Pinocchio Sidhu: The Mayor’s Dishonest Response to our Recall Statement!


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Whew!  Now that that election’s out of the way, let’s get back to the most important business of Anaheim – the movement to recall our corrupt Mayor Harry Sidhu.  In a bit we’ll give you some updates on how the process is going, but first:  We received the Mayor’s response to our statement and will print it here.  It is as mendacious as you might expect, so we’ll have to comment on it afterward, but let’s let him have his say.

One quick note first though:  this was SUPPOSED to be Harry Sidhu responding personally to his critics, and yet it is written in the THIRD PERSON, as though he were an athlete or a rapper or an aristocrat.  A quick read, however, shows why this was necessary – in the first person, “We should thank him for his leadership” would read “You ought to be thanking me,” and “Keep Mayor Sidhu focused on moving Anaheim forward” would read “Keep me focused.”  Which would sound as ridiculous and vain as this statement really is:

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Answer to Recall Statement

Pursuant to Elections Code 11023, Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu files with Theresa Bass, City Clerk of Anaheim and the City’s elections official, the following answer to the statement of the proponents seeking his recall:

In just over a year as Anaheim Mayor, Harry Sidhu has acted decisively to:

  • Address homelessness
  • Keep the Angels in Anaheim
  • Commit an additional $250 million over 10 years to improve ALL Anaheim neighborhoods
  • Establish a Senior Safety Net Program to help ALL Anaheim Seniors struggling with housing costs.

This recall attempt is an unwarranted, costly distraction from improving Anaheim.

We should thank Mayor Sidhu for his leadership to make Anaheim neighborhoods better.

His accomplishments include:

Homelessness:  When Mayor Sidhu took office, nearly every Anaheim park had homeless encampments.  Families were avoiding our parks and the homeless faced a cold winter sleeping outside.  Mayor Sidhu opened an emergency shelter in just fourteen days.  Two more followed; another is planned.  The encampments were cleared.  There’s more work to be done, but we’re making strong progress.

Keeping the Angels – A year ago, the Angels were planning to leave Anaheim.  Mayor Sidhu got the Angels to stay for 30 years, struck a fair market value deal for the stadium land, and protected taxpayer dollars from funding a new stadium.

The Anaheim Police Association and the Anaheim Firefighters Association urge you:

DON’T SIGN ANY RECALL PETITION.

Keep Mayor Sidhu focused on moving Anaheim forward.

Signed, Mayor Harry Sidhu.

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First, while those last few lines are fresh in your mind, think about them:  Harry claims that Anaheim’s cops and firefighters DON’T WANT YOU to put your full name and address on a petition to recall him.  Think how intimidating that will be to many voters, many of whom are fearful of cops, and many of whom are extremely reverent to both cops and firefighters.  They should be reminded that:

  1. this is actually the public safety UNIONS, not cops and firefighters themselves, wanting to keep Harry in office because of his un-Conservative generosity with raises and pensions; and
  2. there is no way that Harry had time to even CHECK with those unions for their opinion; he is obviously just ASSUMING they want to keep him because of the recent raises he’s passed for them.

Nice touch of intimidation there, though.  Now let’s look at Harry’s baldfaced LIES.

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“Senior Safety Net.”  This is possibly the most audacious and heartless lie here, emphasized in all-caps: “to help ALL Anaheim Seniors struggling with housing costs.”   In truth, this program only helps ONE HUNDRED Anaheim seniors, and only for THREE MONTHS.  A program proposed by Harry’s Anaheim Hills ally Trevor O’Neil, it diverts our public money, money intended to build low-income housing, to subsidize the greed of rent-gouging billionaire landlords like Harry’s friend and donor John Saunders, incidentally helping a few dozen poor seniors for a few months. 

Well, something HAD to be done, it was a PR black eye.  Mobile-homeowning seniors were being forced out onto the streets by Saunders’ astronomic rent hikes, and were complaining at Council meetings and to the press.  The Council MINORITY wanted to extend California’s new rent-control provisions to mobile-home parks – a totally reasonable solution that would have helped EVERYBODY except billionaire Saunders, and Harry had already expressed support for that California law.  But Harry and his majority wouldn’t even allow DISCUSSION of this sensible move, instead passing this TINY BANDAID and turning their backs on the hundreds of seniors and others being driven into homelessness and poverty.

At the same time, Harry and his majority also refused to extend the just-cause eviction protections of that California law, which wouldn’t kick in till 2020, into the last months of 2019.  They wouldn’t even allow discussion of that either, as speaker after speaker came up to Council to complain about their no-cause evictions.  Thus we can joke, darkly, that the truest words in Harry’s statement above, although ripped out of context, are “His accomplishments include:  HOMELESSNESS.”

