Mayor Tait chooses his Reform Team: KRING AND LEOS. [Update – Oct 10 forum CANCELLED.]


Just think what reformist Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait could accomplish in the next two years, if he had two allies on council he could work with – if, instead of an obstructive, fiscally reckless Murray-Eastman-Brandman and/or Lodge majority taking its orders from Pringle, Disney, and developers, he had two responsible independent allies to work with, while Kris Murray and Gail Eastman are reduced to a grouchy minority?

Tom and his allies could, and would, put a tight lid on Anaheim’s most outrageous form of corporate welfare – TOT (bed tax) giveaways – by sending the very popular “Let the People Vote” measure to the public.  When it comes to the inevitable Districting electoral reform, they would put an end to the current majority’s two-faced obstructionism, stop wasting millions of dollars fighting the ACLU on this, and sit down, negotiate, and make this happen.  They would proceed with creating the civilian police review board that the Mayor recently proposed.  And that’s only the beginning of what they could do, in the spirit of the Mayor’s slogan “fiscal responsibility, freedom and kindness.”

But who would these two allies be?  Which ones would really have the best chance of beating both of the prodigiously well-funded puppets Jordan Brandman and Steven Albert Chavez Lodge?

Leos, Chuchua, Tait.

I can attest to the fact that it was a long, difficult decision for Mayor Tom Tait to choose a second candidate to endorse besides the great Transparency Republican John Leos.  The candidates closest to Tom’s positions on the issues most important to him were conservative, OCGOP-endorsed businessman Brian Chuchua and community activist, OJ blogger and former Green Senate candidate Duane Roberts.  But for various reasons it is just too difficult to see either Brian or Duane winning this year.

But, first, let’s pause and consider that – true conservatives Tait and Chuchua having the most in common with the Wild Man of the Left, Duane Roberts.  This is what’s becoming so interesting about Anaheim lately, and probably other places – the old “left-right” divide is turning increasingly meaningless – especially where there are Republicans with the courage to buck the worst features of their Party.  Instead I’d say the battle lines now are between Populists vs. Corporatists, here in the biggest most important city of the biggest most important county of the biggest most important state of the biggest most important nation.  That is, the big question comes down to: Who is the government supposed to work for?

Duane’s messaging is still the boldest and clearest, which is why I’m reproducing his latest ads here.  And Duane and Brian are invaluable at the forums and other public gatherings, pulling the discourse to the populist side, and sometimes saying what the others won’t, forcing burning issues to the forefront.  But Lucille Kring was Tom’s choice, and I believe his wisest choice, for a second endorsement.

Number one, she can win, she COULD beat Brandman and Lodge.  Her name recognition, after many terms in and out of office, is as high as can be in Anaheim, and she’s been campaigning tirelessly door to door, every day.  She is fiercely independent of the Pringle-Murray-Disney crowd.  And her knowledge of the City, its history and inner workings, is encyclopedic, as anyone who attended last week’s WAND candidate forum can attest.

Having been out of the swirl of current events for a few years, she was at first skeptical of some of the Mayor’s priorities.  She’s naturally cautious and conservative, but she listens to reason and is flexible.  And I can report that she has been convinced (after hearing from many of us) to support “Let the People Vote,” mostly from being shown its very high polling numbers, and also to proceed with district elections after concluding that the City is indeed in violation of the California Voting Rights Act (and by memories of Pringle’s disastrous multi-million dollar suit against the Angels.)

An Odd Couple … or Trio

Lucille wants to be sure I don’t refer to her and John Leos as a “slate.”  I wanted to say “Reform Slate,” and maybe I still will, SHE’S not the boss of ME!  What, does John have cooties?  Well, sort of.  It’s well known that he is tied at the hip to unions, specifically the OCEA, and I expect and hope that they will pull out all the stops for John in this race.  But Lucille, proud of her endorsement by the newly anti-union OC GOP, wants to keep all of that at arm’s length.

But John’s union ties were not a problem to Mayor Tait when he endorsed him back in August.  Apparently teflon-coated in Republican circles (let’s hope that lasts) Tait with his endorsement seemed to say that the biggest enemy of democracy today, the biggest enemy of the economy today, is NOT organized labor after all, despite what you’d think from many of his co-partisans.

Tom and Lucille themselves have a long personal history with ups and downs, which Lucille once described to me as I conveniently daydreamed.  It’s all good now though, THIS is the reform team on which Anaheim must pin its hopes the next five weeks:

The “Conscience of Orange County Republicans” ?

A couple weeks ago, the OC Political site posted, from a blogger calling herself “Lassie” – no, I really don’t know who it was – the most worshipful piece about Mayor Tait, referring to him as the “The Conscience of Orange County Republicans” – the sort of worshipful piece that would be really irritating if we didn’t all love him.  Even better than the article itself, which I totally agree with, is the debate in the comments section between our friend Cynthia Ward and the endlessly compromised Matt “Jubal” Cunningham.  Reading Cynthia’s comments, and left spellbound by her detailed and spot-on accounts of recent Anaheim history, was none other than Lorri Galloway, despite herself being a frequent target of Cynthia’s withering wrath.

