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Anaheim remains without a mayor following corruption probe

An FBI investigation found connections between the Anaheim government and powerful business interests in the city.
An FBI investigation found connections between the Anaheim government and powerful business interests in the city.
(James Carbone)

Good morning and welcome to the TimesOC newsletter.

It’s Friday, June 24. I’m Ben Brazil, bringing you the latest roundup of Orange County news and events.

Anaheim has been without a mayor since Harry Sidhu resigned weeks ago in the wake of an FBI investigation that revealed startling connections between the Anaheim government and powerful business interests.

That didn’t change this week after council members again couldn’t find any agreement on a replacement for the mayoral vacancy. Council members also deadlocked on a potential campaign finance reform ordinance.

However, the council did make some headway by getting rid of a controversial agenda-setting rule that Sidhu had initiated, possibly as a means to control which council members get to propose items on the agenda.

My colleague Gabriel San Román wrote that early on in his reign as mayor, Sidhu created a rule that a council member needed the support of two colleagues to put an item on the agenda. Sidhu at the time was leading a council majority, while council members Denise Barnes and Jose Moreno sat on a political island. They both argued that the policy silenced their voices, wrote San Román.

With Sidhu gone, the council backed a proposal to get rid of the rule. Yet Moreno was skeptical of why his colleague Mayor Pro Tem Trevor O’Neil, who previously voted in favor of the rule, is now changing his tune.

“It’s a matter of good governance,” he said, “that those of us who were elected to serve have the opportunity to present items that are of importance to us and to those that we represent.”

Councilman Jose Diaz attempted to amend the rule by requiring only one council member to support a proposed item. But Moreno opposed the change because he is currently the lone dissenter on the council. Diaz’s proposal ultimately failed to garner enough support. Council members will now be able to put any item on the agenda without the support of a colleague.

The iconic Santa Ana water tower.
The iconic Santa Ana water tower.
(Ben Brazil)

MORE NEWS

— As Anaheim grapples with its corruption scandal, officials from nearby Santa Ana this week moved forward with a plan to encourage greater transparency by tracking paid lobbyists in the community. The council unanimously gave initial approval to an ordinance that requires lobbyists to register with the city or face penalties. However, Mayor Vicente Sarmiento said the disclosure law was merely a small step in the right direction. “This is baseline, just disclosure,” Sarmiento said. “What we really need to get into if we want to make a difference is some campaign finance improvements and changes to our municipal code.”

— Investigators are searching for a coyote that attacked a toddler this week in Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley. It wasn’t clear what the extent of the child’s injuries were. Police are urging the community to haze coyotes and supervise small pets and children.

— Two Costa Mesa police officers who shot at an armed and barricaded suspect were cleared of wrongdoing this week by the Orange County district attorney’s office. The man who was shot by the officers was sentenced in March to 21 years in prison for attempted murder, assault and discharging a firearm. Reporter Sara Cardine has the story.

— More Orange County cities are aiming to crack down on catalytic converter thefts, which cost residents thousands of dollars to replace. This week, Placentia and Fullerton followed in the footsteps of other cities by approving ordinances that criminalize the possession of unattached catalytic converters without adequate proof of ownership. Catalytic converters are expensive to replace and cost Placentia residents more than $116,000 last year.

Host Ed Steinfeld, Barbara McMurray and Laguna Beach Mayor Sue Kempf, from left, host a radio show.
Host Ed Steinfeld, Barbara McMurray and Laguna Beach Mayor Sue Kempf, from left, host a radio show.
(Don Leach / Daily Pilot)

LIFE AND LEISURE

— Community members are running Laguna Beach‘s KX FM this week as part of an effort to raise money for the station. Guest hosts will also compete for a trophy, known as the Silver Tongue Award, that goes to the person who secures the most donations for the station, wrote my colleague Andrew Turner. The 10-year-old radio station has become a staple in the community. “It was just a brilliant idea 10 years ago by [station founder] Tyler [Russell McCusker] to put it together to begin with,” said radio host Ed Steinfeld. “… They did everything possible to introduce the city to the radio station. … We’re looking forward to the next 10 years.”

— An Irvine home cook is competing in “The Great American Recipe,” a new show that will explore the cultural stories behind various dishes to learn what defines American cuisine. Foo Nguyen is hoping to show off his culinary skills and the cultural influences that shape his cooking, wrote my colleague Sarah Mosqueda. Although he is of Vietnamese heritage, Nguyen draws inspiration from both Asian flavors and the Midwest. Nguyen is also a comedian who trained at the famed Second City in Chicago. A sense of humor comes in handy when under the pressures of a cooking competition.

— The eighth annual Day of Music Fullerton included performances from ’80s sensation and Fullerton native Stacey Q and a host of other musicians. The popular event is held every year on the summer solstice, corresponding with other music festivals around the world and in particular the annual Fête de la Musique in France. “I lived in France for a number of years, and this is a national holiday there and it was always a wonderful experience with music in the street,” said Day of Music Fullerton founder Glenn P. Georgieff.

SPORTS

— Just a few weeks after throwing a no-hitter, Angels pitcher Reid Detmers was sent to the minors. Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said that the demotion will allow for Detmers to regain his form in a less stressful environment. Since his no-hitter, Detmers has had a few rocky games. “I got a lot of stuff to work on,” Detmers said this week. “There’s a lot of stuff I can do better.”

— Mr. Irrelevant, the honorific given to the last pick of the National Football League draft, is celebrated every year in Newport Beach. This week, Brock Purdy, the 47th Mr. Irrelevant, arrived by boat and was escorted into a house of fans by showgirls, where a wild night of Las Vegas-esque activities took place.

Stay in Touch

If you have a memory or story about Orange County, we would love to read it (please keep your story to 100 words or less).

We want your help in making this the best newsletter it can be. Send any tips or comments to benjamin.brazil@latimes.com or carol.cormaci@latimes.com.

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