Ember Cafe & Music Club was set to play host to the next candidates forum in the race for Anaheim City Council on Wednesday, but the event has been promptly canceled. Deeming the whole affair as ridden with conflict of interests and unethically structured, Duane Roberts had planned on boycotting it while calling for a picket line outside the venue, but first contacted The League of Women Voters of Central Orange County who were originally billed as sponsors and moderators of the forum.
Speaking on behalf of the organization, Joan Heck tells the Weekly that it did not meet their protocols and withdrew participation after addressing concerns with event organizer and mega-rich real estate developer Bill Taormina. After apologizing, he informed her it would no longer go on. The Weekly has also reached out to Taormina and awaits a response. Having the League of Women Voters -- no rabble rousing group by any stretch of the imagination -- pull out of the sordid affair, though, is all that really needs to be said.
But wait, there's more!
The forum was to be hosted by Steve and Kacey Elkins who own and operate Ember Cafe in downtown Anaheim. Kacey is also Taormina's daughter. The powerful family and its numerous interests, including Ember and Elkins herself, have contributed thousands of dollars to the campaign coffers of corporatist twinsies Jordan Brandman and Steve Lodge.
"This forum was a complete sham orchestrated with the underlying intent of boosting the political fortunes of...candidates favored by Elkins and her wealthy father," Roberts contends in a press release alluding to the impartiality of the proposed venue and its hosts.
Earlier this week, Taormina sent Anaheim city council hopefuls the invitation to participate, including an 8-point layout of how the evening would go. The way questions were to be gathered and fielded immediately caught Roberts' eye. Unlike the WAND forum where people in attendance submitted their questions on handwritten index cards as they arrived, the Ember Cafe event asked that "citizens and stakeholders" send their inquires in advance so that they can be emailed to the candidates the day before!
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Talk about scripted answers! Better yet, all proposed questions were to go through Kacey Elkins by way of text message to her cellphone! Oy vey...
The campaign contributions and the forum structure was just too much for Roberts. "I have high ethical and moral standards and did not want my good name to be tarnished," he tells the Weekly. "I was ready to refuse lending any credibility to this farce by showing up."
Oh, how the developer class has such trouble with the simple things of democracy like candidate forums. Anaheimers take note!