Friday, August 10, 2012

Anaheim Police Win A Major Battle Against Gang Violence

In the early hours of the morning, Anaheim Police and Federal agents descended upon a number of gang-controlled areas, including the neighborhood in Central Anaheim that has long been infested by the Eastside Gang. Yep, that would be the same Anna Drive / Acacia Street area that has been in the news lately. It seems the cops had very good reason to suspect that some men were into illegal activity and were worth questioning. That suspicion appears to have less to do with racial profiling, and everything to do with the fact that law enforcement has been watching the gang in that area for roughly a year! Those cops knew who was dealing drugs, who was dealing guns, who needed to be questioned, and frankly, who to fear might be carrying a gun. In fact, the OC Register reports   that "Among the mugshots of suspects displayed at the news conference was one of Manuel Diaz. His death July 21 was the first of two back-to-back police shootings last month that touched off nights of protest." 

The LA Times reports that "FBI crime statistics show that after several years of decline, violent crimes in Anaheim increased 10% last year, going from 1,161 to 1,281; murders nearly doubled, from 7 to 15. The increase went against a national trend that saw a 4% decrease in violent crime.
Anaheim police say they are seeing an uptick in gang crimes with guns, which could be a factor in an increase in deadly confrontations involving officers. Police have fatally shot five people in the city this year. "
 The Times goes on to quote Anaheim Police Sgt. Bob Dunn, saying, "The gang crime involving guns is up 40%. The number of guns taken from gang members is up 233%," Dunn said. "The gang crime is up, but importantly, it is the amount of guns from gangs we're seeing."
Following the initial officer-involved shootings in late July, KFI's Steve Gregory pulled records from the Anaheim Police files, from which he reported on the Bill Carroll show that over 900 calls for service were made in the last year for the Anna Drive area, 69.9% of those calls were complaints and tips from local residents. Clearly the people living in that area are desperate to have the gangs cleaned up, although I am sure they would prefer that the gangs not know that they want them gone! 
While I am no apologist for the APD, and I have had my fill of some arrogant behavior from some on the force, I have to applaud the Chief for his discretion and professionalism in handling the recent protests. It could not be easy to stand there, attacked on national television, knowing the criminal back-story of that area and some of the people involved. 
Meanwhile, a gang member was reportedly shot by members of an opposing gang on Wednesday night, while walking along  Sycamore Street near State College.  No reports have surfaced regarding angry residents protesting, looting, or rioting in response this gang-on-gang violence. News cameras are not blocking traffic on Sycamore Street seeking to interview community leaders' reactions to the shooting, and Anonymous and OccupyLA have not yet released their press statements on the event. We will keep our readers updated regarding any lawsuit filed by family members against the gang purported to be responsible for the shooting, and of course we will share the many youtube files sure to be uploaded showing the heinous shooting. Go ahead, hold your breath for that. 
Meanwhile, as national media picks up the news that was included in a press event this morning, the APD site for Press Releases does not appear to have been updated since 2011, 
and there is no mention of this victory for law-abiding citizens on the official  page for "News in Anaheim" either, which was last updated on August 1st. While Anaheim's Police Chief is doing a great job of trying to clean up challenging areas under overwhelming odds, it seems we have a long way to go in the "official" education of our citizenry. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Circus Returns to Anaheim

Today marks one of the most significant City Council meetings  to be held in Anaheim since we recalled the KKK members off our Council in the 1920s. You could not pay me to be Mayor Tom Tait today, and yet, many of us are glad it is he that sits in the center seat on that raised platform, Chairing tonight’s meeting. Tom Tait has become Anaheim’s symbol for “Keep Calm and Carry On,’ southern California style.

On tonight’s agenda, which is a Special Meeting called on an otherwise non-Council meeting date, the City Council, with Councilmember Gail Eastman scheduled to call in from Michigan)   will consider two contentious agenda items, previously postponed when “civil unrest” disrupted the Council meeting on July 24th.

