Anaheim Kids Exposed to Hateful Speech at City Council Meeting; Tait Does Nothing

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

As Mayor of Anaheim, Tom Tait wields some powerful tools at the dais.  He carries the responsibility as the presiding officer of every city council meeting (except for two weeks ago when he recused himself from a matter during the last council meeting in February and disappeared with his binder at his chair and Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray finished the meeting for him; Tait never returned to the meeting and it’s all on video).

Anaheim HOME spokesman William Denis Fitzgerald is a regular at just about every Anaheim City Council meeting.  His public comments are typically accompanied by bigoted, homophobic and sexist language that has begun treading towards profanity all in spite of a preamble read aloud for speakers to be civil in their comments when they address the council.

At this week’s council meeting, Fitzgerald was in rare form.  Go to the 36:31 mark of this link to watch him in action.  And after watching, please note the chamber there were a number of children, ages 6-10, making what’s likely their first visit to city hall and a city council meeting.  The kids and their parents were there to commemorate the council’s unanimous approval of the High Ground Youth and Family Services agreement.  In fact, the kids presented the colors at the beginning of the meeting for the Pledge of Allegiance, so Mr. Fitzgerald had to know those kids were there.  Mayor Tait certainly knew.

Now, we certainly disagree on policy matters with most things the three Republican women on the Anaheim City Council stand for.  And Fitzgerald’s MO is not a secret.  Fitzgerald, in front of a number of kids, singles out the women on the council and calls them “whores,” “bitches” and “sluts” which had to be a joy for the parents of those kids to hear.

Tait can’t stop Fitzgerald from speaking as its a violation of Fitzgerald’s First Amendment rights to make a fool of himself.  But as presiding officer of the city council meeting, Tait has tools at his disposal he clearly refused to use.  For starters, Tait has a microphone that he can use to warn Fitzgerald to keep comments civil.  Tait didn’t use it (to our knowledge, Tait admonished Fitzgerald from the dais only once wishing that Fitzgerald “wasn’t such a jerk.”).  Tait has a gavel by which he can express his displeasure with the language being used.  It wasn’t touched.  While Fitzgerald has a right to speak, he doesn’t have a right to have the city broadcast his comments.  Tait has a mute button and the ability to turn off the sound at the speaker’s podium.  Fitzgerald can utter his hateful rants so that only those in earshot can hear him.  That doesn’t violate Fitzgerald’s constitutional rights. Tait failed to use this tool as well.  Mayor Tait is a parent and can certainly remember a time his kids were under the age of 10; way to protect those tender ears of Anaheim’s children Mr. Mayor.

Fitzgerald leaves the room upon finishing his screed.  And this may be the nicest thing I ever say about Council member Lucille Kring who dressed him down and asked if he’d want someone to call his wife or daughter those names.  When she finished, there was considerable applause from the audience for Kring’s words.  Tait just sat there (clearly if Fitzgerald called Mrs. Tait those names, there would be a reaction?).  And by leaving immediately after making the comments, let’s call Fitzgerald what he is: a coward.

I emailed Fitzgerald to ask him what he was thinking when using the language he used.  He was defiant and pointed to the comments of the next speaker who followed him.

Fitzgerald responded:  “The Disney supporter (member of ANA), during the meeting’s Public Comments, a few minutes after the Anaheim HOME speaker, (video at 42 minutes, 50 seconds), stated “Cum sucking, shit bags, landlords” in front of all those children.  The five council members said nothing.  Why?”

I replied: “His comments do not excuse yours sir.  Why is it you leave the chamber immediately after speaking? You saw those children and chose to use that language.” 

And for pure entertainment value, Fitzgerald copied Adam Elmarek of the Voice of OC on the message.

One parent did address the council and addressed the bad language in front of her kids. Did Tait even hear her?  Perhaps this mother can have her kid ask Tait to explain the word “slut” means.  Tait has control of the gavel and he refuses to use it.  I have to wonder The Anaheim City Council chambers have become Orange County’s go-to place for bad performance art (puppet shows), vicious personal attacks, and profanity as opposed to civic governance.  As the presiding officer, Tait’s done a horrible job making the chamber of “The City of Kindness” into a place of civil debate.

If I want to hear bad language and attacks on people of authority in Anaheim, I’ll just go to Lewis Black’s show at the Grove Friday night.  And it’s high time the audience chimes in and exercises their free speech rights to give Mr. Fitzgerald a taste of his own medicine.

