Anaheim Juice Blog: Council Stuffs Public Money into a Secluded Chamber, Continued


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For those of you who missed last week on Orange Juice Blog — and SHAME ON YOU!! if so — we talked a lot about Anaheim again, and that doesn’t even count the big story on how the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce’s apparently paid blogger is almost-but-not-quite in bed with strippers.  (It’s just an expression.)  A quick review before we move on:

This week, let’s start things off in a different way.  This week, we’ll start with the long transcript of a Council discussion!

Sherri Vander Dussen with Soaky

Planning Director Sherri Vander Dussen was escorted to explain the expiring yet NOT expiring Enterprise Zone contract to City Council, while surrounded by armed guards from the Chamber of Commerce (artist’s fanciful conception).

While we were picking on Jordan last week because his attack on Mayor Tom Tait for trying to wind down a contract with the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce for an expiring contract was just SO over the top — see that third story from the bottom in the list above — he was not alone in his desire to get money to a major campaign contributor.  Three women on the Council also joined him — and that was more than enough for an irresponsible majority.  So — let’s enjoy what the rest of the people did with Anaheim’s money.  Annotated transcript, ho, courtesy of Juice commenter BigBoxOfRedWhine! Here’s the video if you want to follow along in real time.

1. Jordan Brandman gets Socratic on the City Attorney’s hindquarters

BUT FIRST! — let’s enjoy (by which I mean that all but the most interested of you will want to skip this sorry section) Jordan’s interrogation of the City Attorney to make it clear that They are Not a Crooks.  Read on through the indented italics to learn why City Attorney Michael (who I’m going to keep on calling “Matt” sometimes, because I’m that old) Houston earns the big bucks.

Mayor Tom Tait (TT): Next item is item number 22.  This is an item that I asked to be put on the Agenda

Jordan Brandman (JB): Point of order!

You’ll really need to watch the video; the transcript just doesn’t do this part justice.

TT: This is … excuse me?

JB: Point of Order, Mr. Mayor.  I have a Point of Order on this item.

TT: Please.

Tait apparently didn’t have enough time to come up with the full “Please proceed, Councilman.”

JB:  Thank you.  Mr. City Attorney, Madame City Manager, is it appropriate for any member of this Council, to sit in consideration of this item, given that it is my understanding that ALL of us have either received political contributions from PACs, relating to the entity under contract by the city, or by Board Members of the Chamber.  As per the Political Reform Act, is it appropriate –

City Attorney Michael Houston (“MH”): Let me ask for clarification – your question is whether —  whether you are permitted to discuss –

JB: Do we have a conflict of interest under the Political Reform Act, on this, given every single member of this council has received PAC contributions from the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce PAC, and Board members, and affiliates of the Chamber.

MH: Um, presuming that were the case, that would not be a conflict under the Political Reform Act.

With due respect to the City Attorney, he left out the words “per se.”  That is, the fact that one is voting on giving funds to a contributor does not per se create a violation of the Political Reform Act.  But, it is important to note, it also does not insulate an otherwise improper relationship from being a violation.

JB: And why is that, Mr. City Attorney?  Could you — could you state …

MH: Because political contributions are not financial interests for purpose of the Political Reform Act.

JB: And what is a financial interest?

MH: There are six enumerated financial interests under the Political Reform Act, they cover things such as sources of income, gifts, investment, ownership of real property, um, and then there’s a catch-all for personal financial interests, but, under the definitions of income and gift, the receipt of, political contribution is specifically excepted, and is recognized by California Supreme Court case law, as well as FPPC Advice Letters, to not include political contributions.

I just want to point out that, so far as I personally know, all of this is entirely unrehearsed!  And I also want to point out that the same entity that gives one a political contribution may also give one a gift.  See discussion above.

JB: So, The FPPC also rules that, per statute?

MH: Well, per statute, and per the regulations, and per Advice Letters, but there’s a … I can’t remember the exact California Supreme Court opinion off the top of my head, but it’s a 1980 Supreme Court opinion which holds the same, as well as a Court of Appeals Decision, known as Breakstone – Billiards

Note: this really is what law school is like!

JB: So, the contributions that have been received by every single member of this council, do not preclude us for standing in consideration of this item tonight?

MH: That would be correct under the Political Reform Act, yes.

… so long as no contribution also violates another aspect of the PRA — such as being a gift.  And, of course, it could violate another relevant law, which may be why the above statement didn’t end with the word “correct.”  Just noting that.

JB: Thank you.

TT: Got that cleared up? to your satisfaction?

JB: Yes, I did, thank you.

This may be referred to in the future, by the Council majority as “a clean bill of health.”  How clean and how healthy it is will depend on any differing facts that may not be (and may never be) in evidence.

2. So about this big contract with the Chamber to do what most cities do by themselves….

TT: All right, this is item number 22, this is “To determine if a modification to the contract with the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, is appropriate at this time, in light of the State of California’s termination of the Enterprise Zone Program at the end of Calendar Year 2013″

I’d asked that this be put on the Calendar.  … The Enterprise Zone … let me ask Staff this question: When did the Enterprise Zone, when did that come into effect?

Planning Director Sherri Vander Dussen (SVD): Thank you, Mr. Mayor, I’m Sherri Van der Deusen, the Planning Director.  The State of California granted our designation of the Enterprise Zone effective February of last year.

TT: February of last year.  And then at that time we entered into a contract with the Chamber of Commerce to essentially operate and process the vouchers of the Enterprise Zone?

SVD: Yes, Mayor, the Chamber is responsible for all aspects of administration of the Enterprise Zone, which includes marketing, processing vouchers, and reporting.

We can actually read the contract to find out how much was what function.  It was disproportionately “marketing” — meaning getting businesses in the City to take advantage of the tax vouchers and luring businesses from outside Anaheim into the City to do so.

TT: OK.  So, maybe if you give a brief background of the recent legislation on the Enterprise Zone, that is, to my understanding … will no longer be in effect as of the end of the year.

SVD: That is correct Mayor, the passage of AB 93 and Senate Bill 90 repealed the Enterprise Zone, effective December 31st, 2013.  However, businesses may still take advantage of the current benefits of the program,through the end of the year.  The existing law provides that local EZs will cease operation at that time, but there still is a role for, at a minimum, vouchering, until the end of the year.

TT: So that … current contract compensates the Chamber a specific dollar amount for each voucher, is that correct?

SVD: Actually, no. We have a set “Scope of Work,” with value attached to that and … the Vouchering activity is covered by that.

A “Scope of Work” spells out what a contractor is supposed to do for its money.  Sometimes how much money is given to each activity is left largely to the discretion of the contractor; sometimes it may be spelled out down to the hour.  One of my projects this week is to go find both the contract and the revision and see which it is.  (Yes, I do anticipate starting a Kickstarter campaign to fund this research.)

TT: OK. … So, that contract [was] entered into February of last year, and there was an amendment recently, that was in May, I believe?

SVD: In May, yes.

TT: And that increased the contract, by how much?

SVD: It increased the contract by I think it was $120,000 for this year.  I can look up the exact number for you in just a moment  I’m sorry, it was $130,000.

I’d be more interested in the increase for the entire term of the contract, which is considerably higher.

TT: $130,000, and then for 5 years, for a total of….2.7 Million,is that correct?

SVD: $2.36 Million.

… of taxpayer money.  Remember that.

TT: I’m sorry, $2.36 Million, total amount of the contract. So this is a contract, plus an amendment for the Chamber to essentially, operate the Enterprise Zone vouchering.  So when a company would come into Anaheim, and hire people of certain qualifications, there’s a tax credit — and then with that tax credit, there is a Voucher, which I guess has to be verified by somebody [to] make sure that they’re telling the truth, and things like that.  … The City has contracted with the Chamber to do that task, which would normally be done by the City, is that correct?

