Which of These Suspects Ripped Jordan’s **** Off?

Who Stabbed J.B.? Join us as we review the prime suspects!

Jordan Brandman has quit his seat on Anaheim’s City Council — although not necessarily all of his City appointments yet, so far as we know! — in response to the misogynistic text messaging scandal first publicly revealed in this blog, and also after former Councilwoman (and target of Brandman’s vitriol) Denise Barnes’s bravura performance of calling out of its cowardice at the previous meeting. (We mention this only because it remains a logical possibility.)

Credit where due: OJB  first learned of Councilman resignation Brandman’s from Spencer Custodio in the Voice of OC, who deserves credit for the scoop, and from Matt Cunningham’s Anaheim Blog Independent., who deserves credit for being a lickspittle who never runs out of lick or spittle.)

(Note from Vern: As an aside, Matt Cunningham was such an enthusiastic apologist for child-abusing Catholic clergy and their enablers that he [supposedly inadvertently] released the names and personal info of their victims on his blog Red County.  Around that time, the OC Weekly caught him having flattering conversations with his alter-ego “Jubal,” like some self-amused schizophrenic.  In 2008 he and his wife were among the OC’s biggest promoters of the anti-gay Proposition 8 (his wife was  paid for Spanish-language outreach.)  While peddling predictable right-wing anti-government ideology on his Red County Blog, he was discovered by Tony Bushala to be making tens of thousands off the government teat listening to the radio and handing out toothbrushes for the liberal program First Five.  Around that time he bitched that “blogging doesn’t pay the bills” and closed down his Red County, leaving the County without a Republican blog.  He began doing “consulting” work, shilling for developers who wanted to build on Orange’s last remaining open space, and riling up Orange NIMBY’s to stop a homeless shelter – both missions unsuccessful.  Finally in 2012 he was paid by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce to start a new blog, Anaheim Blog, which achieved international notoriety when he ridiculed the grieving Latino families of Anaheim police victims by placing votive candles around a torn, burnt teddy bear.  But back to Jordan…)

The main story yet to be told is: who commanded Jordan to fall on his sword? The main possibilities are alluded to in the graphic above: (1) growing a conscience or other supernatural events, (2) the City Council lost faith in him, (3) the party suddenly decided that his misogyny didn’t represent them, (4) the Building Trades no longer required his services, and (5) that Disney Corporation had come to consider Brandman off-Brand.  (A sixth possibility, Brandman’s claim that he wanted to work on himself and spend more time with his family, is not credible enough to require discussion.) We don’t know the answer, but especially with some insider sources, some (ahem) “long lost” but now willing to speak, we can offer some informed speculation.

(As it happens, those possibilities are listed in increasing order of possibility.)

The most obvious explanation, which unfortunately involves supernatural intervention, is that, like vengeful Fruma Sarah in Fiddler on the Roof, a movie that Jews like me and Jordan  (the “Jor” is Jewish; the “dan” isn’t) still love (for its songs, rather than its problematic aspects),  Jordan’s beloved and widely respected mother, ‘Fruma Mara’, came to him in a dream and threatened bloody vengeance that she was going to main him for telling people that she routinely pledged to “rip [people’s] tits off.” This is the crime of “throwing someone under the bus” — with which, as you’ll see, Jordan is now intimately familiar — and one can imagine that his Mom would not be too pleased with him.

Well, what about the City Council? Mayor Harry Sidhu (to be known, 16 months from now, as “The Former Guy”) probably did realize that the Council majority would be a lot more secure with their own appointee rather than whoever won the replacement race in the recall that Vern happens to have been spearheading.) But we know that he did not cause Jordan’s resignation for two reasons: one, that Sidhu claims that he did, and two, that there is no way that Sidhu, prior to his running for re-election, would have the courage to go against the Building Trades or Disney if they wanted him not to do so. So while Sidhu may have wanted Jordan to go (if he had even formed his own opinion), whatever communication he had with or about Jordan was a necessary or sufficient condition of Jordan’s resigning.

Well, what about the Democratic Party, his political home? They were getting ready to vote on a motion next Monday to demand his resignation! Couldn’t that have been the deciding factor?

No. They didn’t have the courage to act against Jordan, already knowing all of the pertinent facts, so whatever may have changed was not the opinion of the DPOC’s establishment majority. (The opinion of the progressive minority — led by Dr. Jose Moreno, just as is the similarly situated Anaheim City Council minority — does not matter unless the majority is fractured, and members in the majority are loathe to go against their sovereign Chair.)

