At first glance, Harry Sidhu seemed to reward himself just a few weeks after being sworn in as Anaheim’s mayor. Posted on the city’s website, a Dec. 23 ticket-disclosure form had Sidhu placing four tickets under his name for Disney On Ice: Dare to Dream at the Honda Center. As far as his first six months in office goes, it would’ve been the sole occasion on which he’d treated himself to tickets made available to City Council members. No detractor could’ve lambasted him as an abuser of the city’s system in that regard.
But the Disney On Ice filing remained curious.
According to this week’s “Ticket Masters” cover story about Anaheim’s little-known political-patronage system, all other ticket-taking elected officials in the city—whether Democrat or Republican—have checked a box on 802 disclosure forms marking the value as income to be reported during tax time. All, that is, except Sidhu. Instead, the filing showed he gave himself a tax break by ascribing the most exceptional “public purpose” clause in Anaheim’s policy, one reserved for “encouraging or rewarding significant academic, athletic or public-service achievements by Anaheim students, residents or businesses.”
It’s something council members can do but eschew in practice. “They are entitled to use tickets themselves under the public-purposes section of the policy without marking it as income,” said city spokesman Mike Lyster.
Only, that’s not the response offered on Sidhu’s behalf when addressing direct questions about that ticket filing. “A member of our City Council support staff made a human, clerical mistake on that 802 filing,” Lyster said. “Those tickets were not used by Mayor Sidhu. They were given to Todd Ament for his service to Anaheim with his work on our interim [homeless] shelter.”
Ament is CEO and president of the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce; according to filings, Sidhu gave Lyster four suite tickets worth $900 to an Angels game in March.
The Dec. 23 form posted online has been corrected and now carries an amendment next to Ament’s name, the only such mistake acknowledged among more than 1,500 reviewed forms.
Gabriel San Román is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and the tallest Mexican in OC. He also once stood falsely accused of writing articles on Turkish politics in exchange for free food from DönerG’s!