Anaheim Council news: Galloway drops out; Leos gets the Tait Nod; Our litmus tests and a talk with Kring, Chuchua & Roberts. With POLL!

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So.  In the wake of last week’s DEFINING Anaheim City Council meeting, I’d say, modestly, as an outside agitator, that the most essential thing between now and November is to make sure that the three-member corporatist anti-democracy Pringle-Disney-puppet MAJORITY becomes a TWO-member corporatist anti-democracy Pringle-Disney-puppet MINORITY.

In practical terms that means TWO NON-PUPPETS both have to get enough votes to beat the puppets next-in-line:  the lamentable Jordan Brandman, and carpbetbagger Steve Lodge.  WHICH TWO decent candidates can best beat Jordan and Steve?  Anaheim voters of conscience will have to struggle with the age-old dilemma between which dream candidate(s) fit their beliefs best vs. which decent candidates could be united behind that have the best chance of winning and making a Decent Majority.  I won’t presume to prescribe either way, I’ll just ask them all a few questions since I’ve met ’em all, and then run panting back to you with their answers.

Our task is complicated, or simplified, or both, by the departure of Council-spouse Mike Galloway from the race, who sends me this exclusive withdrawal statement:

Statement from Mike Galloway

In light of the recent decisions made by the current Anaheim council majority, I have decided not to run for Anaheim city council in 2012.  Their decisions show a callous disregard for the needs of Anaheim residents and I choose not to serve along with them.  I believe that options for the 2014 elections take precedence.   I and many others will work tirelessly to ensure that their wrong direction does not continue and that never again will elected officials ignore the cries of the people they serve.

Okay, well that was a flash in the pan.  Now I can put off my defense of the Galloways and their exemplary Eli Home for some other year.  So who does that leave, among candidates that answer more or less to their consciences and the good of the people as they understand it, rather than every whim of developers, hotels, Disney, and Pringle clients?

Well, here’s one other bit of news from yesterday morning – the excellent Mayor has already made ONE choice, and I whole-heartedly agree with him:

ANAHEIM (August 9, 2012) — Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait Endorses John Leos for Anaheim City Council in 2012

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has endorsed John Leos for Anaheim City Council in this November’s election. Tom Tait was popular with the community as a council member in the 90s. In 2010 he was convincingly voted in as Mayor by a nearly 2 to 1 margin. His mayoral performance has proven popular as well.

Many Anaheim residents recognize his steady hand as a unifier in a city marred by crises and divisive elements. Mayor Tait opposed the recent 158 million dollar tax giveaway just as John Leos did. The Mayor also supported democratically allowing voters to decide the controversial TOT issue. Tait additionally supports the move to districting in Anaheim so all residents can be more closely connected to their elected representatives. 

John Leos was the first runner-up in the 2010 council race. Since then he has worked to introduce lobby reform to the City. He has the support of community leaders, business leaders, workers and employers and will help heal divisions if elected to the City Council.

Learn more about John Leos’s vision for Anaheim at www.JohnLeos.com

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Contact: John Leos
johnleos2012@gmail.com
www.JohnLeos.com

And John is propelled to the top of our list, not just by this endorsement, and his laudable efforts pushing for a Transparency Ordinance on Council, but also his positive positions, some alluded to above, on what I humbly present as our three hot-button issues, or litmus tests, for this council race:

  1. Supporting the proposed move to “district elections”
  2. Supporting “letting the people vote” yes or no on future hotel subsidies of a certain size;  and
  3. How best to bring an out-of-control police force in line.

As was alluded to above, John strongly opposed the $158 million bed tax giveaway, and has been a solid supporter of Take Back Anaheim’s “Let the People Vote” initiative, even as the OCEA (OC Employees Association) – to which he is forever linked – backed away from it.  He also strongly supports “districting” and settling with the ACLU;  if he were on the Council last week he would have voted to put both those questions on the ballot for the public to decide, and as councilman, if the opportunity arose, he would put them on the ballot whenever possible.

As far as the recent rash of police-related shootings, John believes that Mayor Tait’s reaction has been right on – calling for investigations into the shootings from the state and US AG’s and meeting repeatedly with residents of the troubled neighborhood.  John Leos would support a strong citizens’ oversight committee, which he believes is the “wave of the future” for all large cities like Anaheim.

The negative rap on Leos is that people worry he will be a “puppet” of the OCEA, to which he is not currently connected, but he was on their Board a long time.  Well, we have seen how when OCEA’s support for “Let the People Vote” dried up due to an apparent secret deal with the Council Majority, John Leos’ involvement with the movement did NOT let up.  Also, as some union critics have pointed out, the city employees got such a ridiculously good deal that time, that they probably won’t have much occasion to come back any time soon asking for more.  We still hope the unions pony up plenty of money for Mr. Leos – he’ll need it to fight the corporate-backed Brandman and Lodge!

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Let’s take a look now at moderate, independent Republican Lucille Kring, who is by all accounts her own woman and certainly not a puppet of Pringle’s.  A former councilwoman and business owner, we might find her positions on our favorite issues to be … a little equivocal, not as strong as we might like, but still head and shoulders over Murray, Eastman and Brandman.  And her experience and name recognition MIGHT make her the most likely to be able to beat Brandman and Lodge.

