The mayor in the middle
The mayor in the middle
Photo by John Gilhooley / OC Weekly

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait Gavels Down Move to Oppose Sanctuary State Bill

Anaheim mayor Tom Tait often found himself alone on the losing end of many key votes over the years. Now armed with a council majority for the first time since since breaking with the resort elite, there's power in his gavel. Councilwoman Lucille Kring's move during last night's city council meeting to have Anaheim send a letter to the State Legislature opposing SB 54, informally known as the "Sanctuary State" bill, aroused a bunch of public comments but failed to register a dais debate thanks to Tait.

City staff set up a spillover room full of chairs and roped the entrance to council chambers, but a crowd of Trumpers no-showed for the show down. Instead, most of the people who spoke out did so in favor of the California Values Act. The legislation wants to further curb collaboration between Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local law enforcement agencies. The anti-Trump bill also seeks to add additional protections against the Bigot-in-Chief's deportation machine.

Since finding themselves more on the losing end these days, Kring and her cohort Kris Murray keep trying to pin their colleague Jose F. Moreno with votes on polarizing issues before he's up for re-election next year after a shortened two-year term. Mayor Tait outmaneuvered Murray last time when she wanted a vote reaffirming the city's controversial anti-homeless camping ban ordinance. Kring, a former Scariest People inductee, previously wanted an up-and-down vote on Anaheim becoming a sanctuary city after Tait and Moreno led the creation of a "Welcoming Anaheim" task force.

Anaheimers and activists focused on SB 54's policies and not the revenge politics on council. "We are the last county in California to have 287(g)," said Faby Jacome, Orange County Immigrant Youth United's program coordinator. "By not supporting SB 54, you're pretty much doing Trump's dirty work here in Anaheim."

Erik Garcia, another OCIYU member, spoke out against Kring. "At the end of the day, we pride ourselves as a city of kindness," he said. "The fact of the matter is we're living in persecution. We're living in fear."

At one point, Anaheim resident Daniel Robbins took the occasion to recite "The New Colossus" sonnet engraved on a plaque affixed to the Statue of Liberty to Kring. The councilwoman gave a history lesson in response saying Emma Lazarus' famous verses were added to the statue much later—an argument echoing Trump's senior policy adviser Stephen Miller whose similar defense found favor with white supremacists and is historically laughable, given Lazarus wrote it to raise funds for Lady Liberty's pedestal three years before she was unveiled to the public. But that's about as hot as debate on the issue got last night.

When time came to discuss the agenda item, council members spent more time trading jabs over the mayor's ability to table items without debate providing he had enough votes to do so. "This should not be brought forth," Tait said. "We don't need to be debating this bill." The assertion drew strong rebuke from a furious Kring. "This is my issue and I'd like a staff report!" she said, growing increasingly upset. Tait drowned her out with his gavel before asking for a motion. "Democracy at its best, right Tom?" Kring sneered. "This is unpatriotic!"

Without Trumpers present to cause a ruckus, Tait easily gained the four votes needed with council members Moreno, Denise Barnes, and Steve Faessel joining the mayor. (Hey, James Vanderbilt, que paso?) But the vote didn't stop the bickering. "You're out of order," Tait fired at Kring. "What are you going to do, sue me?" Kring responded.

The mayor moved on with the rest of the meeting instead.

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