From the Orange Juice Blog:
I had almost forgotten that Anaheim’s subsidy of $158 million in future bed tax receipts to Developer Bill O’Connell, who wants to build two hotels in the city’s GardenWalk area, which led to the founding of Take Back Anaheim and substantial coverage here and elsewhere, began not as a story about the desirability of such a plan (about which much can be said both pro and con) but as a stinking political process story.
That is: whether the GardenWalk proposal is good or bad, happy or sad, the outgoing City Council had tried to sneak it through unnoticed by the public (and barely agendized at all) — and people are no longer willing to stand silently by for that sort of thing.
It was that act of contempt for the citizens of Anaheim on January 24, 2012 — I was trying to be dispassionate in the paragraphs above, but I don’t have a better term for it than that — that has set the tone for the whole contentious year in that city. The proposal had its selling points, but the Council didn’t want to rely on those. In concert with development interests and the beleaguered building trade unions (who, given enormous current unemployment, just want to be able to build anything these days — and I can’t blame them for that basic desire whether or not it makes for good policy), the pro-GardenWalk side stacked the room with union supporters demanding jobs and just snuck the thing through.
“Snuck” as in “rammed,” I mean — a 3-2 vote, with Councilmembers Gail Eastman, Kris Murray and Harry Sidhu in the majority and Mayor Tom Tait and lone Democratic Councilmember Lorri Galloway in the minority — and most people unaware until at least the next day that anything of significance had happened at all.
Read the full story here: