From Our Archives: ‘Theories of Anaheim, Parts 1 & 2’, Timely Once More


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Anaheim - the Happiest Occupied Territory on Earth, or Something Better?

Anaheim’s various political players have various incompatible theories about what Anaheim is — and can be.

Preface: With the Disney Corporation taking a step back from the agreements in wangled out of friendly City Councils of the past for tax rebates on its planned “four-star amenities” hotels — which (depending on whom you talk to) likely does, might, or likely doesn’t signal a major rethinking of its relationship with its host City of Anaheim, this is a good time to revisit a favorite from the archives, which Mayor Tom Tait — possibly out of excessive kindness, I’m not well-positioned to judge –has repeatedly told me is the best piece he’s seen written on the City’s situation in this decade.  (Or maybe it was the best piece he’s seen written on this blog.  Or by me on this blog.  Or using this title.)  Regardless, he told me that he sent this piece, after its publication, to his contacts on Disney’s Board of Directors, saying that it nailed the dynamics of the city, and led to follow-up conversations with them on the topic.  I won’t claim that it made a difference; in the spirit of “it’s an honor just to be nominated” I’ll just say that I’m thrilled that it might have, because a Disney and Anaheim in peaceful and productive cooperation for the good of the city’s future generations — based on more than a “trickle-down” theory — would be totally fantastic.

The publication dates of each of the two parts are noted beneath their titles; I have not re-edited, except to fix the occasional typo, so any statements about people and their acts there refer to them as of the those dates … and people do change.

PART 1: Theories of Cause

(May 28, 2013)

1. The Wonderful World of Disney

Let’s start with Disneyland.  In discussing contemporary Anaheim, we barely have a choice about that.

Anaheim is Disneyland.  Disney, whatever else it also may be, is Anaheim.  Anaheim is where the fairy tales, so to speak, began.  Anaheim could lose the “Los Angeles” Angels and the once-“Mighty” Ducks and — while it would be a terrible blow to income and prestige — Anaheim would still be Anaheim.  (After all, Anaheim has previously lost both the Clippers and the Rams.)

Anaheim without Disneyland is simply difficult to conceive.  What would Anaheim be without its largest employer, the County’s largest tourist attraction, the tie that put it on the global map as a tourist destination even before white flight from Los Angeles engorged the county’s population?

It’s hard to tell.  Anaheim Hills would continue to be part of the chain of wealthy foothill communities running from incorporated and unincorporated Tustin and Orange through Villa Park to Yorba Linda and beyond the county line into Diamond Bar.  Most of the rest of Anaheim would probably be poor.

But, one might point out, much of the rest of the city is already poor, at least by OC standards.  (It’s also underserved compared to the Hills.)

Disney gets to throw its weight around Anaheim — and, let’s face it, elsewhere — in part because of the horror people have of what life in Orange County would be like without it.  Luckily for Anaheim and Orange County, Disneyland itself is nailed down to the ground.  It’s not going anywhere.  Disney World in Orlando — literally in Florida’s “Orange County” — may be bigger and newer and closer to more of the U.S. population, but Disneyland is the home of Disneyness — its mother ship.  And Disneyland is in Anaheim.

Yes, Disneyland could theoretically pull up roots, cart off the floor plan and rides to some new Disneyland Brazil.  The land (perhaps with its fixtures?) could be used for a new amusement park — Time Warner might want to bring out its far-superior stable of Warner Brothers characters, for example, or perhaps the City Council would sell it to local private developers to create a called destination called “Pringleland.”  (Oh, who are we kidding?  Disneyland Park would, of course, be remade as the Biggest Prison Complex on Earth.  California Adventure would of course become the World’s Biggest Immigration Detention Center — to honor the real “California Adventure” more common these days than the Gold Rush.) 

This sort of speculation is pointless, though — as a practical matter, Disney can’t leave.  It would be ignominious.  It would piss off a lot of rich people — OC would still be wealthy without Disneyland — who, combined, are richer than Disney Inc.  So, the Match Made in Cartoon Heaven by Grandfather Walt is not likely to end anytime in the foreseeable future.

So yes, Anaheim has a huge stake in Disneyland.  But Disneyland has a huge stake  — a real financial stake — in Anaheim as well.  Disney doesn’t need to worry much over whether Santa Ana is crime-ridden and decrepit; if tourists know about Santa Ana at all, they don’t consider it and its “dangerous brownness” to be so close to Disneyland to be threatening.  But Anaheim matters.  Anaheim is, whether Disney likes it or not, part of the Disney brand.

