Dr. Moreno Speaks, June 2023.

FIRST, urges Jose,
especially if you’re over 50!
Jose just got over shingles, and they are PAINFUL!

So where has legendary Anaheim Councilman Dr. Jose F. Moreno been, since terming out in January? We were starting to wonder too. Turns out he wanted to take six months to observe the new Anaheim Council in action before making any public statements about Anaheim politics.

The Anaheim Democrats Club was happy to welcome Jose to our June 1 meeting, where he spoke at length, answered questions, and engaged in discussion – a lot of which the Orange Juice Blog will reprint below. We look forward to him joining us “gadflies” in the back rows of the Council chambers, where he used to sit with us before being elected in 2016!

[WATCH IT ALL HERE, starting at 48:36]

Good evening Democrats! I think I’m supposed to talk about anything and everything, but I’d much rather enjoy a conversation about, maybe having a space to reflect on six months of what our DPOC says is a “New Day in Anaheim” with FOUR DEMOCRATS on Council – the majority. Six months of Democrat Rule, I guess, in Anaheim? So I’d love to hear some of your thoughts, what you’re seeing, what you’re hearing, what you’re feeling.

Couple things for me… I’m struck by some folks that, now that there’s a Democrat Mayor they say “This is the hardest-working Mayor we’ve seen in Anaheim.” Those folks must not have been around when Tom Tait was going to TOWN, turning around an entire narrative, that he himself had contributed to. That he’d been a part of himself, for a while, and then when he became Mayor he saw a bigger wider view of what Anaheim really is. He saw how our city had been plundered and pillaged by pigs at the trough – corporate lobbyists and special interests that really did not share the interests of the people of Anaheim.

[Here Jose complimented AUHSD trustee Annemarie Randle-Trejo who was in the audience, and the work of her school board in these dark anti-education days. “I’m grateful that you are so strong on building inclusive democracy and getting our kids, our students to see civic learning and engagement as the true purpose of education. And of course to do that, you gotta learn to Read and Write and “‘Rithmetic” as DeSantis says, but you have to learn what those things are FOR, and that’s the process of our democracy… so thank you for that, Annemarie.]

So, just a couple of thoughts and I’d love to have a conversation. I was optimistic as many of you were, thinking that folks who ran for office, and a lot of us who supported and urged our friends and colleagues to support, to get a Council majority that would reflect our values – and I don’t mean just Party but our values, like Cynthia Ward here who voted against Party lines – no, basic values like Transparency, Honest Government, government that works for the people, that looks at data, that looks at lived experience, that works for people, and not wedded to “ideology.” (Denise Barnes here was also in that fight.)

So, many of us were hopeful for those who are on the dais now. I haven’t gone to any meetings; I got some good advice, I know I told Jeanine here that I’d start going to meetings again and hang out with her in the back like I used to… But I got some good advice, from some folks who’d gone through the first time being out of office, is, GIVE IT SIX MONTHS. Let folks gel, let folks act as they said they would, let’s see what they do, let’s see what they propose… I haven’t talked with any of the Council members, other than attending one meeting, that one member had locally – one meeting in SIX MONTHS – some of them said they were gonna have monthly meetings regularly in the community like we used to try to do, I don’t know if the other members are doing that, I don’t know if the Mayor’s been doing that, I haven’t seen it, at least advertised.

But it just feels, as I watch the meetings, especially a couple of them, particularly around the Corruption Probe, and the most recent meeting about the Ordinance… It just feels like what it felt like sitting in the back of the Chambers back in 2012, 13, 14, absent Tom Tait, actually back to ’08, ’07, ’06, when CURT PRINGLE ran a really really EFFICIENT POLITICAL MACHINE… that there was very limited discussion, deliberation and debate at the dais. Everyone would “say their piece,” but there wouldn’t be a cross-interaction or conversation. So again I’ve not seen that lately, there are statements being made and then “LET’S VOTE.” The public should be worried about that. We should all be worried about that. Because when we don’t ask one another questions at the dais, when we don’t see our elected officials deliberating in public, you have to wonder, where are they deliberating at?

