Saturday, March 31, 2007

Get Active This Weekend in OC!

If you're in need of some good actions to get involved in this weekend...
Well, here it is! If you're looking for progressive action to take in Orange County, look no further than here! Today, we have Barack Obama's "Hope. Action. Change." community gatherings throughout OC... Again, here's a great chance to get involved and make a difference in this Presidential Campaign! Also today, YOU have a chance to TELL ME whatever you want about what you think is the best solution to Bush's Blunder in Iraq.

Oh yes, and we've got EVEN MORE happening tomorrow! Why don't you join me after the flip to see what's happening in your neck of the woods...


Barack Obama Community Gatherings

Basically, we'll be talking about ways for us to get involved with the campaign. As LOCAL volunteer grassroots activists, we have a unique chance to reach out to our family, friends, and neighbors in our community. Now that we California Democrats will be picking our nominee in February, we have a great opportunity to reach out to our fellow Democrats, and let them know that THEIR VOTES MATTER.

The event is TODAY at 12:30 at the Sea Country Community Center in Laguna Niguel. For more info on today's event, GO HERE.

And oh yes, if you can't make it to Laguna Niguel on Saturday, then PLEASE drop by any of these other OC for Obama community gatherings:

Santa Ana at 2:00 PM

Huntington Beach at 2:00 PM

Irvine at 12:45 PM

Orange at 2:00 PM

Fullerton at 8:00 PM

Buena Park at 2:00 PM

Aliso Viejo at 12:00 PM

San Clemente at 12:30 PM

OC Democrats Talk About the Iraq War

The Laguna Woods Democratic Club wants to give Orange County Democrats a chance to tell their representatives to the state party how they feel about ending the Iraq War. On March 31, the club will be hosting Defining the New Direction: Orange County Democrats Voice Their Views on the War in Iraq. This will give Democrats from throughout Orange County a chance to talk to the delegates who will be representing them at the CDP Convention next month about how, when, and why they want to see the Iraq War end. As the delegates prepare to vote on resolutions regarding the war, this is a chance for local Democrats to tell the delegates what they think.

From OC Democrat Weekly, Orange County's e-Newsletter for Democrats and source for progressive action:

Saturday, March 31, 2pm, Laguna Woods: Orange County Democrats are invited to attend a forum on the Iraq War presented by the Laguna Woods Democratic Club, Richard Lara (State Delegate representing the 67th Assembly District), and other California delegates. The event is Saturday, March 31, 2:00 to 5:00 p.m., in Clubhouse One, main dining room. Theme of the forum is "Defining the New Direction: Orange County Democrats Voice Their Views on the War in Iraq." A keynote speaker, to be announced, and delegates to the April 2007 Democratic State Convention will be attending in order to listen to audience participants and respond in a town hall meeting. All Club members and residents of Laguna Woods Village are invited to attend, as are Orange County Democrats and other interested people. For more information, contact Richard Lara, 714-369-5647/, or Linda Nearing, 949-460-0640/ .

This event is TODAY at 2:00 PM at Laguna Woods Village Clubhouse #1. For more info on this event, GO HERE.


Ethical Consumption: Saving the World While You Shop

Every time we spend money, we tell the world a little about ourselves. What are we saying when we buy a shirt that was made by a 12 year old girl working in harsh conditions for virtually no money? Are we comfortable purchasing a household appliance from a retailer that cheats its employees and uses prejudicial hiring practices? Is it O.K. that buying a wrench from Multi-Mega corporation helps run our neighbor Bob's 4th generation hardware store out of business? Join us as we learn how to say "I care deeply about this planet and everything on it" every time we buy something. Join us for this enlightening talk which gives practical helps on finding the right companies to do business with at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Costa Mesa.

The event is tomorrow at 1:30 PM in Costa Mesa.

Support Tim Steed for CYD Chair!

This is a reception in support of Tim Steed for Chair of California Young Democrats at Alicia's home in Orange tomorrow at 3:00 PM.

Friday, March 30, 2007

OC Special Election UPDATE: Trung "Sore Loser" Nguyen Appeals

OK, I just noticed this on Total Buzz... But I'm not really surprised:

Coming as a surprise to absolutely no one, the Consigliere Schroeder (see also: Darth Vader, Darth Schroeder, or any Godfather reference) says Trung Nguyen will appeal the judge's decision this week that made Janet Nguyen the winner of the First District supes seat.

Mike told me that Team Trung is waiting for the transcripts from the trial in Judge Michael Brenner's court and they will then file with the state court of appeals. Perhaps the higher court will agree with the "Schroederian view" of the state recount law and maybe Team Janet shouldn't get too comfortable up on the Fifth Floor...

Please, court of appeals judges, PLEASE THROW OUT THIS SUIT! Team Janet got the recount that Team Trung didn't even want, and then Team Trung got to cry its way to court to complain that the recount that they didn't even want was "done wrong". The judge listened to both sides' arguments, and concluded that the County Registrar conducted the recount legally, and that Janet Nguyen truly was the rightful winner. Janet is now in, and Team Trung just needs to move on.

OK, sorry about my ranting. It's just that I live here, and I am sick and tired of these GOP Machine scumbags whine and complain about "gaming the system" when they themselves have used some VERY ILLEGAL TACTICS to "game the system". Unlike many of their possible victims, these GOP Machine scumbags got their day in court... And the judge ruled that there was no "gaming". Team Trung need to let it go, and allow for Central Orange County to move on.

I hope they realize that soon, and that I can stop ranting about all this crap soon.

Frustrated Republicans Speak... Is the OC GOP Listening?

Sorry everyone, but I just can't help it! I spotted this on OC Blog yesterday, but the action only continues to heat up over at "Red County" Land:

When are we going to stop calling Mitt Romney a front runner in the GOP Presidential race?

Despite having likely raised and spent more money than the other candidiates thus far, Mitt Romney languishes at just 7% in California (see Jubal's post from yesterday).

At least that's better than he's doing in Nevada (4%), Florida (6%) and nationwide (3%), which is probably due at least in part to certain advantages he holds here in O.C.

Seriously, shouldn't a candidate to at least have come within shouting distance of double-digits to be called a "front runner?" In all these polls the guy consistently trails not one, but two people who aren't even in the race! Save your money, O.C. donors.

In its inaugural issue, Red County's print magazine called Romney the "real deal." As a Presidential contender, he quite clearly is not.

Come on, now! You know you want to follow me down below for more salacious GOP infighting... ; )

Perhaps Frustrated Republican could spend some time explaining why conservatives, who are the dominant portion of the GOP, should embrace a liberal like Rudy?

Or is it just easier to bash Mitt Romney?

I'll be more impressed with Rudy when I see him go before the National Right To Life Committee and defend his "I'd pay for my daughter's abortion" comment, or he explains to the NRA why he sued the gun manufacturers because they were making too many guns.

"He can win" may be enough for the checkbook crowd, but activists who think principles actually count for something need more than that.

