Back in September, Anaheim’s notorious and fickle gadfly Cynthia Ward announced “the incorporation of the entity that will raise funds to take action against the council majority’s corporate subsidies.”
Now we know the name because, according to sources, her little group has filed a complaint with the Anaheim City Clerk alleging a Brown Act Violation by the Anaheim City Council. Her group is called Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility or CATER — as in CATERing to the narrow political agenda of some very squeaky wheels.
The complaint was penned and filed by — you guessed it — CATER “counsel” Greg Diamond. This explains why the letter is confused, confusing and far, far longer than it needs to be. Fair warning: down a Red Bull or some hi-octane coffee before attempting to read Diamond’s opus, or risk falling asleep.
When you boil it down, the complaint claims the city staff’s recommendation to adopt the Angels negotiations MOU and the Anaheim City Council’s 4-1 vote to do so on September 3 all hinged entirely on a report by the consulting firm Convention, Sports and Leisure (CSL) about the positive economic impact of having Angels baseball in Anaheim. The clear implication of Diamond’s assertion is that none of this would have happened absent the CSL report.
But that’s just an opinion. Where’s the Brown Act violation? It’s a very convoluted letter, but it comes down to when Cynthia Ward was able to get a copy of the CSL report. Diamond also says the Public Records Act was violated because the CSL report given to the city council on September 3 was allegedly different from the version that was provided later to Ward.
The complaint doesn’t state exactly which sections of the Brown Act and the Public Records Act were violated (unless those specifics are buried somewhere in the eight dense pages). Despite several references to the CSL report being altered — “…a later copy of the report…appears to have been edited to remove at least one factual error…” — but Diamond never says exactly what was edited or what the supposed factual error was. Was it a substantive change? Who knows? Diamond clearly implies that it is, but never tells us what it was. His omission of the sinister edit/alteration makes it hard to seriously consider Diamond’s implication that the council might have acted differently but for the mysterious “edited” information from the “first” report “upon which the Council based their decisions at the September 3 meeting…”
Several times, Diamond states the CSL was mentioned in the agenda staff report, and even starts referring to the CSL report as the “Staff Report Attachment.” In actuality, the agenda staff report doesn’t talk about a CSL report, but rather a determination by CSL. In the second paragraph, it says:
Convention, Sports & Leisure, a leading advisory and planning firm specializing in providing consulting services to the convention, sport, entertainment and visitor industries, that has completed over 1,000 market research assignments, has determined that the annual direct economic impact of having Angels Baseball in Anaheim is over $120M and combined with the indirect spending generated, this amount increases to $213M. This economic impact relates to real dollars being spent in Anaheim due to Angels Baseball. Should Angels Baseball relocate, the dollars associated with the economic impact would also relocate.
Other than that, the 6-page staff report makes no mention of a CSL report, and Diamond’s terming it the “suppressed Staff Report Attachment” is an appellation of his own invention.
The complaint itself is a tedious, tortured tour de conspiracy. Much of it is just Diamond re-hashing to the mayor and City Council his opinions and arguments about how he thinks the city should be negotiating with the Angels — as if that has anything to do with the Brown Act.
Finally, near the end of the complaint, Diamond arrives at his “cure” for the imagined Brown Act violation. His demands include having the city council to void its September 3 actions regarding the Angels and then vote separately on each and every deal point in the MOU; and, in true progressive style, submitting the final Angels agreement to a city-wide vote.
Another of Diamond’s (or, more properly, CATER’s) cures amounts to a fishing expedition, demanding “each member of the Council to disclose any discussions they have had with representatives of the Angels, of Pringle and Associates, of Pacific Coast Investors LLC, with permanent or temporary City Staff, with representatives of other interested commercial or lobbying interests including the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce and SOAR…”
I get the feeling Diamond also believes there was a second gunman on the grassy knoll at Dealey Plaza.
Who Are CATER?
What do we know about CATER? We know it i a 501(c)(4) of which Cynthia Ward is president, and for which Brea resident Greg Diamond is “counsel.” Remember, Ward and Diamond are self-styled champions of transparency. They continuously demand it of others, in both the public and private spheres.
In that case, we should expect them to walk their talk and disclose who their members are and who their donors are.
Will they live up to their own standards? Or concoct some exemption for themselves. My bet is on the latter.
In the meantime, the council election is coming up and CATER has mud to make.