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Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray - the top vote=getter.

Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray – the top vote=getter.

What to make of Tuesday’s election?

Mayor Tom Tait was elected to a second term, Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray was the top vote-getter for council, and Councilwoman Gail Eastman has apparently been narrowly edged out by James Vanderbilt, a member of the Anaheim City School District Board of Education whom Tait recruited at the beginning of the year to run for city council. All had sufficient resources to communicate their messages to Anaheim voters, and independent expenditures were well-funded and plentiful. [NOTE: Eastman has generally been losing ground in the daily tallies since Election Day, although today she gained 99 votes – leaving her 269 votes down. A lot of Anaheim ballots were counted today – 9,513. There are only 38,591 uncounted ballots left county-wide. A huge percentage of those would have to be from Anaheim for Eastman to be able to catch Vanderbilt.

Do the results bear out Tait’s claim to the Voice of OC that voters are “tired of tired of city leaders steering public resources to expensive projects and subsidies for the resort area and major businesses, while paying little attention to underserved neighborhoods.”

No. That’s spin.

For the moment, let’s put aside the underlying falseness of the mayor’s claim, which is part and parcel of a sustained campaign of distortion aimed at dismantling Anaheim’s traditional economic development vision. If Tait’s analysis were true, then Kris Murray would have been defeated. She has been the most vocal advocate of the public-private partnership approach to economic development. Defeating her was Team Tait’s top priority and she was subjected her a merciless, mendacious pounding from both Tait /Vanderbilt campaign proper and a $100,000 IE campaign funded by the Tait Family Trust and Howard Ahmanson via the California Homeowners Association (CHA) independent expenditure committee. 

Team Tait clubbed Murray with the same themes Tait sounded in the above even more so than Eastman. Yet, Murray was the top vote-getter and received a higher percentage of the vote than four years ago. Jordan Brandman was hit with the same attacks two years ago, and he was the top vote-getter. Jose Moreno ran on much the same platform as Tait, and he finished as distant fourth place. The mayor’s interpretation of the election results is a stretch too far.

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“Election season often brings out the ugliest in people. Negative attack ads and misrepresentations have become commonplace” (Orange County Register, 2014). No greater misrepresentations have been made toward opponents during this election than ones by Tom Tait, Anaheim’s mayor. Tait has indirectly accused two council members running for re-election, Gail Eastman and Kris Murray, of (a) betraying the public trust, asserting that each collected $500,000+ in campaign contributions from special interest groups, and (b) misrepresenting their voting for a subsidy to build a four-star hotel in Anaheim.

I use the word indirectly because the mailed campaign ad originated from California Homeowners Association (2014) in Willows, CA (500 miles north of Anaheim via I-5), an organization describing itself as “support[ing] fiscally responsible candidates for public office.” Ironically, this same special interest group, a PAC, has funneled $100,000 into the “attack Eastman & Murray–re-elect Tait campaign.”

False accusations. Eastman and Murray have not betrayed the pubic trust and each has not collected $500,000+ in campaign contributions—accusations by Tait for which no evidence has been presented.

Gross misrepresentation. It is common practice for cities to offer incentives to developers to build large hotels and sports stadiums. Cities contribute to a project because they want to collect millions of dollars from hotel taxes and sales taxes. The Los Angeles City Council awarded $500,000,000 in tax incentives for downtown economic development for 2015-2016 (Los Angeles Times, 2014). If the Anaheim Convention Center fails to increase its space, major conventions will meet elsewhere, as will conventions with increasing participants who previously met in Anaheim. Some organizations will meet elsewhere if Anaheim lacks sufficient rooms in first-rate hotels, ones that fulfill the needs of conventioneers (and more affluent families visiting the Disney Resort). These four-star hotels will be built eventually—in Anaheim or in a city nearly (e.g., Hyatt Regency in Garden Grove).

Gross misrepresentation. It is common practice for cities to offer incentives to developers to build large hotels and sports stadiums. Cities contribute to a project because they want to collect millions of dollars from hotel taxes and sales taxes.

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Anaheim Insider here.

The Tait Family Trust and Home Savings of America heir Howard Ahmanson have spent this month stretching the truth in their campaign mail attacks (done through the California Homeowners Association IE committee) against Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray and Councilwoman Gail Eastman. The IE campaign is part of Mayor Tom Tait’s attempt to defeat his two GOP colleagues and replace them with James Vanderbilt and leftist Jose F. Moreno (since Doug Pettibone dropped out).

