Anaheim – NO on Measure C! For Corruption, Cronyism… and Chucky. (NOW with Corgi pics!)


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There is an old cliche about how you “don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.”  And there is certainly a heck of a lot of harmless bathwater constituting the plasma of the Anaheim kleptocracy’s devious Measure C.  But what IF the baby lurking, bathing within the tub and suds, is actually not the darling Gerber baby you would long to not throw out, but  the murderous living Chucky doll?

I propose a new expression, something like, “If the baby in the bathwater is Chucky, don’t lose any sleep over the damn bathwater, just dump the whole frothing mess into the nearest live volcano!”  But, will it catch on?

Face it, we knew from the start that the Anaheim Council majority’s great ballyhooed and unnecessary batch of revisions to Anaheim’s charter would be some sort of team of Trojan horses – we knew that back when newly crowned Councilman Jordan Brandman rhapsodized about how wondrous the revisions would be in his Brave-New-World-like maiden speech.

The real nature and purpose of these revisions was to be expected, given that it would be drafted by appointees of this Council majority, a majority which has distinguished itself by giving away (or trying to) over a billion dollars in lost revenue or bond debt in the last two years alone.

And it was confirmed in a nearly National Lampoon way when Jordan tried to appoint his svengali Curt Pringle (pictured behind him to the right) onto the revision committee;  and then again when it looked like Pringle might have to disclose his financial interests and Curt scurried back off into the darkness;  and finally when Jordan replaced Curt with Ernesto Medrano, the Teamster leader who never saw a kleptocrat project he wouldn’t go to bat for.

So, when the suite of revisions came out and we saw Measure D, we said to ourselves, THAT IS IT.  Cutting the Mayor’s term in half.  Measure D is there, obviously, in order to:

  1. Make sure that if Mayor Tait gets re-elected this year, the “damage” is minimized, and Kris Murray can run against him in 2016;
  2. if ANYONE who represents the people over the rich and powerful accidentally gets elected Mayor they can only do damage to kleptocrat interests for two years before being brusquely ousted; and
  3. ANY Mayor is gonna have to spend their whole damn term kissing up to the moneyed interests who will get them re-elected.  EVEN THE REGISTER FIGURED OUT WHAT MEASURE D WAS ABOUT.

On the other hand, Measure C looked harmless, insipid – “administrative cleanup” and “technical fixes” as they repeatedly called it.  Pages of revised dry charter verbiage, modernized into “gender-inclusive language” – who could object?  But of course, given the authors, Chucky was bound to be hiding in there.

And we should have known.  Mayor Tait saw it.  He asked that the language regarding the changes to the treasurer and finance director positions be placed on the ballot separately so that voters could really consider the issue, but his motion died for lack of a second as it usually does.

In short, with Measure C, the kleptocrat majority wants you to help them sneak in THESE changes:

  1. Empower the council to combine the treasurer and finance director posts – currently forbidden by the charter;  and
  2. Make the new treasurer / finance director position one that is APPOINTED by the unelected City Manager, not by vote of the Council – hence putting the vital financial decisions of the city that much farther from public control or oversight.

Greg Diamond has already warned, in our voter’s guide, that “combining the positions of City Treasurer (who protects city money) and City Finance Director (who plans how to spend it) into one job … would make corruption more likely by watering down the Treasurer’s watchdog function.” 

And now our frequent, hardworking and insightful commenter/researcher who calls himself, um, uh… “Big Box of Red Whine,” has created a fine and useful website clarifying this devious scheme.  Please click here to see that site.

Among BigBox’s criticisms:  The council and their loyal staff did practically zero research and made practically zero case as to why the consolidation of the offices, or its further removal from democratic oversight, is a good idea at all.  There is no documentation as to how exactly it will “save the city $300,000 a year.”   Finance director Debbie Moreno, making the case for consolidation, names off a few cities (allegedly similar to Anaheim but actually more dissimilar in many ways) – some of which have combined the two posts, and some of which have not.  So… this means we should allow them to do it because WHY NOT?  Or what?  Annals of weak arguments.

Ms Moreno, who appears to be lobbying for the change, and whose job as finance director is to spend the city’s money, seems to be aligned with the kleptocrats’ in-group, often making the weak (but as strong as possible) arguments for the Klepto schemes on the dais.  On the other hand Treasurer Henry Stern, who seems like an honest and competent enough guy, and whose job is to safeguard and invest the city’s money, tells BigBox that he has NEVER BEEN CONSULTED on this move.

For this reason, the Orange Juice Blog predicts that if you people give the thumbs up to Measure C, Treasurer Stern will very soon be out of a job, Manager Emery will appoint Debbie Moreno to be the city’s new Treasurer/Finance Director, and the looting of Anaheim’s present and future resources will continue apace but even smoother.

