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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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This came over the transom from the City of Anaheim:


ANAHEIM, Calif. (July 21, 2014) – Anaheim residents can look forward to nearly 100 capital improvement projects for 2014/15. As part of the City of Anaheim’s $1.6 billion approved budget for this fiscal year, the City is committed to the community and improving its neighborhoods and infrastructure.

Capital improvements projects include:

• Anaheim Convention Center
• Community and Economic Development
• Electric
• Libraries
• Parks
• Sewer and Storm Drains
• Streets
• Transit
• Water

Highlights include:

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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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On the Anaheim City Council’s agenda on September 24 was some good news amidst all the usual unpleasantness: the creation of Miraloma Park and Community Center. The city had its eye on a commercial property for some time, and moved to purchase it when it became available. According to the staff report, amenities will include:

Miraloma Park and Community Center in the City of Anaheim consisting of re-purpose the existing 4,312-square-foot building to create a Silver-level, LEED-certified community center with a multi-purpose room, classrooms, counseling offices, a kitchen, restrooms, a computer center, and a lounge. The project will also include a perimeter loop trail, a sloping skate plaza, an outdoor classroom plaza, a picnic and BBQ area, a multi-court/events plaza, an interactive water feature, a variety of play areas, native gardens, a vertical garden wall, storm/bio swales, solar canopies and a parking area.


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I posted last week about the city’s report regarding the distribution of city services – a critical issue because a central contention of single-member council district advocates is that the flatlands are short-changed, an alleged situation that single-member districts will supposedly remedy (see the Magic Single-Member District Unicorn). Radical community group OCCORD has been the chief proponent of this view, even putting out a study purporting to rove this disparity.

Here’s a video clip from that August 13 council meeting in which Councilwoman Kris Murray engages staff in an illuminating exchange comparing the city’s study with the problematic OCCORD document:

This came over the transom yesterday from Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray:

Anaheim to Pursue Quality Rental Housing Program

City Committed to Ensuring Quality of Life for Most Vulnerable Residents

Just this week, Prevention Magazine listed Anaheim as 4th among the 25 Happiest, Healthiest Cities in America – ranking above Honolulu, Hawaii! Prevention Magazine evaluated 100 of the Nation’s largest cities based on 48 measures of health, happiness, and well-bring to find the healthiest, happiest cities in America. Their findings were based on well-researched facts, including access to green space, farmers’ markets, levels of disease, unemployment rates, and crime statistics.

Anaheim is a beautiful city with many wonderful attributes that reflect years of thoughtful planning and compassionate leadership – but there is still much work to be done to address some real challenges. Unfortunately, there are many residents in our community living in deplorable, substandard housing conditions. These residents are hardworking individuals and families being taken advantage of by disreputable landlords and left to live in dangerous conditions that violate state and city health and safety codes.

Housing6A year ago, I joined Code Enforcement staff to inspect a one-bedroom housing unit occupied by a family of eight after a complaint was filed by neighbors. The conditions we witnessed were so terrible and dangerous that the building had to be yellow-tagged meaning that no one could occupy it until repairs were made. This family is just one of many in our community living in conditions that include vermin infestations, crumbling walls, damaged stairways and ceilings, exposed electrical wires, mold, and much, much more.

Over the past year, I’ve worked with community leaders and city staff to draft an Anaheim Quality Rental Housing program to improve the quality of living of all Anaheim residents. Yesterday, the City Council held a public workshop, where staff presented the details of the proposed program. If approved by the Council, this program will give city Code Enforcement the tools they need to protect residents and would be fully funded through minimal fees paid by rental property owners. This program would include new resources for the City to work with property owners, including:

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A significant but overlooked on last week’s Anaheim City Council agenda was a report on the distribution of core city services throughout Anaheim.

I say significant because a core contention of the left-wing coalition pushing for single-member council districts is that East Anaheim receives a disproportionate share of city services and amenities, and that the Flatlands — especially Latino areas — are getting short-changed. This imbalance was the major underlying factor for the “unrest” in July 2012 (along with “racist cops” running around “murdering” innocent Latino males minding there own business in stolen cars or playing look-out for illegal gun deals, to listen to Genevieve Huizar, Donna Acevedo and their apologists).

