Voice of OC Exposes Pay-to-Play Culture in Anaheim

Voice of OC reporter Adam Elmahrek has delivered an intriguing expose of the influence that former Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle still maintains in the city. In some cases discovered by Elmahrek, it appears that Pringle has danced precariously on the line that prohibited him from lobbying city officials within the year after he left his elected position.

Elmahrek has been digging into the back-room dealings of Anaheim’s elected and non-elected government officials for more than a year. He has exposed the dark underbelly of contract employees directing city business to their own firms and employers resulting in resignations of top officials including a City Manager. His reporting has uncovered efforts of managers to illegally purge government records of all documents that might prove embarrassing to elected officials and management.

His latest series leaves little doubt that Anaheim is a Pay-to-Play city. As the report from Elmakrek demonstrates Curt Pringle is a Master of His Universe.

Anaheim City Council Member Kris Murray (Photo: Chris Prevatt)

From Elmahrek’s story:

On Jan. 24, the City Council approved a $158-million subsidy for the developer of two four-star hotels at the city’s GardenWalk center. Tait and Councilwoman Lorri Galloway broke from the council majority and voted against the subsidy. Tait had called it bad public policy that is unfair to other hoteliers in the area.

But at least one of the developers — hotelier Bill O’Connell — was a Pringle client, raising questions from some opposed to the subsidy about whether Pringle had helped secure the council votes to approve the deal.

One City Hall source said that Pringle was seen with Murray and O’Connell at The Ranch Restaurant & Saloon in Anaheim the night of the Council vote, celebrating the subsidy deal with dinner and drinks. It remains unclear what Pringle was hired to do.

Elmahrek has found that Pringle’s influence peddling is not just limited to Anaheim.

Last July, seven months after Pringle left OCTA, he sat down for a breakfast meeting with OCTA Deputy CEO Darrell Johnson and the top executive at the Anaheim Transportation Network, a small transit agency — and Pringle client — that provides public transportation to Anaheim’s resort district.

By January, OCTA awarded the transportation network a $185,000 contract to develop an OCTA program known as rideshare, a planned outreach drive to encourage the public to reduce its carbon footprint by biking, walking, carpooling or taking public transit to work. Two subcontractors, including Curt Pringle and Associates, which is to receive $37,000 under the contract, are carrying out the vast majority of the work.

Read the two-part series here:

Curt Pringle’s Dance With California’s Lobbying Law

Pringle: Still Master of His Universe

  10 comments for “Voice of OC Exposes Pay-to-Play Culture in Anaheim

  1. April 4, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Pringle is slime. He and the unelected, self-appointed head of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce (aka the OC Business Council), Big Lucy Dunn have been pulling the strings at the OC Transportation Authority for years.

    Big Lucy just had Jerry Brown in town to support his tax plans (any question of her RINOocity?), and whatta-you-know, she just got reappointed to the California Transportation Commission.

    Dunn’s OCBC, which represents plenty of well-known includes (from http://www.ocbc.org) was actually responsible for an audit of OCTA vendor policy a few years, certainly to ensure that their list of members got their fair share:

    Alta Environmental
    CC Myers, Inc.
    CH2M Hill
    Cordoba Corporation
    Flatiron Construction
    Fluor Corporation
    Geosyntec Consultants
    HDR Engineering
    Hill International
    ICF International
    Jacobs Engineering Group Inc.
    LSA Associates
    Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade
    RBF Consulting
    R.J. Noble Company
    Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure, Inc.
    URS Corporation
    Vulcan Materials Company
    Willdan Group, Inc.

    Anaheim City Council member Kris Murray, who supported the hotel kickback, is one of Big Lucy’s disciples and worked for the OCBC before maneuvering herself onto their Council. Other famous OCBC staffers include Stan Onofrie, former OCTA CEO. Stan’s son gotten his hands dirty as well with the OCTA.

    Murray was among the anointed at OCTA CEO Kempton’s party, even though she’s a novice at elected office. Kempton’s disastrous reign of incompetence and foul ups at Caltrans has also never been fully exposed.

    Also referenced in the excellent Elmahrek article is Peter Buffa, former OCTA Board Member and Chair. Buffa left the Board to avoid a conflict of interest (another Voice of OC expose: http://bit.ly/HeZwKF). He may once worked for RBF Consulting, an Irvine engineering firm listed above that’s received plenty of OCTA business. Pringle and Buffa are clones of each other — opportunistic lobbyists working their Rolodexes in favor of their engineering and real estate clients.

    Here’s a complete list of the OCBC’s “investors”: http://www.ocbc.org/join-ocbc/ocbc-investors/.

  2. April 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    More of the same corruption. It is disappointing to see Gov. Brown rewarding Lucy Dunn, who is the godmother of business related insider corruption in OC politics, with an appointment.

    Perhaps the saddest chapter in this story is that Pringle and OCBC have corrupted a once promising up and comer, Jordan Brandman. Brandman lists Pringle as a mentor, and you can see the impact on Brandman’s ethics and political allegiances, which have shifted to OCBC, Pringle and Big Business, with an abandonment of ethics and the issues and people who supported him in his rise.

    Brandman spoke at the Anaheim City Council meeting in favor of the $158 Million giveaway, unethically using his title of Trustee of the Anaheim Unified School District to imply his support of the giveaway was official. This is not a surprise as he voted for and advanced similar giveaways from the Anaheim School District to the same developers, right after he was elected and started listing Pringle as a personal mentor.

