Thankful for a Cornucopia of Victories This Year!

Cornucopia 2013

Clockwise within gourd from right: Ackerman, Jalali’s building, HB fire pits, partially obscured gourd, grapes, Rackauckas, some reddish vegetable.

This Thanksgiving, The Orange Juice Blog is grateful for several victories great and small the people of Orange County have been fighting for, with this blog at the forefront (in most cases.)   To wit, and maybe you’ll help us think of things to add:

Free at last!

  • We’re grateful that, in the slow, two-steps-forward-one-step-back progress toward civil rights for pot smokers, patients AND property owners, the Federal government has backed off their tyrannical insistence on seizing the buildings of landlords including Tony Jalali whose only offense was to rent out space to state-law-abiding medical marijuana dispensaries.   The Weekly‘s Nick Schou had been writing about this case from the start, but we can’t help but note that the victory came soon after we wrote OUR masterpiece on the topic Inquisitor-like US Attorney Steve Welk must surely feel that the rug was pulled out from under him, as it wasn’t long ago he was boasting to have some unnamed “hidden weapon” he’d planned to use against Jalali as he explained his refusal to shake the hand of Tony’s excellent attorney Matt Pappas.

“…when they pry them from our cold dead hands…”

  • It was the HB Independent‘s Chris Epting who rang the alarm from the beginning when a cadre of arrogant bureaucrats at the helm of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, at the urging of a tiny group of spoiled wealthy Newport beachdwellers, tried to remove the fire rings from all beaches from LA to San Clemente;  we piled on with this grand screed.  The mass uprising that developed against this BS was invigorating and successful, uniting left to right, politicians and surfers.  Chris is worried now because the SCAQMD is funding a study on the use of propane lines on beaches, which seems to be their obsession;  I suspect they’re just doing what corrupt bureaucrats love to do and funneling some of the public money they’ve got access to at some cronies with propane interests.  We’ve won this thing for good, I’m pretty sure… but Chris is right, you can’t turn your back on these bastids.

  • We’re thankful today, as well, for the people’s triumph at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals against our dictatorial DA, in the landmark Vasquez v. Rackauckas.  This victory declares the grossly unfair gang injunction against the Orange Varrio Cypress neighborhood as unconstitutional as it seemed from the start;  this case has been watched closely by law enforcement all over California as they decide whether to continue to use this problematic “tool” against our working-class brown and black people.  We’ve been working on a huge piece about this case for a while;  it should be done this weekend, but one thing it will show is that this particular injunction had nothing to do with public safety or crime, but everything to do with clearing out the old working-class neighborhood for Chapman University‘s expansion toward the train station.  The best writing about this is Daffodil Altan’s 2009 report from the beginning of the case, and the Voice‘s coverage of T-Rack‘s faceplant.

  • Let’s go back to February, when it was time for the Board of Supervisors to choose a new Clerk-Recorder to take the place of Tom Daly who’d won a seat (grrrr) in the Assembly.  Having, for years, followed the criminality of “Judas of the Fairgrounds” Dick Ackerman, the assclownery of Harry Sidhu, the  incorrigible career politicianness of both those gentlemen AND Chris Norby, the enablement of Daly-Brandman-Barbre corruption by Daly’s deputy Renee Ramirez, and having for a similarly long time admired the unambitious, apolitical competence of Hieu Nguyen, we couldn’t abide the thought of Hieu getting beat by any of those other losers.  Se we wrote this analysis and followed up by lobbying three of the five supervisors on Hieu’s behalf;  the daylong decision process, which we live-blogged here, was a triumph for Hieu for which we are not only thankful but claim some credit!

  • We are also thankful this holiday season for the so-far quiet presence of our welcome guests from the FBI who are here doing some much-needed investigations into this county’s legendary political corruption.  We are sure that it won’t be long before we start hearing some results and indictments, and we will be astonished if those do not include some of the endlessly shady activities of Curt Pringle and his circle.  We also strongly suspect that it’s thanks to the G-men’s presence and influence that we are FINALLY – after four years – seeing what looks like a serious investigation into the Great Fairgrounds Swindle – the largest land heist attempted in California history – from our DA’s generally moribund political corruption unit.