Single-member council districts will magically remedy solve alleged imbalance, according to advocates of thus carving up the city. This was the mantra parroted month after month, over and over and over again by OCCORDites, UNITE-HERE members and pother assorted of this coalition at meetings of the Citizens Advisory Committee and City Council. These folks adhere to the strange theory that severing any ballot-box accountability between all councilmembers (save one) and voters in a particular council district will somehow make those councilmembers more responsive to the needs of that district. [Hey, I’m just presenting their thinking; I don’t claim it makes sense.]

The report prepared by city staff cuts the leg out from under that “the flatlands are short-changed” myth. If anything, it shows the opposite is true — an inconvenient reality for the pro-single member council districts side.

Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray’s most recent e-newsletter sums up the report’s findings:

Anaheim has emerged from a lasting recession with a stronger, sustainable economic climate due to years of innovative planning and significant private sector investments that enabled the City to hit the ground running as the state and national economies recovered. This past fiscal year, the City Council adopted a balanced budget, restored city cash reserves, and invested in core city services across all neighborhoods. The financial health of our city is a direct reflection of the strength of Anaheim’s business climate and economic growth. The nexus is clear – a strong economy grows city revenue that is reinvested into our communities. This is great news for all of Anaheim!

At last night’s council meeting, City staff presented a report on the allocation of core services to each of Anaheim’s Neighborhood Council Districts: West, Central, South, and East. The report included day-to-day costs of services such as police and fire protection, library programs, and street and park maintenance; as well as investments being made by the City’s Capital Improvement Program into community amenities and infrastructure such as parks, libraries, and community centers.

The report found that the proportion of each neighborhood’s costs are closely related to the size of its population and that investments being made through the Capital Improvement Program demonstrate a true commitment to our most distressed neighborhoods of West and Central Anaheim.

I hope you will take a moment to review the charts and graphs below that illustrate the distribution of city resources within our community.

Core Services Funded by the General Fund for FY 2013/2014

Summary Results of the Report

Summary results table

 Total Net Cost by Neighborhood

total net cost by neighborhood

Per Capita Net Cost by Neighborhood

Per capita cost by neighborhood

Capital Improvement Projects by Neighborhood

In addition to the programs and services covered by the General Fund, investments are being made into improving community amenities and building new neighborhood facilities in our city. Oftentimes these capital improvement projects have one-time costs and are funded by restrictive grants and developer fees – not the General Fund. Therefore it is important to also consider these investments being made through the City’s Capital Improvement Program when considering the distribution of resources into our city’s neighborhoods.

Investments in Community Amenities from 2005-2012

Investments in amenities

 Investments Anticipated over the Next Five Years

anticipated investments

Note: While the report included all areas of the City, it did exclude services provided to the Resort in an effort to avoid distorting analysis of the services provided to residents of the South neighborhood. The report also excluded projects and programs funded by outside restricted funds and special assessments.

The charts and graphs above have been pulled directly from the Budgeted Costs for Core Services by Neighborhood report prepared by the City of Anaheim Finance Department. To read the full report, click here.

Best regards,

Kris Murray
Council Member
City of Anaheim

I have no illusions any of this information will matter to those for whom the campaign for single-member council districts is about trying to elect liberal Democrats to the Anaheim City Council to push for liberal policies that are being stymied by the present Republican majority.

Is there anything that the “two Anaheims” crowd will not transmogrify into a racial issue? After reading yesterday’s Voice of OC story on the budgeted funds to renovate the Anaheim Tennis Center, it would seem the answer is “No.”

According to the Voice of OC, there is “outrage” in Anaheim that the proposed city budget includes $6.4 million for improvements to the Anaheim Tennis Center, which is adjacent to Boysen Park in the flatlands of central Anaheim.

