Jordan Brandman’s Very Secretive, Not Quite Official, and Not-So-Great Park Scam

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Jordan Brandman not including mouth

This evening (Wednesday, September 30), residents of northeastern Anaheim and northwestern Orange will gather at Eastside Christian Church to hear the County explain the benefits of living close to a homeless shelter. As we have discussed here at OJB before, there actually ARE some benefits to having a shelter nearby, primarily rooted in human beings now having a place to perform bodily functions that does not involve local residents picking up their very special byproducts during the morning walk with the dogs.

You can read about that here, from a time not so long ago when a shelter was proposed for the City-owned parcel we call the “Karcher property.”  (It was purchased from the Carl’s Jr. burger empire’s surplus.)  That location for a shelter actually made some sense, given that it happens to be where homeless folks already congregate.  We would thus not have to import and transport them for our convenience — and combat their stubborn refusal to be treated like termites.

Toward the end of April, though, two events took place that now begin to clear up some mysteries centered upon Councilmember Jordan Brandman — the least vocal but perhaps most scheming of the three miscreants running their self-dealing operation at Anaheim City Hall.  Those events, and the events leading up to them, have been consistently recorded by one faithful blogger, Matt Cunningham, who has ascribed to them far more importance than seemed warranted — unless, of course, one was in on a plan from the beginning and was hired or at least encouraged to help spin the plan to the public and offer it a veneer of respectability or political cover.

Step One: On March 24, 2015, following a meeting on best practices for serving the homeless, Kristine Ridge personally told me that Jordan Brandman had asked her to put the new Kraemer site on the agenda, as a better solution to the Karcher property. That new proposal showed up on a City Council meeting agenda within one month. This is interesting, given that Brandman led the charge to strip the Mayor of his ability to place items on the Council agenda between meetings, but apparently the rules Brandman and company put into place for the Mayor don’t apply to them. (Gee, I thought this leveling the playing field thing was supposed to make City Hall “fair.”)

RESOLUTION NO. 2013 -151 A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ANAHEIM amending City Council Policy 1.6 of the City Council Policy Manual relating to the manner in which members of the City Council may place matters on the agenda of a regular City Council meeting.

May 1, 2015:  Cunningham had the anti-shelter website up and running, in time for the May 5, 2015 meeting where the Council discussed for the first time in public the intent to move the shelter.  (How handy that Matt knew about this in advance!)

Step Two: Despite his having been involved with the decision making process for the Karcher property, and the implied intent to use the property as a homeless shelter, once the decision was made to move the shelter to a completely useless location, the City Attorney all-of-a-sudden realized (or was it pointed out to him?) that the Mayor’s company does work for the County in a completely different department than those involved with the homeless shelter, and thus his involvement with a development that makes no public official any kind of money is somehow a violation of the prohibition against taking part in governmental decisions in which he has an ‘economic interest.”

Tait’s being conflicted out prevents his discussion of this issue, both on and off of the Council dais: discussion of the issues outside of meetings is considered influencing a governmental decision and he cannot play.  This is brought to you by the SAME crowd who believe it is perfectly OK for CSL to write a report specifically designed to influence a governmental decision to create a predetermined outcome as outlined in their contract for such work, while their parent company negotiates a lucrative contract with the subject of the glowing report their subsidiary was writing at the time.  (Yep, THAT was perfectly OK, but Tait taking part in discussion for a homeless shelter is a conflict.  Right, sure.  Nobody said it had to make sense; I am merely the messenger.)

CONSENT CALENDAR: Council Member Vanderbilt removed Item Nos. 11, 12, and 14 from the consent calendar for further discussion and Mayor Tait removed Item Nos. 9, 13, and 18.

Mayor Tait indicated he would abstain on Item Nos. 7 and 11 as his firm had worked with the County of Orange during the past year.

11. Approve the Cooperative Funding Agreement, in substantial form, with the County of Orange and City of Fullerton to facilitate the study and fund the acquisition of real property in connection with the potential establishment of a year-round homeless AGR- 8820 emergency shelter and multi- service center at 1000 N. Kraemer Place.

