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Measure L amends the Anaheim City Charter to require the City Council to establish voter districts. A candidate seeking a seat on the city council must live within a given district, and only voters residing within that district may vote for that candidate.

L PICCurrently, members of the City Council may live anywhere in Anaheim, and voters may vote for any candidate. What is the need to change the current process: to establish voter districts and to limit an individual’s vote to one candidate?

The “impartial analysis” of Measure L by the Anaheim City Attorney is, indeed, impartial (Houston, 2014). He explains the differences between voting for council members “at large” from voting for a single candidate. Absolutely nothing in his analysis provides any need or basis for changing the current election process. The entire text of proposed amendments to Anaheim’s City Charter can be read online (City of Anaheim, 2014).

The argument supporting Measure L by Mayor Tait and Council Member Brandman (2014) consists of banality (e.g., Anaheim is a great place to live; Council members will become more effective) and nonsense (e.g., Anaheim will become less wonderful [if Measure L fails]). But again, nothing in their non-argument establishes any need to change the current process for electing city officials.

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morris baller captionFor anyone still suffering from the delusion that the campaign for by-district council elections in Anaheim is some home-grown, kitchen-table, grass-roots effort, may I present the inaugural contribution to the Committee for District Elections – sponsored by One Anaheim: a check for $3,500 from one Morris Baller, a liberal litigator from Oakland.

And who is Morris Baller?

He’s an $805-an-hour partner in the “public interest class action” law firm of Goldstein, Borger, Dardarian & Ho  the same firm which – along with the ACLU — represented Jose Moreno and his allies in their attempt to force the adoption of by-district elections via litigation.

It’s the same Morris Baller who pocketed about $250,000 in fees, courtesy of Anaheim taxpayers, as a result of the settlement agreement that put by-district elections on the November ballot. So we have the city cutting a check to one of Moreno’s left-wing lawyers, who then kicks back $3,500 of his winnings to Moreno’s comrades at the OCCORD-run Committee for District Elections.

Neat-o.

Ironically, Baller argued in this September 4, 2012 letter to the City of Anaheim that he and his clients Moreno et al considered putting the question of by-district council elections to a city-wide vote to be inherently discriminatory toward Latino voters. But fiddle-de-dee! With the Left it’s all about the ends – the means don’t have to be logical or intellectually honest.

The campaign report for the Committee for District Elections, which shares an address (and according to the above 497 filing a phone number) with the left-wing political advocacy group OCCORD, will be available at the end of the month. Anyone want to guess how much of the reported donations will come from left-wing unions, individuals and organizations? And how few of those will hail from Anaheim?

rubin $264KThe lawsuit filed by Jose Moreno et al and the ACLU against the City of Anaheim demanding the imposition of single-member council districts by judicial fiat, claimed the city was in violation of the California Voting Rights Act. One of the attorney’s sharing in the $1.22 million the city is paying as part of the lawsuit settlement is Robert Rubin.

Rubin, along with another left-wing lawyer, Joaquin Avila, authored the CVRA. Since the laws enactment in in 2002, Rubin has traveled the state filing, threatening to file or participating in CVRA lawsuits against cities and school districts. Conveniently, when defendants lose or settle CVRA lawsuits, they have to reimburse the plaintiffs for legal fees and expenses incurred.

According to Wikipedia, Rubin and Avila and their fellow litigators) have collected $4.3 million in fees from three cases. Who know one could rich fighting for the poor and disenfranchised?

Rubin was also part of the team suing Anaheim, and according to city documents he was demanding to be reimbursed at the kingly rate of $825 per hour! He billed 341.4 hours to “supervise all aspects of the case including legal/ litigation strategy and filings, argue/ attend hearings and city council meetings, correspond with opposing counsel” – which would have brought his haul to $281,655! Yowza.

As it is, Rubin settled for a mere $775 per hour, meaning he will pocket $264,585.

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Part of the settlement reached in January between the City of Anaheim and the ACLU (representing ACSD Trustee Jose Moreno and two other plaintiffs), the city agreed to pay ACLU’s legal fees in an amount negotiated between the two parties.

