This Newsletter Sounds Like It Came from a Candidate

OC Constellations -- AD65

Oh yeah, THIS graphic is copyrighted! From my “OC District Constellations” series.

In the 2014 election for AD-65, Scott Lay’s “Around the Capital” website says the following about prospective candidates:

Probable Candidates
  • Sharon Quirk-Silva (Democrat) – Member, State Assembly
  • Young Kim (Republican) – Staffer, Congressman Ed Royce

A source sends me this newsletter, which for some reason I failed to receive directly.  It presents a conservative line on issues global and local — one with which I generally disagree but which surely has its place on this blog:

AB 375: Protection for Abusive Teachers

[L]ast year in the legislature, bills were brought forward giving locally-elected school boards more authority to fire sexually abusive teachers. Momentum grew after well-publicized scandals of horrifying abuse in LAUSD. Each bill, however, was killed by the California Teachers Association, determined to protect current teachers at all costs.

With two-thirds control of the legislature, the unions have counter-attacked with AB 375. Billed as reform, AB 375 actually limits school board authority and adds protections to abusive teachers. It caps at five the number of students allowed to tesify and throws out any evidence older than four years. Strongly opposed by the California School Boards Association, AB 375 passed both the Assembly and Senate but there is still hope of a gubernatorial veto. Moderate OC Democrats like Senator Lou Correa joined Republicans in voting against it. Quirk-Silva voted “yes” in lock step with most Democrats, for whom CTA money is their biggest source of campaign contributions.

[…] I am sensitive to needed protections for those falsely charged. Students do make up stories. There must be a balanced approach, but the current system is too heavily weighted to restrict the authority of locally-elected school boards to protect kids. AB 375 only makes it worse.

Water Bond Is Back

Throughout California’s tortured water history, urban voters are often lured into supporting projects that largely benefit a handful of large landowners. A century ago, L.A. voters taxed themselves to build the 300-mile Owens Valley acqueduct, only to find themselves awash in a surplus of water that went to irrigate land in the San Fernando Valley. A few families like the Chandlers (Los Angeles Times publishers) grew rich with water at a fraction of its cost (loosely portrayed in the Jack Nicholson classic “Chinatown”).

In the 1950s the first Governor Brown greatly overstated the case for the California water project, knowing that Central Valley agribusiness would be getting much of the water at a fraction of the cost to Southern California homeowners.

Now an oft-delayed $11 billion water bond is scheduled for voter approval next year. Water boosters typically place these bonds during drought years, so if we have a wet rainy season, expect another delay.

Of all water in California’s local, state and federal projects, agriculture uses 80%. This has allowed our state to be the world’s salad, fuit and nut bowl combined, with Fresno the richest agricultural county in the country. However, it has also led to profligate farm practices and soil salinity—and higher water rates for residences.

The bond will be billed as a “clean drinking water” measure, but only 17% of this water is for homes, and less than 1% is for human consumption. Residential water use is actually down by 50% since 1975. Since 60% of residents’ use is on landscaping, bigger houses on smaller lots mean less water usage. Even the poor do not typically drink tap water.

Iran Opening An Opportunity

Words are cheap, and certainly must be backed by action. But words are at least a beginning, as President Kennedy once intoned, “We should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate.” We needn’t fear Iran’s newly-elected President Rouhani, but would be willing to discuss bettering relations.

There are nearly a million Persian-Americans, with the greatest concentration here in Orange County. While fleeing the upheavals following the 1979 ouster of the Shah by Khomeini’s repressive theocracy, they still know change is possible. Just ask Iranian-American and Buena Park Library Board Member Al Salehi, whose Oct. 2 editorial echoed this same point.

Both sides must rise above past grievances. For Americans, it was the 52 hostages seized in our embassy, a yearlong humiliation that ruined Carter’s Presidency. For Iranians, it was a CIA-funded coup in 1953 that replaced a democratic government with the Shah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s concerns before the UN General Assembly are understandable, but comparisons to Nazi Germany compromise his credibility. Outside Israel, Iran has the largest Jewish population in the Middle East. They are not in concentration camps or wearing yellow stars, but are prominent in business circles. They remain close with the Beverly Hills-based Jewish Persian-American community and such ties of family and finance can be a bridge to future relations.