But Tom’s unquestioned status in the OC GOP can be distilled down to his faithful adherence to his three watchwords.  Those words present a great challenge to the GOP, which has had been just as fiscally irresponsible, in different ways, as its counterpart;  the GOP whose conception of “freedom” has been notoriously cramped, selective and puritanical;  the GOP which has utterly ceded the whole concept of “kindness” to the other side as though it were icky.  Certainly Mayor Tait is the Jiminy Cricket sitting on the OC GOP’s right shoulder, will they start to listen?

OK, Enough blowing smoke up Tait’s ass, time for him to step up!

The freaking election is five weeks away, and voting starts long before that.  If the Mayor really aims to be an effective leader, not a lonely hapless figurehead for these next two years, it’s time for him to start campaigning aggressively for his Reform Slate.  His enemies have access to the deepest pockets in the County, but Tom’s huge circle of friends are no slouches either.  Where are all the big events and fundraisers where the very popular Mayor explains to the voters why he NEEDS John and Lucille on the Council, and how much better that will be than continuing today’s Pringle-government-by-Proxy through Jordan or Steve?

The “Save Anaheim” PAC has been spending all the money it can afford on very effective attack ads like the one below.  The “Save Anaheim” PAC is overdue for an injection of money.  Lucille and John are not wealthy, and they are not representing wealthy interests that will fund them.  It’s time to find out if the Conscience of Orange County Republicans has the courage of his convictions!


Well, that’s enough from me for now.  I’m happy to have in the studio with me the distinguished conservative Anaheim blogger Cynthia Ward, whose blog is broken right now.  [update – now it’s fixed! Welcome to the Orange Juice, Cynthia!  Do you have any thoughts about these new developments?

Cynthia:  Thanks for having me, Vern.  As you’ve said, Mayor Tom Tait has endorsed Lucille Kring for his slate of candidates in the 2012 City Council race. Lucille brings her extensive experience into play, following two stints on the City Council, serving from 1998 to 2002, and again from 2006 to 2010. While many believed her to be retired from public service, during a recent interview she told me that the current environment prompted her to step up and serve her city again, saying, “I’m running for council to bring my years of experience and political independence to be a unifying voice in City Hall.”

Lucille Kring has been endorsed by the GOP Central Committee as well as the CRA, and is the only Anaheim candidate endorsed by the Lincoln Club. Her impeccable conservative credentials bring balance to Tait’s slate, which has already backed John Leos, a Republican with serious ties to the OCEA. (I know, I know. Hand me that Advil. But Leos does present the best opportunity to stop the special interest deals and actually watch Tait’s back so I cannot fault Tait for the choice. And frankly Leos would never have the nerve to have given away the obscenely generous AMEA deal that the current Council majority blew in June, so we will roll with it and support the Mayor…while watching Leos VERY carefully. You hear me, John? )

Leos and Mayor Tait came to respect each other during their mutual support of the “Let the People Vote” initiative, a petition effort to allow Anaheim citizens to vote on future changes to TOT subsidies, prompted by the massive “incentive” of a full 80% of bed tax to developer Bill O’Connell, for two Gardenwalk hotels. (The first 20% was already committed to bond repayment that let Disney off the hook, so essentially 100% of the bed tax is gone.) The subsidy created widespread dissent in the community, as progressive leaders insisted the hotels would not be built without the incentive, while conservatives preferred to let the free market drive development, arguing that if O’Connell could not get funding without diverting all bed tax from the city’s General Fund, then perhaps there might not be the urgent need for 4-Star hotel rooms that previous studies claim.

In response to a 3 to 2 City Council vote, Mayor Tait led citizens in an effort toward a ballot Initiative to prevent future gifts of Resort revenue. While Leos has long been a vocal proponent of “Let the People Vote”, Lucille Kring has been relatively quiet, keeping to her usual style of weighing each individual issue as it crosses her desk, rather than make blanket statements of “always and never.” Ultimately her common sense approach must have appealed to Tait, and congratulations are in order for pulling together a balanced, highly electable team just in time for announcements to hit mailboxes with the absentee ballots that should mail by next week.

When all is said and done, voters are choosing so much more than who will occupy two City Council seats for the next four years. The current make-up of the Council reflects a perceived split in power, with allegiances divided between the Mayor who was legally elected in 2010, and the former Mayor who is still convinced he is running the City. The winners of those two seats will determine whether Tait has the votes needed to continue his own policies of “freedom and kindness”, or be shoved into a corner, forced to watch his Council colleagues ride roughshod over him while the Mayor-turned-lobbyist who used to occupy his seat makes even more money from clients getting their contracts approved by a very willing Council majority, eager to prove their loyalty to their mentor.

While no announcement has been made, I assume Mayor Tait will be doing some fundraising for his slate, because in this race there is no such thing as “good enough.” Tait’s candidates have to win against two extremely well-funded opponents whose corporate donors are already littering Anaheim with banners, many illegally posted on public property – and being defaced by local punks. Word to the wise; never, ever include head-shot photos on public signage, it is just an invitation for blacked out teeth and devil’s horns. But even vandalized signs get the point across, and Tait needs to get his people out there in front of voters to the same extent as the big money PACs have done for their choices.