This post has not really been by the satirical “Anaheim Insider” character, but has been a team effort;  so far, Vern putting BigBox’s work into words.  Our opinionated staff is unanimous on Anaheim’s charter revisions – NO on C, D, and E, all of it.  But you know us – Ryan Cantor would phrase things differently, and so would Cynthia Ward.  So here THEY are:

Ryan:

“Let the people vote on their own money.”

Measure C. The Chamber wrote it. The Chamber signed it. The Chamber paid for it.

The Chamber orchestrated ONE BILLION DOLLARS of tax giveaway in the last two years alone.

They owe the IRS back taxes from illegally avoiding employee pay roll taxes.

They even failed to keep track of hours they used for a pet project paid for by your tax dollars.

NO on anything written, signed, and paid for by anyone this incompetent. We simply can’t trust them to do anything right.

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And Cynthia, as you might expect, writes many words, but every one deserving your attention and thought.  This is actually from a column she was writing for the Register, but didn’t finish in time…

Anaheim California, JUST SAY NO!

It is imperative to sound an alarm for the taxpayers of Anaheim, before it’s too late!

Anaheim is being asked to overhaul its City Charter, the governing document that decides how Anaheim is to function.  Staff and Council implement the Charter, often behind the scenes and without much oversight, since the Charter itself provides the oversight.  At least the Charter used to provide oversight until this coming June election.  The importance of the City Charter cannot be overstated, yet major changes have been placed on a low-voter turnout June Primary.  While all three Anaheim Charter Changes are worthy of NO votes in their own ways, it’s the one that LOOKS most innocent, Measure C, which deserves the most scrutiny!

Even the OC Register and watchdog groups such as CATER failed to catch the issues, and nobody filed an argument against the Measure for the voters!  We failed, and while many voters have already sent their ballots by mail, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility would like to at least attempt to catch the mistake in time to warn those of us who vote at the polls or have not yet sent their ballots by mail!

Sponsored by Council member Jordan Brandman, Measure C was presented as routine administrative clean-up.  But Measure C is anything but routine.  In addition to some “housekeeping” that needed to be done, bringing local regulations in line with State Law, Measure C also strips citizens of nearly all protections against financial malfeasance at City Hall!  That is no exaggeration.  Please check the language for strike-through of existing text and rewording in your sample ballot!

If passed, Measure C would condense power, oversight, and authority of virtually every pathway to financial decisions and accountability, for a city spending over one billion dollars per year and place them all under the City Manager, answerable to the Council majority and in many cases out of sight of public scrutiny, further obscuring a system that already makes it difficult to trace spending!

The politically astute “Maggie” with a message for Anaheim voters.

Changing Section 702 combines for the first time the Finance Director and City Treasurer, long separated to act as checks and balances against each other!  Changing Section 701 then permits the City Manager to fire those serving in that combined office, moving that dismissal of those tasked with overseeing our critical finance decisions to behind closed doors, as City Council now must review the City Treasurer in Closed Session, properly agendized for public notice.  It was this type of agendized action that created negative attention for the Council when City Attorney Cristina Talley was dismissed, under mysterious conditions, and that scrutiny of how our Treasurer the watchdog of our finances, will now be buried in “personnel matters not for public discussion” with passage of this Measure!

A review of Minutes and Agendas from meetings of the Charter Review Committee indicate that the noncontroversial actions the committee took based upon presentations by staff became more far-reaching by the time our City Attorney completed those changes.  The Charter Review Committee’s approval to bring our critical finance documents into the modern age by permitting them to be posted online or electronically, rather than being printed on paper, instead has eliminated any requirement for posting those documents to the internet.  Changes to Sections 1204 relating to public disclosure of the City Budget, and Changes to Section 1219 for disclosure of the Independent Audit, instead permit the City Manager to determine how best to disclose that critical information to the public, which could include posting to the City’s website but does not require it.

Any activist forcing disclosure of critical documents from Anaheim lately will tell you that waiting for the City of Anaheim to produce records, even those clearly readily available, is an exercise in patience.  To now depend upon the City Manager to determine how we will receive the Budget and Independent Audit, without clearly stating at least the minimum requirement to post those documents to the City’s website, is nothing short of insane!

Changes to Section 1222 eliminate a requirement to receive full market value, or accept the highest bidder, for sale, transfer, exchange etc of public property…such as the land surrounding Angel Stadium! Instead it would fall to the City Manager to determine what price might be in “the best interest of the City.”

Proposed changes to Section 1210 rewrite the manner in which Revenue Bonds are sold or issued. By way of Disclosure I serve as President of a Non-Profit called the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, and CATER has filed a Superior Court complaint against Anaheim for approving hundreds of millions of dollars in bond debt without the 2/3 voters approval assured us as protection in the City Charter.  To rewrite the rules now is an enormous alarm bell to our membership!

Changing Charter Section 1216 rewrites the process for Claims and Demands for Invoices and other requests for payment against the city, eliminating the very  basic requirement to present the demand in writing!  Measure C changes Section 1217, which outlines requirements for filing Actions Against the City, such as legal disputes and demands for settlement of legal actions.

