Last week, the Anaheim City Council deadlocked 3-3 on whether to upend the citywide fireworks sales program and give control of it to the Anaheim Union High School District (AUHSD)Foundation per a request by District 3 Councilman Jose F. Moreno. Handing the program over to the AUHSD Foundation would jeopardize funding for the annual Anaheim Fourth of July community fireworks show and festivities at Peralta Park in Anaheim Hills. Without the $40,000 in funding it receives from the current system operated by the Honda Center, the fireworks show would likely shut-down.
Because of the 3-3 tie vote, Moreno’s plan will be voted on again tonight, with Anaheim Mayor and long-time Hills resident Tom Tait in the position of casting the deciding vote.
Moreno’s proposal – backed by fellow Tait majority members James Vanderbilt and Denise Barnes – has caused an uproar in Anaheim Hills, which is the only section of the city where residents are prohibited from using safe-and-sane fireworks to celebrate Independence Day in their neighborhoods. The annual community fireworks show is there opportunity to enjoy the traditional American way of celebrating the Fourth of July. Upset and concerned residents of District 6 (Anaheim Hills) have lit up social media sites and the comments section of this blog, and deluged the city council with e-mails opposing Moreno’s plan and imploring the city to continue the fireworks show funding stream.
Also of concern is Moreno’s attempt to give control of Anaheim’s city-wide fireworks sale to the non-profit arm of a highly-politicized, non-transparent school district governed by District 3 councilman’s political supporters. As this writer and the publisher of TheLiberalOC.com can attest, the AUHSD has a pattern of ignoring Public Record Act and media information requests from sources it disfavors – and only complying when the threat of legal action is raised. Yes, the Foundation is legally a separate entity, but it is tremendously influenced by the district leadership – which is in the hands of Moreno political allies Superintendent Mike Matsuda and AUHSD Board of Education member (and Moreno campaign manager) Al Jabbar.
Furthermore the Anaheim Union High School District covers only a part of the city of Anaheim, and serves four other cities in Anaheim. If one of Councilman Moreno’s objectives is to have a non-profit entity operate the citywide fireworks program, it makes far more sense to put it in the hands of one that exclusively serves Anaheim – such as the Anaheim Community Foundation, as Councilwoman Kris Murray suggested last week.
It will be intriguing to see the results of tonight’s vote. Non-profits from across the city are able to raise money via the current fireworks sale program, which is only in its third year. Many are wondering if the real goal of this proposal is to reward political supporters of Tait and Moreno and punish perceived enemies.