Anaheim: The Mishegas and the Desmadre, Oct. 2017 edition.


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The furious forward march of Anaheim mishegas and desmadre waits on no man’s rehab, so let’s assemble and disseminate a little of what we’ve been learning lately:

1. Daron Wyatt, Fire Hero?

“WHO,” exclaimed everybody in TV Land (including prospective jury pools) “is that dashing fireman keeping us all safe from those scary leaping flames in the hills behind him?”  They asked that question last week, as they watched Anaheim Police Spokesman Daron Wyatt, somehow on loan to our Fire Department, update and reassure the public on the progress against Monday’s devastating “Canyon Fire II.”

What nearly nobody knew was that Daron is also a Killer Cop – and I don’t use that term lightly, but only when the policeman’s killing REALLY looks unjustified and unnecessary, as in Daron’s 2009 slaying of young Adolfo Sanchez, in a nearly-forgotten case that just happens to be coming up again soon for a civil rights re-trial.

Yes, seven years before the Anaheim Police killings of Gustavo Najera, Vincent Valenzuela, Adalid Flores and Danny Rendon;  Six years before Monique Deckard and Paul Anthony Anderson;  Five years before Robert Moreno;  Three years before Manuel Diaz, Joel Acevedo, Martin Hernandez, Bernie Villegas, and Roscoe Cambridge;  Two years before David Raya and Marcel Cejas; a few months before Caesar Cruz (and shortly after Julian Alexander and Joe Whitehouse) there was Adolfo Sanchez.

One fine September afternoon as young Adolfo drove home, Daron and his partner pulled him over for “weaving,” and jumped into his van for reasons unknown.  Daron got into the passenger seat and set into pummeling Adolfo in the head as his partner held him in a chokehold.  They admit he was unarmed and not fighting back, but allegedly they thought they’d seen him “SWALLOW” something.  As Adolfo sat in the driver’s seat being beaten and choked, his van began to move forward (at 3-4 MPH; the police falsely claimed 30 to 40.)  So naturally Daron, “FEARING FOR HIS LIFE®,” just HAD to shoot him point-blank in the head.  For his own safety, you understand.

(It has not been made clear whether or not the blowing out of Adolfo’s brains resulted in a cessation of the van’s terrifying inching forward.)

Well, the 9th Circuit, holding pretty much a monopoly on justice ’round these parts, finally agreed that Adolfo’s family has received no such thing, and recently opened the door to a new trial.

And isn’t it just like APD and the Anaheim power structure to give Daron the most positive possible photo ops, before the largest possible viewing public, as this trial nears?

2. File Under Canyon Fire II Chismes

The Orange Juice blog has traditionally, since the Pedroza days, printed unverified “chismes,” which we hear from anonymous “pájaritos” – generally anonymous for good reason – and later if those chismes turn out to be true, well, you read it here first! Here’s a couple of those chismes relating to Canyon Fire II:

  • We hear from a 911 operator (an anonymous pájarita for fear of losing her job) that a small grass fire was reported Sunday night, in the Hills area near where Monday’s blaze is thought to have started.  The call received no response.  Will the investigators look into this, or will it be covered up?
  • Did somebody say “Phos-Chek-Gate?”  Phos-Chek is a fire retardant that planes spread on flammable territory in the wind-path of wildfires.  It is very expensive.  Another anonymous pájarito alerts us that one – just one – mansion up in the Hills got special treatment on Monday – surrounded by probably $30,000 worth of the chemical, a luxury no other home was afforded.  We at the OJ can’t wait to figure out whose mansion that was, and if and how this relates to the upcoming 2018 elections.

Whether or not either of these chismes turns out true (but especially if they are) we continue to wonder why we never look at this possibility:  Why can’t we save $10 million a year (as Santa Ana now does) by dissolving our Fire Department and contracting instead with the OC Fire Authority?

Oh yeah, I know one reason that doesn’t come up:  the AFD’s emperor-like spending on Council elections, tirelessly lobbying for their chosen candidates (who somehow always happen to be the same ones backed by Disney and the police union) while attacking their opponents mercilessly.  You can’t have forgotten those noisy firetruck rides the AFD put on last fall for Jordan, Lucille, and the Steves? (left, Jordan going thru the Colony with sirens and horns wailing)

But hey – that reminds me – two of the Firemen-backed candidates did NOT win last November, so we just happen to have a council majority that was ATTACKED by fire, police, and Disney.  And SOME of these councilmembers – particularly Mayor Tait – have frequently expressed grave concern over the pension crisis – a crisis that grew by an order of magnitude with the passionate public safety love affair the nation indulged after September 11, 2001.  Cue Bushala’s viral 2010 video:

Something to think about.  Ten million a year.

