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Anaheim Council Members Make (Or attempt to) Their Case to the Central Committee

Posted by Brenda McCune on January 21, 2014

The OCGOP held it’s monthly meeting last night at the (newly renamed) Hotel Irvine (Fka the Irvine Hyatt). The speakers for the evening were Lucille Kring and Kris Murray. These council members have been under attack for their vote on permitting hotel developers to have a rebate on the Transient Occupancy Tax, (TOT) once and if the hotels are built by the developers. This issue came before the council in 2012 and the council was split 2-3. More important is the May 2013 vote, when the issue was again considered and the vote was 4-1, Mayor Tom Tait being the only vote against the rebate.

The other hot topic of discussion was the ongoing negotiations with the Angels to extend their contract with Anaheim.

We heard over and over again from Kring and Murray that these were “complicated” issues. It seemed to me they had forgotten that their audience for the evening were 1) Grown-up people whom have all presumably stayed at a Hotel at some point in their lives, 2) Live in Orange County and know a few things about the Angels and Arte Moreno and 3) Are all politicians of one ilk or another.

It’s not complicated. It is not new math. It is not brain surgery or rocket science, but here’s the message they delivered.

Kris Murray beat the drum of unity of the City Council, indicating they were all in agreement on this and that and a whole bunch of other things. It is noteworthy, that the Central Committee meeting is open to anyone who wishes to attend, and in general, whomever is speaking is also not a secret. It would seem to behoove good local Republican politicians to know what the goings on are in their county’s Central Committee, particularly when a monthly meeting might be featuring one of their cohorts on their own council. Mayor Tom Tait was a guest speaking at the meeting just a few months ago. He delivered a very different message. His message was that he stood alone fighting the battle of fiscal conservativism on the Anaheim City Council. The 4-1 vote in favor of extending tax rebates (TOT’s) to hotel developers (Tait was the only dissenter) seems to bolster this claim by Mayor Tait.

Ms. Murray went on to discuss the “complicated” issues arising in the negotiations with the Angels over extending their contract with Anaheim. She emphasized the long history of the partnership of the city and the team, (no mention of the protracted litigation over the name just a few years ago) and the huge risk to the city should the Angels decide to up and move to a nearby city that will build them a new stadium, such as happened in Atlanta. She prepared a Power Point but time constraints did not permit her to go through it. She was kind enough to email it to the Central Committee members today for our review. It was interesting in that the Power Point contained one map of the United States that showed the teams that are receiving substantial subsidies from their city. These included four teams, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals, and Tampa Bay Rays. Each are purported to be receiving in excess of $300 million dollars in facilities funding. She emphasized that the city “makes” money on the Angels franchise in that it brings people to the area who support local retail and hotels. There are 30 MLB teams, there was no information or statistics on the averages, or any other variations, only the four teams getting subsidy’s of $300 million or more.

Tom Tait, when he recently appeared before the Committee, had argued that the city was not making money on the current deal with the Angels, and that the Angels were in essence being provided “free rent”. The Orange County register in September reported that over the past 16years that the current agreement has been in place, the city made money in nine of those years, and lost money in the past seven, for a net loss of $52,000.00. A sports/business expert interviewed by the Register called it an “irrelevant” loss. Tom Tait’s demeanor on that evening, was emotional, self serving, and desperate to convey to us that he was fighting the good fight and holding the line as a fiscal conservative. From that initial perspective to the message of last night, it is clear to see the emotionality in this divided Council. If Council Members Kring and Murray accomplished anything last night, it was to explain the emotionality and bolster the credibility of Mayor Tom Tait.

Lucille Kring discussed the TOT. This has been widely debated and criticized as the “$158 million dollar give away”.  She went on into a lengthy discussion and explanation of the TOT, of the fact that in the ‘90’s some hotels chose to build in Garden Grove instead of Anaheim, because of such tax advantages, and that Garden Grove at that time gave away free land. She failed to note that those Garden Grove hotels have undergone several ownership changes since they were built.  No discussion of whether the lack of success of those hotels has to do with the lack of proximity to Disneyland. She also noted that travelers frequently choose to stay in “four star” hotels in beach cities.  There was no discussion of what these proposed hotels getting the TOT rebates would be, but one report was that the plan was for a three story structure.  If that is what is proposed, that’s not a luxury hotel. She was terribly condescending in her repeated statements that the “city is not writing a check”. Well, maybe not now, but if this is indeed a “rebate”, that is exactly what the city will do. Again, she seemed to forget her audience, and stayed firm on her position that it was just too much for us to understand, and that if only we understood we would see what a great idea it was. She further, had great difficulty in admitting that she campaigned on representations that she would not support such tax breaks fro developers. Only after several questions from the typically forceful Debra Pauley, and then after the same question was restated by Chairman Baugh did Ms. Kring ultimately, finally admit that she “only discussed that with a few people, yes.”. She continued to assert that it was never stated in her “campaign materials”.

As public servants, both of these women serve our community at a substantial sacrifice to themselves, and nowhere could this be more appreciated than by this audience of public servants. However, in taking up the cloak of leadership, credibility, responsibility and message are relevant. Local politics is a blood sport and it appears they have engaged in this battle essentially unarmed. Overall, both Council Members were unconvincing in their message that everything is coming up roses in Anaheim and there is peace and harmony and that campaign promises are alive and well all around the Council Chambers in Anaheim. When Ms. Kring made the statement regarding her “campaign materials”, she turned away from the audience to face Chairman Baugh and spoke very softly. Nevertheless, it garnered an audible sigh from the audience.

There are a number of business people in Anaheim who support the Hotel deal, even though the most vociferous discussion on this TOT vote has been negative. Maybe there is a really good economic policy behind this and maybe it will ultimately be a wonderful outcome and bring business and revenue to the city, but we did not hear anything that sounded like that. There was a recurring excuse from both the speakers that these actions are similar to actions that have been taken before. That “well they did it back then” attitude and theme was as unpersuasive as every other part of the presentation.

Neither one of them appeared to believe in what they were selling. They were well prepared, rehearsed, polished and articulate and said what they came to say, but it was weak and unconvincing to say the least. If they believed in what they were doing, had absolute confidence in the positions they have taken on these issues, then there should have been no reason to sidestep actions contrary to campaign promises or to deny the obvious and well documented division among the council. This is certainly the wrong room to come to and be timid, apologetic,defensive, or untruthful.

In litigation we have a saying for silly or non-meritorious arguments, “That dog don’t hunt”. In the public forum as well as the political gathering last night, not only do these positions and policies “not hunt”, these politicians now and in their re-election bids will continue to be the hunted if they persist on a platform of excuses and half truths.

6 Responses to “Anaheim Council Members Make (Or attempt to) Their Case to the Central Committee”

  1. It’s funny, that power point changes every time they drag it out. What does not change is the lack of credibility associated with the crony capitalists currently running Anaheim. confront them with facts, and they dismiss constituents as “misinformed” as tough they see with mire clarity than the unwashed masses. or, as i suspect, the meal has been predigested for them by trusted advisors whose “vision” surpasses ours. They have become master manipulators, offering “public outreach” in place of proper public hearings, an email account to nowhere to log your input instead of meeting minutes that might show future generations tracing back the demise of anaheim’s fiscal stability to this administration that yes, we did try to fight. What any judge will tell you is a power point is not enforceable, only the MOU language is what counts. Please, please, go read it through. Anaheim.net click on angels lease negotiations button on home page, you can read the resolutions for lease opt out extension but the BIG eye openers are in the other one, detailing the stadium deal and the land lease. Check out the provisions. The “feasibility gap” that excused Lucille’s vote on Gardenwalk hotel? It’s here, waiting to be used for this development, to an entity called PCI not Angels and they have no obligation listed here to use that money for stadium repair, which is already the responsibility of the angels, from 1996 agreement. Oh yeah, back then Anaheim gave angels the “revenue streams” of every nickel we were making up to 2.6 M butts in the seats, adverts etc all went to team for taking on maintenance, plus they scored RSN cable deals for nearly $3B we get none of. As obscene as the stadium deal is, the land lease is potentially the largest property scam in municipal history, go read what they get, read what is sitting in the “parking lot” up for grabs for $1 a year. Forget recall, I want tar and feathers. Either someone is dirty or of stupid to govern. Oh….staff OFFERED this to a team that did not threaten to leave, and publicly stated they haven’t talked to anyone, as our own attorney argued with Tait that Angels could play in Hawaii! Who do these people work for?!

  2. Daniel Lamb said

    great post! for more info…

    https://www.facebook.com/stopcorpwelfare

  3. Jason Young said

    You can view the entire exchange courtesy of SaveAnaheim.com on youtube via the link below:

  4. thinkoc said

    When Lucille mentioned past feasibility gap payments on TOT, and that only one hotelier took advantage of the 50 percent deal, that one and only other subsidy went to the same hotelier that also owns the Gardenwalk hotel site. If we can afford to cover future service costs (including recent 4 to 1 votes for highest pensions allowable for new safety hires-calling it pension reform cuz the law’s new highest limit is slightly lower than it used to be, hey we got a savings, look at us) if Anaheim can cover those escalating costs without 158M of TOT, then clearly we collect too much tax and should lower the rate across the board and let Anaheim compete with surrounding lower tax rates. There is a word for artificially inflating taxes and then allocating the pork to special friends, we call it Democratic. Perhaps those two ladies wandered into the wrong meeting. The “business community” cheering for recent deals like TOT for hoteliers, and blatant land grabs in the guise of keeping a sports team have been the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, a group in hock up to their eyeballs, known for doing the bidding of the Council majority who then feeds them public contracts like the multimillion dollar Enterprise Zone, while not holding them accountable even when the long, long overdue audit shows massive mismanagement and conflict of interest issues. When folks line up at Council to speak on these issues, try finding someone in favor who does not benefit in some way. The owner of the Catch, or his manager? SOAR members who get huge bennies for not rocking the boat? In contrast the real leaders in the business community are appalled at this insanity, but objections dismissed. Council majority is kidding themselves to believe anyone buys their load of hooey, it took genuine hubris to try selling that snake oil to a roomful of lawyers and political leaders.

  5. Not sure how I missed it before, but I just read Chmeilewski’s blog on Tom Tait and how he supported cronyism before he was against it.

    Not only did Chmeilewski miss the point of this blog, the quote and the manner in which he used it was misleading.

    This is not a pro-Tait post. This is not Pro-anything. It was an attempt to keep people informed of what is going on in Central Committee meetings. I sit there as a representative of my district, and because not everyone who wants to know what goes on at those meetings gets to attend, I think it is helpful and somewhat an obligation to put out there what is up.

    What was up on that evening was two city council members who showed up, placed form before substance and did not carry their message well. I know they wanted to, but by brushing over details, they discredited themselves.

    I don’t think that makes Tom Tait an awesome guy or virtuous beyond some measure, I think it was, and the post here was intended to convey, disappointing and damaging to Kring and Murray. I wish them no ill. I wish them all the best in their upcoming campaigns and hope they take this critique to heart.

    Tait is certainly playing to the party, as evidenced by his recognition at the meeting subsequent to this one. However, we’re not sheep, and Chmeilewski’s effort to characterize us as such is typical type of left broad brushing.

    I would have commented on Chmeilewski’s blog, but comments were “closed”. As the election is still upcoming, this discussion continues to be relevant.

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