As we all know, Angel's owner Arte Moreno is in the midst of "negotiations" with the City of Anaheim regarding the Angel Stadium lease. If the negotiations go as planned, Arte will be crowned Anaheim's latest Welfare Queen. Arte gets to join previous inductees The Walt Disney Company and GardenWalk Hotel owner Bill O'Connell. Congratulations Mr. Moreno. You sure know how to manipulate the council majority and ripoff the Anaheim taxpayers in the process.
From The OC Register:
I don’t think there is anything wrong with being clueless.
Let’s face it, there’s no way folks can know as much as a columnist.
Angels owner Arte Moreno, seen here at a fundraiser with his wife, Carole, is in the midst of negotiations with the city of Anaheim over a new stadium lease.
When I hear from those who think they do, and that’s usually every day, I remain very supportive of the ignorant by replying: “It’s always nice to hear from the clueless.”
But I have no such kind words today for the clueless folks charged with the task of working out a new lease for Angel Stadium with Arte Moreno.
They represent the taxpayers in Anaheim, and if this is an example of how they do business, thank heavens I live in Placentia.
“We’re pursuing a positive outcome to see if there is a way of keeping the Angels in Anaheim,” said Charles Black, hired by Anaheim to be its consultant and lawyer.
Hello, is anybody home?
Where are the Angels going?
“There are facilities around the country being built entirely by private funds,” Black said.
The Orange County Register reinforced the sky-is-falling scenario by coupling the Braves’ move to a new suburban stadium with the Angels recently on the front page, although the story itself showed why an Angels move is unlikely.
Atlanta has nothing to do with Southern California, and as the NFL will tell you, public money here is tighter than Moreno when talking contract with Mike Trout.
“When you say there is no place Arte can move,” Black said, and I do, “that’s where this conversation breaks down. That’s absolutely false.”
I liked the sound of that. That suggested Anaheim had done its homework and put together a list of potential landing spots for the Angels if Moreno pulled out of Anaheim.
It’s a no-brainer; beneficial to Anaheim’s cause if it identified the competition and understood what it might be up against.
But I’m told there is no such list.
“I don’t know where they would go,” Black admitted. “I don’t think knowing where they would go is important. It’s just important they could go.
“You’re a sportswriter, you must watch how Arte spends money on his payroll. That’s a significant amount of money, and so he could do the same in building a stadium.”
If he builds a stadium like he signs high-priced free agents, here’s hoping the building inspector makes sure the place doesn’t collapse on everyone.
“I built one of these facilities before,” said Black, who was a key figure in getting Petco Park operational in San Diego.
But Petco Park was a huge redevelopment play in San Diego, having more to do with the neighborhood than the stadium, although public money/redevelopment funds were used to construct the stadium.
“I don’t think Arte could do such a deal now what with those funds no longer available,” Black said. “But look at Sacramento, how it has cobbled together some funds to build a new arena; at least half public financing.”
Sacramento does not have a finalized deal for an arena yet, and while it’s close, the Kings were also close to moving elsewhere.
“I disagree with the conclusion that the Angels can’t go anywhere else,” Black said, “Particularly if the owner has the ability and willingness to spend money on building a facility.”
I have spent almost 20 years covering the Los Angeles effort to build an NFL stadium, and one thing I’ve learned: Rich folks work very hard to make sure someone else pays for whatever they want.
Moreno hasn’t even begun to huff and puff about what he wants, and he already has Anaheim jumping at shadows.
“If you’re right and there’s no place to go, we’ve got the upper leg,” said the consultant.
But Black doesn’t think I am right, and city officials are hearing from Angel fans fearful they will lose their team, presumably because they like to be miserable during the baseball season.
“I don’t know if we’re going to be successful in keeping the Angels in place,” Black said. “I have been told the Angels have been approached by other potential venues.
“You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure out potential sites.”
I reminded Black he is not a brain surgeon, so figure it out.
“I expect the Angels have probably been approached by Irvine and probably approached by the City of Industry,” he said. “And they might have other places, too.”
The City of Industry has had a football stadium-ready site for years, and NFL teams free to move have not done so because they must finance stadium construction.
I wanted to know who told Black the team has been approached.
“My counterpart on the Angels (negotiating) team,’’ said Black in referring to the attorney hired by the team.
“They certainly don’t want to create the perception it’s a matter of working out a deal or leaving,” Black continued. “There wasn’t a threat, but realistically the city should understand there is the potential the Angels can relocate.”
Anaheim is so concerned; it has already said it would be willing to talk about giving Moreno development rights to the land around the stadium for $66 over the next 66 years.
“But there has to be real and substantial revenues to benefit the city as we proceed,” said Black, which sounds like tough talk until someone spots a moving van near the stadium.
“Moreno can move around quite a bit and hold on to his broadcasting contract,” Black said in continuing to sound the alarm. “He can’t go to Nevada, but he could probably go to Hawaii. I don’t think he would want to go to Arizona …”
Did you ever try to takes notes while laughing?
The Los Angeles Angels by way of Hawaii?
Yes, sir, it’s always nice to hear from the clueless.
From the Columbia Journalism Review:
SANTA BARBARA, CA — Judging from the initial coverage the Orange County Register and the Los Angeles Times gave to it, an agreement on the outline of negotiations for a new long-term lease of Angel Stadium might have been just another routine item on an Anaheim City Council meeting agenda.
Register reporter Art Marroquin’s story on a framework for lease negotiations—which the council approved early in September on a 4-1 vote—was dutiful, bland, and short. His piece focused on the city’s agreement to give Arte Moreno, owner of the Angels professional baseball franchise, an extension of three years before he must decide whether to opt out of the current lease and move the team. A city consultant said the Angels would be “impulsive and difficult to negotiate with” if the extension weren’t granted, Marroquin wrote.
The Times’ Bill Shaikin offered up an even more pro forma account, noting that the same consultant told the City Council that Moreno “has emphasized he has the means to move the team elsewhere” if negotiations aren’t fruitful. Shaikin reported that Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait opposed the two memorandums of understanding approved by the council but did not quote or paraphrase him as to why.
The Times and Register articles mentioned, but otherwise made very little of a rather startling starting point for stadium negotiations: The city would lease 155 acres surrounding the stadium to Moreno and his companies for 66 years—at $1 per year. In exchange, Moreno would update the stadium, or maybe build a new one, and develop the parking lots around it in some way. Neither story even raised the question of the potentially enormous economic value of the long-term use of the real estate in question. (Nearly two months later, the Register did explore this question in a substantial piece—more on that to come).
Four days after the negotiating agreement was approved, the Times, in a journalistically unusual move, published an opinion column by Shaikin, who covers professional baseball on and off the field for the paper. Shaikin’s column argued in favor of the $1-per-year, 66-year lease. Without providing much in the way of financial information to support his position, he concluded that, because the land surrounding the stadium had not been developed in recent decades, “this is as good as it gets for Anaheim.”
Tait—a lawyer with an MBA—has a different view, to say the least. In an interview early in November, he called the memorandums of understanding “shocking” and “outrageous.” “I don’t know of a larger municipal giveaway,” he said, suggesting that the property in question has a conservative value of hundreds of millions of dollars. And he said that when he describes the negotiating agreements to constituents, “they are saying, `Why don’t more people know about this?’”
* * *
The situation around the Angel Stadium lease is vague, complicated, and in flux. What the city and the Angels agreed to early in September is not a final deal; in general, it is an agreement to negotiate in “good faith,” based on the outlines of the memorandums of agreement approved by the City Council. Those negotiating memorandums were placed on the City Council meeting agenda on the Friday before a long Labor Day weekend and voted on the following Tuesday. There was little time for public debate before the council approved them.
The major newspapers that might be expected to stimulate such a debate did little of the sort in the month after that approval.
It was the Voice of OC, a small nonprofit investigative news organization, that presented the first genuinely enterprising coverage of the Angel Stadium lease. The Voice asked the central—and obvious—question raised by the lease negotiating framework in a Sept. 19 article headlined, “What is the Actual Value of the Angel Stadium Deal?” The story, written by Adam Elmahrek, acknowledged the difficulty of placing a value on the stadium and the land surrounding it, given the uncertainty about details of any deal, including what, if any, taxes might be rebated to a developer over the years. But at least the piece began to put parameters on the size of benefit being offered to the owner of the Angels, citing two city studies estimating the value of the land at somewhere between $30 million and $380 million.
Norberto Santana Jr., editor in chief of the Voice and a former investigative reporter for the Register, said the Times has been largely absent in terms of covering Orange County public affairs recently. But he was surprised by the Register’s less than comprehensive coverage in the weeks after the agreement because the Angel Stadium negotiations “are the strangest I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stadium negotiation so one-sided or so quick,” he said.
Marroquin disputed my suggestion that initial Register coverage of the stadium lease situation had been soft, saying that three reporters—he, Martin Wisckol, and Sarah Tully—are now digging into the stadium lease negotiations and that reporting on them is “definitely a priority.” And early in November, about two months after the city agreed to its negotiating framework with the Angels, the Register finally did weigh in with an important in-depth piece on the stadium.
In the article, Wisckol, who covers politics for the Register, turned a city-commissioned report on the Angels’ economic impact on Anaheim—a report that some city council members have used to support their efforts toward a new stadium lease—into Swiss cheese. The report claimed the team generated $204 million in new spending in the city and $4.7 million in annual revenue for the city treasury, Wisckol wrote, but it “is so replete with unsubstantiated assumptions that it can’t be used as a reliable indicator of the team’s financial impact on the city, interviews and public records show.”
