The Pringle Curse: Gustavo reminds us yet again of “the alliance that sealed Anaheim’s current political hell”




Pringle and Arellano

Curt Pringle, at left, and the guy who just put him in OC’s Hall of Infame.


The overdue induction of Curt Pringle in the OC Weekly’s “Scariest People in OC Hall of Fame” bears the trademark style of its “equal opportunity critic” editor. Gustavo Arellano’s criticism of the role played by Anaheim Latino leaders in Pringle’s career is rejected by many, especially by Latinos including myself, as the context and perspective of this alliance are not fully considered.

This LA Times report and the linked OCW article underlined below provide some background:

“The Republican, who 14 years ago was dogged by controversy when the local GOP stationed guards at polling places in Latino neighborhoods to block suspected illegal immigrants from voting, stood shoulder to shoulder with Latino activists who once scorned him. Together, they advocated on behalf of Mexico-based Gigante, a supermarket trying to open in Anaheim amid resistance from city planners”

The supermarket had become a rallying point for Latinos, as the city resistance was perceived as being based on ethnic grounds: that it was too Hispanic. This perception overshadowed other considerations such as having another store with a liquor license in a saturated area or the supermarket’s impact on the business done by neighboring small groceries.

Pringle’s apparent conversion, from posting guards at the polling station to embracing the establishment of a Hispanic supermarket, was indeed stunning. But at the end of the day it was clear that Pringle had gone through no transformation. It was just a cunning development into what he would become: a greedy and unscrupulous politician. His posture deceived the Latino leaders and their support facilitated his election.

But by then, he already had accumulated substantial power anyway. His time in the State Assembly had laid the basis of his empire. The prestige of having been a powerful figure in the State Assembly had made him a strong candidate for Mayor. Another angle to consider was the role played by the Democrats on the city council. Someone close to then-Councilwoman Lorri Galloway at that time has observed that they were too involved on other issues, which kept them from questioning Pringle’s maneuvers to make the city an extension of his empire.

The omission in Gustavo’s narrative, any consideration of what viable alternative Latino leaders had to an alliance with Pringle, makes his interpretation appear as a personal grudge rather than a serious analysis. His opposition to the Gigante supermarket has colored his interpretation of an entire period of Latino politics. The bottom line is that at that time the alliance made sense, as no feasible alternative existed other than becoming an even more marginalized movement. Gustavo’s obsession with presenting an incomplete picture has had practical implications in the struggle to transform our city.

Gustavo has put himself in the odd position of opposing the most substantial change needed, apparently because of who proposed it. The district-based electoral system could change the structure of power, benefiting greater sections of the community. This change was brought forward largely by the very Latino leaders deceived by Pringle and his political machine. Gustavo’s strong opposition to this change for a time made me wonder whether his trademark accusation of “vendidos” had been reversed. His obsession against the current president of Los Amigos is in the same vein. Dr Moreno may run again for the city council, and criticism based on personal grudges will once again not help.

It is time to say to Gustavo: ¡No manches! Live up to the expectations of the young Latinos from Anaheim, Santa Ana, from all over Orange County who look you up as their political mentor. It is time to move forward united. It is time to stop the Pringle curse!

Related posts here and here and here.

About Ricardo Toro

Anaheim resident for several decades. In addition to political blogging, another area of interest is providing habitats for the Monarch butterfly.