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chuchua leosElfin-visaged Brian Chuchua is a fixture at Anaheim City Council meetings and a member of a gadfly claque that spends its time and energy attacking the council majority and singing hosannas to Mayor Tom Tait. He’s one of two known members of CATER, which styles itself as a group of Anaheim taxpayers who support “economic responsibility.”

He is a Republican who has run for city council twice. In 2010 he got 4.7% of the vote, finishing 8th in a field of 14 candidates. Two years later, he garnered 7% and placed 7th in a field of 10 candidates. He was endorsed by the conservative Lincoln Club of Orange County both times, and by the Republican Party of Orange County in 2012. 

In a short span of time, though, Chuchua has migrated concretely to the political Left. One sees the early stages in Chuchua’s staunch support in 2012 of John Leos, the Orange County Employees Association activist on whom the OCEA lavished hundreds of thousands of dollars in independent expenditure support. Leos also opposed Proposition 32, the conservative paycheck protection initiative that would have required unions to obtain members permission to use dues for political purposes.

Chuchua has announced his support for a gate tax to be levied on the Disneyland Resort, the Honda Center and Angel Stadium (at least for starters).

Although he is (presumably) still a Republican, Chuchua isn’t supporting the energetic, mold-breaking Republican nominee in the 65th Assembly District. Instead, he is helping the Democratic incumbent, Sharon Quirk-Silva – who support Proposition 30 to increase the state sales tax and voted to abolish the Anaheim Enterprise Zone). Here’s Chuchua, sporting his trademark yellow-tinted shades, in a Quirk-Silva campaign TV commercial now being aired:

Chuchua Quirk-Silva TV ad

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IMG_8079The polls open in about 12 hours, and Election Day Anaheim voters will cast their ballot on the three charter amendments on tomorrow’s ballot.

TNT Fireworks put another $45,000 into the Yes on Measure E campaign, hoping to persuade Anaheim voters to repeal the charter’s prohibition against safe-and-sane fireworks and allow the City Council to legalize them for sale and use. That brings TNT’s campaign expenditures on the Yes on Measure E campaign to $150,000.

There’s been some late, blog-based griping about legalizing fireworks, as Cynthia Ward and some of her gadflies complain that the Yes on E campaign has tried to address concerns about brush fire danger among Anaheim Hills – apparently not recognizing that Hills residents are next to open space and wilderness areas with there is brush, while the Colony is far away from those areas. Another complaint voiced is that it will be really hard to tell the difference between legal and illegal fireworks, thus making it hard for them to call the cops if they see someone using illegal fireworks. Here’s a helpful hint: illegal fireworks go up in the air and explode. Legal fireworks don’t.

And these are the folks who claim to the be true freedom-loving conservatives in town.

On the Measure D front, the Tom Tait for Mayor 2014 campaign paid for an IE robocall, recorded by my long-time friend Jon Fleischman, publisher of the influential state political blog FlashReport.org. Jon is also the president of California Term Limits. TheLiberalOC.com has a link to the robocall here (at the bottom of the post). Jon takes issue with on of the Yes on D campaign slogans, “Strengthens term limits”:

This is Jon Fleischman, president of California Term Limits, with a warning for Anaheim residents, and urging you to vote “No” on Measure D. Measure D is not term limits reform. Instead, it is an attempt by powerful special interests to prevent Mayor Tom Tait from uncovering their crony deals at City Hall. 

Please vote “No” on Measure D and protect Anaheim’s city treasury.

This message has been paid for by Tom Tait for Mayor 2014.

Gloriaski – why not say Measure D is an attempt by “powerful special interests” keep Mayor Tait from foiling their evil plan to fluoridate the city’s water supply and steal Anaheim’s women?  I mean, if one’s going to spin some campaign yarns, make them good ones!

