Trangdai’s Memorial Day Message to an unresponsive Anaheim Council.

After Trangdai Glassey-Tranguyen‘s experience at the April 16, 2024 Anaheim Council meeting on DisneylandForward, which has gone viral on YouTube with over 1600 views so far, she composed the following message to read at the May 21 meeting. But with her busy schedule as teacher and mother of three, she couldn’t make it. The speech does reference Memorial Day, which was six days off, so we thought we should publish it today.

Anaheim Council!

During the week of April 15-19, 2024, around three million students in third to eighth grade in the state of California were taking the California Assessment test. Besides proctoring the test, teachers still needed to cover the regular curriculum for that week, so you can imagine how busy and tired our scholars, teachers, and their parents were.

As a full-time teacher and a mother of three children, it was an extremely busy week for me. So the last thing I needed was another meeting on Tuesday night of April 16, only the second day in the testing week. Yet I took the time to come here to express my concerns, because it was my inalienable right in our American democracy to have my say in a public matter that will detrimentally impact my family’s life.

You are paid with tax dollars to be here, but residents like myself are not. We carve out time to be here. It was my right and my responsibility to speak. But did you listen? Here’s a visual aid for your edification: 

Mayor Aitken and Councilmember Rubalcava, please take a very good look, because some of my students were watching your behavior during my comments and reviewed them over and over. Your behaviors puzzled them. Their biggest question was: What is the state of Anaheim democracy? This video gives a very clear answer!

As shown in plain view here, you deliberately chose to NOT LISTEN when a mother poured out her heart about the endless concerns for the safety and sanity of her young children. Then who are you listening to? The donors who financed your campaigns so you can vote in their interests against the public concerns?

As elected officials, when you failed to listen, you ROBBED ME and fellow residents of our democratic right to voice our concerns and to be included. You nullified our place in the civic life of this city. Your disruptive behaviors rendered my efforts and the process of public hearing pointless. As such, democracy was not upheld in Anaheim city council’s public hearing that night. But it showed that you had selective hearing because we all witnessed your attentiveness to the applicant’s statement and those that supported the DisneylandForward proposal.

I could never imagine myself having a side chat when one of my students is speaking – especially when it is THEIR turn and the situation calls for them to share their thoughts. Your thoughtless and disrespectful behaviors prove that you do not deserve to serve in public office because if you are public servants, as you should be, then you at least should pretend to be doing your job and attend to public concerns. 

Your behaviors have shown that the voices of Anaheim’s concerned residents are worthless in this city hall at a very important meeting, where citizens were forced to wait outside for several hours into the dark, cold, windy night for a turn to speak. A very bleak picture of democracy indeed!

Your behaviors showed that the people of Anaheim can not trust you to make big decisions for us because you failed even in such a small thing as listening to public comments.

Your behaviors showed that you held yourselves WAY above the law, because even at such an important council meeting that made headlines the next day, you didn’t even want to pretend that your constituents’ voices were counted. These behaviors fall into the same pattern of disregard for public concerns in the lightning-speed DisneyForward approval, even those from thousands of Anaheim residents – several of whom have lived here all their lives and grew up before Walt Disney came to town.

My students were watching the meeting and also the video on the private chat between Mayor Aitken and Councilwoman Rubalcava during my public comment. They asked me, “Why did they act as if they were at a sidewalk cafe? Are elected officials supposed to act like this during a public hearing?” My answer was, “No!” They could never and should never understand why the mayor and councilwoman had a side conversation and paid no heed to a public comment, simply because it was a wrongful act.

I would love to hear your explanation for such behaviors, but one of my students suggested that there should be NO tolerance for such behaviors in a working democracy. Because in this public civic building, you were acting LEAST like elected officials. A school-aged student knows much better. When you do not listen to our voices, our concerns, and our needs, you should not sit in these chairs up there. 

One book that resonated with my dilemma on April 16th is, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulgum. I have worked with students across age groups from Preschool to college, and I remember reminding my primary grade students about listening. We first bring our hands to our ears and say, “Listening ears.” Then, we put our hands over our hearts and say, “Listening heart,” so on and so forth. Whole-body listening. It is not only a lesson for kindergarteners. It could be very useful here in this very room, especially during public hearings.

We should ask, “CAN THE SUBALTERN SPEAK?” at the April 16th meeting, to use Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s words. Why was my public statement ignored and not the applicant’s? Was it because I’m just another Asian woman that you can cast aside? Your behaviors showed me that YOU HAD SILENCED MY VOICE, right here, in the chamber of the city of Anaheim, far away from Spivak’s specificities of the political, social and cultural hegemony that silenced women’s voices and agencies. 

Speaking of silencing voices, it appears that I’m not the only one being silenced here. If Charles Dickens were here, he would, too! Funny thing! As colossal and relevant to today’s society as he is, Charles Dickens wouldn’t mean A THING to this council. Who cares about the ghosts of yesterday or today or tomorrow! Just follow the drive of greed. Vote NOT with your conscience but with your campaign donor lists. It doesn’t matter who you will hurt in the vote! Just follow your checkbook. It’s payback time. Let’s move Disney forward. It doesn’t matter whose lives your votes will move backward! It doesn’t matter if your vote will turn neighborhoods into the unhappiest place on earth. But you know, this guy Charles, he knows a few things that we should care about, like “Hard Times.” And maybe the ghost of yesterday has something very relevant to tell former Anaheim mayor Harry Sidhu right now!

Your behaviors during public comments showed that the citizens of Anaheim CANNOT trust your votes on April 16th, 2024 because you DID NOT listen to the multitude of concerns and suggestions we made. Your mind was already made up so our voices DID NOT mean anything. If the voices of Anaheim residents DID NOT mean anything to you, then you should not be sitting there in those seats to make decisions that impact all of us, decisions that will have ramifications for not just ourselves but our children and generations to come.

I command you to keep Anaheim accountable for ALL citizens by listening to our voices and integrating them in the decisions YOU get to make on our behalf. Otherwise, you prove that you are working for special interests and NOT for the people of Anaheim. A recall is costly to ALL of us. It takes away public funds that can be put to the right use for many urgent needs for residents. But when a recall is necessary, the fund is not only put to the right use. It is the best use.

Memorial Day is just six days away. Today is Memorial Day. It is always an important day for me because as a refugee, I have the utmost gratitude for the freedom and democracy that allowed me to be here today, with full awareness of the human costs and complexities in the U.S. historical trajectories. Countless brave people have forever laid down their lives for me to be here today. I stand with all the concerned citizens of Anaheim to make sure that these lives were not lost in vain. I will make sure that my freedom is NOT taken for granted or usurped by the city council votes for special interests. As we celebrate Memorial Day this year, many of us will ensure that democracy is served here in Anaheim by casting YES at the recall election in District 3 and demand for a transparent and accountable government right here in our city.

Good day to y’all!****–

Trangđài Glassey-Trầnguyễn, Ph.D.
Founder/Director, Vietnamese Diasporas Projects
Life Member, Fulbright Association
Life Member, Dana Point Historical Society

Latest publications:
Forty-Five Years On: Two Poems (2021)
Six Selected Bilingual Poems (2020)
Un/Earthing Borderland-Motherland (2019)
Squatting in Berlin (2016)
Biểu Đạt Căn Tính Di Dân (2016)
Articulating Refug-endity (2015)
Ten Selected Bilingual Poems (2014)
Selected Poems (2013)
Selected Poems (2010)

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"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.