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The Voice of OC published a story yesterday on an “Anaheim Youth Civic Summit” being held today and tomorrow, and sponsored by the Orange County Congregation Community Organization:

 The two-day training at Anaheim High School “seeks to educate youth with an introduction to civics and how the government works…and provide opportunities for youth to become civically engaged in Anaheim through experiential learning,” according to organizers with the Orange County Congregation Community Organization.

 Scheduled speakers include Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, Anaheim Union High School District Superintendent Mike Matsuda, Los Amigos of Orange County President Jose Moreno, Orange County Congregation Community Organization or OCCCO Executive Director Miguel Hernandez and Ryan Ruelas, founder of the student leadership group BROS.

In other words, Anaheim high school students get to spend two days being “educated” in politics by the liberal political activist superintendent of the AUHSD, the left-wing head of Los Amigos and a school board candidate and teachers union activist who is also a member of the State Council of the CTA – one of the most powerful special interest groups in the state – and the incumbent Republican mayor who is running for re-election and working with a left-wing coalition to pass a by-district council elections measure on the November ballot.
According to the OCCCO website:
The Anaheim Civic Youth Curriculum builds off the past success and covers five general areas:
1. Active Citizenship
2. Civics 101
3. Transformative Leadership
4. Knowing the Issue 
5. Taking Action
With generous support from the ACT (Accelerating Change Together) Grant the curriculum is being developed to increase civic engagement and participation among Anaheim’s most at-risk youth. Grounded in the Anaheim Civic Youth Baseline Survey, the curriculum seeks to educate youth with an introduction to civics and how the government works, it also seeks to influence current attitudes towards voting and participation and provide opportunities for youth to become civically engaged in Anaheim through experiential learning. [Emphasis added]
Maybe I’m jaundiced from years of watching how politics is conducted in our public schools, but events like this set of alarm bells for me.  OCCCO is a good-hearted, faith-based organization, but it’s politics are definitely left-of-center, as are those of almost all the speakers. This event sounds more like a two-day campaign volunteer recruiting seminar – especially for the by-district elections campaign. Moreno, Tait, Ruelas and OCCCO all actively support the passage of the by-district council elections initiative. Ryan Ruelas’ BROS youth group, for example, has been a presence of pro-council district rallies.
Even the “Anaheim Civic Youth Baseline Survey” that informs this summit tips the events politico-ideological hand:
Anaheim youth survey question
anaheim youth summit district elections questions
Funny how the issue of by-district elections keeps cropping up?
Encouraging our youth to be civically engaged is a good thing; a representative self-government depends upon an informed and engaged electorate understands the nature of representative government and the principles upon which the American Republic was founded. There is little of that in the “Anaheim Civic Youth Baseline Survey.”
However, engaging our youth in politics ought to be the job of political parties and other civic institutions, and ought to be kept clear of our K-12 public schools. The AUHSD certainly should be host of and participant in an ideologically-slanted event with all the markers of being thinly-veiled rally to recruit volunteers for the by-district elections campaign.
Following: photos from the March 22, 2014 rally in support of the by-district elections campaign, organized by OCCCO and OCCORD:

Anaheim BROS, a youth group organized and moderated by Ryan Ruelas, AUHSDteacher, union activist and school board candidate.

Jose Moreno exhorting the faithful at OCCCO pro-districts campaign rally.

Jose Moreno exhorting the faithful at OCCCO pro-districts campaign rally.

Mishal Montgomery, aide to mayor Tom Tait, speaks at OCCCO pro-district rally.

Mishal Montgomery, aide to mayor Tom Tait, speaks at OCCCO pro-district rally.


moreno becomes democratThe period for Anaheim council and mayoral candidates to pull nomination papers opened on July 14, and closes at 5:00 p.m. on August 8.

Thus far, presumed Tait Slate member James Vanderbilt is the only candidate for either mayor or city council who has not pulled papers. I reached out to Vanderbilt via e-mail to ask if he still plans to pull papers for council this November.

On Friday, I posted about growing speculation that Vanderbilt would not pull the trigger and that his fellow ACSD Board of Education member (and ACLU lead plaintiff against the city) Jose Moreno would throw his hat in the ring instead, as either an open or sub rosa member of the Tait Slate.

The chances of that happening took a nose dive yesterday when Moreno pulled papers to run for re-election to the ACSD Board:

Moreno 7-28

Is that the end of the story? Not quite.  Filing doesn’t close for 11 days (counting today). I’m still inclined to think Vanderbilt goes for council while Moreno sticks to running for re-election to the ACSD Board (having cleverly side-stepped in ACSD the by-district elections he’s demanding for the City of Anaheim) and running for council in 2016 if the voters adopt by-district council elections.

