Thursday, April 25, 2024

Scuffle Between Mayor Mahan's Security Detail and Pedestrian

The unfortunate incidence on April 24, 202 reminded some of our readers the Rodney King's famous plea as racial strife and violence overran part of LA  City after the verdict of the OJ Simpson murder trial: " I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?"

Mayor Mahan’s office issued the following statement regarding the incident:

“Mayor Matt Mahan is deeply grateful to his security detail and the entire San Jose Police Department. The actions of the Officer tonight were heroic and a testament to the deescalation training that makes our officers effective, compassionate and stewards of community trust. His thoughts are with the Officer and he hopes for a speedy recovery. The Mayor understands how privileged he is to have an armed officer protecting him at all times, and is resolved in his commitment to create a safer city for everyone. That means hiring more police officers and addressing the root causes of crime, including by intervening earlier and more effectively in cycles of addiction, mental illness and violence.”

Reverend Jethroe Moore  II writing to the interim SJPD Chief Paul Jospheph as he posted / released to media outlets right after the incident on April 24, 2024.  He is currently serving as president of the San Jose Silicon Valley NAACP.

Dear Chief Paul Joseph,

I am writing to you with deep concern regarding an incident that took place yesterday involving a physical altercation between the San Jose mayor’s security detail and a pedestrian. As the President of the San Jose Silicon Valley NAACP, I feel compelled to address this issue and share my perspectives on the matter.

Upon viewing the video of the incident, I was troubled by the rapid escalation of the situation into a physical altercation. It was distressing to witness the lack of attempts at de-escalation from the officers involved, and I believe this raises questions about the adequacy of their de-escalation training. In any situation where conflicts arise, it is critical for law enforcement officers to prioritize de-escalation techniques to ensure the safety and well-being of all individuals involved.

The officer involved in the altercation did not clearly identify himself as a law enforcement officer, and it appears that there was no legal basis for instructing the pedestrian to move from his location in a public space. The pedestrian’s reaction, although stating a warning, should have been met with a more measured response from the officer, considering the circumstances.

Furthermore, the presence of what seemed to be an object, possibly a metal rod, being thrown into the frame of the camera from outside raises serious concerns about the intentions behind this act. This action added a dangerous element to an already tense situation and warrants a thorough investigation to determine the source and purpose of the object.

Additionally, the bystanders’ reactions to the altercation were also troubling. Instead of intervening or seeking help, many individuals appeared passive, choosing to record the incident on their cell phones instead. This lack of active involvement from bystanders highlights the need for community education on how to safely and effectively intervene in such situations to prevent further escalation or harm.

As the head of the San Jose Police Department, I urge you to conduct a comprehensive review of the incident, including the actions of all parties involved, to ensure accountability and transparency. It is imperative that all officers receive ongoing training in de-escalation techniques and conflict resolution to handle challenging situations effectively and with respect for all individuals’ rights.

I also request that you provide updates on the investigation and any steps taken to address the concerns raised by this incident. Our community looks to law enforcement for protection and support, and it is essential that the public trust in the integrity and professionalism of our police force is maintained.

I am more than willing to discuss this matter further and collaborate on initiatives to improve police-community relations and ensure that incidents like this are addressed promptly and justly. Together, we can work towards a safer and more inclusive environment for all residents of San Jose.


Rev. Jethroe Moore II
San Jose Silicon Valley NAACP

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Matt Mahan and Cindy Chavez Subpoenaed For A Restraining Order Case

Must be the new political norm in San Jose City Hall for within the last 4 months, two City Councilmembers filed temporary restraining orders (TRO) against their constituents.  

In late December 2023, Councilmember Peter Ortiz filed the request against social media blogger Robert Saenz for his accusation that Ortiz has failed to represent the Hispanic community while supporting LGBTQ causes. The TRO was granted by Santa Clara County Commissioner Johanna Thai Van Dat.

The case is currently going through anti-SLAPP motion.

On March 14, County Commissioner Johanna Thai Van Dat once again issued a TRO against Hai Huynh at the request of City Councilmember Bien Doan.  Hai Huynh is known in the community for his charitable support of nonprofit causes.

