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

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

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

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

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ruby heeled districtsThe Left continues to pour money into its effort to change the rules of how the Anaheim City Council is elected in order to produce elections results more to their liking, i.e. the election of left-of-center councilmembers to adopt left-of-center policies.

The latest donation comes from the Orange County Labor Federation, AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education (COPE), which on Thursday, September 18 contributed $10,000 to the “yes on Measure L” campaign.  That brings the OC Labor Federation’s total contribution to the Measure L campaign to $20,000. So far, the unions and progressive political forces have put nearly a quarter of a million dollars into Measure L, which will end the at-large council election system and carve Anaheim into single-member council districts.

Does anyone not there believe that radical left-wing organizations like OCCORD and UNITE-HERE are funding this campaign to further the cause of limited government? Will we hear a single word of criticism about this  from Team Tait, which has based its campaign on “fighting outside special interests” even as it enthusiastically supports Measure L, which is being funded entirely by a flood of outside special interest money? 

Unite Here protestorsOf the thousands of hotel workers in the Anaheim Resort, only those at a few hotels are actually paying dues into UNITE-HERE Local 11 coffers. UNITE-HERE would love to change that, and to that end has been one of the main forces behind the push to change Anaheim City Council elections from at-large to by-district.

Yesterday, UNITE-HERE Local 11 poured more money into the “Yes on Measure L” campaign. In the last four days, the militant left-wing union made contributions of $13,254.82, $1,711.89 and $11,898.65. Given the specific amounts, it’s obvious UNITE-HERE Local 11 is paying for at least a couple of city-wide mailers.

That’s $26,865.36, on top of the $25,000 donated in August by UNITE-HERE Local 11, which is also the Yes on Measure L campaign’s landlord. 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why UNITE-HERE is putting money into passing Measure L: because by-district elections provide path to changing the Anaheim City Council from majority-Republican to majority-Democrat and leveraging that power to unionize more hotel workers, which translates into more dues money for Democratic coffers. Furthermore, UNITE-HERE would like to get back into the Honda Center and re-unionize Anaheim Arena Management’s food service workers — and having a Democratic council majority as AAM’s landlord makes that easier. 

I invite any pro-Measure L Republican who out there who thinks the measure they are supporting will not help the Democrats and will not hurt the Republicans to send me a post explaining why, and I will post it. It would make for fascinating reading.

Speaking of the Yes on Measure L campaign, it filed paperwork this week to change its name from “Committee for District Elections – sponsored by One Anaheim,” to  Committee for District Elections – Yes on Measures L & M, Sponsored by Anaheim Neighborhoods Together, a Coalition of Labor, Business and Community Organizations.”  It’s a deceptive name since Measure L has no business support; it’s contributions have come entirely from union and left-wing political action committees.

Unite Here protestorsThe campaign for by-district council elections has received another big union check: UNITE-HERE Local 11 contributed $25,000 to the Committee for District Elections, which is the “Yes on Measure L” campaign. 

Who does UNITE-HERE Local 11 represent? Hotel workers (and food service employees). Of what does Anaheim have thousands? Non-unionized hotel workers that UNITE-HERE not only wants, but needs as members. 

The only hotels in the Anaheim resort area with unionized workers are the Anaheim Hilton and the Disney properties.  

UNITE-HERE wants to change that.  It’s 501(c)4 satellite group, OCCORD, has been fighting the GardenWalk Hotel economic assistance agreement in court. By an amazing coincidence, OCCORD is being represented by Cory Briggs, the same left-wing ambulance chaser who is co-plaintiff with CATER against the Anaheim Convention Center expansion.

[OCCORD is housed in office next to UNITE-HERE, in a building owned by UNITE-HERE, and receives a $5,000 check from UNITE-HERE every month]. 

OCCORD doesn’t object to the city’s TOT subsidy for the GardenWalk project. What they (or rather, UNITE-HERE) want is for the GardenWalk owners to allow UNITE-HERE to unionize their employees. If the GardenWalk investors agreed to that, OCCORD’s lawsuit would go away. In the meantime, the OCCORD/UNITE-HERE strategy is to wear the GardenWalk investors with drawn-out litigation and force them to choose between agreeing to be unionized or giving up the project. 

