Monday, December 30, 2019

Westminster City Recall Petitions Qualify

With the multimillionaire Hoang Kieu spending more than $500,000 to help the recall effort,  a political group called Westminster United headed by David Johnson has successfully submitted enough signatures to trigger a recall election of 3 out of the 5 members of the city council.   Three petitions were submitted last month to recall Mayor Ta Tri, Councilwoman Kimberly Ho and Councilman Charlie Nguyen.   The required signatures were verified last week by Orange County Registrar of Voters.

The city council will convene on January 8, 2020 to determine the date for the recall election.  The date has to be no less than 88 days or more than 125 days after the meeting.  It will likely fall in early May or at the end of April.  The ballot will allow voters to vote for or against the recall.  And if for the recall, they will have the opportunity to vote for a replacement.   All three elected officials sought to be recalled cannot be candidates on the recall ballot.  However, they are allowed to run for the general election in November if they lost in the recall.

It has been a bitter fight between two factions in the city council.  Councilmen Tai Do and Sergio Contreras want to remove their colleagues who always vote together as a majority bloc.  They are frustrated that they don't have the majority to control the agenda and the vote on issues that matter to them.   Westminster United gathered 11,285 signatures over the summer and 9,047 signatures were qualified.  They raised less than $10,000 while the rest of the money came from Hoang Kieu to hire signature collectors, consultant and advertisement.   Legally, they only require to submit 8,736 signatures to qualify for the recall election;  this number represents 20% of the city registered voters.  The grievances for the recall are mostly political in nature and have no substance.  But again, we are living in an era of great divisiveness where everything is blurred between the line.

Mayor Tri Ta

There are 43,680 registered voters in Westminster City and 41% are Vietnamese-American.  The city has over 91,000 residents and the majority is Asian.   Mayor Tri Ta was re-elected in 2018 for a fourth term.   Councilman Charlie Nguyen was first elected in 2018 after 3 attempts.  Councilwoman Kimberly Ho was first elected in 2016 and will have to run for re-election in November 2020.  In 2020,  the city will be redistricting and the election will be based on 5 new districts.  

Monday, December 23, 2019

Millionaire (Not Billionaire) Hoang Kieu Holds Press Conference

Millionaire Hoang Kieu issues a press conference to announce his political supports of local OC candidate.  Note that even though there is no official result on whether the submitted signatures for the recall of 3 elected council members of Westminster are legitimate and meet the threshold required for a recall election, HK claims the petition to recall is a success.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Hoang Kieu Partying at White House Christmas Ball

Here are some pictures sent out by the famous multi-millionaire Hoang Kieu.  He can be seen enjoying himself at the White House with President Donald Trump, his son -in-law and other members of his cabinet including the Vice President.

Losing his title as billionaire this year as he was forced out of a Chinese health care company he co-founded (see LSI article) did not seem to dampen his spirit.  

LSI is wondering how can one be on the guest list of the White House Christmas Ball for next year.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Billionaire Hoang Kieu and Pride of San Jose First Recipient

Billionaire Hoang Kieu is well known for his flamboyance and his generosity in the Vietnamese-American community.   He donated $10 million total to flood victims in San Jose and Houston.  He gave over half a million dollars to fire victims in Northern California.

Hoang Kieu, a self-made Vietnamese-American billionaire who came to America in 1975 with nothing  but determination and hope.  He made his fortune in a company he founded called RAAS which focuses on providing blood plasma.  The 81 years old (as he declared his real age at a gala in San Jose 2 years ago) eccentric billionaire, now has diversified into wine, high-end restaurant and event catering, cosmetics, luxury handbags and nutritional supplements.  And just to have some fun, he even has his own musical show production.  

Recently, he became the first recipient of Pride of San Jose award given out by  San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.  There is now a street named after him in San Jose.

But in Southern California where he lives, it is a different story.  HK is embroiled in a recall effort of three city councilmembers of Westminster, a city where almost 45% of the voters are Vietnamese-Americans.   There are 4 Vietnamese-American city councilmembers, out of five, in Westminster.  HK is personally funding the recall effort just because these three councilmembers slighted him last year.  He is angry because they did not cooperate with him in his extravagant funeral arrangement for Ly Tong, a folk hero to the anti-communist crowd for his hijacking of a passenger plane in Vietnam in 1992 to drop anti-government leaflets.  He paid the funeral expense at the cost of $400,000.  

He claims to spend over $500,000 to help a recall group, Westminster United, to get 8,700 signatures required for recall.   He hires a political consultant responsible for the recall of former Governor Al Davis to help with strategy.  Almost every week for the last 3 months, he is on radio and Youtube live to make his case for the recalling of Mayor Tri Ta, Vice Mayor Kimberly Ho and councilmember Charlie Nguyen.

Running out of things to say, he recently dressed up as a king and demanded the castration of elected officials so that they can become his eunuchs.  Suddenly, he realized that Kimberly Ho is a woman, he laughed and said, "It does not matter, she is already an eunuch."

Just this week, he went overboard and declared he will castrate and break the teeth of Luong Ngo, a community activist opposing the recall.  Ngo promptly filed a complain with the FCC and the Garden Grove police.

In the Youtube video, he also disclosed that he is being  forced out of Shanghai RAAS, the company he co-founded over 27 years ago and the main source of his wealth.  They offer him a buyout of $380 million.   

HK was worth $3.8 billion in 2015 according Forbes based on the market value of Shanghai RAAS of $17.7 billion at that time.   He blames that people opposing the recall with their smear campaign against him cause this predicament of him being ousted.  He promises to sue them for his financial loss.   He claims to have file lawsuits against the city of Westminster and other members of the Vietnamese media.  

It is difficult to follow his rambling reasons on why and what, but he is certainly creating a buzz in community.  Also, when you are an octogenarian with hundreds of millions at your disposal, you can pretty much say and do whatever you want (within legal limit of course).

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The History of Pho

I try to find " Phở " whenever I travel.  This humble Vietnamese beef noodle soup first started out as a street food, a quick and cheap meal for the common laborers at ports along the Red River in North Vietnam more than 100 years ago. Yet now it is an international symbol of Vietnamese cuisine just like hamburger to American food culture and symbolism worldwide.

I found phở in Dubai with one restaurant serving in a 5 liter bowl.  One can have phở in exotic Casablanca and of all places, New Delhi where cows are still considered sacred. It is fashionable in Shanghai where the waitresses serving  phở are dressed up in ao dai with conical hat. In Tel Aviv, there is a small group of Vietnamese expatriates and some making a living by opening phở restaurants.   There are a dozen phở restaurants in New Zealand which is far down under.  I even had phở  far up north close to the Artic Circle in Finland.  And from the land where Homo sapiens took their first upright walk and spread their genes across the globe, you can find phở in Johannesburg.

Phở reflects the diaspora identity of the Vietnamese as they disperse throughout the world after the Vietnam War ended in 1975.

The History of Phở and Its Origin

We know that phở started out as a street food in Ha Noi, the ancient capital city, and Nam Dinh (90 km SE of Ha Noi).  The noodle soup was served as breakfast or late night snack.  Both cities claim to be the birth place of phở

The first mentioning of the word "Phở" was noted in a letter sending back from Paris to his family in Ha Noi by a businessman named Vinh van Nguyen in 1906.  He lamented how he missed Vietnam every time he heard street vendors peddling their goods in Paris, for they reminded him of the phở street vendors and their unique holler calling attention to their steamy hot noodle soup.  In 1913, the novelist Hoan cong Nguyen wrote about eating phở late in the night and how it costed him 2 pennies for a bowl of phở.

Phở must have been popular enough to catch the eyes of the Frenchman Henri Oger.  In his oversize illustrated book titled Technique du Peuple Anamite 1908-1909,  it has an illustration of a phở street vendor carrying on a pole two cabinets containing  soup pot, noodles and condiments. 

In 1913, the artist Mauric Salge painted a picture of a phở street vendor peddling the food late at night in Ha Noi.

Back then, a phở street vendor must have a fine sense of balance to be able to carry on his shoulder a long wooden pole with one end dangling a cabinet with a boiling pot of soup sitting on top of a coal burning cauldron,  and the other end with a cabinet full of noodle, beef, fish sauce, bowls and chopsticks.  Here are some more pictures of the street vendors and their customers in the early 1900s.