An email seeking an interview with Register Editor Ken Brusic about coverage of the Angel Stadium lease was answered by Eric Morgan, who is listed as a communications manager on the Register’s website and who wrote, “we’ll cover this story in the same way we cover all of our news stories—we’ll report the facts in a fair and objective way, with perspectives from the parties involved and report this Orange County-based story with team coverage and in great depth.” Morgan said he would pass along an interview request to Register Publisher Aaron Kushner, who did not contact me.
It’s unclear to me whether the Times’ minimal coverage of the Angel Stadium lease negotiations is a reflection of conscious choice or disorganization.
Shaikin said he was asked on short notice to provide news coverage of the Anaheim City Council’s vote on the lease negotiations. His editors approved his column on the lease, he said, and if they had wanted something different, they would have said so. When asked about future coverage of the lease, Shaikin said, “If you’re asking what our long-term plan is for covering this, I’d have to refer you to the editors.”
Times sports editor Mike James said Shaikin was assigned to the new Angels lease story because he had experience covering the Angels current lease, and because “the metro staff has not jumped on this one.” Shaikin will probably continue covering the lease situation, James said. But when he was asked about the column Shaikin had written—in which he gave his opinion on lease negotiations he had covered as a news reporter—James said, “That’s a gray area, and we don’t do a lot of that.” In fact, James said, he’s “not positive” he’d allow Shaikin to do it again.
The business side of big league sports is often a tough cover for local media. In a telephone interview, Neil deMause, co-author of the book Field of Schemes: How the great stadium swindle turns public money into private profit, said the unquestioning initial coverage of the Angel Stadium lease negotiations by the Times and the Register is “very typical.” In general terms, he said, news outlets tend to cover professional stadium and arena issues with either sports reporters “who don’t know anything about economics” or news reporters “who tend not to bring all their critical faculties” when confronted with the pizazz of professional sports.
Several days after the interview, deMause made a point of emailing to note that Wisckol’s piece eviscerating the city-commissioned report on the Angels’ economic impact on Anaheim, published after we’d first spoken, was “pretty excellent”—a verdict with which I and others (including the Voice of OC’s Santana) generally agree. I also know that Shaikin is a quality journalist and anything but an economic naïf, and that he did yeoman’s work covering the complex, soap opera-like financial saga of former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. I suspect that if he were given the time and directed to do so, Shaikin would bring light to the proposed Angel Stadium lease negotiations in fairly short order.
Clearly, though, overall coverage of the Angel Stadium lease has so far been insufficient to the import of the subject. Fortunately, there is time to do better. The Anaheim city staff has said they expect an appraisal of the land around Angel Stadium to be finished by January. But a Nov. 6 story by the Register’s Marroquin paraphrases Anaheim City Manager Marcie Edwards as saying that the appraisal will not be made public until just before the City Council votes on the lease, to avoid undercutting the city’s negotiating position.
The value of the property surrounding Angel Stadium is a critical component of any lease that would include conveying use of that land to Moreno or his companies, and reporters covering the lease need to press hard for the appraisal report to be made public well ahead of a City Council vote, so there is time to assess the reasonableness of the proposed lease. Reporters also should push for revelation of the proposed lease well in advance of any City Council vote on it. In long-term leases of major public facilities, many expensive devils can be hidden in the seemingly smallest of details. The public interest would be poorly served if the City Council approved a lease that was found, afterward, to be tilted toward Moreno and the Angels.
And overall, reporters covering the negotiations on a new lease for the Angel Stadium and surrounding property need to recharge their skepticism batteries, and their calculators. Tait told me the property surrounding the stadium has been permitted for the construction of 5,100 residential units and a total of 6 million square feet of commercial and office space. That the property is already approved for these uses raises its value considerably in regulation-happy California. Tait suggests that a conservative estimate of the property’s value would run in the $300 million range. Tait could be wrong. But it is reasonable to ask: What if he is right? In theory, the stadium property could simply be sold. Would trading 66 years of use of $300 million be a reasonable cost to pay to keep the Angels in Anaheim?
There are ways to calculate the future value of $300 million. My calculations, using an interest rate of 5 percent, compounded annually over the 66 years of the proposed lease, produce a total over that time of about $7.5 billion. Perhaps it is time for the media that most directly serve the Anaheim market to tell their readers and viewers what their calculations show.
Thank God that Gal Eastman has been replaced by Mayor Tom Tait on the OCTA board. Especially considering her support of the $319 million Disney streetcar and the $300 million ARTIC train station. One taxpayer giveaway after another and she isn't stopping with her giveaways to Disney. No, Gail Eastman wants to giveaway prime real estate for $1 a year to Angel's owner Arte Moreno. When will these people learn that they work for us and not Disney, the Angels, or wealthy developers.
Tonight's PBS Real Orange broadcast featured a panel discussing Lorri Galloway's run against Mayor Tom Tait. Here are some highlighted quotes followed by the video:
"she is absolutely wrong that she can get things done in Anaheim"
"there's no predicate that Lorri Galloway or anyone else can make (are you listening Lucille Kring) for electing anyone else to replace him, let alone her"
"what Lorri Galloway is doing is mind-boggling"
"this is all about ego, this is a person who had an incredibly undistinguished career as a city council member"
I have to hand it to Lucille Kring, this woman has no shame. I'd even be as bold to state that she has no conscience. Why you ask would I characterize her in this negative light? Well, Lucille Kring for one made specific campaign promises and then once she was elected didn't abide by any of them. Now I realize that not all campaign promises can be kept but these were very specific ones that helped her garner Mayor Tait's support as well as mine. Specifically she vowed to:
- Vote no on a controversial $158-million hotel room tax subsidy.
- Vote yes to a ballot measure for Anaheim residents to vote on all future hotel tax subsidies.
- Vote yes to changing the City Council's at large election system to a system by which council members are elected by districts.
- Vote yes to a civilian oversight review board of police.
(the rest of the story is brough to you by the Voice of OC)
Since being elected, Kring has changed her position on all four. She voted for thesubsidy and against district elections; she vocally opposed a civilian police oversight board; and she refused to second a motion by the mayor to place the hotel tax subsidy voters measure on a citywide ballot.
Campaign finance records show Kring received thousands of dollars in contributions from groups and businesses that lobbied for her change of heart. And because Kring loaned her campaign $75,000, some of these donations went toward paying off the debt and therefore straight into her pocket.
The donations include, among others, thousands of dollars from Support Our Anaheim Resort SOAR, a Disneyland-funded group that has not taken an official position on district elections but has several advisory board members who lobbied against the electoral change and for the subsidy; the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, which was also for the subsidy and against district elections; and hotel partnerships connected to Bill O'Connell, the recipient of the hotel tax subsidy.
Kring's actions have led some outraged supporters to state publicly that she betrayed them.
“You lied to me,” said resident Larry Larsen during public comments at the May 28 council meeting. Larsen had agreed to place a campaign sign promoting Kring in his yard after she told him she was adamantly against the hotel subsidy.
“Madam, you cannot be trusted or believed. You will say or do anything for a vote. How much was your integrity worth? Was all your campaign debt paid off?”
And it's not just residents who say that Kring broke promises.
Mayor Tom Tait said that he endorsed Kring for City Council because she changed her position from opposing an initiative, called "Let the People Vote," that would require a citywide vote on future hotel tax subsidies to supporting it. But when Tait proposed that initiative at a council meeting, she changed her mind again, remaining silent and allowing the motion to die for lack of a second.
In a brief interview, Kring denied that she changed her position in exchange for the campaign contributions.
She said the subsidy deal evolved into a package that was better for Anaheim. For one thing, the time the developer can collect room tax revenue was extended by five years so the city could share in 10 percent of the revenue as opposed to none. Critics counter, however, that it's a worse deal, because the developer's deadline to begin construction on one of the hotels isn't until 2019.
When asked why she didn't support the mayor's ballot measure, she insisted that it didn't come up for a vote. But at the May 14 council meeting during which the subsidy was approved, Kring refused to back the mayor's motion to put the "Let the People Vote" initiative on the ballot.
Kring said she couldn't recall favoring civilian oversight of police during the campaign, but she is on record as stating so at a Voice of OC candidates forum on Anna Drive. She said even if she had supported it at first, there are several layers of oversight already.
Kring also insisted that the contributions and votes are legal.
When questioned about the campaign contributions and votes, Kring said: “That's your impression. It's not true at all. If I get a check from you, it does not preclude me from voting on an issue for Voice of OC.”
But Kring is legally precluded from engaging in a quid pro quo, that is casting a vote with the understanding that she would receive money in return.
Curiously, Kring has in the past made statements implying that Disneyland and former mayor Curt Pringle, who is now the foremost lobbyist in Anaheim, finance campaigns with the expectation that they would receive the right policy votes in return.
In 2006 during Kring's last stint on council, Pringle refused to throw her a promised fundraiser because she “never voted his way,” she wrote in an Oct. 10 email to a former supporter.
“I told [Pringle] my vote was not for sale,” Kring wrote.
In another email to supporters on Oct. 26, Kring noted that Disney had dramatically increased its campaign spending by funneling cash through various political action committees and pondered whether the company was spending large sums in an effort to control the council.
“Why is Disney spending so much money on candidates that receive $18,000/year in salary? What do they expect from these candidates,” Kring wrote. “I never believed that Disney ran the city but I've changed my mind.”
A Case of Curious Timing
Fast forward to 2013, and Kring seems to no longer have such concerns about Pringle, Disney and the rest of the business establishment.
