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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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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.

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.

 

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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I saw a post over at OC Political entitled “Atlas PAC Endorsed Candidates Make Their Final Push.”

For readers unfamiliar with Atlas PAC, it is a conservative group committed to “individual liberty, free enterprise, limited and fair taxation and limited government regulation.”

I didn’t know until reading the post that Atlas PAC, like the OC Republican Party, endorsed Brian Chuchua for Anaheim City Council. Like the OC GOP’s action, an odd choice.

I’m assuming Atlas PAC made its endorsement before Chuchua announced his support for imposing a ticket tax on Disneyland, Angel Stadium and the Honda Center, in order to fund city social programs.

His support for a ticket tax comes despite this promise from his campaign website:

As your next councilmember, I will:

– Never vote to raise your taxes;

Perhaps Atlas PAC was unaware Chuchua is one of the biggest cheerleaders for fellow candidate John Leos, a government union activist whose council bid is being fueled with hundreds of thousands of government union dollars.

Like Leos, Chuchua supports the lawsuit filed by the ACLU and three left-wing activists, seeking to replace the current at-large council system with a district-based system of their design — which would be drawn to guarantee at least a third of Anaheim’s council seats are held by liberal Democrats.

For good measure, Chuchua has become active in “Los Amigos,” a group that agitates for left-wing causes in Anaheim.

But again, I’m assuming Atlas PAC was unaware of these facts. Otherwise, it’s hard to see why they would endorse him.

If you’re looking for an example of how the OC Republican Party Central Committee endorsement process continues to misfire, Anaheim is a perfect example.

The main value to a candidate of this endorsement is the hope that somehow, from someone, money will arrive at the OC GOP to fund a “member communication” — usually a mail piece touting the endorsed candidates as “Team [fill in the city]” or something like that. They are mailed only to Republican voters, and are not independent expenditures because the member communication can be coordinated with the endorsed candidates campaign. Plus, they are sent out using the California Republican Party’s mail permit, which has a lower postage rate and thus gets the endorsed candidate more mileage for their postage dollar. The main drawback is member communications can’t be sent to non-Republicans.

In any case, the two OC GOP endorsed candidates in Anaheim are Lucille Kring and Brian Chuchua.

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Former Councilwoman Lucille Kring is to be commended for opposing the admission tax idea being embraced by several of her competitors (see my post on how John Leos and Brian Chuchua lent their support to the idea at the Anna Drive candidate forum; Jordan Brandman and Steve Chavez Lodge oppose the proposed tax). But her substitute motion for carving out 1% of annual transient occupancy tax (TOT) revenues for city-run social programs deserves some examination.

The City of Anaheim’s budgeted TOT revenue for this fiscal year is $96 million. 1% of that is $960,000. Since TOT revenue will, generally speaking, increase each year, you’d have a permanently escalating, dedicated revenue stream to fund social programs in the city.

Would such programs be effective? Who knows? And effective at what? Preventing a repeat of the summer riots? Make Anna Drive a nicer place to live? I can’t tell you, and neither can anyone else because the plan only extends as far as setting aside 1% of TOT revenues for social programs.

Furthermore, shouldn’t we be getting away from the idea of reserving certain percentages of government budgets for this program or that policy? I’m hard-pressed to think of an example where it works well – Proposition 98 being a prime example. In fact, what this approach does is compresses elected officials’ room to maneuver when setting budget and policy priorities — which is what we elect them to do.

Perhaps the former councilwoman, having rejected the admission tax idea, felt it necessary to throw some kind of bone at the Anna Drive candidate forum as evidence of compassion. I don’t know – that’s speculation on my part. I think she meant well, but this smacks more of spitballing than considered policymaking.

At the Anna Drive candidate forum last week, most of the candidates in attendance endorsed the idea of imposing a tax of $1 a ticket on the Disneyland Resort, Anaheim Stadium and the Honda Center in order to fund “youth programs and neighborhood development.”

Those pro-tax candidates include government union activist John Leos, Green Party activist Duane Roberts and Brian Chuchua (who, amazingly enough, is endorsed by the OC Republican Party).

Leaving aside the fact this ticket tax is bad public and economic policy, as a practical matter it is unworkable. It doesn’t appear to have occurred to Leos, Roberts or Chuchua that the city cannot single out those venues for a ticket tax, while exempting other venues in the city. The tax would have to e applied across the board, or not at all. So if John Leos wants a new admission tax (because that is what it is) to provide dedicated revenue to fund social programs, he’ll have to slap it on movie theaters, on the Grove of Anaheim, or any other venue where people are charged for admission.

Anaheim is a major city, the 10th largest in the state of California, and being a councilmember requires significantly more than this kind of seat-of-the-pants policy improvisation, or glibly endorsing a half-baked admission tax idea tossed out at a street-side candidate forum.

It was SRO at the Anna Drive candidate forum (courtesy OC Register)

Six of nine Anaheim council candidates attended at last night’s street side  candidate forum on gang-infested Anna Drive. Judging from pictures on Voice of OC and the OC Register, the audience didn’t outnumber the candidates and forum organizers by very much.

Nonetheless, some useful information emerged in the coverage by the VOC and OCR.

John Leos, the government union activist being supported by organized labor, came out in support of imposing a dollar head-tax on visitors to the Disneyland Resort and Angel Stadium (it’s unclear whether this head-tax would also be imposed on the Honda Center, the Grove of Anaheim, Muzeo or any other attraction in Anaheim).

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Mayor Tom Tait has endorsed Lucille Kring, the twice-former councilwoman who is attempting to win a third, non-sequential term (which I’d wager is probably be a first in Anaheim history).

This rounds out the Tait ticket for the two open council seats on the November ballot – the other being government union activist John Leos, whom the OCEA spent more than $200,000 trying to elect to council in 2010.

It’s an illustration, at the city politics level, of Lord Palmerston’s axiom that there are no permanent allies, only permanent interests.

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The Voice of OC has coverage of last week’s council candidate forum, sponsored by the West Anaheim Neighborhood Development Council, or WAND. It’s worth reading, and is certainly more informative than the OC Weekly’s effort. I’ll tender a few observations based on the article.

In response about ensuring that city street repairs won’t be impacted by funds used to purchase the land for the ARTIC station, John Leos and Brian Chuchua turned the question to the GardenWalk project:

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