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Last night, the Anaheim City Council voted 4-1 against Mayor Tom Tait’s motion to cancel the city’s contract with the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce to administer the Anaheim Enterprise Zone.

The consensus opinion among the four “no” votes was since staff was already working with the Chamber on revising the contract’s scope in light of legislation ending the California Enterprise Zone program, which could entail the agreement evolving into an economic development partnership of the sort the Chamber has historically had with the city – then it made sense to wait for staff to come back to the council with a finished product for consideration.

 

The Anaheim City Council hasn’t yet taken up Mayor Tait’s proposal to cancel the Anaheim Chamber’s Enterprise Zone contract (a premature move in the minds of many since the EZ is in operation until the end of the year).

Anaheim Police Association President Kerry Condon has sent a letter to the Anaheim City Council in opposition to this move. Among other things, the APA  states that “a healthy and growing economy in which every Anaheim resident who wants a job and can find one is a big part of a comprehensive plan to reduce crime in the city.”

As Ronald Reagan said, “I believe the best social program is a job.”

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So I’m reading through this letter from the lefty attorney Cory Briggs, whom OCCORD has dragged in an attempt to get state and county authorities to prosecute everyone on the Anaheim City Council except Mayor Tom Tait, and my first thought is, “Did this Briggs guys actually go to law school?”

I encourage you to read it, because there is no there, there. The allegations by OCCORD and Briggs barely rise to the level of guilt by association. If there were indeed any violations of the Political Reform Act of 1974, Briggs would have specified in his which sections have been transgressed. His omission is telling. Essentially, OCCORD and Briggs are asking state and local prosecutors to go on legal fishing expedition to find something on OCCORD’s political opponents (no wonder local gasbags are delighted with this: all innuendo and no substance – exactly their flavor).

Here’s the text of the letter:

Dear Attorney General Harris and District Attorney Rackauckas:

On behalf of Tina Quintana (a registered voter in the City of Anaheim) and Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development, and pursuant to Government Code Section

91007, I am writing to request that you commence prosecutorial actions against Anaheim City Councilmembers Kris Murray, Gail Eastman, Lucille Kring, and Jordan Brandman for violations of the Political Reform Act of 1974 (“PRA”).

My clients believe that these four politicians violated the PRA for the following reasons:

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And now some happy news about an act of good Christian charity by a young man from Anaheim Hills. From the Orange County Register (my apologies to OCR for lifting nearly the entire article):

Teenager thinks outside the batter’s box

O.C. student collects, cleans and donates baseball equipment to deliver to Nicaraguan children.

John-Paul Velasquez slides through photos on his iPad from his afternoons playing baseball with other children during his November trip to his mother’s homeland, Nicaragua.

Their field was a dirt lot, their makeshift bases marked by rocks or discarded cardboard. This was their diamond in the rough.

John-Paul, 14, an incoming freshman at Orange Lutheran, had brought his newest teammates new and used baseball equipment he had collected in Orange County.

He and his friends from Calvary Christian school, his Santa Ana Little League and Pony League teams and travel ball had little use for the gloves, bats, batting helmets and cleats they had outgrown.

But in poverty-stricken villages of Nicaragua, these donated goods had second, more valuable life. They saved baseball for children who had been making due with whatever equipment their cab driver/volunteer coach brought to games in a small satchel.

The children had been using a metal bat with no grip, one batting helmet with no padding and a few dirty, well-worn baseballs. Some players used their caps to catch fly balls while infielders waited their turn to sink their hands into beat-up gloves with torn leather, broken stitching, patched webbing and padding poking out of the sides.

“I couldn’t believe what I saw because it’s so different than what we have plenty of at home,” remembered John-Paul. “When they got the equipment, they were so happy. They love playing baseball just as much as I do.”

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Anaheim_Chamber_LogoThis “Action Alert” went out yesterday from the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce regarding an item on today’s City Council agenda, namely a move by Mayor Tom Tait to immediately kill the city’s Enterprise Zone contract with the Chamber:

ACTION ALERT: Support Needed for Chamber at Anaheim City Council Meeting

Dear members of the Board of Directors,

In case you have not seen the following linked article, Mayor Tait intends to introduce a motion tomorrow night to immediately terminate the city’s Enterprise Zone contract with the Chamber on the position that it is not needed since the enactment of AB 93 – legislation to eliminate Enterprise Zones beginning January 1, 2014.

