Assembly Constitutional Amendment 13 is an Attack on Uou, the California Taxpayer

Ever since California’s first state constitution in 1849, constitutional amendments have required a majority vote of the electorate.

“If the people shall approve or ratify such amendment or amendments by a majority of the electors qualified to vote for members of the legislature, voting thereon, such amendment or amendments shall become part of the Constitution,” the handwritten document states.

That provision applied to all proposed constitutional amendments. At no time in the state’s history have constitutional amendments had different thresholds for voter approval based on their content.

But the new speaker of the California Assembly, Robert Rivas, has decided this is a problem. He has proposed changing the constitution to impose a higher vote threshold for certain types of amendments proposed by citizen initiatives.

Along with Assemblymember Chris Ward, D-San Diego, Rivas has co-authored Assembly Constitutional Amendment 13, which would make it more difficult to pass constitutional amendments that make it more difficult to raise taxes.

For example, if an initiative constitutional amendment would require that tax increases must be approved by two-thirds of voters, the proposed amendment itself would require a two-thirds vote.

It doesn’t work the other way, though. If a citizen initiative would drop the requirement to pass a tax increase from two-thirds to 55%, for example, it wouldn’t need 55% approval. It would pass with 50%-plus-one-vote, like all other constitutional amendments.

This is nothing more than an effort to prevent citizens from using the initiative process to limit tax increases. Under this proposed amendment, even Proposition 13 would not have passed. California’s iconic taxpayer protection act was approved by 64.79% of voters in 1978. Under ACA 13, it would have needed 66.67%, because it contained a provision that required a two-thirds vote of the electorate to pass local tax increases.

California court rulings have chipped away at Proposition 13’s taxpayer protections. In 1982, the state Supreme Court ruled in City and County of San Francisco v. Farrell that local taxes for general purposes, as opposed to “special” taxes for a dedicated purpose, could pass with a simple majority instead of a two-thirds vote.

In 2017, the state Supreme Court’s opinion in California Cannabis Coalition vs. City of Upland suggested that even “special” taxes might not need a two-thirds vote if they were proposed by a citizens’ initiative, instead of by a city council or other governing body. Cities immediately tested the limits of the court’s language and found appellate courts more than willing to allow tax increases proposed by initiative to pass with a simple majority.

A new initiative that has qualified for the November 2024 ballot contains language that overrides appellate court decisions based on the Upland ruling and restores the two-thirds vote requirement for special taxes regardless of how they are proposed.

ACA 13 appears to be an attempted kill shot aimed at that initiative, which proponents, who include the California Business Roundtable and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, have titled “The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act.”

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

California FPPC Chief of Enforcement Demoted Without a Peep: What Led Up to Demotion?

FPPC chief’s relationship with CDPH deputy director and chief counsel

July 27, 2023, a press release was issued by the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) naming the new Chief of Enforcement.

“The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) today announced the appointment of James M. Lindsay as Chief of Enforcement.

Lindsay comes to the FPPC from the California Children and Families Commission (CCFC), where he served as Chief Counsel since August of 2022. In this position, Lindsay advised the Commission, Executive Director, and staff on all legal matters, including Political Reform Act and Bagley-Keene Act compliance and training, as well as being responsible for leadership, litigation, and mentoring responsibilities. Prior to that, Lindsay spent almost four years as the lead litigation attorney at the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS). There, he had primary responsibility for administrative hearing matters, writs and appeals, and helped lead efforts to improve litigation practices and organizational improvements.

“I’m extremely pleased to announce Mr. Lindsay’s appointment to this important role in the agency,” said FPPC Chair Richard C. Miadich. “We’re thrilled to have someone with extensive litigation experience to lead our Enforcement team. Mr. Lindsay’s experience in government policy and operations will greatly help our ongoing efforts to promote the public’s trust and maintain our leading National role in the realm of government ethics and campaign finance.”

In addition to his roles at CCFC and CalSTRS, Lindsay spent more than 20 years in the private sector at law firms in Folsom, Modesto, and Dublin/Stockton where he specialized in numerous aspects of consumer, insurance, business, real estate, personal injury, and family law. Lindsay received his law degree from Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans, LA and his undergraduate degree in Economics from California State University, Fresno.

“We have a dedicated, professional and experienced staff and we are confident James’ breadth of experience in other aspects of California’s political and legal climate will only improve and enhance the Division’s overall capabilities,” said Chair Miadich.