A possible ballot initiative to allow Anaheim residents to vote on future subsidies of Resort hotels using TOT revenues, will be the first item considered for vote.

The second decision is whether or not to place on the ballot an opportunity for voters to change the City’s Charter to create Council Districts, dividing the city into six distinct areas, each with its own Councilmember responsible to, and elected by, the residents of that District or Ward.
As if these two items were not enough to pack a Council meeting, the business will take place following public comments to allow residents to share their views on community tensions and violence, following recent Police shootings.

In light of the expected crowd, the meeting has been moved from the usual Council Chambers at City Hall (with a capacity of roughly 200) to the Cook Auditorium at Anaheim High School, where at least 1,000 might be comfortably seated. It stands to reason that the City needed a larger venue, centrally located for the audience expected to speak from the Anna Drive area, and something that was not already booked with previous events. But those of us with a passion for history cringe at the idea of folks wearing bandanas over their faces  storming into a Depression-era historic landmark when they have shown little signs of respect for property  to date. We can only hope that a better crowd attends tonight’s meeting. 

 The surrounding neighborhood is already bracing for impact, with storefronts being boarded up, and private security hired along Lincoln, by business owners reluctant to join others further east. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t, the Mayor and Council have no choice but to continue the meeting previously interrupted, take as many precautions for security as possible, and we all hold our collective breath until it is over. (Perhaps if we keep Lorri Galloway in her seat where she belongs instead of out front cheering on protesters we can maintain some level of dignity.)
As far as anticipating votes tonight, division is the name of the game.
The TOT Initiative is not expected to pass. The signature gatherers did not collect enough signatures for the ballot, and there is no legal obligation to let them slip this in. Yes, I know there are plenty of reasons for the shortfall, ranging from the City Clerk’s miscommunication of the requirements (to be fair she is reported to have told the Take Back Anaheim group to hire a lawyer to advise them, not her fault they didn’t!) to an alleged “deal” cut between Nick Berardino’s OCEA and Carrie Nocella/Todd Ament somehow representing the City’s negotiating team. While I have heard from plenty of people claiming to be close to that negotiation who insist a deal was made, and the timing certainly appears about as suspect as an email from an African Prime Minister, nobody can provide proof that the private sector and labor unions cut a deal. Even if proven, the existence of a deal between Berardino and the business community  would still only negate the funding for Galloway’s Take Back Anaheim Initiative, but would not impact whether the City had a legal obligation to place it on the ballot. One would have to assume that further funding might have gained the required additional signatures, but there is no way to prove the allegation. That the Council is willing to consider putting this on the ballot at all is a courtesy. Frankly, I do not see that Initiative being successful even if it did make it to the voters, Galloway seems unable to galvanize the public into any cohesive force for positive change. Look for that one to lose, by a 3-2 vote, if not 4-1.
The District issue has become the most divisive of them all, and with George Kalogridis taking an official position on behalf of Disney in favor of the Districts, we have a whole new ballgame. Kris Murray has been the most vocal Council opponent arguing against putting the issue on a ballot. Sidhu and Eastman have been rather quiet, Sidhu has no horse in this race as he is termed out, (and his political career is over) and Councilmember Eastman typically waits until the last minute when she has heard staff input and public comments before making up her mind, a style she developed while serving on Planning Commission. Galloway and Tait have come out in favor, which Tait’s political enemies  claim is further proof of an unholy alliance between the two. In reality they are in favor of the issue for completely opposite reasons. Galloway appears to be pandering to the same groups she always plays to, claiming to give a voice to the disenfranchised in impoverished neighborhoods. While interviewing residents in some of those areas following the recent protests, many of those folks have Lorri’s number-some have accused her of exploiting them when the TV cameras are running, without fostering any real, lasting change for their lives.

