Sunkist Showdown: Brandman Betrays Anaheim’s Neighborhoods and Small Businesses AGAIN.

You know how on Anaheim City Hall’s wall, above the Council dais, it says “In God We Trust?”  It should instead say “THE FIX IS IN.”

The Fix Is In.  Meaning, that no matter how good your argument is, no matter how many sympathetic and articulate public commenters come in backing you up, and EVEN IF two members of the 6-member Klepto Majority are given permission to vote on your side, the power structure is always assured to have at least four votes on their side.  It’s enough to make regular folks feel like giving up, feel like saying “You can’t fight City Hall.”  But that’s exactly what they want you to do, in the Sidhu War On Anaheim – give up.  Don’t give them that satisfaction!

This time it was Jordan Brandman‘s turn to be the bad guy – he was the swing vote.  Nobody ever expects anything logical, humane, or good from Sidhu, O’Neil or Diaz.  But Jordan Brandman masquerades as a Democrat, and sometimes cosplays at “caring.”

But on June 8 Jordan played the indifferent villain with panache.  Through the entire two-hour hearing he must have walked in and out of the chambers thirty times – and the little bit of time he was actually in his seat, he sprawled back facing away from the speakers or joked around with Trevor O’Neil, making his characteristic spastic gestures.  So we don’t think he really heard much, or cared at all.

Still.  Once we realized we had Moreno, Faessel and Avelino, we started to get our hopes up.  And not just me.  There were long-time, cynical, veteran Anaheim watchers who said to each other, “Maybe the people have got it this time!  It’s all down to Jordan.”  Yup, a lot of people were saying that to each other for a while.  Pero…

Jordan spoke last of all – he nearly missed his turn as he hadn’t been paying much attention.  And these days he mumbles into his face shield so the folks in the seats can’t understand a word – but the Granicus mikes picked him up, you could hear him at home and on tape.  And all he had to say was that he had discussed this project with his Planning Commissioner (that’s Rosa Mulleady, who he also said “will be remembered as one of the greatest Planning Commissioners in Anaheim’s history”) and since she had voted in favor of the project, he would follow her lead.

“Democrat” Brandman at the Sidhus’ Anaheim Hills mansion, Election Night 2018, celebrating Republican Harry’s razor-thin victory over Democrat Ashleigh Aitken.

NUMBER ONE.  Everything that had been said in the previous two hours meant nothing to him.  Also, this is just like all the times he explains a shitty vote with the words, “I’m going to follow the judgment of Mayor Sidhu because he was elected at large and I wasn’t.”  Thus depriving his own West Anaheim District 2 (which did NOT vote for Sidhu) of a voice.  (And of course Sidhu only won with 34%, while when Tom “Won by 60%” Tait was Mayor, Jordan did nothing but obstruct and torment him, but I digress…)

In any case, here is the punch line – Jordan excused his yes vote, his vote against East Anaheim’s neighborhoods and small businesses, by blaming it on his Planning Commissioner.  Turns out, his Planning Commissioner only voted yes because he had ordered her to.  Rosa, who is usually a fine caring PC, attended the April 12 meeting remotely, and said not a word except for an uncomfortable “Yes” at the end.

Now hear everything that Jordan ignored, it’s worth your time.  I hope you enjoy my speech at the beginning of this video, a lot of people are saying it’s one of my best.  (A lot of good that did us.)  Shira the Speculator speaks after me, and doesn’t try very hard.  (She must have known she had four votes guaranteed no matter what.)

And then the public spoke.  Neighbors who were horrified at the project because of the traffic impacts, the noise of the carwash, the nuisance of a 24-hour 7-11 on the corner, the 12-foot wall that the Hilda Street homeowners would be forced to live behind.  The small business owners of Sunkist Plaza, all immigrants, who have been there for 16 to 23 years, and are going to be displaced and mostly probably lose their businesses, after having barely squeaked through the Year of Covid, some in danger of homelessness.  Other concerned Anaheim residents who hate to see an out-of-town speculator come in and get to have their way with this property just because they donated to these Councilmen and also paid Jeff Flint, the most powerful lobbyist in Anaheim, probably $200,000 (while refusing to help the tenants with relocation even though they stand to make tens of millions from this deal.)  NOT ONE PUBLIC SPEAKER IN FAVOR.

Sandie of the Jagerhaus.

Have I mentioned … you know this if you heard my whole speech above, but I want to mention it again here:  This appeal of the Planning Commission decision was filed by me at the request of the Jagerhaus’ Sandie Schwaiger, who also paid for it.  First I want you to know that she had nothing to gain from this – she had already signed a lease to move her popular German restaurant and public meeting place to Anaheim Blvd – she financed the appeal solely for the benefit of her neighbors, the six remaining small businesses, who are like a family, and the neighborhood which supported her through the years and unanimously doesn’t want this development.

The Council REALLY didn’t want to have to discuss and vote on this in public, so when they found out (somehow) that Sandie had paid for my appeal, they were furious with her.  “Why did you pay for Vern to appeal?” a Councilman I won’t name demanded over the phone the next day.  “This carwash is inevitable!  You might not like how this turns out for you!”  And two hours later the Health Department showed up, finding any little thing to close Sandie down for, for a few days in a row.  She weathered that storm because she runs a tight ship, but this is the kind of gangster-run town we live in.