Tuesday night, the Anaheim City Council approved paying the negotiated amount $1.22 million. You can read the staff report here; a summary of the plaintiffs’ attorney’s rates here and of the city’s attorneys’ rates here.

Over at TheLiberalOC.com, “Editorial Staff” tries to paint this as a futile waster of money:

The amount is on top of the $1.25 million in legal fees the city had incurred fighting the inevitable. The only thing gained by the council majority’s opposition to the lawsuit was to delay the implementation of a new district election process, and it’s presentation to voters for approval in November.

Why so much effort, and waste of taxpayer funds, to stop what was clearly inevitable? Simple really; to protect the status quo so that members Murray and Eastman would get one more shot at four-year terms on the council before the implementation of districts. The entire battle, all of the posturing and positioning, all the legal fees, was so that the current power base in Anaheim would have four more years to raid the public piggy-bank to reward the rich and powerful interests in Orange County’s largest city.

I suppose that is one way to look at it, even if it is the wrong way – on several levels.

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As part of the settlement between the city and the ACLU the left-leaning group’s lawsuit seeking single-member districts for Anaheim City Council elections, the city has to pay the ACLU’s legal costs, which are reportedly to be $1 million. Single-member council district proponents are now trying to shift blame to the councilmembers who oppose single-member districts — which utter nonsense. From today’s OCRegister.com:

Mayor Tom Tait said that the cost of fighting the lengthy lawsuit could have been avoided if the City Council in August 2012 had approved his call for similar ballot measure. 

First of all, it was Jose Moreno, Amin David, Consuelo Garcia and the ACLU who sued the City of Anaheim, not the other way around. They initiated the litigation. They forced the legal fight. The legal costs incurred by both sides are the result of a deliberate, freely-made action by the plaintiffs and the ACLU.

Furthermore — and this is the crucial truth that the media has missed and single-member district proponents are glossing over — the litigation continued for as long as it did because the plaintiffs and the ACLU had no interest in putting single-member council districts on the ballot. This is from a September 4, 2012 letter — nearly a month after Mayor Tait’s failed attempt to put single-member district on the ballot —  from the plaintiffs’ attorneys to the city’s attorneys:

We told you that Plaintiffs would not postpone litigation on the possibility that the City might put a measure to the voters in November 2012, and that the City should instead consider a negotiated resolution to a court action, which would allow the election system to be changed without subjecting the question to a vote of the entire electorate, which is equivalent to an at-large election in its discriminatory effect on Latinos.

And from the same letter:

Still, the City took no positive action toward unconditionally changing the election system. It put on the agenda for the next scheduled Council meeting, on July 24, 2012, a resolution to submit the matter to voters at the November 2012 election — precisely the type of “referendum” that we told you repeatedly the Plaintiffs would not accept as the basis for settling or delaying the lawsuit.

And more:

Moreover, the schedule established by Resolution No. 2012-090 and incorporated in the City’s request for a nearly one-year stay of litigation would provide the City the absolute ability to avoid the risk that the Court could compel the City to change its election system before the 2014 elections.

And:

As we have discussed with you on numerous occasions in informal communications, Plaintiffs will not accept such a ballot measure as a basis for resolution or even delay of the lawsuit.

The mayor’s claim is directly contradicted by the plaintiffs’ attorney. The plaintiffs and the ACLU had no interest in putting single-member districts on the ballot – they wanted the court to impose them directly on the people of Anaheim without their consent. According to the plaintiffs’ attorney, even if the council had supported Mayor Tait’s proposal, it would not have stopped the clock on the litigation. it would still have gone forward and the legal costs would have continued to mount, because the plaintiffs were not interested in going to the ballot — which they viewed putting the matter on the ballot to be discriminatory against Latinos.

Given that they had opposed placing single-member council districts on the ballot as having a “discriminatory effect on Latinos,” it is strange that the plaintiffs are today celebrating the same thing as a “victory” for Latinos.