April 23rd is the hearing date for both parties.  In the meantime, Minh Do, Huynh's attorney,  had subpoenaed San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan and  Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez. He also denounced the accusations are baseless and nothing more than political intimidation and harassment. 

One interesting occasion filed in the case is reported by San Jose Spotlight as follows:

".....Court filings show animus relations between Doan and Huynh started in December 2022, a month after Doan won his election to the San Jose City Council. Huynh called Doan’s cell phone to discuss a conflict the councilmember-elect had with someone who reported to Huynh. The filings don’t clarify who or what the conflict was about.

“During the call, (Huynh) used an expression that translates literally as ‘Don’t mess with my brother,'” Doan wrote. “In Vietnamese, the expression is understood to be a warning against messing with someone’s business or gang and to threaten physical harm in retaliation.”

Eventhough not specifically naming the individual, it has been speculated that the person whom Huynh defended was Phuong (Peter) Nguyen, the current aide for State Senator Dave Cortese. Nguyen is an activist in the Vietnamese community and has been a loyal supporter of former Councilmember Madison Nguyen.  During Covid, Huynh took Nguyen under his wing for he was struggle financially.  Huynh subsequently asked Cortese for him to be his aide representing the Vietnamese constituents.

Both RTO cases claiming security threats to elected officials are unprecedent in San Jose politics, especially when they are incited within their respective ethnic groups,  Latino against Latino, Vietnamese against Vietnamese.  The suddenly tigh security in City Hall under the new mayor at the start of his administration also brings a reality check on the perceived or actual violence nature of political threats in San Jose. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Slow Voter Turnout in Santa Clara County for Midterm Election?


Mirroring the voting trends in California, the voters in Santa Clara County have not returned their mail-in ballots as expected.  With about 7.8% of 1,013,616 ballots returned as of February 25, a spokesperson for the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters noted that this is historically at the lower end.  Even with the usual last-minute surge of voters next week on Primary Election Day and 7-day allowance after the election date for receiving ballots, the office does not expect the turnout to be more than 55%.

The Vietnamese-American voters historically exhibit a lower turnout than the overall average.  Analyses by Viet Poll Media for the last 6 elections since 2022 showed on average, Vietnamese-American turnout is 6 percentage points lower than the overall turnout.  In comparison, the Chinese and Indian turnouts are 8-9 percentage points higher than the overall.  Of all the voter demographics, Hispanic turnout is about 10 percentage points lower.  

In the 2020 election, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation funded a voting awareness program and identified several districts in San Jose where the turnout was traditionally low.  The data indicated some of the low-turnout demographics were located in Vietnamese-dominated precincts in Districts 7 and 8.

With over 80% of voters casting ballots by mail in the county, candidates are actively walking their precincts trying to garner as many votes as they can.  One of the high-profile races is the District 2  supervisorial race to replace the long-time political stalwart Cindy Chavez.   The two Vietnamese-American candidates, Betty Duong and Madison Nguyen, are considered to be the front runners because of their strong name recognition and financial backing.

The two candidates are being viewed differently in the Vietnamese community and it affects so far their campaigning strategies and outreach to potential voters.  Vietnamese-American votes are about 18% of the registered voters in District 2.  

Betty Duong is everywhere in the community as she always has been anyway before her election campaign. Her various positions at the county give her a high profile and close interaction to help the community.  She was at all major events during the Lunar New Year and often was introduced and given the opportunity to speak.  She has walked and knocked over 20,000 doors just to be in touch with the voters.

Madison is taking a more passive approach and has limited her interactions with the community.  She tried to have a campaign kick-off and fund raiser at Dynasty Restaurant in Vietnam town in June of last year and was met with about 80 protesters.  After her bitter defeat to Ash Kalra in the 2016 assembly race, she disappeared from the community and moved to Nevada until she decided to run for the supervisorial seat.  She hardly walks the precincts and rarely is invited to community events, partly because organizers did not want to have any commotions.  The Vietnamese voters still hold their grudges after all these years for the divisiveness she caused.

