Lobbyist and former Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle Thursday withdrew from the city’s charter review committee, just more than a week after he was appointed, stating in a letter to the city clerk that he could not serve due to business commitments.
The notice from Pringle, who heads Curt Pringle & Associates and is arguably the city’s most influential power broker, comes after Mayor Tom Tait requested from the City Council dais last week that members of the committee be required to disclose their economic interests.
“I have recently added business and professional responsibilities that will limit my time and ability to participate fully on the commission,” Pringle wrote to City Clerk Linda Andal. “I am personally disappointed that I will not be able to provide service to my community in this way.”
Tait’s call for statements of economic interests, known as Form 700s, is backed up by a good-government expert, who said they are necessary given that the committee could be recommending sweeping changes to the city’s governing system.
The committee could make recommendations that slant the charter to benefit private interests such as changing zoning regulations, said Tracy Westen, CEO of the Los Angeles-based Center for Governmental Studies, after Pringle’s appointment.
“It might be that they want a weak mayor because they have more influence over City Council members who are more favorable to commercial interests,” Westen said. “You want to make sure those recommendations are not advised by private interests.”
Pringle, who served two terms as mayor from 2002 to 2010, maintains close relationships with the council majority. Councilwoman Kris Murray went so far as to describe him and others who wield power in Anaheim as “masters of the universe.”
Curt Pringle & Associates helped push through the controversial $158-million room tax subsidy for hotel developer Bill O’Connell. Also in recent months, the firm has aided Los Angeles County-based Signal Hill Petroleum to obtain permits to test for oil reserves in several Orange County cities, including Anaheim.
Pringle could not be reached for comment Thursday.
It’s not immediately clear who will be replacing Pringle, who was appointed to the committee by his close friend Councilman Jordan Brandman.
Pringle’s departure puts Brandman, a Democrat, in a potentially difficult position. If he appoints another white conservative to the already all-white committee, he will likely anger Latinos who feel that the committee’s current makeup is just the latest example of how they are underrepresented in city government
Assemblyman Jose Solorio, D-Anaheim, voiced those concerns last week after the all-white council announced the appointments.
Solorio and other Latinos are especially sensitive now, because the City Council earlier this month rejected a plan to submit to voters a proposal to switch Anaheim from an at large electoral system to a district-based system.
The proposal, which would almost certainly give Latinos more representation on the council, was a reaction to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union asserting that the city’s current system violates the California Voting Rights Act.