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“Election season often brings out the ugliest in people. Negative attack ads and misrepresentations have become commonplace” (Orange County Register, 2014). No greater misrepresentations have been made toward opponents during this election than ones by Tom Tait, Anaheim’s mayor. Tait has indirectly accused two council members running for re-election, Gail Eastman and Kris Murray, of (a) betraying the public trust, asserting that each collected $500,000+ in campaign contributions from special interest groups, and (b) misrepresenting their voting for a subsidy to build a four-star hotel in Anaheim.

I use the word indirectly because the mailed campaign ad originated from California Homeowners Association (2014) in Willows, CA (500 miles north of Anaheim via I-5), an organization describing itself as “support[ing] fiscally responsible candidates for public office.” Ironically, this same special interest group, a PAC, has funneled $100,000 into the “attack Eastman & Murray–re-elect Tait campaign.”

False accusations. Eastman and Murray have not betrayed the pubic trust and each has not collected $500,000+ in campaign contributions—accusations by Tait for which no evidence has been presented.

Gross misrepresentation. It is common practice for cities to offer incentives to developers to build large hotels and sports stadiums. Cities contribute to a project because they want to collect millions of dollars from hotel taxes and sales taxes. The Los Angeles City Council awarded $500,000,000 in tax incentives for downtown economic development for 2015-2016 (Los Angeles Times, 2014). If the Anaheim Convention Center fails to increase its space, major conventions will meet elsewhere, as will conventions with increasing participants who previously met in Anaheim. Some organizations will meet elsewhere if Anaheim lacks sufficient rooms in first-rate hotels, ones that fulfill the needs of conventioneers (and more affluent families visiting the Disney Resort). These four-star hotels will be built eventually—in Anaheim or in a city nearly (e.g., Hyatt Regency in Garden Grove).

Gross misrepresentation. It is common practice for cities to offer incentives to developers to build large hotels and sports stadiums. Cities contribute to a project because they want to collect millions of dollars from hotel taxes and sales taxes.

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My morning cup of Newman’s Special Blend (extra bold) suddenly tasted bitter after reading the editorial on the front page of the Opinion section of Sunday’s Orange County Register (OCR). The meaning of biased and sometimes unwarranted criticism was clear: kudos to Tom Tait, Anaheim’s mayor; boos to Curt Pringle, the city’s former mayor. picket

The editorial began, “Election season often brings out the ugliest in people [and in editorials]. Negative attack ads and misrepresentations have become commonplace. . . . Local politics are often the nastiest of all. . . . Some of the most deceptive campaign efforts, misinformation and negativity this election cycle are coming from two of the county’s largest and most prominent cities: Anaheim and Irvine.“ To these distinguished sources of misinformation and negativity, I nominate the addition of the Orange County Register.

The OCR’s editorial board accuses Pringle of “running a shameful smear campaign against Mayor Tom Tait,” who is applauded for opposing the “alarmingly lucrative deals lobbied for by Pringle” [and his allies]. He is criticized for supporting a tax incentive to build a new hotel in Anaheim near Disneyland and the convention center.

In fact, more hotels are needed in Anaheim to accommodate the ever-increasing number of visitors and conventioneers. To fulfill the needs of larger organizations and associations, the convention center must grow to ensure that Anaheim is selected as the convention city instead of groups choosing cities with larger convention centers and enough hotel rooms to house participants. Building hotels and adding space to a convention center is part of economic growth. If Anaheim wants tax revenues and sales taxes from future conventions, it must add convention center space and build hotels.

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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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cater who caresFrom the beginning, CATER gadflies have scoffed at the suggestion that their legal battle — waged in partnership with liberal San Diego litigator Cory Briggs and his Inland Oversight Committee cutout – to obstruct the Anaheim Convention Center expansion would have a negative economic impact on the city. [And if it did, their attitude has been “so what?”]

It’s ironic that a group styling itself as a Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility would be so economically irresponsible.

