Faessel Agonistes: the Councilman lets down immigrants and Lou Correa.


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The 5th-district Councilman’s expressive face traversed a full kaleidoscope of extreme discomfort through last Tuesday’s Council meeting.  He squinted his eyes into little slits as though he had a migraine, he grimaced as though remembering a near-fatal accident or imagining a horrendous torture.  He wrinkled his nose as though detecting flatulence, he raised his eyes to heaven like a crucified man and shook his head like a wet Pomeranian.  He ducked down nervously as though evading gunfire, he puffed out his cheeks and exhaled as though blowing out a birthday candle, and furrowed his brow like a President agonizing over a possible nuclear strike.

You can see that Stephen hates to be the swing vote on uncomfortable issues – issues where he knows what is right versus how he is expected to vote.  But it was a night (or two items at least) for Jordan Brandman to be a good Democrat (since neither of those items impacted powerful Anaheim economic interests) so nice-guy Steve was in the hot seat.

The first of those items was Jose Moreno’s resolution against the Trump administration’s latest assault on immigrants:  the “public charge rule change” vastly expanding the definition of what constitutes being a burden on the public.  This rule change will make it possible for Trump’s INS to refuse legal residency (“green cards”) to MILLIONS of deserving and productive immigrants – even ones that have NEVER EVEN APPLIED for any government aid, but happen to make little enough money that they could be SUSPECTED of doing that some time in the future.  Jose, Jordan and Denise made the case that this will really impact this majority-Latino city negatively. making immigrants afraid of applying for services they may need and deserve, and is something Council should speak out against.  

For the resolution to pass, however, a yes vote from Mr Faessel was needed, as Mayor Sidhu abstained (feeling it was enough to just remind us that HE is an immigrant) while Lucille Kring and Trevor O’Neil gleefully voted no, neither having ever made a pretense of caring about immigrants.  Trevor, who is starting to resemble less a 60’s TV genie husband and more somebody’s grumpy middle-aged father, said he SUPPORTED Trump’s rule change, because yes, immigrants add to our big deficit.  (NOT.  And a real “conservative” should know better.)  Lucille as usual was a pernicious fool.

We already knew that members of the Sidhu majority get their talking points from the “kleptoblog” of Matt Cunningham – that’s Matt’s job, it’s what he gets paid for.  But somebody needs to spoonfeed those talking points to Lucille a little more carefully.  In his background briefing Matt accurately wrote, “That [previous, restrictive] iteration of the rule, dating back to the Clinton Administration, prohibited the INS from considering the broad range …” which, after passing through the mind of Lucille became, “This iteration dates back to the Clinton administration. I know many people have a problem with Trump … but he [Clinton] started this, it goes back a long way.” Somebody needs to explain Matt’s sentences to Lucille, and maybe even what the word “iteration” means.

But even when you parrot Cunningham accurately, it’s probable you still won’t be speaking the truth.  Take those two’s word for it, and you’ll believe the immigrants of the 19th and early 20th centuries, those “huddled masses” and “wretched refuse,” were only allowed through Ellis Island if they “had a sponsor. Had a job. Had someone who was willing to support you financially because the government wasn’t going to do it.” Of course that was never true, and immigrants back then also faced the Cunninghams, Krings and Trumps of their own time.

But we’re talking about Faessel here, stuck painfully with being the bad guy, holding the bag of making sure Jose’s resolution dies because for some reason that’s what his bosses want.  Making all the faces described above, he protested that “believe it or not, I AM PRO-IMMIGRANT!” whatever that means.  He apologized to all the immigrants and immigrant sympathizers in his plurality-Latino District 5, looking at a few of us in the audience, and protested that “unlike what many of you think, not everything I do is political!”  (By Jove, I believe Steve reads this blog!)  But finally he concluded that he doesn’t want Anaheim to be part of the “FOOD FIGHT” which he considers today’s immigration debate to have become.  

Food fight?

It’s unclear whether it’s
a) a US administration wielding its awesome power, and not above separating families and imprisoning children, to rile up its vast Mexican-hating base, or
b) the millions of hard-working immigrants attempting to become legal here so they can keep contributing to our economy,
…that Steve sees as John Belushi.

A Word on Lou.

Our Congressman Lou Correa sent a spokesperson to the meeting, ASKING them to pass this resolution, as having the OC’s biggest city behind him would make it easier for him to fight this draconian rule change.  And Faessel declined to help, even though Lou helped put him in office with his cross-party endorsement.

Lou’s furious with me lately, and reportedly calls me mean names, ever since I wrote my story last year about him and Tom Daly “supporting Trump’s deportations and ICE.”  That’s called a provocative title, and punching him where it hurts.  Immigration is actually one issue that he is good on, that he cares about and works hard on.  But the problem was his ENDORSEMENTS, some kind of political game he plays that’s hard to understand.  Faessel had TWO good opponents, when he ran for Council, that would have had Lou’s back on immigration. 

