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Leftist council candidate Jose F. Moreno finished a distant fourth place last week, despite the generous financial assistance of rich San Francisco Bay Area progressives. The newly-minted Democrat and Tom Tait ally declined to seek re-election to the Anaheim City School District Board off Education to make a run for the Anaheim City Council, and was the the de facto second member of the Tait Slate following Doug Pettibone’s lightning implosion. There was some speculation Moreno might make it by virtue of being the sole Democrat on the ballot with a credible campaign, combined with the $100,000 Tait Family/Ahmanson IE against Kris Murray and Gail Eastman. Moreno’s campaigned on more-or-less the same campaign themes as Tait and James Vanderbilt, but he was a left-wing proponent of color-conscious politics running in a Republican year when Anaheim’s voting electorate leaned Republican.

While Moreno’s defeat was a tactical defeat for the Left in Anaheim, passage of Measure L was a strategic victory and the most consequential result of last week’s election – not just for Anaheim, but for Orange County. The Yes on L and M campaign’s mail and ground game, funded by more than $350,000 from outside union and progressive political interests – and with support from the Tait Family Trust and Howard Ahmanson IE campaign — won a campaign based on promises of responsive government, better streets, trimmed tree and pledges of a better, brighter future for all God’s children. It reminded me of Measure W – the campaign that promised Orange Countians a huge, fabulous, world-class Orange County Great Park at no cost to taxpayers. The promises of the Measure L campaign carry the same value.

Measure L won by 37 points, but its companion initiative, Measure M, only passed by 8 points – even though the official “Yes” campaign urged voters to approve both measures.

Measures L and M results 11-10-14

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Several hundred thousand dollars have been contributed by outside organizations to ensure Anaheim voters approve Measure L, a vote to change the process for electing members to the Anaheim City Council. Does Anaheim need to elect members by district instead of at-large? (I also ask the same question regarding Measure M: Does the city council need six members instead of four?) What is the demonstrated need to switch to a different basis for electing council members? Has want been mislabeled as need?

A good reason for passing Measure L would have been that the current system for electing council members does not result in the equal distribution of city resources and services. Mayor Tait and Council Member Brandman (2014) falsely imply a disparity, writing that passing Measure L “ensures neighborhoods get their fair share of city services.” In fact, the distribution of city dollars spent per capita in Anaheim has been remarkably similar. For example, the distribution for 2012 and 2013 is almost the same (City of Anaheim Finance Department, 2013, p. 12):

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Tait and Brandman offered no substantive reason or argument in their ballot verbiage for passing Measure L. Behold the purported reasons and implications—and note the absence of a shred of evidence for their support.

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The three initiatives on Anaheim’s November ballot have been christened with their letter names:

  • Measure L: whether to replace at-large council elections with by-district elections.
  • Measure M:  whether expand the city council from four to six members.
  • Measure N:  whether to amend the “Anaheim City Charter regarding water and electric rates be amended to: update language regarding financial reserves, reaffirm and authorize the transfer of money to the City’s general fund to support general City services, remove unnecessary language that duplicates a requirement of the California Constitution, and authorize programs to assist non-residential and residential customers?”

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