You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2013.

Bank of America logoOn a non-political note: The Bank of America is holding a three-day event outreaching to B of A mortgage customers. From the flyer that came over the transom:

We’re here to help.

Bank of America invites you to a special homeowner event designed to help our customers who are in need of assistance.

If you are a Bank of America mortgage customer, you will have the opportunity to meet in-person with one of our dedicated home loan specialists. These specialists will have a personalized discussion with you about your financial situation and they will explain all options available that could help you avoid foreclosure.

Tuesday, April 2 through Thursday, April 4

Crowne Plaza Resort Anaheim-Garden Grove
12021 Harbor Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA

Complimentary parking will be available in the back of the hotel located on the corner of  Harbor Blvd. & Chapman Ave. Head south on Harbor and make an immediate right on Resort Way.

To register, please call 1.855.201.7426.

The flyer — click here for it — has a checklist of all documents participants need to bring with them.

The Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections and Public Involvement meets again tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Downtown Community Center, 250 East Center Street.

On tonight’s agenda:

– Presentation from Anaheim HOME-Home Owners Maintaining their Environment (that should be interesting)

– City of San Jose (which has single-member districts) memo outlining the history of their electoral system

– Overview, presentation, discussion and possible decisions on the Committee’s deliberation and recommendations process

Don't make us riot!

Don’t make us riot!

The OC Register has a story up about the “feared” loss of food worker jobs at the city-owned Honda Center.First, it’s important to note the “job loss” theme is misleading. What is happening is a change in who is operating the food service: Anaheim Arena Management, which operates the Honda Center for the city, is taking that function over from industry giant Aramark. The food service jobs aren’t going away. Unless Anaheim Arena Management is hiding a secret army of android food service workers, people will be employed to serve food and drinks to Honda Center patrons.

I don’t discount the nervousness felt by individual Honda Center employees who are unsure if they will be kept on after the change in providers. However, no job is guaranteed in this life.

What is upsetting UNITE-HERE Local 11 — and which the OC Register misses — is that when Anaheim Arena Management takes over, food service employees may no longer be dues-paying members of UNITE-HERE, and that impacts Local 11’s financial bottom line.

But whatreally caught my eye in this story was union spokeswoman Leigh Shelton raising the spectre of rioting if things don’t go UNITE-HERE’s way:

Read the rest of this entry »

ACCC FBSo earlier this week, I receive and accept an invitation to join the Anaheim Canyon Community Coalition’s Facebook group. It’s a closed FB group of about 180 people. Members post information and news about Anaheim.

Posted by the page administrator was this message:

“Hi all, Thanks for the feedback. This ACCC page welcomes all posts from ALL sides. Some posts are emotional, some are straight forward and true, and some are twisted and false.”

The message went on to describe the ACCC Board’s activities and the groups mission.

Taking him at his word, yesterday I submitted a link to my Anaheim Blog story about Councilwoman Kris Murray’s proposal to bring back the Home Improvement Holiday (posts on the ACCC FB page have to be approved by an administrator). It was a completely positive, truthful and straightforward post, and as was my accompanying comment on the Anaheim Canyon Community Coalition page. It was reviewed and approved.

This morning, my post was gone, and I have been removed as a member of the ACCC Facebook group.

So much for “welcoming all posts from ALL sides.”

UPDATE: On the Anaheim Hills Buzz FB page, I posed a question to ACCC leader Cheryl Knutson:

Cheryl Knutson exchange



An interesting position for the ACCC leadership to adopt: it doesn’t matter whether what you’re saying is true or false, what matters is who you are. Under that policy, Jason Young is permitted to publish lots and lots of vicious, untrue and half-true posts on the ACCC Facebook page because he is a wedding videographer and not a public affairs consultant and is — as far as we know — earns no income from politics and pubic affairs.

And apparently the ACCC leadership has no objection to their FB page being “taken over” by a partisan with a criminal record. it seems there are exceptions to the ACCC leadership “it’s not the message, it’s the messenger” policy.

For the record, I had no intention of following Jason Young’s lead and plastering the ACCC FB page with every Anaheim Blog post. Unfortunately, Steve McKay and Cheryl Knutson preferred to shoot-first-and-ask-questions-never, so they’ll never find that out.

Unite Here protestorsAnaheim Arena Management — which operates the Honda Center for the City of Anaheim — is taking over the food concession from Aramark. That has UNITE-HERE Local 11 worried.