This August 22 story in the OC Register shows CATER’s deluded attitude is…deluded, and could have cost the Anaheim Convention Center at least two major conventions:

The expansion turmoil has prompted at least one trade-group executive to says his organization would look at options to leave if the expansion doesn’t materialize.

“We’d have to assess our options and current growth. We’ve been going with the knowledge and assumption that it’d be happening,” said Adam Andersen, group show director for New Hope Natural Media, which runs the Natural Products Expo West.

NAMM’s chief echoed that sentiment:

The top executive of the National Association of Music Merchants said he is cautiously optimistic the expansion will be completed a year before NAMM’s long-term contract expires in 2018.

“We are counting on the expansion to hold us. We probably could inhale or tighten our belt for a year or two, or even three, until the expansion is completed,” said Joe Lamond, NAMM’s president and chief executive officer. NAMM is the biggest trade group to visit Anaheim’s convention center.

In the past, Lamond has said an expansion is vital to the trade show staying in Anaheim. Organizers have said the show generates $91.5 million in spending at local restaurants, hotels, and tourist attractions like Disneyland and elsewhere.

Greg Diamond de la Brea, CATER’s lawyer and gadfly fixture at Anaheim City Council meetings, intoned with ominous intent:

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Convention CenterAnaheim topped a list of most sought-after event destinations, according to a story in the Orange County Business Journal:

Anaheim and Newport Beach were among the most-sought U.S. cities for events in the past year, according to a list released by a McLean, Va.-based online database of meetings venues.

Anaheim was up seven spots to No. 25 and Newport Beach came in at No. 49, up one notch, Cvent Inc. said.

Chicago, Las Vegas and Orlando were the top three cities, based on data from the Cvent Supplier Network database.

San Diego was No. 5, besting both New York City and Washington, D.C.

You can read the entire article here.

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

convention center image

 

Expansion of Convention Center Approved

Win-Win for Anaheim

Creating New Jobs & New Revenue for City Neighborhoods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1967
The Doors, Jefferson Airplane – JULY 15
The Righteous Brothers – DECEMBER 9

1968
The Bee Gees, Vanilla Fudge & Spanky and Our Gang – JANUARY 27
Tonly Bennett, Duke Ellington – APRIL 19
Cream – MAY 17
Steppenwolf, Three Dog Night – DECEMBER 13

1969
Steve Miller Band, Three Dog Night, Buffalo Springfield – JANUARY 17
The Rascals, Bonnie & Delaney – FEBRUARY 7
Diana Ross & the Supremes – FEBRUARY 22
Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, June Carter – MARCH 1
The Cream – MARCH 22
Creedence Clearwater Revival, Grass Roots, Jeff Beck – APRIL 19
Fats Domino – JUNE 14
Joan Baez – JUNE 28
Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull – AUGUST 9
Donovan – NOVEMBER 7
Blood, Sweat and Tears – NOVEMBER 22
Joe Cocker, Grand Funk Railroad – DECEMBER 12
Ray Charles – DECEMBER 28

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

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

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

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

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

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

The editorial opines:

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

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

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

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Cory Briggs.

Cory Briggs.

Cory Briggs, via his Inland Oversight Committee, has joined with the recently-formed CATER in suing to stop the city council-approved expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center. The lawsuit will cost Anaheim money, quite possibly millions in community benefits, and certainly delay and possibly squash construction jobs for people who need them. But what’s all that balanced against the demands of a fistful of gadflies?

Briggs, as always, claims he is serving the “public interest.” But what about the interests of his clients – one of which is UNITE-HERE Local 11?

For years, UNITE-HERE has paid Briggs’ law firm for “representational activities.” UNITE-HERE is in the membership business. The more members UNITE-HERE has, the more revenue from member dues. Employees of Aramark, the sports and entertainment services company, are UNITE-HERE members. Aramark provides food service and meeting-planning services for the Anaheim Convention Center. An expanded Anaheim Convention Center booking more and bigger conventions and conferences means more members for UNITE-HERE — which could use it after Aramark lost its food service contracts with the Angels and the Honda Center last year.

