Gus Ayer, Environmental Hero and Political Mastermind, Has Died

Gus Ayer with Obama

Gus Ayer – This is the photo that he used on Facebook most of the time — but not when (as tended to happen) he was pissed off at the President.  His final photo on his account was one of him hiking, which is equally apt.

This story is just breaking, a few minutes ago, on Facebook. Gus Ayer, former Mayor of Fountain Valley and a giant of Orange County progressive and environmental politics, has died. He will be missed more than I can express.  More on the story soon. [8:28 p.m.]

[8:30] I see that Vern is working on a proper remembrance of Gus, a mentor to both of us and to many more and a behind-the-scenes hero of more political stories than I can remember.  This is easily worth more than one story.  Sorry to scoop Vern inadvertently; I couldn’t read him by phone.  I’ll add some material from Facebook.

[8:42] It looks like people in the political community (his family, I presume, excepted) learned of his death “about 2 hours ago” (in Facebook timestamp lingo.)  His last posts were from yesterday morning, on the Poseidon Water Treatment Ripoff, which now becomes among the top priorities of everyone who loved Gus.  (Together, we might match him.  Almost.)  Vern will write more about that.

[8:48] His posts on Poseidon and other topics from Monday and from yesterday morning, the Day of the State of Union Address, which probably largely impressed and somewhat infuriated him in all of the right ways:

People ask us about our little mascot, the water drop with fists full of cash.
Is he giving money or taking money?
Well it all depends. If you are a politician running for election or a political action committee trying to determine who wins the Huntington Beach election, then he’s got a fistful of dollars for you.
On the other hand, if you have to pay a water bill in the future, that money will be picked from your pocket.
Gus Ayer shared a link.
Perhaps worst of all, Wall Street has begun to explore the option of securitizing the rental revenue, much in the way that they used mortgage-backed securities to ramp up capital in the bubble years. Three separate REO-to-rental trusts appeared on the market, under the administration of Wells Fargo, in the past couple months. These are non-public offshore trusts that are unregistered with the SEC, and in all likelihood have no credit ratings, as the rating agencies have this time shied away from rating an unproven product. But they’ve attracted enough interest to move forward.
Your New Landlord Works on Wall Street
Hedge funds are snatching up rental homes at an alarming rate—and a new bubble may be forming.
Gus Ayer Nothing could possibly go wrong with this. Hedge funds buying foreclosed homes, securitizing the rental revenue. Another excellent story from David Dayen.
Gus Ayer shared a link via No Deal with Poseidon.
$8500 per customer?Until Poseidon shows their homework to the public, nobody will really know how much their exorbitant water will cost the individual customer.
True Costs of Poseidon Water
Obviously, a very large user – a high school with athletic fields, a hotel, a homeowners association, an apartment owner, a supermarket, restaurant or manufacturing facility, will have a bill much higher than the average customer. A frugal individual customer may have a much lower long-term cost.
Sue Spencer Cannon How about you just extract water from the humidity in the air? Though maybe if that were done on a scale to satisfy the LA basin that would suck all the moisture out of the air.
Gus Ayer We call that naturally occurring phenomenon “rain” and we need to do a better job of capturing it both at the home level and the regional level.
Each year, four international science institutions compile temperature data from thousands of stations around the world and make independent judgments about whether the year was warmer or cooler than average. “The official records vary slightly because of subtle differences in the way we analyze the data,” said Reto Ruedy, climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “But they also agree extraordinarily well.”All four records show peaks and valleys in sync with each other. All show rapid warming in the past few decades. All show the last decade has been the warmest on record.For more, visit: & story via National Aeronautics and Space Administration – NASA
And from Sunday:
Gus Ayer
We wish you good fortune in the Year of the Snake.
I hope the characters I copied say that, and not “Death to running dogs of American imperialists!”

(Note: I would be sort of surprised if the characters Gus copied said anything other than “Death to running dogs of American imperialists!” — and if he hadn’t triple-checked it to make sure.)

