Saturday, February 7, 2009

John Zamora Calling Out Madison Nguyen

At the press conference in front of City Hall with about 75 people gathering, the Recall Team issued a challenge to Madison Nguyen to join them to call the city council for an appointment of a person to replace Madison Nguyen after March 3 election. Their logic is instead of having two additional elections (June and Nov), the city would save money by appointment.

Also at the press conference, former Santa Clara Supervisor Pete McHugh and a prominent member of the Latino community, John Zamora, expressed their strong support for the recall of Nguyen.

Mayor Reed was asked after the press conference about the appointment possibility to save city money. He replied:"I think she is going to win so I am not going to spend a lot of time worrying about".

John Zamora was the founder of US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a former Planning Commissioner and Bicentenial Commissioner. The text of his speech is captured below:

" I must be myself as a Latino, when I face adversity, and choose right over wrong, ethic over convenience and self benefit, truth over popularity. I thought I was too old to enter one more fight for democracy one more time. But my son told me you are never too old to do what is right.

Madison Nguyen has broken so many ethics and violated the rights of the citizens of San Jose, more than the last three embattled councilmembers – Kathy Cole, Terry Gregory and Ron Gonzales put together.

If the city wants to save money, they should ask her to resign. That would save all the money in the world.

The violations are graves and serious-

Starting with the Brow Act violation

Starting with given the right of names to a private developer

Starting with trying to go around public hearing of her backroom dealing

Allowing a fraudulent list of names so that she gets her way

And many more and each of them deserves punishment

Every citizen, not only Vietnamese-American in San Jose should join us and call for the same punishment that every other embattled councilmembers faced for lack of ethics."

The full video of the press conference can be seen on

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Madison Nguyen and A Proxy War

The absentee ballots for recall have just been sent out this week but the gloves were already off since last May. Madison Nguyen raised over $200,000 mostly from out of state developers, lobbyists and kingmakers of labor unions with their large sum contributions. The recall team was mostly outgunned by Nguyen money wise until the recent surge where they raised over $100,000 in the last 1 month. Their money is mostly from ordinary folks giving them $50 to $100.

Mainstream media is on Nguyen's side as well as most city councilmembers, the Democratic Party and of course South Bay Labor Unions. Nguyen has the Labor's machine behind her along with Mayor Reed's staff (on loan) and his powerful consultant Vic Aljouny (at least in the beginning).

The recall team is basically made up of young professionals of engineer, dentist, pharmacist, ect.. who has no campaign experience and basically are doing this on a volunteer basis.

From the outside looking in, it is a mismatch between pro and amateur. But in reality Nguyen is fighting for her life. How could that be? Her supporters are the power that be in the community and quite dedicated. In the Vietnamese community, Nguyen has the support of the Que Huong Radio, the most powerful radio in the community. She has enlisted VietWeekly from southern California to write articles and also paid for their publication here in San Jose. She also the support of V-Times and Thoi Bao newspapers. She has the backing of Vien Thao Media, a conglomerate of radio shows, newspapers and yellow pages. She has the support of Dr. Ngai Nguyen, one of the biggest political contributors of the Republican Party nationwide. The list goes on and on and this is not counting all the powerful elected officials.

So what are at stake and who has to gain or lose in this election?

The mayor has everything at stake and already lost. This is the second Vietnamese-American woman Reed has risked his political capital on. Win or lose, by supporting the controversial Madison Nguyen and unqualified Hon Lien, he had showed bad judgement. And also allowing his powerful consultant Vic Aljouny to run amok as the person behind the throne, he hurt himself even more. And Reed is not doing any favor for himself with his back room dealing trying to find a replacement for Nguyen by appointment. His office purposedly floated names like Khoa Nguyen to Cora Tomalinas to the community to test their reactions.

The councilmembers Pete Constant and Sam Liccardo. It is no secret that these two young politicians (LSI can call them young because LSI is much older than them) will one day face each other in a mayoral race. Liccardo and Constant lost their luster with Reed as they showed their independent streak. They know that they will need the Vietnamese-Americans since they are the most important swing vote in the primary of race. Pete has an edge right now with his voice of reason. Whether Madison wins or loses, they will need to reach out more to the community. Liccardo's district is full of ethnic enclaves and the Vietnamese-Americans there are watching him carefully.