What we learned from Tom Tait, when he came into office in 2010, – it took him about 8 months I think to figure out as Mayor what that really meant – he realized “We’re not having real debates up here. We’re not really expressing what we hear from the public, and our differences, and our agreements, and why – the whys.” And that was a value that many of us fought for when we fought for districts – to have our local electeds go up and tell us WHY I support something, WHY I don’t support something, … and I’m worried about that. These discussions are happening some place else.

The second thing I’ll share is, the limited access we get to our electeds through the media, we don’t get to hear a lot from them even in the media, there don’t seem to be any quotes or interviews or comments, so The Voice of OC calls me still and says, “Can YOU give us a comment on this?” – some of the same issues are still happening – and I ask, “Are you calling the the Councilmembers and the Mayor?” and they say “Yeah, but we don’t get a return call, if anything we get a call back from the Public Information Officer Mike Lyster,” and I’ll say now, he’s not an honest person.

What I mean is, he reflects what the City wants the people to think about itself, not about what it really is. So it’s creating a narrative, it’s creating propaganda, and it’s sad to see that our elected members of Council are relying on this person, who we KNOW, we’ve documented, was not being fully transparent and truthful to the public on the Angels Deal, around Harry Sidhu’s developer deals, around homelessness [and many other things including police killings – V.] I do appreciate his work on COVID communications, but on the big issues in Anaheim, the public information office seemed to be more a PIO for the Mayor, Harry Sidhu, and not for the people of Anaheim. So I would hope that this Council and Mayor would address that, and not leave it to Mike Lyster to be the voice of the city, and the only media outlet.

Another thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is how a lot of the issues that the council is discussing and I hope we can activate ourselves around this is: What ARE the policy proposals? I’ve heard a couple of them, and watched them, say that “the work of the Council is policies and budgets, not operations.”

OUR honorable Councilwoman said that at a meeting, she said, “I’m not here to do things FOR you, I’m here to report it to staff to make sure they do it – but I’m a policy person, a budget person.” Natalie Rubalcava. But we never saw any policy or ordinance proposals from her… UNTIL the Hotel workers came with 26,000 signatures, and THEN there was a policy proposal to pretty much (it seemed) to strip the wages portion out of the Ordinance… (although her point was good that a year and a half is too long to wait for safety.)

And I haven’t seen any other councilmembers propose ordinances or policies. The Budget is happening now, and there is an Online Budget Tool, the Budget Office does do the neighborhood meetings, so please attend those if you can. But the ONLINE budget tools are really cool, you can ask, “Well, what if we hire five more police officers, what happens to the rest of our budget? What if we want to expand or build a new park, what happens to our budget? What if we want a public pool on the West side?” You can actually do that. And then it saves it for you, and you can submit it and it goes straight to staff as input. So I’d encourage all of us to engage in that.


Outside of that, I’m disappointed, I’ll say, but still optimistic, that we don’t have any housing proposals, the Housing Element is still being finalized. (Linda Lehnkering here was on that, thank you Linda for serving on that and representing our district.) But it just seems like, at least the majority of this Council, IN THEIR CAMPAIGNS, said they would support an INCLUSIONARY HOUSING POLICY. We shouldn’t have to wait for the Housing Element to do that. We could do that at any time.

Basically an inclusionary policy says that any new housing development in the City of Anaheim, a certain percentage of it has to be affordable housing. That Communist city Huntington Beach has an inclusionary housing ordinance, and they actually strengthened it last year. Irvine, another Communist city, has the policy. Another Marxist city, Newport Beach has the policy. I believe Yorba Linda does as well. But the LARGEST DEMOCRAT CITY, with a “Democrat” majority, still doesn’t. So I would urge you to remind our electeds, that that’s something they SAID they supported when they were running, and we can’t wait for another working group, like a Steve Faessel group on housing. He never supported those policies, just wants another working group just to keep stalling.

And it’s important to mention our staff – we do have the best housing staff in the county, I really believe, if not the state. They are super creative, they are super committed to making sure that any affordable housing units, the aesthetics fit into neighborhoods, that they don’t look like “poor people housing,” that they are integrated with amenities and services so that people will have good quality of life in these spaces, and supportive infrastructure.

