Anaheim city council member Jordan Brandman spent the day’s after his key vote on Disney’s expansion plans to pen a letter to the Democratic Party of Orange County’s executive team and Central Committee members. In the letter obtained by TheLiberalOC, Brandman addresses a number charges made by public speakers at the event about what the agreement with the city and Disney is not and addresses how his decision to vote for the deal is based on Democratic principles.
You can read the letter here. From the letter:
“First, let me clarify what the agreement is not. It does not make Disney a tax-exempt corporation; it does not give taxpayer money to Disney; it does not trade investments in city services for an investment in the Disneyland Resort; it does not create a glut of low-wage jobs….”
“…in the agreement is a provision that extends a successful, 20-year policy. In 1996 (editor’s note: with then council member Tom Tait voting for the agreement), a few years after Anaheim City Council members soundly rejected an entertainment or “gate” tax, Anaheim and Disney agreed that were an entertainment tax ever passed, Disney would be reimbursed for any revenues collected. An entertainment tax is levied on every sale of a ticket to any entertainment venue, including theme parks, movie theaters, and sports stadiums…..an entertainment tax is paid strictly by the consumer. It is not a tax on the venue itself, or — for purposes of this discussion — Disneyland. Because the tax is levied equally on all customers, regardless of ability to pay, I believe the entertainment tax is regressive and contrary to our shared Democratic principles.”
“The bottom line is simple: on Tuesday night, the Council voted to eliminate the possibility of a regressive tax for thirty years in exchange for a minimum $1 billion investment that will create thousands of jobs and inject an annual $108 million in wages into our economy. We voted to create high wage jobs and generate tax revenue that we are committed to investing in our neighborhoods.”
In listening to speaker and speaker rail against the agreement and making some of the very arguments that Brandman corrects for the record, I found myself questioning how they arrived at the “facts” they did. Our blog was asked to support an effort to not make Disney a tax-exempt organization, which the current agreement does not. My stance was and still is that Disney wouldn’t be paying a tax — it would be paid by people entering the park. Yes, Disney keeps raising the price of admission. Yes, people keep paying it to go to the park. I suspect Disney could double the price of admission and the park would still be full.
When you consider the sheer number of union construction jobs added to the more than 2,000 permanent jobs that will be created, the economic benefit alone is significant to Anaheim. The greatest tool for raising low income workers out of poverty is a good job at good wages. This deal offers that opportunity to hundreds of Anaheim families and to other families in Orange County.
And if times got really tough, there’s nothing stopping Anaheim from passing a city wide sales tax that would in fact tax merchandise sold at Disneyland and Downtown Disney. But a sales tax, like the gate tax, is a regressive tax shared by everyone that hurts low income residents the most.
The Greg Diamond wing of the party, the one that likes to play footsie with conservative Mayor Tom Tait, seems to believe if you insult, bully or intimidate the council majority enough, they’ll vote your way. How is that working so far? Suggesting that Council member Kris Murray’s aide, Ariana Barrios, is conflicted someone because she used to do some consulting work for Disney over a year ago somehow means Murray had to recuse herself from voting on this deal just makes Diamond the new Stretch Armstrong.
Diamond, in comments on AnaheimBlog, has stated the city’s vote on the action was illegal and promised some sort of response from CATER, which has sued the city twice already losing one case with another pending. I have to believe that if anything done Tuesday night was illegal, the city attorney would have stopped it right there.
The Democratic Party is and always has been a big tent that includes social liberals and business Democrats to moderate Bulldogs. We don’t march lockstep like Republicans often do. It’s a shame Brandman has to defend his Democratic bonafides. While Republicans might view this agreement as one that’s good for business, Brandman sees it as one that’s good for taxpayers, especially those on the lower end of the socio-economic ladder.