From Some of Gus’s Friends:

[Most of these appeared within an hour of the first report that Gus was dead.  Anyone who wants their contribution taken down, just say so.  I’m guessing no one will.]

This one wasn’t the first comment, but it deserves to be listed first.  From Gus’s great friend and political ally Connie Boardman:

While we all grieve, I want to express my deep condolences to Verna, Gus’s wife, and his sons Ethan and Elliot.

And some other blog tributes: — “ellinorianne” — “joeesha”

Now to comments on his page.

Celebrate Gus-mas! — Michael Wellborn (Gus was born the day before Boxing Day).

I had so much to tell you that happened today….. — Greg Ridge, Gus’s colleague on many issues.

I love you, Gus — Melissa Fox

Wish you were still here. — Susan Kopicki

I am sad beyond words. One of the sweetest, funniest, most knowledgeable men in OC politics has passed away. Gus Ayer, I will miss you so much. — Shelley Haggerty

RIP Gus Ayer. Please like this page for Gus: No Deal With Poseidon /  This was his latest valiant battle for the people. Love that Mayor Ayer.  — Marselle Sloane

Gus Ayer, thanks for all you have done to fight the good fight as a progressive. You will be sadly missed and thought of often. Rest in Peace friend. — Sunbie Harrell

I’d love to have one more hike with you buddy. — Connie Boardman

Laugh for me Gus. Just one more time. We miss you. — Debbie Cook

Thank you for being my first political mentor and humoring my sardonic humor. I am grateful to have known you; you are truly one of a kind. May you rest in eternal (and progressive) peace.  AND   Shocked, saddened, and heartbroken for all my friends who are even more shocked and saddened than I. We lost one of the good ones today. Honorable Gus Ayer, thank you for being the progressive compass for Orange County. You will be missed. — Angelica Ramos.

Too shocked and sad. A mentor, friend, teacher, ally, my mayor.

Gus why have you left us so very very too soon. We still need you, your wit, spirit and wisdom. — Ken Arnold.

I love you man and I will miss you more than you know. — Joe Shaw

Gus Ayer, friend and former mayor of Fountain Valley, has passed today. So SAD! He knew how to cut through to the heart of an issue, and he was truly a man of the people. — Kathleen Speers Rockney

Gus has been the most wonderful friend to me. I will miss him and his sense of humor. It is hard to stop crying. — Stephanie Pacheco

I love you Gus. — Heather Pritchard

I’m shocked and saddened. Gus, I’m going to miss you, brother. — Miles Kurland

I am shocked and very sad to hear you are gone, Gus!  You were a kindred spirit and will be missed! — Karen Ahlf

I am so saddened to learn this news. I could always rely on Gus for witty comments on my facebook posts. He was game enough to join a bunch of us in Hicksville for a weekend in the desert and always challenged the progressive in me to do more. — Todd Pelkey

We lost a dear friend today with the passing of Gus Ayer, an Orange County progressive icon. RIP, my friend. — Dante Atkins

One of a kind. Totally unselfish. There is no better friend. — Theresa Sears

I hope we can get enough dirt to fill the hole you left, it would be enough to bury a lot of corruption for sure. — Billy Folsom

I am so sorry to hear this. Gus, I was not ready for you to leave. You are my inspiration, and will continue to be. — Priscilla Cruz

Incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of a good friend and colleague, Gus Ayer. He was a mentor to me as I began working in politics, a passionate progressive, and an innovative warrior for turning Orange County blue. Once the mayor of Fountain Valley but always a fighter for justice and equality, he will be missed. Greatly. — Robert Cruickshank

I’m in shock. This heartbreaking news.  [later added]  When I heard about Gus’s passing, I immediately went through my photo library, hoping I’d have some unpublished images of him I could share. It’s so telling that the only photos I could find were ones where he was either nose to the grindstone or in the background, supporting everyone around him.  What a wonderful man. What a loss for us all. — Marta Evry  [All friends of Gus’s, please do check out Marta’s photos.]