Also, yesterday Moreno switched his registration from NPP to Democrat (yes, I realize most readers assumed he already was one). Moreno cited the Democratic Party’s strong support for by-district council elections in Anaheim. I think that’s makes it even less likely he will run for council this year. I don’t believe he would run for council against the Pettibone/Vanderbilt ticket, and his new status as a Democrat would prevent him from being an open member of the Tait Sate because that would almost certainly doom what is otherwise a likely OC GOP endorsement of the mayor’s re-election. 

Still, Vanderbilt’s name won’t be on the ballot unless he returns valid nomination papers (which he hasn’t even pulled yet), and 11 days is plenty of time for a switcharoo to happen.

Lorri-Precinct-WalkingThis came over the transom from the Lorri Galloway for Mayor campaign earlier today: 

Lorri Galloway for Mayor Campaign Walk & Open House

August 2 @ 10:00 am2:00 pm

Join us for a morning rally and precinct walk! We need your help and support to get the word out about Lorri’s vision for Anaheim. Lorri Galloway’s path to victory starts here!


We’ll be walking in two shifts:

10:00 am to 12:00 pm and 12pm to 2 pm

To sign up/volunteer, please either fill out the form below or if you prefer call 714-858-0599 today.

See you there!

The Galloway for Mayor 2014 Campaign Team

agustin villegas 1As readers may know, Mr. Agustin Villegas, husband, father of four sons and an Anaheim resident, was killed on July 14 in a senseless freeway shooting on the 91 Freeway.  32-year old Mr. Villegas was a mobile car mechanic and at the time of he was shot, he was on his way home for dinner; his 15- and 13-year old sons were in the truck with him, along with his cousin. Mr. Villegas was a devoted father who didn’t smoke or drink to set a good example for his family; a Christian man who coached youth soccer and worked hard for his family. That such a fate befell a good, worthy man makes the killing all the more senseless.

I reached out to his niece, Daisy Soto, who said the memorial Mass for Mr. Villegas is tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. at St. Justin Martyr Church, 2050 W. Ball Road in Anaheim. The burial will take place afterward at Memory Garden Memorial Park, 455 W. Central Avenue,  in Anaheim.

As I noted in a previous post, a funeral fund has been set up on to help the Villegas family pay for Agustin’s funeral expenses. So far, $5,467 in donations have been received – 46% of the way toward the $12,000 goal.

Agustin Villegas was the sole support of his wife and four sons, who are ages 15, 13, 4 and 6 months old. Paying for the funeral is just the beginning. In addition to grieving their loss of a husband and father, Mrs. Villegas must also step into the role of provider, even as she consoles, comforts and loves her children. Bills must still be paid, groceries purchased, etc. Even as the media has moved on to other stories, I can only imagine how overwhelming this must continue to be for the Villegas’ and their friends and family.

Daisy Soto expressed her gratitude for all those who have been holding fundraisers for her uncle’s family, and said more are planned. If anyone reading this can find it in their heart to make a donation to help the Villegas family as they grieve their loss and find their footing, a donation to the funeral fund is a good start. I will keep you posted about other ways to help.

One aspect of this tragedy that has really struck home with me is that it could have happened to any one of us. Any one of us could have been driving home after a long day of work, looking forward to dinner with the family and every expectation of many more such days to come. Because of some coward, a very good man – and his family — senselessly had those days taken away. 

If you can contribute to help the Villegas family, please do so. if you have other ideas about how you can help, feel free to e-mail and I will pass it along to his niece. 

JoseMoreno_8714Anaheim City School District trustee Jose Moreno was the lead plaintiff in ACLU litigation seeking to force the adoption of by-district council elections in Anaheim (and it should be noted Moreno demanded it be done without a vote of the people and while simultaneously side-stepping adopting by-district election in ACSD).

He has been a vocal critic of the council majority and one of Mayor Tom Tait’s political wing-men; for example, recently crashing a West Anaheim Neighborhood Development Council forum on by-district elections featuring Tait and Councilwoman Lucille Kring to harangue (along with Cynthia Ward) Ms. Kring.

Given his political ambitions, the persistent speculation that he will run for Anaheim City Council this November (particularly as part of a “Tait Slate” of candidates) is natural.  Yesterday, I heard from a reliable to source that Moreno is telling others that he is definitely going to run for city council instead of re-election to the school board.

Moreno first made it onto the school due to the fact that the number of candidates match the number of seats that were up, and so no election was held. Since then, he has won re-election with the support of the teacher’s union. However, he has lost that support over the issue of GOALS Academy’s charter school application. mayor Tom Tait is a major supporter of GOALS, and Moreno ultimately voted in favor of the application (a vote for which I applaud; even a broken clock is right twice a day). The teachers union instead endorsed incumbent ACSD Board member Jeff Cole and Ryan Ruelas, a teachers union activist who sits on the CTA State Council.

Several Anaheim political observers have advanced the belief that Moreno’s ACSD colleague, James Vanderbilt, won’t run at the end of the day, and that Moreno will take his spot on the Tait Slate. I didn’t buy into this view. It seemed to me Vanderbilt was already too far down this road: he had formed a committee, was making the rounds with Tait at the OC GOP Flag Day dinner, signed the ballot argument against Measure D (changing the mayoral term to two years), and helped fund the anti-D campaign. He even participated in an attempt by the Tait campaign to take over the Anaheim Republican Assembly and depose long-time ARA President Steve Sarkis.


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Robert “Bob” Tiscareno has pulled nomination papers and filed his intention to run for Anaheim City Council this November.

Who is Mr. Tiscareno and why is he running? I think I know the answer to the former but don’t know the answer to the latter. I have some feelers out and will report back when I have confirmation.

This came over the transom yesterday from Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray:

convention center image


Expansion of Convention Center Approved

Win-Win for Anaheim

Creating New Jobs & New Revenue for City Neighborhoods

Last night, my council colleagues and I approved a financing plan for the 7th expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center since it was built in 1967, creating thousands of new skilled jobs and generating millions in new economic activity for the City. Hundreds of supporters filled the council chambers expressing strong, vocal support for the expansion.

The expansion will be 100% privately financed with funding made available by a 2% increase in the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) that Anaheim and Garden Grove hotels in the designated resort area self assessed themselves in 2010, establishing the Anaheim Tourism Improvement District (ATID).

This expansion is estimated to create 1,860 jobs during construction and 2,043 new jobs supported annually. As well as bring in 14 new conventions and trade shows, 160,000 attendees and 450,000 attendee days. And for Anaheim taxpayers, the expansion creates a total net city benefit of $577.3 million over the next 30 years for city services. This expansion is a huge win-win for Anaheim!

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2_medThe City of Anaheim’s able PIO Ruth Ruiz sent out this press release last night, providing a useful, informative run-down of what’s involved with the Anaheim Convention Center expansion, the financing for which the city council approved last night.


ANAHEIM, Calif. (July 22, 2014) – The Anaheim City Council tonight authorized the Anaheim Housing and Public Improvements Authority to issue bonds for expanding the Anaheim Convention Center to meet current and future needs of Anaheim’s convention and tradeshow industry. Since opening in 1967, revenues generated by the Anaheim Convention Center and related activities have consistently supported overall City services, thereby improving the quality of life for Anaheim’s residents.

The proposed Anaheim Convention Center expansion project encompasses the addition of 200,000 square feet of flexible meeting space for hosting concurrent events, capturing new meeting groups and retaining the large annual events, plus the replacement of Car Park 1. The current Anaheim Convention Center has limited meeting space opportunities and limits the ability to accommodate concurrent events.

It is conservatively estimated that the City’s General Fund would be better off by $115 million over the next decade and $320 million over a 30-year period by expanding, as determined by an outside consultant (Crossroads Consulting Services).

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pettibone questionvanderbilt questionWhen people decide to run for city council (or are simply thinking about it), it’s common for them to attend council meetings and speak on agenda items. It’s way of learning more about how the council operates and the issues before the city, to gain exposure for themselves via council meeting broadcasts – and to put themselves on record on major issues.

The 200,000 square-foot Anaheim Convention Center expansion, financed by a $300 million in revenue bonds, is one of the most consequential items the council has dealt with in recent years. Both supporters and opponents agree it will have a lasting impact on Anaheim.

So where were the two members of the Tait Slate, James Vanderbilt and Doug Pettibone, last night? They didn’t take advantage of public comments to let voters know where they stand on the convention center expansion. As far as I’ve been able to determine, they weren’t even at the council meeting.

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anarchists KKKcopsAnti-police activist Donna Acevedo filed her formal intention to run for city council back in March of this year.

She has now taken the next step by pulling nomination papers, which have to be returned completed with the requisite number of valid signatures by 5:00 p.m. on August 8.

