The Story Behind Lucille Kring's Recent Flip-Flops

From The Voice of OC:

When Anaheim Councilwoman Lucille Kring was campaigning for office last year, she took the following positions on four issues that have dominated city politics:

  • No on a controversial $158-million hotel room tax subsidy.
  • Yes to a ballot measure for Anaheim residents to vote on all future hotel tax subsidies.
  • Yes to changing the City Council's at large election system to a system by which council members are elected by districts.
  • Yes to a civilian oversight review board of police.
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Since being elected, Kring has changed her position on all four. She voted for thesubsidy and against district elections; she vocally opposed a civilian police oversight board; and she refused to second a motion by the mayor to place the hotel tax subsidy voters measure on a citywide ballot.

Campaign finance records show Kring received thousands of dollars in contributions from groups and businesses that lobbied for her change of heart. And because Kring loaned her campaign $75,000, some of these donations went toward paying off the debt and therefore straight into her pocket.

The donations include, among others, thousands of dollars from Support Our Anaheim Resort or SOAR, a Disneyland-funded group that lobbied for the subsidy and against district elections; the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, which was also for the subsidy and against district elections; and hotel partnerships connected to Bill O'Connell, the recipient of the hotel tax subsidy.

Kring's actions have led some outraged supporters to state publicly that she betrayed them.

“You lied to me,” said resident Larry Larsen during public comments at the May 28 council meeting. Larsen had agreed to place a campaign sign promoting Kring in his yard after she told him she was adamantly against the hotel subsidy.

“Madam, you cannot be trusted or believed. You will say or do anything for a vote. How much was your integrity worth? Was all your campaign debt paid off?”

And it's not just residents who say that Kring broke promises.

Mayor Tom Tait said that he endorsed Kring for City Council because she changed her position from opposing an initiative, called "Let the People Vote," that would require a citywide vote on future hotel tax subsidies to supporting it. But when Tait proposed that initiative at a council meeting, she changed her mind again, remaining silent and allowing the motion to die for lack of a second.

In a brief interview, Kring denied that she changed her position in exchange for the campaign contributions.

She said the subsidy deal evolved into a package that was better for Anaheim. For one thing, the time the developer can collect room tax revenue was extended by five years so the city could share in 10 percent of the revenue as opposed to none. Critics counter, however, that it's a worse deal, because the developer's deadline to begin construction on one of the hotels isn't until 2019.

When asked why she didn't support the mayor's ballot measure, she insisted that it didn't come up for a vote. But at the May 14 council meeting during which the subsidy was approved, Kring refused to back the mayor's motion to put the "Let the People Vote" initiative on the ballot.

Kring said she couldn't recall favoring civilian oversight of police during the campaign, but she is on record as stating so at a Voice of OC candidates forum on Anna Drive. She said even if she had supported it at first, there are several layers of oversight already.

Kring also insisted that the contributions and votes are legal.

When questioned about the campaign contributions and votes, Kring said: “That's your impression. It's not true at all. If I get a check from you, it does not preclude me from voting on an issue for Voice of OC.”

But Kring is legally precluded from engaging in a quid pro quo, that is casting a vote with the understanding that she would receive money in return.

Curiously, Kring has in the past made statements implying that Disneyland and former mayor Curt Pringle, who is now the foremost lobbyist in Anaheim, finance campaigns with the expectation that they would receive the right policy votes in return.

In 2006 during Kring's last stint on council, Pringle refused to throw her a promised fundraiser because she “never voted his way,” she wrote in an Oct. 10 email to a former supporter.

“I told [Pringle] my vote was not for sale,” Kring wrote.

In another email to supporters on Oct. 26, Kring noted that Disney had dramatically increased its campaign spending by funneling cash through various political action committees and pondered whether the company was spending large sums in an effort to control the council.

“Why is Disney spending so much money on candidates that receive $18,000/year in salary? What do they expect from these candidates,” Kring wrote. “I never believed that Disney ran the city but I've changed my mind.”

A Case of Curious Timing

Fast forward to 2013, and Kring seems to no longer have such concerns about Pringle, Disney and the rest of the business establishment.

When confronted with the emails, Kring said that Pringle had never tried to buy her vote and that she once again has changed her mind about whether Disney runs the city.

