Eight Years of Mayor Tait – Vern’s Tribute




[The original, more-than-three minutes version of my Council presentation Nov. 20.]

Good evening council, meeting junkies, TV land, I’m Vern Nelson, from Anna Drive, Los Amigos, and Anaheim Voters Against Kleptocracy, and I come not to bury Mayor Tom Tait, nor to flatter him, but to speak the truth about his eight years as Mayor, and in the third person as though he weren’t here.  And I want you all to look at what you’ve done to him over these years …  It’s a transformation reminiscent of our last three presidents, presidents who led us through wars and recessions!

Photo of my sign by Mark Daniels.

The bitter hatred against Tom over these years (much of it anonymous) was dwarfed only by the great affection most of Anaheim has for him… and this hatred was based on a feeling of BETRAYAL, betrayal felt by the special interests who are used to running this town.  Elected Mayor in 2010 as a loyal supporter of Disney and Curt Pringle, Tom quickly saw that Pringle’s policies of corporate welfare and crony capitalism were driving us to bankruptcy – if he didn’t change courses quickly we would have been out of cash by June 2011!

Yet it was less than a year after that that the klepto crowd started pushing the $158 million Gardenwalk Giveaway, which Tom steadfastly opposed.  His former friends became his bitter enemies as he began to protect his city’s treasury from the “smash and grab” crowd who used to support him.  For the next six years he fought unnecessary hotel subsidies, the taxpayer-funded Disney Streetcar, and much more that was wasteful and corrupt.  Some Republicans began to call him “the conscience of the Party” – distinguishing himself from many fellow Republicans by his honest fiscal conservatism rather than shoveling public resources toward favored corporations.

Another crucial change of heart was when Tom decided to support district elections, to give the regular people half a chance against the special interests.   Fellow Republicans wailed – this will get more Democrats onto council!  Tom said that’s fine, if that happens we Republicans just need to try harder, have a better message, better candidates.   And his support helped get district elections the 70% they won by, while his council colleagues wasted $3 million of our taxpayer dollars fighting AGAINST district elections in court, unsuccessfully.

Tom became known worldwide for being the Mayor of the “City of Kindness.” That phrase is easy to make fun of, but it is obviously an IDEAL that Anaheim strives for – and we all need an ideal.  I hope we keep striving to be the City of Kindness no matter who our future Mayors may be.

Another of Tom’s conservative hallmarks was the streamlining of regulations which led to literally thousands of small businesses starting and thriving during his tenure, a huge drop in unemployment, twelve new hotels approved WITHOUT SUBSIDIES… but I want to get to one of his most heroic acts, which was SAVING ANGELS STADIUM, SINGLE-HANDEDLY.

Five years ago EVERY OTHER MEMBER OF COUNCIL was hell-bent (for some mysterious reason) on renting Arte Moreno the stadium and its lot for $1 a year for 66 years, to profit off as he saw fit.  Mayor Tait, only one vote out of five, managed to embarrass them out of that scam just by speaking out – Jordan Brandman even tried to silence him by stripping his agendizing powers in an “emergency” early-morning meeting. Now with the changing of the guard, Arte is playing games with us again, and Mayor Sidhu (?) threatens to give him whatever he desires.  We need to do as Wally Courtney urged last week – if Arte doesn’t want to stay in our fine town, we need to appraise and make the best use of our invaluable resource, the Anaheim Stadium.

Mayor Tait, in conclusion, I speak for myself, Anna Drive, Los Amigos, and the VAST MAJORITY of Anaheim, when I say we love you and wish you the best in whatever you do next!

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.