Tuesday, December 30, 2003


The Real OC Issue 7

After a long hiatus, The Real OC is back with another issue of hard hitting, yet truthful outlook at what is taking place in Orange County, California and the United States today. In this issue I will discuss my recent stint with the Kerry campaign in Arizona, the 69th Assembly District campaign, Right Wing Christian fanatics running amok in Santa Ana and Westminster and more suprises. Hope everyone enjoys the Real OC's dramatic return.

The Kerry Campaign

As many of you knew, I spent four months away in Tucson, Arizona working for the Kerry campaign. This was the experience of a lifetime, being a part of a campaign which may change the course of human history. This campaign has already redefined Presidential Politics and will leave many scholars discussing the most incredible comeback in primary history.

I left many loved ones behind to join onto a campaign which at that point many were saying was doomed. The experience in Tucson was frustrating at times. At our first rally with Senator Kerry in October we managed to bring in 300 people. By the time he returned to Tucson in February, 3,000 people turned out to hear his message. The campaign would be frustrating as his poll numbers stayed below people like Dean and Clark. Many people in Arizona, and here in California would constantly question me about Kerry and how he is tanking. I watched as many people who were supporters at one time switch to other candidates because they wanted to be on the "winning team." One person in Tucson who claimed to be a friend of Kerry's switched to Dean and then to Clark, thats friendship for you. One of the most frustrating parts was recruiting volunteers, many people who expressed interest from the first rally no longer wanted to be associated with Kerry. I was pressured at times to just leave and come home to California. But one thing I do not believe in doing is cutting and running when I was given a job and duty to do, and that was to help John Kerry win the Arizona primary.

As many people witnessed, in January our numbers hit their lowest, Kerry was polling only a point above Kucinich. A friend of mine from OC also left to go and work for Edwards in Iowa. He too was low in the polls and we would talk on a weekly basis how we were determined to stand by our candidate to the end, even though people kep telling us to switch to Dean or Clark, they were going to be the ones to take on Bush. Then came IOWA. The week before, Kerry's numbers had finally started to turn around and he slowly polled ahead in Iowa. That night, we had an Iowa Caucus watching party, which was attended by about 8 other dedicated supporters. When they declared him the winner, we erupted into cheers. That Thursday, I attended the meet-up, which would average about 10 people, this time we had 35, of which only four of the people were previous supporters. We never had a problem with recruiting volunteers again.

As everyone knows, Kerry went onto win the New Hampshire primary which gave us even more momentum. When Kerry came to town on February 2nd, he returned as a celebrity of sorts. THe previous months we had trouble giving out signs and stickers, this time it was almost like Kerrymania, any sign not tied down was taken and people rushed the stage just to shake his hand. The next day, we held our Tucson victory party at a restaraunt among many of our supporters, including our original supporters who stood with us from the beginnning. When they declared Kerry the winner in Arizona at 7PM Mountain Standard Time on February 3rd, I nearly burst into tears knowing all the hard work, all the late hours all paid off. Now that he is the Democratic nominee, the idea that I may have played a small part in changing the direction of the United States really touches my heart. God bless America, I can tell my children and grandchildren about my part in saving this nation from the most destructive administration this nation has seen.

While in Arizona, I met many great people, and made many new friends. My fellow campaign workers, I will never forget them. The family who took me in and allowed my to stay, Paul Gordon and Eve Shapiro, I am grateful to them. The new friends I met in the U of A Young Dems, I will be back and we have to go have some drinks at Belushe's, I miss that place. And to the 15 core supporters who stood with us when we were down in the polls. Thanks to all the people who I befriended for making me feel welcome in Tucson I will never forget it.

The 69th AD Race

In early February, after the Arizona primary, I returned home and was thrown onto a campaign that would shake the foundation of the Democratic Party in California. This race also happened to be my home Assembly District, the 69th AD. For the past six years, Democrat Lou Correa has been the Assemblyman, making this the only Democratic Assembly District in Orange County. Now termed out, two Democrats sought to succeed him, Tom Umberg, who was the Assemblyman from this same district from 1990-1994 and Santa Ana City Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez. Usually these races are a contest between friends, discussing minor differences on some issues but this race was different. This was a contest between a real Democrat and a "Republican Lite" Democrat.

