Anaheim Insider here.
Voice of OC’s Adam Elmahrek published an article yesterday on Disney campaign spending, accompanied by indignation and astonishment from Team Tait, their stocks in trade.
Elmahrek also managed to ignore the topic of the Tait/Ahmanson negative campaign blitz altogether.
Tait advisor John Lewis told the Orange County Register that Disneyland is keenly interested in making sure the city’s proposed streetcar project stays on track. The light-rail system would deposit riders at the park’s front gate.
Lewis isn’t an unbiased source, and Elmahrek shows no skepticism toward his claim about Disney’s “keen interest.” On the flipside, streetcar supporters express frustration at Disney’s neutrality on the issue.
Elmharek writes about ARC “deposit[ing] riders at the parks’ front gate” as if that is insidious. Where does he suggest riders be deposited? At the Katella/Harbor intersection? That’s like complaining that Measure M funding to improve the I-5 “deposits more motorists at Disney’s doorstep.”
Lewis also contends that the Disney spending is done in coordination with unions, major hoteliers and other big businesses in the city in a bid to control the city council. He questioned whether any business in the country has spent as much as Disney has on a city council race.
A strange complaint when you consider that Team Tait has been coordinating with unions, rich Bay Area progressives and OC lefties in their allied bid to control Anaheim city government.
“It’s unbelievable,” Lewis said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
What most observers of current Anaheim politics find unbelievable is watching Tom Tait and team working hand-in-hand with OCCORD, the unions and wealthy San Francisco liberals in an attempt to oust two conservative Republicans and make Anaheim city council elections safe for the Democrats.
This surreal situation was captured very well by a friend who told me that Tait supporters see their man as Horatius at the bridge, single-handedly holding off the barbarians while his fellow Romans secured the city gates. The truer classical metaphor is Sinon, the Greek spy who persuaded the Trojans that the Trojan Horse was a gift and to bring it within the city walls.
Tait has opposed massive tax subsidies for politically connected businesses, and he is backing Vanderbilt for council. He called Disney’s massive spending “unhealthy” for the city.
“That kind of money would steamroll over any candidate that attempts to go against it,” Tait said.
Well, no. What Tait, his supporters and the Voice always forget is that for years Tait supported tax subsidies to incentivize the construction of luxury hotels in the Resort. If his change-of-heart on these subsidies came before he ran for mayor, he kept it a secret from those whose support he solicited.
Again, Tait’s complaint that Disney’s “massive” spending is unhealthy is strange, when you consider the “massive spending” by his family and his friend Howard Ahmanson, who are trying to “steamroll” over Kris Murray and Gail Eastman for the sin of disagreeing with Tait on a few major issues, in an attempt to seize control of the council for Tait. What’s the difference?
The current at-large system is considered easier to control through expensive campaigns using a flood of glossy mailers, making Disney’s financial muscle among the most powerful factors impacting council races.
“Once you have district elections, it will be a lot tougher for anybody to buy council seats the way they do right now,” Lewis said.
“Considered easier” by whom? By-district election supporters? And why doesn’t Tom Tait think it is “unhealthy” when his lefty Measure L allies try to buy the election?
Of course, money is a big factor in campaign in Anaheim or anywhere. But it isn’t everything. If it were, John Leos would be on the City Council: the OCEA spent over $600,000 combined trying to elect him in 2010 and 2012. Jennifer Rivera didn’t spend any money in 2012. She finished less than 4 points behind Leos and ahead of Steve Lodge, who had a healthy campaign budget and was supported by multiple mailers from the Anaheim Police Association. And those aren’t isolated examples.
Lewis is repeating a myth about district elections. If a candidate or special interest is willing to spend $100,000 or $200,000 or more city-wide supporting two candidate in an at-large election, they can just as easily spend that amount on behalf of two candidates in two districts with fewer voters to target.
Far from making it “tougher” for anyone to “buy” a council seat, district elections only lower the price of “buying” a council seat! Are city council races any cheaper or more grass-roots in the cities Measure L supporters want Anaheim to emulate, like Los Angeles or San Jose? Of course not.
The Voice of OC says its mission is to hold the powerful accountable. It would have been refreshing to see that (or even a dash of skepticism) in this article.