Open Letter to the OC GOP: It’s Time for Clarity on What’s Happening in Anaheim

Yesterday evening, I e-mailed this open letter to members of the Republican Party of Orange County Central Committee:

Dear member of the Republican Party of Orange County Central Committee:

With the November election is only 10 weeks away, there is an urgent need for clarity among Orange County Republican activists, donors and officeholders about the true political situation in Anaheim.  For more than two years, it has been obscured by the dynamics of ongoing conflict between the majority of the Anaheim City Council and Mayor Tom Tait centered on a few, specific areas of disagreement.

The outcome of Anaheim’s mayoral and council contests are important — but of greater long term consequence for the political trajectory of Anaheim and Orange County is Measure L, which would replace Anaheim’s current at-large council elections with a by-district system that is used in cities like Los Angeles and San Bernardino.

If Measure L passes, the Democratic Party will have established a beach head in Orange County’s largest, most important city – a beach head it would be almost impossible for the Republican Party of Orange County to reverse.

Consider these facts:

  • Anaheim is the 10th largest city in California
  • It is the largest city in the state with a Republican-majority city council.
  • Of its 123,823 voters, 38.9% are Democrats, 35.1% are Republican and 21.8% are NPP.
  • Since 1994:
    • Only 1 of Anaheim’s 3 mayors has been a Democrat
    • Only 3 of 12 councilmembers have been Democrats

Given liberal Democrats’ poor election track record under Anaheim ‘s traditional at-large election system, a coalition of left-wing interest groups and activists has been working since 2012 to enact a by-district election system. Under this scheme, Anaheim would be carved into 4 (or possibly 6) single-member council districts. Instead of being accountable to all Anaheim voters, council candidates would only be voted on by voters into their geographic districts.

Unions Used By-District Elections To Oust Conservatives In Capo Unified
Orange County Republicans ought to be familiar with this tactic. In 2010, the teachers union successfully sponsored an initiative to shift the Capistrano Unified School District from at-large to by-district elections, because it would make it easier for them to target and defeat the CUSD Board’s conservative majority. The union sold it as more democratic and being about “neighbors electing neighbors.” It passed, and as Central Committee members Tony and Jennifer Beall and Craig Alexander can attest, the unions were then able to take out the conservative majority in the next election.

Background: Liberal-Radical Coalition Pushing By-District Elections In Anaheim
The opening salvo in the liberal-radical fight for by-district elections in Anaheim came in June 2012 when Jose F. Moreno, a Chicano Studies professor with leftist politics, sued the City of Anaheim. His suit was represented by the ACLU and high-powered liberal attorneys from the Bay Area. Moreno alleged the at-large system violates a 2002 Democratic law called the “California Voting Rights Act” (which not a single GOP legislator supported). Moreno claimed Anaheim’s at-large elections discriminate against Latino voters and demanded the immediate imposition of a by-district election system without putting it before Anaheim voters. Moreno’s attorneys said putting by-district elections to a vote “is equivalent to an at-large election in its discriminatory effect on Latinos.” Guided by a belief that democratic representation is a function of race and ethnicity, they think a city council’s legitimacy rests on having the “right” racial/ethnic mix on the council dais.

In January 2014, Anaheim and ACLU settled the lawsuit. In the settlement, Anaheim admits no violation of CVRA and agrees to put a by-district elections initiative – Measure L — on the November ballot. The day after signing the settlement agreement stipulating no violations of the law by the city, Mayor Tom Tait joined the ACLU and Moreno at their press conference and congratulated them on their “victory.”

Union and Bay Area “Dark Money” Funding By-District Elections campaign.
The political coalition of unions and left-wing community organizers spearheading and funding the Measure L campaign includes:

  • Orange County Labor Federation
  • Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD) – a union-sponsored left-wing advocacy group that supports granting immediate citizenship to all illegal immigrants, and is providing office space for the Measure L campaign.
  • Voter Fund (San Francisco-based progressive “issues advocacy” group)
  • UNITE-HERE Local 11 (representing Anaheim hotel and food service workers)
  • Orange County Congregation Community Organization (OCCCO) – which also gave $90,000 to Jerry Brown’s sales tax hike initiative in 2012. Its advocates for by-district elections and an end to the deportation of illegal immigrants.
  • Democratic Party of Orange County
  • Jose F. Moreno (also a candidate for Anaheim City Council)

The lead signatory on the ballot argument in favor by-district elections is, unfortunately, Mayor Tom Tait – along with Jordan Brandman (the council’s lone Democrat). Tait’s strong vocal support has allowed the progressives who are fueling the campaign to claim their effort is bi-partisan.