SVD: In most Enterprise Zones, that function is performed by the City, or a JPA (Joint Powers Authority) of the different cities or Counties that make up the Enterprise Zone.

TT: OK. So … with the contract going away, it seems like — it’s probably obvious — that this contract, then, would also go away.  But I want to make sure that we would have a Chamber that has been processing these, and marketing, spending their time, and being compensated to go out and market the voucher program, to make sure that companies know about the voucher program, for … what is the per year cost of this?

SVD: The cost for this year is $467,000, Mayor.

TT: So, $46x,000 per year, to market the voucher program, and to process the vouchers.   I understand that.  I’m not asking that the contract be terminated today, but I think that the Chamber deserves a right to know, what is going to happen to the contract at the end of the year.  It needs to be adjusted … certainly it is not the same contract, with the program going away in three months.  The marketing, and the requirements, and the requirements to publicize it, things like that, aren’t the same as a program that is indefinite.

So I would like to — I’m not asking that it be done today — I would like to direct Staff, or to ask this Council to direct Staff, to address this … and to begin the termination of this contract.  To work out a system that makes sense until the end of the year, because I think that we pay in advance, is that correct?

SVD: That’s correct, we do.

TT: So I think we want to pay in advance, and I think a payment is coming up in September, so it IS important that we look at this soon.  I think it’s just common sense that we let the Chamber know that this contract will be terminated at the end of the year. So I may put that in the form of a motion, that we direct Staff to begin steps to terminate this contract, and to provide for the wind-down of the contract over the next three months. Mayor Pro-Tem?

Gail Eastman (GE): I’ll second it, for the sake of discussion.

In other words: the Council was paying the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce — something that it apparently really enjoys doing — to execute a contract to market the voucher program, verify applicants’ compliance with the voucher program and distribute the funds (“vouchering”), and then satisfy any reporting requirement to the state.  All but the marketing aspect are standard aspects of an Enterprise Zone program, but it’s that marketing aspect that seems to be the basis for asking the Chamber of Commerce to serve this function.  ”We’ll pay you to go out and attract businesses from other areas get people to suck up state funds so that they benefit Anaheim — or at least Anaheim employers.”

However, no more vouchers will be accepted — because of state concerns about the abuse of the program, which is an idea that came from who knows where — after New Year’s Eve.  More that three years of the five year contract will therefore cover a period of time during which no vouchers will be offered — and therefore the brunt of the “scope of work” will no longer be applicable.

Now, it may be — in fact, it almost surely is — that the Chamber has been trying to “front load” its money for this year into trying to attract businesses from elsewhere and goose businesses from the city itself.  One concern is whether, by front-loading compliance with the contract, the City would be failing to honor the Scope of Work.  (Stay tuned on that.)  A main concern, as noted in the story at the second link from the top of the list, is whether the Council just wants to get money to the Chamber of Commerce because it wants the Chamber to arrange political contributions in exchange for that patronage.

That would not violate the Political Reform Act, which deals with bribes of public officials.  If a public official gives public money to a private concern in the expectation of getting some benefit to itself, including campaign funds, then other laws can be implicated.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here; let’s see what that other Councilmembers have to say.

3. The Councilwomen have their say

TT: Councilmember Kring.

Lucille Kring (LK): Thank you. If this is terminated, or, for the Enterprise Zone…I understand that, because I was at the meeting last week, at the Chambers office, with the representative from the Governors’Office, who said that, even though….and you were there too, Sherry… even though this, quote, Enterprise Zone has been eliminated, that funding, that was in the.. Enterprise Zone, is being transferred now, to, let’s say, Enterprise Zone 2.

No.  Dammit, no.  As a matter of mercy, I’m translating that into standard English.

Lucille Kring (LK): Thank you. … I understand that, because I was at the meeting last week at the Chambers office with the representative from the Governor’s Office, and Sherri too, who said that … even though this, “Enterprise Zone” has been eliminated, that funding that was in the Enterprise Zone is being transferred now to, let’s say, Enterprise Zone 2.  I’m not quite sure what the name of that is going to be.