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Angels Stadium Swindle. 

  1. First of all, it’s been documented ad nauseam that $325 million is NOT “fair market value” for that property, whose value was lowered artificially by Harry and his majority; AND we won’t even be getting THAT low price, as it gets negotiated lower and lower over the coming months. 
  2. Secondly, Anaheim taxpayers NEVER WERE on the hook for funding a new stadium, so we couldn’t have been SAVED from that obligation. 
  3. Thirdly, it’s still not even a done deal that the “Los Angeles Angels” will be staying at all, and we still don’t know exactly who this “SRB Management LLC” is, to whom we sold the property.

But I want to look at that statement, “A year ago, the Angels were planning to leave Anaheim.”  This charade should still be fresh in our memories, and Anaheim voters should be reminded of the phrase “bait and switch.”  One month before the 2018 Mayoral election, while Ashleigh Aitken and Harry Sidhu were running neck and neck, Angels owner and Sidhu backer Arte Moreno suddenly announced he was opting out of his lease.  Within minutes Harry rushed to the mikes and proclaimed that he and he alone, as Mayor, knew how to keep the Angels here.  (Leave alone that there were no realistic prospects for the “Los Angeles Angels” to leave for, no other towns dying to build them a stadium.)  Harry won by 400 votes.

First thing Harry did as Mayor was to unilaterally re-instate the Angels’ old sweetheart lease, thus “encumbering” the property and keeping its value low.  Then he set to work SECRETLY negotiating the bargain-basement price we have finally heard, and which we won’t even be getting – if we end up getting anything.  For what WAS Anaheim’s most valuable public property, but now belongs to billionaire Arte Moreno, to do whatever he wants with it.  Feel baited and switched yet?

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Homelessness.   Homelessness really has nothing to do with the reasons Harry is getting recalled, but since he boasts a lot about that in his statement, we have to point out that, as he so frequently does, he takes credit for work that the previous Mayor and Council (Tait, Moreno, Barnes) did – the Salvation Army’s Center of Hope and the La Mesa Shelter were only six weeks away from completion when Harry took over.  (Not to mention these shelters wouldn’t have happened even under the previous council if it weren’t for lawsuits brought by homeless advocates, adjudicated by Judge Carter, and FORCED on OC cities.)

Harry DID, with great fanfare, quickly build a new TEMPORARY shelter for the six weeks between his inauguration and the opening of Tait’s shelters (Jan-Feb 2019.)  He called it “Anaheim Way,” it was expensive, unpleasant, very poorly run, and resulted in the taxpayer-funded renovation of a crony’s building.  And the main motive was to enable the theatrical clearing of homeless from the parks to cheer Harry’s supporters.  But it probably did save a few lives during those six cold weeks, so we didn’t complain too much.

Harry also loves to take credit for economic improvements that began under Tait.  I know a President who does that with his predecessor, just sayin’.

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Lucille Kring, STR

Things Harry left out.  Harry did have a 200-word limit, just as we did.  But it still must be noted that he offered no defense of:

  • his re-imposition, in perpetuity, of over 200 Short-Term Rentals (STR’s) into central Anaheim neighborhoods – STR’s that had contributed to his campaign naturally;
  • his imposition of the towering Downtown Anaheim 39 townhomes into the old Pauline street neighborhoods while silencing residents’ complaints; 
  • his increasingly authoritarian silencing of the Latino council minority and refusal to meet with them even once; 
  • and now we can add (if we have to re-do our statement) his approval of an unaffordable raise for Anaheim Police, whose union supported his campaign, a raise that he admits will drive us further into debt and make us dip into our reserves to cover it.

It just gets worse with this cat, doesn’t it?

New Obstacles Thrown Our Way By the City.

Now the news, and we can’t really say it’s good.  City staff who HAD been really friendly and helpful have been suddenly throwing obstacles our way and moving goalposts, clearly at the insistence of their boss the Mayor.  We will now have to re-start the process from square one.  We’re at a crossroads.  Should we: 

  1. Re-start the process under a shortened timeline, with even less time to get our 20,000 signatures? 
  2. Sue the City? 
  3. Re-direct our efforts and expenditures into replacing Harry’s enabling Council majority, so he can be a Figurehead Mayor like Tom Tait was from 2012-16? 

We are weighing our options.

UPDATE March 8:  Recall is still ON.

After conferring with the Grand Assembly of Sidhu Recall Leaders over the weekend, we have decided:  We may not be able to make the deadline for November’s general election, which we regret – but if we don’t, it’ll have to be a special election early next year.  It will still save the City a lot of money, to get this irresponsible and corrupt spendthrift out of office even at the expense of a special election.  STAY TUNED, we’ll need you all!


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.