Matt Cunningham’s wife Laura takes over Anaheim Chamber.

For as long as we remember (back to at least 2012) the President and CEO of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce has been Todd Ament (left.) The Council majority that’s been in power since those days (with the short exception of 2017-18) always took and takes their instructions from Todd’s Chamber (biggest member Disney), and they have always shown up to meetings with their instructions and talking points fully digested. It was rare and dramatic that a member would depart from their instructions and foil the Chamber’s plans, as when Steven Faessel staunchly proclaimed his 2020 vote against pot dispensaries as a “legacy vote,” sounding like he was fighting off a group of bullies in order to follow his conscience.

Yet, if you paid attention, it never really seemed like goofy Todd actually called the shots either, but followed someone’s orders himself. Since former Mayor / lobbyist Curt Pringle loudly “left” Anaheim, the man giving orders to Ament and the Chamber has seemed to be Jeff Flint (right), the lobbyist and Viceroy for Anaheim Affairs whom Pringle left here to keep his plans on track – the two have been close colleagues since the bad old 1980’s (Santa Ana poll guards, HB fake candidates.)

Also, for about a year now, none of us have seen hide nor hair of Todd Ament, who used to attend Council meetings pretty regularly, grinning and slapping people’s backs. There have been two rumors, not contradictory either: Todd had left town, and Todd was/is under some kind of FBI corruption investigation. But you can’t exactly confirm these things with the Chamber, which is as secretive as the FBI itself.

And then yesterday the Chamber released THIS on their social media:

Welcome Our New President & CEO!

Spring is a time of growth and change, and the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce is no exception. As many of you know, the Chamber recently experienced a leadership transition as long-time President & CEO Todd Ament took a chief executive position in the health care industry. The Board of Directors hired Senior VP Laura Cunningham to take the reins as President & CEO. She brings new energy to the position and a wealth of experience. Laura looks forward to working with our members.

So, congratulations to Mrs. Cunningham, I guess. She will still be reporting to the same bosses and special interests her predecessor reported to, but she might enjoy passing on instructions to Mayor Sidhu and the other five puppets on the dais.

We don’t know as much about Mrs. Cunningham as we do about her husband Matt. As the statement above mentions, she has been “Senior VP” of the Chamber for a few years, and has been a hands-on organizer with the astroturf “neighborhood group” “AnaheI’m First,” which now seems to be defunct (nothing new on their website since October.) Back in the day (2012?) we would sometimes observe her being an excellent klepto-helpmeet to her husband, for example handing out talking points to speakers at Orange Council meetings when Matt was hired by developers to smooth the way for building condos on that town’s last remaining open space.

But one thing impossible to forget about Mrs. Cunningham is this: during 2008’s successful Prop 8 campaign outlawing same-sex marriage, a campaign funded by right-wing Republicans, Catholics, and out-of-state Mormons, the Hispanic Laura Cunningham was hired to run Spanish-language outreach. Funny, the afore-mentioned lobbyist Jeff Flint, to whom Laura will again be reporting, was the main consultant for the anti-gay measure; meanwhile Matt C. spelled out all the specious arguments against same-sex marriage on his then-blog “Red County.” I remember him crowing, in disturbingly cordial debates with the Liberal OC’s Dan Chmielewski, that the anti-gay measure would help bring Republicans out to the polls that year. I don’t know if it means anything, but it’s very curious that the faction with so much control over the economy of this very Democratic and gay-friendly town started out by demonizing and (temporarily) stopping gay marriage. Do people know that?

Wither Jubal?

If Mrs. Cunningham makes as much from the Chamber as her predecessor Todd, that should be about $200K – not bad for the Jerbal household! But like I said, we know much more about Matt (who used to write under the pseudonym Jubal which some “ankle-biters” eventually corrupted to “Jerbal.”) We’ve had fun with him as a nemesis for nearly two decades, and our readers can easily supply a long list of his misdeeds ranging from the ridiculous to the horrific, always committed in the zeal to please his powerful patrons.

But I’m curious if Matt will continue as the blog mouthpiece for the Anaheim Chamber and related power structure. Since 2012 he has fashioned and broadcast the Chamber’s arguments while receiving money from them, first as “Anaheim Blog,” then having to change to “Anaheim Independent” (a richly ironic name), and now under another name I won’t mention. His last three stories at his new digs are:

  1. an announcement of Avelino Valencia’s run for Assembly (mostly Avelino’s press release);
  2. a press release from the City of Anaheim cherry-picking recent stats to make it look like our economy is going swimmingly, and
  3. a celebration of Judge Hoffer’s bizarre ruling in favor of the City on the Stadium Brown Act Suit.

Well, I’ll tell you what, this lucky couple from the City of Orange sure has their hands all over Anaheim! Is this a conflict? Probably not, the Chamber is not a government organization, even though they control our city’s government, and anyway we are dealing with people who don’t see conflict. Maybe with his wife in charge, Matt will get paid even more to sing the praises of Anaheim’s Chamber and ruling class. Maybe he’ll even be allowed to go back to calling his blog “Anaheim Blog” or “Anaheim Independent.”

I think I’ll end with one of my favorite sentences Matt has written – he wrote it about THIS blog in 2013, and I included it on our masthead for several years:

“I have rarely seen such a venomous, grandiose and self-important gaggle of ankle biters.”

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.