Rick Reiff hosted Mayor Tom Tait and Councilwoman Kris Murray on his “SoCal Insider” program (which airs on PBS SoCal) this week:
Among other things here, the claim is made that the council majority took away the mayor’s power to place items on the council agenda. That’s just false. The mayor has the same ability as anyone else to agendize items: during council communications.
Lost in all the hair-pulling and garment-rending over this issue, amidst all the absurd claims that the mayor’s office is being stifled, is this inconvenient truth: the mayor’s office has only had the power to agendize items in between council meetings since spring of 2012 – when the council approved it. Keep in mind that was in the wake of the GardenWalk vote when Murray, Gail Eastman and Harry Sidhu were being vilified by the OCEA, OCCORD and the backers of the “Take Back Anaheim” initiative that Mayor Tait was strongly supporting.
Neither Curt Pringle nor Tom Daly had this power during their tenures as mayor. Mayor Tait himself has said he has rarely used this power. At some point, it might occur to some journalist somewhere to ask the obvious question: how is the newly-minted, rarely-used prerogative critical to the functioning of Anaheim city government? But who am I to point out the obvious questions?
Reasonable people can disagree about whether that prerogative should have been maintained. However, claims that it is crucial to the continuance of democratic government in Anaheim strike me as ludicrous. Policies on agendizing items vary some city to city. In Westminster and Rancho Santa Margarita, for example, any councilmember can agendize items. That’s also the case in Santa Ana, although items requested by councilmembers are reserved to a special section of the council agenda.
In Orange, the mayor can agendize whatever he/she wants. Councilmembers give their agenda requests to the city clerk, and they have to be approved by the mayor. Agendizing items from the dais requires the approval of a majority of the council (three votes).
I can’t think of a city government in Orange County that has ground to a halt due to a particular policy about placing items on council agendas.