An Explosive Report on Anaheim’s Fireworks Monopoly — and Whom It Profits Most


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TNT Wile E Coyote

Y’all were wondering about the TNT contract for a fireworks monopoly? It’s simple: it’s payback time, baby!

The details are out on the sale of fireworks for this coming July 4th celebration. Forget the childhood memories of the local stand on the corner run by the neighborhood scout troop. Anaheim is going to be the recipient of the “super store” located at the Honda Center. Woo. Hoo.

Print out a flyer for your favorite charity, and they get 30% of the gross haul, while 10% of the gross — up to a maximum of $100,000 — goes to a private committee to dole out to whatever favored charity they please.  The rest, after expenses, goes to “Anaheim Arena Management.” That, like the Anaheim Ducks, who rent out the Honda Center, is owned by Henry Samueli.

If you forget the flyer, the Honda Center’s tenant gets to keep all of the net profits after that $100,000.  Either that, or certain favored non-profits — Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, anyone? — will have flyers there to be used by default.

Is this what voters envisioned when they approved Measure E last June?

Sadly, voters were also told that the City Council could earmark a percentage of fireworks sales to be turned over for enforcement of public safety. But we must remember that we are talking about the Anaheim City Council here, and “COULD” set aside funding does not mean they “must” or they “will.”  They didn’t have to — so they didn’t.

Instead, the only enforcement mentioned in the Ordinance approved by Council May 5th is enforcement of SALES of fireworks. (We must protect that single source monopoly after all!) But enforcement of their use? Why bother? They will merely mingle with the illegal fireworks that go without enforcement in my Central Anaheim neighborhood year after year, making my poor dogs miserable, and leaving me in fear for my wooden house that has been baking in the California sunshine for 107 years now.

This anything BUT “safe and sane” arrangement has a slimy underbelly that nobody has discussed. So as usual, we will start discussion of all things Kleptocratic here and now, for the reading enjoyment of our OJB friends. Keep an eye on the quarter in the hands of one Todd Ament, who heads that pesky Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, as he is sure to palm it before this story is over.

For those new to the city of Anaheim (like Council members Murray and Brandman), Anaheim outlawed fireworks in 1986, when it became obvious that the total IQ level of our community remained the same while the population expanded. Nowhere is that drop in the per capita intelligence more clearly defined than on and around July 4th, when Anaheim mixes a complete lack of common sense with copious amounts of alcohol. After a few too many accidents and near misses, the electorate put a stop to the insanity, and despite outlawing the amateur pyrotechnics hour, the use of illegal fireworks has been on the rise.

So what does any red blooded American community do when laws and public safety are being dismissed with impunity? Throw the laws out, of course! Despite NO organic push from the community to reinstate fireworks, they were brought back by the Charter Review Committee. And who CHAIRED the Charter Review Committee? Your friend and mine, TODD AMENT!

http://www.anaheim.net/images/articles/5034/CRC_Minutes_20140109.pdf

STEP ONE:
Chamber of Commerce’s Todd Ament Chairs Charter Review Committee that puts fireworks on the ballot for voter approval.

STEP TWO:
Campaign launches to sell voters on the desire for fireworks. Campaign is funded by TNT fireworks and headed by …TODD AMENT!

http://ballotpedia.org/City_of_Anaheim_Council_Authority_to_Regulate_%22Safe_%26_Sane_Fireworks,%22_Measure_E_%28June_2014%29

STEP THREE:
Anaheim City Council twists what voters believed they were approving, and creates a monopoly single-source contract where their buddies leasing the Honda Center from them have the exclusive permit to sell the fireworks their friend Todd just paved the way to sell. Cozy.

STEP FOUR:
The Honda Center uses their newly approved monopoly on the fireworks market to reward TNT, the company that funded the ballot campaign to get fireworks reapproved….and TNT in turn will fund the July 4th celebration at Peralta Park, a celebration hosted by Canyon Hills Community Council.

ANAHEIMBLOG.NET

“In addition to the monies each nonprofit raises through fireworks sales, Honda Center has also agreed to donate up to $100,000 to the Anaheim Community Foundation, as well as participate as the title sponsor of the city’s annual July Fourth Fireworks Spectacular at Peralta Park. The venue has teamed with TNT Fireworks, the industry leader of wholesale consumer fireworks in the nation, to be its exclusive fireworks vending partner.”