From limited available information, it seems that phở has been around at least before 1906,  but after 1895 since well known Vietnamese dictionary by Cua tinh Huynh published in 1895, and Vietnamese-French dictionary by Genibrel, J.F.M., published in 1898,  did not have the word "Phở"

What is the Phở ?

Phở's main spice ingredient usually derived from the Chinese Five Spice mix (cloves, fennel, star anise, cinnamon and Szechuan peppercorns), charred onions and ginger.   The clear broth is the result of slow cooked beef bones and oxtail. The seasoning is done with fish sauce of course.  The soup is poured over rice noodle with thin cuts of beef flank or brisket, and garnished with chili peppers, green and white onions. 

The origin of the word "phở" has a number of theories.   We know the word for rice noodle in Chinese is pronounced "phấn".  During the same period, Chinese immigrant in Ha Noi sold a dish called "ngưu nhục phấn" (Chinese: 牛肉粉)  which means beef meat noodles.  In his "Vietnamese, Chinese &; French Dictionary",  Eugène  Gouin (1957) defined the word phở as the corruption of the word phấn.  

Phở also could have evolved from a dish called xáo trâuAccording to wikipedia:

Originally eaten by commoners near the Red River, it consisted of stir-fried strips of water buffalo meat served in broth atop rice vermicelli. Around 1908–1909, the shipping industry brought an influx of laborers. Vietnamese and Chinese cooks set up gánh to serve them xáo trâu but later switched to inexpensive scraps of beef set aside by butchers who sold to the French.  Chinese vendors advertised this xáo bò by crying out, "Beef and noodles!" or "ngưu nhục phấn". Eventually the street cry became "Meat and noodles!"  or "nhục phấn" , with the last syllable elongated.  The author Nguyễn Ngọc Bích suggests that the final "n" was eventually dropped because of the similar-sounding phân or "excrement".   This is likely what the Vietnamese poet Tản Đà calls "nhục-phở" in "Đánh bạc" ("Gambling"), written around 1915–1917.

There is a minority opinion that favors the idea that phở evolved from the French beef stew pot-au-feu.  And accordingly, the word "phở" is the Vietnamese pronunciation of feu.

Pot-au-feu is is a thick stew often composes of beef, potatoes, carrots, onions, other vegetables and usually eat with bread.  There is a stark difference between the two soups, one is clear broth serves over rice noodle, the other one is a heavy stew serves with bread. 

Whatever is the origin of phở, it became popular in Saigon as the result of  the large migration of people from the north in 1954 to escape the communist regime.   Here, in adoption to the Mekong delta flavor,  the dish is garnished additionally with Thai basil, culandro (saw tooth herb), bean sprout, black soy bean sauce and red chili paste.  

And then came the mass exodus after the Fall of Saigon in 1975 ,  Vietnamese refugees escaped Vietnam seeking freedom with only clothes on their backs and memories of their homeland to start a new life in whichever country that would welcome them.  They also took with them their cuisine. Phở now becomes a common lexicon in many languages and universally recognized as a popular but unique Vietnamese dish.

On a personal level, thirty years ago,  I introduced phở to a young and ambitious Chinese student who came to US fresh out of China's most prestigious university - University of Beijing.  She thought it was one of best food she ever had.  She is now  a successful executive legal counsel for a major high tech company.  Occasionally,  I still receive an email from her asking for suggestion of phở restaurant as her travel taking her to different parts of the country and the world.

I guess as far as friendship goes, phở can be the the soup that binds.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Read Admiral Huan Nguyen's Historical Day

Today,  Huan Nguyen, age 60, became the first Vietnamese-born  US Navy Rear Admiral.  He is the fourth Vietnamese-born general and flag officers.  US Army Major General Viet Xuan Luong, age 54, was promoted in 2014 and soon to be US Army Major General Lap The Chau Flora, age 57, was promoted in 2016.  Not in picture is US Marine Corps Brigadier General Bill Seely III (promoted in 2016).   