Bu that is a laborious, expensive approach to unionizing hotel workers. It would be better for UNITE-HERE to have a left-leaning, Democrat-majority on the Anaheim City Council that made it clear to hotel developers that approval of their new or expanded projects hinged on having unionized workers or agreeing to “card check neutrality” as a condition of approval (in addition to incorporating similar demands into the conditions).

Since the at-large council election system has proven a barrier to electing more than one Democrat to the city council, UNITE-HERE and other left-wing constituencies want to replace it with by-district elections, which would structurally tilt council elections toward a Democratic majority. It’s no accident that nearly 92% of UNITE-HERE political contributions go to Democrats.

Orange County Republicans should consider that the pillar of Democratic power in Nevada are the unions representing hotel and casino workers.  Imagine how the political landscape in Orange County would be altered if the Left succeeds in passing Measure L and opening the door to unionizing the estimated 8,000 hotel workers in the Anaheim resort area. That’s a lot of union dues revenue available to fund the election of Democratic candidates.  

UNITE-HERE Local 11 needs members. Or rather, it needs the revenue from member dues. It also represents Aramark employees, and lost members when the Anaheim Ducks decided to get rid of Aramark and bring its food service operations in house.  UNITE-HERE lobbied the Anaheim City Council to require the Ducks to staff their in-house food service operation with UNITE-HERE members. They even pushed for the council to ask the Ducks to allow UNITE-HERE to organize their food service workers via card check. 

Since the four of the five members of the Anaheim City Council are Republicans, UNITE-HERE’s demands were rebuffed. Does anyone think that would have been the case if a Democratic majority were in control?

This is what is at stake in the battle over by-district election in Anaheim. It’s not the naive (and cynical) malarkey about “neighbors electing neighbors” or better city services (neither of which by-district elections would deliver). This is the opening salvo in a political campaign to shift Anaheim and Orange County to the Left. 

dark-money-graphicTake a gander at the campaign finance report filed by the campaign to carve Anaheim into single-member council districts. Two things jump out beside the $101,100 in contributions: 93% of that total is the “dark money” hated by the progressives running this campaign  and not a penny of it comes from Anaheim – most is from Northern California.

The biggest single contributor to the Committee for District Elections is OCCORD  – to the tune of $49,000.  OCCORD is a left-wing non-profit political advocacy group headquartered in a Garden Grove office building owned by the militant union UNITE-HERE.  [OCCORD’s professed mission is to reverse the polarity of Orange County politics and shift it as far to the Left as possible.]

That’s a neat trick. OCCORD Executive Director Eric Altman announces his resignation to go run the Committee for District Elections. $49,000 is diverted from OCCORD on June 26 to the committee Altman is heading up (it’s unclear exactly when Altman left OCCORD, but his replacement as executive director wasn’t announced until mid-July.

Since OCCORD is a 501(c)4, it only has to file annual financials with the IRS and refuses to disclose its donors. In other words, by the time any figures out where that $49,000 came from, the November election will be long over. Is it from traditional OCCORD donors like the California Endowment and the James Irvine Foundation? Wells Fargo? If so, did they understand their money would be going to fund a ballot initiative? We know at least some of that money comes from UNITE-HERE, which cuts OCCORD a $5,000 check every month.

Mind you, OCCORD founder and leader Eric Altman (now the director of the Committee for District Elections — is an advocate of transparency… at least for others. I encourage the Voice of OC and the OC Register to ask OCCORD where the $49,000 came from, and see if they get an answer. I once tried, and was rebuffed.

The second biggest donor is PowerPac.org Voter Fund, a San Francisco-based political action committee that on May 30 donated $45,000 for a campaign to re-structure how Anaheim is governed.  Hmmm…why would a PAC from liberal San Francisco care how Anaheim elects its city council?

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OCCORD LogoThe Voice of OC reports the left-wing political advocacy group known as OCCORD (Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development) is suing the City of Anaheim in an attempt to invalidate the city’s economic assistance agreement with the GardenWalk hotel project developer.

Cory Briggs, a left-wing environmentalist attorney from San Diego, is serving as OCCORD’s counsel on this idiotic lawsuit. Readers will remember that last summer, Briggs and OCCORD asked state and county prosecutors to go after ever member of the council (except Mayor Tom Tait) over the May 2013 GardenWalk vote.  In their fevered imaginations, mere membership on the SOAR advisory board constituted a conflict-of-interest, because they know GardenWalk developer Bill O’Connell, Sr. who is also – gasp! – a member of the SOAR Advisory Board!!

