Thank God that Gal Eastman has been replaced by Mayor Tom Tait on the OCTA board.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.
This is a public service announcement from Save Anaheim regarding AnaheimBlog.net and KeepTheAngels.com. Both of these sites are paid for by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce and run by Matt Cunningham.
There is nothing grassroots about either website. The sole intent of these sites is to spin the truth for the ethically challenged Anaheim City Council majority. A council majority that has voted for some of the biggest taxpayer giveaways in Anaheim's history.
Here are some of their greatest hits:
1. $319 million Disney streetcar system
2. $158 million GardenWalk Hotel giveaway
3. $1 per ear lease agreement with Arte Moreno to develop the Angel Stadium parking lot (negotiations pending)
4. $184 million ARTIC train station
Please keep this in mind when you read either site. These people are not on the side of Angel fans or the residents of Anaheim. The only thing on their mind is how can they rip off the taxpayers and enrich their friends.
From The OC Register:
ANAHEIM – Mayor Tom Tait on Monday morning was stripped of the ability to place items onto City Council meeting agendas whenever he wants – one of the few powers, beyond those of regular council members, he wielded as the elected head of Orange County’s largest city.
The move came during an unusually early special meeting called for 8 a.m. by the City Council majority, which voted 4-1 to change the policy on how items are added to the agenda. Now, all City Council members must place items onto future agendas during the “council communications” held at the close of a meeting.
The policy change is less restrictive than the idea suggested last week by Councilman Jordan Brandman, who wanted agenda items to be called by two members of the City Council.
Before the vote, each of the council members in the majority repeatedly characterized the move as an “administrative clean-up.”
“I think it was a mean-spirited act. It was bullying by the council and it hurts the office of the mayor and the way the city operates,” said Tait, who cast the dissenting vote. “I don’t know how the city will operate if the mayor or members of the council can’t place items on the agenda in between meetings.”
Brandman requested the policy change last week, when the City Council held a 90-minute debate that essentially rehashed the same set of arguments made Sept. 3 about the ongoing lease re-negotiations for Angel Stadium.
At the start of Monday’s meeting, Tait said the stadium lease should be discussed during every third City Council meeting until the negotiations are completed.
“If you’re going to be asking things (be added to the agenda), it should be done in a public venue at the dais,” Councilwoman Kris Murray said. “There’s nothing harmful here. You’ll still be able to add things whenever you want.”
A couple of dozen people spoke during the meeting in opposition to the council’s move to limit the mayor. None supported the plan.
“(Brandman) wants to stifle the mayor (concerning) things that need public debate,” said Amin David of the community group Los Amigos.
Kandis Richardson, head of the Renew West Anaheim Committee, said she is considering moving from the city because of how the council majority consistently votes against the mayor’s will.
“I’m working toward cleaning up the city on the west side, and you guys want to take the mayor and beat him into the ground,” Richardson said. “I thought you guys were all on the city’s side and my side, but I don’t think you are.”
From the Orange Juice Blog:
1. Tom Tait’s Intuition
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has long had this feeling that something deeply wrong about the study submitted showing the economic impact of Angels Baseball on the City of Anaheim — the one claiming to show how much each adult and child spends in Anaheim outside the stadium while attending a game.
(We specify “outside the stadium” to see how much money is injected into the City’s economy; money spent inside the stadium, with some relatively small exceptions that don’t depend on spending beyond admission tickets and parking, belongs entirely to the baseball team — and doesn’t circulate through Anaheim’s economy. The profit primarily enhances the economy of where Arte Moreno lives, in Arizona.)
Tait hasn’t been shy about expressing this intuition from the dais. It doesn’t make sense to him that the average fan living in Anaheim spends about $11.50 outside the stadium but within Anaheim each time they attend a game. It doesn’t make sense to him that the average person coming to the stadium from outside of Anaheim spends about $14.25, nor that the rare average person coming from far enough away to make an overnight trip of it is spending about $103 outside the stadium but within Anaheim. But the results of the study are the results — and one has to respect them, right?
Not quite. It’s legitimate to explore and test those assumptions. People doing studies often can’t measure things directly; they have to do the best they can and argue that those assumptions make sense. And so, during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Tait tried to get at exactly what sort of survey had been done to establish that fans were spending that much money outside of Angels Stadium but inside the city. And he finally got a cogent answer.
None. The researchers did no study of Anaheim itself before reaching this critical conclusion. It was based on studies of fans attending games in other cities.
That matters because Anaheim is not like other cities. I don’t mean that in some global and fuzzy “Anaheim has the bestest fans in the world” sense. I mean that, literally, it is not like other cities.
It’s a matter of simple geography! Just look at a map!
2. Anaheim is Long and Skinny and Its Stadium is on the Very Edge of Town
That section heading sort of gives away the game, but let’s literally look at a map anyway. Here — let’s use the one posted inside the City Council chamber itself.
Let’s take a closer look at the “baseball stadium” portion of the map.
For the benefit of anyone who may be unfamiliar with Anaheim — such as, perhaps, the people paid big bucks out of the public treasury to do an economic study of the impact of Angels baseball on the city’s economy – that big diagonal freeway west of the stadium is I-5 and the vertical freeway just to the left is SR-57. Where they come together just outside the photo, you’d find a third freeway, SR-22, which is not in Anaheim.
Why does “not in Anaheim” matter? Because the sales tax, hotel (TOT) tax, etc. from that big white areadoes not go to Anaheim. It goes to someone in Orange County, sure — but not Anaheim. That’s important because Anaheim is the place being asked to foot the bill.
Let’s take a bird’s eye look at the whole region:
So now you can ask yourself: how likely are those attending an Angels game to eat outside of the stadium but still in Anaheim? If they’re looking to eat within a five-mile radius of the stadium, not very likely. If they’re looking to eat within a ten-mile radius, far less so. And, of course, some people will eat further away than that. (Yes, there are potential expenses beyond eating, but except for street parking a similar analysis will apply.)
A scrupulous analysis would look at the range of restaurants, how many cars usually use each exit at this time of day, how many cars use the Gene Autry Way exist from which one passes pretty much nothing edible on the way into the stadium, etc. Or there’s another sneaky way to find out what people do: ASK THEM DIRECTLY. Create a questionnaire, publish a draft, post it to get feedback, and then assign a survey company blind to the desired result to interview maybe 50 people per game. Then you’d have a reasonably good idea of how much visiting fans stimulate the local economy.
But that’s not what our pricey consultants did! (More on what they did do below!)
The Angels Stadium deal may be very good for the people of Orange or Garden Grove or Placentia or my beloved Brea, where people might stop to buy gas en route to the game. (City motto: “come check out our Mall!”) It may be nice for the cities of Fullerton or Huntington Beach or Irvine or Brea — come check out our Mall! — where we may eat before we go to the game. But except for people driving to the stadium on surface streets from the north or northwest, there’s not much reason to expect that they’re going to stop and spend in Anaheim itself on the way to or from the game — especially because that area is crowded on game gays — unless they have a particular hankering to go to a particular restaurant.
This is very much unlike other cities — Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, San Francisco, etc. — hosting stadiums. If you were compared Angels Stadium to, say, Minute Maid Stadium in Houston, it would probably be fair to compare how much extra money is generated in Orange County overall to how much is generated in the City of Houston. But if you’re sitting on the Anaheim City Council — and if you’re trying to represent the people of Anaheim — then comparing Anaheim to Houston in terms of tax revenue generated for the City is puzzling.
