Bao Nguyen, A New Hope: Part One.




On Tuesday night, December 9th, 2014, Garden Grove said farewell to Bruce Broadwater.  For some residents this was a somber occasion with respectful accomplishment-timeline speeches, emotional goodbyes and a standing ovation.  For many others, like myself, it was a celebration.  The 76-year-old Broadwater has been our own Darth Vader, with our city manager, Matt Fertal, playing the role of the Emperor. Yes, we have a Rebel Alliance.

Well, neither Broadwater nor Fertal will be around in 2015.  After twenty years’ worth of elections, it was Bao Nguyen that launched a Proton campaign and destroyed the Death Star.  Despite a long list financial backers, a real who’s who list of developers and other city contract holders that backed Broadwater’s campaign, he was taken out of office by the young Jedi, Bao Nguyen, on his first run for a council position.

This is a classic story of the underdog facing a long-running, seemingly untouchable career politician who had a death grip over any opponents daring to challenge him for control of our galaxy.  It was a tight race, as close as they come, with only 15 votes deciding the winner.  Broadwater chose to challenge the outcome of the votes with a recount, but it was soon called off after no changes to the voting results were found.  It’s unclear who requested the recall – Broadwater had said he shouldn’t even have run again, and appeared to have felt beaten up enough this past year.

He took a beating, much of it from myself, over the controversies regarding the Garden Grove Fire Department’s leadership and the hiring of his son, Jeremy Broadwater.  JB was hired over 499 other candidates to the GG Fire Department.  Broadwater denies having had anything to do with the hiring of his son.  Yes, he expected us to swallow that pill!  Does anyone really believe that Jeremy Broadwater was the cream of the crop, the best candidate for the position, over everyone else?  No, he was the mayor’s son. 

Our recently resigned yet promoted Fire Chief, David Barlag, who is now our city’s first Safety Administrator, is the one who hired Jeremy Broadwater.  It appears Barlag was approached by Mayor Broadwater a while back, who wanted to make sure the next fire chief would get his son a job on the fire department, regardless of his background and qualifications.  Barlag agreed and was given the conditional Fire Chief position.

Soon after, all hell broke loose when Jeremy’s performance turned out to be severely under par, but his position was protected as long as his dad was pulling strings in the city.  So now we’re all waiting to see what happens with Jeremy at his new desk job at the Fire Department.  Will he last without Barlag, Fertal and his dad securing his position?  Time will tell.

Sign of the times, fall 2014.

Revolt of the East

An interesting aspect of the recall was the first zone chosen for recount – the far east side of the city, near Garden Grove Hospital.  I find that telling, as this was the very same neighborhood that had been deemed blighted, the whole area, just a few years ago.  Broadwater and friends had been trying to build a theme park here, less than 2 miles from Disneyland, the most famous theme park in the world. 

The first huge meeting to save our East Side neighborhoods, which got me involved in local politics.

That didn’t work out, but it did light a fire on the east side of town.  Soon neighbors that had never spoken with each other had united in a grassroots movement to save their neighborhood.  Anyone that didn’t already know the name Broadwater soon associated it with the bulldozers.  My mother lives in this neighborhood.  I lived there for a few years and many of my close friends still do.  I’ve still got fond memories of skating at the Slime Pit and trolling the City Mall. 

Well, rule number one is you don’t mess with mama. When I learned of the threat to remove her and my friends from their homes I got involved in local politics. I started getting involved with community activists that were not afraid to fight city hall.  This was a mixed group representing all ages, races and genders, united by their shared neighborhood.

No more lovely sunsets from my mom’s neighborhood, with this monstrosity going up!

So, Broadwater’s camp thought that they should start their recall effort here on the east side.  Maybe they thought that these folks, with a lower annual income on average than the west side, would be more likely to commit voter fraud.  Maybe they chose it because they felt that both central and west Garden Grove are where where his core supporters live.  One can only speculate. 

Regardless, it backfired.  Not one vote was found to be fraudulent.  There were no dead people voting.  No funny business here.  These were simply people who remembered that it was Broadwater who tried to take their homes away.  Once again, united, the east side Garden Grove residents defied and beat Bruce Broadwater!

My girlfriend Cathy trying in vain to convince old Mayor Broadwater that tats are not the root of all evil – over non-alcoholic drinks of course!

Next:  Highlights of the December 9 meeting.

About Josh McIntosh

Our man in Garden Grove.