Video Highlights: Growing ‘Take Back Anaheim’ Truth Squad Strikes at City Hall!

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Take Back Anaheim press conference

Take Back Anaheim’s Joanne Sosa and former Anaheim City Councilwoman Lorri Galloway listen to Mark Daniels speak about the flaws in Anaheim’s governance  at Thursday’s press conference.

1. Let’s Go Right to the Video!

This morning (while I was busy at a funeral, or you’d see me on this video as well), a series of speakers sponsored by Take Back Anaheim took on the subsidy-spendthrift Anaheim City Council majority. (That majority includes everyone on the Council except for Mayor Tom Tait, who these days generally seems to be described with a term like “the honorable exception.” I presume that Tait couldn’t appear because, thanks to his dunderheaded colleagues, he’s now bound to bargain with Arte Moreno over the looting of the city in “good faith.”)

I’m not going to delay in putting up the video; I’ll be watching it in real time and updating with comments and quotes from the impressive and diverse list of speakers.

The counter-insurgency against the looters on the City Council includes these speakers recruited by the group’s Joanne Sosa, in order of appearance:

  • Former Councilwoman Lorri Galloway
  • Los Amigos leader Amin David
  • Community Activist and bereaved mother Donna Acevedo
  • Superstar local blogger and super-duperstar researcher Cynthia Ward
  • Former Anaheim Councilmember Richard Chavez
  • Spirited and informed critic Mark Daniels
  • Businessman Bill Grisolia
  • Community Activist and bereaved mother Theresa Smith
  • Longtime resident and Community Activist Victoria de Gomez
  • Extremely knowledgeable about Anaheim property local Realtor Wally Courtney

Maybe no one’s surprised to see Galloway, David, Acevedo, Smith, and de Gomez on the list of speakers for economic justice in Anaheim.   OJB’s own Cynthia Ward has long been a leader in this movement.  But the spirit of resistance has by now spread even more broadly, beyond the likes of Daniels to include figures from establishment politics and the business community like Chavez and Grisolia and Courtney.  This is not just liberals and it’s not just malcontents.  It includes smart conservative figures from the business community who know how business is supposed to be done — and who have gotten sick of the fact that whatever it is that is going on with Anaheim’s Council majority these days, it isn’t business as usual.  (And I don’t mean that in a good way.)

This is what happens when a City Council finally goes too far — and everyone in the City who isn’t bought has to stand up and push back.

OK, that’s enough to get us going; updates with some pull quotes from individual speakers will be coming up over the next while!

2. Updates with Highlights

#1:  Lorri Galloway (0:25):  “This deal is not about whether we like baseball.  It is about a very valuable piece of land that is owned by the people of the city and can generate income for generations to come.”

I was going to spend some time rebutting Dan (“the Liberal O”) C’s Open Letter to Arte Moreno, which apparently argues that there is no price too high for Anaheim to pay to keep the Angels in the city, because otherwise Dan C will have to drive to Los Angeles to watch a game.  This seems to me to be a wise sort of knavery, trying to make the argument about whether we want the Angels here versus at what cost we want the Angels here.

No one  actually wants Moreno to hit the road and take the team with him.  (OK, maybe Gustavo Arellano does in his article today, but it’s likely that he’s just … well, gee, the right word here actually is “bloviating.”)  The question is “at what cost do we want to keep him.”  And, as Galloway on the City Hall steps (echoing Tait in the City Council chamber) says: it’s not something that the city should say that it wants at any possible cost.  That’s just terrible negotiation.

Unfortunately, Anaheim somehow — somehow — has hired a set of advisors and negotiators who do think that a city should do WHATEVER IT POSSIBLE CAN to keep a team in the city, including giving away the store.  That the chief among the city’s temporary staff, Charles Black, is not only the former head of the San Diego Padres, but a former boss of Anaheim’s new City Attorney Michael Houston — who hired him — may be a mere coincidence.  (And if you believe that, then I’ve got some land I’d like to sell you — but it’s not in the Platinum Triangle and it won’t cost you only $1/year.)

Galloway (1:25): “If [$1/year for 66 years plus development rights] is Arte’s baseline, the people of Anaheim should have a baseline, and that baseline should be $100 million every year for 66 years with no development rights.  That’s our baseline — and that’s good business.  [Then] at some point we negotiate, there’s give and take, and we come up with a good deal.”