And Disney — abetting by a lapdog and lickspittle City Council — is letting its brand be tarnished.  It is, once one takes a step back and considers what is going on — truly amazing.  And it’s even more amazing that Disney — with smart people at the top — doesn’t seem to see what’s going on.  It doesn’t see that it is on exactly the wrong track if it wants to protect a major part of its brand: “Anaheim.”

2. Tarnishing the Brand

Last July, the nation and the world saw something hard to process — hard to believe, hard to swallow.  They saw the shootings and the demonstrations and the riots and the hyper-militarized police over-response.  Newscasters were practically giggling at the incongruity of Anaheim — Anaheim —  being featured in the news in a way generally reserved for Detroit, Oakland, South Chicago, the Bronx … South Central LA.

Anaheim?  Anaheim!  And when the people of the nation and the world saw the news, they didn’t think of the Angels or the Ducks — they thought of Disneyland.

It dawned upon the world that a large part of Anaheim — Disney’s home — appears to be … well, how does one put this kindly? — sort of … well, a slum.  A ghetto.

Now I know what you, Dear Reader, are probably thinking as your anger rises at my use of that term: Anaheim is not a slum!  Yes, its flatlands have a problem with gangs and poverty, but the Anaheim flatlands are by and large a wonderful place, vibrant and multicultural and interesting, with many lovely and safe communities!  How dare I say call them a “slum”?

Relax — I agree with you.  I really enjoy Anaheim — and I rarely go to the Hills.  That’s not the point.

I said that Anaheim appeared to be a slum — and, in the “Man bites Mouse” media portrayals in the wake of the killing of Manuel Diaz, so it did.  (The killing of Joel Acevedo, as I recall, led to less of a stir at the time — largely because of the assertion that he had been pointing a gun at police, which would be a pretty good basis for a shooting.  As Vern has been reporting, though, there’s good reason to think that that may not be true.  For one, the police are acting guilty.)

Last summer, I had relatives and friends from all over the country calling and writing me, asking: Anaheim?  “What’s up with Anaheim?  Isn’t that in Orange County?  How could this be?”  Maybe you had a similar experience.The important thing is what the world saw on TV — though less so, as I recall,  on Disney-owned ABC.  As Disney should know better than almost any other corporation, what people see on depicted TV is their reality.  And that, to the outside world, makes Anaheim a slum.  And that is a very big problem for Disneyland.  USC students notwithstanding, people don’t tend to vacation in slums.  

It is ironic — or maybe it’s just natural — that Disneyland as a “citizen” of Orange County adopted a view of this threat to its brand so well associated with our own Richard Nixon and with countless John-Birchified thinkers before him: achieve victory through unrelenting force.  After all, it worked in Vietnam, it worked in Iraq, it worked in — well, you get the picture — so why not Anaheim?

Or maybe I’m wrong here.  Maybe the leadership of Disney, as a major corporation, is as sophisticated as I would hope it would be.  Maybe the problem is middle management, straining to prove to upper management that they have this “tarnishment” problem under control.  Or maybe the problem is that they’re getting some bad advice from the city’s self-serving political and commercial leaders.

It doesn’t much matter — for whatever reason, Disney decided, in the immediate aftermath of the Anna Drive uprising, to act like a Disney villain.  It has been breathtakingly stupid and perverse to observe.  It is as if Disneyland, through the city leaders it controls, is doing everything it possibly can to make things worse.

Again, I don’t presume that this is a conscious plan designed at the highest corporate levels.  This smacks to me of insufficiently monitored managers wrongly assuring the Board that they have the situation well in hand — if only they’re allowed to clamp down even tighter.  The Anaheim City Council is so jingoistic in its supposed defense of Disney (which is just coincidentally making a lot of its associates rich) that it doesn’t much matter what the more intelligent corporate leaders might think.  For Disney to call off its dogs would take enormous effort.  Increasingly, that effort would be worthwhile.