Assistant Enforcement Division Chief Chris Burton will remain acting chief until August 28, 2023.

The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is California’s governmental ethics and campaign disclosure agency.”

Per an email from Ms. Tara Stock, Intake Manager, Enforcement Division, Ms. Angela J. Brereton, Former Chief of Enforcement has been reassigned as Assistant Chief of the Enforcement Division.

Information regarding Ms. Brereton’s reassignment remains unclear. However, Executive Staff Reports from the January 26, 2023 Commission Hearing highlight negligence in duties.

According to deed records for the County of Sacramento, Ms. Brereton shares a mortgage with Mr. Hugh A. Brereton.

A class of 2000 announcement by UC Davis School of Law further confirms the relationship between these two individuals.A press release issued by Governor Newsom’s Office in February 2020 stated the following:

“Hugh “Drew” Brereton, 44, of Sacramento, has been appointed deputy director and chief counsel of the California Department of Public Health. Brereton has served as deputy director and chief counsel for the Office of Enforcement at the Department of Managed Health Care since 2016, where he was assistant chief counsel from 2014 to 2016 and an attorney III from 2008 to 2014. Brereton was an attorney at Katchis, Harris and Yempuku from 2002 to 2008 and at Pagliero & Associates from 2001 to 2002. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California Davis, School of Law. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $195,168. Brereton is a Democrat.”

Although I currently have approximately a dozen cases open with the FPPC, Ms. Brereton has continually denied sworn complaints regarding violations of the Political Reform Act surrounding public health.

I previously reported to the FPPC that State Treasurer Fiona Ma is personally invested in pharmaceutical companies as detailed on her statement of economic interest, received donations from Pfizer and established a statewide pooled money investment account with the aforementioned entity. Why did Ms. Brereton deny this is a conflict of interest, and does her spouse’s position with the CDPH present bias?

My article in The California Globe further elaborates on these concerns: Health or Heredity? COVID-19 Vaccines & California’s History of Eugenics:

“According to the California State Treasurer’s website, “through the Pooled Money Investment Account (PMIA), the State Treasurer invests taxpayers’ money to manage the State’s cash flow and strengthen the financial security of local governmental entities. PMIA policy sets as primary investment objectives safety, liquidity and yield. The PMIA has three primary sources of funds: the State general fund; special funds held by State agencies; and monies deposited by cities, counties and other entities into the Local Agency Investment Fund (LAIF).”

“As a part of the 2023 investment portfolio, the State Treasurer’s Office has included Johnson & Johnson for both corporate bonds and commercial paper. The public at large may consider this to be a conflict of interest given that State Treasurer Fiona Ma possesses a personal investment in the pharmaceutical giant. Treasurer Ma’s spouse also holds a retirement account with Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) Financial Group. On February 16, 2023, SVB Securities held a Global Biopharma Conference in conjunction with Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and an array of other pharmaceutical corporations. Due to the recent SVB collapse and uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics, California residents may seek deeper answers into the true origins and legitimacy behind the bank failure. The lack of transparency from the Biden and Newsom Administration leaves the people with unrest.”

Retail Owners Frustrated With Gov. Newsom, Mayor Bass Responses to Multiplying Robberies

‘Bass keeps finding new ways to disappoint us – She’s not even doing the bare minimum’

Retail store owners in Los Angeles continued to remain frustrated at the recent string of smash and grab robberies, with many charging that state and local officials have not done enough to help deter the growing number of robberies. The Globe spoke with several retail owners in the LA area about what the situation currently is like for them.

“If a large number of people burst in here all at once, there is nothing we can really do,” said Nasser Odeh, a luxury store owner in Los Angeles, to the Globe. “Say 12 come in and start smashing the cases. If I call the police, they won’t respond in time, and even if some just happen to swing by, the most we can hope for is one or two arrests. If I pull down the shutters, then I’m stuck with 12 angry robbers who may or may not be armed. If I bring out bear spray or another weapon, they’ll retaliate. If I fight back, they’ll retaliate. The best case for me is that one or two of them are caught, but then because of the laws we have, who knows if they’ll even be sentenced.”

“This is where a lot of retailers are, especially ones that carry expensive clothes or jewelry or something else expensive that is easy to carry out and flip. We don’t know who to turn to in these cases. The best we can do is improve security as best as we can to deter robbers.”