With Tait out of the way, this left only James Vanderbilt to ask those pesky questions about the new and “improved” location — a development that was attributed to pretty much everyone other than Jordan Brandman and Fullerton City Council member (and Pringle employee) Jennifer Fitzgerald, despite their having been behind their own respective organizations change in preference.  Well we here at OJB think that being an elected official is already such thankless work that to go without recognition for something this important really should befixed, so ladies and gentlemen, can we give it up for Brandman and Fitzgerald for this brilliant scheme that helps pretty much nobody, least of all the homeless human beings waiting for a place to sleep in safety.

James Vanderbilt has already proven himself to be a world-class question-asker, but in this case he lacked the proper background to understand WHY Jordan Brandman might be so interested in moving the homeless shelter to a location more convenient for … Jordan Brandman, To understand that, James Vanderbilt would have had to be watching the nuances of a barely covered exchange between Brandman and Anaheim’s parks and rec guru, the long-suffering Terry Lowe.

Rewind to a meeting of the City Council on March 25, 2014, in which Mr. Lowe offered a status report on parks, based on implementation of projects from the 2013 budget, and getting a read from Council on projects he expected to include in the upcoming 2014/15 budget in June.

Mr. Lowe proposed park projects that included:

  • Pelanconi Park Restoration
  • Chaparral Spray Park splash pad
  • Shade structure for The Carriage House in Founder’s Park
  • Outdoor fitness equipment for seniors at Downtown Community Center
  • Brookhurst Community Center

This next section is crucial, so let’s read directly from the March 25, 2014 meeting minutes:

Similarly, La Palma Park and Glover Stadium, which originally opened to the public as the city’s second park, had the potential to be developed as a more active sports park in response to the great demand for these facilities in Central Anaheim rather than the largely passive space that most of this park currently provided. It could easily be designed to continue as an excellent special events site for large annual festivals while meeting the sports needs of the youths of central Anaheim, however, the cost to do so, he remarked, prevented staff from bringing this vision to reality.

Discussing La Palma Park, Mr. Brandman indicated there had been some discussion about engaging the largest client of Glover Stadium, the school district, to determine their priorities since it was known they were considering a school bond.

Mr. Lowe remarked, other than a conceptual plan, the Redevelopment Agency originally had funds earmarked that would have replaced the natural turf with synthetic turf, but with the loss of the Agency, staff now continued a high standard of maintenance to ensure the turf was safe for high school baseball players.

Since the stadium was only used a couple of days a week, there was a lot of downtime to allow staff to keep it at the level it was today. Mr. Lowe added he did share with the school district the possibility of getting future funds for the synthetic turf because he wanted to ensure they were supportive of that change, and he remarked, they were.  Once implemented, the general public could use the stadium seven days a week to maximize its revenue potential to help offset the operational cost.

Mr. Lowe indicated he had not reached the point as to whether the Districts would contribute funds toward that improvement, although he did inquire whether they would prefer a separate football and baseball stadium on behalf of Council Member Brandman’s earlier request.

Mr. Lowe pointed out another issue: once the structure of La Palma Park was changed, it would trigger ADA mandates increasing the cost of the project. In the long term, he felt the needs would still be there and this facility should stay on the list for funding opportunities in the future. Council Member Brandman remarked that given the school district’s use of Glover and the potential for soccer fields on that sight, he suggested Mr. Lowe discuss this with the school district to suggest a partnership in light of their proposed bond issue to move this project forward in the next three years with Mr. Lowe concurring.

So Jordan smells fresh bond money in the water, and has a plan to spend it on separate baseball and football stadiums, despite the District’s claim that the site is just fine but they would like MORE USE of it. Yet the only plan for increased use is linked to the public’s PROFITABLE use of the stadium.

Later during the same meeting of March 25, 2014, Council approved the purchase of the Karcher site — while claiming that no purpose had yet been determined.

21. RESOLUTION NO. 2014 -047 A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ANAHEIM approving the acquisition of a 3.073 -acre (approximate) AGR -8026 unimproved parcel of real property known as Assessor’s Parcel Nos. 073 – 083 -33 and 073 – 083 -34 in the City of Anaheim from Karcher Partners, LLC and determining that said acquisition is exempt from the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act CEQA) under section 15004( 2)(b)( A of the State CEQA guidelines.