3. Disney’s Wild Ride

What Disney — or, let’s be fair, people purporting to serve Disney’s interests, although Disney has certainly had the opportunity to set them straight — has done in the wake of the threat to order is to clamp down hard on disorder and dissent.  There was the immediate, militarized, hugely expensive (although it could probably be written off as a “training exercise”) response to non-violent marchers who headed from the Anaheim Police Department down Harbor Blvd. to … “OMG, they’re going to Disneyland!”  (This is why protesters were originally diverted east on Ball Road and then “kettled” in a nearby tract.  In a later march, protesters were allowed to go to Disney’s front gate and — naturally — nothing particularly bad happened.)

I and others at the time wrote open letters to Disney, calling for them to call off their dogs, begging them to take an interest in raising the status of the community around them so that it could be proud of its Anaheim home — so that it could use its involvement in Anaheim as an example of good and beneficent corporate citizenship.  We asked Disney to use its power and influence to make Anaheim  the sort of harmonious and fair multicultural place that Disney likes to tell the world that it is, with its new rainbow of princesses and princess-equivalents.

That’s not what Disney did.

Here I have to make an admission: I am ascribing to Disney much of the behavior of a group called SOAR, which stands for “Save Our Anaheim Resorts.”  (You’d think that with an inflammatory verb like “SAVE!” they would be focusing on something like global climate change.  No, they mostly want Disney to get more public money.)  One reason that I feel comfortable ascribing SOAR’s actions to Disney is that Disney IS “Anaheim’s Resort” — and it knows very well that it doesn’t need “saving.”  If Disney wanted to do so, it could call the leaders of SOAR into its office and say: “You know what?  You’re tarnishing our brand.  You can do what you want to do, but you had better choose a name that doesn’t allow bloggers to tie you to us quite so convincingly.”

That’s not what Disney did either.

Instead, Disney became associated with a drive to install the most Disney-thralled of all Orange County Democrats, Jordan Brandman, onto the Anaheim City Council — pretty much paralyzing most of the local Democratic Party for a time as a result.  It became associated with the recently re-completed $158 million GardenWalk Giveaway to the developer of an unnecessary and ill-conceived four-star hotel, along with an additional Giveaway to the owners of the property on which the hotel sits, just because.

The natives became restless.  Already, the call had gone forth to try to move Anaheim towards district elections so that the less wealthy (and more minority-intensive) areas of the city could be assured of at least some decent measure of representation on the City Council.  Disney’s agents delayed it, derided it, have tried to block it.  Even the traditional Republican Mayor favors such political reforms.  Not Disney.

This raises the question — what exactly does Disney think that it’s doing?  Put otherwise, what is Disney’s “Theory of Anaheim”?

 4. Can One Really Say ‘It Is Better to Be Feared Than Loved’ When One Runs a Freaking CHILDREN’S ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY?

Disney presumably believes that it is not good for the Anaheim flatlands to be a slum or a ghetto.  Yes, cheap labor; yes, lowered expectations; but still — this is part of Disney’s brand, remember?  They want it to be as nice and presentable as its park employees.

So how is Disney going to arrange this?  What’s its theory?

Its theory is: clamp down.

Anaheim under Disney is not the first city to decide that the way to solve the problem of drugs and gangs is to clamp down on young people — but given its high stakes it may be among the stupidest.  First, drug use (and the gang violence that it engenders, when drugs are illegal) is demand driven.  People with money are coming into Anaheim to buy drugs.  If one person goes to jail, another steps forward to supply the demand.  (The lack of decent job opportunities for youth elsewhere makes this all the more likely.)

These clampdowns don’t work — and they especially don’t work when the youth of the city (who are not as dumb as the corporate and political leaders may think, as if that were even possible) can see that the city leadership itself is corrupt and discriminatory in how it serves its citizens.  That means that, in their own eyes, they are no longer gang members (or parents of, or friends of people who are, etc.), but people involved in a struggle for civil rights and civil liberties.  Because they are.

People who believe that about themselves just don’t surrender easily.

So meanwhile, the City Council prevents political reform, shovels money to the already wealthy, hires people to control the media and political process, fires a City Attorney who is not completely subservient to them, hires a City Attorney (today) who is expected to be more so (and, if I’m right about who it will be, who has written on the arch-conservative topic of birthright citizenship, sure to go over well in a heavily Latino city), and defends police practices that should be indefensible while many of its public servants leave.  And it somehow imagines that the city’s residents won’t notice or care about all of this.