A clothing boutique co-owner, Sarah Watt, added, “This is incredibly frustrating, and scary. If you look at those smash and grab videos, they all come in wearing black and face coverings, and just rip what they can. It’s brutal and effective. And there is only so much we can do. We can have armed security guards and cameras and everything, but they’ll still come. What we want is more police, stronger sentences, and for our security guards to be given the green light for more hands on action in case things take a turn. But this city just is not doing that. [LA Mayor Karen] Bass really doesn’t give a damn about small business owners.”

The uptick in ‘flash mob’ robberies did spur some action this week from both Governor Gavin Newsom and Mayor Karen Bass. Gov. Newsom announced on Thursday that he would be tripling its California Highway Patrol (CHP)resources in Los Angeles to help crack down on the issue, while Mayor Bass created a new task force to help counter the robberies. According to the Mayor’s office, the new task force will investigate, apprehend and prosecute all criminals involved in recent retail thefts.

“We are not treating it as organized crime in the traditional sense, in terms of, like, the Mafia,” said the Mayor on Friday. “But what is clear is that this is organized. You can’t go in and have a group of people, 20 and 30 people, who all get out of their cars at the same time, all go in to the stores. There might be connections between the groups. This is what the task force will establish.”

“No Angeleno should feel like it’s not safe to go shopping in Los Angeles. No entrepreneur should feel like it’s not safe to open a business.”

Disappointment with the response by Newsom, Bass

However, the actions of Newsom and Bass have rung hollow for many. Senate Republicans on Thursday pointed out the flaws in Newsom’s plan, including that, because of many current vacancies in the CHP, the increased presence would put a strain on the Highway Patrol as a consequence of the state not giving any additional resources (funding) to them. Others said that the state’s lax laws on reducing penalties to retail criminals, few to no prison terms for retail robberies, and early releases for those with sentences severely undercut what the Governor was attempting to do. In addition, it was also mentioned that the lack of arrests from similar flash mob robberies in the Bay Area two years ago showed how the Governor’s response would likely not accomplish much.

“Welcome to ‘CRIMEafornia,’” said Senator Brian Jones (R-San Diego) in a statement on Thursday. “The crisis we are experiencing is unfortunately a result of decades-long policies implemented by Democrat lawmakers that prioritize coddling criminals over protecting communities. While it’s welcome news that the state is investing more resources to combat skyrocketing thefts, it shouldn’t be happening in the first place. The governor is treating the symptoms, not the causes, including little-to-no penalties, early release, lenient or non-existent prison terms, and weak leadership from most of California’s Democrat politicians over the last two decades.”

More locally in LA, Bass’ task force announcement failed to impress retail owners.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

California Spends Billions on Homelessness, but Political Squabbling Undermines Efforts

Since Gavin Newsom began his governorship more than four years ago, the state has spent upwards of $20 billion on efforts to solve – or at least reduce – California’s worst-in-the-nation homelessness crisis.

The spending continues, but the number of people living on the streets, in squalid camps or in ramshackle motorhomes and trailers continues to climb.

That sad fact was underscored recently by a new census of homelessness in Los Angeles County, which has a quarter of the state’s population but nearly half of its homeless people. The study found a 9% rise in the number of homeless people in the county to 75,518, with more than half (46,260) in the city of Los Angeles.

“The homeless count results tell us what we already know – that we have a crisis on our streets, and it’s getting worse,” said Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum, CEO of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which conducted the count.

The census not only depicts a worsening problem, but illustrates the difficulty Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass faces as she attempts to make good on her campaign pledge to get people off the city’s streets.

California’s failure, at least so far, to get a handle on its homelessness crisis has made it a target of scornful national and international media attention and a model of what to avoid for other states.

The major underlying cause for the crisis is a lack of housing that’s affordable to Californians on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder, exacerbated, among many, by alcohol and drug addictions and mental illnesses.

Those factors indicate that if California is to gain the upper hand on the crisis it must work on all causes simultaneously and somehow forge coordination among the alphabet soup of federal, state and local agencies which own slices of the overall problem and often squabble among themselves.

The most obvious of those squabbles has been the running feud between Newsom and local government officials. He accuses the locals of being insufficiently vigorous in implementing programs while they say they need permanent sources of financing rather than the year-to-year appropriations Newsom has offered.

While the homelessness crisis is most evident, or visually jarring, in the state’s major cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, it also afflicts the downtowns of smaller cities and ironically, the area surrounding the state Capitol in downtown Sacramento is a case in point.

