Anaheim City Council Republicans Slow to Condemn Hate Speech

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

At last Monday’s special meeting of the Anaheim City Council, William Fitzgerald, identified as a spokesperson for Anaheim HOME, used his three minutes of public commentary to defame Council member Jordan Brandman with an anti-Semitic and anti-Gay rant that should be personally embarrassing to him.  During those three minutes, Fitzgerald is within his constitutional First Amendment rights to speak and the Anaheim City Council can’t prevent him from speaking without violating his First Amendment rights.

But it’s what happened next that’s very troubling.

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said one minor sentence to address this stunning tirade, saying, “Mr. Fitzgerald, you have free speech rights but they’re to a point and I think that crossed it.”

Four days later, on Facebook, Tait stated:

“This past Monday, a special meeting of the Anaheim City Council was held, and an Anaheim resident, who regularly attends council meetings and regularly makes offensive comments, came forward and made statements that were particularly egregious as they were both anti-Semitic and bigoted, and directed toward my council colleague, Jordan Brandman. 

I’ve had some time to stew on this terrible experience and I want to make it clear to anyone who was in City Hall Monday morning, and to all of the people who live, work, shop or play here in the City of Anaheim that we believe that all people are created equal, and that we soundly reject hate-mongering, anti-Semitism, and bigotry wherever it should rear its ugly head.

For years this individual has repeatedly attacked the council and me in a vicious and untruthful manner. My council colleagues and I sat stunned during his rant, because we recognize that the courts have found that censoring such comments would violate First Amendment rights to free speech.  However, his comments on Monday set a new low even for him.  I used the limited powers that are allowed to me as Mayor to attempt to bring forth some sense of civility from his comments.  I have been told by our city attorney that I cannot legally stop him from saying such hateful things, but I can call it what it is, morally reprehensible.”


Tait’s 4-day late condemnation was praised by his supporters over at the Orange Juice blog but for this blog, those words are too late and not nearly enough.  And they don’t extend to Tait alone; the rest of the Republicans on the Anaheim City Council including Kris Murray, Gail Eastman and Lucille Kring are all but silent on the issue.  Murray wrote a letter to Rusty Kennedy of the OC Human Relations Commission for his reaction and has tried to pass off Fitzgerald as a political ally of Tait, but thus far has not publicly condemned the comments herself.
The Log Cabin Republicans, the Anti-Defamation League, the OC Human Relations Commission, and CAIR have all spoken out against this hate speech.  But Tait’s comments at the meeting showed an astonishing lack of leadership on his part and the lack of any comments from the other Republicans about the hateful nature of this comment is inexcusable.  Murray should correct the record from the Dias and apologize to Tait for calling Fitzgerald some sort of political ally when he’s not, but perhaps she was confused by the inclusion of Fitzgerland in emails from OJ Blogger Greg Diamond in regards to a blog post about the Angels lease.
There’s an attempt to excuse the city council and Tait for not having an immediate response.  This from the Voice of OC story: “Melissa Carr, regional director of the Orange County wing of the Anti-Defamation League, said that while the council need not stop Fitzgerald, council members should have been united in condemning such vitriol. Though she cut them some slack, saying that in those moments human nature is such that people are stunned, and “frozen in time.”“Could [Tait] have done better? Sure. Could the City Council have gotten behind him and done better? Sure, they all could have,” Carr said.We call Bull.  Tait and the city city council should allow Fitzgerald to speak his homophobic and anti-Semitic rants at every council meeting.  And then I hope some of the groups who condemned these comments show up and speak out.

  6 comments for “Anaheim City Council Republicans Slow to Condemn Hate Speech

  1. BigBoxOfRedWhine
    October 7, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    While you are checking your stopwatch for another opportunity to bash folks you bash anyway, perhaps tell us, for context, what timestamp was logged for the LOC’s first objection, and what for Brandman himself? And after that you might examine the history of Fitzgeralds PREVIOUS First Amendment shielded oratory, to the Board of Supervisors, and the consequent ACLU suit, over the ‘quick’ response you expect. Tax-paid (by others) entertainment seems to hold an attraction for you.

    • October 7, 2013 at 6:33 pm

      we write the story when its ready to write; All week, there were new groups condemning the hate speech. Sorry it’s not on your timetable, but on mine instead. Brandman is likely to make his own remarks in a more public manner

  2. Daniel L
    October 7, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Your facts are wrong, the other Republicans on the council were not, and have not been silent. But more important, your analyses of the issue is not rooted in the law or the principles of civil rights. It is disturbing that you are willing to crusade against free-speech without the proper facts and to just make an opportunistic partisan jab. Please review.

