Walrus Poop 2/14: Yearning to Destroy Jose Moreno Induces Biz Dem to Sacrifice Dems Councilmembers Countywide

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Photo from National Geographic. (And yes, OJB admits that these are actually elephant seals.)

An engorged Chumley takes to his blog to trumpet what he believes to be his moment of triumph:

At the next Democratic Party of Orange County meeting in about two weeks, I’ve put forth a resolution – my first as a member of the Central Committee – that was to address the need for making Anaheim a Sanctuary City.  Sources tell me that the Resolutions Committee has actually expanded this idea to call on Democratic Party electeds to push for Sanctuary City status in every Orange County city which tells me the idea has merit.

In some cases, public discussion of what happens in DPOC Executive Committee meetings is acceptable to address an urgent and developing matter; I’ve done it myself where it seemed warranted and I had announced my intentions.  As a rule, though, premature discussion of what happens in closed meetings is taboo, and in some cases it’s actually proscribed.  Nonetheless, I think that it’s fair to set the record straight when a committee member, supposedly relying on “sources,” makes a factually incorrect assertion about party activity.  I’ll offer the minimum specifics needed to correct the misstatement–  and will then go on a richly deserved rant.

Put aside the wandering tense of that first sentence — “At the … meeting in about two weeks, I’ve put forth a resolution … that was to address” — and focus on the second one.  I do not purport to speak here for the DPOC, but I am a member of the Executive Committee that met on Monday night.  That committee did vote on a resolution that is clearly the one about which Chumley’s alleged multiple “sources” reported to him.  And NO — no resolution (at least none that will have gone through the normal process) that “calls on Democratic Party electeds to push for Sanctuary City status in every Orange County city” is going to be submitted to the Central Committee on February 27.

A well-written and reasoned resolution on enforcement of immigration laws will appear, but the description offered to or by Chumley is well off-base.  Because Chumley’s de facto Republican partner at the Anaheim Blog will likely seize on Chumley’s statement to depict OC Democrats as being extreme, I think that it’s worth setting that record straight without delay.

No: unless something extraordinarily unexpected happens, DPOC is NOT going to call on Councilmembers Melissa Fox of Irvine, Jesus Silva of Fullerton, Jill Hardy of Huntington Beach, Katrina Foley of Costa Mesa, Kris Beard of Garden Grove, Sergio Contreras of Westminster, Letitia Clark of Tustin, Tita Smith of Orange, Rose Espinoza of La Habra, Art Brown of Buena Park, and Jose Moreno or Anaheim (along with a smattering of others, most of whom are either solitary Democrats on their Councils or one of a mere pair) to submit “Sanctuary City” resolutions in their cities.  (I want to clarify that fact because that is literally what Chumley says the DPOC is going to do — and it isn’t.  Why not?  Because we’re not cork-headed rampaging idiots.)

People will see what we are calling for in due time — and it will be a strong and appropriate response to President Trump’s agenda.  But when it comes to pressing for the “Sanctuary City” label — and the only defining feature of “Sanctuary City” status that people agree upon is that label itself — I can’t imagine that DPOC would do more than to encourage each minority Democratic Councilmember to use their own good political judgment regarding what approach would best work in their city to ameliorate the misery of xenophobic Trumpism.

Chumley then moves on to lie about his own motivation for his “first try at a resolution”:

I initially started a push for Sanctuary City status in Anaheim after the rapid, brave and unanimous action by the Santa Ana City Council to defy President Trump.

Why Anaheim?

Because every candidate endorsed by the DPOC in November’s election, as well as Democrats who ran without the party’s endorsement, ran with support for Sanctuary City status on their campaign platform and the city’s large immigrant population.  It made sense. And it’s my first try at a resolution.  My plan was to expand this to Fullerton, Orange and Garden Grove if the effort in Anaheim was successful and to continue adding cities. The first person I asked to sign was Benny Diaz and he couldn’t get his pen out fast enough. I had the required number of signatures in about 3 minutes.

(Note: I’m not sure that endorsed Democrat Leonard Lahtinen in Anaheim District 1 endorsed Sanctuary Cities — and I’m less sure that Chumley bothered to check.  I’m also not sure what it was that Chumley had Benny Diaz and eight other DPOC members (taking twenty seconds apiece) sign, but it wasn’t the “required” number to get something submitted to the Resolutions Committee (or directly to the Executive Committee) — because the required number for that is “one.”  Submitting a resolution directly to the Central Committee meeting does require ten signatures (among other things), but there’s no reason to do that more than two weeks before the meeting.)