A few years ago, the construction of a new basketball arena and the opening of an expanded convention center, plus new hotels, apartment houses and restaurants, indicated that downtown Sacramento had finally arrested its decay.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic was a heavy blow to the region, particularly since tens of thousands of state employees were told to work from home, followed by violent demonstrations in the summer that damaged downtown businesses. As downtown Sacramento was hollowed out, encampments proliferated.

City officials such as Mayor Darrell Steinberg – whom Newsom tapped as a major advisor on homelessness policy – have feuded with their counterparts in county government over who should bear responsibility for anti-homelessness programs.

The newly elected Sacramento County district attorney, Thien Ho, accused city officials of refusing to enforce their own ordinances banning sidewalk encampments and threatened criminal charges to force them to act.

Steinberg and members of the city council, meanwhile, could not agree on where to site approved camping grounds that could persuade street-dwellers to move, finally handing the job of picking sites to their city manager.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

California GOP May Strip Opposition to Abortion and Same-Sex Marriage from Platform

A rebellious campaign within the California Republican Party to break away from its historic opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage is dividing the party weeks before planned appearances by former President Trump and other GOP White House hopefuls.

A proposed platform overhaul, which could be voted on at the state GOP’s fall convention in Anaheim, is a remarkable break from conservative dogma in the state that nurtured Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon.

“It’s a seismic shift but it’s a shift born out of practical necessity. Look at what’s happening not just in California but in much more conservative states, realizing antiabortion, anti-same-sex marriage stances are no longer tenable,” said Jessica Levinson, an election law professor at Loyola Law School. “I think it shows their acknowledgment that the sand has shifted underneath their feet.”

Political platforms, while largely symbolic, are supposed to embody a party’s principles and core beliefs. Debate about modifying them often prompts controversy.

The California GOP proposal — adopted by a party committee in late July — supports “traditional family values” and a “strong and healthy family unit.” But it removes language that says “it is important to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.”

The draft also excises opposition to a federally protected right to abortion, while maintaining support for “adoption as an alternative to abortion.”

Longtime conservative leaders are appalled by the proposal — both over its content and its likelihood to foment division at a key moment before the state’s presidential primary.

“This will be extremely controversial and will take a convention that is supposed to be about unifying the party and instead it ends up becoming a big feud,” said Jon Fleischman, a former state GOP executive director. “It’s the last thing the party needs.”

He described it as “a big middle finger” to the presidential candidates who are scheduled to speak at the convention, “all of whom embrace the various party planks that are proposed for removal.”.

Supporters counter that the updates align the party’s principles with voters.

Charles Moran, a Los Angeles County delegate who is a member of the platform drafting committee, said it is critical to move away from rigid orthodoxy “to give our California Republican candidates a fighting chance.”

“We need a party platform that empowers our candidates, not one that serves as an albatross around their neck,” said Moran, the president of Log Cabin Republicans.

The draft proposal also eliminates language about taxpayer protection for homeowners and a plank about opposing racism. But at a time while the GOP nationally is focused on culture wars, the changes in approach to same-sex marriage and abortion are likely to draw the most consternation among state Republicans.

The proposal slims the platform from 11 pages to four. The vote approving the draft took place in Irvine on July 29, after a contentious state party executive committee meeting about revising how the state party’s presidential delegates will be awarded in the March primary. (Despite California’s overwhelming blue tilt, it is home to the largest state Republican party in the nation and will send the most delegates to their presidential nominating convention next year.)

The draft platform will be voted on at the state party’s fall convention, which former President Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and other presidential candidates are expected to attend. If the party’s delegates cannot reach consensus, the platform debate may be shifted to their spring gathering.

If the proposed modifications are adopted, it would place the party’s platform closer to the beliefs held by most Californians and Americans.

More than three-quarters of California adults did not want federal protection for access to abortion to be overturned, according to a 2021 poll by the Public Policy Institute of California. That included 59% of Republicans.

Nationally, 71% of Americans believe same-sex marriage should be legal, according to a recent Gallup poll.

But the state GOP is more conservative than the state’s voters, which makes the proposed revision of the platform a test of the party’s priorities.

Click here to read the ful article in the LA Times

Jon Coupal: Call your California Assembly Representative, Demand They Reject ACA 1

Prior to the successful passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, Howard Jarvis tried several times to bring property tax relief to beleaguered California homeowners. While coming close, it wasn’t until 1978 when voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 13 over the opposition of virtually every political institution and newspaper in California.