Kristine Ridge, Deputy City Manager, reported this item was for the adoption of a resolution to approve a purchase agreement permitting the city to acquire a three -acre parcel within city limits. She emphasized it was only for the purchase of the property, and that no use for that site had yet been determined, adding that should a future use be proposed, it would return to Council for final action.

Council Member Brandman moved to approve RESOLUTION NO. 2014 -047 OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ANAHEIM approving the acquisition of a 3.073 -acre (approximate) unimproved parcel of real property known as Assessor’s Parcel Nos. 073 – 083 -33 and 073 -083- 34 in the City of Anaheim from Karcher Partners, LLC and determining that said acquisition is exempt from the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) under section 15004( 2)(b)( A of the State CEQA guidelines, seconded by Council Member Kring.

AYES — 5: Mayor Tait and Council Members: Brandman, Eastman, Kring and Murray.)
NOES — 0. Motion Carried.

Within one month, the OC Register reported on April 22, 2014 that the City Council intended to use the property for a shelter, despite there having been no public disclosure of that plan.

Clearly a homeless shelter is at odds with Jordan Brandman’s desire for a sports center to stretch from La Palma Park to the freeway, using the City-owned parcels within that triangular strip of real estate in northernmost Anaheim, and extending down to use the Karcher site.

A pesky homeless shelter obstructing his plans was not the only obstacle standing in the way of Jordan’s Great Plan.  Jordan’s vision for the “La Palma Park Expansion Master Plan” does not appear to EXIST, at least not in any official place outside the mind of Jordan Brandman, and possibly within the long-abandoned hopes of former Mayor Tom Daly, who originated the plan to expand La Palma park, many years (and two Mayoral administrations) prior to today.

  • City Staff has told Jordan there is no plan.
  • City Staff has told the Parks and Rec Commission there is no plan.
  • And yet, Jordan Brandman is convinced there is a Plan — so convinced that he ordered the relocation of the homeless shelter to the Kraemer site where it benefits nobody.

Worse, the NUMBER ONE user of the park and Glover Stadium/DeeFee Field, is the high school district, as Jordan pointed out in March 2014. But when staff pitched the idea to the school district, at Jordan’s insistence, the school district told staff they have NO NEED of the dedicated use stadiums for football and baseball. And given the sorry state of school facilities and bond money that covers the smallest fraction of needed repairs, the school district has many, many higher priorities for limited funds than to underwrite Jordan’s Big Dream.

Clearly the Machiavellian plans to prevent that evil Mayor Tait from ruining everything by meeting the needs of homeless people on the site of Jordan’s Grand Plan took on greater importance than any of us recognized at the time.

On April 25, 2014 Matt Cunningham went nuts because CATER failed to lose our collective minds over the Karcher purchase. I could not figure out why we were supposed to care. But if one is convinced that CATER is nothing but the enforcement arm of Tom Tait’s evil leadership schemes, then our involvement is tied in the minds of the Cunningham sock puppets to the desires of Tait.

BTW, I had forgotten how much I loved Ryan Cantor’s diss of the year here, as it appeared in the comments at Matt Cunningham’s fever swamp regarding CATER’s failure to “catch” this horrid violation of the public trust, because purchasing land in an open public meeting is so much worse than the schemes of some to use the land without a vote in an open and public meeting. Take a minute and enjoy an exchange that only the smart-ass brilliance of Ryan Cantor can offer to readers.

Ryan Cantor
April 25, 2014 at 4:20 pm
What in the Sam Hill are you talking about?

Matthew Cunningham
April 25, 2014 at 4:49 pm
What part do you not understand?

Ryan Cantor
April 25, 2014 at 6:07 pm
What part did you?

Matthew Cunningham
April 25, 2014 at 6:18 pm
You can communicate or be a wise-ass.

Ryan Cantor
April 25, 2014 at 6:26 pm
I’m pretty sure I can do both.

Good times, Mr. Cantor. Thank you for that.

At the time I did not understand Cunningham’s berserk attack over a city purchase that didn’t seem to bother anyone. After all, this is someone who didn’t mind the City Council GIVING AWAY FOR ONE DOLLAR high value property 50 times the size of the Karcher property without informing the property-‘owning taxpayers of their intent in advance.