If Galloway’s proposal seems absurd — well, so is the $1/year plus development rights proposal.  We’re just, for some reason, expected to pretend otherwise.  By the way, Orange Juice Blog is not responsible for any ill health effects on “City Staffer” Charles Black having a heart attack at hearing the suggestion that, when negotiating with a baseball team (or other tenant) over the use of public assets, one is supposed to — you know — negotiate rather than capitulate.

Galloway (1:55): “We are told over and over again that Disneyland and its resort area are our economic engine because it generates tens of millions of dollars per year in transient occupancy tax and sales tax that go directly into our general fund.  The Stadium District and its surrounding area can do the same.  WHY would we give it away for NOTHING?”

Hahahahahaha!  Seriously, Lorri, the answer is probably a combination of “campaign contributions” and “a good job for life once one is off of the Council.”

#2: Amin David (2:40):  “Is Anaheim going the route of Detroit?”

With all due respect, Amin, that comparison is unfair — to Detroit.  Detroit has suffered largely due to its losing much of its tax base as a consequence of “white flight” to the (still quite wealthy) northern suburbs.  It didn’t give away its tax base.  Anaheim is literally, amazingly, just giving away its tax base.  Its Council literally just gave the tenant an extra three years to plan his getaway to an alternative site.  That’s going beyond mere giving away — it’s more like shoving away.

David (2:45): “What’s happening?  Why are we doing such bad negotiations?”

Oh, I think that, like Galloway, he knows why.

David (3:05): “Something is happening, something is not right, and we call on the press to spread the word.”

OK, we (to the extent we are “press”) will.  But right now I’m going to be gone for a couple of hours.  Next up, Acevedo and Ward.  Anyone who wants to pick their favorite call-quotes, feel free to put them in comments and if I agree I’ll import them here!

#3: Donna Acevedo (5:45):  “Our Councilmembers continue to rob our city of its resources.  Now they are offering an outrageous giveaway to Arte Moreno.  Who drafted this deal?  Our City Council has no respect for the people of Anaheim.”

Just as a reminder: members of the Council majority argued with a straight face at the last meeting that negotiations were just starting and had barely begun.  You can look at each Memorandum of Understanding and judge for yourself.  But “who drafted this deal” is a really good question?  Did the City’s “staff” draft this giveaway — or was it Arte Moreno’s demand?  If the demand came from Moreno, why is the City’s staff trying so hard to sell it to the Council — without even giving them time to think it through?

#4: Cynthia Ward (6:20): “These issues have brought together a lot of community groups that ordinarily do not see eye to eye on almost anything.  [Thanks to their organizing this event], those of us who do have different viewpoints can speak out on this one thing that we do agree on.  And what we seem to agree on is that our City Council majority no longer represents the best interests of the people.”

It’s amazing that all of these volunteers come together as they have — and, as you can see from this lineup,  it keeps on getting more so.

Ward (6:50): “A number of us who are tired of being overlooked at City Council meetings … [when we] beg for some kind of fiscal responsibility from our leadership, only to be ignored — we have formed a corporate entity and will be making an announcement when that paperwork is finalized. … That allows us a vehicle to be able to channel the energy and the passion and the offers of assistance that we’ve been getting from every corner of Anaheim and beyond.”

Cynthia notes that this will be oriented towards research and litigation.  All I can say is: watch this space!

Ward (7:50): “[We request] that the media please, please start paying attention to what is happening in Anaheim.  We’ve had multiple scandals … I wish I could say that this Angels deal was an anomaly in a city that is otherwise very well run.”

The record of what’s not being covered isn’t going away.  It’s not like we’re not trying to interest the Register and other papers in what’s going on.  The stage is set for an eventual reckoning.

Ward (8:20):  “All of these giveaways keep happening, and in today’s Anaheim Bulletin there isn’t a word about the Angels deal.  Whether or not this has to do with the fact that the new owners of the Register are negotiating with the City Council majority for naming rights that they can re-market to their clients for public buildings — I don’t know, I’m not in those meetings.”

Like I said: an eventual reckoning.

#5: Richard Chavez (10:00):  As a former Council member, there are two things here that are really disturbing to me.  One is that it appears that there is a total disconnect between the majority of the City Council, with the exception of the Mayor, and the community.  In the past it was clear that the City reached out to the community to get input before major decisions were made — especially decisions that included so much money. It’s just appalling to think that the City is willing to give such a huge giveaway to Arturo Moreno, for his own benefit, and [he] refuses to even acknowledge that he’s in the City of Anaheim.”