You can see that ambition expressed on the Facebook page of its politically clumsy but ultra-ambitious Chair, Ada Briceño:

(The first comment was an animated “thank you” GIF from Deborah M. Vasquez.)

This Facebook conversation reveals as much about the internal politics of the DPOC as any other published conversation I recall. And all those people agreeing with Ada? They were likely either appointed by, or on a delegate slate endorsed by, party incumbents. They largely don’t HAVE to listen to anyone else because this is their peer group.

I’ll repeat my above caption in text so that it’s attached to both the story and the screenshot. This Facebook conversation reveals as much about the internal politics of the DPOC as any other published conversation I recall. And all those people agreeing with Ada? They were likely either appointed by, or on a delegate slate endorsed by, party incumbents. They largely don’t HAVE to listen to anyone else because this is their peer group. (Of course it’s not just DPOC; ion other similar groups including the state party: one is rewarded for following the lead and and fawning over the leader. (You don’t see the part with punishment for doing otherwise, but it’s there.)

As some of the critics — who will be slammed for getting it right prematurely! — note, the proposed resolution, which doesn’t even mention Brandman or his actions, simply calls for everyone to oppose misogyny, as if that’s some sort of brave vanguard position. It seeks to change the subject from Brandman to just misogyny anywhere, and dares anyone to disagree.  This action is championed by the Chair’s fans as brave and important.

Others — Ed LopezAndy LewandowskiDavid Duran, Ivan Enriquez — want to show Brandman some consequences beyond just including the sentence “Jordan Brandman was wrong” in the midst of a long dense paragraph. (It kills me — it absolutely kills me, that all of the people taking this position are men. Women — not all of them by any means, but notably so — have been overwhelmingly more deferential to DPOC’s Chair since I got involved with county party politics over a decade ago. It was true when Frank Barbaro and Henry Vandermeir were Chairs as well, so it wasn’t just with these last two female Chairs.)

A few women — Anat Herzog, who does raise a critical question, and  Jaci Ianello, who salutes opposition to misogyny, but also notes the need for accountability — politely recognize some value in both sides, which is quietly good but not that challenging. One person, Sean Thomas, a friend of Brandman’s from the LGBT community, is the sole one defending Brandman actively rather than by counseling omission; he thinks that even the implications of the resolution are too much.

The most revealing sentence, though, comes from Laura Horgan — and if ever mistakenly endorse her for anything because I’ve forgotten her name, someone please set me straight:

Your calm and professional response to those on this page who attempt to intimidate you into doing their bidding is a perfect response.

Holy God: what they were trying to do was to take a stronger and more specific stand against misogyny by a Democratic elected — one that the situation called for — and asking the Chair why this wasn’t happening. This was “Intimidating”?

Anyway: do you know who else disagreed with Ada’s position? Ada herself, half a week later.

The letter calling for Jordan to resign, which was to be voted on next Monday at a special meeting, was co-authored by Ada herself.  The other co-author, though, gives us a big clue about what was going on: that was Melahat Rafiei.

Melahat was the brains behind the Brandman operation when I met them; I believe that she has still supported and fund-raised for him. Melahat’s main interest has always been in making as much money as she can while appearing to be principled — and she saw a future (and equally shameless) star in Brandman. So for her to turn on him is meaningful. To the extent that the big spenders in the Building Trades and Resort District have continued to be behind him — the brightest shining light in their political night sky — her turning on his has been inconceivable.  That leaves one of a small number of possibilities.  (We can disregard the possibility that she was visited by Fruma Mara.)

Either the (1) DNC leaned on her to get rid of this guy, (2) the Trades decided to give up on him, or (3) Disney (and maybe, but probably not, the Angels and/or Ducks put their foot down. The letter that came from Ada and Melahat didn’t start with a sudden change of heart.

What it probably — I’d say almost certainly — came from was their own need to cover their asses once someone else had ensured that Brandman was going to resign. Nothing more was to be gained by taking the ridiculously soft approach you see above. Freed from the consequences — loss of income and power — Ada and Mehahat were only too willing to make such a sudden reversal that it makes Ada’s Facebook supporters look like idiots. (They’ll just say that they trust Ada’s judgment though.)

The big difference between Melahat and Ada is that Melahat would have immediately taken down her Facebook page.