If the plaintiffs had been amenable to putting single-member council districts to the voters, this settlement would more than likely been reached long ago, and Anaheim taxpayers would have saved a great deal of money. The fault lies with the plaintiffs’ stubborn insistence on bypassing the voters in favor of the imposition of single-member districts by judicial fiat.

The Coalition of the Left that has been driving the single-member council districts train is holding a press conference this morning about the city’s settlement with ACLU of the Moreno v. Anaheim lawsuit, per this UNITE-HERE news release on the website its community organizing off-shoot, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD):

OCCORD-UNITE-HERE release

 

A refresher for readers: OCCORD is a non-profit, community organizing off-shoot of the militant union UNITE-HERE; it was founded by UNITE-HERE staffers and is funded by unions and non-profits like the left-wing New World Foundation. It’s self-stated mission: “OCCORD is a leader in the emerging movement to reclaim Orange County, California, from the extreme laissez-faire policies and entrenched anti-immigrant sentiment that have long dominated our region.”

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What’s been buzzing around Anaheim for a few weeks is bleeding into the media (OC Register and VOC): during tonight’s closed session, the Anaheim City Council is expected to settle the ACLU’s lawsuit (for which the lead plaintiff is Anaheim City School District Trustee Jose F. Moreno) to replace the city’s at-large council elections with a system of single-member council districts.

As part of the settlement, it is expected the City Council will agree to carve the city into four single-member districts and then put it to the voters. The judge can’t impose single-member districts by judicial fiat since Anaheim is a charter city; it requires amending the city charter, which can only be done by a vote of the people.

There’s no reason single-member districts couldn’t be placed on the June ballot in hopes of obtaining a”yes” vote that would put single-member districts in place for the November council elections. My guess is the ACLU, the plaintiffs and the rest of the single-member district Coalition of the Left prefer a November election on the grounds its higher (and more Democratic) turnout increase the odds of voter approval.

As readers know, in 2013 the council voted to create four at-large council districts (which doesn’t require amending the charter), and to place on the June ballot measures asking voters to a) incorporate at-large council districts into the city charter and b) whether they want to increase the council to six members. City staff was subsequently instructed to create districts for both a four- and six-seat council, for the city council’s consideration and adoption.

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Last week, the Anaheim Union High School District held a series of community forums “seeking community input into the boundaries that will be established under the new by-trustee-area method of electing the Board of Trustees” according to an e-mail sent out by the district.”

Earler this year, AUHSD Board decided on a policy of pre-emptive surrender to the possibility of being sued by marauding bands of California Voting Rights Act litigants, and voted to replace its at-large election system with a by-district system. Unlike the City of Anaheim, the AUHSD doesn’t need to hold a city-wide election on the question but can make this switch by a board vote and obtaining a waiver from the state Board of Education (which grants them without hesitation). As the AUSD missive puts it:

The Board’s decision was the culmination of a lengthy process during which a demographer reviewed voting patterns over the past 10 years to determine whether the at-large voting method complied with the California Voting Rights Act.  Under the act, an at-large voting method is not permissible if it impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice as a result of dilution or abridgment. The analysis showed that the at-large voting method did appear to impair the ability of a protected group from electing candidates of its choice. To correct this, the Board modified the election method to a by-trustee-area method to provide greater opportunities for representation of all constituencies within the District.  

The District has drawn up several draft trustee area maps in accordance with these criteria:

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The ACLU is demanding the city turn over a trove of documents, voice-mails e-mails, and text messages – both official and personal — from a small army of current and former councilmembers, staff, city commission appointees and private citizens, often pertaining to circumstances, events or issues not even tangentially related to “racially-polarized voting.”

It’s sort of like litigation carpet bombing, and it done in support of the racially-driven lawsuit the ACLU is arguing on behalf of lead plaintiff and Anaheim City School District Governing Board member Jose Moreno – the goal of which is to impose on Anaheim citizens a single-member council district system for which they have not asked.

ACLU letter photoClick on the image to see the October 4 letter to City Attorney Michael Houston.

The letter from ACLU attorney Bardis Vakili claims:

“The documents identified herein are relevant to a central issue in the case – the lack of accountability of Anaheim’s city council to Anaheim’s Latino community, resulting from the continued maintenance of an at-large system after being advised that the system dilutes the vote of the Latino community.”