So while Briggs is collecting a (modest) paycheck from UNITE-HERE Local 11, he is working with CATER to torpedo the convention center expansion that will generate more members and revenues for UNITE-HERE Local 11 – a lawsuit which certainly isn’t in its interest. Perhaps the potential payout from the lawsuit is more than the $44,746 UNITE-HERE has paid Briggs Law Corporation since 2009.

When it comes to the relationship between Anaheim gadfly group CATER and liberal litigator Cory Briggs Inland Oversight Group, it seems that one hand washes the other. Briggs’ IOC is CATER’s co-plaintiff in the lawsuit to stop the council-approved expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center.

As it turns out, CATER has joined Brigg’s legal battle against the expansion of San Diego’s convention center, which was filed at the beginning of April of this year.

On May 12, CATER and IOC filed their lawsuit against the Anaheim Convention Center expansion. Two weeks later, on May 27, CATER jumped into the San Diego Convention Center legal fight, with Greg Diamond of Brea filing an answer to a Briggs “reverse-validation complaint.” I’m not a lawyer, but a lawyer tried to explain it to me. Even though CATER is clearly allied with Briggs, it is technically a defendant in the San Diego case but it’s “answer” to ask the court to find in Brigg’s favor:

WHEREFORE, Defendant CATER prays for the following relief against Defendants City of San Diego, City of San Diego as successor agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Diego, Housing Authority of the City of San Diego, and Public Facilities Financing Authority of the City of San Diego (and any and all other parties who may oppose Defendant CATER or Plaintiff in this proceeding):

A. A judgment determining or declaring that the Bond Approvals do not comply with all applicable laws in at least some respect, rendering the Bond Approvals null and void, invalid, or otherwise without legal effect;

B. Injunctive relief prohibiting Defendants City of San Diego, City of San Diego as successor agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Diego, Housing Authority of the City of San Diego, and Public Facilities Financing Authority of the City of San Diego (and any and all other parties who may oppose Defendant CATER or Plaintiff in this proceeding) from taking any of the action contemplated by the Bond Approvals unless and until said Defendants comply with all applicable legal requirements, as determined by the Court;

C. All legal fees and other expenses incurred in connection with this proceeding, including but not limited to reasonable attorney fees as authorized by the Code of Civil Procedure; and

D. Any and all further relief that this Court may deem appropriate.

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Yesterday I referred to a July 2013 post on an Inland Empire blog reporting that at the time the Inland Oversight Committee (IOC) — CATER’s partner in suing to stop the approved Anaheim Convention Center expansion — listed a dead man, Ian Trowbridge, as it’s chairman.

As it turns out, the IOC publicly listed Mr. Trowbridge – deceased for almost a year-and-a-half – as its chairman until several days ago. Check out this June 4, 2014 snapshot of the IOC website via the Internet Wayback Machine.

IOC dead Ian Trowbridge

 

Keep in mind the CATER/IOC lawsuit was filed weeks before, on May 12. That puts the City of Anaheim in the unique position of having been jointly sued by a director of the OC Cemetery District and a group headed by a dead man.

Per the Voice of San Diego:

The website for the Inland Oversight Committee, a nonprofit from which Briggs frequently sues in San Bernardino County, posts Briggs’ law office as its contact address. The website lists someone named Anthony Kim as the organization’s legal adviser. Kim is an attorney in Briggs’ office. The website also names Ian Trowbridge, a San Diegan and a Briggs ally, as the group’s chairman. Trowbridge died more than a year ago. Since Trowbridge’s death, Briggs has sued at least nine times on the group’s behalf.

Sometime during the last two weeks, Brigg’s Inland Oversight Committee changed the chairman listing to “SD Fraker.” 

I suppose it’s metaphoric that CATER, after inviting this legal vampire into Anaheim, finds itself teamed with the undead.

I thought I’d share this May 27, 2014 Voice of San Diego article on Cory Briggs, the left-wing ambulance chaser working hand-in-glove with CATER to stop the council-approved expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center:

Cory Briggs, the attorney who helped end the political career of Bob Filner, wants to stop a lot of other things in San Diego, too.