OK, so "Rudy's a Lib" has issues with all this criticism of the OC GOP's fawning over Mitt Romney. But is "Rudy's a Lib" in denial? Or is everyone just unfairly overlooking Fred Thompson? Oh, wait... He supported that evil, liberal, socialist, commie-loving pinko CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM bill! Here's more from OC Blog's comments:

Of course voting McCain-Feingold is a kiss of death because it shows a complete lack of philosophical belief in small government and individual freedom. It should absolutely disqualify any Republican. I didn't know Thompson supported it-- forget that guy, then.

I don't care for Rudy, but it is possible to be pro-choice under the guise of a libertarian-type belief system (I have no idea if this is how Giuliani arrives at his belief set).

And I am one of those hoping for some Reagan-esque conservative to ride into this race on a white horse, but Frustrated is probably right, unfortunately... the fundraising deficit at this point is probably already too huge for a latecomer to overcome.

So will any "Reagan-esque conservative" be able to ride into this race on a white horse and save the Republicans? Romney may be loved by the OC GOP Machine, but he's not so loved by the oh so beloved "base". Giuliani looks pretty strong right now, but what happens when people find out about his... Ummm... "moral values"? Ah, it's amazing to see the Republicans running around like chickens with their heads cut off now that their Chimperor has failed them.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cindy Sheehan. On Impeachment. In OC. Tonight!

Do you want to hear for yourself what Cindy Sheehan has to say about the Iraq War, George Bush, and the process of impeachment? And oh yes, would you also like to hear The Nation's John Nichols talk about impeachment?

Well, tonight is your night if you'll be in South Orange County! I noticed this again in the OC Democrat Weekly:

Please join The Nation Magazine political writer and best-selling author JOHN NICHOLS for discussion of his new book THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders' Cure for Royalism With Introductions by MIMI KENNEDY, PDA [Progressive Democrats of America] National Advisory Board Chair and now added Special Guest CINDY SHEEHAN, Peace Mom and PDA National Advisor Board Member.

So are you free tonight at 7:00 PM? Want to go to the Aliso Viejo Library? This is your chance to speak with the one and only Peace Mom about how best to hold this Imperial President accountable.

CA-46: Is Crazy Dana Starting to Make Sense?

{Thanks to Joe Shaw at Orange Juice for bringing this to my attention. : ) }

Say what you will about Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, but even if you disagree with him more often than not, you have to at least admit he's not afraid to speak his mind.

And in these days of political polarization, it's refreshing to still have an elected leader you can count on to tell you how he sees things and not just parrot party talking points.

Believe it or not, that's what the Huntington Beach Independent has to say about Dana Rohrabacher in their editorial page today. So are they right? Does "Crazy Dana" really make sense now? Follow me after the flip for more...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

So why exactly is the HB Independent praising Dana Rohrabacher?

Remember last year when most Republicans were treating disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff the way Superman handles kryptonite?

Rohrabacher put his neck out to stick up for his friend, even writing a note to the judge asking for leniency.

Wow, so they actually like the fact that Crazy Dana was singing words of praise for "disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff"? (From Washington Post)

A friend of two decades, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), defended Abramoff: "I think he's been dealt a bad hand and the worst, rawest deal I've ever seen in my life. Words like bribery are being used to describe things that happened every day in Washington and are not bribes."

Oh, wait! The HB Independent also has this to say:

Last week, Rohrabacher reared back and delivered one of his patented one-two verbal punches right straight to the guts of the White House.

It's not what you'd expect in proudly Republican Orange County, where President Bush enjoyed lop-sided support in the past two elections.

But there was Rohrabacher calling on President Bush to fire his attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, and even saying the president ought to be impeached if two recently convicted Border Patrol agents are killed in prison.

We may not always agree with Rohrabacher, but we surely appreciate his independent nature and the courage he shows to speak his mind.

Well, maybe he is doing the right thing here... But is it for the right reason? Rohrabacher's recent interview with Costa Mesa's Daily Pilot should give us some insight here:

If it was just the U.S. attorneys, I would say we shouldn't be calling the president's appointee into question, but the fact is that the heavy-handed approach that the president used toward these U.S. attorneys reflects a pattern of arrogance in this administration, and those of us even in the Republican congress recognized a contempt of congressional oversight by this administration as compared to other administrations. We've seen an abuse of power by the FBI, we've seen an incredibly ruthless prosecution of [Border Patrol agents Ignacio] Ramos and [Jose] Compean. All of those things combined would signal that the president is not well served by having a very good buddy as attorney general rather than someone with a more professional focus. It is the job of the attorney general as the president's legal counsel … to give direction and offer advice to the president and to make sure that what he's doing is both politically and legally advantageous to the president and the president's authority, and the president has not been well served by Gonzales.

The president has every right to fire U.S. attorneys — in fact, maybe he should have done so the first day of his administration, the way Bill Clinton did…. He has every right to throw the book at Border Patrol agents while pardoning drug dealers. The fact that these things are happening would suggest to me that you've got Mr. Gonzales not being forceful enough to advise the president that he's on the wrong track. For all we know, they could be Mr. Gonzales' policies.

OK, so while everyone else is angry at Bush for his Imperial Presidency, Crazy Dana screams about the Border Patrol agents. But yet, he reaches the same conclusion that we do. Does this mean that we should praise Crazy Dana?

Well, I guess it serves the larger purpose of bringing down Bush that Dana Rohrabacher is leading a mutiny in the Republican Party. I wish him the best on that. But will I ever start respecting him? No, especially since he's still willing to give Bush "one last chance" to continue his miserable failure in Iraq. And oh yes, how can I respect someone who refuses to even accept reality on the looming climate change catastrophe?

I'll cheer Dana on as he takes down his own party, but I certainly won't cheer him on when he runs for reelection. He still makes no sense, and West Orange County and South LA County still deserve better.

PPIC Survey: Californians Want Term Limits, Redistricting, Hillary, and Rudy

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) has just released its new statewide survey... And boy, is this one a doozie!

- The People Like Arnold a Little Less And Dislike the Leg a Little Less

56% of likely voters approve of Arnold's performance as Governator. That's down five points from January, but still OK for him. However, the Legislature is still becoming... Well, less unpopular. While only 39% of likely voters approve of the Legislature's performance, that's a big jump from only 23% approval (AND 65% DISAPPROVAL!!) a year ago.

- Sorry, Don Perata... Voters Like Term Limits As They Are...

68% of likely voters think terms limits have been good for California, and 64% "oppose a term limits reform initiative that proponents hope to put on the February 2008 primary ballot."

The opposition is also widespread: 70% of Republicans, 61% of Democrats and 68% of independents say they oppose the initiative.

- ... But They Do Want to Redo Redistricting

Now, we all know that the real strategy to get term limits changed is to tie it to redistricting reform. Well, I guess they're kinda "halfway there". Voters want to change the way that districts are drawn...:

- 66% of likely voters think the current redistricting system needs at least minor changes.
- 39% of likely voters think it needs major changes
- 66% of likely voters favor putting an independent citizen commission in change of drawing districts.

- So What Do Voters REALLY Care About?

