While the priorities and antics of the current majority on the Anaheim City Council have been both entertaining and disturbing, the latest bit of budget news has us asking WTF? Voice of OC’s Adam Elmahrek reported yesterday that someone on the Council directed staff to resurrect a $6.4 million budget allocation for the renovation of the Anaheim Tennis Center and Wagner House, a city-owned property that is not free to the public. The allocation is the single largest capital improvement allocation in the parks and recreation budget for FY 2013-14.
In a city where there is a dramatic and disproportionate allocation of resources targeted to the more affluent areas of the city, and in the context of the civil unrest of last summer, we can think of no better example of how the elected leadership is out-of-touch and unrepresentative of the population of the city. Elmahrek points out in his article that Mayor Tom Tait claims to have previously had the item pulled from the budget allocations last year characterizing the expenditure as a waist of public funds.
From the article:
There is $1.5 million in the budget for various other park improvements, including “restroom improvements,” across the city. But it is not clear whether Little People’s Park is on that list.
How the tennis center made it back into the budget is unclear. Tait was unaware of the plan until Voice of OC informed him. The mayor has made bridging the gap between what he calls the “two Anaheims” a goal of his first mayoral term. He was livid when he found out.
“Incredibly tone deaf,” Tait said. “You would do that now after you have civil unrest in two Anaheims? Your biggest project is a tennis facility, with banquet facilities and catering and so you can have your finger food? Unbelievable.”
Coming right after the council majority rejected the proposal for district level election of council members we have to ask the council majority HAVE YOU EVEN BEEN LISTENING?. The proposal was recommended by a Citizens Review Committee established last year in response to a lawsuit filed by Los Amigos of Orange County claiming violations of the California Voting Rights Act. The committee was proposed by Councilwoman Kris Murray rather than place the matter of district level elections on the ballot in the last election.
At the time council member Murray, argued that there needed to be a process to determine the best direction for the city. After creating a committee, that was clearly stacked with individuals opposed to any changes to the current process of at-large election of council members, the council still ended up with the same proposal that had been introduced the prior year.
We encourage the Anaheim City Council to carefully consider their next steps. Approving $150 million tax giveaways, and prioritization of renovations to a tennis center that houses for-profit facilities (regardless of where the money comes from) over funding for parks in neighborhoods that have been under-served for decades demonstrates only one thing. That you care more about pleasing the higher propensity voters in the wealthier areas of the city, than the real clear and present needs of the majority of your residents.
We think that activist Seferino Garcia says it best in Elmahrek’s story:
“What about Little People’s Park? They need help. They need a lot of help there.”