Anaheim Gets Letters! The May 12 Tsunami of Correspondence.


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I take back one thing:  I take back saying that City Clerk Theresa Bass should read all our public comments out loud at the beginning of each meeting, now that we’re not able to show up and deliver them ourselves (always the high point of an Anaheim meeting!)  I take it back because I had NO IDEA how many e-mail comments were coming in – this past, May 12, meeting, 727 pages of ’em!  Over 600 e-mails.  It woulda taken poor Theresa HOURS to read them out loud.

Now, this doesn’t mean that over 600 people sat down and wrote their own letters, because actually nearly 200 of them just clicked and signed THREE ASTROTURF E-MAILS.  I didn’t realize how lazy and sheeplike the AnaheI’m First crowd was, but apparently their assignment this week was to click and put their name to a pre-written letter encouraging the council to “MOVE ANAHEIM FORWARD” by passing items 18-22. 

Those were actually five pretty noncontroversial measures, ranging from unobjectionable (standing with Asian Americans against coronavirus-related bigotry, celebrating Anaheim’s graduates), to possibly suspicious (accelerating the Angels’ payments on the stadium purchase.)  106 people from the AnaheI’m First crowd clicked and put their names to this probably unnecessary letter – the Medranos, the Klawes, Gloria Ma’ae, Jeanette Saldivar, Sergio Gonzalez, Jodie Mosley, hotelier Ajesh Patel, and a hundred others.  These measures would have all passed (most unanimously) without these folks’ encouragement.  Here’s:

Astroturf Letter 1 (106 copies sent)

Mayor Sidhu and Council members:

I am writing to ask you to vote for moving Anaheim forward by supporting items 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22 this Tuesday. 

Item 18: Solidarity with Anaheim’s Asian-American Community during the Pandemic.  The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc with our city and our country.  Now is the time for unity in the time of adversity.  Let us condemn anti-Asian sentiment.  The American way of life holds no place for bigotry and scapegoating. 

Item 19:  Proclaim May 30, 2020, as the Class of 2020 Day.  One of the tragic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is that thousands of Anaheim students who are graduating or being promoted will miss out on a time-honored rite of passage: the graduation ceremony.  Please come together as our city council representatives to honor our young people and utilize city facilities, communications and partnerships to honor and recognize these students for their accomplishments.

[Vern: I can’t keep silent here, without reminding you that this was Jose’s idea on the 5th, and the majority refused to give him a “third” vote to agendize it; then Mayor Sidhu came along the next day and pretended it was HIS idea.  I think a LOT of you know that.]

Item 20:  Angels Stadium.  The agreement to sell Angels Stadium and keep our cherished baseball team in Anaheim until 2050 generate [sic] hundreds of millions in vital revenue.  The is item [sic] ratifies the Angels agreement to speed-up their Third Deposit, putting $10 million in desperately needed revenue into the city treasury a year early. 

Item 21: Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT) and Online Travel Companies (OTC).  This is another action the Council can take to bring in additional urgently needed revenue by finally allowing Anaheim hotels to collect and remit the full TOT for each room booked through OTC’s. 

Item 22: COVID-19 Pandemic Eviction Moratorium.  As the pandemic crisis continues, Mayor Pro Tem Stephen Faessel seeks to extend the current eviction protections for impacted residential and commercial tenants by both ordinance and action under the Interim City Manager’s Emergency Powers.  This is a reasonable measure acceptable to both landlords and tenants. 

Taken both separately and together, this agenda items [sic] will move Anaheim forward toward recovery from this calamitous pandemic.

What corny wordsmithing, I suspect Chris Nguyen this time.  I emphasized the typos not because we don’t all make typos, but because I think it’s funny that out of 106 AnaheI’m-Firsters who sent this off as their own e-mail, none of them corrected or altered anything.

ACTUALLY one person, Tamara Jimenez, sent in an altered version of this Astroturf letter:  She made a point to give Jose credit for Item 19, she ommitted 20 & 21, and then on 22 (eviction moratorium) she added her

“…concern that there does not seem to be a clear way to enforce this.  My daughter lives in Anaheim, turned in the form the City has, and her Apartments rejected it stating they do not have to comply with the Moratorium because they are a ‘property management company.’  They then charged her a late fee and 3.5% fee to pay by credit card.”

Well, THAT sounds like an important twist, and like something that probably happened to other people as well – I hope SOMEBODY on Council read that paragraph, buried in between 106 nearly-identical e-mails!