19% - immigration, illegal immigration
13% - jobs, economy
12% - education, schools
9% - health care, health costs
7% - gasoline prices
6% - crime, gangs, drugs
4% - housing costs
3% - environment, pollution
3% - state budget, deficit, taxes
3% - traffic, transportation, infrastructure
14% - other
7% don’t know

Now 54% of likely voters view immigrants as a benefit to the state because of their hard work and job skills, meanwhile only 39% see immigrants as a burden because they use public services. It looks like most Californians don't have a problem with immigrants... Except that 53% don't want undocumented immigrants to have health care benefits.

- Health Care: What Do Californians Want?

Although health care is not a top priority, 71% of Californians are saying that health care is in need of major change. 82% of Democrats, 74% of Independents, and 58% of Republicans all feel that we need major changes in our health care system. 83& of likely voters are concerned about providing health care for all Californians. So what exactly are Californians supporting? What do they want to see done with health care?

65% of likely voters favor a plan "requiring all Californians to have health insurance, with costs shared by employers, health care providers, and individuals". 69% of likely voters say it is a good idea to require all Californians to have health insurance, with programs available for the poor. 67% of likely voters feel that employers should be required to provide health insurance for their employers or pay a fee to the state to help cover the costs fo health insurance. Now with all these proposals, there's pretty solid support among Democrats and Independents, but not so much among Republicans.

- 2008 Prez Primary: Dems Want Hillary, GOPers Want Rudy

So who do California Democrats want for President next year?

35% - Hillary Rodham Clinton
24% - Barack Obama
14% - John Edwards
6% - Bill Richardson
8% - someone else (specify)
13% - don’t know

And who do California Republicans want?

33% - Rudy Giuliani
19% - John McCain
14% - Newt Gingrich
7% - Mitt Romney
14% - someone else (specify)
13% - don’t know

For more fun and joy and craziness and pretty numbers, go see the survey for yourself. Come on now, you know you want to! ; )

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Don't Cry for Trung Nguyen & Van Tran... They Have Plenty of New GOP Friends!

OK, I know that I shouldn't be doing this...
But I just can't help it! Total Buzz made me do it! ; )

Got a press release today saying that Assemblyman Van Tran, R-Garden Grove, will be in Santa Ana on Friday to promote the Earned Income Tax Credit -- an income-tax benefit for the poor. Among those on hand will be Santa Ana Councilman Carlos Bustamante -- who was among those running for supervisor this year against Tran's candidate, Trung Nguyen -- and the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, which is often finds Democrats more sympathetic to their causes. Former U.S. Treasurer and currently -- take a breath -- California State and Consumer Services Agency Secretary Rosario Marin will also be there.

Oh, great! So Lord Van Tran can now count the "Independent Democrat Republican" as his new best friend! And oh yes, how lovely that Rosario Marin will be coming to their aid.

For more on Van Tran, his new best friends, and what this all might mean, follow me after the flip...

Here's some more from Martin Wisckol at Total Buzz:

More interesting to me was the new district representative for Tran who listed as the contact on the press release. Saulo Londono lead Lynn Daucher's absentee ballot drive, which nearly led to an upset of Lou Correa in last year's central county state Senate race. He then was campaign manager for Trung, and nearly pulled off an upset there after one of the most relentless and well-researched absentee voter drive I've seen. I'm not surprised Tran wants to keep Londono close at hand.

Hmmm... So one of the same guys who engineered Lynn Daucher's near-win in SD 34 last year is now cozying up with Van Tran? I wonder why. Is he worried about something... Like possibly the next election, and the possibility that people might start to find out more about all the delicious dirt that's been hidden in his closet? Well, I guess there's nothing like currying favor from other politicos to solidify your standing in time for the next election.

Well, I guess at the very least, Trung Nguyen shouldn't have to worry. Van Tran always knows how to help his proteges.

Is Santa Ana Unified Padding Classes to Pad Its Budget?

Hmmm... I nearly missed this in today's LA Times:

Santa Ana Unified School District administrators created false class rosters and misused substitute teachers to qualify for state funding earmarked for small classes for elementary students, according to eight teachers, school documents and state officials.

At Washington Elementary School, for instance, documents reveal that school officials created a second-grade roster showing students in a class that didn't exist. The phantom classroom diluted the number of second-graders in existing classrooms — allowing the average class size to fall below 20.5 and giving the district an additional $1,024 per student per year.

So what exactly is happening in Santa Ana? Is the school district lying about classes? Are they desperate for money... And if so, why? Follow me after the flip for more...

So what is the latest problem that the SAUSD is experiencing?

A substitute teacher at Washington Elementary was assigned to the nonexistent class. Several teachers at the school said she only spent a few hours over the past month in each classroom instructing students on her roster. Since then, school officials said, she has been assigned to cover full time for a teacher on medical leave and no longer visits the classes.

State officials said the district's actions appeared illegal — even if substitute teachers were used for part of the day — and plan to launch an investigation.

"That would clearly be a blatant attempt to violate the intent of the law," said Jack O'Connell, the state superintendent of public instruction who wrote the class-size reduction legislation in 1996 while a member of the state Senate. "We make it real clear to schools that they need to make sure they have 20 students to a class."

I guess this shouldn't come as such a great surprise to me. I mean, they did not want to divulge the names of who would replace School Board Member Sal Tinajero once he was elected to City Council. And oh yes, they have to be so secretive... ABOUT THEIR TOTAL INCOMPETENCY...
Well, I guess this really shouldn't come as a surprise to me.

But anyways, I digress. Here's more from The LA Times story:

At Washington Elementary, eight teachers said in interviews that school administrators asked them to sign class rosters that show they had significantly fewer students than were assigned to their classrooms. Second-grade teachers Alma Olivares, Sahara Green, Donna Araujo, Christina Moreno and Rose Copes, third-grade teachers Eugenia Pedraza and Olga Escobar, and first-grade teacher Eva Zamarripa said students' names were deleted from their rosters, but they have continued to teach these children, sign their report cards and meet with their parents.

"I'm teaching them," said Olivares, who had four children removed from her roster. "They're in my class. They're my responsibility."

Since the new district policy was enacted about a month ago, several Washington teachers said they had refused to sign the new rosters.

"If I sign it, I'm agreeing to the lie," Araujo said.

A teachers union official, who has heard concerns about the altered rosters from teachers at four schools, said he requested legal justification from the district two weeks ago and had yet to receive an answer.

"When [teachers] are asked to sign rosters that aren't accurate, it makes them nervous, and justifiably so," said David Barton, president of the Santa Ana Educators Assn.

Despite the teachers' objections at Washington Elementary, four students were removed from Olivares' roster, five from Araujo's, one from Green's, three from Moreno's and two from Copes'.

So is what my school district has come to??!!

But of course, I also must wonder that if the school district really was fudging its class rosters for extra cash, then WHAT EXACTLY WAS THE DISTRICT SPENDING THE EXTRA CASH ON? If they still had to cut programs and close schools, then what exactly was all this extra money being spent on? And why should we trust what the district leadership has to say?