At any rate, no, this was not Chumley’s motivation for choosing Anaheim to be the first OC city not dominated by Latinos to pass a “Sanctuary City” policy.  His motivation was to put his (and his political pin-up Jordan Brandman’s) nemesis Dr. Moreno into hot water by making unreasonable and unyielding demands of him.  Chumley later contends that “Moreno should put forth a motion to make Anaheim a Sanctuary City even if the Republican majority on the council votes it down.”

A time for one to burn oneself on the pyre of a solo dissenting vote for a good cause may come — but that’s not likely to be true when one has a good and compelling alternative that can lead to useful legislation actually passing.  Moreno — who, unlike Chumley, is actually a thoughtful and deft politician — seems to have a good plan to steer Anaheim to substantively good and human policies in this area with a majority of the Council in agreement.  Chumley’s fear here seems to be that — yes, by starting with the Mayoral Task Force to build consensus — Moreno’s efforts might succeed.  By making uncharacteristically strident demands — seriously, Business Democrat Chumley is not well-cast for this role — he hoped to make Moreno’s position untenable.  (I leave the question of why the hell he’d do this as an exercise for readers.)

Chumley tips his hands by supporting Anaheim Councilwoman Kris Murray’s dastardly proposal — which I’m delighted to say is going to backfire in her face, by the way — to demand that the Mayoral Task Force be videoed, live-streamed, and published on the city’s website.  The difference — as Murray probably knows and Chumley probably doesn’t — between a Board or Commission, on the one hand, and a Task Force on the other is that the former lead directly to policymaking and the latter does not.  A Task Force allows for informal engagement — more akin to brainstorming than to formal debate and voting — and that’s why one not only does not need to treat it like a Council meeting but one needs not to do so, especially when (as Dr. Moreno sensitively noted from the podium last week) when it addresses an emotionally and politically fraught issue like immigration enforcement.

You stick cameras in people’s faces, in a Task Force on a sensitive subject, only if you want it to fail.  Murray wants to run for Supervisor, in a much more conservative district than the City of Anaheim itself, against the sorts of ideas and ideals that Dr. Moreno champions.  Chumley may (or may not) truly favor those views himself, but what he really wants is for Moreno, personally, to fail — in part by estranging himself from the voting public.  Why desire that?  Perhaps the difference between Moreno and Chumley is that Trump’s policies are a serious threat to Moreno and those he loves, creating a crisis that eliminates the option of simply “playing politics” — whereas for Chumley, the chance to dress himself up as a latter-day Cesar Chavez is exactly that: a sort of role-playing game that he can set down at the end of the day while trundling back to Northwoods.

Chumley does rightly note that a lot of “Welcoming Cities” are also “Sanctuary Cities” — but it does not seem to permeate through his skull that moving in that order might be the right approach for a traditionally conservative city like Anaheim.  Moreno has thought through his strategy and tactics; Chumley seems proud of not having bothered.

Chumley’s final substantive claim is that

by strengthening my resolution, the Party’s resolution [sic] committee is saying all elected Democrats should do the same even if they lack the votes to pass the measure because it tells our immigrant communities which party stands with them and which party does not.

If Chumley is really going to try to pretend to be a leftist, he has a lot to learn.  Sometimes, indeed, one acts to highlight the contradictions between the parties.  But when one is dealing with reasonably sympathetic members of the opposing party — most clearly, Tait and Vanderbilt — that’s not the best choice.  Actually making good policy is preferable to a merely symbolic stand — and Moreno has the chops and the opportunity to pull it off.  The upcoming DPOC resolution will, in my opinion, strengthen his hand.  This is especially true in a crisis — and the Trump Presidency does present immigrants with a crisis!  Political effectiveness, when (as here) it is within reach, becomes most critical at such times.

Chumley’s sin, however, in championing his misconstrued version of the upcoming resolution is not primarily against Dr. Moreno.  A supposed DPOC demand that every OC Democratic Councilmember from Melissa Fox to Art Brown should pick a symbolic fight that they will almost surely lose badly has the effect of alienating the party from an electorate that is wary of the misleading “Sanctuary City” label.

Santa Ana ends up fine, and maybe Anaheim does as well thanks to the cooperation between Moreno and Tait.  But demanding that DPOC tell every officeholder not simply to push to focus limited resources on keeping the peace in (largely by winning the cooperation of) minority and immigrant neighborhoods rather than helping ICE increase the level of conflict therein, but also to do so under the banner of a supposedly stronger brand (and I’d love to see whether Chumley has “product testing” evidence on that contention of his — that’s just dumb posturing at best.

Chumley, like Matt Cunningham, just doesn’t like Moreno; I get it.  But to let that anti-Moreno animus spur him to celebrate making an inflammatory rather than a reasonable demand of all OC officeholders — that’s just wrong.  We can’t afford that sort of silliness now.


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.)