4 Dems, 2 Supe Seats: Sunny, Chaffee, Sarmy & Kim Bernice.

North-County District 4

It’s no secret I never thought much of District 4 incumbent Supervisor Doug Chaffee, going back to his days on Fullerton Council. I could go on, but I already have.

On the Board he has formed a close alliance with Republican Andrew Do. The two have a lot in common – the first things that come to mind is their ARROGANCE, and their rudeness to the public, which has gotten even worse as Doug has become Chair. They are constantly finding ways to sideline their colleague Katrina Foley, an actual progressive Democrat. They both jump over themselves to give Don Barnes‘ Sheriffs Dept anything it wants, money being no object. And they are both hellbent on expanding the closed Musick Facility into a mental-health jail and putting the Sheriff in charge. All my friends in the homeless advocacy movement share my view of Doug, as well as most people from Fullerton who’ve dealt with him for a decade.

I gotta add though, that some folks whose opinions I respect, and whom I usually agree with, think that he’s been a great Supervisor and are enthusiastically supporting his re-election – notably Anaheim Councilman Dr. Jose Moreno. One thing Jose says is that Doug was an invaluable help to Anaheim residents during the pandemic. Maybe he was. And maybe that was partly due to the influence of Al Jabbar, a school board member whom Doug hired as an aide, and who I hope will be taking Jose’s place on Council this December. (On this subject, see below, “A New Law from Josh Newman.”)

So, POSSIBLY Doug’s not quite as bad as I think. But still my ears perked up when I learned last week, from both Dan’s and Matt’s blogs, that he had a Democrat challenger – Buena Park Mayor Sunny Youngsun Park. I’d met her a couple of times, I think when she was first running 4 years ago or so. She came to a SQS talk and introduced herself to everybody, and later she came to ONE of our People’s Homeless Task Force meetings with her little posse, left early and we never heard from her again.

So I had to ask my Buena Park friends what she’s like, what they think about her as Supervisor. The first one told me, “Ah, HELL no! Sunny is only about Sunny, she doesn’t care about anything or anyone else. I don’t know why she’s even a Democrat, her role models are Michelle Steel and Young Kim!” “Really? Are you just saying that because they’re all Korean-American? I’m-a find out if that’s true.”

Another bad sign was that the folks who’ve worked the closest with her – EVERY OTHER PROMINENT BUENA PARK DEMOCRAT – immediately reacted to her announcement by strongly endorsing Chaffee, and releasing a three-page fact sheet of all the reactionary and fucked-up things Sunny has done in Buena Park (which I’m allowed to summarize but not upload.)

Dan, typically, only reprinted Sunny’s press release with his name on it; but Matt actually wrote a good, thorough, informative piece which you should read. Lotsa good info on the district and its demographics – it includes most of Anaheim – and he also noted the striking coincidence that both Sunny and Chaffee’s wife Paulette got in trouble in 2018 for stealing campaign signs calling them carpetbaggers.

But one headscratcher was Matt’s remark that “Park’s politics are on the progressive side.” I wonder what Matt thinks “progressive” means. I guess when someone throws around words like “equity” and “inclusion,” that makes them a progressive in Matt’s book. But going by her colleagues’ fact sheet about Sunny, not so much. According to her Democrat colleagues, Sunny is:

  • bad and awkward on LGBTQ issues
  • bad on the pandemic and public health
  • bad on cannabis
  • bad on the environment
  • bad on labor
  • bad on social justice (e.g. Black Lives Matter, etc.)
  • unsupportive of her fellow Buena Park Democrats – HEY! Something else she has in common with Chaffee, who never lifted a finger to help the Quirk Silvas when he could have.

But, I’m nothing if not fair, so I resolved to call Sunny myself and ask her a few questions…

The Sunny Park Interview

First, aware of her colleagues’ criticisms, she tells me that she does the best she can, while representing a VERY CONSERVATIVE district of Buena Park. And that “the people of Buena Park know me” and there’s a lot she’s proud of from her four years in office.

Sunny takes credit for Buena Park having a much higher response to the census than most of the OC. During the pandemic she says she helped get small business grants to 51 BP businesses; it was months later before she saw Chaffee doing the same. She claims to have cracked down on flavored tobacco, unhealthy food carts, and price-gouging – at one point a dozen eggs were going for 20 bucks in BP!

What are her criticisms of Chaffee and the current BoS? Largely, a lack of transparency, on the recent redistricting and the administration of Covid funds; also she feels his leadership was especially lacking on homelessness and mask mandates.

The experience of the pandemic has changed her appreciation of the importance of local government – checks out. She’d like to extend and take better advantage of “Project Roomkey,” where homeless folks are housed in local motels, on the state dime. She has no opinion on Poseidon and is not aware of the planned Musick expansion. I ran out of time to ask about her relationship to Michelle Steel and Young Kim.

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A New Law from Senator Josh Newman

(an interlude apropos of the Chaffee-Jabbar connection.)

I was talking to our favorite OC Senator Wednesday, and he told me about a new bill he’s writing that he thought I’d be real enthusiastic about. It would “prohibit elected officials from employing other elected officials whose constituencies coincide or overlap.”

