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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.

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 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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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?

 

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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diamond me tooTheLiberalOC.com reports that CATER (Concerned Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility) yesterday sent a letter to the City of Anaheim regarding left-wing San Diego attorney Cory Briggs threat to sue the city if issues bonds to finance the Anaheim Convention Center expansion. 

The letter says that if Brigg’s actually does sue, then CATER will, too.

Greg Diamond – Brea resident and lately a fixture during the Anaheim council public comment period — is CATER’s lawyer and author of the letter – which means it takes two pages to state what could have been said in two paragraphs.

You can read the letter here.

Ribbon cutting for Convention Center grand Plaza - funded in the same way as the proposed ACC expansion.

Ribbon cutting for Convention Center Grand Plaza – funded in the same way as the proposed ACC expansion.

The proposed 200,000 square foot expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center is good, solid, sensible public policy. It recommends itself for a number of reasons, but primarily so for two reasons: it maintains the Convention Center’s competitive edge, and it establishes a mechanism wherein the Resort District businesses fund this expansion as well as future modernization needs.

Anaheim has been in the convention business since 1967. It has been a source of economic vitality, jobs and opportunity for the city. The Anaheim Convention Center is presently the largest convention facility on the West Coast and in the top-tier nationally. Staying on top requires any enterprise to periodically invest in its competitiveness. For the Anaheim Convention Center, that means expanding its size and nature of its facilities.  Standing pat is a recipe for stagnation and decline.

Anaheim wants to keep shows like NAMM, and be in a position to attract bigger and better shows – the kind that bring with them more affluent attendees who stay longer and spend more money. That requires having convention facilities that meet the needs of those kinds of shows – such as more “flex” space – and this expansion will give ACC that ability. It also adds the ability for the Convention Center to “stack” shows – to have two large shows simultaneously, which in turn generates more room nights for Anaheim hotels.

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