They’re going to have basically, similar functions, but, basically, it’s going to help companies attract employees.  And they will have specific requirements — if somebody is chronically unemployed, veterans, or even prisoners [who] have been released into our communities, primarily to help those people.

So, if the Chamber, it sounds to me, wants to be that conduit, to continue that program — so if that is continued by them — they will need a funding source, because the City is not going to bring that in-house.  So how would eliminating this particular Enterprise Zone contract, as of December 31st — what would be, if they have no funding, they can’t start it up again January 1st.  So what would you recommend to go over that…to have it seamless?

OK, to understand what she’s saying here, let’s try an analogy.  Imagine that Prince Harry has just become engaged to … let’s make it to Lindsay Lohan.  And the British Parliament allocates a certain amount of money to the Tourism Bureau to capitalize on this most extraordinary meeting of the redheads since Thomas Jefferson dined with Lucille Ball.  They give $2.367 million pounds sterling to the Notlob Chamber of Commerce to help with publicity.  Let’s call that Contract A.

Tragically, however, about a half year before the wedding (and before too much money was spent by Notlob CoC), Lindsay overdoses on marijuana and a small quantity of absinthe — not so dangerous in and of themselves, but they were both GMO and they unexpectedly combined in her stomach to create a new species of typhus — and she expires.  Prince Harry is so distraught that he swears off every marrying, goes off to a monastery on the Isle of Man (called a “Manastery”), and the celebration is cancelled.  However, the Notlob Chamber really wants its money and the Parliament really wants them to have it.

So, the Palace staff checks their invitations and discovers that the Viscount Lyle of Lower Watling  is due to marry Kathy Griffin — not that Kathy Griffin, the D-Lister, but also a redhead and could pass for her (or for Lohan) from a distance — at around the same time.  So, Parliament says, let’s just take that whole planned contract and roll it up and use that money to do publicity for that other wedding.  Isn’t that OK?

No, it’s not.  The Contract A was for Event A.  You can re-form the contract, but if the Scope of Work is sufficiently difference for the William & Lohan wedding (Event A) vs. the Lyle & Kathy wedding (Event B) — and they would be — this is a really bad way to proceed.  (It is all the worse if a payment is about to be made on Contract A that will exceed the full amount that could reasonably be spent on Viscount Lyle’s nuptials.)

So, here’s what you would generally do:

(1) Terminate Contract A.

(2) Negotiate and sign Contract B.

You can do this relatively quickly.  You can even pay the Notlob Chamber as much on Contract B as you were going to pay them for Contract A — but that would mark you as a goon and possibly run afoul of laws regarding making a gift of public funds, at least if Notlob were somehow located in California.  You just have to agendize it, order the staff to proceed with the process, and do it.

(Oh, yeah — and then you have to justify it, which might be a bit of a problem if you’re planning to run for either re-election or for higher office.)  So, it fell upon municipal employee Vander Dussen to deliver the bad news.

SVD: Well, Mayor, excuse me, Councilmember Kring — the contract we have right now is specifically to administer the Anaheim Enterprise Zone, pursuant to the CITY’S contract with the State of California, so if we want to have the Chamber engage in activities that are beyond the scope of the Enterprise Zone, I would recommend that we have a new agreement with them to do that.

This almost makes me weep with relief.

The new program that is being pushed out by the State, does not require any local administration. Certainly, if the Council wishes, we could contract with the Chamber, or another entity, to make sure that our businesses are aware of the State’s program, but we are not obligated to do that.

LK:  So the State would directly talk to businesses, about the advantages of hiring these people?

Or … not!  It’s not actually in the State’s interest to spend public money helping Anaheim to steal businesses from Fullerton and Garden Grove.  Hint!  Hint!

SVD: It is my understanding that GO-BIZ will be administering this program – that is a state organization.

LK: OK. Alright, thank you.

