Jordan Brandman

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Jordan Brandman is an American politician whose sole term on the Anaheim City Council ended on December 13, 2016. He is a Democrat, elected at-large to the nonpartisan council. Prior to being elected to the City Council, he was a member of the Anaheim Union High School District Board of Trustees and an aide to Governor Gray Davis.[1] He was defeated in his quest for re-election to City Council in its newly created District 3, losing to his longtime antagonist Latino civil leader Dr. Jose Moreno by 72 votes (0.6%).[2]

Early years and education

Brandman grew up in the city of Orange, California, and graduated from El Modena High School. He is one of five sons to Michael and Mara Brandman.[3] Mara Brandman was active in Orange's civic affairs, serving on its Planning Commission and Public Library Board of Trustees. In recognition of her record of advocacy, the Sully-Muller Arena in Orange Park Acres was renamed the Mara Brandman Horse Arena on July 5, 2011.[4] Brandman attended UC Irvine, from which he graduated with a B.A. in political science.


California state government

Brandman asserts that he served as "an education policy advisor" to California Governors Gray Davis and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the office of the Secretary of Education.[1]

Orange County government

Brandman went to work as an aide to his friend and mentor County Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly as an "External Relations Manager," essentially doing public relations and meeting prominent local actors and donors. This led to controversy in 2012, as he prepared for his first run for City Council. Brandman quit his job in the Clerk's office, at which moment Daly granted him a $24,000 contract to produce a report on the viability of a West County Clerk-Recorder Satellite Office. Despite having collected the money, Brandman failed to produce the report in a timely manner, repeatedly asking for extra time to complete it. Daly responded by giving him more money When the final product was delivered and made public, it was discovered to include vast chunks of material plagiarized from Wikipedia.[5] (See "Timeline of Wikipedia Plagiarism Scandal" below.)

Anaheim City Council

Brandman joined the City Council in December 2012 as its sole Democrat. He immediately joined a coalition with three of the other four Council members, all who supported subsidies to large corporations, especially in the "Anaheim Resort District." That area includes Anaheim Stadium (now commonly known as "Angels Stadium"), the Honda Center (home of the Anaheim Ducks), the "Disney Resort" (including Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure), and the Anaheim Convention Center. They have been opposed by Mayor Tom Tait, who gained one ally in the 2014 election but remained in the minority. Brandman was especially favorable towards clients of his political patron, the former Mayor Curt Pringle, who heads a lobbying firm doing extensive business within Anaheim and with its government. All of the above interests have been major donors of (or provided substantial independent expenditures to) his campaigns.[6]

One of Brandman's first controversial votes on Council was to rebate an estimated $158 million in expected TOT ("transient occupancy tax" or "hotel tax") collected from hotel-goers over the course of 20 years. The beneficiary was to be a Pringle-represented client, developer Bill O'Connell, on the condition that he built a hotel with "four-diamond amenities" (without necessarily actually receiving a AAA four-diamond rating) at the Resort District's "Gardenwalk" property. This became popularly known as the "Gardenwalk Giveaway";[7] it remains a major bone of contention between supporters of former Mayor Pringle and current Mayor Tait.

2013: The Angels Stadium Controversy

In 2013, Brandman voted to allow the baseball team, the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim," to lease the entire city owned parking lot for $1 a year while simultaneously allowing the team's owner (Arte Moreno) to build on the land. Moreno would keep all revenues from developing the city owned land in exchange for not relocating the team. A preliminary agreement regarding the de facto land grant was signed without the City even having assessed the value of the land it was giving away for 60+ years; a later city study estimated the value of the city owned space at over $300,000,000. Brandman and his Council majority colleagues thus voted for the largest proposed giveaway of city owned property in the history of Anaheim and Orange County.[8]

The four-member council majority justified this unusual deal by claiming that the team would leave Anaheim if it didn't happen. Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, while only one vote against the deal out of five, managed to embarrass both sides into not consummating the agreement by writing and speaking out against it. The Angels have not left Anaheim in the two years since, and are now back at the negotiating table.[9] However, as part of the preliminary agreement with the Angels, the Council majority extended the deadline by which the Angels could decide to leave the city and its stadium by 2-1/2 years.