    • October 7, 2013 at 10:10 pm

      I didn’t say anything about denying anyone’s free speech rights. What I did say is these council members should have denounced what was said in some manner. Tait did on Facebook. Nothing using his letterhead or a press announcement. If the other council members did denounce the hate speech, show me the statements. I’ve looked for them to no avail. There’s free speech and then there’s responsible speech. Anti-Semitism is not free speech; it’s hate speech. He’s free to say it and I’m free to condemn him for it. I’m also free to say that the Anaheim city council and Mayor Tait were several days late and several dollars short of addressing this issue more publicly. Those are the facts.

  3. Daniel L
    October 7, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Dude… the crazy guy does that stuff every week. The insinuations you are making are groundless. Your post chills the right to free speech in public forums and is ultimately counterproductive to liberal values. I’m just really hoping you are not in on the back-story.

  4. Cynthia Ward
    October 8, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Dan did you actually watch the City Council meeting? Because Tait did say more than one sentence, he cut off Fitzgerald mid-point, stopping the clock. Since you are clearly spouting back whatever rhetoric you have been offered on a platter, here is a verbatim transcript for your use. And those other “leaders” who insist Tait dropped the ball by not cutting Fitzgerald’s mike or gaveling him out, failed to say a THING during Council Communications afterward. Not even your precious Jordan said anything. The closest we got was Eastman admonishing us to “let this be a lesson to us” but it felt more like a warning that if you stand up to the majority they strip you of power and voice, rather than a statement on Fitzgerald. And while those who bash Tait failed to say anything during the meeting, Murray waited until she was cornered during a press interview to use the issue as a distraction, Congratulations on falling for it.

    By the way, where were you when Fitz was calling women “whores” for years under the Pringle regime? Or when he and Alma made horrific remarks about Jews and Latinos, complete with props?

    Here is the transcript. Tell me what, within the law, could Tait have done? He cannot order Fitzgerald silent, and getting angry is exactly what Fitzgerald wanted, (along with the attention you and others have so helpfully provided to the whackjob) so Tait appealed to his humanity, and perhaps appealed to his desire to be heard.

    September 30, 2013 HOME William Fitzgerald starts with how many of their members are veterans, and that “some of us have been disabled for life”…
    6 minute mark;
    Fitzgerald moves from historical references into comparing Brandman to “scheming malicious” Jews and throw Disney in there.
    Tait stops him.
    T.T.” Excuse me, Mr. Fitzgerald.”
    WF: “Wanna stop the clock?” (addressing City Clerk)
    T.T.: “Yes please stop the clock. If I could ask you to much on the…those kind of attacks..”
    WF: “I’m sorry , I’m sorry, but I have freedom of speech and that’s something I believe in and that’s something that was given to me as an American, and that’s something our directors fought for and that’s what we do, so…I’m sorry.”
    T.T. “If I could just ask you, (Tait is measuring his words, understanding he is on thin ice legally) “maybe advice then,”
    WF: “Right.”
    TT: “It would just be much more effective if you didn’t…if the attacks weren’t so…mean…”
    WF: :”Well, sorry, but the little bastard got me up this morning so I wanna make sure the words (cannot hear) OK, continuing..”(Clerk starts timer again)
    Then goes right back to bashing “Jews” who run Disney, and referring to statements at a previous Council meeting in which he claimed Jordan Brandman “bragged” about his mother having relatives killed during the Holocaust, and then closed with the insult, “Jordan Brandman is one very sick faggot.”
    Crowd groans…
    T.T: “Please Mr. Fitzgerald” (3 mins are up, Fitzgerald is leaving the podium, Tait is calling after him) “Mr. Fitzgerald, uh, yes you have free speech rights you certainly do but they are to a point and I think you crossed it.” (Tait now speaking to Fitzgerald’s back as he continues up the aisle toward the exit.)
    You can hear mumbling, and the voice of Eastman saying, “No that’s not true that’s not true where does it say?…”
    Kring’s voice, “I’d sue him, Jordan, I’d sue him.”

    Many of the speakers following Fitzgerald condemned his vicious comments, and thanked the Mayor for doing what he could to make it clear that this was not welcome while being aware of the limitations that the law puts on public comments. No speakers supported Fitzgerald, and none reprimanded Mayor Tait for not doing enough to stop the speech.

    Tell me, where is the lone Dem on the dais? I have not heard a WORD out of Jordan, so while Republicans may be slow, the Dem is MIA.

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