OC Special Election: It's Time to Move On

The board is complete. The healing process begins. The unity starts now.
- Ryan Gene on Orange Juice

Mr. Nguyen ran a good race, but he should put an end to any more legal action. The county should wish Ms. Nguyen the best as she becomes the first Vietnamese-American county supervisor.
- Today's OC Register Editorial

Mr. Nguyen, the only way to save face now, if that is even possible, is to accept your defeat gracefully and fade off into the shadows of history.
- Chris Prevatt on The Liberal OC

Want to see how Orange County feels about this hard-fought election coming to an end? Well, follow me after the flip for more...

Here's more of today's Register editorial. Now keep in mind that I rarely ever agree with The Register's editorial page. This is one of those rare occasions:

Mr. Nguyen's attorneys argue that the recount was done improperly because the Registrar of Voters manually recounted the absentee ballots, but chose a quick download of the electronic ballots cast on Election Day. They called that gaming the system, but Judge Michael Brenner tossed out Mr. Nguyen's claim that the recount was illegal, arguing that it was done in a logical manner and compliant. [...]

Any time a race is won by a handful of votes, it's a heartbreaker. Supporters of Mr. Nguyen argue that more voters intended to vote for him, but ultimately had their votes disqualified because they followed the campaign's instructions and checked the last spot on the ballot. That spot actually was the place for write-in candidates. But the purpose of campaign law is not to find out who was the winner in some cosmic sense, but to follow a fair, deliberative, consistent and legal process to determine the winner. That appears to have been accomplished through a series of challenges and counterchallenges.

Mr. Nguyen ran a good race, but he should put an end to any more legal action. The county should wish Ms. Nguyen the best as she becomes the first Vietnamese-American county supervisor.

Here's more of what Chris Prevatt has to say at The Liberal OC. Now remember that this is a progressive local blog, and that Chris (like me) backed Umberg for Supervisor:

Janet Nguyen was sworn in yesterday as the first Vietnamese-American elected Supervisor in Orange County and the youngest as well. This election has been a roller coaster ride for both Janet and Trung Nguyen. Both candidates have held the lead at different points in time.

Both candidates have also been accused of promoting anti-Latino sentiments, Trung Nguyen pretending to be a border guard, and Janet Nguyen calling on Vietnamese voters to vote for her with this comment “She also has votes from other ethnic communities, women, seniors, Republicans who do not like Mexicans”.

Now is the time for healing and repair. Janet Nguyen needs to reach out to the Latino community and demonstrate that she is not the racist that her comment to the Vietnamese community portrays.

It is also time for Trung Nguyen to accept defeat at the hands of a woman. Mr. Nguyen, the only way to save face now, if that is even possible, is to accept your defeat gracefully and fade off into the shadows of history.

And btw, here's what Chris has to say about the whole Bush v. Gore comparison:

In Gore vs. Bush, Gore moved on once the court ruled. Also, I believe it was Bush who appealed to the Supreme Court. I see that as Bush not moving on rather than Gore.

As far as the determination of Legislative Counsel goes, ot [sic] has no legal weight. I also do not believe there would be any change if the VVPAT’s were to be reviewed. The 1 percent review showed no errors in the electronic tallies.

The only reason Darth Schroeder raised the issue was in effort to invalidate the reount [sic]. His objection had nothing to do with an accurate counting of the votes. Team Trung did not ask for the VVPAT’s to be audited. They just wanted the original tally to stand unchanged.

Team Trung needs to move on, challenge Janet in 2008 if they want, but give the recount a rest.

Here's more of what Ryan Gene has to say at Orange Juice. Sure, he's a Republican... But he's a good guy who sometimes makes some very good points:

"Wow, what a journey!" Those were the first words spoken by newly seated Supervisor Janet Nguyen, as she addressed a standing room only forum this morning. Janet's inaugural speech also spread thanks to her loving family, her friends, supporters, and mentors former-Supervisors Bill Steiner and Cynthia Coad.

She also addressed the sizable Vietnamese observers in the room in Vietnamese, which drew applause.

The real spotlight today though, at least that I felt, was the talk of unity.

A sentiment shared this morning by Janet, and pretty much everyone in attendance including Chris Norby, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, and state senator Lou Correa, both of whom gave notable speeches on the topic. Lou left right after the swearing-in ceremony to fly back up to Sacramento and present some bills in the Senate. [...]

Other notable electeds in attendance were Santa Ana councilmembers Carlos Bustamante and Michele Martinez, Garden Grove mayor Bill Dalton, Orange councilman Jon Dimitru, Westminster mayor Margie Rice, SAUSD trustee Rob Richardson, and county treasurer Chriss Street. [...]

Now that she's in, Janet will quickly begin to put her staff together and hit the ground running. I can see from the OC Gov. website that her name is now listed among the other four supervisors.

The board is complete. The healing process begins. The unity starts now.

So what do I think? Well, I think that this thing needs to come to an end. Trung Nguyen, Mike Schroeder, and Van Tran need to let it go. Central OC is already suffering from not having anyone to serve us at the county level for so long, so why should we delay any longer?

Now I wasn’t all that happy last month when Umberg lost, but I moved on. It’s time for Schroeder and Tran to do the same. They have exercised their legal right to challenge the election, and that legal process has now been exhausted. The court has ruled that Janet won fair and square, and now Janet's new colleagues agree. It's time for everyone to move on.

Janet won. Janet’s in. It’s time to move on.

Calling All Edwards People! House Parties Tonight!

Calling all Democrats who are supporting John Edwards for President! You have a house party to go to tonight!

We'll watch a John Edwards DVD and join in a phone call where he will answer questions from around the country. You don't need to donate to come to the party.

Here's a chance for you to make a difference, and to build grassroots support for Edwards here in California. Come on, now! How hard is it to hop on over to your neighbor's house to find out more about the candidate that you like? I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

Why not take advantage of this real chance to revitalize the California Democratic Party? I am hoping that we in the progressive movement here will take this unique opportunity to breathe some new life into the Democratic Party here, as well as to get our neighbors excited about voting again. There's nothing like telling someone that his or her vote really matters... And now that our primary will be early and important, ALL OF OUR VOTES REALLY DO MATTER AGAIN!

We can continue to bitch and moan and whine and complain about everything that's wrong right now, and just see more of the same...
Or we can get up and take action to change this! If we really care about building a grassroots movement here, then why don't we use this primary as a way to start growing it? If we're so concerned about the "media ad buys" and all the consultants, then why don't we get out there and start growing some real grassroots? No, the candidates cannot meet all of the voters in California... BUT ALL OF US WORKING TOGETHER CAN! If we don't like the status quo, then why do we keep whining about it? Why not just get out there and CHANGE IT?!

The opportunity is now here... We just have to get off our duffs and TAKE IT!

And yes, the opportunity is now TONIGHT in Santa Cruz, Anaheim Hills, Irvine, and elsewhere in the state. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start growing those grassroots! : )

OC Special Election UPDATE: Leg Counsel Opines in Favor of Trung... Does This Mean Another Lawsuit?

Who cares what the democrat lawyers who work for Fabian Nunez and Don Perata think? It has no force of law. The campaign is over. Schroeder needs to stand down. He is only hurting the GOP's chances of keeping this seat next year.