As they say, timing is everything. What changed the political dynamic so abruptly in 1978 was the fact that thousands of California homeowners were being taxed out of their homes. That also explains why, to this day, Proposition 13 retains its popularity even as the state has become more “progressive.”

Last week there were two competing press events over Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1 (ACA 1), a proposal that would erase part of Proposition 13. As the head of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, I was joined at a news conference on the Capitol’s west steps on Wednesday by several legislators who have unequivocally expressed their continued support for Proposition 13 and opposition to ACA 1. Also present were several representatives of other taxpayer groups as well as business organizations suffering under California’s excessive tax burdens.

ACA 1 is a direct attack on Proposition 13 because it would cut the vote threshold needed to pass local special taxes, dropping it from the current two-thirds vote required by Proposition 13 to only 55%. That change would make it easier for local governments to raise taxes.

Since Proposition 13 was enacted in 1978, voters have continued to support the important two-thirds vote protection. That support was reaffirmed with the passage of pro-taxpayer initiatives in 1986, 1996 and 2010.

Many people may not know that the two-thirds vote requirement did not originate in 1978. It has been in the California Constitution since 1879! For more than a century, local property owners have been protected against excessive bond debt by the requirement that local bonds – repaid only by property owners – need a two-thirds vote of the local electorate.

ACA 1 repeals the two-thirds vote protection for tax increases to support “infrastructure,” a term so expansive that local governments would be able to raise taxes for almost any purpose with a vote of just 55% of the electorate. This is a hatchet that chops away at the taxpayer protections in Proposition 13.

ACA 1 proponents are aware of Prop. 13’s enduring popularity, so not once in their over one-hour press event did they mention Proposition 13 by name. Instead, they talked about “protecting democracy,” “local control,” and taking on “right-wing interests.” (Are Californians “right wing” for wanting to keep their home instead of being taxed out of it?) Nor did the supporters of ACA 1 provide any specific example of exactly what lowering the two-thirds vote would purchase, other than to claim that it was essential to address California’s dual crises of housing and homelessness.

Opponents of ACA 1 have noted that making it easier to raise taxes makes no sense in one of the highest taxed states in America. No other state comes close to California’s 13.3% top marginal income tax rate, and we also have the highest state sales tax in America as well as the highest gas tax, not to mention gas prices. And even with Prop. 13, we rank 14th out of 50 states in per capita property tax collections. Californians pay enough.

This is a critical time. As of this writing, ACA 1 has cleared one legislative committee and may be heard by the full Assembly as early as this week. However, its main proponent, Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, admitted at her press conference that she didn’t quite have the votes yet. For that reason, the time is now for all defenders of Proposition 13 and advocates for limited taxation to contact their Assembly representatives and let them know that a vote for ACA 1 is a vote against Proposition 13.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Powerful Hurricane Hilary Heads for Mexico’s Baja. Rare Tropical Storm Watch Issued for California

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Hilary churned off Mexico’s Pacific coast Friday as a powerful Category 4 storm threatening to unleash torrential rains on the mudslide-prone border city of Tijuana before heading into Southern California as the first tropical storm there in 84 years.

Forecasters warned the storm could cause extreme flooding, mudslides and even tornadoes across the region.

Hilary grew rapidly in strength early Friday before losing some steam, with its maximum sustained winds clocked at 130 mph (215 kph) in the evening, after falling from 145 mph (230 kph). Nevertheless, it was forecast to still be a hurricane when approaching Mexico’s Baja California peninsula on Saturday night and a tropical storm when approaching Southern California on Sunday.

Hilary was already disrupting life.

Major League Baseball rescheduled three Sunday games in Southern California, moving them to Saturday as part of split-doubleheaders. The National Park Service closed Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve to keep people from becoming stranded amid flooding. Cities across the region, including in Arizona, were offering sandbags to safeguard properties against floodwaters.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Small Business Owners Protest at Capitol Over Bill They Say Will Put Them Out of Business

SB 553 calls for preventing workplace violence with OSHA regulations

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —Senate Bill 553 is meant to prevent workplace violence, but some small Northern California business owners say it will put them out of business.

Hundreds of gas station and convenience store owners protested the bill at the state Capitol on Wednesday, saying it will encourage more retail theft and does not protect them.

