O Frabjous Day: Our Alt-Weekly correctly identifies our Scariest People! We elaborate…


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“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!”

As this past Halloween approached, the county’s alternative weekly, the estimable OC Weekly – whose motto LIKE OURS is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” – darkly warned us of the scariest individuals and institutions we have in our midst… and most of them (apart from a few freaks and psychos) are the same folks we’ve been combating OURSELVES all year.

So we shall now recap, and KNEECAP, those self-same scary folks from the Weekly list, with added detail that the Weekly may have lacked space for (or “institutional knowledge” of?)  

[Also, my good pal Jason Young asked me to do this – and he was named the Weekly’s “Best Blogger” not so long ago!]

2. GREG PARHAM
Despite the fact that his bosses—Deputy U.S. Attorney General Andre Birotte, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama—had repeatedly insisted their policy wasn’t to interfere with patients obtaining medical marijuana in states in which it was legal to do so, Greg Parham was a man on a mission. The assistant U.S. Attorney was in charge of the federal government’s pot-eradication efforts in Southern California, and as he saw it, his job was to shut down every cannabis dispensary in his jurisdiction, policy and public statements be damned…  emails (obtained by the Weekly) showed that Parham and his pals relished the knowledge their actions were ruining lives and found such news cause for celebration… [in an abundance of caution, I am only excerpting segments of these elegantly written screeds, which should be read in full here.]

All very true and fair, and what a scary guy for the season – and The Weekly‘s Nick Schou continually batted this ball out of the park.  And he probably, as the Weekly boasts, helped to shame the Feds to back off of their attempts to seize the properties of good men like Tony Jalali, whose only crime was to rent space to a dispensary which studiously followed state law.  But three little things I’d like to add, as another guy who’s been following the story:

  • Greg Parham has been off the job for a few months, having been stricken with a brain tumor.  Now, the Orange Juice Blog manifestly revels in no man’s medical misfortunes – but still, don’t you feel there would be some poetic justice in Mr. Parham requiring the aid of medical marijuana for his condition, and having a hell of a time acquiring it, at least for a little while?
  • Greg was replaced on the SoCal pot inquisitor beat by another US Attorney, one Steve Welk, who has been EASILY as cruel and reprehensible as Greg.  It was Steve who admitted in conference that the US attorneys do not give any warning to building owners like Jalali before seizing their property because they “like the shock value.”  And at his last, inconclusive hearing on the Jalali case he refused to shake hands with Jalali’s lawyer, the awesome Matt Pappas, explaining that shaking hands was an ancient custom based on showing you had no hidden weapon.  Well, whatever hidden weapon you thought you had, Steve, the rug’s sure been pulled out from under you now!  So go f- yourself.
  • To our understanding, these Feds don’t come rushing in to seize pot-connected property without having been tipped off and invited in by local law enforcement, and in this Anaheim case, as far as we can tell, that was in the form of Assistant City Attorney Moses Johnson, who has been equally tenacious in refusing to drop charges against people like Jalali.  So our humble submission is that THIS #2 Scary Person slot shoulda been shared by Parham, Welk, and Johnson equally.

3. AARON KUSHNER
Have you ever watched someone being interviewed on television that clearly has no meaningful grasp of the topic? Regardless of the pending question, this interviewee expertly regurgitates marketing-department prepared lines with fake sincerity. That has been the m.o. of Aaron Kushner, the public face of a secretive business entity that purchased Freedom Communications Inc. and its flagship Orange County Register in 2012….It’s even worse that Kushner, whose prior experience in journalism was buying an established greeting-card company, seems to think his carefully manufactured utterances equal facts. Adding free tickets to Angels games, cocktail party-like pictures and saccharine reports of churches, clubs and high-school sports doesn’t push the paper into the “great” journalism category worthy of a complete paywall that even The New York Times or Washington Post don’t dare…

Um, I would say that those sound like an aesthete’s quibbles with Mr. Kushner, and makes no mention of the most damning evidence that he knows shit about journalism and what newspapers are for – his proposed deal with the City of Anaheim, as the Voice of OC and we reported, to broker naming rights for the ARTIC station while still somehow reporting objectively on the city.  Not to mention his censorship of Jason Young’s political ads at the behest of Kris Murray.