But who are the Canyon Hills people who are about to enjoy TNT’s generosity?   Let’s check GuideStar:

CANYON HILLS COMMUNITY COUNCIL
Physical Address: 2400 E Katella Ave Ste 725
Anaheim, CA 92806
EIN: 33-0359254
Web URL: www.chccanaheim.com
Telephone: 714-287-6148
NTEE Category: O Youth Development
O40 (Scouting)
Ruling Year: 1993

WAIT! That address looks familiar….

http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2014/330/359/2014-330359254-0b371082-Z.pdf
Line 42a “The organization’s books are in the care of …..Todd Ament.”

List of officers, Directors, Trustees….
Todd Ament, President
Jeff Farano, Secretary
Ross McCune Treasurer
Lucille Kring, Board member
Kris Murray, Board member
Orin Abrams, Board member
Leslie Swan, Board member
Cindy Torres, Board member
Brian Lambert, Board member

Ament and Councilwomen Kring and Murray!  Nice!  Let’s read on:

http://www.anaheimhillscommunitycouncil.org/
Who We Are
From building community, to hosting family events…
The Anaheim Hills Community Council is a non-profit organization created to assist in branding and building a strong community in Anaheim Hills. The Anaheim Hills 4th of July celebration creates connections and camaraderie between the thousands of residents and businesses who attend the day’s events every year.
Now in its 27th year, the 4th of July Celebration starts off with the Firecracker run that attracts approximately 3,000 runners, walkers, spectators, vendors and sponsors. Following that is the pancake breakfast, dog show and parade that leads up to the grand finale, the fireworks show at Peralta Park, where more than 20,000 neighbors, friends and families come together to celebrate the birth of our great nation.

During the Christmas Holidays, we also work with the business community to organize the annual Christmas Tree Lighting in the canyon. This great event provides entertainment for our youth to enjoy the spirit of the holidays, with fresh snow provided for their enjoyment, a petting zoo, Santa’s village and horse and carriage rides. In addition, strolling carolers, the arrival of Santa Clause and finally the lighting of the community tree makes this a fun day for the entire family.

On election years, we provide a non-partisan Candidates Forum to provide an opportunity to meet the candidates seeking their vote for Mayor or City Council. This Forum is essential to our residents to understand the vision of the candidates seeking your vote.

Note that BOTH the Christmas tree lighting and the Candidates Forum are hosted at the Influence Church, where Ament and Kris Murray reportedly attend. OJB had quite the discussion recently about how the Candidate’s Forum set up Jose Moreno with a question about “Gate Taxes” that wasn’t otherwise being discussed, and then filmed his answer to use when the Kleptocracy needed a boogie-man.

(That Tree Lighting has been setting off folks for a while now as well. They get government money to host an even on the private property of a religious institution, the “official” Canyon/Hills tree is on the church parking lot, while the trees in Central and West Anaheim are in public locations. But it’s all OK, because the funding goes through the Canyon Hills Community Council. Right?)

What else gets paid for through this money laundering scheme?

Go back to the GuideStar copies of the CC Form 990, and scroll down to Schedule O.
http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2014/330/359/2014-330359254-0b371082-Z.pdf

$47,291 payable to Anaheim Chamber of Commerce?!

The Form 990 also includes a “Declaration” that the Canyon Hills Community Council did not pay out on a personal benefits contract. But they paid the Chamber, which in turn pays the CEO/President who is also the President of the Canyon Hills Community Council. You may recall that the audit of Chamber funds done for the Enterprise Zone review showed such a commingling of funds the auditor could not tell them apart. http://voiceofoc.org/2014/03/anaheim-enterprise-zone-audit-up-for-city-council-debate/

So it matters little which account the Chamber claims they are funding on behalf of the CHCC: every nickel the Chamber is offered in other funding is money that doesn’t have to be raised to cover the outrageous salary of the President/CEO. (That is as opposed to paying their payroll taxes, which is another subject entirely.)

So Todd Ament creates a situation from which he ultimately benefits, and all of it using public resources to make way for the various scenarios in which either Ament pulls the strings or the City Council pulls the strings on his behalf.

It’s worth noting that donors to the Canyon Hills organization probably don’t even realize that they are in effect simply supporting the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce. But they can enjoy that the fireworks monopoly benefiting the Chamber (and Ament especially) in the flatlands is matched by a smaller monopoly in the  Hills, where the Chamber benefits from the sole approved fireworks show in that part of town.  In other words, even though the Hills are barred from setting off their own fireworks, they shouldn’t feel left out when it comes to being victimized by smoke bombs.

They say that payback is a bitch. I say that she is one well-funded bitch.


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.