By Greg Diamond
From the PrevattOC — the remaining readable portion of what we once knew as “LiberalOC” — Chris Prevatt* presents important news about a new lawsuit against the City of Anaheim being threatened by the General Counsel for CATER — the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility.
[Slight Disclosure: CATER's General Counsel is ... well, me.]
*[Authorship was later changed to some other guy -- in the process of which the post's formatting was messed up. I'm not bothering to revise. If someone played a trick on me -- it worked!]
PrevattOC reproduces the text of the letter sent by CATER to Anaheim’s City Council prior to Tuesday’s Council Meeting. (GO READ THE STORY! It may be that few read the Liberal OC anymore, but the PrevattOC is perfectly respectable.) In that letter, CATER signs on to the letter sent to them on March 11, allowing CATER’s General Counsel to seek fees once the lawsuit is successful, and gently reminds the City of Anaheim that it must disclose to prospective investors that litigation really really will be forthcomingprior to the end of the statutory deadline.
Prevatt does the county a service by obtaining a stirring quote from Councilmember (and CATER General Counsel’s fellow Democrat) Jordan Brandman, which is worth reproducing in full:
According to Council member Jordan Brandman, this suit places in jeopardy thousands of union jobs.
“He is trying to stop a project that will create and enhance thousands of good craft, HERE, SEIU, and Teamster jobs,” Brandman told the LiberalOC. ”Not to mention the addtional funding also included in the bonds which will be proposed by City staff to build two new fire stations and make vital neighborhood/parks improvements.”
According to documents from the City of Anaheim, outside counsel to deal with CATER has already cost taxpayers about $20,000. This effort will only add to the cost.
CATER’s General Counsel has gone on record (it may be around here somewhere) as saying that CATERsupports the expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center — but only if it is done legally and prudently. (And CATER wouldn’t sue merely over it being imprudent, because if CATER started doing that sort of thing with respect to Anaheim City Council actions then CATER would never have time to do anything else.)
Rather, CATER is planning to sue because Anaheim’s vote to issue these bonds a mere three weeks after their vote is illegal. It is really, really, really illegal. And if something is illegal, it doesn’t really matter whether it will create jobs or build fire stations because it is … ILLEGAL!
Furthermore, and this may be an unfamiliar concept to Brandman, it’s not that hard to do it all legally. The amount to be spent on the fire stations is likely small enough that it could be done otherwise. Park improvements — well, unless they’re huge, those aren’t usually paid for using 30-year bonds anyway, right?
But here’s the thing: if the City Council wants to issue $300 million in bonds, it has to take that decision to the voters. You can click on the “PrevattOC” link or the “it may be around here somewhere” link to see the original letter by Cory Briggs, which explains what chapter and verse of both state law and Anaheim’s own City Charter the City’s audacious and bewildering decision to skip that little formality violates. (It’s along the lines of “the City Council can’t approve taking out bonds like that without taking a public vote.”)
Now, beyond the illegality, there are gigantic seething pits of imprudence in this proposal as well. You will soon be learning, if you don’t know — and don’t feel bad, if you don’t, because Brandman probably doesn’t know either* — what a Capital Appreciation Bond is and why that poses a problem.
*Warning: baiting Brandman like this is a pretty transparent attempt to lure him here and have him explain to us what a Capital Appreciation Bond is. APPROACH WITH CAUTION, JORDAN!
CATER isn’t suing (yet) over the imprudence part, but just over the illegality part. CATER is in a bit of a hurry because the Council scheduled the bond sale for JUST THREE WEEKS AFTER the Council Vote, which is before CATER could do all of its research into other related matters that may justify legal responses.
Even so, nothing that CATER is doing prevents the Anaheim City Council from going back and doing everything legally, which CATER believes is more appropriate. If this expansion can only be doneillegally, then CATER submits that there is something wrong with it.
Anyway, on most of the offered grounds, the delay has only needed to be slight. This plan haspresumably been on the burner for a while, right? And the next election, where Anaheim can expect a friendlier than otherwise primary electorate to turn out, is on June 3. Waiting a few months and following the law is reasonable, right?
Wait, what’s that?
The last day to place ballot measures on the primary ballot passed a couple of weeks back?
Huh — well, why did the Anaheim Council miss that deadline? They’ve been meeting almost every weekfor the last while – why didn’t they put a bleeding ballot measure on the bleeding primary ballot?
The answer appears to be that the Council members didn’t want to have a public vote on it — largely because then they would have had to explain it — and there are some aspects of the screwy approach to funding being proposed here that they would strongly prefer not to have to explain to the public.
If prospective jobs are now threatened, if firehouses are delayed, it is the City Council’s own damned fault, because they could have brought this proposal up for a vote earlier and had it placed on the ballot for voter approval — as legally required! (Part of the reason that they didn’t do so is probably that they had so many other giveaways to cram into the hopper first. Get greedy with how quickly you greedily get and people may start to catch on.)
(Note: the reason that the poorly advised Anaheim City Counsel supposedly thought that this didn’t need voter approval is that the deal was a product of the Anaheim Public Financing Agency, which at one time could have gotten away with this circumvention. The APFA is a joint enterprise of the Anaheim City Council and the Anaheim Redevelopment Authority. But, the Redevelopment Agency definitely no longer exists — and CATER will argue that the APFA no longer exists either, and even if it exists is not even remotely plausible as a means of circumventing the requirement for a public vote — which is there for an awfully good reason.)
So, craft and trade and public employee and hotel workers unions — if this project doesn’t happen then don’t blame me and don’t blame the existence of an easily understood law. Instead, you can blame the one person on the Anaheim City Council that is supposedly supposed to be swift enough to represent your interests: a guy named Jordan Brandman. And if none of you thought to ask whether a $300 million bond offering would have to go to a public vote, what with all of that “phasing out Redevelopment” stuff that was in the news a couple few years ago, you should really have more concern about whom you trust — and whom the person you trust trusts, who is in this case the mischievous, avaricious, and increasingly sloppy Curt Pringle.
As for the $20,000 already spent on outside counsel to fend off the first CATER lawsuit — and they’re leaving off the money they’ll end up owing CATER’s General Counsel, who would have preferred not to be put in the position of being entitled to collect it but will go ahead and take that money given that the people running Anaheim have made him work so hard for it — Anaheim could have avoided that money too simply by not violating the Brown Act and the Public Records Act to begin with.
Seriously, Brandman thinks that CATER should feel bad because he and the rest of his Council Majority, egged on by the likes of the current City Attorney and City Manager, can’t follow the law? CATER just has to shake its shaggy non-profit corporate head at that sort of ridiculous attitude.
CATER’s General Counsel offers Anaheim this deal: if Anaheim starts following the law, CATER will stop suing it.