Betraying Latinos, Brandman Shuts Central Anaheim Out of 2016 Election, Part 1




The City Council’s meeting videos has been down this morning — “We are experiencing technical issues and are currently working on this issue.”  That’s too bad — because you’ll need to see what the Council majority did last night regarding Anaheim districting to believe it.  A link to the video will be posted below, along with the time stamps for what you’ll want to view, when it becomes available.  Until then, Adam Elmahrek’s piece on Voice of OC about last night’s meeting is, as usual, must-reading for Anaheim politics — and it contains many juicy quotes.

1. Brandman Joins Murray and Kring in Denying Largest Latino District Two Extra Years of Representation

Word on the street for months has been that the City Council majority did not plan to tilt the table against Latinos by choosing a map that blatantly disadvantaged them.  Instead, it would undermine reform in its choice of which four of the six new districts would go forward with an election in 2016 and which two would wait until 2018 for their first shot at self-determination.  That’s what they did Tuesday night — and they did so in almost the most audacious and atrocious way imaginable.

Most shockingly — at least to anyone who might try to understand Anaheim politics using a standard understanding of party politics — the deciding vote to betray the interests of Latinos came from the Council’s sole Democrat, Jordan Brandman.

But, as last night showed once again, the two parties in Anaheim aren’t Democratic and Republican.  It’s the Disney Party vs. the People’s Party.  It’s all about Disney and some of its wealthy corporate associates squeezing as much money out of the city’s people as they can — a totally unnecessary and unneighborly move for one of the richest corporations in the world.

To see what happened, let’s go to the map.

Guess which Anaheim flatlands district won't get to vote on its representative in 2016?

Guess which Anaheim flatlands district WON’T get to vote on its own representation in 2016?  Guess which one has the most Latinos?

The Council’s task last night was to choose which two districts would sit out the 2016 election.  (Anaheim Hills, the district in yellow at the right, goes on for roughly the length of the rest of the city.)  After the 2016 election, one of victors in the the four 2016 districts will be chosen at random to have to face re-election again in 2018.  (This becomes important later on.)

When the public hearing on the meeting began, about 10 people — largely from the same coalition that pushed the “Reyes 2” map into the position of being the “Recommended Plan” of the panel of judges, spoke to ask the Council to set 2016 elections for Districts 1, 3, 4, and 5.  (In order, 3, 4, and 5 will be the most Latino districts in the city.  Districts 1 and 2 are pretty much equivalent.  District 6, Anaheim Hills, is the least Latino.)

Mayor Tom Tait said, once public comment had ended, that coming into the meeting he had planned to propose that the identities of the districts facing 2016 elections be chosen randomly out of a hat.  However, hearing unanimous support from the audience for the “1, 3, 4, 5” option, he would instead propose that plan.  Councilmember James Vanderbilt seconded the motion.  Not a word had been spoken supporting any other alternative when Councilmember Kris Murray was recognized to speak.

Murray proposed an amendment to the motion: that District 2 — the district immediately west of Euclid, be substituted for District 3 as having a 2016 election.  Her reasoning was that she resided in District 6 and could easily represent it, while Vanderbilt (who lives in the far east — and least Latino — part of District 3) could represent that district.  She and Lucille Kring repeatedly — for the first time that I can recall anyone saying from this dais, Vanderbilt included — referred to him as “Latino” — which he is, in much the same way that Barack Obama can be characterized as “of British ancestry” based on his mother.

2. The Councilwomen Hijack Vanderbilt’s Ancestry to Disenfranchise Latinos

Let’s have a little aside on that issue — before things, as they will, get even weirder:

As I recall, Vanderbilt’s mother is from either Costa Rica or Chile — definitely not Mexico.  He ran for School Board the first time in 2004 using the surname “Vanderbilt-Linares” — and he lost.  Since then he’s been “Vanderbilt” on GOP Central Committee, School Board, and Council ballots.  Adam’s piece is very good on this:

“We have a sitting Latino representative in three,” said Kring in a reference to the Latino majority district in the center of the city. “Mr. Vanderbilt has served there, and served there honorably.”

The logic bewildered some in the crowd. Several had no idea Vanderbilt was Latino until that night.)

Conservative Republican Vanderbilt himself seemed somewhere between perplexed and perturbed at suddenly being anointed by the Council majority as the One True — or at least Sufficient — representative of the heavily liberal, Democratic, and Mexican District Three.  Back to Adam:

Vanderbilt himself brought up a point that undermines the council majority’s argument. He pointed out that he actually won second place in the citywide election. While under an at-large system that means he still won a seat, under a district election there is no seat for second place.

