Anaheim City Councilwoman Gail Eastman has apologized for describing  Tuesday night’s downtown violence as a “win” for certain political aims, saying the comments were “the wrong choice of words.”

Eastman sent a prepared statement to Voice of OC following publication of her comments:

Shortly after midnight on Wednesday morning, following a contentious and emotional city council meeting, I sent an email to the Colony residents’ email group thanking my neighbors for attending the city council meeting. My immediate concern was with the safety and well-being of those in attendance and I am grateful that they returned home safely. For that, I commend the Anaheim Police Department for their efforts to keep residents safe.

In the email, I used a common phrase that was perceived as inappropriate and insensitive in light of the serious issues going on in our city right now. Very simply, it was late, I was exhausted and it was the wrong choice of words. For that, I sincerely apologize to those who were offended.

Those who know me understand my heart and that I love Anaheim. It is very disheartening to see what’s going on right now in our city. I intend to continue doing everything in my power to work with my neighbors throughout Anaheim, as well as with our city staff, to seek solutions and more importantly, begin the healing process.

Eastman’s rationale in calling the violence a win, which she posted on a message board for her neighborhood in central Anaheim known as the Colony, was that the riot prevented the City Council from considering ballot initiatives sponsored by Mayor Tom Tait and Councilwoman Lorri Galloway that would require voter approval of future hotel room tax subsidies and change the city’s at-large voting system.

The council meeting — the last opportunity council members had to place the initiatives on the November ballot — was adjourned due to the tumult outside before any city business could be considered.

“In spite of how it happened, it was a big time win for all who opposed seeing that placed on the November ballot,” Eastman wrote. “Tonight we celebrate a win with no shots fired!”

Eastman’s comments highlight the intensity of the division on the City Council.

The council majority — Eastman, Kris Murray and Harry Sidhu — have consistently supported hotel tax subsidies. Tait and Galloway have opposed them.

Tait, who called Eastman’s comments “very disturbing,” said he was disappointed that the council could not vote to place the initiatives on the ballot on Tuesday night.

“It was very disappointing that we didn’t vote on those, I placed both those items on the agenda because I wanted the council to vote for them. And I support both,” Tait said.

Galloway, who responded to Voice of OC in a text message, was much tougher.

“I am shocked at the callous disregard shown by Gail Eastman by her careless celebratory remarks about her victories over districting and taxpayer giveaways in the wake of a broken hearted and angry Latino community’s anguish over the events of the last few days. An apology is the very least she owes to the people she is sworn to serve.”

Councilwoman Kris Murray said only that she would be speaking to Eastman personally about the remarks.


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