OC Register Editorial Needs A Dose of Reality

The OC Register published an editorial on Sunday abut the court decision on the Garden Walk project, and impending city council re-vote on the agreement.

Like other recent OCR editorials about Anaheim, this is a puzzling one. It’s not surprising the libertarian OC Register is opposing the agreement, but there are some claims made that aren’t staked to reality – regardless of one’s position on the agreement.

Take, for example, the headline: “A Backroom, Sweetheart Deal.” Even on an opinion page, shouldn’t the editorial present some evidence– any evidence — to support the “backroom” claim?

There was nothing secretive about the agreement — which was actually amending an existing agreement.  The original agreement was discussed and voted upon in public, where anyone who cared to could comment. Notwithstanding the inflammatory “backroom” claim — or even the court ruling – the latest iteration of the GardenWalk agreement was also publicly discussed and voted at a January 24, 2012 Anaheim City Council meeting.

So, again I would ask the OC Register – what “backroom”?

There was also this gem from the editorial:

“Indeed, there is little doubt that, had Anaheim residents been properly advised that the council planned to conclude its discussion of the contract with an actual up-or-down vote, the council meeting would have overflowed with opponents of the extremely generous tax break to Mr. O’Connell.”

First, it was no secret the GardenWalk agreement was on the agenda — specifically, Item 23:

“Discussion to consider an amendment to an existing economic assistance agreement and provide direction to staff to develop an agreement with the developer (GardenWalk Hotel Project).”

Note the presence of the verb “to consider” — which means “to think carefully about, especially in order to make a decision.”  In other word, a vote was a very distinct possibility.

That the organized opponents of the agreement – predominantly various constituencies of the Left — were not at the council meeting was on them. It was no secret the agreement was making it’s way through the city; and if it is an egregious as opponents claims, shouldn’t they ave mobilized for the January 24 council meeting to make their voices heard? Even if it was not certain a vote would take place?

Much of politics is about showing up. GardenWalk proponents were organized and on the ball. Opponents were asleep as the switch. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Also, if there really was deep public opposition to the GardenWalk deal, why did the “Take Back Anaheim” initiative – which would mandate a city-wide vote on any agreement with a hotel developer involving a TOT revenue split — sputter and fail once the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA) stopped funding the signature-gathering? That’s a strong indication there was no grassroots support for the initiative.

The OC Register concludes the editorial thusly:

“Put the entire matter before Anaheim voters next summer and let them decide whether the city will get a fair return on the incentives it has proffered the hotel developer.”

When did the OC Register editorial board become a proponent of not only ballot-box budgeting, but embracing direct democracy, one of the great pillars of the Progressivism?

“Take Back Anaheim” is not a taxpayer-protection measure; it places no limitation on the Transient Occupancy Tax – it only carves out a voter-approval requirement for a very particular use of TOT revenue. If the city wanted to do a TOT-split with an ice-skating rink in the Resort Area – no voter approval. TOT-split with a hotelier – voter approval required.

In calling for putting the GardenWalk agreement on the ballot, the writer of the editorial appears to have forgotten that Anaheim voters just had the chance to sound off on it last month. It was called the city council election — and the Garden Walk agreement was a prominently discussed issue.

GardenWalk agreement supporter Jordan Brandman was hit hard on the issue with negative mailers from the OCEA, the Republican Party of Orange County and other quarters. He was the top vote getter.

John Leos — the OC Register’s endorsed candidate – ran as a very vocal opponent of the GardenWalk agreement. And despite $400,000 in government union spending and the endorsement of the OC Register, he finished a weak third.

In light of the above facts, perhaps the OC Register can explain why the Anaheim City Council should call a special election and palm its governing responsibilities off onto the voters who just elected a GardenWalk proponent and defeated a GardenWalk opponent?


  1. The City of Anaheim should call a special election and palm it’s governing responsibilities onto the voters cause clearly this deal is not good for Anaheim.

    The deal, in my opinion, should remain dead and the land sold to someone who can build a TOT generating property without government assistance. Of all the hotels in Anaheim, only one has been built on the taxpayers dime and it just happens to be another O’Connell property.

    The only reason it will come back for a vote is because Curt Pringle stands to lose his commission on the deal. Pringle’s puppets Kris Murray, Gail Eastman, and Jordan Brandman wouldn’t dare let that happen. Not to mention the fact that Disney has a stake in these properties as well.

    As a conservative, I am surprised Mr. Cunningham would be in favor of this project.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Jason: it is not a good deal for Anaheim in your opinion. A majority of the city council disagreed. In representative government, we cannot hold a referendum every time one side or the other loses a vote — there would be special elections every month. If there were a special election and your side lost, by your logic you’d call for another one because it is “not a good deal for Anaheim.”

      As for your claim regarding Curt Pringle, that belongs in the realm of black helicopters and tin foil hats. Besides being false, it is ridiculous. But your blogging generally exhibits both characteristics, so it isn’t surprising you would write that.

      Also, Disney does not have a stake in these properties. You can say that until you are blue in the face, Jason, but it will not make it true.

      As a conservative, I am opposed to the Take Back Anaheim initiative. Direct democracy is not conservative, and neither is ballot-box budgeting. This is representative government, not Athenian democracy.

      What I am interested in – aside from opposing progressive measures like Take Back Anaheim — is an honest debate on this issue, which is one on which reasonable people can have honest disagreements.

      • Hear, hear, Matthew! Jason Young is a vicious twit. Thank you for standing up to his bullying. It’s nice to read smart commentary on Anaheim because the Register editorial page is in Tom Tait’s pocket, and Jason Young’s little blog is all his bizarre vendetta against Kris Murray.

  2. Matt – The council majority is beholden to Disney and Pringle. Are you telling me Pringle isn’t benefitting financially from the GardenWalk deal as the man heading up the lobbying effort on behalf O’Connell? How bout backing up your claims with facts instead of using insults. That is the lowest form of argument.

    Disney has never come out and said they have no plans to brand and operate those hotels. Which is what was stated in a staff report. Not to mention the fact that they are specifically mentioned in the deal.

    Murray, Eastman, and Sidhu were elected to represent Anaheim residents not the Disneyland Resort district. Take Back Anaheim’s signature gathering efforts which reached upwards of 10,000 goes to show the opposition against this giveaway. In addition the GOP and the OC Register opposed it.

    Anaheim Avenger – once again you resort to name calling instead of debating the measures of the argument. My blog was named Best Blog of 2012 by OC Weekly unlike this blog which is bought and paid for by SOAR.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      “How bout backing up your claims with facts instead of using insults.”

      Jason, it is impossible to read that without laughing. Have you read your own blog? Insults and unsubstantiated personal attacks are your stock in trade. Are you completely oblivious to the hypocrisy of your laments?

      Even in this comment, you claim the council majority is “beholden to Disney and Pringle” but have no evidence. None. You act as if your opinions are self-evidently true — like the sky being blue.

      “Disney has never come out and said they have no plans to brand and operate those hotels.”

      And you have never come out and said you aren’t a Martian — and according to your fallacious logic, the absence of such an assurance means you are a Martian.

      Take Back Anaheim’s signature gathering efforts which reached upwards of 10,000 goes to show the opposition against this giveaway.

      Thanks to $60,000 in funding from the OCEA. With $60,000 and paid circulators, one can gather 10,000 signatures for many different kinds of initiatives — good and bad. What is most telling is the initiative effort collapsed when the union money dried up.

      “In addition the GOP and the OC Register opposed it.

      True, the OCR opposed the GW agreement. So what? It also endorsed the government union candidate for city council, John Leos.

      And you are wrong about the OC GOP, which never took a position on the agreement. A party mailer only says what the person(s) who paid for it wants said. It is not the same thing as a party position.

      • And thanks for admitting that you’re really that creepy Jason Young. Why are you commenting here under a fake name?

    • “Once again”? I only commented that once! Whatever, bub.

      I’m soooo impressed OC named your blog the Best Blog of the year. Talk about setting the bar low. They gave you tat award because you dump all over the same people they do.

  3. Jason Young is a convicted criminal – He has zero credibility on this or any other issue. Just when did his probation end – I think it was about the same time he started attacking community leaders in Anaheim. Anaheimman84 is Jason Young and his rants are uneducated and baseless.

  4. Matt- Where is there an insult on my blog or unsubstantiated personal attack. Once again you attack me with nothing to back up your claims.
    You’re telling me that Disney has no interest in those hotels? That the staff report from the City of Anaheim that stated they planned to brand and operate those hotels if false?

    You also never answered my question regarding Pringle’s connection nor did you deny he stands to gain financially from this deal. Which is a known fact.

    The OC GOP spent a lot of money opposing Jordan Brandman on the grounds that he support the GardenWalk Giveaway. Why would they do that if the were for the project?

    Anaheim First – once again proving my point. You attack me based on fiction and insults without arguing the points.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      “Matt- Where is there an insult on my blog or unsubstantiated personal attack.”

      Sigh. OK, Jason: how about the many times you label councilmembers who supported the GardenWalk agreement as “corrupt”? you may not be aware, but “corrupt” is a word with defined meaning, which you can find in any dictionary. You throw that insult around like confetti, but never provide any evidence of corruption.

      And no, someone isn’t corrrupt just because you don’t agree with their vote.

      “You also never answered my question regarding Pringle’s connection nor did you deny he stands to gain financially from this deal.”

      Curt has a public affairs firm he started 14 years ago. Like other public affairs firms, government relations is one of its services. I don’t know the exact nature of Curt’s representation services vis-a-vis GardenWalk, but I am sure he is being compensated (but not the crazy amounts being thrown around by GW opponents). It’s just like how your clients pay you with money for your services. Or do you expect everyone else to work for free (maybe you do — you have inveighed against health care providers making a profit)?

      At the end of the day, your “Pringle connnection” hang-up is one, big “so what?” It only has meaning in the cramped, conspiratorial bubble you inhabit.

  5. On his Facebook page, Jason links to an article about the Convention Center expansion and has this to say:

    “Who’s going to pay for the expansion? I’d imagine it will come from the general fund. So while our police force dwindles, property values fall due to lack of code enforcement, library hours are slashed, and the city generally looks in disrepair: big business will get whatever they ask for from the out of touch, greedy, corporatist council majority led by Kris Murray.”

    Does Jason Young realize the City Council unanimously approved the expansion? That includes Jason’s heroes Mayor Tom Tait and Councilmember Lorri Galloway.

    Is Jason going to call them greedy corporatists, too? Don’t hold your breath waiting for Jason the Hypocrite to act with any integrity.

  6. “Anaheimman84 where is there an insult on my blog or unsubstantiated personal attack?”
    My goodness your saveanaheim blog is an insult to most forward thinking folks. You called Bill O’Connell a goon for heaven’s sake… when he ‘dared’ to dine in the same restaurant as you… you mentioned that he was ‘celebrating’ and within ‘earshot’ … it makes one nervous in these strange times to think that you might be lurking ‘within our earshot’ as we go out to spend our hard earned $$$ around Anaheim. You have called Council Member Murray and Council Member Eastman every name in the book … there’s nothing left for you to say as you have tried to character assasinate these folks who are nothing more than public servants trying to represent their electorate.
    I hope that you ‘turn a new leaf’ in the New Year and leave your attack dog at home. It is not becoming of the Anaheim debate to have such a vicious blogger without foundation for such vitriol in these times when our country is in need of reconciliation.

  7. Wake Up Anaheim – if Gail and Kris were public servants they wouldn’t have voted for the $158 million giveaway. The city staff, Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, and City Manager were against the deal. Then once the deal was done a large percentage of residents vocalized their displeasure, the OC Register editorial team came out against, OCCORD sued, and so on.

  8. My goodness, if 2 councilmembers oppose it and 3 councilmembers support it, then it MUST be a bad idea! And we certainly musn’t disagree with city staff, unless your Jason Young, who thinks we have to listen to staff on GardenWalk but must disagree with staff on streetcars.

    You are certifiable, Jason.

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