Like an expansion of the city’s Convention Center. And a half-dozen new neighborhood libraries and refurbished fire stations. And even a Jack in the Box drive-thru in North Park. All told, Briggs’ lawsuits are tying up more than $2 billion in projects across San Diego. No one paralyzes City Hall’s ability to do anything more than him, City Councilman Scott Sherman said.

“People are just scared to death Cory Briggs is going to sue over something,” Sherman said.

In fact, Briggs instills the same fear in politicians and developers all across Southern California. No attorney sues under the state’s main environmental quality law more than him.

These lawsuits all tend to follow a formula: A local City Council approves a big-box development, like a Wal-Mart. A nonprofit with a watchdoggy name sues, with Briggs as its attorney. The developer settles the case and pays Briggs for his trouble. It’s often unclear who is against the project other than Briggs himself.

It’s a fascinating article, and you can read the whole thing here.

Given how closely CATER works with Briggs and his front non-profit Inland Oversight Committee; and given that Cynthia Ward and other allies of Mayor Tait established CATER for the express purpose of filing such lawsuits, one has to wonder if it wasn’t Cory Briggs who gave them the idea to start CATER.

Anaheim Insider here.

At the end of Tuesday’s Anaheim City Council meeting, City Attorney Michael Houston reported out actions taken during closed session.

With respect to closed session item number 1, “CATER et al versus Anaheim Public Financing Authority .” the City Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency and the Anaheim Public Financing Authority met in joint closed session and by a vote of 4 to 1, with the Mayor voting “no,” approval was given to defend litigation entitled “CATER and IOC, or Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility and the Inland Oversight Committee, v. the Anaheim Public Financing Authority et al,” with respect to an action alleging that actions taken on May 11 relating to the issuance of bonds violated various provisions of the California Constitution and the City Charter.

So, Mayor Tait voted against defending his city from a lawsuit filed by the non-profit arm of his re-election campaign. Why? Maybe the Mayor can explain at the next council meeting why he doesn’t won’t a fight a bogus lawsuit that is seriously jeopardizing the Anaheim Convention Center’s ability to keep its biggest convention, NAMM, and sign other big conferences like the American Heart Association.

On the other hand, Tait joined the rest of the council in voting to defend the city from OCCORD’s lawsuit against the May 2103 economic assistance agreements with the GardenWalk Hotels. Why one and not the other?

 

The OC Register reports Anaheim came in 6th on Expo magazine’s Top 10 list of places to host a trade show:

Anaheim may rank as the sixth-best city to host trade shows in the country now. But 10 years ago, the city wouldn’t have even made the top 10 list.

Expo Magazine ranked the top 10 cities for its April edition by surveying 126 trade show managers about their preferred destinations. Anaheim tied for sixth place, alongside Philadelphia. Las Vegas ranked first, while Phoenix was second.

But the magazine went a step further by taking a look back, asking how those managers would have responded in 2004. Anaheim wasn’t listed. Still, Las Vegas was on top, even a decade ago.

A lot has happened in 10 years around the Anaheim Convention Center, which is the largest on the West Coast with about 1 million square feet. While Disney California Adventure opened across the street in 2001, the theme park didn’t really take off until a $1 billion makeover was completed in 2012 with the debut of Cars Land.

In January 2013, the Convention Center stretched its gathering space outdoors with the Grand Plaza, where concerts are held and attendants hang out.

Next up is a 200,000-square-foot expansion, which the City Council approved in March. Also, at least 14 new hotel projects are underway in the area.

You can read the rest here.

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Liberal San Diego litigator Cory Briggs

Liberal San Diego litigator Cory Briggs

In his May 16 letter to the City of Anaheim, Greg Diamond of Brea – the “government accountability attorney” who represents his buddies from CATER – explains the secretive group’s lawsuit against the Anaheim Convention Center expansion “largely follows the reasoning sent to the City Council prior to its vote by Cory Briggs, Counsel for our Co-Plaintiff…” 

That’s helpful because CATER, self-proclaimed champions of transparency that they are, haven’t released their lawsuit to the public for whom they claim to be fighting. So if the public wants to have some inkling of the grounds on which CATER is driving up the cost of a Convention Center expansion they profess to support, they’ll have find their way to Diamond’s May 15 post on Orange Juice Blog. That’s a tall order since very few Anaheim residents have ever heard of Orange Juice Blog (lucky devils). Transparency in action – CATER-style!

