Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva sent out an e-mail today that reminded me of a question that had been in the back of the mind as we approach Election Day tomorrow. Here’s her statement:
As Chair of the California Assembly Committee on Veterans Affairs, I’m happy to inform you that legislation I authored allowing Orange County to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs to design and build a state-owned veterans cemetery has passed through the Assembly. You may not be aware of this, but Orange County is the largest county in California without a veterans cemetery, despite the fact that it is home to Army, Navy and Marine bases – and approximately 133,000 veterans.
My question is: where is her opponent, Young Kim, on the issue of building a veteran’s cemetery?
I don’t mean whether would she vote for AB 1453, Quirk-Silva’s bill stating that we want to bring a veterans’ cemetery to Orange County. I expect that she would — although, she would not likely get the chance. While the bill would not have come about at all without Quirk-Silva’s hard work, now that it exists everyone seems willing to support it — at least so long as, despite Quirk-Silva’s attempts to give it real substance, it is simply a symbolic gesture of aspiration. (It would be like favoring a bill that said “Support Veterans” without committing to spend any of the money needed to do so. You don’t get a lot of credit for that, in my book.)
What I mean is: would Young Kim do what Quirk-Silva has done and show leadership to install a veterans cemetery in the specific spot that its proponents have been eyeing for about 15 years: on the grounds of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro — in what is still (almost laughably) called the “Great Park”?
I doubt that she would — but I’d love to be wrong on that. I think that she needs to speak up, not only because she is Quirk-Silva’s opponent and should be willing to “match her bid” when it comes to substantive support for veterans. She should speak up because she’s well-positioned to tell Jeff Lalloway, the swing vote on the Irvine City Council being asked to donate a 100+ acre parcel for the purpose, that patriotism, fulfilling our obligation to honor our veterans, and facilitating the continued mourning of Orange County residents for their military loved ones is more important than honoring the principle of feng shui.
(I’m less than convinced than some that feng shui principles would really block a graveyard honoring servicemen who, among other things, died to ensure that Young Kim’s homeland of Korea would be at least half-free so far rather than being ruled by what is now the third generation of Kim Il Sung’s dynasty.)
Kim’s fellow Korean immigrant, Irvine Mayor Steven Choi, certainly isn’t going to lobby Lalloway to honor veterans in this manner. In fact, he is personally derailing the project right now by dragging his feet on the committee set up to study the matter. If they delay it for long enough, the project probably dies — especially if Quirk-Silva is defeated.
Young Kim could, if she chose, make a difference in the outcome. Choi has two ulterior motivations, beyond feng shui, for blocking the project. One is that he just wants to help his Five Point, a major political donor, make as much money as possible. The other is — drum roll! — that he might want to help Young Kim’s campaign by denying Quirk-Silva an important political victory. Yeah, that’s right — some (by no means all) Republicans would like to be able to say this November that Quirk-Silva’s bill, now highly likely to become law, is “merely symbolic,” while hoping that the public won’t realize that the only reason that it lacks substance is because politicians like Steven Choi blocked it!
Because one apparently possible reason for Choi’s obstruction is her own political gain, it’s incumbent on Young Kim to step forward and say, loudly, “No Thanks! Don’t block this one on my account, please!”
The Chinese concept of feng shui literally means “wind water” — “wind” as in “moving air,” not as in the verb “to wind.” Putting together a couple of dictionary website definitions, it is “the Chinese art or practice of creating harmonious surroundings” that “facilitate the flow of qi, or life energy” — although its influence extended throughout east Asia, to Korea, Vietnam, Pilipinas, and beyond.
Feng shui has been increasingly cited by opponents — including State Senator Bob Huff, part of the same CD-39-based political team as Kim’s patron Ed Royce — as the rationale for blocking a veterans cemetery. Graveyards, apparently, generate bad feng shui, even when they contain the graves of servicemen who fought on behalf of groups that have now immigrated to the U.S. in the major Pacific battles of the 20th century.
This might not be so much of a problem — new generations of Asian immigrants consider feng shui a little less critical than their elders — except that the developer of 9,500 homes in the Great Park has planned to market them to investors who want to bring money out of the People’s Republic of China into the safer haven of the Irvine housing market. (Savor that statement for a moment. It’s like the housing bubble never happened — and yet Irvine real estate may still be a safer place for investment than communist China!)
One galling aspect of this is that Five Point really need not decide to launder renminbi (or yuan) into dollars to make a lot of money off of this site. You know who’d enjoy living next to a veteran’s cemetery (and near a sports complex with a golf course)? RETIRED VETERANS, that’s who — and plenty of them have plenty of money! But I suppose that there are more Chinese investors looking for U.S. investments than there are wealthy veterans; that or Five Point really doesn’t want to spend the money to revise its business plan.
With the election tomorrow, this would be a GREAT time to ask Young Kim if she will ask Jeff Lalloway to provide the deciding vote to put a veterans cemetery in the Great Park — in time for a bill to pass this year. In other words, she should ask that this be treated as something substantive like building a Post Office rather than something merely symbolic like naming a Post Office. It would be good for her politically — I presume, unless the world has gone completely crazy — to show that she’s willing to put the heat onto Lalloway to get his vote. So, if she doesn’t do it, we really have to wonder why.
Young Kim lists her campaign’s contact information as follows:
Phone: (714) 752-6747
Fax: (714) 752-6748
So if you find out anything from her about her position, please let us know in comments! That way, voters can go into tomorrow’s election knowing whether her stated support for veterans is real — or just a lot of empty feng.