3. The Extended Death Throes of the “Lincoln Widening”

I sometimes think that this blog fits William Buckley’s famous definition of “conservative,” as “standing athwart history, yelling Stop.”

Of course, that’s only if the forward march of history is defined NOT as the advancement of women’s and minority rights that gave the old Limey crypto-fascist cold sweats, but as the endless development and construction of Orange County, at the expense of taxpayers and the environment, and the enrichment of well-connected developers and already wealthy investors.

BIG things we’ve stood athwart of and stopped or tried to would include toll lanes, toll roads, Poseidon, Cadiz, the Disney Streetcar, unnecessary subsidized 4-star hotels, high density development in HB, the privatization of the Fairgrounds, and development on Fullerton’s Coyote Hills, Newport’s Banning Ranch, and Orange Park Acres.  A SMALLER thing (unless you love Anaheim) is the constantly-threatened widening of Lincoln Avenue near Harbor.

We’re pretty sure that won’t be happening any time soon, as the proposed slashing of Anaheim High School’s front lawn and St Boniface’s front porch, along with other dislocations, is so unpopular and the Council knows it.  But zombie-like, the idea refuses to die a quiet death.  Our friends in Anaheim Public Works stand to lose $5 million to play with, plus they believe so strongly in the beauty and grandeur of their plan, that they’re SURE the public would feel the same way if we just heard about it ONE MORE TIME.

So me and Donna attended the LATEST public forum on this, at St Boniface recently.  Our city engineers – notably Rudy Emami (left) and Carlos Castellanos who seem like really nice honest guys – are so infatuated with this project that they can’t understand anyone else not sharing their enthusiasm.  I tell myself it’s like I’d written a symphony, but everybody else just wanted to hear a three-minute pop hit.  This time around they tried to convince us that they could widen the street, only just so much that businesses would hardly notice it, at the same time adding another lane going each way, at the same time add a center divider and turning lanes, at the same time improving the plumbing and drainage there (which they should do anyway), at the same time improving the sidewalks and making them safer (which they should anyway), at the same time adding more trees, at the same time making traffic go more smoothly BUT safer and slower because the lanes would be a little bit narrower, and yet there would be LESS accidents.  I fully expect the next iteration to promise us ponies that can mate with unicorns.  

And they complain about how the whole area LOOKS.  Well, the rest of us LIKE how it looks, we grew up with it.  I can only imagine the signage and nicknames planners would come up with.  If the three problems this huge “solution” is supposed to address are really problems, then the Orange Juice Blog has three solutions:

  • Too many accidents.  Well, all the accidents we ever see – or the vast majority anyway – are from westbound drivers turning into Varsity Burgers (one of our favorite places by the way.)  Solution:  Put a center divider there, long enough to prevent any westbound driver to even try to turn left into Varsity, and forcing them to go up to where it’s safe to make a U-Turn.
  • Neighbors complain about cut-through traffic on the side-streets on which they live.  Put “speed lumps” on those side-streets, or block them where it’s feasible and unobjectionable.  “We’ve already done that, duh, and cut-through traffic just moves on to the next street. We can’t just keep doing this forever.”  Who said anything about “forever,” duh?  There is a FINITE number of streets where this could be a problem, and we can put “speed lumps” on all of them for a tiny fraction of the cost of the Lincoln Widening.  We have yet to hear of a shortage of speed-lump material, or a labor strike by speed-lump miners.
  • The traffic is bad, and do you have any idea how bad it might be by 2035?  First of all it’s not that bad.  Second of all if trends continue to 2035, there’s plenty of time to do something about it like say in 2031.  And that may be when you want to try the cheap and simple “Orange Juice Solution” of making a mile or so of Lincoln one-way westbound and a mile or so of Broadway one-way eastbound (or vice versa) as so many great cities have.  Rudy and Carlos just HATE that idea, which they’ve heard a million times since we suggested it last year.  They say it won’t work.  They don’t convince us of that.  They sound like they hate that idea because it makes their grand and beautiful vision, the one that would be the apex so far of their professional careers, that they could look back at with proud hearts for the rest of their lives, unnecessary.  Um, sorry, guys?  We love you.

Also, Anaheimers, don’t get complacent. Make sure your Councilmember knows you OPPOSE THE LINCOLN WIDENING!

