The Garden Grove City Council should appoint Robin Marcario to fill Andrew Do’s vacancy.


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First things first – All Garden Grove residents should show up to the council meeting this Tuesday night (tomorrow) at 6:30 pm – at 11222 Acacia Parkway, by the High School and the library – and ask the four council members to appoint the best possible candidate to Andrew Do’s new vacancy – the tireless Garden Grove community activist and the 2008 runner-up after Do, Robin Marcario.

Now you’ll want to know what I’ve found out about why Mr. Do left so abruptly with one year left in his term.  Well, nothing dramatic, no juicy scandals we know of. I think the insightful commenter “GG Voter” had it about right that “his plans for higher office were never to be realized.”

The Bolsavik tells me that Andrew has been bitching on Viet radio about how little respect Orange County’s GOP “kingmakers” have for Viet pols in general, and I’ll take Andrew’s word for that. Add to that the two facts of his being cut loose by the fading and disloyal Janet Nguyen and his obviously being “damaged goods” with the Van Tran crowd, and you can see that this ambitious lawyer wasn’t going anywhere in politics.

Surely this must have SORELY tested his great love and loyalty for Garden Grove. *snark* But now he can give up his rented room there and move back in full-time to his lovely, huge, well-appointed home in Santa Ana. Always a silver lining!

Well, okay, that was a lot more fun than being positive! But it’s hard to be anything but positive when talking about Robin Marcario, the community activist and bilingual (fluently Spanish-speaking) Garden Grove teacher and mosaic artist who came in 1% behind – only a thousand votes behind – Mr. Do in 2008.  (And with her grass-roots support her votes cost an average of less than a dollar per voter versus the over ten dollars per voters spent, largely by development interests, on the two candidates who beat her.)   By all rights this great Garden Grove citizen should be Do’s replacement, and what a contrast she will be!

The bus benches that you see to the left and right are a project she has donated to the city over the last few years – mostly on Magnolia Street.  Not only do they add beauty and personality to the city, they are also 100% Graffiti proof – as Robin had noted during her campaign, graffiti was the number one complaint of Garden Grove voters.

Robin has also spent the last few years volunteering for various city commissions and civic organizations in town, including the Neighborhood Improvement Commission.  One issue she’s been involved in lately is the Pacific Electric Right of Way which bisects the town, and once served as the Red Car Train connection between Los Angeles, through Garden Grove and terminating in Santa Ana.  She tells me the new electric light rail train systems are a quiet, cost-effective means of public transportation, and that she supports the light rail and bike and pedestrian paths along the Pacific Electric Right of Way in the future.

Robin’s also been an outspoken advocate for the competitive bid process for city and redevelopment properties, which caused her to be an outspoken critic of the Century Triangle project recently.  As she wrote to me,

“The use of the competitive bid process ensures the taxpayers receive the best price for public properties. Both the west parking lot for the downtown Main Street and the Century Triangle next to Costco on Century and Garden Grove Blvd are prime examples of the lack of the use of the competitive bid process. The Century Triangle was assessed at a reduced commercial real estate value and sold to the developer at that rate. The developer, Brandywine, immediately rezoned the property to residential and benefited from the increase in value. The city council, serving as the redevelopment agency, should have rezoned and assessed the Century Triangle for the intended residential use and saved the taxpayers millions of dollars. If other developers were given the opportunity to compete for these properties the taxpayers would benefit.

When property is in redevelopment it does not require the request for proposal which is the competitive bid process. Therefore, public property lands in the hands of private developers which then give campaign contributions to city council members.  Sadly, the Council assessed the Century Triangle at the original commercial value and sold it to Brandywine at that rate. Immediately afterward he changed the zoning to the more expensive residential zoning. It would have been better for the public if the city council had changed the zoning from commercial to residential so the public would benefit from the increase in value rather than the developer.”

Given that councilman Steve Jones is one of the owners of Brandywine (and so recused himself on the matter), and that the other councilmembers are recipients of their campaign largesse and voted in favor of this project, it might be counterintuitive to think the council incumbents would pick this occasional gadfly.  But they would be doing the right thing for the city, respecting the democratic results of 2008, and bucking the trend of councils like La Habra and Costa Mesa who are systematically and ruthlessly sidelining and eliminating any dissenting voices on their daises (plural?)

The tendency, the temptation, for councils in this situation, is to appoint a dependable yes-man to a vacancy, which gives them an advantage when they run for re-election later.  But democracy – representative democracy – needs healthy debate.  So go ahead, Garden Grovers, ask Steve Jones, Bruce Broadwater, Dina Nguyen and Mayor Dalton to do the right thing and appoint Robin Tuesday – who knows, they just might listen to you!


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist in Orange County. Performs regularly with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem, and at regular concerts at the Huntington Beach Central Library.