5. SOUTH COAST AIR QUALITY MANAGEMENT DISTRICT
The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) made national headlines this year for the first time by attacking the only thing in Orange County … that unites all of its squabbling tribes—the fire pits in Huntington Beach and Corona del Mar.  And while the middle-class uprising … may have beat back the SCAQMD’s proposed complete ban for a compromise that kept most of the pits burning, it’s important to stay vigilant because you never know when the NIMBY nay-sayers will rear their overprivileged heads once again...

This was MOSTLY the supremely arrogant, rude and stupid heads of the committee, William Burke and Dennis Yates, but they should share credit with the few batshit-wealthy Newport Beach residents whose bidding they were doing – the spoiled, busybody beach dwellers who just wanted to keep the “riffraff” out of their “front yards” (i.e. the beach) (And who also manage to make planes fly out of John Wayne in such cockeyed breakneck maneuvers to spare them the noise.) 

This was another outrageous example, as Tim Donnelly would tell you, of unaccountable unelected Boards and Commissions being able to impose draconian rules on the rest of us Californians, with nearly no chance of appeal.  It was great to see so many citizens and politicians from right and left unite successfully against this – let’s see if we can do that again to the OCTA before they stick Toll Lanes on ALL our OC highways (piggybacking off our billions of Measure M tax money.)

MY MITIGATING FACTOR:  This issue converted formerly non-political journalist Chris Epting into an effective and inspiring activist!


6. KRIS MURRAY
Anaheim‘s Boss Bitch, Kris Murray went from unknown Curt Pringle puppet to prominent Curt Pringle puppet… Serving as a proxy for OC’s eternal Dark Lord, Murray formed a council coalition opposing Mayor Tom Tait…at every turn, from massive hotel-developer subsidies to public calls for police reform to sweetheart proposals to the Angels to an ACLU lawsuit seeking district elections. After a sham committee she prepared to study electoral issues offered a surprise deadlock recommendation that single-member districts go before Anaheim voters, Murray ignored the notion, opting instead for at-large district elections, a proposal as ludicrous as…

I’ve been told that, while Pringle controls every move of Jordan and Gail, the influence on Kris is more the Disney lobbyist Carrie Nocella – their closeness seems almost erotic.  But really, distinction without a difference – all four kleptocrat councilpuppets vote the same anyway.  Most recently she led the bullshit charge to blame Mayor Tait for “allowing” the hate speech of William Fitzgerald.  Bonus scary points – when she speaks she goes on at the lengths of Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez but in a monotone drone, using bland technocrat jargon that sounds like she knows what she’s talking about but she never does.

7. NICOLAS CENDOYA AND KYNDALL JACK
When hikers are lost in the wilderness, it’s usually the circumstance that’s scary. But when 19-year-old Nicolas Cendoya and 18-year-old Kyndall Jack decided to go for a hike in Trabuco Canyon on March 31, and then went missing for several days, the duo became OC’s own version of Alive, except without the cannibalism or heroics. Search parties found the teens separated, missing clothing and totally out of it. Over the following days, they told reporters stories of being stalked by vicious wild animals, voices speaking to them, and eating plants and dirt. Commenters smelled psilocybin gone wrong, but a police search turned up meth in Cendoya’s vehicle, which they had taken to the hike…

The worst part about this episode was it took the spotlight off a much more severe incident which our own Miss Info Asperger reported around the same time:  Hallucinating Teens Rescued from Six-Hour Ordeal in Mile Square Park. Read it and weep…

15. MATT CUNNINGHAM
A pioneer in OC’s blogging community, Matt Cunningham was shamed into digital hiding a couple of years ago when the longtime Republican operative outed sex-abuse victims in his pathetic campaign to defend his priest, John Urell, a Diocese of Orange bigwig who had long shielded pedophile priests from the law. Cunningham re-emerged last year to start a new blog funded by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce with the sole purpose of tarring Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and activists trying to reform the corrupt town. When he’s not trashing attempts at democracy, Cunningham hails the status quo and whines that Republicans aren’t paying attention to Anaheim…

Well, it’s true that “the Jerbal” was shamed into digital hiding a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t by his famed “outing of sex-abuse victims” (which the entire blogosphere will never let you forget) – that had happened a few years before THAT.  What drove him temporarily out of political blogging (whining that “Blogging doesn’t pay the bills”) was Tony Bushala’s masterful exposé of Matt’s double life (cross-posted here) secretly making hundred of thousands of government dollars monitoring radio shows and handing out toothbrushes for a wasteful liberal program, while blogging in the day against government waste. 

