Who’ll be the Next Loretta? Complete Report from the first CA-46 Debate!

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Correa, Brandman, Nguyen, Dunn.  None of my usual photoshop co-conspirators would put Loretta-style dresses on them, due to concerns that in the wake of  Jordan and Bao both coming out as gay, it would come off as homophobic.  Sillly worry-worts, everyone knows gay men don't wear dresses!

Correa, Brandman, Nguyen, Dunn. None of my usual photoshop co-conspirators would put Loretta-style dresses on them, over concern that in the wake of Jordan and Bao both coming out as gay, it might seem homophobic. Sillly worry-warts, everyone knows gay men don’t wear dresses!

TAKEAWAY, 3 PM

Most questions asked at today’s debate were a predictable liberal checklist which got nearly the same response from all four candidates, with varying amounts of pablum.  One question that divided the panel by age (which I’ve seen before on this issue) was legalization of marijuana, with the two young men enthused and the two middle-aged gentlemen fretful.  Jordan immediately shot out, “It’s time to legalize!”  Which was a bit of a surprise as he had led the charge to close down Anaheim dispensaries just a few months ago!  Is “coming out” causing him to evolve quickly on EVERYTHING?  Bao also backed legalization but wanted to make sure pot is REGULATED in a responsible way and said we should study the experiences of Colorado, Washington and our own state when we do that.

Lou really seems traumatized by childhood memories of the devastation heroin wreaked in his community (which of course has nothing to do with marijuana) and also DISGUSTED by the sight of people getting “drunk and stoned” to this day.  Loath to give an answer he knew most in the audience would disagree with, he is nevertheless obviously opposed to legalization.  Joe actually seemed pained as well, saying as opposed as he is to marijuana personally, it’s an evolving and generational thing, legalization is inevitable, we need to let each generation sort out what is right for itself, and the best we can do is make sure it’s legalized with the proper safeguards.

correa senatorAside from that, Lou Correa regularly went back to memories of his hardscrabble youth in working-class Latino Anaheim.  He (and Bao) are the ones that will NEVER FORGET WHERE THEY CAME FROM, and want to make sure everyone can experience the “American Dream” like they have.  Lou gets most emotional talking about the need for comprehensive immigration reform.  But on many issues, his record in the legislature – for those of us who remember it – belies his stated positions.  He said he would support the single-payer healthcare bill HR 676, but many of us CLEARLY REMEMBER him being instrumental in KILLING single-payer in the state senate, at the behest of his insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital contributors, SEVERAL times.  He also joined with the others in expressing opposition to private prisons, but the tough law-and-order measures he habitually backed helped fill those hellholes.

brandmanJordan Brandman kept returning in a disciplined way to his two stated main themes of “a fairer tax code for working families and small businesses,” and a better more affordable EDUCATION for all Americans.  But as I asked below, how can anyone expect that first half to be true after his record in Anaheim, giving tax relief mainly to the largest corporations and apparently believing in trickle-down theory?  He also drew hoots of disbelief when stating he was proud of how Anaheim is dealing with the HOMELESS issue:  the police harassment of the homeless, directed by Council, has been the fodder of recent news stories;  and it was Jordan personally who put the kibosh on a homeless shelter at the “Karcher property” which could have been ready by this winter – apparently because someone he knew wants to make a big sports complex there – and instead distracted the county’s attention to a site far away on Kraemer Place which wouldn’t be ready for two years if it ever happens.

Bao-NguyenThe young and trilingual Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen read from notes for many of his answers – notes prepared I assume for questions that could be reasonably expected.  Like Lou, he repeatedly went back to his own difficult-childhood story, as a Vietnamese refugee;  and he frequently  compared the freedoms we have here to the lack of such freedoms in his father’s Vietnam.  Bao was probably the one who spoke most about “reforming” Washington so that it answers to “people rather than corporations.”  Interestingly, what seemed to get him the most emotional was his outrage over none of 2008’s financial criminals ever having been brought to justice.

dunnJoe Dunn was the most formidable, with his record going back nearly two decades fighting – both in and out of government – for exactly the things he was being questioned on.  Unlike Lou or Jordan, there was nothing in his record to contradict what his stated positions were.  (That I know of!  If I’m wrong, please write in.)  He said he would back single-payer healthcare, and in stark contrast to Lou, he actually was someone we could count on on that issue when he was in Sacramento.  When financial malfeasance came up, he was able to boast of his investigations into Enron.  When government violations of privacy came up, he was able to boast of some other investigations he’d done in 2003 on that subject (I missed the details.)  And on and on.  He dropped a hint that his falling-out with the California Bar Association had something to do with his tireless advocacy for immigrants.  He is easily the most qualified candidate and I hope he can overcome his shocking lack of ethnicity.  I’ll be interviewing him soon.