This race was easily one of the most dirty, vicious and expensive races in recent memory. In 2000, Claudia Alvarez ran for the Santa Ana City Council as a progressive who promised to bring change. She immediately abandoned those who once supported her and went to bed with the power base in the city and sold out to special interests. She broke a promise to support rent control, she voted to terminate union jobs, the list goes on. IN the Assembly campaign, she was supported by numerous Independent Expednitures who usually support Republicans. Among them were the Electric Companies, HMO's, Land and Real Estate Developers, Tabacco companies, the Farming Industry(the same industry who tried to silence Cesar Chavez) and the Grocers. She took a $1,000 check from Safeway during the strike that recently took place here in Southern California. She claimed that someone missed it and it was deposited accidentally. We say,"yeah right."

Then came the race baiting. Latinos make up 75% of the population of the 69th AD, and 54% of the registered Democrats. Ms. Alvarez used this by appealing to the lowest common denominator by inciting fear in many Latinos that Tom Umberg was an example of the white man trying to once again control their destiny. She and many of her supporters tried to paint Umberg and his supporters as racist. She also had a mailer sent out with a prayer card depicting the Virgin of Guadalupe and a letter from her mother encouraging voters who received it to pray that she wins, she is a good Catholic and Latina. Then there were the campaign signs with the slogans, in English it was "Save our Schools", not sure how one Assemblywoman plans to save our schools, but she claimed she would if she was elected. But it was the Spanish slogans which were more disturbing, "Ella es una de Nosotros" which translates to "She is one of us." Many took this as an appeal to the Latino community to support her because she is like them, while Umberg was not one of them.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003


The Real OC Issue 6

Its that time of the year again. Thats right, elections are coming up and there are some interesting races that will be decided. In this issue I will be discussing the upcoming elections in Central Orange County. It is an interesting time for this area as voters in two Assembly Districts and the 1st Supervisorial District will be chosing a new representative. This will make for an interesting campaign season.

68th Assembly District

Because of redistricting, the two Central Orange County Assembly Districts are considered safe for each party and are expected to be decided in the primary. The 68th Assembly District contains all or portions of the cities of Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Westminster, Garden Grove, Stanton and Anaheim. This district is expected to stay Republican, and there are two Republicans running for the seat, both Garden Grove City Councilman. Since I am a Democrat, and do not live in the 68th District, I normally would not take an interest in this race. But as a longtime Garden Grove resident, having two Councilman running for the seat has made me take an interest in this race. The two candidates are Van Tran and Mark Leyes. I feel bad for the 68th AD, for they have to make a choice between tweedle dee and tweedle dumb. Honestly, these two have been disappointing members of the Garden Grove City Council. Unfortunately the Democratic choice is not much better, as professional candidate Al Snook is the only one running so far. This is a man who does not know which party he wants to be in. He was a Republican when he ran for mayor of Garden Grove in 1998, joined the Reform Party to run for the 68th AD in 2000, and then became a Democrat to run for the 68th AD again in 2002. My recommendation on this race to voters in the 68th AD, skip that office and just not vote for it.

Now to focus on why the two Republican candidates suck. Some people are probably thinking, its Claudio, he thinks they suck because they are Republican. Well that definitely doesn't help their case, but the one GG Councilmember I do have respect for, Bill Dalton, is a Republican. I have watched as these two have pimped themselves to the public as these great Councilmembers who have turned Garden Grove around. Nothing could be further from the truth, these two have been disgraces.

