Chumley Prints Pro-Disney Dem’s Leak of Dr. Moreno’s ‘DPOC-Only’ Email on ‘Tax-Free-Disney’ Vote


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Sometimes, when you swallow someone's stinky story whole, you SHOULD feel embarrassed!

Sometimes, when you swallow someone’s stinky story whole, you SHOULD feel embarrassed!

I wear both the hat of a Democratic Party of Orange County (“DPOC”) Committee Member and the hat of a local political blogger, which means that there are inevitably some things that I know about local politics that I can’t share.  One of them appeared in my email inbox tonight at 7:40 p.m.: an open letter from Dr. Jose Moreno to his former School Board colleague fellow Anaheim Democrat, Councilman Jordan Brandman, about tomorrow’s huge vote on making admission to Disney properties tax-free for 45 years.  (Disney pays a 6.5% sales tax on gate admissions to the state of Florida, but not to their local government, which they de facto own, even more than they do here.)  Dr. Moreno asked Brandman, who has been announcing plans to run for Loretta Sanchez’s seat against Lou Correa and others, to either vote “no” on the proposal or to vote to postpone it — given that much like the Angels Parking Lot Giveaway it has suddenly (and unnecessarily) appeared after a holiday weekend to blindside Anaheim residents .

When I got the email, I contacted Dr. Moreno and asked if it was meant for publication (in, for example, this blog.)  He told me that it was sent only to members of the DPOC Central Committee.  Dan Chmielewski of the misnamed “The Liberal OC” — you know him here as “Chumley” — apparently obtained it within about a half hour from some DPOC member who cares a little less about confidentiality.  (My bet is that it’s one of the people who has been ragging me for years about my blogging while on the Central Committee, accusing me of releasing confidential information, which I have never done.  It would be just like someone like that to accuse me of what I’m not doing but they are.)

Chumley, of course, has already published it.  We’ll get to the letter below — because, at this point, the cat has escaped the bag — but first here’s the comment I made at LibOC to Chumley:

Greg Diamond
July 6, 2015 at 9:13 pm

Wow, Dan. I wonder who leaked that to you.

That letter was, as I understand it, sent solely to DPOC Central Committee members, of which I am one. I asked Dr. Moreno about whether he intended it to be published to the public — and he told me that it was a message from him for internal communication to the DPOC (and Brandman, of course.) On that basis, given that I had received it in my official capacity, I decided NOT to publish it.

Once again, your wing of the party demonstrates that its rules apply only to some, not others. Congratulations on the hard-earned “scoop.” I guess there’s no point in protecting DPOC secrecy at this point. I’ll address your analysis in a brighter environment.

Here’s Dr. Moreno’s letter, in bright blue, with added bolding of the key phrase about who received it:

Subject: URGENT:  Councilman Jordan Brandman–Please Do Not Support Making Disney Corp. a Tax-Exempt Organization

Hi Jordan,

I hope this email finds you well amidst the hectic nature of all things politics. My apologies for length of email but as a fellow Democrat, and with limited time for public notice on the topic of the Disney Tax-Exemption Deal in Anaheim, I feel compelled to share with you what I think could be a defining vote by you as the lone Democrat on the Anaheim City Council. Your vote may have a direct and negative bearing in relation to future Latino and Democratic councilmembers given the promise of District elections now in place for 2016. I am cc’ing Central Committee members of the DPOC as they should also be aware of what is truly at stake for us in Anaheim, as my fear is these type of “deals” will be pushed in other cities of Orange County. I would urge us all as Democrats to support Councilman Brandman in voting NO on this deal or to support efforts of postponing this generationally defining vote. Let’s show our communities that Democrats will fight to insure transparency, democratic deliberation and fair policies. 

I’m emailing regarding the proposed 45 year binding agreement with Disney and the City of Anaheim that in essence makes Disney Corp., a multi-billion dollar corporation, into a defacto local tax-exempt organization for nearly a half century. This deal, which makes Disney Corp. tax-exempt until the year 2061, is akin to categorizing Disney, one of the most profitable corporations in the world whose CEO makes more than $56 million annually, as being similar for tax purpose to local places of worship e.g. church, synagogue or mosque or non-profit e.g. YMCA, Salvation Army etc. This seems completely against the values and principles of our Democratic Party and in voting for such arrangements may very well place us against the wave of Democratic policies seeking to address economic inequalities due to corporate greed and hubris. Indeed Jordan, we were quite thrilled that you recognized the corruption of corporate monies in politics when you asked your Council colleagues to pass a resolution against the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court.

