Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Attorney Tam Nguyen Announcing his 2014 City Council Campaign

 
 
Last month, the San Jose attorney Tam Nguyen publicly declared his candidacy for District 7 city council seat in 2014.  This is the seat that will be vacated by the controversial Madison Nguyen. 

It is quite an early announcement by any standard but Tam Nguyen was just trying to measure who are the other candidates.   Right now,  Cam Van Le is the only other person who is hungry for the seat.   Earlier in the year, she moved to District 7 from District 8.    However, she was surprised by Tam Nguyen announcement but she is determined to win the race anyway.

It will be an interesting race with 1/3 of the electorates in the district are Vietnamese-Americans.   Many believes that this a district where a Vietnamese-American candidate would be a favorite to win.   Neverthless, there are strong speculations that Maya Esparza is harboring interest in running for the seat, especially with Labor behind her.   

 

Our Lady of La Vang Cathedral in San Jose

 
After 25 years of persistent petitioning and sometimes with strong-arm tactics,  the Vietnamese-American Catholics in San Jose got part of their wish to have a parish that they can officially call their own.   On April 28, 2013,  Bishop Patrick McGrath announced the renaming of St. Patrick Proto-Cathedral Parish to be Our Lady of La Vang Parish.  

The St. Patrick Parish has served the Vietnamese-American community for the past 37 years and the parishioners are now predominately Vietnamese-Americans.    However, the San Jose Diocese had been reluctant to designated it as a Vietnamese-American parish.   It is not uncommon to have such designation in southern California, Texas, Virginia, Oregon, Washington, Maryland, Kansas, Oaklahoma, Florida and Louisiana.  There  are about 3 dozen Vietnamese-American parishes in the US that specifically serve the Vietnamese-American Catholic communities. 

So what prompted the change of heart by Bishop Patrick McGrath and his predecessor, Bishop Emeritus Pierre Dumaine.

Earlier this year, there was a major fire at the church and the insurance paid about $3 million for coverage.  However, the church is old and needs alot of repair to meet current building codes.  The cost for renovation and fixing would be in tens of millions.   Fr. Dinh Hao, Fr. Huynh Loi and other Vietnamese-American priests in the parish agreed with the Bishop that a new church is needed to meet the growing of a large parish. 

The Diocese suggested raising $30 million as a down payment to build a new church that eventually will cost well above $100 million.   However, the parishioners balked at such a steep fund rasing effort.  To appeal to the parishioners who is mostly Vietnamese-Americans, the Vietnamese-American priests made a deal with the Bishop - Give us the parish that we have wanted for so long and we will try to raise the money.

Understanding the economic situation of the parish, a compromise was finally reached.

The Bishop said, "As Saint Patrick Proto-Cathedral Parish becomes Our Lady of La Vang Parish, we will not diminish our historic commitment to full ministry to all of the people of the parish, and that ministry will be in Vietnamese, in Spanish and in English."

He also emphasized, "Within the new church will be a large chapel that will be named in honor of Saint Patrick, as a perpetual reminder of the parish’s past and the parish school will continue to bear the name of Saint Patrick.”

Our Lady of La Vang refers to  site in central Viet Nam where the Virgin Mary sightings were reported by a number of people in 1798. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

US Consulate in Vietnam Caught Taking Bribery For Visa Scheme


According to a McClatchy report, a consular officer allegedly sold visas for millions of dollars at the US Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, and laundered millions in profits by buying real estate in Phuket and Bangkok.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/05/23/192116/foreign-service-officer-made-millions.html

The state department has been covering up the story for weeks but it was recently exposed by McClatchy. 

Foreign Service officer Michael T. Sestak was charged on conspiracy to commit visa fraud and bribery in an alleged scheme that investigators say spanned several countries. He and his cohorts charged Vietnamese  up to $70,000 each for visas granting legal entry to the United States.
          
The state deparment investigators say the alleged conspiracy occurred while Sestak was handling non-immigrant visas in the U.S. consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. Sestak served in the consulate until last September.  Sestak then moved the money out of Vietnam by using money launderers through offshore banks, primarily based in China, to a bank account in Thailand that he opened in May 2012.  He then used the million of dollars gained from the bribery scheme to purchase high-end  real estate in Phuket and Bangkok, Thailand.

For Vietnamese-Americans who are interested to know more about the details of the corruption at the US Consulate in Vietnam,  US Ambassor to Vietnam, David Shear, will be at the Board Chamber, Santa Clara County, on June 7 at 4:00 PM.

 

Scott Pham for Santa Clara County Supervisor

 
 
For the last two weeks,  LSI has been flooded with email from Scott Hung Pham about his campaign for the June 4 special election.    Scott was elected to the Alum Rock Union School Board in 2010.   He abruptedly resigned in 2012 and cited personal reason for his departure.  Now he is putting his name in the ballot with 5 other candidates for the recently vacated District 2 supervisor seat.  

In his latest email, Scott espoused interesting statistics to support his chance of winning.  He declared that based on his experience, there will be about  15,000 votes casted in this special election.   There are 20,000 Vietnamese-American registered voters in District 2; thus, he claimed, in bold letters with red color highlight, he only needs 7501 votes to win. 

He emphasized if the Viet turnout is high, he will have a very good chance of winning the election outright.   To further remind the community to vote for him, he included a picture of himself standing next to  the convicted felon Ly Tong.



In District 2, there are about 120,000 registered voters with 55% of the electorate are Hispanics.  The Mercury News predicts this will be a two-woman race between Chavez and Alvarado.  

Since this has been a very low key election, the turn out will be undoubtedly low.  If Scott can mobilize the Vietnamese-American voters, he will have a good chance of upseting either Chavez or Alvarado and get into the run-off.  

But in the run-off,  Scott's chance of winning is zeal.  As a fringe candidate, he neither has the money nor the support of Hispanics, Whites or other Asian voters to win.

However,  LSI has to give him the credit for seizing the opportunity in a 6-person race and hoping for an upset.  And when your campaign is partly relying on the infamous Ly Tong to help get the votes, everything is unpredictable. 
 

Unofficial Election Results

 San Jose City Council, D7   Precincts Reporting:  100% Tam Nguyen                        31.85%       2,275  Maya Esparza             ...