OC Register Needs To Remember Its Own Criteria for Business Incentives

Rendering of GardenWalk hotels.

Rendering of GardenWalk hotels.

I read a little editorial on the GardenWalk hotel project in this morning, which was interesting in several ways.

The paper re-stated its opposition to the subsidy agreement, which the paper says local developer Bill O’Connell would like to have on the January 29 council agenda. The editorial even urges pushing back the hearing date to give opponents more time to organize!

In case any Register editorial writers read this blog, I’d like to remind them of their own criteria from their their December 16 editorial:

  • Business incentives are permissible if the economic return exceeds the cost to taxpayers
  • The public is fully informed of these incentives and has ample opportunity express their opinions on them.

I re-phrased these criteria somewhat, but they are practically word-for-word from the editorial. They are the OC Register’s criteria, not mine.

I have supported this agreement from the beginning as something that will generate job, economic growth and increased city revenues in the long-run. Even those who oppose subsidies or “picking winners and losers”  on principle can admit that the economic return of the GardenWalk agreement exceeds the cost to taxpayers. I’d go further and argue there is no cost to taxpayers because if this agreement isn’t approved, the GardenWalk project dies and there won’t be any TOT revenue to share. If it is approved, the GardenWalk TOT being shared is revenue that hadn’t been going into city coffers and so nothing is being “taken.” Furthermore, a permanent, long-term stream of additional TOT revenue will be established.

So, the GardenWalk agreement satisfies the OC Register’s first criterion. As for the second, so serious person can say the public hasn’t been fully informed about the agreement. It has been heavily covered in the media for a year. The county employee union funded an anti-GardenWalk referendum led by Councilmember Lorri Galloway and Mayor Tom Tait, and it was one of the leading issues in the city council election. Any Anaheim resident who hasn’t paid attention to GardenWalk issue yet, never will.

The OC Register laid down clear criteria for what makes for permissible city business incentives. Objectively speaking, the Garden Walk agreement meets those criteria. It remains to be seen whether the OC Register editorial board will adhere to its own criteria.

Another part of the editorial caught my eye:

Mr. O’Connell would like the matter considered again at the Council’s Jan. 29 meeting, Mayor Tom Tait told us.

It’s disappointing that the Mayor is leaking to media about an applicant before his project is even agendized and the public notified about it. Mayor Tait has been a strong opponent of the project, but what kind of message does this send to anyone seeking city approval of a project? If the mayor or a councilmember don’t like you project, he or she will leak it to the media in order to poison the well and kill your project before you’ve had the opportunity for a fair public hearing? I’m sure that wasn’t Mayor Tait’s intent, but intended or not, that is the effect.

Intelligent people can and should be able to disagree on this issue in a spirit of good will, and if the City Council does approve the GardenWalk agreement (again), I hope opponents will allow the city to move and not continue dividing us.


  1. Thank you Anaheim Blog for your thoughtful and accurate reporting of the event that launched one of the most divisive and painful years in our city’s history spawned soley by Mayor Tait and former Councilwoman Galloway. Make no mistake, everything that went wrong in Anaheim in 2012 is attributable to both. For their own shameful purposes, Tait and Galloway set the stage to continuously divide our city in ways that I had never witnessed before as an Anaheim resident.

    The OC Register quotes the mayor as stating the following: “Anaheim residents and other interested parties deserve more notice, especially on an issue that has caused great division not only on the Council but also within the community.”

    But who actually caused the divide and who continues to do so? Mayor Tait! And what will he do this time if the vote does not go his way again?

    I urge the Mayor to put down his weapons and move forward in the “kind” fashion he publicly espouses.

    I urge the OC Register to stay true to their own criteria for support of such business incentive programs in our region and at the very least treat Anaheim as equally as you have to neighboring cities, such as Garden Grove, who not only has an even more generous economic assistance program for their developers but even gives them free land (overtaken by eminient domain). Why did the Register only oppose Anaheim last year and where is the fairness and consistency in your coverage for neighboring cities who clearly understand the longterm benefits to their residents?

    It is time for this issue to be put to bed and my prayer is that this mayor will cease the destructive behavior that resulted in the ugliest events of 2012 and instead take on a more positive attitude moving forward and for the betterment of our city.

