Saturday, March 7, 2009

Negotiation in Good Faith

San Jose City has records of violating Brown Act in recent memory. Well, here we are at the closing chapter of Little Saigon and the loose end is the lawsuit that still needs to be resolved.

See an update of the lawsuit from the lawyer representing the community (VACNORCAL, a nonprofit group). He is a very well known lawyer in his field.

The community wants to move on and has asked the city to settle the lawsuit but why should the city budge on it. There is no advantage at all.

Many people believes the Brown Act is the corner stone of government. If this is the case, it should be settled not by politics but by legal expert and the court system. Of course, being a poor community, the longer the city drags it out, the better chance the community will not have enough money to carry it through. But on the other hand, the lawyer is doing pro bono as much as possible while not charging his is usual rate of $500 - $600 an hour.

VACNORCAL is seeking to take the depositions of San Jose City Councilmembers Madison Nguyen and Forrest Williams in February 2009. VACNORCAL has also sent a Request for Production of Documents to the City of San Jose.VACNORCAL previously noticed the depositions of Councilmembers Madison Nguyen and Forrest Williams in November 2008. But the City indicated it was interested in negotiating a settlement of the lawsuit. As taking a lawsuit through to trial or judgment is extremely costly (for both VACNORCAL and the taxpayers of San Jose), VACNORCAL felt it would be best to hold settlement discussions with the City.

Unfortunately, VACNORCAL ultimately felt the City Council was not participating in settlement negotiations in good faith and was just trying to waste VACNORCAL's time. VACNORCAL canceled further settlement conferences, and began discovery by noticing depositions for Madison Nguyen and Forrest Williams in February 2009, and propounding Requests for Production of Documents.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Winners and Losers of the Recall Election

It was no doubt a historical fight for the community. It was a political battle of David vs. Goliath. A group of political novices vs. the entire San Jose political establishment. In the end, Nguyen with her theme of "I am a misunderstood woman and I am a victim" and the recall will cost the city " $1 million dollar" got her the votes of Caucasians and Hispanics to win with the margin of 55% to 45%. The turn out was unprecedent high at almost 13,000 votes (38% of the total registered voters). The Vietnamese-American community is only 28% of the total registered voters but they made up almost 47% of the absentee ballots.

From exit polls, the Vietnamese-Americans were overwhelming against Nguyen (80% to 20%). However, the high turn-out went against them. So here are winners and losers of the election

1. It was a must win for Labor as they started the campaign working with Nguyen 4 months before the election. With massive manpower and money behind Nguyen, it would be unthinkable if they had lost.

2. Mayor Reed escaped a political nightmare if Nguyen had lost. First it was Hon Lien and now Madison Nguyen. Even though his reputation is damaged for the political mess, he came out with enough capital gain to fend off any challenger in 2010.

3. Nguyen with the support of the media, every elected officials (as the Mercury News mentioned because none of them wanted to set precedent for people to recall them if they made bad decision) and almost 2x the amount of money of the Recall Team, she was fighting for her political life. She won but she was damaged forever within her community.

4. The 5,700 votes against her. These are votes against Nguyen. The 7,000 votes against the recall are not really for Nguyen but against what they perceived the right and wrong of using the recall process. This is where Nguyen is weaken with the 5,700 votes of no confidence against her. Any challenger in 2010 will always have an automatic base against Nguyen.

5. The Recall Team took up the task assigned by the community. A team of all volunteers of professional young people who spent time working the campaign against tremendous odds. They attracted a young generation of Vietnamese-Americans to politics and the experience they learned are valuable. Never before the community have flexed it political muscle in such scale. They don't have enough votes to win an election but they have shown to be a very important swing votes for any candidates to win an election.

The final analysis - it will take a long time to heal since Nguyen has shown in the past to be vindictive with her political enemies. This is still small town politics with mini mayor system. She escaped the political batte of her life. Whether she will gain anything from it long term wise, only time can tell. The 5,700 votes of no confidence against her is still the jury to be convinced.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Nguyen is Predicted To Win

With 9,700 absentee ballots already in, Nguyen is ahead by 851 votes. This is too much of the lead for Recall Team to catch up with only about 1,800 votes left to be counted. It was a hard fought battle and the community is looking forward to the next election. In District 7, with 30% of the registered voters as Vietnamese-Americans, they will always be there to voice their influence in 2010 election and beyond.

The breakdown of the absentee ballots is 50% Vietnamese-Americans, 20% Hispanics, 25% Whites and 5% others.

Conventional wisdom predicted Nguyen to win since she has the most money (almost 3 times) and the mainstream media support.

This is a vote of no confidence against Madison Nguyen. She is an incumbent with all the support of Labor, powerful wealthy developers and lobbyist and yet it was a tough race for her against a movement ran by political novices. In 2010, she is weaken and will have challengers.

Calling Cindy Chavez

Either it was an act of desperation or brazen intimidation of voters, on Sunday's afternoon, a big red fire truck decorated with "NO RECALL" signs drove right in front of the lawyer Michael Luu's building (deep into the parking lot) and started honking horn. A beefy Caucasian stuck his head out and started shouting racist profanity about Vietnamese women and their men. The crowd was gathering for their final recall rally in the rented hall of the building.

An old man suddenly darted out from the building and stood in front of the fire truck and started yelling back. Other people saw such bravery and started surrounding the truck with their bodies. The driver stepped up the gas trying to run over the old man but a young boy inside the truck yelled out" No daddy!"

People with their camera started taking pictures and the Vietnam Daily press was called. Police came about 10 minutes later. Citation was issued and the beefy Caucasian was white as white could be when he drove away. He was last seen on the cell phone (another violation since it was not hand-free), probably calling their South Bay Labor Union's leader, Cindy Chavez, to report a sucessful job so that Chavez could put on the famous (if you are Labor and Nora Campos fan) or infamous (if you are Reed fan) ranting and raving "San Jose Revealed" blog.

As can be seen in the picture (click to enlarge), he was part of Local Firefighter 230. It was the same truck that drove 10 times around the block on Senter Road the day before honking horn and giving the finger to the recall people volunteering at the recall's headquarters on Senter Road.

The sad part of this episode was the young boy having to witness the ugliness of Labor Union and Madison Nguyen.

The irony here of course is that it was in the same building that the lawyer Michael Luu hosted Hillary Clinton fundraiser and invited an out-of-office Cindy Chavez to the event. It was also in this building that Hillary's campaign had their phone banking operation for Northern California and other parts of the West Coast. It was Michael Luu who raised a boat load of money for Cindy's failed mayoral campaign and gave her the support of the community that she asked for. With a friend like Cindy Chavez who needs enemy.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

From the Santa Clara County Supervisor's Office

It has come to our attention that this week someone called in during the Vien Thao program aired as prerecorded show on radio station KSJX, 1500 AM and identified herself as a County of Santa Clara employee. It is alleged that the caller said in Vietnamese that she would discontinue public benefits for anyone who opposed Madison Nguyen in the upcoming recall election.

We are currently looking into this matter. However, we do not believe that person who called in was the County worker whose name was used. We want to reiterate the following County’s policy and position:

1) The County of Santa Clara does not take positions on any electoral issues,
2) Residents served by the County cannot be and are not discriminated against or denied benefits because of their political views or stands, and
3) If anyone believes they have actually been discriminated against because of political views they should immediately contact the Social Service Agency’s Civil Rights office at 408/491-6393.

The Vu Nguyen
Policy Aide

Office of Supervisor Dave Cortese
County Governmental Center
70 W. Hedding Street , 10th Fl. San Jose , CA95110
T: 408-299-5030 Cel: 408-386-6115 F: 408-298-6637