This very dishonest hit piece (even by the standards of this campaign), paid for by the Tait Family Trust, arrived in the mail yesterday: 

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When he decided to run for Anaheim City Council at the beginning of the year, James Vanderbilt told both Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray and Councilwoman Gail Eastman that he was mainly running to build up name ID, that he thought they’d done a good job and he wasn’t going to attack them.

So much for promises.

Yesterday, this mailer from Vanderbilt landed in voter mail boxes and in truth, Vanderbilt broke that promise “no attacks” pledge early in his campaign):



In the mailer, Vanderbilt tries to contrast himself with Kris Murray on Measure N by claiming she “Placed Measure N on the November 4 ballot to transfer  utility fee surplus to the general fund by describing it as a “language update.”

There’s no other way to say it: Vanderbilt is lying. I very clearly remember watching that vote: both Kris Murray and Tom Tait voted against placing Measure N on the ballot. I even checked the minutes of the July 22 meeting where the vote took place, just the be certain I wasn’t mistaken.

As Anaheim Insider pointed out yesterday, the Tait campaign posted on Facebook that Anaheim voters need to replace Kris Murray and Gail Eastman with “a new, honest council.” That’s typical of the kind of rhetoric wafting out from Team Tait. How does the mayor square that with this falsehood being promoted by Vanderbilt? Either Vanderbilt didn’t bother verifying his claim (something easily done) or he knew it wasn’t true and made the false claim anyway.

One of the questions put to the candidates at the Anaheim Buzz/Anaheim Hills Community Council forum was a speed-round on taxes. They were asked for a yes-or-no response to whether they supported or opposed:

  • Imposing a “gate” tax on entry to Disneyland Resort, Angel Stadium, the Honda Center and other sports and entertainment venues”
  • A utility tax
  • Raising the sales tax for Anaheim
  • A “split-roll” property tax system, i.e. removing Prop. 13 protections from commercial property 

All candidates responded with a quick “non” to each tax…except Jose Moreno. As Anaheim Blog reported earlier this month, the left-wing Democrat responded to each question about imposing a new tax or hiking an existing one with “Open to the idea.”

Here’s the video:

Given Moreno’s clearly stated political philosophy, it’s reasonable to assume that translates as, “I’ll vote for that tax increase if it comes before me.”


It’s October, so there are quite a few independent expenditures being conducted to influence the outcome of the mayoral and council races, as well as the balloting on Measure L (which would replace the current at-large council election system with by-district elections. A bad idea).

One IE campaign in particular bears particular attention, and that is the mail campaign being waged against Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray and Councilwoman Gail Eastman. The vehicle being used is a campaign committee called the California Homeowners Association (CHA), and the funding for the hits is coming from the Tait Family Trust (Tom Tait’s parents) and Fieldstead & Company (quirky Home Savings heir Howard Ahmanson).

On October 10, both entities deposited identical amounts into CHA: $49,750. That’s $99,500 altogether.

So far, CHA has spent $50,103 so far on three hit pieces against Murray and Eastman. They’re entirely predictable and closely hew to the line of attack Tom Tait has pursued for the last two years: the GardenWalk agreement (“$158 million giveaway“), on a 2012 MOU with city employees (which Anaheim Insider posted about yesterday) and falsely accusing them of eminent domain abuse regarding the Anaheim Rapid Connection streetcar.  [Note: even though the three mailers attack both councilwoman equally, only $16,024 of the $50K is attributed to hits on Murray, rather than split evenly.]

That leaves just under $50,000 in the CHA till for Anaheim purposes. Whether that will be used to continue hitting Murray and Eastman, promote Tait and/or Vanderbilt, or hit Lucille Kring remains to be seen.

What is beyond dispute is that Team Tait is pulling out the stops to take out the mayor’s council colleagues. There’s something surreal about the OC Republican Party’s Local Elected Official of the Year waging a very expensive war to take out his two Republican council colleagues – especially when one considers that if Tait is successful, the most likely result is the election of the most left-wing Democrat anywhere in Orange County local government.

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Anaheim Insider here.

In a condescending, inaccurate mailer funded by the Tait Family Trust, Mayor Tait accuses council women Gail Eastman and Kris Murray of giving a “sweetheart” deal to the city’s public employee unions. The mailer is covered with feminine touches such as hearts, lipstick marks and pink-colored lettering. The Tait family’s mail consultant must have been in a hurry because the tea doilies and aprons were left out.

