City of Cruelty – UPDATED with Andy Anaheim!


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… and sometimes words just fail.

As the CoVid pandemic dashes the plans of people everywhere, students who’d been nearing their graduation, from high school and from junior high, many of them having worked toward that goal diligently for years, are particularly disappointed with no ceremony to look forward to.  In Anaheim, about 3000 high school seniors, and thousands of 6th & 8th graders, are looking at quiet lonely commencements at home.  Our new interim City Manager Greg Garcia has even been in touch with superintendents of the districts, asking if there was any way the City could help out with SOME kind of celebration.

So in that spirit, at the end of last night’s depressing Anaheim Council meeting, Councilman Jose Moreno proposed something very simple – a resolution to declare May 30 A Day of Celebration and Acknowledgement of High School Graduating Seniors and Promoting 6th & 8th-grade Students.  Wouldn’t have cost a penny, it could have been fleshed out in some way that made the students feel a little bit special though.  Denise Barnes immediately seconded the motion.  But a motion now needs a THIRD – a “reform” Sidhu instituted last year to make it harder for the Council minority to get anything on the agenda.

SILENCE.  There was no third to be had, for this simple, nice gesture to our hard-working students.  Not from Mayor Sidhu, not from Stephen Faessel, both of whom fill up social media tirelessly with photos of what wonderful generous people they are, handing a box of food to a poor person.  Not even from Jordan Brandman, who spent two terms on the Anaheim High School Board, and just recently wanted voters to put him on the OC Board of Education.

Nothing.  Radio Silence from the Council Kleptos, for Anaheim students. * (see update at bottom of story.)

Well, let’s work backwards.  With Item 13 we learn why Dante wrote about DIFFERENT CIRCLES of Hell, some lower than others.  All five members of the majority may not have cared about honoring Anaheim’s graduating students, but at least Sidhu, Brandman and Faessel did want to amend our town’s Eviction Moratorium, in a couple of really good and necessary ways for Anaheim renters – extending it another month to the end of June, and then granting a 30-day grace period after whenever the crisis is over, before renters have to start paying off their back rent.

But as this amendment was an “URGENCY ordinance” it required SIX of seven votes, so Lucille Kring and Trevor O’Neil were able to kill it all by themselves.  These are the two council kleptocrats who don’t even TRY to seem nice, or not racist or classist.  You could say they play conservative Republicans, on TV, badly, but don’t hold it against their Party – the OC GOP doesn’t like them either, refusing multiple times to endorse them because of their crony-capitalist love of subsidies, their budget-busting generosity to public safety unions, and their forked tongues.

Dumb AND mean – just like Lucille!

But it was a long hour on the way to Trevor and Lucille killing item 13.  First, naturally, Jose and Denise tried to make it better.  Trevor and Lucille had already bitched about the unappreciated LANDLORDS stuck between a rock and a hard place, not receiving rent and still expected to pay their mortgage.  But Jose and Denise had not forgotten about them, as Jose proposed an amendment to the amendment asking “staff to look into federal and state help for landlords facing financial hardship.”  Trevor scoffed at that notion, claiming it’s not Anaheim’s place to be lobbying the feds or state for anything – one of many stupid things Trevor uttered that evening.  Like all big cities, Anaheim lobbies plenty.

Jose’s first proposed improvement included something else:  first he walked us through the MATH of what it would mean to a working-class family to have to pay off their April, May, and June back rent in the space of four months – say, August thru November (while of course also having to pay their August-thru-November rents.)  Presuming there hadn’t already been a rent increase which is always possible, those four months would be like a 75% rent increase on their own.  So Jose proposed a TWELVE-MONTH payback period, along with looking for aid for landlords who might be hurting.  THAT proposal failed 5-2.

Next, Jose made his proposal more modest – a SIX-MONTH payback period, which is what Santa Ana, Buena Park, and Mission Viejo give their renters.  PLUS the lobbying for landlord aid.  This one failed too, but I think it got Jordan’s vote.

Lastly, Jose gave up extending the payback period at all, and just proposed his lobbying for landlord aid as an amendment – THAT passed, Harry and Steve both liking it.  But it was a Pyrrhic (useless) victory as Item 13 itself was killed by Trevor and Lucille, the latter proclaiming:

“We’ve already done enough for THOSE PEOPLE!”

– a Kringism that will go down in history with such classics as:

That shooting SAVED US THE COST OF A TRIAL!

and:

“We’re not the City of Kindness any more!”

(As an aside – Lucille believes herself to be so loved by 4th-district voters, that, when they are deprived of her goodness this November by cruel term limits, they will JUMP to embrace the next-best thing – her husband!  This is a common conceit among out-of-touch politicians, but in Lucille’s case it’s particularly comical.)

