Disney Gate Tax Dialogues, Part 9: All’s Well That Ends Well – If You Show Up and Speak



Eye on Anaheim City Council

[Editor’s note: There’s a lot for us to cover here before the Anaheim City Council votes next THIS Tuesday on Disney’s “Gate Tax” proposal — so to make it go down more smoothly we’re presenting it as a play involving Orange Juice characters.  Substantive dialogue from Cynthia Ward.]

[In Part 1 of our story, taking place in in the secret Orange Juice Blog Headquarters overlooking the GardenWalk complex, Cynthia Ward explains to Vern Nelson and Greg Diamond how Disney was originally not bent on sucking as much money as possible out of taxpayers. In Part 2, she explains how and when (and why) Disney started to get nasty.  In Part 3, she explains what happened almost 20 years ago, the LAST time a gate tax was proposed.  In Part 4, she explains how, based on its own figures and promises, the 1996 agreement has been a huge failure for the City.  In Part 5, she explains how Disney has apparently failed to meet the major obligation that made the 1996 deal even arguably reasonable for the City.  In Part 6, she addresses details of the Staff Report for the July 7 meeting.  In Part 7, she presents an epic rant on all of the ways that Anaheim has subsidized Disneyland and ultimately falls into a stupor and onto a couch.  In this Part 8, we were joined by Richard Ward and other healers for Cynthia’s broader purple-prose critique.  Now, the denouement!]

CYNTHIA WARD:  TINKERBELL?  You really tried to revive me with the speech from Tinkerbell?

(Cynthia’s remark is aimed at Greg, who looks sheepish.  Richard is on the couch next to his wife, trying not to crack up laughing.  Their dogs are at her feet.  Vern is at the portable keyboard noodling through Disney’s classic song catalogue.)

GREG DIAMOND: Well, you looked like you were dying.  I figured it couldn’t hurt.  And I panicked.

VERN NELSON: I think it was the organ music that scared her straight.

CW: No, hearing the Dies Irae did not help.  I was already waking up.

RICHARD WARD: The corgis seem pleased to have you back.

CW: They should be.  Richard, would you remind Greg of what character serves as the unofficial mascot of the Disney company?

GD: Mickey Mouse, right?

RW: No – it’s Tinkerbell.

GD: Well, that’s awkward.

CW: You tried to revive me … by turning me into Disney’s mascot.

GD: Yeah — well, unlike Sara, I wasn’t going to try True Love’s Toe Lick.  Anyone want a mint julep?

RW: I’ll have a double.

GD: OK — a mint julep for me and a Doublemint julep for you.  (He walks off.)

VN: Greg was right about one thing, though.

CW: What’s that?

VN: That the problem is that people don’t believe.  That was the genius of that scene in the Peter Pan musical.  It got people to participate.

RW: “Do you believe in fairies?”

GD (from off-stage): I said “FAIRNESS,” not “Fairies”!  That was a GREAT ad lib!

VN (yelling to Greg): Shut up, you egotist!  (To the Wards:) Not that there’s anything wrong with egotism.

CW: So — DO people believe in fairness?  Enough to show up on July 7, I mean?

RW: I really don’t know.  Having the meeting right after a big holiday vacation weekend has made it a lot harder to organize people.

CW: Just like when it happened in Labor Day 2013 for the Angels Stadium leases.

VN: The unions will show up – but that’s because they believe in JOBS.  No matter what.

CW: Even though the agreement provides for local hiring, but not union hiring.  The joke’s on them.

RW: “Fool me 100 times, shame on me.”

CW: The question is: do people not understand what’s going on?  Or do they understand and not care?

GD (returning from kitchen): I’m not sure that it’s either one.  Here you go, Richard – Doublemint julep.  I put in an extra Juicyfruit just for flavor.

RW (taking drink): Merci.

GD: Some people don’t believe us, because lots of figures they’d expect to respect keep saying that everything is OK — even though most of them are in the bag for Disney, the Angels, the Chamber, etc.  But, especially because of the Mayor, I think most are willing to hear us out.

CW: Hand me your julep. Richard.  To the Mayor!  (Drinks.)  Not bad.  Did you really flavor it with chewing gum?

RW: He did.

GD: Some people are just afraid to act.  Afraid of the consequences of crossing Disney.

VN: We celebrate the 4th of July, but we forget that only a small portion of the colonial population sided with the rebels.

GD: But I think that the big one is that people just don’t think that they can DO anything to change things.  It’s called “political efficacy.”  If people are going to put in effort in vain, they’d prefer it be about something that doesn’t really matter, like a videogame.

CW: But we are changing things.  We got districts. We reelected the Mayor.

VN: You guys stopped the Angels Stadium giveaway.  That would have gone right through without you and Brian Chuchua.

RW: In the bonds case, they had to admit that they were violating both the charter and the state constitution.

GD: Yeah, but some of those are hard to explain, esepcially in three minutes of public comments.  (Sips his julep.  Pulls out a stick of chewing gum.  Looks at Richard.)  You switched drinks on me.

RW: It might have been Maggie.

GD (sips again and grimaces): I wonder if people will show up and speak on the 7th.  What time is it again – 5:00 in Council Chambers?

CW: Yes, although this is the public hearing.  That’s scheduled for 5:30, but who knows when it will happen.  People have to be prepared for a long night.

VN: At least they can bring their kids.  We can listen to them cry about their future.

CW: They can also hold some feet to the fire.  No one is surprised that Disney is trying to do this 45 year smash-and-grab.  They’re a corporation; unless the people in change have an unusually strong conscience, it’s what they do.  But the shock is that we expect that our political leaders represent the interests of those who elected them, and get between Disney and the heist that they are planning.  And a bare majority of the City Council has said that they plan to let us down.

GD: One good thing for people who show up: at least they’ll have gone on record.  There’s honor in doing that.  The more research you do on Anaheim’s history, the more I’m struck of the power of just stating the truth at a Council meeting.  It’s like sending out a time capsule for the future, for a time when knowing the truth may help them.

CW: In this case, it may help next November – when these politicians will have to defend their vote.

VN: Hey, Diamond, I have a question for you.  I’ve read every installment of this piece, and in each one you get the last line of dialogue.  What’s that all about?

GD:  Well, in Anaheim politics, I rarely get the last word.  So I have been enjoying it while I can.

MAGGIE WARD: That’s nice.  And Sara and I have been enjoying eating your sandals.  Now everybody show up to the City Council meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 7.  It’s at City Hall, 200 S. Anaheim Blvd., on the east side of the street between Lincoln and Broadway.  Take Broadway, then a left on 42nd Street, to get to free parking in the structure right behind the building.  Arf!

SARA WARD: And if you’re in Anaheim Hills – you have the same City Hall as the rest of Anaheim.  We need to hear from you too.  Public comments will probably go past 6:30 today, so show up when you can and join in!  (You don’t even have to give your name if you don’t want to.)  Arf.

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Identity suspected but unsure, Anaheim Insider is SOME slavish devotee of Curt Pringle and the Disney/Chamber kleptocracy in the OC's biggest city, and can always be counted on to spout their official line. [OK, he's a satirical character based on the anonymous "Anaheim Insider" who posts on Matt Cunningham's "AnaheimBlog.net", and is known for his tagline "Anaheim Insider here" and referring to Mr. Pringle as "The Great Man."] Oh, and of late, the editors have been using "Anaheim Insider" for non-satirical Anaheim-related pieces which are either collaborative or simple announcements.