You can see from the applause and cheers that the “insult to Anaheim” aspect of Moreno’s dealings is a winner.  Personally, I’m not moved by this argument.  (Cue Lucille Kring to explain that that’s because I’m from Brea.)  It’s too easy for Moreno to fix the insult if we let that be the big deal.  It’s the injury that’s truly important — that Anaheim is selling off its birthright for a mess of pottage.  Anaheim will wish that it had income from this property in the years to come.  The scandal is that, as things stand, it won’t.

Chavez (10:40):  “Secondly is process.  In the past … things were done in public; closed session items were agendized, so people could ask about them; there weren’t secret meetings.  … There’s an agenda here — and it’s corporate greed, it’s corporate welfare, and there’s someone pulling strings here and it’s just wrong.  It’s absolutely wrong.”

That’s an awfully good pull-quote right there, if any of the media is watching this video.

#6: Mark Daniels (11:15): “There was no prior warning of this oncoming vote.  … They were able to absorb what was in that document and not give a chance for the people to look at it.  I had to go against many of the people I had supported and say ‘no, we have to look at this.”

The Council majority is losing even people who generally support them, by arrogance and overreach.

#7: Bill Grisolia (12:10):  “I’d like to use the sports analogy, since we’re here talking about baseball: ‘Keep your eye on the ball.’  Keep your eye on the money.  Follow the money. … This is corporate welfare.  … This is what we’re talking about here: an unconscionable gift of Anaheim taxpayers’ — and the people of Anaheim — their land.  This incredible gift to an otherwise rich corporation, a rich billionaire.”

Good start, but it’s going to get even better.

Grisolia (13:45): “Where does this happen … — in the United States or even in the world — that this kind of City Council can repeatedly make these kinds of decisions and give away money, land, property to their friends?”

What I loved about this was seeing the sense of complete embarrassment that Anaheim is being turned into some sort of a tinpot dictatorship where a compliant and well-kept Council of leaders gives the people who stroke them anything they want.  Civil pride — and the reaction to civic embarrassment — is going to be what dooms the Council Majority.  As Grisolia requests, people are starting to talk.

Grisolia (14:05): “This is the touchstone, the melting point, right here in Anaheim.  This is where we need to take a stand.  So this is a call to action.  If you can hear my voice, or if you can see these words in print, talk to your neighbors and VOTE.  This is ELECTED OFFICIALS that are doing this, that are committing this kind of crime against the people.”

I omitted a lot of Grisolia’s overall call for neighbor-to-neighbor community organizing, so watch the video; it’s really good.

#8: Theresa Smith (14:55): “I’ve attended the Council meetings for the last few years and we’ve asked them for a lot of things.  A LOT of things.  They all say that they want to help out the community, that they care about the people.  I don’t believe it.  ‘Cause they’ve done absolutely nothing.  They have no money to help out communities that are in desperate need.  Just to put up a light, fix a street.  But they can give away millions and millions of dollars?  This is ridiculous.”

President Eisenhower gave a famous speech that began: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”  The same is true of every giveaway.

We know that improving the quality of life in a community — its education, its infrastructure, its cultural and recreational activities — strengthen the hand of parents who want to instill civic pride in their children.  Tell people that they’re unimportant and worthy only of neglect and they return that lack of respect.  This is money being taken from (or not given to) Anaheim’s general fund, its tool for building up its neighborhoods.  Squandering it on giveaways is not just bad policy, but immoral.

#9: Victoria de Gomez (16:10):  “I like Anaheim.  I don’t like democracy in Anaheim, because we the people don’t have a voice.  … This is not the 99-cent store.  I’m a Realtor: that property is worth more than $300,000 a year.”

It’s funny that three of the ten speakers were Realtors whose minds were boggled by giving away property of this value.  The third of them — both the most persuasive and low-key — finishes off the event.

#10: Wally Courtney (16:50): “I’ve sold, leased, many multi-million dollar properties in Anaheim.  Looking at the financial portion of this MOU, obviously it doesn’t make sense for the citizens of Anaheim or for any other business entity.”

No, on second thought, I think that I’m going to stop there.  Courtney’s short speech deserves its own story because it shows how a serious person, who is serious about understanding an business decision, goes about assessing it.  And the sad truth about the members of the Anaheim City Council majority is that they are not serious people — although they can do serious damage.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)