There is one more possibility I haven’t mentioned, which is that Brandman’s retiring originated with Melahat. (Ada’s going to need Melahat when she runs for State Senate.) Melahat’s as sharp as any political observer in the county, and she may have realized that Brandman’s goose was cooked, and dropped a line to either the Trades or Disney to let them know that the plug needed to be pulled. What was in it for her? Well, if trouble for her at the DNC had not already started — I can’t remember whether I forwarded my stories to any of my friends of (or friends of friends of) people on DNC, and I’m just too tired to check my sentmail — but once it hit KFI it was only a matter of time. Melahat is efficient.

Now that I think of it, it’s conceivable that she herself had information about Brandman and his part practices that could get him into trouble, and used the possibility of that disclosure to her benefit, but I mention this only to round out all possibilities of why he quit and not to endorse it. And if she did it, she would likely have already known that the big donors were OK with his departure.  And so, to them we move on.

[At this point, we took a break of a few hours, which will be filled by a word from our sponsor.]

This final section of this post is brought to you by:

Brandman’s Vicious Texts. UPDATE – Jordan admits to them, issues Worst Apology Ever.

Over a thousand readers have enjoyed “Brandman’s Vicious Texts” each of the past two months — and from the way this first week has gone, August may make it three in a row!  Learn the context (the missing parts of which will apparently stay missing!) of the fateful angerblow! Read commentary that you can only read here on Orange Juice Blog (except when someone copies it over), from figures such as Kathy Chance, the woman who leaked the texts that everyone else had ignored to Vern!  Read liharious comments deleted from Glib OC.  Here’s a taste! Some obvious questions from someone whose parents named them “Obvious Questions”:

Obvious Questions

Since when does Mr. I-turned-in-a-plagiarized-report-6-months-late-for-$25000 care about deadlines or work?

Guy is a tool for a local union. He literally does nothing every single day. DPOC and Disney must have 50 people on the bench better than this jackass.

Why are they wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on a lazy loser who calls women of color he doesn’t like cunts?

I mean jeez, the park is just opening up. You’d hate to think word would get out that Disney has spent nearly a million dollars buying a councilman who uses hateful slurs.

  • Greg Diamond

    Oh, come on — how many people do you think are going to read this?

    (Turns on Administrator mode, checks out site stats.)

    Yeeouch!

    Uh … Burbank, you have a problem.

Read a touching comment by Denise Barnes’s Assistant for Council Work:

Cynthia Ward

Oh. My. God. I am so glad Denise didn’t know about this when she was in office, it would have killed her to serve in the same room with him. Nobody has any business speaking of any woman like this, but to attack someone as sweet and decent as Denise makes me sick. Ok DPOC, what are you going to do?

Greg Diamond, Posted June 18, 2021 at 3:25 PM

hummina-hummina

Greg Diamond, Posted June 18, 2021 at 6:40 PM

(To clarify: above comment was DPOC’s expected response, other than a verbal wrist slap.)

I hope that you’re able to check in with Denise to see how she’s doing. This has to be hard for her and surely needs a friend like you right now.

Don’t hesitate! Read “Brandman’s Vicious Text” now, before it disappears, which we don’t plan and hopefully it will never do, given the Internet Archive!

(A personal point of pride: the forecast “slap on the wrist” is exactly what Jordan was going to receive in the “we oppose misogyny” letter that was celebrated last weekend by Ada’s fans.  Admittedly, this prediction was not a hard call.)

Thanks for watching the commercial; now we’re back to our story!

To review: we’ve ruled out (1) Harry Sidhu causing Brandman’s resignation (though he may be relieved); (2) Brandman’s own explanation; (3) any possibility that DPOC acted in good faith, given what its leaders and sycophants were saying just this past Sunday.  Still in the running are: (4) the DNC lowering the boom on its members if they didn’t clean up the less and (5) Melahat doing something, possibly nefarious, to set Brandman onto and off of a steep cliff once he began threatening her own interests. (Melahat is not pictured in the graphic, but she may be who Ada is looking up at. We can’t confirm.)

We haven’t yet looked at the two prime suspects in the right column: the Building Trades, represented by Ernesto Medrano, and Disney itself, represented by a rodent (Matt Cunningham not shown) and also Mickey (shown revising his Mickey Mouse Club song.)