From the union’s website:

Anaheim Arena Management, the company that owns the Honda Center and the Anaheim Ducks,  plans to take over the operation of the stadium’s food concessions from Aramark. But they haven’t assured the Honda Center workers that they will be able to keep their jobs.

The Honda Center employees work hard, and our jobs help us provide our families with stability in a tough economy. You can help by sending a message to the owners of the Ducks that you support the workers.

Click this link to sign the petition!

I suppose that’s one way to look at it.

Read the rest of this entry »

DPOC logoWhile the OC Republican Party slumbers, the Democratic Party of Orange County is lending its voice to the left-wing coalition pushing to abolish Anaheim’s current at-large system for electing the city council, and carve the city into eight single-member council districts.

My friends at TheLiberalOC. com posted yesterday that the DPOC Central Committee approved a resolution of support for this scheme, which is being quarterbacked at the political level by a confederation of OCCORD, UNITE-HERE Local 11, Los Amigos and the OC Labor Federation — with the ACLU covering the litigation front.


Democratic Party of Orange County: left-wing.

OCCORD: left-wing.

UNITE-HERE: left-wing.

Los Amigos: left-wing.

OC Labor Federation: left-wing.

ACLLU: left-wing.

Anyone seeing a pattern, here?

Given that constellation of support, it’s safe to say this plan for eight single-member council districts isn’t intended as a recipe for limited government and greater liberty in Anaheim.

Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray

Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray

During councilmember comments at last night Anaheim City Council meeting, Councilwoman Kris Murray proposed the return of a most excellent policy: the Home Improvement Holiday (HIH).

It’s been almost 10 years since Anaheim launch the original HIH under Mayor Curt Pringle. It was one of the emblematic policies of the “Freedom Friendly” days.

HIH by-passed the top-down, bureaucratic and expensive governmental approach to neighborhood revitalization in favor of decentralized, free market policy that tapped into the natural desire of residents to improve their homes in a way that suited themselves — and in the aggregate, improved the city through their own time, money and effort.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wondering what kind of anti-business policies single-member council districts would make more likely in Anaheim? Look no further than UNITE-HERE Local 11’s lobbying of the City of Anaheim to adopt a “retention” policy a la that paragon of mismanagement and ill-governance, Los Angeles.

To illustrate how “retention” works, I’ll excerpt from Los Angeles International Airport’s retention policy, which imposes these requirements on LAX contractors:

  • Contractor agrees to offer to employ and retain for a 90-day period the employees who worked for at least 12 months for the terminated contractor/subcontractors earning less than $15.00 per hour.
  • Contractor agrees to not discharge without cause the employees retained during the 90-day period.
  • Contractor agrees to perform a written performance evaluation of each employee retained at the end of the 90-day period.

[LAX packages their retention policy with a “Living Wage” ordinance: in LAX’s case, contractors were required, as of July 1, 20102, to pay their employees at least $10.70 an hour, along with a minimum health benefit hourly rate of $4.67 per hour (up from $1.70 per hour when the mandate was imposed in 2010).  Plus, the “Living Wage” has to be increased every year. If the contractor doesn’t provide health benefits, then the minimum health benefit hourly rate must be added to their pay – spiking the “Living Wage (in this case) to $15.37 per hour.]

UNITE-HERE is meeting with Anaheim city officials to press their case for imposing a retention policy on Anaheim contractors.

Read the rest of this entry »

I published a series of posts delving into the origins, funding and self-proclaimed mission of OCCORD, one fo the left-wing groups spearheading the drive for electing the Anaheim City Council from single-member districts.

You can read those posts here, here, here and here.

Another major cog in that coalition is Local 11 of the militant union UNITE-HERE, which represents “more than 20,000 workers employed in hotels, restaurants, airports, sports arenas and convention centers throughout Southern California.” UNITE-HERE also feels it vital to point out that it “boasts a diverse membership, comprising workers from many immigrant communities as well as high percentages of African-American, Latino, and Asian-American workers. The majority of UNITE HERE members are women” — because, as well know, it is absolutely imperative that we identify ourselves by skin-color.

UNITE-HERE is the mothership of OCCORD. As I noted in an earlier post, OCCORD founder and Executive Director Eric Altman led UNITE-HERE’s strategic affairs department for 15 years before starting OCCORD. UNITE-HERE provides funding for OCCORD, and UNITE-HERE Local 11’s second-in-command, Ada Briceno, is the chair of OCCORD, whose current and former staff members have also served stints as UNITE-HERE organizers.