TT: It was just to clarify…so any new program will not be administered by the city… if there is any hiring incentive program, that will be administered by the State, through . GO-BIZ, is that..

SVD: That is correct. There is no role for local agencies in the new incentives program proposed by the State.

I hypothesize that Tait enjoyed that exchange.  He then set about being helpful about what one actually does do in such a situation.

TT: OK. So if this Council wants to contract wit the Chamber at a later date, for something else, that is certainly the Council’s prerogative.  But this is, you know, this is four hundred and some [thousand] dollars a year, 2.3 Million…   That is General Fund money and at that point, in the future, we could decide if that is the best use of that General Fund money, whether it is the Chamber contract or other important uses in the City.

But this contract … is for processing of vouchers, and the voucher program goes away, so it would be like, if a man.. has a contract to buy a horse, and the horse dies. He wouldn’t (then) have a contract. … So, for that reason, I think we need to let the Chamber know that the contract will be terminated at the end of the year.

I’ll make that motion, we have a motion, seconded by…

Kris Murray (KM): I’d like…..

TT: Please – Councilmember Murray

KM: Thank you.   Thank you, Ms. Vander Dussen, for the tremendous amount of work you’ve done, in partnership with our Chamber.  As the City has been able to get the Enterprise Zone Progam up and running, we are all deeply disappointed that the State chose to dismantle it, just as we were getting some tremendous momentum, with a local program.

She knows that this is not the point, right?  Anaheim didn’t end the program (although its actions may have invited it.)

I attended the meeting with Michael Rossi, that the Chamber hosted, in partnership with Sen. Correa, last Thursday, with some of our business leaders, and.. he was.. Mr. Rossi, I should say, is the Governor’s Job Czar, oversees all of the economic programs for the State of California.

Hang on.  What meeting?  Was this a public meeting?  Were we all invited?  Were they discussing policy there?  Was a majority of the Council in attendance?  The whole Council?  What’s she talking about?

He went into great depth, about, the caliber and quality of Anaheim’s program, as being a model for the State, and, spoke at length about the “GO-BIZ” program.  It WILL be a discretionary fund; it has NOT YET been defined.  In fact, the next 60-90 days is when the State is going to be promulgating its rules and regulations, and structure for this program. But because of the strength and the leadership of the Anaheim Chamber, Anaheim has a seat at the table with the State as that program moves forward, and I think it’s thrilling that we have this opportunity.

I wouldn’t be inclined to take the Murrbot’s word for this even if I could figure out she was saying.  ”Anaheim has a seat at the table?”  It sounds more to be as if Anaheim is being served up as the main dish.

We have created 4,000 new jobs to date …

OK, enough of that.  Who?  Who is taking out these 4,000 new vouchers?  How many of them go to a company that rhymes with “Bisney”?  If it’s many (or most, or almost all), does the Chamber of Commerce really deserve credit for “creating” those new jobs?  I mean, let’s picture this: did their crack marketing staff go out to Burbank and say:

“You know what, Disney?  You should really create 4,000 (or whatever) new jobs in and around the Resort Area, because we can get you tax credits, and don’t worry that the State will respond by crushing the program under its boot, because it will be too late and these credits that some legislators may have thought was going to support small businesses is instead going into your hands!  Bwaaaahahahahaha!!!”

OK, maybe that doesn’t sound completely implausible, but still….

The program doesn’t sunset until the end of the year, so vouchers will be processed into next year.

Yes — a minimal amount will, and if the City truly can’t take on the task then it might make sense for the City to establish a new contract Chamber — “Contract B” — to let them do this residual work.

We need to make sure that we don’t disrupt that for the businesses making investments today and through the end of this year, and they are able to secure the tax credits that are owed to them, and the Chamber has been running that.

There’s nothing in Tait’s proposal that would risk “disrupting” that.  He’s not saying “don’t make another deal with the Chamber, if you gotta.”  He’s saying “don’t pay them under the contract for Prince Harry’s wedding for work that they’ll be doing for Viscount Lyle’s wedding.”