That brings to five the number of candidates who have pulled papers to run for city council:

  • Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray
  • Councilwoman Gail Eastman
  • Jerry O’Keefe
  • Doug Pettibone
  • Donna Acevedo

James Vanderbilt (one half of the Tait Slate) has not yet pulled nomination papers.


kris Murray at 7-22 mtgI don’t think any one doubted the outcome of last night’s meeting, but it was still heartening late last night when the Anaheim City Council voted 4-1 to approve the bonds to finance the expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center. Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray and Councilmembers Gail Eastman, Lucille Kring and Jordan Brandman all voted yes, while Mayor Tom Tait voted no.

There was a huge turnout in support of approving the Convention Center bonds. Owners and operators of small and large businesses; union representatives; residents; single-moms; and hard-working folks in general asked the council, one after the other, to approve the bonds and get the Convention Center expansion moving forward.

The council majority spoke vigorously its support for the expansion and its opposition to the obstructionism of opponents. Kris Murray delivered impassioned oration drawing upon the examples of her predecessors and the plain requirements of the future.

“The fact is we have an opportunity in time. This is the seventh expansion. This isn’t 1960. This isn’t whether we get into the convention center business. that decision was made – thank God! Because our city is so far ahead of the curve financially from other cities – not just in the county, but around the state. In the Register today, two cities in orange County, Stanton and Placentia — Stanton tonight is considering a sales tax on their residence because they are cutting services because they can’t make ends meet; and so is Placentia. We have cities across the state filing for bankruptcy.  But Anaheim, courtesy of our Resort District, our stadium, the economic engines of this city – the Convention Center being a hallmark component of that – we aren’t in that position.  We are balancing our budget, reinvesting in police and fire, we are reinvesting in parks, and libraries, and roads, and potholes, and graffiti abatement. We are doing everything for neighborhoods because we have a thriving economy.
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This came over the transom earlier today from SOAR – Support Our Anaheim Resort:


It’s a good event with good people for a good cause. You can RSVP to

Anaheim Insider here.

Mayor Tait thinks the Convention Center expansion revenue bond should be put a city-wide vote because it’s too big. As he told the Orange County Register:

“If the people of Anaheim are going to take on that kind of debt for this expansion, they should at least be able to vote on it in November because this is an extremely expensive price to pay for the amount of square footage that we get.”

For those of us who have been involved in Anaheim politics for a long time, that’s an interesting position for him to take.

In 1996, then-Councilman Tom Tait and the rest of the City Council (Bob Zemel, Lou Lopez, Frank Feldhaus and Mayor Tom Daly) unanimously approved the largest bond in the history of Anaheim: $560,000,000 in lease revenue bonds for the Anaheim Resort Improvements.

Tait and his colleagues approved them acting at the Anaheim Public Financing Authority and did it without putting it to a vote of the people. The final issuance amounted to $510,427,465.45. Adjusted for inflation, that would be a $850,000,000 bond today.

Mayor Tait thinks a $300 million revenue bond is too big for the city to approve without going to the voters, but had no problem voting for a bond three-times larger in current dollars without giving the people of Anaheim a say in the matter.

Another repudiation by the mayor from a previous position, which are becoming so common that hardly anyone bats an eye any longer when he does it.

led zeppelin accOn the lighter side of things, I found this post on a website devoted to the Go-Go’s, listing rock bands (and other entertainers) that played at the Anaheim Convention Center between 1967 and 1979:

The Doors, Jefferson Airplane – JULY 15
The Righteous Brothers – DECEMBER 9

The Bee Gees, Vanilla Fudge & Spanky and Our Gang – JANUARY 27
Tonly Bennett, Duke Ellington – APRIL 19
Cream – MAY 17
Steppenwolf, Three Dog Night – DECEMBER 13

Steve Miller Band, Three Dog Night, Buffalo Springfield – JANUARY 17
The Rascals, Bonnie & Delaney – FEBRUARY 7
Diana Ross & the Supremes – FEBRUARY 22
Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, June Carter – MARCH 1
The Cream – MARCH 22
Creedence Clearwater Revival, Grass Roots, Jeff Beck – APRIL 19
Fats Domino – JUNE 14
Joan Baez – JUNE 28
Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull – AUGUST 9
Donovan – NOVEMBER 7
Blood, Sweat and Tears – NOVEMBER 22
Joe Cocker, Grand Funk Railroad – DECEMBER 12
Ray Charles – DECEMBER 28

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Anaheim Blog top commenter Ryan Cantor proposes putting the Anaheim Convention Center expansion on the ballot, echoing Mayor Tom Tait’s position. I have a few thoughts on this approach.

