UPDATE, JAN. 31, 10:58 A.M.: What if you threw an Occupy-type protest over $158 million in taxpayer handouts being given to a hotel developer and no one showed up to hear it? That could become a reality tonight should three Anaheim City Council members who last week approved tax subsidies to the GardenWalk hotel partnership play hooky from a special meeting called by Mayor Tom Tait. Councilwoman Lorri Galloway, who like Tait voted against the funding, reportedly received emails from colleagues Kris Murray, Gail Eastman and Harry Sidhu saying they'll be no-shows tonight.
Without a quorum, Tait cannot legally gavel the meeting to order. And without the council's intervention, the deal will go straight to the city manager for his signature.
It was mistakenly reported in the original post below that tonight the council would consider the hotel proposal on second reading. Actually, Tait called a special meeting because a sizable number of residents oppose to the deal and believe the public did not receive enough notice about the proposal.
“Typically there would be another hearing to vote on the contact
amendment,” Tait tells the Voice of OC's Adam Elmahrek. “But that wasn't the case here.”
ORIGINAL POST, JAN. 31, 8:03 A.M.: Occupy Movement rhetoric is flying as Anaheim residents and community
activists join forces to oppose a $158 million taxpayer handout to a
hotel developer at tonight's Anaheim City Council meeting.
“No more $160 million bailouts to the 1%,” reads a talking point on a flier distributed by Joanne Abu Qartoumy, outreach director of the East Street Community Renewal Initiative. “We the people are the 99%. No more bailouts!”
Meanwhile, Amin David, the longtime chairman of Los Amigos of Orange County, a group of Latino business leaders, writes in an email that Mayor Tom Tait and Councilwoman Lorri Galloway voted against the giveaway, so only one more council member needs to be swayed tonight.
David and Qartoumy are among those calling for opponents of the plan to meet at the Starbucks across the street from Anaheim City Hall at 4:30 p.m. before marching into the chambers where the council is scheduled to begin meeting a half hour later.
Under the proposal that won
initial approval from the Anaheim council last week, the partnership that wants to build two hotels in the GardenWalk retail and restaurant center in the resort district would receive 80 percent of the room-tax revenues the hotels bring in during their first 15 years in business.
GardenWalk, which is along Katella Avenue east of Harbor Boulevard, was opposed since the planning stages by Disney, which has its own competing Downtown Disney retail and restaurant center, and has struggled ever since. Operators last year announced a makeover for the open-air mall that would reduce the number of shops and increase the number of restaurants.
The council in 2009 approved tens of millions of dollars worth of tax subsidies for the development of hotels there, but now the GardenWalk hotel partnership headed up by William O'Connell and Ajesh Patel want an even larger slice of the tax-generating pie. Proponents claim the amount of new business generated by the projects will bring even more funds into city coffers.
City staff recommended a no vote last week, but
on first reading a council majority–Kris Murray, Gail Eastman and Harry Sidhu–voted
in favor, arguing the project is needed to create jobs during a sluggish recovery.
Which brings up an interesting wrinkle exposed last week by the Voice of OC's Adam Elmahrek: Sidhu has received at least $6,800 in illegal campaign donations
from businesses organized by O'Connell and Patel.