Gus Ayer, you were a friend, a goofball, and you never left the car when ‘we’ walked precincts. Lazy bum! I will miss you. — Evan Parent

So sad to hear Gus Ayer passed. I loved talking with him, I always left smarter. He had such a thirst for strategy, and such an excitement over being the hardest worker around.  Sure, this sucks for Democrats in California and beyond. But this sucks the worst for Orange County.  Gonna miss you Gus. RIP. — Bob Brigham

We’ve lost another great leader in Orange County. Thank you Gus for your incredible talents and for sharing them with so many of us.— Melanie Schlotterbeck

I still have Gus’ last voicemail saved in Google Voice. He asked me if I wanted to go to Chris Stern’s restaurant opening with him, but I couldn’t because I was just in too much pain. I talked to him just two days ago. He called to brag about his www.nowaterdeal.comwebsite. He was talking about beta testers and an e-mail address no one checks and trying to get Dan Kalmick to fix something for him. He’d call me at least once a week, every week, just about b.s. Sometimes we went to lunch, or went on a hike. He’d been trying to get me to go hiking with him again for some time. I hurt my back a few months ago and kept saying, “Maybe in a couple of weeks when I’m feeling better.” God, who ever thought he wouldn’t have a couple of weeks? We joked once about how my family is not known for long lifespans and he’d surely outlive me. Surely. Oh god, Gus. This hurts. — Erin Shawn

Wow. I can’t believe it. Gus will be sorely missed. I’ll never forget his impact on OC… And on me. — Andrew Davey

Very sad to hear about the passing of one of Orange County’s greatest and most dedicated activists. RIP Gus Ayer — Carl Weibel

Shockingly sad; a good man, I had only met him a few times recently. Our prayers with his family — Faisal Qazi

Gus Ayer our friend, amazing politician, super sweetheart and someone who stood up for the environment passed away today. So many sad hearts tonight….I will remember him for his great laugh and upbeat attitude–and for the fact that he was one of the “good guys” that got to hang out with the powerful girls!I will miss you Gus! — Pam Keller

Gus Ayer was a true fighter for real progress in Orange County and was always dedicated to including students in his fight. I will never forget when he donated his printer and 6 hours of his time to help me print maps for my voter reg drive in 2010. Even when people told him his ideas were crazy, he kept pushing. His smile and laugh always brought people together and he will be truly missed. Thanks, Gus for all your hard work. The world is a better place because of it. — Lauren Lee

I just found out that my friend, political consultant Gus Ayer passed away. I am very, very sad. Gus was a hellava activist, a hellava political mind and a damn good Progressive Democrat. California politics will never be the same. — Moses Ross

My heart goes out to all who are deeply affected by Gus Ayer’s departure from this world today. Wherever he is, I’m sure he’s already working in changing it for the better. Just like he did here. – Nicole Marie

Gus was one of the good guys, always ready for the good political fight. Gus was a friend, advisor…witty, smart with a big heart. Devastating. — Lorraine Prinsky

We will miss you so much Gus. Your legacy of honest public service and committment to protecting our communities & environment will not be forgotten. I’ll miss strategizing and crunching political data with you. — Katrina Foley

Love you Gus. You brought a lot of witty and downright funny commentary about our mixed up political world. We will miss you. — Mike Matsuda

We’ll add more in time.  I just wanted to document the outpouring of affection for this man. — GAD


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-disabled and semi-retired, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally ran for office against jerks who otherwise would have gonr unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.) His daughter is a professional campaign treasurer. He doesn't usually know whom she and her firm represent. Whether they do so never influences his endorsements or coverage. (He does have his own strong opinions.) But when he does check campaign finance forms, he is often happily surprised to learn that good candidates he respects often DO hire her firm. (Maybe bad ones are scared off by his relationship with her, but they needn't be.)