I see the staff of UNITE-HERE Local 11 at every meeting of the Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections. Working hand-in-glove with OCCORD, UNITE-HERE is running a drill of getting bodies up to the microphone during public comments to say how their lives will be better if there were single-member council districts – the goal being to use the public record of CAC meetings to claim broad public support for single-member council districts.

Once the public comments are done, those folks have gone and the meeting settles down to the regular agenda, most of the remaining audience is composed of UNITE-HERE and OCCORD staffers.

Read the rest of this entry »

UPDATE: Mayor Tait, citing an abundance of caution, recused himself from this afternoon’s closed item on Angel’s negotiations.

On the agenda for the City Council meeting today is a closed session item regarding negotiations with the Angels Baseball organization. Presumably, the council will begin discussions with legal counsel to come to an agreement with the team and prevent them from exercising an out clause that can be optioned as part of their contract before the 2017 season commences.

As was posted on Anaheim Blog earlier this year, Mayor Tait was issued an FPPC opinion letter on May 22, 2012 (click for full copy of the letter), that clearly states the Mayor has several legal conflicts in place and must take specific steps before he can participate as an officer of the city in any negotiations with Angels Baseball or take any actions that have a financial impact on the property where the stadium is located.

Recap: Mayor Tom Tait is a partner in an LLC that owns property at 2130 E. Orangewood and his company, Tait Engineering Services leases a portion of that facility. Since all of this happens within 500 feet from Angels stadium property, there is a legal conflict of interest per the FPPC.

The FPPC’s opinion letter was not provided to the full council when it was received last May, even though he was represented by then Anaheim City Attorney Cristina Talley. Further at the City Council meeting last November 13, then-City Attorney Talley made a prepared statement that Mayor Tait had NO conflict in negotiating a new lease with the Angels – prompting his council colleagues to rescind a motion to form an ad hoc committee of the council to begin negotiations with the Angels last year.

The FPPC states that if Mayor Tait terminates ownership AND if he takes multiple steps as it applies to his leasehold interest where his business property is located, then he may avoid a conflict. It concludes by stating that even if the Mayor takes these steps, the conflict exists for one year from the date all steps are taken in accordance with FPPC direction.

As of four weeks ago, per the Orange County Clerk/ Recorders office, the legal owner of the property is 2130 Orangewood LLC. And when you check the Secretary of State’s website, you will see that Tom Tait and Robert Cook are the owners of the 2130 Orangewood LLC.

So the conclusion: unless something has changed in the last four weeks, Mayor Tait still appears to have a conflict, despite assurances he and the City Attorney gave last November to the other members of the City Council, and by extension the residents of Anaheim and Angels fans everywhere. In viewing all legal sources, he still owns it.

So this begs the question, does the Mayor need to recuse himself from the closed session item scheduled this afternoon, and if so, will he do so?

My frend Chris Emami at OC Political has posted about an Anaheim Campaign Database project he is launching. It is a worthy endeavor, and the information about council candidates is useful. I do have some suggestions for making it more complete.

The profiles of the candidates’ campaign finances don’t include how much of their own mony they donated to their campaigns. Brian Chuchua, for example, pumped about $60,000 (if memory serves) from his own pocket (and the pocket of a family member). Not that it did him any good, but it does belong in any pie chart or profile of his campaign finances.

Also, independent expenditures aren’t included. The post includes this illustrative pie chart about John Leos’ campaign contributions:


But the real story is the staggering $531,000 the unions — mainly the Orange County Employees Association — spent in independent expenditures on behalf of Leos.

Still, this project is a good start, and I’m sure Chris will be incorporating improvements along the way.


The ACLU yesterday sent a letter to the City of Anaheim calling on them to establish a civilian police oversight board. The OC Register published the story yesterday afternoon.

In a classic publicity maneuver, the ACLU first sent the letter to the OC Register, which began working on a story — before anyone at the City had seen the letter or was even aware of it.

Welcome to Anaheim!

Welcome to Anaheim!

Yesterday, the OC District Attorney cleared Anaheim Police Officer Nick Bennallack of any wrong-doing in the July 2012 shooting of gang member Manuel “Stomper” Diaz.

The OC Register reports:

Officer Nick Bennallack was on a gang-enforcement patrol in the Anna Drive neighborhood on the afternoon of July 21 when he pulled up to a small group of men. Manuel Diaz, 25, a convicted gang member, ran, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office concluded.

The officers gave chase, down an alley and into the front yard of an apartment house. There, Bennallack fired two shots, one hitting Diaz in the back-right side of his head, the other hitting him in his right buttock, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.