 In 2016, the D27 assembly race was for her to win against Kalra and she managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  The district had 20% Vietnamese registered voters in a presidential election pitting Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton. Just like the majority of the country during that time, the mostly conservative Vietnamese voting bloc was motivated by Trumpism and had the highest turnout ever. 

She raised more than $1.2 million for the race, and her supporting PACs of mostly Govern for California, Charter Schools Association, and California Association of Realtors spent $3 million to defeat Kalra.   The list of billionaires behind her campaign was impressive with last names like Fisher, Munger and Jobs.

Ash Kalra could hardly raise over $650k and his supporting PAC’s spent about $1.3 million.   He was trounced in the primary election by 15 points.  Not many political pundits gave him a chance, especially in a district with a strong Vietnamese-American voting bloc.

It was so bad that State Senator Janet Nguyen called one of his supporters and suggested that he might consider taking a centrist position on several issues so that she could try to convince the lobbyists in Sacramento to slow down their PAC funding for Nguyen’s campaign.   

Yet, Kalra managed to beat her by almost 8% in the general election.  It was a stunning defeat considering she was banking on the Vietnamese voters to line up behind her.  Meanwhile, on the Election Night of 2016, the Viet community in general must have thought good riddance.  And now they are motivated to help Betty Duong.

Madison Nguyen has been on a “ poor me “ tour with the Vietnamese-American media.  She claimed that she was misunderstood and voters should give her a second look.  She tried hard to reach out and apologized to the community leaders and influencers for her role in the Little Saigon naming donnybrook. 

Even though big political names in San Jose like former Mayor Sam Liccardo had endorsed her in the past, a lot of them decided to stay on the sideline this time.  The new popular Mayor Matt Mahan also decided not to endorse her although he is her friend and among her tight-knit of supporters. He might not know the community well but he does not have a political tin ear.

The conventional wisdom suggests that both Duong and Nguyen are likely to be in the runoff in November.  In Orange County, the supervisorial District 1 race is another heavily contested race between Janet Nguyen and Van Tran.  These are two explosive races in the Vietnamese-American community with a lot of divisiveness in the community and in the case of Janet vs. Van, everlasting bitterness and personal hatred.   What history has shown us in the last 20 years is that in races pitting Vietnamese candidates against each other, they will be close and could be decided by less than 3 votes.  


Monday, January 1, 2024

Santa Clara County District 2 Election

If it is now official with 5 candidates running to replace termed-out Cindy Chavez for the superivorial seat that she occupied since 2012.   The District 2 Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors was redistricted in 2020 with the intention of having a Hispanic majority with over 40% of the total population living in the district.  However, the registered voter breakdown shows Hispanic at 35%, Asian at 29% and non-Asian, non-Latino, non-Black at 33%.   The Vietnamese-American voters make up 18.5% of the total registration.  

The county district covers most of San Jose City Districts 7, 3 and 5.  The primary election in March 2024, will qualify two top candidates for the November general election unless a single candidate reaches 50% plus one. 

Two relative unknown candidates are Jennifer Margaret Celaya and Corina Herrera-Loera and at this moment unlikely to raise adequate money to gain any strong attractions.   However, one of the viable strategies is relying on their Hispanic heritage to garner enough vote to get into the general election.  The general trend observed across the board in a recent survey done by Viet Poll Media  is when there are multiple candidates in the primary, especially in a nonpartisan election with no real major issues separating candidates, voters tend to vote along the ethnic line.

A last minute candidate, criminal lawyer Nelson McElmurry, is also new to the political scene and with no track records.  With 33% of the votes coming from the usually high turnout White voting bloc, McElmurry also has a chance to survive the primary.  

The two candidates with the most name recognition, money and big name endorsements are former SJ City Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen and Supervisor Cindy Chavez's Chief of Staff Betty Duong.  Both candidates are experience campaigners and have outraised their opponents by a wide margin so far.