When confronted with the emails, Kring said that Pringle had never tried to buy her vote and that she once again has changed her mind about whether Disney runs the city.
“No, I don't believe that Disney controls the city,” Kring wrote in an email Monday to Voice of OC. “I don't believe that Curt tried to buy my vote. No one ever has or will.”
Yet the timing of a Pringle-organized fundraiser for Kring raises questions. Pringle was the lobbyist for O'Connell and his partner Ajesh Patel, the two hoteliers whose GardenWalk hotel project was the beneficiary of the $158-million subsidy.
In “mid-April,” Kring met with Pringle, O'Connell and Patel to discuss the tax subsidy, Kring wrote in an email obtained by Voice of OC.
Two weeks after the vote to approve the subsidy — and only one day after Larsen berated Kring publicly for betraying her campaign promise — Pringle held a fundraiser for her at The Catch restaurant near Angel Stadium, campaign finance records show.
Anaheim Park Place Inn, an O'Connell partnership that the hotelier claims is controlled by his son, contributed $1,000 to Kring's campaign May 29, the day of the fundraiser, records show. And on two occasions in February, Stovall's Inn LLC and Orangewood LLC — other O'Connell partnerships — contributed $300 and $250, respectively, according to the records.
By the end of the campaign finance filing period in June, Kring had repaid herself $37,500, records show.
Kring didn't deny that the contributions came from O'Connell and defended them. She said that she had received support from Pringle and O'Connell because she has known them for many years. And the May 29 fundraiser was originally set for April — around the time of her meeting with Pringle, O'Connell and Patel — but was moved because of a scheduling conflict, she said.
“There was nothing conspiratorial about it,” Kring said in an interview. “Bill and I have been friends for more years then you probably have been alive.”
Others said the circumstances at least strongly suggest a quid pro quo. City activist and blogger Jason Young, the former supporter whom Kring had emailed, said that the email and the fundraiser show that Pringle had successfully purchased her vote after previously failing to do so.
“It's clear,” Young said.
While the emails, campaign contributions and votes may give the public the appearance of an illegal quid pro quo, they don't constitute proof, according to Tracy Westen, CEO of the Los Angeles-based Center for Governmental studies. To prove it, there needs to be direct evidence of a vote-for-cash deal, like an email chain showing clearly that a council member asked for and received money in exchange for a vote.
The Kring emails, however, “generate exactly the kind of thing you get from that constituent: feeling a betrayal, feeling that they're selling votes,” Westen said. “Unless you've got a microphone in the room or somebody stupid enough to write it down, you'll never prove it.”
Nonetheless, the appearance is damaging to the public's confidence, Westen said. The circumstances surrounding Kring's fundraising has sparked a debate among good-government experts, a San Diego-based attorney and Kring over what is and isn't public corruption.
“These emails are kind of dynamite. They show why the public is suspicious,” Westen said.
Cory Briggs, a San Diego-based attorney who has called on the Orange County district attorney's office and the state attorney general's office to prosecute Kring and the council majority for violations of the California Political Reform Act, said that the circumstances surrounding Kring's vote on the hotel subsidy would likely persuade a jury on charges that she engaged in a quid pro quo.
“If I were Lucille Kring, I would hire a criminal defense attorney, and I would pray that I would never have to face a trial,” Briggs said.
Breaking The Law, or a Call for Reform?
Beyond the other circumstances, Briggs claimed in his correspondence to prosecutors that two $500 contributions from SOAR — whose advisory board includes O'Connell — to Kring's campaign before and after the vote are enough to indicate a quid pro quo.
Briggs' argument is that SOAR is essentially a shell corporation for O'Connell to launder campaign money. The Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, which also contributed to Kring's campaign before and after the vote, lobbied publicly for the hotel subsidy and against district elections.
“SOAR itself might not actually make money off of [the hotel subsidy], but I don't think you can evade these rules to set up a shell corporation in order to put an extra bureaucracy between you and the politician,” Briggs said. “If you could, then people would just set up these shell corporations and there's no way to prove a bribe to a public official.”
Robert Stern, president of the center for governmental studies and the expert who helped write the political reform act, has cast doubt on such claims, saying that it has never been illegal in California to make contributions to elected officials who then vote on the contributor's projects.
Westen said that the circumstances surrounding Kring — her emails, contributions, fundraiser and flip-flopping — taken together are an example of a campaign finance system that desperately needs reform.
“That's why it's so hard to get good health care and good public education, but if you want to bail out the banks, that can happen in one day,” Westen said. “Because those are the people giving the money. … One percent of the people give well over 90 percent of the contributions in congressional and senatorial races.”
For one thing, some jurisdictions restrict fundraising to pay off candidates' campaign debt to themselves to a short time right after an election, Westen said. After that, the debt must be forgiven.
“I think personal loans are more problematical, because there's a greater danger that the elected official will feel even more charitable to the people paying their debts. … That is viewed as an especially pernicious problem,” Westen said. “There's a greater danger of a quid pro quo.”
Westen also advocates a switch to a public financing system. The New York City and Los Angeles, for example, match several times the dollars candidates raise, making it easier for candidates with less money to compete.
But selling a public financing system to the public can be challenging. Most residents would be unwilling to give taxpayer money to Kring after reading her emailed statements about city politics, Westen said.
“Most would say, are you kidding me? I wouldn't give those guys the time of day,” Westen said.
During this week's episode of PBS's Real Orange show, Lorri Galloway decided to attack Mayor Tait . Below is my letter to Mrs. Galloway in response to her interview:
I just sat through the PBS interview you gave and I am beyond livid. You promised not to attack Mayor Tait and yet you continually do so. What's worse is that you claim you somehow could have brought consensus and compromise to all of the divisive issues that he has met. You couldn't bridge that divide when you were on council and you certainly have sided with Mayor Tait on all of the issues he has faced.
How dishonest could you possibly be? I'm sorry to say but you may be worse then Kring. You not only have turned on a man of integrity but you are tearing down someone you claim is your friend. I guess I should have listened to those who warned me that you lacked integrity.
UPDATE: Lorri has just issued this statement-
With all of my heart, I sincerely apologize. This has spiraled into
something that is negative and was never my intent. What has been
said by me is hurtful and not the message I wanted to get across.
The worst thing about any of this is that I know I've lost your
friendship and my heart is broken over that. The truth is that I do
believe you have made courageous moves in standing up for what is
right and you are a good and wonderful and kind man. I've said that
in all my interviews but that is not the message that writers and TV
people want to hear from me; they want drama and they focus on the
negative. They didn't want to hear about my wanting people to have a
different choice. Regardless, my team and I will step back and get
on the track that I set from the beginning which has no place in
attacking you. Again, I hope you find it in your heart to forgive me
for allowing this to happen. From my camp, it will not happen again.
You and I have spoken many times about believing that this is much
bigger than you or I. I still believe that.
I love this supposed apology where she tries to blame the media for her attack on Mayor Tait. Why not take responsibility for your choice of words Lorri?
From the OC Register:
Former Anaheim Councilwoman Lorri Galloway told Mayor Tom Tait months ago that she would be the better candidate for mayor next year and that he should run for City Council. While Tait rejected the idea, he was on notice that Galloway, a longtime political ally, had designs on the seat he won in 2010.
Still, Tait said he was “obviously disappointed and surprised,” when this column last week reported that Galloway would indeed run for mayor.
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait peaks during a ceremony last month at George Washington Park in Anaheim to dedicate 18 new banners for active-duty military personnel from Anaheim.
“But anyone can run for mayor,” he shrugged as we met over breakfast on Monday. “It is what it is.” And other than that, he didn’t refer again to Galloway, although he rebutted her allegations that he has failed to provide leadership. She contends that even though they are in general agreement on several of the meatiest issues facing the city, Tait’s inability to compromise has led to a 4-1 split on the City Council, with Tait an ineffective lone dissenter.
“Leadership?” he said. “When I took office, the city was losing $56,000 a day and had been for two years. If I didn’t do anything, we would have run out of money. We had eaten through $30 million in reserves. We had to make immediate cuts. A lot of people didn’t like that but it had to be done.”
There have been divisive issues, but there was no room for compromise, he said, because the issues “had to do with giving away the people’s money in massive amounts.”
The first of those issues to arise was a $158 million tax break given to a hotel developer by the council majority. “I don’t know how you compromise a $158 million giveaway to a hotelier. I wanted to let the people vote on it, but they wouldn’t agree to that.”
“You could have offered to cut the $158 million in half,” I suggested.
“There’s no reason to do it in the first place,” he said. “When it comes down to these big-principle issues, I’m not going to compromise my principles.”
Similarly, he said there is no middle ground left regarding how the city’s neighborhoods should be represented on the City Council. Tait wants a pure district system in which council candidates must live in the district they wish to represent and only voters in that district may cast ballots for them. The other council members voted for at-large citywide voting for every district.
“To win at-large, you need a lot of money. That leaves you susceptible to special interests. Regular people don’t have that kind of money. In districts, you have a candidate who can walk the district and at least have a chance against the special interests.”
Conversely, the entire city is impossible to walk, and special-interest money (that usually goes into expensive mail pieces) will dominate, he says. The majority also defeated his attempt to put the pure districting model on the ballot for voters to decide.
“I don’t know how you compromise on that. You either let people have a vote or you don’t.”
The Angel Stadium deal with Arte Moreno also has him at odds with the majority. Tait was against approving a Memorandum of Understanding with the Angels that serves as a framework to cut a deal that would allow Moreno lease 155 acres of prime city-owned real estate surrounding the stadium for $1 a year for 66 years and allow him to drop the name “Anaheim” from the team entirely.
