Disney Still Calls all the Shots in Anaheim.


Clearly, Disney INSISTED on NO DELAY, when their $1.9 billion DisneylandForward plan came before council April 16. NO DELAY, even though any new construction will not begin for months or years. NO DELAY, NO NEGOTIATIONS, NOT EVEN ANY CRITICAL QUESTIONS, insisted Disney. AND THE VOTE MUST BE UNANIMOUS, the corporation further emphasized.

NO DELAY, insisted Disney, and nobody needs to see the Economic Study we commissioned from Cal State Fullerton on the expansion, either. YOU DON’T NEED TO SEE IT, and DON’T EVEN BOTHER ASKING, commanded the Mouse in a firm tone, to an obedient, obeisant Anaheim Council.

And so, falling all over themselves to be first, with bright eyes and eager demeanors, for all the world as though on a sugar high, the Anaheim Council unanimously approved DisneylandForward, no delay, no negotiations. “I trust you guys” were, literally, the words with which most of the Councilmembers concluded their assigned round of Softball Questioning.

We’ll glance at those Softball Questions later, but if it were up to the breathless Natalie Meeks, even those might not have happened! Looking like it was her wedding day, or as if this were the very moment for which Disney had spent $547,000 to get her elected, Meeks moved to approve the whole thing, no delay, the first moment she could, as soon as all the hours of bothersome public comments had concluded.

Not so fast, responded Mayor Ashleigh. Or rather, not QUITE so fast, said the Mayor who was elected WITHOUT (but not AGAINST) any Disney money. (Disney discreetly stayed OUT of the 2022 Mayoral race.) “I can’t wait to second that motion myself, but I’m sure Council has some questions and comments first.” Not to have gone through THOSE motions would have been… unseemly.

And so the softball questions began. But WAIT –

What were those 2022 Scandals about, anyway?

Maybe it’s a Rorschach test. (Maybe everything’s a Rorschach test.) Maybe some people, who are in power, tell themselves that the 2022 Anaheim scandals – the ongoing FBI investigations, the felony charges, the JL Report, the mortifying national headlines about “Anacrime” and “Anaslime” – were just about the unchecked greed and lawlessness of two men, Harry Sidhu and Todd Ament.

Funny. The rest of us think those scandals were mainly about how Anaheim’s biggest special interests – Disney, developers, the Angels, police & fire unions – the ones who pour millions of dollars into our elections – dependably get whatever they want, with minimal concern for the public’s interest, with maximum secrecy, and pushed forward by staff members who believe that their very bread is buttered by special interests like Disney, and behave as though they work for them.

Yes, highly paid Anaheim staff – the same ones who arranged Sidhu’s discredited Stadium Giveaway – speak in Disney talking points as though they were Disney staff – especially Planning Director Ted White, spokesman Mike Lyster & City Manager Vanderpool. In fact there is STILL disinformation up on the City’s propaganda website, even though many of us have pointed it out and complained. For example,

But ten, 100, 1000 Anaheim citizens can complain these claims aren’t true, and they’ll still stay up on the City’s website because Disney wants them there.

So forgive us if we see VERY LITTLE difference between the Sidhu Council and the Aitken Council, despite that heralded “Fall of Reform” last year. (We can… what now? See their calendars. Lobbyists are encouraged more strongly to register. A couple other things that have slipped our minds.)

One more thing here: The staff claims, “NO, this process was VERY open, very publicized, we’ve been talking about it since 2021!” And they bring up a record of some 2021 event that nobody knew about or remembers. No, Disney started their publicity tour last September, and they told everybody different things, whatever they thought they wanted to hear, and many important details changed month to month and are still changing. We were railroaded.

Living Through April 16, 2024.

We wanted a DELAY, but Disney the Boss, the Worldwide Purveyor of Escapism, INSISTED on NO DELAY, and wanted the Council UNANIMOUS. Because for one thing Disney is EXTREMELY pre-occupied with its public image, and any delay or dissenting vote would have made them look less all-good and all-powerful. And also, could they really be expected to go through putting on a show like the April 16 Council meeting a second or third time?