How does turning Anaheim into something closer to a police state, with rule by fear — where military vehicles carrying officers armed with paramilitary gear rumble down the streets, where police officers accused of wrongdoing can harass the witnesses who accuse them, where public money is squandered with much of it ending up going to political cronies of the former Mayor — how does this path, rather than a path of beneficent community building, help the image and interests of Disney?

What is Disney’s theory of Anaheim?

The answer, of a sort, should be pretty clear: it’s half-baked.

Part 2: Theories of Solutions

(June 11, 2013)

Preface [REMEMBER, THIS PREFACE IS FROM 2013, NOT FROM 2018]

First things first.  Anaheim’s City Council meeting is today at 5:00.  They’ll be considering political reform. (They’re actually starting at 1:00 to go into a closed session, largely to talk about the ACLU suit brought by Dr. Jose Moreno and friends — a main trigger for this political reform — then working on the budget, then having a closed session (considering among other things the ACLU suit again, which means that it’s fair game for public comments both at 1:00 and at 2:00 or so, as well as at 5:00.  Then you’re invited to stick around at 5:00 for the open meeting.)

The Council will be considering the recommendations of the Commission tasked with studying establishing districts (as a response to the ACLU suit that, if it is stupid enough not to settle, Anaheim will surely lose.)  You — yes you — should attend.  If you’re up to it, you should speak.  We want eight districts, with candidates actually living in the district and only residents of the district voting on those candidates.  Offer that sort of representation and many of the city’s problems — including the ACLU suit — will take care of themselves.

Now to the matter at hand: if you haven’t read part 1 of this essay, published on May 28, please do.  Originally, this was to be one long piece, but the first part got long enough on its own.  The subtitles — “Theories of Cause” vs. “of Solutions” — suggest a crisper distinction between the essays than has turned out to be the case, but I’m sure that the discerning reader can look past that.

Anaheim Protester, 2012

This ended in about the way that you’d expect that it did.  Photo by — I don’t remember, maybe Duane Roberts?

1. A Quick Review

Part 1 of this essay dealt primarily with a seeming contradiction that I still find surprising.  Anaheim is deeply identified with Disneyland, but Disneyland is likewise deeply identified with Anaheim.  While Disney Co. does do a lot of good work in the community, something that its defenders are quick to point out and that I readily acknowledge, it also seems to be taking a paternalistic view of the city where in exchange for its being an economic engine it gets to demand that (1) the city subsidize its profits and (2) the population be placid.

So Disney gets subsidized for a big parking garage on its property, for a hotel (not money going to it directly, of course — but if Disney didn’t want it to happen then it wouldn’t) and Anaheim’s citizens get subjected to a police crackdown featuring a series of questionable shootings of Latino youth, reviews of those shootings that do not inspire the citizenry’s confidence, and — who could have predicted? — rioting and non-violent resistance.  The response of Disney, if one can put the actions of SOAR and the City Council on its tab, seems to be: crack down harder.  And that approach — I hate to be the one to tell them this — is not going to work.

There aren’t enough jail cells in the state, for one thing, nor enough money in Anaheim’s budget to cover the costs of losing lawsuits.  But in a sense, those considerations are secondary.  It’s not going to work for Disney because an Anaheim with its population roiled along ethnic and economic lines is bad for business.  Those national news reports of shootings and protests and the occasional riot — they’re datelined “Anaheim.”  They might as well, from the perspective of the rest of the world, be datelined “Disneyland’s backyard.”  And they are going to keep making the news, because of the “man bites dog” aspect of such unhappiness in the shadow of the “Happiest Place on Earth.”

Some people reading this may just want to tut-tut at the “rabble” — “gang members and bad mothers!”, goes the cry — and ask “why oh why can’t the poorer people in the Anaheim flatlands act more like the good people up in Anaheim Hills?”  This, not to put too fine a point on it, is stupid.  Despite the high unemployment, those working poor and working-class people in the flatlands keep the “Anaheim Resort Area” of which Disneyland is the behemoth running.  Far from being parasitic, they are the part of the city necessary to Disneyland’s success.  Anaheim Hills could sink into the ground — note that I am not recommending this — and Disneyland would be fine.  Take away the workers who live around the resort area, even if the resort area is fine itself, and Disneyland is in deep chowder.

