Brandman’s (Probable) Influence Impels Harry to Utter Sidhupidity


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There’s a special meeting today in Anaheim, the public portion of which starts at 4:00.  Maybe you ought to go; maybe you ought to speak.  Something weird is going on.

And what you see up there isn’t even he weird part.

(1) Sidhupid Is As Sidhupid Does

I came upon the scene of Anaheim politics with the Gardenwalk Giveaway in early 2013, shortly after the end of Harry Sidhu’s earlier tenure on the City Council, so I’ve most taken Vern at his word that Sidhu was some sort of clownish idiot.  While I strongly opposed him in this past election, I suppose that I held out some hope that, despite running a campaign apparently based on nothing but his previous business success, he was not likely that stupid.  I mean, he has had business success, so he’s not likely a total moron, right?

Well, looking at the agenda for today’s special meeting, it looks like he has gotten off to a bad start.  In desperate defense of my former hope, it looks to me like he was likely bamboozled by Trump-level petty narcissistic knave Jordan Brandman into hauling out the spotlights and making the first substantive agenda item of his tenure a disaster for the history books.  But maybe that fact that this looks like a Jordan special is just a coincidence, and this is all, improbably, Sidhu’s doing.  Let’s all hope not.

But it might really be him.  I’m technically a businessman myself, and I know a good opportunity when I see it, so I coined the term “Sidhupidity” and ordered up a “.com” domain for it to auction off to the highest bidder who will do it justice.  (I also registered a less common “sidhupidity-dot-domainsuffix for my own use.)  I know what you’re thinking, especially if you’re Matt Cunningham getting an uneasy sinking feeling about what the next two years will be like.  (Yes, two years.  My early bet after seeing this agenda is that Sidhu is successfully recalled in the 2020 general election, the size of which will likely surpass this year’s.)

But hey, you ask: aren’t I of the Kindness Faction and isn’t coining the word “sidhupidity” unkind?  Not really, if you remember the bracing effect of the truth in the fable of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”  Someone has to call him on his seeming presumption that he can bamboozle the public as much as he wants while there’s still time for him to change course.  When someone does something as absurd and craven and worst of all easily understood as Sidhu has done with this agenda item, it’s a BENEFIT to him to rub his nose into the stinky spot so that he learns never to do this sort of thing again — “this sort of thing” probably but not necessarily meaning “trust Jordan Brandman.”

Well, WHAT DID HE DO?, I hear you-the-reader ask with growing impatience.  OK, OK, we’re getting there.  It’s along the lines of this: he has called a special meeting of the Council to set a million and a half dollars of the city budget on fire, for no good reason other than to spread a lie about who fixed the city’s homelessness problem, and has hidden his rationale for it, which is likely to be “to benefit his cronies.”  Not an auspicious start!

Not gotten the hang of the job yet….

(2) Solving a Problem That’s Already Been Solved

In case you haven’t been paying attention, Anaheim is a defendant in the lawsuit before Federal Judge David Carter which, among other things, has led to Anaheim not being able to enforce its anti-camping ordinances.  (And if there’s one thing that Anaheimers really love, it’s a good old anti-camping ordinance!)  Anaheim has signed a consent decree with the plaintiffs. and it calls for the addition of 325 new shelter beds before the city has “done its part” and can go back to putting homeless sleeping outdoors on sidewalks, parks, etc. into jail (at least if they don’t leave for another city.)  So the city has been playing a big game of “Getting to 325!”  At that point, the lawsuit is blunted, the homeless officially have decent services, balloons drop, and the city has a victory parade.

That victory was accomplished in the waning days of the Tait Administration.  This is the inconvenient track that today’s meeting is intended to blur.  To blur very expensively, in fact.

Here’s what happened in the post-election Tait times:

  • the Salvation Army agreed to open up 225 new beds as of February (or March, at worst), which would morph into a deluxe new shelter in 2-3 years.
  • the City purchased a piano store next to the Bridges at Kramer, which will house 100 new beds, and will also open in February or at worst March).  Add ’em up and you get 325 — the magic number that unlocks the city’s right to make homeless people sleep indoors.

So this is great, right?  The prior Council majority achieved a workable solution to the problem that has been foremost in its citizens’ minds, and Mayor Sidhu and his new majority can go on to solving new problems.

NO, THIS IS TERRIBLE!  That Credit was supposed to go to the new majority.  Most specifically and especially, it was supposed to go to Jordan Brandman — who, unlike Sidhu, did campaign on Anaheim doing its part to address OC’s homelessness problem.  (I don’t remember exactly what he planned to do, beyond “not more than our share” and taking credit for it all, probably because his plan came in the same paragraph where he said that he wanted to bring a Trader Joe’s to Anaheim.  (Yeah … WHERE’S THE TRADER JOE’S, JORDAN?  We have one here in Brea, and WE LOVE IT!)