Betty Duong is endorsed by Chavez to replace her and receiving the full support of South Bay Labor Council and Santa Clara County Democratic Party.  She is a familiar face in the Vietnamese-American community in San Jose, notably with her work on the Vietnamese - Amerian Service Center.   Her latest significant political coup was the withdrawal of Van Le, ESUHS Board Trustee, from the race.  This is to her advantage for Le would most likely take a bite out of her Vietnamese voting base.  Even though the latest FPPC 460 campaign contribution disclosure has not been posted, Duong has expressed earlier in the year that her campaign fund raising would aim to reach the voluntary expenditure limit of $250,000 or more.  She  received over $165,000 by June 2023.   

Madison Nguyen was left for dead politically after her resounding defeat by Ash Kalra for state assembly in 2016, and of course her involvement with the racist mailer as EVP of the defunct Silicon Valley Oranization responsible for public policy and campaign. Reportedly, she recently moved out of California but returned this year and was the first to announce the candidacy for the seat.  Her time in  City Council was marred with controversy including a violation of Brown Act costing the city over $1 million in legal fee settement, and the majority of the Vietnamese community turning against her for refusing to name 3 street blocks of mostly Vietnamese businesses Little Saigon.  However, she still has her supporters in San Jose and they helped raised over $115,000 by August 2023.

The two Vietnamese-American candidates are trying to appeal to all voters across the general demographics but they are focusing particularly on winning their ethnic base.  Madison Nguyen has reached out for the supports of D7 Councilmember  Bien Doan and Mayor Matt Mahan but considering her political baggages, they are playing both sides of the fence.  With no major differences in policy and ideology since they are all progressive candidates in a nonpartisan race,  it will come down to who will work harder to knock on doors, have better media outreach, and more favorable name recognition.  

Just as a flavor of things to come, there are already complaints about stolen Betty Duong's campaign signs at various Vietnamese strip malls.  Nguyen's antagongists are reposting the epic Little Saigon naming battle and the divisiveness she created in the community.  They even staged a protest at her fund raiser on 6/23/2023 in fron the Dynasty Restaurant in Grand Century Mall.  There were about 70 protestors with signs reminding her about the Little Saigon controversy.

The conventional wisdom suggests that Betty Duong and Madison Nguyen would most likely survive the March primary and face each other in the November general election. Whoever wins will be the first Vietnamese-American to be elected to the Santa Clary County Board of Supervisors.  However, depending on the turnout of Hispanic voters, the White voting bloc sentiment,  and with the Asian vote splitting by the two Asian candidates, there might be only either Duong or Nguyen  getting in the runoff. 

Saturday, December 16, 2023

California Congressional District 16 Race and Anna Eshoo

With a suprised announcement on November 21,  Democrat Representative Anna Eschoo, 81, joined a dozen House Democrats opting to retire next year.  The race for this safe Democratic seat  occupied by her since 1992 will likely be fierce among the thirteen candidates, 11 Democrats and 2 Republicans.  

The California's 16th congressional district covers the Peninsula and South Bay cities including Palo Altos, Mountain View, Pacifica, Halfmoon Bay, Saratoga, Campbell, Los Altos, Los Gatos, and the southwestern part of San Jose. 

There are roughly 445,000 registered voters in the district with the breakddown of 20% Asian, 11% Hispanic and the rest is lumped into a voting demographic of non-Asian, non-Latino and non-Black.  Vietnamese-American voters make up about 6% of the total and they will likely play a significant role in the primary because of the  divided votes among the large number of candidates.  

The 2024 March  primary will determine which top two candidates will advance to the general election regardless of party's affiliation.  

Currently, due to just 7 weeks before the absentee ballot is available,  the three leading candidates with the most name recognition, connection and fundraising networks are Sam Liccardo, Evan Low and Joe Simitian. 

Sam Liccardo, 53, is the favorite to be in the runoff by virtual of being the former mayor of San Jose and roughly a third of the registered voters in the district live in San Jose.  His name recognition in the Vietnamese-American community is high and San Jose voters historically will vote  for San Jose candidates.  Within weeks of announcement, he has raised over $900,000.  His tenure as mayor is controversial with the city being fined heavily for non-compliance with transparency and open government rules and the spiral escalation of the homeless crisis.  

