Anaheim Streetcar Project Poor Candidate for Federal Funding

In what could be a major blow to Anaheim's planned streetcar system, federal officials are indicating that the project is a poor candidate for the federal funding program expected to pay for at least half of its construction costs, according to several sources with knowledge of the situation.

Supporters envision the streetcar as a vital addition to the city’s transportation infrastructure, connecting key destinations in the city, including Disneyland, the convention center, Platinum Triangle development and GardenWalk outdoor mall. They claim it would generate significant investment along the 3.2-mile route and provide a bigger boost in public transit ridership than an enhanced bus alternative.

But the project has also come under intense criticism for its nearly $320-million price tag – which tops an Orange County Transportation Authority survey as most expensive when compared to 11 systems proposed around the country -- and because the preferred route would knock down a cluster of family-owned businesses.

Local officials are aiming to win funding for the project under the Federal Transit Authority’s (FTA) highly competitive New Starts program. But several sources say the FTA has given a cold reception for an expensive project that they say would primarily serve to ferry tourists to Disneyland.

Specifically, sources say Supervisor Shawn Nelson, during a trip to Washington DC, was told by FTA officials that the project wouldn’t be a good candidate for New Starts funds. Nelson took the trip while he was the chairman of the Transportation Authority Board of Directors last year, according to sources.

Nelson didn’t return a phone call seeking comment. But other sources have also confirmed that the FTA isn’t excited about the project.

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, a vocal opponent of the project and Transportation Authority board member, said he’s “heard the same thing” from Transportation Authority officials.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Authority's current chairman, Jeffrey Lalloway, also a critic of the Anaheim project, said he wasn’t surprised, but stopped short of saying he’s been told that FTA officials don’t like the project.

“As with most of the board, the FTA probably has some skepticism about the Anaheim project,” Lalloway said.

FTA officials refused to comment specifically, saying in an emailed statement that Anaheim hasn’t yet submitted an application for New Starts funding and the agency “is not required” to evaluate and rate projects until later in the competitive process.

“Therefore, we cannot comment on whether or not the project would be a qualified candidate for federal funding,” the statement reads.

It's unclear how local officials would plan on funding the project if the city's bid for New Starts grant funding were to be rejected. City planning documents say they  expect New Starts to fund over $150 million of the project's cost.

In addition to the apparently poor chance of winning FTA funding, the project also faces other hurdles that could prove insurmountable.

The project has stalled since Paul Durand -- one of the owners of the businesses to be knocked down to make way for the streetcar -- went public with his concerns last year. City leaders responded by directing staff to find an alternative route that wouldn’t require the city to forcibly acquire and demolish the privately owned buildings.

Transportation Authority leaders have made it clear they aren’t excited about the prospect of infringing on private property rights. At the Feb. 23 board meeting, board Director Todd Spitzer told Anaheim’s public works director, Natalie Meeks, to “figure out” how to avoid taking Duran’s businesses.

“This board, the prior board, has been very clear -- we’re not using eminent domain to wipe out a family business,” Spitzer said at the meeting.

But the alternative that city officials are reportedly studying, which would direct the streetcar down Disney Way, does not call for riders to be dropped off directly across from Disneyland’s main gates. If that were the case, the resulting drop in ridership would render the project infeasible, Meeks told Voice of OC in 2013.

"We need to get a station near the front gates, where the people are going, for this system to work," Meeks said at a Transportation Authority board meeting that year.

However, Meeks has since changed her tune, telling the Orange County Register   in May last year that she hadn’t noticed any “fatal flaws” with the Disney Way route alternative.

City spokeswoman Ruth Ruiz didn’t return a Voice of OC phone call and email requesting an interview with Meeks for this article.

Also, several sources have expressed renewed doubts about the streetcar’s projected 4,200 daily riders since a Voice of OC article revealed that ridership projections for the city’s new transit hub, known as the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC), fell drastically short of estimates.

“Obviously the actual ARTIC boarding numbers clearly show that the ridership projections for the streetcar are wildly inflated,” Tait said.

Said Lalloway: “When planning transportation projects you’ve got to be careful about relying on inflated projection numbers and instead rely on the viability of a project in its totality.”

Meanwhile, other board members have concerns about the technological incompatibility between Santa Ana’s planned streetcar system, which is farther along in the planning stages and estimated to be millions cheaper, and the Anaheim line. Local officials hope the two systems can one day connect.

“I do think the projects only make sense if they somehow relate to each other,” said Transportation Authority board member Michael Hennessey, who said he is undecided on the Anaheim project.

Tait, Vanderbilt Deal Blow to Anaheim Council Majority

From The Voice of OC

Pictured above: Julie Tait, Jason Young, Mayor Tom Tait, and Mary Daniels.

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait handily won reelection Tuesday night, voter returns show, while his endorsed candidate for City Council, James Vanderbilt, unseated incumbent Councilwoman Gail Eastman.

Tait won 54.1 percent of the vote, trouncing opponents Lucille Kring, a sitting councilwoman, and Lorri Galloway, a former councilwoman, who each received less than 20 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, incumbent Councilwoman Kris Murray won reelection and led the council race with 21.2 percent of the vote. Vanderbilt took second place with 20.1 percent, and Eastman came in third at 19.6 percent. Only the top two vote getters in the council race win seats.

The election victories take a seat away from the formerly 4-1 City Council majority that has isolated Tait in recent years because of his opposition to massive tax subsidies for politically connected businesses. With Vanderbilt’s election, the council becomes a 3-2 split.

Murray and Eastman could not be immediately reached for comment.

At his election headquarters in downtown Anaheim, Tait’s family and supporters cheered as Vanderbilt’s slim lead over Eastman slowly widened, with Orange Juice Blog publisher Vern Nelson in the background playing tunes on his keyboard.

Tait said his reelection and Vanderbilt’s victory signal that the voters are tired of city leaders steering public resources to expensive projects and subsidies for the resort area and major businesses, while paying little attention to underserved neighborhoods.

Tait cited the controversial $158 million tax subsidy for a hotel developer, a now scrapped Angel Stadium lease proposal that gave over 150 acres of land to the team owner for $1 a year, a $319-million streetcar system, and a $200 million convention center expansion – all projects and subsidies voted on in the last two years – as issues that have turned voters against the council majority.

“This is about the people being central to Anaheim, and not the resort district,” Tait said.

Said Vanderbilt: “The mayor had a message. He said we need to bring this stuff to light.”

Tait and Vanderbilt won despite facing one of the most well-heeled campaigns in Orange County’s local races. Disneyland poured in over $670,000 toward mailers and other campaign material to back Murray and Eastman while attacking Vanderbilt and another candidate -- Latino leader Jose F. Moreno, who came in fourth with 13.6 percent of the vote. 

Also, Tait was the target of aggressive attacks from a political action committee controlled by former mayor-turned-lobbyist Curt Pringle, including a TV ad featuring District Attorney Tony Rackauckas that falsely accused Tait of supporting a publicly funded gang memorial.

“It was below the belt,” Tait said. “But obviously it didn’t have much of an effect.”

Jason Young, a Tait supporter and former Save Anaheim blogger, said the election night was a defeat for Disney and Pringle. “Curt Pringle and Disney got their asses kicked,” he said.

California Cities Have a Revenue and a Spending Problem

Yesterday morning, I saw a presentation from Tom Tait, the mayor of Anaheim, California, on fostering economic development in a time of fiscal stress. He presented two charts that reinforce the fact that California's cities have both a revenue problem and a spending problem.

The first chart shows Anaheim's total compensation costs per employee, which rose about 70 percent from 2001 to 2012 (more than 30 percent after adjusting for inflation). Real wages per employee were flat over this period; the entire inflation-adjusted increase is attributable to benefits, which grew by 130 percent per-employee. This is Anaheim's spending problem: It's spending too much on employee benefits.

Health care inflation is a problem, and now Anaheim spends about $20,000 per employee on health benefits for today and in retirement. But that cost driver is secondary to pensions. As the California Public Employees' Retirement System's investment portfolio got battered over the last decade, Anaheim's required annual contributions to the system rose from 7 percent of payroll to 30 percent.

A government faced with this problem ought to have a variety of options. It could raise taxes. It could cut employees' pay or benefits, like many private firms that have closed pension plans and scaled back health insurance. It could beg the state for money. It could cut non-compensation expenses, though it is important to remember that a majority of the typical local government budget goes to compensation. Or it could reduce headcount.

Read the full story here: 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-05/california-cities-have-a-revenue-and-a-spending-problem.html 

 

Rick Reiff calls Kris Murray's attempts to smear Mayor Tait "gutter politics"

Watch the roundtable discussion of Kris Murray's attempts to smear Mayor Tom Tait in response to the reprehensible remarks by William Fitzgerald. 

Two words come to mind: gutter politics. You know, there are serious differences in the city of Anaheim, real, substantive arguments are going on in that community, and have divided the council and the rest of the city, whether to subsidize resort area development,  whether to change the way that council members are elected to give Latinos a bigger voice, how much to give the Angels to keep them in town – these are all those kinds of issues.

