Upcoming Anaheim City Council Candidate Forum at Ember Cafe Implodes!

Ember Cafe & Music Club was set to play host to the next candidates forum in the race for Anaheim City Council on Wednesday, but the event has been promptly canceled. Deeming the whole affair as ridden with conflict of interests and unethically structured, Duane Roberts had planned on boycotting it while calling for a picket line outside the venue, but first contacted The League of Women Voters of Central Orange County who were originally billed as sponsors and moderators of the forum.

Speaking on behalf of the organization, Joan Heck tells the Weekly that it did not meet their protocols and withdrew participation after addressing concerns with event organizer and mega-rich real estate developer Bill Taormina. After apologizing, he informed her it would no longer go on. The Weekly has also reached out to Taormina and awaits a response. Having the League of Women Voters -- no rabble rousing group by any stretch of the imagination -- pull out of the sordid affair, though, is all that really needs to be said.

But wait, there's more!

The forum was to be hosted by Steve and Kacey Elkins who own and operate Ember Cafe in downtown Anaheim. Kacey is also Taormina's daughter. The powerful family and its numerous interests, including Ember and Elkins herself, have contributed thousands of dollars to the campaign coffers of corporatist twinsies Jordan Brandman and Steve Lodge.

"This forum was a complete sham orchestrated with the underlying intent of boosting the political fortunes of...candidates favored by Elkins and her wealthy father," Roberts contends in a press release alluding to the impartiality of the proposed venue and its hosts.

Earlier this week, Taormina sent Anaheim city council hopefuls the invitation to participate, including an 8-point layout of how the evening would go. The way questions were to be gathered and fielded immediately caught Roberts' eye. Unlike the WAND forum where people in attendance submitted their questions on handwritten index cards as they arrived, the Ember Cafe event asked that "citizens and stakeholders" send their inquires in advance so that they can be emailed to the candidates the day before!

Talk about scripted answers! Better yet, all proposed questions were to go through Kacey Elkins by way of text message to her cellphone! Oy vey...

The campaign contributions and the forum structure was just too much for Roberts. "I have high ethical and moral standards and did not want my good name to be tarnished," he tells the Weekly. "I was ready to refuse lending any credibility to this farce by showing up."

Oh, how the developer class has such trouble with the simple things of democracy like candidate forums. Anaheimers take note!

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I caught video of the WAND event (not as nice as Jason's, he used pro equipment) but my site was down and I could not upload. Will have the video broken into segments by each question and the answers from candidates, and will have that online by Monday (if not sooner) at ThinkForYourselfOC.com Sorry for the delay.


I was also going to co-host a forum with some other bloggers (so the candidates might feel it was more balanced with multiple hosts from many viewpoints) , but dropped the effort when I saw Taormina was doing something in Central Anaheim. I will see if we can still get something accomplished but fell way behind on time by dropping for the Ember event. If nothing else I will send a set of questions to the candidates and post their answers (of those who reply.) 


LaundromatViewer, trust me, nothing is gained by advance copies, it just means we get to hear the answers that someone's campaign manager has wordsmithed. Much more effective to see how they respond in person and on the fly. Can this candidate think for themselves? That comes across loud and clear in these forums. 


Sorry to hear Bill's event imploded, but frankly the format was not credible, his properties are plastered in political signs on behalf of Lodge and Brandman, (including the property hosting the proposed event) not to mention donations to those candidates from Bill, each of his business entities, and his children and their business entities (in addition to one of Bill's business tenants, who I would bet has a lease coming up for renewal.) Now there is a fair, balanced, and unbiased venue. 


Kudos to Duane for standing up for your standards, I understand how Jason feels, Bill is a friend to many of us, but that does not mean I always agree with his choices. 



Sorry to hear the fight against "The Great Anaheim Electoral Forum Drought of 2012" has been set back. Is / has any contact occurred between Msrs Roberts and Taormina to work out differences before the 'implosion' or is that still possible? This is certainly a year when more info before voting can only HELP! I know it is easy to ask SOMEBODY ELSE to 'be the better person' and compromise for the greater good, and feel free to call me your favorite epithet for doing so, but having gotten a stark education from the city about reasons the Council Chambers/ video archive CANT host a forum, losing a forum opportunity in hand hurts the voters all the more when accounts of the SOLE forum so far, poorly attended BY REQUEST, were said to have many "Yeah, what he said" answers. Perhaps the prior distribution of questions could give the Candidates the OPPORTUNITY to demonstrate THEIR CAPACITY for more insightful answers? What about submitting all questions on a public blog, with ALL kept up till after the forum for 'transparency', and opportunity for 'on the fly' questions after the selected submitted ones, to allay fears that a candidates answers 'had help'? If this could be worked out, most important follow up would be to post video of forums online. That would overcome limits on physical venue capacity, transportation, and voter conflicts with family/work obligations. Also perhaps to post a legit address for donations to defer costs - I'm sure there's enough residents who would  send $5-10 for something this important - I will. Current family obligations limit my participation now to online, but I would be happy to help online / phone if possible - jeffk92804@yahoo.com


I know Bill personally and his heart for the Anaheim community. This was NOT a "sham orchestrated with the underlying intent of boosting the political fortunes of...candidates favored by Elkins and her wealthy father."


This man has donated untold amounts of money to Anaheim based charities. Bill stood up to the City of Anaheim when it came to graffiti issues and has fought hard for the residents for decades. Though him and I may not agree politically, I respect him and I am proud to call him a friend. 




gabrielsanroman topcommenter

 @LaundromatViewer As noted in a previous comment by me in this thread, there's one more forum set, plus another in the works. That would bring it to 3 before election day.

gabrielsanroman topcommenter

 @SaveAnaheim Aight, you said your piece. Now, a week ago, we pointed our readers over to Save Anaheim in the hopes that video of the WAND forum would be uploaded soon. How much longer?


For others who are interested, there are at least two more forums to come, one in Anna Drive and the other on Oct. 22 at Betsy Ross elementary hosted by OCCCO and numerous other organizations...

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