2014: The Convention Center Expansion Controversy

In March, 2014, Brandman, along with his council allies, approved the sale of controversial bonds to facilitate an expansion of the Anaheim Convention Center. The project was supported by a familiar coalition of resort-area interests and building-trade unions previously associated with Curt Pringle; Turner Construction, the design-build contractor who had been given a no-bid contract by the council was also a Pringle and Associates client.[10]

Of the $300,000,000 raised by the bond sale, approximately $50,000,000 was directed to refinancing existing debt; another $20,000,000 was added for capital and road manintenace in order to create popular support for the sale. The bonds were not secured by Convention Center revenue, but rather by the city's General Fund, in direct contravention of Anaheim's city charter that requires a vote of the people to promulgate general revenue bonds.[10]

CATER, a local watchdog group, sued the city, challenging the relationship between the council and its own "Redevelopment Successor Agency" and the ability of the "Joint Powers Authority" ("JPA") governing that relationship to incur debt. The bond offering was revoked by the city—which initially created a second Joint Powers Authority with its own Housing Authority to issue the bonds. The Housing Authority, like the Redevelopment Successor Agency, is governed by the same City Council members which were finally issued in November 2014.[11] The City argued successfully that these Joint Powers Authority did not have to abide by either the City Charter or the "required citizen vote" provision of the California State Constitution. Although an appeal of the lawsuits was eventually dropped, investigators later discovered that Anaheim Public Works personnel intentionally misled the court in sworn statements about the true cost of the delay.[12]

The arrangement of the JPA proved controversial and was subsequently criticized by the Orange County Grand Jury, which asserted that the Anaheim's JPA had "the potential to use this organizational structure as a shell company to avoid other legal constraints on the controlling entity and to obfuscate taxpayer responsibility."[13]

The expansion project has been beset by numerous site condition issues and associated delays that have become a matter of contention between Turner and the city. In the summer of 2016 Turner sued the city, claiming approximately $9,000,000 in delay damages as the result of these issues.[14]

July 2016: The Giveaways Pass $700 million

In June 2015, two years after the $158 million "Gardenwalk Giveaway," Brandman and his two Council allies Kris Murray and Lucille Kring decided to implement its basic idea as a general policy: henceforth, if a developer offered to build a "Four Diamond" hotel (or, rather, a hotel with "Four Diamond" amenities) in the city, Anaheim taxpayers would subsidize them by refunding 70% of their Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) for a period of twenty years. The majority justified this largesse by asserting that Anaheim badly needed four-diamond hotels, citing the need to attract visiting professional athletes to stay in the city as opposed to in coastal communities such as Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, but that they would not be built without generous subsidies. Mayor Tom Tait, joined by his new Council ally James Vanderbilt, strenuously objected to the policy, depicting it as completely unnecessary corporate welfare that would break the city's budget for decades. The argued that, if the market would support four-diamond hotels in Anaheim, they would be built anyway without subsidies—and that the city would do better to encourage three-diamond hotels that paid the City 100% of their TOT.[15]

In July 2016, two large corporations, Disney, and Hong Kong-based Wincome Group, decided to accept the majority's invitation and build three subsidized four-diamond hotels. This deal was also enthusiastically promoted by Brandman and his allies and furiously opposed by Tait and Vanderbilt; as proposed it would dwarf the Gardenwalk Giveaway for a total of $560 million lost revenue to the city. Brandman proudly lauded the "project labor agreements" he had arranged for the temporary construction jobs, which were to be union and local; the building trades unions came out in force to support this deal and Brandman in that year's Council election. The achievement was criticized when a reading of the actual contracts between developers and city shows that the developers merely needed to make a "good faith effort" to use local hires.[16]

The deals were opposed by other unions representing the permanent hotel workers, who were given no union protection and faced spending the next twenty years or more in a city starved of TOT revenue.[17] Meanwhile Brandman's November 2016 re-election campaign has been funded, to the tune of nearly a million dollars, by a grateful combination of Disney, the resort district, and the building-trades unions.[18]

Brandman's Involvement in Anaheim's District Elections Saga

2012: Disney's Messenger

In the summer of 2012, as school board member Brandman waged his first Council campaign, the ongoing movement and lawsuit to bring district elections to Anaheim for the better enfranchisement of the Latino majority seemed to have a new urgency, between a spate of police killings, ensuing riots, and a revolt against the council majority's corporate giveaways called "Let the People Vote."

