Now we know which candidates care about Santa Ana

OC Supervisorial candidate Tom Umberg was MIA at last night’s League of Women Voters Superivsorial Candidates Forum. He could of at least sent “cardboard Tom” in his stead! Trung “Photoshop” Nguyen was also not to be found. Last I heard he is still looking for the mysterious staffer who photoshopped him into oblivion. Not to be outdone by Umberg and Trung, Garden Grove’s Janet Nguyen was also not in attendance. She told me that she had already booked a radio program that caters to Vietnamese listeners. God knows they aren’t turning out to vote and need more encouragement to do so.

The three candidates who did come down to Santa Ana’s Council Chambers for the event were Republican Carlos Bustamante, and Democrats Benny Diaz and Mark Rosen. Lupe Moreno also showed up, in her “Tancredo-Mobile,” but she has already dropped out and given her Minuteman endorsement to Bustamante.

Bustamante’s opening monologue landed with a resounding thud. Apparently he was once in a position to fight the Cold War, and he made it sound like we would have lost without his contributions. It reminded me of Al Gore taking credit for inventing the Internet.

Bustamante then prattled on about how he single-handedly saved the Orange County Planning Department from destruction after being handpicked by the O.C. CEO to do so. He named his number one issue as bankruptcy reduction. I assume he was referring to the debt remaining from the infamous O.C. bankruptcy – that was, if you are to believe Bustamante’s backers, all Umberg’s fault.

Diaz opened with a salute to our military, which merited a round of applause. He then spoke about his professional experience as a bank examiner and state worker’s compensation compliance officer. He also described himself as a “unity-builder” and he deplored the tensions that have been fanned between Latinos and Vietnamese by some of the candidates in the supervisorial race. That got him some applause as well.

Diaz also pulled out a donkey toy and described himself as being “proud to be a Democrat.”

When asked what was the most important issue in the race, Bustamante said that the 1st District has not gotten its fair share over the years. Diaz again referenced the divided between the diverse people of the 1st District and the need to work together. He also brought up the fact that we don’t have any county parks in the district and the city parks we do have are too small.

Rosen answered the question by also hitting on the parks issue – he mentioned possible solutions including the Willowick Golf Course, the abandoned Pacific Electric right of way, and the Santa Ana River. His second issue was health care.

The question of whether the county needs an ethics committee was also raised. The responses told me a lot about the candidate’s mentality. Diaz embraced the idea 100%, saying that the voters need to know who is giving money to whom. He also cited the importance of voting for someone who will represent all of us.

In stunning contrast, both Rosen and Bustamante were utterly opposed to the idea. The latter said he would only go for it if the commission was voluntary. Rosen said he didn’t see the need for it as the District Attorney is supposed to enforce the law. Really? I guess he does not understand that our D.A., Tony Rackauckas, does not in fact bother enforcing campaign finance laws and he recently let O.C. Sheriff Mike Carona off the hook.

Bustamante also slipped up and referred to the “Federal Political Practices Commission.” Not quite Carlos. His big concern was paying for an Ethics Commission. That’s funny, he spends money like a drunken sailor when he is at the Santa Ana City Council meetings.

Diaz earned more applause when he brought up his 84 year old mother when senior issues were brought up. He knew what he was talking about when he mentioned problems that seniors face, including the cost of medicines and the availability of food.

When parks came up again, Bustamante ripped the idea of putting a freeway down the Santa Ana riverbed. He also mentioned pocket parks and linear parks. One thing I have noticed about parks is that when you place a qualifier in front of them, like pocket or linear, they pretty much aren’t real parks.

Diaz mentioned putting a parks bond on the ballot, and he said that he was open to suggestions regarding the freeway idea. He also called on the cities to work with their school districts with regards to sharing green spaces. Rosen once again cited the Willowick Golf Course, the right of way, and the Santa Ana River.

The gang issue came up too. Bustamante talked tough and said he had personally put a lot of these “knuckleheads” in jail. He also talked about holding parents accountable. Of course he did not mention what we are supposed to do when both parents work around the clock, and there are no youth programs in Santa Ana and only one public library.

Rosen mentioned the gang task forces in Garden Grove and Santa Ana. He also talked about needing to have more jobs for kids. He said there is no opportunity locally and jobs are going overseas. Well, it doesn’t help when politicians ban super Wal-Marts and kill jobs by the hundreds.

Diaz said that the number one way to prevent gangs is education. He said we need to give our police all the tools they need to combat gangs and urge them to communicate with the gangs.

When the issue of ethnic tensions arose, Diaz mentioned the importance of learning English and being an American, which was applauded. Bustamante spoke about teaching tolerance (does he realize how intolerant many of his supporters are?) and Rosen said that politicians need to be role models. He then mentioned that he has visited a mosque in Garden Grove many times.

Of course the question of the Sheriff’s immigration policy came up and Diaz immediately spoke out against it. Rosen also mentioned the awful story about a guy riding a bike the wrong way in Costa Mesa. That poor guy was seized and now faces deportation. The irony is that he is squeaky clean and he leads bible studies in his spare time. Bustamante said he supports the policy of checking the immigration status of everyone arrested by sheriff deputies. He tired to focus on deporting criminals, but Rosen’s story pretty much settled that issue.

Rosen also mentioned that he tries to appoint minorities as commissioners – and he pointed to Diaz as an example. I wonder if he intends to keep Diaz on that commission after the election?

There was a huge discussion about the county Harbors, Beaches and Parks. Bustamante slammed the idea of creating a separate authority to manage these assets. After the forum, I spoke to a friend who works for the County of Orange, and he said everything Bustamante said was a lie. I would tend to believe my friend over the snake charmer Bustamante.

On the issue of the homeless, Bustamante said we need to compel cities in south O.C. to open shelters. Oh sure, that’s going to happen. And Rosen said we need to do more to help the mentally ill. Diaz brought up the point that many homeless are Vietnam veterans. Good point. He also mentioned treating people with respect, and helping the mentally ill.

Rosen had some good ideas about transportation. He mentioned making it easier to get on the 22 Freeway and maybe opening up the car pool lanes during non-peak hours. He also mentioned express buses that travel perhaps five miles before stopping. Bustamante talked about creating reversible streets that go one way in the morning and another way in the evening. Yikes! That sounds like a good way to create lots of traffic accidents.

Bustamante also mentioned that p
eople keep coming to the county. Well, if he would stop approving new condo towers maybe he could stop some of that influx. He did slip up and acknowledge that there are several towers going up, including OBP – but that project is supposed to be shelved until Mike Harrah can prove he has leases to fill it. Hmmm.

After the event, a few of us were making fun of Trung Nguyen, when all of a sudden Mark Rosen ran up holding his parking stub. He forgot to have it stamped. The doors to the council chambers were closed, so he walked off dejected at the thought of having to pay $5. He really must be a fiscal conservative.

A few minutes later a custodian opened the doors and popped his head out. One of us shouted out, “is that the Mayor?” No, replied the worker, we don’t have a Mayor. That got a few laughs. Well, our non-Mayor is backing Bustamante. That speaks for itself.

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.