Sunday, January 16, 2022

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Sunday, January 9, 2022

Vietnamese-American Politics in Little Saigon After Redistricting

With the new redistricting maps to reflect the 2020 census, Orange County voters will have the opportunity to elect new representatives.  The new election boundary lines put Little Saigon into a prominent political fulcrum that will help shape the county’s political landscape across county to federal.  

Orange County demographic has shifted dramatically in the 21rst century where the population is now 38% white, 34% Latino and 22% Asian. The county, once a bastion of conservatism and home to Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, voted against Donald Trump twice and against the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

OC Board of Supervisors drew the county map to create an Asian centric and  two Hispanic centric districts in D1, D2 and D4 respectively.  With most of Fountain Valley, Westminster and a portion of Garden Grove in D1, Asian composes over 33% of the voting age.   This seat will be hotly contested in 2024 (when D1 Supervisor Andrew Do will term out) by Vietnamese-American politicians living in the district, including current Garden Grove Councilmember Phat Bui and Fountain Valley Councilmember Michael Vo. 

With the newly created 36th Senate District where all of Little Saigon is included, current Assembly Member Janet Nguyen announced her candidacy with strong support of the Republic Party leadership.  The district has 34.3% Democrat and 36.5% Republican voters. 

 On the state assembly front, a new 70th Assembly District combines most of Fountain Valley, Westminster and Garden Grove to create an Asian majority-minority district where about 40% of population is Asian.  Vietnamese - American voters make up an overwhelming 31.7%.  Three Vietnamese - Americans already announced their candidacy.

Newly elected in 2020,  Fountain Valley City Councilmember Ted Bui, with the behind the scene backing of Janet Nguyen, is the first to put his hat in the ring.  Nguyen arranged for her long time and trusted political consultant, Dave Gilliard,  to help run his campaign.  Ted, with little name recognition in the community and no track record, is likely be the spoiler candidate.   To some voters in the community,  he is another one of Janet Nguyen's pawn that are being misled with false promises.  

Westminster Mayor Tri Ta also has decided to jump in.  The controversial mayor is being plagued by accusation of corruption by his former Police Chief Kevin Baker in a 14 page complaint.   Baker claimed that the corruption benefited top officials and is nurtured by a culture of secretive and oppressive culture that uses “…threats, intimidation and revenge on employees and citizens who dare speak out or challenge them.”  He poignantly pointed out that “ .... the community is largely made up of vulnerable refugees from Vietnam who escaped the oppressive police controlled communist government, to only have it potentially replicated again here in Little Saigon...”

In the news for the past 2 months is the recent requested DA investigation of the illegal 2016 selling of a portion of Liberty Park, a public land, without public knowledge to Tri Ta’s major political donor.  This controversy has raised a lot of questions and uproars in the community.  The land was sold for $100,000 which was a fifth of its actual market value at that time of $500,00.  To hide from public scrutiny, the deal was approved by Tri Ta as seating mayor without public disclosure and proper hearing as required by state laws.   It was tucked in consent agenda which is normally used for run-of-the-mill items and fast track within months as Tri Ta pressured the city staff.   

As the deal is under investigation, the City Council has revealed that in the past 15 years under the guardian of Tri Ta and his political gang in power (during this period) of  former Councilmembers Andy Quach and Tyler Diep, there were 3 other dubious transactions of public properties of $0 to $1,000.   

Tri Ta is infamous in the community for being part of the “Godfather” Van Tran and his gang.  The moniker was christened by the main stream press to acknowledge the political ambition and prowess of the former state assembly member and his underlings to be the political center of Little Saigon politics.  A lot of people in Little Saigon can recall the nasty political battles between Janet Nguyen, Andrew Do against Van Tran  and his corrupted cohorts, which still left a bad taste in the community.    

Westminster City Council member Kimberly Ho also announced her candidacy for the newly created seat.  She is a tough, straight shooter who is being viewed a threat by Van Tran and his gang.  She is under vicious attack by Tri Ta for exposing his corruption on basically manipulating public properties to turn it into private financial deals that benefit his friends while the city is under budget and  revenue shortage.  Tri Ta personally went on air and asked the public to recall her.   Van Tran, Tri Ta and the third loyal member of his gang, Westminster Council member Charlie Nguyen are actively trying to recall Kimberly Ho from her current office for she opposes their hidden agenda of planting their cronies to the city while try to intimidate and manipulate city staff for their real estate development deals.  

