As happens too often, it took a day for a Register print editorial to come up on its website — and this one makes a pile of sense: A backroom sweetheart deal. That this was their lead Sunday editorial also adds to its importance.
Their editorial folks have come to a completely sensible conclusion re. what’s become known as the “Anaheim Giveaway” — a $158 million THEFT of bed tax to a hotel developer — was inappropriate and should be voted on by city taxpayers:
There seems to us a simple way for the Anaheim City Council to stem the public controversy over its development contract with Mr. O’Connell and to address the issues raised by Judge Perks: Put the entire matter before Anaheim voters next summer and let them decide whether the city will get a fair return on the incentives it has proffered the hotel developer.
Of course, putting the Giveaway on a ballot next year is absolutely the right thing to do — if it doesn’t make it, perhaps recalls of Kris Murray and Gail Eastman might be a reasonable substitute. We’ll bet that Murray knew exactly what she was doing when she rushed this vote with improper notice to the electorate. Someone also might be asking where Anaheim’s City Counsel was on this before Murray shot herself in the foot. Subsequent news stories noted there were no opposing comments from the audience — an obvious indication that the folks who would have vigorously spoken against this larceny were not there and unaware of how the item was to be railroaded through the Council. Murray pulled a similar trick when she rushed the $319 million Streetcar vote through the Council last month.
That the Brown Act was blatantly subverted by the Council ought to have more consequence than just forcing a re-vote that’s likely in the works. A fine would be in order, but at least Murray and her cronies need to hear from the public, loudly and often. Jordan Brandman, a Curt Pringle-lackey, can be counted on to support the Giveaway, but should understand that it might radically shorten his nascent political career. Gail Eastman has the experience, and presumably the intelligence, to just plain know better. [Re-elected Councilwoman Lucille Kring certainly knows better, but we still believe she has a conflict with anything GardenWalk as she owned a business there and would need to recuse on any future vote.]
At the very least, the Giveaway proponents should make their case, defend their positions in detail via the press and from the dais, demonstrate the City’s return on the transaction (as the Register correctly suggests) and understand that THIS TIME folks are watching and won’t be fooled again. We’re sure that Eric Altman and his Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development are paying attention, and the activists at Los Amigos as well.
Update: Matt “Jerbal” Cunningham tries to explain on his Anaheim Blog late this afternoon how a “discussion” means a “vote”: OC Register Editorial Needs A Dose of Reality.
Jerbal, a Curt Pringle-toady, also tries to make Jordan Brandman’s election to the Council sounds like a local-boy-makes-good story, but while he whines about the OCEA money sloshing around Anaheim, he fails to attribute Brandman’s electoral success to the major bucks that the Mouse, Anaheim’s biggest employer and reason for the hotel population in the first place, kicked into Brandman’s campaign per this 11/1/12 Register story: Disney pours cash into Anaheim election and this 10/29/12 Voice of OC piece: Disneyland Resort’s Contributions to Local PACs Top $300,000. Little wonder, with all this cash, that Brandman prevailed, but Jerbal has no explanation why his running mate, the sudden Hispanic Steve Chavez Lodge, LOST.
Said VofOC’s Adam Elmahrek:
The Disneyland Resort’s total contributions to political action committees campaigning to elect two Anaheim City Council candidates have topped $300,000, according to the most recent campaign finance reports. The resort has made contributions to four PACs that are campaigning for candidates favored by the city’s business community — Steve Chavez Lodge, director of public affairs for Hill International, and Jordan Brandman, an Anaheim Union School District trustee. The PACs involved are the Orange County Business Council’s BIZ PAC, the Orange County Taxpayers Association’s OCTAXPAC, the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce PAC and the Support Our Anaheim Resort Area (SOAR) PAC.
In his financial analysis, Jerb also failed to mention that the loser, Lodge, and his employer, Hill International didn’t go home unrewarded. Hill recently scored a $9.6 million contract to design the boondoggle streetcar system that Councilmember Murray shoved down her residents’ throats (also without a vote). GardenWalk is bound to have a streetcar stop on its south lot line, which just happens to be directly across Katella Ave. from the huge property Disney owns and will eventually build its third Park upon. A streetcar stop will require a traffic signal and crosswalk too, so O’Connell’s hotel guests will have perfect access to Disney’s assets.