Last night’s Anaheim City Council meeting, in which the council approved an expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center, was noteworthy for a demonstrated by Mayor Tom Tait that he actually seems to know he has a gavel and can use it even when there’s an obvious situation to do so — like anytime William Denis Fitzgerald speaks before the council.
We blasted Tait for not using the tools at his disposal to deal with Fitzgerald at the last Anaheim City Council meeting. And to Tait’s credit, when Fitzgerald made the first of two public comments, Tait warned him to keep comments civil. Fitzgerald actually did but all but accuse the city council of using children as props to prevent him from speaking freely (without any actual evidence of doing so); watching Fitzgerald at the podium, you could almost tell he was censoring himself from his prepared remarks but he actually behaved himself.
But that all changed for public comments for the Convention Center expansion. Go to the 2:48 mark when Fitzgerald starts to speak and its only a matter of time before he calls the women on the city council “sluts” again to boos and catcalls from the crowd (again, something we suggested). Tait finally bangs the gavel a good five seconds after the “sluts” comment is made and tells Fitzgerald “to be civil.”
Fitzgerald continues to ask “what would you call councilwomen who cannot have children? Is it because they had too many abortions when they were younger?” There’s an audible groan of shock from the audience. Tait gavels again and says “Mr. Fitzgerald, you are so out of line.” Fitzgerald laments about his free speech and Tait interrupts to say “Man, what a jerk you are being.” The crowd erupted in eight seconds of thunderous applause.
Kring jumps in to say Fitzgerald has a First Amendment right to say what he wants but he doesn’t have a First Amendment right to be heard. “I suggest the mayor turn off your mic.” (again, we suggested that too). The audience applauded for five seconds. After being told he can continue his remarks, Fitzgerald starts by saying “These sluts are doing horrible things…” (and the crowd groans again) “to take tax money that Anaheim children need for parks and recreation….” and he’s told his time is up and he leaves the podium in mid-sentence. Fitzgerald never stays after speaking, and left to boos, catcalls and scattered applause.
Tait asked the city attorney to opine on turning off a speaker’s mic, which we hear is probably not a good idea. Kris Murray then asked for time to comment and without using Fitzgerald’s name called him a bully who likes to take shots at women and just about every ethnicity in the city and she got a nice round of applause from the crowd.
In arguing with the Mayor during one of the timeouts, Fitzgerald claims he represents “thousands of Anaheim homeowners.” And to that, we say “bull.” From all accounts, Anaheim HOME, Fitzgerald’s non-profit, has a membership of one–him. We challenge him to produce a membership list to prove otherwise. I’d settle for one more member to come out publicly.
As far as the Convention Center expansion goes, regular convention business is going to be required to make it work. Disney might need to increase the frequency of the D23 expos, NAMM is still a lock and it looks like WonderCon will never go back to San Francisco. An expanded Convention Center would make Anaheim a great home for National Political Conventions. The key is going to be taking rotating conventions that move from city to city every year and convince them to make Anaheim a permanent home. Missing from the convention center site is adequate parking, more restaurants and better forms of public transit to move people around.
We’re pleased to see Tom Tait actually react to Fitzgerald’s obvious hate speech. We can only wonder why it took so long.