From what she knows of the $158 million bed tax giveaway, she says it sounds excessive, is not sure if she’d have supported it or not, but if she had she would have insisted on a guarantee of local jobs – something Murray, Eastman and Sidhu didn’t even bother with.  She opposes the “Let the people vote” initiative, pointing to Yorba Linda which DOES put such matters to the public vote, and hence experiences “no growth.”

She supports districting, and spoke in favor of it last week… but she doesn’t think Anaheim should be divided into any more than FOUR districts, nor have more than four councilmembers and one at-large Mayor.  Apparently she didn’t realize that Tait’s proposal which she spoke up for entailed SIX.  (Many progressives want EIGHT.  She says “there’s not enough room on the dais for that many.”)

On the police question, she says Anaheim already has the equivalent of a citizens’ oversight committee.  She is a great backer of “community policing,” which was the policy when she was on council a decade ago.  She’s a great supporter of the YMCA, “Cops 4 Kids,” and would prioritize local jobs over everything else as an alternative to the gang lifestyle.

So that’s Lucille.

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Then there’s BRIAN CHUCHUA, who is very strong on our issues.  A business owner who’s never been a politician, he tells me he moved to Anaheim Hills “48 years ago, when there were only nine houses up here.”  Yes, he is that old.

He was very outspoken against the $158 million bed-tax giveaway, and personally gathered hundreds of signatures for the “Let the People Vote” initiative.  He says that giveaway shouldn’t have even been approved if attached to “local jobs” because there wouldn’t have been that many jobs anyway and they’d only have been part-time and temporary.

He does also strongly support districting, putting that on the ballot, and settling with the ACLU.  When I suggested an improved council putting both the rejected measures onto a special election ballot early next year, he (and Duane Roberts) were enthusiastic about the idea, while Leos was generally positive but would prefer to see how much the election would cost first – fair enough.

Police.  Brian says we need more cops, and they need to engage in “community policing.”  He wishes he could make it mandatory for Anaheim police to live in Anaheim, preferably in the neighborhoods they police, but unfortunately it’s illegal to require that.  He does want to see a strong citizens’ oversight committee.

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Finally, of course, there’s Orange Juice blogger and longtime fighter-for-justice DUANE ROBERTS.  Duane’s got a bit of an advantage here – I sent him the questions via e-mail and he got to write down his answers, while these other three I spoke to late last night on the phone.  But if John, Lucille or Brian want to correct, change, or add anything to the above, just let me know!

OJ:   Would you have supported the $158 million giveaway to Garden Walk?

DR:   No. The Anaheim City Council set a very bad precedent when it voted 3-2 to give the developers of GardenWalk $158 million in taxpayer subsidies so they can build a luxury hotel that will only cater to well-heeled tourists.  Now every out-of-town developer imaginable is going swoop down on City Hall and stand in line with their grubby paws out expecting the taxpayers to foot the bill for their schemes.

OJ:   So then I suppose, if you were on council you wouldn’t vote to renew the deal.

DR:  No. The developers are going to build a luxury hotel anyways given its close proximity to the Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks. The land it will sit on is some of the most valuable real estate in Anaheim. But the only reason why they got this sweetheart deal was because wealthy politicians sitting on the council did it so they can get campaign contributions from them in the future.

OJ:  What sort of demands should the city make before agreeing to any such giveaways in the future?

DR:  First, I’m vehemently opposed to giving taxpayer subsidies to multi-billion dollar corporations. Big business interests shouldn’t be using the city treasury as their personal piggybank. The time has come for us to end corporate welfare as we know it.

Second, the City of Anaheim has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars in public funds to improve infrastructure in and around in the Anaheim Resort Area. All of this has tremendously boosted the profits of the tourist industry.

One thing I strongly favor is the adoption of a city ordinance that would raise the wages of low paid workers of big hotels, restaurant chains, and the Anaheim Convention Center. Since they create the wealth, shouldn’t they share in the prosperity

In addition, if developers want to build something in Anaheim, they need to properly mitigate the impact their projects have on local parks, schools, traffic, and existing housing stock. I don’t believe in rubber stamping.  My priority is neighborhoods, not their bottom line.

OJ:  Do you support Take Back Anaheim’s “Let the People Vote” measure?   If you were on Council would you support putting it on a special election ballot early next year?

DR:  Yes.  And yes.

OJ:  Do you support districting?  Would you have put districting on the ballot this November?

DR:  Yes. But I would have voted to adopt districts.  And I would have supported settling with the ACLU.

OJ:  Six districts or eight?

DR:  Eight.

OJ:  Should Anaheim have a citizens oversight committee for the police? What would that entail, what powers should it have?

DR:  Yes. I favor establishing a civilian review board with subpoena power to maintain strict oversight of the Anaheim Police Department. But nobody should think this is a panacea for all of our problems. A well-organized public is the best response. The police need to understand that their behavior will be carefully scrutinized and that people will no longer tolerate abuse and misconduct.

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So.  You know my heart says Duane.  Or more specifically, “Leos-Roberts.”  But my heart also says, “Do anything to keep Murray and Eastman a minority,” which means “Do anything to defeat Brandman and Lodge, even if that might mean Leos-Kring or Leos-Chuchua.”  I’m SO glad I don’t have to decide, being merely an outside agitator!  What do you Anaheim voters think?  Honor system:  This poll is only for Anaheim voters…

 [poll id=”314″]

 


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.