I think its premature to cut that off. I certainly believe that we should continue to work with the Chamber in the next 60 days, the next 60-90 days as this new program is written and defined, to look at a new work plan, and to bring back recommendations for an amended contract that will be compliant with the new program.

As noted last week: it’s the state that’s cutting off the “marketing” aspect of the program, because one only gets vouchers for new jobs created by 11:59:59 p.m. on December 31, 2013.  The relatively minimal task of verifying vouchers can go on — and can be done by the Chamber, if the Council wants, although just for a change it might want to consider not overpaying them for it.  As for the new program being written: what we already know is that it will not be administered at the local level.  What else does one have to know to know that the Chamber is not going to get a contract for administering it?  What “work plan” does she have in mind?

If “get money into the Chamber’s pockets any way we can” is truly what’s driving the bus here, that’s bad.  Everyone in Anaheim (except for Tait and, I suspect, staff like Vander Dussen and Houston) may be trying to ignore it — but it is not the sort of thing that the Walt Disney Corporation is going to be pleased to have found itself knee-deep in the thick of.

That is certainly in order, but I don’t support an early termination of their contract, before we know further, about the sunset date for the vouchers, and until we know more — and we will know more because we will be at the table — on how the new program is defined.

Here’s the problem: Murray is stalling.  My prediction is that when that huge advance payment comes in during September, the Chamber is going to spend as much of it as possible — “Scope of Work” be damned — and then when a new contract is finally established they will look up and say “huh?  We weren’t supposed to spend it all in less than four months?  Geeeeee — sorry!”

You know how you prevent that?  Renegotiate the contract now, given that the circumstances have changed — and that one thing that we know has changed is that the Chamber won’t be administering the new contract.

And so — our partnership with the Chamber is longstanding, we have done tremendous work in partnership with the business community, for economic development in Anaheim, and tonight, I am not prepared to vote against jobs in Anaheim. Thank you.

“I am not prepared to vote against jobs in Anaheim.”  Honestly, Anaheim voters, if you’re OK with Murray using that misbegotten motto to justify picking your pocket on behalf of the Chamber, all I can do is to beg you please not to move to Brea, because you’ll probably sell our Mall for $45 and a discount coupon for a hair weave.

Tait was, appropriately enough, boggled by this sudden turn:

TT: I don’t see how this votes against jobs in Anaheim, to say that is …

I think that everyone, on all sides, should give him credit for not finishing that sentence publicly.

This is a contract for vouchering Enterprise Zone vouchers.  We are paying 400-some thousand dollars to voucher these things, to process them. If there is nothing left to process, why would we have a contract for 400-some thousand dollars of General Fund money?  We will get no money from the vouchering.  We have needs in the City, of Police, of Fire, of Parks; we have community neighborhoods that are in need.

We could have those discussions at a later date, on a future contract, if we want. And we could decide how we want to spend — or do we want to decide — I think what you are asking is that we continue spending money, on a program that will e defunct in 3 months.

I don’t think that is our fiduciary as the taxpayers.  We have to look after THEIR money.  It’s THEIR money to pay a Chamber to do a program right now that the program goes away.  Why would we continue paying the Chamber?

KM: I’d like to respond if I may.

TT: Please.

Yoooooouuuuuuu’ll be sooooooooooorrrrrryyyyyyyy!

KM: Thank you. First. I have a question. Is continuing the vouchering program, which is reimbursed with the voucher program, a choice between Police, Fire, and maintaining this Economic Development program through its sunset date?

SVD: As I understand the motion, we would continue to contract with the Chamber for vouchering, and as I understand it, I have been directed to work with the Chamber to revise the scope of work, to eliminate any tasks that might not be necessary, now that we know that the program will be ending by the end of the year. So, in that sense, it is still General Fund money that is still contracted to the Chamber.

YES, Kris.  The answer to you is YES.

