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This week, the Orange County Register (OCR, 2014) endorsed the re-election of Tom Tait as Anaheim’s mayor, calling him the “best [candidate] to lead the city.” Examining the rationale presented in its endorsement, however, I found little to justify the paper’s support.

The OCR cited Tait’s quelling anger and potential violence following riots during 2012 and supporting citizens’ oversight of the city’s police department.

t8The paper applauded Tait’s “dissenting voice,” a council member who consistently votes no “on numerous issues.” It cited Tait as the only council member to oppose a tax incentive to build a hotel near Disneyland and the city’s convention center.

Voting to approve a tax incentive to developers is not unusual, so voting no is not necessarily a virtue. The Los Angeles City Council awarded $500,000,000 in tax incentives for downtown economic development for 2015-2016 (Los Angeles Times, 2014).

Whether to offer a tax incentive depends on several factors; for example, (a) the need for a hotel that satisfies current convention needs and its potential to attract larger future conventions, (b) the return on investment that taxpayers would receive by building a hotel, and, most important, (c) whether not offering an incentive means not building a hotel and losing tax revenues. Tait’s vote seems like a no vote without consideration of positive aspects of providing a tax incentive.

Yes, Tait talks about transparency (endlessly), but the OCR did not cite any evidence of increased governmental transparency in Anaheim since he has been mayor. Transparency was confused with Tait’s rigidity and public comments that torpedoed the city’s negotiations with the Angels. And there is a difference between publicly discussing unfunded pension liabilities and solving this problem.

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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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Mayor Tom Tait

Mayor Tom Tait

A group of California mayors, including Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, have submitted a request for title and summary for their Pension Reform Act of 2014 initiative. All are Democrats, except for Tait.

From CalPensions.com:

The mayor is proposing a state constitutional amendment intended to allow cuts in pensions earned by current state and local government workers in the future, while pensions already earned through time on the job would be protected.

Reed said private-sector pensions and public pensions in 12 other states have the flexibility to control costs by reducing pension amounts that current workers earn in the future.

Under the constitutional amendment, cuts in the pensions earned by current workers in the future could be bargained with unions or placed on ballots through initiatives. There also could be no change.

“It’s all about empowering cities to solve their own problems,” Reed said after addressing a pension conference last week at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. “How they do it will be up to them.”

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Last night the Anaheim City Council voted 4-1 to approve a new, two-year contract with the Anaheim Police Association that ends a practice that increased pension benefits, and starts new hires at a less generous defined-benefit retirement. Mayor Tom Tait voted against approval.

From the Voice of OC:

Under the contract, the pension formula for new members of the Anaheim Police Association is 2.7 @ 57, which means that upon turning 57 an officer can receive a pension equal to 2.7 percent of their salary for each year served. 

This means that after 30 years of service, officers can retire with 81 percent of their final salary. Current members of the Anaheim force are covered by a 3 @ 50 formula that allows them to collect up to 90 percent of their salaries after 30 years of service.

According to Anaheim Human Resources Director Kristine Ridge, the agreement saves approximately $1.6 million over the term of the contract, mostly by eliminating the “pers-on-pers” benefit by which the city paid the employees’ 9 percent contribution to the state’s public employees retirement system, then reported it as part of employees’ salaries.

With this benefit in place, the pension calculation of a retiring officer earning $100,000 would be based on $109,000.

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San Berdoo council districts

Proponents of council districts like to say “Anaheim is the largest city in California without council districts” as if that isolated fact were an argument in and of itself. Anaheim is also the largest city in the California with a major Disney theme park. So what?

In my experience, denizens of the Left think that sort of rhetoric is extremely compelling. How many times have we heard them argue “The United States is the only major industrial democracy in the world without (fill in desired liberal social program du jour),” as if “everyone else is doing it” is a reason to do anything.

Be that as it may, let’s take a look at these other, more progressives cities that elect their councilmembers by districts:

Los Angeles: a broke metropolis of 3,792,621 with 15 council districts. Broke and getting broker. Under the thumb of public employee unions and various left-wing pressure groups (larger cousins of the coalition pressing for single-member districts in Anaheim).

San Diego: a city of 1,322,553 with nine council districts. Ground zero of the municipal pension bomb.

Stockton: a city of 201,707 with six council districts. The largest American city to file for bankruptcy. Ever. And ranked one of the most dangerous cities in America, to boot.

San Bernardino: a city of 209,924 with seven districts. Filing for bankruptcy. And with a rising crime rate.

Santa Ana: a city of 324,528 with six districts. A fiscal basket case.

Riverside: a city of with seven districts. Another city in dire fiscal straits.

Oakland: a crime-ridden city of 395,817 with seven councilmembers elected from districts and one at-large councilmember  . Another progressive citadel staring at a pension time bomb of its own making.

Boy, a real collection of real exemplars of fiscal probity! Why wouldn’t the citizens of Anaheim want to emulate their example!

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John Leos has made “transparency” a cornerstone of his campaign: he’s all about ensuring nothing is hidden from the voters.

Except when it comes to telling voters about his stands on the issues.

Click here to go to John Leos’ campaign website. Scroll down and in the lower right-hand corner you’ll see a photo of him with Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait:

Now, here’s the same photo in a John Leos campaign mailer that went out a few days ago, targeting Republican voters:

But wait! Are they the same picture? Let’s make a side-by-side comparison:

Well, what do you know? The Leos campaign altered the photo: Photoshopping out the “No on 32″ signs on the back wall.

Why would the Leos campaign do that?

Leos, a government union activists and (until recently) a director of the OCEA. opposes Prop. 32, which would require unions like his to get members’ permission before using their dues for political purposes. Prop. 32 has strong support among Anaheim Republican voters, and letting them know Leos’ stance on this issue would undercut efforts to sell him as a conservative reformer.

So Leos airbrushes his”No on Prop. 32” stance out of existence. He’s so transparent on the issue of Prop. 32 that his position on it has disappeared!

OCEA’s John Leos (center) with OCEA Prez Robert Gibson (right) at Jerry Brown inaugural shindig.

I was looking at council candidate John Leos’ campaign website and saw this promise:

“I pledge to decline the City car allowance, medical benefits and pension.” – John Leos

Except for the car allowance part (and good for John Leos on that count), that’s like a non-smoker promising to give up cigarettes, or a teetotaler promising to give up drinking.

Leos works for the county probation department. He already has a government pension: 2.7% at 55 (which is far better than what most Anaheim voters can look forward to getting). He already has medical benefits through the county.

In other words, Leos is promising the taxpayers he will not to double-dip — which is good as far as it goes, but kind of the minimum one would expect — and in light of is existing county pension and medical benefits, an essentially meaningless promise.

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