Nora Campos similar to Reed has everything to lose in by sticking with Madison Nguyen. Her next political race in 2010 could be very difficult. She cannot rely on her Hispanic base alone to carry her. Her open dislike for Reed and her support of Nguyen have isolated her politically. But she still has Labor Unions and their political machine. Since she will not run for mayor, the next logical choice is Joe Coto's state assembly seat (or another state assembly seat close by). But this is where she will have tough time with the White and Asian voters.

And then there is the South Bay Labor Unions. They are pouring every resources to fight this battle. It is uncharacteristic of them to put in so much efforts this early for any local races. They started pumping money and manpower into Nguyen since early December, this is 4 months before the election. The last time they committed to anybody with such ferocity is of course, one of their own, Cindy Chavez. They have the most to lose in this race. They have not recovered politically since their beating at the hand of Vic Aljouny. Another high profile loss, they would lose their mantle as the decisive third political force in the Bay Area, behind the Democratic Party and Republican Party.

On the other hand, the Vietnamese-American community has nothing to lose. They have been labeled by the mainstream media and the political establishment as just a bunch of "bullies and thugs" and "extremists". Even if they are successful with the recall, the spin will always be it was a special election and Nguyen was damaged good. The community still is only a minority voting bloc as the media would put the community in its place. But the fact of the matter is, the intention of the community was not to be a political force and to establish itself to be anything more than who they are - A small community trying to face crisis internally and was dragged into the big stage by circumstances.

But beneath the jingoism and superficial racism by the establishment and power that be in San Jose, "Real Politik" dictates that every candidates will need their powerful votes for they tend to vote as a single bloc. Reed demonstrated in his defeat of Chavez and the powerful Labor Unions by having the majority of the community with him in the primary so that he could get into the run-off and used the momemtum to carry him into victory. Learned his lesson against Reed, Cortese did the same and simple crushed Otto Lee in the last general election.

At the end of the days, everybody wants something and has all kind of angles that they try to exploit. Nguyen is basically reduced to being a pawn for others' political ambitions and advancement. To them she has to win at all cost to keep their own political fortune. And some of them are because of Little Saigon became political strange bedfellows. Behind the scene, they all could not stand her arrogance and wish privately that she would go away.

Nguyen of course is fighting hard with everything she got. And she has a lot of weapons and on the surface an overwhelming advantage. Her attack on her own community has been fierce and incite hatred and racism from the White community. Using her office as a leverage, she tries her best to exploit the situations but the sad thing is that everywhere she goes in the community, people want the truth from her. Instead of facing the issues raised by her critics she turned around attack the community itself with innuendos and dirty politic tricks. She should answer her critics on issues such as why did she cut deal with Tang Lap to name the district according to his request as "Vietnam Town Business District" and then lied about, why did she violate the Brown Act, why did she have to humiliate the community publicly by calling them a bunch of unemployed do no good folks.

March 3, 2009 will be a day of infamy for the community. It will be the conclusion of the Little Saigon saga and for Reed to save his political legacy, he will need to lead the healing process. He is the leader of a city where there is only 1/3 Whites. This is a time for Reed to shine and hold true to his good heart and good intention when he took over the city from a corrupted administration.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Diep Mien Truong For State Assembly

At the fund raising event for US Congressman Joseph Cao in the heart of Little Saigon last weekend, Diep Mien Truong, a 26 years old aide to Assemblyman Van Tran, announced unofficially his candidacy for state assembly to replace Van Tran. Tran is termed out in 2010.

Truong barely won his election 2 months ago for the Westminster city council. This will be the third Trannie running for a major office within the last 2 years. Here is a picture of Truong, Dina Nguyen and Trung Nguyen at the Republican Party convention in Minnesota.