  9 comments for “Anaheim Kids Exposed to Hateful Speech at City Council Meeting; Tait Does Nothing

  1. March 6, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    I feel pretty safe in saying that you, Dan, have never been to an Anaheim Council meeting, as much as you pontificate about them.

    Otherwise you’d hear all the boo’s and hisses and groans whenever Fitz goes off the rails. And they are coming from us. Vern, when I’m there. Greg. All the rest of what you call the Clown Car. So your exhortation for the audience to “chime in and exercise their free speech rights to give Mr. Fitzgerald a taste of his own medicine” is as useless as a second anus.

    Here’s how much you know about Anaheim issues: “we certainly disagree on policy matters with most things the three Republican women on the Anaheim City Council stand for.” And yet you just LOVE Jordan Brandman because he calls himself a Democrat. Quick question: What are these issues on which you disagree with the Republican women but not Jordan? Don’t worry, it’s a trick question. There are FOUR kleptocrats in lockstep, and party in Anaheim is a mirage.

    Anyway … I won’t be interested in seeing how you respond to this, or getting into a back-and-forth with you. You already get way more attention than you deserve by picking on the forces for reform in Anaheim.

  2. henry lipton
    March 6, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    I have been to a few city council meetings in my lifetime. I have seen many a crazy person go off the rails in the same way as this Fitzgerald person. And at every one of those meetings, I have seen the individual council members put those folks in check when they go into dark blue language territory. And you place all the blame on the mayor and give the rest of the dais a pass. That reaching for straws.

    • March 6, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      The mayor has the gavel and the controls; the rest of the dais does not. Vern. I watch every meeting. I have a thriving business I run (just hired our seventh employee) and I’m up early for calls with clients from Europe and late with clients in Asia Pac/Rim…I general cook dinner for the family during the week and am busy with my family. So no, I haven’t physically made it to an Anaheim city council meeting but when I last checked, you and Diamond add Mr. Fitzgerald to the Saint Tait clown car. And Jordan doesn’t just call himself a Democrat, he is one.

  3. Chatka
    March 6, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Dan,

    Using the gavel to argue with Fitzgerald, thereby extending his time at the microphone, will do nothing to “protect the children.” Fitzgerald has proven on more than one occasion, that he has both the resources and will to sue any government body that infringes upon his right to speak what he wishes to speak. He could care less what Tait, or any other member of the Council has to say about his commentary. Every moment spent admonishing Fitzgerald for his behavior, which neither Tait or the Council can do anything substantial about, would serve no purpose other than to give him the attention this poor, pitiful man craves. If anything, by not interrupting speakers such as Fitzgerald, Tait is shortening the length of the council meeting, and probably avoiding a lawsuit and the expenditure of taxpayer funds to defend against it.

    I guess Tait could have put on a show for the camera’s like Kring did, but of course, then you would be admonishing him for that. Tom Tait is not responsible for the comments made by any member of the public. There is no contortion of logic that can support your placing that responsibility on him or anyone else.

    The only way to ensure that children are not at some point exposed to bad language is to lock them away in a closet until they are 18, but that would be a bit excessive if you ask me.

  4. henry lipton
    March 6, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Nah I think Dan would be just fine with locking kids up in a closet. He is a bully and he is also just fine with the NSA spying on Americans without cause or a warrant.

  5. March 7, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Henry — please stick to the topic of the post which the NSA has nothing to do with. I am all for kids being exposed to city government at an early age. I’m not naïve, but I think hearing a man call women vile names at age 6 is a bit much.

    Funny, not one condemnation of Mr. Fitzgerald’s comments by you. Unless, you’re just fine with that.

  6. henry lipton
    March 7, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Yeah you got a point. I here by do condemn his comments. My point was to illustrate your selective outrage. Ive seen several city councils be independent and condemn guys like him without having to rely on the mayor and his gavel. I think the woman above makes a good point in that it may be most expedient to let him finish to avoid further conflict and lengthening his screed.

  7. MikeM128
    March 8, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Taking children to any city counsel meeting is just like a episode of scared straight. The children get to watch a bunch of criminals in action. We can quit being high and mighty about these folks. They ran for office to find some way to better their pocketbook and don’t actually care about their constituents.

    The meetings bring out the wack jobs. Just ask the OC supervisors and a few city councils if they remember Will B. King

  8. March 22, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    A mayor who can’t or won’t take charge when their own council members own shown such disrespect is appalling! This is one of the reasons that Tait must go. Good for Lucille Kring for speaking up!

    This is why we need Lorri Galloway as the next Mayor of Anaheim! She will not stand for this.

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