How much does it cost to promote a civic talk on parks and recreation? Homelessness and public safety?
When it comes to Anaheim city councilman Steve Faessel, the answer tallies tens of thousands of dollars ahead of a re-election campaign next year that’s already heating up. Keeping the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim ain’t even the talk of the town, either!
The Phoenix Club is set to play host to Faessel’s sponsored town hall on parks and recreation this evening. But before the councilman began inviting District 5 residents, he filed a behested payment form with the city clerk’s office on September 3. The document shows that the Anaheim Neighborhood Association (ANA), at Faessel’s behest, paid $32,982.10 to BadFish Media for town hall promotional materials including mailers and Facebook ads.
A sleek flyer on Faessel’s social media sites acknowledges ANA sponsorship. Far from being a politically benign group, ANA unanimously endorsed Faessel during his successful 2016 election campaign. The group also paid for a stylish website promoting the councilman.
And BadFish Media?
The promotional power behind Faessel’s sponsored town halls is an FSB Core Strategies company. Lobbyist Jeff Flint heads FSB Core Strategies, a public relations firm that proved pivotal in returning a pro-Disney majority to council after last year’s elections. Crystal Norman worked for FSB Core Strategies while serving as Faessel’s senior policy aide before heading over to Presidio Strategic Communications. She now serves as councilman Jordan Brandman’s senior council aide.
Faessel previously held a July 11 town hall meeting on homelessness and public safety that ANA also sponsored. “[They] offered to help sponsor fliers and other communications to help keep residents of my district informed about city issues and invite them to events like my [one] last July as well as this town hall,” Faessel writes the Weekly. “Mitch [Caldwell] and Keith [Olesen] have been friends of mine for decades and when they asked if they could help, I was happy to agree.”
The series of meetings and the heavy promotion ahead of them surely doesn’t hurt boosting Faessel’s name recognition heading towards next year’s re-election campaign. His District 5 seat is one of three set to be contested with the balance of power up for grabs–although pro-Disney candidates merely need to win one race to preserve an existing council majority.
More than a year away from the election, the battle is already brewing.
In wannabe Aztlanista swagger, councilman Jose F. Moreno tried turning up the heat on Faessel after a Sept. 10 vote to support a symbolic resolution against the Department of Homeland Security’s forthcoming xenophobic “public charge” rule change failed. Faessel abstained alongside Mayor Harry Sidhu, denying Moreno’s resolution its crucial swing vote.
“How insulting and demeaning to the real life terror families in our community are experiencing,” Moreno wrote on Facebook. “Que lastima! Mr. Faessel is up for re-election in 2020.”
We’ll see how Moreno (or his alternate Al Jabbar, an Anaheim Union High School District trustee) votes when a symbolic “Abolish ICE” resolution that got tabled during an Aug. 26 Central Committee meeting of the Democratic Party of Orange County returns.
For all the fuss, no Faessel opponents have formally filed papers to run against him next year just yet.
*Article updated with statement from Faessel and correction regarding DPOC’s tabling of resolution.