According to the official Naval Sea Systems Command Webiste:

Rear Adm. Huan Nguyen, age 60, will serve as the Deputy Commander for Cyber Engineering at the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) on the Washington Navy Yard.  NAVSEA commander, Vice Adm. Tom Moore, served as the presiding officer.
“Today we will welcome the first Vietnamese-born U.S. Navy officer to achieve flag rank, and that is a significant event,” said Moore.
Nguyen after being promoted addressed the audience.
“It is a great honor to attain the rank of admiral. I am tremendously humbled to become the first Vietnamese American to wear the flag’s rank in the U.S. Navy. The honor actually belongs to the Vietnamese American community, which instilled in us a sense of patriotism, duty, honor, courage and commitment to our adopted country, the United States of America,” said Nguyen. “This is our America. A country built on service, kindness and generosity…opportunity…the freedom to hope and dream. These values are what inspired me to serve.  And what a great honor and privilege it is to serve our Navy…to serve our country…to support and defend our Constitution.”
Nguyen was born in Hue Vietnam, the son of an armor officer in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. During the 1968 Tet Offensive, Nguyen’s mother and father, along with his five brothers and sister were killed by Viet Cong Communist guerillas in their family home outside Saigon. Nine-year-old Nguyen was shot in the arm and thigh, with another bullet piercing his skull. He stayed with his mother for two hours, until she bled out and died. Amazingly, Nguyen survived and escaped after dark.
Nguyen was taken in by his uncle, a Colonel in the Republic of Vietnam Air Force. In 1975, at age 16, they fled Vietnam, seeking refuge in the United States following the fall of Saigon.
Transported through Guam, U.S. Navy and Marine Corps personnel took care of Nguyen and his family. The U.S. 7th Fleet helped to evacuate thousands of Vietnamese refugees and transport them to safety in Guam. Seeing the U.S. Navy take care of his family would later inspire Nguyen to serve in the Navy. 
“I was one of those refugees, apprehensive about an uncertain future, yet feeling extremely grateful that I was here at all.  The images that I remember vividly when I arrived at Camp Asan, Guam, now Asan Beach Park, were of American sailors and Marines toiling in the hot sun, setting up tents and chow hall, distributing water and hot food, helping and caring for the people with dignity and respect. I thought to myself how lucky I am to be in a place like America. Those sailors inspired me to later serve in the United States Navy,” said Nguyen.
Later that year, U.S. Air Force Colonel Ed Veiluva and his wife Dorothy sponsored his uncle’s family, allowing them to officially come to the United States as political refugees. Nguyen moved with his uncle’s family to Midwest City, Oklahoma, just outside of Tinker Air Force Base.
Nguyen graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Oklahoma State University in 1981. He holds Master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from Southern Methodist University, Engineering (Manufacturing Concentration) from Purdue University, and Information Technology with Highest Distinction from Carnegie Mellon University.  He received a Navy direct commission through the Reserve Engineering Duty Officer program in 1993.
“America is the beacon of hope for all of us. There is no other place in the world where a person can go for such opportunity,” said Nguyen.

Over 300 people, mostly family members, friends, naval officers and supporters came and attended the ceremony held at Navy Memorial in Washington DC.  
Along his side to celebrate his promotion were his wife, Huong Nguyen, his three children, his uncle (former Vietnamese Air Force Colonel Tu Nguyen) and aunt who raised him, his father-in-law (with black cane), Khoa Xuan Le, a former faculty at John Hopkins University and founder of SEARAC, a refugee and immigrant action center advocating for South East Asians.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Ocean Vuong Received Genius Grant from MacArthur Foundation

From the press release of University of Massachussette Amherst -

Ocean Vuong, an assistant professor in the Masters of Fine Arts Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, today was named a 2019 MacArthur Fellow in the Fiction and Non-Fiction Writing category.
Vuong, a poet and novelist, is the author of the current best-seller “On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous,” his first novel. The book was also recently long-listed for the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction.
The MacArthur Fellowship is a $625,000, no-strings-attached award to extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential. Commonly called the “Genius Grant,” the Fellowship recognizes three criteria for selection: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishments and potential for the Fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.
“The UMass Amherst community is extraordinarily proud to have Ocean Vuong among us,” said UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy. “The MacArthur Fellowship celebrates his emerging status as a gifted writer who is a major voice of his generation and a creative force.”
Vinh Quoc Vuong was born on a rice farm outside of Ho chi Minh City, Vietnam in 1988.  His family immigrated to Hartford, Connecticut when he was 2 years old. He did not learn to read until he was eleven years old.  He was raised by his mother, a manicurist, after his father went to prison for assaulting her.   

