Vern’s July 2019 Letter to Anaheim Democrats


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[Forgive this very partisan document;  it is intended to give succor to Anaheim Democrats and encourage them to be better Democrats, and hence it omits mention of (almost all) decent Republicans as well as certain problematic Democrats – V]

“These are the times that try our souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their city; but those that stand by it now deserve the love and thanks of men and women. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us: that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

Tom Paine, the original American democrat, wrote (roughly) these words during one of the darkest periods of our Revolution, when things were looking hopeless for the forces of democracy and liberty. We Democrats may find the passage inspiring as we struggle against not only a Trump/McConnell federal regime but also against a resurgent, Sidhu-helmed kleptocracy here in Anaheim.

In fact, coming after a brief reformist two years (made possible by our hard-won DISTRICT ELECTIONS) this reactionary period also reminds us of the middle of the Star Wars Trilogy:

Just as Trump and McConnell have spend these three years systematically destroying every positive change President Obama accomplished, so the (mostly) Republican Sidhu Majority has made it its mission to reverse every reform of the Tait-Moreno Council.

At our June 1 Club meeting we unanimously passed a resolution which:

  1. supported Councilman José Moreno’s emergency June 18 measure temporarily limiting rent increases in Anaheim;
  2. called for Angels owner Arte Moreno to pay an equitable amount of rent for his use of our Stadium (he currently pays nothing); AND
  3. called for openness and transparency in the city’s negotiations with the Angels.

As expected, José’s emergency motion was defeated 5-2 by the (mostly) Republican Sidhu Majority, supported only by District 1 Councilwoman Denise Barnes (thanks, Denise!)

The majority’s argument was that any council action is unnecessary because the Democrats up in Sacramento have been talking about fixing the problem of rent-gouging statewide – something that MAY OR MAY NOT end up happening, and MAY OR MAY NOT be retroactive, but meanwhile is of no help to Anaheim renters facing sudden increases of from $400 to $700 a month, JUST BECAUSE THE LANDLORD CAN.

Plus, what kind of “city leaders” abandon their responsibilities to the state government? Of course they’re really just buying more time for their deep-pocketed donors to jack up rents at will.

It goes on and on. The unregulated rent gouging is pervasive, not only in Anaheim’s apartment market but also at the Rancho La Paz mobile home park, where the new owner has not only made it clear to his senior renters that he intends to double their rents over the next year (seizing their homes if they can’t afford that) but has also gone so far as to close the swimming pool for the summer in retribution for their daring to stand up to him. The Pauline Street neighborhood bravely soldiers on against the gentrification Sidhu and company are trying to force on them. And meanwhile this majority will throw huge sums of money to their supporters on the flimsiest of pretexts – up to a million and a half dollars at this point to their Chamber of Commerce cronies who got them elected. Meanwhile…

Whom Do We Anaheim Democrats Represent?

When we voted, at our May meeting, on new bylaws clarifying our mission, we included the language “social justice” as well as “working for policies that serve the interests of our communities.” But what are these interests, who are these communities? I submit that we must fight for SIX OVERLAPPING GROUPS who’ve all been betrayed by the Sidhu Majority:

  • the working class;
  • Anaheim taxpayers;
  • small businesses;
  • homeowners;
  • renters;
  • and the homeless.

When it’s clear to voters that we Democrats are fighting for the interests of all these six groups, we should be able to take Districts 4 and 5, and the Council majority, next year.

Should we have a position on STR’s and the Streetcar?

It was surprising and yet not, to see the Sidhu Majority embrace Short-Term Rentals so passionately this month … and it could and should be their downfall. Under the Tait-Moreno council, these very unpopular nuisances were due to be phased out NEXT MONTH, but the (mostly out-of-town) profiteers gave generously to Sidhu and his majority during the election, and now they’re reaping their investment. Yes, Sidhu and his loyal majority are not only letting the 200 existing STR’s stay in operation forever, but also giving them a MONOPOLY in the city by not allowing in any more. So far he’s accomplished one thing he’s really tried to avoid – making the council meetings into marathon circuses that go on to 3AM with hordes of enraged residents. This issue needs to be wrapped around the majority’s neck.

James Carville used to say, regarding politics, “When your enemy is drowning, toss him an anvil.” We didn’t even need to toss Harry this STR anvil.

Then there’s the pinche Streetcar. Yes, this is the old original one, planned to go down Katella from ARTIC to the gates of Disneyland. Two years ago the Tait-Moreno majority told OCTA we didn’t want it, so naturally the Sidhu Majority has now said “Yes we do.” Our friends in the Building Trades leadership, driven by the promise of good paying jobs, showed up in force to both June Council meetings to support the project.

But many of us feel that, good jobs or no, Disney is the main beneficiary of this streetcar, and so it should be Disney paying to build it, NOT us taxpayers. This is hundreds of millions of transportation dollars that would otherwise go to fixing our streets and so on.

So, STR’s, and the Disney Streetcar – should Anaheim Democrats have a position?

A couple of bright spots this month:

At our June 1 meeting we were both honored and jazzed to receive updates from three representatives of Anaheim’s extraordinarily well-run school boards: nonpartisan AUHSD superintendent Mike Matsuda, and Club members Al Jabbar (AUHSD trustee) and Juan Gabriel Alvarez (AESD trustee.) We heard all about the great improvements made in recent years in student performance at Anaheim High School, the school’s partnerships with UCI where many of its graduates end up, and the districts’ effective and thrifty use of its bond money that voters approved. You really should have been there if you weren’t.

What you CAN do for now, and it would mean a lot to Superintendent Matsuda, is to “LIKE” Anaheim Unified High School District on Facebook. CLICK HERE.

And special thanks to club member (and lady who SHOULD be our Mayor) Ashleigh Aitken for organizing such a successful June 25 Anaheim Democrats Social Mixer at the Anaheim Brewery; over 40 attended and we got lots of new members out of it, which was the idea! This will be a regular monthly event, we’ll let you know about the next one at our July 6 meeting, speaking of which…..

SATURDAY JULY 6 – Anaheim Democratic Club meeting, 12:15 to 1:45 at Haskett Branch Library (Broadway west of Magnolia, by Maxwell Park.) This month’s featured speaker will be Miguel Hernandez of OCCCO (Orange County Congregation Community Organization) speaking on the 2020 census, and the importance of an accurate count for fair representation. And as at every meeting, Councilman Moreno will give us an update on Anaheim shenanigans and answer your questions – THIS AND THE FELLOWSHIP AFTERWARD ARE NOT TO BE MISSED.

THURSDAY JULY 18 – the Democratic Party of OC has a membership drive and voter registration table at the OC Fair each year, and we Anaheimers are responsible for July 18 – we need at least 8 volunteers to cover 4 shifts (so at least 2 volunteers each shift.) Volunteers get a free pass and free parking, and you can enjoy the Fair before and/or after your shift! Shifts are 11:30 AM to 3pm, then 3 to 6, 6 to 9, and 9 to 11. It’s a lot of fun, believe me!

And you all need to make it to July’s two City Council meetings if you can: Tuesday July 16 and 30, at 5 pm – make our voices heard!

Happy 4th of July – Vice President Vern.


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer 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.