If I Were Attending Tonight’s DPOC Meeting: Charleston and Santa Ana

pulido and raidIf I were attending tonight’s meeting of the Democratic Party of Orange County at 7:00 p.m. – which I won’t, despite being a voting member, because there seems little point in it – I would print up 75 copies of two resolutions and try to get 10 members to sign them as co-sponsors. One proposed resolution would deal with Charleston; the other with Santa Ana. I haven’t drafted either; there seemed little point to that, too. (Am I trying to goad those who in attendance to do it themselves? Probably not – although, if I were, I might not admit it openly.)

This “10/75” route is the way to getting a resolution onto the agenda without going through the Resolutions Committee, the membership of which, like that of all DPOC committees, is hand-picked by DPOC Chair Henry Vandermier. I’m told it has been almost entirely moribund over the past nine months – barely meeting, approving a pitifully small number of resolutions, none of which have been aimed at local (as opposed to statewide or national) issues. That’s what the Chair apparently wants, after the Committee’s being active and provocative in its outreach in 2012 and 2013, when it passed a number of resolutions supporting environmentalist and consumer-oriented ends that upset the conservative (and often Republican-leaning) Building Trades.

Contrary to what was happening in 2012-2013, which may turn out to have been the high-water mark in issue-based community outreach by the DPOC, the committee is apparently largely populated by people who don’t see passing and distributing resolutions addressing issues of concern to the local communities as having much of anything to do with party building. The committee’s Chair, the once defrocked but now apparently re-frocked (at least by OC standards) union leader Ray Cordova, has been hostile to progressive causes that are opposed by the Trades – and he’s effective at blocking them.

Admittedly, it would probably not be too difficult to get a resolution passed regarding the assassination and other murders at the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. A benign, uncontroversial, and mealy-mouthed resolution simply condemning bigotry and violence would not put anyone out. Nor would it really inspire anyone: that would be the sort of resolution that the OCGOP could also (and perhaps will!) pass – although for them it would require a slight recalibration of what those terms mean so that such an action wouldn’t offend any of their own Presidential candidates.

The resolution I’d propose would definitely put some people out – maybe even require some significant personal sacrifice, a price that minorities and their white sympathizers and collaborator in the South pay every day. (THAT is solidarity!)

I would call – 150 years after the Civil War ended even in Galveston, Texas on Juneteenth – for the complete extirpation of the traitorous but still widely tolerated Confederate Battle Flag from civic life. (Of course it’s not going to happen. One can still call for it.) Off of the flags, off of the grounds, off to the museums.

The resolution would express the hurt and anguish caused by the continued promotion of the South’s called “Lost Cause.” It would express outrage that the one flag that absolutely, without a doubt, DID represent active treason against the United States of America should be treated with official respect.

It would express the damage caused by the use of this flag – which was out of vogue for half a century until revived by the Ku Klux Klan a century or so ago to promote the cause of racism. (The South is, and has always been, filled with true greatness on these issues, just like greatness emerges in real battles in ways that it can only be imitated in sports.)

Orange County has been a collection of non-combatants in armchairs for the most part. We have plenty of traitorous Confederate sympathizers right in our own area; we should actively confront them. Then we’d be standing for something.

My resolution would do one more thing: it would recognize that individuals and corporations still do have the First Amendment right to possess and display the Confederate flag – but would pointedly note that the same First Amendment protects our right to burn that offensive rag. If neo-Confederates want to retaliate by burning our flag, then at least they’ll have shown the county their true colors.

What about the Santa Ana resolution? Well, it hasn’t been as much in the news, but for the DPOC to speak out on this one is even more important.

Santa Ana is Orange County’s sole Democratic Party-dominated city. (Others have a slight Democratic majority of registered voters or, at times, on their City Councils; only in Santa Ana do we dominate. So, a party that really wanted to connect with county voters would take on what has been happening with that city loudly, firmly, and bravely.

The actions of the Santa Ana police – raiding a cannabis dispensary, trying to destroy its videocameras, looting its safe, maligning its leaders with violent bigotry, and topping things off by sampling its wares while on duty – demand condemnation from the Democratic Party. (This would be true even if they hadn’t made the national news – which, of course, they did.) The DPOC should call for sweeping reform of the police culture and for a flat-out moratorium in enforcing laws against its local dispensaries.

And that’s not even the really disturbing part.

Stories in the OC Weekly and Voice of OC have accused Mayor of Santa Ana, Miguel Pulido, of fixing the lottery to create a relatively small number of sanctioned dispensaries and offering winning slots to those who donated money to favored causes (which in the case of Pulido included mailers opposing City Council candidates Michele Martinez and Roman Reyna, which is just about the best compliment that either could be given.)

It is apparently documented that some of those who were solicited for such donations made them – through, shockingly yet unsurprisingly, the California Homeowners Association PAT. This is the vicious pay-for-play outlet run by Republican slander-artist Dishonest Dave Gilliard (not to be confused with OC’s own Despicable Dave Ellis) that has been roundly beaten up in these pages over the past few years.

Three of the names featured in these stories are former DPOC Frank Barbaro, former DPOC Executive Director Melahat Rafiei, and “Business-Democratic” spokesogre George Urch. OJB won’t presume anything other than innocence on their part, but even such accusations require some sort of reply.

DPOC need not and should not conclude that these people have done anything wrong, but it can and should proclaim that the acts of which they are accused and completely inimical to the interests and beliefs of the Democratic Party. (And then we should make sure that that last statement is true.)

Whether or not Barbaro solicited bribes to fix the lottery results, and whether or not Rafiei became a front woman for people who were wrongfully trying to game the lottery system by putting in multiple bids for dispensary slots, these are the sorts of alleged activities that have tripped up urban Democrats in the past and the public is primed to believe them. (Local Republicans may help foster that perception – or they may be happy that reformist elements of the local party are at a low ebb, and at any rate they don’t need to do a whole lot better in this county then they are doing now.)

These sorts of charges should lead to an absolute RED ALERT among members of the local political party – and we should explain how we find them intolerable and what we expect to do about them.

What sort of civil leaders look at the decriminalization of medical marijuana in their city and don’t ask the question “how can we do this right?” but “how can we, personally, make money off of it?” One that their local Democratic party should condemn, that’s who. And we should be prepared to offer that condemnation regardless of who did it and we should demand action from our Republican District Attorney (who retains close friendships with many of these same Democrats) – or, better yet, who could come in from outside and do to Orange County what was once done to Charleston and the rest of the South. We could certainly use our share of Reconstruction.

I’d have liked, honestly, to raise these concerns with the DPOC tonight, but the local rules have been changed so that you can’t make this sort of speech to the membership, but can only announce events. If a majority does not agree to discuss such items, as is likely, then they can’t be discussed at all. With the lack of an open forum giving an opportunity to hash out our own problems, there’s no real “party” to speak of – only a “party line.”

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go 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.)