Ocean is an unusual name.  His given name  means to be proud / success but with the middle name Quoc, it means pride of a nation.  The New Yorker wrote about the origin of his new name as follows:

One  summer day at the nail salon, she told a customer that she wanted to go to the beach.  She mispronounced the word "beach" with "bitch".   The customer suggested that she use the word “ocean” instead. Upon learning that the ocean is not a beach but a body of water that touches many countries—she renamed her son.  Ocean Vuong is openly gay

  • He is the fifth Vietnamese-American to receive the MacArthur Genius Grant.  Thong Sanh Huynh (Yale, 1987), My Hang Huynh (Los Alamos  National Lab, 2007), An My Le ( Bard College, 2012), Viet Thanh Nguyen (USC, 2017).

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Huy Tran and Greet & Meet Event

Last Friday, about 70 community members and Huy Tran supporters showed up for a greet & meet event at  Crema Coffee.  It was a full house as the community has heard good things about him and was curious to find out about Tran on issues.

Besides a number of Vietnamese-American community leaders, elected officials like Assemblyman Ash Kalra, San Jose Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco, Milpitas Mayor Rich Tran and Vice Mayor Karina Dominguez were on hand to endorse him.

Huy Tran and his team of 15 volunteers can be seen canvassing District 4 for the last 6 weeks.  The unpopular San Jose D4 Councilman Lan Diep has the advantage of being the incumbent and not yet campaigning.  District 4 has about 20% Vietnamese-American registered voters.   The second largest voting bloc is Hispanic with about 15%.   The Chinese and Filipino make up about 25%.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Navy Captain Huan Nguyen's Circle of Life


... Its the circle of life
All it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life.

Theme from "The Lion King"

As the news spread about the nomination of Navy Captain Huấn Từ Nguyễn, 60,  to be rear admiral, some astute studiers of the Vietnam War could not help but notice the captain's history.

At 16, Nguyen arrived in Guam as refugee right after the Fall of Saigon in 1975.  Seven years before, he was badly injured during the attack by the communist rebels during the surprise Tet Offensive.   Some of the rebels pretended to be civilians and infiltrated key areas in Saigon.   Nguyen's family was captured at their home in the early morning of the fight.  The rebels targeted his family because his dad, Lt. Colonel Tuan Nguyen, was the head of an armored division protecting the city.   His parents along with his 5 siblings and his 80 years old grandma were executed.  He was the only one in his family survived the brutality despite being shot in the arm and leg and afterward by one of the rebels in the head execution style.  He was clinging to his mother's lifeless body when he was found. 

A few days later, the communist rebel leader responsible for the killings, Lem Nguyen, was captured.  Hearing the cowardly and heartless massacre committed by Lem Nguyen, then Brigadier General Loan Nguyen, pulled out his revolver and summary executed Lem Nguyen at point blank.  The image was captured by Eddie Adams and seared into the American public opinion. The story of why Lem Nguyen met his death was never mentioned and the American press quickly condemned the action of Brigadier General Loan Nguyen as barbaric.  The photo became an icon of the brutality of an unwinnable war and helped galvanized the  anti-war movement.   

Eddie Adams won the Pulitzer Prize for the photo.  However,  Adams believed he had destroyed Loan’s life.  He wrote years later,  “Two people died in that photograph, the recipient of the bullet and General Nguyen Ngoc Loan. The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera.”  When Loan Nguyen died, Adams praised him as hero of a just cause.

Came to America as an orphan,  Huan Tu Nguyen, determined to make the best of his life and followed his dad's military career.  He attended Oklahoma State University and graduated in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineer.   In 1993, Nguyen received a direct commission into Navy's Reserved Engineering Duty Officer program.  He served combat tour in Iraq and Afghanistan.  And soon, barring any unexpected circumstances,  he will become the first Vietnamese-American to be a rear admiral.  He will join 3 other Vietnamese-Americans to hold the general rank in the US armed forces.