And what do these workers demand in exchange for the work they do?  A living wage.  Not getting rousted and shot by the police.  Political representation.  Nothing, despite what you may hear, particularly radical.  It’s the plans of the so-called “pro-Disney” forces — and I say “so-called” because my sense is that they are largely working for their own personal interests rather than, as they’d claim, for Disney’s — that are radical.

Shoveling public money that could be used for schools and social services into the coffers of people associated with one of the most profitable corporations on earth?  That’s radical.

Shooting people (and doing a half-assed job of investigations those shootings) and suppressing protests with paramilitary equipment and zeal?  That’s radical!

Cobbling together a political system that prevents the poorest (and, not incidentally, most Latino) areas of the city from a fair share of political representation?  That’s RADICAL!

And yet — and how appropriate that Disney has essentially won the franchise to depict Alice in Wonderland — in the through-the-looking-glass world of Anaheim politics, it’s the modest requests of the flatlands that are made to seem “radical” and the violence, expropriation, and suppression by those wrapping themselves in the flag of Disney that are made to seem “normal.”

Too bad for the latter that the population isn’t fooled.  So that will mean more riots, more resistance, and more black eyes for the image of Disney — because SOAR’s theory of a solution to the problems of Anaheim simply doesn’t work.

2. Players and Their Solutions

I’m going to go through various political players and review how they seem to want to solve Anaheim’s problems.  Note that I’m dealing with Disney and it’s “supporters” separately.

Walt Disney Corporation:  I don’t know if the Walt Disney Corporation — the real people running the company, not the people here in OC making decisions on the ground– really has a solution in mind.  I don’t know that they really note that there is a problem.  After all, they have a business to run.

They have hired managers to deal with the local political scene, and those people have done the usual things that make for good reports to their own managers and executives — cozy up to the local power players, suck money into Disney’s bank accounts, do public good deeds for good PR and get recognized for it, support the local police, try to control the local government.  Do they people running the company have a good idea of what their underlings are doing and why it may not truly be in Disney’s interests?  I suspect that they don’t.  Much of their information about what’s happening on the ground is probably filtered through these same managers, these allies of Pringle and the local Chamber of Commerce, and I doubt that they really have a sense of how bad Disney — as the suspected puller of the levels of power — is starting to look.

So let’s move onto those well-compensated local figures, whom I’ll list as “SOAR,” without losing sight of the fact that most of them are not directly employed by Disney and even that the ones that are may feel more true loyalty to the people around them, telling them how to handle their city, rather than to the corporation.  Why is that important?  Because it may be possible somehow, someday, to catapult some messages past the filter of middle managers who want their bosses to assume that everything’s OK.  It’s theoretically possible.

SOAR:  Whether it’s supposed to represent “Save” or “Support” “Our Anaheim Resorts,” the “S” in SOAR most clearly stands for “Subjugation to.”  “Anaheim Resorts” may just seem like a delicate way of not using the name “Disneyland,” lest it be seen as (or even have the legal status of) special pleading for a single private corporation.  There’s a sense in which that’s true.  But there’s another sense in which the use of the vague term “Anaheim Resorts” is even more appropriate: this is an organization largely to support the interests of those making money off of the presence of Disneyland in the Anaheim flatlands.

I should clarify: most all of us in Orange County are, to some extent, making money off of the presence of Disneyland in that it does stimulate our local economy — and that’s a good thing!  (Thanks, Disneyland!)  However, some people are making a lot of money in ways that involve sucking resources from the commonweal.  A classic example of which is the $158 million Gardenwalk Giveaway to build a four-star hotel where a three-star hotel — perfectly sufficient to the needs (if there’s a need at all) of the area because unlike most three star hotels this one would be right near Disneyland — which enriches someone who isn’t Disney and the existence of whom doesn’t actually matter that much to Disney.  (Ask Disney’s Board of Directors if they’d rather have a four-star hotel plus riots and shootings or a three-star hotel without riots and shootings.  I’ll bet that they’d give the right answer.  Don’t route that question through the middle-managers here in OC, though; it might not get to them.  Oh, and of course, the tradeoff is not that clear — but that $158 million could be going for services that would make Anaheim a better place for its working-class and poor residents to live, which helps.)