Tait has made it clear that he wants to be sure that residents have a say in how they are to be governed, and the best way to do that is to put in on a ballot and let people vote. I think he may also be trying to avoid paying out on a messy lawsuit, filed by the ACLU, which Anaheim is pretty much guaranteed to lose. As Rod Pacheco points out in the California City News   “Since California enacted the Voting Rights Act, lawsuits have been numerous and against all types of subdivisions. The plaintiffs have won every time, and costs have been significant.”
With $15 million dollars and legal fees on both sides paid by the loser, and a precedent of not a single school district or municipality ever winning against the ACLU in a battle over the California Voting Rights Act, I have to agree. While I detest the idea of Council Districts and the tit-for-tat deal making sure to come with fiefdoms, I detest even more the idea of being forced into them AND writing a check for tens of millions, payable to the ACLU. Should voters choose to reject Districts at the polls, then the City will have a mandate to fight, and we will take our chances with that. But the only way to really know what the people of Anaheim want is to put it on the ballot and let them vote.
Sadly, some leaders are convinced they know best, pushing instead for a citizens group to “study” the issue. But a focus group does not appear to stop the clock ticking on that ACLU lawsuit. It is a question I intend to ask the City Attorney tonight. The only benefit I can see to a focus group is stalling long enough for a few incumbents to be re-elected before the new rules take effect and force Anaheim Hills candidates to compete against each other for smaller slices of the same pie, rather than running roughshod over the entire City with copious amounts of Chamber-raised money. But then, that is just me.
The big “IF” in this debate is covered in today’s OC Register announcement of Disney taking an official position in support of Districts. This is rare in that while Disney likes to write checks to their favorite candidates (or at least the candidates most likely to win based on polling numbers) it is rare for Disney to take sides in a City-wide issue, in fact they have not done so since 2007-2008 when they sued over the SunCal development. That leaves the Disney-Chamber-SOAR  “jobs team” leaders potentially working against the stated desires of Disney. I know a few staffers on both sides of the 5 freeway who are likely slugging bottles of Maalox at their desks today.
So tonight Anaheim will be hosting the circus, which is odd since Ringling Brothers left town last week. All we can do is sit back and watch the votes (and the personalities behind them) play out in an old historic theatre, where hopefully guests will be respectful of the 90-year-old environs, as well as the innocent nearby homeowners and small businesses that had nothing to do with the issues that activists are angry about.

I am off to pick an outfit that goes with a Kevlar vest. I think stiletto heels may not be my wisest choice for tonight. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Another Galloway on Anaheim City Council? Not on Mike's Record!

Anaheim’s political watchers were floored yesterday at the announcement that Mike Galloway, husband of Councilmember Lorri Galloway, pulled papers to run for Anaheim City Council. Honestly, Galloway’s future has been a much-discussed topic, wondering what kind of move she would make next in order to keep the special interest money rolling into the friends-and-family charity Lorri and Mike run, aided by her best friends and her own kids. Yep, everyone is feeding at that trough. But a run by Mike was unexpected.
Lest anyone confine their disgust at the use of homeless women and children for personal gain to just the lady of the house, Mike Galloway has been personally involved in a lot of dealings that appear to speak to the quality of his character- or lack thereof.

Just to kick off his campaign, let’s look at how the Galloways managed to put together the seed money to relocate from Salinas to Anaheim Hills. While we in Anaheim had known about this, I will borrow documents from Friends for Fullerton’s Future, as they have the primary records easy to grab.

Many rumors about the Galloways are out there on the internet, but in keeping with my policy of “If you can’t prove it you can’t print it,” I am only repeating those allegations that are documented with retrievable records.  (The Galloways are known for suing people who say things they don’t want to hear. See Case # 746160 Santa Ana Superior Court later dismissed as a SLAPP nuisance suit.)

In this case I am working directly from court records retrieved by FFFF from Monterey County courts.

