Victory in Westminster – so far!


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westminster lionIn a victory for democracy and Westminster itself, a victory against the fear-mongering and mendacious propaganda put out by the OC Tax Association, the Council voted 4-1 Wednesday night to LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE this November on whether to raise their sales tax 1% in order to avoid ever more draconian cuts.  The two wind-blown leaves of the council, Mayor Tri Ta and Sergio Contreras, joined stalwarts Diana Carey and Margie Rice, leaving only Councilman Tyler Diep to pound his fists against democracy.

3What a meeting! And coming right after the previous night’s dramatic Orlando-themed Anaheim meeting. This one was overflow onto rows and rows of chairs on the front lawn – the crowdedest Westminster meeting I’ve been to since the uprising against Janet’s Black April Faceplant in 2010.

Before public comments, Diana insisted on denouncing the OCTax mailer. Mayor Ta kept trying to shut her up “Now is not the time!”  “Well, throw me in jail, baby!” she retorted (to much laughter and cheers) and got out everything she wanted to say. No wonder she could be so saucy, there were dozens of Westminster cops there, and the cops are on her side – especially on this matter.

I didn’t realize till later, but we had even lost skittish little Sergio, who’d apparently been spooked by the OCTax offensive. So at that point it was 3 men no, 2 women yes – we didn’t even have a majority, let alone the supermajority we needed.

FOR

Probably 3/4 of the 50 or so speakers were FOR letting the people vote (known as Item 8-1.)  There are a lot of smart and passionate people in Westminster!  Half a dozen police spoke in favor.  They are the most underpaid and understaffed in the county, staffed at 1974 levels so overworked, and Tyler’s solution was to fire even more of them, even as the crime rate has been rising. They spoke well.  Even my wife, a police reform activist from Anaheim, seemed impressed with the apparent friendliness and professionalism of the Westminster cops she saw and spoke to.

wm crowd 1One jolly, 40-year-old OG-cholo spoke in favor, reminded Sergio how they had gone to school together, and reminded Diana how she had given him his first job (“He was the BEST security guard,” Di broke in) and he also spoke of how Westminster cops had always treated people of all races with respect.

Also memorable was an ancient Vietnamese-American businessman who told horror stories of Viet gang violence in the late 80s, the last time there was a police shortage. “We were beginning to convert our homes into STRATEGIC HAMLETS,” he reminisced.

And I gave a speech based on the article I’d written that day debunking  Cavecche, OCTax, and their mailer, which seemed very well received.

AGAINST

Opposed were a surprisingly few ideological conservatives, although nobody really seemed to back Tyler’s draconian ideas, they just talked vaguely of keeping spending down.

wm crowd 2ALSO: Three large CAR DEALERSHIPS, who darkly threatened to have to move if a 1% sales tax got added to their prices “and THEN think of all the revenue you’ll lose!”  As I found out later, it’s unlikely they’ll lose ANY business (OR actually move) as the tax wouldn’t apply to Westminster car dealerships, but rather to anyone living in Westminster who purchases a car ANYWHERE (and registers it to their home address.)  So the biggest new burden on Westminster car dealers is to make sure to let their out-of-town customers know they don’t have to pay that extra 1%.  Oh, cry me a river.

Maybe it was the car dealers who called in Carolyn Cavecche and OCTax. She was there too of course; she was a bundle of energy as always as she babbled a bunch of questionable figures, but I don’t believe she stuck around to hear me deconstruct her, running off right after her presentation.

Cavecche speaking, image from Cunninghams new

Cavecche speaking, image borrowed appropriately from Matt Cunningham’s new blog “OC Daily,” which has quickly evolved to the sort of propagandizing Matt is used to.  I am beginning to suspect that OCTax is one of his funders.

Assemblyman Travis Allen sent HB’s dunderhead Joe Carchio to recite an error-filled right wing screed against the measure;  as Joe tottered away Diana called after him, “Please have Travis speak to me, there are so many mistakes in what you just read,” and Margie snarled, “Well, Travis just lost MY vote.”

And Travis’ psychotic Democrat opponent Lenore Albert was there to confuse everyone with a laundry list of flaky alternatives, but did not fail to talk about herself a lot, including what a long-time, loyal Westminster resident she is, even though the registrar of voters has her listed at her Huntington Beach office address.  A problem, I’d think?  But one for another story…

travis-lenore

So glad I don’t have to choose between these two any more…

And as things turned out…

The eloquence of the crowd, and the soundness of their arguments – and probably the sheer majority of the pro-democracy side, were enough to convince both Mayor Ta and Sergio to switch sides AGAIN, and join the two ladies for a 4-1 yes vote. Sergio and Tri both said they oppose the tax but believed the people of Westminster should be able to decide for themselves, and Tri would only agree if the tax had a six-year sunset. 

This left Tyler Diep all by himself, grumbling that he didn’t trust his colleagues with extra revenue, (he obviously doesn’t trust the people to make the right decision,) and issuing veiled threats to somehow hold back the funds that will be required to educate the public about the whole issue.  But that was one big hurdle overcome, and we’ll take a harder look at Tyler in our next piece…

tyler diep 2


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.