In the sentence quoted above, Diamond pontificates about Brigg’s communication to the City Council, which he says “the City Council chose to ignore in approving the bonds without a legally mandated vote of the electorate.”

Diamond is talking about an e-mail Briggs sent to the Anaheim City Council. And when did councilmembers receive this warning they “chose to ignore”? At 3:06 p.m. on March 11 – a few minutes after the council convened for its workshop on the Convention Center expansion, prior to going straight into regular session.

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Anaheim Insider here.

Let’s begin  with the self-evident: stopping the Anaheim Convention Center expansion makes it harder (if not impossible) for Anaheim to compete-for and retain top tier conventions. Without the conventions, Anaheim hotels go unfilled. When the hotels are empty, local restaurants and tourism-dependent business suffer and close.

So then why does CATER seem so insistent on shutting this project down? They parade a list of obscure reasons but as far as I can tell it boils down to this: a small group of people without any background in public finance, public administration or with any credentials qualifying them as experts on multi-million dollar finance deals decided they didn’t like it.

Why don’t they like it? I suppose we should ask Mayor Tait or his handler. It seems this is just another part of the apparent War on Tourism launched in the last year or so.

Convention Center expansion: No.
Luxury Hotels: No.
Transportation projects for Anaheim: No.
Negotiations with the Angels: No.

Disneyland and the Ducks remain the only targets they haven’t attacked…yet. How long before that changes?

Complementing the preceding chorus of “Noes,” I have yet to see any action from the Mayor and CATER in support of Anaheim’s tourism industry or expanding Anaheim’s most critical source of general fund financing.

Why would these folks oppose Anaheim’s most important industry? Why would they try to hamstring expansion? Why would they seemingly take every step possible to hamper the expansion of Anaheim’s tax base? To undermine the city’s ability to provide services for residents?

Theories are welcome, because logic doesn’t apply.

From Bloomberg News:

Citigroup Inc. terminated a deal to purchase $265 million of revenue bonds from Anaheim,California, after opponents sued over plans to expand the city’s convention center, a city spokeswoman said.

Citigroup was the lead underwriter on the bonds offered March 24, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The bonds were rated AA- by Standard & Poor’s, according to a disclosure document. The deal was set to close May 14.

A local group that calls itself the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility filed the suit May 12, alleging that the public financing authority wasn’t allowed to offer the debt because California lawmakers dissolved redevelopment agencies, one of which was a member of the financing authority.

“Unfortunately, the originally targeted investors were not willing to accept the litigation risk and chose not to proceed even though the city, the city attorney and bond counsel were of the opinion that such litigation would not likely succeed,” Anaheim spokeswoman Ruth Ruiz said by e-mail.

Scott Helfman, a spokesman for Citigroup, declined to comment on the termination.

The city council in March approved the funding and plans to build a 200,000-square-foot expansion of the convention center, which is less than two miles south of the city’s star attraction, Disneyland.

Proceeds from a 2 percent hotel room tax were to pay for the bonds.

Ruiz said city officials are trying to determine if they can move forward with the project.

“It is unfortunate that a few local activists, in contradiction to the overwhelming community support shown at the council meeting where the bonds were authorized, have taken legal action against this project,” she said.

Ms. Ruiz is exactly right, although I’m sure Cynthia Ward and her little band of mystery members are pleased with themselves.

Ward, Brian Chuchua and their consigliere from Brea have cost Anaheim jobs. They have also cost the city money for parks, a new fire station and other civic improvements because the cost of the next financing deal will escalate. Bully for them.

Amazing how a group that bills itself as supporting “economic responsibility” in reality does everything in its power to undermine the city’s economic development efforts, fueled by an irrational hostility toward the council majority.

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