Fireworks for Westminster! And other highlights from Tuesday night’s election…


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Well it looks like Huntington Beach and the Capo Unified School District bucked the trend of the rest of the OC, which in turn bucked the trend of the Golden State of California, which in turn bucked the trend in the nation, which was a backward, self-destructive, reactionary, corporatist trend, funded by Citizens United billions, driven by frenzied Tea Party gullibility, and enabled by the diffident despondence of Democrats and moderates.  But where you see the glass 3/4 empty, I prefer to see it 1/4 full…

The second (and final) Capo Recall a resounding success!

The far-right Education-Alliance-backed anti-public-education extremists misruling the Capistrano Unified School District went down in flames Tuesday.  Teamster-backed career politician Ken Maddox (Maddox-Lopez?) and his trial-lawyer buddy Mike Winsten were recalled by overwhelming margins, and replaced by decent, intelligent and caring PARENTS.  And a lot of credit needs to go to feisty activist and organizer Chris Korpi, who’s been my source for a lot of what I’ve written on this topic, and will be appearing on next Wednesday”s Radio Orange Juice.

So now the Capistrano Unified School Board has three great new trustees:

You can leave your Hatton...

  • John Alpay, honest conservative Republican whose rowdy, freewheeling interview with us here caused so much controversy and threats of lawsuits  from his opponents.  John will also be taking his spot on the OC GOP Central Committee in January – wonder how that will go, seeing as how he’s just spearheaded the demise of a cherished project of many OC GOP insiders – the dismantling of a great public school system?
  • Professor and ethnomusicologist Gary Pritchard whose wife Heather is one of the OC’s most prolific liberal bloggers, posting everywhere from the OC Progressive to Calitics to the Daily Kos.  Did I say liberal?  Yes, liberal, liberal, liberal, it feels good to be able to say it now.  Heather’s great essays earlier this year on the troubles of the district helped get me interested in the struggle, and I suppose I picked up the baton from her right when it became prudent for her to lie low.  (Hi Heather!)
  • The brilliant and comely Lynn Hatton, who majored in “social ecology” at UCI (wow, now that sounds liberal!) and went on to create a hugely successful “college readiness” company after an extraordinary 17-year tenure at the Princeton Review.

That’s only three trustees out of seven, granted, but apart from madcap Trustee Anna Bryson, the other three incumbents are not exactly crazy zealots, so I’d say the mission was successful and the Board is now balanced.  With Measure H (by-area voting) also passing by wide margins, it will be much easier in the future – seven times less expensive – for anyone to run for trustee, while also saving the District $1 million every ten years, that can now go to EDUCATION.

Like most things that were successful this year, this involved an alliance of Democrats, Independents and honest Republicans who were disgusted and energized by the corrupt, wasteful, and extremist actions of GOP insiders.  All around, this movement has changed what had been called “Ground Zero in the War On Education” to what should soon be an actual functioning school district.

Two out of the three Team Huntington Beach candidates triumph!

Huntington Beach has long had one of the most arrogant, out-of-touch City Councils, and in recent years they’ve really gone overboard with their abuses, invariably giving developers anything they want, giving away our open spaces and parklands, and squandering money, while sneering at all public outcry.  Of course this is largely the fault of HB residents, who either don’t bother voting or vote for whoever the Republican Party tells them to.  Well that has dramatically skidded to a halt, with the election of TWO out of three “Team Huntington Beach” candidates last week.

One is Connie Boardman, the very popular former mayor, biology professor, and Bolsa Chica activist.  (Even my Fox-News parents love her although they can’t explain why – I think they just vaguely remember the city being better when she was in charge.)  And the other is one of my best friends, progressive Democrat and former planning commissioner Joe Shaw – who will also be appearing on  Radio Orange Juice, and has the distinction of being Huntington Beach’s first openly gay councilman.  (Ah, all the things I kept my mouth shut about before the election.)

And the converse:  HB’s two reactionary contingents fail dismally!

Any town that has a Republican majority for long enough sees it devolve into two Republican cliques.  (Hello Brother Larry!)  In Huntington Beach that has taken the form of the chummy, wasteful, fairly labor-friendly Team Garofalo (named for their felon godfather, the bouncy and avaricious Dave) and the hardcore anti-government extremists answering to Scott Baugh through snarky local golden boy Don Hansen.

