalant if we were talking about Murray or Eastman making this request. It sounds like you are giving the Mayor a courtesy card.

  6. Mr. Nelson – that is exactly what the mayor is requesting – so why are you attacking the other members of the council? They would be wise to say no tomorrow – why does the Mayor continually push initiatives he knows full well will not pass and only cause further division. I work at City Hall and do not come close to making what she pulls down in salary and pension for pt work. They’ve known what the budget was for a year and waited until the last minute – she could have taken the salary and not taken the pension. Why do those of us in Anaheim owe her a penson for being his assistant or even Mayor Pringle’s assistant.

  7. Sounds like Vern’s working on another DUI — that would be #5.

  8. nojordanbrandman

    The Mayors assistant budget should be higher then the other council members. My understanding is that he is involved in a far greater capacity then they are. How can you expect the Mayor to do his job without an assistant for the rest of the year? This is just retaliation for his positions on issues that don’t fall in line with the Disney/Pringle doctine.

  9. So far the following reasons have been given for not supporting the Mayor’s budget:

    Montgomery is a polarizing figure in Anaheim City Hall,

    Mayor Tait was behind funding for a harsh hit piece in the last election that attacked Councilmember Jordan Brandman’s integrity,

    Councilmember Kring … would hhave been elected with or witout his endorsement, (typos original)

    When did these become valid reasons for firing someone?

    You asked “should the mayor have a personnel budget that is 50% to 67% larger than his council colleagues?” Well let’s find out-does he have 50 to 67% more work to do than they do? I will be asking. How much more work does the directly elected Mayor with significantly more responsibility do than his Council colleagues?

    In fact, the workload, and the budget to handle it, was set a decade ago by the previous Mayor. Is Pringle’s investment in quality personnel suddenly wasteful only when Tait is out of favor?

    Did the current Mayor suddenly reduce the workload this year that the amount is no longer required to accomplish the people’s business? What precisely IS the public benefit here? I am challenged to believe that the people who support a $158 million hotel deal for their buddy and a $319 million streetcar for their other friends are suddenly consumed with saving thousands.

    Are you really sure about that $100k number you are throwing around?
    Is that take home pay or the Mayor’s overall budget, with basic payroll deductions taken which brings it down by at least 1/3? Can anyone tell what she makes per hour? Murray’s outside consultant playing Council aid bills $100 an hour, I have the Invoice, that is with no deductions for straight time to an outside firm, who also works offsite with no supervision and no assurance of what she does for the Invoice-which is interesting since she runs a PR firm and is not a policy advisor that I can find anywhere in public records.

    Some of us recall when Shawn Nelson pointed out (factually) that Kris Murray was attending documented meetings of MWD during OCTA office hours, he actually calculated how much time she missed while on the public payroll and Matt Cunningham and others went berserk. They accused Nelson of attacking a County employee for political gain. In this case nobody’s even accused Montgomery of being AWOL, she simply works for someone others think needs to be brought down to their level.

    This is not politics, this is not a game, this is someone’s LIFE. Some of you think it is cool to GLOAT because a human being will be struggling to pay her bills next month. She is not a public figure, she never ran for office and subjected herself to that level of public scrutiny, and nobody has charged her with not doing her job. On what planet is it OK to dance at the demise of someone’s financial security? Congratulations, I think this crowd just hit a new low, and that is saying something.

    I realize this is a foregone conclusion, they are gleefully rubbing their hands together at finally punishing the Mayor. My only consolation is that when the Mayor’s office comes unglued the Council can explain their remarkably petty behavior. Trust me, nobody is going to blame the Mayor, they will lay the blame where it belongs, at the feet of those who cut a budget determined necessary a decade ago. If anything, there seems to be more need for the Mayor- what with having to field calls objecting to Brown Act violations, public fund giveaways, and thanking God for riots. How much of his staff time has been used for that? Perhaps we can balance Tait’s budget by collecting from those who angered residents enough to increase his workload.

    I have some questions for that poor overworked City Clerk in the morning.

    • Someone’s life!! Get real Cynthia. Just because the Mayor’s secretary is one of your political friends doesn’t mean she should get more of my tax money. IF you want her to get more money because its her “life” that we are talking about, they write her a check yourself. Stay out of my wallet to pay for your games!

      No part-time government employee should ever make that kind of money working for a city. Period! It’s absurd.

      And in regards to Brown Act violations – they fall squarely at the feet of the Mayor and his former City Attorney.

