Anaheim City Manager Denies Mayor’s Request to Discuss ‘People’s Map’

Tom Tait
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Anaheim City Manager Paul Emery has denied a request by Mayor Tom Tait to put the question of whether to restore the popular council districts map, known as the “people’s map,” on Tuesday’s city council meeting agenda.

Tait and his allies have called the denial, which was based on a parliamentary technicality, an “outrageous” attempt to shut down debate on the most important civil rights issue facing the city in at least a generation.

“It’s anti-democratic. It’s anti-transparent. It’s outrageous, extremely disturbing that the mayor can’t put an item on the agenda, especially one such as this — the major civil rights issue in a generation in our city,” Tait said during an interview late last week.

The controversy can be traced back to the Dec. 15th council meeting, when Tait was forced to adjourn the meeting early after loud protests by residents and activists who were angry over the council majority’s decision to scrap the previously adopted “people’s map.”

And that controversial decision came after the council majority had adopted the map, but excluded the map’s only Latino majority district from the 2016 general election. In response to outrage from activists over the excluded district, the council majority scrapped the map and restarted the process to pick a new map.

The machinations are part of the now stalled process to transition the city from its current at-large council election system to electing council members by district. Latino activists had sued the city over the at-large system, alleging that it prevented Latino residents from electing their candidates of choice and therefore violated the California Voting Rights Act.

During the December meeting, Tait had asked to consider restoring the previous map. But city policy requires Tait to make such requests during the council comments portion of the meeting, according to a city spokesman.

However, the early adjournment meant that the meeting didn’t reach the second and final council comments agenda item. And the city attorney never corrected the mayor on the timing of his request, leaving most observers with the impression that restoring the “people’s map” would be on the next meeting agenda.

Nonetheless, before Tait adjourned the meeting, Houston indicated that his request would be honored.

“We’d have to notice both of those actions. At least at this point, that’s what we have on the table for Jan. 12,” Houston had said in reference to Tait’s ask and a request from Councilman Jordan Brandman to hold the first hearing to pick a new map.

But that’s not how it turned out. Brandman’s request is on Tuesday’s meeting agenda, but Tait’s is not, which is why Tait is crying foul. Brandman had made his request during the first council comments portion of the meeting.

“If there’s any problem procedurally, which there isn’t, that should have been brought up at the time,” Tait said.

Terry Francke, Voice of OC’s public records consultant and expert on the state’s open meetings law known as the Ralph M. Brown Act, agreed with the staff’s interpretation of the city policy and state law.

The Brown Act allows council members to agendize meeting items, but only subject to procedures adopted by the city, Francke said. And the city policy in this case sets out that council members are to request agenda items during the council comments portion of the meeting.

“I can understand why the staff believes that requesting scheduling a future agenda item has to occur during the period for members’ comments,” Francke said.

Still, the city attorney should have made clear at the time what was required of the mayor to place an item on the next meeting’s agenda, Francke said. That way the mayor and the public aren’t blindsided.

“If a significant rule that contradicts a member’s preferences is going to be imposed, it should be brought up at the time,” Francke said.

Also, Emery can place such an item on the agenda with or without the mayor’s action during the meeting, especially if the public demands for the item to be discussed, Francke confirmed.

In a statement sent to Voice of OC, city spokesman Mike Lyster wrote that, the way the agenda is written, the council could adopt any map, including “the people’s map.”

“What we have done is draft the districting agenda item for Tuesday’s meeting in a way that any map can be brought up, discussed and directed by council for further consideration, as early as Jan. 26,” Lyster wrote.

However, if Tait’s request had been honored, the map could have been adopted this week.

Tait’s ally Dr. Jose Moreno, president of the Latino group Los Amigos of Orange County and a likely council candidate from the Latino-majority district in the “people’s map,” also called the move “outrageous.” And, in a veiled reference to Disneyland, Moreno wondered aloud about who was working behind-the-scenes to keep the map off the council agenda.