    Brandman has no kids to be concerned with (other than himself) and doesn’t appear too concerned with the kids in the Anaheim School District, either. While he has the personal support of the current President of the Teachers’ Union, the Teachers’ Union members grade him with a resounding “F”! Now he wants to graduate to City Council and join other OCBC cronies like Kris Murray. He once looked like he had a moral and ethical compass, but now is showing himself to be have the values of Kurt “Mr. Brownshirt” Pringle, who never met an ethics rule or moral standard he wasn’t willing to bend or break for his own enrichment. You can expect more of the same from Brandman if Anaheim is stupid enough to vote him in on Council. Brandman currently is a paid County employee under Tom Daly, both of which spend their entire workday campaigning – often for one another – and using their existing elected positions to leverage support from the Big Business (Read: Rich Developers and Disney) through such obscene giveaways as the $158 million payout to rich millionaire developers to guarantee at least a 16% return on their investment.

    It appears that Brandman holds himself out as a Democrat to Democrats and a Republican to Republicans, and probably doesn’t care where he is as long as he advances his own self interests. So I guess that makes Pringle higher on the values ladder, because at least he doesn’t pretend to be anything other than who he is.

  3. Dan Chmielewski
    April 4, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    when you address city councils, you may use whatever title you hold so it was not unethical for Jordan Brandman to use his Anaheim School District Trustee title. Additionally, it doesn’t matter or not whether you have kids to be a good member of the board of education just as walking ito a church doesn’t make you a good Catholic or walking into a garage makes you a car.

    But since this message sounds more like the real KenLay and not the sockpuppet one, what do you care what happens in Anaheim? You live in Santa Ana, remember. If you want a stake or a say in how Anaheim manages Anaheim, move there and get some skin in the game?

    Now of course, I don’t believe a word of that. As an Orange County resident and a voter, you have every right to offer your opinion in what happens in other cities. And so do I.

    • April 4, 2012 at 6:50 pm

      I care what happens everywhere. The idea that you float of not being able to care what happens in neighboring towns or school districts is disingenuous, so you should not impliedly criticize me for it (assuming I do live in Santa Ana and not in Anaheim) and then say it is OK. Do I have to live in Fullerton to say an Assitant Principle of a Fullerton High School is wrong for embarrasing and disqualifying a school student running for “Mr. Fullerton” in front of hundreds of fellow students and parents for saying aloud that he hopes in 10 year that he will find his true love and be able to marry him because gay marriage will be legal by then?

      Brandman is an ambitious politician aspiring with a clear eye on the Assembly, specifically the 69th AD. That would be Santa Ana and Anaheim. Therefore, I would have “skin in the game” in the event that everything you say (i.e. I live in Santa Ana) is true.

      The OCBC has a perverse, negative and disproportionate impact on all of Orange County, and who it elects in City, County, State and Federal positions. Its elected progeny almost universally has acted in ethically questionable manner, most recently Kris Murray (rrrr, how can that be? An OCBC alumnus with a questionable moral and ethical compass? Really? Wow!).

      You isolate a single comment and take it out of place: Brandman not having a kid (Pretty sure that is true, but who knows, really?) is simply a way of saying along a line that he doesn’t care about the people he claims to have been elected to represent the best interests of, and shows opportunistic flexibility on issues to advance his political desires rather than the best interests of, again, those he was elected to serve.

      Finally, I fundamentally disagree with you that Brandman using his publicly elected title to speak as a private citizen on an issue unrelated to his elected role is unethical: I believe you would find that most open/good government advocates would as well. The $158 Million giveaway is not related to any School District issue of role. He acted as if he was speaking as an elected official on an issue pertinent to his elected role, position and knowledge. That is wrong. I would not have the objections (ethically) to him speaking out on the issue as a private citizen. He was seeking to bolster his voice and credibility on the issue by using his elected title. That is wrong, he should be ashamed, and should apologize publicly for it.

      • April 5, 2012 at 9:29 am

        I’m terrible sorry, but if this is the SAME KLND who routinely criticizes us for our coverage of Santa Ana because we don’t live there, then you can’t have it both ways.

        • April 5, 2012 at 10:27 am

          So let me get this straight: You ignore the points I make because you don’t want to deal with them, or you are more interested in who I am? On the one hand you say I am not that KLND and am happy to post b/c it makes that KLND look bad or inconsistent (or pokes fun at his rather outrageous and assinine comments) but you go astray and ignore the comments here because what, YOu are a Jordan Brandman fan?

          • April 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm

            I disagree that Jordan using his title in speaking out on the hotel deal was unethical. I can see both sides of the hotel deal and generally think if you give a busiess breaks, you need to offer other businesses the same breaks.

            You and I are in agreement that we can and should take an active interest in what goes on in nearby communities. But those who live in Santa Ana seem to disagree with this premise.

            • April 5, 2012 at 9:35 pm

              I know a lot of people in Santa Ana who do not believe in the premise that people outside of Santa Ana who do not agree with that premise. It is unreasonable to assume that all people in agree with the opinion of tools like Art Pedroza, who is the walking definition of hypocrisy and cogent thought. List the people in Santa Ana who agree with the premise, and I will be happy to tell you, to the extent I know, whether they are tools like Pedroza.

  4. Spike
    April 5, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Dan, leave poor KNLD alone! You have caught him in one of his double-standards — you can’t talk about Santa Ana unless you live there — and he doesn’t like it and doesn’t to answer for it.

  5. April 6, 2012 at 8:47 am

    It’s not the same KLND, but then again, since we don’t know who the sockpuppet is to begin with and they make a big deal out of using IP anonymizers to protect their identities, not much I can do here.

    But for this KLND, we going to have to agree to disagree on whether of not Jordan Brandman using his title as Anaheim Trustee was unethical. I don’t think so. And you do. And that’s OK.

Comments are closed.