Saturday, August 16, 2008

Vic Aljouny’s Strategy and The Silent Majority

During the heated Little Saigon debate that lasted for 8 months, one of the main arguments that put forth by council members and Mayor Reed was the majority of the people in District 7 really did not want the name Little Saigon. From their “private conversations”, there is a silent large majority who opposes the name Little Saigon while supports Madison Nguyen.

With the mayor himself personally involved in the fund raising efforts along with his senior budget advisor, Nguyen raised over $103,000 with most of the money came from wealthy real estate developers like $2,500 from Mark Faulkner of Fairfield Residential in San Diego, $2,500 from Core Homes in San Jose, $1,000 from ROEM Development in Santa Clara. She also received money from business owners of far flung places like Concord (Dana Foods – $3,500) and mysterious entity like China Town LLC ($2,500). She also received over $25,000 from well known political players and lobbyists like Dustin DeRollo, Tom Saggau and Chris Neale.

This is to the contrast of the Recall Committee where they received most of the funding from a mix of white collar and blue collar working families in San Jose. More than 400 people donated about $43,000 to date.

Without big donors and limited resources, the Recall Committee has to rely on a grass root movement. By law, they have 120 days from start to gather a minimum of 3,200 signatures to have the recall initiative on the ballot. With only 3 more weeks left, the Recall Committee looks forward to achieving their goal. Their goal is 5,000 or more signatures. The conventional wisdom is that they will attain about 4,000 signatures.

Privately, Nguyen and her consultant, Vic Aljouny, decide to save their war chest for the recall ballot election for they know that the recall committee will attain the required signatures. Memo from the mayor’s office showed that the mayor has already asked the city clerk to look into a recall ballot similar to the Kathy Coles recall. They feel very confident that with powerful political machines like Labor, the Democratic Party, a cadre of influential lobbyists and consultants and a boat load of money, they will crush the recall team.

Little Saigon Inside does not believe in recalling elected official for making unpopular decision. Nevertheless in California, there have been precedents for such recall and the latest one is with the Gray Davis recall.

However in Nguyen recall, it is more than an unpopular decision. Unless Nguyen can make an honest case for herself – justify the reason for her back-door dealing with the real estate developer to name the area with a name preferred by the developer two months before a public vote – and the silent majority speaks up, the grass root movement will continue to gain momentum

As voters and taxpayers, people should be quite angry at the way the situation was dragged on for 8 months without resolution and now it will end up costing the taxpayer at least $400,000 because their city council member lied and tried to cover up a quid pro quo favor for a wealthy developer. Nguyen clearly violated ethics in her action. She admitted to the Mercury News but shrugged it off and said that nothing happened since the city attorney stopped it when he found out from the RDA, for it was also illegal.

And voters should be very mad with the way their city council members violated the Brown Act to collude behind close door in naming the area against the masses. This is serious matter for it is the corner stone of fair and ethical government.

As the Mercury News commentator Scott Herhold mentioned in his recent video blog about Little Saigon: “In many ways, Madison Nguyen brought this upon herself.”