“What powerful interests in the city of Anaheim don’t want to see the people’s map see the light of day?” Moreno said.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek

  • Cynthia Ward

    Thank you to all those who kept showing up, demanding to be heard. Heard we were! About 1 am, on a 5-0 vote, Council approved “the People’s Map” and Lucile Kring went so far as to amend the motion to add sequencing for Districts 1,3,4,5 on 2016 ballot. Anyone get the feeling Disney called? While local hoteliers could not have been happy to see the Council majority they own and operate pissing off the biggest and most vocal and militant of the labor unions KNOWN for disrupting “the guest experience” just heading into NAMM, I will grant the Council the benefit of the doubt and conclude that they saw the error of their ways-no? too much? How about “they saw the wisdom of moving forward in a new year toward the ‘common good?'” Less Metformin inducing? We will roll with that one. Whatever the reason, Anaheim took a GIANT step forward in the early hours of the morning, toward a community with a fighting chance of more equitable voices, and ALL INVOLVED deserve applause today. Thank you. Many of the comments were angry, but many were also an attempt to reach out and build bridges with a stoic Council who seems disconnected to what people are saying. No, we are NOT there to make you look bad. Instead of spending so much time trying to be “right” how about LISTENING to what constituents are trying to say?!

    • David Zenger

      I’ve noticed “you’re making us look bad” really means “we made ourselves look bad and you are shining the light on it.” They really resent it, too.

      The ongoing fight is a long way from over. There is waaaay too much loot at stake. The back of the store is still wide open.

  • occynic

    uh..wow..Cynthia, I understand you are angry, but even the VOC consultant agrees with City Staff. I also agree with you, that it is a city attorney’s job to clarify with every member of a city council what their intentions are. If the Anaheim attorney had done so Tait’s map would be voted on tonight ( would probably fail) and we could have another riot. What I was trying to get across is that the very action of the people caused the problem that they are now screaming about.

  • Cynthia Ward

    The law always looks at the context of original intent. What was the original intent of Council Communications? It was to offer the Council an opportunity to communicate with the Public and each other on issues that had no place on the agenda but were still of interest to the public or the Council. Thanks to State law, the only time they are really all supposed to communicate with each other on business before them is in public where we can watch them, which requires a spot on the agenda. Want to talk about something not on the agenda? Too bad. So Council Communications was born. Council Communications was supposed to give a home to “orphan issues” not otherwise on the Agenda. Any interpretation of Council Communications now taking the place of making a request within the context of the actual AGENDA ITEM being discussed is LUDICROUS. The Council Policy 1.6 adopted 4-17-2012 and amended (infamously) on 9-30-2013 says items for future agendas MAY be requested at Council Communications. It does not specify that this is the exclusive place for that communication and certainly should not take the place of the Mayor making a request during a PUBLIC HEARING on the very subject before them! Michael Houston is mistaking the permissive “may” for the mandatory “shall” and that is just bad form, and deliberately gaming the system to benefit his handlers. Not the first time he has done it, not even the ugliest example of it, but certainly the most visible example.

    Do you know what else a review of the history and context of the Policy reveal? That in every single instance of amending the Policy, this administration has used it to further RESTRICT public information and participation, and/or the participation of the Mayor. Where is the public interest in this? Amending public policy should ALWAYS result in greater participation, and/or more open access to information. When public policy gets used to prevent information or participation, that is a misuse of public funds/resources. I agree with the Mayor this is a violation of the law, and I believe it extends WAY beyond what he sees before him in this one issue. We now have FILES FILLED with examples of the City Council majority CONSISTENTLY using their authority, and the public resources of staff time, as well as outside consultants paid by taxpayers, to keep opposing views from being presented, or to exact revenge on their enemies, and slander and otherwise defame the character of those who speak out against them, while promoting their own agendas. This is the same crew that used the City Manager’s office, with paid City staff on the time clock, (definition of ‘public funds’) to discuss their opposition to PAID POLITICAL MESSAGES published in the Register, a subject that should NEVER be discussed on the public dime.

