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This week, the Orange County Register (OCR, 2014) endorsed the re-election of Tom Tait as Anaheim’s mayor, calling him the “best [candidate] to lead the city.” Examining the rationale presented in its endorsement, however, I found little to justify the paper’s support.

The OCR cited Tait’s quelling anger and potential violence following riots during 2012 and supporting citizens’ oversight of the city’s police department.

t8The paper applauded Tait’s “dissenting voice,” a council member who consistently votes no “on numerous issues.” It cited Tait as the only council member to oppose a tax incentive to build a hotel near Disneyland and the city’s convention center.

Voting to approve a tax incentive to developers is not unusual, so voting no is not necessarily a virtue. The Los Angeles City Council awarded $500,000,000 in tax incentives for downtown economic development for 2015-2016 (Los Angeles Times, 2014).

Whether to offer a tax incentive depends on several factors; for example, (a) the need for a hotel that satisfies current convention needs and its potential to attract larger future conventions, (b) the return on investment that taxpayers would receive by building a hotel, and, most important, (c) whether not offering an incentive means not building a hotel and losing tax revenues. Tait’s vote seems like a no vote without consideration of positive aspects of providing a tax incentive.

Yes, Tait talks about transparency (endlessly), but the OCR did not cite any evidence of increased governmental transparency in Anaheim since he has been mayor. Transparency was confused with Tait’s rigidity and public comments that torpedoed the city’s negotiations with the Angels. And there is a difference between publicly discussing unfunded pension liabilities and solving this problem.

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How important to Mayor Tait is re-signing the Anaheim Angels for 20+ years? For members of the Anaheim City Council and the Angels, negotiations to achieve a new lease agreement have not been a surprise. Let’s review Tait’s substantive comments about the lease in his State of the City addresses since 2011.

January 2011: Zilch.

ttJanuary 2012: The Angels signed two new players–Albert Pujols and pitcher C. J. Wilson. I know I’m not the only one in the room who is excited for spring training.

February 2013: I’d like to join Angels Baseball in welcoming Josh Hamilton to Anaheim. . . . He joins a stellar line up, including the American League Rookie of the Year, Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols.

January 2014: Even though we didn’t make the playoffs, the team drew more than 3 million fans and provided plenty of excitement. One highlight . . . was Mike Trout hitting for the cycle.

No doubt about it: Mayor Tait’s highest priority has been effecting a new lease agreement between the city and the Angels—and the reason he pitches this topic during each annual State of the City speech.

—Hugh Glenn

Angel_Stadium_of_Anaheim

This came over the transom yesterday from Councilwoman Lucille Kring, responding to Mayor Tom Tait’s October 2 op-ed in the OC Register:

It’s About Leadership

By Councilwoman Lucille Kring

City of Anaheim

Leadership – that is what you expect from a mayor of a major city. But Tom Tait, in his opinion column of Oct. 2, 2014, “We need to keep Angels, but deal shouldn’t ding taxpayers” shows that he is not capable of anything but rhetoric meant to shift blame and obscure the facts.

Read again Tait’s words from his own opinion column. You will see some odd things:

• He takes no responsibility for the Angels looking to relocate outside of Anaheim, he blames others;
• He never outlines a plan to keep the Angels in Anaheim, but instead implies that he is the only one on the City Council looking out for the taxpayers’ interests;
• He never suggests that he will build consensus with his colleagues, rather he suggests that the council majority should have done a deal with the Angels without him; and
• He uses this op-ed as a way to insulate himself from criticism that will come in the election.

These are not words from a leader, but words from a politician looking to avoid blame.

Here are some REAL facts:

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Anaheim Insider here.

Last night, Mayor Tom Tait held up the latest of the ads that the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce-led “Keep the Angels” coalition has been running. He complained these ads are causing Anaheim voters to blame him for the distinct possibility the Angels will leave Anaheim:

Incredible. Month after month, since the City Council approved the Angels MOU in September of last year, at any forum or gathering that would have him, Mayor Tait has assailed his colleagues for “giving away” the land around the stadium, and attacked the Angels for trying to take advantage of Anaheim taxpayers. His allies among the gadflies and at the Voice of OC echoed and amplified his attacks. Tait and his surrogates have spent the better part of year giving Anaheim residents the impression that the council majority is hell-bent on “giving away” the stadium district to Art Moreno with his connivance. The fruit of Tait’s PR offensive is the Angels have one foot out the door. Voters are making the connection and now Tait is blaming that on a few newspaper ads instead of his own words and actions for the past year.