Why the outrage over the city investing money into improving a city-owned recreation center in the flatlands? Haven’t the city’s left-wing activist elements been alleging that Anaheim Hills gets all the goodies and the Flatlands get zip?

Little Peoples Park

Little Peoples Park

The “outrage” is that the budget doesn’t (according to the article) funding for Little People’s Park, a 1-acre playground near downtown. And now that the Anaheim Left has revived Little People’s Park as an icon of alleged Latino repression (due to a rock-throwing incident with the Anaheim police in 1978), what we have now is an attempt to turn Tennis Center funding into a racial issue.

The article claims Latinos are “outraged,” and quotes two Latino activists to prove it.

There’s the underlying assumption in the article — spoken and unspoken — and that tennis is a white person’s game, and not for Latinos. Isn’t that an example of racial stereotyping?

“I don’t know anybody that plays tennis,” said Marisol Ramirez, a 21-year-old resident of west Anaheim. 

Well, that settles it. Yank the funding!

council district unicornRamirez continues:

“If they would have approved district elections, then we would have a better sense of our priorities in each of the districts.”

The Voice of OC article fails to mention that Ramirez is on the Board of Directors of OCCORD, which is leading the political push for single-member council districts along with its parent organization UNITE-HERE Local 11. So it’s not exactly surprising Ms. Ramirez would use this invented controversy as an opportunity to pitch OCCORD’s pet political project.

It’s not until the 15th paragraph of the article that we come across this rather important bit of information: the funding for these renovations can’t be spent on Little People’s Park:

[City of Anaheim spokesperson Ruth Ruiz] said funding for the tennis center improvements and those for Ponderosa Park come from the Platinum Triangle development and are to be specifically used for improvements that are geographically close to the Platinum Triangle.

“These funds cannot be shifted to projects outside the sphere of the Platinum Triangle development area,” Ruiz wrote in an email to Voice of OC. “As with a lot of projects in the CIP [capital improvements program] their inclusion in the CIP is not an automatic guarantee those projects will be built in a certain budget year.”

Since the article is ostensibly about funding for Tennis Center improvements, shouldn’t that key information be front-loaded for readers, rather than buried?

How many Anaheim residents use the Tennis Center? What’s the socio-economic demographic? To what extent is it utilized by youth tennis players or schools?

Those are good questions — and the article provides no answers. In fact, the only people not quoted in the article are people who use the Anaheim Tennis Center.

The Anaheim Tennis Center isn’t entitled to this funding. How much money, if any, the city should spend renovating it is a legitimate policy question and open for debate. However, that debate should be based on need and available resources. Race and ethnicity should have no place in it, because the city should seek to serve all of its citizens without regard to their race, ethnic or social status. The Mayor and City Council should steer clear of basing budgeting decisions on ethnic considerations or racial politics.

“Sinnah Back is the nom-du-video taken by a comrade of Donna Acevedo. Sinnah back runs around taking video of Anaheim police officers in the course of their duties, accompanied by running commentary that is generally derogatory and often obscene.

Here is one from a weeks ago, titled “Officer offend community member by saying playground looks l” [sic] — a title that says more about Sinnah Back perception of reality than the reality depicted in the video.

It’s long and mostly boring, but I’ve excerpted an interesting exchange between Donna Acevedo, and unidentified woman with her and an Anaheim police officer.

What does the officer say that Sinnah Back finds offensive? He points the graffiti on the walls and the awful condition of the little playground/lawn, makes the obvious and true observation that people should want better for their children, and encourages Acevedo and her comrades to get people together to fix it up instead of just pointing fingers.

Acevedo initially signals her general agreement but as the conversation wears on, she and her companion grow increasingly defensive about the squalor. When the officer notes the ubiquity of graffiti and points out a particularly obscene graffiti while asking if they’d like their kids to be around that, Acevedo’s friend gets upset and objects that “Graffiti is a non-violent crime” (as if that is some kind of excuse) and follows up with this gem:

“Graffiti is art. It doesn’t even count.”

