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Anaheim City School District Trustee James Vanderbilt

Anaheim City School District Trustee James Vanderbilt

On February 18, we posted about a campaign poll of Anaheim voters testing various messages and reactions to a number of candidates – including Anaheim City School Board Trustee James Vanderbilt. As it turns out, Vanderbilt had formed a council candidate committee – “Vanderbilt 100% Anaheim – City Council 2014” four days earlier.

Judging by message selection and they key words and phrases to which respondents were asked to react, the poll was most likely paid for the by Tom Tait for Mayor campaign. Among other things, respondents were asked if they were more or less likely to support James Vanderbilt for city council if they knew he was endorsed by Tait.

Vanderbilt is a former member of the Anaheim Planning Commission and was first elected to the ACSD Board of Trustees in 2004 (when he ran as James Vanderbilt-Linares). His endorsement history is pretty establishment: John Koos for council in 2002 (Koos’s public affairs firm has been engaged by the Tait campaign); Jordan Brandman for AUHSD Board in 2010; Tom Daly for Assembly in 2012.

So, it looks more and more like Vanderbilt will be part of the presumed “Tait Slate” for city council, and part of an effort by the mayor to replace his colleagues Kris Murray and Gail Eastman with candidates of his own choosing. Vanderbilt has the advantage of having been elected by Anaheim voters three times, he’s a veteran and he is of Latino ancestry.

Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray

Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray

The Anaheim City Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted the “Quality Rental Housing Program” a rental housing code enforcement ordinance – an initiative that Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray has pursued for at least a year now. From the staff report:

The goal of the Quality Rental Housing Program is to provide safe and healthy units and neighborhoods. One important component of the Program is the routine, periodic survey of rental housing units. These surveys will allow the City to identify, and work with owners to correct code violations that result in:

• Unsanitary, unsafe and /or unhealthful living conditions
• Threats to the structural integrity of buildings
• Deferred maintenance of structures

Initially, apartment owners will be required complete a self-assessment questionnaire of best management practices:

If an owner indicates that he/she employs at least 90% of the common management techniques, and that all units on the property comply with minimum standards, the City will visit the property to evaluate the exterior of the units. If the exterior is in compliance with City standards, the property will be deemed in compliance with the program and issued a Safe Home Certificate. These owners will pay no fees as a result of their participation in the program, other than Business License fees that are already required when an owner has more than four rental properties in the City.

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As posted earlier this month, Councilwoman Gail Eastman is holding a re-election fundraiser this Thursday from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at The Catch in Anaheim:

Eastman 2-27-14 fundraiser'

lorri galloway at rallyThis came over the transom earlier today from the Lorri Galloway for Mayor campaign:

Lorri Galloway Rally Day
Campaign Kickoff Fundraiser
Anaheim Mayor 2014

Join us for an exciting evening as the Anaheim community comes together to rally and show their support for Lorri Galloway as she kicks off her campaign to become the next Mayor of Anaheim.
Be sure to save the date, March 20th, 2014 from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm.

Stay tuned for more information on how to register for the event, as well as, the exciting reveal of where we will be hosting Lorri Galloway Rally Day.

In the meantime, be sure to follow Lorri Galloway on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.

We look forward to seeing you on March 20th.

The Galloway for Mayor 2014 Campaign Team

Two Tustin city councilmembers have let it be known that in the event Arte Moreno’s inquiries into possibly re-locating the Angels to Tustin actually pan out, the city would provide no funding to build a new stadium. From the Voice of OC:

Councilwoman Rebecca Gomez made clear that if Moreno wants a stadium in Tustin, he shouldn’t look to taxpayers for help.

“My preference is” to not use public subsidies for a stadium, Gomez said.

This is a conservative city council in a conservative town. Anyone surprised by this response doesn’t know Tustin. it should be kept in mind that the Angels approached Tustin, not the other way around – and there’s no evidence the Angels asked for a taxpayer-funded stadium in what appear to be preliminary conversations.