An interesting aspect of OCCORD calling on the state Attorney General and the OC District Attorney to prosecute all four members of Anaheim City Council for imaginary violations is it puts some members of the OCCORD Board of Directors at political odds with themselves.

OCCORD is the political offspring of UNITE-HERE. Unions provide OCCORD with funding, and at least 40% the radical group’s board of directors consists of union executives and members.

Among those are Ada Briceno, Secretary-Treasurer of UNITE-HERE Local 11; Rick Eiden, the executive vice president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324; Rob Penney, organizing director for the United Nurses Associations of California;  Jorge Inestria, UNITE-HERE activist.

In addition to being a director of OCCORD, Eiden is also the president of the Orange County Labor Federation (the OC presence of the AFL-CIO) — which endorsed Jordan Brandman for Anaheim City Council in 2012.  UNITE-HERE is represented on the OCLF board by its president, Tom Walsh (Briceno is UNITE-HERE Local 11’s No. 2).

On its face, you have UCFW President Rick Eiden – in his capacity as an OCCORD Director — calling for the criminal prosecution of an elected official (on absurd legal grounds) whose he officially and materially supported as head of the OC Labor Federation.

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Jason Young

Jason Young

Since last summer, former Anaheim resident and political irritant Jason Young has used his “Save Anaheim” political committee to buy print ads in the Anaheim Bulletin and the Anaheim Hills News leveling venomous, dishonest, truth-twisting attacks against essentially every member of the Anaheim City Council except Mayor Tom Tait.

Jason Young regularly issued dark warnings of the terrifying reign of doom and political hellfire was preparing to unleash against the objects of his obsessive ire, but the end result was far more hat than cattle.

Still, with the beginnings of the 2014 election season upon us, I was surprised to see on the Anaheim City Clerk website that on July 1, Young filed a Form 410 terminating his Save Anaheim committee.

He also filed the Form 460 for the January 1 through June 30 period. The committee’s final exertions amounted to $4,039.87, funded by contributions from Jason Young himself, plus dinero from Brian Chuchua and Amin David. He used that mighty war-chest to buy a print ad (attacking the GardenWalk project, I believe), buy political data from Political Data, and give himself a little refund.

Why is Jason Young packing in his PAC? Who knows, really? Perhaps Jason Young was overcome with a realization of the expensive futility of his thrashings. Either way, good riddance.

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.

Hmmm.

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.

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:

johnleospicture

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.

 

In January, I wrote of my disappointment with Voice of OC reporting on Anaheim. I had high hopes for the Voice when is started. However, I have reluctantly concluded reporter Adam Elmahrek has a definite agenda that colors his decisions about what stories to cover and how those stories are slanted. Some players in Anaheim politics are subjected to intense and often unfair scrutiny, the actions of others are ignored, and context is often lacking.

Last month, he wrote a story about an e-mail he hadn’t seen, and impugned the integrity of two prominent public servants with sterling reputations. Elmahrek all but accused them of defrauding the federal government, but has yet to provide any evidence other than one basically innocuous e-mail. His allegations float out there on the Internet, uncorrected.

Elmahrek’s latest article is another story about nothing. He reports on a contract Jordan Brandman had to perform a facility needs assessment for the Orange County Clerk-Recorder’s office, after he had left that office but prior to being elected to the Anaheim City Council.

I’ve noticed a pattern to Elmahrek’s reporting: he includes a lot of extraneous and irrelevant information about the subject of his story, which has the cumulative effect of making him or her seem sinister or not-above-board. The story on Jordan is true to that pattern, and after clearing away all that editorial underbrush, here is what Elmahrek has: he isn’t sure as to the status of the needs assessment, or whether Jordan was even paid.

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UPDATED – 7:55 pm, March 5 – Mayor Tait pulled the item, but it died for lack of a second.

Tomorrow night, the Anaheim City Council will discuss whether to appropriate an additional $30,000 to continue paying the salary of Mayor Tom Tait’s part-time council assistant, Mishal Montogomery, through this June, the end of the fiscal year. Although it is on the consent calendar, it is sure to be pulled for a lively debate.

