(1) Case Dismissed, Merits Remain
Yesterday, OCCORD lost its lawsuit against the City of Anaheim’s giveaways to Bill O’Connell, owner of the GardenWalk hotel project in front of Judge David McEachen of what Matt Cunningham’s unconscious mind describes in his story as the “Superior Curt.” Seriously. Somewhere, Sigmund Freud is applauding.
Interest declared: your humbe author is CATER’s General Counsel and, as the Cunningblog notes, OCCORD “has been represented in this suit by liberal litigator Cory Briggs (who is also CATER’s partner-in-litigation against the Anaheim Convention Center expansion)” — which is true if by “is” one means “was, but hasn’t been since the matter was settled half a year ago.” CATER doesn’t disclaim our former association with Briggs, though: another judge might have come to a different conclusion in this case (something that Anaheim certainly recognizes when it loses) and we admire and appreciate Briggs’s and OCCORD’s willingness to put the city’s kleptocracy to the test.
The value of such a loss can be in its forcing a city to publicly acknowledge facts that it very much would prefer not to. This is what happened in CATER’s suit over the Convention Center, in which the City acknowledged that in its view a bare Council majority could spend literally any amount it wanted without the need to abide by state law, the City Charter, or to go to a public vote — a shocking assertion that the general public surely has not yet quite come to understand. But it soon might … especially now that we’re entering budgeting season and the City has apparently decided to publicly acknowledge some inconvenient truths about bond indebtedness. (More on that coming up….)
One welcome bit of candor: the Cunningblog notes that the “ruling clears the way for the development of two luxury hotels next to the GardenWalk,” omitting any mention of them as “four-star” hotels, because — as recently acknowledged in the debate over putting Mayor Tait’s anti-giveaway initiative on the ballot — they don’t actually have to be “four-star” hotels, despite that all of the rosy projections depend on this being assured.
It’s a bit like telling the people that one has paid big bucks for a four-tier wedding cake when the contract only says that the cake will have “a few” tiers. Hey — “a few” could be four!
(2) The Ruling
Judge McEachen’s tentative ruling stated the following:
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