Or — it’s not “puzzling” so much as absurd. Why?
The money spent outside of Anaheim does not go into Anaheim’s General Fund. Is that clear enough? IT DOES NOT BENEFIT ANAHEIM.
So what did the researchers do instead of the sort of survey of fans that I suggest?
If I understood correctly, they did not study Anaheim directly at all – but simply created a model for Anaheim based on data for a few places like Houston. (“Close enough for government work!”)
This is bad! What economic benefit baseball brings to the City of Houston is not a good guide of what will come to the City of Anaheim. Why is that? Take a look at this map — with the “A” pin representing Minute Maid Stadium, home of the Astros, and with the boundaries of the City of Houston superimposed:
Do I need to spell this out? If you are going to a Houston Astros game and want to have dinner, you are pretty much going to have that dinner within the boundaries of the City of Houston! And that isnot true Angels fans and dining in Anaheim. And when the promised economic benefits from an Angels deal don’t materialize – this will be one big reason why! (That’s OK from the Council’s perspective — the argument’s purpose is just to give the Council political cover, not to accurately predict the future.)
Of course, as stated above, there is an exception: maybe people just really want to go to a restaurant in Anaheim. And it’s true that there are some restaurants that people absolutely do target as their dining destination. Of course, if you want to predict how well Anaheim businesses will do overall from just one such restaurant, you should know that there is a catch!
3. There is Only One Catch …
One restaurant in particular that does do really well on game days is actually on the grounds of the stadium parking lot area itself — you know, the 155-acre parcel potentially being leased to Arte Moreno personally for $1/year – although as I read the proposed MOU all of the revenue from this restaurant would go to Arte Moreno rather than to the City!
That restaurant is called “The Catch” — sometimes known as “Curt Pringle’s second office,” he dines and does business there so often. And in fact, at the September 3 Council meeting — and at the September 24 Council meeting and at the tiny “Keep the Angels” rally at City Hall prior to the Sept. 24 Council meeting — the manager of this restaurant was trotted out to give speeches about how important the Angels were to his business. And, the example of The Catch was cited by members of the City Council Majority repeatedly to justify why keeping the Angels was so important to Anaheim’s business community.
There is only one catch to this argument: There Is Only One “Catch.”
OF COURSE the Angels baseball games are a great boon for The Catch – THEY ARE LOCATED INSIDE THE FREAKING PARKING LOT ITSELF! How many other restaurants have valet parking in a blocked off area within the Stadium Parking Lot? I think that it’s roughly “none.” There is only one “Catch” — and you can’t reasonably generalize from its experience to that of other restaurants!
If trying to estimate how much income baseball spending will bring to Anaheim restaurants based on what happens in Houston is a 7.5 on a scale of ten point scale of absurdity, trying to estimate that benefit based on the economic effect on The Catch itself has to be at least a 9.8. But look at the video, friends — that’s really what the Council Majority — everyone but Mayor Tait — was doing.
And, of course, the irony is that what money we get from The Catch won’t benefit the City either, just as if it were a restaurant located in Westminster. Here’s a proposal that I’d like to see written into the lease: the City gets to own all restaurants within the 155-acre parcel, paying Arte Moreno rent of $1 per year for the lot of them. THEN Anaheim taxpayers would at least be profiting from the deal. We can even keep the same restaurant manager — he seems like a nice guy — and the same employees. And the current owners can set up a new storefront around Magnolia and La Palma – freeway close — and presumably still benefit from the great boon Angels baseball offers to the City overall. (That’s the theory, right?)
By the way — Kris Murray said from the dais on Tuesday that Arte Moreno’s character was being assassinated in the local blogs. While the Murrbot doesn’t seem to have the sort of crush on me that Lucille Kring has apparently developed, I have a feeling that she may have been referring in part to the work of your humble author. So let me make this clear: I cast no aspersions on Arte Moreno or on the owner of the Catch. Each of them, so far as I know, are just good businessmen taking advantage of a Council that seems intent on serving the interests of Curt Pringle, Todd Ament, SOAR and a few others to the exclusion of everyone else.
I’d love it if Arte Moreno responded to the overture by Charlie Black by saying that the deal was too generous to him and would smear his reputation if he accepted it, so it should be scaled back — but that would be too much to expect of most businessmen, especially when they don’t even live in the state and can tune their critics out. He’s one of the people who will profit — although probably not nearly as much as the entity (commonly suspected to involve Curt Pringle or others in the Pringle Ring as agents or part-owners) — and if he has made a deal with someone to sell the rights to them, then he is doing something bad. (So don’t do that Arte, not even tacitly.) But that doesn’t make him a bad person.
The bad people are the people making it easy for him to do it. Four of them are sitting on the Anaheim City Council — and a bunch of others are paid City staff, like City Attorney Michael Houston and his former mentor (can you BELIEVE that?) former San Diego Padres President Charlie Black.
I’m besmirching Murray’s reputation, nor Moreno’s — but I’m doing so only by writing honestly about what she’s doing.
4. Responses to the Big Reveal from the Podium
I truly thought that Tom Tait might fall over sideways when he learned that the study on which a major argument for the proposed MOUs were based — the beneficial economic income for the City of Anaheim’s General Fund — was derived from studying very dissimilar cities like Houston rather than Anaheim. Whether he’d fall over laughing or crying or both, I can’t say.
But the Mayor kept his composure. He pointed out that this pretty much bolstered his intuition that the judgment about how much money fans brought into Anaheim’s coffers was deeply flawed. The Murrbot had been attacking him relentlessly for raising his concerns about the proposed MOU in part by talking about the great economic benefits of the stadium proven by this solid scientific study — why, just consider the example of THE CATCH! – and for a moment I thought that she actually understood that her contention that this was a sound study of economic impact had a direct hit from a powerful truth missile.
I haven’t reviewed the video — I don’t really have time — but from my second-row venue it looked to me as if the Murrbot faltered for a moment. Did her programmer Pringle himself not know that the study was a bunch of bullflop? Did he know and for some reason just not prepare her for this sort of challenge? What we she supposed to do? THEY HADN’T EVEN STUDIED ANAHEIM AT ALL! HOW CAN THIS STILL BE CONSIDERED A STRONG AND RELIABLE SCIENTIFIC STUDY???
I thought that I saw the Murrbot wobble for a moment. It looked like the Murrbot couldn’t remember all of her programming — an even greater problem than her never having understood it in the first place. But then, during the course of a long and unpunctuated sentence, the programming finally kicked in. If Pringle had just neglected to tell her this little tidbit, it was obviously the right call. She had nothing to rely on other than the direct script that she had been given. And so — she recited from it.
The Murrbot assured us that this was an excellent study, very reliable, top-drawer, undeniable in its conclusions — soup sort of stew along those lines, the details of which I could not recall because I was inwardly weeping for Kris Murray’s robot essence. (Repairs to a CPU can be expensive.) She knows “good” and this study was “good” and shut up. The end.
Now, though, Murray’s going to have to explain — over and over again during the next 400 or so days before the next election — why she thinks that a study of Angels’ baseball’s economic benefit to Anaheim that is based on a model from cities like Los Angeles and Houston without reference to Anaheim itself makes any kind of sense.
