Brandman: “Local Businessman”? Where? “Educator”? What? Where?


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Jordan Brandman’s career is now documented on the Wikipedia page that his crew started for him!  It includes his helping Disneyland muscle Anaheim’s Latino plurality out of the way.

One of the more subtle surprises with the close of “normal” filing for the November elections was seeing Jordan Brandman’s ballot designation for Anaheim’s District 2.

It reads: “Local Businessman/Educator.”

This seemed odd.  Brandman’s work career (at least in recent years) has mostly been a matter of positions being given to him by powerful men who want to see his career advance, because he’s (to put it lightly) “malleable,” where he doesn’t have to do much work (and reportedly doesn’t do even that much well.)

Second-to-last I had heard about Brandman’s occupation, he had been placed in a job as District Director for Assemblyman Ian Calderon of the notorious Calderon family; last I heard is that he had been relieved of that position … although maybe he quit on his own.

There’s been no hint of Brandman being an “educator,” but it’s the “businessman” claim that stuns.  Brandman has excelled at Trumpian threatening people with what he can do to them with political power — it’s his habit, as ambitious, vicious, and duplicitous Republican Kris Murray’s top ally, of  threatening people, notably City of Anaheim employees, who won’t go along with his plans that make me unwilling to shake his hand except when tricked into doing so — but that’s a far cry from showing the initiative to actually run a business.  It’s an insult to actual businessmen and businesswomen for him to claim to be one of their ranks.  But what, I wondered, was the basis for this claim.

Brandman’s well-researched Wikipedia page offers no clues about what and where he runs a business and teaches, so your intrepid reporter turned to his website.  At the bottom of his biography, it says that he is “currently a vice president at a local public policy and strategic government affairs firm focused on economic and infrastructure development. He is also a certificated substitute teacher.”

Leaving aside whether being a vice president of a yadda yadda makes one a “Businessman,” and whether being a substitute teacher makes one an “Educator,” and whether “certificated” is a certified adjective, I wanted to know where he actually occupies himself.  So I went to the Google.

The Google informed me, through LinkedIn, that Brandman is a Vice President at “Southern California Group, Fullerton, California.”

Is there really a group in Fullerton called the “Southern California Group”?  Or is that an especially generic category label?

No, it’s a real place!  It’s a pro-development lobby, affiliated with the California Building Industries Association.

That part makes sense, because Brandman’s affiliation with OC’s Building Trades, whose guiding principle (in OC, at least, whereas other counties the Trades’ Council is far better) is that any amount of public money is worth spending for even the smallest number of temporary union jobs.  Promoting building homes and commercial structures — not even repairing infrastructure, which doesn’t create jobs for all of the trade groups — is what they want government to be doing.  Because members of the trades get paid up front — unlike service unions, which depend on there being a going concern in those buildings for their members to make money, or public sector unions, who depend on governments being sound enough to stay afloat long enough to pay out the pensions for which their employees put in their time — the trades don’t really need to keep an eye on the fiscal bottom line.  As I learned when they were trying to keep San Onofre open to preserve a minimal number of jobs there, there is no rational limit on the amount of money they’re willing to see the public pay to create one construction union job.  As with the vile prison guards union — which wants to see more prions built and more people jailed to provide jobs for more jobs guarding prisoners — one wonders if it would be better just to pay union members money directly and skip the projects.

The Southern California Group is located at the corner of Harbor Blvd. and Amerige St. in Downtown Fullerton, located in — heh-heh — located in  … aww, I really sort of want you to guess.  Just close your eyes for a moment and think about what is the most wildly hilarious possible location for the business where Brandman works as Vice-President.

Give up?

How about: in 201 N Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92832 — the same building that houses the Northern satellite office of the Orange County Clerk-Recorder?

This is … well, I’m not going to re-tell the whole story of the plagiarized Wikipedia Report Brandman did for then Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly back in the day, but let’s just say if there was one building in Fullerton in which he should not have wanted to work, this was it.  I’m sure that there is a good reason why the business that made him a Vice-President is there, though.  It might even be related to the reason that the satellite office established under Daly is there.  Someone out there will know….

Anyway, here’s how the Southern California Group describes itself:

“The Southern California Group is a strategic public affairs firm with expertise in building & development, providing clients with the government relation, community outreach, political, legislative and regulatory strategies necessary to address any or all layers of the development process from securing entitlement to ensuring final project approval. With more than 45 years of combined experience, our co-founders Rich Lambros and Peter Mitchell, work personally with each client to successfully navigate California’s complex tapestry of politics, neighborhood coalitions and government bureaucracy to achieve every client’s goals. Our team’s unique understanding of politics and government, as well as real estate and development, make the Southern California Group a firm tailored to provide critical strategic consulting services to the building industry.”