Initial thoughts, before debate (10:30 am)

I’m telling you, the atmosphere here is electric, the excitement literally palpable.  The cognescenti and the nescient, the rebels and the bought-and-paid-for.  We are reporting live from the first debate for the 46th Congressional race, at the LULAC office in Garden Grove, and you can keep coming back here from now (11) till 1 to see who says WHAT memorable.

How hard-hitting will the questions be, in a debate hosted by LULAC’s Benny Diaz, last seen assuring the OCWD that hispanics love Poseidon, and moderated by “godfather” Ray Cordoba, hailing from a reactionary offshoot of the Teamsters?

Will Lou or Jordan, with their records of endorsing and sharing positions with the more corrupt OC Republicans on controversial local issues, convince the crowd that electing them would be electing a Democrat?  (Probably.)   Will these two Poseidon supporters and recipients of Poseidon money be able to convince anyone that 1. they have a sense of fiscal responsibility, 2. they care about the environment, and 3. their votes are not for sale?  Probably.

Jordan responded yesterday to Chumley’s question of his top priority as making “our tax code fairer to working families and small businesses,” but how credible is that pledge given his record in Anaheim which prioritized giving into the tax demands of the largest corporations, and suggests a Republican belief in trickle-down economics.  Will he be able to convince Democrats that he won’t behave exactly the same way in Washington toward the even bigger special interests there?

The Poseidon issue really throws Bao into relief against these two conservaDems, as Bao has led the charge in Garden Grove to defeat the boondoggle, showing that 1. he does have a sense of mathematics and fiscal responsibility;  2. he does value the environment particularly our shoreline, and 3.  he’s not afraid to cross powerful economic interests who could easily either back all his ambitions or attack him ferociously.  But only being Mayor less than a year and then crowing about “going national” as though he’s some hit musical?  Whether he succeeds or not, he is going to leave his hometown back in the corrupt mess he found it in, with Mayor Phat Bui taking the place of old Broadwater.

Bao seemed like the progressive alternative to Lou and Jordan, until old-timer Joe Dunn jumped in, with his epic record fighting for the people in and out of government.  We haven’t seen much life from his campaign yet.  But then I know, the election’s a year off and the primary eight months, despite what you might feel from your TV.  And now that Joe’s started his fundraising it is coming in fast and furious.  How does a progressive choose between Bao and Joe?  Maybe this debate will help us decide.

Well, it’s TIIIIME..

11:00 AM Live-Blog!

LOU leads the Pledge, as he does in funding so far.  His opening statement decries today’s badly-paying jobs and expensive education.

JOE decries “economic unfairness.”  We HAVE to be able to say to our kids that we’re gonna leave things better, leave them an American Dream.  He has a proven track record of figthing for the community, for all of us.  Together we’ll do it.

BAO says we need reform in Washington, a government that puts the people’s interesets above corporations.  Tells his background.  Wants a gov’t that listens – wants to reform gov’t and put it back on side of people.

JORDAN says he is a “principled, proven advocate.”  Wants a “tax code FAIRER” for working families, and also reform education system.  We are falling behind the world.  Those seem to be his two main issues.

QUESTION 1:  would you defend 14th amendment’s provision known to haters as the “anchor baby” clause?  My what a softball.  Would anyone here answer no?  Forgive me if I drift off during this set of answers.  They all go beyond saying “yes” to expressing impatience for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship.

QUESTION 2:  Position on climate change and what is your plan for energy in coming decades?

Joe – no debate on anthropogenic climate change.  More renewable energy sources.  Bao speaks similarly, ridiculing “tea-party extremists who think they’re smarter than 97% of scientists.”  Brings up the “environmental racism” argument that bad environment affects poor people and people of color more than others>  Jordan also enthused:  “America, we can do this!”  Lou:  talks about concrete steps.  Hydrogen stations for Toyotas, solar farms in desert.  Brings up connection to national security.

 QUESTION 3:  Increasing minimum wage.