And of course there’s the follow-up question — I’ll be sporting and put it right out front so that her programmers can get started on it — which is this: when she tells us other things about economic benefit to Anaheim, are they also based on nothing more than the ability to parrot Curt Pringle’s bullshit as directed? In other words, is this disaster for her credibility an aberration — or is really just business as usual?
Oddly, I’m starting to think that the woman among the majority who may be the first to figure this out is Gail Eastman — the one who stands the least to gain personally from being part of the Pringle Ring. If Eastman turns, what will Jordan Brandman do? He’s so rarely without the cover provided him.
And let’s just internalize one final lesson from last night. We only learned this incredibly important factabout the model being used to predict the economic benefits to Anaheim for one reason: because Tom Tait asked City Staff the right question. And that makes Jordan’s proposal to keep Tait from putting these sorts of concerns onto the agenda really, really, REALLY bad.
Would Jordan prefer that we didn’t know about this travesty? Because if he had already gotten his way and passed his Pringle-crafted proposal a month ago — we wouldn’t! WE WOULD NOT KNOW.
How’s a court going to feel about that?
From the Orange Juice Blog:
BREAKING NEWS: Arte Moreno’s Demand for Keeping Angels in Anaheim Includes Curt Pringle’s First Born Child
OK, so that didn’t happen. But based on the current MoUs, one can’t but wonder — if Arte did make such a demand, would it be met?
The Anaheim City Council has worked diligently over the past few weeks knitting a rather large wool blanket. The latest attempt at hoodwinking comes in a new Facebook Page: Keep the Angels
This is a VERY interesting page. It makes gratuitous use of trademarked Angel logos and proprietary photos, is apparently well staffed at 8:30 on a Monday night (I made two rather benign replies, which were both removed inside of five minutes along with banning my user ID,) and the posts reveal insider access to negotiations surrounding the MOU.
Of course, this naturally begs the question, who’s running this page? The Angels? The council majority? The Chamber of Commerce? Think about that while reading this post. The page claims to be “grassroots”. Anyone else smell the horrible stench of astroturf? Someone got paid to do this. Someone should be getting a refund, too. I’ve seen plenty of bad turf jobs, but this is just sad.
A quick review on the current state of affairs: During the last city council meeting, the City of Anaheim approved two Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) outlining the terms of future negotiations for Anaheim Stadium and separately for the surrounding land. While not all of the terms are explicitly immediately binding, the city did make a commitment to negotiate in good faith — which for the sake of brevity means that Anaheim can’t just say “no” to any of the individual terms. The Council will discuss the recently approved MoU Tuesday night; both sides have mobilized their propaganda machines to pack the council chambers with their supporters.
“Keep the Angels” apparently seeks to make use of general ignorance related to the MoUs. Just take a quick look at a few comments attached to posts:
“I thought they were just changing the name?”
“What the hell, Anaheim. What are you thinking?”
“PLEASE DON’T TAKE AWAY THE ANGELS.”
How does one capitalize on ignorance exactly? Well, it’s actually not that hard. The formula is about 4000 years old:
1) Yell “FIRE!, RUN FOR YOUR LIVES OR YOU WILL ALL DIE!”
2) Get 10 of your friends to get up, scream, and run away.
3) Relentlessly mock the intelligence of those who question if there actually is a fire or the need to run away.
Let’s take a closer look at this in action. Keep the Angels was very busy today.
Post #1: “Special interests and politicians want to drive our Angels from their home in Anaheim. Don’t let them! Like us and stay tuned for updates on how you can help Keep the Angels!”
I’m sorry, who are these “Special interests”? Dodger fans? No one is trying to drive the Angels away. No. One. No one has made a motion calling for the Angels to leave; no one has circulated a petition calling Arte Moreno a douche bag; no one is organizing a villainous scheme to deprive greater Orange County of professional baseball as part of their secret plan to take over the world.
Post #2: “In case you think it can’t happen, remember, Anaheim and Orange County used to have an NFL team too. Other cities will give the Angels hundreds of millions to move. Don’t let this happen!”
Really? Hundreds of millions? Do we have an offer from another city? If so, let’s see it, because I’m pretty sure that breaks about 50 rules in both MLB’s anti-trust waiver and the MLB operating agreement. We’re talking big time fines.
No one is going to give the Angels hundreds of millions to move. No. One. Why? The Angels have one of the best television contracts in the business. They can’t move outside of LA. If they stay within their designated marketing zone (southern California, north of San Diego), any stadium that they want to build has to go through the CEQA permitting process. For something that big, we’re looking at a decade for an approval. This statement by Keep the Angels is a lie. It’s the functional equivalent of yelling FIRE in a crowded theater. Step one complete.
Post #3: “Wow, already almost 900 likes. Thank you Angels fans! Let’s spread the word and help us keep our Angels! Please share this page with your friends and ask them to like it too. More news soon including how you can help Keep The Angels!”
And there we go. There are their 10 friends screaming and running out of the theater. Next up, mockery.
Post #4 “Here are some key facts on what is going on with the City of Anaheim and Angels Baseball. #1 – The Angels have the right to opt out of Angels Stadium in 2016, with one year notice. The negotiations underway would extend the lease to 2057. That’s 45 more years on Angels baseball in Anaheim!”
Well geez, who wouldn’t want to do that? <– Begin mockery.
But wait a minute . . .45 more years? That doesn’t sound right . . .
That’s because it isn’t right. The Angels have the unilateral right to abandon the contract, without penalty, in 2019, 2037, 2043, and 2051. So . . . that’s not 45 more years of Angel baseball in Anaheim. It’s 7. Since the existing contract expires in 2016, it’s really only 3.
3 vs. 45. Big difference.
Post #5: ”Fact #2 – Angels Stadium needs almost $150 million in upgrades. It is one of the oldest stadiums in Major League Baseball. In the current lease, it is not clear who is responsible for paying that $150 million, but if the Angels leave, then Anaheim is left with an empty stadium that needs $150 million in upgrades. We all know no team would come here unless the taxpayers paid the $150 million. In the last two decades, the average public subsidy for a baseball stadium has been 60%. Under the terms being negotiated with the City and the Angels, the Angels would agree to take on this $150 million. That is a good deal for taxpayers!”
Oh, no! If they leave . . . then what will we do with an empty stadium? I mean, jeez, all that vacant land in Southern California . . what could we possibly build? Oh, right . . . ANYTHING. That’s a separate discussion for another blog post.
For now, let’s look at this rotten egg from Facebook. Let’s assume they’re right. If Anaheim is to be consistent with other MLB hosts, Anaheim should pony up 60% of $150MM, or $90MM. Remember that number. $90MM. That’s what they claim is fair.
Anyway, they’ll leave if we don’t give them something! Give them something! Anything! THIS IS A GOOD DEAL! If you don’t approve, you’ll burn us all alive! Mock mock mock!
Post #6: “Fact #3 – the City has been trying to get someone to develop part of the parking lot around the stadium for almost 20 years. No one has been willing to do so, in part because the lease with the baseball team has required any developer to pay for a parking structure to replace any surface parking taken by the development. That would cost $100 million or more, maybe as much as $150 million. But if it is the Angels developing the entertainment and restaurant district around the Stadium, it starts to make sense. At stadiums around the country, there are really cool shopping and entertainment and dining districts right next to the Stadium. We can finally have that in Anaheim under the deal being negotiated. This would also bring thousands of jobs and tens or hundreds of millions of economic activity to Orange County, generating a lot of tax revenue to pay for city services.”
