Disney FAILED Its TEST! A Million-Dollar 90% White Slate to Block Latinos from City Council is TERRIBLE BRANDING

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Do you get the sense that maybe Disney didn't think the election all of the way through?

Do you sense that maybe Disney didn’t think this City Council election all of the way through?

[Bumping this up to where we can still see it — and think about it]

(1) The Form of Reform … and the Content of Discontent

I’ve been waiting to see if anyone would comment on what an outsider would immediately spot as the starkest aspect of today’s Anaheim City Council election.  So far, I haven’t seen it discussed.  But it needs to be discussed.

First, recognize that Anaheim’s City Council District elections have been a huge success.  Interest and participation in the City Council races is through the roof; continued civic engagement will follow.  Dr. Jose MorenoAmin David, Tom TaitJames Vanderbilt, and countless other proponents of this reform were right; Kris MurrayJordan Brandman, Gail Eastman, and Lucille Kring, and their establishment allies were wrong.  (And no, belatedly conceding on a final vote after spending years trying to delay or destroy this reform does not make you a reformer!)

Second, let’s recognize that a main point of the reforms was to give Latinos a fair shot at representation.  It wasn’t “neighbors representing neighbors” just for the heck of it; it was a lawsuit against a racially discriminatory system that brought it down. Latinos and other minorities got all that they could legally ask for; a system that gives them a shot at success by bringing down the size of districts to something that at least dilutes the power of money versus grassroots campaigning, even if it obviously can’t eliminate it.  (Obviously.  Very obviously.)

form of elections that gives Latinos a fair shot in theory does not guarantee that they will actually have a fair shot in practice.  For example, it could be that whiter candidates will have so much more money behind them than (let’s use a general term) browner candidates in an election that whiter candidates win despite a more equitable form of elections.  No political reform alone will change that.  Only a social taboo can prevent it.

Here is that social taboo: the idea that for special interests to spend massively and disproportionately on whiter candidates, so that they will still beat browner candidates in a largely brown city that is every year becoming more so, too blatantly blocks the legitimate aspirations of the minorities that will dominate Anaheim’s future.

In short: the solution to Disney — or the Angels, or the Building Trades, or Curt Pringle and his minions, or the old entrenched Democratic leadership of the county — trying to block minority voters from any chance at determining city policies, because the wealthy and powerful can just turn on the firehose of sewer water as high as they want to and blast them away. is to render that action socially unacceptable.

It’s legal.  There’s no question that it’s “legal.”  But we don’t have to like it, we don’t have to respect it, we don’t have to tolerate it, we don’t have to keep quiet about it, we don’t have to protect the bottom lines of interests that do it.  For Curt Pringle to deploy “poll guards” — accompanied by a weak cover story about how their purpose wasn’t to intimidate voters but simply to protect the integrity of the process — in his election may has been legal, but it has also led to his everlasting shame among those who can’t make gobs of money by ignoring it.

The law won’t fix it.  Disdain, contempt, and moral revulsion at such practices might.

Mayor Tom Tait went out of his way to create a bipartisan “Tait Slate” composed of three Latinos and a Filipino who is also a leader in the Latino community.  This wasn’t because he thought that white people aren’t appropriate to serve on Anaheim’s City Council, but because symbolically the break with Anaheim’s at-large system ought to be a break from the Anaheim City Council’s white-dominated past.  Future Anaheim Councils will be a mix of white, Latino, and Asian to various degrees, but at some point we won’t have the “plantation” appearance where whites are in charge and everyone else has to nibble on the scraps of power dropped from the Council dais.  So we might as well get started!

We always knew that Disney would massively outspend Tait’s candidates — which does not guarantee them a victory either, especially in this new system! — but before that it posed a test for them: would they try to give the city an governing Council that “looked more like Anaheim”?

No, they wouldn’t.  Disney failed the test.

Heck, Disney didn’t even show up to take the test!

The Disney/SOAR slate is all white — with the exception of half of Bad Cop “Subsidy Steve” Lodge’s heritage that we went for decades not acknowledging, passing for white until it suddenly became politically advantageous for him to be adopt a Spanish middle name.

Does Disney care about what seems, from an outsider’s perspective, to be an astounding slap in the face of Anaheim’s huge Latino community?  Not really.  Nothing matters more to Disney than ensuring that Anaheim will have no gate tax, and will build its city with the needs of Disney in mind, to the exclusion of the needs of its residents.  (And apparently, it was hard to sign up Latinos for that sort of duty.)

That, apparently, is how it seemed to Disney.  And boy, was that a huge miscalculation!

I have no idea who’s going to win in today’s Anaheim City Council elections, and with how many of the four seats in play.  Will it be the Latino reformers on the “Tait Slate”?  The white Subsidy Lovers on the Disney/SOAR slate?  The various candidates not formally in either camp?  We’ll know later today who won.

But I do know who has lost: Disney.

THIS IS A REALLY EASY STORY FOR THE NEWS NETWORKS (at least the ones not owned by Disney) TO TELL.

  1. Anaheim is moving towards a majority Latino voting population
  2. Latinos are more interested in improving their neighborhoods than subsidies
  3. Disney put up an all-white — I don’t think Latinos are going to claim Steve Lodge at this point — slate.
  4. The main opposing slate (apologies to Robert Nelson, Donna Acevedo-Nelson, and Leonard Lahtinen) was all Latino and Filipino.
  5. Disney will have spent, oh, I’m guessing about $1.2 million on its slate.
  6. The other 20 or so candidates combined?  Maybe $200,000?
  7. If Disney bought this election to keep whites in power and browns out of power, it loses the PR game.  Bigly.

The predominantly Latino advocates of districting didn’t set this up as a test for Disney to fail.  Disney created that reality itself by thumbing its nose at Latinos.

My guess is that Latinos — probably from the Tait Slate, but Acevedo-Nelson and Fitzgerald-Carvajal might have a chance — pick up two seats.  If so, Disney will have lost control of the Council — but also will have dodged a bullet in terms of PR.  And Disney’s strategists are just too dumb and greedy to notice.

How will young people react if their dreams of Council representation are dashed this year?  Disillusionment and withdrawal?

I don’t think so!  I think that they will understand the simple story — and they’re going to be PISSED — at Disney!  The company that wanted to Keep Anaheim’s Government White.

I’d rather to see a victory for Latinos this year.  But if opponents to the corporate giveaways in Anaheim, and supporters of representing future generations of residents of the City (who are largely the same people), need to play a long game, then they will.  Disney, due to its greed, will be extremely vulnerable to social criticism if it wins — and those howls of pain and anger will not be long in coming.

You blew it, Disney, by becoming the moneybags for the “White Party.”  Your best hope now is that voters bail you out today — by opposing you!


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.)