But they’re working with one hand tied behind their back, because we need POLICIES to do that, developers won’t ever do that on their own, in fact Shopoff, the main developer in Anaheim, we know that they have greased a lot of palms, of Mayors and Councilmembers past… in fact they’re the ones that purchased the property to develop right here on Euclid and Lincoln, 135 townhomes, an acre of that was CityNet. We argued, back in the day (Denise and I) that if you’re gonna sell that to the developer, it should have an affordable housing component. Well, Harry made sure to rush it through and the developers greased it, and that turned into 35 town homes, they got an acre of our land that WAS public land, it was sold to them, and now we’re seeing pure market-rate housing. IF they had had that policy in place, we’d have at least 14, 15 apartments or townhomes that are affordable.

The other one is right across the street – 300 new apartment units that are being built right off Loara and Lincoln. You know, the old Mills Ford. HUGE development, if you see it it looks like an Amazon warehouse, it’s HUGE. 300 apartment units, NOT ONE affordable. And when we argued vehemently, “Why not?” I mean it’s right across the street from a school that is 80% free-or-reduced lunch – Anaheim High School. It’s right in the center of the district that has the highest concentration of poverty and overcrowded housing, per capita, IN THE CITY – why WOULDN’T they, with 300 apartment units? Nope. Again. Harry Sidhu and the majority he had got their palms greased – or maybe they were given nice dinners – and so no affordable unit there.

I mention Shopoff because they’re the ones proposing to build at the Westminster Mall, and they’re including 10% affordable housing there! How’d THAT happen? They told US they couldn’t AFFORD to build affordable housing! How are they building it in Westminster? They also built a HUNDRED affordable units in a large complex in Newport Beach – how were they able to afford to do that? Because they were required to do it.

So, that’s something I think we need to keep our eye on and reflect on. At the end, the reason why hotel workers need $25 is because of HOUSING – they can’t afford housing! You need to make $32 an hour to afford a basic apartment in the City of Anaheim. And we know that what that contributes to is it undermines our schools. And our community schools have been coming and saying, “Well, we’ll get these state monies to support our communities outside of our classrooms, because we know that undermines the learning process for the students, and the families, and the struggles that the teachers have, and our classified employees to support them…

So that issue is occurring, and I’m still waiting to see where the City of Anaheim’s gonna fit into that. I know they’re partners, but where are they gonna fit? Housing would really help, providing honest policy-oriented incentives in our neighborhoods (?) beyond backpacks, and pencils, and food distribution.

And a lot of PICTURES at food distributions.

And at car shows.

And.. at.. Steam-a-Palooza.

A lot of great PICTURES of our wonderful electeds, but … they tell us their job is to do policy and budgets, but I didn’t know it was also to keep taking pictures!

[SOMEONE in the audience yelled out, “and restaurants!” referring to Jose Diaz’ regular showcasing of district 1 eateries.]

And restaurants – which is great, to support small businesses, but what are you doing to make sure that those restaurants, for example, when we revitalize Brookhurst and Beach (or State College as Steve Faessel is arguing for now) – when we do that we gotta make sure that we don’t gentrify the small businesses out of there. Many of us are worried because we know that the economics – the market-driven economics that drives this city – is that once you revitalize these spaces, the landlords are gonna want more rent out of those small businesses that have gutted it out for 10, 15, 20 years, and now they’re gonna finally get some real good traffic because the city is investing in that, they’re gonna raise rents! Just like they do with homes. So these small business owners that are being recognized today might not be around in two years because Beach Blvd now is… what it was supposed to be all along.

So we gotta keep our eyes on that. I did ask, when I was on Council, to benchmark that – what are the rents right now for small businesses? What are the rents right now for housing, in these revitalizing areas, so that we don’t repeat what we know happens in a lot of communities including Anaheim. THIS district here, now, THIS part of district 3, is the highest-rent area in the City of Anaheim. Where we’re at, right now. If you go three blocks that way, it’s the LOWEST-rent district. That’s because this area of Anaheim has been invested in heavily, so it attracted market-rate housing … I want to get your thoughts on who you think we are. (?) I’m optimistic still by the way.

It seems like the policies of Anaheim over the past couple decades under Curt Pringle, and I’m hoping this council interrupts it, not just by SAYING things but by doing POLICIES, is, it seems like Anaheim is trying to transform itself, away from who built Anaheim, on poverty wages, the working laborer, working people, who grew up, got jobs, … it seems we’re trying to create a different clientele to live in Anaheim. And you do that with market-rate housing. So it’s tiring out the people (?) it’s people that demand different types of services, people that demand MORE POLICE to protect them from the people around them, and they don’t invest in the HERITAGE of Anaheim, people who’ve been here, or people who migrated in, and we’re just [???]

