Moorlach calls out Steel’s Lies about the AB 448 Housing Trust Fund.


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The Moorlach – homeless guy – the Steels.

So.  AB 448, the long-awaited OC Housing Trust Fund bill that will go a long way to solving our homelessness crisis, sailed thru the assembly last month with nearly ZERO dissent (two Republicans Democrats I never heard of voted no, out of 80 assemblypeople) and is now in the Senate.  Our OC delegation is unanimously in support across ideological lines – from the bill’s authors liberal Democrat Sharon Quirk Silva and corporate Dem Tom Daly, through our garden variety Repugs Janet Nguyen and Pat Bates, to fiscal conservative co-author John Moorlach and even alt-right Trumpie Travis Allen – you can’t get any farther “right” than that.

OR CAN YOU?  In a July 11 OC Register column, “OC Supervisor Michelle Steel” found that little slice of space where you could criticize the bill from the right – a feat of acrobatic agility that required a healthy dose of both lies and fearmongering.

“Honey, let’s go meet Donald at the airport!”

Why did I put Michelle’s name in scare quotes, you ask?  Oh, that.  Anything that’s ostensibly written, said, or done by the second district supervisor is actually written, said or done by her Grinch-like hubby, the longtime California Republican Party power broker Shawn Steel. Michelle is just his (relatively) pretty face and cat’s-paw.  I don’t say that cuz I’m sexist or racist, but from twelve years of observing her useless, brainless performances on the state Board of Equalization and county Board of Supervisors, her giggly demeanor and non-sequiturs on the dais, her frequent reassurances to voters that “Shawn and I are just regular people” and she “still presses Shawn’s shirts,” and her regular protestations at Supervisor meetings that she “doesn’t eat dog or cat.”  I mean, her e-mail missives actually come out on her husband’s letterhead.  So let’s dispense with Michelle and focus on Shawn as author, except to quickly remind you that if Dana Rohrabacher isn’t defeated this year he plans to hand off his 32-year Congressional seat to the couple. 

Shawn Steel’s surprising assault on the housing trust fund bill, apart from its dishonesty, is just one more element of his attempt to drag OC Republicans to the far, racist, xenophobic “right.”  Worshipful of President Trump (in a county that went with the Democratic candidate for the first time since the 30’s) he’s been the driving force behind the OC Supes’ and many OC cities’ embracing the President’s draconian immigration policies and attacking our state’s legally upheld sanctuary stance.  But is this the sort of guy Republicans should be listening to?  His embrace of the racist Prop 187 back in the 90’s is the reason you guys’ party is so small, bitter and impotent in this state now.  And Shawn Nelson‘s following the Steel lead on immigrant-bashing didn’t prevent THAT Shawn from coming in a distant fourth in his Congressional primary.

The county’s burgeoning homeless population is just one more target, along with immigrants, for Steel’s manipulative fearmongering.  His repeated warnings of “large scale homeless and subsidized government housing in your backyard,” (putting aside the ever-expanding definition of people’s “backyard”) invites the response, “do you prefer these scary people OUTSIDE of houses, in your backyard, as is the case now?”  But only half of the anti-homeless animus Steel stokes is about fear and disgust, there’s also the puritan judgment that these people don’t DESERVE housing if they can’t pay for it themselves.

What may have most provoked Senator John Moorlach – a humane and honest conservative of which there should be more in the Republican party – to pen his furious rebuke to Steel a few days later was the lazy and ignorant lie that AB 448 would raise taxes.  But who knows, it may have been even more infuriating for Moorlach to hear the lazy and ignorant lies that AB 448 would “grow the size of government,” “take away local control,” and “increase the cost of market rate housing.”  All ancient right-wing cliches that have no bearing on the bill under discussion.  Roars the Sasquatch-resembling conservative:

“This is not leadership. This is classic NIMBYism and fearmongering… These assertions are false. In fact, the trust would claim state money our taxpayers already pay, not add even one Lincoln penny to existing levies. As to the market price of homes, it’s Economics 101: Increase the supply and the price will go down. The demand is there from the homeless; the question is whether we meet the supply.

“State laws passed last year in the 2017 Housing Package, such as Senate Bill 35, mandate more local housing construction. And federal Judge David O. Carter continues reviewing county homeless policies. If the housing trust is not enacted, the county and our 34 cities could lose all control over solutions.

I have mixed feelings about the word NIMBY, which I use myself – sometimes of course it’s a good thing.  There are some things NOBODY should have in their back yard, things that are NOT NEEDED or wanted period.  Southeast Huntington Beach people do not need Poseidon in their back yard.  San Clemente doesn’t need the 241 extension running through its back yards.  And nobody needs a nuclear dump in their back yard.  But these homeless folks are people, our former neighbors and fellow citizens, who could be YOU next year.  These Horatio Alger homily-spinning homeowners grew up in a different time with a constantly growing economy and a sturdy social safety net, so they tend to not know or care what the fuck they’re talking about.  And as long as our current Dickensian-level economic inequality grinds on and grows, partly due to decades of government policies favoring the enrichment of the rich, we’re going to need solutions involving the government, to help our fellow Americans live and be productive.  Solutions like AB 448.

Vern out.


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.