At the mammoth August 8, 2012 council meeting held at Anaheim High School's Cook Auditorium, Mayor Tom Tait and his ally Lorri Galloway were resolved to get the question of districting onto that year's high-turnout November ballot. The three-member council majority of Kris Murray, Gail Eastman and Harry Sidhu were equally resolved to keep the question off the ballot.

That morning, Disneyland Resort's chairman George Kalogridis surprised the world with a letter to the Council ostensibly supporting districts – but only as an idea. The letter went on to emphasize that although districting would be a great thing for democracy in Anaheim, it was important to first study the question at length before jumping into it. When Brandman showed up at the meeting that night, he delivered a speech nearly identical to the Disney letter.[19]

And the Council majority did refuse to put the question on that year's ballot, while creating a committee to study all the pro's and con's of the question and all the different ways it could be done; and opted to continue fighting the districting plaintiffs in court.[20]

It was impossible in effect to tell the difference between the positions of the straightforwardly anti-districting council majority versus the nominally pro-districting Disney and Brandman – in either case, the result was four years of delay, four years of continued dominance of Disney and other wealthy interests, four years of continued disfranchisement of the city's Latino majority, and three million dollars of taxpayer money wasted in an ultimately unsuccessful fight against the lawsuit.

2012 to 2014: A Show of Weak Support

As November's election drew closer, and the Democratic Party of Orange County passed a resolution strongly in favor of districting, Democrat Brandman came under pressure to take a stronger pro-districting position. Eventually he promised to support settling the lawsuit if he got onto the Council.[21]

This turned out to be an easy, inconsequential promise to keep, as Brandman merely replaced Galloway on Council and stayed safely in a pro-districting minority with Mayor Tait.

By early 2014 the council majority finally lost the lawsuit, at the cost of $3 million to Anaheim taxpayers, and was forced to put the matter on that November's ballot since Anaheim is a charter city. The idea of district elections proved overwhelmingly popular, winning 70% of the vote (and showing the distance between the council majority and popular opinion.)[22]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Council Member Jordan Brandman". City of Anaheim. Archived from the original on August 12, 2014. Retrieved November 6, 2016. 
  2. ""Municipal Elections in Anaheim, California (2016)"".,_California_(2016). Retrieved December 11, 2016. 
  3. Campbell, Bill (June 22, 2006). "Bill Campbell's Third District Report". Bill Campbell's Third District Report. Orange County Board of Supervisors (County of Orange) (25). Retrieved April 5, 2015. 
  4. "Mara Brandman". Orange Park Arenas, Equestrians, Trails Corporation. Retrieved April 5, 2015. 
  5. "Jordan Brandman's $24,000 Wiki-Report". 
  6. "Electeds Financed by Disney Rushed to Support Tax Shield For Resort". 
  7. "Anaheim City Council to Vote on $158 Million Gardenwalk Hotel Giveaway". 
  8. "Angels Threaten to Leave Anaheim, Anaheim Responds by Giving Team Three More Years to Do So". 
  9. "Angels Renew Stadium Talks With Anaheim After Striking Out in Tustin". 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Anaheim City Council meeting minutes March 11, 2014". Retrieved November 6, 2016. 
  11. "Voice of OC, Anaheim OKs Convention Center Expansion Bonds". 
  12. Sworn statement obtained via PRA .
  13. "Voice of OC, Grand Jury Provides More Fodder for Anaheim Battle Over Convention Center Financing". 
  14. City Council meeting minutes July 26, 2016; legal documents obtained via PRA .
  15. "Anaheim Council Approves Another Hotel Subsidy Deal". 
  16. "Wincome Group, Disney to get $550 million from tax revenues for building luxury hotels". 
  17. "Anaheim City Council Approves Massive Luxury Hotel Subsidy Deals". 
  18. "Disney Breaks Its Own Spending Record in This Year's Anaheim Council Election". 
  19. "Disney takes stand on Anaheim elections". 
  20. "Anaheim City Council Delays Action on Council Districts". 
  21. "Brandman Vows to Support Living Wage and Council Districts". 
  22. "Anaheim voters say overwhelmingly, yes, we want council districts". 

External links