It’s also largely assumed that incumbents might be moving around the city in order to run in a district where they think they will win. So if Vanderbilt moves, he’s no longer representing the district under the council majority’s logic.

None of that mattered to the Council majority.  Vanderbilt’s widely unknown ethnicity and home at the edge of District 3 was useful to them in eliminating it from the 2016 election — and that is what mattered.

3. Kring Climbs on Board the Murray-mobile, but Surely Congressional Candidate Brandman Wouldn’t — Right?  Right?

Kring seconded Murray’s motion to substitute District 2 for District 3.  This was no surprise.  Generally, on these sorts of “important to Pringle and/or Disney” issues, Murray comes briefed with the finest grade of misleading bullshit, handcrafted by the most expert dissemblers, to spray into the public’s ears.  (Remember when she said, at the front end of this process, that Anaheim should have districts but allow the whole city to vote on who is elected to each seat — which defeats the very purpose of “self-representation”?  Sure you do.  And yes, we see you averting your gaze there, Santa Ana.)

That it would come down to a 2-2 vote with Brandman as the decider was no surprise.  Normally, he would be aligned with Murray — but it would seem hard for a Democratic candidate for Congress, in a district that included Santa Ana as well as Anaheim, to slap Latinos quite this hard in the face.  Murray and Brandman are devoted to each other, but they would not be above a little theater — where Murray (whose vote Kring seems to be instructed to follow in such situations) created a situation that not only ingratiated her with Republicans and those in the stripe of foothills including Anaheim Hills, but would also allow Brandman to “vanquish her” and come out as a hero to Latinos and Democrats.

On the other hand, maybe Disney just really wanted District 3 out of the 2016 election, in which event Brandman would just have to go along.

Brandman came in well-briefed — which was an early sign of trouble.  He’s not going to “well-brief” himself well, which means that he had been programmed and dispatched.  But was he briefed to be a hero or a traitor?  While he might have come in well-briefed for political theater, all doubt quickly went away: he was there to argue that because West Anaheim — especially District 1 — hadn’t had a representative on City Council for quite some time, and while District 3 had been overrepresented (by himself, Vanderbilt, and Gail Eastman) on Council in recent years, it was only fair that West Anaheim get its two representatives immediately.

We’ll get to a much broader critique in Part 2, but this has certain problems from the very start.

First, Lucille Kring has considered herself part of West Anaheim for years — she was reportedly trying to tie her house to in the southwest corner of district 4 to what has now become District 1 — and has less than no affinity for the Ponderosa-centered “core” of District 4.

Second, District 3 has only been able to be represented by people supported by all of Anaheim — and competent Latino Democrats have generally not even run for the past decade, with the exception of Dr. Jose Moreno, who got swamped by Disney’s independent expenditures.  (John Leos, remember, is a Republican; Lorri Galloway is an Iberian-Filipina from Anaheim Hills rather than, as she has reportedly sometimes claimed, actually Latino — let alone “Lorri from the Block.”)

And finally — for this installment — the people who have supposedly “represented” District 3 for the past decade have not really been representative of District 3.  James Vanderbilt is a good guy, but he’s a conservative Republican generally understood to be white.  Gail Eastman is, unlike most Latinos, not a Democrat — and she has been quite conservative, especially on crime issues (although she hasn’t been as wacky as Kring.)  The only Democrat since Richard Chavez who has actually lived in District 3 is Jordan Brandman himself — the guy who didn’t think that Anaheim had a policing problem when he ran in 2012, the guy who practically had to be tackled by Loretta Sanchez to go along with a districting program at all, the guy who endorsed two white Kleptocratic Republicans over Democratic Party-endorsed Dr. Jose Moreno, and now the guy who has pushed off the representation of Anaheim’s ONLY majority-minority district for two years to a non-Presidential election year, when disproportionately far fewer Latinos vote!

He claims that District 2 has been unrepresented while District 3 has been represented?  That’s not how Latinos in District 3 feel — and they are the ones who brought the lawsuit that led to this change!  He himself is the refutation of his own argument!

The funny thing is that Jordan has been telling people for over a year that he’s likely to move.  Once he drops out of the race for Congress — something that this vote seems to make almost inevitable — endorses Lou Correa for the seat, pockets the money he’s raised for a future campaign and aims for re-election to Council — the most likely district for him to head to for two years is … District 2!  With Connor Traut headed for a showdown with Amanda Edinger in District 1, he could move to the west side of the Anaheim Island (which I’ve heard is the lowest crime area of District 2) right down the street from Traut in District 1, and the two of them could rule the West from right across the border.

(Hmmm … how’d that map make that result possible, anyway?  I’ll have to think on this.)

More to come!  Meanwhile, to get yourself up to speed for Part 2, read this.  That’s going to matter.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)