      Lets not forget its the Mayor’s job to preside over all City Council meetings. and its the City Attorney’s job to make sure those meetings are run according to law. Both the Mayor and former City Attorney failed.

      I would suggested that the Mayor’s budget authority for staff and other programs be $0.00.

      He has proven that he cannot be trusted to run a legal meeting nor can he be trusted the public’s treasury.

      • ReasonableGuy2 – this coming from someone who’s pals once gave away $158 million and now are spending $319 million on a Disney streetcar.

        • How much new money do you think Mishal brings to the City each year? If you do your homework (which many posts prove you refuse to do) you would see how much those other projects you are slandering stand to bring to Anaheim.

  10. Cynthia – I work at City Hall and nothing you’ve said has any bearing on the situation. Mayor Tait and Mishal Montgomery knew what the budget was last July, they have not lived within in it. You claiming that she is being fired is just wrong. You are the queen of PRA requests and you could get all the detail on her budget and benefits if you just asked but you refuse because you want to blindly support the Mayor regardless of facts. The Mayor wants every other department to live with in his means but he recklessly burns through his budget and then waits to the last minute for supplemental funding and his supporters cry fowl on the other council members who are living within their means? Your arguments are the ones with no credibility. And as for the Mayor’s staff needing more- that is just ridiculous. He has an entire 7th floor staff that directly serves his needs in his official capacity as Mayor. She is a personal assistant and nothing more. You and the Mayor claim to be fiscal conservatives – unless it is self serving. What a crock!

    • No need to introduce yourself, I know who you are. Have a nice evening.

      • Hey City Employee….not sure where YOU work at City Hall but it is surely not on the 7th floor. “The entire 7th floor staff directly serves the mayor’s needs in his official capacity as mayor?” This is untrue and unfounded.

        “The Mayor recklessly burns through his budget…” This is untrue and unfounded.

        His supporters cry fowl? Huh? Fowl?

        All the mudslinging and political positioning can be traced to one person and one person alone: Curt Pringle. Ms. Montgomery sided with Tom Tait and Curt Pringle took that as a personal affront. He set her in his sights and he did not care how many others he took down as well. In the long run the hard-working, middle class Anaheim residents will suffer…will Curt? No. Will Disney? No.

  11. Anaheim714 – the GardenWalk deal is merely welfare for the wealthy and we don’t need a taxpayer funded streetcar to move Disney guest around. Let them pay for it themselves.

  12. We live in interesting times. I hope you people understand what it is that just happened and are prepared to live with the fallout.

    • Oh stop being such a drama queen, Cynthia. Anaheim City Hall is not going to grind to a halt because the mayor’s assistant won’t get paid for four months. It’s not as if the mayor and Mishal Montgomery didn’t know they were burning through his budget. Lack of planning on their part doesn’t equal an emergency for everyone else.

      Whether it’s ineptitude or deliberate or both, the mayor has spent the last year alienating his colleagues. That is short-sighted since he needs their votes to govern. He allies himself with the crowd that wants to tar-and-feather those councilmembers. He shouldn’t be surprised when they aren’t there for him when he needs them.

  13. This seems kind of cut & dry to me. Tait had a budget for his assistant that was put in place nearly a year ago. He knew the budget and chose to overpay her each week and the money ran out early. Now he wants more money because he can’t keep to his budget.

    This may be typical for government, but in the private sector, if I blow through my budget early, I still have to perform the tasks required, even if I already spent the money.

    Seems kind of like the options that are given to teachers where they can get less per pay period and get paid for 12 months or get paid more per pay period and get paid for nine months with three months of no paycheck.

    Just keep to your budget Mr. Mayor, like the rest of us have to!

  14. I think the brevity in the UPDATE needs some expanding upon. First off, the item was pulled by both Councilman Brandman, then Tait. When the item came up, Councilman Brandman was treated outrageously by the Mayor, who in his total lack of understanding of parliamentary procedure, ruined any chance his Aide had of getting a fair hearing on this item. That our Mayor would shout at a colleague for following the rules is horrifying and shows what a lot of us have know about for some time.

    Couple things about this item overall that are truly troubling (not withstanding Cynthia Ward’s comments.)

    #1 – The Mayor and his Aide have known for months, MONTHS, that this was an issue and they never lifted a finger until the 11th hour. It shows a disdain for City policy that is astounding. It also shows a complete lack of planning and management. We should expect more from Anaheim’s Mayor.

    Bottom Line – we all have to live within our means.

