From the OC Register:
Former Anaheim Councilwoman Lorri Galloway told Mayor Tom Tait months ago that she would be the better candidate for mayor next year and that he should run for City Council. While Tait rejected the idea, he was on notice that Galloway, a longtime political ally, had designs on the seat he won in 2010.
Still, Tait said he was “obviously disappointed and surprised,” when this column last week reported that Galloway would indeed run for mayor.
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait peaks during a ceremony last month at George Washington Park in Anaheim to dedicate 18 new banners for active-duty military personnel from Anaheim.
“But anyone can run for mayor,” he shrugged as we met over breakfast on Monday. “It is what it is.” And other than that, he didn’t refer again to Galloway, although he rebutted her allegations that he has failed to provide leadership. She contends that even though they are in general agreement on several of the meatiest issues facing the city, Tait’s inability to compromise has led to a 4-1 split on the City Council, with Tait an ineffective lone dissenter.
“Leadership?” he said. “When I took office, the city was losing $56,000 a day and had been for two years. If I didn’t do anything, we would have run out of money. We had eaten through $30 million in reserves. We had to make immediate cuts. A lot of people didn’t like that but it had to be done.”
There have been divisive issues, but there was no room for compromise, he said, because the issues “had to do with giving away the people’s money in massive amounts.”
The first of those issues to arise was a $158 million tax break given to a hotel developer by the council majority. “I don’t know how you compromise a $158 million giveaway to a hotelier. I wanted to let the people vote on it, but they wouldn’t agree to that.”
“You could have offered to cut the $158 million in half,” I suggested.
“There’s no reason to do it in the first place,” he said. “When it comes down to these big-principle issues, I’m not going to compromise my principles.”
Similarly, he said there is no middle ground left regarding how the city’s neighborhoods should be represented on the City Council. Tait wants a pure district system in which council candidates must live in the district they wish to represent and only voters in that district may cast ballots for them. The other council members voted for at-large citywide voting for every district.
“To win at-large, you need a lot of money. That leaves you susceptible to special interests. Regular people don’t have that kind of money. In districts, you have a candidate who can walk the district and at least have a chance against the special interests.”
Conversely, the entire city is impossible to walk, and special-interest money (that usually goes into expensive mail pieces) will dominate, he says. The majority also defeated his attempt to put the pure districting model on the ballot for voters to decide.
“I don’t know how you compromise on that. You either let people have a vote or you don’t.”
The Angel Stadium deal with Arte Moreno also has him at odds with the majority. Tait was against approving a Memorandum of Understanding with the Angels that serves as a framework to cut a deal that would allow Moreno lease 155 acres of prime city-owned real estate surrounding the stadium for $1 a year for 66 years and allow him to drop the name “Anaheim” from the team entirely.
Tait, a lawyer, believes the M.O.U. may have locked in the 155 acres and the Anaheim name-drop as the starting point from which to negotiate the final deal. “The proponents) say, ‘Oh, it’s just an M.O.U., but I don’t know where you go from there.” If the city tries to bargain back from the established starting point, he says, Moreno could sue for bad faith.
He also defended his position that public employee pensions must be cut, something that Galloway said he was too strident about, alienating city workers.
He is not supporting unilateral cuts to existing pensions (as my Friday column implied) but only allowing employees themselves to bargain down their current rates during contract talks. As the law stands, pension formulas for existing employees generally can’t be reduced. The fiscal realities of unfunded pension liability, he says, call for reform. “It’s really about saving pensions and keeping the system solvent.”