Why Is Howard Ahmanson Supporting Leftist Democrats for Anaheim City Council?

Conservative donor and Home Savings heir Howard Ahmanson is probably the last person one would expect to be funding an independent expenditure campaign to elect to two leftist Democrats to the Anaheim City Council.

Yet, that is exactly what is happening.

Ahmanson is funding mailers supporting Jose F. Moreno in District 3 and Arturo Ferreras in District 4, (and attacking the conservative Republican candidates in Districts 1 and 5 who lack the Tom Tait imprimatur). Two years ago, Ahmanson put $50,000 into a Tom Tait-led campaign attacking Anaheim Councilmembers Kris Murray and Gail Eastman (both Republicans), so there’s every reason to expend his spending on behalf of these two progressive Democrats to continue. Ahmanson is also funding mailers attacking two conservative Republican candidates: Steve Chavez Lodge in District 1 and Steve Faessel in District 5.

If elected, Moreno and Ferreras would easily be the most left-wing local elected officials in Orange County.

A typical day on Jose F. Moreno’s Facebook page: glorifying the Left or portraying American history as a chronicle of racism and oppression.

Moreno – the chair of the Chicano Studies Department at Cal State Long Beach – is the better known of the two. He was the lead plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit that led to Anaheim’s shift to by-district elections – the key element in well-organized, very well funded campaign by progressive political interests to flip the Anaheim City Council from Republican to Democrat and establish a beachhead from which to turn Orange County blue.

How left-wing is Jose F. Moreno? Some examples:

-He’s an avid supporter of Bernie Sanders, his democratic socialism and redistribution policies – and wants to apply them to Anaheim.

-He is a strident critic of “for profit” charter schools and sent an e-mail to OC Democratic Party members saying he wished the law authorizing charter schools had never been passed.

-He wants to create a host a city-funded entitlement programs: free college tuition for all Anaheim high school graduates; city-funded down payments for first-time home buyers; free child-care for poor families.

-He supports imposing an entertainment tax and vocally opposed the recently adopted moratorium on such a tax.

-Moreno is a devotee of the late Marxist historian Howard Zinn – whose life mission was to convince generations of American students that the Founding Fathers were racist slaveholders who only waged the War of Independence in the pursuit of their narrow economic interests, and subsequent American history is primarily a chronicle of genocide, racist oppression and class struggle.

-Moreno said the idea of “marking” the drivers licenses issued to “undocumented residents” puts us “down the path of Nazi Germany.

-He opposes the deportation of illegal immigrants and supports immediate amnesty.

Here’s Moreno praising British actor Russell Brand’s call for a “socialist egalitarian system based on the massive re-distribution of wealth, heavy taxation of corporations” and saying “profit is a filthy word.”

-Asked during his 2014 council campaign if he supported a variety of tax hikes, Moreno smiled and said he was “open to the idea” of imposing all of them.

-Moreno is a devoted practitioner of racial identity politics who believes more weight should be given to certain voter groups because of their race or ethnicity.

-He opposes Measure U, which raises the council vote threshold necessary to place a new or increase tax on the ballot from a simple majority to two-thirds.

And this is not even an exhaustive list.

Arturo Ferreras hasn’t been as high-profile and vocal as Moreno, but shares his far-left progressivism. For example, the radical clergyman is active in CLUE (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice). CLUE is the Religious Left auxiliary of the Democratic Party and it:

  • Agitates for higher taxes – for example, supporting Proposition 30 and now Proposition 55.
  • Supports restricting charter schools and forcing them to unionize
  • Favors greater government control of the economy.

Like Moreno, Ferreras was a vocal proponent of shutting down hundreds of legal, licensed, tax-paying Short-Term Rentals in Anaheim – an egregious, arbitrary and politically-driven assaults on the property rights and livelihoods of those STR owners.

Electing Ferreras necessitates defeating Mayor Pro Tem Lucille Kring – a conservative Republican.

Why would Ahmanson – who over the years has poured so much treasure into advancing the conservative cause – fund this effort to elect two progressive Democrats whose view of the relationship between the citizen and the state is diametrically opposed to his own?

Moreno and Ferreras subscribe to a political philosophy in which the government is the central actor, and in which government action drives society. As councilmembers in Orange County’s largest city, they will work to advance progressive politics and roll back conservatives. Imagine the Santa Ana City Council with the financial resources and world-class economy of Anaheim at its disposal – whether or not he acknowledges it, that is what Ahmanson is working to make a reality.

The answer isn’t a mystery: Ahmanson is financing Mayor Tom Tait’s bid to take control of the Anaheim City Council by any means possible – even if that means endorsing and doing everything possible to elect two uber-progressive Democrats.

Anaheim’s Hotel Incentive Policy – using TOT tax rebate agreements to incentivize the construction of 4-Diamond hotels – is usually cited as the justification for this extreme course of action. Mayor Tait’s attitude towards this policy is equivalent to Captain Ahab’s toward Moby Dick. Killing it has become an obsession, and the long-term political damage inflicted on Anaheim’s ship of state in pursuit of its destruction is of no apparent concern.

In an e-mail that became widely circulated in political circles, Mayor Tait said he was backing Arturo Ferreras because the leftist Democrat who is with him “on the big issues” and “opposes all this crap” i.e. TOT tax rebates for hotels.

Tax Subsidy Opponents? Don’t Bet On It.

Jose Moreno at UNITE-HERE/OCCORD press conference

The irony is the evidence points to the contrary: that both Moreno and Ferreras will support tax subsidy agreements for luxury hotel construction — as long as those agreements include “labor peace agreements” and other liberal add-ons euphemistically labeled “community benefits.”

Both Ferreras and Moreno stood shoulder to shoulder with UNITE-HERE at its October 18  press conference where its secretary-treasurer, Ada Briceno, emphasized that her union does not oppose such subsidies. Quite the opposite.

As OC Daily has reported, both UNITE-HERE and the community organizing arm it controls, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development (OCCORD), publicly support TOT tax subsidies for luxury hotel development.

Arturo Ferreras at UNITE-HERE/OCCCORD press conference.

UNITE-HERE is a founding investor in Moreno for City Council enterprise, and Moreno is a member of the OCCORD Board of Directors; Ferreras is closely intertwined with UNITE-HERE.

Neither has ruled out supporting TOT tax rebates to attract 4-Diamond hotel construction. Indeed, a recent Voice of OC article quotes Moreno at a candidate forum implicitly stated his support for them, as long as they’re on the Santa Ana model (prevailing wage requirements, mandatory unionization, etc.):

“We either ask our corporate partners to pay them a working wage…or you don’t get the $560 million and we give 14,000 first-time home buyers a down payment assistance,” said Moreno.

If Jose F. Moreno and Arturo Ferreras win election and a 4-Diamond hotel “giveaway” agreement comes before them – dollars to donuts they will leave Mayor Tait twisting in the wind and vote “yes” if it includes a “labor peace agreement” with UNITE-HERE.

One doesn’t need to call the Psychic Hotline to see that particular future. But one does have to wonder why Howard Ahmanson – after years of funding conservative causes and candidates – would put so much into trying to make this left-wing scenario come true?

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