They packed the Chamber with their “supporters” at 3:30 pm for the 5pm meeting, and I am putting “supporters” in quotes because us “critics” should not all be considered OPPONENTS – we just had a lot of various concerns, and thought the whole plan could be made better for the people of Anaheim. But that doesn’t make us not supporters of Disney. A “supporter” in quotes is a “person” who says and does exactly what Disney tells them to, no questions asked. A good litmus test is when you hear them say they “always wanted Magic Way closed.” NOBODY ever wanted Magic Way closed until Disney decided they wanted it closed for some still unknown reason. But we’ll get to that.

The point is, Disney “supporters” took up every seat in the Chambers, so that anyone who had anything intelligent to say, any concerns, had to wait outside for hours, and many or most of them had to eventually go home around 8 or 9 or 10 or 11. Most of these “supporters” didn’t even speak, just took up space and clapped and wore boostery swag.

The “supporters” who did speak (when comments finally started at 8pm) were mostly Disney employees or “cast members” (22 of ’em) or representatives of unions and trade groups and the such who depend on Disney economically (24 of those.) So it seemed like there were way more “supporters” than critics, but there were actually:

  • only TEN residents not on Disney’s payroll who spoke in support, vs.
  • 24 residents who had BIG PROBLEMS with Disneyland Forward, and AT LEAST THAT MANY who couldn’t get in or gave up waiting around 8 or 9 or 10 or 11.

What does that say whether Council’s on the right side of public opinion on this? Maybe we’ll see. I’m going to resist, for now, mentioning any commenters on either side (I’ll save it for an appendix at the bottom of this story), since the topic here is our obedient, supine Council and staff.

Except for one moment that really stood out: At 6:43:20 a young CSU professor named Caroline Romero approached the mike and asked audience members to raise their hand if they “want to support the community of Anaheim!” Not a hand went up, from Disney “supporters.” “Well, raise your hand if you want to provide affordable housing!” Same thing. “Raise your hand if you want to have safe streets.” Same thing. I was sitting with the “supporters” at the time (because for the hell of it) and I raised my hand each time, but NOT A SINGLE “SUPPORTER” DID. Which both Professor Romero and I actually found shocking. They all looked confused and uncomfortable. Were these trick questions? She doesn’t look like one of us. We haven’t been coached for something like this. We’re not supposed to “support the community of Anaheim,” are we?? Fucking drones.

But public comments were over by 11:30 and it was Council’s turn to shine…



Diaz & Wages

Councilman Jose Diaz was first up to bat, and punted: “Tell us about being an employee at Disney – the wages, the benefits, the career opportunities.” And Disney’s VP of Global Management, Rachel Alde, was more than happy to catch THAT one with her bare hands: “Our starting wages are $19.90 an hour!” she boasted. Right there, hearing Rachel say that, REALLY rankled.

Because – just in case you hadn’t heard – Disney ONLY pays that amount because the people of Anaheim voted, with 2018’s Measure L, that any company enjoying subsidies from the city needed to pay a “living wage.” And Disney FOUGHT THAT IN COURT FOR FOUR YEARS, claiming incredibly that the Mickey & Friends parking structure we built for them, lease to them for a dollar a year while they make 90 million a year off it, and then we’re going to SIGN IT OVER TO THEM when we’re done paying off the bonds for it, IS NOT A SUBSIDY.

And last year DISNEY LOST at the California Supreme Court, so now they HAVE TO PAY their workers $19.90 an hour. Because of US CARING TROUBLEMAKERS. And they STILL haven’t paid their workers back wages and interest from the last five years! Rachel did not mention any of that, of course.

Measure L. It makes me miss the days when UNITE-HERE was part of the community, and their demands were reasonable. But mostly, this is just another example of Disney’s greed and parsimony. And now they boast about it!

I trust you guys,” concluded Jose Diaz.

