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Anaheim councilwoman apologizes for 'disturbing' remarks

July 27, 2012 | 11:45 am

Anaheim police

An Anaheim city councilwoman is apologizing for remarks celebrating as a "win with no shots fired" the abrupt end to Tuesday night's council meeting because of violent protests before two measures could be placed on the November ballot, including one eliminating citywide council seats.

Councilwoman Gail Eastman made the remarks on a private neighborhood message board after the council failed to take up the ballot issues -- which are of particular concern to Anaheim's Latino community -- and illustrate to many a divide between wealthy neighborhoods and the impoverished city core.

The City Council was planning to approve for the Nov. 6 ballot a measure that would require council members be elected from districts rather than at-large. The American Civil Liberties Union sued in June to require the city to establish such districts.

The council also was scheduled to place before voters a hotel bed tax for developers, even though some community members complained the money would be better spent improving local institutions than assisting the hotel industry.

Eastman posted this week on a private message board: "It's finally quiet in the hood and I've had time to collect my thoughts. The bonus now is that a threat of seeing either the TOT issue or districting on the November ballot is past. In spite of how it happened, it was a big time win for all who opposed seeing that placed on the November ballot."

She later added, "Tonight we celebrate a win with no shots fired!"

A local blogger posted Eastman's message on his political blog, and after it was picked up by the Voice of OC and the OC Weekly, Eastman sent out an apology.

Critics complained about her remarks in light of clashes between police and some 1,000 protesters Tuesday night outside the City Council meeting that ended in the arrests of 24 people and damage done to 20 businesses. The protests came just days after two men were fatally shot by Anaheim police. One of the men, Manuel Diaz, was unarmed.

"Shortly after midnight on Wednesday morning, following a contentious and emotional city council meeting, I sent an email to the Colony residents' email group thanking my neighbors for attending the city council meeting," Eastman wrote in her apology.

"My immediate concern was with the safety and well-being of those in attendance and I am grateful that they returned home safely. For that, I commend the Anaheim Police Department for their efforts to keep residents safe," she said. "In the email, I used a common phrase that was perceived as inappropriate and insensitive in light of the serious issues going on in our city right now.

"Very simply, it was late, I was exhausted and it was the wrong choice of words. For that, I sincerely apologize to those who were offended. Those who know me understand my heart and that I love Anaheim. It is very disheartening to see what's going on right now in our city..." 

Mayor Tom Tait, in comments to the Voice of OC, called Eastman’s original remarks “very disturbing.”

“It was very disappointing that we didn't vote on those," Tait said. "I placed both those items on the agenda because I wanted the council to vote for them. And I support both.”

Councilwoman Lorri Galloway, in a text message to Voice of OC, ripped into her council colleague.

“I am shocked at the callous disregard shown by Gail Eastman by her careless celebratory remarks about her victories over districting and taxpayer giveaways in the wake of a broken hearted and angry Latino community’s anguish over the events of the last few days. An apology is the very least she owes to the people she is sworn to serve.”


Protests reflect deep divisions in Anaheim

Police, protesters clash as tensions roil Anaheim

In new shooting incident, Anaheim police fire on burglary suspects

-- Richard Winton

Photo: Anaheim police in riot gear pass a burning trash can as they chase protesters Tuesday night. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times.