Dr. Jose Moreno Pens an Open Letter: “Don’t make Disney a Tax Exempt Organization”



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)

Hi Jordan,

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


  19 comments for “Dr. Jose Moreno Pens an Open Letter: “Don’t make Disney a Tax Exempt Organization”

  1. Greg Diamond
    July 6, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Wow, Dan. I wonder who leaked that to you.

    That letter was, as I understand it, sent solely to DPOC Central Committee members, of which I am one. I asked Dr. Moreno about whether he intended it to be published to the public — and he told me that it was a message from him for internal communication to the DPOC (and Brandman, of course.) On that basis, given that I had received it in my official capacity, I decided NOT to publish it.

    Once again, your wing of the party demonstrates that its rules apply only to some, not others. Congratulations on the hard-earned “scoop.” I guess there’s no point in protecting DPOC secrecy at this point. I’ll address your analysis in a brighter environment.

    • David Vasquez
      July 6, 2015 at 9:21 pm

      You understand incorrectly.

      This letter was sent to me in a 30+ email chain and it was being encouraged to “spread the word”. There was NOTHING private about it.

      It was Jose’s attempt to grandstand and again use race to divide and conquer for personal gain.

      • Greg Diamond
        July 6, 2015 at 9:42 pm

        Why does your avatar keep changing? Do you write while jogging from coffeeshop to coffeeshop?

        A 30+ email chain? In under 90 minutes? That’s impressive. Why don’t you (or Dan, if you sent it to him) publish the chain, given that that’s no more private than this? Who’s the DPOC member who first sent it to someone out of DPOC? (Hell, who sent it to you — unless, as I suspect, you are either part of DPOC or very close to someone who is?)

        That you immediately charge Dr. Moreno with “us[ing] race to divide and conquer for personal gain” cements my suspicion that (1) you’re probably not Latino and (2) you’re probably not even a Democrat, except possibly nominally.

        I just checked out your other comment, and I can’t remember whether our host allows me to call you the racist that you are — and, if so, whether I can call you a racist piece of dung or whether I can avoid all euphemisms. Enjoy your blogging home.

        • David Vasquez
          July 6, 2015 at 10:09 pm

          OK- Before you get your panties in a knot (perhaps too late). I received an EMAIL addressed to 29 other people + me with the text of the letter published here.
          In addition, I received earlier links to the Voice Of OC puff piece, where Moreno cries about getting NO respect. Guess what Jose, you weren’t elected and the last I checked there is NO requirement for a news outlet (in this case the OCR) to quote you if they don’t want to. Further, maybe his comments got axed by editors because he was inflammatory.

          The only thing that’s cemented is your brain! To think that other democrats, just because we vote and belong to the same institution think like you and subscribe to your asinine EXTREME views is naïve. Don’t you wonder why YOU have been virtually exiled? You are on an island dude, an island none of us want to visit (accept your cadre of special interest associates/clients).

          With a name like Vasquez, I am sure not Japanese, but, you seem to be in the “Know” about everyone. and I never mention race, that is your race baiting buddy Jose’ Moreno, PRIVATE CITIZEN.

          As I have said, you to me are like a gifted musician who succumbed to drugs or a genius who couldn’t comprehend the most basic attributes of modern life. Come on a puppet show? an eight part fantasy about a gate tax. Try listening more and talking/blogging less. Really. I have not spoken to a single person who doesn’t shake their head in embarrassment and/pity when your name comes up.

          Keep attacking the messenger, I call it like I (and most others) see it!

          • Greg Diamond
            July 7, 2015 at 12:20 am

            “Before you get your panties in a knot” — I think that the only Democrat I know who uses that language in print is our host. Are you *sure* you are a Democrat — and not him?

            I have no real reason to think that you’re actually a Democrat, Mr. Vasquez. Nor do I have any real reason to think that you’re a Vasquez. (I doubt that you’re Japanese, though, though I suppose that it could explain your disdain for the political fortunes of Latinos.)

            You to me are like a gifted character assssin who comes from the Republican Party — except I’m being charitable with the word “gifted.” You seem perhaps to be associated with a wealthy enough institution that you don’t have to think of creative ways to get attention for your cause — although it may be less of a concern to you if your causes are simplistic. Have you ever even *worked* for an actual politician? Have you ever worked for a cause without getting money or access to power for doing so? If you’re a Democrat, probably so — so, what cause? Same-sex marriage? Abortion rights? Unionization? Any?

