Tunisia in Costa Mesa.


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(hit play for soundtrack)

The wave of populist, democratic revolutions across the Middle East began in Tunisia,
and THAT began with the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi,
the 28-year-old university student who burned himself alive
when the corrupt Tunisian authorities
confiscated the fruits and vegetables he was selling to feed his family.

What would a democratic revolution starting in Costa Mesa look like?

29-year-old Huy Pham loved his job, and did it outstandingly.
At the candlelight vigil his co-workers raved to me
of his tireless good energy, his resourcefulness,
how he could fix anything, his original solutions to any problems that arose,
how when there didn’t seem to be any work to do he’d find some,
how he’d bring eggrolls he’d made for his co-workers
who were a family to him
– just as much as the family at home he worked so hard to support.

Huy’s co-workers sat in shock and despondent.
Most of them also had pink slips.
(The few who didn’t felt guilty about that.)
Jim Righeimer, in his boundless ambition, wanted his name in the paper, and so it is.
The slaughterer of public employees.

The War of the Rich against the rest of us
– against workers –
has become impossible to escape this year, and way too big to ignore.
And Costa Mesa Council’s latest assault on Costa Mesa’s Workers
– this week’s indiscriminate pinkslipping –
is the OC’s own Boston Massacre.

Their war on us is based on lies.
(Lies amplified unquestioningly by media from the Washington Post to the OC Weekly.)
There is no $16 million budget deficit.
The budget is essentially balanced.
Their claim that pension costs will rise to $25 million in a few years is outrageously exaggerated.
The City’s revenue has been rebounding,
and the firefighters and police already agreed last year to major givebacks.
This Boston Massacre of Righeimer was utterly unnecessary
and nothing but POLITICS.

Huy’s broken bones are not an argument against wholesale outsourcing of the city’s workforce.
The argument against that is it’s unnecessary and hasn’t been shown to save anything.
Huy’s bruised flesh is not an argument against balancing Costa Mesa’s budget.
It’s already been balanced with Measure L, employee givebacks, and the rebounding economy.
Huy’s stopped heart is not an argument for exorbitant pensions.
Those have been in the process of being negotiated down, in Costa Mesa and everywhere.
Huy’s death is more a reminder that there are PEOPLE,
hundreds of them,
millions of them,
millions of us,
under fire in these ideologues’ games.

How do we make Huy’s sacrifice not a waste?
The good Tunisians knew how to respond to Mohamad Bouazizi’s sacrifice.
What would a revolution starting in Costa Mesa look like?
It would have to at least begin with the awakening of the 9 out of 10 adult CM citizens
who didn’t bother voting last November,
and will at the very LEAST entail a RECALL of the four irresponsible, bloody-handed ideologues
on the Costa Mesa City Council.

These are things to think about as we all meet today at noon,
at Costa Mesa City Hall, to “encircle” it,
– wearing “white for hope” – not red –
to honor Huy’s sacrifice.


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.