Diana Lee Carey named Woman of the Year, AD 74. Boo-yah!


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One of the Orange Juice’s favorite OC politicians has just won a great honor – first-term Westminster Councilwoman Diana Lee Carey was named “Woman of the Year” for the 74th District, by Assemblyman Allan Mansoor;  and afterward honored on the SENATE floor by Lou Correa – the only “Woman of the Year” to also get that honor in the Senate.

How’s that for tri-partisan – Diana the progressive Democrat, honored by conservative Republican Mansoor, and then whatever it is that Lou would call himself?  But that’s okay – the issues Diana is being honored for are completely local and non-partisan.

Wait, what – AD 74?  Diana’s not in that district, Westminster’s not.  Does Allan still think he’s got his old 68th stretching from Costa Mesa to Westminster?  No, that also has to do with the main issue that inspired this award - keeping the OCTA’s Toll Trolls from turning two of our tax-paid FREE lanes on the 405 into revenue-generating Toll Lanes – a fight Diana’s been at the forefront of years before the rest of us – and Allan knows that’s a fight as important to his district as it is to Diana’s city.

Readers of this blog may be getting tired of hearing about that scam, but I hope not, because it’ll probably pop up its head once more this year;  there is just too much money involved for the kleptos to give up easily.  They’ll come up with yet another reason for why toll lanes HAVE to happen, why we NEED them, why they’ll be good for us and we’ll love them … and I know that Diana, queen of the “Corridor Cities Coalition,” will be there tearing their arguments apart. 

As she has been since, nearly a decade ago, the retired science teacher and principal spent weeks walking to all the homes alongside the 405 in her town, letting them know the OCTA was planning to knock their homes down – a Paul Revere in high heels!

Orchid shopping with a friend.

We’ve already told the story here of how Greg and I discovered Diana AND this issue at a 2012 Democratic Flag Day event, and how I introduced her to the late great Gus Ayer, from whom she quickly became inseparable.  He got her onto the Westminster Council that fall – it seemed everything Gus touched in the last year of his life turned to gold.

And she could be considered – along with HB’s Joe Shaw and Connie Boardman and Costa Mesa’s Sandy Genis – one of our county’s “Ayerites.”  These (mostly) Democratic disciples of Gus are characterized by strict fiscal responsibility, fierce protectiveness of the environment, and a strong allergy to the scams often called “public-private partnerships” championed by kleptocrats of both Parties.  WE NEED MORE OF THEM.  IN BOTH PARTIES.

Probably due to her outspoken opposition to both Toll Lanes and Poseidon,  Diana’s had a hard time getting onto any of the boards or commissions she would like to serve on, but she’s not one to give up.  (Funny, outspoken SUPPORT of these scams never seems to be a disqualification.)   The gravy-train Mayor For Life of Santa Ana, Miguel Pulido, apparently wields veto power in his fiefdom of the First Supervisorial District, but Diana probably didn’t want me to even mention the Small Dark Lord, oh well…

Two other reasons Allan mentioned for giving Diana the honor was her Presidency of Westiminster Kiwanis Club, and her Vice Presidency of Westminster’s great theater the Rose Center.  Those are only a couple of the charities she’s involved in, she also does a lot for local animal shelters like the Seal Beach Animal Assistance League.  How do I know so much about Diana?  Because I run her damn Facebook page.  (Now that I think of it, if you do Facebook, please click here to “like” the post about her award, and her page in general!)

She doesn’t want me to talk about her … um, involvement with FRACKING in her part of the county, but let’s just say that she has become one of  the most knowledgeable OC councilpeople on this issue, and one of the toughest watchdogs for the area’s water table, and has garnered the respect of her colleagues who follow her lead on such scientific, environmental issues, so … if you notice you haven’t seen fracking here yet, you MIGHT know who to thank.  Have I said too much, again?

Following in the footsteps of her Westminster mentor, the “Grand Dame” Margie Rice (left), Diana has practically become Vietnamese while representing her town.  I have lost count of all the elegant ao dai‘s she owns.  She goes to Vietnamese-American events and speaks out against the human rights abuses of the Vietnamese government.  That’s easy to do – all kinds of Democrats and Republicans do it.  But she ALSO speaks out against the prejudice of some local Vietnamese-Americans against their gay brothers and sisters, as when she fought successfully to have an inclusive Tet parade this year.  This speech was made in anger and frustration after the Viet-American Foundation had voted to once again exclude the gays;  soon after the speech they took a second vote, which went the other way:

Any reckoning of the Councilwoman’s contributions to contemporary society would be incomplete without mentioning her self-declared rank of “comandante of the fashion brigade.”  Already taller than most men, she won’t leave home without high heels, and finds every occasion to be a fine excuse for a new glamorous outfit.  When we consider all the contributions of substance Ms Carey makes, this particular eccentricity becomes charming.

Oh, and she teaches Jazzercise too.  So, congratulations to AD 74′s Woman of the Year, and may she be re-elected, get onto boards and commissions, and raise hell, as long as she wants to!


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.