Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Recall vs. No Recall

We are at the mid-point of the signature collecting campaign for the recall ballot. If successful, San Jose City Councilmember Madison Nguyen would have the dubious honor of being the first Vietnamese-American elected in San Jose as well as the first Vietnamese-American official to be forced out of office by her expatriates that voted her in.

The Recall Committee is directed by an ad hoc committee made up mostly by professional people who work in the hi-tech and medical fields. The No Recall Committee of course is headed by Councilmember Nguyen and her chief of staff - Louansee Moua. Behind the scene providing the strategy and playing the advisorial role is a controversial political consultant from Omaha, Nebraska and a close advisor to Mayor Reed - Vic Aljouny. Vic Aljouny two years ago was asked by Mayor Reed to help his handpicked candidate, Hon Lien, in a city council race. She was defeated by Kansen Chu and his Vietnamese-American supporters who opposed her close business relationship with the communist government.

So far, the No Recall Committee has raised a little more than $10,000 with the majority of the donation came from 2 American real estate developers. The Recall Committee has until July 31 to submit their finances to the city clerk but Little Saigon Inside has learned that unofficially they have raised about $23,000.

With a team of 40 some people, the Recall Committee is well run and extremely dedicated. Every weekend, they have 2 booths set up for walk-in while 3 dozen people or more canvassing the precincts for signatures. They have 120 days to gather 3,200 signatures for the recall referendum to be on a ballot. The committee has not revealed how many signatures collected to date but the conventional wisdom is that they are aiming for 4,000 signatures or more.

A flyer from the Recall Committee was sent to District 7 voters to emphasize their reasons for recalling Nguyen. It is a direct challenge to Nguyen's integrity and the tenents of Mayor Reed's Reform & Ethics - "No cheating, no lying, no stealing and the special interest groups, the lobbyists, the influence peddlers, and the fixers will not run city hall. "

To counter, Nguyen has surrounded herself with the supports of some of the biggest names in San Jose politics - US Congressman Mike Honda, former Mayor Norman Mineta and most of the city councilmembers.

This promise to be a battle with repercussion beyond Nguyen's political career. With the Brown Act lawsuit granted by the Superior Court Judge James Emerson despite the objection of the city attorney, more details on the involvement of Nguyen and the developer Tang Lap as well as the Mayor's office will be revealed to the public.

How high is the stake? Mayor Reed asked his budget director and one time chief of staff to directly help Nguyen and of course the return of Reed's close advisor Vic Aljouny from exile after the Hon Lien debacle is no coincidence.