I’ve attended most of the Citizens Advisory Committee meetings, and as I’ve noted in previous posts, it was clear from early on that a left-wing coalition was forming to push the CAC toward recommending a switch to electing the Anaheim City Council from single-member districts; that is, Anaheim residents would only have a vote within their council district, and have no voice in the election of the rest of the city council.
The leading members of this left-wing coalition are UNITE-HERE (a militant union representing workers in hotels, food service and similar sectors), Los Amigos of Orange County, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (commonly known as OCCORD) and the Orange County Labor Federation.
What is OCCORD?
OCCORD is a 501(c)3 founded in 2005 by Eric Altman, a former union organizer. Since then, it has been a fixture on the Left-side of the Anaheim political spectrum. Earlier, its main focus was lobbying the city to impose low-income housing set-aside requirements on developers. Last year, OCCORD was in the thick of the protests against the GardenWalk hotels agreement, in support of the effort of the Take Back Anaheim initiative and in favor of the ACLU’s lawsuit seeking to force the city to move to single-member districts.
OCCORD Executive Director Eric Altman and another OCCORD staffer, Clara Turner, have been fixtures at CAC meetings, distributing fliers full of data-points and graphs designed to buttress OCCORD’s advocacy of single-member council districts.
It’s Board of Directors is stacked with union activists, and also includes Amin David, one of the plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit seeking to impose single-member districts on Anaheim.
The OCCORD-UNITE-HERE Nexus
OCCORD can reasonably be characterized as an offshoot of the militant UNITE-HERE union. According to his bio, founder and Executive Director Eric Altman “spent fifteen years as a leader of UNITE HERE’s Strategic Affairs Department, working to build one of the labor movement’s most respected research and strategic campaign operations.”
UNITE-HERE is listed as one of OCCORD’s funders.
Ada F. Briceno has been the CEO/Chair of OCCORD since its creation. She was president of UNITE-HERE Local 681 from 2001 to 2008, and become secretary-treasurer of UNITE-HERE Local 11 when it merged with Local 681 in 2008.
OCCORD’s Lead Organizer Alejandra Ponce de Leon “gained much of her organizing experience with UNITE HERE! Local 11 in L.A.” according to the OCCORD website.
Who Funds OCCORD?
OCCORD’s funding ramped up quickly after it was set-up in 2005:
– 2005: $20,000
– 2006: $100,000
– 2007: $216,918
– 2008: $465,943
– 2009: $571,698
– 2010: $504,219
– 2011: $518,808
As I mentioned, one of OCCORD’s funders is UNITE-HERE. Another is the Wells Fargo Foundation, which is interesting. The chairwoman of the CAC — which OCCORD is trying mightily to influence — is Vivan Pham, who is a Commmunity Development Officer for Wells Fargo, a job that entails giving money to non-profit groups exactly like OCCORD.
Between 2008 and 2011, the Wells Fargo Foundation gave $80,000 to OCCORD. Ms. Pham has been a community development officer for Wells Fargo since 2007. Hmmm.
The California Endowment and The James Irvine Foundation are two other huge OCCORD funders. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, OCCORD received a total of $524,807 from The California Endowment (another Orange County project of The California Endowment is the Voice of OC, which has received $141,012 since 2011).
The James Irvine Foundation donated $250,000 to OCCORD in 2009, and another $200,000 in 2011 (There’s a certain irony in a foundation bearing the name of a land baron should donate so much money to an organization that seeks to use government to impinge on the property rights of others).
The Orange County Community Foundation: $25,000 (2011)
The Butler Family Foundation: $25,000 (2008)
The Swayne Family Foundation: $10,000 (2009)
Among other things, all of the above is additional confirmation of the extent to which the political activism of the Left is funded by the charitable foundation establishment — and in this case working hand-in-glove with the unions to pursue a goal that has been identified as a top priority by the Democratic Party of Orange County.
More to come.