Shaw and Chaffee Square off for Society of Shills




Take a look at this flyer below. Click on it for more detail. I just want you to see what I went through to get you this story.  The Orange County Public Affairs Association, at the Alta Vista Country Club, for Christ’s sake.  Jill Kanzler!  Matt Cunningham!  Lucy Dunn!  Kris Murray!  I have a proud history of not mingling with these folks at these events.  But I knew I had to hear 4th District Supervisor candidates Tim Shaw and Doug Chaffee in their native element.  I even ponied up the sixty bucks, which is more than this blog makes in Google Ads some months.  You’re welcome.

I’ll give them this at least:  They didn’t try to stop me from videotaping, so these two are on record (Sorry that I missed Doug’s opening statement; basically he believes in good government and quality of life.)  The most they did to mess with my videotaping was to serve lunch at the same time, which is why these two videos are better LISTENED TO than WATCHED.  Console yourselves, friends, that the two contenders are not much to look at.  (Tim does NOT take photos with his glasses on, although I’ve tried to convince him that WITH spectacles he looks like a serious but likable wonk; WITHOUT, more like a garden gnome.)

So much in common…

As my new friend Jordan Graham of The Register pointed out, it was often hard to discern much difference between the two gentlemen – especially on matters that actually fall in the wheelhouse of the Board of Supervisors, but on other things as well.  A few examples:

  • They both bitch about how much money the state is wasting on “the bullet train” and all the great things that could be done with that money instead … but there’s nothing they could actually do as Supervisors to stop that boondoggle OR re-direct the funds, so it was pretty much sound and fury.
  • On homelessness, they both look forward eagerly to helping implement AB 448, the recently passed bill enabling an OC Housing Trust Fund.  They also boasted how far their cities have come in almost getting a start nearly satisfying Judge Carter‘s demands for shelter beds – which is not far at all, thanks in great part to these men’s foot-dragging NIMBY-pleasing votes. 
  • And they both agree that way too much county money is being wasted on the Dana Point Harbor (hello Zenger) and more generally on the rich spoiled greedy South County.  I imagine that is a traditional Northern song of lament, much like this one:

The few Democrats who were there chewed me out over my last Chaffee piece, in which I tore him several new ones.  “You’re just helping Tim Shaw,” they snapped, “and he is just the errand boy of Bob Huff, and HE has been the most terrible privatizer and outsourcer in the County!”  And then they turned away from me at a slight angle, radiating coldness at me from their right shoulder and clucking their tongue.  Well, since I’ve already criticized Doug plenty, let me start here with:

Things that make me (almost) prefer Doug to Tim.

  • Outsourcing: Tim as a garden-variety Republican speaks of that as a magic bullet, guaranteed to be cheaper and more efficient (“LEAN and MEAN,” LOL.)  In Republican circles this is an unquestioned truism, although of course it’s bullshit as Righeimer’s Costa Mesa has shown – it’s more a pretext for profiteering and graft.  I agree with Doug’s appreciation of, and attention he pays to, public workers, which he emphasized several times and is also borne out in his record.  (I was reminded of what my mentor Gus Ayer told me about Bushala and his short-lived 2012 revolution right before Gus died:  “I love most of what Tony and Travis are doing up there, but they need to spend more time visiting their city employees at work, talking to them, and seeing what they actually do and how they do it – then they’ll be less eager to farm that work out to outsiders with no connection to the city.”)
  • We want CHANGE in our current dismal Board of Supervisors, even if just a little?  When asked if he had any criticisms of them, Tim responded with a witticism:  “You’re asking me, ‘Tim, please criticize the people who support you!'”, to much laughter from the crowd.  He could only come up with two quibbles – they bicker with each other too much, and too publicly.  (Hey, I think that’s the only thing they do good!)  And “the homeless on the riverbed was not our finest hour.”  For a second I thought he might have been admitting that, pushed mainly by Spitzer, they threw the homeless off way too quickly with nowhere for them to go.  But no, he was saying that “it should never have gotten that out of hand” – i.e., they shoulda been thrown off years ago.
  • Doug, conversely, asked “How much time do I have?” – also to crowd laughter.  He went on to ding the Board for their constant abuse and unappreciation of county workers, wants an end to “top-down investigations that never go anywhere,” and promises greater access and “an open door.”
  • One point Doug made that I liked was that he is 70 fucking years old, has no ambitions for higher office, and being a good Supervisor would be the apex of his career.  How long has it been since we had a Supervisor who could say that?  That building in Santa Ana is nothing but a glorified springboard.  Three of our current state Senators were nurtured in, and flopped up out of, that fifth-floor spawning pool.  And it’s currently occupied by time-serving strivers for Congress and DA.  Does anyone think young Shaw, having been kept down so long, by cruel circumstances, his light covered by a bushel in La Habra, would be any exception to this rule?