Bao – Income inequality is moral issue.  We have more wealth than any time in history, and also more child poverty.  RAISE the m-f-.  Taxes back to 90’s rates.  Jordan – in favor of increasing.  Tragic that GOP won’t allow vote on it.  Lou – when he takes his daughter to school he sees so many poor and hard-working parents.  And yes.  SHouldn’t be partisan, is about justice.  Dunn – YES but problem is greater.  Also improve pathways to better middle-class jobs – he means lowering the cost of education, making joining unions easier.

When will there be a question these fellows disagree on?

QUESTION 4:  our policy in Middle East

Jordan – we need a smart policy, and Obama has been perfect.  Iran deal good.  Lou – “there can be no war without egypt and no peace without Syria” – Kissinger.  Huh?  Wantso to keep our boys and girls out of harms’ way.  Still must be strong.  Stand with Israel and other allies.  Dunn – Middle East very complicated – quotes Teddy:  “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”  We have a role, but only military when absolutely necessary, and with allies.  Bao – As a refugee understands cost of war.  Diplomacy is key.  SUPPORTS TWO-STATE SOLUTION in Israel.  (A SLIGHT rebuke to Lou’s “stand with Israel?”)

QUESTION 5:  How to remedy school to prison pipeline?  Good let’s hear Lou.

Lou – too many prisoners are being let out with mental and drug issues without “wraparound issues,” become threats to society.  Joe – agrees that drug addiction and mental illness are problems.  But economic unfairness is at the root!  Black and latino kids in poor neighborhoods do not have the opportunities of white kids in Newport.  Bao – complex issue.  Prisons overcrowded.  Concern for reform crosses party lines.  (Yeah, if you count rand Paul and one or two others.)  MINIMUM SENTENCES BIG PROBLEM.  Right on.  Jordan agrees on the minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders.  He talks about their “INCREDIBLE MENTAL ILLNESS” – the first strange phrase today.  These problems start in education, in investing in our classrooms (back to his favorite topic, good.)

QUESTION 6: How avoid another bank bailout

Joe able to brag about leading investigation into Enron’s financial shenanigans.  Put up firewalls between investing class and auditing class.  Learned hard lesson investigating Enron, and brought them down.  Bao – NEVER FORGET 2008.  Never again put ourselves in the position where large institutions can do incredible harm to our eonomy.  Strentghten Dodd-Frank, more oversight.  Gets emotional about there being no punishment to financial crooks.  Jordan – keep dodd_Frank (different from stregthening I guess)  Re-ENACT GLASS STEAGAL!  That’s good.  Lou – Enron happened because energy had been regreattbly deregulated in a bipartisan way.  He authored a bill separating auditing from bookkeeping.

QUESTION 7:  Fair trade, how keep jobs in US?

Bao – strengthen unions.  Jordan – in favor of fair trade as long as it’s fair.  Bao said something like that too.  Follows Hillary’s (recent) lead in criticizing TPP.  Proud of record in ANaheim expanding opportunities – ha – I would argue with that.  Lou – Glad you said “fair trade” (presumably as opposed to “free trade”)  Look at NAFTA – undone – immigration, env. standards, labor rights.  Joe – it needs to be fair to Americans because we are consumer-based.  Only way to increase prosperity with jobs for middle class.  ANY TRADE AGREEMENT that provides a pathway to take jobs away from here – NO!!!!

QUESTION 8:  legalize marijuana?

Jordan:  TIME TO LEGALIZE.  (That is new, from the bane of Anaheim dispensaries!)  Lou – tells horrible stories of heroin in his old neighborhood.  Has not taken position yet on recent legalization measures.  HAS GRAVE CONCERNS when he sees everyone getting drunk and stoned, LO:L.  Joe – Every generation needs to make its own rules.  Can’t hold his kids to his standards.  It’s an evolving issue.  Seems kind of resigned to it happening.  Bao – FOR LEGALIZATION but how do we regulate?  Look at Colorado, Washington, and California.

QUESTION 9:  In favor of Supreme Court’s striking down of Voting Rights Act or an important section of it.  Another softball from the NAACP guy.  Questions 1 and 9 might have been challenging to Republican candidates but there’s no suspense on how these four will answer.

QUESTION 10:  What concrete steps can be taken to improve immigration situation?