  • We give thanks on this special day for two legal developments in the lives of Assemblywoman, BOE candidate, and “South County’s Rabid Wolverine” Diane Harkey and her hinky hubby Dan – they’ve been ordered to pay $11 million in their Elderly Financial Abuse case; and meanwhile Diane has given up on her own $11 million frivolous lawsuit against BOE rival Mark Wyland for having the temerity to bring the case up.  We are going to be having A LOT MORE about this in the next week or so, as I’ve been getting importuned by some of the Harkey’s victims, as the crooked couple attempt to use bankruptcy to avoid paying out.

  • Furthermore we are grateful that it’s been sixteen months since any young men were fatally shot by Anaheim police – from the way it was looking last year, that’s kind of remarkable!  We credit the citizens’ activism there, the terrible publicity the city was suffering, and the passing of the torch from hands-off Chief Welter and his brutal deputy Craig Hunter, to the accessible (apparent) reformers Quezada and Harvey.  Hey – when are they gonna make Raul permanent Chief already?

And just for us Juicers who are progressives… or anyone else who agrees

  • Most of us at this blog have been pretty supportive of our governor Jerry “Gandalf” Brown and his temporary tax plan;  as well as Obamacare as a ghetto-rigged but hopefully temporary step toward Single Payer, which will in any case save a lot of lives and money.  So today we can also give thanks for the Golden State’s glorious balanced budget AND the fact that OUR state’s version of Obamacare, “Covered California,” is well on track for enrollments and enjoying a good ratio of young “invincibles!”  Bill Maher spikes the football for out great state: (Carl, hit mute from 3:56 to 4:01)

I won’t say anything about this month’s filibuster reform, which I know still has some of our friends upset…

And the Orange Juice lives to fight another day on these biggies:

Greg wanted me to include two of this blog’s greatest fights, but I say we can’t credibly celebrate victory yet on either of them, both of which we’ve managed to delay for a while.  I said, “Greg, if we claim victory NOW, we won’t be able to LATER when we really win:

  • Our ongoing struggle against Toll Lanes on the 405 could just as well be characterized as the OCTA staff’s struggle to PUT toll lanes on the 405, given the popular outrage they face over the scam.  This blog can claim credit for being at the forefront of this fight, and we’ve got a couple more tricks up our sleeves to stop this from happening.  It looks like December 9, they’re planning to once again settle on the completely unsatisfactory compromise option Alternative 1, and both sides live to fight next year while at least getting construction started – EXACTLY where we were a year ago.  But wait!  I thought there was a gun to our head, if we didn’t quickly toll ourselves, we’d be in violation of Federal law and big scary Caltrans would come in and toll us and take the money to Sacramento.  Yeah… I knew that was bullshit.  (Oh, and it’s a great development that the honest Tom Tait has taken the place of brainless Pringle puppet Gail Eastman on the board.)  Everyone show up Dec 9 no matter what, your local freeway will be next if this happens to the 405!

  • Sure, we can think of this big delay we’ve won over Poseidon’s unnecessary, wasteful, and destructive desal project as a temporary victory, let’s just quote the Coastkeeper on it:

…Completing the studies requested, re-applying for a permit and resubmitting their project will take at least a year (most likely two years) and millions of dollars. Poseidon investors may decide to pull the plug. This really was the best victory we could achieve given all the politics we were fighting.

We still have work to do, and will be keeping a watchful eye on Poseidon. Again, we thank you for helping us stop this project today, and we will count on you to stop this project again if/when Poseidon makes another attempt at it. We will be sure to keep you informed.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Orange Juice!

A Luta Continua!

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official political troubadour of Anaheim and most other OC towns. Regularly makes solo performances, sometimes with his savage-jazz band The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.