Anaheim Insider here.
Last week, Mayor Tom Tait ousted his council colleague, Mayor Pro Tem Gail Eastman, from the OCTA Board of Directors, to which he had voted to appoint her a year ago, and take it for himself. After talking with a number of insiders who were present at the scene of the crime, it is clear Tait’s action is an example of big and small hypocrisy and double-standards, and possibly violation of state law.
Furthermore, Tait did it all without ever giving anyone an explanation why he wants to serve on the OCTA Board of Directors.
It wasn’t very difficult for Tait to oust Eastman. It’s the population-weighted city seat from the Fourth Supervisor District, and Tait controls almost fifty-percent of the vote. He only needed one other mayor to go along with him. He found that person in fellow my-way-or-the-highway contrarian Bruce Whitaker, the mayor of Fullerton. Even Tait couldn’t fumble this ball.
On multiple levels, Tait’s ouster of Eastman runs totally contrary to his often stated commitment to transparency, accountability and avoiding even the perception of a conflict of interest.
So Much for Transparency
As has already been noted on this blog, Tait kept his intention to seek the OCTA a secret. He waited until less than two hours before the start of the City Selection Committee to tell his council colleague he was running against her (despite the fact she’d been trying for weeks to get an answer from him one or another), but didn’t give her a reason why.
In fact, Mayor Transparency has never publicly explained why he wants to sit on the OCTA Board or why he felt it was necessary to remove a colleague who is universally regarded as doing a good job in that post.
Unlike other candidates, Tait chose not to file a candidate form with the City Selection Committee that he chairs! That form asks applicants to state why they think they are qualified for the post they are running for. Instead, Bruce Whitaker nominated Tait from the floor.
For those who’never been to one, here’s how City Selection Committee works: the chair (in this case, Tom Tait) announces the office being voted on, announces who the candidates are and asks them if they’d like to stand and tell their colleagues why they should be elected.
According to those I spoke to who were there, every candidate stood and paid their colleagues the respect of explaining what made them qualified and why they wanted their voted. The lone exception was the man running the proceedings: Tait never gave a single reason for why he was running. All he said was he had been on it before, and that he’d deal with the conflict-of-interest issue (his firm has a contract with OCTA) by abstaining on votes related to that issue (more on later on that double-standard of Tait’s own making).
The man who complained loudly that the public was cheated because the Angels negotiations MOU wasn’t publicly agendized until “late Friday afternoon on a holiday weekend” deliberately kept the public in the dark about his intention to oust his colleague from a government agency that directly and significantly impacts Anaheim until just two hours before the vote.
In his push for yet another police oversight body, Tom Tait has repeatedly said you can never have too much transparency:
“Transparency is good for any organization and it is essential for building trust, which is the foundation of effective law enforcement and community policing.” [said Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait]
But transparency goes out the window when it comes to Tait secretly planning to oust a colleague from an important public policy position affecting his constituents.
When Councilman Jordan Brandman moved to end the mayor’s recently-granted power to agendize items between council meetings, Tait complained that it would eviscerate his power. Let’s note that Brandman made that move publicly and transparently, in broad daylight. He publicly explained his proposal for all to see during council comments, and ask that it be placed on the agenda for his colleagues consideration. He gave Tait six days to protest and organize his supporters to publicly protest it.
Tait kept his intention to oust his council colleague from arguably Orange County’s most important countywide governmental body totally secret from the public until the last minute. He gave Gail Eastman no opportunity to respond; he didn’t even give her any reasons to respond to. Tait gave Anaheim residents no opportunity to comment for or against a decision that directly impacts their city. Not very kind.
No double-standard here.
Why would Mayor Transparency keep his constituents and the public in the dark, without providing any explanations for his actions? Why does anyone act secretly?
I think we all know the answer to why Tait ousted Eastman: petty political payback. His council colleagues ought to demand he give them and his constituents to courtesy of an explanation. it would be interesting to see if he does, and if he gives them an honest one.