Joe… I missed.  Bao – need pathway to citizenship.  Will keep social security afloat among other things.  Jordan – passed in Anaheim CC a resolution for comprehensive i.r. (so did Bao for that matter)  Lou – we talk about Republicans but sadly a lot of Democrats don’t “stand with us”  – decries Trump’s rhetoric – nobody’s putting this front and ccenter on national scene, from either party.  Getting emortional.  Sounding like Luis Gutierrez.  Yay.

QUESTION 11:  Solutions for homeless?

Bao – real OC issue, we haven’t begun to coordinate different resources properly.  Jordan has the gall to say he’s proud of the Kraemer plan in ANaheim.  We could go on about that, I’m sure we will.  jordan was the driving force behind sabotaging the “Karcher plan”, which would have happened 8 times quicker –  apparently for a sports complex he wants.  Lou – we gotta do something.  But for the grace of God there go I.  Integrate them into communities, not just warehouse them.  “Wraparound services.”  Joe – chaired Housing Committee.  They are all very humane and caring.

QUESTION 12:  Continue Loretta’s support HR 676, Conyers’ single-payer bill, or “improved Medicare for All?”

Jordan doesn’t know what it is, Dr. Bill answers, Jordan says yes.  Lou also says yes.  WHAT WHAT WHAT?  This dude KILLED single-payer in Califronia more than once, and has been the insurance industry’s best friend.   Joe can truthfully say, and does, that he ALWAYS supported single-payer.  I remember that well, I was in that struggle.  Joe we could count on, Lou we couldn’t.  If he’s changed his mind, great, but to me his record on this is a big weakness.   Bao:  Obamacare has been great, HR 676 will be one more important step forward.

QUESTION 13:  Privacy concerns after Patriot Act etc

Lou threads needle, privacy and security both essential, judges can help.  Joe proud to have been in the Rolling Stone in 2003 for another investigation – this one having to do with violations of privacy (but I missed the details.)  Working on this very issue with Chemerinsky at UCI right now.   Bao brings up the lack of privacy in Vietnam.  gov’t must be transparent.  Jordan – will always advocate for freedom and the COnstitution.  POlicies in wake of 9-11 must be reformed.  We can do that while staying secure.

PUBLIC QUESTION 1:  End private prison system?  (probably Paul Lucas)

JOE:  YES!  And that’s not just campaign rhetoric, he has been speaking out against it a long time.  prisons should be run by the people and their government.  Bao – profit in imprisonment is wrong.  Happens especially to undocumented immigrants.  Jordan – have to end it, it’s in the way of prison reform in general.  Lou – Close em down, spend money instead on diversion programs… and he really likes “wraparound.”  I thought that was some kinda trendy sunglasses.

PUBLIC QUESTION 2:   Palestine!

Bao – 2-state solution!  Jordan – Ditto.  Lou – All lives are precious.  The bloodshed breaks his heart.  Must create incentives to bring people together at “table.”  Folks there have to want peace though.  Joe says “like all the others here, I support a 2-state solution”… although I didn’t hear Lou actually say that.

PUBLIC QUESTION 3:  How diminish gun violence?

Jordan – re-enact laws that have been allowed to expire, including assault weapons ban.  Lou – memories of violence in Santa Ana and Anaheim.  Support “reasonable” gun safety laws, keep em away from mentally ill.  Supported various reasonable measures in Sacramento.  Joe – this is another question that has driven him crazy for a while.  Raised in hunting family, doesn’t hate guns.  WAS STRONGEST FOE OF NRA (and also tobacco industry) in Sacramento.  These industries just want profit and have no value for life.  Bring down NRA in courtrooms like we did with tobacco.  Bao understands 2nd amendment.  Let us not get jaded by what we see on TV.  Close gun show loophole.  Background chekcs.  Ban assault weapons.  Mental health care beginning in school.

CLOSERS.  Will only note if they say anything notable.

Jordan emphasizes education, affordable and quality.  Bao – reform Washington so it serves citizens, not corporations and lobbyists.  Jobs.  Education.  Stop mass incarceration.  Compr. imm. reform.

Joe – rightfully boasts of record of fighting for us in Sacramento.  And STARTS TO THROW OUT HINTS of how he crossed the medical and legal orgs he’s worked for since – fought for affordable health care and for immigrants.  “The California State Bar didn’t like that, to be honest.”  Lou talks about his humble beginnings and the American Dream.  Fought for central OC in the leg, never forgets where he came from.  I don’t have all the answers, but together we can come up with solutions.


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.