“No, I don't believe that Disney controls the city,” Kring wrote in an email Monday to Voice of OC. “I don't believe that Curt tried to buy my vote. No one ever has or will.”

Yet the timing of a Pringle-organized fundraiser for Kring raises questions. Pringle was the lobbyist for O'Connell and his partner Ajesh Patel, the two hoteliers whose GardenWalk hotel project was the beneficiary of the $158-million subsidy.

In “mid-April,” Kring met with Pringle, O'Connell and Patel to discuss the tax subsidy, Kring wrote in an email obtained by Voice of OC.

Two weeks after the vote to approve the subsidy — and only one day after Larsen berated Kring publicly for betraying her campaign promise — Pringle held a fundraiser for her at The Catch restaurant near Angel Stadium, campaign finance records show.

Anaheim Park Place Inn, an O'Connell partnership that the hotelier claims is controlled by his son, contributed $1,000 to Kring's campaign May 29, the day of the fundraiser, records show. And on two occasions in February, Stovall's Inn LLC and Orangewood LLC — other O'Connell partnerships — contributed $300 and $250, respectively, according to the records.

By the end of the campaign finance filing period in June, Kring had repaid herself $37,500, records show.

Kring didn't deny that the contributions came from O'Connell and defended them. She said that she had received support from Pringle and O'Connell because she has known them for many years. And the May 29 fundraiser was originally set for April — around the time of her meeting with Pringle, O'Connell and Patel — but was moved because of a scheduling conflict, she said.

“There was nothing conspiratorial about it,” Kring said in an interview. “Bill and I have been friends for more years then you probably have been alive.”

Others said the circumstances at least strongly suggest a quid pro quo. City activist and blogger Jason Young, the former supporter whom Kring had emailed, said that the email and the fundraiser show that Pringle had successfully purchased her vote after previously failing to do so.

“It's clear,” Young said.

While the emails, campaign contributions and votes may give the public the appearance of an illegal quid pro quo, they don't constitute proof, according to Tracy Westen, CEO of the Los Angeles-based Center for Governmental studies. To prove it, there needs to be direct evidence of a vote-for-cash deal, like an email chain showing clearly that a council member asked for and received money in exchange for a vote.

The Kring emails, however, “generate exactly the kind of thing you get from that constituent: feeling a betrayal, feeling that they're selling votes,” Westen said. “Unless you've got a microphone in the room or somebody stupid enough to write it down, you'll never prove it.”

Nonetheless, the appearance is damaging to the public's confidence, Westen said. The circumstances surrounding Kring's fundraising has sparked a debate among good-government experts, a San Diego-based attorney and Kring over what is and isn't public corruption.

“These emails are kind of dynamite. They show why the public is suspicious,” Westen said.

Cory Briggs, a San Diego-based attorney who has called on the Orange County district attorney's office and the state attorney general's office to prosecute Kring and the council majority for violations of the California Political Reform Act, said that the circumstances surrounding Kring's vote on the hotel subsidy would likely persuade a jury on charges that she engaged in a quid pro quo.

“If I were Lucille Kring, I would hire a criminal defense attorney, and I would pray that I would never have to face a trial,” Briggs said.

Breaking The Law, or a Call for Reform?

Beyond the other circumstances, Briggs claimed in his correspondence to prosecutors that two $500 contributions from SOAR — whose advisory board includes O'Connell — to Kring's campaign before and after the vote are enough to indicate a quid pro quo.

Briggs' argument is that SOAR is essentially a shell corporation for O'Connell to launder campaign money. The Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, which also contributed to Kring's campaign before and after the vote, lobbied publicly for the hotel subsidy and against district elections.

SOAR itself might not actually make money off of [the hotel subsidy], but I don't think you can evade these rules to set up a shell corporation in order to put an extra bureaucracy between you and the politician,” Briggs said. “If you could, then people would just set up these shell corporations and there's no way to prove a bribe to a public official.”

Robert Stern, president of the center for governmental studies and the expert who helped write the political reform act, has cast doubt on such claims, saying that it has never been illegal in California to make contributions to elected officials who then vote on the contributor's projects.

Westen said that the circumstances surrounding Kring — her emails, contributions, fundraiser and flip-flopping — taken together are an example of a campaign finance system that desperately needs reform.

