“Despicable!” – Jordan Brandman on releasing the Stadium Appraisal.


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“I think it’s DESPICABLE that you would POLITICIZE this issue!” sputtered a red-faced Councilman Jordan Brandman at his colleague Dr. José Moreno after a recent Anaheim Council meeting.

And what was it that José had done that was so “despicable” in Jordan’s view – what was José “politicizing?”

Well… José (along with his one Council ally, West Anaheim conservative Denise Barnes) was simply trying to ensure that YOU, the Anaheim taxpayer and voter, will be informed of the results of the Anaheim Stadium appraisal – José and Denise think you should know how much our most valuable public property is WORTH.  (While their five colleagues in the Sidhu majority vehemently disagree.)

Actually José was only trying to get that matter onto the following meeting’s AGENDA – hoping to at least have a discussion and vote on whether to release the appraisal when it’s finalized.  (Spoiler alert – he’ll be trying to agendize that again at THIS Tuesday’s meeting, and could use your support!But under the Sidhu majority’s new rules, a councilmember now needs TWO others to agree to agendize an item – and Jordan sat in stone-faced silence as he voted NO – it’s not even UP FOR DISCUSSION for you to know what your stadium and its lot are worth, and to suggest that maybe you should know is, well, DESPICABLE.

(Right.  That’s another new development:  When Jordan, who’d previously been censured by the Democratic Party of OC for various anti-democratic votes and actions, convinced a skeptical party to endorse his 2018 council run, he made a variety of promises (most of them pointless), one of which was to ALWAYS at least help José get his motions onto the agenda for discussion.  But apparently THAT promise was only good for half a year or so, and lately he’s stopped.  I mean, come on – openness in the Angels negotiations – you couldn’t really expect Jordan to be party to such despicableness, could you?)

But let’s leave aside the baffling Brandman for now, and note how suspicious it is that this Stadium appraisal is taking so damn long to complete – after nearly a year it’s still only in “draft form” (also one excuse for them not to release it.)   Local real estate experts (Wally Courtney, Paul Kott, Steve White) concur that it’s HIGHLY irregular for something like this to take so long – it’s not rocket science! – and that the fact that it’s still in “draft form” probably means the appraiser is busy “adjusting” the numbers to the liking of his employers, the Sidhu Council majority.

For now the best guess of the property’s value, extrapolating from nearby recent property sales and increases in real estate values, is around $600 MILLION, whether “encumbered” or “unencumbered” by the Stadium structure itself.  That’s over HALF A BILLION DOLLARS of YOUR property and mine, that the billionaire Angels owner Arte Moreno (no relation to José) has been profiting off, RENT-FREE, while calling his team the “Los Angeles Angels” and not even winning much.  And all thanks to the gratitude and loyalty of the Sidhu majority he helped elect – like all the special interests in the Disney-Chamber Axis, reaping many millions in profit at the cost of mere thousands in campaign expenditures.

Are we anti-Angels?  Are we anti-Disney?  Hell no, we love them!  But there are basically two positions our government “representatives” can take toward wealthy special interests like the Angels:

UPRIGHT vs. PROSTRATE

Check it out.  An UPRIGHT politician (e.g. Moreno, Barnes, Tait) will approach a wealthy special interest with mutual respect as an equal, aware that he or she is representing hundreds of thousands of residents with various needs, and has things to offer in return that the special interest craves.  In the case of Anaheim negotiating a deal (lease or sale) with the Angels, Moreno and Barnes would aim for:

  • a deal based on Market Value of the land (the Oakland Raiders have been paying their town $8 million a year to use their stadium, for much fewer games per year, and other teams have been paying their host towns around $4 million a year.)
  • a percentage of ticket sales, parking AND event revenue to be INVESTED in our general fund, libraries, green space, community centers, public safety, & fully staffing city services;
  • jobs created via construction and service-sector must include local hire and contracting provisions;
  • transparency and public review/input in negotiations, from the appraisal to the closing;
  • No Public Subsidy!
  • and “Anaheim” in the team name – although Mayor Sidhu calls this a “distraction,” sports economists say it’s worth $10 million a year to the city, $30 million if the Angels made it to the playoffs!

The prostrate Sidhu and Faessel

Whereas a PROSTRATE politician (e.g. Sidhu, Faessel, Kring, Brandman) will unquestioningly give the special interest anything it demands, asking very little or nothing in return for the people.  Why???  Sometimes campaign donations or hope for future employment help explain this prostrate behavior, but these politicians also really seem to identify with these special interests – they feel a special KINSHIP that keeps ’em working for them instead of us.

And generally these prostrate politicians justify their actions (to us) with SCARE STORIES – in this case, if we don’t keep the Angels’ billionaire owner happy THE ANGELS WILL LEAVE ANAHEIM!

We hear example after example of such scare stories:  If businesses are forced to raise wages, they’ll fire people or move!  Any attempt to stabilize rents will enrage the rent gougers and make them even meaner and greedier!  (See Fullerton’s Flory and Rancho La Paz.)  If we don’t let OCTA slap toll lanes on our freeways, then CalTrans will just do it themselves and all the revenue will leave the county!  Here in Anaheim, if we don’t subsidize 4-star hotels, or if we make them pay a living wage, Disney and Wincome won’t even build them!  If we don’t guarantee Disney no gate tax for 45 years, they *gasp* might not build Star Wars!