Aside from the major developers and the Disney middle-managers who have become one with SOAR, the people really doing well as the making money off the presence of Disneyland game are in politics.  Take Curt Pringle.  (And if you missed my story on him last week; please give it a read — it’s pertinent.)  Once you decide that you want to secretly — and yes, the Brown Act violation that scuppered the initial vote was because it was in effect secret given that such an action wasn’t agendized — forfeit public money to rich developers who don’t actually need it, you need to be able to control the political process, which means that you can’t allow the poorer sections of town to choose their own representatives.  So, people start to get money to prevent that from happening — or, more likely, just to fend it off long enough so that it will take effect two years later than it could.  SOAR is not exactly transparent, but it’s a fair inference that Pringle and his minions are running a good part of that show — and getting paid well for it.

Their theory of Anaheim?  “Let’s keep the gravy train going for as long as we can — and to hell with everyone else.”  Not very Disney of them, is it?

The Anti-Police-Practices Purists:  You’ll find on these pages a link to a recent story on Anaheim by Duane Roberts, a Green Party figure who ran for City Council last year and one of those who work with their more libertarian colleagues to hold the feet of the police to the fire.  Their “theory of Anaheim” seems to be that the main problem to address is police misconduct — and the “soft target” that Duane has focused on recently is Rusty Kennedy, head of OC’s Human Rights Commission, which has accepted money from the police in exchange for providing training and mediation services.  (Our own Ricardo Toro wrote a piece about this last weekend that more people should read.)  As usual, I have some sympathy for Duane’s perspective — but, as usual, a lot less sympathy than Duane would probably like.

Finding an easy and soft target has its advantages as an organizing tool, but it’s not really that helpful.  Retroactively blink Rusty Kennedy and his group out of existence and the events that played out last year don’t much change — and are as likely to have changed for the worse as for the better.  Yes, going onto Anna Drive and gathering intelligence used to finger suspects for the police would be horrible — but that case against OCHR is not really made.  Trying to keep people peaceful and to foster communication, which is what the OCHR seems to think (or want us to think) it did seems pretty reasonable; Duane and I were both advocates of non-violent resistance and local control of tactics.  Duane’s position with regard to Kennedy seems to be that “if you’re paid, you’re bought.”

I disagree that that’s necessarily so.  One sure thing is that if you’re not paid — by someone — you’re not going to be able to provide much service.  (If you’re lucky, maybe you can blog….)  But being paid by someone for a legitimate service, so long as you are willing to walk away from the money rather than doing anything unethical — that’s just one of the compromises of life.  (This is the difference in willingness to compromise with compromised people and interests that puts Duane in the Green Party and me in the blue one.)  More to the point, I — like the Los Amigos/OCCORD Axis of Activism — see the problem of Anaheim as being one of political structure rather than of political culture.  I don’t think that the problem is that Rusty Kennedy is sending out people to pacify Latinos so they don’t become revolutionary; I think that it’s that their city does not want them to elect their own representatives — and is willing to go a substantial distance to impede it.

Speaking of compromising with the compromised…

Jordan Brandman:  Jordan is slated, pretty openly, to be the eventual replacement to Tom Daly and/or Jose Solorio and/or Lou Correa in the Central County “business friendly” line of succession.  (I hear that he has his own little buddy now, whom he’s grooming as the next generation.  Hi, Jordan’s little buddy!)  Jordan’s Theory of Anaheim is that it can get him ahead personally.  It’s a pretty clever theory: presume that low-information Democratic voters can be turned out to vote for you based on your party label while high-information Republican voters can be turned out to vote for you because your substantive policies on the City Council make you an ally of Republicans Kris Murray, Gail Eastman, and Lucille Kring.

Might work!  But Brandman — who, I’ve been told, was a very good school board member, and who I’ve heard give excellent speeches on educational policy — is courting a huge fracture within the Democratic Party.  Far from playing “good cop” — with Kring on board with the coalition, he can cast a liberal vote anytime he wants to, but he doesn’t want to — he’s taking a vociferous lead in leading the charge against Mayor Tom Tait, who is standing fast against SOAR.  What Brandman doesn’t seem to get is that the more Anaheim heats up, the more pressure is exerted on the party to either rein him in or cut him loose.  If he has further political ambitions — note: that “if” was a joke — then he really has to buckle down and work for social justice before he finds himself without a base.  District elections are coming — and as a Democrat he’ll trounce Gail Eastman in any district centered on the Colony.  But if he’s not much of a Democrat, then he may not be able to rally support.  Districts will mean that Anaheim’s poorer voters will become better educated about politics, after all.  That may not be good for him.