The Vietnam War produced many tragedies, brought down administrations and a country, destroyed lives while created refugees and endless misery.  Yet, in the circle of life, the triumph of the human spirits,  of good over evil, of hope over despair, is indomitable. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Candidates for State Assembly D25

For a district where the majority is Asian American and with current Assemblyman Kansen Chu (D) resigning to run for Santa Clara County supervisor,  the following people have either filed or stated their intents to run -

Anna Song (D) - Santa Clara County Board of Education Trustee

Jim Canova (D) - Santa Clara Unified Board of Education Trustee

Bob Brunton (R) - former Ohlone College Board of Trustee

Alex Lee (D) -  Legislative Aide

Rich Tran (D) - Mayor of Milpitas

Karina Dominguez - Vice Mayor of Milpitas

With about 210,000 votes up for grab, it is a wide open race and it will come down  to money and organizational support to be in the top two in the primary in March of 2020.    The conventional wisdom says that both Alex Lee and Bob Brunton are just for the ride with no serious contention.    

2020 Census Jobs

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Janet Nguyen Vying for MWDOC Board

Former State Senator Janet Nguyen told some of her closest friends that she is done sitting around being a housewife.  To keep her name active and also to have some supplemental income, she is putting her name for the vacant board seat of the Municipal Water District of Orange County.  The wholesale water supplier sells to 28 city water departments and water districts which supply water to more than two-thirds of Orange County population.

The position paid up to $30,000 a year plus another $20,000 of benefits.  There are at least 5 other candidates the board will also consider for the appointment.   Whoever the board chosen will have to run for election in 2020

After the interview, she thinks she has a good chance of being chosen by the board.  After all, she is more than qualified in comparison to her illustrious political career.  

Epilogue:  The MWDOC Board voted 4-0 in favor of former Fountain Valley Planning Commissioner Robert McVicker to the post.   Janet Nguyen hinted that she will run for the seat in 2020.   With more than $350,000 left over from her last campaign, Nguyen has a great chance of winning.  

Friday, May 24, 2019

Huy Tran For San Jose City Council D4

Huy Tran made it official with his campaign kickoff last weekend at Cataldi Park.  Despite pouring rain, over 70 supporters showed up to share their enthusiasm for his campaign.  Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D) gave praises about Tran as an activist on many issues affecting San Jose.  Milpitas Vice Mayor Karina Dominguez and Fremont Vice Mayor Raj Salwat were also at the event.

There are currently two candidates vying to unseat the incumbent Lan Diep who won the election 4 years ago  by 28 votes to another incumbent Manh Nguyen.   Lan Diep's lip service, self-center personality, and his disloyal to supporters remind Vietnamese-American voters of the controversial former City Councilmember Madison Nguyen.   This tension created by Diep opens the door for David Cohen, a school board trustee, and Huy Tran. 

The district is predominately Asian-American with about 20% Vietnamese-American registered voters.  The rest of the breakdown is 11.6% Chinese American, 9% Filipino, 5% Indian-American and 14.4% Latino.

Huy Tran is a lawyer specializes in labor law.  Until recently, he served on the Housing and Community Development Commission.  He is well known and liked in the Vietnamese-American community.    

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Karina Dominguez Enters Race for Assembly D25?

Milpitas Vice Mayor Karina Dominguez declared to people she met at various events last week  her candidacy for 25th California Assembly District.   She will be running against Milpitas Mayor Richard Tran and school board trustees Anna Song and Jim Canova from Santa Clara.  She has not yet made a formal announcement because she is waiting to see if she can cut a deal or two.

Dominguez was just elected as city councilmember in November 2018.    Just like Tran,  Milpitas is just too small for her political ambition.  But who could blame them, this is an opportunity of a life time.

The D-25  has about 210,000 registered voters.  The voting demographic is 33% Asian, 15% Latino and 45% White.   The area covers Newark, most of Fremont, Santa Clara, Milpitas, most of San Jose D4 and small part of Sunnyvale.

There are rumors of one potential candidate from San Jose and one from Fremont.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Vietnamese American Fine Art Exhibition

Kansen Chu and His Surprise

The Bay Area politics was abuzz when 3-term  Assemblyman Kansen Chu (D) decided to resign from his position and run for Santa Clara County supervisor to replace the outgoing Supervisor Dave Cortese. 