According to the Voice of OC, the lawsuit filed by OCCORD and Briggs alleges that Councilmembers Lucille Kring, Gail Eastman, Kris Murray and Jordan Brandman voted for the May 2013 GardenWalk agreement because Bill O’Connell gave to their campaigns. Never mind that Bill O’Connell Sr. has been one of their political supporters for years. Never mind that Eastman and Murray had already voted for the original GardenWalk agreement, which Brandman had also publicly supported. Never mind that the terms of the 2013 agreement Kring supported differed from the 2012 agreement. Never mind that all four councilmembers have in practice always supported the principle of such economic assistance agreements.

No – in the imaginations of Cory Briggs and OCCORD, the only possible explanation for these councilmembers to cast a vote entirely consistent with their public records is receiving contributions that amount to a small fraction of what their campaign raised.

If GardenWalk developers had struck a deal with OCCORD’s sponsor and funder UNITE-HERE Local 11 for it to organize GardenWalk hotel workers, OCCORD wouldn’t be filing this lawsuit. If the developer struck such a deal now, and threw in a “living wage” provision and some “community benefits”dreamed up by OCCORD, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the lawsuit dropped altogether.

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One talking point made by advocates of single-member council districts for Anaheim is that is it not a political project of the Left – notwithstanding the fact that the organizational and political heft behind the push for council districts is coming from a coalition of left-wing political organizations and figures such as OCCORD, UNITE-HERE, the Democratic Party of Orange County, the Orange County Labor Federation, the ACLU, Dr. Jose Moreno, Amin David, Vivian Pham, etc. The smattering of Republican supporters serve as a tissue of bi-partisan camouflage.

Take this flyer for a “Rally for Anaheim” rally to be held March 22 at Little Peoples Park on March 22. The rally is being organized by two left-wing non-profits, OCCORD and Orange County Congregation Community Organization – with special guest Mayor Tom Tait:

occord rally for anaheim english

The Facebook page invites people to come and “Show your civic pride and join us to learn more about district elections in Anaheim.”

One of the organizers listed on the flyer is Marisol Ramirez, a director of OCCORD and an organizing intern for the militant UNITE-HERE Local 11. Here is Ms. Ramirez at last summer’s anti-police rally (organized AnswerLA.org and now-Anaheim Council candidate Donna Acevedo) waving a Party for Socialism and Liberation sign saying COPS: George Zimmermans With A Badge:

OCCORD Director Marisol Ramirez holding party for Socialism and Liberation sign saying "Police Are George Zimmermans With A  Badge."

Marisol Ramirez holding a Party for Socialism and Liberation sign saying “Police Are George Zimmermans With A Badge.”

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PrintHere at the Anaheim City Council meeting, the chambers are packed to overflowing for the big vote on the proposed Anaheim Convention Center expansion.

A different issue popped up during the public comments period: a “job retention” ordinance. That’s the innocuous term for forcing contractors, after they take over a contract from a different firm, to hire (or at least pay) the employees of the preceding contractor for a period of time, usually 2 or 3 months. It’s the type of invasive regulation one finds in politically left-of-center cities.

UNITE-HERE – which represents workers in the hotel and food service industries — mustered half a dozen members to take to the microphone and ask the City Council to adopt just such an ordinance. These members identified themselves as no longer working at Angel Stadium since their employer, Aramark, was terminated by the Angels in favor of Legends Sports and Entertainment.

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UNITE-HERE is 0 for 2 in its litigation against Anaheim Arena Management (AAM), which runs The Honda Center, over AAM’s decision last year against renewing its contract with Aramark and bring food service in-house. A press release from AAM came over the transom yesterday afternoon announcing “the Orange County Superior Court’s ruling on Friday granting a demurrer without leave to amend on the matter of Gonzalez vs. AAM.”

Translation: AAM wins, UNITE-HERE loses.

More from the AAM release:

“We are extremely pleased by the court’s decision today,” said AAM General Counsel Bernard Schneider. “Throughout this process we’ve remained confident that our actions were permissible under the law and in the best interest of the millions of guests we serve, as well as those who serve our guests. Today’s ruling certainly validates that assertion and brings to a successful end all litigation asserted by the union and former Aramark employees as a result of the termination of the Aramark concession agreement.”