 To try to link Tom Tait, who whether you agree with him or disagree with him, I don’t know a human being who would say Tom Tait is not a decent human being, to try to suggest that because…frankly, if you look at a video of what happened, he was floored by these comments, and its notable that nobody else on the council, as strongly as they feel now, said anything at that time, at that moment, and Tait, he condemned those remarks, he said “You’re over the line,” he did say you have free speech  and all that but this is over the line. And what more is the guy reasonably supposed to do? 

Now, there are people who are saying he should shut off the microphone, and you should do all that, and then you get sued and you lose. And this guy who made these remarks, has sued the county in the past, and took the supervisors for a whole long thing. And so to try to link this thing — you know, i can almost see now…it’s interesting you pointed out how the council, how Tait’s enemies seem to have back off a little, but you know, I can just wait for the campaign flyers to go out that Tait is anti-Semitic, he’s endorsing anti-Semitic behavior, and you know what this guy said is disgusting, there are kooks out there, we do have a First Amendment, people have a right to speak to speak at a council meeting and you know, I just think it is reprehensible that those who are against Tait are trying to tie him to these regrettable disgusting remarks.

Mayor Tom Tait responds to Anti-Semitic remarks by Dennis Fitzgerald

By Mayor Tom Tait

(comments by Save Anaheim in bold)

This past Monday, a special meeting of the Anaheim City Council was held, and an Anaheim resident, who regularly attends council meetings and regularly makes offensive comments, came forward and made statements that were particularly egregious as they were both anti-Semitic and bigoted, and directed toward my council colleague, Jordan Brandman. 

Mayor Tom Tait

Mayor Tom Tait

I’ve had some time to stew on this terrible experience and I want to make it clear to anyone who was in City Hall Monday morning, and to all of the people who live, work, shop or play here in the City of Anaheim that we believe that all people are created equal, and that we soundly reject hate-mongering, anti-Semitism, and bigotry wherever it should rear its ugly head. 

For years this individual has repeatedly attacked the council and me in a vicious and untruthful manner. 

My council colleagues and I sat stunned during his rant, because we recognize that the courts have found that censoring such comments would violate First Amendment rights to free speech. 

However, his comments on Monday set a new low even for him. I used the limited powers that are allowed to me as Mayor to attempt to bring forth some sense of civility from his comments. I have been told by our city attorney that I cannot legally stop him from saying such hateful things, but I can call it what it is, morally reprehensible.

Mayor Tait's opposition has tried to paint Dennis Fitzgerald as a supporter when he in fact is NOT. Kris Murray even went on PBS and tried to deflect the conversation away from the awful Angel Stadium deal and pin this lunatics actions on Mayor Tait. Shameful.  

 

Gustavo's Latest "Orange County Line" for KCRW: On Anaheim, the Angels, Arte Moreno, and Tom Tait

From The OC Weekly: 

Man, what a mess of a city Anaheim has become, from trigger-happy cops to race-baiting (and censorious) Latino yaktivists to a bunch of dopes on the Anaheim City Council save for Mayor Tom Tait, who's supposed to be the conservative among the bunch and is increasingly being ostracized to the crappy Anaheim Angels of Anaheim to greedy owner Arte Moreno--AHHHH!!!

Arte Moreno

Arte Moreno

Yes: Anaheim has become an even bigger banana republic than SanTana, a point I made on my latest "Orange County Line" commentary for KCRW-FM 89.9

The piece ostensibly focused on the negotiations between the Halos and Anaheim to keep the team in town, but--as it's increasingly becoming apparent--anything in Anaheim involves pettiness and pendejos. Enjoy!

 

Anaheim City Council retaliates against Mayor Tom Tait

From The OC Register: 

ANAHEIM – Mayor Tom Tait on Monday morning was stripped of the ability to place items onto City Council meeting agendas whenever he wants – one of the few powers, beyond those of regular council members, he wielded as the elected head of Orange County’s largest city.

The move came during an unusually early special meeting called for 8 a.m. by the City Council majority, which voted 4-1 to change the policy on how items are added to the agenda. Now, all City Council members must place items onto future agendas during the “council communications” held at the close of a meeting.

Carrie Nocella, Kris Murray, and Jordan Brandman.

Carrie Nocella, Kris Murray, and Jordan Brandman.

The policy change is less restrictive than the idea suggested last week by Councilman Jordan Brandman, who wanted agenda items to be called by two members of the City Council.

Before the vote, each of the council members in the majority repeatedly characterized the move as an “administrative clean-up.”

“I think it was a mean-spirited act. It was bullying by the council and it hurts the office of the mayor and the way the city operates,” said Tait, who cast the dissenting vote. “I don’t know how the city will operate if the mayor or members of the council can’t place items on the agenda in between meetings.”

Brandman requested the policy change last week, when the City Council held a 90-minute debate that essentially rehashed the same set of arguments made Sept. 3 about the ongoing lease re-negotiations for Angel Stadium.

At the start of Monday’s meeting, Tait said the stadium lease should be discussed during every third City Council meeting until the negotiations are completed.
“If you’re going to be asking things (be added to the agenda), it should be done in a public venue at the dais,” Councilwoman Kris Murray said. “There’s nothing harmful here. You’ll still be able to add things whenever you want.”

A couple of dozen people spoke during the meeting in opposition to the council’s move to limit the mayor. None supported the plan.

“(Brandman) wants to stifle the mayor (concerning) things that need public debate,” said Amin David of the community group Los Amigos.

Kandis Richardson, head of the Renew West Anaheim Committee, said she is considering moving from the city because of how the council majority consistently votes against the mayor’s will.

“I’m working toward cleaning up the city on the west side, and you guys want to take the mayor and beat him into the ground,” Richardson said. “I thought you guys were all on the city’s side and my side, but I don’t think you are.”

 

Stadium's bills more the Angels pay

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

ANAHEIM – Over the past 16 fiscal years, Anaheim paid out slightly more for Angel Stadium than it received from the Angels, who use the city's ball park and the expansive parking lot that comes with it, city figures show.

For nine of the years, the city made money, and for seven, it paid more than it took in.

4798023003_edb99dc7cc.jpg

Angel Stadium and the city of Anaheim are in the midst of negotiating a contract extension.

Overall, the city of Anaheim has had a loss of $52,132 since a 1996 lease agreement took effect in fiscal year 1997-98 with the Angels, who not only play their games there but run the venue.

“So, basically, it's free rent,” said Mayor Tom Tait, who voted against the lease during his previous tenure on the City Council.

When that deal was struck with the Walt Disney Co., which owned the baseball team at the time, Disney agreed to pump $80 million into stadium renovations that in part were to reduce what would be paid during the lease. The city kicked in $20 million.

A recent Register article disclosed that city records show that the Angels have averaged paying the city about $1 million a year for Angel Stadium. But then it surfaced that the city actually has slightly higher stadium expenses than revenues.

The city, under the lease, must make payments – about $600,000 a year – to the Angels for building needs. The city also continues to pay off debt on a 1988 expansion, roughly $400,000 a year, for an exhibit hall in the stadium.

The expenditure figures were disclosed at the mayor's request before the Sept. 3 meeting when part of the Angels' contract was revised.

Along with Disney's $80 million, the 1996 lease called for the Angels to take over the day-to-day costs of stadium operations, relieving the city of that financial burden. Arte Moreno, when he bought the Angels from Disney in 2003, inherited the lease.

Councilwoman Kris Murray pointed out that the stadium does help the city's coffers.

A recent Economic Impact Study (the study was flawed as it did not study Anaheim but based it's findings on other cities), completed for the city, estimates that Anaheim reaped $3.6 million in tax revenues in 2012 from guests and visiting teams staying in hotels, eating hot dogs and buying Angels gear.

“It's a win for the city,” said Murray, who wasn't on the council when the 1996 lease was approved.

Former Mayor Tom Daly, now a state assemblyman, led the charge to approve that lease. He declined to comment for this story through a spokesman. So did Tim Mead, an Angels spokesman.

David Carter, a sports-business expert at USC, sees the $52,000 as an “irrelevant loss.” He said the city has received benefits from the lease with the upfront lease money and the elimination of stadium operating costs.

“The city has only lost a little bit of money, relative to what could have happened,” Carter said.

City-team stadium deals are wide-ranging in regard to ownership and the flow of cash. In San Diego, for example, the city owns 70 percent of 9-year-old Petco Park while the Padres, who play there, own 30 percent. They share costs.

Petco cost $474 million to build, not including interest and bond-financing expenses. An estimated $301 million in public money, much of it from the city, paid for the ball park.

In Anaheim, city officials hope to get more money out of Angel Stadium in the future.

Under a proposal the city and the Angels are eyeing, the city would get rid of the annual $600,000 to care for the stadium. In exchange, the city would receive less from game tickets. Anaheim's revenue comes from tickets, non-baseball events and parking when certain figures are reached.

Further, in 2021, that $400,000 the city pays for the stadium exhibition hall is set to end.