Last June, just before the start of the new fiscal year, the City Council acted to reduce the mayor’s personnel budget from $100,000 to the $60,000 level of councilmembers, and then voted to shift the $40,000 balance to the Ponderosa Library computer training program. Councilmembers Harry Sidhu, Kris Murray and Gail Eastman voted in favor, while Mayor Tom Tait and Councilmember Lorri Galloway opposed the reduction (although Galloway voted in favor of shifting the $40,000 to the Ponderosa Library.

As a result, Mayor Tait needed to either adjust Mishal Montgomery’s compensation or run out of money to pay her mid-way through the fiscal year and gamble that the council would approve a supplemental appropriation. Considering Montgomery is a polarizing figure in Anaheim City Hall, that is a gamble with long odds.

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IMG_6494The Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee on Elections and Community Involvement meets again this Thursday, February 28 at 6:30 p.m., at the Brookhurst Community Center. This will be the seventh CAC meeting, with eight more to follow.

I’ve attended most of them, and they are assuming a definite pattern. At the actual committee-work level, the CAC members have been taking presentations from experts on voter participation and engagement, on the basics of the California Voting Rights Act and on various election systems (ranked choice, cumulative voting, etc.).

All the presenters have participated as neutral experts in their fields, with the exception of Steve Chessin of the Californians for Electoral Reform, who was there as an advocate. [When asked by CAC Chair Vivian Pham what he recommended Anaheim do, Chessin urged an immediate switch to cumulative voting followed by a transition to fully proportional voting when OC’s voting systems technology permitted it. Other presenters have declined to offer their opinions, feeling it was not their role to do so.]

On the political level, there is an organized effort, led by OCCORD and unions like UNITE-HERE, to push the CAC toward recommending single-member council districts. Last week, the OC Democratic Party announced its support for single-member council districts.

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Form 460s, the campaign disclosure forms, give a partial insight into the strength of candidates and campaigns. I say partial because they don’t necessarily tell the whole story in terms of other critical measures such as name ID, positive/negative public perception, track record at the ballot, etc.

At the same time, they do tell a story about a candidate’s ability to organize, campaign and are indications of provenance and breadth of his or her support.

Plus, they are interesting to political junkies and insiders.

The latest wave of Form 460s provide 2012 totals for contributions, expenditure, cash-on-hand and debt. Let’s start with the incumbent Anaheim councilmembers, starting alphabetically and with their next election in parenthesis).

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Rules? Those are for lesser beings than I, Jason Young.

Rules? Those are for lesser beings than I, Jason Young.

Jason Young finally filed the Form 460 for his “Save Anaheim” PAC…eight days late!

I think there’s a $10 per-day fine involved there. But I digress.

It’s difficult to understand what Mr. Young so long to file his report. I mean, it’s really thin. Like, anorexic.

The only activity he had to report for the mighty and fearsome Save Anaheim PAC was a $644.26 contribution from himself and a $1,204.24 expenditure for when one of his ham-fisted print ads in the Orange County Register.

Young reports having 117 dollars and 87 cents left with which to strike terror into hearts of his imagined Anaheim power structure.

If you look at the actual report, you’ll notice that Young and his treasurer signed the report and dated it has having been executed on January 31, 2013 — the last day to file. In other words, they are swearing under penalty of perjury that they finished the report by the deadline.

And yet, the report is stamped as being received by the Anaheim City Clerk on February 8, more than a week later. What gives?

And isn’t this the same character who points the finger over the Brown Act violation related to the January 24, 2012 GardenWalk vote — but can’t find 30 minutes to comply with the legal deadlines for filing his skimpy campaign report?

Al-Jabbar1TheLiberalOC.com reports that Al Jabbar has been appointed to the Anaheim Union High School District Board of Trustees, filling a vacancy created by the election of Jordan Brandman to the Anaheim City Council. Jabbar works for the county Health Care Agency.