Not, “Yes, officer, you are absolutely right. This is squalor and children shouldn’t have to play in it, least of all with obscenities scrawled on the wall.” She just shot right back with “Graffiti is art. it doesn’t even count.”

And no correction or contrary response from Acevedo.

[Editor’s Note: the video in this post contains obscenity]

Last week, at a press conference following the Los Amigos meeting, Donna Acevedo led a press conference claiming “Working-Class Anaheim Neighborhoods Say “Enough” To Police Brutality and Harassment.”

Leaving aside the question of whether Ms. Acevedo and the half-dozen other participants can legitimately claim to speak for the working-class Anaheim neighborhoods, one of Ms. Acevedo’s demands was “a respectful dialogue with the new leadership of the department.”

Is this video an example of “respectful dialogue” she hopes to have?:

Wow – thank you for modeling “respectful dialogue”: stalking Anaheim police officer Kelly Phillips in his minivan at a carwash, calling him a “murderer” and dropping f-bombs.

The urbane, articulate videographer is some guy who uses the YouTube handle “Sinnah Back.” He’s a collaborator of Donna Acevedo’s (you can see her next to the back SUV at about the 40 second mark -“Sinnah” is asking her “where’s the other one at?”

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Community policing memeI was just reading this Voice of OC article, “Neighborhood in Anaheim Turns on Police” and found this passage extraordinary:

“In the second incident early Sunday morning, officers arrived at the neighborhood with guns drawn because of a report that an armed gang member had invaded a resident’s home, according to Dunn.

Hostile residents again challenged police officers, he said.”

Let me get this straight: a West Guinida Lane man calls the police, reports an armed gang member has entered his home looking for someone, and asks for help. The police arrive to assist this man – and they’re the ones getting harassed!

It’s helpful to remember the one of the very fundamental reasons we form governments is to protect our lives and liberty from criminals. It’s there in the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…”

I called Sgt. Robert Dunn, the Anaheim Police Department’s public information officer and asked for more detail on this incident. Sgt. Dunn told me a male called the police to report that someone he identified as a gang member had entered his home, armed and looking for someone.

I asked what time on Sunday morning the call came in. 4:30 a.m., Sgt. Dunn told me.

Did the crowd form after the arrival of the police. No, replied Sgt. Dunn – the crowd was there at the scene when the police arrived. The intruder had left by tat time.

So, shortly after 4:30 in the AM on Guinida Lane, there was an angry waiting for the police – who were there to secure an individual right to be safe in his own domicile. [And why is there a crowd waiting to assemble in the pre-dawn hours?]

According to Sgt. Dunn, this has become common in that neighborhood. He mentioned a recent incident: a pursuit that ended with the police securing the vehicle, in which a firearm was found. As police secured the crime scene, someone in a car with an “FTP: Film the Police” sticker circled the area, yelling obscenities and calling the officers murderers.

I have to wonder: why is it that the discussion of crime and policing in Anaheim is framed by the belief that it is the police who need to do more? That it is the police who need to improve their community outreach and be laced under closer supervision?

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Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray

Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray

In her e-newsletter last week, Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray published this column on the state Supreme Court’s ruling on the legality of cities banning medical marijuana dispensaries, and I’ve been meaning to post it here:

CA Supreme Court Upholds Cities’ Right to Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Last week, the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of cities’ right to ban medical marijuana dispensaries within city borders. [Read the full story here.] 

This ruling is a significant victory for Anaheim, as the City has been working for years to ban dispensaries from operating within our community.  

As background, in 2007, the City adopted Ordinance No. 6067, which banned the establishment and operation of medical marijuana dispensaries in Anaheim. Soon thereafter, the City was sued in an attempt to overturn the ordinance and that litigation continues. In 2011, the City Council approved a moratorium to prevent new medical marijuana dispensaries from opening while we continued to work through the courts on the existing litigation and that moratorium expired in January of this year. This moratorium was passed in the wake of numerous dispensaries opening within Anaheim neighborhoods. That year, I worked closely with Senator Lou Correa on state legislation, SB 847- legislation seeking to ban dispensaries from operating within 600 feet of residential areas.  