While the dates on this are old (late ‘70s early to mid 80’s) the caliber of character it takes to throw one’s dying aunt into the streets because you sucked her house dry of equity without her knowledge is a pretty timeless issue, and not one that qualifies a person for public office.  In addition, the amounts may seem minor, but relative to today’s dollars, the amounts would be substantial. Imagine the value in the average real estate investment today for a rough comparison. One may overlook a decades-old bankruptcy, or even a youthful indiscretion, but I see this kind of behavior as just pure evil. That said, here is the court case.
On or about October 20, 1977, Plaintiff Barbara J. Russell (Mike Galloway’s aunt) and defendants Michael G. Galloway and his wife, Lorraine Galloway entered into an agreement with regards to property located at 415 Chaparral Street, Salinas, CA.

Defendant took title to the property described above and obtained a loan secured by said property from the Bank of America. The Plaintiff remained in residence on the property and paid to the Bank of America the monthly payments to include an amount for taxes and insurance, provided for in the first mortgage held by Bank of America.

Without notice to the plaintiff, (emphasis mine) Defendant encumbered the property on three occasions. Defendant borrowed $12,000.00 on January 19, 1980, secured by a Deed of Trust recorded February 6, 1980.

Defendant obtained a third loan in the amount of $6,300.00 on September 9, 1980, secured by a Deed of Trust recorded September 29, 1980.

Defendant obtained a fourth loan in the amount of $6,500.00 secured by a Deed of Trust recorded August 10, 1981.

Mike Galloway’s aunt, reportedly dying of cancer, learned that her house was mortgaged to the hilt only when it went into foreclosure! It appears she had trusted her nephew to help with her finances so that she could focus on the battle for her life, and he sucked her dry.

Looking at the original document (attached in the pdf of court docs) the agreement makes it clear that the sale of the property would release all equity back to Barbara Russell, and in the event of her death the money would go to her children. There appears to be no written intent that Galloway had any right to the equity in the house, and the courts agreed. Sadly the judgment was won only after the house was lost to foreclosure, Barbara Russell was awarded the money, but died before it was collected. More later on how the Galloways appear to have pocketed the money altogether.

It isn’t often that I agree with Harry Sidhu, but to be fair, he did try to warn the people of Anaheim about the caliber of the Galloway family’s dealings, with this mailer sent to voters back in 2004. 

Some of us tried again in 2008 to warn voters about the Galloway family’s lack of ethics. Will voters pay attention in 2012? This does not seem like the kind of stewardship that Anaheim needs, especially in light of our current critical environment.  I am going to do what I can to alert Anaheim’s voters, and hope our readers will help by sharing information.  There is a lot more where this came from. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Please Don't Call It Anacrime

So much has been reported elsewhere already on the powder keg that Anaheim has become.  Two more names added to a growing list of those killed in Officer Involved shootings. Protestors in masks screaming into bullhorns. A demonstration gone terribly, terribly wrong. Rioting and looting. Horrific images that seem to be of some other place, some other people. Is this really Anaheim?

Other than finger pointing and blame, nobody is really talking about the underlying cause of the spark that lit a fuse years in the making. Mainstream Anaheim wants to blame the gang members and the ’hood rats who enable their criminal activity. The violent gangs are certainly one of our major issues, but can any of us really look Manny “Stomper” Diaz’ heartbroken mother in the eye and tell her that her son had it coming to him? The disaster facing Anaheim today is the outcome of many influences, including different cultures, various political agendas, severe budget cuts, raw ambition, and exploitation from special interests, mixed with extreme failure to communicate in even the most basic sense.

This week I am reporting on that giant melting pot of misery, and hopefully we can begin to lay some blame where it belongs (you will be surprised-or maybe not), but, most of all, I hope to begin some discussion that might create some positive and constructive solutions, in the hope that never again will I turn on the evening news to see my favorite neighborhood grocery clerk cleaning up shattered glass from rioters who rampaged within walking distance of my home.

To that end, I have spent the last week quietly interviewing people from a variety of backgrounds, each with a compelling story to tell that illuminates our surroundings. What I found fascinating was how each of those stories became a puzzle piece, and when they are all put together we hopefully will have a better idea of the picture on the front of the jigsaw box. I suspect it is not going to be an image we want to frame for the family room wall.