Tait, a lawyer, believes the M.O.U. may have locked in the 155 acres and the Anaheim name-drop as the starting point from which to negotiate the final deal. “The proponents) say, ‘Oh, it’s just an M.O.U., but I don’t know where you go from there.” If the city tries to bargain back from the established starting point, he says, Moreno could sue for bad faith.
He also defended his position that public employee pensions must be cut, something that Galloway said he was too strident about, alienating city workers.
He is not supporting unilateral cuts to existing pensions (as my Friday column implied) but only allowing employees themselves to bargain down their current rates during contract talks. As the law stands, pension formulas for existing employees generally can’t be reduced. The fiscal realities of unfunded pension liability, he says, call for reform. “It’s really about saving pensions and keeping the system solvent.”
ANAHEIM – Negotiations have collapsed on a deal that would have allowed Freedom Communications, parent company of the Orange County Register, to help Anaheim find a corporate sponsor that would pay to put its name on a transportation hub under construction near Angel Stadium.
As a result, city officials this week put out a call for proposals from consultants interested in seeking out a sponsor for the new Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, also known as ARTIC, said Natalie Meeks, Anaheim’s public works director. A deal could go before the City Council as soon as January.
An artist's rendering of the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, or ARTIC, shows how the 67,000-square-foot facility will change the scenery near the Honda Center and Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
This summer, Anaheim and Freedom Communications began negotiating toward a deal that would have allowed Freedom to exclusively solicit companies for the naming rights on ARTIC.
“It didn’t look like we were going to put something together that would work well for the city and for Freedom, so discussions were put on hold,” said Aaron Kushner, CEO of Freedom Communications and the Register’s publisher.
“There was no formal process to begin with, and no hard dates attached to this,” Kushner said. “I think both sides decided that it wasn’t worth continuing the conversation.”
The negotiations were heavily criticized by government and journalism watchdog groups that raised questions over whether the Register’s coverage of Anaheim and ARTIC would be fair and balanced.
Kushner has said news coverage would never be influenced by any deal.
This year, Freedom Communications launched a venture that focuses on selling corporate sponsorships to companies and organizations. Kushner declined to comment on whether he planned to reapply to become ARTIC’s naming-rights broker.
Construction began in September 2012 on ARTIC, a 67,000-square-foot terminal that will provide access to Amtrak, Metrolink, buses and taxis. The $184.2 million project is primarily funded by Orange County's half-percent sales tax, approved by voters for such transportation improvements, and bolstered by tens of millions of dollars in state and federal grants. ARTIC is expected to open in about a year.
Any revenue generated from a naming-rights deal – along with advertising opportunities and retail inside the terminal – would go toward operations and maintenance costs after the transportation station opens, Meeks said. Meeks said it was unclear how much any such deal could be worth.
“Naming sponsorships for transportation facilities is relatively new, and we’re still determining the market value for that,” Meeks said.
A report to the city of Anaheim on the economic effects of Angels baseball at the “Big A” is so replete with unsubstantiated assumptions that it can't be used as a reliable indicator of the team's financial impact on the city, interviews and public records show.
The report, written by Texas-based Conventions, Sports & Leisure, makes generalized assumptions on consumer behaviors based on studies in other major league cities and uses formulas disputed by other economists. The zip codes of ticket buyers were reviewed but no Angels-game attendees were interviewed.
The report does not include millions in team-related city costs, some of which most City Council members were unfamiliar with until being informed by the Register.
One sports economist dismissed the entire city-funded report, saying the Texas consultant that performed it is in the business of providing cities and teams with reports that show favorable financial outcomes.
“Based on everything else I've seen CSL do, this is a promotional study,” said Andrew Zimbalist, co-author of “Sports, Jobs and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums.” “If CSL came out with a study that said Anaheim had no positive economic impact, they wouldn't get any more work.”
The Angels' economic impact on Anaheim is important because the city is renegotiating the Angels' lease, which runs through 2029, at the request of the team. Although the team has not publicly threatened to exercise its opt-out provision, at least three of the five City Council members have said they are concerned that the Angels might find more favorable circumstances and a new stadium elsewhere in the greater Los Angeles area.
“The economic impact is probably the No. 1 factor” in wanting to keep the team, Councilwoman Lucille Kring said.
Several economists and city officials interviewed said they believed that the team does provide civic and financial benefits for the city. But they also said that city officials should have accurate numbers before they negotiate a lease more favorable to the team. Questionable assumptions in the report leave uncertain how much Anaheim can give up in its renegotiations before the city starts subsidizing the team – if it isn't already.
CSL principal John Kaatz said that the city asked his firm to account for the money generated by having the Angels in town, but not associated city expenses. He acknowledged the speculative nature of such estimates but said the report made appropriate adjustments.
“Every economist will take a different approach to methods,” he said. “Our methods are based on extensive experience around the country. Our assumptions in the model are based on what we've seen in other cities. Anaheim is a particular place with unique characteristics, but we stand behind our model. There's no question that it's tough to make the determination, but CSL has been doing this for more than 20 years.”
The 12-page report credits the team with generating $204 million in new spending in the city and $4.7 million in annual revenue for the city treasury. The Register found that using the consultant's assumptions, net city revenue drops to about $2.3 million when the expenses are accounted for.
But some economists are skeptical of the consultant's numbers, taking issue with the report's methodology and data in determining the new spending and annual revenue figures. (Specific methodology and data used is not included in the study, though Kaatz reviewed numerous aspects of the methodology with the Register.)
Chapman University economist Esmael Adibi oversaw a 1996 economic impact report on the Angels that did not receive team or city funding. He offered a more charitable view of the Texas consultant's report than Zimbalist – but still identified key shortcomings that tend to bolster the estimates of revenue and jobs for the city.
“There's no question there's a positive economic impact,” Adibi said. “The question is what it is. And there's no question that there are firms that do this kind of work and maybe it would be better to go to academics.”
Angels spokeswoman Marie Garvey said it was inappropriate for the team to comment because the study was commissioned by the city, not the Angels.
The biggest source of Angels-related funding to city coffers – 58 percent – comes from hotel taxes, according to the report. This is one of numerous disputed estimates, with critics raising several challenges:
• The background assumption – not stated in the report – that 18 percent of all Angels ticket buyers spend the night in a local hotel has been challenged by Mayor Tom Tait, among others. “That would be nearly 7,000 people a game. That's unlikely.”
• Some hotel guests come to town for other reasons and then decide to attend a game, meaning their hotel occupancy would not be affected if the team wasn't in Anaheim, Zimbalist said.
• The premise that 90 percent of game-goers who rented rooms did so within the city limits – unstated in the report but explained to the Register by CSL's Kaatz – is impossible to ascertain without surveying attendees, Adibi said.
“Orange is five minutes from the stadium,” Adibi said. “It's going to take extensive research to determine how many people stay in hotels in the city of Anaheim. If you do samples of 200 or 300 people at three or four games, you get much better information.”
Adibi said he and 10 economics students spent roughly 400 manpower hours researching his 1996 economic report – and that they took the much simpler task of estimating the economic impact of the team countywide. Boring down on the single city of Anaheim would be considerably more challenging, he said.
Adibi's 1996 study found that total new spending countywide, thanks to the Angels, was $106 million – or $160 million in 2013 dollars. He said increases in ticket prices and other costs that have exceeded inflation could conceivably bring that amount to the Texas consultant's conclusion of $204 million – but for the entire county, not just for Anaheim as estimated in the $30,000 report by CSL.
“With the budget they had, they would have a hard time doing detailed surveys,” Adibi said.
SWEETENING THE POT
Kring and other City Council members say it's not just about money – that civic pride and city image are also motivations to make sure the home field remains in Anaheim.
“I think the Angels are important to the people of Anaheim,” Councilwoman Gail Eastman said. “The Angels are our team. Also, people know the city because of all the amenities the city has to offer, and the Angels are one of those.”
But Eastman said the economic impact is also a reason to negotiate a new lease.
The starting point for negotiations is a document drawn up by city staff and city consultant Charles Black, former president of the San Diego Padres, in consultation with the Angels. Among other things, that proposal would reduce the team's payments to the city.
The team currently pays the city $2 on every ticket sold after the first 2.6 million. That threshold would increase to 3 million under the proposal, largely eliminating that revenue to the city because the team is drawing only slightly more than 3 million fans. This year, 3,019,505 tickets were sold.
The proposal also would allow the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to drop “Anaheim” entirely from its name. And it would grant the team a 66-year, $1-per-year lease on 150 undeveloped acres around the stadium, which the team could develop according to the existing high-density residential, commercial and retail zoning. All tax revenue generated by the development for the city would be rebated to the team, according to the team's proposal.
In return, the city would no longer have to make its $600,000 annual maintenance payment for the city-owned stadium. The Angels would pick up that tab, as well as the bill for an estimated $130 million to $150 million in needed renovations.
City officials emphasize that none of the proposal is set in stone. A majority of the council has expressed opposition to surrendering the sales, hotel and property taxes generated by the new development.
Mayor Tait, the sole dissenter in the 4-1 vote to renegotiate the lease based on the proposal, has far broader reservations, and objects to the virtually free lease of prime real estate for development. The land value has not been appraised, but estimates have ranged from a city staff-reported low end of $30 million to a high end of $380 million that Tait says he saw on a city document.
