Split Anaheim Council Approves New Chamber Contract

In a split vote, the Anaheim City Council Tuesday night approved a $167,000 contract with the Chamber of Commerce for city sponsorship of major events and promoting of city programs aimed at businesses.

The vote was 3-2, with Mayor Tom Tait and Councilman Jim Vanderbilt voting no; and members of the Chamber-backed council majority – including Kris Murray, Jordan Brandman and Lucille Kring — voting for the contract.

Tait was by far the most vocal council member during discussion of the issue, arguing that the Chamber shouldn’t be relying on government subsidies to stay afloat and that the business group needs to be “weaned” off of taxpayer funds. He added that the city is paying more for some events than in past years.

“We’re actually going the other way, we’re giving more,” Tait said.

Tait’s vocal opposition could be seen as his latest swipe at the city’s business establishment after a contentious election season in which the Chamber and its political arm financed attack ads against Tait, alleging the mayor wanted to demolish Angel Stadium and to spend taxpayer money on a gang memorial.

In December, the mayor announced that the Chamber would no longer be hosting his annual state of the city address — which the business group has historically used as a fundraiser — with the city instead partnering with a nonprofit to raise money for services targeting at-risk youth.

Members of the council majority mostly didn’t directly engage Tait on the issue. Instead, the mayor had a back-and-forth with Deputy City Manager Kristine Ridge over whether the city is paying more for sponsorships than in the past and quizzing her about the details of the contract.

“We’re receiving in return significant advertising and marketing ability,” Ridge said.

Past Chamber contracts have generated controversy. In 2013, a city-commissioned audit found the Chamber’s accounting was inadequate, meaning auditors couldn’t determine if the Chamber spent revenue from the city on political activity.

That finding was particularly relevant at the time because the Chamber had paid consulting fees to blogger Matt Cunningham, a Republican insider with ties to the council majority. Cunningham had posted a photo of a defaced teddy bear next to a Virgin de Guadalupe votive candle, clearly mimicking memorial sites to young Latinos killed in police shootings and sparking outrage among Latinos.

In 2007, an audit found that the Chamber was facing “serious solvency concerns.”

Ridge said the latest contract elaborates more on the kinds of political activities the Chamber is prohibited from doing using city revenue.

According to contract documents, the city will be sponsoring five major events, including: the annual Economic Development Conference; Taste of Anaheim; Anaheim/OC Job Fair; Business Awards Luncheon; and Business Links Golf Tournament. The sponsorships will total $142,000.

The city will have to advance half the funds by the last business day in February, according to the contract.

In return for the sponsorships, the chamber will give the city tickets for the events, expo booths to market city programs, advertisements in the events’ program materials and prominent display of the city logo.

Also, the city will be paying an additional $25,000 for the chamber to market city programs on the web and in publications like the bi-monthly Business Advocate and This Week in Anaheim.

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

  • @Dan Chmielewski

    The Chamber of Commerce in Irvine is subsidized by the city through a bed tax as well as memberships; should *that* be stopped considering Irvine is the economic engine of OC (per what the Occupy people said),.

  • RyanCantor

    This is a gift of public funds, plain and simple. Taxpayers in Anaheim should be furious.

  • “And of course the Chamber gets half the money up front in spite of not having done anything to earn it.”………. Hmmmmmm

    By a definition — upfront money (the deposit) is always unearned until such time when it becomes earned.

    What kind of formal education do you have Zenger?

    How did you manage to get Gopher position with the county?

    • David Zenger

      Gee, I graduated from the real college here in America and learned to read and write the real English.

      • That is fantastic!

        So, now when we know that you know how to read and write real English, you should apply it in the real life and read up on deposits, upfront money, security, credit, debit, retainer, advance, prepaid and contract etc. etc. etc.

        Otherwise, you should get T-Shirt with sign on your chest “I graduated from the real college here in America” because it is not clear to as from your expressions.

        Make sure that OC SUPS see the sign.

        • David Zenger

          Now I know who you are! You’re the nut who has gotten kicked off every blog in OC.

          Sorry, I don’t engage in conversations with the crazy people.

          • Better be kicked off from every blog in the OC rather than be kicked from the OC County’s Gopher Department collecting road kill.

          • Hey fellas, per our comment policy, if you’re going to engage in an off-topic conversation, please message each other privately. -Thy

          • Do you ever planing to make this blog popular which would include political sarcasm? …… or are you gone print only Left-Liberal-Progresive-Bolshevistic-Crapola?

            It looks like you are going bankrupt like the all blogs from which I got banned.

          • David Zenger

            Thy, I have no problem with your policy. Please enforce it.

          • It took my, my wife’s and my daughter’s vote to put DO in the led by 2 votes.

            One vote counts so does every penny in supporting the VOC.

            Since you are racially discriminating against me I will not donate anything to support VOC and will advise my people to do same until you stop discriminating against the Gentiles.

            Enjoy donations from Zenger, Diamond and Nelson.

            Time is on my side.

  • Smeagel4T

    Oh look… more crony capitalism. What’s the current return on investment for buying Anaheim Council seats these days? Save honest capitalism. Get money out of politics.

  • David Zenger

    In other words the City is subsidizing the Chamber to do what a Chamber should be doing in the first place, namely: promoting business within the City. I don’t see how any of those parties (yes, that’s basically what they are) are responsibilities of the taxpayer at all.

    And of course the Chamber gets half the money up front in spite of not having done anything to earn it.