Faessel & Magic Way

Councilman Steve Faessel’s assignment, apparently, was to ask questions about Magic Way. But nothing suggesting any heresy like, “Why should we give up, privatize, and close up a public Anaheim street that 10,000 drivers use every day?” No, he just wanted Disney and staff to re-assure us that 11 million is a fair price for it, that it’s normal for a business who wants to buy a public street to appraise it themselves, and that someone from Anaheim had vouched it was a fair appraisal.

But let it never be forgotten: THIS IS THE COUNCIL THAT SOLD MAGIC WAY. The public should have had a say in this. We were told there would be a separate hearing on this, and there WASN’T, which should be a legal problem for the City in the near future. We don’t like Disney taking one public street after another – first Cerritos, now Magic Way, next Disneyland Drive is mentioned in the documents – like we are West Bank Palestinians or Seminoles. It’s not even clear why the hell Disney needs or wants to close this street – they are not planning to build anything there. In MY comment, I turned to Disney Resort President Ken Potrock, seated like a king in the front row, and said, “Ken, you don’t need Magic Way. WE need it.” He glared at me and nodded curtly. Disney gets whatever it wants.

“I trust you,” concluded Faessel. Oh yeah, and THIS IS THE COUNCIL THAT SOLD MAGIC WAY.

Natalie R. & Affordable Housing

The District 3 Councilwoman, elected with $380,000 of Disney money and now bedeviled by a Recall Election (which Disney is spending hundreds of thousands to help her fight) asked a LOT of questions, as she generally does. I had thought that if any hall passes were given out (“hall pass” means permission to vote your conscience as long as it doesn’t endanger a majority vote) it might-a been to Natalie, just so she wouldn’t look like a Disney servant during her recall. PERO NO. Disney insisted on a unanimous vote. So NR made do with emphatically claiming, “I looked HARD for a reason to vote against this, but I couldn’t find one!”

Here’s the thing: Natalie has been not only a servant to Disney (like the rest of her colleagues) but a real roadblock to getting more Affordable Housing – not only letting Disney get away with a mere 15MM soon / 15MM five years later to help with affordable housing for their 13,800 new workers (which would help LESS THAN HALF A PERCENT of them) but also leading the charge earlier in the month against an “Affordable Housing Ordinance” such as many OC cities have, requiring new housing developments to include a certain percentage affordable. So that could hurt her too in her recall, if enough district 3 voters knew about it.

For that reason (apparently) she was allowed to engage in a long back & forth with President Potrock over “Would you be open to redirecting ATID (Anaheim Tourism Improvement District) funds to a (still amorphous and nonexistent) Affordable Housing Trust?” And Ken was all, yeah, sure, sounds like a good idea – as doubtless rehearsed. Well that would NOT be up to Ken, none of it is in writing, and it’s a non-starter – hoteliers have a majority say on the ATID board, and they use those funds for other things they care more about. This was a HUGE red herring, aimed to make it look like Natalie Rubalcava cares about affordable housing. To all appearances, she really doesn’t. She cares largely about making developers and Disney happy.

Disney is wringing all kinds of publicity out of that 30MM offer, which sounds like a lot of money to most of us. One of their nonstop, heartwarming TV ads features a couple of women who don’t know any better, who used to be homeless and in trouble with the law, and now live in Finamore Place, talking about how Disney has changed their lives, and how “That $30 million will REALLY HELP PEOPLE.” Finamore Place is a new housing project, to which Disney contributed a typically minimal amount but wrung all the publicity out of it they could. (Some of the funding came from a foundation that Disney gave $5 million to.)

But how ’bout that $30 million “helping a lot of people?” First it’s 15MM when the project begins, then 15MM five years later, when that’ll be worth maybe 13 or 14MM. Second, never forget the Disneyland Resort makes $18 MILLION a day. Third, our housing czar tells us 30MM would build about 48 affordable housing units. The idea is to take small amounts of money like that and “leverage” it to get more federal and state monies, and maybe get as many as 500 units. But that is public taxpayer money for which Disney deserves no credit. Their $30 million only directly helps LESS THAN HALF A PERCENT of their planned new employees, and meanwhile a lot of their current employees are homeless.