Josh said, “I know of at least three examples of that in Orange County, you could probably think of more – Supervisor Don Wagner employing Yorba Linda Mayor Tara Campbell as Chief of Staff; Assemblyman Tom Daly continuing to employ Anaheim Councilman Avelino Valencia as senior field representative; and Supervisor Doug Chaffee hiring School Board trustee Al Jabbar as deputy chief of staff. You see, it crosses party lines. And there are so many other qualified people that could be hired instead of another elected! I think you can see the possibility for conflict here?”

I considered for a minute. “This is a problem I haven’t really thought of before.” “Jeez, Vern,” responded our favorite Senator, “of all people, I didn’t think I’d have to convince YOU that this is a problem!”

And after a day of thought, I can see how this can create a problem of divided loyalty. The employed politician can be torn between doing what he thinks is right for his constituents and doing what his boss wants him/her to do. Maybe that even happens, a lot more than we know. It’s sort of like what they call “a conflict.” Maybe it’s EXACTLY what they call “a conflict.” It would take Josh Newman to notice this.

What do Orange Juice readers think??

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Anyway I’m glad to look at the new maps and see that I don’t HAVE to choose between Chaffee and Park, since I have been drawn into…

Central-County District 2, the Latino District.

The first candidate to throw their hat in the ring for OC’s first majority-Latino Supervisorial District was Garden Grove Councilwoman Kim Bernice Nguyen. And the first me and Donna saw of HER was at a 2018 Supervisor debate put on by the Voice of OC. Incumbent Republican Andrew Do didn’t bother showing up (he didn’t need to and he HATES the “Noise of OC”) … so it was a debate between the three Democratic candidates – Santa Ana’s Small Dark Lord Miguel Pulido, union favorite Westminster Councilman Sergio Contreras, and Kim.

And Donna and I were SO impressed with Kim! Smart as a whip, articulate, knowledgeable, passionate, trilingual, with a background in health care. She sounded like a progressive firebrand, and she ripped several new ones into Poseidon. (Actually so did Pulido, which surprised me, and left Sergio stammering his support for “jobs and water.”)

We saw her on our way to the car, told her how great she did and asked how we could help her win, and if I could interview her for the blog. She didn’t respond but glared at me like she already knew I was the enemy.

Later I learned that she’s actually a very close acolyte of conservative Congressman Lou Correa (who was real mad at me that year.) Not only that, but she was only in that race, at Lou’s urging, for one reason – to take votes away from Sergio so that Lou’s old buddy Miguel Pulido could win. Ha – the plan made sense – Sergio’s base being Westminster and Kim being Viet – but it didn’t work – Sergio still beat Miguel in the primary, and then went on to lose to Do. D’oh!

More recently I’ve noticed that she is extremely close to Anaheim Councilman Avelino Valencia – always defending him on line, and whatever she does in Garden Grove he does in Anaheim, and always together signing letters of outrage over something or other. She took it on herself during Avelino’s campaign to call ME vile, racist and disgusting for creating my song “Avelino Vendido.” Really? THIS harmless little ditty which makes very clear and valid points?

Well, the point isn’t that she doesn’t like me, but that it’s hard to trust her. She couldn’t possibly be as progressive as she pretended to be that night and still be a protégé of Lou Correa, who loathes progressives and loves Poseidon. She was just reading the room. And she knew she was just a spoiler candidate. An unsuccessful one at that.

(I still should really find out Kim’s record in Garden Grove before judging if she’d be a good Supervisor or not. But my GG rolodex is slim.)

But then, what comes across my transom Wednesday morning but an announcement from a Democrat I know I can trust (at least 80% anyway) – Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento!

During his short time as Mayor (he served many previous years on Council, under the Small Dark Lord) Vince brought rent control to Santa Ana, which was vital and historic. Actually that was a big mass movement but Vince supported it and signed off on it. He’s been promoting affordable housing and putting the brakes on gentrification as much as possible. He was a good Mayor to have during the time of Covid, working hard to protect Santa Ana’s health, make sure everyone got their stimulus, and nobody got evicted – he tells me he directed $12 million to 20,000 households. He’s working now, in his time left, on helping create a police oversight committee, much stronger that what Anaheim has.

He collaborates a lot with my comrades at Chicanos Unidos, and they worked hard to get him elected. They sound a little disappointed that he stayed as Mayor for such a short time. But he will be able to do even more for Santa Ana (and east Anaheim) on the BoS; and they will be having a meeting soon to determine the best candidate to succeed this very progressive Mayor.

I spoke to Vince over the phone over the weekend, and he added more things that he’s proud of accomplishing this past year. Not only did he pass rent control, but a just cause eviction ordinance. He increased a fund for legal defense of immigrants, and reduced Santa Ana’s SWAT team or “Strike Force,” redirecting that money to youth investment and programs. He feels the current BoS tries to saddle Santa Ana unfairly with the county’s homelessness problem; and he would put more emphasis on public health and green spaces.

Someone had told me he wants to build a Santa Ana Medical Facility. He clarifies: “As a result of the County’s failed policies and practices for equitable health care delivery to low income families, the city council has commissioned a feasibility study to consider creating our own local municipal public health agency. Study findings are pending but are expected soon.

He opposes Poseidon because it’s a waste of money (though I wish he would have done more to stop it when he was on the OCWD.) Soon the council will be agendizing a clear resolution against the boondoggle, which should be helpful when it comes to the Coastal Commission soon.

In short, Sarmiento is the only one of these four Democrats I feel I can support, and I’m glad I can vote for him this year! Here’s his campaign announcement:

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.