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This mailer from the Lucille Kring for Mayor campaign began landing in voters mailboxes yesterday: 

King Angels hit on Tait 10-7-14_Page_1

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Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray was featured on this ABC-7 Eyewitness News story from yesterday:

Murray on KABC-TV re Angels 9-30-14

 

End of the day, this story hurts, rather than helps, Tait. To the extent news coverage of Angels negotiations has focused on the mayor, it has been on his vocal criticism of what has been represented (inaccurately) to an Angels demand for the right to develop part of the stadium district for a $1 annual lease payment. After a year of that, the coverage has now shifted to the Angels responding by terminating negotiations and looking to move to Tustin or elsewhere. 

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Anaheim Councilwoman Lucille Kring

Anaheim Councilwoman Lucille Kring

Anaheim Insider here.

The gloves are really off now.

Lucille Kring unleashed a broadside on Friday against Tom Tait after the Angels informed the City they were terminating negotiations on the MOU. She told the LA Times:

“Mayor Tait seems bent on driving the Angels out in order to demolish the stadium and make a quick buck on more generic development. I wonder if the residents of Brooklyn are glad that they have high-density apartments instead of Ebbets Field and the Dodgers.”

She followed up by blasting out an e-mail blasting Tait for alienating the Angels:

Enough is Enough!

A Failure of Leadership

Dear ___,

Yesterday the City of Anaheim received a letter from the American League Division Champion Angels Baseball organization saying that they were electing to terminate the Stadium Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as well as negotiations with the City of Anaheim. (View Letter)
l am at a loss to express my disappointment other than to say that this represents a total lack of leadership on the part of our current Mayor, Tom Tait.

As the Angels’ letter points out, the MOU was meant to be a starting point in the negotiations process. And yet, time and time again I have listened to the Mayor tell the media and our residents misleading information.

Mayor Tait has characterized the MOU as everything from a nefarious plot to bilk the City out of money to a sneaky attempt to giveaway the City’s biggest asset. Is it any wonder the Angels no longer want to continue this process?

For shame Mr. Mayor, for shame.

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As jubilant Angel players prepare for the playoffs and a hoped for appearance in the 2014 World Series, team owner, Arte Moreno, nixed further negotiations with the Anaheim City Council that would keep the team in Anaheim. Particularly now, fans do not welcome considering the possibility of losing the team to Tustin or any other city.

The yearlong impasse between the Council and Moreno has been detrimental to both parties. Moreno doesn’t need three more years to decide whether to stay or move his mega-moneymaker and the city’s mega tax generator. Regrettably, both sides neglect consideration of inveterate fans and their passionate investment in the Angels. Conspicuously absent is love of the game, so poignantly evidenced this week in every ballpark within which Derek Jeter appeared.

Moreno recently expressed a feigned caring for Angel fans to a Los Angeles Times’ reporter: “I’m very emotionally tied to the fans and the players.” In fact, Moreno cares much more about how much money the team will balloon his wallet: “I learned a long time ago there is no sentiment in it. . . . At the end of the day, it is business.” The Council, particularly Mayor Tait, shares Moreno’s penchant for money, wanting a bigger cut for the city of the revenue generated by the Angels and the future development of land juxtaposed to Angel Stadium.

Are Council members ready, particularly Tait, to permit Moreno to walk off, a losing decision for Anaheim? Local taxpayers would foot the bill to raze an outdated stadium—and a city treasury would never see millions of dollars in new tax revenue. The question to answer is whether the Anaheim City Council will give Moreno the contract he wants so he stays or continues the stalemate too long—and Moreno takes his ball and glove to get richer somewhere else. What would happen if Tait and others were to remain steadfast for a bigger piece of the Angel financial pie than Moreno is willing to serve?

A study by CSL (2012) quantified the financial benefits to Anaheim resulting directly from Angels baseball. The failure to extend the team’s contract through 2036 assures the loss to the city of $3,000,000 in net new cumulative spending. And approximately 2,500 full-time jobs would end along with $4,700,000 annually in cumulative taxes and other direct revenues. Moreover, 88% of persons who buy Angel tickets do not live in Anaheim (CSL, 2012, p. 4).

There is enough pie to divide between Moreno and Anaheim so that he and the city feel financially sated. If time runs out, Anaheim is the big and permanent loser.

Source:

Conventions, Sports & Leisure International (CSL). (2012). Economic Impact          Study of Angels Baseball. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/pe8nfqb

 —Hugh Glenn

keep the angels_logoLos Angeles Times sports columnist published a great column this Sunday, opining that helping secure an agreement to keep the Angels in Anaheim would be a fitting legacy as Bud Selig’s term as baseball commissioner comes to an end:

We are 10 days shy of the one-year anniversary of what appeared to be the resolution, a tentative agreement in which Moreno would pay for the estimated $150 million in Angel Stadium renovations and would get the right to try to make his money back from developing the surrounding parking lot, at no cost to the city of Anaheim.