Disney could EASILY give ten times that much, and if they did … that might be enough for a lot of us to ignore the project’s many other impacts. But nobody on the Council is interested in making them do any more than they feel like.

Have we critics been wrong about anything? Inevitably, yes, when you’re dealing with such a squirrely company, and I think this is actually funny: Numerous news reports have praised Disney for spending $310 million on affordable housing in Florida, and we’ve been all, why can’t they do that here? Rachel Alde took the stand to lay that story to rest: “We actually spent more like 30MM in Florida, and that got leveraged with public money.” Believable, and it figures. But whose fault is it that all the media thought it was Disney’s $310 million? Gee, what do YOU think?

Norma & No Report

Norma Kurtz was appointed by the Council majority to take Avelino’s place when he ascended to the Assembly; before that she’d been on the Board of Directors of SOAR, Disney’s campaign PAC. Funny, when Jordan Brandman resigned, the Council plucked Gloria Ma’ae off of SOAR as well. Maybe SOAR is the Council’s farm team. We’ll know for sure if Natalie R gets recalled and they replace HER with someone from SOAR. Our expectations for Norma were low, coming from SOAR.

It turns out she’s a really nice lady, talks to anybody, listens, nods her head, looks like she cares, what people call “accessible” more than any of the other Councilcritters. But then she goes and talks to OTHER people who seem to be more persuasive.

She came and spoke to us gadflies outside the April 10 “Misinformation Forum,” six days before the big vote, and I asked her if she could request the CSUF Economic Report – the economists had just told us that if ANYONE from Council requested it they could quickly whip up a version with all the “proprietary information” redacted. And she said “Maybe I will, I’m thinking of it.” And I told her, “That would be great, if you do that I’ll tell people to vote for you in November.” But… she didn’t. Someone else must have talked “sense” into her.

The Report would probably have been laughable anyway, going by the “Executive Summary” which is all anyone was allowed to see. Check it out – it just looks like another DF advertisement. There is NOT ONE WORD about any negative impacts or externalities, and that shows how serious it was. But still, on principle, the Council, staff and public should have been able to see and analyze it.

What Norma did end up talking about was some problem locals were having with over-weight delivery trucks on Walnut Street, something I hadn’t been following, and which seemed to have been solved. And maybe Norma helped with that, and if so, good for her.

Still. She voted for Disneyland Forward, no delay, no negotiations. She voted to sell Magic Way, and she didn’t request the Report. And she’s up for her first election in November. All I’m saying.

Snagging Carlos

Young Carlos Leon is the only Councilmember who was elected AGAINST Disney money, and he only won by 80-something votes. He regularly reminds himself and us that he was elected as a reformist in the wake of Anaheim’s great corruption scandals, and frequently comes up with decent ideas which don’t generally get support from the rest of the Council. The word “bold” doesn’t come to mind, sorry to say.

But Disney wanted a unanimous vote, and they figured if they got ANY sort of static, it might be from Carlos Leon. So, a charm offensive was launched on Carlos. President Potrock himself actually hung out with Carlos in District 2, and let Carlos walk him around the poorer neighborhoods to see where families lived ten to a home, “a stone’s throw [or several stones’ throws] away” from the Magic Kingdom, the Happiest Place on Earth!

It’s a sure thing that Ken showed great concern and emphasized how much the added tax revenue to be expected eventually from Disneyland Forward could conceivably be used to help Carlos’ constituents. On April 16, Carlos directed all his comments to the Big Guy, and seemed positively starstruck to be his friend, to be so close to Real Power. Unanimous vote achieved!

And, concluded Carlos, “I trust you guys.”