(My emphasis above.  You’ll see why.)  The company’s LinkedIn page says even more:

About us: With more than 45 years of combined experience in government relations, political strategy, and community outreach management, Richard Lambros and Peter Mitchell co-founded the Southern California Group in 2011, a full-service, non-partisan, public affairs, strategic planning and government relations consulting firm based in Orange County, California. Specializing in Southern California dynamics, our founders Rich and Pete work personally with each client to successfully navigate the region’s complex tapestry of politics and government bureaucracy and achieve our client’s goal. The Southern California Group provides clients with winning strategies in:
• Community engagement
• Coalition building
• Issue advocacy
• Association management
• Political Action Committee (PAC) management and
• Top tier expertise in a wide array of disciplines

Our team’s exceptional understanding of politics and government make the Southern California Group a firm tailored to provide critical strategic consulting services to trade associations, non-profits, businesses and the building industry. “The Southern California Group delivers public affairs through an innovative strategic approach. Our process begins with deeply understanding our client’s unique objectives then achieving them through a highly customized, efficient, and cost-effective strategy. We are confident in the exceptional service we provide and in the quality and value we deliver.” –Rich Lambros, CEO & Principal

Company details

Website: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richard-lambros-8786681/

Headquarters:  Fullerton, California

Year founded: 2011

Company type: Privately Held

Company size: 2-10 employees

OK, the company’s LinkedIn page belongs to its CEO — hey, let’s check it out!  Here’s Lambros’s job history:

Lambros seems like a somewhat more successful (because harder working?)  Republican version of Brandman, who has used his connections to stake into position where successful people who want henchmen will pay him well to have positions that bolster his reputation.  He’s like a freaking muse of the trickledown establishment!

And who’s Pete Mitchell?  Take a guess!  My informants tell me that he’s a consultant/lobbyist for police unions.

(DPOC Members: Republicans are laughing at us over our support for Brandman.  It’s not just Pringle anymore.)

Look, I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with Brandman being a token Democrat and (if elected) well-connected functionary for a small group headed by a Republican functionary that is dedicated to making life easier for developers to do whatever they want to do.  That may even be what District 2 yearns for, although plans to grease those sorts of skids are not prominent in Brandman’s platform.  I’m just saying that, aside from substitute teaching — which may strike you as an unusual sort of second job for a Vice President at a public affairs firm, though maybe that’s what Brandman’s previous patron Curt Pringle is doing now too — this skill set is what Brandman presents himself as bringing to the Anaheim Council when he uses the term “businessman.”  And that matters — much as James Vanderbilt’s being a military officer and Duane Roberts’s being an actual teacher — or in the Mayor’s race, what Ashley Aitken being a trial lawyer, Lorri Galloway “owning” a non-profit, Harry Sidhu being a fast-food franchiser, a Cynthia Ward working at the nexus of governance and historic preservation tells you about them.  (Pringle, by the way, may have all-but-shuttered his company and moved the East Orange, but don’t be fooled — he’s still well able to re-establish himself as a player in Anaheim with Brandman and his development team on the Council.)

And, frankly, I think that a lot of Democrats will look at the Southern California Group, greaser of skids for developers, and be a lot less happy about it than the words “Local Businessman” might have suggested.  (I swear, for a few minutes I really imagined Brandman as a proprietor of some sort of retail shop, perhaps putting the “artisan” in “bipartisan” — the sort of experience that (to her credit!) Lucille Kring has had, with the difficulties and sensibilities that struggling to make a payroll and handle both receipts due and payments due brings.

This doesn’t seem like that at all.  It seems like — and look up this word if you don’t know it, because it’s worth knowing — a sinecure.  (Hint, used in a sentence: “Given his background as an heir, you might expect Vanderbilt to have managed to find himself a sinecure somewhere, but instead he got himself sent to the Middle East and risked getting his butt blown off.”)

This gets at the unease that I think that a lot of people have with Brandman, which is why his ballot designation looked so preposterous when I first saw it, leading to this investigation: he doesn’t seem to know how to work.

I looked at the Linked in page of Southern California Group’s sole employee — a young Latina who telecommutes from San Diego — and you can just tell from reading the list of bullet points there that she works for her money, and has gained the intellectual and behavioral benefits that come from that.  Brandman has succeeded, to the extent he had, by having learned how to fawn and flatter, so that Tom Daly throws public money at him for essentially nothing; his Democratic patrons get him a job with Ian Calderon of the Calderon family when he was first elected — where (I’ve heard from people in the area familiar with the office) he neither worked very hard or very well; and now he has this “Vice-Presidency” that allows him time to substitute teach and lets him call himself a “Businessman.”

I suppose I’d like to know more about what he actually does at work other than shooting the breeze with and sweet-talking people he wants something from.  (Does he ever do any analysis?  Because the last time I saw him do his own analysis of a situation he bought Anaheim some humongous litigation over short-term rentals.)  What if anything does he do that would make a businessman think call him a “businessman”?

(I won’t even dwell here on how obscene I as a longtime professor think it is for a someone who has spend some time substitute teaching — is it more than a day or two a year? — trying to get votes by calling himself an “Educator.”  Occasional substitute teaching — and it must be pretty occasional if his “businessman” job is not itself a total joke — is a necessary part of a school, but it’s not really part of the profession.  To reap the benefits with voters by being called an “educator” from some substitute teaching is deeply cynical; as with a “businessman” who isn’t one, it’s deeply contemptuous of voters of voters to treat them as suckers and marks.

I doubt that the people of District 2 want a representative whose “skill set” is taking handouts from powerful people and entities and then giving them whatever they ask for in return.  I know that the Democratic Party of Orange County should not want to endorse this rapacious trickle-down approach to politics when it votes on endorsements tonight.  It goes against the values that the Democratic Party professes to stand for — and, seriously — voters are noticing this more re more.

Great ballot designation there, though!  Too bad that, like its owner, it’s disingenuous and dishonest as hell.


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.)