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Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Gail Eastman

Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Gail Eastman

Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray

Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray

This was announced at the SOAR PAC fundraiser last week, but the press release came over the transom yesterday:

S.O.A.R. PAC Endorses Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray and Council Member Gail E. Eastman for Anaheim City Council

Murray and Eastman will Continue to Support the Anaheim Resort District’s Vitality

ANAHEIM, CA – Support Our Anaheim Resort District (S.O.A.R.) PAC, has announced its endorsement for Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray and Council Member Gail Eastman for reelection to Anaheim City Council. After careful consideration, S.O.A.R. PAC endorsed Murray and Eastman because of their continued support to the Anaheim Resort District and their dedication to funding and improving vital city services to Anaheim residents.

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A Voice of OC story published this morning regarding news that Angels owner Arte Moreno had met with the City of Tustin about possibly moving his team to that fine city is basically a platform for Mayor Tom Tait to say “I told you so” (as the story headline says):

News that Angels owner Arte Moreno has reached out to Tustin leaders regarding a possible move did not surprise Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait in the least.

In fact, Tait said the inevitability of such hardball tactics from the billionaire team owner is exactly why he urged his City Council colleagues last year not to agree to extend the negotiating window on a new stadium lease, something they did anyway.

“To even be able to threaten leaving is only possible because the council majority unilaterally extended the time where they allowed the Angels to leave the existing lease to 2019 from 2016,” Tait said. “If they did nothing, then practically the Angels couldn’t go anywhere. And as I said when they voted on that, if the Angels do leave, you can trace it back to this vote.”

That’s one way to look at it, but by no means the definitive way or even the correct.

Critics of the MOU extending the opt-out date to 2019 claim leaving it at 2016 put the Angels over a barrel and the city in the negotiating driver seat. What leaving the opt-out date at 2016 would have done is increased the pressure on the Angels to make a decision quickly – and that decision could have easily been to exercise the opt-out clause, in which case the city would have found itself with a big, empty, fifty-year old stadium on its hands.

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UNITE-HERE is 0 for 2 in its litigation against Anaheim Arena Management (AAM), which runs The Honda Center, over AAM’s decision last year against renewing its contract with Aramark and bring food service in-house. A press release from AAM came over the transom yesterday afternoon announcing “the Orange County Superior Court’s ruling on Friday granting a demurrer without leave to amend on the matter of Gonzalez vs. AAM.”

Translation: AAM wins, UNITE-HERE loses.

More from the AAM release:

“We are extremely pleased by the court’s decision today,” said AAM General Counsel Bernard Schneider. “Throughout this process we’ve remained confident that our actions were permissible under the law and in the best interest of the millions of guests we serve, as well as those who serve our guests. Today’s ruling certainly validates that assertion and brings to a successful end all litigation asserted by the union and former Aramark employees as a result of the termination of the Aramark concession agreement.”

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Anaheim City School District Trustee James Vanderbilt

Anaheim City School District Trustee James Vanderbilt

UPDATED at the end of the post with additional information from another source.

One of the questions about this November’s election is who Mayor Tom Tait will recruit to run for city council in an attempt to build a majority and end what will be three years of isolation from his council colleagues. A telephone survey of Anaheim voters conducted this morning gives some indication of who those candidates might be.

I was briefed on the questions asked by a source who was surveyed this morning, and judging by the nature of the questions it seems very likely it was commissioned either by Tait’s mayoral campaign or by a person or organization interested in supporting his re-election.

The survey ran through a predictable array of issues, followed by asking respondents if Tait’s stance on the issue made them more or less likely to vote for him. For example, respondents were told Tait was the only vote against the GardenWalk deal or the Angels negotiation framework, and then asked if that made the respondent more or less likely to support Tait. Other issues used in this way were Tait’s support for requiring a city-wide vote on using TOT-rebate programs to encourage luxury hotel development or for single-member council districts.

The survey also tested messages against Lucille Kring and Lorri Galloway; for example, saying Kring reneged on a promise to oppose the GardenWalk deal and then asking if that made the responded more or less likely to support her.