Senator Dave Cortese, a Democrat representing District 15, who is behind the bill, did not receive a warm welcome from the crowd. At times they yelled no and “booed” him as he spoke.

“This bill should be called retail business killer SB 553,” said Harminder Singh.

Singh and many in the crowd are members of the American Petroleum and Convenience Store Association.

Cortese said the bill would establish a new baseline of workplace violence prevention standards, such as documenting every crime and how it was handled by employees.

Click here to read the full article at

Former Anaheim Mayor Sidhu Agrees to Plea Deal for Federal Corruption Charges

Former Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu has agreed to plead guilty to four federal charges, capping a years-long federal investigation into alleged corruption that led to his resignation and torpedoed the city’s $320 million sale of Angel Stadium.

In a deal announced Wednesday, Aug. 16, Sidhu will plead guilty to obstruction of justice, wire fraud, false statement to the Federal Aviation Administration and false statement to the FBI.

“Mr. Sidhu was elected by and pledged to work for the residents of Anaheim, but he violated that pledge and their trust on numerous occasions to look out for special interests,” Donald Alway, the FBI’s assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles field office, said in a statement. “Mr. Sidhu deceived his colleagues and weakened the city’s official strategy by divulging intellectual property, then lied to the government when his corruption was discovered.”

In a statement Wednesday, Sidhu’s attorney Paul S. Meyer said, “Former Mayor Sidhu appreciates the thorough and fair investigation by the United States Attorney’s Office leading to a resolution in this matter.”

The total maximum sentence for all the offenses for which Sidhu has agreed to plea to is up to 50 years in prison, according to the agreement. He will next need to enter his plea in court and his actual sentencing is up to a judge at a later date and could be significantly shorter.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed that if the court imposes a prison term of no less than 30 months, it would waive its right to appeal the sentence.

The agreement comes two weeks after an independent city-commissioned investigation was released providing new details for how Sidhu and allies appear to have gone unchecked in City Hall dealings.

During the city’s negotiations to sell Angel Stadium to team owner Arte Moreno’s business partnership, Sidhu sought to become a member of the city’s negotiating team and then provided “confidential inside information belonging to the city” to former Anaheim Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Ament and to a consultant working for the Angels, “so that the Angels could buy Angel Stadium on terms beneficial to the Angels,” according to the plea agreement.

In 2019, Sidhu had also provided a confidential appraisal range related to Angel Stadium to Ament to give to the Angels before that figure was public, according to the plea agreement.

Sidhu was secretly recorded several months later saying he expected to ask for a $1 million campaign contribution toward his reelection from the Angels if they succeeded in buying the stadium, the plea agreement says. In an interview with FBI agents on May 12, 2022, days before the FBI’s investigation became public, Sidhu lied to the agents about expecting “nothing” from the Angels after the stadium deal closed, according to the plea agreement. Prosecutors also said Sidhu “falsely” told investigators that he did not recall providing stadium sale information during the negotiations.

Sidhu resigned in May 2022 following the revelation that the FBI was investigating the former mayor and the $320 million stadium deal was scuttled by the City Council.

Angels Organization spokesperson Marie Garvey said, “It is important to note both the plea agreement along with the city’s investigation showed no evidence of any wrongdoing by the Angels Organization.”

Ament’s attorneys, Joshua Robbins and Andrew Selesnick of Buchalter law firm, declined to comment through a spokesperson.

The FBI’s investigation was underway since at least 2019, according to an affidavit filed last year in support of a request for search warrants that included information investigators said was gleaned from wiretaps and intercepted emails.

The plea agreement gives details about how Sidhu attempted to not pay California sales tax for a used helicopter he purchased for $205,000. He had registered the helicopter using a mailing address in Scottsdale, Arizona, to avoid paying $15,887 in taxes. The helicopter was stored in Chino.

Sidhu has already paid back the taxes, according to the plea agreement.

He also provided false information to the FAA when he submitted the Arizona mailing address as his own, the agreement says. The mailing address belonged to an unnamed Anaheim businessperson.

Sidhu and his attorneys signed the plea agreement on Monday, Aug. 14.

For the obstruction of justice charge, Sidhu would admit that he destroyed multiple email messages and documents “with the intent to impede the FBI’s investigation of public corruption surrounding the city’s potential sale of Angel Stadium,” according to the plea agreement.

One of the emails deleted was related to the Angel Stadium deal, which had “confidential negotiation information,” including issues around the price and terms, the plea agreement says.