So that’s what I’m worried about, that we have, in this district, 3000 new housing units, and not one is affordable. In seven years, 3000 units and not one is affordable. And our Councilwoman [Natalie R] when she talks about it, she actually said, “We’re producing the most housing in OC”… but it ain’t for the people who live here. And it ain’t for the people who want to come back after going to school or whatever. They’re bringing in a very different demography. So to me, I said it at the dais when I was leaving, it feels like THERE’S A WAR ON POOR PEOPLE in the City of Anaheim, and the policies reflect that. And I’m hopeful that this Council majority and this Mayor will interrupt that and actually put POLICIES in place.

Two Dreams Dashed Deferred

And this last thing I’ll add – I’m still quite disappointed that FOUR of the members of this Council who SAID in their campaigns that they supported our Campaign Finance Reform, and a couple of them said that they “liked” the 2% Gate Tax at the Disneh Resort, but that they didn’t want to say it because they didn’t want to get hit hard by S.O.A.R campaign dollars, but they said “Yeah we gotta raise revenue somewhere because we’re gonna need it.” It would bring in $60-$80 million a year, TWO percent, every other city that charges Gate Taxes it’s FIVE percent so we’re actually MODEST with our ask. But I would love to see our Council at least DEBATE it, at least put it up for discussion, rather than sit back and wait to see what other people propose. They supported it, I would hope they’d stand up for it now.

I’ll stop there and if you have any questions…


[To a couple of housing-related questions.]

Unless the culture of developers has changed in the last six months, anything that’s being developed or proposed in Anaheim is unlikely to have an affordable housing component. UNLESS it’s an affordable housing developer. That’s with the City providing the land, like we did at Manchester, 100 units, all low-income, or affordable, just came on line. But that was through our Housing Authority, that was with state dollars, that was with a successor agency providing the land, it’s really costly for folks. But to my knowledge, I don’t know of any projects where developers have come in and said, “We’re gonna do a high percentage of affordable housing” …

[The state] absolutely needs housing at all levels. But in Anaheim in particular, we’ve DOUBLED the amount of units that we said we needed for market-rate housing. I think the goal was 2600, we had 5300 or something like that, over the period of the last Housing Element. Where we are WOEFULLY not building, or permitting, is low-income housing. Any “affordable” housing even when we do it is at the “MODERATE” affordable level so folks who make up to $104,000, which many folks are like, WHOA. So a starting teacher in Anaheim is already low-income on housing. Not even moderate. A starting police officer is already at low-income for housing.

You remind me, when I first ran I was interviewed by the OC Register, in the endorsement process. Some friends said, “Why even go?” But I was just curious, what would their questions be? And, you don’t leave contested terrain, I mean let’s have a conversation. So one of the questions they asked was, why do I support living-wage policies? Isn’t that the state intervening in business? So I get it, I get that ideology, I certainly have friends who don’t like that.

But I posed the question back… “You tell me the answer, what do we do then, if – at that time minimum wage was $12, you work at the resort you make $12 an hour, daycare costs $15 an hour. What’s the incentive for that Mom or Dad to go to work? Because all they’re going to work for is to pay for somebody to take care of their kids. So, who then fills the gap? The public, the government, or the schools have to fill the gap of providing daycare, that costs money. So, where do we get money from, revenues? Then we have to raise revenues. So when we have jobs that pay poverty-level wages, then the PUBLIC has to SUBSIDIZE the care for these workers – the childcare, or other essential services. Rent becomes another one, right?