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Rendering of GardenWalk hotels.

Rendering of GardenWalk hotels.

The GardenWalk Hotels agreement is on the May 14 agenda of the Anaheim City Council.  The cap on the total TOT rebate is still $158 million (which is a tricky number that merits further explanation in another post), but the 80%-20% split has been modified to 70%-30% stretched out over a longer period of time of 20 years (which actually makes it more expensive for the developer). This applies to two hotels — a  convention hotel of least 466 rooms and a resort hotel of at least 350 rooms. These hotels will be built separately in phases, and the TOT rebate “ends on the earlier of twenty years from completion of construction or, provision of assistance up to a not to exceed amount of approximately $158 million gross. The net present value (NPV) of the maximum assistance under the Agreements ($46.6 million) represents 16% of development costs and compares quite favorably with our Southern California competitors as noted above.”

Unlike the earlier GardenWalk assistance agreement, this time the staff is recommending a “yes” vote by the council. Here’s the staff report’s conclusion:

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Anaheim rioter meme 1I encourage you to read today’s Voice of OC article on last night’s forum organized by the East Street Community Renewal Initiative (ESCRI), a project of former (and potentially future) Councilwoman Lorri Galloway.

It contains many jewels. Let’s start with this one:

“The consensus from the forum attendees was clear – the police department is still racist, and city government still can’t be depended on for services.”

What a shock that would be the “consensus” at a forum organized by this group.

If the Republican Party of Orange County organized a community forum on “Obamacare: Three Years Later,” the consensus of forum attendees would be that it’s an unconstitutional monstrosity that ought to be repealed. If the Democratic Party of OC organized a form on the same question, the “consensus” would be that at long last, the Americans’ right to access to health care is guaranteed for all.

In other words, the “consensus” is virtually pre-determined, given the nature of the organizing group and who it consequently invites.

Look at the VOC headline:

“Anaheim Residents Still Frustrated Nearly A Year After Unrest.” 

Really? All Anaheim residents are frustrated? It’s a fair bet that the 50 or so rounded up by ESCRI feel that way, but a headline claiming that is a widespread feeling? “Some Anaheim Residents…” would be accurate.

I liked this one:

“Tensions continued to escalate until three days later when about 1,000 demonstrators were denied access to a City Council meeting.”

“Denied access”? The council chambers were already full – there was no way to fit them in. That’s like someone trying to buy a ticket to a sold-out movie and then complaining about being “denied access” to the show.

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2013_WAND_BBQ_FlyerThe West Anaheim Neighborhood Development Council (WAND), a long-time community action group,  is holding its 17th Annual Anaheim Western Barbecue this Saturday, May 11.

WHERE: Twila Reid Park
3100 W. Orange Avenue (between Beach Blvd. and Western Ave.)

TIME:      10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The WAND BBQ offers a panoply of activities and diversions for friends and family alike. Attendees can look forward to:

  • Free admission
  • Free parking and shuttle
  • Great food
  • Craft fair and boutique
  • Panning for “gold”
  • Blacksmith’s forge
  • Ford classic car show
  • Pony rides

and much more…

For more info, call 714-609-8070 or e-mail

Click here to download the event flyer with more details.

Some of my Republican friends argue with me over my support for the GardenWalk project TOT rebate, pointing out that it isn’t free market economics and that government shouldn’t subsidize a business enterprise.

My response is that they’re right, but Anaheim isn’t working in a free market. I recognize that state government has gone too far on the regulation and taxation of business activity, and Anaheim itself is bordered by a city that has no compunctions about luring four-star hotels with not only TOT rebates, but free land.

Last week, the Garden Grove City Council unanimously voted to give a luxury hotel developer five-acres of city-owned land on Harbor Boulevard , adjacent to the Resort District. The council also voted to rebate back to the developer millions in TOT generated by the project for up to 20 years.

At the same meeting, the council unanimously approved a water park resort-and-hotel project, with the city putting up the land and issuing $42 million in revenue bonds to finance it.