Whoa whoa whoa. No one wants to develop the land because of the terms and conditions in the existing lease, so we have to change the lease to giveaway the land to the Angels so they can develop it? What kind of crazy backwards world is this? If no one wants to develop the land, THEN CHANGE THE LEASE SO THEY CAN DEVELOP THE LAND.
Note the additional mockery. If Anaheim doesn’t agree, we aren’t as cool as other cities and we turn down thousands of mythical magical jobs that spontaneously appear as if from no where and millions, excuse me hundreds of millions of dollars, of economic activity (that’s A LOT of beer.) In other words, we’re stupid if we don’t agree.
Post #7: “So the basic framework which would keep the Angels in Anaheim seems pretty simple to us. Anaheim gets the Angels to extend their lease for almost 50 years, the Angels agree to pay the $150 million in needed upgrades to the Stadium instead of the taxpayers, and the Angels develop part of the parking lot into a really cool shopping/dining/entertainment district which brings jobs and vitality to the Stadium area. A lot of details remain to be worked out, but the start of the negotiations seem like a great deal.”
Again, if you don’t agree, you’re an idiot, because this is simple. Compelling.
The basic framework is exactly the opposite of how Keep the Angels describes. Anaheim gets the Angels for 3 years, not 50. The Angels absolutely do NOT agree to spend $150MM in needed upgrades. By leasing and not selling public land, the taxpayers give away their right to collect property tax on land. They also give up any sales tax generated from the site as well and fees generated from parking and whatever else. They agree to provide economic assistance to developers in exchange for mythical magical economic benefit.
What the MoU actually states is that the Angels will agree to maintain Angel Stadium “to a standard to be agreed upon during negotiations.” Well, that’s pretty darn open ended. Considering we’ve given away the cow, we can’t exactly dictate terms to Arte on what that standard should be. It could be $150MM, it could be $5MM. It certainly won’t be the $900MM some other bloggers are suggesting for a brand new stadium.
Let’s consider for a moment what Keep the Angels conceded earlier. If Anaheim is to mirror what other MLB hosts have done in recent years, they need to contribute roughly $90MM to renovate Anaheim stadium, with the team contributing $60MM. What exactly are we paying? Let’s take a look at the MoU.
Hmmm . . . wait a minute . . there’s nothing here that monetizes the giveaway! You mean to tell me the Anaheim City Council voted to enter into good faith negotiations without understanding the value of the terms to be negotiated, without providing a compelling and transparent value for consideration before the taxpayers? No. I don’t believe it. Surely, surely somewhere in Anaheim someone can tell me what Anaheim agreed to bargain for?
I know you’re as shocked as I am.
The problem with the 4000 year old model of yelling fire and mocking those who don’t listen to you is that the people who ask legitimate questions don’t die a horrible fiery death in the end. Eventually, the myth floats away with the hot air that blew it in and the truth comes out.
If this is really a fantastic deal for the taxpayer, the combined MoUs (which actually aren’t linked, but lets assume they are . . . which is a horrible benefit to grant, but I’m doing it anyway) ought to be worth less than $90MM. Any dollar above is a bad deal; any dollar below is a good deal.
What’s the value of the parking lot lease? Is it more or less than $90MM. Let’s take a look.
The city’s analysis calls out 50 specific acres for a development area formerly known as Sportstown. The actual proposed ground lease is substantially greater than 50 acres (of note, there’s nothing in the MoU that binds the Angels to not develop the entire parking lot, we’ll have to assume they won’t because they’re either prohibited elsewhere or that it’s just bad for business.) but we’ll stick with 50 for simplicity.
That’s 50 acres of prime commercial real estate for the grand total sum of $1 a year. How much is that worth? Well, working backwards, $90MM over the term of 66 years is $1.37MM per year. That’s about $2300 an acre per month or roughly $0.05/sq ft (FYI, going rates for vacant land in the area? $0.12 to 0.44 per square foot.)
Does anyone out there REALLY want to try to sell the idea that Anaheim taxpayers are getting a good deal? Other MLB hosts: 60% of costs. Anaheim: we give away free land for two generations.
Oh, but wait, it gets worse.
Not only do the Angels get the use of 50 acres, they get to develop it as they see fit. Here’s where it gets tricky. The city of Anaheim owns the land, which means it doesn’t pay property tax. This means the Angels get to develop the land, rent it to a tenant at market rates (making that value shoot way beyond the $0.05 they’re paying), all the while avoiding property tax payments that they rightfully owe to the county.
How much is that worth? I’m gonna throw a dart out there of a quarter billion dollars over the term of the lease. Anyone want to argue?
Oh, but wait again! It gets even worse!
The city is going to pay to develop the land for the Angels! We’re looking at “Gardenwalk Part Deux: Bend Over and Say Halo!” That’s right, the city agreed to provide economic assistance to develop the land. How much? Too be “negotiated” and “general fund neutral.” This means they uses fuzzy math, bad assumptions, and a ridiculous discount rate to extract as much as possible from the taxpayer before they get swatted. Kinda like a really big blood sucking mosquito that takes $150MM out of your wallet.
Here’s why the MoU doesn’t tell list how much it’s all worth. It’s too ridiculous to add up. Free land, free construction, no taxes . . . all for $1 a year over 66 years.
Average MLB host: $90 million. Anaheim: $850 million? $2 billion? Your guess is good as mine, but one thing is clear . . .
NOT A GOOD DEAL.
One more post from Keep the Angels:
Post #7: “On September 3, 2013, the Anaheim City Council voted 4-1 to begin negotiations with the Angels around this general framework. City Council Members Gale Eastman, Jordan Brandman, Lucille Kring, and Kris Murray voted for this framework. Mayor Tom Tait voted against it and has been trying to stir up opposition to the Angels.”
There is no fire and you aren’t stupid. The Angels aren’t going anywhere. If they do, well, the sky won’t fall.
I’m sure there’s no shortage of developers chomping at the bit to get to what’s essentially greenfield space with direct access to rail and three major freeways, a publicly owned power and water utility, 20 minutes from an airport, and with potentially direct tram access to both Disneyland and the California High Speed Rail project.
But, I guess you can always believe the city’s analysis that the surrounding land value just evaporates without the Angels. Yeah, on second that, no one would want a piece of land like that. Definitely not Disney.
Tell Eastman, Brandman, Kring, and Murray that their manufactured crisis is a joke and Anaheim wants its billion bucks back.
The Anaheim City Council is posed to pass an ordinance banning the homeless from camping in city parks. This should come as no surprise from this out of touch council. What's even more alarming is that many of the council members call themselves Christians. Gail Eastman even went as far as posting In God We Trust above the dais. A wonder if she has forgotten this key piece of scripture:
Matthew 25:40-45 ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ ..
Where is your compassion Kris Murray, Gail Eastman, Lucille Kring, and Jordan Brandman?
For the rest of the story, here is Gabriel San Roman from the OC Weekly:
A week after activist Stephen Baxter held a 'sleep-in' protest in downtown Fullerton over the city's war on the homeless, Anaheim will try to one-up them with a punitive ordinance of its own. The city municipal code already forbids staying in a public park between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 5 a.m., which has the homeless laying their head elsewhere for the night--but that's not enough for councilwoman Kris Murray and her crew!
On Tuesday, council members will decide on a proposal aimed at banning camping and storage of personal property on public property at any time.
