Anaheim Insider here.
Councilman Jose F. Moreno’s published an end-of-the-year city newsletter telling District 3 voters he “has immersed himself in his role on the Council to best address and advocate for our neighborhoods.” The laundry list of “accomplishments” reads like an a puffed-up Linkedin profile.
Some are routine boasts like “holding 32 community meetings” or “attending 93 community events.” Others tell only part of the story. Let’s review.
“Ending corporate tax giveaway programs”
Moreno continues his dishonest description of city policies to attract 4-Diamond hotel development, which generate more tax revenue for the city in both the short-term and long-term and make Anaheim a more competitive convention and tourism destination. And he he overstates his role.
On December 21, 2016, the council did vote 7-0 to end the Hotel Incentive Program, which was open to any developer who built a 4-Diamond hotel in the city. A participating developer of a new hotel receives economic assistance equal to 70% of the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) generated by their 4-Diamond hotel, for a period of 20 years.
The program was less than two years old when the council ended it. By that time, three 4-Diamond hotels projects had applied and been approved, and no additional projects were on the horizon.
This hasn’t prevented Moreno from beating this dead horse all year long as a “giveaway,” which it isn’t. The city doesn’t lose any current tax dollars, nor does it contribute financially to the development of the hotels. The rebate doesn’t kick in until the first guests pay their bills, and the 30% of TOT from a 4-Diamond meets or exceeds 100% of what a 3-Diamond hotel would generate in TOT.
But it’s an easy, effective lie that takes more time to rebut than to tell, so count on Moreno to continue blaming it for any failure to keep other campaign promises.
It’s also fair to ask if Moreno would still oppose these as “corporate tax giveaways” if the Hotel Incentive Program were modeled on what Santa Ana adopted last year: TOT rebates coupled with “labor peace agreements”: mandatory unionization for both hotel construction and operation. Santa Ana’s subsidy model was strongly supported by key Moreno allies UNITE-HERE Local 11 and OCCORD (Moreno was a long-time member of the OCCORD Board of Directors). Next time Moreno complains about the 4-Diamond hotel deals, someone should ask if he would support them if they included labor peace agreements.
“Restructuring boards and commissions to reflect Council districts”
The main impact of this “accomplishment” was to bring the city’s planning and development process to a halt for several months this year.
Moreno and Mayor Tait brushed aside reasonable compromises to phase in districted commission appointments to avoid the sudden loss of institutional knowledge and allow the commission to continue functioning smoothly. Applicants’ business costs don’t go away when the city planning process stops, and they’re the ones who bore the cost of Moreno’s and Tait’ rigidity.
“Establishing a Youth Commission”
Moreno is a political animal. His goal is to build a progressive political machine in central Orange County. Recruiting youth brigades is a major part of his strategy (the AnaheimBros and CROWN clubs in AUHSD schools, for example).
The Youth Commission is intended as another cog in this machine. It’s operated on the public’s dime, like the BROS and CROWN clubs, and Moreno is doing his best to populate it with BROS and CROWN members. Here’s a January 2017 Moreno text telling his council aides who should be participate in a meeting to formulate his proposed Youth Commission:
Beyond the specific inclusion of his junior ideological troops (BROS and Crown), Moreno specifies representatives from the Ethnic Studies class at Anaheim High School taught by his political protege Paolo Magcalas, who trains his students how to be progressive political activists. It’s clear Moreno views the Youth Commission as a political body that is superficially non-political.
Furthermore, Moreno wants this 14-26 year olds to wield policy influence over all aspects of city government, telling the left-wing New American Leadership Project the Youth Commission is “advising the city council not just on parks, but on planning, on housing, on zoning.”
It may be politically fashionable to gush about youth involvement, is it really wise to empower teenagers to weigh in on serious matters like planning, housing and zoning that call for maturity, judgment and experience – qualities generally not associated with youth.
“Creating a transparency ‘Sunshine’ ordinance and lobbyist registry”
This is more phoney-baloney. A lobbyist registry? So what? That makes it easier for those who need lobbyist to find them; it amounts to is free advertising for lobbyists. And it only applies to some lobbyists. Earlier this year, one of Moreno’s council aides turned down a job opportunity with the union-funded political advocacy group OCCORD, which actively lobbies the city. Under Moreno’s ordinance, she could go from being a council aide to advocating to city government, without registering and unhindered by the two-year ban. That kind of revolving door can keep turning.