The deleterious effects, the oppressive effects, of forcing families to live 2-3 in a one-bedroom apartment, to “bunch up,” on a neighborhood’s quality of life, is much more powerful than not having enough police. The reason you end up needing a lot of police is because you put ANYBODY in a crowded environment, research shows clearly, behavioral research, psychological research shows clearly that the more people that are concentrated in any space, the more stress. The more agitated they become. And if you have a worksite that’s highly stressful, if you have a living condition that’s highly stressful, then things are gonna just really flare up. And then you have youngsters in the neighborhoods. So… you all know this…

But the reason I became a Democrat was I thought Democrats were having that conversation. And Republicans were not even talking, they were just wedded to their THING, they weren’t even talking. Except that then I found that SOME of our local Republican electeds WERE saying “Let’s have that conversation.” If this business ideology isn’t working, then what will work, let’s figure it out. But I would have thought that our Council at this point would have had this conversation already. Rather than spend so many hours trying to “understand” an investigation that they themselves supported when they were campaigning.

The Corruption Investigation

It was just befuddling and infuriating to watch two city councilmembers who voted for this investigation [Diaz, Faessel] and three up there who publicly supported the investigation when they were running, and then two months later when they’re in office, they’re all saying, “We don’t really understand what that investigation was about. Why are we even doing it? There’s no clarity, there’s no purpose.” It was insane. And then say later, we need to have a special counsel to redact, when it’s a JUDGE giving you the document. The Judge would KNOW what to redact. And no councilmember or the Mayor even asked that question, “Judge, wouldn’t you be able to redact this, you know the law?” I mean, ultimately any legal argument’s gonna go to a Judge. So .. that’s the reason we did districts the way we did back in the day, we insisted in our settlement for districts, that it be a panel of five judges to propose the final map to the Council, because we did not want Council to say that whatever was proposed to them was “illegal” under the Voting Rights Act…

So the fact they did that really smacked of a conversation happening somewhere else, and that conversation happening somewhere else isn’t talking about housing for poor people. It isn’t talking about campaign reform. It isn’t talking about youth development and engagement. It’s talking about other things.

[Fred asks about the original role of City Attorney Fabela in the investigation.]

Rob Fabela wasn’t involved at all, and I wouldn’t even have gone to him. At least from my point of view, and the Council at the time, and the PUBLIC, we were all very clear, based on public response, based on our own experience as councilmembers, the majority still REELING because they were caught up in it, was that this has to be as independent as possible. So, if you recall, the first time we discussed this – I think Avelino agendized it – having an investigation, the City Manager came back with a proposal – a firm to hire that was already contracted by the City of Anaheim, who had been the ones to draft the scope of work, and we were supposed to hire them, so it was really strange, and we said NO, that’s way too close, it can’t be a firm that works for Anaheim, it can’t be a firm proposed by staff, this has to be an RFP that the Council reviews itself. So I think the signal was really clear to staff, that they should be totally clearly not involved in any way. For me, if the report ends up exonerating them, then I wouldn’t want the public to then say, “Well, they were involved in the design of it.” You want it to be as clean as possible, if it’s gonna either exonerate or get to the truth of who’s really implicated. So the City Attorney didn’t really jump in on that, and I don’t think the Council asked….

But you still have a CITY MANAGER who is documented to have been involved in some of this cabal business, and only admitted that he was when the media found out about it. And this is the City Manager who was hand-picked by Harry Sidhu, and who, when Denise and I were councilmembers, we were not allowed to, as a team, do a recruitment or interview process. It was TWO WEEKS [in which Vanderpool was installed after the firing of Chris Zapata.] And my experience with him is that he is more political than the politicians. He really is. He counts votes, he shapes staff reports, he puts fear into councilmembers that if they don’t vote this way then [???] VERY opposite from how Chris Zapata operated. So, that’s something that worries me, is, to what extent this Council, many of whom are not experienced [in government] to what extent are they depending on a City Manager and a Public Information Officer to spin the narrative, and to convince them that somehow they are to control the investigation THROUGH THEM.

And I’m concerned about what this means, and I certainly hope the Attorney General’s office is looking at this, at the State level. I don’t trust the OC DA to look at this, although I understand that some of our local elected approached the DA’s office to take over the investigation, which would have been disastrous to have THIS DA, who we know does play politics… so anyway I’m worried for that.

[He speaks a little on the mini-controversy over the $1.5 million on the JL Group investigation, contrasting with the money they don’t mind spending on redacting that report. Then Joel Block brings up a few points including the possible involvement of DA Bonta…]

When we had the Police Riots back in 2012, Tom Tait called Attorney General Kamala Harris, and said, “I need you to come down and look at what’s happening here, because the public won’t trust if we investigate ourselves.” And I see this in the same way. I would hope that our Mayor, who herself is a federal prosecutor, and has knowledge in this type of work, would reach out to the Attorney General and say, “Hey, can we give you the unredacted report and you take a look at this?”