Like I said, from the perspective of the plaintiffs and the ACLU, this is all about the color of a person’s skin.

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Some thoughts on the ongoing debate over Anaheim’s recently adopted anti-camping ordinance.

For starters, it was good to see the City Council unanimity on the matter. This really isn’t a complicated issue: there is a homeless encampment in La Palma Park which has a deleterious effect on the life of neighboring residents and is effectively denying the use of a public park to the public.

Opponents of the ordinance criticize it by asking where the city proposes that the homeless campers go? The underlying assumption is that by squatting in a city park, homeless individuals thereby obligate the city to provide them with someplace else to live. That is a poor precedent to set.

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Jose Moreno jedi mind tricksI’ve written previously that Jose Moreno, the lead plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit seeking to impose single-member council districts on the people of Anaheim, has made no effort to shift elections to the Anaheim City School District Board of Education from at-large to the single-member districts he judges so critical to democracy.

Moreno is a member of the ACSD Governing Board of Education, and he can push to have the ACSD adopt by-district election without filing a lawsuit or going to a vote of the people.

Moreno is basically claiming the Anaheim should have more Latinos on the city council since the city’s population is 54% Latino, and citing the [intellectually dishonest] factoid that only three Latinos (or four, if one considers Lorri Galloway’s Latina blood content high enough) on the Anaheim City Council since the city’s founding.

The same conditions which Moreno deplores in the City of Anaheim are present in the Anaheim City School District. only more so.

64% of the 203,816 people who live in the ACSD are Latinos.

86.3% of ACSD students are Latino.

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OC Superior Court Judge Franz Miller was scheduled to hear City of Anaheim arguments on the Moreno V. Anaheim case being litigated by the ACLU, but all was continued to October 17 at 9:00 a.m.:

Moreno v Anaheim motion continued

Which leads us to a question to be posed yet again shortly: why hasn’t Jose Moreno, in his capacity as a member of the Anaheim City School District Board of Education, made any attempt to shift elections there from at-large to by-district?

 

Judge Franz Miller has decided to let the ACLU/Jose Moreno/Amin David lawsuit against Anaheim move forward to a March 2014 trial. He has also set an October 1 date to hear City of Anaheim motions  for a stay, dismissal or bifurcation.

The salient aspect of the lawsuit to impose single-member council districts is the overwhelming focus on race and ethnicity. It is driven by a noxious state law, the deceptively named California Voting Rights Act, that treats voters as nameless members of racial or ethnic groups rather than as individual citizens, and seeks to make racial/ethnic considerations that organizing principle for how we elect our local governments.

Proponents of single-member council districts employ a number of slogans and incantations to advance their cause of carving Anaheim up electorally based on racial/ethnic criteria, in order to achieve a desired racial/ethnic outcome.

One endlessly-repeated catchphrase is “Only three Latinos have been elected to the Anaheim City Council in the city’s 156 year history.” Here’s video of the lawsuit’s lead plaintiff, Anaheim City School District Trustee Jose F. Moreno employing it at the June 11, 2013 Anaheim City Council meeting as if it is the coup de grace that ends of debate:

[NOTE: the discussion in the first minute of the video revolves around the disagreement between former Councilman Lorri Galloway and CVRA attorney Robert Rubin – one of the lawyers arguing Moreno’s lawsuit – over whether she is a bona fide Latina.]

This claim — which is echoed ad nauseum and unthinkingly in the media — lacks credibility because it rests on the false assumption that Latinos have been a significant portion of Anaheim’s population throughout the past century-and-a-half.

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A belief that genuine representation in government is a function of ethnicity and race underlies the campaign to divide Anaheim into single-member council districts. This is obvious to anyone who has observed this issue unfold over the last year.