In November of last year, Jabbar ran for a seat on the Anaheim City School District Board of Trustees, an effort in which he was support by the teachers unions (the single most destructive force in the decline of public education).

Jabbar, a Democrat, finished fourth out of a field of five candidates:

Jabbar

Here are some of his key endorsements from last year:

  • Anaheim Elementary Educators Association
  • Anaheim Secondary Educators Association
  • California School Employees Association
  • Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez
  • State Senator Lou Correa
  • Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens
  • Anaheim City School District board member Dr. Jose Moreno

Elementary or high school district, he’s managed to get on some kind of school board.

$900,000? Sure it's a lot of money, but there's more where that came from.

$900,000? Sure it’s a lot of money, but there’s more where that came from.

The year-end Form 460s — those are campaign finance disclosure forms — were due yesterday, but a number of them were filed over the course of January.

I opened up the Form 460 for the OCEA-sponsored “Committee to Support John Leos for Anaheim City Council 2012,” and did a double take when I saw the final total spending on behalf of Leos:

$531,055.17

One would have to do the research, but I’d wager that is an Anaheim record for IE spending on a single candidate by a single entity (with a sub-category of spending it and losing).

$365,622.65 of that was spent in the final 17 days of the campaign, with a large chunks uncorked in the last days to fund phone banks and paid walkers.

Ouch.

$390,000 of that $531,055 came from the pockets of OCEA members, the rest from other labor unions (some of which also receive campaign fund transfers from OCEA, so the latter’s total may be higher).

Now, if you had this to the $200,000 spent by OCEA in its unsuccessful attempt to elect Leos to council in 2010, and the estimated$100,000 it spent in 2011 on a series of city-wide mailers promoting Leos and his “transparency ordinance,” then OCEA has spent $700,000 over the course less than three years to put John Leos on the Anaheim City Council.

Now, add the $32,360.79 spent by the OCEA Independent Expenditure Committee to fund attacks on Jordan Brandman.

Let’s further broaden the scope to include the $64,000 that OCEA put into signature gathering for the anti-GardenWalk Take Back Anaheim initiative, which failed to qualify for the ballot. And then add in the money OCEA spent on mailers hitting Councilmembers Harry Sidhu, Kris Murray and Gail Eastman over the GardenWalk vote — which was likely another $100,000 (and I’m estimating conservatively).

We’re talking at least $900,000 the OCEA has spent on Anaheim politics in less that three years. That’s almost a million dollars, and with very little to show for it: two Leos losses, a failed initiative campaign, and an alienated new councilmember.

Rendering of GardenWalk hotels.

Rendering of GardenWalk hotels.

I read a little editorial on the GardenWalk hotel project in this morning, which was interesting in several ways.

The paper re-stated its opposition to the subsidy agreement, which the paper says local developer Bill O’Connell would like to have on the January 29 council agenda. The editorial even urges pushing back the hearing date to give opponents more time to organize!

In case any Register editorial writers read this blog, I’d like to remind them of their own criteria from their their December 16 editorial:

  • Business incentives are permissible if the economic return exceeds the cost to taxpayers
  • The public is fully informed of these incentives and has ample opportunity express their opinions on them.

I re-phrased these criteria somewhat, but they are practically word-for-word from the editorial. They are the OC Register’s criteria, not mine.

I have supported this agreement from the beginning as something that will generate job, economic growth and increased city revenues in the long-run. Even those who oppose subsidies or “picking winners and losers”  on principle can admit that the economic return of the GardenWalk agreement exceeds the cost to taxpayers. I’d go further and argue there is no cost to taxpayers because if this agreement isn’t approved, the GardenWalk project dies and there won’t be any TOT revenue to share. If it is approved, the GardenWalk TOT being shared is revenue that hadn’t been going into city coffers and so nothing is being “taken.” Furthermore, a permanent, long-term stream of additional TOT revenue will be established.