Fireworks & Nobody & Cynthia

NOBODY on Council asked questions, even softball questions, about one of our gravest concerns – the long-term health and environmental impacts on the local neighborhoods of Disneyland’s nightly fireworks show. Neighborhoods where kids have a higher-than-average incidence of asthma. Maybe it was impossible to compose softball questions about that. No. Rather, Disney didn’t want that brought up. They’ve been doing this for decades, and this would have been the opportunity to demand a SERIOUS health study, and demand some kind of newfangled, healthier improvement which is certainly possible.

But Ted White DID show a slide, and talk a bit, about the fireworks, in his hour-long introduction. Here’s the slide (now at 2:57:12, not sure what 20 minutes they deleted from the original video)

Ted assured us all that, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), “Disneyland fireworks have been monitored since 1989… Since 2004, Disney has focused on the elimination of black powder from their nightly fireworks, through an agreement with SCAQMD.” W. T. Actual F.??? “Focused for the last 20 years on the elimination of black powder?” This is bureaucratese for “doing jack shit about it.” And this SCAQMD? I’ll let Cynthia Ward, who was by design the final speaker, take it from here:

“SCAQMD only monitors fireworks for one event, one day at a time. Of COURSE they show collections below actionable levels – they get a CLEAN PLATE to collect debris EACH DAY OF THE TESTING. The lungs of our children and the soil in our back yards don’t renew themselves nightly like the collection plates used by SCAQMD. The same neighborhoods in the path of the fireworks get hit night after night, year after year. And there’s no study of CUMULATIVE impacts of long-term exposure.

“The fireworks are not ignored because somebody found them safe. They’re ignored because a regional agency filled with politicians elected with Disney campaign dollars has exempted them from study. You would think that Disney would WANT to assure their neighbors that the materials they rain down on our yards are safe for long-term exposure, but if Disney doesn’t want to offer that assurance to the public, our elected officials SHOULD BE ON THIS.”

Snap! Cynthia considered herself to be “batting clean-up,” bringing up things that the rest of us critics hadn’t. She continued:

“I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say ‘Don’t approve this.’ I’ve heard a lot of people ask you to fix the easily fixable issues, before they are SET IN CONCRETE FOR FORTY YEARS. Once this is done, we cannot go back and fix what we find wrong later… This project is still a Dumpster Fire, and I still ask you to please send this back for further discussion.

The loss of Magic Way is so essential that over 1000 signatures have now been collected asking you to keep it open, including some who signed the petition on the way OUT of the April 10 ‘Informational Open House’ where staff failed to address their concerns. Disney has not explained WHY they need exclusive use of Magic Way when they already have access to the uses they say they want in the future. They’re NOT BUILDING ANYTHING ON IT, WHY DO THEY NEED TO LOCK US OUT OF IT?… And we don’t ‘need’ to close Magic Way in order to put a crosswalk across Walnut – if we need a crosswalk there, City Hall needs to just fund it.

“There is NO NET NEW BENEFIT TO ANAHEIM when all we’re doing is giving Disney another 40 years to build what they got permission for in 1996. How is this a plus for us?

“The CSUF Economic Study. WHY ON EARTH DID YOU NOT DEMAND THE DAMN STUDY? I cannot understand how we can make a decision without that. And I AM OUT OF TIME. Thank you very much, I know it’s been a long night. Thank you for your service.”

And that’s the story of the April 16, 2024 meeting, where the Anaheim Council showed us that Disney Still Calls All the Shots.




Except, now I’m gonna write three “appendices.”

Appendix 1. The Gadflies’ Accomplishments

Back in the fall, when the DisneylandForward publicity blitz really started, some Disney flacks reached out to a few of us activists who are popularly referred to as “gadflies.” I appreciate that they did this; it was somewhat productive for both sides. I’m sure their idea was that if they got people like me and the Robbinses on their side, there wouldn’t be much pushback. We were keenly aware that half the time they were bullshitting us and yanking our chains, but they learned what the informed community wants, and I think we were able to help make the project just a LITTLE bit better, or not as bad.