In a staff report submitted by Director of Community Services Terry Lowe, the ordinance is framed as one that will "serve as a tool in the City's effort to promote and support safe, clean and accessible neighborhoods and eliminate blight." Never once are the homeless referenced directly, but it couldn't be clearer who the intended target is.
If Anaheim's city council should approve the crackdown--and it almost assuredly will--no homeless person can use a tent for living purposes at any hour in public areas including parks, alleys, parking lots, or any other publicly owned property. Nor could they store personal belongings such as the tents themselves, sleeping bags, bedrolls, cooking equipment, books, money and appliances in addition to other possessions in such spaces.
Public parks are the most visible places where the city's homeless population set up tents during the day. Since the eviction of a sizable homeless encampment in Fullerton by the shuttered Hunt Library earlier this year, many of those displaced turned up on the east lawn of La Palma Park in Anaheim.
Read the full story here:
Transcript of comments by former Irvine city councilman Chris Mears:
Look, this is the kind of backroom politics and backroom deal making that just sorta sets my hair on fire about about politics.
Umm and also it needs to be said that the amounts of money that we're talking about here are so grotesquely large, that we really have to question the ethics and morality of these basic expenditures.
First of all, we're talking about a city that wants to build a streetcar system. And let's be honest, it really is just going to just serve Disneyland at a cost of one hundred million dollars a mile.
Just the numbers are just so staggering that it almost takes your breath away and this dispute then is about just a small fraction of the measure M2 money that is being sought to pay for this streetcar system, because in this case, this controversy arises out of the location of one of the streetcar stops from a location over on Disney Way to a location that's across from the main gate, which on in isolation, in and of itself make sense.
If you’re going to have a streetcar stop, or any kind of stop servicing Disneyland it ought to be across from the front gate. The problem from Disneyland 's point of view about that, and from the city side of this, is that they’re going to have to demolish your IHOP and a hotel there and do some other things at an additional cost of thirty million dollars, which quite clearly reading between the lines here, Disneyland had a deal Disneyland has brokered behind the scenes for the taxpayers of greater Orange County to foot the bill for as little as a larger part or smaller part of this larger investment of money.
This is clearly a deal that was cut in the backroom. Disneyland isn’t going to pay a dime by the way for this improvement, even though they are going to benefit greatly by it. But then again, really just taking a step away from this. We have conservatively every single night in Orange County in excess of twenty thousand homeless people who can't find a shelter bed and we are the city of Anaheim is in the process of developing a system that's going to cost one hundred million dollars a mile.
This is obscene. It's obscene by any measure. Let's take the cost of one mile of that one mile that am devote it to public health issues devoted to homeless issues devoted to any one of a hundred issues that and in ways and programs that we try and service the poor and the disadvantaged in this count, instead of this ridiculous boondoggle.
From The Voice of OC:
Freedom Communications, owner of the Orange County Register, is poised to strike a highly unusual partnership with the city of Anaheim whereby the media company would be the city's broker as it pursues corporate sponsorships for its controversial transportation hub project.
News of the deal has drawn criticism from Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, and warnings from media ethics experts that the county's largest newspaper could be seen as an “agent of the government.”
Freedom Communications co-owner and OC Register publisher Aaron Kushner defended the deal as just a new twist to traditional advertising sponsorships and speaks to the media company's commitment to the region's future.
Freedom Communications would have the exclusive right for 12 months to solicit corporations for the opportunity to display their names on the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC), a massive dome that would house the city's train station, a letter of intent from the city states.
In order for the deal to be complete, the City Council must still approve it.
Kushner acknowledged that the company would receive a cut of the revenue from any sponsorship deal.
"Effectively, we are acting as an additional source of marketing muscle to try and bring private support to this project because our mission, we believe, is to help Orange County grow," Kushner said. "We believe this is an important project."
Media ethics experts reached for comment said they have never heard of such a deal and said it has the potential to damage the Register newsroom's credibility as it covers the ARTIC project, which has already proven to be controversial.
“It’s just a terrible spot to put them in,” said Al Tompkins, a senior faculty member at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies of the journalists assigned to cover the city and the project. “And the question really does become: are the finances of this type of deal worth the erosion of public confidence that comes with it?”
Marc Cooper, a USC journalism professor who has called foul on past Register controversies, was stunned when told of the deal.
“That's too unbelievable... I would classify this as mind-boggling,” Cooper said after taking a few seconds to collect his thoughts. “It really stretches the imagination.”
On June 20, the Register published an article about a new naming rights broker division and announced contracts with three entities. The article did not say anything about a pending deal with Anaheim, even though the city's letter outlining terms of the deal is dated June 19.
When contacted Thursday evening by a Voice of OC reporter, Kushner said that the paper had yet to report on the deal because "it doesn't exist yet."
Then, later in the evening, the Register published a brief story on its website outlining the deal.
In his defense of the agreement, Kushner stressed that just like with advertisers; there will be a strict firewall between the coverage of ARTIC and the business side of the newspaper.
“We've basically at no cost -- frankly as a public service -- offered to help the city of Anaheim attract one or more major including national or international sponsor to help lower the taxpayer costs of building a great regional transportation hub,” Kushner said. “I don't think there's a single advertiser with us that we don't cover in some way.”
Tait, meanwhile, said the deal could compromise the newspaper's objectivity.
"Not only do I question the need for such an agreement, I have serious concerns about creating a financial partnership with our local newspaper, which also serves as a watchdog for the citizens over matters at City Hall.”
Cooper also said he disagrees with how Kushner defines public service.
"You don't become a booster of Orange County by becoming a partner with institutions of power," Cooper said. "As a newspaper you do it by making the county the most honest, most efficient, most accountable county in the country. And newspapers should be on the frontlines of that. That's the role of a newspaper. Not to be a PR agent.”
This is not the first controversial business move for Kushner since he bought the Register last June.
While gaining praise for adding 175 newsroom staffers and expanding its news content at a time when most papers have been cutting back on coverage, he's been hammered by critics for other business deals and what they say are efforts to appease the political establishment.
Voice of OC revealed in February that the Register changed its political ad policy after two Anaheim councilwomen complained to Register co-owner Eric Spitz earlier this year about ads from a local activist that criticized their votes for a controversial hotel subsidy.
In the wake of that controversy, Kushner raised eyebrows in the media industry when he told newsroom staff that journalists shouldn't abide by the long-held journalism credo of “afflicting the comfortable.”
Then in March, the Los Angeles Times revealed that the paper struck a deal whereby the county’s three main universities each pay the Register $275,000 per year for the paper to publish weekly news sections focused on positive happenings at the colleges.
The arrangement calls for the university’s public relations team to as “content advisors, idea generators and collaborators” on the inserts, according to an internal UC Irvine memo cited by the LA Times.
The Register’s top editor said the arrangement wouldn’t affect its coverage.
Jason Young, the activist whose ads sparked complaint from the councilwomen, was also the first to uncover the letter of intent on the sponsorship deal. He said in an interview today that it is now clear why the Register responded the way it did to the pressure from the politicians.
“I knew something shady was going on, and here it is,” Young said. “Of course the Register is going to bow down to Kris [Murray] and Gail [Eastman] to curtail my first amendment rights, because they wanted this deal.”
Cooper said that the potential business relationship creates a conflict on several levels. First, it makes the Register appear as an agent of city government. Second, the newspaper's ownership has to have comfortable relationships with its host of major corporate contracts. Also, it places pressure on the reporters to offer favorable coverage to ARTIC.