At this time, there is no provision in the law, as I understand it, that would extend the Anahiem EZ’s vouchering authority into the following year.  There are discussions at the state level to allow the Anaheim EZ to continue to voucher next year, and if that legislation were to pass, then certainly we would want to talk about whether we want to allow the Chamber to continue to do that, since they have the systems already in place to handle that. But at this point in time we don’t have any authorization in place to continue vouchering beyond December.

KM: And so my remarks were — I do want the city to work with the Chamber to amend the scope, to comply with the new program, so that we can compete for up to $200 Million in new sales tax credits, and new hiring credits that will be available from the State for NEW hiring…

Finally!  We’re on the same page!  You therefore must want to terminate Contract A as of the end of the year while meanwhile negotiation a very different Contract B for the residual work required.  I’m glad that we –

I just don’t want to early terminate a vouchering program when we don’t know when that definitive sunset date will be –

No!  Wait!  No more vouchers after Dec. 31!  We know that?  You mean “how long does it take to process them?”  Not long!  As long as it takes!  It doesn’t matter right now!  That’s part of Contract B!  We negotiate it later!

..until we have more information, I think it would be prudent to take 60 to 90 days, because if we did early terminate a program for vouchers, it could limit new hiring through the end of the year…I think that’s an unnecessary step to take. Thank you.

WHAAAAA?  What waiting 60-90 days will do is allow the huge September payment to sit in the Chamber’s account for a year or so.  That doesn’t help the city.  Letting them work through December 31 under a restructured Contract A is fine — but it won’t require the same big payment.  How would this “limit new hiring”?  Hire!  Hire away!

TT: I’m going to respond to that. I’m not saying terminate today, I didn’t say anything close tothat. I said continue the program as it winds down, have it voucher those few additional vouchers that will come in through the end of the year, continue to do that, but this program IS over..What date is that, December 30th?….31st?

SVD: December 31st.

TT: 31st. This program is OVER. There is no requirement to voucher after that, but if there ARE a few vouchers that we have to clean up after that, then we could contract with the Chamber, or we could do them ourselves.  But it would be de minimus compared to the 400 and some thousand dollars, that we are spending.

A good portion of thta money is for things like.. putting on events, going to conferences, its for reaching out to businesses to tell them about the vouchering program, and to talk to businesses that are outside Anaheim, inside Anaheim, making them aware of the voucher program. It is a State requirement for the Enterprise Zone that we do this. That requirement goes away — the requirement will go away at the end of the year. Why would we really want to continue to do this, when the requirement goes away?

Any new program, which we might want Anaheim business to take advantage of, will be administered by the State. Why would we want to take that on, and spend more of our General Fund money, for something that the State is willing to do? So, again, it’s like if you have a contract to buy a horse, and the horse dies – there’s no reason – the purpose of the contract goes away. I think it’s obvious.

Councilmember Kring?

LK: Thank you. I’d like to respond to that. Actually, at this meeting last week –

Again with the meeting?  WHAT MEETING, COUNCILMEMBER KRING?  Were media invited?  (I mean the Voice of OC, not less credible journalistic institutions like ourselves and the Register.)

The Chamber said that they are constantly going out — because the program does end on December 31st of this year, we still have September, October, November, December, we have a little over 4 months — that they are still going out, still talking to businesses.

They. Can. Continue.

This program in Anaheim has only been in effect for 18 months, and in that period of time I guarantee that not every single business in this city is aware of it, and aware of the benefits, the tax credits, the purchase of new equipment, the new employees that they can hire.

They. Can. Continue. At least until it’s too late to hire new people during 2013; probably sometime prior to midnight on New Year’s Eve.

So the Chamber is charged with going out in the next 4-1/2 months, finding people who will hire these absolutely needy people.   We have so many Vets who are coming back from our wars, that are desperate for jobs.  We have you heard many people talking tonight, about the early release of prisoners — those people need jobs.  If they don’t get jobs, housing is limited for them.

Oh no.  She’s not really going to justify overpaying Todd Ament with public funds to send out a few people to ask business to hire new people as an anti-poverty measure, is she?