4. Who Needs Parking Anyway?  Shaheen’s Water Street Plans

Meanwhile, in the ongoing juggernaut of Anaheim Boulevard gentrification, the Packing House developer Shaheen Sadeghi (below right) is rushing to Planning Commission approval of his grand plans for the northwest corner of Water Street and Anaheim.  There’s nothing good there now.  Shaheen wants to put in a vegetarian restaurant.  And another full-service restaurant that he’s calling a “coffee-roasting house.”  And a swimming pool, right on the corner.  And YET ANOTHER BREWERY.  (Really?  Another brewery?  We know you love “craft beer,” but what will finally constitute enough breweries for one town, Mayor Tait?)

So, what problems could the “conservatives” at the Orange Juice Blog possibly have with a vegetarian restaurant, a coffee-roasting house, a swimming pool, and YET ANOTHER BREWERY at Water and Anaheim?  Mainly one:  PARKING.  City code dictates a project of this magnitude would need, and should provide, 92 parking places.  Shaheen only wants to provide 31, and he’s used to getting his way.  We went through all this just up the street at his Packing House.  Supposedly he was gonna have all the Packing House patrons park in a nearby city garage he’d got permission for, but nobody ever heard about that, and all these (mostly Irvine-Asian) patrons have been making a parking nightmare for the (mostly Hispanic) residents of the Packing District.

NOW Shaheen says he’ll provide a “trolley” to get his customers to and from their cars in the city garage, to his new Water Street establishments as well as the Packing House.  We say no.  There’s a huge area near Water Street he wants to use for a patio – that could accommodate 60 parking spots.  Hey – Steve White may be the only holdout at Planning Commission, but we’ll see you at City Council – the days of greenlighting new developments that don’t provide their own parking, are like so over.  Hey Shaheen, every year before 2017 just called, and they want their gridlock back.

5. Is There ANYBODY we can Support For Mayor???

We watch with trepidation the waning year of the Tait Mayorship, seeing nobody yet on the horizon that we – we being us progressive types who also favor open-as-possible government, hate waste of public money, and see our slavery to Disney and the resort district and the unaccountability of our police department as our two biggest problems – could enthusiastically support.

I mean, along comes Ashleigh Aitken, down from the Hills, looking like she has the Democratic support all wrapped up, and we’ve never seen her down here in the flatlands till LATE THIS YEAR.  (I did see her ONCE, at a pro-districting rally in 2013 or so.)  Nobody can think of anything she has done for Anaheim – you can’t just waltz in like that and be Mayor.  She comes to the Democratic Club and recites carefully planned talking points, calculated to offend nobody on any side.  She’s been my Facebook friend for years, but I haven’t gotten any response to my interview requests for nearly a year now.  Suddenly she is a little (but carefully) critical of Disney, after last month’s GREAT LA Times story (which by the way sounds like something Cynthia Ward could have [and DID] write here five years ago.)  So she is learning about Anaheim now.  How nice.  It’s a little damn late.  Start off as a 6th-district council candidate, ma’am, we need someone good there.  And learn.  And do something.  And talk to me.  And come to Anna Drive.

Sensing some of Ashleigh’s weaknesses, out comes our old friend Lorri “LoGal” Galloway, one more time.  I get very sad when I write about Lorri, who was one of my first friends in this town (when she first talked to me she scolded me “The Orange Juice is not a good OC blog because you hardly write anything about Anaheim;  let me tell you about all that’s happening here” – can you imagine that? – and the rest is history.)  She also did a lot of good things for my wife Donna when she needed help, and I won’t let people forget that she was a very good Councilwoman for eight years.  But in 2015-16 she set a world record for burning bridges.  And reading about her campaign announcement rally on the Klepto-blog, she sounds like she’s trying to position herself to the RIGHT of Ashleigh.  Ashleigh Lite, a LITTLE bit less scary to the resort district and police than Ashleigh is, as though that was scary.

I’m sure we’ll vote for anybody but Harry Sidhu, the infamous perennial-candidate assclown (left) who has always openly been a slave to the moneyed interests, through his entire council career.  The OJ will be sure to remind readers of how, in his interview to be County Clerk, he thought “satellite offices” were offices in outer space, and eagerly agreed to what a great and bold idea they were, thinking that was the answer Supervisor Moorlach wanted to hear. 

So in short, the Orange Juice Blog is still looking for a Mayoral candidate that we could support.  Enthusiastically.  And realistically.

Hey, chisme me this:  Does anybody have any idea why Jordan Brandman was finally fired by Assemblyman Ian Calderon?  At least Jordan’s wikipedia page still looks accurate.  (Who did that anyway?)

Well, for now, that’s all the Anaheim Mishegas and Desmadre that’s fit to print.

EXCEPT for Yesenia Rojas being OFF PROBATION!

THAT deserves its own story.


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.