Several council members see the team as being roughly a break-even proposition for city coffers. They recite the city's annual costs of about $600,000 for maintenance and $400,000 for debt service as being offset by the team's payment of $2 per ticket over the 2.6 million threshold. Since the lease was signed in 1996, those numbers have left the city with a modest $52,132 subsidy to the team – basically a break-even situation.
But that calculation doesn't account for the $1.3 million in annual city administration, overhead and property insurance paid for out of convention center funds, according to budget documents and internal emails.
When asked by the Register about that expense, four of five council members – all but Jordan Brandman – said they were unfamiliar with it.
On the revenue side, the commonly used “break-even” calculation doesn't account for city taxes generated by Angels games and related activities.
That's where the economic impact study comes in. To assess the impact to city coffers, an accurate accounting of tax revenues is necessary. But economists differ on many aspects of the Texas firm's study in addition to the hotel issue. And each of those aspects dramatically affects the estimate of what ends up in city hands.
Three of the disputed assumptions:
• The $14.25 per game out-of-stadium spending by non-Anaheim ticket buyers who do not stay in hotels. When asked about that amount at a City Council meeting, Kaatz offered an alternative calculation removing this assumption.
• The calculation that new direct and indirect spending is 1.7 times the amount of new direct spending alone. Zimbalist said 1.2 times would be more accurate.
• The estimate that 90 percent of game-going hotel guests stay in the city. The Register recalculated findings based on a 75 percent figure.
Changing these three items to the lower assumptions would reduce city tax revenues from the report's estimate of $3.6 million to $2.6 million. That's before accounting for $1.3 million in administrative costs and without considering economists' other objections to the study.
Tait estimates tax revenues are closer to $1.3 million.
“What we make in tax revenue is pretty much a wash,” Tait said. “The big subsidy is the city-owned stadium and parking that the team basically gets for free.”
However, at a time when some cities are burdened with millions in new stadium debt payments, Anaheim is in relatively good shape, according to Stanford economist Roger Noll, co-author of “Sports, Jobs and Taxes.”
“The net operating cost to the city is in the same range as other cities,” Noll said. “Some gain a little, some lose a little. The main financial cost of a stadium is its original construction cost.”
That cost is in the rear-view mirror for Anaheim, which completed the stadium in 1966 and gave it a massive renovation in 1996.
THE ‘SUBSTITUTION EFFECT'
Another criticism of the consultant's report is that it inaccurately calculates the “substitution effect” – Angel-related spending that would be spent in the city on other entertainment options if there were no baseball games to attend. While Kaatz said that has been accounted for, others were skeptical that it was addressed proportionately.
“(There are) people who live in neighboring towns but would travel into Anaheim for entertainment anyway,” said Neil deMause, co-author of “Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit.” “I hear there's a theme park of some kind there.”
Zimbalist's attack on the report as “boilerplate” echoes a similar complaint by Tait, who points out that the first copies of the report distributed to city officials referred to research done at “similar minor league sporting events.” The Angels, of course, are not minor league.
City Council members' reaction to the commissioned report – and to the critiques by other economists interviewed by the Register – range from outright rejection of the document to complete embrace of it. Tait is the council's harshest critic, calling the study's assumptions “absurdity upon absurdity.”
Eastman was not critical of the report but said she was interested in other views as well.
“I'm open to considering new information,” she said. “A lot of work is going into casting a critical eye on a new lease. None of us are willing to do some of the things other cities have done to keep teams, including direct subsidies.”
Brandman, however, said he was fully convinced of the Texas consultant's findings.
“I absolutely believe the report,” he said. “It's a reputable company.”
When read Adibi's comments about the study, Brandman said he respected the Chapman economist – but it didn't change his view.
“Everyone has the right to disagree,” Brandman said. “Economists do it all the time. There may come a time when we get another study, but this study is solid and I believe it.”
I admit I don't have a clue what Lorri Galloway accomplished during her last stint on the Anaheim City Council. So I can't speak to her record. I've heard her impassioned pleas before the crony capitalist majority and have recorded many of her rally's. I love her passion for the issues I believe in.
But what really speaks to her character is her choice to run for Mayor of Anaheim against longtime friend and supporter Mayor Tom Tait. I truly don't believe this what a true "friend" would do to another friend. A true friend would wait until Mayor Tait's second term is over and then run for Mayor. I believe her ego and need for political clout to funnel funds to the Eli Home is the real reason for this run.
I was present at a meeting held at Lorri's home about 2 weeks ago where she laid out her plans to run for council. Plans which she hoped would include Mayor Tait running for council instead of Mayor. Interesting idea huh? My hope is that the coalition that has supported Mayor Tait, include unlikely Demorat/Union allies, will not turn on him as well.
I've never met a man that I have respected and admired more. Someone who fights for what's right no matter what the cost politically. I'm proud to call him my friend and I am thankful for the opportunity to support his campaign for re-election.
A controversial $6.4-million tennis center project in Anaheim, which was pulled from the city's budget earlier this year after it sparked outrage among Latino activists and Mayor Tom Tait, is likely to move forward anyway, a council study session revealed last week.
The city-owned Anaheim Tennis Center and Wagner House already features several tennis courts, a lounge area with hardwood floors, large windows and a stone fireplace with an ornate mantle.
The renovation will include "additional lockers, showers and restrooms,” a “new historically-themed outdoor garden for social gatherings and weddings” and a tournament-level center court with permanent seating, according to budget documents and city officials.
The $6.4 million to pay for it all would come from developer impact fees generated by the Platinum Triangle development, approved for nearly 19,000 homes, that must be set aside for parks and recreation.
Tait and Latino activists have argued that the money would be better spent creating more public park space in and around the development, which is in a park-poor area of Central Anaheim.
However, it is clear from comments made at the study session that a majority of the City Council remains in favor of spending the money on the tennis center, which is about 1½ miles from the Platinum Triangle, and will at some point put it back in the budget.
“There was a great deal of community support for that,” said Councilwoman Gail Eastman. “Those are amenities that appeal to all of the people in our city, not just people who are a tennis player.”
That is not the opinion of activists like Jose Moreno of the Latino group Los Amigos of Orange County who point to the renovation, which would be the most expensive parks project in the budget, as evidence that the current all-white council is tone deaf to the needs of working-class Latino neighborhoods.
Moreno said it would be "infuriating" if the entire $6.4 million went to the tennis complex.
“That money is better used building a school-park library complex that can really be a jewel of the Platinum Triangle community, versus adding one tennis court and renovating a house at the tennis center that ultimately is still owned by a private company, and our residents and children will still have to pay to utilize,” Moreno said.
Moreno is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against Anaheim by lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union alleging that the city's current electoral system violates the 2001 California Voting Rights Act, which requires adequate representation for minorities.
Officials defending the project note that the developer fee revenue that would be directed to the tennis center is restricted and may be spent only in the “sphere of influence” of the Platinum Triangle.
Nonetheless, that money can be used to buy more parkland in the sphere of influence. In fact, city officials have been talking to developer Lennar regarding joint-use athletic fields, according to an email from city spokeswoman Ruth Ruiz.
Some other projects that would receive fee revenue include Ponderosa Park's community and family resource center, which was estimated at $6.1 million but has since been revised to $7 million, and an expansion of Boysen Park, which is adjacent to the tennis center.
“It's the limitations of the law and the availability of land that constrain me. It's not for lack of trying,” said Community Services Director Terry Lowe. “We will be looking at every opportunity to buy land.”
Tait has argued that if the city scales down the tennis center renovation it will have millions of dollars to buy parkland from a developer in the Platinum Triangle. He said the current park space there — a handful of “pocket parks” and a three-acre green-belt — is not enough to handle the nearly 2,000 families that could live there.
“Of all the needs we have, this isn't one of them,” Tait said. “It's contrary to the needs of the city.”
Yet city officials contended it's more complicated than just shifting money in the budget. They said at least part of the renovation is required under a 2007 city contract with operator Mike Nelson. Though the specific price tag for the city's contribution isn't spelled out in the agreement, the officials say it amounts to between $3.5 million and $4 million.
The banquet area and center court, which make up the rest of the cost, are not required under the contract and can be carved out, according to city officials. But spending the money on the reception area will ultimately mean more rentals, and officials said the city's share of that revenue, which will go to the general fund, will triple over time and the city would recoup its investment in about 20 years.
From OC Weekly:
The Anaheim City Council unanimously passed an ordinance last week that imposes a ban on camping in parks and other public spaces while allowing for the confiscation of property deemed "abandoned" and $40,000 for the early opening of the Fullerton Armory Emergency Shelter during the winter to show they're not complete assholes. "We need to find a long-term solution," Mayor Tom Tait cautioned, adding, "I'd like to call that initiative 'Coming Home Anaheim,'" acknowledging that the move effectively pushes homeless out of the city.
For the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the short-term solution leaves much to be desired. "I was really disappointed that this ordinance passed," says Heather Johnson, staff attorney for ACLU of Southern California. "We will be monitoring what happens in Anaheim. Criminalization measures have been found to violate homeless persons' civil [and] human rights and there have been some successful cases on those grounds."
The attorney heads the ACLU's newly launched Dignity for All Project which will advocate for expanding access to emergency shelter, permanent supportive housing, and medical care while opposing policies that criminalize homelessness.
There are a number of strong, local legal precedents to keep in mind in terms of what Anaheim is attempting to do. First, Johnson notes, is Jones v. City of Los Angeles where the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that criminalizing sleeping in public when there is no shelter space available is in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
"It seems disingenuous that they have explicitly allowed homeless people to sleep with a blanket but not with a sleeping bag," the ACLU attorney says of Anaheim's homeless nuances. "It does seem like they have drafted this law to make it harder to challenge."