    • Sandy Day your just a tool for SOAR/Disney. Blind to the reality of how bad this deal is. No matter how you spin it, the public isn’t buying it.

      • I look forward to the day when you are able to debate your ideas with real facts supporting your position Mr. Young. And although it is evident that your intent is to insult others who differ in opinion, I can assure you that I am a patriot for Anaheim who understands this city’s assets all too well and does not take them for granted.

        I thank the editorial board of the Orange County Register for taking a second look at this important issue and I am certain once they have had an opportunity to re-evaluate the undeniable longterm economic return to our city, that they will reach the same and logical conclusion as countless of business leaders, community leaders, labor leaders, tax experts and residents within our region.

        Finally and to address your innaccurate comments on the OC Register earlier today regarding some of Anaheim’s most important entertainment venues, rather than debate with you further on this matter, may I just simply quote the mayor at the recent dedication of the Anaheim Convention Center Grand Plaza:

        “And speaking from an economic perspective, this project is a great asset for the Convention Center. It is already one of the busiest convention centers in the nation—the Grand Plaza will only help make marketing this venue that much easier. Anaheim’s Convention Center is a hub for activity for our city and that activity supports hundreds of good, local jobs. Our economy greatly benefits from the restaurant, transportation, hotel and retail jobs related to supporting the more than one million guests that the Convention Center hosts each year.” – Mayor Tom Tait on Jan 12, 2013.

        • Sandy your quote speaks to the Convention Center NOT the Honda Center. Take a look at the cities budget and you will see that the Honda Center has never generated a dime for the City of Anaheim. In addition the Convention Center, when factoring in debt, also doesn’t generate revenue directly.

          I have continually presented the facts. The same facts that OC Weekly, OCCORD, and the OC Register has presented on this outrageous giveaway. Facts that have only shown this to be a sweetheart deal for one well connected developer.

          • Matthew Cunningham

            “I have continually presented the facts.”

            Jason, I haven’t seen anyone in the OC blogosphere as deluded as you since Art Pedroza.

            I just saw you tell ANOTHER lie in a comment on the OC Register, claiming GardenWalk investors are behind this blog.

            Do you just spout out whatever fantasy pops into your cabeza? It’s like you have some form of Blogger Tourette’s Syndrome.

            • You continually call me a liar without presenting any facts to back up your claim. You’re the deluded one Cunningham.

            • Matthew Cunningham

              “You continually call me a liar without presenting any facts to back up your claim.”

              Well, Jason, I did do that. But since you are slow on the uptake, I’ll do it again. Here is the lie you told in a comment on the OC Register editorial:

              “Anaheim Blog – Your site is bought and paid for by folks invested in this outrageous giveaway.”

              That isn’t true. In other words, it is a lie. It is a lie you have told before, and been corrected on. And you continue to tell it. Maybe none of your comrades care thaqt you are a serial liar, but as far as any decent, reasonable person is concerned, you have no credibility.

            • Matt I am supposed to believe that this blog isn’t paid for by the people invested in the giveaway? I think you’re a liar.

              • Matthew Cunningham

                Jason, you can believe whatever you want. You can believe in little green men from Mars. That doesn’t make them real.

                But the fact remains that you are claiming as fact the products of your feverish imagination.

            • Talking about credibility. Maybe folks should head over to Friends for Fullerton’s Future or OCweekly.com and search your name.

              • Matthew Cunningham

                A prevaricator referring people to two outlets that are just as challenged as he is in terms of truthfulness and integrity. What a surprise.

                You are a sad and sick little man, Jason. And I am not going to spend the rest of my evening moderating your loopy comments. Keep pounding the daylights out of your key board if you like — but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see them published.

            • Oh so now the OC Weekly and Friends for Fullertons Future are liars too? I think you’ve also said the OC Register is in Tait’s pocket and the Voice of OC can’t be trusted because its funded partially by the OCEA. So you are the trusted voice Matt for Anaheim news? Now that’s a joke.

            • Matthew Cunningham

              Oh so now the OC Weekly and Friends for Fullertons Future are liars too?

              That’s not what I said. But you are referring to very misleading stories about me that are full of misrepresentations and sometimes outright falsehoods. I think you choose to believe them uncritically because they reinforce your prejudices.

              I think you’ve also said the OC Register is in Tait’s pocket and the Voice of OC can’t be trusted because its funded partially by the OCEA.

              I have not said those things, Jason. It is difficult to have a reasonable conversation with you because you are so slapdash and careless with the facts.

            • You said this regarding Friends for Fullertons Future and the OC Weekly “A prevaricator referring people to two outlets that are just as challenged as he is in terms of truthfulness and integrity.” I believe when you saw someone is challenged in terms of truthfulness you’re calling them liars.

              And you’re correct, I believe it was one of your anonymous blog contributors who said this “The convention wisdom in Anaheim political circles is that Brian Calle, the editorial page director, is good friends with Mayor Tait and is using the Register editorial page to support the mayor’s political agenda.”

      • Jason – if you genuinely believe all of the city’s companies and assets are a waste of tax dollars then why don’t you criticize the Mayor for his support of them during his earlier terms on the Council? The fact is you are only about attacking the people he disagrees with today – it’s not issue driven, you are a political tool and nothing more.

        • I have spoken to Mayor Tait regarding his support of past subsidies and we are in agreement on many issues I am unhappy with.

      • Jason – you played a major role in the slimiest campaign ever witnessed in Anaheim politics this past November. You lied on your blog, in your ads, and everywhere you could post about Jordan Brandman and his support of GardenWalk. Despite the despicable tactics of you and your thug friends, Jordan came in number one in that election. Anaheim residents went to the polls and voted in large numbers for the candidate who unabashadly supports this project. After a year of OCEA’s misleading mail campaign against the council supporters, the Mayors use of family money and work with the GOP to hit Jordan Brandman on this issue – he still came in first. Anaheim residents see through your crap and get the importance of the city’s resort area. It’s time to find a new hobby – or better yet, get involved in something that makes a quality difference in the lives of others.

        • Voters Decided – once again you smear my name without any evidence. None of my ads lied, my blog was truthful regarding Brandman’s support of the giveaway, and so on. You offer no evidence to back your claims. Jordan didn’t win because people see the importance of the resort district. The resort district is the source of most if not all of the problems that plague Anaheim.

  2. This type of behavior is beneath Mayor Tait and quite frankly the Register as well, which seems to only cover and serve the perspective of the Mayor at this point. It’s time to cancel our subscriptions in Anaheim to make it clear that we expect balance in the coverage of our city. The Register has become a glorified blog and its disheartening to see – instead of sinking to that level, they should set the standard for journalistic integrity. What a shame!

    • I can’t wait for them to bring this to the table again. The PR nightmare is going to be unbelievable. Save Anaheim has the resources and connections to wage war on this issue. Want to test me Kris Murray?

      • Matthew Cunningham

        What – are you going talk your mother into throwing away another $10,000 of her money on one of your ridiculous hit pieces? Has it occurred to you that mailers sent out 22 months before the next election have zero impact?

        But what do you care when you are spending other people’s money?

        • Jason Tait or Tom Young Inc

          Spoken in true Godfather form from Jason Young, of Crescent Bay Films, convicted of identity theft and burglary. But then again, why wouldn’t this convicted criminal feel emboldened especially after his disturbing back-room deals with Mayor Tait and his secretary, Mishal Montgomery? For instance, let us not forget their joint efforts in creating together a group called “Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods.” As widely known, the dynamic duo of Jason Young and Tom Tait got their respective parents to ante up over $23,000.00 for the startup which funded sleazy mailers in an effort to hurt Councilman Jordan Brandman.

          Indeed, politics make such strange bedfellows but moreover such a misstep for Mayor Tait to form alliances with convicted offender like Jason Young.

          • Jason Young or Tom Young Inc. once again you spout lies about me and Mayor Tait. Instead of debating the facts, which you would lose on, you attack me personally with baseless accusations hiding behind an alias.

            I started Save Anaheim and No Jordan Brandman out of my frustrations with an out of touch council. I’ve never been under the direction of the Mayor or his secretary.

        • Oh, I don’t only have their financial backing but other well connected players. This issue has already impacted the next election and I will continue to remind folks what Kris Murray and her cronies are up to.

          • Mr. Young, why do you keep singling out Kris Murray- it is either passed by the City Council or it isn’t. Given you’ve done it multiple times, it seems that Tait may be directing you to make it personal against Murray. If that’s the case, he would be wise to ask you to hold your tongue rather than show yours and his cards with your brash statements. As a lifelong Anaheimer, I find it appalling that Mayor Tait even gives you the time of day let alone plans political strategy with you and finances your lies. These are sad times for our city.

            • Mayor Tait is an honorable man who wants the best for this city.

              Mayor Tait doesn’t direct any of my actions nor does he help me with my blog. I’ve only spoken to him as a concerned resident when I wanted answers to my questions.

    • It’s time to ensure that Murray and Eastman don’t get re-elected and keep those Register subscriptions.

  3. BTW, does anyone know the outcome of today’s special meeting – did the council make any moves to put this on the agenda next week or were is allegations totally baseless? I suspect we would already see something in the Register or the blogs if they had but curious to know what happened. I’ll go online at the city and see if there is anything there. Fortunately the city agenda comes out later today so we will know then for certain.

  4. Anaheimocrat, you make a very good point about Mayor Tait making a negative leak to the OC Register about GardenWalk coming back to the council agenda. Generally speaking, that is.

    On the flip-side, Bill O’Connell is asking for sizable governmental support for his project, so this politicizing of the process, while regrettable, is to be expected.

    Still, the mayor should keep your larger point in mind, in the future.

  5. I’d go further and argue there is no cost to taxpayers because if this agreement isn’t approved, the GardenWalk project dies and there won’t be any TOT revenue to share.

    Right, because if McConnell’s project fails, certainly nobody will ever attempt to build something on these empty parcels that just happen to be a block away from one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the world. It’ll be the haunted elephant graveyard of abandoned building sites!

    I’ve never understood project backers’ behaving as though this particular project, with this particular financial arrangement, is the only shot this property has (or their lionization of Bill McConnell for bringing it to the table; it’s not like the guy is risking his family fortune to build a hotel on a reclaimed brownfield site in Chowchilla. He’s asking the city to throw in its oversized share to make his sure thing even surer). If another builder comes along who can do the deal without the city support that McConnell requires, it could be a net win for Anaheimers even if it took several years for someone new to come on the scene, as the city would then take in all of the TOT revenue, rather than leaving it encumbered for years as it would be under the McConnell scheme.

  6. I would prefer a world where subsidies were not necessary but I also don’t want to see Anaheim lose more hotels to Garden Grove or other cities because we stick our heads in the sand and pretend the economy will get better quickly. Everyone banging on Anaheim should check out the subsidies and free land given to hotel developers in Garden Grove and LA. Anaheim has been providing a TOT subsidy of 50% for years – I know Tait and Kring voted for them in the past and thank God because they are generating substantial revenue to the city today. There is no reason for this issue to divide the City – and in response to Biff – Bill O’Connel bought the land for these hotels – it wasn’t given to him for free and no commercial lender has taken up the city’s previous 50% TOT reduction in the past 6 years so it’s ludicrous to say if the city ignores this agreement then we’ll only wait a couple of more years. Where was Take Back Anaheim when Tait voted for these deals his first 10 years on the Council. This is a manufactured issue to divide the city. I for one, wish Mayor Tait would lead and ask these people to knock it off.

    • Where is GG going to build more hotels AnaheimFirst. This argument that were losing TOT to GG is baloney. Just because other corrupt city councils did unsavory deals with developers elsewhere, doesn’t mean Anaheim needs to jump on that bandwagon.

      How could any other developer take up the offer when the Lake and GardenWalk properties are tied up? Mayor Tait supported a small $17 million subsidy for that parasite O’Connell post-911 when the funds were needed to boost a tourism industry that was in the toilet.

      • GG has four more hotels planned and has built 8-10 in the last decade while Anaheim has built zero. Seriously, are you at all interested in fact or just perpetuating your illinformed mantra?

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