First, I wonder, sincerely, if Ryan and some of his compadres in the commentosphere would advocate for putting the expansion on the ballot if the mayor commanded a council majority could kill it at tat level. call me cynical, but in my experience, calls for putting something to a vote of the people usually emanate from the side unable to stop that something at the council level because it lacks the ability to win elections.

The mayor cited the size of the bond issue as the reason for placing the convention center on the ballot:

“If the people of Anaheim are going to take on that kind of debt for this expansion, they should at least be able to vote on it in November because this is an extremely expensive price to pay for the amount of square footage that we get.”

That position begs the question: what, then, is the debt threshold for placing a bond issue on the ballot? What is “too expensive”? $300 million? $200 million? $119,543,888? Or is it akin to Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography: you know it when you see it?

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2_medEditorials like the one this morning opposing the Anaheim Convention Center expansion cause me to wonder if the editorial page staff at the OC Register has any understanding or institutional knowledge of Orange County government and politics.

The editorial opines:

But the taxpayer shouldn’t be on the hook if that 2 percent tax doesn’t meet its projections, especially with municipal governments creeping more and more into territories outside the fundamental scope of government and into places they simply don’t belong. The convention center industry is certainly one of those places.

A better solution: cities should stay out of the convention center business or any of the other landlording niches that local governments, in Anaheim and elsewhere, have carved out for themselves. In these cases, it is preferable to let the private sector take the lead.

News flash for the OCR: the City of Anaheim is already in the convention center business, and has been for 47 years. The editorial’s opinion that the city shouldn’t get into the convention center business would have been far more timely in the 1966 – but it’s a little late for that in 2014.

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Diamond finger puppet

The finger puppet interpretations of Greg Diamond.

According to the OC Register, Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus will hold clown auditions today at 10:00 a.m.:

While the circus is in town, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be looking for new clowns for future productions.

The circus is holding clown auditions from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Honda Center, 2695 E. Katella Ave.

Aspiring performers will be asked to put on three-to-five-minute routines that show “exaggerated facial expressions, athleticism or any unique physical skills, an understanding of comedy, as well as a sense of personality,” according to the circus announcement.

The proven digital dexterity of CATER “general counsel” Greg Diamond de la Brea, demonstrated last year in a finger puppet performance before the Anaheim City Council, could be just what Ringling Bros. is looking for.


lorri galloway at rally


Time for an update on who has pulled papers to run for mayor or city council.

On Friday (I think), Lorri Galloway pulled her nomination papers. The former councilwoman formed a committee and filed her intention to run last November, and has “Galloway for Mayor” yard signs popping up around Anaheim, so no surprise here.

That leaves Mayor Tom Tait as the only announced candidate who has not yet pulled nomination papers.

On the council side, it is still status quo. Incumbents Kris Murray and Gail Eastman have pulled papers, as have retired Anaheim policeman Jerry O’Keefe and attorney Doug Pettibone (a neighbor of the mayor’s and member of his council candidate slate). The other half of the Tait Slate, James Vanderbilt, has not yet pulled papers.

UPDATED (1:02 p.m. on July 22): Mayor Tom Tait has pulled his nomination papers.

This came over the transom from the City of Anaheim:


ANAHEIM, Calif. (July 21, 2014) – Anaheim residents can look forward to nearly 100 capital improvement projects for 2014/15. As part of the City of Anaheim’s $1.6 billion approved budget for this fiscal year, the City is committed to the community and improving its neighborhoods and infrastructure.

Capital improvements projects include:

• Anaheim Convention Center
• Community and Economic Development
• Electric
• Libraries
• Parks
• Sewer and Storm Drains
• Streets
• Transit
• Water

Highlights include:

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Supervisor Janet Nguyen

Supervisor Janet Nguyen

This came over the transom today from the Janet Nguyen for Senate campaign:

OC Register Endorses Janet Nguyen For Senate

Cites Supervisor Nguyen’s Commitment to Create Jobs

(Westminster, CA) – Support for Supervisor Janet Nguyen’s Campaign for the 34th State Senate District continues to build with the pivotal endorsement of the Orange County Register Editorial Board.

In an editorial titled Janet Nguyen for State District 34, the Register recently announced its endorsement citing Supervisor Janet Nguyen’s “commitment to fight for smaller government, fiscal restraint, no new taxes and a reduction in business regulations.”

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