Elections Have Consequences: Defund the Anaheim Chamber Now! And, My Evolution on Districting.


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This week’s election has dire consequences for some who put all their eggs in the Kleptocacy’s basket, so confident that the nearly one million dollars worth of Disney-bucks would be their salvation. Despite all that money, they were wrong. Voters saw through the funding, and understood they were being taken to the cleaners. They supported Mayor Tom Tait in a landslide, and sent the message that while Anaheim supports our Resort District, we are MORE THAN merely a support FOR the Resort District.

The go-between that bridges Disney, City Hall, and former-Mayor-turned-lobbyist Curt Pringle, is the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce.  The hammer in their tool box.

The Chamber of Commerce is supposed to be a private business.  To be precise, they are a 501c6 advocacy non-profit, able to take in donations without donors being identified, and largely able to take in donations without being taxed (good thing, since they got behind on their payroll taxes, which they ARE subject to paying!) The one exception is when they take in donations to launder them before running them into the Chamber PAC. Those donations remain anonymous (which needs to be examined) but they become TAXABLE to the Chamber. I am not sure they know that.

If the Chamber’s private members wish to privately fund the special message of vitriol that Todd Ament and his crowd specialize in, they are welcome to it. As private citizens we are welcome to not join and not give them our money for that activity.  This is not the case when a Council majority offers public funding to the Chamber, which then gets transferred to the hate messaging seen in this recent election.

The unofficial mouthpiece for the Chamber of Commerce is AnaheimBlog.net.

AnaheimBlog’s webmaster, Matt Cunningham, is not a concerned Anaheim citizen, running the website on his own time, out of passion for his community.  Matt is a resident of Orange, and will say anything you want said, as long as you pay his price.  Matt has self-reported income from the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, and while he claims he is not “paid to blog” he has also never shown what he IS paid to do for them.  Why would we take the word of someone whose word is clearly not worth the screen space used for its publication?

The hatred and ignorance spread at AnaheimBlog is on behalf of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, and the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce gets public funding from the City Council majority.  Is Anaheim Blog the best use of your public funds?

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Speaking of the execrable Anaheim Blog:  For reasons I will never understand, my loved ones (e.g. Ryan, Zenger, Vern) like to wander over there, and then tell me about the inane “wordsmithing” skills being put to use in promoting the dying cause of the Kleptocracy, like “Big Sam and the boys” heading out of Atlanta to “dig ditches for the white folk to hide in.”   And I regularly chide these loved ones against engaging on that blog, as their pointed and witty responses accidentally make it worth reading, and risk propelling its readership into the double digits.  

But a few days ago I couldn’t help myself and failed to follow my own advice – Anaheim Blog’s nasty and dishonest riff off a recent Measure L mailer my husband and I participated in had the potential to give a black eye to good people who worked hard to make Anaheim a better place (actions Matt and his self-dealing friends find entirely incomprehensible), and I wanted to set the record straight just in case the six people who might have read it actually take any portion of it seriously.  It was entitled, awkwardly:

 “Cynthia Ward Flip-Flips [sic] On By-District Elections,
Stars In Left-Wing ‘Yes on Measure L’ Campaign”

In this piece, Matt Cunningham was absolutely correct in his claim that I’d spoken against District Elections in the past, and I’d been pretty vocal with the media when asked.  If you did some digging you could probably come up with some video of me at the City Council podium during Public Comments over the years, sharing the same misgivings I voiced to the Orange County Register in 2012.

I still have my misgivings about District Elections, and I still see the downsides to giving little fiefdoms to leaders who are already so immersed in backroom deals and bickering that they’ve rendered local government ineffective and useless for moving forward anything but insider deals on behalf of Curt Pringle’s clients.

Lucille Kring has pointed out that if we don’t like who is running for office in our District we are forbidden to vote for anyone outside the District, claiming this “disenfranchises” voters. But she misses the fact that we already deal with this shortcoming, in that we are ALWAYS limited to voting for those candidates who make themselves available. 

