Reed Royalty, who founded the Orange County Taxpayers Association (OCTax) in 1986 and has served as its only president since, announced his retirement at the organization’s second annual “Roses, Radishes and the Royalty Awards” dinner last week at The Island Hotel in Newport Beach.
In his remarks, Reed cited some of OCTax’s milestones. He said, OCTax’s “first defining success” was the original Measure M campaign for transportation in 1990, which he chaired. He said “Measure M literally enabled Orange County’s future. Can you imagine living here without Measure M’s improvements to our freeways and streets?”
Reed said Measure M was the birthday of OCTax’s “perfect” Mission Statement: “taxes should be fair, understandable, cost-effective and good for the economy.” He said, “If a tax meets those criteria, it’s a good tax; if it doesn’t, it’s not.” He told his audience, “You don’t leave this room tonight until you can recite those four principles.”
There are too many instances to recount where Reed has weighed in for taxpayers over the years, some with a high profile, other times when the spotlight was somewhere else. For his part, Reed was completely focused on OCTax fighting off those who would seek to increase the size and scope of government to no purpose but to redistribute wealth.
Most people think of Reed as “the taxpayer guy,” but he has a fuller resume. He’s a Harvard graduate and a former Navy submarine officer who was ranked in the top one percent of shiphandlers. He has an MBA degree, and served as AT&T’s lobbyist to the State and Federal legislatures. He was a founding officer of AT&T’s cellular business (in time for the 1980 Olympic Games in Los Angeles), then helped start what now is Verizon Wireless. He was a founder of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association in Washington DC.
For 20 years, he managed his own lobbying firm, Reed Royalty Public Affairs. He says, “the secret to success in lobbying is to tell the whole truth all the time, even if it includes facts that work against your client. You have to build and maintain the elected officials’ trust in your integrity.”
Reed is an appointed member and two-time chairman of the $10 billion Orange County Employees’ Retirement System, which he says “tries to earn money from investments faster than elected officials can give it away as higher benefits for public employees.” For two decades, he has warned of the danger of “excessive” benefits. He says, “public employees are as good as people in the private sector, but they’re overpaid in total compensation compared to people in private industry.”
To his “Roses and Radishes” audience, Royalty said, “OCTax will grow bigger, better and faster with a new president with a fresh face and a fresh approach. Tonight, I relinquish the presidency, but the new president has asked me to stay aboard until at least the end of the year to help OCTax navigate the state and local ballot initiatives.”
At the end of the meeting, OCTax Chairman Curt Pringle announced that Carolyn Cavecche, Mayor of the City of Orange until the end of this year, will be OCTax’s new president.
On behalf of our team here at the FlashReport, I wish the best of luck to you, Reed, in your future endeavors.