Almost never do these scare stories turn out to be true.  Does the prostrate politician really believe the threats?  Probably not, except for the really dumb ones.

For Jordan to characterize José’s efforts to negotiate on behalf of Anaheim’s people, and to keep those efforts transparent and open to the public, as “despicable politicization,” evinces a truly PATHOLOGICAL level of PROJECTION.  Do you really want to talk about….

Despicable Politicizing?

Click for larger image.

We don’t know what happened in late 2013, three years before the already very sweetheart 1996 lease between the team and the city was due to expire, to make the billionaire owner so greedy and the 4-member council majority so insanely generous.  But all of a sudden we were talking about 1) leasing Arte’s development company all the land around the stadium for one dollar a year for 66 years to develop and profit off as he saw fit;  2) allowing him to completely drop “Anaheim” from the name of the team; and 3) give him till 2019 to opt-out of the lease (a multi-million dollar giveaway itself that José will  explain Tuesday.)  But there we were, all the council set to do that, only the upright Mayor Tom Tait raising the concerns of a sane honest human.

Tired of the Mayor’s protestations, the always-rabid Brandman called an unprecedented “emergency” morning meeting just to strip away his agendizing ability, hoping to shut him up a little.  (THAT’S how long Jordan has been trying to cover up his dealings with the Angels.)

Tom Tait, friend of Angels. (pic by Dark Maniels.)

But STILL Tait, although only one vote on a council of five, managed to stop these giveaways simply by tirelessly speaking out against them in public and the press.  (Well, it WAS pretty outrageous, to anyone who heard about it!)

The Disney-Chamber Axis®, of which the Angels are a charter member, had hated Mayor Tait for a few years due to his opposition to hotel subsidies and his championing of district elections, and they recruited valueless Councilwoman Lucille Kring to run against him.  Lucille began holding Chamber-funded rallies in front of the Angels Stadium (with famously corrupt and bumbling DA Tony Rackauckas at her side), proclaiming that she alone could “KEEP THE ANGELS” in Anaheim.  Meanwhile her proxies veered into slanderous territory, claiming not only that Tait was trying to drive the team away, but also that his family would profit somehow from their leaving.

All this Despicable Politicizing didn’t work though – Mayor Tait won re-election in a landslide, and Kring trailed at third place, even behind vanity candidate Lorri Galloway.  The $1/66-years deal was dead.  And did the Angels leave Anaheim?  No, although once in a while we made jokes about that for the next four years.

(Arte Moreno – no relation to Jose – depicted by the Weekly)

But then SUDDENLY it was October of 2018, and time to elect a new Mayor to take the place of termed-out Tait.  And on cue, like a drooling dog responding to the dinner bell, Arte announced he was opting out of the Anaheim lease, threatening once again to leave Anaheim and take the team with him.  Within minutes the Anaheim Blog (the Kleptocracy’s Pravda) was out blaming this unthinkable disaster on Tait and José Moreno.  Also within minutes mayoral candidate Harry Sidhu was declaring he’d do ANYTHING IT TAKES to keep the Angels happy and in town.

This time the Disney/Chamber/Angels Axis was taking no chances and spent a record FOUR MILLION DOLLARS on the election;  even so, Prostrate Sidhu only beat Upright Ashleigh Aitken by a few hundred votes.  And as its first act, in slavering gratitude, the new Sidhu Majority rewarded Arte by nullifying his opt-out, restoring the sweetheart,  no-rent, 1996 lease for as long as he likes.

Barnes, and the GOOD Moreno.

Now, all of THAT I would call “despicable politicizing.”  José and Denise on the other hand aren’t politicizing anything, they’re just doing the job we elected them to do.  But what the hell, I’ll do some Politicizing for you:

  • I humbly submit that those of you who voted for Sidhu, Faessel, Brandman, Kring, and/or Donald Trump, under the impression that these Prostrate Politicians would act in your interests, made a big mistake.
  • I humbly submit that until we have a majority of UPRIGHT Politicians representing Anaheim’s districts (specifically 4 & 5 – see below) our council will continue to slavishly give away our public treasure to their benefactors until nothing is left.
  • I humbly invite you to this Tuesday’s council meeting (August 27, 5pm) to support José’s and Denise’s efforts to keep the Angels negotiations transparent.

Kenneth Batiste, Jeanine Mercado Robbins

Upright District 4 candidate Jeanine Mercado Robbins will be speaking at the Sept. 7 Anaheim Democrats Club meeting, and the upright Kenneth Batiste will also be announcing his candidacy in District 5 against the Prostrate Stephen Faessel.

Speaking of the Anaheim Democrats Club Jordan Brandman has frequently said that he’ll never come to our meetings as long as I’m Vice-President.  Well, I’m handing over the VP reins to the worthy Joese Gloria Hernandez (though I’ll continue to write the Club’s monthly newsletters.)  So let’s see if Mr. Brandman will dare to show up some time, justify his behavior, and try to explain why any Democrat should support him again, EVER.

 


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.