The Anointment of Gloria Ma’ae, part 2. (With lotsa videos!)

(Read pt. 1 here)

Well, this evening Gloria Sahagún Ma’ae (pronounced “Muh-EYE!”) will be sworn in as the District 2 Councilwoman, replacing the disgraced and resigned Jordan Brandman. Yes, there will finally be a female on Council for the first time since District 1’s Jose Diaz barely beat Denise Barnes with the benefit of hundreds of thousands of dollars of false attack mailers paid for by rent gouger John Saunders among others. But here I am, digressing already. We need to finish the story of the Anointment of Gloria at the last (Sept 14) meeting, the culmination of the “MOST TRANSPARENT PROCESS IN RECENT MEMORY.”

Or, that’s in the words of Mayor Harry Sidhu, who HAD A COW at the end of that meeting, as he frequently does, but this one was a notable cow. He seemed especially pissed to be receiving criticism (and vote abstentions) from not only Jose Moreno but Avelino Valencia as well, Avelino whom Harry had endorsed, and has counted on as a dependable unquestioning yes-man.

I’m not sure what’s going on with Avelino these days – he seems to be trying to stake out a “middle ground” between Jose and Harry – but Duane Roberts quotes Harry’s tantrum at length:

“Councilmember Moreno, I’m very much disappointed in you in bringing this up,” Sidhu said in a raised tone of voice. “It is one of the fairest process we’ve been through. We gave every applicant an opportunity to meet with the residents. We gave every opportunity for the residents to come out and speak, whether in favor, or whether in opposition of the candidates who applied… It was given opportunity of the applicant to have one-to-one meet with the councilmembers. [T]he way it was done, was proper, giving everybody an opportunity to come and speak. I spoke, and I sat down with every applicant here …. [Y]ou’re trying to talk about unfair process is … in my opinion, is wrong. And this was a completely a transparent process…”

(Photo of Gloria and Harry hugging at Harry’s 2018 victory party, courtesy of Anaheim Investigator)

Well, what WAS this “completely a transparent process?” It was publicized for a few weeks that second district residents could apply, and eventually ten of them did. Moreno tried to call a community meeting, especially for District 2 voters, to get their input and opinions about the candidates, but he was roundly shut down by the rest of Council. Council actually had till today, the 28th, to pick a candidate without risking an expensive special election, and Moreno also suggested giving themselves that much time… but it really looked like the rest of the Council wanted to rush this through.

MOST of the Councilmembers agreed to meet with most of the applicants (although the increasingly ill-tempered Trevor O’Neil refused to meet with the ones he knew he wouldn’t like.) But it’s completely untrue that any District 2 residents had the opportunity to meet and hear the applicants.

When the September 14 meeting rolled around, each of the ten candidates was given five minutes to introduce themselves. Here are four of those speeches:

Gloria Ma’ae:

Phillip Wolfgramm:

Rudy Gaona:

Fred Sigala:

These ten speeches were followed by public comments, and then as SOON as it was legally possible Jose Diaz and Trevor fell all over themselves in a rush to nominate Gloria. Because her twenty years of service was so impressive, they all said. The majority really wanted it to be over THAT quick. Hold on a minute, said Jose Moreno.

Shouldn’t the people of the city, especially District 2, get to hear these folks answer questions in public? He pointed out that when a clever or well-advised political hopeful meets with different people one-on-one, they are likely to say slightly different things. After quite a bit of arguing with Mayor Sidhu, Moreno was allowed to ask the applicants several good questions – the first one, which you’ll see in this video, was on what particular ordinances, policies, etcetera, have been bad for District 2, and which possible ones would be good? Gloria (who has served on several commissions including the City’s Charter Commission and should not be ignorant) couldn’t think of any. Other applicants did a lot better, especially Fred Sigala Jr – you can hear them both in this video.

As you can see, Gloria did not exactly cover herself in glory. But a few applicants did stand out. Our favorite here is Fred, who had also distinguished himself as the only one of these ten who actually did something about getting rid of the shameful Jordan, helping tirelessly with the Recall. But there was also the very likable Rudy Gaona, an ex-military guy who’s run for other city offices, and was part of the fight FOR District Elections (in opposition to Gloria.) And there was Phillip Wolfgramm, whom we know from the Police Review Board, a respectable, intelligent conservative and hotel owner (but probably too independent and unpredictable for the puppetmasters. We also liked Carlos Leon, who got a shout-out from Jose toward the end for his small-d democratic values. (And my apologies to all the others, no room to mention you all.)

But as the night wore on, it became clear that the “FIX WAS IN” (the true Anaheim motto) for Gloria. When interviewing with Jose, she had slipped and said, “When I’m appointed to Council” before correcting herself “when” to an “if.” It had been foretold by sources as sagacious and reliable as the Orange Juice Blog that Gloria’s anointment was inevitable, as she’d been part of the SOAR/Disney/Chamber team for 14 years, and had fought all their dirty fights – from delaying District Elections as long as possible to opposing a living wage for resort workers.

At one point, Rudy had heard enough and withdrew his name from consideration, swearing to run in 2022.

Jose nominates Fred Sigala but also compliments applicant Carlos Leon. He appreciated that both these applicants emphasized that they would want to hear frequently from the people of District 2.

Jose withdraws his nomination of Fred, on the grounds it’s unfair to Fred because the outcome is already pre-ordained. He also expresses incredulity that Gloria (who’s served on the City Charter Commission and has advocated for policies and ordinances in the past) claims to not know any policies and ordinances. He suggests putting the vote off to the 28th, in order to get more public input, but gets no backing on that. Harry bristles, Avelino cautiously offers criticism, Harry bristles more!

So, Gloria Ma’ae is District 2’s representative until at least January 2023 – she’ll have to run for re-election in Nov. 2022. We can hope that she will turn out to be more independent and honest than we expect. If not, District 2 needs to unite around ONE GOOD CANDIDATE, whether it’s Rudy, Fred, or Carlos – they all need to work together. We can’t afford another situation like District 4 in 2020 where honest informed voters were evenly split between Jeanine Robbins and Annemarie Randle-Trejo. And District 2 voters should remember, in 2022, that if it were up to Gloria Ma’ae, there WOULDN’T BE A DISTRICT 2.

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APPENDIX – more videos of Fred answers!

On Public Safety:

On Little Arabia. By the way, Gloria and Mr. Wolfgramm were both strongly against the designation of the district. Gloria seems to think it is very divisive (which I guess is consistent with her strong opposition to District Elections), and disrespectful of places in the area like Cortina’s and Stater Brothers which are not owned by Arabs or Muslims. Whatevers. It sounds fun to me to go to the “Little Arabia Stater Brothers,” or “Cortina’s – you know, in Little Arabia!” Unless you just hate Arabs.

On Affordable Housing. And we’re all going to be speaking a lot more on this in the near future.

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.