“Vern Nelson is a Stalker.” Cynthia Ward on Mayor Tait and Anaheim’s crisis of Civility.

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Vern Nelson is a stalker.  He is forever sending messages, “Hey babe, when ya gonna post something again?”  He’s right – I have been away, and I wish I could say I’ve been on vacation.  I’ve been working my tail off – Extreme Home Makeover: Aging Parent Edition, minus the corporate sponsorship funded budget for help.  While I am not quite finished, I have come to the surface for a gulp of clean, fresh air before diving for the ocean floor again.  Considering what is taking place in Anaheim when I look around for the first time in a while, I may have to stay above the surface for a bit.

The toxic goo of local politics is getting thicker, or perhaps family emotion has worn my skin thinner than usual.  After spending a day tired, filthy, and emotionally buggered with overhauling Mom’s place, I realized with horror that I spent the few precious free moments left to me arguing with anonymous internet hatemongers, disputing their fictionalized accounts of statements or actions they hand-crafted to hit me with, despite the complete lack of fact in their tales of Cynthia as evil personified.

I try to wear their lies as a badge of pride, after all despite how often I fall short of my own goals to be a better person, they still have to make up stuff because they cannot find anything I have really done that is bad enough to blog about.  Frankly, even their made-up crap is pretty thin.  While lies should never go unchallenged, I am trying to find balance in how much time I offer to those who have no respect for it.

I much prefer writing to elicit the shared experience of a perfect stranger replying to something I have written, and the reaction of, “You too? I thought I was the only one who noticed that!”  I am especially encouraged when something written on a blog, by myself or someone else, spurs others to action, or initiates a new gathering of like minds intent on making the world a better place.  Those experiences are worth what I pay the osteopath to stave off carpal tunnel.

Part of that change does involve calling bullshit on politicians who have forgotten that it is our money they are spending, and they are supposed to be spending it for the public benefit.  Their own agendas do not factor into the program they are supposed to be promoting.  Accountability is not hate.  And I notice those who call those statements personal attacks tend to derive their own personal income from the politicians being held accountable.  I guess that’s where the “personal” comes in.

One of the people I truly believe wishes to share that experience of changing things for the better is Mayor Tom Tait.   The attacks on him are a primary reason I stay online, I simply detest the idea that he is out there alone with his back exposed, and I think all good people should be standing in solidarity with him right now.  We have no clue how much venom he faces, day after day.  I do not know if I could show up at City Hall and push the button for the 7th floor, knowing what waits for me when the doors open.  I am very glad he does it.

Many evil things have been said about the man, primarily by those too gutless to put their names on their posts.  Their accusations of a Mayor run amok with a staff equally as out of control are unfounded, and baseless.  One of these “writers” has taken great joy in filling my email inbox with venom aimed at the Mayor, and aimed at me for defending the Mayor.  The charge is that if I would simply look into some of these allegations with an open mind I would see who he really is.

The most recent accusations about the Mayor were particularly brutal, and in a weak moment I ran a Public Records Request, asking for information relating to events brought up by someone clearly immersed in the anti-Tait KoolAid.  If there was anything to the allegations it would come out with these records.

Wel,l the records came back, primarily e-mails, a few City documents, enough to tell the tale of who is creating problems at City Hall and who is not. On three different occasions that Tait had been blamed for bad behavior, I could clearly see the fault was not with him, nor was it with his staff.  In pushing me to investigate, the Flying Monkeys inadvertently exposed the exact opposite.

News of Public Records Requests travels like wildfire, and before long Mayor Tait checked in with me.  Now keep in mind at this point he had to know I was in possession of documents that could give a very bad time to people who had thrown immense resources into tormenting the man.  It would have been easy for him to encourage me to print it.   A lesser man would have sent me those messages himself, knowing they reveal some incredibly bad behavior from those intent on his demise.

Anaheim is fortunate that Tom Tait is not a lesser man.

Instead he asked me not to escalate the battle.  The information was not linked to anything that makes a difference to the average taxpayer, money was not misspent, there was no public good to be had in outing those who see him as the enemy.  Could I please help him keep the peace?

The gentlemanly gesture from Tait is more than the other side deserves.  But because it is Tom Tait, because I can see how hard he works to be the diplomat, I will respect his request.   I am sure he would have preferred that I not say anything at all.  But I want them to know that the Mayor covered for them. I want them to know that they owe him one.  Big.

I’m afraid they will see his act of kindness as weakness to be exploited.  I hope I’m wrong, I hope that perhaps going forward they can show more civility to him, and help to get along.  I’ll be watching City Council for signs of renewed hope that perhaps we can focus on doing the business of the people of Anaheim rather than throwing bottle rockets into each others’ camps.

At some point, like Matthew Broderick’s computer learning to play War Games, one must come to the conclusion that in the end nobody wins.  Right now I believe the losers to be the taxpayers of Anaheim who see little progress at City Hall because everyone is busy trying to jump to the front of the photo op.  (Or put their names on a press release.)   It is time to say enough, and focus on the business of the people.

So thank you Mr. Mayor for helping us all to try being better people than we were yesterday.  I hope you don’t get your ass kicked for it.

As for me, while juggling home and hearth is difficult for now, when I am done Mom will be safer and I will be free to focus more intently on what is happening in my community, without worrying about her built environment.  While I was out, I have been offered freelance opportunities that provide venues to continue creating that shared experience in saying, “You too?” with a wider audience.   I look forward to Vern not having to haunt me online, while I check for mid-day puppy videos.  Back soon.

About Cynthia Ward

I am a truth-teller. It gets me in trouble. But if you ask me if a dress makes you look fat, I will tell you so, and help select another, before you go on television and realize it for yourself. My real friends are expected to be truthful with me as well. A secret shared will be taken to my grave, but lie to me, and it will end up here…on these pages… especially if you are tasked with the stewardship of public resources. I am a registered Republican who disdains the local GOP power structure, a born-again Christian who supports everyone’s right to spend their lives with the partner of their choosing. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister. I am a loyal friend to those who merit that friendship and when crossed I am a bitch with a capital C. I do not fit into a box, nor do I see others through the stereotypes that politics and public affairs so often tries to shoehorn us into. I think for myself, and so do you. Welcome to our shared space in this world.