    The same bunch use PROVEN false information to push forward agenda items that create the predetermined outcome they want. I invite folks to look up the legal consequences for using false information to induce others to take action that would not otherwise likely occur absent the false information. Yeah there is a word for it, and “leadership” ain’t it. There is also a subcategory of that subject for denying the public the “honest services” due to them by both staff and elected leaders. AND…let’s not forget using the cover of legitimate businesses (at least two highly visible cases) whose interstate presence requires the use of mail and wire to conduct their legitimate business, as a ruse for creating the predetermined outcome unlikely to take place if not for presenting false information. Oooh. Now add a consistent pattern of using PUBLIC RESOURCES to prevent the independently elected Mayor and/or members of the public harmed by the false information driven actions, from asking too many questions about predetermined outcome from false information under the cover of interstate business using wire and mail. Anyone want to argue this is NOT happening? Or that it has not been documented by the City’s own records?

    If Anaheim officials don’t understand how deep they are in, they are stupid. Elected leaders are responsible for their own actions and largely those of the staff who report to them. Staff is acting with arrogance because there is clearly an understanding that no harm will come to them in covering the deeds of Council. One need not prove that Council ordered a cover up to be held accountable for it (See Jeff Skilling for example) Merely creating an environment in which the truth is buried as a matter of course is sufficient for some consequences. The Majority and their hand picked staffers have so completely trusted whoever is advising them that they failed to watch their own backs to make sure they are not being used (and possibly being thrown under the bus as badly as their own underlings have set up THEIR underlings to take the fall.) Ladies and gentlemen you see before you today a giant game of Jenga. What happens to the big, important wood blocks at the top when a few of the smaller blocks toward the bottom get removed (ie =hauled in for Depositions in civil actions that reveal potentially criminal action?) Oops. The mess is going to be incredible.

    The one good thing to come out of this fiasco is that the political careers of the 3 idiots involved are OVER. Had they approved a 2nd reading of the Peoples Map, and approved the requested sequencing, they would have had a fighting chance at keeping their seats. They wouldn’t escape the legal issues that are certain to chase them into the future, whether in or out of office, but they would keep their seats, and may have reduced the motive for certain activists to pursue legal options leading to more depositions than they would otherwise face. They can use their positions to silence opposition in City Hall but it does’t work that way in court (not even if you intimidate activists with bogus charges of criminal action one is not authorized to even investigate.) The public may have forgotten how hard these 3 fought to prevent Districts ($2MM not available for parks and libraries) But they sunk themselves once and for all by doubling down on the arrogance, and tossing the sequencing AND the maps many people put a ton of time into, in the biggest “Up yours” in the history of the City. If they wanted to be remembered in some long lasting legacy, they will get their wish. In spades.

    Their handlers are telling them the PR spin on their behalf come election time will fix it (as was successful for Murray in 2014, not so much for Eastman, but then it is hard to overcome a message thanking God for rioting to get you out of a sticky situation.) We can almost hear Jeff, Todd, and Curt, cheering, “Yeah we know people are pissed, but we will photograph you with children, puppies, and cops (we’ll find some not known for shooting people) and we will flip you from imperious jerks to strong, bold leaders. Trust us to smooth the ruffled feathers of voters foolishly listening to that angry, vocal minority.”

    But we are SO past ruffled feathers, we are at the “torches and pitchforks” portion of the black and white grainy film, as the villagers ascend the mountainside in search of the monster. They. Are. Done. There isn’t enough money or mail that will package and sell this mess to voters anymore. And since my 2016 Resolution is to find the pony in every pile of manure that life presents us, I shall rejoice in that one small benefit to this entire (NEEDLESS ego-driven) train wreck.

    The Council majority shot themselves in the foot, and through the fog of pain managed to somehow reload and fire again. if they now choose a larger and more effective gun, with staff steadying their hands to ensure they blow their toes off this time, that is their right I suppose.