Hansen had his own team of three candidates all chosen and groomed and ready to do battle with the public employees, and the smirking schemer charged them an arm and a leg to be part of “Team Hansen.”  Remember his “Red Zone Strategies?”  Remember when we examined Don Hansen’s Red Zone?  Well, the thousands and thousands Barbara Delgleize and Billy O’Connell paid to the Red Zone were absolutely for naught, leaving them without adequate funding and woefully down-ballot.  (Only relatively independent Hansenite Matt Harper made it onto the council.)

Team Garofalo did just as badly, only managing to re-elect goofy lummox Joe Carchio (it takes the proverbial “dead girl or live boy” for an incumbent not to be returned) but their beloved Fred Speaker finished WAY down ballot despite his fire and police endorsements.

More bad news for the Hansenite Jacobins:  The other Baugh/Hanlon-backed shock-doctrine schemes to bankrupt the city Costa Mesa-style and force the breaking of employee contracts met further frustration with the defeat of Measure O and the overwhelming re-election of honest Republican City Attorney Jennifer McGrath.  All part and parcel of Surf City resisting being made into a plaything and Petri dish for OC GOP meddlers – now pray for Costa Mesa.

OK, I know there’s only so much you care about my home town, now let’s zoom out, looking for more good news…

California Über Alles!

Here’s something I avoided posting until after Governor Jerry Brown was safely elected – the grimly prophetic 1979 punk-rock warning of the Dead Kennedys.  Be afraid, right-wingers:  “It’s the suede-and-denim secret police – they’ve come for your uncool niece!”

And Jello Biafra didn’t know the half of it – all the horrors that would come with 2010’s Great Democratic California Sweep.  To wit:

  • Barbara “call her Senator you little prick” Boxer empowered for another six years of environmental extremism!
  • Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones making sure that California gets the best of Obamacare!
  • Controller and martial artist John Chiang (with Arnold finally chained in his basement) making sure Public Employees get paid!
  • Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom with no job description but to find ways to turn your marriage gay, and all the time in the world on his hands!
  • Secretary of State Debra Bowen continuing to make sure the votes of black and brown people count, dooming you all to decades more of Dem hegemony!

Seriously, our great state is currently the 8th largest economy in the world, and we have recently been the 6th.  Up there around France.  If the rest of this once-great nation has opted for two years of constipation and paste-eating, we could do worse than hunker down and get our own house in order.  As the Courage Campaign put it, the great 2010 wave of retardation “crested at the Sierra Nevada and stopped there.”

California is a little ahead of the curve;  we already know from our Schwarzenegger years that the draconian shock-doctrine policies the rest of the nation is flirting with lead to nothing good, no jobs, no growth, nothing but misery.  And all the millions Meg and Carly could throw at us in advertising left us oh so unimpressed (in contrast to all the bought-and-paid-for races across the nation.)

Best of all, we fiercely defended our landmark environmental legislation AB 32 against the dirty Texas oil barons – Don’t mess with California’s air and green jobs! – keeping us in the forefront of the new, soon-to-be-booming Green Economy!

Zooming out more…

A snapshot of the national scene for the next two years:
“HELL NO YOU CAN’T!”

Seems the best we can hope for nationally now is two years of gridlock and Darrell Issa showboat “investigations.”  Maybe they can send us a postcard now and then from out there, let California know how it’s going.  Maybe in 2012 the sanity of 2006 and 2008 will return.

Most comically, some Republicans, remembering their routs of two and four years ago, are swearing up and down that they’ve changed, that they’re no longer the same Republicans who drove us to the poorhouse with an unnecessary war, unfunded tax cuts for the rich, and an ever-expanding government letting Wall Street do whatever it likes.  Really?  Can Republicans change?  Can they ever not be the unquestioning sock puppets of Wall Street and the Pentagon?  What do you think?

Finally, let’s zoom out timewise.

Demographically, the Great Step Backward of 2010 will probably be the GOP’s last hurrah.  In 2012 the people they are most afraid of will be back in force for the exciting Presidential race – that’s young people and Latinos. And they aren’t going anywhere, especially to the right.  In other words,  the arc of history, though long, bends toward justice. (MLK)

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Oh, and Westminster gets legal fireworks!!!


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.