So why is "Been Around" on OC Blog angry at the "democrat lawyers"? Well, it looks like those "democrat lawyers who work for Fabian Nunez and Don Perata" have just contradicted Judge Brenner's ruling in favor of Janet Nguyen by opining that the County Registrar was required to use a voter verified paper trail (VVPAT) in conducting the full recount. So have these "democrat lawyers" now given new life to Trung's insane effort to overturn the election results? Follow me after the flip for more...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

So is Team Trung now getting giddy all over again? Well, judge for yourself. Here's some of what Trung Nguyen's campaign had to say about the surprise opinion, courtesy of OC Blog:

The day after a Superior Court judge ruled that a full recount was conducted in the February 2, 2007, special election for Orange County First District Supervisor’s race, the Legislative Counsel for California Legislature released its 4-page legal analysis and finding that “a county registrar is required to use a voter verified paper trail (VVPAT), and not an electronic record, in conducting any full recount of an election in this state at which votes were cast on direct recording electronic voting system.” (Legislative Counsel Finding #0710444)

“The Trung Nguyen campaign filed its election contest stating that a full recount was not conducted by the Orange County Registrar. Janet Nguyen gamed the system for tactical reasons” stated Michael J. Schroeder, attorney for the Trung Nguyen campaign and former GOP Chairman. “We believe an appeals court will likely 1)agree with this legal finding; 2)overturn the trial court’s decision; 3)rule that a full recount was not completed; 4)find that the recount was null and void; and 5)uphold the first certified winner Trung Nguyen.

“This legal finding by the very body that wrote the applicable Elections Code sections completely validates and supports all of the litigation positions taken by the Trung Nguyen campaign,” stated Schroeder.

“The law does not allow someone to game a recount so that the counting methods switch back and forth depending on whether the votes are favorable to them or not. This is what happened here,” stated Schroeder.

Oh yeah, so you don't believe them? See the opinion for yourself...

"We conclude that a county registrar is required to use a voter verified paper audit trail, and not an electronic record, in conducting any full recount of an election in this state at which votes were cast on a direct recording electronic voting system."

And here's some more insight from Peggy Lowe at Total Buzz:

Brenner admitted yesterday that two sections of the law conflict eachother, but he also said he didn't want to do what Schroeder had asked of him, which is rewrite the statute. Brenner did agree with Schroeder that there is a need to "harmonize" the two conflicting sections of the law.

You'll also notice that the opinion says that "where uncertainly exists, consideration should be given to the consequences that will flow from a particular interpretation." This is what Schroeder mentioned many times during his closing arguements yesterday, saying if the judge didn't side with Team Trung's interpretation, a kind of political Pandora's Box would be open and chaos would ensue.

So what does this all mean? It means that the air of uncertainty has just crossed "The Orange Curtain" again. Now perhaps Janet Nguyen has an extra leg up now that she's the duly elected Supervisor for the First District...
But the sense of closure that was gained yesterday may, all of a sudden, slip away once more if Team Trung gains some new traction in their appeal process. We all knew that Trung and his political sugar daddies were planning to whine their way to the next court, desperately searching for another chance to undo the election...

But do they now have a legitimate chance of turning our world upside down once again? Hell, many more of us in Orange County might get angry at the "democrat lawyers" if this were to happen...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Janet's Been Sworn In... But Can She Bring Us Together?

Today, something happened. What we've all been waiting for finally happened. Janet Nguyen was FINALLY sworn in as County Supervisor. THANK GAWD I FINALLY HAVE A SUPERVISOR!! But how long will this last? Will she really be able to follow through on her promise to "unite the district" and "represent everyone"?

Follow me down below for more...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

After all the counting and recounting...
After all the legal battles...
And after all the campaigning, before AND after the election...
It finally came down to this.

Or, as Janet Nguyen said herself:
"It has been a short election, but a very, very, very long Election Day."

Bill Steiner, the former County Supervisor who is a longtime mentor of Janet, swore her in today. He praised her as a great student when she first took his political science class, and he commented on her track record as a political staffer, and then as a Garden Grove Councilmember. Oh yes, and he responded to an earlier tirade about Janet "not representing everyone" by talking about how she will work hard to represent everyone in the district.

After the swearing-in, Janet addressed the crowd. She thanked her family, her consultants, and her supporters. She still seemed amazed that "only in America can a 30 year-old Vietnamese-American woman be elected" as an Orange County Supervisor. And yes, she pledged to unite the district and represent everyone in the community.

Lou Correa, the man who once sat where Janet sits now, then addressed the crowd, and talked about the reality of representing such a diverse swing district that is OC's First Supervisorial District.

"Central Orange County is a marketplace of ideas... Every race has been tight. Every race has been debated. I think that's a good thing. Neither the Democratic Party or the Republican Party can anoint someone."

After the ceremony ended, I stepped outside to talk with some friends. And just before he left to return to Sacramento, I spoke with Lou... And with Tammy Tran, the political AND policy genius who now works in his district office. While I was speaking with them, I remembered how they have done such a great job at reaching out to the Vietnamese-American community here, as well as everyone else in the district. I guess this strong outreach and these strong ties to the community here in OC are the true strengths of Lou Correa and his political team. But anyways, as I was thinking about this, it dawned on me... That may be what Janet Nguyen might try to repeat.

One of Janet's GOP supporters suggested that she hire one of Lou's old aides to help her with her new job. He also said that he expects Janet to hire additional Latino staffers, and to aggressively win some goodwill in Latino-heavy Santa Ana...
So can this be the key to Janet's success?

She's now "part of the county family", but how much of a mark will she make in this hall? I guess we will have to wait and see.

Janet's Getting Sworn in Today... But Will the Drama Ever End?

Ah, finally! No need to revise the agenda...
Janet Nguyen really will be sworn in today as the newest OC Supervisor. The wait is over... It's just too bad that the drama may not be over quite yet. (From OC Register)

Janet Nguyen will be sworn in tomorrow at the weekly Board of Supervisors meeting. Trung Nguyen ducked the many reporters at the courthouse, but his lawyer, Michael Schroeder, said he expected to file an appeal of the judge's decision.

"The judge's ruling was not a surprise," Schroeder said. "We have to take a look at the judge's ruling but I anticipate we will file an appeal."

Janet Nguyen, 30, now becomes the first Asian-American and the youngest ever to sit on the board. She told reporters she was excited, honored and relieved.

"I'm ready – I've been ready – to represent the people of the First District," she said.

Trung Nguyen refused to concede the election and didn't congratulate Janet Nguyen, who left the courthouse and promptly walked over to the county Hall of Administration. There, she was congratulated by Supervisors John Moorlach, Chris Norby and Pat Bates.

"She'll be voting tomorrow," Norby said.

Ah, if only Darth Schroeder, Lord Van Tran, and their loyal lackey Trung can just GIVE IT UP, and LET JANET SERVE FOR GAWD SAKE!! But whatever, they'll likely lose again with the appeal. I'm just relieved that this whole damn thing is coming to a close, whether they like it or not.