Well though, I have to hand it to Harry, Stephen and Jordan – for one reason or another they really DID want this amendment to pass, and Stephen re-agendized it as a “non-urgency” ordinance, meaning they won’t need the votes of the two Scrooges but it will have to be voted on twice – May 12 and June 9.  And they do want to keep Jose’s final amendment, the lobbying-for-hurting-landlords amendment.

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NO TOUCHING…

…that $6.5 Million for “Visit Anaheim!”

It’s most helpful to understand the controversial $15 million emergency package of March 26 as not three but FOUR components:

  1. $6.5 million to resort advertising bureau “Visit Anaheim” – the largest component;
  2. $6 million for rental-assistance programs, addressing homelessness, and funding city services for residents; 
  3. $2 million grant to Anaheim Community Foundation (ACF) to give out to nonprofits that serve seniors, youths, the needy; and
  4. half a million to promote small local Anaheim businesses.

Marketing executive wondering how to use these unexpected millions of dollars to advertise a closed-down resort district.

Last night Harry and his majority wanted to steer another million to #3, the ACF, for nonprofits.  Nobody minded that so much.  Except Harry and his majority were determined to take that million out of #2, the $6 million for direct programs for the public.  Jose called this “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”  He and Denise prefered to rob Richie Rich to pay Paul – that is, take the million out of the utterly unnecessary $6.5 million gift to Visit Anaheim instead.  But THAT went down like a lead balloon – that $6.5 million to advertise a shut-down resort is somehow SACROSANCT to that crowd.   (Ironic, as it could be the last straw that brings them down.)

So now, after the Cinco de Mayo meeting, the “CoVid Emergency Package” looks like this instead:

  • $6.5 million to resort advertising bureau “Visit Anaheim” – the largest component;
  • $5 million for rental-assistance programs, addressing homelessness, and funding city services for residents;
  • $3 million grant to Anaheim Community Foundation (ACF) to give out to nonprofits that serve seniors, youths, the needy; and
  • half a million to promote small local Anaheim businesses.

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Oh yeah, I’d sort of promised you another example of something Anaheim Hills councilman Trevor O’Neil said that was both really dumb and mean, so here goes.

One of the first items, pulled from the Consent Calendar, was a 15% raise to the new interim City Manager, Greg Garcia.  Nobody opposed giving Greg another 15% – with fired CM Chris Zapata gone, he’s been doing the job of TWO men who were already insanely overworked – one wonders how.

But Jose just had to, rightly, point out what a waste of money this whole Zapata firing was – not only did we have to pay Chris $475,000 to go away quietly (just because of his giving an honest opinion when asked), but also this 15% raise to Greg, which is $42,240, has to be added to the huge waste of firing Chris.

Next moment he had a chance, Trevor, who will always think he’s smart no matter what, shot back that “I don’t see how it’s a waste of money, if we’ve got ONE LESS BODY in that office.”  To add a little piquance to his baffling remark, he also took the opportunity to call Chris “a BAD APPLE.”  (For giving, when asked, an opinion that Trevor’s crowd didn’t like.)

You know how it HURTS YOUR BRAIN, to try to explain how dumb the thing a person like the guy smirking above, who will forever think he’s smart, just said, is?  But I think I can give it a try, after these 24 hours: 

If we continued as we had been, with two really smart competent City Managers, we would have been spending $300K for Chris’ salary and $239,280 for Greg’s salary, for a total of $539,280.

Now that we’ve fired one and have only one left to do the job of two, we have to give Chris $475K and Greg $281,520, for a total of $756,520.

That’s $539,280 to have two great City Managers this year vs. $756,520 to have only one. 

That is, we’re spending $217,240 more for half the manpower. 

And Trevor O’Neil, who calls himself a “businessman,” thinks that’s a good deal. 

Okay, I give up now.

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*Update 5/8 to the Honoring of Anaheim’s Graduates

Around 5pm Wednesday, just as I was finishing up this story, the city put out this mystifying Facebook post featuring the cartoon mascot Andy Anaheim. From that post: “… The city of Anaheim, led by our City Council and city mascot Andy Anaheim ― complete with tassel cap and diploma ― will be looking at ways to celebrate our city’s 2020 graduates in the next few weeks. We’re expecting Council direction at Tuesday’s meeting.” 

Sounds like they were embarrassed, by the strong public reaction to their rejection of Jose’s motion, into doing SOMETHING, but they’re not quite sure what yet. Who knows why they sat there silently on Tuesday night, but at least there will be SOMETHING for the kids this month. After a certain amount of outrage poured in, somebody – maybe Sidhu, Lyster and Faessel all in unison, must have cried out, “CALL ANDY ANAHEIM! WE HAVE TROUBLE!”


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.