Then there is Lavan v. City of Los Angeles where the Ninth Circuit held that the city of Los Angeles violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of homeless persons on Skid Row by seizing and destroying their personal property that had not been abandoned, but simply left behind temporarily while they ate, showered or used a restroom.
"Under the wording of the Anaheim ordinance they don't provide a lot of guidance on what constitutes abandoned property," Johnson says. "That is a major concern. It will be really interesting to see how the Anaheim Police Department implements and enforces this law. That will determine how much it will impact homeless individuals and the viability of a constitutional challenge."
Prior to the ordinance's introduction back in September, Anaheim police had already coached city staff over homeless issues. In an August 21, 2013 email obtained by theWeekly, Anaheim Police Captain Julian Harvey summarized for the city council and mayor his response to a resident complaint about homeless gathering in La Palma Park. "I...explained the PD is working with the City Attorney's Office to craft ordinances aimed at eliminating blight by homeless in parks and public spaces."
For her part, Johnson expressed her concerns to a city staffer, who said they would be passed on to City Attorney's office. She did not have any direct contact with Michael Houston or anyone else before last week's vote.
The ordinance in question will be implemented with a grace period of thirty days after the opening of the Fullerton Armory Emergency Shelter in early November. The seasonal facility only has 200 beds. A count by the Anaheim Poverty Task Force last January noted that there were 447 'unsheltered' homeless persons in the city alone, the majority not tallied at La Palma Park.
From The OC Weekly:
Anaheim's Boss Bitch, Kris Murray went from unknown Curt Pringle puppet to prominent Curt Pringle puppet long before the city burned last summer in riots that made national headlines. Serving as a proxy for OC's eternal Dark Lord, Murray formed a council coalition opposing Mayor Tom Tait (a longtime Pringle ally until the two split under mysterious circumstances) at every turn, from massive hotel-developer subsidies to public calls for police reform to sweetheart proposals to the Angels to an ACLU lawsuit seeking district elections. After a sham committee she prepared to study electoral issues offered a surprise deadlock recommendation that single-member districts go before Anaheim voters, Murray ignored the notion, opting instead for at-large district elections, a proposal as ludicrous as her claims Pringle has no influence on her. She has taken every opportunity to throw her political weight around, no matter how meritless or low the exercise in power may be.
15. MATT CUNNINGHAM
A pioneer in OC's blogging community, Matt Cunningham was shamed into digital hiding a couple of years ago when the longtime Republican operative outed sex-abuse victims in his pathetic campaign to defend his priest, John Urell, a Diocese of Orange bigwig who had long shielded pedophile priests from the law. Cunningham re-emerged last year to start a new blog funded by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce with the sole purpose of tarring Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and activists trying to reform the corrupt town. When he's not trashing attempts at democracy, Cunningham hails the status quo and whines that Republicans aren't paying attention to Anaheim, which only proves how influential he truly is. Did we mention he outed sex-abuse victims?
21. ARTE MORENO
It was bad enough that Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim owner signed Albert Pujols in 2012 to a mega-deal that means Halos fans get to see the first-ballot Hall-of-Famer turn into Willie Mays with the Mets instead of Willie Mays with the Giants over the next decade. It was even worse when Moreno signed Josh Hamilton this year to a mega-deal that means Halos fans get to see their team's finances shackled for the next five years on two over-the-hill hitters. But Moreno went from merely being a bad owner to becoming a possible welfare queen when details emerged of a package the Anaheim City Council crafted to keep the Angels in town. The deal seeks to give Moreno rights to develop the land around Angels Stadium (and all the subsequent tax revenue) and allow the team to drop any Anaheim references in its name. Meanwhile, Moreno won't speak to the local press, justifying legendary sports columnist TJ Simers' nickname for him: Angry Arte. And he makes all front-office personnel dress in those god-awful red polos that Moreno probably grabbed from a Warehouse Shoe Sale bargain bin.
I was completely disheartened to learn that at tonights council meeting the homeless ordinance was approved unanimously. Now I don't claim to have the answers to the issue of homelessness, but I firmly believe that this ordinance is inhumane and unkind.
Where is the compassion on this council made up of Christians? The Bible is very clear on how we should treat the less fortunate and it does not include confiscating their belongings, fines, and kicking them out of parks.
I think I am most disturbed by this action considering the millions that this council has given away to their wealthy donors. Here is just a partial list:
$158 million GardenWalk Hotel Giveaway
$300 million ARTIC train station
$319 million Disney streetcar
But the council can't set aside funds to build a shelter and help those less fortunate then their wealthy political donors. Wonder what Jesus would say about that?
By Greg Diamond
Kris Murray Fouls Off Some Softballs
Below a mostly flattering picture of the Murrbot attempting to execute her “smile” subprocess routine, you’ll find a bunch of blather from Dan which you will most likely skip — and no one would blame you. Then we get to the Q&A. The “Q” portions are arguably copyrighted and so will be paraphrased. The “A” portions are fair game. My own commentary is in indented red italics.
Q1: The floor’s yours, Kris. What do people say about you that isn’t true?
A: I ran for City Council to accomplish positive things for the city. On a personal note, I’m a wife and mother – and a working professional, in addition to serving as a member of the City Council. My husband and I are active as volunteers in our community, very involved at our son’s school and a number of activities including sports and Cub Scouts.
My fellow council members and I are all people with families, loved ones, and history in this City. Our backgrounds, affiliations and perspectives are unique and, sometimes lead us to differing conclusions to the same problem. But I believe strongly each and every member of the Anaheim City Council cares deeply about our city.
I am proud of my record over the past three years to serve Anaheim residents, support policies to grow jobs and economic development and improve the quality of Anaheim neighborhoods.
No one has stated that Murray and her husband are active volunteers. I’d like to know more about this “working professional” thing, though. Where does she work, how did she get the job, what does she do for the money? People should know more about that. As for “caring about the city” and “serving Anaheim residents,” those are vague enough claims not even to be misperceptions. I grant that she cares about the residents of the city — they’re the ones from whom she’s grifting, after all.
Q2: Do you really think that Fitzgerald is an ally of Tait? People don’t seem to like your saying that.
A: Do I think that Mr. Fitzgerald is an “ally of the Mayor”? No, nor did I ever characterize him as such. But rather said that many of the most venomous attacks toward the Council are coming from “supporters of the Mayor” (that is a direct quote from my interview). Over the past year, the use of offensive language, personal attacks and outright hate speech has escalated in Council Chambers and in Anaheim generally. It has caused many in our community to think twice about attending a council meeting – or to stop attending council meetings altogether.
An Actual Interviewer might wonder as to exactly what specific “offensive language, personal attacks, and outright hate speech” Murray has in mind, if she wasn’t talking about Fitzgerald. Did she mean James Robert Reade? Apparently not — Reade’s venemous attacks were notably absent from any complaints made by Murray or her allies over the past month. So she should explain what “offensive language” has come from speakers other than Fitzgerald and Reade — especially as she and others in the Council Majority want to shut it down. (When Gail Eastman spoke about in Council Comments what she considered offensive, it included “clapping” and “cheering.”) ”Hate speech” is an even more serious charge — Actual Interviewer might wish to get specifics. But as for “personal attacks”? She and her colleagues are siphoning public funds from Anaheim taxpayers into private pockets like hopped-up vampires — and she doesn’t think that people should be able to mention them personally? Well, that’s convenient if you can get anyone to fall for it.
While Mr. Fitzgerald is no stranger to Council Chambers or shock inducing comments, his last rant went beyond the pale by any standard. However, that outburst did not seem to give any of the speakers present that day much more than a moment’s pause. As the meeting wore on and Councilmembers had the opportunity to speak we had to shout down members of the audience to be heard. All of this is clearly seen in the video archive of the meeting and is truly disconcerting.
I was there and I don’t recall any Council Member having “to shout down members of the audience to be heard.” But I guess that it could be true — and she says it’s on video, so it can be tested. OK, let’s see the time-stamps of where this happened. If it did, I’ll concede it (and, if it’s as bad as she says, criticize it.) If it didn’t — well, in that case, maybe she can explain how I can call her a liar without being accused of a “personal attack.”
As Mayor, there are certain powers enumerated by the charter and there is responsibility, first among them to preside over city council meetings. As presiding officer, it is the Mayor’s responsibility to maintain order and civility – when hate speech is used, it should be strongly denounced – when council members are being shouted at – the gavel is there to maintain order – even when as Mayor and presiding officer, you are opposed to the action being considered.
Clearly we do really do need specific examples of alleged “hate speech” (from other than occasionally Fitzgerald and continually Reade) so we can understand this criticism of hers.
All that being said, I think the outcomes of this painful incident were positive ones as it forced each of us to take a step back and assess. The Mayor extended an invitation to Councilman Brandman to work on an education initiative with him and I supported the Mayor’s call for a Council resolution denouncing hate speech. And I think we all came to a realization that we agree on much more than we disagree on and when we have disagreements that we can respectfully disagree.
I’m pretty sure that most of those with whom I’ve been in agreement in public comments welcome denunciation of hate speech — so long as we’re actually talking about “hate speech.” It will be really interesting to get as specific examples out of Murray as she has — because I think she just means Fitzgerald (and, come to think of it, maybe Jesse ______, the revolutionary, who doesn’t focus much on these local fiscal issues.
Q3: What have you done to counter hate speech — other than trying to grab the Mayor’s gavel? (Note: there’s no indication that Dan actually even knows that that happened.)
