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  • Writer's pictureGabriel San Roman

Slingshot: Buena Park Caps Food Delivery Fees, Eyes Grocery Worker 'Hero Pay' Next

Almost a year into the coronavirus pandemic, Buena Park's slow-moving liberal politics are still hauling ass faster than Ghost Rider when compared to the rest of Orange County.

Earlier this month, city councilmembers adopted an emergency ordinance putting a restaurant fee cap on third-party delivery apps. This Tuesday, the council will consider another emergency ordinance establishing a $4 per hour "Hero Pay" hike for grocery workers.

Mayor Pro Tem Sunny Park championed the 15 percent app cap, which gained a 4-1 nod from the the council's Democratic supermajority.

"Third-party food delivery services such as Grubhub, Uber Eats, Doordash and Postmates have stepped in to fill an essential service by providing residents with delivery from local restaurants," said Eddie Fenton, assistant city manager, during the Feb. 9 city council meeting. "However, these companies charge restaurant fees that can reach up to 30 percent, or more, potentially wiping out any profit that a local business might make from a local order."

Here's some numbers to chew on.

A Western Bacon Cheeseburger combo from a Carl's Jr. is more of a whopper to the wallet on Postmates when it comes out to a subtotal of $20.49 after taxes and an assortment of fees. I'd only pay that much if the delivery service traveled back in time to bring me the once tangy titan before former CEO Andy Puzder ruined it forever!

The combo goes for $7.99 at Carl's Jr., but is marked up to $11.99 on Postmastes without any notification to the customer. After that, service and delivery fees are tacked on (and Postmates is one of the cheaper apps!). Carl's Jr. is a mega corporation with drive-thru locations; hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Buena Park without them aren't so capable of absorbing the hit.

At the time of the council discussion, 22 cities in the state had already adopted similar laws, none in OC (surprise, surprise!). Some cities, such as Los Angeles, made the move as early as June. Irvine pursued the "app cap" policy at the same time as Buena Park.

The Center of the Southland's version aligns with it as well as San Diego chingona Lorena Gonzalez's assembly bill 286, which seeks a statewide 15 percent limit on menu item markups by such apps.

Progressive councilwoman Susan Sonne asked city attorney Chris Cardinale if he was aware of any legal challenges to such fee restrictions elsewhere. Cardinale hadn't seen anything of the likes, nor any third-party app declining its services in cities with such laws.

The only pushback during council discussion came from Beth Swift, the lone Republican left on the dais. Saying she used the food delivery services at least three times a week, Swift tallied her delivery and service charges to be about 20 percent of the bill.

"I'm happy to pay that," she said. "To me, that's not excessive. We live in a free enterprise system."

Mayor Connor Traut, who's 26 and is able to be the liberal steward in Buena Park that his Democratic chums in Anaheim can only dream about, re-centered the conversation on what the emergency ordinance actually addresses--restaurant fees. "It would also require that all of the fees be known to the customer," said Traut. "Right now, they're not. The businesses themselves actually have to pay an additional, significant fee."

Cardinale added to the clarification.

"This actually doesn't cap delivery charges between the service and the customer," he said. "They could still charge councilmember Swift the 20 percent, they just have to tell you that's what you're paying as opposed to looping that into the cost of a Big Mac."

Traut saw the ordinance as one protective of small business restaurants battered by the pandemic, but with benefits beyond that. The mayor believes that eateries no longer burdened by price-gouging fees will be likelier to sign up with more delivery apps, giving stay-at-home diners more options throughout the state of emergency, when the cap is applicable.

With the emergency ordinance adopted, next up on Buena Park's liberal agenda is the matter of hero pay for grocery workers. Long Beach passed a similar measure before the "Freddy" Kroger corporation responded with a villainous dick move in closing two of its chain markets in town. Irvine took an early step towards a hero pay boost with a second reading coming this week. With a Democratic supermajority, Buena Park could still beat Irvine to it while Santa Ana, which boasts an all-Dems dais but is narrowly divided on the issue, won't be able to follow suit until March 2.

Pivotal to all, especially Buena Park, is the outcome of the California Grocers Association's legal challenge to hero pay policies.

If all bodes well for Long Beach in its federal suit, Buena Park could turn H-Mart into "Heroes Mart" by this week!

The question, then, remains: how long before Democratic Party activists from SanTanaHeim flock to OC's new liberal mecca to Build Buena Park Back Better--or whatever! Either way, the Center of the Southland is finally gaining a reputation beyond just being the home of a famous beagle on Beach Boulevard.

- Gabriel San Román

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Your Mouse Muckraker / Photo by Federico Medina

Mouse Muckraker

The new trailer for Disney's Cruella has people talking--including anarchists?

Well, it isn't exactly the preview for the live-action prequel starring Emma Stone that has the "no gods, no masters" crew up in arms (or at least rolling their eyes), but the film poster's appropriation of the circle-A, the longtime symbol of anarchy as order.

An article in the Daily Beast covers the dust up, including with a quote from Agency, an anarchist public relations group.

“For many anarchists, practicing veganism—abstaining from supporting the exploitation or use of animals for food or other purposes—is seen as a baseline for living an ethical life,” said Ryan Only, a vegan and an Agency member."It’s about walking the walk, a consistency of means and ends."

And since Cruella de Vil's animated claim to fame is kidnapping puppies to skin for her lavish fur coats, that just doesn't jive with anarchist animal liberation ethos!

Stone's character this time around is intriguing. She exudes a punk persona and the film is in 1970s London, complete with a bad British accent. Cruella ain't no Disney princess nor traditional villain. But is she an Angry Brigade-style militant? By the trailer's end, a building is inexplicably ablaze.

An-ar-chy! An-ar-chy! ...Anarchy?

Well, Cruella wouldn't be the first Disney film to distort anarchism, but that's a tale for another day!

Before the film arrives to Disney-plus in late May, pay some respects to the original Disney anarchist: Alexander Nitrokoff! The portrait of the sash-wearing man in his boxers standing on top of a barrel of dynamite inside the Haunted Mansion's stretching room was originally conceptualized as one. Imagineer X. Atencio's early script for the ride had the Ghost Host offering the following description:

"Alexander Nitrokoff, an anarchist who came to us with a bang one night!"

Lead photo: A new council is sworn in / Courtesy City of Buena Park

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