So, the GardenWalk agreement satisfies the OC Register’s first criterion. As for the second, so serious person can say the public hasn’t been fully informed about the agreement. It has been heavily covered in the media for a year. The county employee union funded an anti-GardenWalk referendum led by Councilmember Lorri Galloway and Mayor Tom Tait, and it was one of the leading issues in the city council election. Any Anaheim resident who hasn’t paid attention to GardenWalk issue yet, never will.

The OC Register laid down clear criteria for what makes for permissible city business incentives. Objectively speaking, the Garden Walk agreement meets those criteria. It remains to be seen whether the OC Register editorial board will adhere to its own criteria.

Another part of the editorial caught my eye:

Mr. O’Connell would like the matter considered again at the Council’s Jan. 29 meeting, Mayor Tom Tait told us.

It’s disappointing that the Mayor is leaking to media about an applicant before his project is even agendized and the public notified about it. Mayor Tait has been a strong opponent of the project, but what kind of message does this send to anyone seeking city approval of a project? If the mayor or a councilmember don’t like you project, he or she will leak it to the media in order to poison the well and kill your project before you’ve had the opportunity for a fair public hearing? I’m sure that wasn’t Mayor Tait’s intent, but intended or not, that is the effect.

Intelligent people can and should be able to disagree on this issue in a spirit of good will, and if the City Council does approve the GardenWalk agreement (again), I hope opponents will allow the city to move and not continue dividing us.

Logic? Consistency? Those are for lesser beings.

Logic? Consistency? Those are for lesser beings.

Let me say right off the bat that I’m not according Jason Young undeserved credibility, but it is worth highlighting a comment he made on the Voice of OC yesterday while tangling with Anaheim Blog contributor Anaheimocrat — if only because Jason’s cognitive dissonance is held in such high esteem by the crowd that opposes the GardenWalk agreement while simultaneously wanting to put it on the ballot.

First, Jason tosses out this assertion:

“The majority votes on the original agreement, the public outcry is overwhelming negative against the deal (over 15,000 signatures gathered to oppose TOT giveaways), and a judge throws it out.

The people have spoken and yet Kris Murray, Gail Eastman, and Jordan Brandman  will try and ram this deal through again?”

When it is pointed out to him that the people actually did speak by electing the pro-GW candidate and rejecting the ant-GW candidates, Young quickly contradicted himself:

“The people don’t know what is going.”

So, which is it? There is no reason to grant any gravity to the signatures gathered by Take Back Anaheim’s union-funded circulators if, as Jason Young says, they were gulled from “people [who] don’t know what is going on.”

And how can “the people speak” on GardenWalk if, as Young asserts, they are don’t know what is going on? How can you there be an overwhelming outcry from an ignorant public?

This painful cognitive dissonance isn’t confined to Jason Young’s rantings, but runs through the commentary and pronouncements of anti-GardenWalk activists.

Jason and his admirers can’t have it both ways.

Chuchua

Jordan Brandman’s election to the Anaheim City Council created a vacancy on the Anaheim Public Utilities Board, which is charged with “making recommendations to the City Council concerning the operation of electric, water and other public utilities under the management of the Public Utilities Department.”

On the agenda for Tuesday’s City Council meeting is filling this vacancy from a list of ten applicants. They include:

John Leos, twice unsuccessful candidate for Anaheim City Council in 2010 and 2012, despite massive outlays of campaign funds by the Orange County Employees Association.

Brian Chuchua, also a twice unsuccessful candidate for Anaheim City Council in 2010 and 2012, but with comparatively far less massive outlays of campaign funds from his own pocket.

Also applying is Jose Moreno – not Jose F. Moreno, liberal Anaheim school trustee and litigant against the City of Anaheim, but Jose L. Moreno, who was the Republican un-candidate in the 69th Assembly District race won by former Anaheim Mayor Tom Daly.