No criticisms of THIS bunch coming from Tim!

  • It would be nice to have ONE Supervisor who supports our Sanctuary State law, SB-54.  They say that Doug shone at the Fullerton SB54-bashing council meeting, in defense of our Sanctuary State law, and effectively quashed that xenophobic move in his town.  On the other hand Shaw, like all the Republican BOS incumbents, unquestioningly accepts the canard that SB-54 unsafely ties law enforcement’s hands.  (Really a pretend article of faith that allows the GOP to keep Mexican haters loyal to the party.)  UPDATE:  Tim tells me he “understands the arguments of both sides” but doesn’t think a state should be defying federal law – that’s a safe way to oppose SB-54 and keep your fellow Republicans happy while not appearing racist.
  • Although Doug’s actual achievements on homelessness are scant at best (okay, keeping the Armory open a few more months), he has obviously been paying attention to the problem, as he spoke urgently of the high number of Fullerton college students living in their cars, and emphatically wants to force the Fairview facility open in spite of Costa Mesa NIMBYs.

On the other hand…

Things that make me (almost) prefer Tim to Doug.

  • NUMBER ONE, Tim’s overall record of trustworthiness and honesty, as contrasted to Doug’s lack of same which I’ve previously documented.  And his record of stopping a wasteful kleptocratic project on the OCTA board – the Disney Streetcar – with three other honest Republicans (Tait, Moorlach, Lalloway) when that was still an unpopular move (and probably led to Pringle siccing Kring on him in last June’s primary.)
  • As a member of the Foothill / Eastern TCA, Chaffee sounds like he would go along meekly with the juggernaut of the 214 extension into San Clemente (which he wrongly thinks is necessary as long as “environmental concerns” are allayed.)  Shaw seems much more aware of and sympathetic to the objections of San Clemente (“The town is on fire!”).
  • Tim, with his six years on the OCTA – vice-chair this year and probably chair next year whether he wins Supe or not – understands transportation better than Doug.  Even though Tim helped kill the Disney Streetcar for many good reasons, he has been supportive of the Santa Ana / Garden Grove one going from the SA metrolink station to Harbor.  For one thing, it has managed to get a lot more state and federal funds; for another the right-of-ways the county has had to buy have been much more affordable.  Doug painted it as a great waste, and aims to re-direct the funds to road improvements, but Tim contends that’s not legally possible. (Doug’s idea of an underground OC subway also sounded great to me but Tim tells me it’d be WAY unaffordable.)
  • Tim had a hand, from his chairmanship of the ACCOC, in fashioning AB-448, and understands the concerns we at this blog have with JPA’s. When he has a hand, if elected Supervisor, in implementing it, he’s happy to hear from us and meet with us.
  • I’m wary of candidates supported by Fire and Police Unions, unions who are primarily after higher pensions and benefits; and less accountability in the case of the police. The Firefighters have cast their lot with Chaffee; the Sheriffs are still hedging their bets (they seem to be focusing most of their effort into electing more-of-the-same Don Barnes.)


Since I agree with a more of what Doug SAYS than what Tim says, and my only problem is with Doug’s reliability, I made myself this deal: Remember how he had promised Fullerton homeless advocates that if the Pathways to Hope Permanent Supportive Housing plan came up before the council again he would reverse himself and vote in favor of it?  And remember how two of his colleagues (whom I wish I could name) responded pshaw, he’ll make sure it doesn’t come before the council again so he doesn’t have to take an unpopular vote before the election?

Well, I made myself a deal:  If Doug DID keep his promise to vote for Pathways, I would vote for Doug.  Not an hour went by before I found out the cynics were right – that issue is NOT going to come back to council before November 6.  ( I still need to find out if Doug had anything to do with pushing that off.)

AND THEN not an hour went by before Doug’s carpetbagging council-candidate wife Paulette was caught by security cameras stealing campaign signs that were in opposition to her – a staggering and illegal show of entitlement which is now being investigated by Fullerton police!  (Will Doug deny this?  Make excuses?  Condemn his wife’s actions?  Inquiring minds are agog!)

So here.  If you are a Republican who loves the current Board of Supervisors, wants more of the same, and unquestioningly believes in OC GOP articles of faith like privatization, outsourcing, opposing sanctuary … then you should probably vote for Tim Shaw.

On the other hand if you are a Democrat who will sleep a little happier knowing that we finally have somebody on the Board who is a member of our Party … then by all means vote for Doug Chaffee.

Me, I’m just relieved to look at my ballot and see that, sure enough, there IS a space for me to write in Cynthia Aguirre.  And feel clean.


Update 10/10: Fuck it. I’m with Shaw.

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.