But in retrospect, if the City did buy the land with an eye to its specific use, it was wrong for them to not disclose that at the time. Now that the Mayor has been blocked from discussing the shelter due to his company’s work with the County, I suspect we may never get a full accounting of how that timeline worked out. Brandman is not going to tell us, and nobody else is likely to ask him how long he has been planning to hijack the park plans for his own “visionary scheme.”

By December 2014, Cunningham was crowing about the site being moved. Again. Mayor Tait was involved in discussions at that point even though it was clear that the County was involved in the process.

It is Cunningham’s constant involvement — and his seeing importance in issues that were mundane (unless of course you understood how important they were to Brandman) — that is the giveaway here.  So is it any surprise that Cunningham is now the point man for the opposition campaign to dump the shelter that Brandman ordered moved in the first place — a shelter of which Cunningham knew the importance before the rest of us did. The whole damn thing reeks of “set up.”

Fully a year and a half after Brandman first brought up the La Palma park issue in a public meeting, there is still no “plan” presented for anyone’s approval. Mind you, Anaheim has a Parks Commission, and the standard procedure would include presenting the plan to them as the advisory board to the Council, and then once approved by the Commish a plan would be presented for Council approval. You would THINK so….

As of August 26, 2015, meeting Minutes show Parks Commission Chair Manes did inquire about a plan for La Palma park, and was told by parks staffer Larry Pasco that staff would like to “expand the park north of the existing park boundaries, and to also renovate the west side of the park, in between Glover Stadium and Harbor Blvd. Staff also reported on the sale of Anaheim Way property to help fund the project or to be used elsewhere in the City’s park system.

That does not sound like funds are restricted to provide parks for the Platinum Triangle area.  It is contrary to what was said (or at least implied) by staff during the Council meeting to rezone park space as industrial. “Larry Pasco stated that planning has not yet started for expansion of the park site.”

Now while James Vanderbilt had missed the initial origin of the issues Brandman was counting on as the City approved working with the County on the new and not-so-improved Kraemer site, he made up for it in spades during the August 25, 2015 meeting, when during discussion of the GOALs Academy’s use of City owned property Vanderbilt caught on to Brandman’s little land scheme. Again, working from meeting minutes provided by the City:

“Council Member Vanderbilt pointed out that the City Council recently received information showing several scenarios for La Palma Park, the most recent one showed a small modification in terms of the total footprint, and two earlier versions went to Romneya Drive.

Mr. Lowe explained one site showed a separate football and baseball stadium that took up the entire square block, arterial to arterial to the freeway and to La Palma; that was a conceptual drawing, showing “what if” ideas and which would require more acquisition of property. The memo he sent referred to the existing footprint of the park and the expansion of the park as it was originally directed; i.e. acquire parcels to create a larger space for athletic fields which could be accomplished with the acquisition of a couple of more parcels. Council Member Vanderbilt asked if this was Council Member Brandman’s vision for La Palma with Mr. Brandman responding it was the full vision inspired in the master plan.”

Brandman’s answer to Vanderbilt not only indicates that a plan exists — at least within his increasingly frightening mind — but it also puts the lie to that other urban legend, that the GOALS ACADEMY killed off the shelter for fear it would hurt their fledgling campus.

I don’t doubt that a homeless shelter is not a selling point to parents when opening a new Charter School. But the shelter was moved from the Karcher site in May, while months later in August Brandman was complaining about not KNOWING about the Goals Academy.

AUGUST 4, 2015 reflected in Meeting Minutes for the discussion of GOALS ACADEMY:
“Council Member Brandman expressed concern that not once during this lengthy process was the city consulted as to what their priorities were for that property and now the Anaheim City School District had put the city in a position that if this agreement were to be approved, La Palma Park would not expand as envisioned by past city leaders, an effort that he had long championed.”

In fact, the meeting minutes show that if Brandman had known of GOALS wanting that site he would have worked to move them from the location to elsewhere, for fear of their interfering with his grand plan for the park expansion. So it is unlikely that Brandman asked Kristine Ridge in April to move the shelter to Kraemer for a school he didn’t want on the Karcher site to begin with.