Last we know that Brandman actually “worked for money,” after he offered up “Businessman” as part of his ballot designation in 2018, it was in an office with ties to the Trades: VP for the “Southern California Group” (associated with the California Building Industries Association.)  This was after the make-work job as District Director for Asmb. Ian Calderon’s and way after the lavishly paid report for Tom Daly that he plagiarized from Wikipedia. His job with the SCG seems likely to have been something like meeting with people in politics and charming them about the need to build office space everywhere, so he’s probably lacking in both political connections and charm at this point.

Would the Building Trades really try to get him fired over this sexist language? I  doubt that they’d feel tarnished by the use of words like “cunt” and “rip her tits off,” although they might be put off by “Unfuckingbelievable,” because words with seven syllables seem hoity-toity (which is not the word they’d use for it.) But, they would have to decide whether to go to the mat over keeping Brandman if Disney at the other Resort interests wanted him out.

I doubt that the Trades would go to the mat, but they might make their displeasure known to the DPOC, and threaten to cut funding and canvassing. But, as Ada would know, that’s a pretty empty threat: they don’t have all that many friends beyond those that they can dominate like they do DPOC. So I don’t think that the initiated the hit on Brandman, although they might have had to sign off on it, out of respect. And, apparently, they reluctantly did.

Which brings us to Disney. (The Angels and such matter too, but Disney is the major actor in the Resort.) They really could not afford to be associated with the sort of action Brandman had taken, which committed the mortal sin of being bad for tourism.  They don’t have as much direct influence over the DPOC as the Building Trades have — but they probably have a whole lot of clout with the DNC, if that was the path taken. They could have gone up to Sidhu and told him that (having pretty much already looted the city) they were not going to spend money electing him for Mayor or anyone else for Council next time around. But I don’t think that Jordan really respects or follows Sidhu. I think that he respects and follows Disney — and that Melahat was impelled to get him to quit.  So the answer, I suspect, to who actually got him to quit is: Disney and possibly possibly the DNC, acting through Melahat.  (And I say that in part to worm the truth out of others who may know — and may decide to tell the truth!)

If I am right, here’s what I expect that Melahat said — and it’s bad news for those of us who really want to believe that this is the sordid end of Jordan’s career:

You’re radioactive now, Jordan, and it’s going to stay that way. The recall will pass if you let it go forward; you’re not going to get the money and support to win.  But people have short memories, and those memories can generally be overwhelmed, as time passes, with money and endorsements. This isn’t the end.

Make a show of contrition, of deep self-reflection, of really working on yourself. Do it in a speech during public comments to the Council — and work up some real tears. Over time, we’ll put out lots of stories about how your relentless critics drove you to the point where you imploded. You don’t say this; we’ll get others to say it.

Maybe move out of District 2, maybe into District 4 — the Resort District, where Avelino’s showing some independence has upset some people. You’ll run there in 2024. You may not be able to take Tom Daly’s Assembly seat anymore, but that’s not the end of the world. You’ve come back from being censured by the DPOC once or twice, and you’ve come back from losing to Jose Moreno in that Council race, remember?

You’re a survivor. You’ll come back and present yourself to the public as a changed man. Then once you’re back in office, you can do anything you want again — except anything resembling what you did to Denise Barnes. And you can do that too if it’s not in writing and you don’t get caught.

What’s that? Yes, you have to quit the commissions that pay you a sweet per diem! Have you even been listening to me?

Will DPOC and Disney and the voters hold it against him three years from now — or five, probably not more than that? I suspect that they will. The derailment will come if Jordan tries to rush the process and seem “reformed” before he can possibly have been. And so, while I predict that DPOC would embrace him again if he plays the role of repentant sinner right — I’m not convinced that he’ll play it right.

Whatever happens, we’ll have it all documented in our archives!

Three last things:

If Jordan has not resigned from hi Commission appointments,  that is the drum to beat in public comments at the next Anaheim City Council meeting. Jordan can still be hung around Harry Sidhu’s neck — and Sidhu should know that.

Second, anyone who thanks Jordan for resigning will have earned a heap of ridicule. He didn’t do this out of remorse. He did it because he was forced to do it. No thanks are due to him.

Finally: Jordan has seen a whole lot of stuff on the Council, with the Trades, with Disney, and the Angles — some of it probably really dirty. If he were, say, to turn state’s evidence against Curt Pringle, if he knows of dirty dealings (none of which I allege here), his giving honest testimony, in a Michael Cohen sort of way, would be a clear actual sign of repentance. It’s not what I expect — but like so much else in this story, it too cannot be ruled out!


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.)