What next, with the kibosh on Anaheim’s GardenWalk Giveaway?


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The Giveaway Three, this year’s model.

Save Anaheim’s Jason broke the news yesterday, but when is a blogger ever given credit?  [Answer: never.]  In short order, our three mainstream outlets were trumpeting the story, Art Pedroza was holding forth, and Matt Cunningham was out with his corporate-shill spin (which we won’t link to here, but we’ll quote from below.)  Unsurprisingly, the piece to read if you read only one is Cynthia Ward‘s “Activists Win One For the Public in GardenWalk Lawsuit.”

In short, California Superior Court Justice Steven Perk yesterday knocked down January’s hugely controversial Anaheim City Council giveaway of $158 million in bed-tax money to developer Bill O’Connell for his GardenWalk Project.  BUT.  It wasn’t knocked down for its substance, but on Brown Act grounds, for the sneaky, hasty, secretive way it was snuck past Anaheim citizens.  (As I see my colleague Greg Diamond has just explained.  Damn, am I LAST?)

So now the County’s wide-awake citizens move on to speculation:  Will the corporatist Council majority bring the scheme back soon, properly notify the public this time, allow debate on it, and then once again ram it down Anaheim’s throat, but this time legally?   Or, once bitten twice shy of the public backlash they faced earlier this year, will they let it go?  (A question complicated, Cynthia reminds us, by the question of whether or not O’Connell still has his deep-pocketed mystery investor, or whether said investor has since buggered off to less tempestuous climes?)

Perhaps I can be of some assistance here.

What we DO know about the Giveaway Three (Kris Murray and Gail Eastman, with new member Jordan Brandman now replacing termed-out Harry Sidhu) is their boundless arrogance, and their true belief that their brand of mercantilism is what’s right for Anaheim.  We know that their Alpha Dog Kris Murray exuberantly refers to the clique as “Masters of the Universe.”   Jordan Brandman, in contrast to his confused ambiguity about district elections (a confusion caused by the intentional ambiguity of his master Curt Pringle) has been very clear in his support for this giveaway and suchlike “public-private partnerships” … and he’s fully aware that he was the top vote-getter last month, no doubt leading him to conclude that a vote for the giveaway would be not only safe but popular.

Rounding out the beneficent troika is zealot Gail Eastman, who at some point convinced herself that such corporate welfare is God’s work – to such a degree that He will rain down riots and police shootings simply to help deals like this go down more smoothly.   (Don’t remember what I’m talking about?  Read with amazement.)  No doubt she feels Judge Perk is a witting or unwitting accomplice of Satan.  Oh, these three will be bringing this back and re-ramming it, is my bet.

I can tell you one thing though:  One way or another, Take Back Anaheim will be returning early in the year, having learned from last year’s mistakes, with a renewed drive to qualify their “Let The People Vote” initiative.  And, while Judge Perk’s ruling could take some wind out of our sails, a return of the GardenWalk Giveaway with all the attendant public furor that is sure to accompany it – bad as it’ll be for Anaheim’s treasury – would be just the kick start we need!  Think on that, corporatists.

And they probably will think on it.  How will their clever master Pringle, who does care about public opinion, split this difference?  Will he water the agreement down a bit, make it just a LITTLE less objectionable?  Get O’Connell to agree to SOMETHING for the city this time?  Would the shamelessly greedy and self-pitying developer play ball?  Would his secret investor skedaddle, or has he already?  You can see that I can’t be 100% on my prediction.

But one weather vane has to be the sleazy blog of Matt “Jerbal” Cunningham, who keeps an office near Pringle’s and is probably paid indirectly by him, although we haven’t yet been able to prove that – hence when he says this gang is gonna do something, I tend to think he knows what he’s talking about.  So I reproduce what HE wrote yesterday … fair use, yada yada… my emphases…

BREAKING: GardenWalk Project Coming Back to the City Council for a Vote

A tentative Superior Court ruling handed down today means the controversial TOT-split agreement with the GardenWalk project is going to be coming back to the Anaheim City Council for what is essentially a re-vote.

Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD) had been suing the project in court on various grounds, and it’s my understanding the court had been ruling against OCCORD…until now….

The ruling is essentially a technical and procedural one, rather than a judicial decision on the GardenWalk agreement itself.

The upshot: the agreement will have to be brought back before the Anaheim City Council, and the matter voted on all over again. At least this way, the anti-GardenWalk crowd won’t be able to complain they didn’t know a vote was going to take place. And they’ll have another chance to reiterate the phony claim it is a “$158 million giveaway” — which is quite a feat given that the project, and the revenues it would generate, doesn’t happen without the TOT split. Perhaps the Take Back Anaheim crowd will, at the same time, explain how to transform lead into gold — something equally impossible as the “giveaway” claim.

It’s difficult to imagine a different outcome from the vote taken in early 2012. Two of the three pro-GardenWalk agreement votes are still on the council — Gail Eastman and Kris Murray — and they have been joined by another pro-GardenWalk vote, Jordan Brandman. Given that Brandman was on the receiving end of several hit pieces attacking him for that support and still emerged as the top-vote getter, there is every reason to believe he will continue to be a strong supporter….

Or maybe I’ll just see what I can get out of  Kris or Jordan today at the swearing-in ceremony.  I’ll let you-all know what I hear!


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist in Orange County. Performs regularly with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem, and at regular concerts at the Huntington Beach Central Library.