Monday, March 26, 2007

OC Republicans on Janet's Win

This just in from the OC Republican Party:

Republican Councilwoman Janet Nguyen of Garden Grove won the February 6th - Special Election for the 1st Supervisorial District Vacancy. The seat was previously held by Democrat Lou Correa.

Nguyen will join Republicans John Moorlach, Bill Campbell, Chris Norby and Pat Bates on the Board of Supervisors thus creating an all-Republican governing board not seen in Orange County since 2004. Nguyen also becomes the first elected Vietnamese-American Supervisor in Orange County history.

“On behalf of the Republican Party of Orange County, I would like to congratulate Supervisor-Elect Nguyen in her hard-fought victory,” said County GOP Chairman Scott Baugh. “I commend the hard work of all Republican candidates that worked night and day to increase Republican registration and turnout.”

“Our member communication efforts during this special election played a critical role in the effort to elect a Republican Supervisor. This Supervisorial win will help continue our positive trend in Central Orange County,” said Chairman Baugh.

OK, so I guess now that Trung's done, the GOPers are getting back into good terms with Janet. I guess we'll see if all those nasty wounds will begin to heal.

(Cross-posted at Calitics)


"There was a full and legal recount," Brenner said minutes ago. "There was no evidence of gaming the system."

This just in from Total Buzz:

Judge Michael Brenner just ruled in favor of Janet Nguyen, and denied Trung Nguyen's claim that the recount was done incorrectly. [...]

He also said that he was impressed with how the election was run and there was no sign of malfeasance.

Follow me down below for more on this developing story...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

Here's more from Total Buzz:

Chris Norby, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, was on hand for Brenner's ruling and said Janet Nguyen will be sworn in as supervisor at tomorrow's board meeting. The meeting will be preceded at 8:30 a.m. with a reception for Janet.

Mike Schroeder, an attorney for Trung Nguyen, said Team Trung will stand clear, legally speaking, and let Janet be sworn in. He said Team Trung hasn't yet decided whether to appeal today's ruling, although he favors such action. But even so, that wouldn't stop Janet from being sworn in and there will be no request for a temporary restraining order.

Well, we know that Norby has been antsy about this... Now, I just hope that the other Supervisors feel the same way, especially since Trung's legal team is giving the green light for Janet to be sworn in.

And yes, I AM SO RELIEVED THAT I FINALLY HAVE A SUPERVISOR AGAIN!! Yes, Janet wasn't exactly the one that I was originally rooting for. However, it could have been MUCH, MUCH WORSE. At least Janet has been willing to talk to other people, and to reach reasonable policy conclusions. Trung, on the other hand, would have been a complete GOP machine lackey. After all, remember who supported him...

So would I have been happier with Tom Umberg on the Board of Supes? Perhaps. But still, I'm glad that we won't have a complete GOP machine hack (NOT) representing our community. And yes, it's nice to see a hard-working young Vietnamese-American woman win such a high office... It's just too bad that she resorted to underhanded race-baiting tactics to win.

So I guess this is a bittersweet moment for me. Yes, I am still a little disappointed by these results. But you know what? It could have been worse. Oh yeah, and at least WE FINALLY HAVE A SUPERVISOR REPRESENTING US AGAIN. I guess we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

[Thanks to Peggy Lowe at Total Buzz for the video. For more on this developing story, please visit ALL MY FRIENDS at OC Blog, Orange Juice, The Liberal OC, and OC Register's Total Buzz! : )]

OC Special Election UPDATE: Will I FINALLY Have a Supe Tomorrow?

This just in from Peggy Lowe at OC Register's Total Buzz news blog:

Could be a big day here at All-Recount-All-The-Time HQ....As Norberto reported on Friday, Team Janet's lead has slipped to just three votes as Team Trung persuaded Judge Michael Brenner to overrule ROV Neal Kelley on four ballots. Brenner has also promised a decision today. That means, of course, that we might have a swearing-in ceremony at the Board of Supes meeting tomorrow.

OK, so Crybaby Trung begged and groveled enough for the judge to reverse one of the Registrar's rulings. So now, Janet Nguyen only leads by THREE VOTES...
So will this paper-thin lead be enough to survive today's legal action...
And will the other four supervisors FINALLY ACT, and seat the Nguyen who won?

Stay tuned for more as the Great OC Political Psychodrama (hopefully) FINALLY COMES TO A CLOSE...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Would You Trust These Men With Our Planet?

Don't you just love California's natural scenery? Don't you love our great mountains, our lovely deserts, our fantastic grasslands...

Well, what if I told you that if John Doolittle and Richard Pombo had their way, we wouldn't have ANY OF THIS. Don't believe me? Well, follow me after the flip to see what would happen to the natural beauty of our state, our nation, and OUR PLANET, if these anti-environment right-wing extremists had their way...

Don't you just love our lovely hillsides? Isn't it great to just walk through the wilderness, and commune with Mother Nature?

Well, if Richard Pombo had his way and stayed in Congress, we probably wouldn't be enjoying our wild hills. After all, there's a good reason why he was called "The Most Anti-conservation Member of Congress". Perhaps it has something to do with his close ties to developers... Oh yeah, and should I tell you just HOW CLOSE these ties have been?

Now do you really want to risk allowing this man to return to Congress?

Aren't our beaches great? Isn't our coastline just magnificent?

John Doolittle is still in Congress... And if he has his way, our coast would be OBLITERATED. For one, he thinks that global climate change is just "much ado about nothing". I guess that means he would not mind if his constituents were to ultimately LIVE ON OCEANFRONT PROPERTY, as the sea level continues to rise.

Oh, and if that weren't bad enough, he also wants to rape our coast while it's drowning! Remember how Doolittle sponsored legislation to open up our coast to drilling for natural gas? Instead of coming up with REAL SOLUTIONS to our energy problems, Doolittle only wants to destroy our coast and enrich his fossil fuel industry friends.


Last year, we made it halfway through our mission to unseat two fiends of the earth... And we came so close to unseating the other guy. So why should we give up now...
Especially when the right-wing extremists are ready to undo our great victory last year.

So do you really want BOTH OF THEM back in Congress, or do you want BOTH OF THEM OUT OF THERE? It's up to you... No, really! During this last week of fundraising for the first quarter, you can help Jerry McNerney win reelection AND help Northern California elect someone who REALLY CARES ABOUT THE REGION'S NATURAL RESOURCES.

Barack the Vote With OC for Obama!

Are you looking for a great way to get active locally? Are you looking to get more involved in taking back the White House in 2008? Well, look no further than here for your chance to take back the White House WHILE getting active locally! On March 31, Barack Obama's Campaign is hosting community gatherings throughout the nation to let folks know how to get involved with the grassroots effort to elect a practical problem-solver AND great progressive as our next President...
And we'll be here in Orange County to let OC Democrats know how to take back their nation in their own community!

Want to find out more? Follow me down below...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

So what exactly is this meeting about? Let me quote from the summary on the event page:

This event will be an organizational meeting for anyone that wants to put their support and efforts behind Senator Barack Obama’s campaign. We will be going over the various ways to get involved in the grassroots efforts to get Senator Obama selected as the Democratic nominee during this primary season, and then elected into the White House in 2008.