Monday, February 2, 2009

US Congressman Joseph Cao and Frank Jao

It must have been quite a disappointment for the first Vietnamese-American US Congressman Joseph Cao to attend a fund raising event in his honor in the heart of Little Saigon. The organizing committee are the who's who of Little Saigon political power - Assemblyman Van Tran and his cohort of councilmembers - Dina, Tri, Andy, Truong, and school board trustee Lan Nguyen. And the event was organized by US Congressman Ed Royce and Van Tran themselves as the print on the invitation would suggest. In addition, the weathiest businessman of Little Saigon put his name to welcome Cao - Frank Jao (V-Home Group and Bridegecreek Development). And of course, all the advertisement, hype and media attention from mainstream to all newspapers in Little Saigon.

Supervisor Janet Nguyen, Garden Grove, city councilmember Andrew Do and Dr. Pham Long ( Orange County Board of Education trustee) were not invited. And they did not show up.

It was a dead event that the ambient probably prompted Joseph Cao to give such an uninspiring rambling speech. The whisper after the fund raising event was this guy really is an accidental congressman. John Duong (as shown in picture above), vice president of V-Home Group and one time mayoral candidate was the MC for the event. Frank Jao and his wife were the official host and hostess.

So why did the crowd staying away? This is a long story but it will make sense if one can follow the names of the players.

To really understand the Vietnamese-American political power of Little Saigon and its many players, let us start always with Van Tran. Tran often goes to San Jose to raise money for his campaign even after his victory in 2004. When asked why not Frank Jao, he replied tortly:" I know Frank for all of my political career and he gave me a total of $200."

The real reason probably is because Frank Jao never forgave Tran for pulling away Andy Quach from his influence. Andy was Frank's project just like with John Duong. Frank plugged Andy out of obscurity and put him up to be the next the political superstar.

John Duong is a Frank's project from the beginning. And when time came, he raised hundreds of thousands for Duong in his Irvine mayoral race in 2006. Duong is good looking and with an impressive resume on paper in a city dominated by Asian, it was a safe bet. Yet he lost in a landslide.

Five years before, With Frank's influence in the Republican Party, John Duong was appointed as the ED of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. It is one of those political appointee positions created as pay back the big donors. The office was actually created by President Clinton and the first ED was Ngoan Le of Chicago political machine.

A year into the job, John Duong gained reputation for using the office as a Whitehouse access gate for Chinese businessmen from Taiwan and Hongkong. In early 2003, Georgetown law professor Dinh Viet who was at that time the head of Legal Policy at the US Justice Department, promptly recommended the White House for Duong removal. John Duong was of course forced out as recommended.

Frank Jao in the mean time established a private equity fund called V-Home Group to invest in real estate and state-owned enterprises in VN. He put John Duong as vice president.

V-Home Group is a $10 million fund starting out with money from a lot of people in San Jose including Thanh Nguyen (owner of Paramit, a hi - tech board design and manufacturing company) and Trung Dung (a software entrepeneur).

Their initial investments were a processing plant in Binh Dien, Ho chi Minh City, equity stake in EMHI, a licensing company with rights for all Walt Disney products in Vietnam and a 5% equity stake in Vietnam Net, a bilangual internet news portal spin-off but still under the control of Vietnam Postal & Telecom.

They installed Pham duc trung Kien to be the ED of this 225 people company. Pham (an MBA from Stanford) was an activist who in the early 90s lobbied hard for the release of his father and other political dissidents from Vietnam to come to the US. Now he lives in Vietnam full time running the internet news portal. His brother in-law, Nguyen anh Tuan (son of a high government official in Hanoi), was the chairman of Vietnam Net. Tuan was fired by Vietnam Postal & Telecom in 2007 for putting on Vietnam Net news about the fighting between China and Vietnam for the control of Spratly islands.

So let us tie all these names together, Frank Jao is one of the biggest investors in VN. And worse of all, he invested in a bilangual internet news portal that serves as a propaganda machine for the communist government against the overseas community. John Duong is Frank's boy. And Frank is well known for not giving back anything to Vietnamese -American community in Little Saigon.

So now we have an event with John Duong as MC, Frank Jao as host, Van Tran and his cohort as organizers and a US congressman who lacks charisma and experience and chances are will be a one term congressman (since his district is 65% African American and 85% Democrats), no wonder it was a dead event.