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

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

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

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

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The OC Register published this article a few days ago on the changes taking place at The Honda Center in the area of food service and concessions:

The largest improvement project to hit Honda Center in 20 years includes a top-to-bottom overhaul of the arena’s food operations – a makeover that spans everything from new popcorn to rustic communal meals at a members-only dining club.

“We’re turning over a new leaf,” said Joseph “Jo Jo” Doyle, the arena’s new executive chef.  

Doyle, hired from Churchill Downs in Kentucky, is among more than 700 new employees brought on to replace Aramark – a hospitality company believed to have missed the mark with fans when it came to food and service. Aramark was recently dismissed by Angel Stadium.

By bringing the food division in-house, Honda Center CEO Tim Ryan said, the arena is poised to become a world-class facility fit for hosting an NBA team – a longtime goal of Henry and Susan Samueli, who own the company that manages the arena. A key part of the $20 million expansion is the 530-seat Grand Terrace – a members-only restaurant that boasts an expansive balcony with two outdoor bars flanked by fire pits.

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Today we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. The signature line from that speech is, of course, this:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

It is sad and ironic that 50 years later, the City of Anaheim is being sued by self-styled civil rights activists who seek to base Anaheim’s city council elections on the color of  its citizens skins, and not their character as unique, individual citizens.

Strip away the rhetoric and the ACLU lawsuit seeking to impose single-member council districts centers on race. This elevation of ethno-racial group considerations above individual rights is evident in this comment by ACLU lawsuit plaintiff Jose Moreno at the June 11, 2013 Anaheim City Council meeting:

After paying at least rhetorical deference to Councilwoman Kris Murray’s point about the individual citizen’s right to vote for whomever they choose, Moreno offers this critical caveat:

“…so that neighbors may elect neighbors regardless of what they may look like but that people who look a certain way or may have a certain surname, that their voting patterns are respected.” [emphasis added].

That is (or should be) a startling admission of a radical idea. In plain English, what Moreno is saying is that the ballot choices of Latino voters should be accorded more weight than non-Latino voters. That principle stands in opposition to one of the bedrock principles of this Republic of equality before the law. Each of us has the right to vote and to cast his or her ballot for the candidate or candidates of our choice; but no person’s vote does and should count more than the vote of anyone else. Sometimes our favored candidates win, and sometimes they lose – but those are our choices as individuals and not merely constituent parts of a racial group, or individual manifestations of ethnic groupthink.

An interesting aspect of OCCORD calling on the state Attorney General and the OC District Attorney to prosecute all four members of Anaheim City Council for imaginary violations is it puts some members of the OCCORD Board of Directors at political odds with themselves.

OCCORD is the political offspring of UNITE-HERE. Unions provide OCCORD with funding, and at least 40% the radical group’s board of directors consists of union executives and members.

Among those are Ada Briceno, Secretary-Treasurer of UNITE-HERE Local 11; Rick Eiden, the executive vice president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 324; Rob Penney, organizing director for the United Nurses Associations of California;  Jorge Inestria, UNITE-HERE activist.

In addition to being a director of OCCORD, Eiden is also the president of the Orange County Labor Federation (the OC presence of the AFL-CIO) — which endorsed Jordan Brandman for Anaheim City Council in 2012.  UNITE-HERE is represented on the OCLF board by its president, Tom Walsh (Briceno is UNITE-HERE Local 11’s No. 2).

On its face, you have UCFW President Rick Eiden – in his capacity as an OCCORD Director — calling for the criminal prosecution of an elected official (on absurd legal grounds) whose he officially and materially supported as head of the OC Labor Federation.

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Judge Frederick Horn’s has granted of UNITE-HERE’s request for temporary restraining order against the Honda Center. However, it is still questionable whether the militant union’s lawsuit will ultimately succeed, given that dubious constitutionality of how the relevant state labor code section was enacted. It was last-minute, non-budgetary amendment that slipped into a budget trailer bill.

Loren Kaye, president of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education, published a Fox and Hounds Daily column on this issue on June 20. It worth reading the full column, but I’ll excerpt the most directly relevant portions here:

The Constitution forbids it. A unanimous Supreme Court slapped their hands. But when it comes to loading up budget bills with extraneous goodies, the Legislature just can’t resist. Bowing to the demands of their allies in organized labor, the Legislature inserted into a budget trailer bill (Section 48 of Assembly Bill 76) substantive language designed to force a successor employer that provides food and beverage services at the Honda Center in Anaheim to hire the prior contractor’s employees. This mandate has no bearing on the state budget or any state operations. (It’s also lousy policy, but that’s a debate for another day.)

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I posted earlier today about militant union UNITE-HERE Local 11’s lawsuit seeking to force Anaheim Arena Management, operators of the Honda Center, to hire its members.

According to the Voice of OC, a OC Superior Court judge granted a temporary restraining order forcing AAM to put several hundred UNITE-HERE members on the payroll.

Click here to read the TRO. I find it interesting that UNITE-HERE was seeking not only to force AAM to hire its members, but to get rid of non-union food service workers hired since Aramark was released as the food and beverage service vendor. The TRO written by the union order says AAM is “restrained and enjoined from (a) hiring, continuing to employ or scheduling for work any food and beverage service employees to perform work at the Honda Center without first offering employment to, retaining and scheduling for work the individuals who were employed by Aramark Sports and Entertainmment LLC…].

The judge struck “continuing to employ” from the TRO. Still, UNITE-HERE sought to kick those new, non-union hires into the unemployment line to make room for its members on the payroll.

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.

OCCORD Director Marisol Ramirez holding Party for Socialism and Liberation sign saying "Police Are George Zimmermans With A  Badge."

OCCORD Director Marisol Ramirez holding Party for Socialism and Liberation sign saying “Police Are George Zimmermans With A Badge.”

The Left in Anaheim must be getting desperate, today’s press release from radical left-wing group OCCORD (Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development) is any indication:

DA Urged to Prosecute Anaheim Council Members for Conflict of Interest

Council members received contributions from PAC tied to developer, then voted for $158 million hotel subsidy, says letter by CA attorney.

Contact:  Eric Altman, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (714) 392-0959 or ealtman@occord.org

Anaheim, CA – A prominent California attorney alleged that members of the Anaheim City Council violated state law when they voted on behalf of a $158 million hotel subsidy, after accepting contributions from a PAC tied to the project’s developer. Attorney Cory Briggs urged California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas to prosecute the council members in a letter sent Thursday. Briggs’ request for prosecution was made on the behalf of a community organization, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development, and a private Anaheim resident named in the letter.

The letter alleges that Anaheim City Council members Lucille Kring and Jordan Brandman had an illegal conflict of interest when they voted for the Garden Walk Hotel subsidy in May, within months of accepting donations from the political action committee formed by Support Our Anaheim Resort (SOAR.) Hotelier Bill O’Connell, who benefited from that subsidy, sits on the SOAR Advisory Committee. The letter also names council members Gail Eastman and Kris Murray, who voted in favor of the subsidy and are SOAR Advisory Committee members. Eastman and Murray did not disclose their business relationships with SOAR and O’Connell at the time of the vote, as required by law.

The request for prosecution issued by Briggs is a required legal step before the filing of a private lawsuit. A potential filing would result in another in a recent series of lawsuits faced by the city council on behalf of residents. Last month, a judge ordered a trial in a case brought by the ACLU on behalf of Anaheim voters, alleging that the city’s election system violates the California Equal Voting Rights Act.

The Garden walk subsidy caused controversy, even before the allegations made last week. The subsidy was first passed in January 2012, but that vote was voided after a Superior Court Judge ruled that it violated the Brown Act, California’s open government law, because the public did not receive proper notice.

This is typical of the Left’s approach to politics: if you can’t win in the court of public opinion, then sue! Or in this case, ask government prosecutors to go after your opponents.

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On July 3, when the Anaheim City Council re-visited the issue of placing single-member council districts on the June 2014 ballot, OCCORD – which has been spearheading the effort with its godparent union UNITE-HERE — was essentially a no-show.

Instead, OCCORD released a video in which four of its regulars said they weren’t coming because the council is ignoring their voices – as if it is City Council’s duty to two the OCCORD/UNITE-HERE line. One of them even complained the council meetings were a “circus” – which is ironic since it is OCCORD and UNITE-HERE who create the unruly circus atmosphere by jeering and booing opposing points of view.

Personally, I suspect the automotons OCCORD and UNITE-HERE turn out were probably burning out and unwilling to show up, so the left-wing group turned lemons into lemonade with a video claiming they would be no shows because the Corporatist Power Structure ignores the Will of the People.