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Greg Diamond, "counsel" to CATER

Greg Diamond, “counsel” to CATER

I’ve been told that the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility (C.A.T.E.R.) – the non-profit creature of Cynthia Ward, Greg Diamond de la Brea, and funder(s) unknown) — is taking legal action against the City of Anaheim for a third time, and supposedly regarding the Angels negotiations and probably over some (real or imagined) procedural error.

We’ll have to see what the complaint says. The last one, penned by Diamond, read more like a blog post than a lawsuit. Maybe Greg – true progressive that he is – will once again try to intimidate critical commenters by threatening to sue to learn their identities.

Maybe these high priests of transparency will reveal who is funding their political group – but that would require walking their talk. Not likely.

UPDATE: Here’s the CATER lawsuit. I recommend consuming an energy drink or strong coffee prior to reading it in order to ward off stupefaction.

H/T to TheLiberalOC.com: the Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday that Angels owner Arte Moreno has met with City of Tustin officials about possibly moving his major league baseball to Tustin from Anaheim, where they have been since 1966:

Angels owner Arte Moreno met with officials from the City of Tustin last week to discuss the possibility of building a new baseball stadium, a team spokesman confirmed Saturday.

One potential site would be the decommissioned Marine Corps Air Station, which would be accessible via the 5, 405 and 55 Freeways and is across the street from the Tustin Metrolink train station.

“We did have an initial meeting with Tustin,” said Marie Garvey, a consultant retained by the Angels to handle stadium negotiation issues. “We’re still in discussions with the City of Anaheim, but we have to take a long-term view and explore all of our options to insure we have certainty for the future.”

Moreno said Friday that negotiations for a new lease for Angel Stadium are “at a stalemate.” He is clearly frustrated by Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait’s reluctance to accept a proposal in which the Angels would spend $150 million to renovate the stadium in exchange for a 66-year, $1-a-year lease to develop 155 acres of land in the parking lot.

Garvey would not elaborate on details of the Tustin meeting, and she described talks with the city as being “in the infancy stage.”

Asked if the meeting was a negotiating ploy to put pressure on Anaheim, Garvey said, “Absolutely not. We’re taking a serious look at all of our options. We’ve spent the last three years focusing solely on Anaheim, and we’re entering another season without a deal in a 48-year-old stadium that needs improvement.”

Garvey would not say whether Moreno has met with any other cities to explore stadium construction.

“The important point is that we’re looking at all of our options,” Garvey said. “Our preference is to remain in Orange County, but it’s way too early to get into specifics.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

But wait! How can this be? “The Angels aren’t going to leave Anaheim” brigade has repeatedly claimed the Angels aren’t going to leave Anaheim when deriding the negotiation framework approved by the city council last fall. Maybe they’ll begin to realize what most everyone else had already recognized: yes, they can leave – and they’re starting to look because the city isn’t getting its act together. 

janet nguyenThis came over the transom yesterday from Janet Nguyen for Senate:

Janet Nguyen Raises $50,000 at Local Fundraiser

Republican Senate candidate Janet Nguyen raised $50,000 last night at a fundraiser hosted by Orange County New Majority members David Horowitz and Tom Tucker.

The event, at the home of David and Michelle Horowitz in Shady Canyon, was Nguyen’s first major fundraiser of 2014 and a rousing success. Nguyen recently received the endorsement of the New Majority for her campaign for State Senate in the 34th district. The district is the top targeted open Senate seat for both parties in California this year.

In addition to the New Majority, Janet Nguyen is endorsed by the Orange County Lincoln Club, Orange County Business Council, Orange County Taxpayers Association, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, Congressman Ed Royce, Senator Mimi Walters, Supervisor Pat Bates and many other local leaders.

Dang.

There were two letters to the editor in the February 2 Orange County Register opposing single-member council districts, written in response to Martin Wisckol’s article on the subject, and I think they are worth sharing because I suspect they are much more indicative of the average voter’s opinion than the proponents purporting to speak “for the people.”