Basically, we'll be talking about ways for us to get involved with the campaign. As LOCAL volunteer grassroots activists, we have a unique chance to reach out to our family, friends, and neighbors in our community. Now that we California Democrats will be picking our nominee in February, we have a great opportunity to reach out to our fellow Democrats, and let them know that THEIR VOTES MATTER. Remember what I said about this ten days ago?

Why not take advantage of this real chance to revitalize the California Democratic Party? I am hoping that we in the progressive movement here will take this unique opportunity to breathe some new life into the Democratic Party here, as well as to get our neighbors excited about voting again. There's nothing like telling someone that his or her vote really matters... And now that our primary will be early and important, ALL OF OUR VOTES REALLY DO MATTER AGAIN!

We can continue to bitch and moan and whine and complain about everything that's wrong right now, and just see more of the same...
Or we can get up and take action to change this! If we really care about building a grassroots movement here, then why don't we use this primary as a way to start growing it? If we're so concerned about the "media ad buys" and all the consultants, then why don't we get out there ans start growing some real grassroots? No, the candidates cannot meet all of the voters in California... BUT ALL OF US WORKING TOGETHER CAN! If we don't like the status quo, then why do we keep whining about it? Why not just get out there and CHANGE IT?!

The opportunity is now here... We just have to get off our duffs and TAKE IT!


So what are you waiting for? Why not join us in making a difference in America, and in Orange County, by learning more about how YOU CAN HELP Barack Obama win Orange County next February! We have ten months to go, and plenty of work to do... But nevertheless, I'm sure it will be quite a fun ride, and I'm sure it will all be worth it. : )

And oh yes, if you can't make it to Laguna Niguel on Saturday, then PLEASE drop by any of these other OC for Obama community gatherings:

Santa Ana at 2:00 PM

Huntington Beach at 2:00 PM

Irvine at 12:45 PM

Orange at 2:00 PM

Fullerton at 8:00 PM

Buena Park at 2:00 PM

Aliso Viejo at 12:00 PM

San Clemente at 12:30 PM

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Please Enjoy Some Camp With Your Orange Juice

As you all know by now, I love Orange Juice. Claudio can alway be counted upon for piercing insight into the pure insanity of the anti-immigrant wingnuts. Art is always great at pointing out the sheer insanity his old comrades in the Orange County Republican Party. Ryan Gene may have issues with unions, but I still appreciate what he has to say...

But what the heck is going on with Ron and Anna Winship? They are supposed to be the "Newport Beach Republicans" on the blog, but I am wondering if they are really representing more than just your typical Newport Beach Republicans...
Especially when they say stuff like this:

The inquiry goes something like this: "Are you a
witch?", NO! "Ok, is any member of your family a
witch?" NO!, "OK, so you are saying that you have
never known any witch in your entire life?" NO!....
I am saying I am not a witch and no member of my
family is a witch! "Hmmm, then you are saying
basically that you have never known a witch, never
met a witch, never dated a witch, never attended a
coven meeting, never watched a television program
with witches and in fact are a non-denominational
church going person of good repute...who denies
any connections to the 'Wicked Witches of the West'
or any affiliate organizations?" What do you mean
by Affiliate Organizations Senator?

At first, I thought this was ridiculous... But now, I must admit that this is some of the most brilliant and hilarious CAMP that I have ever seen. OK, I know this sounds crazy, but I'll explain it to you down below...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

Well, first off, we should define what camp exactly is. From Wikipedia:

Camp (colloquially "cheesy") is an aesthetic in which something has appeal because of its bad taste or ironic value.

So what could possibly have more appeal because of its bad taste than this?

*When people want to know...
they should as of course...
but as we saw in the Monica
Lewinsky episode...just
knowing what "what" is...
can be a problem without
a shot spot on a dress.

Why did Clinton bomb the
Serbs? The true answer
was that Yugoslavia made
the best and cheapest washers and dryers in all
of the world. Sort of
the Mexico of Europe. It
had nothing to do with
ethnic anything. The Serbs
are the intelligent, caring
people in the world. More
like Americans than most
Americans are....who did
you want us to come clean
on again...Saddam who and
what many groupg of Arab
terrorists again? The
Serbs never bombed any
US Target should
Hillary now answer for the
bombing of Serbia?
"Sophmoric", "Naive" or "Moronic"? - you pick!

Now they were asked why Bush Administration officials shouldn't be subpoenaed to tell the truth about all the disaster that they have heaped upon this nation...
Yet instead of receiving a coherent response from the Winships, they get this crazy rambling about Yugoslavia, cheap washers and dryers, and Serbs possibly being "more like Americans than Americans are". At first, I wondered more ridiculous this could get...
Then it dawned on me: This may be the most amazing piece of camp since The Eurythmics did their classic AND classy music videos in the 1980s:

This makes so little sense, yet it makes such high art.

Ok...there are reasons to have subpoenas....valid, true
and honest reasons. But to what end and what purpose?
Public Inquiry should always be demanded by the Citizens matter what community. What we the
political forays into the realm of watching Fox News...
with its yelling and screaming or MSNBC with its Hardball
yelling and screaming or CNN with its cynical low key...
whisper campaigns " the president is a jerk...
ya think?" "He seems in big trouble now....!"

All in all when bureaucrats steal money, misappropriate
funds for others, use their power for personal gain,
molest children, perform a capital or felonious crime
....then....and only then we probably need the subpoena
....but till that day?

Wait a minute... Didn't the Republicans do ALL OF THIS during their unchecked years of hegemonic power from 2001 to 2006? I mean, after all, isn't this why Congressional Democrats are asking for subpoenas in the first place?

But whatever, I guess facts shouldn't get in the way of such perfectly absurd yet brilliantly humorous camp.

The reality is - that there was a "Watergate"...thank
you Richard Nixon for being the "putz" that you were
in this regard! People like Hillary Clinton and Fred
Thompson were the legal eagles that did the research.
We still remember the Democrats piling on the likes of
Halderman, Erlichman and the rest. It was sad. John
Dean the the turncoat with the sexy wife
.....who did what? How about those McCarthy hearings?
Those were popular television fare. What happened to
the Warren Commission? They never got much play on the
TV did they? Why do you suppose? The Waco hearings
were the best we have ever gotten to see. There never
were open hearings on Whitewater....wonder why?

Ah, can't you just see Susan Sontag rolling in her grave as she cannot resist to laugh at what the genre she so loved has become.

Join Rick Jacobs for a Special Screening of "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price"

I just got something in my email box from the Democratic Party of Orange County. And I guess since this is such a special event, I should share it with you. There will be a special screening of the eye-opening documentary, "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price"...
And Co-producer Rick Jacobs, who also happens to chair the Courage Campaign, will be here to talk to us after the film about how Wal-Mart is affecting Orange County's economy and communities, as well as the entire rest of the nation.

Follow me down below for more on this special event...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

OK, here's the email:

The Democratic Party of Orange County and Orange County Central Labor Council are proud to present a special OC screening of "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price."

