It’s just the tip of the iceberg – Anaheim Council majority gives away even MORE taxpayer money, in secret!

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SHHH – Can you keep a secret?  You’re not supposed to know this.  I’M not supposed to know this.  But I really think you should know this, if you live in Anaheim — and it’s true!

It turns out, tonight’s well-known and controversial giveaway of $158 million of your tax money to Gardenwalk developer Bill O’Connell (which they FIRST tried to do last year without warning you, until a judge slapped it down) is only the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to the Anaheim Council majority’s generosity toward Curt Pringle clients.

I’m telling you.  In closed session yesterday, the four Pringle puppets – Kris Murray, Jordan Brandman, Gail Eastman and Lucille Kring – with as usual only the Mayor dissenting – voted to let the OWNERS of the Gardenwalk property, Anaheim Capital Partners (not to be confused with the developer O’Connell) keep 1/2 of all their sales tax due to the city – until the year 2030!  (We are still computing a ballpark figure of how much that might add up to – it’s pretty hard to say, but over that amount of time it’s gotta be substantial.)

Why?  Why did they get this sweet deal, what was their argument for it?  (I mean, aside from the fact that they’re represented by former mayor Curt Pringle, who bankrolls the Council majority?)  Did they argue, in O’Connell style, that they just won’t be able to do business, to make it in this tough economy, if they don’t get a big break on the taxes they pay to Anaheim?

NO THEY DIDN’T!  They didn’t even bother trying to make THAT case.  Their only argument was that it wasn’t fair for O’Connell to be getting such a great break, and THEM not.  (And also, that the former – now bankrupt – owners of Gardenwalk got a 50% TOT subsidy way back in 1999 – a deal which died with those owners’ bankruptcy.)

What did we say?  WHAT HAVE WE BEEN SAYING???  Haven’t we been saying that ONE reason it’s a terrible idea to give away such a huge subsidy to one businessman like O’Connell, is that everyone else will start complaining that it’s not fair, that they deserve the same thing?  And apparently, if they hire Pringle to represent them, their skids are greased and their “not fair” argument will swoop them all the way to Hog Heaven!  No doubt this is ONLY THE BEGINNING of a citywide whine-and-demand-fest from ALL business interests and developers.

And here’s one more thing to bear in mind this afternoon when the insatiable O’Connell comes demanding his $158 TOT giveaway:  One of their arguments is “This loss of TOT is really no big deal – we’ll be getting such a lot of sales tax out of the Gardenwalk.”  Now you can repond, “Wh – wh- WHAT sales tax???

Well…so… Why didn’t WE know about this?

Why didn’t they have to vote on this in public?

Oh, you’ll love this.  Their new interim City Attorney Michael Houston, sitting in the chair of honest, fired Cristina Talley and hoping dearly to become her permanent replacement, seems to have advised them that since the Gardenwalk owners’ demands were not in writing, but were apparently communicated only in winks, whispers and handshakes, the City’s capitulation could take place in secret, without saying a word TO or hearing a word FROM the public.  (Houston:  “Do I get the job now?”)

This crooked Council majority is more emboldened than ever this year, enjoying a 4-1 advantage instead 3-2 – with dissenter Lorri Galloway replaced by willing tool Lucille Kring – and with honest City Attorney Cristina Talley and honest City Manager Bob Wingenroth replaced by obedient yes-men who willingly embrace their job description of rubberstamping and facilitating the Majority’s every whim.

And their whims are to give away all the tax money Anaheim depends on, to whatever well-connected lucrative interests demand it, while the town’s vital community services continue to go unfunded.   People of Anaheim, these corporatist hacks you voted for – Murray, Eastman, Brandman, and Kring –  are stripping your city down like an abandoned car.  What are you going to do about it?

UPDATE:  Adam at Voice of OC has more details now.  LOTS and LOTs of ’em in fact.  This new secret giveaway is estimated to cost the city “tens of millions.”

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.