Mayor Tom Tait objected, saying the parking lot was too valuable to lease to Moreno at $1 per year. A subsequent appraisal commissioned by the city valued that land at $225 million.

But the appraisal also valued the land at up to $325 million if the stadium were demolished, and Moreno was agitated that the city would assess that option if it were intent on keeping the team.

There have been no negotiations since the appraisal was released in May, and the Angels have considered sites in Tustin and Irvine, with the Tustin site currently considered the most feasible alternative.

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The Ministry of Truth was one of four government bureaucracies that rule fictional Oceania in George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 – the propaganda arm of Ingsoc; its job to twist stated reality to suit the extant needs of the Party.

The full-page political advertisement purchased by CATER in yesterday’s Anaheim Bulletin ad embodies the spirit of the Ministry of Truth, from the “Stop Lying” headline down through the catalog of straw man arguments rolled out by these gadflies:

Ignorance is Strength

Ignorance is Strength

The “Stop Lying” logo is, ironically, more accurately directed at the authors of this ad. Let’s start with the headline:

“The Truth About The Angel Stadium Deal”

The truth is there is no Angel Stadium deal. There is only a non-binding MOU that establishes a framework for the negotiations between the city and the Angels. CATER’s claim that there is an “Angel Stadium Deal” is an untruth.

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The “Keep the Angels” campaign has taken out a series of full-page ads in the Anaheim Bulletin, making the case for the city and the Angels to conclude a deal that keeps the team in Anaheim, rebuilds the city-owned stadium at no cost to taxpayers and generates economic activity on dormant city-owned stadium land.

Last week’s ad was a trip down memory lane to the 1990s, when the Los Angeles Rams left Anaheim for St. Louis:

Keep the Angels rams ad

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“Keep the Angels” has been running a series of full-sized ads on the back page of the Anaheim Bulletin. The first two were open letters to Angels owner Arte Moreno spelling out their appreciation for everything the team does for the community — economic activity, charitable support and involvement, civic pride — and the third focused on the indelible role Angels baseball has played in Anaheim’s history.

The fourth ad lays out to very different futures for the stadium and the community, depending on whether or not the city is successful in negotiating an agreement to keep the team in town:

Keep The Angels Ad 2 paths

 

A great ad that cleanly and simply delineates the choice facing the Anaheim.

A group of more than 20 Anaheim business leaders are signing on to an open letter to the Angels, pledging their support for the team and appealing to owner Arte Moreno to keep the Angels in Anaheim. The letter, which will be published as a full-page newspaper ad, was organized by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce. The OC Register published a story yesterday about the business leaders’ appeal:

The letter, written by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce and obtained Tuesday by the Register before it was sent to Moreno, asked the team to push for the same bargaining framework that was approved as a “starting point” when negotiations for a new lease at Angel Stadium began last September.

As bargaining dragged on, the team has since reached out to Tustin officials and the developers of the Great Park in Irvine to discuss possibly building a new stadium in those areas.

“The Angels are Anaheim’s team, which we gratefully and willingly share with all of Orange County and the rest of the Southland,” stated a draft of the letter circulated to the local business leaders.

“That is why we are so troubled by the breakdown in negotiations between the city and the Angels which has compelled you to look at other cities in Orange County and relocate the team,” the letter continued. “We want you to know that the destructive politics of City Hall that have driven you to this point do not reflect the will of the Anaheim community.”

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john phillipsAM790 conservative talk radio host and OC Register opinion columnist penned a column for the editorial pages today calling on the Anaheim City Council to approve a deal with the Angels along the lines of the negotiation framework approved last September. Here’s an excerpt from his column:

Fast forward to today, the stadium is 18 years older and is estimated to need up to $150 million in additional capital improvements. The Angels and Anaheim have been negotiating a new lease for three years. During this time frame, under the current mayor and city council, the city has had four different city managers. So far the city has spent more than $325,000 on various studies and appraisals.

As part of this process we’ve learned that the Angels have pledged to assume 100 percent of the responsibility for needed capital improvements in exchange for the ball club garnering the rights to develop a portion of the parking lot for commercial purposes. But the city would potentially be giving up ticket revenue and parking revenue, among other considerations.

In my opinion, even with trade-offs, this is a huge win for taxpayers. The honest truth is the city doesn’t have $150 million laying around to fix the stadium on its own. But if this proposal is adopted, the stadium gets fixed and the city doesn’t have to touch a dime from the general fund. Plus, if the development turns out to be a bust, taxpayers won’t take a bath because all of the risk would be assumed by the Angels.

It’s a good column that puts the issue in perspective, and you can read the whole thing here.

john phillipsAnaheim Insider here.