“Anaheim Chamber’s deal for doomed program up in the air”

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/city-519723-chamber-anaheim.html

The reality is there is still much work to be done for the remainder of 2013, before AB 93 takes effect, and cancelling the contract would be premature and deprive Anaheim businesses of the opportunity to utilize EZ incentives for the rest of the year. Additionally, we need to work with the City to market and help companies utilize the new $3.75 billion in tax incentives created under AB 93 over the next five years and Chamber leadership has already met with the Governor’s office last week to begin the process.

Here is why the Chamber’s partnership is vital to the Anaheim Community:

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Liberal San Diego litigator Cory Briggs

Liberal San Diego litigator Cory Briggs

As noted in the previous story, OCCORD is trying to sic the state Attorney General and the OC District Attorney on members of the Anaheim City Council who haven’t knuckled under to its leftist tongue-lashings and protests.

OCCORD has enlisted a litigator named Cory Briggs as their hatchet man. Briggs is a liberal activist San Diego attorney who specializes in filing environmental lawsuits against anyone trying to build anything (anyone with money, that is; saving the planet is a lucrative enterprise).

Briggs, for example, sued what would have been the nation’s largest solar project – a giant solar generating station in the California desert – on behalf of the La Cuna De Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle (no, I’m not making that up). Here’s the U.S. District Court ruling dismissing the complaints of the Protection Circle.

OCCORD brings in a liberal litigator from San Diego to bully the Anaheim City Council? They could find someone local? Then again, this is a radical group from Garden Grove run by a guy from La Habra, so why not an attorney from 100 miles away?

OCCORD Director Marisol Ramirez holding Party for Socialism and Liberation sign saying "Police Are George Zimmermans With A  Badge."

OCCORD Director Marisol Ramirez holding Party for Socialism and Liberation sign saying “Police Are George Zimmermans With A Badge.”

The Left in Anaheim must be getting desperate, today’s press release from radical left-wing group OCCORD (Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development) is any indication:

DA Urged to Prosecute Anaheim Council Members for Conflict of Interest

Council members received contributions from PAC tied to developer, then voted for $158 million hotel subsidy, says letter by CA attorney.

Contact:  Eric Altman, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (714) 392-0959 or ealtman@occord.org

Anaheim, CA – A prominent California attorney alleged that members of the Anaheim City Council violated state law when they voted on behalf of a $158 million hotel subsidy, after accepting contributions from a PAC tied to the project’s developer. Attorney Cory Briggs urged California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas to prosecute the council members in a letter sent Thursday. Briggs’ request for prosecution was made on the behalf of a community organization, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development, and a private Anaheim resident named in the letter.

The letter alleges that Anaheim City Council members Lucille Kring and Jordan Brandman had an illegal conflict of interest when they voted for the Garden Walk Hotel subsidy in May, within months of accepting donations from the political action committee formed by Support Our Anaheim Resort (SOAR.) Hotelier Bill O’Connell, who benefited from that subsidy, sits on the SOAR Advisory Committee. The letter also names council members Gail Eastman and Kris Murray, who voted in favor of the subsidy and are SOAR Advisory Committee members. Eastman and Murray did not disclose their business relationships with SOAR and O’Connell at the time of the vote, as required by law.

The request for prosecution issued by Briggs is a required legal step before the filing of a private lawsuit. A potential filing would result in another in a recent series of lawsuits faced by the city council on behalf of residents. Last month, a judge ordered a trial in a case brought by the ACLU on behalf of Anaheim voters, alleging that the city’s election system violates the California Equal Voting Rights Act.

The Garden walk subsidy caused controversy, even before the allegations made last week. The subsidy was first passed in January 2012, but that vote was voided after a Superior Court Judge ruled that it violated the Brown Act, California’s open government law, because the public did not receive proper notice.