2nd CHA hit on Kris and Gail 10-16-14_Page_1

The Tait camp might want to consider that more than a few women voters are more likely to be offended by the mailer’s chauvinistic tone, which is quite out of place considering the reason Tait’s hand-picked candidate Doug Pettibone dropped out of the race (or rather, was thrown under the bus by the Mayor).

If Murray and Eastman were men, does anyone think the mailer would have looked like this?

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CHA Hit paid by Tait Family TrustAnaheim Insider here.

If you could spend $49,750 on anything in your community, what would you spend it on? Just to make it a little easier, here are a few options of what that kind of money buys you in Anaheim:

A. Annual tuition for 199 low income kids to attend the Anaheim Boys and Girls Clubs after school programs.

B. One week of tuition for 239 toddlers to attend preschool at the Anaheim YMCA.

C. Underwrite 497 Anaheim kids living in violent families to attend Youth Violence Prevention Programs at the Orange County Family Justice Center.

D. Pay for 829 Anaheim at-risk youth to attend the 24-week Cops 4 Kids Junior Cadet Program.

E. Fund a malicious mail campaign against your (conservative Republican) council colleagues.

It appears Mayor Tom Tait, who has spent his entire first term of office espousing a platform of “kindness,” prefers option E. 

As this FPPC filing shows, the Tait Family Trust is funding $49,750 in campaign attack mail aimed at Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray and Councilwoman Gail Eastman, his two Republican colleagues. And the hits are just getting started with a hit piece dredging up their votes on GardenWalk from nearly two years ago.

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Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray was featured on this ABC-7 Eyewitness News story from yesterday:

Murray on KABC-TV re Angels 9-30-14


End of the day, this story hurts, rather than helps, Tait. To the extent news coverage of Angels negotiations has focused on the mayor, it has been on his vocal criticism of what has been represented (inaccurately) to an Angels demand for the right to develop part of the stadium district for a $1 annual lease payment. After a year of that, the coverage has now shifted to the Angels responding by terminating negotiations and looking to move to Tustin or elsewhere. 

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Kris Murray’s re-election campaign ginned up its mail campaign with this initial “Promises Made, Promises Kept” piece inviting recipients to join her for a series of coffees for a “state of the city”  update and discussion at the homes of various supporters:

kris murray coffee mailer_Page_1

Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray

Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray

This came over the transom from Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray’s re-election campaign:

Lincoln Club of OC Endorses Kris Murray for Anaheim City Council

Lincoln Club cites Murray’s stance on lower taxes and limited government

(Anaheim) – Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray has been endorsed by the Lincoln Club of Orange County in her race for reelection to the Anaheim City Council, her campaign announced today. The esteemed organization is dedicated to protecting individual freedoms and economic growth through lower taxes and limited government.

“The Lincoln Club seeks to promote good government by supporting the candidates who espouse the ideals of limited government, lower taxes, expanded freedom and the rule of law. We look forward to working with you in promoting these ideals when you are elected,” Lincoln Club officials said in a letter announcing the endorsement.

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oc gop logoThe OC GOP Endorsements Committee voted 3-2 last night to recommend to the full Central Committee “no endorsement” for any of the Anaheim City Council candidates. 

These committee meetings can have a surreal aspect, and last night was no exception. Although Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray and Councilwoman Gail Eastman had submitted their applications for the endorsement two weeks ago, it was not until they were literally standing in front of the committee that Chairman Mark Bucher told them their request could not be considered at all because they hadn’t taken the pledge not to accept contributions from public employee unions. That could have been communicated earlier.

Tom Tait’s candidates were then brought before the committee. Doug Pettibone went first. He’s a first time candidate and it showed in his pitch, which was short and consisted of telling the committee that Tait has asked him to run, and since the OC GOP has endorsed Tait, then it should also endorse him because he has been endorsed by Tait, and it would be inconsistent if they didn’t.

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This came over the transom from the re-election campaign of Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray:

OC GOP caucus

GOP Legislative Leaders Endorse Kris Murray for Anaheim City Council

(Anaheim) — Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray has received the endorsements of key Republican legislative leaders in her re-election campaign for City Council. 