Almost three weeks after the fact, OCCORD is organizing a “picket” of tonight’s council meeting, claiming the City Council “ignored” the recommendations of the Citizens Advisory Committee that OCCORD and UNITE-HERE spent months mightily trying to manipulate into supporting the division of Anaheim into eight single-member council districts.

Of course, OCCORD’s claim is a selective one that doesn’t hold water.

As this blog has noted time and again, the 10-member CAC split on the question of single-member districts versus at-large elections – five members in favor of each. At the final meeting one of the members who had voted for single-member districts had re-considered and joined with other members in an attempt to add another recommendation for electing the council at-large from residency-based districts, but were shut down by the bloc appointed by Mayor Tom Tait and former Councilwoman Lorri Galloway.

In the end, the report that was unanimously adopted by the CAC called for placing before Anaheim voters the following options:

– Electing the council at-large

– Electing the council from single-member districts

– Expanding the council to 6 members

– Expanding the council to 8 members

If OCCORD were honestly and genuinely alarmed that the CAC was being “ignored,” they would be picketing for all four questions to be placed on the June ballot. Of course, they and their allies are doing no such thing because OCCORD could care less about what the CAC actually recommended. They only want the CAC recommendations they agree with placed on the ballot — which makes their denunciations of the council majority’s actions totally hypocritical.

But what else is new?

One last thing: I hope no one from OCCORD, UNITE-HERE or anyone else who speaks tonight in favor of single-member council districts attempts to link Sunday’s march with a alleged community support for carving Anaheim up into eight districts. No one at the protest said anything about council districts except Donna Acevedo, who worked it into her speech to the crowd – whose collective response was total indifference; and in any case, the vast majority of marchers weren’t from Anaheim, and they were far more interested in tearing down the police than in anything else.

I just employed the “question mark headline”, which is a tactic that is especially common in online media (especially blogs) to level an allegation (often at the behest of a pressure group) without having to actually prove the allegation. It’s a variant on that epitome of the loaded question, “When did you stop beating your wife?”

It was on display this week in the headline of the latest Voice of OC story on the Honda Center:

“Is Honda Center Defying Law on Retaining Employees?”

What the VOC has done here is take an accusation made by UNITE-HERE Local 11 second-in-command Ada Briceno and turn it into the headline — therefore giving readers the idea that this may well be true and placing on the Honda Center the burden of guilt to prove they are not violating the law (leaving aside the arbitrary, tyrannical nature of the law).

The VOC did the same thing on May 16, again in response to allegations from UNITE-HERE Local 11 (and the OC Labor Federation), publishing a story headlined:

“Honda Center Layoffs Could Mean Tax Credits For Company” [emphasis added]

Notice the escape hatch phrase “could mean” – which achieves the same effect as writing it “Will Honda Center Layoffs Mean Tax Credits for Company?”

As it turns out, that charge from UNITE-HERE and the OCLF was totally false. One would think that would engender a certain skepticism by the Voice of OC regarding incendiary claims from UNITE-HERE. But as this week’s article makes clear, one would be wrong.

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The Magic Single-Member District Unicorn is not happy.

The Magic Single-Member District Unicorn is not happy.

In a vote that is sure to annoy the liberal elitists on the Los Angeles Times editorial board, the Anaheim City Council voted 3-2 to reject placing single-member council districts on June 2014 ballot. Mayor Pro Tem Gail Eastman and Councilmembers Lucille Kring and Kris Murray voted in the majority.

In doing so, the council moved forward with implementing a residency-based district system (yes, OCCORDobots: “single-member” isn’t the only type of district) that preserves at-large voting, and gives voters the opportunity to increase the council to six members.

Also going down in flames was the ex poste facto proposal to impose a Form 700 financial disclosure form filing requirement on members of the temporary, advisory Charter Review Committee. It was a transparently political ploy directed at former Mayor Curt Pringle, who has declined to serve on the CRC. There was no coherent, compelling argument for applying to the CRC, and it died on a 4-1 vote.

I watched much of the meeting online but missed the council discussion on the council res-structuring agenda items. I did see the impressive presentation by demographer Dr. Peter Morrison. You can review his Power Point here – and I really recommend that you do.

The bottom line: more Latinos on the City Council is inevitable. The demographics are inexorable, and even if no change is made to the structure of the City Council, sheer weight of numbers will lead to the election of more Latinos in the not too distant future.

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