The war crowd is already blasting any negotiation with Iran as weakness. For them, military threats and sanctions are our only options. Americans, however, are tired of costly Middle East military interventions, and 50 years of sanctions against Cuba have still left Castro in power.

Nixon went to China in 1972 not out of weakness but because it was in our interests to do so. Reagan sent emissaries to Iran in 1986, barely seven years after the Shah’s fall. That ham-handed attempt led to the Iran-Contra scandal and elevated Oliver North to folk hero status, yet there was still a recognition that the two countries could have common interests.

It was easy to demonize ex-president Mahmoud Achmedenijad, who threatened his neighbors and denied history. But he’s gone, and we cannot permanently demonize an entire country. Iran has consistently denied any intent to develop nuclear weapons. Holding them to that pledge can be the basis for normalizing relations.

Reagan’s practical words in diplomacy remain true: “Trust but verify.” Before we can trust or verify, we must first talk. Winston Churchill said the British have “no permanent allies, only permanent interests.” Conversely, the U.S. should seek no permanent enemies. When old adversaries reach out to us, we should at least listen to what they are offering.

Streets Crumble While City Sits On Its Assets

The condition of Fullerton’s streets is the worst in Orange County. Even revenue-poor cities like Stanton and Placentia have maintained their transportation infrastructure far better. Further deterioration will only make repairs more expensive. The cracking and crumbling of my Puente Street is seen all over our fair city.

One source of one-time revenue to fix our crumbling roads lies in surplus city-owned property that sits vacant, with no apparent plan for sale or re-use. Many of the properties are small and scattered, but there are five large parcels totaling 26 acres. With scarce prime residential land fetching up to $1.5 million an acre, this would bring in about $40 million, plus an added $2.5 million in annual property taxes for local schools and services.

Three of these parcels (totalling 19 acres) lie along the north side of Bastanchury between Brea Blvd. and Malvern. There are 2.5 acres at the end of Rolling Hills Drive, overlooking the golf course. Another 3.8 acres is left over at Commonwelath and Basque from the city yard expansion.

Offers of hard cash have been made by private developers willing to place these unused assets back on the tax rolls. Response from City Hall has been slow, and if current high land vulues take another dive, another opportunity will be lost. These properties are a maintenance and legal liability that could be turned into productive private use. All we need is leadership to do so.

Obviously, since this newsletter attacks Sharon Quirk-Silva and the Fullerton City Council, it’s not from Sharon.  But isn’t it surprising to see a prospective opponent of hers taking such a dovish stand on Iran?

Not really, because this didn’t come from Young Kim.  It is entitled “Norby Notes.”  (In the first section, the first edit takes out the words “In my …”; the second takes out “As a former teacher, …”  Young Kim has been neither teacher nor educator.)

I still have the same problems with Norby that I had before, which I will not rehash here and now.  (As time passes, though, they become less pronounced — because time has passed.)  But this newsletter suggests that Scott Lay may have to update his chart.  Does Chris Norby sound like a prospective candidate to you?  He pretty much does to me.

In a three-way primary race, Sharon’s pretty much going to be a lock to get no less than the 33.34% she needs to make the runoff.  (She got 41% without even the advantage of incumbency.)  Is Fullerton transplant Young Kim really a lock to get at least 33.34% herself?  Norby did get 58.8% in the 2012 primary and 48% in the general.  He knows that Democrats tend not to do as well in non-Presidential years.  Young Kim is fundraising well, but much of it comes from the Korean community, a well that she can’t dip into forever.

Could Norby really make it into a rematch in 2014?  I’d have thought that he wouldn’t even try.  And yet, that newsletter doesn’t sound like it was casually sent out just for the hell of it.

Something’s up — and I don’t think that it’s Young Kim’s chances of making her way into the general election.

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.)