Beyond what appears as a grossly unfair deal for the people of Anaheim, is that this deal binds the future hands of City Councils which via District elections promise to be more Latino and Democratic. In particular, there is a very real possibility that you will be the deciding vote on this item as the four Republicans on the Council may end up split 2-2 on this deal. It therefore hit me that as a Democrat with a potentially deciding vote on a generational deal, your vote may have lasting impacts on future councils. Beyond this agreement violating the right of future voters and City Councils to have all policy options necessary to govern, my primary concerns are the following:

1)      On the eve of finally having a working-class oriented and Latino presence vis-à-vis district based elections in Anaheim, your vote may be the vote that binds the governing options of more diverse and potentially Democratic City Councils. Latino communities have fought for decades to achieve single member district elections. In addition, the plurality of registered voters in Anaheim are now Democrats. If this deal goes through, how will our more diverse and democratic councils be able to effectively govern? It seems that if projections of this deal are not fulfilled, it will be Latino and Democratic Councils that will be forced into cutting vital services to our own neighborhoods since corporate interests will have been shielded by long-term binding agreements and policies.

2)      Future bond obligations with extremely limited abilities to raise revenues will force Latino and democratic city councils to impose draconian cuts to local social safety nets. This is quite disconcerting given pending pension liabilities due to collective bargaining agreements with public employee unions. If you vote to support 100% tax-exemptions for multi-billion dollar corporations, a more diverse and Democratic city council will simply have to be the ones to cut services, try to renegotiate hard fought for pensions by our city employees, and ultimately privatize remaining public services. This will of course bring the wrath of Latino voters who may then turn to other political parties to bring solutions to the table.

3)      While there are over 3,000 jobs promised by this deal via Disney’s $1 billion investment, we know that most of those jobs will not necessarily be living wage jobs, thus placing tremendous strain on our neighborhoods and social institutions. As it is, our schools and neighborhoods are struggling to provide high quality services to our youth and families. When we fail to align our resources with those institutions, they ironically get blamed, as public institutions, for failing our youth, thus leading to a clamoring of privatizing public services including corporate-charter school networks to take over public schools.

I appreciate you reading my concerns Jordan and am happy to discuss via phone before the Council meeting tomorrow. Again, I send these concerns as a means of providing some thoughts and insights as a Democrat who simply wants to assure that the promise of future generations having a voice and vote in Anaheim, are not bound by today’s binding agreements. I do hope you will push for a postponement of this vote to allow for more input, perspectives and pragmatic analyses to occur. And if your Council colleagues refuse to postpone then a conscientious NO vote to protect democratic values and transparency would seem most appropriate.

Here’s what Chumley had to say about the letter: in olive green:

Dr. Jose Moreno has penned an open letter to Anaheim Council member Jordan Brandman, asking Brandman to vote no on a proposal to extend the current agreement between the city and Disney for no gate tax for the next 30 years in exchange for the company’s promise to invest $1 billion in the Anaheim theme parks.  Moreno said the plan would make Disney “a tax-exempt organization.”

Moreno also copied just about every OC Democrat, Labor leader and party influencer on his letter to Brandman, but didn’t contact Brandman first personally to make his pitch.  Open letters seldom get the desired effect.  The letter is likely posturing by Moreno for the 2016 elections, once districting is established and the council expands.

A few things:

  • There’s no plan for a gate tax.  There’s no suggested amount for a gate tax.
  • Any expansion plans for the Anaheim parks by Disney are secret; CEO Bob Iger deflects these questions from Wall Street in every quarterly earnings call.
  • The notion that Disney already plans to make this investment regardless of a gate tax is speculation.
  • A gate tax isn’t levied on Disney; it’s levied on guests buying tickets to the park.

The Liberal OC has learned that OC’s organized Labor unions are supportive of the plan to exempt Disney from any gate tax in exchange for the investment, park expansion and the creation of thousands of new jobs for years.

It would be charitable to describe Chumley as clueless here — but let’s go with that, as he i apparently misinformed by whomever briefed him.

