I got a call the other day, out of the blue, from a former elected official I had not heard from in quite awhile. She was upset about a post that fingered public affairs consultant Roger Faubel. But we eventually got to talking about Curt Pringle and she was amazed to find out that a lot of conservatives don’t like him. Why wouldn’t they like him, she wondered. Why indeed.
I explained to her that Pringle and his henchmen have become experts at using the system to benefit themselves. She countered that when these people advocate for toll roads, for example, they are just trying to make sure that all of the voters don’t get stuck paying for the new roads we need in order to service Orange County’s new developments.
That was it. She hung up and I got to thinking about what she said. Orange County’s most powerful men and women are using our local governments, our county government and ballot measures to make us all pay for what developers ought to be paying for.
This is why these people run for water district boards, school boards, city councils, and the Board of Supervisors, but it doesn’t stop there. Many of these folks are not elected officials, but they work for electeds, they get appointed to public commissions, and they work as lobbyists and consultants.
It is all a big scam. They have effectively gamed the system and the voters, for the most part, have no idea what is really going on.
Examples are plentiful. Why would Rob Richardson, the Assistant Orange County CEO, run for the Santa Ana Unified School District’s Board of Trustees? He has no kids. But he has been on the SAUSD School Board for years. We take school b0ard positions for granted but they have millions of dollars at their disposal, from state and federal money to bond measures that tap the local residents for even more money. Jobs are created, schools are built and refurbished, and you can bet that friends of the school board members are very well compensated for their campaign donations.
And why would lobbyist/consultant/PR hack Matt Cunningham get appointed to the City of Orange Planning Commission (he finally got off that Commission two years ago) and the Orange County Parks Commission? There are two other lobbyist/consultants/public affair guys on that Commission – Bert Ashland and Faubel’s pal Justin McCusker, who is apparently going after Faubel’s former post on the Santa Margarita Water District’s Board. And there is a realtor on that commission too, Paul Kott. Why would these people be on a Parks Commission? Duh! So developers can get their way of course…
This scam cuts across party lines. And that is because a lot of these guys have become very wealthy investing in developments in each other’s cities. There was a time when Pringle was the Mayor of Anaheim and he was very clearly in cahoots with Larry Agran, in Irvine, and Miguel Pulido, in Santa Ana. Today only Pulido is still elected but Pringle is a lobbyist/consultant and he directly controls the Anaheim City Council, where his protege, Jordan Brandman – a Democrat, has joined most of the rest of the Council in doing Pringle’s bidding, including trying to fund a streetcar that will cost millions and benefit only Disneyland.
Tom Daly moved over to the State Assembly so he could continue to serve Disney too. The former reporter he hired to curate the O.C. Clerk-Recorder’s historical artifacts, Jean Pasco, is still at the Clerk-Recorder’s office and she is also the Co-Chair of the Orange County Public Affairs Association. You can spot a lot of the County’s most powerful lobbyists/consultants on their Board of Directors. Faubel is there as is his pal McCusker. Another of Pringle’s allies on the Anaheim City Council, Kristine Murray, is there too. So is Disney’s Carrie Nocella, who works in Government Affairs. And there is Phil Tsunoda, another Democrat, who is on the Aliso Viejo City Council and also works for CalOptima. And another Democrat, consultant George Urch, is there too. He works with PACS who fund campaign advertising for quite a few campaigns.
Where else can you spot these people? Try the Association of California Cities, Orange County. Their Board is chock full of usual suspects including another Pringle ally from the Anaheim City Council, Gail Murray. Also on that Board are folks like Mission Viejo Councilman Frank Ury, one of the most slipper characters in the O.C.; and Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry, the guy who wants to get rid of the popular Orange County beach fire pits; Garden Grove Councilman Steve Jones, a Realtor and former Planning Commissioner; and Lucy Dunn, from the OC Business Council. Dunn is also on the board of the O.C. Public Affairs Association and she is also on the board of the Orange County Taxpayers Association.
The Orange County Business Council’s Board is full of usual suspects too, including Disney’s V.P. of Public Affairs, Lisa Haines; and the O.C. Register’s Steve Churm (don’t think for one minute that the Register is a neutral organization – no way!); and Dan Miller, from the Irvine Company.
Another gold mine of usual suspects is the Orange County Taxpayers Association. Their board includes former Tustin Mayor Jerry Amante – yet another lobbyist/consultant; and representatives of the Irvine Company, various utilities, Disneyland, and the O.C. Association of Realtors. Pringle is there too.
Make no mistake, these people are very powerful – and wealthy. They have a lock on Orange County politics. Once in a long while a politician is able to persevere without them. But those are rare individuals, like Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait. He is a successful business owner in his own right and he doesn’t need the support of the O.C. cabal. There aren’t many electeds like Tait. And even those who supposedly run independently are quickly absorbed into the machine. Look at what happened last year in Anaheim with Lucille Kring. She buddied up with Tait during the election and then turned on him afterwards, allying with the Pringle stooges on the Anaheim City Council.
What chance do we have against these people? All I can ask is that you keep them in mind come the next elections. Don’t vote for them and don’t vote for any of their friends and allies. Be wary at all times. And spread the word. These people thrive when the electorate is uninformed. Let’s make sure the voters know better next time around.