Robert Nelson, another unsuccessful 2010 council candidate, has also tossed his hat into the ring for consideration.

You can read the full list of applicants here.

This is not an inconsequential appointment — not simply because Anaheim’s is a major municipal utility, but because the bodies such as planning commission and the utility board are launching ads for future councilmembers. Kris Murray and Jordan Brandman both went from the Public Utility Board to the City Council. Tom Tait and Gail Eastman both graduated from the Planning Commission to the council.

The OC Register has published New Year resolutions from the two newest members of the Anaheim City Council, Jordan Brandman and Lucille Kring:

Jordan BrandmanHere’s Brandman’s (who was the top vote-getter in November’s election):

A time of reflection and new beginnings

Each new year brings forth a time of reflection and new beginnings filled with hope and opportunity. As I begin my term of service on the council, I am thankful for the trust placed in me to provide independent leadership and respectful understanding of the issues facing our city.

The “can-do” spirit is alive and well in Anaheim. Our city can be first in property values, first in public safety, first in business activity, first in infrastructure investment and first in schools.

It is my resolve to lead with clear priorities, including: creating jobs, fighting crime and eliminating gangs; maintaining world-class police and fire departments; and ensuring neighborhoods, schools, parks and libraries are safe and well-maintained.

Working together, we can make Anaheim an even better place to live, work and raise a family – with each coming new year.

lucille kringAnd here is Kring’s (now beginning her third non-consecutive term):

I resolve to make residents first priority

For many, the new year marks the start of a second chance, an opportunity to have your slate wiped clean, a chance to make plans that lead to new goals. As we prepare to enter 2013, I appreciate this opportunity to set some goals for the new year.

I resolve to remember that the residents of Anaheim are my first priority, and my job is to always consider them in every action I take as a council member. They are our city’s greatest asset. I resolve to stay connected with the people of Anaheim, to listen to what they have to say about their city and their desires, hopes and dreams for their community.

I will strive to work cooperatively with the mayor and my fellow council members, and I’m looking forward to working with City Manager Bob Wingenroth, as well as city staff and our police and fire chiefs, to allocate our city’s resources to most effectively serve our residents and businesses.

During my campaign, I walked neighborhoods and was struck by residents in every part of the city telling me about nighttime gang- and drug-related activities in our parks. I will work aggressively with police and neighbors to solve this problem and take back our parks. In years past, we had flashlight walks in some of our parks that proved to be very successful in ridding our parks of this element. We must renew this effective tool of police officers and residents working together.

I resolve to seek opportunities that bring new jobs to Anaheim while also working to improve the quality of life for Anaheim residents.

To improve neighborhoods, I’m advocating that a portion of city hotel Transient Occupancy Tax (“bed tax”) revenue be earmarked specifically for neighborhood revitalization and maintenance.

I want to wish all residents of Anaheim a very happy, healthy, prosperous and especially a peaceful 2013. I am looking forward to working with all of you for the next four years to create a better Anaheim!

Like the New Year resolutions from Mayor Tom Tait and Councilmember Kris Murray, these are basically in line with promises and positions previously enunciated by Brandman and Kring.

Councilmember Kring re-commits herself to earmarking a specific percentage of TOT revenue for neighborhood revitalization.  As I posted a few days ago, I agree with providing the funding necessary to repair and improve the quality of life of Anaheim neighborhoods, with special emphasis on those areas with a special need for it. That’s what local government is supposed to do.

I do think it is a mistake to earmark a specific percentage of a specific revenue stream for that purpose. Good intentions and sloganeering notwithstanding, it will acquire the patina of an entitlement and will have a distorting effect on future budgeting. At some point in future, the problems necessitating this special fund will be addressed (again, that is the point); once the problem it was created to solve is solved, will the Council then dissolve this earmark in order to shift the funds to other purposes? Good luck with that when, over the years, organized groupings have arrived at a proprietary attitude toward those funds.