But the most destructive thing Lou did in the last election, which also earned him a DPOC censure, was to endorse Sandra Hutchens’ corrupt and anti-immigrant Sheriff successor Don Barnes, helping Barnes beat a worthy, reformist Democrat named Duke Nguyen.  Barnes is now ruling over an ever-more corrupt, brutal, and secretive department, with record incidents of jail violence and killings, about which we’ll be writing a lot more in the near future.  We just hope next year Lou stops whatever realpolitik game he thinks he’s doing with his endorsements, and gets behind some candidates a human being could be proud of.

So then there was the FLAG…

I’m gonna try to wrap this up quickly.  Anaheim had had the same flag forever, with a quaint old agricultural seal, and many people liked it, if they ever thought about it:

So much changed in the Tom Tait years, our charter was revised and most notably, after much struggle, we voted overwhelmingly to start electing our Council by district.  Tait and others thought it was time for a new flag – not one of the wisest or most important changes they made, and after an endless process they came up with the following, which not many people like, but it does celebrate our historic SIX DISTRICTS with six stars:

It’s become a vital matter to the Sidhu majority, especially Lucille Kring, to get rid of that “Tait Flag” and return to the old one.  To many of us it didn’t seem like a battle worth fighting, but it did occur to me that there could be some kind of compromise flag, something like the old one but with six stars added in.

And guess what?  You know how they say “Great Minds Think Alike?”  Well, who knew that Vern Nelson and Jordan Brandman also sometimes think alike?  Apparently unbeknownst to anyone else on the dais, Jordan had the staff start working on such compromises, and the one that was surprise-unveiled on Tuesday was hard for ANYONE to dislike:

It’s much nicer than either of the others, and it does have six stars for our districts.

But remember, Lucille and Harry both fought hard AGAINST district elections, wasting TWO MILLION DOLLARS of your taxpayer money fighting a losing battle JUST TO KEEP YOU FROM BEING ABLE TO VOTE ON THE MATTER.  Lucille at the time would debate against districts using Cunningham-provided talking points against Tom, and this is when she earned the famous sobriquet “a pint-sized packmule unburdened by conscience or scruple.”  It’s a good bet they don’t want to be reminded, or you to be reminded, of that, when you see your city’s flag.  And they also have an overall project of trying to erase Tom Tait from history altogether – try looking for anything about the “City of Kindness” on Anaheim’s website for example.  It is gone Daddy gone.

Jordan, Jose, and Denise liked Jordan’s new compromise flag, and I’m pretty sure Steve said he did as well.  Harry claimed, incredibly, that getting rid of the new flag was a very high priority for “every voter he talked to” while campaigning for Mayor even though he never mentioned it then.  Trevor and Lucille stubbornly stuck to the motion as agendized, which had nothing to do with looking at a new flag but was only about returning to the old one.  And again, Steve went through his gallery of pained faces, agreeing that he liked the new one but reluctantly backing his kleptocrat allies.  This new flag will probably be discussed and voted on in October.  But going back to the old one for just a month or two is going to be a waste of $7000.  Not much compared to how much this crowd usually wastes on one night, but unnecessary.

The Kleptocracy’s Firewall.

Of course neither of those two votes Tuesday were all that CONSEQUENTIAL: a resolution is just a resolution, a flag is just a flag.  It’s not even clear why Steve wasn’t allowed to vote differently on these matters.

But the real reason the Disney-Chamber Axis spent half a million electing Steve in 2016, and will doubtless spend over a million defending him next year, is votes like the following – votes that make Anaheim’s wealthy wealthier, bleed our treasury, and really impact our quality of life:

  • Rejecting the Angels opt-out, and re-instating Arte Moreno’s old sweetheart 1996 no-rent lease, thus both “encumbering” that land for a loss of $100 million to us Anaheim stakeholders while giving his benefactor Arte 20 more years to shop around for another town;  
  • Shoveling nearly a million so far to his benefactors in the Chamber of Commerce, plus another $1.1 million if you count subsidies to his benefactor Curt Pringle’s Muzeo;
  • Rescinding the phase-out of over 200 nuisance short-term rentals as a favor to the out-of-state investors who contributed to Harry, Trevor and Lucille;
  • Putting the kibosh on any local rent control and refusing any meaningful help to the Rancho La Paz seniors and other local victims of rent-gouging;
  • Greenlighting the three-story high-density “Downtown Anaheim 39” townhouses despite the pleas of all the Pauline Street residents (in Jose’s district of course);
  • And on and on.

Stephen Faessel is the Kleptocracy’s Firewall in 2020.  If We the People take District 4 and keep District 1, they desperately need to hang on to Faessel, to maintain their majority and continue to swindle us.

I’m still not sure who’ll be running against Steve, but it’ll be useful for them, during the blue-wave Presidential year of 2020, to remind District 5’s thousands of Latinos and Democrats how Stephen Faessel sided with Donald Trump over immigrants and Lou Correa.


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.