Also, Cooper said transportation is one of the most important local issues a newspaper can focus on. Such a business partnership threatens the perception that the Register can objectively cover the transit hub.
“Maybe [ARTIC] is going to be wonderful I don't know, but I certainly won't trust the Orange County Register on it,” he said.
Although the ARTIC project is still in the middle of construction, it has already proven to be highly controversial.
In 2010, the county grand jury criticized officials for committing millions of dollars to ARTIC while cutting back on bus service for poor and disabled people. A later grand jury panel supported the project.
And when then-Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle sought $200 million in funds for ARTIC from the California High Speed Rail Authority – where Pringle served as board chair – the move was criticized for being set for a vote without any public hearings or application process to determine that it was the best use of public funds.
That ultimately sparked an investigation by the California Attorney General into whether Pringle had a conflict of interest in serving both as Anaheim’s mayor and chairman of the rail authority.
From The Liberal OC
Periodically we find ourselves here at LiberalOC puzzled by our agreement with Libertarians on policy issues, particularly when it comes to spending taxpayer funds. We see such expenses as investments, while Libertarians see needles boondoggles of uncontrollable government overreach. But for the past couple years we find that Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait is more often the only person of reason on the Anaheim City Council. While we can understand the political policy disagreements with his colleagues over the $158 million in corporate welfare forhotel development as a matter of philosophy, the Anaheim Council majority’s refusal to recognize the end of enterprise zones in California has us mortified.
The convoluted rationale of the majority was that the details of “the end” are not determined. To accept that conclusion one would need to suspend reality, and time. The law is pretty clear that enterprise zones will end on December 31, 2013. The rationale that this irrational majority wants you to accept is more likely fueled by the same people who have funded their campaign coffers and independent expenditures to get them elected.While the legislation to end enterprise zones was being written, the council increase their funding to the Anaheim Chamber contract supporting them by more than $600,000 with no modifications of scope of work. On Tuesday, the council refused to decide to notify the Chamber that that contract would end in December, once the now signed legislation ending enterprise zones takes effect.
We can only surmise that the majority want’s more time to figure out how to continue to fund the Chamber, at the same level, when the enterprise zones go away.
Despite the fact that the CA Enterprise Zone program ends December 31st, the Anaheim City Council majority voted against terminating the contract with the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Tom Tait, the lone voice of reason, brought forth the motion. This is the same council majority that also increased the contract even though legislation was in process to end the program.
Now please enjoy this 3 minute condensed version of last nights debate:
And finally the best of Jordan Brandman's comments from last nights meeting:
Anaheim, CA - A prominent California attorney alleged that members of the Anaheim City Council violated state law when they voted on behalf of a $158 million hotel subsidy, after accepting contributions from a PAC tied to the project's developer. Attorney Cory Briggs urged California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas to prosecute the council members in a letter sent Thursday. Briggs’ request for prosecution was made on the behalf of a community organization, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development and a private Anaheim resident named in the letter.
The letter alleges that Anaheim City Council members Lucille Kring and Jordan Brandman had an illegal conflict of interest when they voted for the Garden Walk Hotel subsidy in May, within months of accepting donations from the political action committee formed by Support Our Anaheim Resort (SOAR.) Hotelier Bill O’Connell, who benefited from that subsidy, sits on the SOAR Advisory Committee. The letter also names council members Gail Eastman and Kris Murray, who voted in favor of the subsidy and are SOAR Advisory Committee members. Eastman and Murray did not disclose their business relationships with SOAR and O’Connell at the time of the vote, as required by law.
The request for prosecution issued by Briggs is a required legal step before the filing of a private lawsuit. A potential filing would result in another in a recent series of lawsuits faced by the city council on behalf of residents. Last month, a judge ordered a trial in a case brought by the ACLU on behalf of Anaheim voters, alleging that the city’s election system violates the California Equal Voting Rights Act.
The Garden walk subsidy caused controversy, even before the allegations made last week. The subsidy was first passed in January 2012, but that vote was voided after a Superior Court Judge ruled that it violated the Brown Act, California’s open government law, because the public did not receive proper notice.
I'm quite frankly surprised Mayor Tait was able to raise that amount in a single night. Especially considering he wasn't apart of all the Disney/developer giveaways that Kris Murray was.
Kris Murray aka The Giveaway Queen is responsible for the following wastes of taxpayer funds:
1. $158 million GardenWalk Hotel giveaway
2. $319 million Disney streetcar project
3. $184 million ARTIC train station
Kris Murray, Gail Eastman , and Lucille Kring love to tout that the new budget includes "additional programs and services that will enrich the quality of life for Anaheim residents." The reality is they only earmarked an additional $9 million. You compare the numbers. Do you think their priorities are in the right place?
From The LA Times:
It began with violence: Anaheim police firing beanbags and a police dog breaking loose and lunging into a crowd of men, women and children, some of whom had confronted the officers over their fatal shooting of a Latino man.
When another fatal police shooting of a Latino followed, and the anger finally spilled over, people smashed windows, and police in riot gear rushed the street, even as the fireworks from Disneyland on the other side of town erupted in the night sky.
The unrest, and the street protests in the ensuing days, exposed long-simmering tensions in this resort city, not just over the police but because of a deeply rooted sense that those who live in Anaheim's densely packed core were being marginalized and excluded by the town's leadership.
Now, a year later, many of the issues that drove last summer's fury have again bubbled to the surface. The results of the shooting investigations have come in, and city officials — in response to calls for greater representation for Latinos — have altered the way voters select their leaders.
But to many who live in the so-called "flatlands" of Orange County's largest city, the investigations and decisions fall far short of what they've fought for. In some cases, they've only served to underscore frustration.
"They're not interested in working for our community," said Yesenia Rojas, an organizer who lives on the street where the unrest began. "We've gone, we've spoken with the City Council, and the reality is they have not responded."
The midsummer rallies and protests were seen by some as evidence that Anaheim's Latino community was finally flexing its political muscle.
Once staid City Council meetings were packed with local activists calling for election reform, citizens' oversight of police, and increased spending in poor and working-class neighborhoods. People booed and applauded raucously and called council members out by name.
"They can be very aggressive," said Councilwoman Lucille Kring. "They'll be clapping and whistling and applauding, and they're giving us the finger ... I cannot believe there's no respect."
Juan Alvarez, a middle school teacher who began attending council meetings after the summer protests, saw it differently.
"These people who have been running the city politics are relying on the fact that citizens are ignorant about what's going on," Alvarez said. But, he added, "we're figuring out how broken the system is."
Latinos now make up about 53% of the 340,000 people who live in Anaheim, but there are no Latinos on the City Council. A census analysis by The Times showed the town is deeply segregated along ethnic and economic lines.
One major demand spurred by the unrest was a call to change the city's at-large voting system to elections by district. The issue is also the subject of an ACLU lawsuit.
But the push for change seemed to stall when the council put off a decision on council districts, appointed a committee and then put aside the committee's recommendation that the matter be put to a citywide vote.
Instead, the council approved a requirement that council members live in specific districts but otherwise left at-large voting intact. Local activists saw the change as little more than a slight variation of the status quo. Again, some said they felt tuned out.
Councilwoman Gail Eastman said she believes the council district model pushed by Latino activists would actually leave residents with fewer representatives to respond to their calls.
She said meetings have become a sort of "endurance thing."