            “Really. I have not spoken to a single person who doesn’t shake their head in embarrassment and/pity when your name comes up.”

            Then you either need to get out more (and/or hang out with a better crowd) — or to stop being fictional. Or maybe it’s “stop lying,” as I presume that you have done here when you talk about having seen a previous draft of Dr. Moreno’s letter. If that’s true, publish it. He’ll be able to verify it if it’s true.

            • July 7, 2015 at 7:43 am

              actually, the phrase I use is “panties in a bunch.” I never say “knot.” And I am not David Vasquez

            • David Vasquez
              July 7, 2015 at 9:44 pm


              Regarding your imagined “EXCLUSIVITY” to Democratic ideals, you are WAY off. You neither represent me and soon you will represent none in OC Politics. That’s 100% on YOU. Sorry for that. I mean it.

              If you were EVER to attempt to run for anything, your opponents would only need to “cut and paste” from your recent childish (albeit one sided) post/screenplay/play….I don’t know what the F%ck you were trying to prove. IT WAS STUPID and nobody involved cares. It supports the impression about you that you are “like a car with a distributor cap that’s a few degree’s off”. It still runs but something ain’t right. and that was from one of your supporters.

              Please provide us ith a SINGLE DPOC member who supports your infighting. As you sad: NAME NAMES;

              TEAM PROGRESS:

              TEAM GREG DIAMOND: 0

        • July 7, 2015 at 7:52 am

          for what it’s worth, I don’t know why one of your comments was placed in moderation while the others went through. I did approve your last one just before I retired for the night, but its entirely possible that with all the comments you left, our system identified you as a spammer and placed your last comment in moderation. There was no human decision in the process of placing this comment in moderation. But it was approved quickly enough.

        • Dan Chmielewski
          July 7, 2015 at 8:56 am

          Hey Greg, since you’re asking why an avatar keeps changing, I scrolled over to OJ to read the Anaheim Insider play only to note your byline popped up in yesterday’s chapters..and now its all changed back to “Anaheim Insider.” Did you forget?

    • July 7, 2015 at 7:50 am

      I don’t divulge sources. There’s nothing in the open letter that says “do not publish.” An open letter is usually a device meant for broad public consumption

  2. David Vasquez
    July 6, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    Written as a private citizen this letter means absolutely NOTHING!

    Dr. Moreno had his chance and the voters of Anaheim SOUNDLY rejected him. He can write and wine all he wants but, it is not the least bit influential. But, I agree with the author, this is a move to position himself. He clearly has a “ghost writer” now. I saw earlier drafts and EMAIL’S (as published on the Voice Of OC), where the Ph.d spells Night: Nite and actually writes the words “You Know”, as in you know, you know…..SLANG.

    But, hey it’s good politics, while the Tibetan “Benny Hinn” preaches peace and solace to a city with such bad gang violence that the mothers of dead criminals urge rioting and “REGRET” calling for peace. I have to wonder what all these factions will do when the free-for-all that is redistricting happens. It will only serve to weaken Democratic interests in California’s 10th largest city.

    • July 7, 2015 at 7:46 am

      I only received the final draft after it was sent to Jordan Brandman and the entire list.

  3. Anaheim Outsider
    July 6, 2015 at 10:45 pm


    Now Greg is up in a frenzy ALL NIGHT crafting a response. Just what Anaheim needs 10,000 words on why Vern and Cynthia know better than the elected establishment.
    Where is Lori when we need here. She and Sharron seemed the only ones able to talk this guy of the ledge (figuratively speaking).

  4. July 7, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Wow, this place is getting sick, no wonder I haven’t been here in a long time. Leave aside the spoonfed ignorance of Dan’s commentary here, the list of people in Anaheim this once-liberal blog now hates includes Mayor Tait, Dr. Moreno, the bereaved mothers, and the DALAI LAMA.

    Let me digest that for a while.

  5. July 7, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    Vern, I’m not sure where you get we “hate” anyone especially the Dalai Lama or bereaved mothers. I certainly don’t hate Dr. Moreno. “Spoonfed” please…..

Comments are closed.