Lucille Kring shared, “Anaheim faces a crossroads. Like so many California cities, we have been hit hard by the global economic downturn. The City Council has voted to cut key services, including police officers. It seems that special interests are getting too much of the council’s attention. It’s high time we bring fiscal responsibility back to City Hall.”

Here’s hoping.


Thank you, Cynthia!  Actually, she wrote that a yesterday morning, and I don’t think she had heard the news yet that Lucille had come around to backing “Let the People Vote.”  But Lucille has.

This is getting too long.  The next bulletin, out in a day or two, will feature commentary on last week’s candidates’ forum by myself and Ricardo Toro … as well as announcement about the NEXT one…. ah hell, I should put that announcement here, so you have plenty of notice.  From Anaheim gazillionaire Bill Taormina (and thanks to him…)

Anaheim City Council Candidates Forum October 10th, 2012

Dear Anaheim City Council Candidates,

Attached please find the pdf of the press release that will be sent out tomorrow morning regarding the candidates forum we spoke about on the phone last week. I have spoken to seven out of nine of the candidates and all have confirmed their attendance. I am still awaiting confirmation from Linda Linder and Jennifer Ramirez since they did not have their phone numbers listed with the City Clerk’s office.

Here are some important points for you to consider for this forum:

1) It will be sponsored by the League of Women Voters. They will provide the moderator and the timer. They will read from questions that will be prepared in advance of the forum.
2) It will be hosted by Steve and Kacey Elkins. Each of them operate businesses in the downtown Anaheim area. They will each make an opening greeting to the audience and will introduce each candidate in attendance.
3) At 7:00pm until 7:30pm there will be a 30 minute meet & greet period prior to the beginning of the formal question & answer period that will begin at 7:30pm sharp. You are encouraged to bring your campaign literature, yard signs, and any other items you might wish to display about your candidacy. Each of you will have a table upon which you can display your items during the meet & greet period.
4) Questions for the forum are being requested from citizens and stakeholders in advance. These questions will be assembled and emailed out to you one day prior to the forum.
5) There will be seating for 150 attendees. We are expecting a good turn-out.
6) We will be sending out the press release to every news outlet, blog group, community organization, and community leader on our email list. We encourage you to copy this information to those you feel would be appropriate as well.
7) There will be complimentary soft drinks, water and snacks provided.
You will be receiving all further follow-up emails and/or phone calls, and should direct any questions to the event host, Kacey Elkins, at, 714-323-3200 Cell/Text.

Thank you again for your attendance and participation in this important candidate’s forum.


Bill Taormina.

UPDATE, Thursday morning:  Taormina’s Oct. 10 forum cancelled.  From Duane:

Oct. 10th Candidates Forum Cancelled Because Anaheim City Council Candidate Asked League of Women Voters to Withdraw Sponsorship

For Immediate Release
Contact: Duane Roberts
Cellphone: (714) 273-8394

ANAHEIM, CA — The Oct. 10th candidates forum scheduled to take place at the Ember Cafe and Music Club in downtown Anaheim, an event being organized

by Kacey Taormina Elkins, the daughter of real estate tycoon Bill Taormina, was cancelled because Duane Roberts, an Anaheim City Council candidate, asked the League of Women Voters of Central Orange County to withdraw sponsorship of it.

Roberts, who himself planned to boycott the Oct. 10th forum, submitted to the League evidence demonstrating that Elkins, a key organizer of it, not only had numerous conflicts of interest that called into question her ability to be fair and impartial to candidates that participated, but that she fully controlled the means by which questions were to be gathered and disseminated to candidates.


Is this true, John and Lucille? Only one candidate?

“On the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 3rd, I contacted the League of Women Voters of Central Orange County to formally ask they withdraw their sponsorship of an Oct. 10th forum scheduled to take place at the Ember Cafe and Music Club in downtown Anaheim, an event being organized by Kacey Taromina Elkins, the daughter of real estate tycoon Bill Taormina.“I submitted to them numerous pieces of evidence demonstrating that Elkins, a key organizer of the Oct. 10th forum, not only had numerous conflicts of interest that called into question her ability to be fair and impartial to candidates who participated, but that she fully controlled the means by which questions were to be gathered and disseminated to candidates.

“In my opinion, this forum was a complete sham orchestrated with the underlying intent of boosting the political fortunes of Jordan Brandman and Steve Lodge, candidates favored by Elkins and her wealthy father. I warned the League that participation in this forum would seriously damage their integrity and reputation among thousands of voters throughout Anaheim.

“I have since been notified by the League that they contacted Bill Taormina in regards to the matters I addressed in my email communications with them and that he subsequently decided to cancel the Oct. 10th forum. Had the forum not been scrapped, I would have organized a mass picket line outside of the Ember Cafe that evening to protest Elkin’s unethical behavior.”

See the following URL:



About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.