So far, at least $110,100 has been funneled into the Yes on Measure L campaign:

  • $49,000 from OCCORD, a left-wing community organizing group that describes itself as a “a leader in the emerging movement to reclaim Orange County, California, from the extreme laissez-faire policies” seeking to “reframe the debate about our regional economy and the role of government in our society. The graphic below is from a recent OCCORD-sponsored report called “Orange County on the Cusp of Change”:

OC no longer Nixon Country

  •  $45,000 from Voter Fund, a San Francisco-based political advocacy group that organizes “donors who are committed to social justice politics” in order to “invest in long-term political infrastructure that can be mobilized for short-term victories.”
  • $7,000 from two attorneys who represented Moreno in his lawsuit against Anaheim.

Not a single dime came from an Anaheim donor.  All the funding for Measure L is coming from unions and left-wing interests from the San Francisco Bay Area. That speaks volumes about who by-district elections in Anaheim will benefit.

If Measure L passes and Anaheim is carved into single-member council districts, the city council will have a Democratic majority within a couple of election cycles. The districts will be equal in terms of population, not how many voters each has. A disproportionate number of Republican voters will be concentrated in the Anaheim Hills council seat, and the remaining council seats will either lean Democratic or, at best, be toss-ups. As the current GOP incumbents term out, those seats will go Democratic. For example, if Measure L passes, the district that would be represented by Councilwoman Lucille Kring if districts were in place now, would always be up during a presidential election year, with its higher Democratic turnout.

The Consequences of a Democratic Majority on the Anaheim City Council
It’s not difficult to imagine the policy and political consequences of an Anaheim City Council with a Democratic majority:

  • A “living wage” ordinance
  • Imposing a “retention” ordinance
  • A gate tax (such as supported by Jose F. Moreno) on admissions to Angel Stadium, Disneyland and other destinations.
    Rent control
  • Leveraging development agreements to enact liberal policies
  • Card-check “neutrality” as a condition for approval for hotel projects

An estimated 8,000 people work in Anaheim’s hotels, but most people are unaware that the only hotels in Anaheim with unionized workers are the Anaheim Hilton and the Disney properties. That is a huge pool of potential union members and union dues. Las Vegas hotel and casino workers are the backbone of Democratic power in Nevada. Gaining control of the Anaheim City Council would put the Democrats in position to spur the unionizing of thousands of hotel workers.

In 2013, the Anaheim Ducks fired Aramark and brought its food service operation in house. Aramark workers belong to UNITE-HERE Local 11 (a major backer of by-district council elections in Anaheim); workers in the Ducks new in-house food operation are not unionized. The Republican-controlled Anaheim City Council defeated a UNITE-HERE Local 11-backed motion by the lone council Democrat asking the Ducks to allow its in-house food service workers to be unionized via “card check.”  Is there any doubt what would have happened to the Ducks under a Democratic City Council?

By-District Elections Would Turn Anaheim Into an Incubator for Democratic Candidates for Legislature, Supervisor
It’s not hard to discern the political fallout from a permanent Democratic majority on the Anaheim City Council resulting from by-district elections. The council would incubate Democratic candidates for the Assembly and state Senate and Congress —  and the 4th Supervisor District. The 4th currently leans Democratic: 37.4% Democrat and 36.1% Republican. It will be open when Supervisor Shawn Nelson is termed out in 2018, and the registration is trending away from us. Upwardly ambitious Democratic Anaheim councilmembers, able to tap into Anaheim’s strong fundraising base, would make it increasingly difficult to keep the 4th Supervisor District in GOP hands.

This is part of a wider liberal push. This year, Democratic Assemblyman Roger Hernandez introduced legislation to force general law cities of more than 100,000 to shift to by-district elections. Democrat activist Kitty Jaramillo has filed a lawsuit demanding by-district elections in Fullerton, claiming its at-large system “impairs the ability of certain races to elect candidates of their choice or influence the outcome of elections conducted in the city of Fullerton.”   An OCCORD/OCCCO counterpart in Ventura County narrowly failed to qualify an initiative to force Santa Maria to go to by-district elections.

Passage of Measure L, the by-district council elections initiative, would undermine the Republican Party in Orange County. It would make electing Republicans to the Anaheim City Council harder, and electing Democrats easier. It would shift Anaheim’s political center-of-gravity to the Left, and in doing so move Orange County to the Left. It runs totally contrary to the mission and purpose of the Republican Party of Orange County.  Three of the four Republicans on the Anaheim City Council understand the negative consequences of Measure L and are strongly opposed to by-district elections.

Consider how much time and energy, and how many, many years, Republicans devoted to ousting the Democratic majority on the Irvine City Council — and that was in a city where the fundamentals are much friendly to our party.  Then imagine how incredibly difficult it would be, if Measure L passes, for Republicans to ever win what we now have in Anaheim: a council majority? Why would the OC GOP stand idly on the sidelines while the Left organizes and raises money to make a Democratic Anaheim City Council a permanent fact of life?

It’s in the OC GOP’s self-interest to wake up to what is really happening in Anaheim. The activists of the Left are all too happy to keep Republicans distracted with a single hotel development subsidy while they’re hard at work to change the election rules in order to tilt Anaheim City Hall in their direction. This is a winnable fight. Measure L is only on the ballot because a left-wing college professor and the ACLU sued the city. There was no grass-roots citizen pressure or demand for by-district elections. The ballot argument against Measure L is signed by a broad spectrum of community leaders and is much stronger than the pie-in-the-sky promises made by Tom Tait and Jordan Brandman in their ballot argument.

The Republican Party of Orange County can fight to elect Republicans and grow the party, or it can slumber into decline. If it is the former, then a good step in the right direction would be for the OC GOP to take an official stance of opposition to Measure L and materially aid the campaign to defeat it. Another good step would be accountability for Republicans who are collaborating with this union/left-wing political drive.

I realize these are strong words, but they are the facts on the ground. I welcome any questions, feedback or requests for additional information and background. Thank you for your consideration on this vitally important issue.

Matthew Cunningham


  1. Apparently your letter didnt gain traction at the OCGOP.
    Baugh blasted Kring for accepting $10K in union money.
    Suffice to say Tait has been officially endorsed by the OCGOP.

  2. Stand for Anaheim

    Allen- I would not be proud of that. Where are the OCGOP’s ideals? Everyone needs to assess the GOP values. Tait does NOT exhibit them. Just sad….

    • Fortunately, people who are willing to stand up, be counted, and recognized disagree with you. Keep howling from your dark cave.

    • OCGOP ideals are limited government, lower taxes and stop government giveaways a.k.a. Crony capitalism.
      Why do you hide behind some obscure name like “Stand for Anaheim”?

      • Matthew Cunningham

        Oh, enough of the mindless, dishonest chanting about “crony capitalism”! That’s not what is happening is Anaheim.

        Republicans can disagree on the merits of economic assistance agreements like the GardenWalk. But we’re not talking about First Principles here. Tom Tait has supported such agreements in principle. Does that make him a crony capitalist? He’s a huge cheerleader for the Anaheim Packing District: the city bought the building, paid for its renovation, and pays LAB Holding LLP to run it, taking part of the profits over a certain amount, and gives LAB the right to buy the taxpayer-purchased and improved property after a certain number of years.

        Is that “crony capitalism”? Are you going to denounce that as well, Allen?

        Opposition to subsidies of any kind is a perfectly legitimate conservative position. But even the Arbiter of Conservatism Ryan Cantor has acknowledged that some economic development subsidies.

        I might also remind you, Allen, that in its very first party platform, the GOP called for federal subsidies to build a transcontinental railroad. Whether one supports or opposes them in all or just selected cases, one can hardly claim economic development subsidies are un-Republican.

        It amazes me that GOP activists who ought to know better are utterly transfixed by a single development deal – as if it threatens the future of Anaheim — while shrugging their shoulders at a well-funded, organized campaign by the Left to gain control of Anaheim city government.

        • Dishonest?

          GardenWalk was, is, a $158,000,000 bailout of a campaign donor’s BAD LOAN.

          Economic assistance, indeed. It’s cronyism. Period.

          • Matthew Cunningham

            Gosh, if Ryan says so, then it must be so! Argument over!

            • Good. Glad you’re catching on.

              The justification used for the subsidy (states the project’s return wouldn’t justify a loan from the bank) uses a discount rate based on a loan rate of eight percent . . . Double the market rate.

              A loan with halfway decent terms would allow the project to stand on its own. This was a bailout of a well connected developer on the backs of the taxpayer. It was shameful and the council members approving it should be run out of office on a rail.

              • Matthew Cunningham

                No, it was not shameful. It fit with the city’s long-standing plan to enhance and develop the Resort area as a destination. it goes hand-in-hand with expanding the Convention Center and keeping the area competitive as a destination.

                What is shameful is the manner in which opponents have demagogued the issue and smeared the reputation of a good and decent man, Bill O’Connell – who, it should be noted, has never sunk to the level of those who have attacked him.

                Ryan, your habit of casting your personal policy preferences as morally superior choices is tiresome and grating. Grown ups are able to disagree without throwing tantrums and depicting those they disagree with as morally deficient.

                • Bullhockey. No Anaheim plan has ever included subsidizing a project whose builder couldn’t secure a market rate loan, let alone one at eight percent.

                  That’s not making it personal, Matt. That’s math. Learn some. A market rate loan would have made a subsidy unnecessary.

                  Anaheim got ripped off. You’re part if the reason why. That’s personal.

                  • Mathew Cunningham

                    “Anaheim got ripped off. You’re part if the reason why. That’s personal.”

                    Really? How? What tax revenue has Anaheim lost? Oh that’s right. None. And I had no hand in the GardenWalk project.

                    Keep throwing stuff at the wall, Ryan. Even the broken clock is right twice a day.

                    • Beautiful example of selective ignorance.

                      Anaheim lost 70% of its entitled transit occupancy tax for twenty years. Or was it thirty?

                      Right, Matt. They didn’t lose anything.

                      Keep digging that hole. Let me know when you’d like me to throw you a rope.

          • That’s a bald faced lie – O’Connell purchased the property it wasn’t given to him like the development deal Tait and his partners got along with a TOT split in Garden Grove. Tait is the only one profiting from taxpayers – just because they aren’t Anaheim taxpayers doesn’t make it less true. Tait also voted for the original GardenWalk deal so stop the chant that he’s a saint when it comes to these agreement. If you call the current council crony capitalists, then you have to paint Tait with the same brush. And get your facts straight if you are going to keep inserting yourself in Anaheim.

        • “Crony Capitalism” catch phrase must be eating you and resonating very well from the right AND left of the political spectrum.

          I denounce likes of some earning a living from the gravy train who call themselves a Republican but is a BIG Government cheerleader.

          We are transfixed that those wants to continue the gravy train to satisfy their massive EGO and expects good Republicans to turn the cheek.

          No way…not this time. The gravy train party is over!

          • Matthew Cunningham

            I don’t know how it is resonating, Allen. My point is your use of it is dishonest. I’m not convinced you even understand what you’re talking about. You’re like a Mynah Bird, just repeating slogans you hear.

            • Too bad!
              Crony capitalism is the truth of what is happening by those exploit use of taxpayer funds to suit their fancy.

              • Suit their fancy??? It must be very inconvenient that all the “crony” projects you claim are specifically targeted to enhance Anaheim as a tourism/resort/convention center hub.

                I’m sure it is very upsetting that these projects make it so Anaheim can bid on top dollar conventions like comic con. No doubt it will be recorded as an absolute disaster of good government when Anaheim sees its international stature rise and new money fill city coffers thanks to these actions. All terrible stuff man, no doubt.

              • Great Mr. Wilson – then Tait is a crony capitalist who voted for these deals over and over again for 10 years on the council while taking thousands in campaign donations from the O’Connell family, Disney and others who were involved financially. He’s also the quintessential crony capitalist by being on the receiving end of deals in Garden Grove and elsewhere … by your definition he’s a crony capitalist. Otherwise you have no intellectual integrity whatsoever.

                • PC, don’t confuse these clowns with the facts. THEY DON’T CARE.

                  Ryan and Allen will flack for Tait no matter what he does.

  3. Gustavo Arellano


  4. Imagine if the Tait/San Francisco slate succeeds: GardenWalk will be nothing compared to the “crony capitalism” put in place by a Democratic majority on the Council — but with the added advantage of anti-business measures that crush all businesses lacking the proper connections to the Democratic party leadership. That will be SO much better! Business will be driven to Garden Grove (wait, Tait’s position is now starting to make sense . . . .).

    • Mathew Cunningham

      Maybe Ryan Cantor has a position on single-member council districts in Anaheim, and he can tell us how exactly we are going to get the kind of government he wants with a Democratic majority on the council.

      For that matter, I’d like to hear Allen Wilson answer that one as well.

      • I don’t, but digging your heels in and crying “liberal conspiracy! ” isn’t a good solution to the problem.

        The GOP should be playing to win. You’ve outlined a solution to not lose, which is always a poor solution to a political problem.

        • Mathew Cunningham

          Wow – “no opinion” again! Mighty convenient – and very hard to believe about Mr. Opinionated, the Instant Expert.

          The rest of your comment is incoherent – but then again, you don’t have an opinion on the matter, do you?

          • Incoherent? Then you should publish it as an article here! It’ll fit in nicely with Insider’s swill.

            It means your solution sucks. Hope that’s clearer.

            • Matthew Cunningham

              “It means your solution sucks.”

              Gee – eloquent.

              What exactly do you think my solution is?

              • Well, you were having a hard time with anything beyond two words.

                Your solution is dig in and say no, which is a temporary solution to an evolutionary problem. Beyond shouting conspiracy at the central committee, you have no defense against another suit, no plan to change state law that makes district elections inevitable, and no appreciation for the fact the GOP can and should compete if districts do come into reality this November.

                Again, I don’t have a strong opinion on this . . . But for those of you who do, this issue isn’t going away in November if voters reject the change. Your choice ought to include (assuming you’re a Conservative) how to either win in a district based system or how to permanently ensure an at large system.

                My two cents, the latter option isn’t realistic. Districts are coming. Find a way to win and start now.

                • Matthew Cunningham

                  Generally speaking, Ryan, when faced with a ballot initiative one opposes, the proper response is to defeat it. Unless you know of an election outcome other than winning or losing?

                  I have amply demonstrated there is an organized, concerted effort by the Left to pass Measure L – and they’re not doing it because they want “neighbors electing neighbors.” Are you saying this is not a left-wing political project – all evidence to the contrary?

                  I would also love to hear, man with the plan, how you would go about convincing a legislature dominated by liberal Democrats to repeal a law designed to get more liberal Democrats elected to local government.

                  I’d also love for you to tap your vast political and campaign experience and tell us how Republicans can and should go about winning Democratic single-member council districts in Anaheim. Please, shower us with your wisdom.

                  As for me, I prefer trying to defeat a bad idea rather than preemptively surrendering to it.

                  Ok – you don’t have an opinion on this. Wait. Scratch that. Now you don’t have a “strong” opinion.”

                  • Elections are often more complicated than winning and losing. See the 2000 Presidential Elections if you want a lesson.

                    I wouldn’t convince the liberal legislators to change the law, hence my conclusion districts are inevitable.

                    If I were running a county wide plan focused on winning district elections, the first thing I’d do is distance myself and the party from anything you’ve written on the subject. You’re poisoning the well.

                    How to build a narrative that speaks to the value of limited government within smaller communities of roughly 50,000 people is best left to the experts, which I’m not. I do believe it can be done.

                    • Matthew Cunningham

                      Wow. Talk about weak sauce. “I have no solutions and no ideas. But Matt is a jerk for correctly identifying and calling attention to what is happening.” Just worthless.

                • “Districts are coming.”

                  Oooo – so ominous! For a second, i thought you actually knew what you were talking about.

                  Ryan won’t talk about this issue because he’s afraid to admit Measure L is a scheme to elect Democrats to the city council. And if he admits that, he’ll have to admit Tom Tait is helping the Democrats take the city council. And that he is afraid to do (at least publicly).

                  • Look, shill, I don’t have the energy for your nonsense. Since Matt has deemed it appropriate to return to moderating all my comments (who knows when they’ll show up), I’ll leave you with this:

                    What’s the difference between Kris Murray (R) and Jordan Brandman (D) when it comes to votes and policy?

                    Not a damn thing.

                    I’m not worried about the left. They seem just as good as the kleptocrats on the right.

                    • What’s the difference between the OC Labor Council and Tait? None! They’re both trying to turn city hall over to the Dems!

                      Of course you don’t care if the lefties take over. Whatever Tait wants, you’ll snap-to and then make excuses for it. You’re not as smart or informed as you try to seem, Ryan. You’re a camp follower, not a thinker.

                    • Well, I believe Tait is pro district, and I’m pretty sure I just said I don’t have an opinion on it . . . So I guess I’m disobeying orders. Oops.

                    • For a guy with no opinion about district, you sure have a lot to say on the matter.

                      Too bad you don’t have the integrity to admit Measure L is a Democratic play. Instead you hide behind “districts are inevitable” soundbites.

          • Matt, why do you give this guy any attention? He’s just an angry attack dog who acts like a little kid.

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