Astroturf Letter 2 (26 copies sent)

Copies of that first letter poured in over Monday and Tuesday; relatively late on Tuesday the council started getting copies of an astroturf letter that only concerned the Angels item, #20.  Twenty-six people signed copies of this e-mail, and they tended to be businesspeople who sometimes took a bit of time to “personalize” the astroturf, with their logos, and an original sentence or two.  But basically those all said this:

Dear Mayor Sidhu and City Council:

Last December, the City Council approved a historic agreement with the Angels.  The team committed to staying in Anaheim until at least 2050 and agreed to purchase Angel Stadium from the city at a market-rate price of $325 million – getting the City out of the Stadium business.

We urge you to support Agenda Item 20 on the May 12th City Council meeting by sending an e-mail.  [??]  It will speed up the benefits of that agreement.  The COVID-19 crisis has interfered with the completion of the site inspection segment of the contract.  In exchange for moving that deadline from June 30 to December 30, the Angels agree to move up their Third Deposit payment to the City of $10 million to October 2nd of this year – instead of sometime in 2021-3. 

Furthermore, the team will speed-up submittal of its Master Plan for the site to May 30, 2020 – rather than sometime in 2012.

This agreement provides the city with $10 million in badly needed revenue sooner rather than later.  And it quickens the timeline for development of the stadium site, which will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and tax revenue.

Thank you for your kind attention to this issue.

Putting aside any inaccuracies in that astroturf letter (for example $325 million being market-rate for that huge property) this was the only item from the 18-22 feelgood streak that was a hard call – Denise voted for it, Jose voted no.  At a time like this, sure, money sooner is better than money later.  But there still is a Brown Act lawsuit going on (temporarily paused by the pandemic) aiming to force the council to re-do the Stadium Deal with more transparency and more benefit to the city – and the more money Arte Moreno gives us up front, the more they’ll be able to paint this as a done deal, a fait accompli. 

Not to mention, as Jose did, that we can’t spend any of this money NOW, when we need it, even though Billionaire Arte could easily make that happen.

Astroturf Letter 3 (38 copies sent)

Meanwhile 38 Anaheimers, **none of whom I know**, independently sent in a 3-page screed declaring independence from any stay-at-home orders, and propagating conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory about the supposed “pandemic.”  I don’t have time to re-type that e-mail (and Theresa’s pinche PDF’s won’t copy/paste) but you could click here and go to page 610 to see one copy.

In short, the TRACE ACT (HR 6666!) creates a “ubiquitous, fascist surveillance network” known as contact tracers.  WE DO NOT CONSENT TO LIVE IN FEAR, wear masks, keep social distance, etc.  Most of these supposed COVID-19 deaths are a hoax, and also fruit and “even goats” have tested positive for it.  5-G is being FAST-TRACKED EVERYWHERE, HELLO???  Bill Gates has said several very worrying things.  Please respond ASAP, Miss Bass!

On that note…

CANNABIS IN ANAHEIM.

So, whether you count the above as 170 e-mails, or, as you really should, just 3 e-mails sent many times, either way they were DWARFED by the hundreds of ACTUAL, INDIVIDUALLY WRITTEN e-mails regarding the Anaheim Cannabis Initiative, item 23.  Twice as many of these were AGAINST bringing dispensaries into Anaheim (about 250) as were FOR it (about 120), and some of those I’m counting as “for” were actually a little cautious and ambivalent, focusing on keeping dispensaries even further from schools than proposed, as well as not killing the newly legal industry with over-taxing.

I’m amused to see how many folks who ALWAYS support the klepto majority, folks that’ve loved Lucille and Jordan for many years, feel utterly betrayed by those politicians’ ardent enthusiasm for pot.  These folks, whom you might call “social conservative” or “NIMBY”, have always showed loyalty to the side of Anaheim politics that seems more authoritarian, but they aren’t so much in it for the money as their politicians are.  Rather they cherish what they call their “quality of life” – often manifesting itself as anti-homeless, anti-immigrant, and anti-marijuana.

So we got passionate anti-cannabis e-mails from Amanda Edinger, Jodie Mosley, Victor Real, Michelle Lieberman, Jeanette Saldivar, Gloria Ma’ae again, Keith Oleson (a good letter you can read at p. 74), and Mitch Caldwell who calls himself “Anaheim Neighborhood Association” (p. 599).  Just as fervently anti-pot (though I don’t want to lump them in with the above):  Paul Kott, Benita Gagne, Bill Taormina, Higher Ground’s Joe Baldo, and Tamara Jimenez again, all very concerned about MJ as a “gateway drug” to moral ruin and laziness.