By then, based on 2012 attendance and the proposed new deal, the city would be in the black with the stadium for hundreds of thousands of dollars, said Tom Morton, Anaheim's executive director of conventions, sports and entertainment.

“The potential is that the city will be better off than it is currently,” Morton said.

Earlier this month, the City Council voted 4-1 to move forward on a lease proposal that could end up allowing the Angels to lease the stadium's parking lot for $1 a year. Tentatively, the Angels could develop part of the lot and use profits to cover upgrades to Angel Stadium that could come with a price tag of up to $150 million.

Tait, who dissented, said the city would lose out more if it leases the city-owned land for development.

“That (1996) deal was a bad financial deal,” Tait said. “This new one is even much worse.”

The upcoming negotiations will be over more than money.

During the 1996 negotiations, the council majority partly gave concessions so the team would be named the Anaheim Angels.

But Moreno, in 2005, changed that to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, adhering to a lease clause requiring “Anaheim” in the name. The city lost a lawsuit over the name change.

Now, Moreno wants the lease to let him remove “Anaheim” from the name.

Councilman Jordan Brandman, elected in 2010 (wrong date), is focused on a new deal that benefits the city and keeps the team in town – a team that to him would always have a local ring.

“They believed they were making the best deal in the interest of the city and getting the team renamed Anaheim,” the councilman said of his predecessors. “And that's not on the table anymore. They will be the Angels of Anaheim as long as they are in the city of Anaheim.”

 

Anaheim council may limit mayor's authority

From the LA Times: 

When Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait was elected nearly three years ago, he was the easy favorite. The Republican had the support of the city's longtime outgoing mayor and its business community. He ran on a ticket alongside two winning council candidates. Tait was well poised to wield power.

Mayor Tom Tait

Mayor Tom Tait

Three years later, Tait's positions on controversial issues have so angered former allies that he has become a lone wolf, constantly at odds with the rest of the City Council.

Last year, the council voted to slash his staff budget.

Now — with negotiations at full boil to keep the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim baseball team in the resort city — the council is considering stripping him of one of his only significant powers: the ability to put items on council agendas.

Councilman Jordan Brandman, who made the proposal at a Tuesday council meeting, said he is simply trying to streamline the way the council operates.

"I know the mayor has said many times that he values protocol and proper procedure and that is exactly my goal with this proposal," he said.

But others see less earnest motives.

"This is not about the agenda," said Fred Smoller, associate professor of political science at Chapman University, who teaches a class on Orange County politics. "They're giving him a little slap. They're sending a signal."

Last year, Tait surprised many people when he vocally lent his support to a proposal by Latino activists to change the city's at-large voting system to elections by district to reflect the sweeping ethnic and economic changes in Orange County's largest city. Tait's effort to allow city residents to vote on the change was defeated.

Tait also fought a $158-million tax incentive given to the developer of two luxury hotels near Disneyland. The subsidy was approved 4 to 1, with Tait the lone dissenter. This month, he has been loudly critical about the parameters of a deal to keep the Angels in Anaheim. Again, Tait cast the lone dissenting vote earlier this month against the deal.

Since last year, City Council meetings have become increasingly tense, with Tait, who has the power to run the meetings, frequently involved in tiffs with his fellow council members.

"He has proved to be much more independent than anybody would have guessed," said Eric Altman, executive director of Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development, an advocacy organization that backs district elections.

The suggestion to strip the mayor of the agenda-setting power came after Tait put the Angels deal on the council's agenda this week. Though the parameters for negotiations were approved weeks ago, Tait said he felt the public had not had an adequate opportunity to examine the proposal, which was announced just before the Labor Day weekend. So he put it on Tuesday's agenda.

After a heated meeting, Brandman said he wanted to change the city's procedures. Brandman, who sided with the mayor on the district election issue, said he isn't making a political move.

"I think we need to have full equanimity and equality," he said. "Let's all operate under the same rules."

Brandman said the council needs to address the issue because Tait has used his agenda-setting power multiple times this year.

His proposal would erode the mayor's powers, forcing him to get the support of at least one additional council member to put an item on the agenda. Any item that had the support of two council members would also be placed on the agenda.

Such a move, Tait said, "muzzles dissent and muzzles public discourse."

"The bottom line is that if the board doesn't agree with something, it won't get on the agenda to air to the public," he said.

Mark Petracca, associate professor of political science at UC Irvine, said California mayors almost always have the authority to set a city council's agenda.

"It's one of the very few explicit powers that they have, normally specified in city code. It would be highly, highly unusual to take that authority away from a mayor," he said in an email.

A special meeting to discuss the proposal is set for 8 a.m. Monday at Anaheim City Hall.

 

The Best of the Keep the Angels Facebook page - Part 1

Kevin Hogan Good for Mayor Tait. He's got my support. A sports team threatening to move in order to extract more concessions from its host city is the oldest trick in the book, and he's the only one who's not falling for it hook, line, and sinker.







Keep the Angels Kevin - We welcome debate and discussion and your point of view is welcome. But the Mayor needs to provide facts. He has called the Angels deal the largest subsidy for a sports team in the history of the country and that is clearly not correct. There are tons of cities that have raised taxes and built teams new stadiums. None of that is happening here. He is opposed to everything and hasn't offered a plan to keep the Angels, just running around stirring everything up. That's not the leadership that Angels fans are looking for to keep the team here. The negotiating framework is clear. The Angels stay until 2057, they agree to pay $150 million to upgrade the stadium instead of the taxpayers, and they agree to help develop the parking lot like the City has always wanted.





Kevin Hogan This deal may not be raising my taxes *directly*, but it is unquestionably diverting money to Arte Moreno that would otherwise go into city coffers. For example, currently the city doesn't get a share of Angels ticket money until 2.6 million tickets have been sold in a season; the proposed deal would raise that threshhold even further, to 3 million tickets. And for that $150 million in improvements, the city is giving Moreno -- whether the Angels stay or not! -- unrestricted use of 155 acres of prime land, located in the middle of Orange County near the intersection of three major freeways, for SIXTY-SIX YEARS. Please don't disrespect the intelligence of the people of Anaheim by pretending that Moreno doesn't come out *way* ahead on that trade. I don't know if this is "the largest subsidy for a sports team in the history of the country", but it *IS* a huge subsidy, even if it doesn't come from raised taxes. Mayor Tait is right to question it, and I only wish that the other four would do the same.





Keep the Angels Kevin - Please don't disrespect the intelligence of the people of Anaheim by saying that you and the Mayor wish there was development in the stadium parking lot, and therefore, if the Angels make it finally make it happen, it is a subsidy. The City has been trying to get someone to develop the dining/entertainment/shopping district outside the stadium for almost 20 years and it hasn't happened. Now the Angels are saying they will do it, plow a portion of money they make off of that back into the city owned stadium to upgrade it so the taxpayers don;t have to, and the residents would get to enjoy those businesses and the City would benefit from the jobs and taxes on those new businesses. The Mayor somehow thinks that is a bad thing.






Kevin Hogan "Keep the Angels": If we are giving Arte Moreno something of great value (155 acres of well-situated, essentially vacant land) so that he can kick a pittance back to us in the form of stadium upkeep, then yes, he is getting a subsidy. We are giving him something more valuable than he is giving us in return. And you realize that the stadium lease MOU and the "Stadium District" ground lease MOU aren't linked, right? As things are currently written, the Angels could bug out of Anaheim as early as 2019, but Arte Moreno's investment group would *still* hold the lease to the land around the stadium for a minimum of sixty-six years. (2079!) It's the worst of all possible worlds -- the Angels are gone and the stadium is empty (thanks to the Council majority pushing the Angels opt-out date back from 2016 to 2019), but we don't have any money to pay for stadium renovations, because (thanks to the Council majority) we gave away the development rights to all of the land around the stadium for a dollar a year!


Keep the Angels Kevin, all you can do is offer wild speculation and contrived doom and gloom scenarios which ignore one simple fact that the land is valuable in large part because the stadium and baseball team. How else do you and your friend the mayor come up with these scenarios where the angels develop the parking lot and then take the team. Why would anyone do that? A chunk of the moon could also break off and hit the stadium too, so we better charge the angels for asteroid insurance. It's because of this irresponsible rhetoric that we wonder why the Mayor wants the negotiations to keep the angels to fail? The current deal protects the taxpayers, brings jobs and economic development to the city and keeps the angels. The Mayor needs to explain why he opposes that.


Kevin Hogan Spare me. You're the guys who are trying to whip up the "OMG THE ANGELS ARE LEAVING!!!1!" hysteria in order to up the pressure on the Council to accept this lousy deal. Pointing out that the MOUs are so poorly structured that they allow Arte to keep the money and run isn't "doom and gloom", it's responsible concern for the city I live in. I'm sure that *Moreno* hasn't overlooked this scenario; you don't get to be a billionaire by being stupid.
 I can hardly wait for the "Keep the Angels" rallies we'll be having in 2018; I wonder what we'll be promising them then, seeing as we will have already given the store away on this round.

 

Fatal Flaw in Economic Impact Analysis of Angels Baseball Revealed

From the Orange Juice Blog: 

1. Tom Tait’s Intuition

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has long had this feeling that something deeply wrong about the study submitted showing the economic impact of Angels Baseball on the City of Anaheim — the one claiming to show how much each adult and child spends in Anaheim outside the stadium while attending a game.

(We specify “outside the stadium” to see how much money is injected into the City’s economy; money spent inside the stadium, with some relatively small exceptions that don’t depend on spending beyond admission tickets and parking, belongs entirely to the baseball team — and doesn’t circulate through Anaheim’s economy.  The profit primarily enhances the economy of where Arte Moreno lives, in Arizona.)

Tait hasn’t been shy about expressing this intuition from the dais.  It doesn’t make sense to him that the average fan living in Anaheim spends about $11.50 outside the stadium but within Anaheim each time they attend a game.  It doesn’t make sense to him that the average person coming to the stadium from outside of Anaheim spends about $14.25, nor that the rare average person coming from far enough away to make an overnight trip of it is spending about $103 outside the stadium but within Anaheim.  But the results of the study are the results — and one has to respect them, right?

Not quite.  It’s legitimate to explore and test those assumptions.  People doing studies often can’t measure things directly; they have to do the best they can and argue that those assumptions make sense.  And so, during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Tait tried to get at exactly what sort of survey had been done to establish that fans were spending that much money outside of Angels Stadium but inside the city.  And he finally got a cogent answer.

None.  The researchers did no study of Anaheim itself before reaching this critical conclusion.  It was based on studies of fans attending games in other cities.

That matters because Anaheim is not like other cities.  I don’t mean that in some global and fuzzy “Anaheim has the bestest fans in the world” sense.  I mean that, literally, it is not like other cities.

It’s a matter of simple geography!  Just look at a map!

2. Anaheim is Long and Skinny and Its Stadium is on the Very Edge of Town

That section heading sort of gives away the game, but let’s literally look at a map anyway.  Here — let’s use the one posted inside the City Council chamber itself.

If you go to a Dodgers game and eat outside of the stadium, you’re probably still in LA. If you go to an Angels game, where do you eat?

Let’s take a closer look at the “baseball stadium” portion of the map.

Angels Stadium is at the bottom right — the circle towards the right end of the darkish pink area, not in the purple part.

For the benefit of anyone who may be unfamiliar with Anaheim — such as, perhaps, the people paid big bucks out of the public treasury to do an economic study of the impact of Angels baseball on the city’s economy – that big diagonal freeway west of the stadium is I-5 and the vertical freeway just to the left is SR-57.  Where they come together just outside the photo, you’d find a third freeway, SR-22, which is not in Anaheim.

Why does “not in Anaheim” matter?  Because the sales tax, hotel (TOT) tax, etc. from that big white areadoes not go to Anaheim.  It goes to someone in Orange County, sure — but not Anaheim.  That’s important because Anaheim is the place being asked to foot the bill.

The small brown dot in the center of the gold circle is the stadium. The larger the periphery around it gets, the more of the land it covers is not in Anaheim — initially, Orange to the east and Garden Grove to the south.

Let’s take a bird’s eye look at the whole region:

The map of Anaheim imperfectly superimposed over the Google Map shows the Anaheim Police Department’s four districts. The black star is the stadium; the two yellow circles show a 5-mile and 10-mile radius around it.

So now you can ask yourself: how likely are those attending an Angels game to eat outside of the stadium but still in Anaheim?  If they’re looking to eat within a five-mile radius of the stadium, not very likely.  If they’re looking to eat within a ten-mile radius, far less so.  And, of course, some people will eat further away than that.  (Yes, there are potential expenses beyond eating, but except for street parking a similar analysis will apply.)

A scrupulous analysis would look at the range of restaurants, how many cars usually use each exit at this time of day, how many cars use the Gene Autry Way exist from which one passes pretty much nothing edible on the way into the stadium, etc.  Or there’s another sneaky way to find out what people do: ASK THEM DIRECTLY.  Create a questionnaire, publish a draft, post it to get feedback, and then assign a survey company blind to the desired result to interview maybe 50 people per game.  Then you’d have a reasonably good idea of how much visiting fans stimulate the local economy.

But that’s not what our pricey consultants did!  (More on what they did do below!)

The Angels Stadium deal may be very good for the people of Orange or Garden Grove or Placentia or my beloved Brea, where people might stop to buy gas en route to the game.  (City motto: “come check out our Mall!”)  It may be nice for the cities of Fullerton or Huntington Beach or Irvine or Brea — come check out our Mall! — where we may eat before we go to the game.  But except for people driving to the stadium on surface streets from the north or northwest, there’s not much reason to expect that they’re going to stop and spend in Anaheim itself on the way to or from the game — especially because that area is crowded on game gays — unless they have a particular hankering to go to a particular restaurant.

This is very much unlike other cities — Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland, San Francisco, etc. — hosting stadiums.  If you were compared Angels Stadium to, say, Minute Maid Stadium in Houston, it would probably be fair to compare how much extra money is generated in Orange County overall to how much is generated in the City of Houston.  But if you’re sitting on the Anaheim City Council — and if you’re trying to represent the people of Anaheim — then comparing Anaheim to Houston in terms of tax revenue generated for the City is puzzling.

Or — it’s not “puzzling” so much as absurd.  Why?

The money spent outside of Anaheim does not go into Anaheim’s General Fund.  Is that clear enough?  IT DOES NOT BENEFIT ANAHEIM.

So what did the researchers do instead of the sort of survey of fans that I suggest?

If I understood correctly, they did not study Anaheim directly at all – but simply created a model for Anaheim based on data for a few places like Houston.  (“Close enough for government work!”)

This is bad!  What economic benefit baseball brings to the City of Houston is not a good guide of what will come to the City of Anaheim.  Why is that?  Take a look at this map — with the “A” pin representing Minute Maid Stadium, home of the Astros, and with the boundaries of the City of Houston superimposed:

Map of Houston showing baseball stadium (at pin “A”) and borders (in gold).

Do I need to spell this out?  If you are going to a Houston Astros game and want to have dinner, you are pretty much going to have that dinner within the boundaries of the City of Houston!  And that isnot true Angels fans and dining in Anaheim.  And when the promised economic benefits from an Angels deal don’t materialize – this will be one big reason why!  (That’s OK from the Council’s perspective — the argument’s purpose is just to give the Council political cover, not to accurately predict the future.)

Of course, as stated above, there is an exception: maybe people just really want to go to a restaurant in Anaheim.  And it’s true that there are some restaurants that people absolutely do target as their dining destination.  Of course, if you want to predict how well Anaheim businesses will do overall from just one such restaurant, you should know that there is a catch!

3. There is Only One Catch …

One restaurant in particular that does do really well on game days is actually on the grounds of the stadium parking lot area itself  — you know, the 155-acre parcel potentially being leased to Arte Moreno personally for $1/year – although as I read the proposed MOU all of the revenue from this restaurant would go to Arte Moreno rather than to the City!

That restaurant is called “The Catch” — sometimes known as “Curt Pringle’s second office,” he dines and does business there so often.  And in fact, at the September 3 Council meeting — and at the September 24 Council meeting and at the tiny “Keep the Angels” rally at City Hall prior to the Sept. 24 Council meeting — the manager of this restaurant was trotted out to give speeches about how important the Angels were to his business.  And, the example of The Catch was cited by members of the City Council Majority repeatedly to justify why keeping the Angels was so important to Anaheim’s business community.

There is only one catch to this argument: There Is Only One “Catch.”

OF COURSE the Angels baseball games are a great boon for The Catch – THEY ARE LOCATED INSIDE THE FREAKING PARKING LOT ITSELF!  How many other restaurants have valet parking in a blocked off area within the Stadium Parking Lot?  I think that it’s roughly “none.”  There is only one “Catch” — and you can’t reasonably generalize from its experience to that of other restaurants!

If trying to estimate how much income baseball spending will bring to Anaheim restaurants based on what happens in Houston is a 7.5 on a scale of ten point scale of absurdity, trying to estimate that benefit based on the economic effect on The Catch itself has to be at least a 9.8. But look at the video, friends — that’s really what the Council Majority — everyone but Mayor Tait — was doing.

And, of course, the irony is that what money we get from The Catch won’t benefit the City either, just as if it were a restaurant located in Westminster.  Here’s a proposal that I’d like to see written into the lease: the City gets to own all restaurants within the 155-acre parcel, paying Arte Moreno rent of $1 per year for the lot of them.  THEN Anaheim taxpayers would at least be profiting from the deal.  We can even keep the same restaurant manager — he seems like a nice guy — and the same employees.  And the current owners can set up a new storefront around Magnolia and La Palma – freeway close — and presumably still benefit from the great boon Angels baseball offers to the City overall.  (That’s the theory, right?)

By the way — Kris Murray said from the dais on Tuesday that Arte Moreno’s character was being assassinated in the local blogs.  While the Murrbot doesn’t seem to have the sort of crush on me that Lucille Kring has apparently developed, I have a feeling that she may have been referring in part to the work of your humble author.  So let me make this clear: I cast no aspersions on Arte Moreno or on the owner of the Catch.  Each of them, so far as I know, are just good businessmen taking advantage of a Council that seems intent on serving the interests of Curt Pringle, Todd Ament, SOAR and a few others to the exclusion of everyone else.

I’d love it if Arte Moreno responded to the overture by Charlie Black by saying that the deal was too generous to him and would smear his reputation if he accepted it, so it should be scaled back — but that would be too much to expect of most businessmen, especially when they don’t even live in the state and can tune their critics out.  He’s one of the people who will profit — although probably not nearly as much as the entity (commonly suspected to involve Curt Pringle or others in the Pringle Ring as agents or part-owners) — and if he has made a deal with someone to sell the rights to them, then he is doing something bad.  (So don’t do that Arte, not even tacitly.)  But that doesn’t make him a bad person.

The bad people are the people making it easy for him to do it.  Four of them are sitting on the Anaheim City Council — and a bunch of others are paid City staff, like City Attorney Michael Houston and his former mentor (can you BELIEVE that?) former San Diego Padres President Charlie Black.

I’m besmirching Murray’s reputation, nor Moreno’s — but I’m doing so only by writing honestly about what she’s doing.

4. Responses to the Big Reveal from the Podium

I truly thought that Tom Tait might fall over sideways when he learned that the study on which a major argument for the proposed MOUs were based — the beneficial economic income for the City of Anaheim’s General Fund — was derived from studying very dissimilar cities like Houston rather than Anaheim.  Whether he’d fall over laughing or crying or both, I can’t say.

But the Mayor kept his composure.  He pointed out that this pretty much bolstered his intuition that the judgment about how much money fans brought into Anaheim’s coffers was deeply flawed.  The Murrbot had been attacking him relentlessly for raising his concerns about the proposed MOU in part by talking about the great economic benefits of the stadium proven by this solid scientific study — why, just consider the example of THE CATCH! – and for a moment I thought that she actually understood that her contention that this was a sound study of economic impact had a direct hit from a powerful truth missile.

I haven’t reviewed the video — I don’t really have time — but from my second-row venue it looked to me as if the Murrbot faltered for a moment.  Did her programmer Pringle himself not know that the study was a bunch of bullflop?  Did he know and for some reason just not prepare her for this sort of challenge?  What we she supposed to do?  THEY HADN’T EVEN STUDIED ANAHEIM AT ALL!  HOW CAN THIS STILL BE CONSIDERED A STRONG AND RELIABLE SCIENTIFIC STUDY???

I thought that I saw the Murrbot wobble for a moment.  It looked like the Murrbot couldn’t remember all of her programming — an even greater problem than her never having understood it in the first place.  But then, during the course of a long and unpunctuated sentence, the programming finally kicked in.  If Pringle had just neglected to tell her this little tidbit, it was obviously the right call.  She had nothing to rely on other than the direct script that she had been given.  And so — she recited from it.

The Murrbot assured us that this was an excellent study, very reliable, top-drawer, undeniable in its conclusions — soup sort of stew along those lines, the details of which I could not recall because I was inwardly weeping for Kris Murray’s robot essence.  (Repairs to a CPU can be expensive.)  She knows “good” and this study was “good” and shut up.  The end.

Now, though, Murray’s going to have to explain — over and over again during the next 400 or so days before the next election — why she thinks that a study of Angels’ baseball’s economic benefit to Anaheim that is based on a model from cities like Los Angeles and Houston without reference to Anaheim itself makes any kind of sense.

And of course there’s the follow-up question — I’ll be sporting and put it right out front so that her programmers can get started on it — which is this: when she tells us other things about economic benefit to Anaheim, are they also based on nothing more than the ability to parrot Curt Pringle’s bullshit as directed?  In other words, is this disaster for her credibility an aberration — or is really just business as usual?

Oddly, I’m starting to think that the woman among the majority who may be the first to figure this out is Gail Eastman — the one who stands the least to gain personally from being part of the Pringle Ring.  If Eastman turns, what will Jordan Brandman do?  He’s so rarely without the cover provided him.

And let’s just internalize one final lesson from last night.  We only learned this incredibly important factabout the model being used to predict the economic benefits to Anaheim for one reason: because Tom Tait asked City Staff the right question.  And that makes Jordan’s proposal to keep Tait from putting these sorts of concerns onto the agenda really, really, REALLY bad.

Would Jordan prefer that we didn’t know about this travesty?  Because if he had already gotten his way and passed his Pringle-crafted proposal a month ago — we wouldn’t!  WE WOULD NOT KNOW.

How’s a court going to feel about that?

 

‘Instructing the Negotiators’: Jordan Brandman Really Doesn’t Understand His Job

From The Orange Juice Blog: 

1. An Introduction to Public Service

Anaheim-Council-side-view-spotlights.jpg

[Note: if you're Jordan Brandman or someone who cares about him, you'd best read through all the way to the end.]

Yesterday’s Anaheim City Council meeting was, once again, the best entertainment value in town.  I’ll have more than one story on the meeting.  The most important story will regard the revelation that the data on which the rosy projections of the economic benefits of Angels baseball seem to be deeply and almost comically flawed, the disclosure of which caused a momentary glitch in the Murrbot’s operation before her gyroscopic controls put her back on course.  That one will require actual research work, so you’ll have to wait for it.

(For those new to Orange Juice coverage of the Anaheim Council story, the “Murrbot” is Curt Pringle-programmed Councilwoman Kristin Murray, who is supposed to ignore information such as “these projections for Anaheim regarding baseball fan spending in the City were actually based on places like Houston” without even a momentary sign of comprehending their implications.  The least important story, if I write it at all, will be my musings on Councilwoman Lucille Kring’s apparently burgeoning crush on me and what it is doing to her math skills, but there are a trillion — 10 to the 12th power — reasons not to get into that one.)

This story is between those two in substantive importance.  We finally discovered last night why the Council majority has been so hostile to Tom Tait’s attempts to instruct the people who will be negotiating a deal with Arte Moreno on behalf od the City: they apparently have no idea that it is part of their job to instruct the negotiators.  They seem to think (and this would be funny if it weren’t so tragic) that they are not supposed to state publicly what they want out of a deal.  Their own aspirations and preferences are not of public interest – a finished deal is just supposed to come to them ready-made for their rubber stamp.

And they’re really upset that Mayor Tom Tait is trying to get in the way of such an immaculate and anti-septic process.  So Tait thinks that a pushing for joint venture — giving the City some direct financial stake in and benefit from property development on the 155-acre parcel rather than leasing it out for $1/year — is a good idea and that the negotiators should push for it?  Well, from the apparent perspective of the Council majority, who asked him?  This isn’t his concern, after all, it’s the concern ofthe negotiators — and what Anaheim should want out of a deal is not something that should be discussed in public in front of witnesses, but off-camera and out of the public eye, say at a private table at the Catch.

(This view, by the way, is what we may call “legally problematic.”)

The only thing missing was Councilman Jordan Brandman looking directly at the camera and saying “look, everybody knows that these public policy decisions are being made by Curt Pringle outside of public view, right?  Why are we bothering with putting on a show of policymaking for the audience?  It’sannoying!”

More on Jordan later; let’s first get to the recap.  The Council dealt with several big issues:

  • the continued overpayment of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce (which is now apparently deficit-spending part of its budget on t-shirts to support a cause — keeping the Angels in Anaheim — that no one really opposes in principle)
  • a new proposed ordinance dealing with treatment of the city’s homeless that has been characterized as “criminalizing homelessness”
  • setting into motion the process of drawing new district lines (or “fake-district” lines if the Superior Court doesn’t intervene) for the 2014 elections
  • instructing its negotiation team as to what terms should seek it should seek in its negotiations for a new lease agreement with the Angels

Did I say “dealt with”?  Yeah, that’s the right term — but “dealt with” has very different meanings for each bullet point.

  • The Council rammed through the overpayment of the ACoC — not as bad of one as had once been proposed, at least — on a 3-1 vote (Tait dissenting, Eastman absent yesterday.)
  • The Council wisely decided that its ordinance was being misunderstood by the public — which I hope is true, although my fear is that it is perhaps being correctly understood — and deferred action on the matter until next meeting to allow time for more public outreach and explanation
  • The Council listened to a well-crafted and professional presentation by outside counsel as to how the districting process would go forward, including what criteria they would use both in putting the requirements of the ordinance into effect and hiring an expert to advise them, then agreed with the plan
  • The Council is apparently prepared to punished Mayor Tom Tait for putting onto the agenda the item calling for public discussion on what general goals the City would be seeking in its negotiation with Arte Moreno

One of these “dealt with” actions, you’ll notice, is not like the others.  The last one is, to put it mildly, nuts.  Or, actually, it’s either nuts or corrupt.  I’m hoping that it’s just nuts.

2. Why oh Why am I Picking on Jordan Brandman?

It pains me to pick on my fellow Democrat and social liberal Jordan Brandman.  (This isn’t because I dislike doing it on it’s own merits; I think that everyone should be evaluated on their actions regardless of party.  It’s because it leads to fellow Democrats throwing sharp objects at me.  That’s usually just a metaphor.)  So, left to my own devices, I’d probably leave the criticism to Vern, Jason Young, Cynthia Ward or David Zenger — who don’t have to meet every month with his closest friends.  But he keeps making that impossible, because he keeps on inserting himself into the very center of the story, in a way that demands attention.  He is obsessed with going after the deportment of Tom Tait.  Ideally, Jordan would simply be wrong in doing this, but he’s not just wrong — he’s weirdly and bizarrely wrong, and histrionically over the top to boot.  (And, again, that’s not even the worst-case possibility.)

At yesterday’s meeting, we saw four examples — this based on memory, not the video — of this behavior, of which the last one is the truly important one:

  1. Jordan went after Tait for putting on his own slide show presentation critical of the draft Memoranda of Understanding (“MOUs”) prior to the presentation of the staff report.  This was a particularly difficult criticism to understand because the staff report was supposed to be an answer to Tait’s criticisms of the draft MOUs.  It would therefore make sense for Tait to go first, then to hear the response.  Every non-robotic adult in the room other than Jordan probably understood this, but he apparently wanted to hear the criticism of Tait without letting Tait make his critique.  When I’ve reviewed it, I will link here to the video of Jordan melodramatically taking on Tait over his going first.  Eventually cooler heads — it may have been Kring — prevailed on him to let the Mayor make his case.  Tait’s reaction to Jordan, meanwhile, seemed to be somewhere between that of an adult holding out his arm to keep away a five-year-old child taking wild windmill swings at him and someone looking for a broom to swat away a confused fruit bat. 
  2. Then, when the paid City staff — led by a much calmer than usual former San Diego Padres President Charles Black, who appeared to have been shown videos of himself being too pugnacious with Tait more than once earlier in the month — started giving their rebuttal presentation, Tait interject at various points asking some (fair and pertinent) questions.  These were important questions for the task of instructing the negotiators, which Tait (and possibly Kring, not likely Murray) knew was the task at hand.  One of those questions in fact elicited an absolutely critical revelation about the basis for the financial projections currently being thrown around by Todd Ament’s group like gospel.  But to Jordan, Tait’s asking questions of staff was a deep affront.  He rolled his eyes and went into about a half-power “LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE”-style attack on Tait’s temerity.  It was at this point that I began to realize that Jordan fundamentally did not understand why the Council was discussing the lease at all — having already referred the matter to Curt Pringle.  After looking at Jordan quizzically, Tait defended his right to ask questions of staff during a report but let them continue the rest of the report without pressing them on any points in real time.  This made the staff presentation less useful to the Council — which, to give Jordan credit for effectiveness, was apparently the point.
  3. At two points during the agenda item, Jordan challenged Tait’s right to act as Chair.  First, Jordan tried to officially appealed Tait’s “decision of the Chair” to start off the item with his own report.  This was odd because that’s really not an appealable “decision of the Chair” — Jordan could have turned it into one, but didn’t, and didn’t apparently know how to, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to teach him at this point — and at any rate the issue went away when Kring tired of the hot breath flowing onto her from the other side of the room and said to let the Mayor go ahead.  Then, after the resolution of either than or another point, Jordan asserted that Tait was interrupting him because he still had the floor.  Tait correctly pointed out that Jordan did not have the floor — and that, as Chair, he should know who had the floor, because he was the one who gave out and then reclaimed the floor.  Jordan seemed unconvinced of this.  It reminded me of the reaction of some people who think that Obama doesn’t really have any power because he’s not really the legitimate President.  But surely Jordan understood that Tait was the Mayor and had certain prerogatives as a result, right?
  4. Wrong.  The final insult — and this actually happened at the end of the meeting, following the end of business, so I missed it — was that Jordan announced that he was calling for a special meeting of the Council.  The purpose of the meeting would be to strip away the Mayor’s right to put items on the agenda without the support of at least one other Councilperson — not easy to get for someone in a 4-1 minority on the Council.  The benign explanation for this is that Jordan was just being a rhymes-with-stick and wanted to get back at Tait for his temerity.  (Yes, that’s the benign one.)  The less benign explanation is that Jordan is laying the groundwork for a cover-up of corruption.

It’s time to switch to second-person singular.  This is now an Open Letter to Jordan.

3. Jordan: Sit Down, Shut Up — and Listen

You are making it look like you are participating in a conspiracy to misuse public funds.  Stop it — now!

(Note: I’ve hit on “Padawan” as a preferable alternative to other terms of address that I might use below.)

The participation of Kris Murray, Gail Eastman, and Lucille Kring in such a conspiracy is not my problem.  They’re Republicans; let the Republicans clean their own house.  You’re a Democrat; I heard former DPOC Chair Frank Barbaro say 834 times at meetings and events that you were the future of the Democratic Party.  You are my problem as a Democrat– and as anything less than a slap in the face seems to be ineffective with you, you may want to plant your feet.

Here’s the theory behind my — and many other people’s — concern:

I’ll spell this out to you simply: you have often stated your admiration for (and I think it’s fair to say fealty to) former Republican Assembly Speaker and now local super-lobbyist Curt Pringle.  Wide speculation is afoot that not only is Pringle behind the framework of this pair of MOUs — Moreno’s not a developer, so development rights mean nothing to him except as something tosell — but that Pringle himself may be one of the main people to profit from it, either as a participant in the development project or as the commission-earning broker for such a deal.  That’s not an assertion of fact, it’s just a theory — but it’s a theory that could well be borne out by future facts, which will lead to aggressive investigation of how the hell this happened.

One critical moment in how the hell this will have happened would be your calling a meeting that would allow Mayor Tait to put his concerns about the misuse of public funds onto the agenda without having to get permission from one of the four Councilmembers who seem to be in the bag.  That is: five years from now, it may be your idiotic motion that is identified as the linchpin of a cover-up of a conspiracy to defraud the public.  And that, Padawan, is something that you don’t want put onto your personal bill.

You have to let Mayor Tait have his say — in public, where public business is supposed to be conducted. You don’t have to like it; you can grimace and eye-roll all you want when he speaks; you don’t have to stay in your chair during that part of the meeting.  But you had better not try to put a stop to it, Padawan.  Do you want a good example of why this is a bad idea?  Take last night.

Had this provision you’re seeking been in place a week ago, then Mayor Tait would not have been able to agendize this item.  This would be highly unfortunately for the Council, because Tait is apparently the only one on the Council who understands that it is the role of the Council to spell out with some clarity what the Council wants out of the agreement.

Now, up until last night, I thought that the Council had done that.  I thought that you understood that there is a difference between the jam-packed draft provisions of an MOU and an MOU that says solely “we wish to enter into negotiations over the renewal of the lease with the Angels, signed Arte Moreno and City Manager Marcie Edwards” and is otherwise blank.  If you don’t want those provisions to have anypresumption, any weight in influencing future negotiations, you’re supposed to take them out.  If youdo want them to have any weight, then OWN THEM – stop saying that nothing is final and anything can be changed.

Do you know what you’re supposed to do before sending your negotiators into a negotiation?  You’re supposed to instruct them about general goals.

As a public entity, are you supposed to instruct them about general goals in private or in public.  In public, because of the Brown Act.

Have you given them instructions on what you want on behalf of the city?  NO — because you’re colleagues keep saying that despite all that meaningful verbiage on those sheets of paper, negotiations haven’t yet begun.  Or … YES — because the only thing that the negotiators have to guide them right now are the terms in those MOUs.

So this is why your criticism of Tait is idiotic at best: either (1) you have to give the negotiators initial instructions about what you want from negotiations or (2) you already adopted initial instructions last week when you signed the maybe-meaningless, maybe-not MOU – in which event it’s Tait’s prerogative to seek to modify those instructions.

THAT’S HIS JOB AS A COUNCIL MEMBER.  It’s YOUR job too, even though you don’t seem to get it.

Tait has suggested that the City consider a joint venture on the property.  Charlie Black says that the City can propose that, but it may not be a good idea.  OK, sounds like a reasonable disagreement to discuss.

EXACTLY WHEN AND WHERE DO YOU EXPECT THAT DISCUSSION TO TAKE PLACE, JORDAN?

Do you know what would have been a really appropriate time?  Last night.  Everyone except Eastman was there!

Do you know what would be the next best appropriate time?  When Mayor Tait agendizes an item seeking to instruct the negotiators – pay attention to that phrase, Padawan! — to seek a joint venture rather than a $1/year lease!

But do you know what the problem becomes?  You’re saying that he can’t do that unless one of the four in the majority give him permission!  And you’re not likely to do so because so far you’ve indicated complete deference to the paid staff regarding the terms.  It’s like you think that these decisions as to how to instruct the negotiators are someone else’s to make.

Do you know what else should be debated openly?  My pugnacious semi-colleague David Zenger here made an excellent proposal that the two MOUs should be merged into one so that the City is dealing withone legal entity — and that their expiration be made explicitly co-terminus (or, he’d probably agree, that termination of one MOU should give the city a painless opt-out as to the other.)  Is it worth discussing at a public meeting whether you should instruct the negotiators to seek such a change in the “overall framework” of the agreement.  (Hint: “yes.”)  Can Tait — the only declared skeptic of the five of you — agendize an item to do so if you “punish him” as you (or whatever redhead wrote your proposal) intend?  No he could not!  And that means that, when the Angels leave in 2037 but whoever Moreno sells the rights to the 155 acres holds onto them through 2079, you will personally have prevented this possibility — which Zenger wisely counsels to avoid — prior to negotiations.  And if your mentor Pringle profits from it, you will suffer, because Pringle’s left middle toe is smarter than your whole head and he’ll make surethat you’re left holding the bag.

Here’s another idea, which I raised at public comments: if one reason that the developable land in the parcel hasn’t been developed is that Arte Moreno can block it due to his claim on the lease to 12,000 parking spaces, then instruct the negotiators that the City wants to figure out a way to eliminate that veto.  Maybe this will require building a huge parking structure or two — if Moreno’s going to build, something like that is going to happen anyway, right?  Well, there’s a nice joint venture itself!  Maybe the City can put up the land and Moreno (and maybe Disney, if they want in) can put up the capital, build a parking structure so that people can park at the Angels’s games and other attractions and the City can get more revenue from that for its general fund — and then the new building takes place but on less favorable terms to Moreno (or whatever Pringle client to whom he sells the rights.)

Will THAT get onto the agenda under your new proposal?  No — none of the rest of you have any apparent interest in instructing the negotiators.  But there’s another reason — the one that you will be accused of having as your motive: such a change would lead to more money going to the City of Anaheim and less to whoever (such as Curt Pringle or his clients) owns the development and leaseholding right. And that, Padawan, starts to look like a conspiracy and a cover-up.  I hope it’s not true.  If not, then transparency is your friend here.

One last point: if none of these proposals receive a second to allow them to be added to the agenda — which, by the way, puts you in violation of the Brown Act if you decide to act on them — then you’re either (1) not interested in doing your job or (2) you’re trying to prevent official public debate or (3) all four of you have already decided that the proposal to instruct the negotiators is not even worth considering.  And in that case, the question will arise:

how did all four of you come to the exact same conclusion, without having heard any public debate on the merits, that a certain proposal by Tait to instruct the negotiations was not worth even considering.?

And the problem for you would be that the most obvious explanation is that either you four colluded among yourselves or that someone instructed you to keep that proposal off of the agenda — despite that you’re pretending that the MOUs are completely non-binding.  And that, Padawan, is a violation of the Brown Act and probably worse.

Let me clue you in on something: pretty much everyone expects that despite your saying “oh, all of this is just advisory, you’re eventually going to get a proposal from Charlie Black’s group that will be very veryfavorable towards Arte Moreno, you’ll agendize it on some Friday night before a holiday again, and then you’ll shrug and say “look, the whole thing is already worked out, we don’t want to get in the way now” — despite your complete failure to instruct the negotiators.

That’s going to be bad enough as it is, Jordan.  Don’t make it this much worse.

Republicans — go talk to your trio now and see if they can figure this out.  (If you don’t want to bother talking with Murray, I can’t blame you.)

 

Community Editorial: How Best to Keep the Angels in Anaheim

From The Voice of OC: 

Transparency.

That was the among first words mentioned by Anaheim’s stadium consultant Charles Black about how city officials want to handle the Angel’s desire for a new stadium, as he sat down last week with the Voice of OC Community Editorial Board.

Watch the the cities representative, Charles Black, lie to the public once again in the video below: 

“This process, and this discussion this morning is indicative of the benefits of the process that the council majority adopted, to put these issues out before the public and discussion them as we begin the negotiation process,” Black said.

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, who openly clashed with Black at the editorial board gathering on the future of the stadium, said the process unveiled publicly for the first time for taxpayers on the Friday before Labor Day is anything but transparent.

In a 4-1 vote earlier this month, the City Council approved a framework for negotiations that grants Angels owner Arte Moreno 155 acres of land around the stadium for 66 years at $1 per year. The council majority also gave Moreno nearly three more years to decide whether to quit the stadium and move to another city.

The idea is that Moreno could use revenue from development of the property — which is entitled for more than 5,100 residential units, 3 million square feet for office space and 3 million square feet for commercial space — to finance up to $150 million in improvements for the stadium. And Moreno would be allowed to drop "Anaheim" from the team's current name, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

“I think the public is skeptical because if you are interested in transparency, that’s something you would not do," said Tait referring to the Labor Day weekend debut of the stadium deal. "You would give weeks of notice,” he added.

Tait goes as far as calling the current approach “reckless.”

He is openly critical of the ensuing lease deal approved earlier this month arguing that it gave away key leverage.

Black, Anaheim Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Ament and Tom Morton, who heads the Anaheim Convention Center, all clashed with Tait at the editorial meeting with Black accusing Tait himself of being reckless by describing the council’s recent action as a giveaway.

Black argues that by taking those a dicey issues off the table (extending the outclause trigger), city leaders helped themselves in their negotiation with billionaire team owner Artie Moreno, noting that the city essentially bought itself Moreno’s focus for the next six months on crafting a deal with Anaheim and nothing else.

And that’s important, Black said, because Moreno could move the team.

Tait – who is already at odds with the council majority over their staunch support for hotel developer tax subsidies – said such concessions lay the groundwork for an uneven lease agreement.

He argues the Angels don’t have a credible threat to move to another city within the next two years so taxpayers should have stayed firm and not allowed the team to extend their outclause.

Noting that there is significant “community pride” in sponsoring a sports franchise, Tait also severely criticized dropping the requirement that the Angels acknowledge Anaheim in their name.

Tait notes that under their current lease, the Angels would either have to explore leaving altogether immediately or stay for the duration of the contract – with the obligation that they fund up to $150 million in future stadium upkeep.

It’s against that backdrop that Anaheim should have been negotiating a future arrangement, Tait argues. Not the other way around.

Tait openly worries that this latest stadium proposal – championed by the Anaheim city council majority and the chamber of commerce - will cheat Anaheim taxpayers worse than the last 1996 Disney deal – which allowed the team to keep virtually all stadium revenues, kept their net rent at zero and put off key maintenance upgrades until after a key outclause – one that is now under negotiation.

At the editorial board meeting, Black countered Moreno could easily move his team to a number of alternatives across the Southern California area – including a return as a co-tenant with the Dodgers at Chavez ravine while a new stadium was built elsewhere.

He bristles when Tait describes the changes to the Memorandum of Understanding and general deal points – such as a $1 a year land lease with the team – as a final point instead of the starting point that he stresses they are.

Black, who played an influential role in the drive to establish San Diego’s largely successful downtown ballpark development consortium, said he expects many more public meetings and strong discussions, arguing that’s what the city’s negotiating team needs to hear to craft an effective deal.

“It’s a laudable process.,” Black said talking about the process that was associated with the creation of Petco Park. “This panel discussion this morning, this roundtable is further evidence that its going to be an open and transparent process. Having said that, I don’t want to go over the negotiation points. I think there does need to be a private negotiation with the Angels. At some point, and sooner rather than later, those points need to be fully vetted before the public.”

There’s already a Facebook page up called “Keep the Angels in Anaheim. And today, Anaheim residents will get a chance to head to city hall continuing a critical discussion about the condition of Angels’ stadium and what kind of lease terms city leaders should consider crafting that would entice team leaders to stay long term.

As the debate moves forward, two key questions will dominate the debate.

There are questions about the current condition of the stadium as well as the investments required to keep it as a competitive venue for a major league sports team and other events. City leaders say the Angels are on the hook for up to $150 million in upgrades. A city-commissioned study is expected to be released soon.

The central challenge facing the public is can city leaders craft a deal that could potentially develop the 150 acres around the stadium allowing the ensuing economic buzz to pay for it’s upgrades over the next few decades as well as spur overall economic development?

 

Field of Schemes - Angels vs. Anaheim

Below are series of slides from a Power Point presentation that Mayor Tom Tait presented to Anaheim residents. It details the benefits to Arte Moreno (Pacific Coast Investors + Angel's Baseball) and the City of Anaheim.

TomTaittn.jpg

In it's current state, this deal will be the biggest giveaway on record to any individual in Anaheim's history. Yes, even worse then the $158 million GardenWalk Hotel giveaway to Bill O'Connell.

Please take the time to reach out to the council majority and voice your opposition to this deal:

baseball@anaheim.net

In addition, please post your comments on the new Facebook page that is spinning the truth regarding the Angel's deal:

https://www.facebook.com/KeeptheAngels

 

Slide8.jpg

The OC Register lays out the FACTS on bad Angel Stadium deal

At its current trajectory, the city where the Angels play will be known as “Arteheim.”

Such is the dominant position from which the Angels begin their stadium negotiations. Angels owner Arte Moreno, right, is in a strong position in negotiations with Anaheim.

The Anaheim City Council allowed the Angels to push back their escape clause to 2019, which means owner Arte Moreno has three more years to line up a new stadium site, somewhere else in Southern California, if he wishes.

And the outline of the coming talks, in a memorandum of understanding, reflects Anaheim’s abject terror at the possibility Moreno will move the baseball franchise that the city saved in 1965.

Anaheim officials say the terms of the document are only preliminary, that talks have yet to begin, that other, contradictory issues can be introduced.

But, realistically, Moreno begins with a framework of goodies, very specific ones, that he will be loath to surrender.

Arte Moreno

Arte Moreno

Moreno’s umbrella company would get a 66-year hold on 155 acres around the stadium, a colossal value, to develop as it wishes. In return, Anaheim would receive $66, without commas. And that would be weighed against tax rebates to the Angels.

From the stadium, the Angels would continue to ingest all the concessions, advertising and signage, all but $100,000 of parking revenue, and almost all the ticket revenue.

The same franchise that gave Anaheim $4 million per year in rent, in Gene Autry’s day, would only fork over $2 per ticket above and beyond 3 million in attendance. Under the current lease, the threshold is 2.6 million.

That saves Moreno $800,000 right there.

This year’s top-heavy club would have to average nearly 37,000 in its six remaining home dates to get to 3 million. Under the terms of the MOU, any sub-3 million season means the Angels are getting a rent-free ballpark.

To some, the whole thing sounds like an open marriage for one party and a chastity belt for the other.

The Angels’ only real concession is the burden of renovating the ballpark, which they keep calling the fourth-oldest stadium in baseball.

Technically, that’s true. Functionally, it’s not. The old, enclosed Big A was transformed into a baseball park in 1997. Besides, the Angels are obligated to pay for the maintenance in the current lease, too.

Before

Before

After

After

So the question, as it always does for municipalities, comes down to this: How much should we bleed for a baseball team?

Stadium proponents roll out the ancillary-income argument, that a baseball team enriches a city because fans spend so much money at surrounding restaurants, etc. They use attendance figures to support this, but those figures are merely a reflection of tickets sold, not actual fans.

It also does not apply as strongly in Anaheim. For many Angels fans, here’s the drill: Hustle home, change clothes, gather the kids and go straight to the park, paying for concessionaire food with money that goes directly to the Halos. Hotels, on weekends, are not filled with Angels fans the way St. Louis hotels bulge with Cardinals fans.

Mayor Tom Tait is the only skeptic on the city council.

At the Sept. 3 meeting he wondered why the Angels couldn’t have partnered with Moreno to share the development costs and also the profits.

He said the city gave up its leverage when it allowed the lease to be extended – a binding action, effective immediately. Had the 2016 opt-out been preserved, he argued, the Angels wouldn’t have had time to arrange a move.

Not even the prospect of “Los Angeles Angels,” without the “of Anaheim,” has pushed the council’s buttons. The MOU suggests the Angels will have that right.

Fans in other cities wonder why this is so offensive to Anaheim. After all, the Washington Redskins play in Landover, Md.

But Anaheim is not a suburb of L.A. It is not a derivative of L.A. It competes with L.A. for convention business. Moreover, the city provided a safe harbor for the Angels when they were destitute, camping out in Dodger Stadium.

Other than the Lakers, the Clippers, the Dodgers and the 6 o’clock news, how often does L.A. intersect with Anaheim? It would make almost as much sense to call them the Las Vegas Angels.

If the Angels move? Well, they will not move beyond driving distance, because Moreno needs the Fox Sports West contract.

There is talk of Irvine, but code enforcement might be a problem. Who knows, the city might ban Garrett Richards from throwing a baseball past 85 mph.

There are dusty, sweltering lots in the City of Industry, and there is the fantasy of moving to downtown L.A.

But if the memorandum of understanding bears any resemblance to the eventual deal, Moreno will probably bathe in the public trough and stay right here.

Unlike his baseball team, he knows when to declare victory.

 

Value of Angel Stadium Subsidy is Unclear

From the Voice of OC: 

As the City of Anaheim and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim sit down to negotiate a new stadium lease, there’s a fundamentally difficult question to answer at the outset:

How does the city place a hard-dollar figure on what the public could be giving up, or getting in return?

There seems to be little agreement on the value of the land and the stadium.

There are no publicly available studies to show how much tax revenue the city would reap under the proposed deal that would allow owner Artie Moreno to develop the 155-acres around the stadium. In contrast, there’s no estimate of how long the land would lie fallow under alternative scenarios.

“This is a very complicated deal. We don't know enough right now, we don't have enough to make a valid statement,” said Mark Rosentraub, an economics professor at the University of Michigan who specializes in sports stadiums.

The City Council in a 4-1 vote earlier this month approved a framework for negotiations that grants Moreno the land around the stadium for 66 years at $1 per-year.

The idea is that Moreno could use revenue from development of the property – which is entitled for more than 5,100 residential units, 3 million sq. ft. for office space and 3 million sq. ft. for commercial – to finance up to $150 million in improvements for the stadium.

Moreno under the framework can drop Anaheim from the current team name, “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.”

The city council majority that day also gave Moreno nearly three more years to quit the stadium and move to another city.

With Moreno was facing a tight window on whether to seek another location, the council majority worried publicly that he could panic and act irrationally during negotiations on a long-term lease.

However, Mayor Tom Tait – the only vote against the council's decision – along with academics who study stadium deals, say that by allowing Moreno more time to organize a credible threat of moving, the city gave away key negotiating leverage.

Tait argues that the proposed deal framework is lopsided.

He says Moreno is already required to make the renovations under the current lease, so the city isn't getting anything more than it already has, yet is still giving away land and a stadium that has a combined replacement value approaching $1 billion.

If anything, the city loses not only land but also community pride because Moreno can keep the team named after Los Angeles, and drop Anaheim.

“A reasonable compromise would be if the Angels drop Los Angeles, and we drop Anaheim, and change it to something that includes Anaheim, like California Angels, or Southern California Angels, or Orange County Angels,” Tait said. “The other part would be a joint venture where we put up the land, and the we split the profits, fifty-fifty, or some sort of reasonable split, where the taxpayers get something out of it... something commensurate with putting up real estate worth hundreds of millions of dollars.... that's what a reasonable deal would be. It could be a win for us, and a win for them.”

Other council members didn't return phone calls seeking comment. The only official the city would make available for an interview spoke on condition of anonymity.

That official took issue with Tait's arguments, saying the stadium has a direct economic impact to the city of over $100 million – along with indirect impacts that add up to $206 million.

The official also said the redevelopment of the land around the stadium could result in an economic boom, pointing to AT&T Park in San Francisco – home of the Giants -- as an example where the area around AT&T Park blossomed with development after the stadium was built.

While voters in San Francisco refused to pay for a stadium, the city contributed some infrastructure improvements.

The official also said that parking encumbrances around the stadium also pose a challenge to other developers. They would have to construct expensive, multi-level parking structures to support other buildings.

The official said that estimates on the amount of tax revenue that could be generated by Moreno developing the land wouldn’t come in until there are proposed developments. The city is contemplating rebating some – if not all – of the tax revenue back to Moreno.

Here's what else is known about the stadium and surrounding land:

The value of the land Moreno would lease ranges anywhere from $30 million to $240 million, or $150 million to $380 million, depending on which of two city studies you're looking at.

The lower end of the range is the value of the land in a bulk sale, while the higher numbers would come if the city carved up the land and sold it by individual parcels and also factors improving economic conditions, according to the city official and documents provided by the city.

Then there's the value of the stadium and, parking lot improvements, and the city venue known as the City National Grove of Anaheim, all of which Tait says must be added to the total figure in order to know the full value of the subsidy.

Tait says the stadium is worth what it costs to build a new stadium. For example, San Diego's Petco Park was built for $457 million.

A city official refuted that claim, saying that the value of the stadium to the city is approximately $80 million and is lower because its uses are limited. But Tait argues that the city has to look at what it would cost for Moreno to replace the stadium.

Victor Matheson, an economics professor at the College of The Holy Cross in Massachusetts who specializes in sports, says that Tait has a good point.

He said Moreno would have to find upwards of $800 million to build another stadium somewhere else, placing the city “in the driver's seat” on the negotiations.

“There is no doubt that the mayor is correct, that whatever is being offered by the city of Anaheim is going to be a good deal for the Angels... they will probably have a hard time finding a better deal elsewhere. That is absolutely right,” Matheson said. “Given the fact that its so expensive to build a stadium elsewhere form the ground up, it's unclear why the city of Anaheim thinks it needs to sweeten the pot for the Angels given the fact they have a stadium up and ready to go.”