These changes further strip citizens of the assurance that leaders paying out invoices, contracts, and even legal settlements do so only based upon valid legal claims submitted in writing and following a specific process for payment!  This is basic government accountability, yet Measure C strikes through the entire section of the Charter, and offers no rewrite to guide leaders on how to settle legal disputes or pay out claims lacking a paper trail!

It would seem outrageous to suggest that our own City Council might approve the payout of warrants or settlement of legal claims without so much as a legally viable written demand… if it were not already taking place!  Despite City Charter mandates that only written claims made be processed for settlement, the City Council did indeed settle not a claim, but the threat of a claim, in which the potential litigants failed to document the basis for their “claim!”

In May 2013, the City Council “settled” a threat to file a claim by Anaheim Retail Partners LLC.  The settlement gave the new owners of the Gardenwalk Shopping Center half of all sales tax collected from the property!  Anaheim Retail Partners’ claim was based on an agreement with previous owners of the Center, an agreement that was voided by foreclosure proceedings by those earlier owners.  Yet despite failure to produce a valid legal claim, Council majority settled the dispute, lest this mere threat to file a claim hold up their efforts later that evening to offer the owner of the Gardenwalk Hotel his $158 million subsidy for the second time!  You may recall the Council’s first effort to give the hotelier that tax incentive was overturned by a court, after finding California’s Open Meetings laws had been violated.  The second effort referenced here is now the subject of a second suit by the same community group, who have also sued the Council members personally, claiming conflict of interest quid pro quo donations in exchange for votes.

Maggie’s and Sarah’s platforms this week. (Click for legible image)

Measure C changes Charter Section 603, eliminating the current Charter requirement for the City Manager to put up a “corporate surety bond, conditioned upon the faithful performance of his or her duties.”  So should the temptation become too much to resist, for those having nearly unlimited authority over all things financial with funds that put pennies on the dollar to the comparison with Bell, taxpayers would be out any monies missing under the supervision of the City Manager! We believe Anaheim hires good people, but we must also follow the adage, “Trust God but don’t dance a jig in a small boat.”

How could Council member Brandman believe it is in any way favorable to the public to offer expanded authority and oversight to the City Manager, diminished transparency and accountability for critical finance functions, and then eliminate the protections of a surety bond to aid in the recovery of lost funds?

Mayor Tom Tait tried asking the Council to bifurcate the financial elements of the Charter changes from the more routine administrative clean up.  Clearly the major changes and potential for abuse in these changes is far more outrageous than mere “housekeeping” to clean up inconsistent language!  Yet the Council, as usual, ignored the suggestion of fiscal prudence, and dropped the most dramatic and potentially dangerous changes in the history of the City of Anaheim into a Charter amendment that was then mislabeled “Various City Charter Amendments!”

Measure C joins Charter amendments Measure D and Measure  E in the “don’t vote for this” column.

Measure D has an active “No on D” campaign and needs no further editorial, but I support efforts to decline this change, as it turns the Mayor’s office into a revolving door for special interests, and appears aimed at either punishing the Mayor the majority clearly disdains, or sits waiting for the day when one of their own might use the two-year terms to extend a perpetual fund raising hand into the pockets of donors on a regular basis.

Measure E’s seemingly innocuous “return an Anaheim tradition” ignores that voters killed “Safe and Sane fireworks” decades ago, as their abuse by irresponsible residents created an environment that was neither safe nor sane for those of us trying to follow the laws of the land and common sense!  But this measure has developed into something more divisive, as profit mongers play a divide and conquer game among Anaheim neighborhoods. 

Sarah is NOT looking forward to an allegedly “safe and sane” July 4.

Anaheim Hills residents recently received a mailing that “flatlands” residents did not see.  Councilmember Kris Murray offered her assurance that she believes “the City Council will unanimously support keeping all fireworks illegal in Anaheim Hills, even after Measure E passes, to ensure sensitive hillside neighborhoods remain safe.”  The mailing claims that residents of the hills can let their non-profits go into areas of Anaheim where “fireworks make sense” [i.e. in someone else’s neighborhood], and make money selling fireworks in the flatlands, without having to live with the consequences! 

In the ultimate arrogance, Steven Albert Chavez Lodge claims they can run their short-funded Anaheim Hills fireworks celebration using money extracted from lesser life forms in the flatlands, while exempting their own dogs from nervous disorders, their own rooftops from careless fires, and their own peace and enjoyment of their homes preserved.  If ever there was evidence of an “us vs them” mentality seen in the city of Anaheim, Measure E’s most recent mailing to Anaheim hills voters, and ONLY Anaheim Hills voters, is Exhibit A.  Kris Murray should be recalled for this – how dare she not insist that the same mailer tell flatlands voters that the hills are exempting themselves?  And how does Kris Murray know she can assure voters of this “unanimous” vote?

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Ummm… so there you have it, I guess.  The Orange Juice Blog wishes you happy voting, and enjoy this fine weather!    Keep coming back!  It works it you work it!  – Vern.

 


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