Most of the focus on Anaheim’s District 4 contest has been on the incumbent, Mayor Pro Tem Lucille Kring, a conservative Republican. But what about her principal opponent, Fr. Arturo Ferreras-Querijero, who is comparatively unknown outside of progressive political circles.
Ferreras-Querijero is a registered Democrat whose politics can be fairly characterized as being on the far-left end of the political spectrum. He’s a former Roman Catholic priest who is now a priest of the Ecumenical Old Catholic Church, a dissident sect that broke from Rome in 1870 over the papal infallibility doctrine, and has since diverged sharply from the Catholic Church on issues such as Sacraments of marriage and Holy Orders.
Ferreras-Querijero is active in progressive political causes. He is an Orange County leader in CLUE (Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice), a Religious Left political group. CLUE advocates for a range of left-wing causes. CLUE’s stances include:
- Supporting Proposition 30 – Governor Jerry Brown’s $9 billion package of tax increases.
- Actively participating in a campaign to unionize charter schools.
- Joining the campaign by the giant government union AFSCME aimed at pressuring the UC Board of Regents to adopt the “living wage” requirement, which actually reduces the number of jobs and would impose costs on the UC system then would ultimately be passed on to students in the form of higher tuition. Here’s CLUE’s letter to the UC Regents, signed by dozens of progressive clergy – including Fr. Ferreras-Querijero.
Fr. Ferreras-Querijero was a vocal supporter of one of the most egregious anti-property rights, anti-business actions taken by a Orange County city council in memory: Anaheim’s forced “amortization” shutting down all existing short-term rentals less than 18 months from now. This was led by Mayor Tom Tait from the council dais, in coordination with the militant hotel workers union UNITE-HERE, its “community organizing” appendage OCCCORD and leftist activists like Ferreras-Querijero. The small businesses into which literally hundreds of individuals and families have invested their savings are being extinguished in order to advance the conjoined political agendas of Mayor Tait, UNITE-HERE and OCCORD.
He supports UNITE-HERE’s current campaign of political blackmail against a hotel developer; the union is trying to qualify a referendum on the city’s development agreements with the Wincome Group’s for the development of two 4-Diamond hotels. UNITE-HERE will drop the referendum if Wincome Group will require employees of those hotels to join the union. In a different setting, it would be called racketeering.
Here’s Fr. Ferreras-Querijero laughing it up with UNITE-HERE organizers:
No honest person believes this is a principled stand by UNITE-HERE, fighting for “letting the people decide.” Neither of Ferreras-Querijero’s big backers – UNITE-HERE and OCCORD – are opposed to using TOT tax rebates to attract luxury hotels. Wincome Group had signed a “labor peace agreement” with UNITE-HERE prior to approval of the TOT tax rebate agreement, there would be no referendum.
If Fr. Ferreras-Querijero is elected and forms part of a progressive council majority, long-time Anaheim watchers expect to see official council support for such union strong-arm tactics.
Fr. Ferreras-Querijero is a sincere leftist, and as such is not particularly concerned with limited government or keeping city government within its proper sphere of activity.
At a recent candidate forum, Fr. Ferreras-Querijero objected to the city’s proposed streetcar system for the Resort District. Instead, he wants to take that money and use it to “build schools” and “invest in our children.” Fr. Ferreras-Querijero is unaware the city cannot take millions in dedicated transportation tax dollars and spend them on totally unrelated purposes. Further, he is unconcerned that cities should not be in the business of building and running public schools. This indifference is directly relevant since Mayor Tait – working with the aggressively progressive political leadership of the Anaheim Union High School District – has carved out for the AUHSD a dedicated line item in the city’s budget. In situation’s like this, once the camel’s nose is in the tent, the rest of the animal inevitably follows. If Ferreras-Querijero is elected and forms part of a progressive Democratic council majority, the public education establishment’s share of the city budget pie will only grow, and the teachers union will then be drawn into Anaheim council campaigns.
“Personnel is policy,” and the staffing of Fr. Ferreras-Querijero’s campaign is another manifestation of his left-wing politics. The campaign manager is Armando Telles, who previously worked on the 29th Senate District campaign of Sukhee Kang and Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez’s 1st District Supervisor campaign. Since September 2015, Telles has also been campaign director of the Unity Project of California, which “joins community, labor, and public entities in an effort to engage directly with students at local high schools throughout California to promote awareness of social issues and to provide programming that addresses civic responsibility through civic engagement, and to mobilize volunteers who are trained for civic engagement.”