Where was the outrage from Adam Elmahrek of the Voice of OC, or the OC Register editorial writers?

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Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray

Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray

During councilmember comments at last night Anaheim City Council meeting, Councilwoman Kris Murray proposed the return of a most excellent policy: the Home Improvement Holiday (HIH).

It’s been almost 10 years since Anaheim launch the original HIH under Mayor Curt Pringle. It was one of the emblematic policies of the “Freedom Friendly” days.

HIH by-passed the top-down, bureaucratic and expensive governmental approach to neighborhood revitalization in favor of decentralized, free market policy that tapped into the natural desire of residents to improve their homes in a way that suited themselves — and in the aggregate, improved the city through their own time, money and effort.

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Remember the notorious incident last July that took place on Anaheim’s gang-ridden Anna Drive when Anaheim police jousted with residents in the wake of the shooting of fleeing gang member Manuel Diaz?

As if we could forget.

Well, eight residents of Anna Drive have filed claims against Anaheim citing, according to the OC Register, “physical injuries, emotional trauma, violations of constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure and other damages.”

The claimants want the city to cut them each a check for $500,000. For those not doing the math, that is $4 million tax dollars. There goes the Neighborhood Improvement Fund (what percentage of annual TOT revenue is $4 million?)!

This isn’t surprising. After all, we live in a litigious society, and suing the police is a cottage industry. The Anna Drive incident represents an opportunity for some to cash in and get out of Anna Drive, and with sympathetic media coverage to boot.

Yes, I am commenting on the claims on after seeing only the spare description in the OC Register article. At the same time, let us recall that when police arrived in force following the shooting in order to secure the crime scene — and remember that what prompted the initial police intervention was a gang-conducted sale of illegal guns — a number of residents responded by bringing their young children and babies out to watch the fun. Not exactly behavior you would find in a handbook on responsible parenting.

Then there was the throwing of rocks and bottles at police.

The attorney representing the claimants claims her clients were not among the misbehavers. I don’t know whether that is true. It may be. What is clear to me is the police were operating in a confusing, chaotic and dangerous situation made more confusing, chaotic and dangerous by the bellicosity of a number of Anna Drive residents.

In my opinion, the police were trying to do their job, which is protecting the lives, liberty and property of Anaheim residents – including those of Anna Drive, which is beset by criminal gangs. These claims are more properly lodged against the gangs terrorizing Anna Drive, but the reality is gang members’ response would – unlike the city’s — would be lethal.

That is the reality we should bear in mind as this claim-soon-to-be-lawsuit moves along.

The OC Register has published New Year resolutions from the two newest members of the Anaheim City Council, Jordan Brandman and Lucille Kring:

Jordan BrandmanHere’s Brandman’s (who was the top vote-getter in November’s election):

A time of reflection and new beginnings

Each new year brings forth a time of reflection and new beginnings filled with hope and opportunity. As I begin my term of service on the council, I am thankful for the trust placed in me to provide independent leadership and respectful understanding of the issues facing our city.

The “can-do” spirit is alive and well in Anaheim. Our city can be first in property values, first in public safety, first in business activity, first in infrastructure investment and first in schools.

It is my resolve to lead with clear priorities, including: creating jobs, fighting crime and eliminating gangs; maintaining world-class police and fire departments; and ensuring neighborhoods, schools, parks and libraries are safe and well-maintained.

Working together, we can make Anaheim an even better place to live, work and raise a family – with each coming new year.

lucille kringAnd here is Kring’s (now beginning her third non-consecutive term):

I resolve to make residents first priority

For many, the new year marks the start of a second chance, an opportunity to have your slate wiped clean, a chance to make plans that lead to new goals. As we prepare to enter 2013, I appreciate this opportunity to set some goals for the new year.

I resolve to remember that the residents of Anaheim are my first priority, and my job is to always consider them in every action I take as a council member. They are our city’s greatest asset. I resolve to stay connected with the people of Anaheim, to listen to what they have to say about their city and their desires, hopes and dreams for their community.