It is equally obvious that those leading this campaign are aware that the great majority of voters don’t like race-based policy-making and are offended by the idea of their government seeing them as white, black, Latino or Asian or whatever (not to mention these racial and ethnic classifications are increasingly meaningless in a state like California with its high rates of ethnic and racial intermarriage). That’s why you see and hear them slipping back and forth between saying the demand for single-member districts is about electing more Latinos and saying that Latinos doesn’t need to be represented by Latinos in order to be represented. This continuous shifting is politically savvy and intellectually dishonest.

Here’s an example from the June 11, 2013 Anaheim City Council meeting. Dr. Jose F. Moreno is the highly race-conscious lead plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit seeking to force single-member districts on Anaheim residents who have never asked for it. Watch as Moreno, in the space of mere seconds, takes intellectually contradictory positions on race and representation:

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Jason Young liarAnaheim Blog readers remember Jason Young, gadfly wedding videographer with a court record.

Jason is about as subtle and nuanced as a sledgehammer. Jason’s favorite tactic is accusing people of being “liars” – an interesting approach from someone convicted of burglary and identity theft.

Today, Jason unsheathed his stiletto in an attempt to slash (figuratively speaking) the newest member of the Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee, Amanda Edinger.

I’ll not link to Jason’s attempt at character assassination. He posts screenshots of some comments Mrs. Edinger has made on Facebook and uses them to falsely claim Mrs. Edinger is anti-immigrant. In other words, the guy who continually accuses other people of being liars shows himself to be exactly that: a liar.

Amanda Edinger’s comments reveal that she thinks the federal welfare state is too big and that too many people are dependent on it; that immigrants who are in this country illegally should not be given amnesty; that immigrants to this country should learn English; that the federal government should be able to control the border; that individuals should strive to be self-sufficient. All of these are views that are squarely in the mainstream of American political thought.

But Jason Young, in a deeply dishonest act, smears her as “anti-immigrant.”

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Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray

Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray

Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray has been a voice of reason and sanity on the issue of single-member council districts — which, it should be noted, would limit the representation currently enjoyed by Anaheim voters.

As it stands, every Anaheim voter gets to vote for their Mayor and for all four Councilmembers. Switching to single-member districts would limit each voter to a vote for only the mayor and the one council member elected to serve their geographic area.

Here’s Kris Murray’s op-ed that ran in yesterday’s OC Register:

Anaheim Elections: Residents, Not Special Interests, Will Determine Anaheim’s Governance

Whether you believe Anaheim should be broken into single-member council districts or that residents have the right to elect their entire City Council, the process of determining such a change matters. Both the ACLU and Mayor Tom Tait pushed for swift action to place a ballot initiative in front of Anaheim voters before the community had any opportunity to play a part in the process. As it turns out, if the council had approved the ballot initiative proposed by Mayor Tait last year to divide Anaheim into single-member districts, it would have been a violation of state law.

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Earlier this week, a commenter posted a link to this April 2, 2013 article from UnionWatch.com. It should serve as a wake up call to conservatives and those who occupy the sensible center that the drive for single-member council districts in Anaheim is not an isolated event, but part of a broader campaign for the unions and their left-wing political allies to expand their political influence in local government.

They are looking to make Anaheim their beachhead in Orange County. If Anaheim goes, next on the target list will be Orange, Fullerton, Costa Mesa, Westminster, Garden Grove, etc. Those Republicans in Anaheim and Orange County who either support single-member council districts or yawn at the prospect of them really need to wake up and smell the left-wing coffee. And those Vichy-types who want to run up the white flag because they’ve swallowed the propaganda that the ACLU lawsuit is unbeatable…well, they need to get spine-up and fight.

Here’s the article – it is a must-read:

Unions Will Control Mid-Sized Cities with California Voting Rights Act

by Kevin Dayton

Unions firmly control the political agenda in California’s largest cities, but civic leaders and citizens in some of the state’s smaller cities are still resisting the union political machine.

Some of these cities, with populations from 100,000 to 250,000, include Escondido, Oceanside, Murrieta, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Anaheim, Santa Clarita, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Clovis, Elk Grove, and Roseville. These are cities where a dominant faction of elected and appointed officials generally puts a priority on efficiently providing basic services at a reasonable cost to their citizens.

Not surprisingly, city councils in some of these cities have attempted to enact home-rule charters or have exercised rights under their home-rule charters to free themselves from costly state mandates. This greatly agitates unions, which have long worked to attain their unchecked control of the agenda at the capitol.

Union officials want California’s cities to submit fully to state laws regarding collective bargaining for public employees and government-mandated wage rates (“prevailing wages”) for construction contractors. As reported in www.UnionWatch.org throughout 2012, public employee unions and construction trade unions spent huge amounts of money to convince voters in some of these cities to reject proposed charters.

Obviously unions don’t want to spend $1 million in dozens of cities every two years to defeat proposed charters, as they did in Costa Mesa before the November 2012 election. And soon they won’t have to spend any more money.

Unions are now implementing a tactic to alter political control of these smaller cities. It is likely to succeed in turning almost every California city with a population of 100,000 or more from fiscal responsibility to “progressive” governance based on theories of social justice.

Unions and their attorneys are masters at exploiting the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to attain unrelated economic objectives that benefit unions. And now unions are using the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (Election Code Section 14025 et seq.) as a tool to ensure the adoption of union-backed public policies at local governments.

You can read the rest of the article by clicking here.

Larry Larsen is a member of the Anaheim Citizen’s Advisory Committee, to which he was appointed last year by Councilwoman Lorri Galloway (not by Tom Tait, as Gabriel San Roman of the OC Weekly erroneously reported).

I’ve attended most of the CAC meetings, which he usually sits through, sphinx-like, with the exception of using the beginning of the meeting to state how much it has cost the city to fight the ACLU litigation.

I missed last week’s CAC meeting, but watched on video as Mr. Larsen went on a noteworthy diatribe (go to the 2:02:04 mark on the video)

“There are special interests people on this committee, that do belong to special interests, and they know who they are and I know who some of them are.”

Who’s The Special Interest?
I have to imagine that one of the “special interest people” Larry Larsen was referring to was himself. Otherwise, it would be ludicrous for Mr. Larsen to wag his finger about “special interests.”  Larsen is a loyal minion of former Lorri Galloway who can be relied upon to tow the line, and a part of the special-interest coalition pushing for carving the city into eight single-member districts.

Here’s Mr. Larsen on a campaign mailer sent out last year by one of the biggest special interests aroound, the Orange County Employees Association:

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“The Orange County Labor Federation, during its last two strategic planning sessions prioritized achieving district based elections…”

OC Labor logoThat statement should be cause for alarm as the Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) winds up its work next month. As Anaheim Blog has documented, a highly-organized coalition of left-wing unions and a satellite non-profit are working every angle to carve Anaheim into eight single-member council districts, and better position themselves to enact liberal policies that diminish property rights and economic liberty.

Keep in mind that the OC Labor Federation’s point man on this issue is its political director, Julio Perez — and CAC Chair Vivian Pham was a donor to Perez’s failed 2012 Assembly campaign.

Here it is from the OC Labor Federation website:

tait portraitVivian PhamReading Matt Cunningham’s coverage of the Anaheim Citizens Advisory Committee process ought to be an eye-opener for anyone concerned about the future of our city. It has put all other media coverage combined to shame.

Sad to say, it has largely been hijacked by a confederacy of highly-organized and well-funded liberal pressure groups with direct representation on the CAC, courtesy of Mayor Tom Tait and former Councilwoman Lorri Galloway.

Take a look at the CAC Chair, Vivian Pham. When Tom Tait appointed her, she had only lived in Anaheim for two years, according to voter records sent to me.

Two years! Anaheim is more than a century-and-a-half old. The CAC is making recommendations to the City Council about how our city will be governed for the next century. And the Mayor appoints a new arrival with no understanding of the history, culture or political landscape of Anaheim? Shouldn’t that make Cynthia Ward go into “tilt” mode?

Pham is a liberal Democrat who, in her day job as a “community development officer” for Wells Fargo Bank, has shoveled almost one hundred thousand dollars into the coffers of OCCORD, the group leading the lobbying effort targeting the CAC.

Conflict, anyone?

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