  • Right, there is no “plan for a gate tax.”  A gate tax is not what’s on the table here and now!  Preventing future Anaheim City Councils — which the City’s 2012 demographer himself said will soon begin to come from a majority-Latino electorate for the first time ever —  fro even considering a gate tax to pay for all of the massive borrowing and tax-exempting that this City Council is doing FOR THE NEXT 45 YEARS — is what is on the table here.  As a leader of Anaheim’s Latino community — a concept that Chumley may have difficulty understanding — it’s Dr. Moreno’s role to raise this issue now with the nominally Democratic “swing vote.”  He’s protecting the interests and power of future Latino residents of Anaheim.
  • The plan to expand into a third gate in Anaheim has been widely and openly discussed — not by Mr. Iger in a quarterly earnings call, where he is subject to stricter rules, but in local papers — for some time.  None of this is a surprise.
  • Disney would be stupid NOT to build its improvements given its new properties and the degree to which Disney is already saturated with customers — which is why their ticket prices have tripled since 1996.  Losing a small amount of that almost $70 increase to a small gate tax — about the cost of on year’s increase on their part to cover the many City services and expenditures devoted to them — would be a minor inconvenience.
  • The gate tax would be levied on Disney admissions and on other venues with tickets over some amount (maybe $35 or $40.)  If it’s 1% of the first $60, your $50 concert ticket would cost $50.50.  Patrons would barely notice it.

As usual in politics — one good sign that someone is desperate is when their lies no longer even make sense.  Disney and its lackeys within the DPOC — not, I maintain hope, a majority of it — has jumped right over that line.

Epilogue:

And, justlikethat, I’m in moderation.  Chumley’s friend the self-hating-Latino-Democrat-except-that-he’s-probably-neither “David Vasquez” (he or she is probably not that either) wrote:

[1] David Vasquez, July 6, 2015 at 9:21 pm

You understand incorrectly.

This letter was sent to me in a 30+ email chain and it was being encouraged to “spread the word”. There was NOTHING private about it.

It was Jose’s attempt to grandstand and again use race to divide and conquer for personal gain.

[2] David Vasquez, July 6, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Written as a private citizen this letter means absolutely NOTHING!

Dr. Moreno had his chance and the voters of Anaheim SOUNDLY rejected him. He can write and wine all he wants but, it is not the least bit influential. But, I agree with the author, this is a move to position himself. He clearly has a “ghost writer” now. I saw earlier drafts and EMAIL’S (as published on the Voice Of OC), where the Ph.d spells Night: Nite and actually writes the words “You Know”, as in you know, you know…..SLANG.

But, hey it’s good politics, while the Tibetan “Benny Hinn” preaches peace and solace to a city with such bad gang violence that the mothers of dead criminals urge rioting and “REGRET” calling for peace. I have to wonder what all these factions will do when the free-for-all that is redistricting happens. It will only serve to weaken Democratic interests in California’s 10th largest city.

Why, you’d never even know that Disney spent a huge block of cash to defeat him!  (Note: more likely it was checks.)

I wrote this in return:

Greg Diamond, July 6, 2015 at 9:42 pm

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Why does your avatar keep changing? Do you write while jogging from coffeeshop to coffeeshop?

A 30+ email chain? In under 90 minutes? That’s impressive. Why don’t you (or Dan, if you sent it to him) publish the chain, given that that’s no more private than this? Who’s the DPOC member who first sent it to someone out of DPOC? (Hell, who sent it to you — unless, as I suspect, you are either part of DPOC or very close to someone who is?)

That you immediately charge Dr. Moreno with “us[ing] race to divide and conquer for personal gain” cements my suspicion that (1) you’re probably not Latino and (2) you’re probably not even a Democrat, except possibly nominally.

I just checked out your other comment, and I can’t remember whether our host allows me to call you the racist that you are — and, if so, whether I can call you a racist piece of dung or whether I can avoid all euphemisms. Enjoy your blogging home.

Someone let me know if I get out of moderation. I’m going to try to avoid going back to the unofficial press outlet of the local party that wonders why oh why Latinos aren’t coming out and voting for Democrats.


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 (in violation of Roberts Rules) 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. Expelled from DPOC in October 2018 (in violation of Roberts Rules) for having endorsed Spitzer over Rackauckas -- which needed to be done. 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. One of his daughters 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.)