(3) This Calls for a STUNT!  An EXPENSIVE Stunt!

Here’s what Mayor Sidhu thought was important enough to call a special meeting:

Let’s spend an extra million and a half and put in a temporary fix a month (*if that*) earlier!

Sidhu’s “urgent” plan is to beat that damned Tait Administration to the punch by setting up two temporarily shelters that will supposedly (more on that below) come into being before (maybe) the Salvation Army temporary shelter and the Piano Shop shelter are online.  Then … HE gets the balloons!

The Anaheim Tourism Bureau, “Anaheim Cares,” will put in up to $600,000 to put up an emergency shelter at the corner of S. Anaheim Blvd. and Orangewood, very near Anaheim Stadium, on the spot where a 28-story apartment building has been supposed to be built.  Yay, Tourism Bureau!  This shelter will last for at least 60 days.  After which, umm….

The Illumination Foundation, which I’ve had various people describe to me as “shadowy” and “shady” — which I must say SEEMS VERY UNLIKELY GIVEN ITS NAME, DOESN’T IT? –will spent up to $805,000 to run an emergency shelter that will be up for at least 90 days!  (OK, to be fair, while some of its reviews create concerns, most sound PR-quality good.  But the main reviewer of nonprofits didn’t have much to go on.)  The main thing that seems likely to come of all this is a major boost in the prominence and recognition of this organization.  I presume that their shelter will cover 125 (or more?) people — oddly, the agenda doesn’t say.

Until I know more about the Illumination Foundation — I can’t recall what was said about them at the Anaheim Democrats meeting last Saturday — it’s hard for me to judge them … except to say that with the Armory open and the other new services coming online, this doesn’t seem necessary unless Anaheim is pledging to take on more than its share of the homeless.  (This seems unlikely given that Brandman said he wouldn’t do it and Sidhu said that he wanted the homeless out of the city.  That does suggest looking at all of this through a jaundiced eye, doesn’t it?)  But what’s pretty clear already is that the Visit Anaheim project is likely to be a farce: simply a political stunt to make the Resort District look caring.

The temporary shelter is to be built at 2040 & 2050 S State College Blvd. — the “LT Global site,” where a warehouse now sits and 28-story building was (and may still be) planned.  So far as I can tell, the land would have to be leased to the city — though again we’re talking about a quite short number of days — but there’s an argument that having it all done by Visit Anaheim shields it from scrutiny.  (There’s also an argument that Visit Anaheim is quasi-governmental and subject to public openness laws.)  And let’s not forget that, if memory and a little research serve, it funds the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce to the tune of $400,000/year.

(4) This Ain’t Philanthropy

There’s always an angle in Anaheim, and this isn’t likely to be an exception.  But one thing that you may gave already misperceived is that this is an act of philanthropy on the part of these organizations.  If it were, it might make sense regardless of any misgivings.  But it’s not.

Philanthropy is a giftThese organizations get paid back.  That’s why you have a “Reimbursement Agreement.”

Not only is it not a gift, but it’s not even going to last!  If these structures would be up for three years, then once again this might outweigh other concerns.  But it won’t.  From the sound of it, Visit Anaheim intends to put beds into an existing building — which, if true, will likely take FAR longer to start up than this scenario suggests.

Consider what concerns you have to have when you plan to put beds into an existing warehouse.  People running the place will need training.  Will this satisfy the court’s settlement agreement?

Where will their personal possessions be kept?  (There’s a already a lawsuit against the city on the topic of storage.  Have we figured out whether pets will be allowed?  Couples?  Families?

How will they comply with fire codes.  Will there be sprinklers?

Who will engage in supervision and ensuring safety?  Some shelters apparently develop the culture of jails.  How do we prevent rapes and murders in the buildents?

You would think that these topics would be addressed in the staff report,  Except: it doesn’t look like there is one.

I’ve saved this for the end, but it you’re wondering: the cost of creating these temporary shelters (which will have to be torn down) over the length of their month or few existence.  Solving the situation perhaps 30 days quicker — and even that is unlikely — would cost OC about $71.80/person each night.  Is there another way that homeless could have shelter for $72/night?  I can think of some.

And the per person number is only that low is w fill all of the spaces every night.  What if we don’t fill them?  Will people still be camping in Maxwell Park?   We would still have problems in West Anaheim.

And, again, this is all opposed to waiting for buildings that would already be built in Feb. or Mar. — and built to code.

Why is there no staff report?  Why is there so little transparency?  What is the rush that required a special meeting?  Why are we spending so much on temporary structures rather than spending money where it will be most effective?

Maybe there’s an answer, but Anaheim’s past instances of hurried-up meetings suggest reason for concern.  When the council has been this much in a hurry to do something it can’t explain clearly up front, it has generally turned out very badly.  And Anaheim can’t afford a return to stupidity — no matter how you spell it.

 


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.)