I will strive to work cooperatively with the mayor and my fellow council members, and I’m looking forward to working with City Manager Bob Wingenroth, as well as city staff and our police and fire chiefs, to allocate our city’s resources to most effectively serve our residents and businesses.

During my campaign, I walked neighborhoods and was struck by residents in every part of the city telling me about nighttime gang- and drug-related activities in our parks. I will work aggressively with police and neighbors to solve this problem and take back our parks. In years past, we had flashlight walks in some of our parks that proved to be very successful in ridding our parks of this element. We must renew this effective tool of police officers and residents working together.

I resolve to seek opportunities that bring new jobs to Anaheim while also working to improve the quality of life for Anaheim residents.

To improve neighborhoods, I’m advocating that a portion of city hotel Transient Occupancy Tax (“bed tax”) revenue be earmarked specifically for neighborhood revitalization and maintenance.

I want to wish all residents of Anaheim a very happy, healthy, prosperous and especially a peaceful 2013. I am looking forward to working with all of you for the next four years to create a better Anaheim!

Like the New Year resolutions from Mayor Tom Tait and Councilmember Kris Murray, these are basically in line with promises and positions previously enunciated by Brandman and Kring.

Councilmember Kring re-commits herself to earmarking a specific percentage of TOT revenue for neighborhood revitalization.  As I posted a few days ago, I agree with providing the funding necessary to repair and improve the quality of life of Anaheim neighborhoods, with special emphasis on those areas with a special need for it. That’s what local government is supposed to do.

I do think it is a mistake to earmark a specific percentage of a specific revenue stream for that purpose. Good intentions and sloganeering notwithstanding, it will acquire the patina of an entitlement and will have a distorting effect on future budgeting. At some point in future, the problems necessitating this special fund will be addressed (again, that is the point); once the problem it was created to solve is solved, will the Council then dissolve this earmark in order to shift the funds to other purposes? Good luck with that when, over the years, organized groupings have arrived at a proprietary attitude toward those funds.

The end is what is important here, not the means. The point is to make the improvements, rather enact a “see what we’re doing for you” special fund.

Sometime next month, the Anaheim City Council will consider setting aside a portion of the Transient Occupancy tax (TOT) to fund a neighborhood improvement fund. Mayor Tom Tait asked staff in December that this idea be part of 2013 budget discussions.

Councilwoman Lucille Kring campaigned on diverting 1% of TOT revenues into neighborhood youth and social programs.

Mayor Tait’s proposal is more focused on the physical aspects of neighborhood improvement, in addition to intensifying community policing. According to this December 26 story from the OC Register:

Tait wants a neighborhood-improvement fund established that could use some tax revenues to upgrade neighborhoods through additional graffiti removal, street repaving and increased community policing.

 Several council members have called for a similar idea. Tait suggested that the improvement fund be included in discussions about the city’s 2013-14 budget. 

I know the residents of West Anaheim have specifically called for more attention to issues that they uniquely face in maintaining a better quality of life,” Tait said. “And there are other neighborhoods that – with a little more attention – can provide a safer, more livable environment for the residents.”

These are all good, legitimate and necessary responsibilities of local government. My question – or concern, really – is about creating a special fund with a dedicated revenue source.

These are needs that can be identified and budgeted for in the ordinary course of establishing city spending priorities. If a street that needs re-paving gets it, does it matter whether or not the money comes from a special Neighborhood Improvement  Fund with its very own TOT set-aside?

The danger of setting aside a set portion of TOT revenue for a special fund is it immediately acquires the qualities of an entitlement, with its own set of attached interests who will take a proprietary interest in the revenue , continually pushing for increasing the percentage or fighting any downward adjustment.
This kind of set-aside budgeting looks gimmicky, has a poor track record and tends to distort municipal budgeting and unduly tie the hands of future councils facing different priorities.

Putting more city resources into neighborhood improvements of the sort described above is all to the good, but the council would be better advised to do so through ordinary budgeting rather than revenue set-asides and special funds. These are ordinary city government responsibilities that are best met through ordinary methods.

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