“Being a leader means making tough, but necessary decisions. During her time on the Anaheim City Council, Kris Murray has continued to impress me with her clear leadership and commitment to Anaheim’s residents and taxpayers,” said Senator Bob Huff. “I am proud to offer my support in her re-election campaign and know she will continue working to make Anaheim a great place to live and work.”

“Kris Murray has a clear and consistent vision for Anaheim that I admire. She is a foreword thinker that knows what it takes to create jobs and spur economic development in her community and regionally. As an emerging leader in the County and in our Party, I am proud to support Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray,” Senator Mimi Walters said. 

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keep the angels_logoLos Angeles Times sports columnist published a great column this Sunday, opining that helping secure an agreement to keep the Angels in Anaheim would be a fitting legacy as Bud Selig’s term as baseball commissioner comes to an end:

We are 10 days shy of the one-year anniversary of what appeared to be the resolution, a tentative agreement in which Moreno would pay for the estimated $150 million in Angel Stadium renovations and would get the right to try to make his money back from developing the surrounding parking lot, at no cost to the city of Anaheim.

Mayor Tom Tait objected, saying the parking lot was too valuable to lease to Moreno at $1 per year. A subsequent appraisal commissioned by the city valued that land at $225 million.

But the appraisal also valued the land at up to $325 million if the stadium were demolished, and Moreno was agitated that the city would assess that option if it were intent on keeping the team.

There have been no negotiations since the appraisal was released in May, and the Angels have considered sites in Tustin and Irvine, with the Tustin site currently considered the most feasible alternative.

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Kris Murray promises made

This came over the transom yesterday from the Kris Murray re-election campaign:

August 13, 2014

Dear Friends,

Please join me for a friends and family FUNraiser next Thursday, August 21st at Cinema City Theatres in Anaheim.

This community event in support of my re-election campaign for City Council is hosted by Anaheim police, firefighters, and the City’s neighborhood associations.

Following our reception, all guests are invited to stay for a private screening of The American President with Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, and Michael J. Fox.

It will be a family fun movie night at Cinema City – including the big screen, freshly popped popcorn, ice-cold refreshing sodas, and Red Vines.

I look forward to seeing you next Thursday for some end of summer fun at the box office!

All my best,

Kris Murray
Mayor Pro Tem
City of Anaheim

Click here to download the flyer for the event.

This came over the transom yesterday from Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray:

convention center image


Expansion of Convention Center Approved

Win-Win for Anaheim

Creating New Jobs & New Revenue for City Neighborhoods

Last night, my council colleagues and I approved a financing plan for the 7th expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center since it was built in 1967, creating thousands of new skilled jobs and generating millions in new economic activity for the City. Hundreds of supporters filled the council chambers expressing strong, vocal support for the expansion.

The expansion will be 100% privately financed with funding made available by a 2% increase in the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) that Anaheim and Garden Grove hotels in the designated resort area self assessed themselves in 2010, establishing the Anaheim Tourism Improvement District (ATID).

This expansion is estimated to create 1,860 jobs during construction and 2,043 new jobs supported annually. As well as bring in 14 new conventions and trade shows, 160,000 attendees and 450,000 attendee days. And for Anaheim taxpayers, the expansion creates a total net city benefit of $577.3 million over the next 30 years for city services. This expansion is a huge win-win for Anaheim!

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kris Murray at 7-22 mtgI don’t think any one doubted the outcome of last night’s meeting, but it was still heartening late last night when the Anaheim City Council voted 4-1 to approve the bonds to finance the expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center. Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray and Councilmembers Gail Eastman, Lucille Kring and Jordan Brandman all voted yes, while Mayor Tom Tait voted no.

There was a huge turnout in support of approving the Convention Center bonds. Owners and operators of small and large businesses; union representatives; residents; single-moms; and hard-working folks in general asked the council, one after the other, to approve the bonds and get the Convention Center expansion moving forward.

The council majority spoke vigorously its support for the expansion and its opposition to the obstructionism of opponents. Kris Murray delivered impassioned oration drawing upon the examples of her predecessors and the plain requirements of the future.