This is typical of the Left’s approach to politics: if you can’t win in the court of public opinion, then sue! Or in this case, ask government prosecutors to go after your opponents.

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Ever since the OC District Attorney’s office released its report stating the police shooting of Joel Acevedo was justified, a tiny but vocal gaggle of carping conspiracists refuse to accept that finding.  To do so would entail relinquishing their belief that the Anaheim police actually executed Acevedo.

One of slender reeds to which these paranoiacs cling is the “missing gun shot residue test” claim. Semi-sober blogger Vern Nelson at the hallucinatory Orange Juice Blog and Anaheim squeaky wheel Cynthia Ward brandish this claim like a sword.

“Matt, until the DA produces the powder residue tests on Joel Acevedo’s autopsy there are a lot of people questioning that shooting,” Ward asserted the other day. She has said the same thing on other occasions (along with her fellow conspiracy theorist Vern Nelson), presumably to ward off the unwelcome findings of the OCDA (and my hunch is the “lot of people” to whom she refers were probably all shouting and marching at the left-wing anti-police protest in Anaheim on July 21).

At this point, let me note that Ward’s moral authority, such as it is, is based on her self-appointed status as an indefatigable researcher who tirelessly digs until she unearths the facts — and by an amazing coincidence, the “facts” she digs up invariably confirm her previously announced speculations.

Which is why I find it curious she is still spouting the “Until the DA produces the GSR tests” line. The reason isn’t a mystery. It took me less than an hour and a few phone calls to find the answer.

The OC District Attorney Hasn’t Used GSR Testing For Years
The broad answer is law enforcement reliance on gun shot residue tests has declined over the years due to reliability factors. There are too many factors that can produce false positives. The FBI stopped using GSR testing in 2006 (although an agency spokesmen stated at the time the time the bureau retained confidence in the technology).

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As the home of Disneyland, Anaheim is ground zero for tens of thousand of Disney fans on a daily basis. That population will spike by 45,000 this weekend as the D23 Expo comes to the Anaheim Convention Center.

From the OC Register:

It’s the third biennial D23 Expo, the official Disney fan club’s get-together, at the Anaheim Convention Center, running today through Sunday.

“As we grow, this is probably the biggest and best year yet,” said Steven Clark, the head of D23.

Actors Billy Crystal and John Goodman will accept awards. Disney Channel stars from “Teen Beach Movie” and “Shake it Up” will appear. Tim Gunn, a “Project Runway” host, will do story time for children.

In the past, actor Johnny Depp made a surprise appearance. Officials one year announced that the Star Tours attraction at Disneyland would be updated.

This year?

Maybe Tom Hanks, playing Walt Disney in an upcoming movie, will show up. Or a new “Star Wars” attraction will be announced.

“There are always a few surprises that we don’t announce,” Clark said. “We have a pretty good track record from the past.”

There will be panel discussions and displays, too.

You can read the rest of the article here.

Saturday is sold out, but tickets for today and Sunday are still available.

 

Here is a timely column that OC Business Council President and CEO Lucy Dunn penned for timely column last week for Fox and Hounds, on the how tourism is key to the economy of Orange County and the state. Here’s an excerpt:

Orange County’s 42 miles of coastline is home to the best beaches in the world, including Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and “Surf City USA.” OC Parks offers sprawling wilderness and nature parks, perfect for a scenic hike through Crystal Cove State Park or Limestone Canyon Park. And sports fans can cheer on the Angels at Angels Stadium or the Ducks at the Honda Center or Olympic Volleyball in Anaheim.

The county is also home to some of the world’s best art, science and music centers. Segerstrom Center for the Arts is Orange County’s largest non-profit arts organization and includes the renowned Pacific Symphony, the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and the Pacific Chorale.  Discovery Science Center just received the 2013 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, recognizing their innovation in state-of-art exhibits and dynamic community outreach programs.