The police association said shortly after the shooting that officers saw Diaz pull something from his waistband and turn. Diaz was found to be unarmed; investigators found a cellphone registered to Diaz, as well as the two spent ammunition cartridges from Bennallack’s gun and a drug pipe at the scene, the District Attorney’s Office said.

You can read the letter from the D.A. office here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jay Burress

Jay Burress

The OC Register published a profile today on Jay Burress, the new president/CEO of the Anaheim/OC Visitor & Convention Bureau. Burress has been on the job for a month, now:

The top of his list is getting the word out about all of Orange County’s attractions that people may not be aware of, he said. International travelers, who make up 10 percent of the visitors to Anaheim and Orange County, are a prime target. Burress is particularly interested in Chinese tourists, who are increasingly traveling to the United States after eased visa restrictions.

“We have a major opportunity to capitalize on that and we want to be a leader,” said Burress, who started wooing Chinese visitors to Texas 15 years ago when he was in sales with the Dallas Visitor & Convention Bureau.

Read the rest of this entry »

OCCORD LogoAs I posted yesterday, one of OCCORD’s funders is The New World Foundation, a radical, New York City-based non-profit that funds left-wing organization in the United States and around the world.

OCCORD’s grants came from the NWF’s “New Majority Fund” – which is its largest funding vehicle. The ambitious agenda of the New Majority Fund is  “building electoral majorities that can reverse the rightward trend across America” and helping groups like OCCORD to “grow in scope and scale to influence the broader political climate and reshape government at the municipal, county and state levels.”

Indeed, OCCORD’s mission fits perfectly into The New World Foundation’s larger goals, self-consciously casting itself as an agent for rolling back conservative politics and governance in Orange County.

In April of 2012, Norma Rodriguez, an organizer for the San Diego-based Center on Policy Initiatives (another recipient of financial support from the New World Foundation’s New Majority Fund) posted this OCCORD job opportunity:

“OCCORD- Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development is  a sister organization of CPI’s in Orange County, they are hiring a Researcher and Policy Analyst, please forward on to colleagues in OC or colleagues interested in moving there!!”

OCCORD Executive Director Eric Altman

OCCORD Executive Director Eric Altman

In the job posting, OCCORD Executive Director Eric Altman told potential applicants [emphasis added]::

“OCCORD is hiring a campaign-oriented Researcher/Policy Analyst.  We’re looking for a good strategic thinker who will keep digging until they find the information they need and who can communicate the relevance of their findings to multiple audiences ranging from policymakers to grassroots leaders.”

Altman concludes with this revealing caution [emphasis added]:

Oh, and since this is Orange County, the epicenter of the modern American conservative movement, we need someone who doesn’t mind fighting  an uphill battle…”

Read the rest of this entry »

[CORRECTION: Although the Staff page on the OCCORD website lists her as Lead Organizer, it has been brought to my attention that Alejandra Ponce de Leon no longer works there — which doesn’t alter or invalidate the underlying point of this post].

“Personnel is policy,” as the saying goes. By the same token, politically active individuals tend to gravitate to organizations that are sympatico with their political beliefs.

OCCORD isn’t any different.

For example, take this sentiment expressed by former OCCORD Lead Organizer Alejandra Ponce de Leon on her Facebook page when Venezuelan strong-man Hugo Chavez died earlier this month:

Ponce de leon chavez VOC

“R.I.P Comandante Chavez“? A brutal strongman who intimidate, jailed, beat and sometimes killed his critics? An avowed enemy of the United States? A thug who packed the courts and the government with his cronies, squashed most of Venezuela’s free and independent press? A caudillo who greatly diminished liberty, violated human rights, and allied himself with the odious autocracy of the Castros and the oppressive, terrorist-sponsoring theocracy of the Iranian mullahs?

Then again, left-wingers will generally overlook an awful lot of oppression as long as the oppressed get free health care.

[Among those “liking” that graphic tribute to the fallen dictator was Lori Condinus, VP of UNITE-HERE Local 11  – another pillar of the left-wing coalition pushing for dividing Anaheim into eight single-member council districts].

Read the rest of this entry »

New World FoundationLast week, we examined OCCORD, its funding and its role in the left-wing coalition trying to influence the Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee on Election to endorse single-member council districts.

Some may question describing OCCORD as a politically left-wing organization. As to that, my previous post traced the group’s genesis as an off-shoot of the left-wing union UNITE-HERE, and their continuing close relationship in terms of strategizing and organizing. It doesn’t stop there.