    #2 – According to the reports, the Mayor’s Aide contributes only 1% toward her pension which is the real reason their budget dissipated so quickly. Again, knew this for months, did nothing. All the City’s bargaining units were forced to contribute 12% to their pensions starting last year – but somehow she’s special. All the other Council Aides declined pension contribution so their compensation would be in salary, not benefits. But somehow, the Mayor’s lack of planning and his Aide’s personal choices are now the Council’s emergency – and the Council gets characterized as being “mean” for saying NO to the Mayor too boot.

    #3 – It became clear rather quickly that either the Mayor or his Aide (and probably both,) had scrambled to build an alliance of supporters on this item. Asking community members and electeds alike to support the Aide’s salary bump.

    Why are conservative republicans like Bob Huff endorsing the idea that the budget isn’t the budget. I think they were all duped and its disgusting that Team Tait would put people in that position. And let’s just say the Council had approved the item? What happens the next time certain bloggers rant and rave about lack of services? Think the Council won’t get vilified for protecting one individual – as if.

    #4 – According to the Mayor’s closing remarks, he will be without staff support of any kind as of tomorrow. That’s a lie. There are dozens of full time staffers on the 7th floor to offer the Mayor, or any Council member, support. He need only ask. And the Mayor continues to enjoy 3 “special projects” staffers as well.

    So what’s this really all about? I think the answer lies in the dozens of Voice of OC stories citing “City Hall Insiders/Sources”. The Mayor has lost a political hatchet man who routinely victimizes the other members of the Council and anyone who gets in the Mayor’s way.

    And for that, he should be truly, truly sorry.

  15. I have never posted here before. You all seem to vicious for me.
    But who is brave enough to ask the Anaheim hotel community about Mishal’s strong arming.
    She used the power of the mayor’s office to pressure the Anaheim Hilton, Anaheim Marriot and Anaheim Doubletree for free rooms a year ago. She had relatives coming into town and wanted free rooms.
    She got them. But in this heated political times, i know one side will defend her under every circumstance and the other side will be discounted.
    I am on no side. But she did pressure them to give her family free rooms.
    If anyone is honest out there, look into it.

    • I will do it, or if I am not trusted then put the circumstances with dates etc. to trace it out there for others to research. But without more info nobody is going to get far.

  16. I trust you Cynthia. I think it was in May of 2010 or May 2011 but it has been so long I am not sure. I think if you ask the hotel owners directly they will remember. The only reason I am doing this is because she was not the nicest person to work with and plus she one time took MY lunch out of the refrigerator in the employee lounge on the seventh floor and ATE it all without asking! I was so upset. Who does that?

  17. Wow Matt, your commentators are now insinuating Mishal got free hotel rooms.

    • Are you stating as a fact she didn’t? It’ll be interesting then to see what Cynthia turns up on this.

    • Look at her Form 700 for 2011 on the city website, Jason:

      She accepted free hotels rooms FROM THE O’CONNELL FAMILY!! And a free mountain cabin rental from from the president of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce. She had a lot more gifts to report than any other council assistant.

      How does a guy who is always filing public record requests on his enemies miss something this obvious and easy to find? Unless you don’t want to know, Jason. Same goes for Cynthia Ward and Adam Elmahrek. How did they overlook this?

  18. Mad about lunch

    Besides the hotel rooms, the big party she planned was also hosted at the Hilton. I think that she got some sort of “special” for the ballroom rental too. Unfortunately freebies were more common than not.

  19. I had no idea that this information was available. Incredible.

    She “receives” free hotel rooms and lunches in Anaheim just because is a part-time government worker? This is crazy.

    I wonder what she “received” from hotels and others that she didn’t put on this document? I think the Mayor has a lot of explaining to do.

  20. It’s all news to me too… The O’Connell Family were gracious enough to extend a $400.00 comp at their Hotel for Ms. Montgomery – how generous of them and the thank you they get is to be vilified in this City.

    • Something you people should realize is that the O’Connell family is not unanimously sympathetic to brother Billy’s tireless attempts to bleed corporate welfare from the taxpayers, nor do they agree with his intemperate attacks on the Mayor. In fact, I saw Billy’s brother sharing a table with the Mayor at the State of the City event.

      But then, what do *I* know, I don’t even live in that town! *snark*

  21. Mr. Nelson – that you would make that assumption because Jerry O’Connell sat with his lifelong friend at the state of the city is absurd. In fact it shows nothing more than the O’Connell family is above mixing friendship and politics. You are the one throwing intemperate attacks at people – get a life and get out of our city!

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