Last year, Disneyland Resort became county’s largest employer, supporting a workforce of 25,000 and an additional 57,400 jobs in the region. This is in no small part due to the resort’s $1.1 billion expansion to Disney’s California Adventure, creating the popular Cars Land. Despite being built during the worst economy in decades, the Cars Land attraction is a game-changer for the region. In 2012, the attraction drew 7.8 million visitors, a 22% increase in visitors from 2011, and is expected to drive at least a 17% increase in income at Disneyland, not to mention the huge economic benefits to surrounding hotels, restaurants and other attractions. 

You can read the entire column here.

Is this what passes for news nowadays?

Today, the Voice of OC reports that Disneyland has had input into the development of the Anaheim Rapid Connection system. Wow, what a shock. Public agencies (the smart ones, at least) always consult with and seek input from the public — which includes businesses — when developing transportation projects.  Yet, the Voice of OC and squeaky wheels like Cynthia Ward attempt to create the perception that doing so is suspect — at least when it comes to Disney.

Suppose the City of Anaheim and OCTA developed a transit system for the Anaheim Resort without any input from Disney, the largest single business in the resort? Suppose they broke ground and began construction without ever meeting with Disney and asking “Hey, you guys have 58 years of experience and loads of data on traffic patterns and resort visitor attitudes and habits. What do you think about having ARC stop at Disney Way.” Would anyone consider that intelligent planning?

[Maybe Cynthia Ward, whose published attitude is that the city can and should build some bare-bones system and Resort visitors should just suck it up and ride.]

Transportation projects are improved by seeking the input of impacted business and residents. Although the Anaheim Resort area is more than just Disneyland, it exists because of Disneyland. Millions of people come there every year, spending enormous sums of money and creating and sustaining thousands of jobs, because of Disneyland.

The usual Anaheim suspects have been demanding that Disney pay for the system. I expect that sort of talk from leftists like Jose Moreno, who have never met a corporation whose wealth they didn’t want to re-distribute. Indeed, Moreno and his cohorts want the city to impose a head tax on entry into Disneyland, Angel Stadium, the Honda Center (and likely growing list of attractions) fund their program for increased city spending.

Disney-phobia’s Warping Effect On Reason and Logic
But it is strange to hear self-identified conservatives echoing a leftist policy theme. Conservatives routinely — and rightly — blame much of the high-cost of housing on exactions and fees imposed on builders to “mitigate” the impact of more live bodies moving into an area. Want to build homes on your property? Then you’ll have to donate land for parks, pay to build streets, etc.; after all that infrastructure benefits the developer’s customers.

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Yesterday was the deadline for filing Form 460s – campaign disclosure reports — covering contributions received and expenditures made from January 1 through June 30 of the Year of Our Lord 2013.

Anaheim City Clerk Linda Andal’s office is very good at uploading these reports very quickly. So far, the reports for Mayor Pro Tem Gail Eastman and Councilmembers Kris Murray and Jordan Brandman are online. Murray and Eastman are up for re-election next year.

“Gail Eastman for Council 2014” didn’t hold any fundraisers during the reporting period. She reported $10,209 cash-on-hand (COH) and no debt.

“Kring for City Council 2012”, who was elected last year, raised $21,972, spent $2,650.89, re-paid $37,500 of a $50,000 loan to her campaign from the Kring family Trust, and ended with $1,476 COH and remaining debt of $37,500 (to her family trust).

“Brandman for Anaheim City Council 2012” raised $6,962.73 in the first six months of this year, spent $15,683.75 and ended with a 682.52 COH and $15,000 in debt.

He also filed paperwork for his 2016 re-election committee on July 30.

I’ll update this post with Mayor Tom Tait’s and Councilwoman Kris Murray’s campaign reports when they become available.

UPDATE: Councilwoman Kris Murray‘s report shows very strong numbers: she raised $61,371.99, spent $2,239, and ended the period with $64,297.70 cash-on-hand and no debt.

UPDATE: I have the basic numbers from Mayor Tom Tait’s report: he raised $49,825; spent $18,298.25; and ended the period with $48,523.06 cash-on-hand and no debt. His report should be posted on the Anaheim City Clerk website tomorrow morning.