The end is what is important here, not the means. The point is to make the improvements, rather enact a “see what we’re doing for you” special fund.

The OC Register published an editorial on Sunday abut the court decision on the Garden Walk project, and impending city council re-vote on the agreement.

Like other recent OCR editorials about Anaheim, this is a puzzling one. It’s not surprising the libertarian OC Register is opposing the agreement, but there are some claims made that aren’t staked to reality – regardless of one’s position on the agreement.

Take, for example, the headline: “A Backroom, Sweetheart Deal.” Even on an opinion page, shouldn’t the editorial present some evidence– any evidence — to support the “backroom” claim?

There was nothing secretive about the agreement — which was actually amending an existing agreement.  The original agreement was discussed and voted upon in public, where anyone who cared to could comment. Notwithstanding the inflammatory “backroom” claim — or even the court ruling – the latest iteration of the GardenWalk agreement was also publicly discussed and voted at a January 24, 2012 Anaheim City Council meeting.

So, again I would ask the OC Register – what “backroom”?

There was also this gem from the editorial:

“Indeed, there is little doubt that, had Anaheim residents been properly advised that the council planned to conclude its discussion of the contract with an actual up-or-down vote, the council meeting would have overflowed with opponents of the extremely generous tax break to Mr. O’Connell.”

First, it was no secret the GardenWalk agreement was on the agenda — specifically, Item 23:

“Discussion to consider an amendment to an existing economic assistance agreement and provide direction to staff to develop an agreement with the developer (GardenWalk Hotel Project).”

Note the presence of the verb “to consider” — which means “to think carefully about, especially in order to make a decision.”  In other word, a vote was a very distinct possibility.

That the organized opponents of the agreement – predominantly various constituencies of the Left — were not at the council meeting was on them. It was no secret the agreement was making it’s way through the city; and if it is an egregious as opponents claims, shouldn’t they ave mobilized for the January 24 council meeting to make their voices heard? Even if it was not certain a vote would take place?

Much of politics is about showing up. GardenWalk proponents were organized and on the ball. Opponents were asleep as the switch. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Also, if there really was deep public opposition to the GardenWalk deal, why did the “Take Back Anaheim” initiative – which would mandate a city-wide vote on any agreement with a hotel developer involving a TOT revenue split — sputter and fail once the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA) stopped funding the signature-gathering? That’s a strong indication there was no grassroots support for the initiative.

The OC Register concludes the editorial thusly:

“Put the entire matter before Anaheim voters next summer and let them decide whether the city will get a fair return on the incentives it has proffered the hotel developer.”

When did the OC Register editorial board become a proponent of not only ballot-box budgeting, but embracing direct democracy, one of the great pillars of the Progressivism?

“Take Back Anaheim” is not a taxpayer-protection measure; it places no limitation on the Transient Occupancy Tax – it only carves out a voter-approval requirement for a very particular use of TOT revenue. If the city wanted to do a TOT-split with an ice-skating rink in the Resort Area – no voter approval. TOT-split with a hotelier – voter approval required.

In calling for putting the GardenWalk agreement on the ballot, the writer of the editorial appears to have forgotten that Anaheim voters just had the chance to sound off on it last month. It was called the city council election — and the Garden Walk agreement was a prominently discussed issue.

GardenWalk agreement supporter Jordan Brandman was hit hard on the issue with negative mailers from the OCEA, the Republican Party of Orange County and other quarters. He was the top vote getter.

John Leos — the OC Register’s endorsed candidate – ran as a very vocal opponent of the GardenWalk agreement. And despite $400,000 in government union spending and the endorsement of the OC Register, he finished a weak third.

In light of the above facts, perhaps the OC Register can explain why the Anaheim City Council should call a special election and palm its governing responsibilities off onto the voters who just elected a GardenWalk proponent and defeated a GardenWalk opponent?

