Who Will Fund The Single-Member Districts Campaign?

On March 22, the left-wing coalition backing single-member council districts in Anaheim kicked off its campaign to win their approval by Anaheim voters this November. 501(c)(3) groups like OCCORD can actively advocate for a ballot measure within limits on “lobbying” activity. Per the BolderAdvocacy website (published by the left-wing Alliance for Justice):

Under Section 501(h), the overall limit on lobbying starts as high as 20% of those expenditures for small charities and diminishes to a smaller percentage of the expenditures for larger organizations, with a maximum cap of $1,000,000 on an organization’s annual lobbying expenditures. In addition to this overall limit, the 501(h) test imposes a limit on grassroots lobbying, calculated as one-quarter of the overall lobbying limit. For example, a 501(c)(3) that has made the 501(h) election, with an annual budget of $500,000, would have an overall lobbying limit of $100,000 and a grassroots lobbying limit of $25,000.

OCCORD’s annual budget has historically been somewhat over half-a-million dollars, so the above is a solid guide to how much of its budget the left-wing advocacy group can devote to this ballot measure.

Convincing Anaheim voters to re-structure how they elect their city council will take a considerable amount of persuasive voter communication – especially since there is no grass-roots groundswell demanding single-member council districts.  In other words, the pro-council districts coalition needs a benefactor(s) to bankroll its campaign.

Who will do it?

One possibility would be the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA), which definitely has the resources and presumably the interest in replacing at-large council elections with a single-member districts system.

OCEA really, really wants to elect its own candidates to the Anaheim City Council. The Anaheim Municipal Employees Association (AMEA) represents city employees and is OCEA’s largest city affiliate. Between 2010 and 2012, OCEA General Manager Nick Berardino spent $700,000 of his members’ dues money into a vain attempt to elect John Leos to the city council.

Single-member districts have appeal to special interests like OCEA because they can (in theory, at least) achieve the same results with less money. Carving Anaheim into council districts would seem o present a simpler route to OCEA’s strategic goal of electing candidates of its choosing to the Anaheim City Council, and therefore an incentive to bankroll the ballot initiative campaign. I have few doubts the Anaheim political figures leading the charge for districts are already having such conversations with OCEA leadership.

On the other hand, OCEA has a poor track record in Anaheim elections. The county union’s campaign spending has been so profligate as to become a campaign issue in itself. Voters are smart enough to pick up on which special interest is trying to change how they elect their councilmembers. The idea of the union that the union representing city employees is spending heavily to re-structure how the city is governed could strike most voters as heavy-handed over-reaching, and rebound against the pro-districting campaign.

Indeed, the vote on single-member council districts will be a vote on how Anaheim governs itself. This measure was not placed on the ballot by voter signatures but as the result of a lawsuit settlement Therefore, any large outside interest group would have to be cognizant that Anaheim voters could react negatively to this attempt to re-structure their city government.

We shall see what unfolds during the next several months.

39 comments

  1. You can always wait for the FPPC reports to come out later in the fall like the rest of us.

  2. Voters are smart enough to pick up on which special interest is trying to change how they elect their mayor. The idea of the ruling clique spending heavily to re-structure how the city is governed could strike most voters as heavy-handed over-reaching, and rebound against the two year mayoral campaign.

    Indeed, the vote on a two year mayoral term will be a vote on how Anaheim governs itself. This measure was not placed on the ballot by voter signatures but as the result of a mere one vote council majority. Therefore, any small insider interest group would have to be cognizant that Anaheim voters could react negatively to this attempt to re-structure their city government.

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Wow, Zenger. You managed to stretch that analogy well past the breaking point.

      • Oh, I think it might have been broken before he got there . . .

      • Well, you wrote those two paragraphs. I just copied them and changed a few words. So kindly explain the difference for your eager readers.

        • Matthew Cunningham

          Really, Zenger? I think you know very well that my criticism of your comment is on the mark, but I’ll humor you.

          Requiring the mayor to stand before the voters every two rather than four years doesn’t alter the structure of city government or even the mayor’s office. Changing from at-large to by-district council elections – i.e. going from making all councilmembers stand before all voters, to a system where voters only have a single representative on the council — is a dramatic re-structuring of city governance.

          And yours is the great mind that according to your lawsuit against the county is worth $1 million of the taxpayers’ money?

          • I guess the truth hurts. And the truth is the Kleptocracy wants to be able to buy and sell the mayor’s office if the mayor strays off the reservation.

          • “Requiring the mayor to stand before the voters every two rather than four years doesn’t alter the structure of city government or even the mayor’s office”

            That’s factually inaccurate. If it weren’t a change to the structure of government, it wouldn’t be called a charter amendment.

            • Matthew Cunningham

              You’re correct that it is a change in the charter, Ryan. But not every charter amendment entails a fundamental alteration of city government. Switching to a two-year term is not a fundamental change. Going to by-district elections is.

              • Right. Not every amendment to the constitution is a fundamental change, either I guess.

                You’re confusing “fundamental” with “significant”. Better break out Webster again.

                • Matthew Cunningham

                  They aren’t, Ryan. The 16th and 17th Amendments, for example – fundamental change.

                  The 20th Amendment – not a fundamental change. Not even a significant one.

                  You don’t always need to be contrary just for the sake of being contrary, Ryan.

                  • Still. Confusing. Fundamental. With. Substantial.

