Attending the council meeting that took place at the High School was an eye opener. I got an education on the city’s social, political and economic forces.
The resort industry funds candidates that, once elected, approve most of their projects. The city revenues are generously allocated to the most affluent section of the city, who vote more than the less affluent. It is not a coincidence that the majority of the council member lives in Anaheim Hills.As a fairly content resident of Anaheim, until the July 24 riots took place, I did not closely follow the city politics. When I voted for council candidates, my choices were very limited. Most of the propaganda I received was for candidates connected to the GOP, including the ones supported by unions. I ended up voting based on gender (women), ethnicity (Latino), and union support, except the very few times when a candidate ran as a Democrat.
My other civic participation was to attend the neighborhood council, in which the issue of funding improvement projects was limited to the availability of the federal CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funds.
I learned that the conservatives are not a monolithic block. Mayor Tait came across as open-minded and compassionate. The other conservatives as callous and mean spirited, uncritically supporting the resort industry. I learned that a former mayor has turned into a lobbyist, and practically controls the city through the “resort” council members.
I observed the overwhelming frustration of those of us who do not feel represented by the three corporatist linked council members. It was not only anger at the police related events, but mostly at being excluded from the political and economic power. This is reflected in the living conditions of many sections of the flatland, especially in the barrios. Requests for neighborhood improvements take a long time to be considered and approved. The Miraloma community center and park took years to get funding, which was mostly CDBG. A middle class neighborhood like Rio Vista, has requested help for years to do something about the rundown and blighted local shopping center.
I have been waiting for the candidates running for the two council spots to tell us their agenda, on specifics such as:
1) District elections. If they favor them, when, and how many districts?
2) Resort Area. How would they balance the business and city interests? How would the less affluent section of the city better benefit from the resort’s revenues, other than graffiti abatement? How would they limit/curtail the influence of the resort’s business interests in the city council?
3) Neighborhoods sustainable development : a) In the absence of federal CDBG funds, how improvement projects can be funded, in areas other than the Hills? b) How could the home foreclosures or high unemployment be mitigated by the city ; c) what programs they have in mind for the at risk -youth, and curbing the influence of gangs, other than using excessive police force?
4) Education. Do they support the $1 Disneyland “gate tax” proposal for school purposes? (It can start in 2014.)
5) Environment. a)Is the ARTIC Transportation Project a pork barrel for consultants and lobbyists, or an environmentally viable component of mass transportation? b) Is the Outdoor corridor mostly recreational or also a feasible practical outlet for the densely populated areas? Is the power company supplying electricity to the city meeting environmental standards?
I hope that the registration drives in the flatland will make a difference this time. I also hope that no Resort corporate linked candidate is elected. Si se puede!
- Ricardo Toro.