The first is from a Robert Schaefer of Anaheim:

I, for one, was disturbed by the piece detailing the emergence of ethnic voting in Anaheim [“Threat of legal action prompts election changes,” Jan. 26].

As a citizen and resident of Anaheim, I simply do not care if there are no Latinos serving on the City Council. Of course, neither would I care if all of the City Council Members were Latino.

What I do care about is electing the most qualified individuals on the ballot with the hope that they will govern our city in a manner that treats everyone equally and that they do so in a fiscally responsible way. Good governance should be our collective and only goal.

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Anaheim is the largest city in California with a Republican city council, and the drive for single-member council districts is about undoing that reality (the good-government protestations of some districts advocates notwithstanding) and shoving political center of gravity of City Hall to the Left. Democratic interest groups understand that, which is why they have lined up in favor of single-member districts; county Republicans are divided, distracted or oblivious.

This article by Chris Reed about the Los Angelization of what used to be a GOP-run city — San Diego — also serves to give us an idea of the kind of policies we might expect should single-member districts be adopted and more liberals are elected to the Anaheim City Council:

The city’s school board was taken over by the local affiliate of the California Teachers Association in 2008, when union muscle elected a new board majority that instituted policies that drove away an acclaimed reformer superintendent and yielded an operating budget in which an astonishing 92 percent of funds goes to employee compensation. The CTA control of the school board only increased with the 2010 and 2012 elections.

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Remember the complaint filed two years ago by Shirley Grindle alleging $3,400 in illegal contributions made two years before that by Bill O’Connell Sr. to former Anaheim Councilman Harry Sidhu’s supervisor run in 2010? The OCDA issued its finding in the matter today.

In a nutshell, the District Attorney concluded that an unintentional technical violation occurred, and “that the violation was [not] criminal in nature because the evidence indicates that O’Connell and Sidhu did not have any criminal intent to violate the ordinance.” According to the DA, $1,700 of the total of $5,100 in contributions exceed the TIN CUP limits, and Sidhu’s campaign will forfeit that amount e sunty’s general fund in accordance with the ordinance.

From the DA’s letter:

The investigation was precipitated by three contributions made by businessman William O’Connell to Harry Sidhu in support of Sidhu’s campaign for County Supervisor in 2010. The contributions were made by O’Connell on behalf of three separate companies with which O’Connell and his wife are closely associated. The contributions were brought to the attention of the OCDA in 2012.

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janet nguyenThis came over the transom last week from the Janet Nguyen for state Senate campaign:

District Attorney Clears Supervisor Janet Nguyen of Politically Motivated Complaints

Garden Grove, CA – – Stephen Larson, an attorney for County Supervisor and CalOptima Board Member Janet Nguyen, announced today that the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, in correspondence prepared by Senior Assistant District Attorney Michael Lubinski, has confirmed in writing that it has completed its investigation regarding conflict-of-interest allegations concerning Supervisor Nguyen.

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Time to review the Form 460 campaign finance disclosure reports filed by the various incumbents and candidates seeking the favor of the voters in November.

MAYOR
Mayor Tom Tait (Republican) is seeking a second term, and is being challenged by Councilwoman Lucille Kring (Republican) and former Councilwoman Lorri Galloway (Democrat). Here their 2013 numbers:

Tom Tait (click here for report)
Raised: $84,574
Spent: $33,411.7
Cash on hand (COH): $73,858.52
Debt: $5,700 (owed to fundraiser Phyllis Schneider)
Loans: $0

Lucille Kring (click here for report)
Raised:$30,270
Spent: $3,896.86
COH: $26,373.14
Debt: $0
Loans: $0

Lorri Galloway (click here for report)
Raised:  $7,000 (personal loan)
Spent:  $4,000
COH:  $3,000
Debt:  $7,000
Loans:   $7,000

For the sake of perspective, keep in mind that Tait was fund raising throughout 2013, raising the bulk of his funds prior to June 30 and $34,749 since then; considering Kring’s late entry and the fact that she didn’t begin raising money until December, her fund raising pace more than kept up with the mayor’s.

However, all the perspective in the world doesn’t change the reality that Mayor Tait has already locked up most of the key slate mailers and has $46,000 more cash on hand than Councilwoman Kring.

COUNCIL
Only three people have filed to run for city council: Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray, Councilwoman Gail Eastman and Rodolfo “Rudy” Gaona.

Kris Murray (click here for report)
Raised:  $74,295.99
Spent:  $21,683.65
COH:  $57,777.94
Debt:  $0
Loans:  $0

Gail Eastman (click here for report)
Raised:  $41,858
Spent:  $7,535.31
COH:  $44,581.69
Debt:  $0
Loans:  $0

Eastman didn’t get started on fundraising until late in the year, but both she and Murray have healthy campaign bank accounts as they enter 2014 with 8 months left for fundraising and no credible opponents in sight.

Readers may have gathered from my preceding posts (here, here and here) on the Charter Review Committee recommendations and the proposed charter amendments that has issued from the CRC’s work, but the more recommendations that were more political (for lack of a better descriptive) in nature were separated into discrete ballot measures. The rest of the recommendations – mainly streamlining-oriented charter changes sought by city staff — were assembled together in a single ballot measure (the proposed Measure 1).

That was the source of some discussion on Tuesday night. Citing the state’s “single subject rule” for statewide ballot initiatives, Mayor Tom Tait expressed his preference for putting each item in Measure 1 into a separate ballot measure for the sake of clarity and transparency. That has the downside of crowding the ballot with so many measures that they fail under their own weight.

City Attorney Michael Houston pointed out that ballot measures placed before voters by city councils are exempt from the single-subject rule, although the council could certainly apply that rule of its own volition. He provided direction on how Measure 1 could be separated into three different ballot measures, but believed a strong case could be made that Measure 1, as drafted, conformed to the single-subject standard because they are “reasonably germane” to the topic at hand – namely the restructuring and modernization of city government.

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On Tuesday night, the Anaheim City Council took up the Charter Review Committee’s recommendations, which staff had packaged into four proposed charter amendments for the June ballot. Anaheim voters will have the opportunity to say yes or no to changing the mayoral term from four to two years; legalizing safe and sane fireworks; and enacting a bucket of government efficiency reforms. The council unanimously rejected placing the repeal of term limits on the ballot.

july 4 fireworks patrioticLegalizing Safe and Sane Fireworks
Measure 4 would repeal the city charter’s ban on the sale and use of safe and sane fireworks, which 59% of voters approved in 1986, and the council was unanimous in its support not only for putting the measure before the voters but in hoping they would approve it.

“This is something, I think, that the people want. It’s a good thing. It brings people together on the Fourth of July, it brings neighborhoods together, and it something I wholeheartedly support,” said Mayor Tait. Well put.

As someone who strongly believes we ought to be able to celebrate our freedom and independence with safe and sane fireworks, this is a great development and continues a trend toward reversing the tsunami of fireworks bans that swept Orange County cities in the late 1980s. Fullerton voters legalized fireworks in 2012, and Westminster and Villa Park have also reversed their bans in the last few years.

Two-Year Mayoral Term
The Charter Review Committee recommended this change by a vote of 5-2, with Tom Tait and Lucille Kring’s appointees voting in opposition – and that is how their appointors voted on Tuesday night as the council voted 3-2 to place Measure 2 on the June ballot.

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One of the items the City Council will take up tonight is the question of changing the length of the mayoral term from four years to two.

Prior to 1992, the mayor was directly elected every two years; only sitting members of the city council were eligible to run. In 1992, the charter was amended and the current system — four-year terms and allowing anyone to run for mayor — came into being.

At its September 26 meeting, the Charter Review Committee (CRC) voted 5-2 to change the mayoral term to two-years. The general sense of the CRC was that since the mayor is first-among-equals and the (at least) nominal head of city government – and possibly the only at-large city official in the near future — having to face the voters every two years renders that office more responsive to the voters.

None of the mayoral candidates support the recommendation. In the OC Register last week, Mayor Tom Tait said:

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