Gail Eastman and Kris Murray:  Their theory of Anaheim seems largely to do whatever they’re told.  Murray would almost surely be the representative for Anaheim Hills.  Eastman has more of a problem: she’s not really in a great district.  Oddly, she might benefit the most of anyone on the current Council from having eight districts rather than six, because she could conceivably move to a highly-Republican district where she wouldn’t run against Murray.  Or, she could try running for Mayor against Tait.  My money would be on Tait, who still has a well-established network and, um, “makes a better impression.”

Lucille Kring:  Theory of Anaheim: Follow the source of power.  Sort of like a sunflower.

Tom Tait:  I didn’t end up writing about it, but when I spoke to the City Council two weeks ago regarding what they were doing with respect to Speaker Forms and such, Tait ended up the public comments section giving an apparently impromptu and hella impressive speech on the importance of allowing public comment despite the anti-free-speech restrictions that are, unfortunately, part of Anaheim’s Charter. He seems really devoted to running the city well.  His theory of Anaheim seems to be that there’s a market for that.

Tait could, I suppose, pull a Kring-turn and end up cozying up to SOAR again, but there are no signs that this is imminent or even likely at all.  His success would come in continuing political reform of the city — made harder since the spiteful council took away his staff member — and in reaching out across party lines.  He also should put down the marker right now — the positions of the Council majority in fighting the ACLU case and (if SOAR and the Chamber of Commerce have their way) devising sneaky ways to make sure that, even with districting, Anaheim Hills still decides who wins each race are going to cost the city money — just as surely as if the Council were voting for everyone of them were going to use public money to go on vacation to Tahiti with their families.  That raises taxes and cuts services — ask Costa Mesa.  Tait’s going to be able to run on a platform of fiscal prudence.

The Liberal Latino Faction:  Not all of the Liberal Latinos are liberal, and not all of them are Latino, but in general this is a group centered around the interests of the largely Latino sections of the city: a fair political system and a fair share of city services.  (Right now, they have neither.)  I’m pretty much a member of this faction, though I’m not much of a joiner.  I’ll disregard that membership in trying to assess its position objectively.

What this faction would like is for reform to be in effect in time for the November 2014 elections.  That will probably mean approval of districts — and of their boundaries — by voters in June.  That’s going to be tough; the Commission idea (the results of which the Council seems ready to ignore today) was derided when it began as a mere vehicle for delay — and that looks like pretty much what it will prove to have been.  So a big part of deciding the fate of that system may lie in the hands of the courts — initially, with Judge Franz Miller, who has been waiting for the city to have the chance to solve the problem on its own before he starts issuing orders.  (That chance, if it’s not clear, comes today, although I suppose it could also come again later as well.)  My guess is that the Council will whine and resist like a kid trying to prevent a parent from putting on their jacket — and it may succeed in a delay, at the cost of greater damages and legal fees.  (Not, of course, a cost to the Council members personally, of course.)

The theory of Anaheim for these reformers is that reform is a long, hard slog.  Yes, they need to win the court case — as well as any appeals.  (Hey, its not the Council’s own money funding those!  Again, refer to Costa Mesa.)  Get district elections.  Recruit candidates.  Raise lots of money to fend off a slew of late mailers from SOAR and associated interests accusing their candidates of God knows what.  Hope to get either a Council majority or close enough to a majority that, with a more energized local population, the Council has to modulate its behavior.  Work for a more rational and, dare I say, moderate relationship with business interests.  (Not hostile, just not a subservient one.)  Work with someone — OCHR? Duane? — towards police reform.  Direct enough resources to the flatlands that the quality of life and quantity of hope improves.  Hope, perhaps, that marijuana is legalized so that there’s not so much money for young kids to make selling it to people who drive into Anaheim for the privilege.  Slowly — as quickly as possible, which will still be slowly — work to make Anaheim the sort of place where the delicious rainbow of ethnicities it contains can work together in mutual respect.  And then maintain ever-vigilant that the political forces who want to return to the bad old days — these old days — of buying influence and trying to achieve social order through suppression do not return.

No one ever said that it would be easy.  But, in theory, it’s possible.

[2013 out!  We now return you to 2018.]


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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.)