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Anaheim Insider here.

The OC Register picked up on the issue I’ve been posting about: Mayor Tom Tait’s conflict-of-interest issue regarding being an OCTA Director when his company has a contract with the OCTA. I examined the validity of Tait’s rationalizations in this post.

Another point to consider: California Government Code 1090:

1090. Members of the Legislature, state, county, district, judicial district, and city officers or employees shall not be financially interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity, or by any body or board of which they are members. Nor shall state, county, district, judicial district, and city officers or employees be purchasers at any sale or vendors at any purchase made by them in their official capacity.

As used in this article, “district” means any agency of the state formed pursuant to general law or special act, for the local performance of governmental or proprietary functions within limited boundaries.

Mayor Tait isn’t merely a Tait & Associates employee. He owns Tait & Associates. He has a financial interest in all Tait & Associates business, including the contract with OCTA. He will soon be a member of the OCTA Board of Directors.  State law states “…city officers or employees shall not be financially interested in any contract made by…any body or board of which they are members.” The facts here match up with what Government Code 1090 prohibits.

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Anaheim Insider here.

The Orange County Register has picked up the issue of whether Mayor Tom Tait can and should serve on the OCTA Board of Directors since the company that he owns and runs has a $330,000 contract with OCTA. The contract runs for another 19 months, and so far OCTA has paid Tait & Associates $127,483.

It is certainly a conflict of interest when judged against the conflict standard established by the mayor himself. Maybe he’s giving himself a waiver.

It’s OK If The Contract Isn’t Too Big?
In the Register, Tait claims he can vote “fairly” as an OCTA Director, but that’s not the issue.

“If I didn’t feel I could serve fairly, I wouldn’t do it,” Tait said of his upcoming two-year term on the OCTA board.

Tait told the reporter that “It’s not a large contract.”  Does that matter? Would it be a conflict if it were for $1 million or $5 million instead? Does that mean he would not be able to vote “fairly” if the contract were bigger?

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Mayor Tom Tait

Mayor Tom Tait

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.

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Is this what passes for news nowadays?

Today, the Voice of OC reports that Disneyland has had input into the development of the Anaheim Rapid Connection system. Wow, what a shock. Public agencies (the smart ones, at least) always consult with and seek input from the public — which includes businesses — when developing transportation projects.  Yet, the Voice of OC and squeaky wheels like Cynthia Ward attempt to create the perception that doing so is suspect — at least when it comes to Disney.

Suppose the City of Anaheim and OCTA developed a transit system for the Anaheim Resort without any input from Disney, the largest single business in the resort? Suppose they broke ground and began construction without ever meeting with Disney and asking “Hey, you guys have 58 years of experience and loads of data on traffic patterns and resort visitor attitudes and habits. What do you think about having ARC stop at Disney Way.” Would anyone consider that intelligent planning?

[Maybe Cynthia Ward, whose published attitude is that the city can and should build some bare-bones system and Resort visitors should just suck it up and ride.]

Transportation projects are improved by seeking the input of impacted business and residents. Although the Anaheim Resort area is more than just Disneyland, it exists because of Disneyland. Millions of people come there every year, spending enormous sums of money and creating and sustaining thousands of jobs, because of Disneyland.

The usual Anaheim suspects have been demanding that Disney pay for the system. I expect that sort of talk from leftists like Jose Moreno, who have never met a corporation whose wealth they didn’t want to re-distribute. Indeed, Moreno and his cohorts want the city to impose a head tax on entry into Disneyland, Angel Stadium, the Honda Center (and likely growing list of attractions) fund their program for increased city spending.

Disney-phobia’s Warping Effect On Reason and Logic
But it is strange to hear self-identified conservatives echoing a leftist policy theme. Conservatives routinely — and rightly — blame much of the high-cost of housing on exactions and fees imposed on builders to “mitigate” the impact of more live bodies moving into an area. Want to build homes on your property? Then you’ll have to donate land for parks, pay to build streets, etc.; after all that infrastructure benefits the developer’s customers.

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On Friday, the Voice of OC published an article about an e-mail the reporter had not even seen, breathlessly describing it as “politically explosive.”

Last night the Voice published a follow-up story — this time after actually reading the e-mail (or as it turns out, e-mails) in question and being educated on the actual context and meaning. The description of the e-mail was downgraded to merely “questionable.” Sort of like the U.S. Weather Service downgrading a meteorological event from “hurricane” to “gusty winds.”

Personally, I think the “questionable” appellation is an overstatement. OCTA CEO-designate Darrell Johnson provided very reasonable explanations in the Voice article, and they come down to semantics and jargon and the occasional in-exactitude that is an inevitable aspect of human endeavors. Furthermore, no one has been able to point to any evidence of any wrong-doing or unethical conduct (the wishful thinking of ankle-biters does not count as proof).

For me and many others, the most shocking thing about this episode has been the heedlessness and haste with which this story has been reported and allegations carelessly tossed about, needlessly and recklessly damaging the reputations of two individuals of integrity.  Isn’t investigative reporting supposed to be about nailing down facts, and crossing Ts and dotting Is?

I’ve been informed that Mayor Tait, at last night’s City Selection Committee meeting, nominated his council colleague Gail Eastman to the OCTA Board of Directors, and that she was handily elected.

Those of us who very much want to see an end to the destructive divisions on the Anaheim City Council are relieved and encouraged by Mayor Tait’s extending this big olive branch. It is a signal that the councilmembers who have been at loggerheads, often bitterly, can work together in the common interest of the city. This  is good for the council and the city.

Hopefully, this will become more typical of how the councilmembers operate in the future.

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