OCEA's John Leos (center) with OCEA Prez Robert Gibson (right) at Jerry Brown inaugural shindig.

OCEA’s John Leos (center) with OCEA Prez Robert Gibson (right) at Jerry Brown inaugural shindig.

As this blog as documented pretty thoroughly, the Orange County Employees Association spent a staggering amount of its members’ dues money in an effort to elect one of its members, John Leos, to the Anaheim City Council.

How much did that failed effort cost on a per-vote basis?

OCEA directly put into $350,000 into independent expenditures for Leos (this doesn’t take into account OCEA money that may have made its way into the election via transfers to other union-controlled committees, or even the estimated $100,000 OCEA spent in 2011 on direct mail promoting Leos).

John Leos ultimately garnered 19,051 votes.

That comes to $18.37 per vote…to buy a third place finish. Keep in mind that number may change when all the money is finally accounted for.

In 2010, OCEA directly spent $200,000 trying to elect Leos in 2010, when he received 12,966 votes. That’s $15.42 per vote.

Amazingly, OCEA  dollar-cost-per-vote ratio increased from 2010 to 2012, for a third-place finish both times. Not a good ROI on OCEA members’ moolah.

Watching the changes in the vote totals since Election Day as the late vote-by-mail and provisional ballots are counted, I am struck by how they have propelled Democratic candidates for state and local office. It’s a demonstration of the how much more motivated labor and Democratic voters were, in large part due to the presence of Prop. 32 on the ballot.

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who represents the Anaheim flatlands in Congress, had 60.4% of the vote at the end of Election Day counting. As of this evening, she has 62.2%. That is almost 20 points ahead of Democratic registration in CD46 (which is 44%). Keep in mind this is new-drawn district for Sanchez and includes the conservative Republican City of Orange (west of the 55 Freeway), and her showing is more than 9% higher than the 53% she garnered in 2010 in a district that was more Democratic.

Fullerton Mayor Sharon Quick-Silva led Assemblyman Chris Norby by 1,004 votes on Election Day in the 65th Assembly District, which also includes the Anaheim flatlands. Her lead has grown every day since, and now stands at 1,996 votes. Her 51.2% puts her 15 points ahead of Democratic registration.

Jordan Brandman finished Election Day as the second-highest vote getter in the Anaheim City Council election (the top two finishers being elected). On Friday, he edged into past former Councilwoman Lucille Kring by 57 votes, and his lead has now grown to 450 votes.

What is curious is this trend did not seem to benefit John Leos, who although a Republican was also the government union candidate and whose patron, the Orange County Employees Association, made Prop. 32’s defeat a top priority. The OCEA also hit Brandman hard in the mail in the campaign’s final week.

I have long been a strong supporter of paycheck protection and voted for Prop. 32 (despite reservations about the inclusion of both private sector unions and corporations in the measure; I think a simpler initiative focused exclusively on government unions would have been better). That said, having Prop. 32 on the November ballot certainly boomeranged against Republicans. Admittedly, this cannot really be blamed on Prop. 32’s proponents, who planned the initiative for the June 2012 ballot. unfortunately, Gov. Jerry Brown, with the cooperation of the Democratic legislature, changed state law to restrict initiatives to the November ballot (it helps to be able to re-write the rules to suit one’s goals).

It’s fair to say that Prop. 32 cost Assemblyman Chris Norby his seat and handed the Democrats super-majorities in the state legislature.

The macro-point is that going forward, Republicans ought to think carefully about ballot initiatives we qualify, and who will they bring more of to the polls – us or them. Prop. 32 would have been a big victory for Republicans in terms of leveling the political playing field, but it was life or death for the unions – especially the government unions. They simply could not survive absent the ability to coerce political dues from members. In other words, they had greater motivation to beat Prop. 32 than Republicans had to pass it.

 

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