Starting with HOUSING. Back in the Fall Disney’s position (assuming they weren’t fucking with us) was that helping with affordable housing for their workers was NOT DISNEY’S PROBLEM, BUT ANAHEIM’S, and they were fully intending to do NOTHING on that front. They claimed they provided a lot of housing back in the 90’s which is absolutely not true, and they pointed out that Anaheim is already FAR from its housing goals, DF or no DF, which IS true. But it’s probably due to our insistence that they finally offered even the measly $30 million that they have. You’re welcome.

Also, MAGIC WAY. They were very sneaky about this, at first saying that “Oh, MAYBE we will want to do something with that street.” Subsequent meetings showed them to be more and more insistent – we ARE going to buy, and close, Magic Way. Nobody would have known about this if it weren’t for us, we made it a big issue. ESPECIALLY our new friend Stephanie Mercadante, who knocked on hundreds if not thousands of doors, getting signatures and spreading the word. We weren’t able to sway anyone on Council, but this would have slipped through unnoticed if it weren’t for us. And NOW everybody knows that THIS WAS THE COUNCIL THAT SOLD MAGIC WAY.

Our movement (which I called the Disneyland Forward Truth Squad) got bigger and bigger over the months. And then, on April 16, we didn’t even know half the folks who came out to give critical comments. More and more regular citizens are seeing their Council at work. And this could be the beginning of a movement to finally get a Council that works for the people rather than the special interests, as well as an electorate that’s not so easily bamboozled by glossy mailers and TV ads.

Appendix 2. Disney is STILL on a PR Blitz – but Why?

As the April 16 meeting approached, our TVs were filled with pro-DF ads, DF spokespeople knocked on our doors, we got mailers singing its praises. But even now, a month after the vote, it hasn’t stopped. The TV ads are still playing several times an hour, and just last week a guy knocked on my door to tell me the wonders of DisneylandForward, and to jot down if I had any concerns about it. (They sent an Asian-American guy who doesn’t speak Spanish to my barrio where half my neighbors ONLY speak Spanish, but that’s their problem.) BUT WHY ARE THEY STILL DOING THIS?

1. Are they going to be asking for even more soon?

2. Or are they worried that the natives are unhappy? Are they worried that we’ll take this vote out on their favorite politicians, starting with the Natalie Rubalcava recall this month?

I don’t know! Any thoughts?

3. The most notable public comments!

Good, bad, and ugly, the following public comments from the April 16 meeting need to be memorialized:

At 3:56 came the first two speakers, a very enthusiastic daughter & mother pair I won’t name – who knows what they went through to go first? They were two of the ONLY TEN residents not economically dependent on Disney to back the project, and they were about the only ones to mention us “opponents” – most boosters acted like we and our criticisms didn’t exist. The daughter (who kept showing off her own little daughter) was especially enthusiastic about closing Magic Way, and the crosswalk that would be built on Walnut for her family’s safety. As Cynthia mentioned, there’s no connection between these two things even though Disney wants to make it seem that way – the City OR Disney could build a crosswalk on Walnut any day without closing Magic Way.

She was followed at 4:00 by her mother who REALLY doesn’t like us critics and was a little offensive. According to her, we should all just keep our mouths shut because we are NOT HOMEOWNERS like them. Which is wrong, and really pissed off some of my colleagues, at least half of whom are homeowners in the area – not to mention irrelevant, you don’t have to be a homeowner to have an interest and voice in this city’s affairs. It was classist and probably racist. And she further accused us of “hating Disney more than [we] love Anaheim.” Doesn’t she know our slogan?

At 4:32, the 16th speaker, Cassandra Taylor, a Pepperwood resident living across from Magic Way, surprised everybody. She started off sounding just like any other “supporter” doting on her daughter’s “sparkle-pink mouse ears,” and then let loose with a dose of Truth: “I feel BETRAYED that MW is being closed. After attending two informational workshops hosted by Disney, a March 11 newspaper article was the first time I heard that MW was for sale…” She went on, eloquently, about all the reasons Magic Way should not be sold and closed, and how she felt lied to. You should hear it.