This blog drove the “family-values” anti-gay Prop-8 militant apopleptic a couple months ago with our revelation that he’d been working for two OC strip-club owners to help build a new place in Orange against police objections.  Matt’s lawsuit threats against me never came to anything, as my story was solid.  Numerous folks contacted me to say “Thank you, THANK you for finally killing Matt Cunningham.”  Flattering, but I fear he’s not dead yet – I just saw him last week grinning and gabbing at an anti-toll lane summit, paid as he is by OCTA to shill for the Toll Trolls (we assume; he won’t say what they pay him for.)  He will NOT go away, or not for long.  And that is scary.

18. TODD SPITZER

The Weekly blurb describes the hyperkinetic, showboating Supervisor’s habit of hijacking press conferences and trying to come off as the President-slash-sheriff of the whole county, as after the Syed shooting, during the Dorner rampage, and after the Trabuco Canyon rescue.  It can be entertaining.  Do you remember the speech he gave on gaining his Supe seat – he was going to single-handedly fix every problem in the OC that nobody else could!  A few days later he showed up at an Irvine Council meeting to chew out Larry Agran, at the top of his voice, for lack of progress on the Great Park. 

When Todd took the place of corrupt termed-out Bill Campbell, some of us hoped we would have one less Toll Troll on the OCTA Board, because Todd seemed smart and honest.  Pero no – Todd shares with Miguel Pulido a vision of toll lanes linking together on all OC freeways and an impatience to get together a “framework” for how to spend all that precious revenue … and yet, at the end of a recent meeting, thundered at CalTrans that we were only accepting toll lanes under duress.  Huh?  He can take every side, passionately.

20. WILLIAM FITZGERALD
Used to be that this babbling Anaheim gadfly only railed about Disneyland fireworks in his neighborhood. Maybe he was on to something, and the pyrotechnic chemicals finally went to his brain because William Fitzgerald has set his sights on other enemies: Muslims and Vietnamese. But nothing prepared the Anaheim City Council audience for the anti-Semitic tirade he unleashed a few weeks back at Councilman Jordan Brandman… Finally, despite having been politely asked to refrain from “mean” personal insults by Anaheim’s mayor, Fitzgerald went full Nazi and concluded his speech by saying, “Jordan Brandman is one very sick faggot.”

It’s sad, some of us know this Archie Bunker-type character has a very good heart, and uncovers lots of incriminating government documents (although Cynthia says he often interprets them wrong) but he’s also half-insane with a horse-blinders obsession with Disney, the root of all evil in his world vision.  Funny, he THOUGHT he had shielded himself from charges of anti-Semitism by beginning his speech that day with decrying the Holocaust and emphasizing that 99% of Jews are good hard-working people, before launching into the “a few evil Jews” stuff.  Hello?  Jordan (who MAY not even be Jewish) is a hand puppet of Curt Pringle who certainly ain’t!  Fitz firmly believes in being shocking “because otherwise nobody will listen to you” … that’s a point … but still we ALL booed when he did the “evil Jews” stuff, when he called Jordan a faggot, and when he called two female members of the Districting Commission “fat little pigs.”  (We don’t boo so much when he calls the council majority “Disney WHORES” – that seems justifiable.)

MITIGATING FACTOR – ALL of us could barely contain our anger at that Monday morning meeting, which Jordan had quickly called just to castrate Mayor Tait.

