As you may know, there WERE a couple of important matters that were supposed to be voted on at last Tuesday’s Anaheim City Council meeting. Apart from the burning issue of what to do about a Police Department run amok, two vital questions were going to be considered for placement on November’s ballot – two questions many of us see as related to the police war against Anaheim’s poor neighborhoods – Whether or not to change to “district elections” so that all neighborhoods of the huge city will have political representation, and whether to put all future hotel tax subsidies up to a popular vote. AND this was the last possible meeting at which the Council could put such questions onto the November ballot, this was the deadline.
Councilwoman Gail Eastman, along with her colleagues Harry Sidhu and Kris Murray, constitute a council majority that not only opposes both those democratic reforms, but even resists putting them on the ballot for Anaheim’s voters to decide. But evidently Gail was really NOT looking forward to having to publicly cast a vote keeping the popular measures off the ballot. As it turned out, she was saved from this uncomfortable predicament by the riots outside Council chambers, riots inspired by the recent rash of police killings, which caused this meeting to be cut short.
What was remarkable was the exhilarating sense of relief Gail Eastman felt at this, which impelled her to let loose with the following Tourette’s-like message to a group of her “Colony” neighborhood supporters when she got home:
…It appears to have been quiet now for almost an hour so I trust we will all get a good nights sleep. The bonus now is that a threat of seeing either the TOT [room tax] issue or districting on the November ballot is past.
In spite of how it happened, it was a big time win for all who opposed seeing that placed on the November ballot. We could still be asked to vote on both issues in the future if 15% of the registered voters in the city sign a petition requesting it. We may also be facing a recall if some of tonights speakers follow through on their threats, but that will be a fight for another day.
Tonight we celebrate a win with no shots fired!
Thanks my friends for standing with us!
[As an aside it should be noted that, even though most of us know about these remarks through the excellent Voice of OC, THEY got the info from the increasingly invaluable NoJordanBrandman.com, to which we are now posting a permanent link.]
When Politicians Apologize
On the sober morning after, discovering that her private communication had gone public and realizing how insensitive it sounded, Ms Eastman issued an “apology.” But it is such a typical politician’s apology – weaselly and totally missing the point. You just KNOW she copped to “a poor choice of words,” clueless to the fact that it was the SUBSTANCE of her remarks that has the county outraged.
Well, okay, sure, “Tonight we celebrate a win with NO SHOTS FIRED” – that there IS a real poor choice of words, sort of Freudian-slip, shoot-yourself-in-the-foot poor choice, at a moment when Anaheimers were being bruised with rubber bullets for protesting other Anaheimers getting shot execution-style in the back of the head.
But the gist of her message remains, intended and unapologized-for: First, that by any means possible the people must be PREVENTED from voting on these two issues which she opposes; that the bloody mess outside, while perhaps regrettable, at least had the silver-lining of aiding her anti-democratic platform; and that, last and best of all, Gail Eastman didn’t have to cast an uncomfortable, unpopular vote to git ‘er done!
The Matter of the Triple Stabbing of Democracy
So, consider: Gail Eastman – along with her accomplices Sidhu and Murray:
- Doesn’t want to “let the people vote” on subsidies OR to have their own district councilpeople as all other California cities the size of Anaheim do;
- Doesn’t even want to allow you Anaheimers to decide whether those two ideas are good ones this November; and
- Prefers YOU not to see her cast a vote on this matter herself, and is overjoyed that shootings and riots absolved her of that pesky, embarrassing task.
That’s what I mean by the title of this post, and that’s what is meant by Greg Diamond’s beautiful photoshop, built from a perfect Chris Prevatt photo of the Councilwoman.
While we’re throwing rocks and bottles here…
How about Gail’s two Council accomplices, Harry Sidhu and Kris Murray? By all accounts, Gail has generally been the most reasonable of the anti-democracy trio, and reform forces had the most hopes of winning her over. If Harry and Kris are worse than Gail, the triple-stabber of democracy – imagine that!
How about Senator Lou Correa, Assemblyman Jose Solorio, and Assembly candidate Tom Daly, all putative Democrats, who endorsed this politician, assisting her invaluably? Think of all the Anaheim Democrats who must have voted for her on their say-so. What do they have to say now? Anything?
And, while we’re thinking about that chaotic aborted Council meeting, how about those “hard-hats” from the Buildings and Trade Unions, the most reactionary and self-centered corner of the Labor movement? They were at the meeting to SUPPORT the bed-tax giveaway, thinking it benefits them when in actuality there’s nothing in the agreement that prevents the developer from bringing in cheap labor from Arizona and New Mexico as these hotels generally do. They were there at the urging of the developer and Kris Murray, over a hundred of them in their hard hats, with a protest which was planned before the recent shootings. They went into the chambers early and took up all the available seats. This is why there was no room inside for the pro-democracy and anti-police-brutality forces. This is why the people who were shut out turned angry and surly (although it looks like there were provocateurs involved as well.) There will be time in the future to look at the problem of reactionary unions fighting against democracy in Anaheim.
Moving Forward in Taking Anaheim Back
Now that no reform measures will be on Anaheim’s November ballot, it’s going to be a busy early 2013 in that town, preparing for one heck of a Special Election – no matter who wins the two Council seats being vacated by termed-out Lorri Galloway and Harry Sidhu. Let’s get it all on that ballot:
- Some kind of police reforms
- “Let The People Vote” on future hotel and other corporate subsidies
- District Elections – Six districts plus an at-large mayor – better than what Mayor Tait actually agendized
- And, I’d say, recall Murray and Eastman!
But then, hey, I don’t live in Anaheim even though I’ll be there a lot including at noon today. What do you-all say?