 The neighborhoods where these fatalities take place scream disenfranchisement. It is easy to understand their bitterness. Let’s face it, few Council candidates walk the precincts of Ponderosa, Anna Drive, or Guinida Lane looking for votes, nor do they spend much time there after they’ve been elected. Except, perhaps, to show up for a neighborhood event long only enough for a photo op. (Arriving for a “work day” in a blinding white skirt and gardening gloves is a dead giveaway. But I digress.) The residents of these neighborhoods know who is, and who is not, really there to help. These people are poor, but they are not stupid. A very, very few have reacted with anger. Most are gathering strength for something more constructive. Perhaps something like Anaheim used to be.

Once upon a time, Anaheim benefitted from true CommunityPolicing programs,bringing together local residents and business owners, boots-on-the-ground police officers, Code Enforcement, and social services agencies. Those cops had the time to get to know the people they were protecting, and they got to know them as people. As a cop who knows his beat, when that thug-who-needs-to-go-to-jail runs for the alley, you know where he’s going, because you know his Mom, and his sister, and his next door neighbor. You know that when you get to Momma’s apartment she is going to hand that kid over to you, because she knows you are only taking her son to jail, not the County morgue. Code Enforcement went after the slumlords to improve living conditions, creating a sense of pride in areas that had long lived without it. Social services helped residents with access to resources, including helping the homeless with programs, rather than moving them on to someone else’s neighborhood park. Locals stepped up and took responsibility for themselves, knowing that someone with power and authority finally had their backs. It worked.
That effort was successful because those who knew what was needed worked together to create a plan, and that plan received the backing and resources of City Council and, specifically, then-Mayor Tom Daly (yes, occasionally even Democrats can be the good guys). For a time, government in Anaheim did what government does best-provide the services as a collective whole that allow individuals to provide for themselves. No nanny-state, just a true partnership of taxpayers and the stewards of those tax dollars.
Then, under Mayor Curt Pringle’s reign, Community Policing programs came to an end, at least in function. They still called it Community Policing, but the opportunity for cops to get out of their cars and get to know the key players face to face was lost to long shifts without partners or back-up. Tensions rose as Police and residents became nameless faces separated by the window of a cop car on a slow cruise down a street that none of them wanted to be on anymore.

Code Enforcement was changed to “Community Preservation” in an attempt to be more “freedom friendly.” In large part, that worked out to just be slumlord friendly. Residents lost hope as their complaints of hot and cold running cockroaches were ignored, then became bitter following the retaliation from absentee owners acting with the complete knowledge that the City Attorney would do nothing to them. Graffiti trucks routinely sat in the City yard for lack of repair funds, although a replacement truck could be had for the cost of, say, one Rose Parade float  (not that I am bitter). The message was loud and clear: business was the priority at City Hall. Residents, at least those who did not contribute to campaigns, would have to take a back seat.
I want to believe that the previous administration’s motives were pure, at least in the beginning. Focus on building a tax base through business development, the logic goes, and eventually we can bring that economic resource into the community. The grand experiment in business-centric policy failed. Anaheim’s unemployment rate at the end of when Pringle’s term actually exceeded that of the County as a whole

