“People’s Council” and Revolution in Anaheim? Count me Out … In


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The two recent articles by a couple of young Anaheim residents, (see here and here) criticizing the lack of accomplishments of what they expected from the current city council majority, were an abrupt call for those of us who worked hard for this new council.

One of the criticisms is the “empty promises” made. The question then for me was what were the promises, so I pulled the statements of the two candidates elected to the “people’s council”:

Jose F. Moreno

“I would be honored to have your vote as I seek to bring the focus of city hall back to serving the residents of Anaheim.

As your councilman, I will support prioritizing Anaheim’s general fund dollars for our parks,community centers, street repair, and community policing. I will work hard to make Anaheim known for beautiful neighborhoods, thriving local businesses and great attractions.

I will work with Mayor Tom Tait to prioritize our budget for the benefit of residents, not special interests.

Let’s move our city away from policies that give away millions in general fund revenues to a few hotel developers and corporate interests. Let’s restore better quality of life investments in our neighborhoods.

We can humanely solve our city’s homeless crisis. I support Anaheim police officers’ community policing efforts that bring people together. Let’s build on the culture of kindness and fairness to help our neighborhoods thrive.

Our neighborhoods and families are the foundation of Anaheim. Join our push to bring neighborhood voices back to City Council! “

Denise Barnes

“I am a small business owner with an accounting background who will advocate for sound fiscal policies that protect the city’s general fund for its primary purpose: our residents’ interests, not corporate interests.

I would be honored to have your vote to be your voice at city hall. Let’s bring needed street repairs, wellmaintained parks, and more community policing to West Anaheim. Let’s solve the homeless situation effectively and humanely. Let’s continue to revitalize Beach Boulevard with upscale shops and outdoor dining.

I am proud to be endorsed by Mayor Tom Tait. I will work alongside him to promote transparency, honesty and integrity at city hall, and oppose tax giveaways that benefit wealthy hotel developers at the expense of the people of Anaheim.

I humbly ask for your vote to help make the needs of our residents the city’s top priority.”

The primary promise is the change of the city’s general funds use, from overwhelmingly supporting corporate interests to maintaining and improving neighborhoods. As much as SOAR supporters blanketed the city with glossy flyers about the benefits of the subsidies given to Disney and wealthy hoteliers, the reality is that most of the city did not substantially benefit.

The change of the use of this very important budgetary tool, the general fund, is being implemented and as expected, it is fought by the council members who are now in the minority.

The other relevant promise is to solve the homelessness crisis in the city. This goal is to a large extent being hampered by another promise: listening to the residents. In my district there is a still a strong opposition to locally address the homeless crisis, which includes maintaining the camping ban. I questioned the “City of Kindness” moniker earlier in the process of establishing the shelter (see here), not because the residents and city officials are mean people but due to the inadequate policy and/or explanation of the need to have the type of shelter that became Bridges at Kraemer.

I think that the council majority has had a clear agenda on the most relevant issue, the one with the most impact in the future direction of the city. The other urgent issues are being addressed within the pressure of the multiple and sometimes conflicting interests and concerns of the city residents, and the county government influence.

Have we had a revolution in Anaheim? Yes and No. The districts election was a revolutionary change for our standards. There is a much better participation and representation of the neighbors in the city affairs, and the basis for a “good government”, transparent and accountable are being established. This important improvement does not, and didn’t, necessarily mean a revolution in the sense of accomplishing economic and social justice.

The long term impact of the riots and the anti police-brutality reform movement have not produced the desired results yet. The violence provoked by the police killings and the reaction of the affected population did not constitute a revolution in profound sustainable terms. It didn’t immediately change the racist and repressive culture of the police department, its disregard for civilian oversight.

The leaders of the Latino community are blamed again for this failure. I give them the benefit of the doubt as to what their interactions with then police chief Welter were. If I recall correctly, Amin was participating with Welter in a police-community task force before the riots, they had a dynamic already that could eventually have changed the police outlook. I can see why Jose tried to mend fences between Welter and Donna, to advance the police reform credibility, especially when Donna had become one of the leading spokepersons of the reform movement.

Symbolisms, marches, vigils, memorials, are important, but if a defiant movement does not get politically organized, and does not develop the capacity to affecting changes, then we perpetuate the policies that keep vulnerable communities marginalized. Donna took an important step running for council, but the results unfortunately pointed out how much work needs to be done. After all these years since the riots, we have a dear community activist saying : “Some people say the protests was because of race. This had nothing to do with race. This was a community letting the cops know that did something bad and that we’re watching them…We have to move forward together.” (See here.)


About Ricardo Toro

Anaheim resident for several decades. In addition to political blogging, another area of interest is providing habitats for the Monarch butterfly. http://www.orangejuiceblog.com/2013/12/caterpillars-crossing-in-a-city-at-a-crossroads/