  • Cynthia Ward

    occynic.

    The approval of the maps must be in the form of an Ordinance, which must be separately agendized. Yes Tait can make a motion and push for a vote, but it must still then be brought back in the form of an Ordinance. More delays. More frustration that could have been alleviated tonight by staff simply doing as requested by the directly elected mayor they are supposed to answer to. Staff increasingly acts as though the Mayor is supposed to answer to THEM. Uh…no.

    Meanwhile those who might be inclined to run for office and in need of all the time possible to collect support in a grass root campaign are sidelined. Don’t think the Council majority and their enabling staff don’t know that. THEY obviously know, because the Brown Act does not appear to exist in Anaheim, which map they will eventually grant their precious 3 votes for, and almost certainly have their predetermined candidates ready to be parachuted in, with enough funding to sell them to locals as “locals.” See the example of Steven Albert Chavez Lodge. The guy came from Murietta where he had lived for about 2 decades and was so entrenched he was a City Commissioner. He pops into Anaheim by way of marriage, and the permanent political aristocracy identifies him at the “it Boy” and starts putting him on boards and commissions to increase his visibility and the illusion that he is “of Anaheim.” After all, he MUST be local, look at how long some real Anaheim residents have had their applications languishing in line for appointment to Boards and Commissions they are perfectly qualified for. The Kleptocracy INVENTED that guy. just as they did with Murray before him. Carrie Nocella starts introducing Murray as though she has always been part of SOAR and just was laying low because of a small child, but you ask anyone who was around from the beginning, she was NOWHERE she was invented, and again Pringle started putting her on Boards, creating a persona as someone connected to the community. This is how they work. Block, oppose, prevent, any efforts by real Anaheim citizens to have a say in how we are governed while manufacturing their own candidates, and even their own invented “crisis” that needs to be “fixed” by big government, with the solution ALWAYS being more money shoveled into the gaping maw of their friends, or demonizing of their enemies.

    The only “cry babies” here are the Council majority who can’t STAND that the public consistently lined up at the podium for meeting after meeting increasingly detest them. You see it in Murray’s eyes, the doe-like expression that says, “Why don’t you love me, why can’t you see how great and visionary I am, I follow Curt’s every order to be just like him, and you loved him, he says so!” They are the ones dishing it out and unable to take it. They want to trample the rights of the citizens they once begged to represent and then they want us to THANK THEM for it.

    Uh. No.

  • occynic

    Read the article people! Any map can be adopted the way the agenda item is written. According to the article, Brandman requested the correct way and Tait did not. Even the VOC Consultant agrees with that. What a bunch of cry babies, they shut down the meeting, Tait was not able to properly get their item on the agenda and now they are upset?

  • David Zenger

    So what policy let Brandman make a proposal (and agendize it) that had nothing to do with the Second Reading of an ordinance HE already voted for?

    This is really getting pathetic. The City Manager is just a brainless stooge who was given a golden parachute the day he signed up. His job is to just make sure the back door to the bank is kept unlocked so the looters can keep looting as long as possible.

  • LFOldTimer

    ha. The chickens are coming home to roost. That big push for decades of cheap labor is now coming back to bite the old guard in the City of Anaheim. ha. Watch out what you wish for! ha. No idea how a City Manager could deny the Mayor’s privilege to place an item on the Agenda for public discussion. Does the City Manager wear a golden crown during the meetings? ha. This seems to be a refusal to act in ‘good faith’ and it specifically targets a certain racial group. If I were Tait I would be on the phone with the Department of Justice and send a certified letter and request for action to USAG Lorretta Lynch. This stuff shouldn’t happen in the United States of America. More slippery slope behavior at the top.

  • RyanCantor

    “What powerful interests in the city of Anaheim don’t want to see the people’s map see the light of day?” Moreno said.

    You get what you pay for.

  • Paul Lucas

    Its painfully obvious that this process is being manipulated by Pringle and his puppet Brandman.