Or that the AG would make that request himself, given that it was his intervention that stopped the Stadium deal from actually happening. Remember, the FBI only disclosed what they knew because they wanted to keep the AG from agreeing to the settlement that they knew was gonna be poison, right? So they saved the AG and the City. So why don’t we ask the AG to be another set of eyes to this unredacted report?

Stadium Assessment

One last thing I want to add is that, I think the Assessment for the Stadium is coming up, and thanks to Cynthia Ward and her research that informed me in the last months of my term, is that the Stadium has never actually been assessed for its condition, by the City. So, when the negotiations were taking place in 2013 about the leasing of the Stadium, if you recall, the DOLLAR A YEAR framework was RATIONALIZED – the idea that this could help Arte develop the area to get the revenues to then rebuild or renovate the Stadium, because Arte said it could be up to $150 million to renovate the Stadium to where it’s supposed to be.

So this was Arte saying this, our staff was putting forward the PowerPoints, the public thought that was a commissioned study that was done, the assessment of the need to renovate the Stadium to where it needs to be for a world-class standing per the lease deal… it turns out that study was never completed – The City gave ARTE $65,000 to commission the study himself, which was never completed… so the City does not actually have a completed assessment of what is the condition of the infrastructure and the Stadium.

So, we’ve been negotiating for the last ten years, always with this $150 million of [?] that it needs. And so the spin by “our” Public Information Office, by previous Councilmembers, by the Cabal, was always that “This is so Arte can raise the revenue to build a new Stadium or renovate it to where it’s supposed to be.” Well it turns out that, that was his big op [?] I asked Tom Warden, “Did you ever see a report with this number?” and he said “No, they just said it and we started negotiations.”

That’s how it happened! The Angels came in and said “We’ll need about $150 million to upgrade the Stadium, we need to raise that revenue through development, and we need to have a dollar a year price to do that,” so our staff said OKAY! That’s what you need, that makes sense! Now it turns out that was just a number thrown out verbally, never based on a report.

SO, the Council agreed to commission an ACTUAL REPORT, a full property assessment of the Stadium, to see exactly what is its condition, and how much will it cost to actually renovate it to where it’s supposed to be, and that way, at least as our Public Information Officer is spinning this to the press, that way, when we go into negotiations we at least know the condition of the Stadium.

But that was not the sole purpose in asking for that assessment. The current lease SAYS, that Arte – the TENANT as the lease calls him – IS RESPONSIBLE FOR MAINTAINING the Stadium at a world-class level. So the City Attorney says that whatever that cost is, the City CAN demand that the tenant upgrade the Stadium to where it’s supposed to be. In other words, the bill’s on him!

So that’s the other purpose, in fact for me, that was the PRIMARY purpose in asking for that assessment. HE needs to foot the bill, and not instead GASLIGHT US into saying “Hey, it’s a publicly owned Stadium, we should help him with the money” – HE’S supposed to do that. He’s agreed to it TWICE now – when he signed the lease, and when he asked for the lease to be renewed in 2018.

So, I hope that this Council, when the assessment comes in, that it’s not just about “preparing for negotiations,” but that the moment they get it – If you’re the landlord, I mean imagine this – if you own a home… IF YOU OWN A MILLS ACT HOME, here in the downtown, and you’re the landlord, and a renter comes in – I rent to Ken, no, Jayne. So Jayne says, “Can I lease out your Mills Act Home?” and I say yes. And I put in the lease, “YOU have to keep it at Mills Act eligibility, because if you don’t upkeep it I could lose the property tax deductions.” And I put that in the lease, and Jayne signs the lease.

Now Jayne turns around and says, “Well yeah.. you know.. I might have to move because the house is kind of dilapidated, so YOU have to pay for the upgrades.” Well, no, Jayne, it’s in the lease, YOU have to pay to keep this at world-class Mills Act level. Well, that’s the essence of the lease Arte signed. And our City Attorney said, it is HIS responsibility to maintain it as a “world-class Stadium.” And anyone who buys the team, buys the lease, THEY then are responsible for the Stadium.