The document, drafted by attorneys for the city,  included a section about parking and how it affected the value of land, the agreement says, and gave the example of how the team could “eliminate the requirement that they maintain at least 12,500 parking spaces so upon closing they could immediately amend the lease to limit their parking obligation and then flip the land for millions more than they paid for it.”

“Reducing their parking obligation by 4,000 spaces would translate to $64 million in increased land value,” according to the document referenced in the plea agreement.

Prosecutors said Sidhu told investigators he did not conduct city business using his personal email.

Also in the plea agreement are details about planning for mock council meeting sessions in advance of the council’s vote on the Angel Stadium sale.

Sidhu had deleted an email about the sessions that used personal addresses for him, two other unnamed council members and other city staff, the agreement says. Sidhu would purposely conduct city business using his personal email and communicate with some city staff’s personal email addresses as well, prosecutors said.

The deleted email, according to the agreement, said the prep sessions would include the then-mayor pro tem, another council member, the city’s chief communications officer, another city staffer, the unnamed Angels consultant, Ament, the president of the Angels and an attorney for the Angels.

The practice meeting would be held in three sessions, according to the agreement’s description, during which participants would debate the strengths, pitfalls and vulnerabilities of the stadium deal. The Angels team would develop what the agreement called “zingers,” responses and other points to improve the participants’ performance.

It appeared the mock meetings were intended be a dress rehearsal for the real one.

In strongly worded comments Wednesday, Mayor Ashleigh Aitken said she was appalled by the alleged collusion between Sidhu, former council members and the Angels organization.

“If the allegations surrounding the Angels organization setting up a shadow council meeting are true, I don’t think the negotiations were in good faith and I would like to look into that,” Aitken said.

The Angels were supposed to be at arm’s length during the negotiations, Aitken said, and any future talks would have to be more transparent and with more community participation.

Overall, Aitken said Sidhu’s plea agreement unveiled just the “tip of the iceberg” of the problems with the city and further confirmed the need for reform.

She said the city also needs stronger restrictions and better enforcement to harness campaign financing and lobbyists who have run unfettered at City Hall.

“We need to make sure our policies are in line with other cities our size,” said Aitken.

In a city statement late Wednesday, a city spokesman said, “We are aware of and are reviewing the plea agreement, which reflects what was a challenging time for Anaheim. We look forward to our City Council’s ongoing consideration of reforms to protect our city and keep moving forward.”

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Sacramento Barred From Clearing Homeless Camps Until at Least Sept. 1 due to Heat, Judge Rules

A federal judge has extended an order barring the city of Sacramento from clearing homeless encampments, due to extreme heat.

The city cannot clear camps until at least Sept. 1, Judge Troy L. Nunley said in a ruling Wednesday. Previously the order was set to expire Thursday.

Under the order, first issued Aug. 3 as the result of a Sacramento Homeless Union lawsuit, the city can still enforce its ordinance that bans camps from fully blocking sidewalks.

“To the extent possible, unhoused individuals should be given an opportunity to comply with the sidewalk ordinance at their given location,” the order stated.

District Attorney Thien Ho last week criticized the city for not citing homeless people who block the sidewalks, as its ordinance allows it to do. He has threatened criminal and civil action against city officials.

Mayor Steinberg has accused Ho of politicizing the issue of homelessness and pointed out that homeless people typically lack the ability to pay fines. Instead of issuing citations, when residents complain of blocked sidewalks, city employees routinely respond to the scene and tell them to move their items to make room for a four-foot walkway.

Nunley’s order also allows the city to clear camps that are within 500 feet of a school, and to pick up trash from camps, as long as it does not remove personal survival items.

It also requires the city to let the Sacramento Homeless Union to tour its Miller Park Safe Ground, a sanctioned encampment.

The union has raised concerns that the Safe Ground is too hot because the tents are located in the sun. The city has agreed to provide structures over tents in areas without shade, and alternative tents, such as those made of canvas, to provide better protection from the heat, the order stated.

Also Wednesday, Nunley ruled that the city must submit a court filing explaining why it should not be held in contempt of court and sanctioned for violating the order earlier this month.

The city on Aug. 4 and Aug. 7 cleared homeless people from outside City Hall, in violation of the order. The city told its police not to clear camps, but was “not effective,” in telling a contractor that handles City Hall, a spokesman said at the time.

The city has until Aug. 23 to submit the filing.

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