UPDATE:  The actual report for Tom Tait for Mayor 2014 is up.  The first thing that caught my eye was how much money his campaign spent, which is unusually high considering the election is a year-and-half away. Upon further examination, spending $5,267 now to lock down the Landslide Communications family of six conservative/Republican targeted slates is a smart move.

There was also an $1,158 expenditure on an anti-GardenWalk robocall that went out shortly before the vote on the amended GardenWalk agreement; hard to see how that will provide any benefit come November 2014 when GardenWalk is far away in the voters’ collective rear-view mirror.

The Kris Murray for Anaheim City Council 2014 has also been posted. I noticed a certain blog troll who used to live in Anaheim is having a hard time understanding how a candidate can raise $90,000 at a fundraiser and yet show less than that amount in her campaign report.

It’s really quite simple to understand by applying a modicum of brain power. Kris Murray’;s fundraisers was held on June 26 –a mere four days before the end of the filing period (June 30). The reality of fundraisers is not everyone who commits to buying a ticket a) physically shows up and/or b) pays right a away with a check.  The money raised continue to trickle in over time as donors make good on their commitments.

The fact that Kris was able to collect and deposit two-thirds of the money raised in several days is quite an accomplishment. In fact, she raised more money (the bulk in less than a week) more quickly than any other Anaheim candidate.

Tony-MontanarellaSgt. Tony Montanarella of the Anaheim Police Department penned a column that appeared in the OC Register yesterday (for those who unable to penetrate the paywall, here’s a PDF of the op-ed).

Sgt. Montanarella calls out three areas in which he urges reform:

  1. “Promote and advance the most qualified and most experienced candidates.”
  2. “Capitalize and take full advantage of all the methods of communication we have at our disposal.”
  3. “Put our own house in order first.”

Sgt. Montanarella also states his belief that the upcoming selection of a new police chief is the “most important selection…in the department’s history.”

Montanarella alleges that “for years promotions and specialized assignments were based on favoritism and cronyism and not qualifications and experience. The results were an incestuous and corrupt system in which officers were promoted and advanced based on who they were aligned with. When it came time to perform, they fell far short.”

He also laments that “the department is obsessed with catering to a very angry, vocal minority with political agendas at the expense of the overwhelming majority of the population we serve who support us and appreciate what we do.”  Although he doesn’t identify  the “very angry, very vocal minority” – although I think we can guess to whom he is referring.

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Anaheim Insider here.

Who has seen today’s online article in the OC Register, featuring the mayor and the city council giving their opinions on council districts and the ACLU lawsuit? Here’s what Mayor Tait had to say:

“The people of Anaheim should be given the choice on how they are to be governed – either an at-large system or by districts. The majority of the council has refused to put the choice of district elections before the voters. Sadly, their refusal to do so may cost the city potentially millions of dollars in needless litigation costs. The bottom line is that a district-based system brings the government closer to the people.”

First, it takes nerve for Mayor Tait to say Anaheim voters should be “given a choice on how they are to be governed — either an at-large system or by districts” when the only choice he has voted to put before  the voters is single-member council districts.  The Citizens Advisory Committee recommended putting both choices on the ballot.  When the mayor asked staff to bring back resolutions based on the CAC report, he deliberately omitted asking for one incorporating the CAC recommendation for asking the voters if they want to keep at-large voting.

Mayor Tait even voted against asking the voter if they want to increase the council to six members. For all his talk about “letting the people choose,” the only choices he has supported giving them are ones he favors.

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The Charter Review Committee held its second meeting last night in the Anaheim City Council chambers.

City Attorney Michael Houston briefed them on the Brown Act. The facilitator hired by the city, Raphe Sonenshein, spoke to them about what to expect from the process based on his experiences providing the same service to other charter review committees, and led them on a quick overview of the Anaheim City Charter (which he characterized as well done).

The committee also elected its chairman and vice chairman. Craig Farrow nominated Todd Ament (president/CEO of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce) for chairman, and since there were no other nominations for that post, he was elected unanimously.

Todd Ament nominated Ernesto Medrano (political director for OC’s Teamsters local) for vice chairman. Again, there were no other nominations and Medrano was unanimously elected.

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