Joe Simitian, 70, has been waiting for Eshoo's seat for quite a while now and he has been raising money over the past decade and amassing a war chest of more than $700,000.  His name recognion in the Peninsula cities is substantial considering that he is currently the Santa Clara County supervisor, former state senator and Palo Alto mayor.  He is probably the most experience politician on issues and his liberal views fit with the district progressive bend.  His age might come into play but conventional wisdom is that most voters are more interested in getting things done in congress.  

Evan Low, 40,  is an openly gay state legislator serving since 2014 in a district that has a strong Chinese-American constituents.  So far, he has raised over $300,000 with a strong support of labor unions.  He has received endorsement from Rep. Rho Khanna and will like from Zoe Lofgren also.

The two wild cards that have remote ousider chance are Julie Lythcott-Haimes, an attorney who is current serving on the Palo Alto City Council, and Rishi Kumar, a former Saratoga City Councilmember and ran against Eshoo in the last two elections.  

The other candidates will capture the attention of voters but they are likely playing a role of spoilers.  However the two Republican candidates can sneak in since 16% of total voters are Repbulican and with this many Democratic candidates siphoning votes from each other, anything can happen.

At any rate, the current conventional wisdom predicts at this stage of the race,  Sam Liccardo will be one of the candidates in the runoff.   And if Evan Low can consolidate his Asian and Hispanic supporters, he has a good chance to break the likely needed 20% threshold to be in the general election.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Recall Alameda County DA Pamela Price


Since the start of Price recall in the first week of October, the leaders of the recall group, SAFE, are confident that they will gather more than 73,195 signatures to get the recall on the ballot by the end of November. The minimum signatures representing 15% of the entire vote cast for the last gubernatorial election are not due until mid-March, and it is a major hurdle in the process of having the recall placed on the ballot for the November General Election. Without saying, this is an astonishing feat considering the county comprises a large geography and diverse population.  

 Pamela Price, a civil rights attorney, won the seat of Alamed County DA over Terry Wiley, the county's chief deputy DA, in the November 2022 election.  She ran with a progressive platform of eliminating racialy inequity in the criminal legal system and providing alternative to incaceration focused on healing.

Within 3 mongths into her term, her critics started to blame  sky rocket increase in crime on her office's practice of not seeking maximum possible punishment for criminal defendants while removing 4 seasoned prosecutors and 2 police inspectors for political reasons.  Recent hiring of her boyfriend as Senior Program Specialist with no prior experience and not disclosing their relationship, has brought questions about her workplace ethics.  Antwon Cloird joined her team with a based salary of $115,502. 

Despite public pressure to change her criminal prosecution practice, she has refused to diverge from her own mandate of decriminalization and take the responsibility for a 30% or more surge in violent and non-violent crimes in Oakland.  To her the recall effort is lead by election deniers and run by outside special-interest groups supported by the right-wing agenda.

Save Alameda for Everyone (SAFE),  the Price recall committee has raised over $240,000 from individual and corporate sources so far.  A second recall committee, "Reviving the Bay Area", has additional funded SAFE over $385,000.  The principal members of the committee are Brenda Grisham, Philip Dreyfuss and Carl Chan.  Brenda's 17-year-old son was shot and killed in East Oakland outside their home in 2010.  

Carl Chan, President of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, was assaulted in 2021 by anti-Asian hate felon.  Philip Dreyfuss is a hedge fund investor at the SF-based Farallon Capital Management.  He resigned from SAFE and established  the "Reviving the Bay Area" committee.

Meanwhile, Price has raised about $15,000 to defeat the recall effort.  Clearly, the sentiment is against Price and the momentum is growing to gather 100,000 signatures to ensure the recall will be a success.  Recall organizers are being helped with hundreds of people from all over California volunteering to gather signatures, some came far away as San Diego and Sacramento.   If successfully being removed in 2024 by the will of the people, Price can take into comfort that she will be one of the two DA's ousted from their seats by recall in the last 2 years.  Remember San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin anyone?

Ao Dai Festival VI, May 18, 2024