In fact, 2012 was an especially lean year, and we did what we had to do.  We actually held our noses and supported Lucille Kring, not because she was the best for the job but basically because of those running she expressed the most hatred for Lobbyist Pringle, and thus presented the best option for independence. We were wrong, we were punked, but who could have imagined the depth and breadth of this woman’s ability to deceive?

The fact remains that we had to deal with the pool of candidates available. Perhaps now that Measures L and M have passed, quality people will begin to feel encouraged to run for office, based on their common sense and passion for the community, and not based on who might score the Disney money for the only chance of being elected.

Ultimately, what’s best for maintaining peace in my community could be something I may not personally care for, but my love of the community outweighs my need to get my own way.  In this case, the best thing I can do is support something I may not prefer, in order to promote the greater good.  I’m sorry if that offends Matt Cunningham, given his inability to ever put community benefits above his own selfish preferred outcomes.

Richard and I understand (better than most) the enormity of what it takes to litigate an issue based on principle, with no direct personal benefit at the end of the lawsuit.  Like the CATER suits, the Voter Rights litigation did not demand damages in personal gain for the litigants, outside of legal fees.  That’s only right and fair, because citizens should not be out of pocket to protect and defend their rights against government overreach.  But then I suspect Cunningham and his buddies are perfectly fine with a system that only provides rights to those with the resources to demand them.

Amin David is happy to get his day in court.So when Anaheim residents – especially those like Dr. Moreno and Amin David, whom we happen to like and respect very much as people, are willing to allow their lives to be turned upside-down by filing a lawsuit with the ACLU, it was time to really listen to what they had to say.  At-Large elections had worked for Anaheim, yes, but clearly they were not working for ALL of Anaheim.  At some point the rights of my neighbors to feel included in the electoral system must outweigh my desire to maintain my comfort zone.

At-Large elections shut out a very specific voting bloc from becoming viable candidates.  Period.  I don’t believe anyone intends to shut out candidates based solely on their race, but without question, At-Large elections have shut candidates out based on economics, and economics then break down along racial lines in Anaheim, as impoverished areas unable to field a candidate with resources to reach voters citywide will also tend to be those neighborhoods with heavily Latino populations. 

Some day we will look at the factors that leave immigrant populations and their first generation descendants in greater poverty than their Caucasian counterparts, but for now we’re discussing elections, and it’s absolutely true that a grassroots candidate who might be a great leader does not have an ice cube’s chance in Hell of winning in an At-Large election in a city the size of Anaheim.  If Districts can bring government down to bite-sized pieces in which a candidate can potentially cover enough ground to make a difference, that’s a step in the right direction.  It’s then up to us to start encouraging good people to step up and take on the task of running, or we’ll get the government that our own apathy deserves.

Someone I greatly love and respect has been very vocal of late, speaking out against Measure L, claiming that our problem is one of participation, not representation.  I do understand the numbers she is working with, and I too have questioned how a demographic group that represents half the city claims they lack representation.  But vicen the overwhelming obstacles of running for office in Anaheim’s current At-Large system, those without significant resources walk away from the challenge.  When voters consistently see nobody on the ballot that might understand the unique needs of their own part of the city, they quit showing up to vote.  Thus lack of representation CAUSES lack of participation.

Every Republican casting a ballot in Presidential election years here in California understands the frustration and futility of the winner-takes-all system that is stacked against a GOP outcome.  I won’t share the write-in candidates my husband and I have offered in protest to the Dems we know in advance will be taking electoral votes to the White House, I will simply say that we understand the frustration of knowing our votes don’t count.

So that’s my “flip-flop” on District Elections.  I see the same downsides that I saw in 2012, and the same potential for pork.  But, sadly, I also see that our current leadership is already so corrupted that Districts cannot possibly make things worse, might make things better, and passage of the Measure at least stopped the clock ticking on ACLU attorneys fees. (Because the one thing I hate more than any other aspect of this issue is the idea of writing a check to the hated ACLU!)

Richard and I set aside some of our own personal misgivings in order to promote what we saw as the greater good, and this week I’m glad to see that most of Anaheim’s citizens agreed.  But then Matt Cunningham is not one of Anaheim’s citizens, so why would we expect any such thoughtfulness from him?