At 6:20, old electrical union leader Doug Mangione, who shows up to back ANY shitty project that provides work for his membership (and likes to talk shit about yours truly) had at least the self-awareness to crack, “I’ve been coming to this chamber for almost two decades (laughs) discussing development in the Resort zone… And you know, this Chamber – I feel it tonight – is filled with the Ghosts of Action Past – we can feel them hovering over us, I can hear the chains rattling. BUT (laughs) every action should not be related only to the bad ones, that can taint our judgment! We should view this project on its merit…” He was obviously referring to the LAST thing he shilled for at Anaheim Council, which was Sidhu’s corrupt Stadium Giveaway. But he could have also been referring to the Poseidon Desal Boondoggle, over which he and I butted heads for a decade, until the Coastal Commission finally put a stake in that nightmare’s heart.

6:24 is where CSU Professor Caroline Romero, as described above, asked for a show of hands for “Who wants to support the community of Anaheim?” and not a single Disney-supporter’s hand went up. And same with “Who wants to provide Affordable Housing?” and “Who wants safe streets?” I still can’t get over that.

There were too many good “critical” comments to list here, and I’m sorry to leave anyone out, but the following ones in particular stood out – and we didn’t even know most of these people! (They were not the “usual suspects”)

  • Randy Lewis at 4:37. Our stalwart & eloquent friend from the HOA of the Pepperwood Complex spoke on the importance of keeping Magic Way, the health, air pollution and noise impacts on his neighborhood during construction, and the absurdity that it’s all justified by an Economic Impact Report that nobody on Council even had the curiosity to ask to see.
  • Trangdai Glassey-Tranguyen at 5:36. We hadn’t met Trangdai before but she’s one of us now! She spoke passionately from personal experience of the impacts of Disney on nearby neighborhoods – traffic, noise, air pollution. Unfortunately Ashleigh & Natalie R. had a bit of fun during part of her speech, which went viral on YouTube:
  • Julian Sebastian Gutierrez at 5:51 – who was this young man and where did he come from? In his very effective speech he brought up the need for a 2% “GATE TAX,” if Disney is ever going to truly support its host city.
  • Penelope Lopez at 6:27. This young mother from CHISPA (a good friend of ours) has reached the point many of us do where she starts to feel she’s banging her head against the wall talking to this Council. I believe I hear her drop an F-Bomb here.
  • “Ernesto” at 6:46. Another great speech from a young man we don’t know – he addressed the Disney workers and labor people who were present, trying to remind them what a bad record Disney actually has with their employees. You should hear it. You should hear all of these. I gotta figure out how to make a mash-up video of ’em all.
  • Sandra Cazares at 7:10 – our friend Sandra was really pissed at how she was misled and lied to at the “Informational Workshop” six days earlier. She was exhausted too – by now it was past 11pm. She ended by reminding Council of the Sidhu Stadium debacle and urging them to try transparency this time.
  • Ryann Higgins at 7:17. Ryann is the vice-chair of the City’s Budget Committee, and as such saw a lot of Disney’s double-speak firsthand. She also (to balance off all the heartwarming tales the “cast members” told) talked about when she worked at Disney as a high-school senior and got fired when her school responsibilities clashed with her work schedule. And her union did NOT help her.
  • Cynthia Ward at 7:27. We quoted most of this masterful wrap-up speech above, but it should be heard, and remembered.

I’ll mention this couple last: at 5:30, Adriana Perez Rosas, followed by her veteran husband Francisco Rosas, gave the most fiery speeches – Adriana’s furious performance went viral on TikTok (see below.) As Mexican-Americans, they see Disney’s constant encroachments on the neighborhoods in racial terms, something I hadn’t considered, but who are we to say they’re wrong? But my favorite part was when she brought up the old feud in the 40’s between Cri-Cri (Francisco Gavilondo Soler) and Disney – Disney wanted to buy his cricket character and it was not for sale, so Disney instead created Jiminy Cricket. Cri-Cri wrote this song in response, “El Raton Vaquero” (The Cowboy Mouse.) Let’s end this with Adriana and Cri-Cri then:



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.