"I have to sit there, because I can't respond. I can't explain anything, I can't clarify anything. All people do is come and yell and try and beat us into submission."
Eastman and others say the city has increased spending on struggling neighborhoods. They point to such projects as a new neighborhood center, a community center, increased library hours and a half-acre park near the site of one of the police shootings.
Others say the spending pales in comparison with money spent on the city's glittering resort district — a grand train station, a proposed streetcar project and a $158-million tax incentive given to the developer of two luxury hotels.
In his State of the City address earlier this year, Mayor Tom Tait described a sense that two Anaheims now exist. Some called his language divisive. On key issues Tait, a Republican, often finds himself advocating for the positions of local activists and at odds with the rest of the council. He said that city leaders have been reluctant to embrace change and that people can feel it.
Those advocating for change have seen "some differences from the community," he said. "On the bigger political issues, they're still waiting."
Balloons, flowers and a bottle of sweet red wine still stand as part of a memorial on Anna Drive marking the spot where Manuel Diaz, 25, was killed last summer.
Diaz, who was unarmed, was shot once in the back of the head and once in the buttocks. Officers said that he was a member of the Eastside Anaheim gang and that they believed he had a gun and was turning to shoot.
The tension between residents and police was immediately clear.
"Maybe where we thought we had a really solid relationship with the community, maybe those relationships weren't as solid as we thought," said Interim Police Chief Raul Quezada.
Weeks after the unrest, hundreds of law enforcement officers made their way to back to Anna Drive.
As they fanned out in the neighborhoods, they arrested dozens of Eastside Anaheim members and seized dozens of guns. Some felt it was retaliation for confronting police over Diaz's death. Officers said it was a long-planned offensive against the real menace in the flatlands — gangs. Earlier this year, the district attorney's office put Anna Drive and its surrounding neighborhoods under a gang injunction.
The crackdown and injunction are meant to make people feel safer, police said. Others said it paints youths in those neighborhoods as criminals. Quezada said his department is doing its best.
"We're listening," he said.
On larger operations, police began distributing fliers explaining what they were doing. Complaint forms and policy manuals became available on the department's website, which "hadn't been updated in years," Quezada said. And officers must now digitally audio-record their interactions.
Donna Acevedo, the mother of the man who was killed by police after Diaz, has met with Quezada and said she feels "like I'm being heard now. But I think these are just baby steps."
Acevedo and others believe a citizens' oversight commission is needed to investigate allegations of police misconduct. They were disappointed that D.A. investigations into last year's police shootings found them legally justified. The mayor agrees with setting up a commission, saying in his address to the city that any "organization that investigates itself will always be challenged." So far, the idea appears to have little traction.
On the one-year anniversary of her son's death last Monday night, Acevedo and a few dozen people gathered for a vigil on Guinida Lane, in the parking lot where her son was shot. Police said Joel Acevedo, 21, shot at a pursuing officer before he was killed. His mother believes a gun was planted on him.
On the sidewalk nearby, someone had sketched the police outline of body in pink chalk.
"We miss you Joey," it read.
By Cynthia Ward:
California’s redevelopment agencies may be dead, but using the power of government to take private property, by eminent domain if need be, to profit the chosen few in the name of “economic development” is alive and well.
The ghost of Kelo haunts Anaheim, in the not so cleverly disguised form of the ARC or Anaheim Rapid Connection fixed guideway, a streetcar that transports resort visitors and employees at public expense.
As it turns out, this public project runs over some private property.
Not only has the Anaheim City Council voted 3-2 for a project while blasting past the Mayor’s objections that should have created concern, the Orange County Transportation Authority has the nerve to call this a mandate from voters who demanded this type of project for the benefit of all when approving Measure M. The OCTA board voted Monday morning to move forward with the project while Directors John Moorlach, Jeff Lalloway and Matt Harper opposed the boondoggle.
Republican power-hitter Jon Fleishman already called this “subsidizing the Mouse,” a view shared by transportation expert Randall O’Toole. Over at the Antiplanner, O’Toole called it “a massive subsidy to Disney,” pointing out that “Disney is reportedly enthused about the project, since otherwise it might have to provide its own buses.”
Read the full story here:
From the Voice of OC:
The Orange County Transportation Authority Board of Directors Monday allowed Anaheim access to more funding so city officials can complete an environmental study for a streetcar project, despite ongoing concerns from several directors about the project's high cost.
Directors are also increasingly asking why Disneyland isn't contributing toward the $319 million price tag given that the resort is a major beneficiary of the 3.2-mile streetcar system, which is to move riders between the resort and a planned train depot, among other stops.
The OCTA Board overwhelmingly voted in favor of advancing the project, with the only dissenters being Jeffrey Lalloway, Matthew Harper and John Moorlach. Directors postponed the vote at last month's meeting because they were uncomfortable with a proposed action to “concur” with the Anaheim City Council's choice to pursue a streetcar over a much cheaper enhanced bus alternative.
Read the full story here:
From The Voice of OC:
LETTER IN OPPOSITION TO “Anaheim Rapid Connection Locally Preferred Alternative” — AKA — The REALLY REALLY Expensive Taxpayer-Funded Trolley to Disneyland’s Front Door.
Dear OCTA Member:
Some of you on the OCTA Board of Directors know me, others do not. By way of introduction my name is Jon Fleischman. I am the publisher of theFlashReport.org website on California politics. I am a former Executive Director of the California Republican Party. Here in Orange County I am a long-time elected member of the Orange County GOP Central Committee, a member of the Lincoln Club, and am an activist for conservative candidates and causes.
I admit that most of my attention is spent focused on what is taking place in Sacramento. These days, with the pervasive control that the state’s public employee unions have in the State Capitol, it’s not pretty. I only reference my focus on State Capitol politics as an explanation for dropping you a last minute, brief note on an issue that frankly deserves much more attention.
Let me caveat my remarks below by saying that as a strong advocate for lower taxes, Measure M, and it’s renewal were two local taxes that I actually supported. All you need to do is look attentively as you cross the border between Orange County and any neighboring county to see what our own investment into transportation infrastructure has meant for the standard of living for all who live here.
That having been said, I have been reading for quite some time about a proposal to used well north of $100,000,000.00 in Measure M funds, paired up with an even larger chunk of federal transportation dollars, to contract an elaborate trolley system to run for a few miles through Anaheim, to basically end at the gates to Disneyland.
THIS IS A TERRIBLE WASTE OF TAXPAYER FUNDS.
Since I mention Disneyland I will throw our a few quick points on DL — I am a financial supporter, as I pay retail for my family to all have Premium passes every year. I visited the park myself over 50 times last year. I have gotten to know many of the people that work for DL, and consider them friends. It upsets me to no end when that company, whose national and state corporate level bias is Democrat, pitches in big bucks to statewide stuff I don’t like (most recently in favor of passing last year’s Prop. 30 statewide sales tax increase). It’s my understanding, by the way, that this proposal calls for Disney Corporation’s contribution to this trolley system to be exactly – zero. Great deal for them!
That having been said, it was never envisioned by me that by voting for Measure M that I would be, in essence, subsidizing the Mouse (with all due respect). It seems like a lack of acknowledgment of entry into the 21st Century that anyone would sink vast sums of money into heavy-duty fixed, in the ground transportation systems. Especially here in California. I say this as I look at our state’s quixotic efforts to lay down a massive High Speed Rail System that I think will never see the light of day, and if it does, it doesn’t show up in Orange County in my lifetime (I am 45).
