CATER Lawsuit Against Convention Center Deal Costs Anaheim Jobs

From Bloomberg News:

Citigroup Inc. terminated a deal to purchase $265 million of revenue bonds from Anaheim,California, after opponents sued over plans to expand the city’s convention center, a city spokeswoman said.

Citigroup was the lead underwriter on the bonds offered March 24, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The bonds were rated AA- by Standard & Poor’s, according to a disclosure document. The deal was set to close May 14.

A local group that calls itself the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility filed the suit May 12, alleging that the public financing authority wasn’t allowed to offer the debt because California lawmakers dissolved redevelopment agencies, one of which was a member of the financing authority.

“Unfortunately, the originally targeted investors were not willing to accept the litigation risk and chose not to proceed even though the city, the city attorney and bond counsel were of the opinion that such litigation would not likely succeed,” Anaheim spokeswoman Ruth Ruiz said by e-mail.

Scott Helfman, a spokesman for Citigroup, declined to comment on the termination.

The city council in March approved the funding and plans to build a 200,000-square-foot expansion of the convention center, which is less than two miles south of the city’s star attraction, Disneyland.

Proceeds from a 2 percent hotel room tax were to pay for the bonds.

Ruiz said city officials are trying to determine if they can move forward with the project.

“It is unfortunate that a few local activists, in contradiction to the overwhelming community support shown at the council meeting where the bonds were authorized, have taken legal action against this project,” she said.

Ms. Ruiz is exactly right, although I’m sure Cynthia Ward and her little band of mystery members are pleased with themselves.

Ward, Brian Chuchua and their consigliere from Brea have cost Anaheim jobs. They have also cost the city money for parks, a new fire station and other civic improvements because the cost of the next financing deal will escalate. Bully for them.

Amazing how a group that bills itself as supporting “economic responsibility” in reality does everything in its power to undermine the city’s economic development efforts, fueled by an irrational hostility toward the council majority.

35 comments

  1. City staff engaging in blatantly political speech. Interesting.

    • Proud Colonist

      This was a blatantly political lawsuit.

      • Assuming that’s true, what does that have to do with a city employee engaging in politics while on the clock?

        • Cantor is a hypocrite

          Does your employer know about how much time YOU spend engaging in politics while on the clock? Hypocrite

    • Matthew Cunningham

      Oh what a bunch if baloney, Ryan. Stop trying to change the subject.

      • Oh, that’s hardly changing the subject.

        Blaming people who actually live in Anaheim for insisting their elected officers follow the law?

        That’s changing the subject.

    • Dan Chmielewski

      That isn’t blatantly political speech. It’s completely accurate. And staff can speak to the vote of the council which was 4-1. It’s called representative democracy Ryan.

      • Of course it’s blatantly political.

        There was no overwhelming community support to take illegal action on anything. As such, it’s clearly a conscious effort to align CATER’s actions with opposing the project, which is simply a lie. Representing a motive (particularly erroneously) isn’t speaking to the vote, Dan. It’s speaking to her being pissed off, which isn’t appropriate for her job.

        And Dan, that’s not representative democracy. That’s bureaucracy. Two very different things.

        • Dan Chmielewski

          There’s no overwhelming community support against the project: just CATER, which is 2 known individuals. And the city’s attorney has pretty much said it’s not illegal. CATER sued. Let’s see what a judge says.

          I’m pretty sure you have no clue as to whether the city’s PIO is pissed off or not. That’s pure projection on your part

          • Dan,

            CATER doesn’t oppose the project. Stating they do is a lie.

            • Dan Chmielewski

              CATER opposes the project passed by the council

              • Well, that’s a really interesting conclusion to arrive at considering the President of CATER showed up at the council meeting supporting the project. Double interesting that the attorney for CATER has also stated he favors the expansion.

                So, lying or just not paying attention, Dan?

                • Dan Chmielewski

                  Read the poorly written press release. You can’t have your cake and eat it too

                  • What in the heck are you talking about? You read it.

                    “CATER’s position is that the Convention Center expansion is a great project in principle… “

                    • Dan Chmielewski

                      But has a boatload of conditions and restrictions. Government by lawsuit….

                    • I can’t help you, Dan. You can either listen to the words the president uses and read the words in the press release, or you can choose to see and hear what you want to see and hear.

                • Matthew Cunningham

                  Ryan, you are seriously overstating what Cynthia said at that meeting. And if you look at her public comments beyond that one instance, she has attacked the ACC expansion. She has been having it both ways.

                  • I don’t think that stating “I like the project” and “you’re funding it illegally” is an attempt to have it both ways.

