The Orange County Young Republicans have endorsed Harry Sidhu for Mayor of Anaheim, and Trevor O’Neil in District 6. Its members understand the choice for Anaheim mayor is a binary one – either conservative Republican Harry Sidhu or progressive Democrat Ashleigh Aitken will win. All other outcomes range from unlikely to fantasy.
They also understand that O’Neil is an articulate conservative, successful businessman and strong candidate who’s been running for well over a year, and has built up a robust and organized council campaign. They understand the danger of splitting the vote between O’Neil and Mayor Tom Tait’s neophyte candidate – opening a path for the lone Democrat candidate, Grant Henninger, to win in heavily-Republican District 6.
Despite the adjective “Young,” the GOP volunteer organization’s decision exhibits considerably more wisdom than a minority of their nominal elders on the Republican Party of Orange County Central Committee. While a large majority of OC GOP Central Committee members recently voted to endorse Sidhu, the vote fell shy of the requisite two-thirds majority due to a furious lobbying campaign by political operatives associated with Mayor Tait and savings and loan heir Howard Ahmanson. O’Neil could read the writing on the wall and withdrew his endorsement request.
Their central lobbying point is that Sidhu and O’Neil have both supported hotel bed tax rebate programs to incentivize 4-Diamond hotel construction in Anaheim – generating thousands of new jobs, higher tax revenues and enhancing the city’s competitiveness as a convention destination.
The anti-Sidhu/O’Neil lobbying campaign paints this as an attack on the foundations of the Republic, and recently tried to elevate opposition to these tax incentive policies to opposition to public employee union influence. Come on.
City of Yorba Linda
In October 12017, the Yorba Linda City Council approved a sales tax sharing agreement with JStar Motors, in order to bring a new Maserati and Alfa Romeo dealership into the city. The subsidy was to assist with JStar’s capital improvement costs and would equal 45% of sales tax generated by the dealership – for up to 20 years or the amount of the capital improvement costs, whichever came first.
The council voted 4-0 to approve the agreement – Mayor Peggy Huang, Mayor Pro Tem Tara Campbell and Councilmembers Gene Hernandez and Beth Haney voting in support. Hernandez and Campbell praised the agreement as an example of how Yorba Linda is a “business friendly” city.
City of Westminster – 2018
In July of this year, the Westminster City Council approved a TOT rebate subsidy to bring a 4-Star luxury hotel to Little Saigon. The city would rebate 65% of hotel TOT tax revenue to the developer for 25 years – estimated to be worth $11.6 million. The city will also spend $4.5 million on public improvements around the site.
The City Council voted 4-0 in support – including Councilman Tyler Diep, the GOP nominee in AD72.
City of Santa Ana – 2016
In 2016, the Santa Ana City Council adopted a 50% TOT tax rebate to luxury hotel developers – as long as those agreements incorporate a mandatory unionization provision.
City of La Palma
In 2012, the La Palma City Council approved a sales tax sharing program in to keep BP Carson refinery and ARCO retail fuel sales groups – their biggest sales tax revenue source at $2 million annually, or about 20 percent of its general fund revenues – from leaving the city after their purchase by Tesoro Companies.
Under the agreement, La Palma agreed to rebate to Tesoro 50% of all its net sales tax up to $3 million every quarter, and rebate 70% of all net sales tax in excess of $3 million from the sale of Tesoro petroleum products connected with this location.
City of Orange
In April of 2013 the Orange City Council unanimously approved a Sales Tax Sharing Program open to all new and existing businesses. Under it, the city would rebate back to participating businesses an agreed percentage of sales tax increment generated by the participants, for up to 20 years. In turn, participating businesses had to generate at least $10 million in annual taxable sales and – in the case of new businesses – create at least 50 jobs.
It was approved by Mayor Tita Smith and Councilmembers Denis Bilodeau, Fred Whitaker, Mark Murphy and Mike Alvarez.
The next month, the unanimously council approved an agreement with a new auto dealership.
The next year, in 2014, the council approved a sales tax sharing agreement to keep it’s biggest sales tax generator – Southern Counties Oil – from re-locating to another city. The council agreed to rebate back to Southern Counties Oil more than half the sales tax revenue the company generates for the city. From the June 17, 2014 OC Register:
The agreement stipulates three tiers for revenue sharing, with SC Fuels getting at least 51 percent in sales tax back that the city would normally get. Over 20 years, the agreement estimates, the city would keep about $55.2 million and SC Fuels would get $71.2 million.
The agreement requires SC Fuels, a fuel distributor, to keep at least 150 full-time employees in the city. Right now, the company has 216.
“It’s a privilege to create an agreement where both parties have skin in the game,” said Councilman Mark Murphy, “and they both continue to contribute successfully to the partnership.”
Garden Grove has aggressively used tax rebates and other incentives to attract luxury hotel development and leverage its close proximity to the Disneyland Resort. Mayor Steve Jones told the Voice of OC last year:
Hotel bed taxes make up a quarter of the city’s total $100 million budget.
“Twenty-five percent of our top-line revenue comes from hotel taxes. It’s been an enormous windfall for this city,” said Mayor Steve Jones. “It’s been a hugely successful economic engine.”
This is only a partial picture. Cities like Santa Ana, Huntington Beach, Garden Grove, Orange and others routinely use various tax incentive programs to attract new businesses and promote the expansion of existing ones.
If those lobbying against Sidhu and O’Neil at the OC Republican Party, the Lincoln Club and elsewhere really believe their over-heated rhetoric – if they are indeed battling for some first principle and the soul of the party – why do they confine their objections solely to political opponents of Mayor Tom Tait? Doesn’t the gravity of the issue compel waging this jihad in every Orange County city?
The irony is the tax incentives for economic development was ended in Anaheim in 2017. The intra-GOP lobbying campaign against Sidhu and O’Neil is being waged against council candidates in a city there the policies to which these operatives object no longer exist – while no objection is being raised to officials in other cities who have supported similar policies.
That’s because this lobbying effort is a campaign to undermine candidates opposed by Tait – not a defense of principle. If it were the latter, it would not be confined to candidates in a city where these policies are no longer in force. The ultimate beneficiaries of this misguided jihad is the progressive Democrat campaign to dominate Anaheim politics.