The downward spiral had begun. The economy in the toilet, neighborhoods in decline. A Police force so underfunded that cops were stressed out and afraid of the streets they were sworn to protect, with the result that the people began to fear the stressed-out cops. Quite a legacy to be handed to a new City Council.
Anaheim is not lost. Dazed and hurt from a beating, but not lost. Today, we tart up my neighborhood with the moniker of “Anaheim Colony Historic District,” but the reality is that I live in the inner city. Unless those brave souls who moved in here before me stood their ground in what had become a war zone, I would never have brought my kids here. It was an effort that made a real, long lasting difference, and thankfully “the Colony” was able to hold onto many of those improvements despite the last decade of civic leadership.
Mayor Tom Tait has looked to those success stories like “the Colony”, as examples of how the City might be pulled back from the brink. “HiNeighbor” has been ridiculed by some as a band-aid on a cancer patient, but it is based on the success of the Anaheim Colony neighborhood, and it is a beginning. The Council as a whole has balanced the budget, managing somehow to stop depleting the reserves while beefing up the APD budget to replace cops as they retire.  And an outside investigation of previous APD incidents had been authorized prior to the latest shootings, for which the State Attorney General and Federal investigators have been called in. If we learn from our mistakes we can fix this. The images of Tuesday’s riot are not indicative of who Anaheim is as a city. Instead, the image of Anaheim is the volunteers who showed up Wednesday  morning, activated by facebook and twitter, to quietly clean up someone else’s mess.

Anaheim did not get to this place overnight, and recent events are not the result of any one situation. To say that everyone on either side is all good or all bad is just too simplistic. While I hope that through strong leadership and a sense of purpose Anaheim can recover our sense of place faster than we lost it, I guarantee it will not happen until we all take the time to work together, and that starts with putting our own political agendas aside listening to what others have to say.

While interviewing people this last week I heard things I could never have guessed at, from some folks in and out of Anaheim I would not ordinarily encounter. Some of what I heard made me cry, and quite a lot of information led me to apologize, profusely, to people I had characterized as evil. Some information just confirmed the evil I had long suspected in others.

I greatly appreciate Marlena Carrillo of Kelly’s Army agreeing to speak to me, and set the record straight about events I had blamed her Fullerton group for. I am awaiting video proof that shows both sides of the argument, but I will be proactive and publicly apologize in advance.

My greatest apologies go to Mayor Tom Tait. I liked him, even when he was running against my friend, Shirley McCracken. But my only memory of his leadership on City Council was based on his last two years, as he helped his friend, and newly elected Mayor, begin those “Freedom Friendly” policies that became such a disaster for our neighborhoods. And when so many people, with agendas that appear to be polar opposites of Tait’s voting record and stated philosophies, began pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into his campaign, one has to question what they think they are buying.  I feared that his platform of “Freedom and Kindness” would apply only to well-heeled developers.

 If all that campaign money was intended to buy Anaheim’s special interests a Mayor, Tom Tait never got the memo. He has rooted out special interest back-door deals and slammed those doors (and a few windows left open by previous leaders)  firmly shut.  I have never been so glad to be so wrong about another human being in my life.

One can imagine that if this long-winded diatribe is my introduction, the body of the series is likely to be involved. We are going to break down the elements of how Anaheim got here, one by one, and make hamburger out of a few sacred cows. Please stay with us for the series. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

OC Then

Here is a blog I had not seen before-OC Then. Enjoy.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Anaheim Epicurean School Offers Summer Program for Locals!

Local Flavors-Downtown Anaheim Farmers Market Tour/Cooking Class

The new Epicurean School here in downtown Anaheim is sharing some of the best vegetable recipes for Spring. But first, a trip to the Farmers Market to pick up some fresh’re gonna love it. Call for details. Thursday, May 6 from 5:30-8:30p.m. and May 20 from 11a.m.-2p.m. Class is $75

Here's a twist for "date night"...instead of another average meal at another average restaurant-come and cook a meal together, it's fun. Then, sit down and relax, have a nice bottle of wine. Menu: Red leaf Caesar salad with herbed croutons and Parmesan crisps, eggplant timbales, risotto with asparagus and mushroom ragout, lamb skewers with caramelized shallot and thyme crust, chicken picatta, and for dessert.... chocolate souffle!Saturday, May 15 6:30-9:30 p.m. $150/couple

Make your reservations to:
Tina Hashioka
Epicurean School of Culinary Arts
http://www.epicureanschool/ .com

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Central District Neghborhood Council THIS WEEK!

Please join us this Wednesday at 7pm at the Downtown Community Center for our Neighborhood Council Meeting