Inside OC: Anaheim’s Mayor Tom Tait Sounds Off

Print More

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait says he and Anaheim City School District President Jose Moreno may have political differences but they are united in their opposition to “crony” capitalism.

Democrat Moreno is running for Anaheim city council on a slate backed by Republican Tait. A Moreno victory, currently seen as a strong possibility, could shift control of the council to Tait.

“We don’t agree on everything, but we agree on some of these big issues,” Tait said in a wide-ranging interview on “Inside OC with Rick Reiff.”

The show is airing on PBS SoCal channels (listings at www.rickreiff.com) and can also be watched on-line.

Tait criticized the council majority for singling out some businesses for special favors, such as a $158 million subsidy to a hotel developer: “If you do it for one, you ought to do it for all, and if you can’t do it for all, you shouldn’t do it for one.”

He dismissed the argument that such incentives create jobs, saying that businesses that don’t get such subsidies also create jobs.

Likewise, Tait cited principle for dissenting from a 45-year ban on a gate tax at Disneyland, which Disney wanted before proceeding with its long-anticipated “third gate” at the resort.

“I’m not for a gate tax but I’m definitely not for eliminating the right of the people to vote for a tax.”

He questioned whether the gate tax was a make-or-break issue for Disney, saying the state of Florida collects a 6.5% admissions from Disney World.

Tait predicted that Angels owner Arte Moreno will keep the baseball team in Anaheim because a potential arrangement to develop 150 acres of city-owned land next to the stadium “is the best deal in baseball.”

Tait, who has opposed the council majority’s negotiating approach for a lease extension as a giveaway to the Angels, repeated that he favors some sort of 50-50 split with Moreno on development: “Whatever he makes, we make.”

When Reiff told Tait “you won” when the council majority recently dropped its opposition to immediate adoption of the so-called “People’s Map” for district elections, Tait said, “The people won and I was with the people.”

Tait credited the plan to switch from at-large to district elections with helping to ease tensions between the police department and the Latino community that came to a boil in 2012 over police shootings of alleged gang members.

Tait said he believes inadequate political representation was “one of the underlying issues” and “the city addressed that. People feel like they’re being treated fair.”

He said the police are “reaching out to the community, getting out of their cars, getting to know people, getting a lot of people to know them” and that has contributed to “dramatic” drops in both police shootings and gang violence.

Tait acknowledged that many skeptics rolled their eyes when he first promoted Anaheim as a “city of kindness” but “not so much anymore.”

“Imagine if you lived in a place where people know the civic culture is that they’re expected to be just a little kinder. Everything gets better. Crime will drop, your bullying at school will certainly drop.”

Among other things, he said, the kindness initiative spurred 20,000 Anaheim elementary school kids to perform a million acts of kindness, which in turn caught the attention of the Dalai Lama, who invited Tait to meet with him in India.

In turn, Tait hosted the Dalai Lama when he came to Orange County last year to celebrate his 80th birthday.

Episodes of “Inside OC” can be viewed at rickreiff.com, PBSSoCal.org and on YouTube. YouTube also features post-show “Open Mic” segments of Inside OC. In his “Open Mic” segment Tait discusses his rift with former friend and Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle.