More Coverage of WAND Candidate Forum

The Voice of OC has coverage of last week’s council candidate forum, sponsored by the West Anaheim Neighborhood Development Council, or WAND. It’s worth reading, and is certainly more informative than the OC Weekly’s effort. I’ll tender a few observations based on the article.

In response about ensuring that city street repairs won’t be impacted by funds used to purchase the land for the ARTIC station, John Leos and Brian Chuchua turned the question to the GardenWalk project:

“Leos and candidate Brian Chuchua said that when the current council awarded a $158-million room tax subsidy to a hotel developer in January, the city ensured that its largest revenue source wouldn’t be able to replace the transportation funds.

Under the controversial deal, the developer of two four-star hotels near the GardenWalk center will keep 80 percent of the room tax revenue generated during 15 years.”

Reasonable people can disagree when in possession of the same facts. But agree or disagree with the GardenWalk deal or transient occupancy tax (TOT) splits in general, Leos and Chuchua aren’t even being logical! Leos and Chuchua are arguing from a false premise.Absent the TOT split approved by the council, the GardenWalk project doesn’t get built. If it doesn’t get built, it doesn’t generate TOT revenue to be split 80-20, 50-50 or to be used for street repairs. Steve Lodge pointed out as much, according to the article:

“Chavez Lodge argued that Chuchua had mischaracterized the subsidy. The development can’t go forward without the subsidy, Chavez Lodge said, and the tax revenue can’t be generated without the development. The hotels would generate revenue over the long-term, Chavez Lodge said.”

Valid, legitimate, principled arguments can be made on both sides of the GardenWalk debate, and in general about the use of TOT-splits as a business development tool. But for such debates to be useful, they need to be grounded in fact and logic, an area where Leos and Chuchua are falling short.

“Self-Described Hispanic”

The VOC article also covers the issue of restructuring city governance into a council districts model. Candidate’s stances have ranged from vocal support to defeatist acceptance, but only Lodge really gets it right, based on the time-honored common-sense principle of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”:

“Chavez Lodge said city leaders shouldn’t let the ACLU force council districts. The downside to council-districts, he said, is they create warring kingdoms. “This city has a 150-year history of governance, and it’s done pretty well as an at-large system,” he said.”

Puzzlingly, VOC reporter refers to Lodge as a “self-described Hispanic.” What is that? When did ethnicity become “self-described”? The term “self-described” implies inauthenticity, as with the infamous Ward Churchill, who self-described himself as an American Indian when he was nothing of the kind.

Lodge’s mother is a Latina. That makes Lodge half-Latino, whether or not he describes himself as such. If the VOC is going to use the “self-described Hispanic” term, then apply it across the board. For example, in the future, the half-Lebanese Amin David, who is suing Anaheim to force council districts, should be termed a “self-described Hispanic.” Perhaps the VOC can carry this to its logical conclusion and press all subjects of its coverage who are of mixed ethnic descent to identify their “self-described” ethnicity for the edification of readers.

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