A: For months, I have consistently spoken against this growing problem, and I will continue to be a voice for those who want to engage in a reasonable debate on issues, without resorting to hate speech or character attacks. We have to find better ways to handle our disagreements otherwise all sides stop listening and that benefits no one. Again, I think our last Council meeting was a big step forward and I am grateful to the Mayor for seeking clarification from our City attorney and honored to support his resolution.
Reminder: what the City Attorney said is that the Mayor (who had previous sought his counsel on the topic) had been handling things perfectly fine — counter to Murray’s accusations on Rick Rieff’s show. But note the cleverness here. She’s lumping together “hate speech” and “character attacks.” It’s very convenient for a City Official — especially one who exhibits bad character by trying to loot the City — to suggest that they should be lumped together as offensive. But they shouldn’t. Hate speech is bad. “Character attacks” are usually unfortunate — but sometimes are also, unfortunately, appropriate. Ask William Fitzgerald — who has himself faced quite a number of attacks on his character lately — about that.
Q4. Will the Mayor and the city attorney will better counter hate speech?
A: The entire Anaheim City Council, including Mayor Tait, spoke in unison at our last meeting that we will work together to denounce hate speech and ensure civility in council chambers.
I firmly believe Mayor Tait wants what is best for our city, and we will work together to ensure the chambers are a place where all residents are welcome, can be heard and feel safe.
“Ensure civility in Council Chambers.” That’s should sound alarms, given that what she really seems to be talking about is stifling of legitimate protest. Protest isn’t always polite and kind — although it’s more polite and much kinder than disenfranchising voters, lying (or just engaging in grave intentional half-truths and misrepresentation) to the public, militarizing the police and treating poorer neighborhoods like occupied territories, and the aforementioned locking in giveaways of the use of public assets for literally generations. That’s the sort of thing that people are complaining about. And if they’re sometimes uncivil about it, whether it’s good strategy or not — they are within their rights, and woe unto the City if it tries to squelch such protest.
“… and feel safe.” What does this even mean in practice? Get rid of the African-American speaker who keeps going Huey Newton in chambers? Get rid of Rev. Cecil, consigning many of us of hellfire? There’s a reason that we don’t give elected officials the latitude to ensure that everyone feels safe: they’ll use if to squelch their opponents while favoring their friends. Has anyone on the Council Majority expressed any public concern over the continuing abuse of Theresa Smith and Donna Acevedo? Or are they just presumed to have a higher tolerance for pain by now?
Q5: Would you like to deny that poorer Anaheim residents have suffered under your leadership?
Q6. Critics contend that services to Anaheim’s poorest residents have suffered under the watch of this council majority. Can you clarify this perception?
KM: With united leadership and professional experts at the helm, while many California cities are seeking bankruptcy protection, Anaheim is enhancing quality-of-life services – particularly in our lowest income areas.
You see, that’s the funny thing about giveaways of future income — whether 20 years for a hotel or 66 years for prime City real estate: they don’t bankrupt you right away! You have to look ahead for decades — like stewards of the public interest are supposed to do — and ask what some future Council is going to do when it still has to reimburse the TOT taxes and taxes taken from the Stadium Lot despite what are likely to be the City’s growing need? The seeds of Anaheim’s eventual bankruptcy — preceded by union-busting, curtailing of services, and the rest of the CostaMesafication death spiral — are being planted today for some future hapless leaders to harvest!
The past three city budgets have been adopted unanimously by the Mayor and City Council. We have worked together over the past three years to improve services– and ensure they are allocated equally across all neighborhoods. In fact, we have invested significantly more over the past several years in the central and western areas of the city where the needs have been greatest.
Actual Interviewer might ask: “when you say “western and central areas of the city,” you don’t by any chance mean places like, oh, DISNEYLAND, do you? Is your idea of improving these neediest parts of the city making the businesses in those areas richer? I’m not asking you to argue the merits of doing so, Councilwoman, I just want to know what it is you mean to say. Oh, also — does “invested significantly more” mean “compared to other areas” or “compared to when Pringle was Mayor”?
The city recently completed an exhaustive study that clearly outlines the allocation of services by the four neighborhood district areas. The City’s finance director Debbie Moreno went to great lengths, working with all city departments, to break down general fund expenditures by census tract. What the report proved is the allocation of core services is even across the city and that the City has invested significantly in capital programs over the past several years in the Central and Western areas of the city where the needs have been greatest, compared to the eastern (hills) areas of the city as has been alleged by some political organizations. [Dan notes that this calculation only addressed general fund expenditures – "so she did not assign the expenditures for the major transportation projects and resort area that are paid with direct assessments or state/federal revenue sources to the south neighborhood area so as not to distort the per capita expenditures in this area."]
Actual Interviewer might say — I note some weasel words there. By “allocation of core services,” do you just mean the planned budget, or money that has already been spent? In other words, are these things that can be snatched back after an election? (Note: personally, I don’t know the answer to that — but I’ve learned that where the Anaheim Council majority is concerned, it pays the check the fine print.)
And “allocation of core services” — that includes police, right? Is the proportion of these “core services” involving police spending higher or lower in these poorer areas than elsewhere? If so, how well do these residents feel served by the police — given that there’s some obvious evidence that in many cases, they don’t.
And this “invested significant in capital programs” in the West and Central areas — were these regions that had suffered lesser investments prior to the past few years? If the other areas had been given a 50-yard head start in this 100-yard dash, are you saying that now things are just even, so that no remedial program to make up for previous years of neglect has been presented?
Hey, I have a great idea — would the City agree to a “double-blind” assessment of its spending, as a way of testing these assertions, by some institution entirely unaffiliated with the City?
Like all cities, we’ve been affected by the economic downturn. But because of the diversity of Anaheim’s economy, the strength our resort area and private investments across our city – our general fund is growing. For the past two years, we passed a balanced budget which restored the city’s cash reserves and provided millions in funding for police, fire, parks, libraries and other core city services.
Is that why you felt that it was OK to give away decades of reimbursements of tax money through the General Fund?
Q7. You’re the main opponent of council districting efforts. What do you want to see instead?
A: There are a number of reasons I believe that at-large voting systems are better for all residents over district-based systems. First and foremost, that at-large voting maintains the largest number of representatives for each resident. Today every resident has five members of the city council sworn to serve the city but under single member districts, residents would only have one council member and the office of Mayor to respond to their interests or concerns.
Oh, OK. So how about a system where OCCORD and Los Amigos get to choose 15 people to represent the entire city. 15 is THREE TIMES bigger than 5! (Note: Murray knows why that wouldn’t be fair — but it’s the equivalent of what she thinks is fine right now.)
At large systems also require the legislative body to govern in the best interest of the entire city rather than carving the city into wards where representatives are no longer responsible for the overall fiscal health of the city or the delivery of services citywide. Most by-district cities in California today are facing severe budget shortfalls resulting in significant reductions in city services. I do not want to see this happen in Anaheim.
At-large systems — being declared illegal in city’s in Anaheim’s situation all over the place, by the way — allow the Council to govern in the best interest of whomever they please, so long as the people whom they please can vote them back in. That’s why they tend to take power away from less-powerful minorities — as Anaheim is going to get ready to see again when it loses in court.
The Anaheim City Council voted to place two city charter amendments on the next ballot to create residency-based council districts, ensuring broad neighborhood representation on every council, and increase the city council from four to six members.
And residency-based districts (of population 60,000 to 90,000, let’s remember) don’t do much because the majority of the entire city still get to choose the every last member of the Council. They ensure no ability for a neighborhood, region, or area to choose their own representative.
This districting system now in place by ordinance, and with ratification by Anaheim voters, brings our city in line with other Orange County cities and agencies such as Santa Ana, Newport Beach and the Orange Unified School District (OUSD), representing many of Anaheim’s public schools.
This is true — but neither of the other cities have the level of “tyranny of the majority” problem taking away power from minorities to the extent that Anaheim has. Look to other cities that keep losing in court for better comparison examples. And it still leaves Anaheim as the ONLY big city that won’t give residents in a given area the right to determine their own vote on Council.
Q8. Defend yourself from charges of giveaways and crony subsidies. (Note: this is a good question, so far as it goes.)
A: During President Obama’s address following the agreement to end the government shutdown, he stated that “We will not agree on everything … but if we disagree, let’s focus on the areas where we can agree and move forward to get stuff done.” He then said we can’t let disagreement mean dysfunction – we can’t let disagreement degenerate into hatred.
I agree with him – it is vital that at all levels of government, we find a way to respectfully disagree when we cannot reach mutual accord and then move to where we can find common ground to govern on behalf of our communities. The character attacks are baseless and counterproductive to governing effectively in Anaheim.
Oh. My. God. ”We’re ripping people off, but it’s your fault for not being nicer about it.”
Beyond that, I’ll happily debate Murray anytime about whether “the character attacks are baseless.” That willingness to make a broad and unsupported statement is itself reason to question her character.
The Council’s efforts to expand economic activity in our city have very real and positive benefits for our city residents. To address the programs you reference:
Umm, anyone get the feeling that Murray was invited to submit some answers in writing?
Hotel Economic Incentive Program– Two independent economic studies – both available on the city’s website –show the overwhelming financial benefits to the city of the hotel incentive program for GardenWalk. Prior to my tenure, similar programs were voted on and have been in place in Anaheim for some time – including with the previous support of the Mayor when he last served on the city council. The program Council most recently approved increased the incentive to develop two four star hotels at the Anaheim GardenWalk from a 50 percent share of Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT) to 70 percent for 20 years. These hotels will still pay 100 percent of sales tax and 100 percent of property tax. The economic analysis clearly shows that these hotels and this incentive program will provide millions in new revenue once they are built and operating for general fund programs. Under no circumstances does this program reduce funding for city programs or negatively impact the city’s general fund –the debate is over the amount of new revenue the city will receive during the life of the agreement, once and if they are built and operating.
Actually, I’m glad that she’s reopening this issue. Same proposal as before: let’s have some “independent” analyst who’s less carefully selected study this.
Money is being paid to the developer personally, even if he sells the property for someone else to develop, for reimbursement of these 20 years of hotel taxes. (It’s “Transient Occupancy Tax,” Dan.) Would someone buy the development rights even without such a sweetener? We might well suspect so, given that about a dozen other hotels are being built at roughly the same time and area WITHOUT IT. (The problem is cronyism.) Then, of course, is the question of whether the sales taxes are just taking money that would otherwise be paid elsewhere. Property taxes are a whole other issue.
Anaheim Rapid Connection (ARC) –ARC is an essential part of the city’s planned transportation program, designed to reduce congestion on local streets and roads and facilitate the expansion of the Convention Center and resort area that receives more than 20 million annual visitors today and thousands of employees daily.
The Anaheim resort area generates approximately 50 percent of the city’s general fund revenue and that funding is growing because of investments in the resort area and recent improvements to the Disneyland Parks. The city needs to manage that growth effectively and limit impacts on local neighborhoods. ARC and ARTIC are essential to local and regional commuter transit services.
ARTIC is the center of the LOSSAN (Los Angeles – Orange – San Diego) Corridor – the second busiest commuter rail corridor in the nation today. As the population of Southern California grows, transit plays an important role to the greater regional transportation network. ARTIC and ARC are valuable components of that network and will be paid with local, state and federal transportation funds – funds that could not be used to support other city programs. The City Council has committed unanimously that there will be no impact on the city’s general fund to construct or operate.
I’m tired. Cynthia, you take this one.
Q9. What’s the biggest misconception about the Angels MOU?
KM: Our MOUs are non-binding and simply established a list of terms identified by the city and the Angels to produce a starting point for negotiations. Nothing has been ruled out and everything is on the table. The Mayor has brought up some salient points that will now be added to the discussion items and thoughtfully considered. In that respect, the MOUs are doing exactly what they were intended. There is simply no truth to the idea that this is a done deal. We have a long way to go and I’ve asked the City Manager to bring back a plan for Council consideration to conduct a robust community outreach program to be conducted throughout the negotiations process.
Well, the biggest misconception may be the use of the singular here. There are two MOUs. One is with the Angels, one is personal to Moreno.
This is SO COMPLETELY DISINGENUOUS that it could justify an entire website’s worth of “character attacks.” Here’s what a MOU that “simply established a list of terms identified by the City and the Angels to produce a starting point for negotiations” would look like:
And then the sides negotiate. Instead we have a detailed and expansive framework that is causing jaws to drop right and left due to how one-sided it is. Here, the interests uniformly favor the Angels — which is unsurprising, given that the City’s negotiator seems to believe that the best negotiating plan is to publicly undermine the City’s negotiating position as much as humanly possible. The City presented no interests of its own aside from “keeping the Angels” — apparently a pearl of such great value that no price is too much. (This is quite convenient for the Angels’ agents — right, Curt Pringle?) The City Council has refused to give the negotiations any objectives at all other than keeping the Angels before sending the fox Charlie Black into the henhouse to negotiate with the other foxes representing Artie Moreno. So as things stand, we are set to go directly from the “nothing is set in stone” defense to the “now it’s too late to change anything” excuse.
And do you know what can be said of a Council Majority that invites that result? That they exhibit bad character. Pardon me for being so impolite as to tell that truth out loud.
An Actual Interviewer, rather than a marshmallow vendor, might have followed up with some of these questions.
From The Voice of OC:
Beginning as early as next week, lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union will be deposing current and possibly former Anaheim City Council in a civil rights case that alleges the city's electoral system disenfranchises Latinos.
ACLU attorney Bardis Vakili wouldn't disclose specific questions, but said that attorneys are seeking answers on whether council members are “responsive to the needs of the Latino community,” among other things.
“Just like any other lawsuit you take depositions to try and get evidence to prove your case,” Vakili said.
The ACLU's case claims that Anaheim's current at-large voting system violates the 2001 California Voting Rights Act because it does not give Latinos -- who make up 54 percent of the city's population -- the opportunity to elect council members who truly represent their neighborhoods.
In order to prove their case, the ACLU has to show a pattern of racially polarized voting in Anaheim, with Latinos consistently voting for losing candidates. The trial date is March 17.
Activists say the result of this inadequate representation is a council that represents major business interests and affluent communities over the needs of working-class neighborhoods fraught with social and economic challenges.
The case has sparked intense debate, with each side releasing opposing studies on whether city resources are unevenly distributed.
Latino leaders say the remedy for the current reality is an electoral system in which council members are elected by districts and would have to be responsive to their communities to win election. Members of the current all-white council reside in neighborhoods ranging from middle-class to wealthy.
Opponents of district elections argue that the system would balkanize the council and result in political gridlock. Rather than focusing on the overall health of the city, council members would fight only for their districts, leading to less representation and a dysfunctional government, they say.
Vakili said the ACLU plans on deposing all five council members, and possibly former council members.
Former Mayor Curt Pringle – an influential lobbyist whose clients include major businesses like Disneyland and a hotel developer that received a controversial $158-million tax subsidy – “certainly has the kind of knowledge we'd be interested in asking about,” Vakili said.
Councilwoman Gail Eastman was scheduled for a deposition on Wednesday, but that has been postponed to a date uncertain, Vakili said. The first testimony – Councilwoman Lucille Kring – is scheduled for Oct. 29, he said.
There are still unanswered questions about the depositions. According to Vakili and plaintiff Jose Moreno, attorneys with the city and ACLU are negotiating over how far reaching the questioning can be.
“The other side may want to protect their city council members from certain types of questions,” Vakili said. “None of that's been resolved.”
Moreno says that the council, which has touted transparency in the past, should remain committed to that principle and allow themselves to testify for the record on a wide ranging set of questions.
“It seems to me that same rationale and ethic would apply here as well,” Moreno said.
Council members Jordan Brandman, Kring, Eastman, and Kris Murray did not return phone calls seeking comment. Mayor Tom Tait declined comment, citing confidentiality of closed session discussions.
Still unanswered is whether the ACLU and the city will allow reporters at the depositions. The city's position is that investigative records, such as the depositions, will remain confidential until the case concludes, according to city spokeswoman Ruth Ruiz. And Vakili said the ACLU hasn't decided whether to allow reporters to be present.
Voice of OC has requested reporter access to the testimony.
Terry Francke, general counsel for the open government advocacy group Californians Aware and a Voice of OC consultant, said that all proceedings of a civil case involving the public's interest should be made public.
“We're not dealing with private matters, corporate confidentiality, divorce or something like that, this is a dispute over how people are represented in local government itself. There is a very strong argument for the deposition in this matter being public,” Francke said.
From The Voice of OC:
Federal agents investigating members of the Calderon family, one of the most powerful families in California politics, have issued subpoenas and search warrants seeking records involving companies in Anaheim and Newport Beach, according to reporting by Voice of OC and other news organizations.
Although the FBI has remained mum on the investigation, reporting by the Los Angeles Times has indicated that it centers around a political consulting contract that the Commerce-based Central Basin Municipal Water District had with Tom Calderon, the brother of state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, and uncle of Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier.
The water district, which has been issued at least two federal subpoenas for records, has contracted with a subsidiary of Anaheim-based Willdan Group to conduct the agency's fiscal operations. The LA Times reported earlier this year that the subsidiary, Willdan Financial Services, was one of several companies whose records were subpoenaed from the water district.
Willdan Group hired Anaheim City Councilwoman Kris Murray as senior vice president of business development and government affairs in 2011, just weeks before Willdan Financial Services won the contract to run the water district's fiscal operations. The company has made several campaign contributions to water district board members.
Murray did not return a call seeking comment. Robert Lavoie, a Willdan attorney, said that Murray has had no dealings with Willdan Financial Services and was not involved in the district granting contracts to the company.
Read the full story here:
Yesterday morning, I saw a presentation from Tom Tait, the mayor of Anaheim, California, on fostering economic development in a time of fiscal stress. He presented two charts that reinforce the fact that California's cities have both a revenue problem and a spending problem.
The first chart shows Anaheim's total compensation costs per employee, which rose about 70 percent from 2001 to 2012 (more than 30 percent after adjusting for inflation). Real wages per employee were flat over this period; the entire inflation-adjusted increase is attributable to benefits, which grew by 130 percent per-employee. This is Anaheim's spending problem: It's spending too much on employee benefits.
Health care inflation is a problem, and now Anaheim spends about $20,000 per employee on health benefits for today and in retirement. But that cost driver is secondary to pensions. As the California Public Employees' Retirement System's investment portfolio got battered over the last decade, Anaheim's required annual contributions to the system rose from 7 percent of payroll to 30 percent.
A government faced with this problem ought to have a variety of options. It could raise taxes. It could cut employees' pay or benefits, like many private firms that have closed pension plans and scaled back health insurance. It could beg the state for money. It could cut non-compensation expenses, though it is important to remember that a majority of the typical local government budget goes to compensation. Or it could reduce headcount.
Read the full story here: