My morning cup of Newman’s Special Blend (extra bold) suddenly tasted bitter after reading the editorial on the front page of the Opinion section of Sunday’s Orange County Register (OCR). The meaning of biased and sometimes unwarranted criticism was clear: kudos to Tom Tait, Anaheim’s mayor; boos to Curt Pringle, the city’s former mayor.
The editorial began, “Election season often brings out the ugliest in people [and in editorials]. Negative attack ads and misrepresentations have become commonplace. . . . Local politics are often the nastiest of all. . . . Some of the most deceptive campaign efforts, misinformation and negativity this election cycle are coming from two of the county’s largest and most prominent cities: Anaheim and Irvine.“ To these distinguished sources of misinformation and negativity, I nominate the addition of the Orange County Register.
The OCR’s editorial board accuses Pringle of “running a shameful smear campaign against Mayor Tom Tait,” who is applauded for opposing the “alarmingly lucrative deals lobbied for by Pringle” [and his allies]. He is criticized for supporting a tax incentive to build a new hotel in Anaheim near Disneyland and the convention center.
In fact, more hotels are needed in Anaheim to accommodate the ever-increasing number of visitors and conventioneers. To fulfill the needs of larger organizations and associations, the convention center must grow to ensure that Anaheim is selected as the convention city instead of groups choosing cities with larger convention centers and enough hotel rooms to house participants. Building hotels and adding space to a convention center is part of economic growth. If Anaheim wants tax revenues and sales taxes from future conventions, it must add convention center space and build hotels.
It has become common practice for a city to offer incentives to build large hotels and sports stadiums. Mayor Tait was the only member of the Anaheim City Council to oppose offering an incentive to build a needed hotel, an action for which the OCR praises his opposition. But it makes just as much sense to criticize Tait for trying to deprive Anaheim from hosting future major conventions and forfeiting future tax revenues. No hotel = no hotel taxes. No conventions = no participants = no sales for Anaheim businesses = no sales taxes.
As I recently noted, the Los Angeles City Council awarded $500,000,000 in tax incentives for downtown economic development for 2015-2016 (Los Angeles Times, 2014). The Hyatt Regency Hotel in Denver at the city convention center was funded by $356,000,000 in municipal bonds. Since 2006, it has earned Denver $53,000,000 in taxes and increased the city’s general fund by $2,100,000. Is it Tait’s plan to lose future conventions to cities that can host large conventions and lose future hotel and sales taxes?
Tait is applauded by the OCR for supporting an oversight committee for the Anaheim Police Department “to help restore public trust in the police force.“ Using this formula, every city in the nation should form a police oversight committee after a serious incident or shooting. Sounds like just what this country needs: 30,000 police oversight committees.
The Editorial Board noted, “In his first State of the City address, Tait publicly discussed the unfunded pension liabilities facing the city, announcing he intended to conceive a plan to deal with the issue.” It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. After 4 years, Tait has not yet presented a plan to the Anaheim City Council to solve the problem of unfunded pension liabilities.
Finally, Tait is praised by the OCR for his public comments regarding the city’s negotiations with the Angels. Does Tait want the Angels to remain in Anaheim? If yes, he must recognize that baseball is a business, and the Angels will profit, or they will move to Walla Walla. In fashioning a new agreement, negotiations must remain private—or the Angels will strike a deal elsewhere. By their very nature, negotiations are private. “Stated more precisely, it is our system of contract law that underpins and makes possible the many private [emphasis added], voluntary agreements by which exchanges of goods and services are accomplished in our society” (Markham, 2002). Members of the OCR editorial board know the importance of private negotiations: When Freedom Communications sold the OCR—“terms of the deal were not disclosed” (Milbourn, 2012).
It seems ironic that the OCR accuses others so sanctimoniously of spreading misinformation and negativity.
Hudson, K. (2012, December 25). Subsidized hotels: Boon or boondoggle? Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/kfbwy29
Los Angeles Times. (2014, April 22). L.A., where tax breaks come easy—For some. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/m553o9m
Markham, W. (2002). An overview of contract law: The extraordinary importance of contract law. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/adgd5xe
Milbourn, M. (2012, July 25). Freedom Communications closes sale of the Register. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/bqdtned
Register Editorial Board. (2014, November 2). Editorial Board: O.C.’s shadow campaigns. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/lnur3zx