I will begin with Mark Leyes. Since he has been on the City Council, he has been known as a redevelopment hawk, he even admitted it to residents at a community meeting when their homes were threatened. As a resident once stated to him at another community meeting, his name is all over the documents where eminent domain is used. When east Garden Grove residents, with the backing of Senator Joe Dunn, stood up to the City Council who wanted to put 3 housing tracts into redevelopment for a proposed theme park and other attractions, Mark Leyes suddenly "saw the light." Since then he has been a supposed "advocate" to outlaw eminent domain in Garden Grove. While he was supposedly on this anti-eminent domain mission, he stood with developers who wanted to put a housing tract that was out of character for a central Garden Grove neighborhood. Again the residents of Garden Grove rose up and got enough signatures to force a referendum. Again Mark Leyes "saw the light." Now he is proposing a ban on all eminent domain in Garden Grove and will try to use it has a hook piece to win the primary, and should he lose the primary he will try to ride the wave on a run for Mayor. We should not try to get rid of eminent domain, but instead try to get rid of bad politicians who abuse it. And we should start with Mark Leyes. Recall anyone?

Speaking of recall, lets move onto Van Tran. Rumor has it there may actually be a recall effort to remove him from the City Council in the works. Of course people seem to see him as the "golden child" of the Vietnamese community. More like fools gold. He too has jumped on the anti eminent domain platform although he ran for Council in 2000 on a pro-redevelopment platform. He also sided with the developers in trying to force a housing tract down central Garden Grove residents throats. Of course he has a group of followers who accuse anyone who opposes his agenda as a Communist. Reminds me of a certain SAUSD board member who used the word Racista whenever people opposed him. But where are the Republicans to criticize Van Tran's behavior. Of course he gets a free pass. Unfortunately I do believe he will get the nomination in March and will move on to the State Assembly, making a recall a moot point. Of course it would be nice if the voters of Garden Grove in the 68th Assembly District sent a message by simply leaving that part of the ballot blank. It would so make my day to hear that the majority of Garden Grove Republicans voted for none of the above, which at the end of the day is the better choice.

69th Assembly District

Now onto my home Assembly District, the 69th AD. This is the one safe Democratic district in Orange County, referred to as the "hole in the GOP's donut." Because of redistricting and registration, it is expected to stay Democrat after the seat is vacated next year by Lou Correa. The two Republicans running are relative unknowns, which shows the Republican party is not putting much effort to take the district back. Arnold has his eye on a few of the legislative districts, but it is obvious the 69th AD is not one of them. There are two Democrats running to succeed Lou Correa, they are Tom Umberg, and Claudia Alvarez.

Tom Umberg represented the 69th Assembly District in the early 90's. He vacated the seat in 1994 to run for Attorney General. Since then he has worked for the Clinton Administration and the private sector. Because he left after two terms, he is eligible for one more term and has decided to use it. Some people speculate that he is using this as a springboard to run for the 34th Senatorial District in 2006, which Joe Dunn will be vacating due to term limits. Whether or not that is the case, early indications show that Umberg is still popular with many of the constituents here and is considered the most likely to win the primary. Some people have taken issue with the fact that for the past several years he has been living in Villa Park and that the district is meant for a Latino to represent. He was a Garden Grove resident when he represented the area the first time and won Latino support for exposing Curt Pringle's little poll guard incident in 1988. Although the ideal would be to have a Latino represent the area, we must also look at who is more qualified. Umberg has some very positive qualifications and proven leadership in this area. He knows it well and was also known as a coalition builder during his years in the Assembly. We need more Democrats in the State Legislature who can build consensus.