“That's why it's so hard to get good health care and good public education, but if you want to bail out the banks, that can happen in one day,” Westen said. “Because those are the people giving the money. … One percent of the people give well over 90 percent of the contributions in congressional and senatorial races.”

For one thing, some jurisdictions restrict fundraising to pay off candidates' campaign debt to themselves to a short time right after an election, Westen said. After that, the debt must be forgiven.

“I think personal loans are more problematical, because there's a greater danger that the elected official will feel even more charitable to the people paying their debts. … That is viewed as an especially pernicious problem,” Westen said. “There's a greater danger of a quid pro quo.”

Westen also advocates a switch to a public financing system. The New York City and Los Angeles, for example, match several times the dollars candidates raise, making it easier for candidates with less money to compete.

But selling a public financing system to the public can be challenging. Most residents would be unwilling to give taxpayer money to Kring after reading her emailed statements about city politics, Westen said.

“Most would say, are you kidding me? I wouldn't give those guys the time of day,” Westen said.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adamelmahrek

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Breaking News

Anaheim, CA - A prominent California attorney alleged that members of the Anaheim City Council violated state law when they voted on behalf of a $158 million hotel subsidy, after accepting contributions from a PAC tied to the project's developer. Attorney Cory Briggs urged California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas to prosecute the council members in a letter sent Thursday. Briggs’ request for prosecution was made on the behalf of a community organization, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development and a private Anaheim resident named in the letter.

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The letter alleges that Anaheim City Council members Lucille Kring and Jordan Brandman had an illegal conflict of interest when they voted for the Garden Walk Hotel subsidy in May, within months of accepting donations from the political action committee formed by Support Our Anaheim Resort (SOAR.) Hotelier Bill O’Connell, who benefited from that subsidy, sits on the SOAR Advisory Committee. The letter also names council members Gail Eastman and Kris Murray, who voted in favor of the subsidy and are SOAR Advisory Committee members. Eastman and Murray did not disclose their business relationships with SOAR and O’Connell at the time of the vote, as required by law.

The request for prosecution issued by Briggs is a required legal step before the filing of a private lawsuit. A potential filing would result in another in a recent series of lawsuits faced by the city council on behalf of residents. Last month, a judge ordered a trial in a case brought by the ACLU on behalf of Anaheim voters, alleging that the city’s election system violates the California Equal Voting Rights Act.

The Garden walk subsidy caused controversy, even before the allegations made last week. The subsidy was first passed in January 2012, but that vote was voided after a Superior Court Judge ruled that it violated the Brown Act, California’s open government law, because the public did not receive proper notice.

Friends of Kris Murray ready for June 25th fundraiser

Kris Murrays big fundraiser is coming up on June 25th at the Diamond Club at Angel Stadium. Her host committee contains quite the collection of interesting characters.

1. Matt Cunningham - discredited blogger and supporter of pedophile priest protector John Urell. Also known for outing sex abuse victims. Currently he is working for The Anaheim Chamber of Commerce for which he writes AnaheimBlog.net. Read all about his past here:

http://www.fullertonsfuture.org/tag/matthew-cunningham/ 

http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2012/10/matt_cunningham_anaheim.php 

Matt Cunningham

Matt Cunningham

2. Steven Chavez Lodge - named one of 2012's Scariest People by OC Weekly

Steve Lodge

Steve Lodge

"Steve Lodge has gone by Steve Lodge professionally for decades, but when he announced an Anaheim City Council run this year, he decided to use Steve Chavez Lodge. (Chavez is his birth surname.) The reason for the sudden Mexican love? Anaheim has a huge Latino electorate but no Latino council members. Activists sued to prohibit Lodge from using his newfound name for the election; they lost. But Lodge can't escape his past as a dirty Santa Ana cop who beat up a jaywalker so badly a federal jury fined him $612,000. And there was also the 2001 case in which Lodge had a man wrongfully imprisoned for murder for more than a year—until prosecutors dropped all charges Meanwhile, Lodge's campaign signs keep getting tagged with "pocho," which is Mexican Spanish for "Steve Lodge." 

3. Kerry Condon - head of the APA who lied and distorted the truth regarding civilian oversight. Read all about his actions here:

http://www.orangejuiceblog.com/2013/04/the-dangerous-lies-of-anaheim-polices-kerry-condon/ 

Kerry Condon

Kerry Condon

4. Jill Kanzler - the leader of Screw Our Anaheim Residents (SOAR). This groups sole mission is to divert as much tax revenue to Disney related projects. 

 

Jill Kanzler

Jill Kanzler

5. Bill O'Connell - the wealthy out of town developer that managed to manipulate the corrupt council majority, with the help of Curt Pringle, to secure $158 miliion in future tax revenue to build two privately owned hotels.

Bill O'Connell

Bill O'Connell

6. Curt Pringle - The Master of the Universe and the man responsible for the financial state the city was in when Mayor Tait took over. He is also the mastermind behind the $158 million GardenWalk Hotel Giveaway, the $319 million Disney streetcar, the $184 million ARTIC train station, the Platinum "ghost town" Triangle mess, and countless other wastes of taxpayer funds.

Curt Pringle

Curt Pringle

7. Bill Taormina - a man who has made his millions off of government contracts. A man who told me that "My financial support of Lodge came early and I cannot un-ring that bell. I wish he would have told me about his past. However, as a direct result of this lack of disclosure, and, the recent attacks on you, I have resolved NEVER to donate another penny to ANY political candidate in Anaheim or anywhere else."

So much for promises Bill.

Bill Taormina

Bill Taormina

The $158 Million GIVEAWAY - FAQ

Q: What is it?

A: Hotelier Bill O’Connell is asking taxpayers to underwrite his hotel, with $158 million in subsidy that was intended for the General Fund, to pay for Police, Fire, libraries, parks and other essential City services. His claim is that the City needs more 4-star hotel rooms to attract upscale visitors, and those more expensive rooms cost more money.

Bill O'Connell

Bill O'Connell

Q: Seems reasonable-so why doesn’t this deal work?

A: If bankers are lending for the 3 star hotels currently about to break ground, but won’t lend on 4 star hotels, they may be telling us there isn’t a market for those high end lodgings. Why should we as taxpayers give money for an investment bankers won’t lend on?

 O’Connell says even with the subsidy he will not be able to break ground for at least a year or two.  A leading hotel expert argues that by waiting an additional year no subsidy would be needed, as the lending market will be friendlier.

Jack Corgell, a Professor at Cornell University of Hotel Administration stated, “The value of waiting an extra year could be substantial to the city, why would you do this now? What’s the urgency?” In addition, one of Orange County’s top hotel real estate consultants, Alan Reay, stated ,“The hotel market has recovered, and revenues continue to climb. Lenders have already stepped back into the market.”

Q: Why doesn’t the developer wait a year and secure traditional financing?

A: By waiting a year he wouldn’t benefit from free tax money, which makes the deal more lucrative for him and his investors. The developer appears to owe more than the land is worth. Many of us find ourselves “upside down” on our homes, why should one developer expect us to bail out his bad investment?

Q: Didn’t anyone stand up against the original giveaway?

Yes, Mayor Tom Tait and (former) Mayor Pro-Tem Lorri Galloway voted NO. City Manager Bob Wingenroth also opposed the deal, after having served years as Anaheim’s Finance Director, he could see this was a loser for our General Fund. Bob Wingenroth has now left the City of Anaheim, taking a six-figure cut in pay, rather than remain in this environment at City Hall.

Q: Why did the Mayor vote NO?

A: It isn’t fair. Mayor Tom Tait stated, “I’m in business, if I had a competitor, who didn’t have to pay taxes, I wouldn’t like that because it is a huge competitive advantage.”

In addition, Mayor Tom Tait rejected the argument that without subsidy the land would sit empty and unproductive,  stating that, “…if you don’t build it, something will be built there, and all that tax revenue would come to the city.” Indeed we already see other sites being developed without taxpayers underwriting the costs.

Q: Why did Murray, Eastman, and Sidhu vote YES?

A: First, they claimed there was no cost to the city. Which is false. The $158 million is our money, collected from visitors who pay the tax, and then diverted to the developer instead of remaining in the General Fund.

If the hotel was built without the subsidy, all that revenue would be kept, funding police, fire, libraries, parks, and community services. Those costs are skyrocketing, since the same Council majority approved one of the most generous union deals in recent memory last summer-again over the objections of Mayor Tait, meaning we will have to increase General Fund revenues just to maintain the same level of service. Knowing we need to either increase funds or cut spending, the only expense the Council majority cut from the budget was the line item for Mayor Tait’s staff!

Plus, the Council claimed it was all about jobs. But the developer does not have an agreement to use local labor, so our taxes are likely to fund jobs for some other town’s workers. These jobs are not right away either.  Construction on the first tower won’t start till 2015. The final tower won’t be completed until 2022. The permanent jobs they boast about are mostly in the hospitality industry, offering low pay and no benefits, so taxpayers end up subsidizing O’Connell twice when we also have to build affordable housing projects for his workers, or offer social services to cover their cost of living.

Lastly, the special interests behind this deal spent tens of thousands in campaign money to help elect the current Council majority. Money from the developer, Disney, OC Taxpayers Association, OC Business Council, and former Mayor Curt Pringle (also the lobbyist for the developer) helped boost Eastman, Murray, and Brandman into office.

Gail Eastman and Bill O'Connell

Gail Eastman and Bill O'Connell

Q: So why is the developer back, didn’t we do this last year?

A: After the initial giveaway, a lawsuit was filed by community members and in December 2012 a Superior Court Judge ruled the Council meeting violated California’s Open Meeting laws, and voided the deal.

Q: Besides the lawsuit, how did the community respond to the initial giveaway?

A: Residents were outraged and over 10,000 Anaheim voters signed an Initiative that would allow residents to vote on any future subsidies. Unfortunately, the Council majority (Murray, Eastman, and Sidhu) voted NO on allowing residents to decide on the fair use of our tax dollars.

A: What can I do now to help stop this $158 million giveaway from being reinstated?

1. Send a quick e-mail to the City Council at sray@anaheim.net or call 714-765-5247

2. Show up at 5 p.m. at Anaheim City Hall Tuesday (May 14th) and voice your opposition during public comments. While we are all frustrated with our leaders, let’s be respectful during the meeting. There will probably be a long line to speak on this issue, be patient and we will all be heard.

3. Support candidates who oppose this misuse of public funds during the next election in 2014.

Q: Where can I learn more?

A: The Save Anaheim blog was created to share information with residents, especially info that we feel the media and papers are not reporting on. Check the site often for updates at

http://saveanaheim.com/blog/?tag=%24158+million+Giveaway

Voice of OC is another blog doing good investigative reporting.

http://www.voiceofoc.org/search/?t=article&s=start_time&sd=desc&q=gardenwalk+hotel

The OC Register

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/council-380779-city-public.html

SOAR = Sucking Out Anaheim Resources

SOAR claims that "Anaheim residents and neighborhoods and residents are the biggest beneficiary of tax revenue generate by visitors to the Resort District."

From www.soaranaheim.com - click to enlarge

The truth is that over 50% of the TOT revenue generate goes back to the Resort to pay off debt obligations. Now they want to suck $158 million in future TOT revenue to help former Mayor Curt Pringle's client Bill O'Connell build two luxury hotels at the failed GardenWalk mall. A move OC Supervisor Shawn Nelson opposes:

GardenWalk Hotels - 7 years behind schedule

From the OC Register (Save Anaheim comments in bold):

ANAHEIM – A developer may wait up to two years to begin construction on a pair of luxury hotels at a Disney-area mall with the final project slated to wrap up by mid-2022 -- seven years behind schedule.

Bill O'Connel as the Master of the House

The Anaheim Planning Commission is scheduled Monday to consider whether to split two proposed GardenWalk hotels into separate phases. If approved, construction of the first hotel wouldn't begin until May 2015, while work on the second hotel would be pushed back to November 2019. Why is the planning commission even considering this when the developer has no financing or subsidy deal in place?

A developer plans to build hotels at the Anaheim GardenWalk property, seen in 2010.

Concurrent construction of the hotels was initially scheduled to begin this May and completed by November 2015.

The postponement is needed "because current economic conditions have made securing financing for the construction of the hotels extremely difficult," wrote Ajesh Patel, manager of GarenWalk Hotel LLC, in a letter delivered in February to Anaheim's planning department. Funny, Larry Lake was able to secure financing without taxpayer funded subsidies. Also, where is the study that shows financing is still difficult to obtain? Are we just to take Mr. Patel's word on it?

Patel said his company remains committed to the project, but that it would be "impossible" to meet the current schedule.

An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled last December that the Anaheim City Council violated the state's open-meetings law when it approved a tax subsidy of up to $158 million for the developer of the GardenWalk hotels.

The deal was advertised only as a "discussion" item on the council's agenda in January 2012. Opponents called the plan a "giveaway," while supporters said it was needed as a way to lure high-spending tourists wanting to stay in four- to five-star quality hotels.

A proposed subsidy plan is expected to come back before the City Council later this month, according to a planning commission report.

The Planning Commission meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday at Anaheim City Hall, 200 S. Anaheim Blvd.

2 Hotels without a subsidy coming to Disney area!

From the OC Register:

ANAHEIM – Two new hotels will rise up soon from a key intersection near Disneyland.

mhg9ch-mhg9b4springhillsuites.jpg

The Planning Commission this week unanimously approved two hotels, each with a drugstore, on Harbor Boulevard and Katella Avenue. No City Council approval is required, unless there are appeals on the Monday night decision.

A 172-room Springhill Suites by Marriott with a CVS Pharmacy on the ground floor would be built on a parcel that included a vacant lot where a service station used to run. The neighboring Jolly Roger hotel property would shrink. The back of the project would sit next to the Convention Center's parking lot.

Across Harbor Boulevard, the commission supported a scaled-back plan for a hotel on the southeast corner: a five-story, Hyatt House would include 252 rooms, designed with kitchenettes for longer stays. A Walgreens, coffee shop and restaurant would be on the ground floor.

Previously, the developer proposed a nine-story, Las Vegas-style hotel with a nightclub that was approved in 2009. But the developer was unable to get financing.

The Hyatt is expected to break ground within a year; it is unclear when construction will begin on the other.

Anti-Anaheim Blog

Many of you know that another Anaheim centric blog exists. I won't point you in their direction unless you enjoy reading fiction. But I would like to share something a commentator wrote in response to this:

Bill O'Connell

Bill O'Connell

"I have supported this agreement from the beginning as something that will generate job, economic growth and increased city revenues in the long-run. Even those who oppose subsidies or “picking winners and losers”  on principle can admit that the economic return of the GardenWalk agreement exceeds the cost to taxpayers. I’d go further and argue there is no cost to taxpayers because if this agreement isn’t approved, the GardenWalk project dies and there won’t be any TOT revenue to share. If it is approved, the GardenWalk TOT being shared is revenue that hadn’t been going into city coffers and so nothing is being “taken.” Furthermore, a permanent, long-term stream of additional TOT revenue will be established."

The commentator Biff responded with:

I'd go further and argue there is no cost to taxpayers because if this agreement isn’t approved, the GardenWalk project dies and there won’t be any TOT revenue to share.

Right, because if McConnell’s project fails, certainly nobody will ever attempt to build something on these empty parcels that just happen to be a block away from one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the world. It’ll be the haunted elephant graveyard of abandoned building sites!

I’ve never understood project backers’ behaving as though this particular project, with this particular financial arrangement, is the only shot this property has (or their lionization of Bill McConnell for bringing it to the table; it’s not like the guy is risking his family fortune to build a hotel on a reclaimed brownfield site in Chowchilla. He’s asking the city to throw in its oversized share to make his sure thing even surer). If another builder comes along who can do the deal without the city support that McConnell requires, it could be a net win for Anaheimers even if it took several years for someone new to come on the scene, as the city would then take in all of the TOT revenue, rather than leaving it encumbered for years as it would be under the McConnell scheme.

Clearly Biff has brain between his shoulders unlike Sandy Day, Matt Cunningham, Curt Pringle, Kris Murray, Gail Eastman, Harry Sidhu, Todd Ament, Jill Kanzler, Reed Royalty, and Jordan Brandman.

Master of the House - Bill O'Connell

I thought you'd all enjoy perusing Bill O'Connell's letter to the Anaheim City Council asking to have his outrageous tax giveaway re-instated. What a piece of work.

Bill O'Connell on the right with "thank God for the riots" Eastman, Todd "crony capitalism" Ament, and some other SOAR clown.

Bill O'Connell on the right with "thank God for the riots" Eastman, Todd "crony capitalism" Ament, and some other SOAR clown.

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Another Shot at Subsidy Deal?

From The Voice of OC

A luxury hotels developer who was set to receive a controversial $158-million tax subsidy from Anaheim until it was voided in court last month is now asking that the City Council give it back. The developer, Bill O’Connell, is requesting that the council consider granting the subsidy at the Jan. 29 council meeting, according to his Jan. 10 letter.

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The City Council first granted the subsidy to O’Connell’s partnership, GardenWalk Hotel I, in January 2012. The 3-2 vote revealed a spit on both the City Council and in the community, with neighborhood activists and good-government advocates pitted against a group of construction trade unions and influential business lobbyists closely linked to O’Connell.

Last month, an Orange County Superior Court judge voided the subsidy vote on grounds that it violated the state's open meetings law, known as the Ralph M. Brown Act. Judge Steven L. Perk ruled that the subsidy approval was not adequately described as a possibility on the council meeting agenda.

Read the full article here:

http://www.voiceofoc.org/countywide/this_just_in/article_0267a230-5e68-11e2-b2b5-001a4bcf887a.html

Anaheim GardenWalk Giveaway

Save Anaheim’s Jason broke the news yesterday, but when is a blogger ever given credit?  [Answer: never.]  In short order, our three mainstream outlets were trumpeting the story, Art Pedroza was holding forth, and Matt Cunningham was out with his corporate-shill spin (which we won’t link to here, but we’ll quote from below.)  Unsurprisingly, the piece to read if you read only one is Cynthia Ward‘s “Activists Win One For the Public in GardenWalk Lawsuit.”

brandman-giveaway-three.jpg

In short, California Superior Court JusticeSteven Perk yesterday knocked down January’s hugely controversial Anaheim City Council giveaway of $158 million in bed-tax money to developer Bill O’Connell for his GardenWalk Project.  BUT.  It wasn’t knocked down for its substance, but on Brown Act grounds, for the sneaky, hasty, secretive way it was snuck past Anaheim citizens.  (As I see my colleague Greg Diamond has just explained.  Damn, am I LAST?)

So now the County’s wide-awake citizens move on to speculation:  Will the corporatist Council majority bring the scheme back soon, properly notify the public this time, allow debate on it, and then once again ram it down Anaheim’s throat, but this time legally?   Or, once bitten twice shy of the public backlash they faced earlier this year, will they let it go?  (A question complicated, Cynthia reminds us, by the question of whether or not O’Connell still has his deep-pocketed mystery investor, or whether said investor has since buggered off to less tempestuous climes?)

Read the full story at:

http://www.orangejuiceblog.com/2012/12/what-next-with-the-kibosh-on-anaheims-gardenwalk-giveaway/

Bill O'Connell celebrates $158 million loss

Last night, as we do traditionally at Christmas, my family and friends had dinner at the Anaheim White House. Moments after being seated, in walks GardenWalk Hotel goon Bill O'Connell. Bill proceeds to sit at the table within earshot of mine. Talk about luck.

However I am quite surprised he would be out celebrating after such a huge loss. The man didn't say (I could hear everything) or do anything that indicated the loss even bothered him one bit. Probably because the council is still controlled by his greedy corporatist buddies. The 1% really do live in a different world then the rest of us. With powerful corrupt friends you can do just about anything.

IMG_2103.jpeg

Bill O'Connell's brother gets Multi-Million Dollar Giveaway

Looks like the whole O'Connell Family is into the game of stealing city TOT revenue for their development projects.

Jerry O'Connell

Jerry O'Connell

Turns out Bill O'Connell's brother Jerry O'Connell invested in the Crowne Plaza in Garden Grove and is now the co-owner. What did the city of Garden Grove give Jerry O'Connell and his fellow investors? Free land that the City of Garden Grove purchased utilizing $17.7 million in federal housing funds and a TOT subsidy.

It might also interest you to know that Jerry O'Connell used to the sit on the City of Anaheim's Planning Commission and ran for city council and lost in 2004.