John Phillips, host of a mid-day conservative talk radio show on AM790, took aim at Mayor Tom Tait on Tuesday, hammering him over the Angels negotiations. Phillips also spent part of the segment interviewing Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray. He tried to draw her into joining him in slamming the mayor. Murray didn’t take the bait and stuck to her message of finalizing a deal based on the negotiation MOU (although that didn’t stop Phillips from continuing to swing away at the mayor).

Readers can listen to a podcast of the segment.

 

Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray

Anaheim Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray

On Friday, Mayor Pro Tem Kris Murray spoke out strongly on the city-commissioned appraisal in particular and the state of negotiations with the Angels in general, making it clear there is a deal at

“We have the framework in front of us that keeps the team in Anaheim, renovates an old stadium, and doesn’t impact our taxpayers. It’s time to get a deal done that’s real, with real benefits.”

That struck a nerve with blogger Mat Gleason, who blogs Halos Heaven as “Rev Halofan.” Yesterday, he published an earnest post in which he vividly expressed his response:

Anaheim Rep Kris Murray Fights to Keep Angels

Someone Finally Stands Up To Mayor Tom Tait

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait had been waiting for his big blockbuster report to be assembled. He was going to show us. He had a formula to measure value and it was all in simplistic dollar signs and wow did he ever show us.

Tom Tait’s commissioned appraisal of the value of the land on which Anaheim Stadium sits has been delivered. To nobody’s surprise the land is worth more as a piece of dirt ($325 Million) than with the stadium and surrounding development ($225 Million).

Arte Moreno basically transformed the Angels franchise into an economic powerhouse that benefits the City of Anaheim as well as the quality of life to the surrounding area. As a reward for a job well done and a commitment to the region, the City council had offered Moreno the land to develop for a dollar a year rent provided he assume all costs of maintaining the land and stadium – costs which the city now assume.

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

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

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

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

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The second of the city’s community forums on the Angels negotiations is tonight from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Anaheim Convention Center, 800 W. Katella Avenue. It will be in the arena, just as before.

Parking is free. And here is a link to the Power Point presentation given at the January 16 forum by Tom Morton, the city’s Director of Convention Center, Sports and Entertainment.

Although it is officially a two hour forum, the last one wrapped up at 7:00 p.m., so if you’re planning to go, don’t dawdle.

 

Rick Reiff hosted Mayor Tom Tait and Councilwoman Kris Murray on his “SoCal Insider” program (which airs on PBS SoCal) this week:

SoCal Insider tait murray

Among other things here, the claim is made that the council majority took away the mayor’s power to place items on the council agenda. That’s just false. The mayor has the same ability as anyone else to agendize items: during council communications.

Lost in all the hair-pulling and garment-rending over this issue, amidst all the absurd claims that the mayor’s office is being stifled, is this inconvenient truth: the mayor’s office has only had the power to agendize items in between council meetings since spring of 2012 – when the council approved it. Keep in mind that was in the wake of the GardenWalk vote when Murray, Gail Eastman and Harry Sidhu were being vilified by the OCEA, OCCORD and the backers of the “Take Back Anaheim” initiative that Mayor Tait was strongly supporting.

Neither Curt Pringle nor Tom Daly had this power during their tenures as mayor. Mayor Tait himself has said he has rarely used this power. At some point, it might occur to some journalist somewhere to ask the obvious question: how is the newly-minted, rarely-used prerogative critical to the functioning of Anaheim city government? But who am I to point out the obvious questions?

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Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray

Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray

From the OC Register:

Councilwoman Calls for Citizen Oversight on Stadium Negotiations

ANAHEIM – Councilwoman Kris Murray said she will call Tuesday for the creation of a citizen task force to help renegotiate a stadium lease aimed at keeping the Angels in Anaheim through 2057.

Murray and three other City Council members voted last month to delay the baseball team’s option to leave Anaheim to 2019 from 2016 while publicly outlining a series of negotiating points. Mayor Tom Tait, who voted against the deal, said that creating a citizen oversight panel at this point is “too little, too late.”

“It could not be more relevant to have full transparency so our residents know the benefits of the stadium as we enter negotiations with the Angels,” Murray said. “This will allow them to weigh the benefits of any agreement before it’s brought back to the City Council for approval.”

An Angels spokesman declined to comment.

It’s unclear how many people Murray would have serve on her Anaheim Citizens Task Force on Community Benefits, which would review plans that could allow the Angels to lease the city-owned parking lot surrounding the stadium for $1 annually over 66 years. In turn, team owner Arte Moreno would have the right to develop the property and ask the city for tax subsidies to help fund construction. Any profits could go toward stadium improvements.

You can read the rest of the story here.

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