Dr. Jose Moreno has penned an open letter to Anaheim Council member Jordan Brandman, asking Brandman to vote no on a proposal to extend the current agreement between the city and Disney for no gate tax for the next 30 years in exchange for the company’s promise to invest $1 billion in the Anaheim theme parks. Moreno said the plan would make Disney “a tax-exempt organization.”
Moreno also copied just about every OC Democrat, Labor leader and party influencer on his letter to Brandman, but didn’t contact Brandman first personally to make his pitch. Open letters seldom get the desired effect. The letter is likely posturing by Moreno for the 2016 elections, once districting is established and the council expands.
A few things:
- There’s no plan for a gate tax. There’s no suggested amount for a gate tax.
- Any expansion plans for the Anaheim parks by Disney are secret; CEO Bob Iger deflects these questions from Wall Street in every quarterly earnings call.
- The notion that Disney already plans to make this investment regardless of a gate tax is speculation.
- A gate tax isn’t levied on Disney; it’s levied on guests buying tickets to the park.
The Liberal OC has learned that OC’s organized Labor unions are supportive of the plan to exempt Disney from any gate tax in exchange for the investment, park expansion and the creation of thousands of new jobs for years.
Here’s the letter:
Subject: URGENT: Councilman Jordan Brandman–Please Do Not Support Making Disney Corp. a Tax-Exempt Organization…. Reply-To: Jose Moreno (email redacted)
I hope this email finds you well amidst the hectic nature of all things politics. My apologies for length of email but as a fellow Democrat, and with limited time for public notice on the topic of the Disney Tax-Exemption Deal in Anaheim, I feel compelled to share with you what I think could be a defining vote by you as the lone Democrat on the Anaheim City Council. Your vote may have a direct and negative bearing in relation to future Latino and Democratic councilmembers given the promise of District elections now in place for 2016. I am cc’ing Central Committee members of the DPOC as they should also be aware of what is truly at stake for us in Anaheim, as my fear is these type of “deals” will be pushed in other cities of Orange County. I would urge us all as Democrats to support Councilman Brandman in voting NO on this deal or to support efforts of postponing this generationally defining vote. Let’s show our communities that Democrats will fight to insure transparency, democratic deliberation and fair policies.
I’m emailing regarding the proposed 45 year binding agreement with Disney and the City of Anaheim that in essence makes Disney Corp., a multi-billion dollar corporation, into a defacto local tax-exempt organization for nearly a half century. This deal, which makes Disney Corp. tax-exempt until the year 2061, is akin to categorizing Disney, one of the most profitable corporations in the world whose CEO makes more than $56 million annually, as being similar for tax purpose to local places of worship e.g. church, synagogue or mosque or non-profit e.g. YMCA, Salvation Army etc. This seems completely against the values and principles of our Democratic Party and in voting for such arrangements may very well place us against the wave of Democratic policies seeking to address economic inequalities due to corporate greed and hubris. Indeed Jordan, we were quite thrilled that you recognized the corruption of corporate monies in politics when you asked your Council colleagues to pass a resolution against the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court.
Beyond what appears as a grossly unfair deal for the people of Anaheim, is that this deal binds the future hands of City Councils which via District elections promise to be more Latino and Democratic. In particular, there is a very real possibility that you will be the deciding vote on this item as the four Republicans on the Council may end up split 2-2 on this deal. It therefore hit me that as a Democrat with a potentially deciding vote on a generational deal, your vote may have lasting impacts on future councils. Beyond this agreement violating the right of future voters and City Councils to have all policy options necessary to govern, my primary concerns are the following:
1) On the eve of finally having a working-class oriented and Latino presence vis-à-vis district based elections in Anaheim, your vote may be the vote that binds the governing options of more diverse and potentially Democratic City Councils. Latino communities have fought for decades to achieve single member district elections. In addition, the plurality of registered voters in Anaheim are now Democrats. If this deal goes through, how will our more diverse and democratic councils be able to effectively govern? It seems that if projections of this deal are not fulfilled, it will be Latino and Democratic Councils that will be forced into cutting vital services to our own neighborhoods since corporate interests will have been shielded by long-term binding agreements and policies.
2) Future bond obligations with extremely limited abilities to raise revenues will force Latino and democratic city councils to impose draconian cuts to local social safety nets. This is quite disconcerting given pending pension liabilities due to collective bargaining agreements with public employee unions. If you vote to support 100% tax-exemptions for multi-billion dollar corporations, a more diverse and Democratic city council will simply have to be the ones to cut services, try to renegotiate hard fought for pensions by our city employees, and ultimately privatize remaining public services. This will of course bring the wrath of Latino voters who may then turn to other political parties to bring solutions to the table.
3) While there are over 3,000 jobs promised by this deal via Disney’s $1 billion investment, we know that most of those jobs will not necessarily be living wage jobs, thus placing tremendous strain on our neighborhoods and social institutions. As it is, our schools and neighborhoods are struggling to provide high quality services to our youth and families. When we fail to align our resources with those institutions, they ironically get blamed, as public institutions, for failing our youth, thus leading to a clamoring of privatizing public services including corporate-charter school networks to take over public schools.
I appreciate you reading my concerns Jordan and am happy to discuss via phone before the Council meeting tomorrow. Again, I send these concerns as a means of providing some thoughts and insights as a Democrat who simply wants to assure that the promise of future generations having a voice and vote in Anaheim, are not bound by today’s binding agreements. I do hope you will push for a postponement of this vote to allow for more input, perspectives and pragmatic analyses to occur. And if your Council colleagues refuse to postpone then a conscientious NO vote to protect democratic values and transparency would seem most appropriate.
Jose F. Moreno