In response to a lawsuit filed against the city of Anaheim and hoteliers, Judge Steven Perk voided an ultra-controversial $158 million GardenWalk hotel subsidization project in Orange County Superior Court today citing a violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act.
The tax giveaway earlier this year enraged the hell out of Anaheimers and iron branded councilwomen Gail Eastman, Kris Murray and termed out councilman Harry Sidhu as the loathsome crony corporatist trio that they were for approving the deal.
In mounting a legal challenge back in February, Amin David, Martin Lopez, Jose Moreno (trustee for the Anaheim City School District), Lorena Moreno and Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD) lawyered up with Briggs Law Corporation and offered to negotiate with the city before taking the subsidy to court. The time frame given expired and months later the plaintiffs/petitioners have now prevailed.
“The notice given of the Development contract fails to substantially comply with the Brown Act,” Judge Perk wrote in his final ruling, “by only stating that the Counsel would discuss and consider the the existing economic assistance contract and failing to state that it would authorize execution of the agreement.”
This pivotal bit of legalese pertains to the January 24, 2012 meeting of the Anaheim city council when the deal was passed by a 3-2 vote. The lawsuit alleged that the way it was described as an agenda item was inadequate and that the public was not properly informed. A special meeting was called by Mayor Tom Tait soon after, but quorum was not met as the giveaway three failed to show.
There was nothing that could be done as the massive subsidy was signed under law…that is until today's latest development.
“We are gratified that Judge Perk enforced Anaheim's obligation to put transparency over subsidy,” Eric Altman, Executive Director of OCCORD, said in a press release announcing the voiding of the deal. “If the city is going to just give away $158 million and get nothing new in return, then at a minimum it should have to tell the public about it in advance.”
This all must come as terrible news to Eastman who earlier had credited “God's hands” in an email to hotelier Bill O'Connell following the Anaheim police shooting desmadre turned outbreak of social unrest on July 24 that shelved Mayor Tait's charter amendment proposal on letting the people vote on hotel subsidies. She additionally prodded O'Connell to, “get cracking and get those hotels built!”
It looks more like check out time instead as the obscene subsidy has been ruled void!