                    For example, the 20th Amendment moves the starting line for a race. Where one starts and finishes a race is pretty darn fundamental to the execution of a successful race. The fact that the race is still two or four years long speaks to how substantial or insignificant the change is.

                    If you don’t think it’s fundamental, get elected to Congress and show up for your first day of work in March. I bet that goes over really well.

                    Anyway, you don’t need to be right just for the sake of being right, Matt.

                    While it’s clear you don’t believe that changing the duration of the mayor’s term will result in a substantial shift in how the office is executed, that’s a separate argument from why it is or is not a fundamental change.

                    There are plenty of us who can articulate why the change is, in fact, substantial. Saying that it isn’t consequential by some magical decree that it isn’t because it isn’t fundamental doesn’t make it so.

                    • Matthew Cunningham

                      Your argument re the 20th Amendment is absurd, Ryan.

                      More to the point, you’re being picayune and argumentative. Sweep aside the verbal chaff you keep throwing up, and the fact remains that moving from at-large to by-district council elections is a more fundamental/significant/substantial/whatever-word-you-prefer change than shortening the mayoral term to two years.

                    • . . . and Matt resorts to deflating an argument by labeling it absurd.

                      Time for a new trick, pony. That act has gotten old. More importantly, you’re still not doing it right.

                    • Matthew Cunningham

                      “Resort”? Sheesh.

                      I’m not the one arguing that swearing in the president a few weeks earlier is a fundamental constitutional change.

                    • Well, Matt, to borrow from your rule book, that’s absurd.

                      Who is President and when they are President is about as fundamental as it gets.

                      I’m not exactly sure how to explain that to you in a fashion that you’ll understand.

                    • Matthew Cunningham

                      Whether the president is inaugurated in late January or early March has no bearing on who is president. Neither is it fundamental to the powers or duties of the president, or the ability of the holder of the office to discharge them. If you can, demonstrate otherwise.

                      And don’t blame me because your reflexive contrariness led you to make a weak argument.

                    • Touchy touchy, Mateo. Tranquilate.

                      Again, and I can’t stress this enough, you’re confusing fundamental with substantial. They don’t mean the same thing.

                      Don’t blame me because your desire to be right is clouding your vision to what is, in fact, right.

                    • Matthew Cunningham

                      I’m not touchy, Ryan. But you have become annoying. And I’m not confused. But your harping on the difference between fundamental and substantial is irrelevant to the points being made here.

                    • Don’t kid yourself. I was always annoying.

                      There aren’t points being made here. It’s you and I going back and forth on one another’s stupidity.

                      If you want to get back to a substantial argument, it’s on you, sir. It is your blog after all.

  3. Oh Matt, haven’t you heard? There is a special interest group in Anaheim, one that spends big, big bucks on elections, and I am told they are committed to spending big for Districts. I heard it second hand so not naming anyone until I get more info but you might check with your special friends, since they are named. Who is usually in the Chamber camp, with checkbook open, but might have other plans for this issue? If I heard correctly, things are going to get sticky in Anaheim.

    • Oooooo golly! Cynthia really gets off on feeling like an insider, doesn’t she? Someone told her something hardly anyone else knows! How thrilling!

    • Cynthia was opposed to districts not so long ago. Then she decided to line her opinions up with Tom Tait’s. She’ll probably change her mind again next year.

    • Oh Cynthia, don’t you know there is someone in CATER that is reporting back on all your activities? I’m not naming anyone until I get more info but you might check with your special friends. I heard things are going to get sticky for you.

      (Was that effective? Then please stop pretending like anyone here is impressed when you do it)

  4. Cynthia Ward and Tom Tait align with OCCORD and ACLU to lead left wing take over of Anaheim. Can’t wait to see them marching in the streets calling for living wage and worker retention ordinances. Way to go OCGOP for supporting the antics of these two sell outs. Allen Wilson and Ryan Cantor carrying their water rhetorically is just icing on the cake.

  5. Given the money that Mayor Tom Tait is making by opposing hotels in Anaheim so they can get built in Garden Grove (where his Dad’s business then gets the contracts), I am sure he can afford to donate to the left-wing campaign. Tom Tait is the biggest fraud our city has ever seen.

    • Ah, this again.

      Opposing a $158,000,000 giveaway for the benefit of a $20,000 contract that was competitively bid well before the vote makes one a fraud. Real strong case there.

      If you’re really worried about who is personally benefiting from votes cast on projects, perhaps you ought to be looking at who’s being paid by the developers receiving contracts.

      Rhymes with ‘Ingle.

      But hey, keep complaining about a real company paying real people to do real work in the real world. Gonna get lots of traction with that.

      • Ryan, you can’t dismiss Reasonable Guy because you’ve said that Lucille Kring sold her GardenWalk vote for a $1,500 campaign donation. You can’t have it both ways.

      • You are so in the tank for Tait that I I can’t even take you seriously anymore. If Tait said the sky was green, you’d attack anyone who disagreed.

        • I doubt you, or anyone here, has ever taken me seriously– but thanks. If you did and I’ve wasted that privilege, well, that’s on me.

          I never said Kring sold her GardenWalk vote for a $1500 campaign donation. I said she flip flopped. Then she got a donation. That at least has, at a minimum, a weak impression of a nexus.

          Lord knows what she sold it for.

          There is absolutely NO nexus between Tait & Asso contracts and the Gardenwalk vote. It’s a red herring, plain and simple.

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