In other words, it goes into high schools to recruit and train teenage progressive political activists.
Fr. Ferreras-Querijero’s volunteer coordinator is Marisol Ramirez – a paid community organizer for OCCORD, the union-funded progressive advocacy group that spear-headed the political campaign to move Anaheim to by-district elections. Here she is in 2013 at an anti-police rally in Anaheim, waving a “Police Are George Zimmermans with A Badge” sign from the Party for Socialism and Liberation:
Fr. Ferreras-Querijero touts his endorsement by Mayor Tom Tait. Although superficially surprising given that Tait is a Republican, the mayor has spent the last several years working closely with left-wing activists and progressive political interests on a number of campaigns – most significantly the shift to by-district elections that has knee-capped the GOP in Anaheim by herding high-propensity GOP voters into the political equivalent of a reservation. A candidate espousing Fr. Ferreras-Querijero’s radical politics wouldn’t have a chance under the at-large system. Now, thanks in large part to Tait’s efforts, a bona fide leftist has a shot at replacing a conservative Republican on the Anaheim City Council from District 4 – home to the biggest economic engine in Orange County.
In an August 31 e-mail that has been making its way around, Mayor Tait wrote “Yes, I endorsed Arturo, and no, he is not the “most liberal left wing progressive socialist out there.” However, he deflected the issue of Ferreras-Querijero’s ideology while claiming the Democrat “agrees with me on the big issues in Anaheim and who will be an ally in this big fight I’m in to save the city from insolvency.”
It’s difficult to credit as a bulwark of fiscal responsibility someone who wants the city to take millions of dedicated transportation dollars and divert it to school construction and “investing in our kids.” He and his allies do not oppose TOT tax subsidies; they want forced unionization, “living wage” and other liberal policies included as conditions of approval. They don’t oppose expanding the Convention Center because they’re budgetary tightwads, but because they want to use the money to construct a municipal welfare state. One cannot observe their ideological rhetoric and actions and reasonably conclude their policy preferences will “save the city from bankruptcy” (even assuming that is a danger). Quite the opposite.
What are the “big things” on which Ferreras-Querijero and Tait’s other leftist endorsee, Jose F. Moreno, are with the mayor? Pension reform? Color-blind government? School choice? Free enterprise? Is practicing racial identity politics one of those big things? Coercing businesses into unionizing? Squashing private property rights and small businesses (apparently the answer to that one is a “yes”). Putting city government in the business of funding universal college education?
The “big things” we should be concerned about are the extent to which a candidate believe in a limited government whose role is securing our natural rights to life, liberty and property, and treat us equally irrespective of our race, ethnicity, class or creed; to be the protector of ordered liberty instead of a coercive vehicle for providing for all our material needs. Neither of the progressive Democrats whom Mayor Tait is supporting subscribe to those big things.”
The Anaheim City Council is a strong platform to reach for higher office: the Board of Supervisors, the state legislature or even Congress. Does it make sense for conservatives to open a path to higher office for either Moreno or Ferreras-Querijero?
Mayor Tait has only two years left in office. If, as he hopes, Ferreras-Querijero and Moreno are elected, they will be on the city council long after Tait is termed out. If things work out as Tait’s progressive allies hope, these two men will form the core of a progressive Democratic council majority – and there’s no mystery about what their political agenda will and the kind of policies they will implement. Imagine the Santa Ana City Council with Anaheim’s financial resources and world-class tourism economy at its disposal. Imagine the bulwark of Democratic power in Las Vegas – the hotel workers unions – transplanted into Anaheim and tapping the dues from thousands of currently non-unionized workers to advance Democratic political frontiers in Orange County.
Those are some of the “big things” with which Mayor Tait’s progressive endorsees will be concerning themselves. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that the mayor is willing to strike a bargain with the Left in order to secure political payback and some semblance of control of the council during his final two years. As for the damage a progressive council majority – for which he would bear culpability – would inflict on Anaheim’s economy and civic finances…that doesn’t appear to be his concern.