Will the scales fall from their eyes, regarding their favorite politicians?  I think I see, on page 226, Lucille Kring lying to West Anaheim conservative activist Jodie Mosley, just like she lied to a whole lot of us eight years ago.  Check it out.

JM:  “Lucille, After I wrote my opinion on the cannabis survey I decided to ask you a question.  Why on earth would you, right now, ask for that?  [legal dispensaries throughout Anaheim]  I recently invested quite a large sum into a small business, and we are just trying to get through daily life.  To add ‘Hey let’s open up pot shops!’ right now is just wrong.  They will only over-populate in West Anaheim, I highly doubt they will have many open in Anaheim Hills.  They will never be regulated as a pharmacy.  Have you even seen the history of what West Anaheim has gone through with these pot shops opening in every corner of West Anaheim?”  etc etc etc.

KRING:  “Hello Jodie.  There will be no pot shops in West Anaheim.  You know how our economy is suffering with all the closures, especially the Resort.  We all know the homeless population is exploding.  Unfortunately we can do very little.  Anaheimers are buying pot and Santa Ana is getting the revenue.  We need the revenue.”  etc etc etc.

JM:  “You can order online cbd oil for your pets, Lucille, I’ve done it myself.  [LOL]  There is no reason to open this can of worms in my district because you want oil for your animals.  We have so many, many, many other problems.  And there is no way you can say there won’t be cannabis stores in West Anaheim.”

Did you just hear how Lucille just spewed out what she knew the other person wanted to hear, not even stopping to think if it was believable – “There will be no pot shops in West Anaheim.”  Dispensaries scattered evenly throughout the city is the essence of the plan, HER plan. 

This is just like in 2012 when Lucille told me, Mayor Tait, David Zenger, Cynthia Ward and Jason Young that she supported district elections, police oversight, and a measure to “let the people vote” on hotel subsidies.  Well, Lucille doesn’t need to worry about re-election anymore, but I hope Jodie and her West Anaheim friends remember who their REAL representative is – Denise Barnes – who has been rock solid against dispensaries.

Moving along, the anti-dispensary letter from Charter School Madonna Jeanette Saldivar is amusing (p. 61).  On the pro side, we have good knowledgable letters from our friend Candice Hawes (p. 564 & 701) and the “Cannabis Chamber of Commerce” (p. 673).  I’m agnostic on this motion, it’s gonna be on the ballot anyway.  Some year soon Anaheim will join the 21st century, but I’d rather it happen when we have a more honest government.  Moving on…

Letters from my friends…

Because they’ll be butt-hurt if I don’t mention them.  The guy who got his two letters in before anybody, on pages 3 & 4, is my “worst friend” Denis Fitzgerald, who OFTEN has something interesting to say.  I’ll reprint his second letter, classic Fitzy but with nothing too offensive:

“As with the previously terminated Anaheim Police Chief before him, the recently terminated City Manager was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, belonging to the residents of Anaheim, to essentially keep certain illegal activities of the City Council secret…

“Only three individuals negotiated the giveaway of some 150 acres of prime Anaheim City-owned property at a small fraction of the market value.  The three were the Anaheim Mayor, City Attorney, and City Manager.  All three are known to have histories of being involved in dealings of questionable legality.

“It is therefore suggested that the new Orange County District Attorney grant full immunity from being prosecuted, to the terminated City Manager.  This would be in return for his truthful testimony of any and all unlawful activities concerning the secret negotiations that resulted in the giveaway of Anaheim City property, and any other illegal activities.”

OTHER GOOD ONES:

Duane Roberts calling on Sidhu to recuse himself on cannabis, for reasons detailed in Duane’s stories … and Sidhu did.  (p. 596).  Also, a retired cop called Ken Chinn called on Sidhu to recuse himself based on Duane’s stories..

Our friend, blogger and Public Law Center attorney Donovan Rinker-Morris detailing how the Eviction Moratorium SHOULD IDEALLY be improved, p. 542.

Me & Donna’s buddy, new Anaheim resident Daisy Chavez, p. 458 with an excellent letter.

And a good one bashing Trevor and Lucille for tanking the eviction moratorium improvement last time, p. 665, by one David Lupercio.

Okay, this is the last time I do this, it’s way more work than I thought.  But I SURE MISS PUBLIC COMMENTS!  (And I know the kleptocracy doesn’t.)


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.