Now behold your Council in action.  First…

The NO Votes

Jose Moreno, Steve Faessel and Avelino Valencia voted no, but only Moreno really fought and argued hard, subjecting the speculator to uncomfortable questions, and calling out the pay-to-play politics and government-by-lobbyists.  This episode will segue nicely to his upcoming attempt to bring back his package of campaign finance reform, guaranteed to be, alas, another Quixotic aspiration. 

Avelino SEEMED sincere in his  concern for the immigrant-run small businesses, and the residents subject to continuous lanes of idling cars right outside their windows.  He almost always votes with the majority, and I can’t tell to what degree he needed a permission slip for this vote.  This is the neighborhood he really grew up in, and most of his family still lives (yes, I was not wrong when I sang that he carpetbagged into District 4.)  Still, I thanked both Avelino and Steve for their “No” votes the next day.

Faessel, Shatner.

Steve Faessel.  This is the guy who REALLY needed permission to vote no, because it’s his district, and we can’t have the voters getting so mad at their own Councilman that they recall him or something, can we?  He gave some good reasons for his vote, and he does live real close to the disaster area.  First he plopped down a spiral binder with 1200 pages of traffic history of that corner, and observed “Everybody knows I’m a packrat.”

No, I did not know Steve Faessel is a packrat.  Nor was I aware that William Shatner was once diagnosed with a sleep disorder.  But in any case, what kind of opposition to a project is it when you vote NO, and yet in these last few months you’ve discouraged people from fighting it, insisting “We don’t have the Votes!” and declaring “the Car Wash is Inevitable!”  Some kind of real ambiguous-ass “opposition,” that’s for sure.

The YES votes

We never had any doubt that Trevor O’Neil, Dirty Mayor Harry Sidhu, and Jose “Ricky” Diaz would vote yes.  They are all faux conservatives, who subscribe to the gospel of the Magical Hand of the Market, and zero government interference in commerce, except for when they don’t.  Whichever pleases their bosses and funders! 

Before the hearing began, Trevor questioned the head of Planning Staff, Ted White, trying to establish that the Council HAD NO RIGHT to turn this project down since it wasn’t asking for any “variances” or zoning changes.  Credit due to Ted White who, even though he loves the project he’s put so much work into, emphasized that the Council does indeed have “BROAD DISCRETION.”  Yes, broad discretion to reject a project whose destructive impacts on the community outweigh its benefits.  That is TOTALLY within the Council’s purview.  But still, Trevor, Harry and Ricky didn’t believe that.

My attempts to appeal to these men’s “pro-business” pretenses fell flat.  They don’t care about small businesses at all.  They exult in watching the big eat the small, the rich shaft the poor, the strong crush the weak.  This spectacle arouses them.  And they know which side butters their bread.

There are problems however, with the new Cuban-American councilman of District 1 (apart from his not knowing anybody inside his district to put on any boards and commissions.)  One problem is that there’s already a Councilman named Jose, which is why many of us have taken to calling the new guy “Ricky R.” 

Ricky R., and a Sun Skid.

Also, he seems severely damaged from whatever experiences he and his family had in Cuba, to the degree that ANY government regulation of business seems like “Communism” to him.  The possibility that Council could deny a project it deems detrimental to the community gives him visions of “Venezuela!  North Korea!  Zimbabwe!”  He is like the Hedgehog, who “knows only one thing,” but knows it very hard.  I think perhaps this Post-Communism Stress Disorder should disqualify him from public office.

Also, he bridles indignantly at any suggestion that anyone is “buying his vote.”  Also, he sheds no tears over the loss of Melchor Panaderia or New Look Beauty Salon, likening them to drive-in theaters or Sears, done in by their own runt-like lameness and anachronism.  Also, while trying to articulate his brilliant notion that traffic on Sunkist is already bad so it doesn’t matter if it gets worse, he squinted helplessly at the unfamiliar word “Sunkist” on his iPad screen, and finally pronounced it “Sun-Skid.”

And then of course there was Jordan Brandman, who killed it all.  Witness the atrocities here:

What can be done?  Me and the small businesses, the “Sunkist Six,” are gonna file a “request for a re-hearing,” on a few grounds we’re working on, but I don’t think we can kill the project for good.

What about the neighbors, what can they do?  I don’t want them to feel helpless, and think they can never “fight city hall” again.  They can’t very well take this out on their own Councilman, Steve Faessel, who voted the right way (while two-facedly discouraging resistance.)

This is the dark side of district elections – all the councilmembers outside your district can vote against you with no consequences.  Or can they?

1. I want to invite the whole Sunkist-Ball neighborhood to help me in my Recall of Jordan Brandman, who reached out and stabbed us in the back from way over in West Anaheim’s District 2.  You could help me walk precincts – we’ll need nearly 6000 signatures, and it’s only four miles away!  You could donate – we’d like to get ads, teeshirts, signs!  If you know anyone who lives between Euclid and Magnolia, tell them their Councilman is the most corrupt of all, and has got to go!

2.  If the Brandman Recall succeeds, I think we should recall Ricky R. next in District 1, in November 2022 so it’s no extra cost for the city.  NOBODY likes Ricky!  

3.  And above all, DON’T VOTE FOR DIRTY HARRY SIDHU WHEN HE RUNS FOR RE-ELECTION NEXT YEAR!  Beyond that, don’t vote for anybody who gets money from Disney and SOAR – by definition they’re on sale to the highest bidder.

Vern out.


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.