Claudia Alvarez is the candidate of the "Bush Lite" wing of the Democratic party. Elected to the Santa Ana City Council in 2000, claiming she was not part of the "elite machine" she immediately aligned herself with them and has marched lock step with them ever since. She turned on nearly all her backers from the 2000 election and has literally bit the hands that fed her. Now time has come to face the music. When I first heard of Claudia Alvarez and how she was a graduate of Santiago High School(my alma mater), I thought "alright a Cavalier running for office." Then when I heard she was a potential Assembly candidate, I was even more happy than ever with the thought of a Santiago alumni making it that far. Then I began to hear about her record on the City Council, how she turned her back on all her old supporters. Then I heard how she supported Abstinence Only education and restrictions on a woman's right to choose. Then I was rather disappointed that the first elected official Santiago High School produced was "Bush Lite." The fun goes on, she supported a horribly planned "Special Assessment" for Santa Ana to supposedly create more revenue for graffiti removal and other city services. In fact she was the main "cheerleader" for the Ream Assessment. I do believe that sometimes taxes need to be raised, but as long as there are sunset clauses in them when the economic lean times get better. Also from the very start of her campaign she has attacked her other opponents and has offered little on what she plans to do in the State Assembly. I do not wish to see her win any office and I am very disappointed to see SHS produce a sad individual such as Claudia Alvarez. I know she is going to portray herself as the candidate who will represent the Latino community, since the majority of registered Democrats in the 69th AD are Latino. I do hope Umberg hands her defeat in March because it will show that the Latinos vote on who they believe will do the best job, not on what thier ethnicity is. Go ahead and try that stunt, it failed for Rios-Parra against David Tokofsky in the LAUSD race, and it will fail for Claudia as well.

Before Tom Umberg was in the race, SAUSD board member Sal Tinajero was the candidate I was supporting. But he dropped out just as Tom Umberg got into the race. Tom Umberg is now the candidate I support. I believe he can best represent the 69th Assembly District.

1st Supervisorial District

Chuck Smith is vacating this seat due to term limits and there is a good chance to finally get a Democrat on the OC Board of Supervisors. Unfortunately one of the Democratic choices is not an option in my book. The Democratic candidates are Assemblymember Lou Correa and Garden Grove Dictator, I mean Mayor Bruce Broadwater. The Republican candidates are Santa Ana City Councilman Brett Franklin and Westminster City Councilman Kermit Marsh. The race is non-partisan with all candidates appearing together on the March 2004 ballot. One candidate must get 50%+1 to win, if all the candidates fall under 50% then the top two vote getters will face each other in a runoff in November. I expect this race to go to a runoff, but I see this as a race of who will take on Lou Correa in November.

Essentially Lou Correa is considered the front runner in the race. It will be a battle between Bruce Broadwater and Brett Franklin for the second spot, with Kermit Marsh playing the spoiler role for Franklin or Broadwater. I think it is more beneficial for Garden Grove to have Broadwater make the runoff. Rumor has it he plans to run for the Garden Grove City Council if he loses in the Supervisorial race. He too is part of the "Eminent Domain" gang I mentioned in the earlier editorial, he didn't earn the nickname "bulldozer" for nothing. He is condesending to anyone who opposes him at the Council meetings and is out only for himself. Broadwater is the worst possible candidate for the 1st Supervisorial District. Franklin has been doing some pandering as of late to Garden Grove and Westminster residents at the expense of Santa Ana residents, and has joined the Van Tran machine which puts him on a level with our "beloved" Garden Grove elected officials. But the main problem is Broadwater and 2004 is going to be the year his and the redevelopment hawks' reign comes to an end.

Now onto Brett Franklin. This past weekend I read the candidate statements and was shocked at what he has for his. Instead of focusing on issues relating to the first supervisorial district, he focuses on the growing evil if Indian Gaming and the threat they pose to Westminster, Garden Grove and Santa Ana. First off, being a longtime Garden Grove resident I have seen a number of things proposes, theme parks, riverwalks etc. But never have I heard anything about an Indian Casino. Nor have I heard any talk of a proposed casino in Westminster or Santa Ana. What is the need to make it an issue then, much less a primary issue. I detest campaigns based on fear, and that is what Franklin is trying to do. I actually found him a respectable man up until a year ago when he began pandering to outside business interests to advertise in Santa Ana and then this stunt. I hope people see through this phony and send him packing and end is short political career, since he is termed out of the Santa Ana City Council in November. Shame on Brett Franklin.

This concludes the Real OC #6. Next I will discuss the potential legislative races as the election specials continue.

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