“…For Where Your Treasure Is…” (Anaheim Chamber finds new digs.)

As Jesus perceptively explained, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21.) In Anaheim we see that value system reflected in spending policies, as the most generous of taxpayer subsidies and benefits can be traced to the one little sliver of land that ironically is forbidden, by law, to house actual voters. We see it in the campaign events taking place at (so far) The Catch, and Honda Center’s spiffy new Grand Terrace. Despite being Ground Zero for the most controversial land grab in Anaheim history, elected officials are quick to use Angel Stadium for fundraising events, and one badly staged announcement of candidacy, where Lucille Kring‘s handlers did not catch the imagery those photos would offer her political enemies. What’s that? They say Dave Ellis is advising her? Well now it makes sense…

Now we even see it in geography, as AnaheimBlog’s Matt Cunningham shares office space with The Curtster. This week’s Anaheim Bulletin tells us that the Chamber of Commerce is moving to the same Stadium Towers office building. Perhaps Mother Hen is simply gathering his chicks about him at Kleptocracy Central.

Art Marroquin shares the thoughts of Chamber head Todd Ament in Thursday’s paper:

“A big part of our job center will be along the Katella Avenue corridor, a location that our leadership felt would put us in the best position to move forward,” Ament said.

Budget numbers show the Resort District is increasingly becoming a closed system, with money generated by tourism going to the General Fund long enough to be counted for campaign literature, and then diverted right back out again for special projects funded for special friends of the Council majority. So it only makes sense that those in charge of the Crony Capitalism Empire would want to be located in its bosom.

The Bulletin article reflected the Chamber waxing rabid in its defensive posture, including this tidbit:

“Even though the Chamber suffered financial setbacks during the recession, Ament said that the move does not signal any current difficulties. The Chamber will not owe any outstanding charges when its current lease expires at the Kraemer building, he said.”

Wow. I’m not sure I have ever heard such a glowing and enthusiastic announcement of moving up to more luxurious digs.  These are the same folks who spun a disastrous audit detailing potential conflict of interest, poor reporting standards, and questionable results into a glowing report of success in implementing the Enterprise Zone. So I expected something more optimistic, perhaps along the lines of, “Thanks to the booming recovery of Anaheim’s economy, which the Chamber of Commerce is wholly responsible for, while following the visionary leadership of the elected officials who are NOT Tom Tait, the Chamber of Commerce is proud to announce our spanking new headquarters, which reflect our stunning success as business experts.”  Instead we’re offered a lukewarm semi-apology, sorta like…  “Well, yes, we are moving, but we are not stiffing our landlord, and no we aren’t having financial trouble.  The rent is the same because we got a great subsidy deal from the landlord. Go, us!”

Really, who writes the Chamber’s stuff? Oops, never mind.

Todd Ament told the Register the rent is the same, but he wouldn’t disclose how much they have been paying at the Kraemer Building, for the “similarly sized” 3,500 sq ft of space. For the truly curious, they have paid $36,625 in annual occupancy expenses on their most recent 990 form. That seems insanely cheap for prime real estate. Any commercial real estate types out there want to put that in perspective for us? It turns out this highly desirable office building is swimming in “opportunities” for new tenants, surprising for a location advertising itself as the best address in town, in what the City Council tries to present as a highly desirable area that businesses are dying to work in

Gaffe of the week award would have gone to Ament, if not for the Kring-Murray debacle at Monday night’s GOP meeting, so Todd will have to settle for second place with this little nugget; ”Stadium Towers offered the best deal, and they had a huge vacancy they were looking to fill.” Ament said, “They put together a package of incentives that we couldn’t refuse.”

Other than sounding like the Godfather is his new landlord, what Ament made clear is that folks are not exactly pounding down the doors demanding office space in the Stadium District! Indeed the bright shining example of high-density urban living in the Platinum Triangle “had a huge vacancy they were looking to fill.”  What should be the most prestigious address in Anaheim needed to offer “a package of incentives that we couldn’t refuse” in order to get space rented. I can understand offering a loss leader for some high profile business that lends cache’ to an address… but here we are discussing an organization known to be tanking both money and credibility, an organization whose reputation is so shot that Ament offers defensive posturing in his announcement of new office space, an announcement that should be a triumph. If the best address in town is forced to offer subsidy deals to entice what few landlords would call an “A list” tenant, is it any wonder so many of us question the viability of City Council’s claim that we really, really need more office space at the Stadium?

Makes sense!  Sure, let’s write down the Stadium land lease to one dollar so a mystery developer can build more office space, as the perfect compliment to the empty loft buildings nobody wants to live in. Then maybe Todd Ament can get a great subsidy deal on a new condo, to go along with his subsidized workspace. But it’s OK folks, we will make our money back in volume, only a matter of time!

About Cynthia Ward

I am a truth-teller. It gets me in trouble. But if you ask me if a dress makes you look fat, I will tell you so, and help select another, before you go on television and realize it for yourself. My real friends are expected to be truthful with me as well. A secret shared will be taken to my grave, but lie to me, and it will end up here…on these pages… especially if you are tasked with the stewardship of public resources. I am a registered Republican who disdains the local GOP power structure, a born-again Christian who supports everyone’s right to spend their lives with the partner of their choosing. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister. I am a loyal friend to those who merit that friendship and when crossed I am a bitch with a capital C. I do not fit into a box, nor do I see others through the stereotypes that politics and public affairs so often tries to shoehorn us into. I think for myself, and so do you. Welcome to our shared space in this world.