“The fact is we have an opportunity in time. This is the seventh expansion. This isn’t 1960. This isn’t whether we get into the convention center business. that decision was made – thank God! Because our city is so far ahead of the curve financially from other cities – not just in the county, but around the state. In the Register today, two cities in orange County, Stanton and Placentia — Stanton tonight is considering a sales tax on their residence because they are cutting services because they can’t make ends meet; and so is Placentia. We have cities across the state filing for bankruptcy.  But Anaheim, courtesy of our Resort District, our stadium, the economic engines of this city – the Convention Center being a hallmark component of that – we aren’t in that position.  We are balancing our budget, reinvesting in police and fire, we are reinvesting in parks, and libraries, and roads, and potholes, and graffiti abatement. We are doing everything for neighborhoods because we have a thriving economy.
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Yesterday was the first day candidates could pull papers for the upcoming city council election (the nomination period closes at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, August 8. Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray was the first candidate to do so when she pulled papers yesterday to seek re-election to a second council term.

k murray pulls re-election papers

Based on who have formed committees or filed intention-to-run papers, here is the unofficial list of council candidates, thus far:

According to various sources, 73-year old retired Anaheim police officer Jerry O’Keefe also plans to run for council. I knew Jerry back in the early 1990s when I was a member of the Orange County chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish-Catholic fraternal organization; Jerry is very active in the AOH and the cause of Irish unity.

We shall keep you posted as the candidate roster develops.

UPDATED (10:33 a.m., 7/15): Doug Pettibone and Jerry O’Keefe have both pulled their nomination papers, bringing to three the number of candidates who have done so.

UPDATED (1:14 P.M., 7/15): the Anaheim City Clerk has posted an unofficial council/mayoral candidate list, which will be updated daily. It confirms the previous update.

UPDATED (10:22 A.M., 7/16): Councilwoman Gail Eastman has pulled her nomination papers. No surprise there. The inaugural member of the Tait Slate, Anaheim school board member James Vanderbilt, has yet to pull nomination papers, and some insiders have been speculating he won’t pull the trigger (which is not a view I share).

Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Councilwoman

Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray

Following a growing train of Orange County city councils in the wake of a court decision declaring such ordinances unconstitutional, the Anaheim City Council repealed an ordinance banning registered sex offenders from being in a city park.

At the same time, Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray asked the city attorney to draft a resolution of support for a legislative fix to the constitutionality issue. From the June 16 OC Register (published prior to Tuesday’s council meeting):

Calling the repeal a setback, Councilwoman Kris Murray asked the city attorney to draft a resolution that calls for supporting any future state legislation that gives cities the authority to restrict sex offenders at parks. The City Council this week was expected to support the resolution.

“I think it’s important that we don’t walk away and throw our hands in the air,” Murray said. “We need to do something to keep our kids safe.”

The council did indeed adopt the resolution on a 5-0 on Tuesday.

Anaheim_PoliceHeader2On Tuesday, the Anaheim City Council unanimously approved a request from Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray to adopt a policy to hire 10 additional police officers a year for the next for year, funds permitting. From the staff report:

Mayor Pro Tem Murray requested that staff prepare a policy for City Council consideration at the June 10, 2014 meeting to memorialize the City Council’s commitment to public safety by increasing the number of police officers back to pre-recessionary levels. The proposed Resolution adopts a policy to prioritize the funding, as part of the annual budget process, for 10 additional police officers each fiscal year for the next four years beginning with fiscal year 2014/15, should there be sufficient General Fund resources available to fund such positions.

Ensuring citizens are safe in their homes, neighborhoods, on the streets and in their businesses is the first duty of local government. While a tiny but vocal group that frequents city council meetings is possessed of the belief that the public’s safety is threatened by the police, the council acted from the responsible, traditional and common sense position that a police department of sufficient strength is a necessary condition for having a safe community. 

To be sure, reducing crime and ensuring public safety isn’t solely a function of hiring more police. The character of the community, the refusal of citizens to tolerate the presence of criminals and criminal activity in their neighborhoods is a key element, as well as parents doing everything they can to keep their children on the moral straight and narrow and away from gangs or other criminal involvement. But at the end of the day, a city needs good men and women with badges to keep out the bad guys. 

Few things undermine citizens confidence in free government more than that government’s inability to provide law and order. I’ll end with a quote I’ve posted here before from the 1964 acceptance speech of Barry Goldwater, hardly a friend of oppressive government:

“Security from domestic violence, no less than from foreign aggression, is the most elementary and fundamental purpose of any government, and a government that cannot fulfill that purpose is one that cannot long command the loyalty of its citizens. History shows us – demonstrates that nothing – nothing prepares the way for tyranny more than the failure of public officials to keep the streets from bullies and marauders.”

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