If they don’t have enough money to support where they can live and food, then they are going to go back and start becoming cr-

The word you’re looking for is “criminals.”  (My “cr-” words at this point are “Criminy,” “crazy,” and “crying.”)

… “have the life that they lived before,” and be incarcerated. I don’t think that’s what we want.  We want these people, those people, to get jobs, along with the vets, and many other people who are struggling.   And the Chamber has, is charged absolutely with going out, every single day, talking to different businesses, where they will take on this responsibilty of hiring these new people, when needed, because of the tax credits.

Because of this ending December 31st, the business can actually hire as of December 31st. The voucher will not be paid until sometime in 2014. The Chamber also has to go out , and the City doesn’t have anything in place, but the Chamber has services in place, they’ve got it in place, they know what they’re doing, they can expedite those vouchers a lot quicker than the City, who’d have to get up to speed.  So I think that shutting them down December 31st would be a huge mistake, because we do want more jobs in this city, so I will not be supporting the motion.

Lots of other cities process vouchers — for much, much, much less money than the Chamber is going to get.  She has no idea how easy it might be to “get the process in place”; no idea how much the delivery of vouchers may be expedited by the Chamber versus the City.  She just wants money to go to the Chamber.  (Is it a better anti-poverty measure than other possible ones?  Do you get the sense that Kring has given that even a moment’s thought?)

And, again – the Council can negotiate a new contract with the Chamber if it wants to!  They just have to justify it.  That may be the step that scares them.

TT: Mayor Pro-Tem.

GE: I too have some concerns that we would be premature in jumping into terminating something in that we don’t know for sure what the new form is going to take, and it seems to me, like it would just be prudent on our part to continue,with the expectation that Staff will continue to be up to speed on what the State is doing, and will be working with the Chamber to be up to speed, so that when we get a little closer to the end of the year, we will know what kind of an arrangement we need to have with the Chamber, to go forward into the next phase of this. There just seems to be no urgency to make a decision tonight, so I’m not going to be supportive, either.

I predict that the City won’t get back a lot of what it should get back if it does indeed pay a full year’s payment in advance in September.  That is the urgency: not to be construed, correctly, as have shunted public funds out to cronies.

TT: Any other comment?

And that’s when Jordan Brandman spoke up about “irrevocable harm” and being “reckless” — and made me forget just how awful the responses of particularly Kring and Murray were.  Murray said something later on, after Brandman.  I am supposed to transcribe it — but I just can’t bear it.

Do you know who I really feel sorry for?  Sherri Vander Dussen.  She clearly knows what’s going on — but if she did “come forward voluntarily” to save Anaheim taxpayers money, as Jordan Brandman suggested would happen next week, she might find herself a month from now living in an apartment somewhere with former City Attorney Cristina Talley.  (Note: that’s a metaphor; I have no idea where Talley lives.)

A good City Council makes it possible for the City’s employees to do the right thing by its residents. Anaheim’s City Council, by contrast, seems intent on making that impossible.

Oh well — I’ll just have to keep myself busy thinking about something else.  I wonder who else knows about this meeting where Council members apparently discussed this agenda item outside of the view of voters?  Maybe there’s a video?


About Greg Diamond

Worker's rights attorney now moving into "good governance" litigation. North Vice Chair of Democratic Party of Orange County and occasional candidate. Proud to be prolix. Unless otherwise specifically stated, his writings never speak for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level. He tries to either suppress or openly acknowledge his partisan, issue, ideological, and "good government" biases in most of his writing here. If you have a question about any particular writing, just ask him about it and (unless you are an pseudonymous troll) he will probably answer you at painful length. He lives in Brea but generally doesn't blog about it. A family member works as a campaign treasurer for Wendy Gabriella in AD-73; he doesn't directly profit from that relatively small compensation and it doesn't affect his coverage. He does advise some campaigns informally and without compensation, although in 2014 he may receive some compensation for campaign consulting and fundraising for the campaign of Jorge Lopez for Orange County Assessor.