A significant source of  funding for OCCORD is The New World Foundation (NWF), a New York City-based non-profit with assets of more than $30 million. According to its website, The New World Foundation “believes global and national social change begins at the local level. We seek to help progressive community activists in the United States and around the world build stronger alliances for social justice, civil rights, economic and electoral issues since 1954.”

The New World Foundation has given OCCORD at least $30,000 since 2008. The money comes from the NWF’s New Majority Fund, the purpose of which is “building electoral majorities that can reverse the rightward trend across America” and help recipients of its funding to “grow in scope and scale to influence the broader political climate and reshape government at the municipal, county and state levels.”

Read the rest of this entry »

I attended last night’s meeting of the Citizens Advisory Committee on Election and Public Involvement (along with a lot of the staff of OCCORD and UNITE-HERE Local 11). I don’t have time at the moment to give a detailed run-down, but want to describe an episode from later in the meeting.

Newly appointed CAC member Sandy Day had a number of intelligent, solid questions for the scheduled presenter, political scientist Sarah Hill from Cal State Fullerton. One question posed by Day was what happens if, under a single-member district system, no one files to run in a district?

This provoked derisive chortles from the knot of OCCORD staffers sitting in the back of the room. What a silly question!

Actually, it’s not. Granted, it’s unlikely, but anyone who gas been paying attention to Orange County politics for the last several years has seen plenty of examples of the unlikely taking place. How likely is it that someone would be elected Supervisor by just 3 votes?

I think what Ms. Day was getting at was the key question of voter participation, since an underlying reason why more Latinos aren’t elected to the City Council is lower voting participation – and single-member council districts are not a solution.

Take Seal Beach, for instance. It is the only city in Orange County with a single-member district system. Last year, the council elections were cancelled because nobody filed to run against the incumbents.

The obvious differences between Anaheim and Seal Beach aside, Day’s question was a good one (notwithstanding the snickers from the know-it-alls peanut gallery).

OCCORD LogoI’ve attended most of the Citizens Advisory Committee meetings, and as I’ve noted in previous posts, it was clear from early on that a left-wing coalition was forming to push the CAC toward recommending a switch to electing the Anaheim City Council from single-member districts; that is, Anaheim residents would only have a vote within their council district, and have no voice in the election of the rest of the city council.

The leading members of this left-wing coalition are UNITE-HERE (a militant union representing workers in hotels, food service and similar sectors), Los Amigos of Orange County,  Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (commonly known as OCCORD) and the Orange County Labor Federation.

What is OCCORD?

OCCORD is a 501(c)3 founded in 2005 by Eric Altman, a former union organizer. Since then, it has been a fixture on the Left-side of the Anaheim political spectrum. Earlier, its main focus was lobbying the city to impose low-income housing set-aside requirements on developers. Last year, OCCORD was in the thick of the protests against the GardenWalk hotels agreement, in support of the effort of the Take Back Anaheim initiative and  in favor of the ACLU’s lawsuit seeking to force the city to move to single-member districts.

OCCORD Executive Director Eric Altman and another OCCORD staffer, Clara Turner, have been fixtures at CAC meetings, distributing fliers full of data-points and graphs designed to buttress OCCORD’s advocacy of single-member council districts.

It’s Board of Directors is stacked with union activists, and also includes Amin David, one of the plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit seeking to impose single-member districts on Anaheim.

Read the rest of this entry »

IMG_6494The Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections and Community Involvement meets again this Thursday, March 14 at 6:30 p.m. at the Anaheim Central Library, 500 West Broadway. On the agenda: an overview of the cost of Anaheim elections and the size of the city council, plus a staff update on the ACLU lawsuit against city.

If past CAC meetings are any guide, Orange County Labor Federation Political Director Julio Perez will be there as part of the ongoing union effort to drives bodies to the meetings to call for single-member districts during public comments, in order to create the impression of overwhelming public support for this scheme.

Readers may remember Perez, a liberal Democrat, was the union candidate in last year’s 69th Assembly District primary. At his campaign kick-off, Perez said, “There’s not less money in the economy, there’s just less money in government coffers.” Jeepers.

Perez and other union staffers want Anaheim carved up into single-member council districts because it would make it easier to elect liberal and union-supported candidates to the Anaheim City Council, where they can push for left-wing policies like the “living wage” and a gate-tax and oppose any efforts to outsource city services to private sector providers.

Chairing the Citizens Advisory Committee will be Vivian Pham, a political supporter of Julio Perez. Last year, Pham  (who was appointed to the CAC by Mayor Tom Tait) contributed $100 to Perez’s Assembly campaign:

Read the rest of this entry »

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