He gave a hint last summer when he put out feelers on who would want to run for state legislature office.  The discussion involved a number of elected officials within his district.

At 67 years old, he does not enjoy the traveling back and forth  and wants to be close to home with his family.

His decision has changed the election landscape in 2020 for Assembly D25 and County D3.  Both districts have a sizable number of Asian-American voters.

Chu is now the clear front runner.  He has carefully built his name recognition and image for the last 12 years in office. He is well liked and popular among his constituents.  Not only that he has quite a campaign war chest of over $600,000.   If he wins, he can possibly serve for 12 years or until he is 80 years old (and would hold the record to be the oldest serving supervisor).

Both former Sunnyvale Mayor Otto Lee and San Jose City Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco were considered to be the two likely candidates to win the primary and face each other in the general election.   Now there is a good chance that the race will be over in the primary with Chu winning 50% + 1.

Here is what likely will happen in the supervisorial race -

Without any realistic chance of winning, Milpitas Mayor Richard Tran will drop out of the race and run for state assembly.   He has reached out to Chu  hoping to strike a deal.  After all, he thinks he can deliver the Vietnamese-American vote for Chu (as well as Milpitas in general).  In reality, Chu is well respected and known in the community.

Tran is a controversial figure in the Vietnamese-American community.  He rarely attends events and is unknown outside of  Milpitas.  His brashness and rude behavior  have displeased many older Vietnamese voters.  It does not help that he openly supports Madison Nguyen and asked her to swear him in as the mayor of Milpitas.

D3 has about 16% Vietnamese-American registered voters which is about 1% more than Hispanic voters.  Overall, the Asian voting is bloc is almost 45% of the total registered voters.

Carrasco is not trusted by Labor Unions so they will support Chu.   This is an important seat since Supervisor Cindy Chavez will need an ally to replace Cortese in the county to get things done in her favor. 

Lee lost his  2008 supervisorial race against Dave Cortese for the same D3 seat.   He felt betrayed when Chu endorsed and supported Cortese despite the fact that Lee  went out of his way to help Chu won his San Jose City council seat in 2007.    Ironically, Chu is now his opponent.

For the state assembly race, the rumor is that current D4 Councilmember Lan Diep has thought about running.  In a wide open race, he has a good chance as any other candidate.   After all, his political career will be stuck with nowhere to go even if he wins his re-election in 2020.   The career path was to replace Kansen Chu when he terms out in 2026.  Diep is in for a re-election fight against David Cohen and Huy Tran. 

Similar to Richard Tran, Diep has not endeared himself to the Vietnamese-American community with his condescending personality and is often perceived as another young Madison Nguyen.

Since D25 has a sizable number of Indian-American voters, it would not be surprised to see Fremont Vice Mayor Raj Salwan  throwing his hat in the ring.  He is a moderate politician with a pro-business view.

Things will become clearer in the next few weeks since it is a short campaign season with the primary looming in March 2020.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Tiffany Chung: Vietnam, Past is Prologue

Internationally acclaimed artist Tiffany Chung (b. 1969, Da Nang, Vietnam) is known for her multimedia work that explores migration, conflict, and shifting geographies in the wake of political and natural upheavals. 

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has invited her to present work that responds to the Vietnam War, and its legacy on the culture and population of the United States. 

The project stems from the facts of her own life: Chung’s father was a pilot in the South Vietnamese army who fought alongside American forces, and the family immigrated to the U.S. as part of the post-1975 exodus from that country. Chung examines the narratives that have been used to understand the war and its aftermath, and probes how the America we know today was shaped by Vietnam.  

Through this work, Chung documents accounts that have largely been left out of official histories of the period and begins to tell an alternative story of the war’s ideology and effects.  A centerpiece of the exhibition is a new series of video interviews with former Vietnamese refugees who live in Houston, Southern California and Northern Virginia that was commissioned by the Smithsonian American Art Museum.   

Vietnam, Past Is Prologue” is on view from March 15 through Sept. 2. The exhibition is organized by Sarah Newman, the James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art. 

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