Anaheim Charter Committee Appoints Two New Members

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Anaheim’s Charter Review Committee, assigned to recommend changes to the city’s governing structure, Thursday appointed two new members with close ties to business interests and the Disneyland Resort.

The new appointees to the seven-member committee are: Todd Ament, president of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, and Gloria Ma’ae, advisory board member for the pro-Disneyland lobby group Support Our Anaheim Resort  or SOAR.

The appointments came after former Assemblyman Jose Solorio criticized  the committee for lack of diversity and after former Mayor Curt Pringle declined his appointment when it became apparent that he might have to disclose his sources of income.

Anaheim is more than half Latino, but last month, the all-white City Council appointed an all-white charter review committee.

Solorio and other Latinos are especially sensitive, because the council has refused to submit to voters a proposal to switch Anaheim from an at large electoral system to a district-based system that could give Latinos more representation on the council. The proposal 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.

After criticism from Solorio and a call from Mayor Tom Tait for members to file statements of economic interests called Form 700s, Pringle, an influential lobbyist, withdrew from the committee, citing business commitments. Councilman Jordan Brandman, the council’s only Democrat, appointed union leader Ernesto Madrano, a Latino, to replace Pringle. Ma’ae is Latina as well.

The four other committee member include: Amanda Edinger, a vocal opponent of automatic citizenship for children of immigrants and illegal immigration; Craig Farrow, a retired police sergeant and another SOAR advisory board member; Keith Olesen, an outspoken critic of the council districts election system; and attorney Tom Dunn.

Ament said he has no preconceived changes in mind for the city charter. He said, however, that examination of council member election cycles would be in order, such as allowing council members in the middle of their terms to run for mayor without risking their seats.

“I don’t think there’s anyone coming here with ‘hey, here’s what we need to do,’ ” Ament said.

But some of the votes on the committee have already mirrored the 4-1 council split, with Tait’s appointee, like the mayor, isolated in some of his votes.

Dunn had nominated Brian Chuchua, a previous council candidate and Tait supporter, but was outvoted 4-1. Dunn was also the only no vote against appointing Ament and Ma’ae, with Madrano abstaining in the vote on Ma’ae.

Olesen nominated realtor Paul Kott but lost on a 3-2 vote, with Olesen and Dunn being the yes votes. Madrano nominated Veronica Rodarte, but was outvoted 4-1.

After the meeting, Chuchua remarked that although Dunn would be isolated, his previous experience on the city’s charter review committee in the 1990s will give him “the upper hand.”

Dunn said that he has been given no instructions by Tait.

“I’m really going in with an open mind,” Dunn said. “I don’t have an agenda.”

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adamelmahrek

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