The way I read it, there is a goal of moving people from Anaheim’s train station to Disneyland (and whatever stops happen to be in-between) — and these I guess would be Metrolink and Amtrak users as I told you I am skeptical of HSR, which Congress now opposes funding. That’s’ great. Use buses. You can use more or less of them depending on demand. And the cost is vastly cheaper. And to those “studies” that show more people would ride a trolley than a bus — well, I’m not really interested in using my tax dollars to provide Cadillac transportation when a chevy will due. And I will withhold editorial comment about the type of people that would “scoff” at riding a bus.
Using buses would not only save a lot of federal money here (and let’s remember we are all citizens of the United States — it is not okay to put federal money to a wasteful use here in Orange County as pork spending). But more importantly, it would free up vast sums of money to do what we desperately need Measure M funds to do — widen and make more usable our freeway system. By my “back of the napkin” match, using buses for this project in Anaheim would free up enough Measure M dollars to add an entire extra non-toll lane both N/B and S/B on the 405 freeway! Or think about those funds used to widen that horrific bottleneck at the 91 going out to the Inland Empire.
In case you hadn’t noticed — traffic in Orange County SUCKS. We should be making sure that NO FUNDS that COULD be used to mitigate freeway traffic are spent elsewhere, where permissible under the guidelines of Measure M.
Look, at this late date you have all probably been woo’d and schmoozed by all of the lobbyists pushing this trolley boondoggle. And no doubt the OCTA staff is “in love” with this sort of “signature project” that allows them to play SimCity with other people’s money.
But you were all elected to the OCTA Board, with an understanding that you represent the interests of those Orange Countians who are funding transportation projects through their sales taxes.
I strongly encourage you to vote against this project. Or at a very minimum continue this proposal and bring in some other points of view both on the folly of spending huge money on trolley systems, and also inviting a broader discussion about best use of Measure M dollars.
If you are a local elected official, looking for GOP support in your next election, you should at least be cognizant that if I feel this strongly about this waste of taxpayer dollars, I’m not going to be the only one.
In closing, I want to reiterate that I am not trying to beat up on my friends at Disneyland. I am used to the idea that corporations in modern times are all about figuring out how to get as much public money spent in ways that benefit them as possible. But it is not their decision to make, it is YOURS.
Remember when you sit in your meeting and the lineup of folks is there to tell you what a great idea this is that there is a reason why taxpayers are not lined up to oppose it — because their representatives in the room, on whom they count, are YOU.
P.S. My favorite “spin” in a cursory review of the staff report is the minimizing of the VAST AND HUGE cost of this trolley project by somehow comparing it to the even more ginormous costs of some sort of Disneyesque above ground monorail system — when the comparison should be between a permanent trolley system versus amping up more buses, which has the advantage of being totally flexible based on ACTUAL usage (visions of half empty trolleys, with Goofy, Mickey and their friends waving from the back, enter my mind).
By Cynthia Ward:
There is a fine line between conceit and arrogance. Conceit assumes that you know better than all others, that your way is best. Arrogance presumes not only that your way is best, but that the rest of us are ungrateful curs for not readily thanking you for that brilliant leadership. Arrogance rubs your nose in the funky-spot of the bad decisions made to the detriment of others. Arrogance was displayed with a hey-nonny at tonight’s Anaheim City Council meeting. [July 2, 2013]
Tonight a 3-2 vote of the Council majority, Eastman, Kring, Murray, essentially told the people of Anaheim “Up Yours.” There is just no other way to say it. OK perhaps substituting the F word… (which I did repeatedly while watching their arrogance on my computer screen but we won’t go there.)
Following through on their previous meeting’s discussion, they were now able to agendize the Santa Ana model of voting, to be put on the upcoming ballot. As usual, the mild-mannered man we voted to lead us as the independently elected Mayor tried to inject some level of wisdom into the discussion, and as usual the deliberate, intentional stubbornness of the majority prevailed. Mayor Tait pointed out that what they were offering was a “choice” between the At-Large system we have now or the At-Large system they are promoting, which really is no choice at all. Oh, and by the way, it is not really a Charter change, because it is really not “District” elections; thus voting for this on a ballot is superfluous because the change can simply be enacted by Ordinance. But they voted 3-2, Tait and Brandman against. Then they put the REAL Districts up as the next Agenda item, and while Tom Tait challenged them to explain why leaders would not allow voters to actually have a say in how we will be governed, they arrogantly voted…surprise! 3-2, Brandman and Tait voting for Districts, Eastman, Kring and Murray voting against.
I have to echo the thoughts of Mayor Tait. Why would any leader in a truly free society not allow their constituents to choose how we are to be governed? And because I am nowhere near as nice a person as Tom Tait, I will answer that rhetorical question:I think their stranglehold on the election system of Anaheim is rooted in fear, a fear so deep it wakes them up at night, sweating, panicked.
They know, despite the assurances of Dennis DeSnoo and Curt Pringle and Lucy Dunn, they know how utterly resented they are in some areas of Anaheim. And after the latest hypocrisy that resentment may very well turn to hatred. They do not dare allow us a voice or our shouts will be heard out to San Bernardino, with the echo of “Throw the Bums OUT!”
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By Cynthia Ward:
Last year, an Anaheim City Council majority approved a $318 million publicly-funded streetcar running about 3 miles from the ARTICtransportation center (train station) north of the 57 freeway through the Platinum Triangle to theResort, with funds from County Measure M2 gas taxes, TID (tourism improvement district) taxes(2% of the 17% bed tax), and anticipated Federal taxes through the FTA (Federal Transit Authority) New Starts program.
“Taxes” means you and I, the public, pay for it.
The rejected alternative to this over-$100-million-per-mile boondoggle? A $53 million enhanced bus proposal. That’s still expensive, but over $250 million less than what they voted for.
Who benefits from this project?
The Disneyland Resort, of course, along with hotels, and other resort businesses. That’s because they can use the train station’s remote parking and get extra business that might be coming from the train. It also means Disney can potentially get their parking lot off the old strawberry field they bought and use it as the 3rdpark they have been planning for.
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Let's do the math folks.
According to the OC Register the new budget includes $307 million in capital improvements.
Of that, $133 million is earmarked to build the ARTIC train station and only $11.7 million will be set aside for renovating or building parks throughout the city, including a half-acre pocket park at Guinida Lane and completion of the Miraloma Park and Family Resource Center.
Once again, clearly the priorities of the council majority led by Kris Murray are not those of the residents.
From The Liberal OC:
While the priorities and antics of the current majority on the Anaheim City Council have been both entertaining and disturbing, the latest bit of budget news has us asking WTF? Voice of OC’s Adam Elmahrek reported yesterday that someone on the Council directed staff to resurrect a $6.4 million budget allocation for the renovation of the Anaheim Tennis Center and Wagner House, a city-owned property that is not free to the public. The allocation is the single largest capital improvement allocation in the parks and recreation budget for FY 2013-14.
In a city where there is a dramatic and disproportionate allocation of resources targeted to the more affluent areas of the city, and in the context of the civil unrest of last summer, we can think of no better example of how the elected leadership is out-of-touch and unrepresentative of the population of the city. Elmahrek points out in his article that Mayor Tom Tait claims to have previously had the item pulled from the budget allocations last year characterizing the expenditure as a waist of public funds.
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