The screening will be on Tuesday, April 10, 2007, at 7:00 pm, and will take place at the IBEW Local 441, 309 N. Rampart, Suite M, Orange, CA 92868. Immediately following, there will be a group discussion about the effect Wal-Mart is having on Orange County, and the entire nation.

Joining us will be Rick Jacobs, co-founder and chair of Brave New Films as well as Chair of the Courage Campaign, an independent political committee on progressive issues in California. He chaired the presidential campaign of Howard Dean in California and serves as Senior Advisor to Democracy for America. He is a featured contributor to Arianna Huffington's

"Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price" takes the viewer on a deeply personal journey into the every day lives of families struggling to fight against a goliath. The film is based on individual human beings, all over the world, at all levels of society, telling their story in very personal terms.

The event is open to the public and media. Please RSVP to attend.

You can RSVP by clicking here:

See you there!


Mike Levin
Democratic Party of Orange County

So would you like to join us on April 10, and find out how Wal-Mart is REALLY affecting our community? If so, please RSVP for the event...
And join us at IBEW Local 441 in Orange for the movie!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Fear and Loathing in the Land of Disney

Once upon a time, a "Magic Kingdom" opened among orange groves and walnut trees in a rural, bucolic community in North Orange County. Over the years, as this "Magic Kingdom" has grown, the rural area transformed into suburban sprawl, and then into urban sprawl.
And during all this time, the two seemed to be growing together pretty well...

Until now. (From LA Times)

Putting itself on a collision course with the city's largest and most famous employer, the Anaheim City Council voted 3 to 2 Tuesday night to reopen debate on whether to allow housing in the resort district — a proposal Disney has fiercely opposed.

The vote is the latest escalation in the debate between city leaders and Disney officials on what belongs in a neighborhood dominated by Disneyland and California Adventure.

So what does this mean for Mickey Mouse, the poor folks who work for him, and the all the neighbors who have to live near him? I'll tell you about it down below...

(Cross-posted at Calitics)

So what exactly has been happening in Anaheim for all these years. Local blogger Mike Randall can explain:

Disney and the City of Anaheim have a long political relationship, that sometimes ends well and sometimes ends in disaster. When Disney owned the Anaheim Angels, the City bent over backwards to approve renovations to aging Anaheim Stadium. Disney responded by renaming the California Angels to the Anaheim Angels (and then it all went down hill later due to Arte Moreno's geographically challenged naming scheme). When Michael Eisner had an idea to continue to profit off of Disney's Mighty Ducks Movies, the Walt Disney Corporation was granted an expansion team by the NHL and Anaheim moved to annex additional land bordering the City of Orange to build the Anaheim Arena (later renamed to the Arrowhead Pond, and now the Honda Center under the Samueli's). At one time three professional sports teams played within the city limits of Anaheim, but the Rams left for St. Louis and for the Rams the rest was history.

As for the theme park, Disney and Anaheim have made a long list of concessions to each other. During the initial planning for Disney's California Adventure Park, Anaheim developed and zoned the area bordered by the 5 Freeway, Walnut Street, Anaheim Boulevard, and terminating past the Anaheim Convention Center as the Anaheim Resort District. This special district has special use regulations for items such as appearance, signs, zoning, and other items to make the area friendly to tourists. A similar district in Anaheim is the Platinum Triangle, a new high-rise residence area with shops and restaurants, a quasi-downtown, which is currently under development but far from the grasp of Disney. It's the Anaheim Resort District, and the prospect of housing along with a possible "Third Gate" (the term that is thrown around when a new theme park is rumored to be in the planning stage), that is causing the biggest riff between the City and Disney that residents have ever seen.

OK, now that we know the background, we can see the real issues surrounding the current controversy that is the prospect of affordable housing being built within the Anaheim Resort District. The city sees the need to build affordable housing for the people who work in the Resort District, and a majority of the city council may be willing to build that housing for these workers close to where they actually work...

But how would this affect Disney's plans to build a third theme park? How would this affect plans to build timeshare units to sell to tourists who want to own a little chunk of the "Magic Kingdom"? Could this affordable housing project hamper Disney's plans to remake Anaheim in Orlando's image? Disney now sees the looming threat, and they're now planning to fight back, both in court and on the ballot. (Also from LA Times)

The election plan is the latest in a series of aggressive steps the entertainment giant has taken to prevent a 1,500-unit condo-apartment complex, and others like it, from taking shape near Disneyland and California Adventure.

Disney, which last month sued the city to block the project, has been unbending in its position that the area be reserved for tourist-related uses such as hotels, time-share units and, ultimately, a third Disney amusement park.

At a hastily called press conference Monday, Disneyland President Ed Grier said the ballot initiative represented "a permanent solution to protect the resort." The initiative would require Anaheim voters to approve or reject any land-use changes within the 2.2-square-mile resort district.

Yet on the same day that Disney announced this "SOAR" Initiative to "save the Resort District", the Fair Political Practices Commission ruled that Lucille Kring, the Anaheim City Councilmember who abstained on the 2-2 deadlock vote on the housing project, WAS NOT OBLIGATED TO ABSTAIN on the vote. Apparently since Kring has (so far) NOT ACTED on her intent to build a wine bar in a proposed shopping center in the Resort District, she has no conflict of interest by voting on Resort District matters. Now remember that Disney's lawyers asked Kring to abstain on this vote, supposedly concerned about her supposed "conflict of interest"...
But did they have some other interest in mind? Mike Randall may have the answer:

The "Third Gate" seems to be the main reason for the pre-emptive strike by Walt Disney Co. rumors have been increasing that the company wants to bring the Cruise Line to the West Coast on a permanent basis, build large blocks of time shares, and zero in on high-end consumers with specialty hotels. According to the Los Angeles Times, Disney's posturing is backed by a rebound in post 9/11 travel and a 30% revenue increase after a successful 50th anniversary celebration. In my honest opinion, I'm surprised Disney would move this quickly with plans for a "third-gate" when Disney's California Adventure still gets the following monikers from locals: "Dirt Cheap Attractions" and "DOA" (Dead on Arrival). Disney has purchased a 46 acre area just Southeast of the current Theme Parks for a "future project" and according to local business and landowners, many have been approached to sell their land. To whom and for what still remains unknown.

In my honest opinion, I'm not all that surprised. Disney, after all, has not quite had the best relationship with its neighbors. Disney simply sees the "Anaheim Resort District" as one of its biggest cash cows, and they simply do not want to lose this VERY scared cow. However, Disney also refuses to think about what might be best for the Resort District, and for the company, in the long term, as they refuse to deal with the serious problem that is the affordable housing crisis in Southern California. After all, if we don't deal with nearby affordable housing for these workers now, then we may have to deal with their freeway commutes from the Inland Empire soon.

So can all out political warfare over a 2.2 square mile cast a gloomy shadow over "The Happiest Place on Earth"? Will the dreams of Anaheim residents, and the dreams of Resort District workers, be silenced by Mickey Mouse? And can a Disney power grab over the "Resort District" lock Anaheim residents out of their very own "Magic Kingdom"?