So all of the rhetoric from the OC Business Council, the Cabal, the Chamber of Commerce, about “just get out of the Stadium business,” they’re using that as an argument that it’s gonna cost the city $150 million to upgrade … IT’S NOT. The lease clearly says, that’s on the tenant. So I hope the new Mayor and Council will say when they get that, they send that bill to Arte Moreno and they say, “We wanna know your plan, for how you’re gonna get the Stadium up to where it’s supposed to be, per the lease.” OR, let’s renegotiate that lease. You guys haven’t been paying actual rent.

Well, I went off on a tangent, but it’s an important one, for us to get a sense of – and again, I’m hopeful – if our new Mayor and Council will actually fight and advocate so that our assets really safeguarded for us.

The Gadflies

[After Mark Daniels gives a critique of the current Council, Jose responds. First, he gives Councilman Jose Diaz credit for being the most independent, for really putting some thought into doing what he believes in – Vern’s impression too, lately! Then he continues…]

It’s like going back to the Council of 2006, 7, 8, 9… where everything seemed ORCHESTRATED. Everybody LOOKED like they were advocating for SOMETHING, but they weren’t talking to each other in public. Again, they’re talking SOMEWHERE, just not in front of us.

I think, that’s what it was like back then, remember OCCORD first started out and started asking a lot of questions, then the blogs started getting funded by Disney and saying “Look at these troublemakers, agitators,” So anybody who raised a critical question or just simply asked “Why?” was then framed as a gadfly, agitator, unhappy, just, you know, bad.

And it just feels like a few comments I’ve seen from the Council and SOME of the press and social media, they said well, “Look how GREAT this Council’s getting along, how it’s not a drama like it was before,” well, that’s because we’ve gone back to how it was we’ve gone back to MAYBERRY.

And when they’re not coming out in public, I would hope that they’d reach out to the Anaheim Democrats Club – four of them are Democrats – and at least try to explain to their fellow Democrats what they’re trying to do. Given that they were supported or soft-supported by the Club. You sought endorsements from the Clubs, and if you’re not coming here then where are you going to explain yourself to the public?

[Mark points out that all four Council Democrats were at the Memorial Day event.] My experience watching politicians who do that, is, they’re very public in public events. It’s hard for you to ask them questions there because you feel like a skunk at a lawn party. You don’t wanna start asking for housing at a Memorial Day event. “How come you’re not?” you know. And they very quickly can dispose of people, they’ll say, “Not here, we can just, maybe, try to meet?” I’ve heard from several folks who did have some individual follow-up private meetings, and it was disappointing.

And it’s obviously incumbent on us, Clubs like this, to KEEP INVITING THEM to our meetings. And have those conversations in the neighborhoods. And you’ve been doing that, this is where I got my feet held to the fire, “You said this, you did this, what about this?” … So, post it on your social media, to your Councilmembers, “Hey, you’re invited to speak to us, when are you coming?”

Disneyland Forward!

[Fred, Steve, myself and others wanted to hear what he knows and thinks about “Disneyland Forward”, Disney’s 30-year “expansion” plan which they’re doing a lot of public relations on right now.]

Well, THAT BOAT SAILED under Mayor Tom Daly. That Council agreed back in the 90s to development agreements by which Disney now has the right to expand. [?] Now, what they’re gonna need from the Council is a couple of addendums to allow them to integrate the theme park experience with hotel and retail. I don’t have a problem with that personally, it’s their property if they want to reshape how people are engaged and entertained in there, and people are dying to go over there, t me it’s like, the fireworks are still gonna [?] we’re not gonna stop the fireworks.

So to me like, that’s cool, they’ve already got the development agreements, to build motels, to build theme park, to build retail, they just wanna integrate it all. The way it’s been set up they had to keep it separate. My understanding is they’re not asking to expand the FOOTPRINT of the resort, it’s in the boundaries that are already approved today. I don’t have a problem with that.

What I’m concerned about, and I’m not sure the Council is engaged on this – they don’t seem to have any questions about Disneyland, at all – is how much money we’ve given back to Disney – like with the J. W. Marriott, they actually got 100% subsidy. To Disney, 100% subsidy. So my hope is that Council will really explore what’s happening or what’s gonna happen with transportation, and traffic, and noise in the surrounding areas.

