“Bold Wine with ‘BOLD LEADERS'” – Mike Robbins observes more bad S.O.A.R. behavior.


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On Wednesday, me and a dozen comrades did what’s become a ritual for us:  went to protest another SOAR fundraiser!

What’s SOAR, you ask?  Originally meant to stand for “Save [later ‘Support’] Our Anaheim Resort” (as though that were ever endangered) it’s the PAC (Political Action Committee) created to preserve and strengthen Disney’s and other large resort businesses’ political control over the City of Anaheim. 

(At our 2016 Halloween protest)

Over the past decade SOAR’s money has elected councilmembers Kris Murray, Jordan Brandman, Harry Sidhu, Gail Eastman, Lucille Kring and Steven Faessel; this year they dearly hope to regain their majority by re-electing Brandman, bringing Sidhu back as mayor, and getting Mitch Caldwell and Trevor O’Neill onto council.  And with the co-operation of these politicians, in the decades leading up to our first district election (2016) SOAR achieved the looting of Anaheim’s public treasury to the tune of BILLIONS of dollars, but they are never satisfied.  They always want more.

“Save Our Anaheim Resort?”  Some of us interpret the acronym a little differently, as in:  “Sucking Out Anaheim’s Resources,” or “Swindling Our Anaheim Residents.”  And thus proclaimed our signs, which we held up in the alley behind the event, and attached to telephone poles around the event.  Meanwhile we questioned folks entering and leaving about local policies including the upcoming Living Wage vote (which they’ve been putting millions of dollars into fighting.)  Sometimes they insulted us but sometimes we had worthwhile conversations – in between Vern Nelson leading us in his re-written Disney songs.

Code Enforcement Officer Murray!

The first unpleasant incident involved the arrival of termed-out councilwoman Kris Murray, apparently in a foul mood since having two of her devious schemes blown out of the water by the Mayor the previous night – her rewording of the Living Wage measure, and some “transparency and accountability” measure regarding taxes that nobody understood.  When she saw my anti-SOAR sign nailed to a pole she tore it right down.

Not yet recognizing who it was, I ran over yelling “Hey lady, that’s my sign!”  She turned and with a blood-curdling glare growled, “I am a city employee, and this is graffiti , and I can take it down.”  I demanded it back but she would not yield.   Remembering my recent unfortunate encounter with “Cruella DeJill” Kanzler and this 215-pound, 63-year old white guy’s new reputation as “The Intimidater,” I opted not to continue the confrontation – I wish some of my friends with cameras had been there! 

One of them soon retrieved my half-crumpled sign from where Code Enforcement Petty Officer Murray had discarded it, and I put it back up, a little more securely.  This became a pattern, as other SOAR members flocking in tore down signs and I replaced them with new ones, each secured better than before.  Eventually they really had to work to tear them down.  I could see their misshapen livid faces as they pulled at the signs and ripped them to shreds, and to me it was worth it all.  It was worth the 50 cents per sign I’d created. On that day they must have torn up $3 worth – really getting even with me!

Meanwhile in the alley, Vern, Roussan Joshua Collins, “The Cameraman,” Sheena Innocente, Jestin Sampson, Ivan Enriquez and others attempted to engage passing attendees in conversation, some with more success than others.  Mayoral candidate Sidhu minced past in stubborn silence, barely recognizable without his fake military garb.  A couple of attendees said, honestly or not, that they were still making up their mind about the Living Wage initiative.  And a few neighbors, curious about the modest commotion, came out to the alley to see what we were protesting;  when we explained the issues they agreed with us wholeheartedly, thanked us for our activism, and asked us for voting tips.

Reasonably jovial hotelier Bill O’Connell, the recipient of a $158 million TOT subsidy and hence someone who would be affected by the Living Wage initiative, affirmed to Vern that he’s gonna still build his hotel whether the measure passes or not, giving the lie to SOAR propagandists who warn that none of the subsidized hotels will be built, automatically killing over 4000 jobs.  Bill says, “Yeah, we’ll just have to sit down and figure out how to deal with the new expense,” and ruefully agrees that there ARE upsides to his employees being paid fairly.

Courtier-wordsmith Matt Cunningham (right), the proprietor of the Chamber/SOAR-funded Anaheim Blog (which has just recently started spiking polite comments they disagree with) heard us singing Vern’s songs, and with a silly grin, poked his head over the back fence to photograph us, as Donna Acevedo-Nelson chided him for his sick 2013 Teddy Bear prank.  But soon a couple policemen arrived, responding in an apologetic and mellow way to SOAR’s complaints that our own “The Cameraman” was taking THEIR pictures.

After a few hours, Kris Murray sauntered out again from the “Bold Wine” event, her face flushed and still in a rotten mood.  One of us asked her a polite question which she ignored in favor of snapping at Vern, “How are those DUI’s working out for you?”  (See video below.)  We were all a little stunned.  Sure, Vern has had a few DUI’s, although the last one in which he was actually driving was ten years ago now, and he’s been sober for a long time.  Still, Kris’ comment was so irrelevant to any of the issues that anyone there was discussing, it seemed kind of tacky at best.  Later we realized that Kris had come and left on her own, appeared to have been drinking, and had a long way to get to her home in the Hills.  We felt bad for not having reported her license plate to the police – for her own safety, you understand!

SOAR and Disney are in full WAR mode – hellbent to both defeat the Living Wage by any means necessary and get back their Council majority, which would be a death blow to the small steps this town has made toward reform since 2016.  Just as they broke all previous records for political spending in Anaheim in 2012, then again in 2014, and then again in 2016, this year they’re pulling out all stops to elect Sidhu, Brandman, Caldwell, and O’Neill, and keep most Disney workers making poverty wages.  You and I and the rest of us have to step up with comparable conviction and energy, if we are going to hold on to this town.

Michael J Robbins
Political Advocate for change


About Admin

"Admin" is just editor Vern Nelson or associate editor Greg Diamond sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.