                    I think it’s an attempt to have it exactly one way– legally.

                    • Matthew Cunningham

                      “CATER President Cynthia Ward compared it to “tapping into one’s home equity to pay the light bill at best–and at worst robbing from future residents to create a slush fund today.

                      Cynthia Ward of CATER claims that “having had the can kicked to them by city councils of a previous generation, today’s Council wants to pack those costly financial instruments into an even bigger can, and then kick it even harder down the road to future generations.” She concluded that “eventually the General Fund would collapse under this needless strain motivated by short-term political interests.”

                      That’s from yesterday’s OJ Blog. She’s not just quibbling about whether the bond issue needs to be put to a vote. She’s opposing the expansion that the council approved.

                    • . . . Matt, sometimes.

                      The first comment relates to the debt being refinanced in the package. Not the convention center expansion.

                      The second comment has to do with the type of bond being issued (and previously issued). Not the convention center expansion.

                      Same comment goes to you than I just issued to Dan. You can either hear and see the information in front of you, or you can chose to hear and see what you want to hear and see.

                    • Matthew Cunningham

                      It’s easy for anyone to make the general statement, “Oh, I’m not against expanding the convention center” and then attack any specific proposal to expand the convention center. That’s the game CATER is playing.

                    • Even easier to make the claim that an organization will object to ANY proposal . . . even if they’re only objecting to ONE proposal.

                      You’re demanding that I prove the negative, Matt. Please stop that.

                    • Look, let’s dispense with the bull, shall we?

                      Should the bond issue have gone to the voters or not?

                      Right or wrong, discuss.

                      The rest of this tread is a giant waste of time.

                    • Matthew Cunningham

                      I’m not engaging in any bull. You called the council action illegal. Now you’re saying the council “railroaded this through at the last minute” so it wouldn’t be put on the June ballot – a claim for which you have no proof.

                      If you think this thread is a giant waste of time, I’d remind you that you’re driving this thread.

                    • No, I didn’t. CATER did. Let’s keep it straight, shall we.

                      Second time:

                      SHOULD THE BOND ISSUE HAVE GONE TO THE VOTERS? YES OR NO?

                    • Matthew Cunningham

                      No. I’m not a progressive nor a fan of direct democracy.

        • Matthew Cunningham

          “There was no overwhelming community support to take illegal action on anything.”

          “Illegal action”? Says who? Cynthia Ward, Brian Chuchua and Greg Diamond can say anything they want in a lawsuit – that doesn’t make it true. No court has decided in their favor, so you can hardly say the city’s action was illegal.

          This lawsuit is pure politics. If Mayor Tait had voted with the rest of the council, CATER would never have filed it. It is a stupid and short-sighted attempt to torpedo a bond deal and sink the ACC expansion.

          • Yes, that’s who, Matt.

            By the by– something is legal until and unless it’s proven to be illegal? What kind of sick convoluted logic is that?

            “It is a stupid and short-sighted attempt to torpedo a bond deal and sink the ACC expansion.”

            What was stupid and short sighted was a council majority with tunnel vision refusing to mitigate a risk they were perfectly well aware of before a vote.

            This was a really easy problem to fix, Matt. Why this couldn’t have been planned better and put on the June ballot for a public endorsement is beyond me.

            No fuss, no muss, no coconuts.

            Instead, Anaheim is stuck with a council majority who’d rather railroad things through at the last minute without taking any time or energy to understand the cost of their (in)action.

            Stupid and short sighted indeed. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

            • Matthew Cunningham

              Easy there. Don’t twist my words. You’re the one claiming the manner in which the council voted to finance the ACC expansion is illegal – and you say it as if it were an established and accepted fact. I merely pointed out that is not the case.

              And how were they “perfectly aware” of this “risk”? Because Cynthia Ward said so?

              “…railroad things through at the last minute…”

              OK – I really have to laugh at that whopper. The Convention Center expansion was only last minute if you weren’t paying attention to it until that afternoon.

              • No, I’m not. CATER is. I’ve not actually endorsed that opinion anywhere on this page. Technically, you’re the one putting words in my mouth.

                Council was issued a letter outlining a potential conflict before a vote was cast. That letter would have to be included in the bond package as a result. I don’t recall who wrote it– but you covered it.

                I’m sure you would laugh at that whopper. Clearly you didn’t understand it. So, rather than take a 30 seconds to figure out what it actually means vs. how you can belittle it . . . why wasn’t this put on the June ballot, Matt. OH, RIGHT. They waited to late to do so.

  2. Cynthia Ward reminds me of those laughing Hyenas in Shadowlands!

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