08/25/2015: ” Mayor Tait inquired if Council Member Brandman had been consulted, would he have been against the agreement (to open the GOALS Charter school) with Mr. Brandman responding that he would and had the school district consulted the city, the charter school would have been located elsewhere.”

WHAT MASTER PLAN IS THIS? The discussion of August 25, 2015 took place ONE NIGHT before City staff told their Parks Commission chair THERE IS NO PLAN. Would Jordan Brandman like to let the rest of us in on his little secret?

Would Jordan Brandman like to explain to the residents and business owners around the Kraemer site why he determined his “plan” for stadiums we cannot afford for a school district that does not want nor need them is of more importance than the desires of his own constituents?

Would Jordan Brandman like to explain to the homeless folks scattered around Anaheim, being harassed out of the park with their goods being taken without reason or redemption offered by our own Police officers, that the hope they are clinging to for ANY type of help has been delayed yet again because of his own scheming plans for property he has not ever been granted the authority of two additional votes to begin planning for?

Jordan Brandman is running for higher office in a field dominated by Democrats.  It is time for the DPOC to call Brandman on the carpet and demand answers for his actions in this matter. Brandman’s self-serving behavior is a roadblock to helping those most in need. Brandman’s self-serving behavior is creating a bitter division between business owners, residents, and their elected officials. Brandman’s self-serving behavior is unwanted by the schools and would financially harm them if forced to expend their precious and limited resources to fund stadiums that fall far to the bottom of the priority scale.

WHY? Why is Jordan so hell-bent on this wacky scheme he is trying to convince the world has ‘always been the plan” — with his own special version of the speech spewing forth endlessly during the wee hours of the July Disney meeting. Does anyone else get the feeling he owes someone for the lost opportunity to build the new stadium for Arte Moreno that is not materializing? Anyone want to go through Jordan’s campaign donors looking for concrete contractors?  (That’s OK, I am sure Lou’s people will get on that pretty quick.)

By April 2015, Terry Lowe gives a new presentation on parks development, with a whole new direction from what was given one year prior, in March 2014, and we have now heard about the Anaheim Way site being sold off for $4MM to fund La Palma park expansion. That is a pretty definitive set of actions for something that lacks a plan and has never once been presented to the City Council or Parks Commission for any official action to create a policy direction for staff.

April 21, 2015 workshop on future parks:
SLIDE 10
PLATINUM TRIANGLE FUND SUMMARY
Sale of Anaheim Way Site $4,000,000
SLIDE 11
ADDITIONAL FUNDING RECOMMENDATIONS & FUNDING
STRATEGY
Utilize net proceeds from Anaheim Way Site to fund the Master Planning and renovation of La Palma Park to include Glover Stadium, Dee Fee Field, the existing western portion of the park as well as the expansion of the park to adjacent City owned properties.”
Does that sound like what staff told the Council the night they rezoned the Anaheim Way property?

5:30 P.M. PUBLIC HEARING:

35. GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT NO. 2014-00496
RECLASSIFICATION NO . 2014-00269 (DEV2014-00045)
OWNER: City of Anaheim, Community Services, 200 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim CA 92805
APPLICANT: City of Anaheim, Community Development, 201 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim CA 92805
LOCATION: The 7 acre property is located at 1710 – 1730 South Anaheim
Way, approximately 530 feet south of the centerline of Anaheim Boulevard.

Proposed: To amend the General Plan Land Use designation from Parks to Industrial for an industrial property previously proposed as a park site; remove the Park designation from figures in the General Plan Land Use, Circulation and Green Elements; and, rezone two of the four parcels from the Commercial (C-G) zone to Industrial (I) zone.

“Mr. Belmer indicated the proposal to amend the general plan and change the zoning on this parcel was not an abandonment of the city’s desire to further its recreation amenities in this city.  He added the sales proceeds generated from this property would be used to improve either existing sports facilities in Anaheim or to seek additional park development to further the city’s long-term recreational goals.”

Doesn’t he mean to fund Jordan Brandman’s long-term recreational goals”?

So: who is going to ask Jordan the hard questions now?


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.