They’re saying five or ten million visitors a year – can our infrastructure support that? Are we gonna be asked – is the Streetcar or a [??] gonna be revived, that then will tear up our streets? Maybe it’s worth it? But who’s gonna pay for it? And what does that mean for residents, what does it mean for local businesses? Will Disney ask the City to subsidize whatever environmental impacts it may have? Because of traffic, air pollution, noise pollution, of course crowdedness on the streets and whatnot. Are they gonna ask the state to build another OFFRAMP, with public dollars? What [is Council] gonna ask for to make sure the quality of life for residents doesn’t get compromised?

So that’s what I’m thinking about. And then, the revival of what’s gonna happen on Harbor Blvd, with the proposed BRIDGE, they’re reviving that idea, which the local businesses said NO because they need the foot traffic, and not just pushing people straight from the parking lot to the Park.

Those are the concerns I have, I’ve not heard of any proposals that say they’re gonna EXPAND Disneyland, or the Park. Eminent domain would be for transportation or traffic, that would be a City question or an OCTA question. And my worry is that, OCTA is made up of officials that run the cities, and Councils are made up of electeds who are funded, Disney did spend half a million dollars to make sure NATALIE MEEKS got elected.

Why is Natalie Meeks important? I think the asset that she brings is she was the Director of Public Works, which also means she was there, carrying a lot of projects that Curt Pringle brought forward – infrastructure projects that did not actually benefit the people of Anaheim. ARTIC. The Platinum Triangle’s not quite playing out. Steve Faessel’s been arguing, why is there no shopping there, no stores? And I think on the District 3 side, the Northeast Colony, Natalie Meeks never paid any attention to paving the streets there. Never, as Public Works Director. Rudy Emami did… SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS though, nothing.

So, that’s my concern with Disneyland Forward, we’re talking 5-10 million visitors a year. What does that mean for our city? And that’s one reason I keep saying, let’s have a Gate Tax – another $50 million! to help us out.

CYNTHIA WARD: Jose, so they don’t need a new Specific Plan? It sounds like you’re saying they’re using the one in existence, they’re not writing a new one?

JOSE: That’s my understanding.

CYNTHIA: So they’re still using the old environmental documents from the 1950’s?

JOSE: Yes. There is an update based on the amendments that they’ve introduced. But they’re not – to my knowledge, never did I hear that they … an amendment to integrate, not to do other things.

CYNTHIA: They just got my [??]

JOSE: Yeah. Yeah, please. We’re gonna need that. Yeah. The EIR, if you recall – why THAT matters, quick reminder if I can!

In the MID-90’s, when the City voted to have those BONDS, one of the agreements that the staff at the time negotiated in the EIR was that Disney was gonna build 500 affordable housing units. They were gonna build it. It’s in the EIR, it’s there, it’s signed off by Council, Mayor Tom Daly’s name was on there.

So I met with Tom Daly, I said, “Tom, you signed off on this. What happened to those 500 affordable housing units? That Disney was supposed to build?” Well it CHANGED, even after the EIR, it got amended to where the City agreed to use its federal HUD dollars – $12 million I think got used – to then renovate and modernize what were then the Jeffrey Lynn apartments (now Hermosa Village.) They reduced it, they took out single-residency occupancies, it was super-overcrowded, a lot of displacement of low-income folks, a lot of them were actually displaced to over here, to “Chevy Chase.”

So, who paid for that? The City with its federal/state HUD dollars – WE paid to renovate Hermosa Village, to reduce housing but to keep it affordable. And Disney was SUPPOSED TO BUILD 500 units. That was in the EIR. So, EIR’s really matter. 5-10 million visitors means a thousand more employees. What does that mean for wages, where are they gonna live, those are things to keep our eye on. The traffic, and the human congestions that can occur.

As a last comment, I worry that, we all love that Disney stood up to DeSantis in Florida, so somehow they’re good guys… But here in Anaheim, Tom Tait, a Republican, raised the alarm for us that DISNEY HAS WAY TOO MUCH CONTROL OVER THIS TOWN. And we have to keep our eyes on that. Just cuz they’re taking on some nastiness in Florida doesn’t mean that they’re somehow good for us. And I worry about the Democratic Party falling into that trap.

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.