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Back to that Anaheim Blog screed against me:  Typically, Matt Cunningham not only backs up his belief that only those benefiting from the insiders system have the rights to speak about the issues, but refused to even let me defend my husband and myself.  Now, this is what you see after his deleting my entire comment:

November 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Cynthia Ward

[Imagine the sound of fingernails on a chalk board. That will give you some idea of the intellectual nutritional value of primal screed from which readers have been spared.]

Reply

Matt’s juvenile refusal to permit my comment was followed by others he DID permit to be posted. This one especially caught my attention, as that account is shared by a husband and wife team that live near me, and the wife is a prominent Planning Commissioner, who (one might hope) could show some leadership values. Or maybe not so much…

November 3, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Mitch

I was glad to have received that particular mailer as I was just out of TP at that moment. Imagine the satisfaction I received knowing where I was putting Cynthia Ward’s face.

Reply

This Planning Commissioner’s often unhinged husband posted a similar gross comment to the Colony email group, where I no longer participate but am occasionally alerted to messages.  So, despite their cowardly refusal to put real names to nasty thoughts, we know who they are.  Matt Cunningham decided that THAT message was worthy of space paid for, albeit indirectly, by our public funds laundered through the Chamber of Commerce. Yet my defense of participation in an important election issue was not permitted.

I can only say that I am sad to hear my neighbors’ situation has bottomed out so completely that they are unable to provide for the basics like bath tissue, and perhaps if they laid off alcohol and cigarettes they could pull their finances together in a way that allows for necessities.  Since their grasp of reality has become so tenuous, I might also point out that the mailer received just before that trip to the loo is printed on glossy paper, and not terribly absorbent. In short, the mailer, like the individuals depicted in the image, will not take crap off these people any time soon, and they are in for a rude awakening, should they sober up enough to realize how badly their choices have soiled them.

It’s telling that Matt Cunningham permitted this display of witty banter from my neighbors, while refusing to post my own reasoned defense for my public change of heart on an issue important to my community, one which HE brought up, and then failed to let me respond to.  This is the caliber to which the Anaheim Blog has sunk. They are using OUR PUBLIC FUNDS, laundered through the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, to do this.

In any case, congratulations to the people of Anaheim, for the HUGE win this week.  We kept our Mayor with such a landslide that it sends the message that while Anaheim supports our Anaheim Resort, we are more than a support system FOR THEM.  James Vanderbilt has won by half a percentage point. That is ONE neighborhood walked that made a difference.  For those who showed up day after day to walk precincts, make phone calls, set up neighborhood coffees, THIS IS YOUR WIN.

The fight is not over, there is work to do.  We need to defund the Chamber of Commerce immediately, and allow their private patrons benefitting from their “advocacy” to support the activities, because it is not a public function to do this.

Congratulations to Eric Altman and the entire team for Measure L and M. They ran a positive campaign that stayed on message and won fair and square.  They were out walking neighborhoods constantly and had a huge GOTV effort during election day. It remains to be seen how District Elections will play out in the long run.  I can only say that it has to be better than retaining the selfish stranglehold on power and influence that has been in charge at City Hall.  Anything that takes that jack boot off our throats is an improvement.


About Cynthia Ward

I am a truth-teller. It gets me in trouble. But if you ask me if a dress makes you look fat, I will tell you so, and help select another, before you go on television and realize it for yourself. My real friends are expected to be truthful with me as well. A secret shared will be taken to my grave, but lie to me, and it will end up here…on these pages… especially if you are tasked with the stewardship of public resources. I am a registered Republican who disdains the local GOP power structure, a born-again Christian who supports everyone’s right to spend their lives with the partner of their choosing. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister. I am a loyal friend to those who merit that friendship and when crossed I am a bitch with a capital C. I do not fit into a box, nor do I see others through the stereotypes that politics and public affairs so often tries to shoehorn us into. I think for myself, and so do you. Welcome to our shared space in this world.