21. ARTE MORENO
It was bad enough that Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim owner [Gustavo goes into baseball complaints] … But Moreno went from merely being a bad owner to becoming a possible welfare queen when details emerged of a package the Anaheim City Council crafted to keep the Angels in town. The deal seeks to give Moreno rights to develop the land around Angels Stadium (and all the subsequent tax revenue) and allow the team to drop any Anaheim references in its name. Meanwhile, Moreno won’t speak to the local press…

It really doesn’t make sense that Arte would be the driving force behind this, although he’s certain to profit.  Our crack team of researchers at the Orange Juice Blog – Cynthia, Diamond, Zenger, BigBox etc. – work nonstop to figure out what’s really going on behind this unprecedented giveaway, and we’re sure it will lead to other, more local, movers and shakers eventually getting the big profits off it.  One red flag was a whole year ago, when Kris Murray and Gail Eastman tried unsuccessfully to become a two-person subcommittee to renegotiate the Angels deal.  I got sleuths on this blog smarter than me – shrewd and tenacious.  Meanwhile please like our Facebook page, Keep the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

MITIGATING FACTOR:  Dan Chmielewski of the Liberal OC coming out as Matt Cunningham in a blue dress, with his “business of baseball” nonsense.

22. LOU CORREA
… Then there’s Lou Correa, the Democratic state senator from Santa Ana who’s even worse. Earlier this year, he introduced a totally useless, scaremongering law that only the police could love; Senate Bill 289 would make it illegal to drive with any detectible amount of marijuana in your system. Translation: smoke a joint and get pulled over the next morning [next WEEK, no? – VN] and you’d be breaking Correa’s stupid law. Mitigating factor: Correa’s colleagues in the state Legislature refused to go along with his knuckle-headed plan.

I believe we broke the story of this terrible bill locally, thanks to a tip from Juice friend and Fullerton professor Jonathan Taylor, and played a key role in infuriating the local Democrats about it:  Lou Correa Wants To Make It Illegal For You To Smoke Pot and Drive.  When Lou tried to show up to Gus Ayer’s memorial, he couldn’t even get in the gate without being mobbed by furious activists.  Gus would have been proud.  I TRY to stay friendly with Lou, but he does stuff like this, he’s totally pro-law enforcement and anti-any drug.  Before this my biggest problem was his constant torpedoing of health care reform (in strong contrast to the way he used to start his stump speeches, telling the story of a sweet poor lady who couldn’t afford coverage … I’m pretty sure he has done nothing for that lady in eight years, while taking in more money from insurance than any other “Democrat.”)

27. DINA NGUYEN
There’s a lot of trash we can heap on the Garden Grove councilwoman, but the reason she makes our Scariest list this year is for her defense strategy as the attorney for the Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California, the homophobic organizers of last year’s Tet Parade. Dina Nguyen, who represented the organization with former Garden Grove City Councilman Mark Rosen, defended the federation’s decision to bar entry to LGBT organizations by showing pictures of men in thongs during a gay-pride parade completely unrelated to the Tet Parade. The move drew the ire of Orange County Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Glass, who made a point to say he was offended the lawyers thought he would be offended…

I think we also broke THAT shameful tale – in the English-language press at least – I was able at last-minute notice to make it to that hearing.  “Will God Rain on this year’s Tet Parade?”  Very few Democrats marched in that anti-gay parade, opting either to boycott it altogether or to stand with the pro-equality protesters at the beginning of the route.  One of the few who DID march was Dina’s hubby Joe Dovinh, the slippery “Democrat” and perennial candidate whom you see above with her.  Another was the always-disgusting Garden Grove Mayor Bruce Broadwater, the Mormon “Democrat” who contributed mightily to the anti-gay Proposition 8.  The Bolsavik, although posting infrequently these days, was back in fine form last month with a blockbuster report on typical sleazy shakedowns from Bruce and Dina.  Near-future working title of MINE:  Garden Grove:  OC’s Moist Sump of Bigotry and Corruption.  (Sorry, Bao and Robin.)

MITIGATING FACTOR:  We saw that ART PEDROZA was not above returning to his anti-gay past, when he thought (wrongly) that it might help Dear Mayor Pulido.

Well — enough!  We’re glad this year the Weekly didn’t pick on good people they have grudges against, and I hope next year’s entries include Jordan Brandman, Young Kim, Lucille Kring and Dan Chmielewski!


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist 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.