Moreno put of his campaign staff on his councilmember payroll, but objects to his council colleagues contracting out with outside firms for policy aide firms. Thus, the “Sunshine” ordinance allows the former but precludes the latter.
The irony is “sunshine” ordinance was drafted in secret. On Moreno’s instructions, staff rebuffed requests by other councilmembers to see drafts of the ordinance in development.
The “Sunshine” ordinance doesn’t provide much sunshine. Garden Grove posts public record act requests within hours of receiving them, along with staff responses and the requested information when provided. Anaheim can barely comply with its requirement to update it PRA listings on a quarterly basis; it publishes the original request but not the responding information.
That would be a useful Sunshine provision, and simple to implement. But it wouldn’t gore anyone’s political ox.
“Advocating for Anaheim to be a Welcoming City as part of the national “Welcoming America” organization”
Left-wing populist candidate Jose F. Moreno supported making Anaheim a sanctuary city. After being sworn in and unexpectedly facing re-election in two years, he back-pedaled and pushed making Anaheim a “Welcoming City,” a sanctuary city-lite program under which the city takes on the responsibility of making sure immigrants feel welcome in Anaheim. Moreno is playing the long political game, and if he is successful in electing more progressive-Left councilmembers, there are any number of progressive policies that can be rolled out under the guise of being “welcoming.” Mayor Tait has already advocated creating a dedicated staff position for immigrant affairs.
“Restructuring Fourth of July fireworks sales to support local schools and nonprofits”
This was a two-fer for Moreno: a way to strike at the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce while helping his long-time progressive ally Mike Matsuda, the politically-active superintendent of the Anaheim Union High School District.
Since the re-legalization of the sale and use of safe-and-sane fireworks in 2014, fireworks were sold at a supercenter in the Honda Center parking lot. A West Anaheim supercenter was added in 2016. Sales were managed by Anaheim Arena Management (AAM). Participating non-profits promoted the sales with customized flyers, and shared in the proceeds according to the percentage of buyers who used their flyers. A portion of the sales proceeds funded the annual Anaheim Fireworks Celebration on July 4.
The Tait-Moreno majority shifted sales to the traditional fireworks booth model, capped at 16 booths, and gave the Anaheim Union High School District Foundation control of the sales and a percentage of the take.
“Addressing homelessness through monthly staff updates and the creation of a Homeless Policy Working Group”
Homelessness in District 3 has worsened considerably since Moreno’s election, so his constituents probably read that as “all talk, no action.” In the meantime, Moreno waffles on his campaign promise to repeal the anti-camping ordinance, supports installing portable toilets at the Santa Ana River Trail (SART) homeless camps, which Anaheim residents understandably view as making the camps more permanent. His “people in the condition of homelessness” jargon strikes working residents as the same kind of PC nonsense that enables the encampments.
Moreno praises homeless advocates like Mike and Jeannine Robbins, who compare residents who want anti-camping laws enforced to Nazis and Klansmen; he even appointed Mike Robbins to his Homeless Policy Task Force. Moreno’s task force took heavy direction from the ACLU, whose lawsuit is responsible for the homeless camp running for 2-miles along the SART. The main recommendations are adopting a “Housing First” strategy, which means immediately putting homeless people into apartments even if they are still doing drugs and abusing alcohol; and supporting the installation of portable toilets and showers at homeless encampments.
Tough to believe District 3 voters are going to be excited about that.
“Partnering with local organizations to provide residents with free, legal assistance as well as workshops for small-business owners”
Being a co-sponsor for an ASBO workshop on the importance of capital to small business formation hardly qualifies as being helpful to small businesses when Moreno supports policies such as the “living wage” that undermine the formation and expansion of small businesses.
“Initiating Council exploration of affordable housing policies”
Moreno believes affordable housing can be created by forcing home builders to construct it. The weight of evidence demonstrates this strategy doesn’t work. For Moreno, this “initial council exploration of affordable housing policies” is a push for linkage fees (which drive up the cost of housing), inclusionary zoning (which drives up the cost of housing) and rent stabilization (which tends to reduce the supply of housing).
Other items on Moreno’s accomplishment list such as working with residents to combat coyotes, expanding hours at the Pearson Park plunge, establishing a new educational center, etc. – this is all good, necessary stuff. They are also the sort of good government, primarily staff-driven actions that would have happened regardless of who won the District 3 election in 2016. Closer examination of Moreno’s accomplishment list reveals a highly-ideological councilman pursuing a political agenda more geared to advancing his ideology than meeting the bread-and-butter needs of constituents.