UPDATED: To Recuse or Not to Recuse – That is the Question

UPDATE: Mayor Tait, citing an abundance of caution, recused himself from this afternoon’s closed item on Angel’s negotiations.

On the agenda for the City Council meeting today is a closed session item regarding negotiations with the Angels Baseball organization. Presumably, the council will begin discussions with legal counsel to come to an agreement with the team and prevent them from exercising an out clause that can be optioned as part of their contract before the 2017 season commences.

As was posted on Anaheim Blog earlier this year, Mayor Tait was issued an FPPC opinion letter on May 22, 2012 (click for full copy of the letter), that clearly states the Mayor has several legal conflicts in place and must take specific steps before he can participate as an officer of the city in any negotiations with Angels Baseball or take any actions that have a financial impact on the property where the stadium is located.

Recap: Mayor Tom Tait is a partner in an LLC that owns property at 2130 E. Orangewood and his company, Tait Engineering Services leases a portion of that facility. Since all of this happens within 500 feet from Angels stadium property, there is a legal conflict of interest per the FPPC.

The FPPC’s opinion letter was not provided to the full council when it was received last May, even though he was represented by then Anaheim City Attorney Cristina Talley. Further at the City Council meeting last November 13, then-City Attorney Talley made a prepared statement that Mayor Tait had NO conflict in negotiating a new lease with the Angels – prompting his council colleagues to rescind a motion to form an ad hoc committee of the council to begin negotiations with the Angels last year.

The FPPC states that if Mayor Tait terminates ownership AND if he takes multiple steps as it applies to his leasehold interest where his business property is located, then he may avoid a conflict. It concludes by stating that even if the Mayor takes these steps, the conflict exists for one year from the date all steps are taken in accordance with FPPC direction.

As of four weeks ago, per the Orange County Clerk/ Recorders office, the legal owner of the property is 2130 Orangewood LLC. And when you check the Secretary of State’s website, you will see that Tom Tait and Robert Cook are the owners of the 2130 Orangewood LLC.

So the conclusion: unless something has changed in the last four weeks, Mayor Tait still appears to have a conflict, despite assurances he and the City Attorney gave last November to the other members of the City Council, and by extension the residents of Anaheim and Angels fans everywhere. In viewing all legal sources, he still owns it.

So this begs the question, does the Mayor need to recuse himself from the closed session item scheduled this afternoon, and if so, will he do so?

No comments

  1. Thank you for this post and update. The Mayor has always been very cautious in going above and beyond as it pertains to conflicts in the past. All eyes in Anaheim will be watching how this plays out…

  2. Clearly, the mayor has a conflict. He must recuse himself – case closed.

  3. Great recap of the issues. I find it very hard for anyone to defend Mayor Tom Tait if he decides to violate the law today and participate.

  4. Seems like everyone has known for along time that the Mayor has a conflict.

    Lets not forget that the former Anaheim City Attorney tried to deny that the State had issued a letter to the City of Anaheim confirming he a conflict.

    It’s ridiculous for the Mayor to claim his recusal is out to an “abundance of caution.” It’s he law, he should just follow it.

    • The “abundance of caution” line cracks me up. That’s like going on record saying “I drive on the right side of the street out of an abundance of caution.”

  5. I’m glad the Mayor recused himself. No point in bringing needless complications on himself. If he can properly, quickly sell his ownership of that property near the stadium, there should be plenty of time for him to have a voice in negotiations with the Angels.

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