The race for the AD70 is up for grab.  With three Republican candidates fighting for votes in the primary, a Democratic candidate will like to be in the run-off since the district is leaning Democrat, 36.8% vs. 33.2%.   Diedre Thu Ha Nguyen, the current Garden Grove Councilmember, is thinking and being asked by the Democratic Party.  She ran unsuccessful against Janet Nguyen for the now disappeared assembly seat in 2020.  She was a weak candidate then but she will likely get into the run-off again like last time just for being a Democrat.   However, unless force into this race, like many other Vietnamese-American politicians, her eye is on the D1 supervisor seat.

Whoever the candidates may be, Tri Ta is currently the most vulnerable because of the history of corruption that will be played out against him.  With 1/3 of the voters are independent, they will unlike  support him.  And the Viet voters are tired of the shenanigans and the intimidation tactics that Tri Ta, his gang  along his mentor Godfather Van Tran have exploited the community.   The divisiveness that they have caused so that they can control the politics for their own personal gains in Little Saigon is seriously being questioned.

Monday, September 20, 2021

The Need for A Representative San Jose Redistricting Boundaries


According to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters -

" Every 10 years, the United States Constitution and California’s State Constitution require federal, state and local district divisional boundary lines to be reviewed and redrawn, if necessary, to account for population growth and movement within the entire boundaries of the district. This process is known as Redistricting and is based on the results of the decennial US Census. 

The results of the redistricting process may change the congressional, state senate or assembly district or local supervisorial, city council or school district subdivision elections in order to have equal representation."

Currently, the San Jose Redistricting Advisory Commission is tasked of recommending boundary options that would have equal representation for San Jose residents.   The committee is holding public hearings and asking for inputs from residents.  Ultimately the City Council will vote to approve / disapprove the recommendations of the committee and an ordinance establishing new city council district boundaries.

San Jose City is currently the 10th largest city in the US with a population of 1,013,240 according the 2020 Census.  Asian is the largest racial group for the first time representing 35.9%.  Hispanic population is 31.6% and white alone / non-Hispanic is 25.7%.  And yet the city has not a single Asian American on the City Council representing 10 total districts.  There are currently 5 Hispanic city councilmembers which represent 50% of the City Council seats.  

 The demographic profiles of each of the 10 districts and the respective current representatives might shed light into why there are such lack of representation by Asian-American community.  Since the 2020 demographic profile data are not available yet from the city staff, we will use the 2010 data which can provide adequate background to gain some insights into the current political representation.  

Presently, there are three minority-majority districts where Latino is the majority and hence have Hispanic elected officials.   District 5 is traditionally a Hispanic district with all of its elected officials are Latino in the last 20 years.   Four other minority-majority district where White is the majority and  the elected officials are white (3) and black (1).   Districts 8 and 4 are mostly  Asian demographic but the voters elected Hispanic and White candidates.  This leave District 2 where Hispanic and White are split equally with Asian trailing.  It is not a surprise to see a Latino elected but that district can go either way base on the demographic distribution, White or Latino with  Asian as swing vote.  

The current lack of political representation by Asian-American despite their high voter turnout can be contributed to a number of factors; but the fact of the matter is with the current demographic distributions, there are 3 minority-major districts of Latino,  4 minority-majority districts for White, and only 2 for Asian.  District 2 has an equal majority of White and Hispanic residents.

Asian-American community has been so far not actively mobilized to address the inequality  demographic distribution between districts and the lack of representation.   Nevertheless, the commission should study the issue, understand the legitimate concerns under the Voting Right Act, and recommend new boundaries to reflect the population demographic so that a fair representation can be achieved for the Asian-American community.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Myth of High Turnout By Vietnamese-American Voters

 With 95% of the precincts reported for the recall election, Santa Clara County has a turnout of about 55.6%.  This is higher than the statewide of 48%.  It is impressive considering that Gavin Newsom campaign was not active in getting out the vote in Santa Clara County.

A detailed analysis by Viet Poll Media show some interesting data for the recall election, granted these are not the final numbers since it will take time to certify the results but they are indicative: 

The Vietnamese-American registered voters are about 8.7% of the total registered voters in the county.  In San Jose, they are 13.3% since most of the eligible voters live in San Jose, the largest city in county with a population of a little over 1 million.  In comparison, Latino is 17.5% of total in Santa Clara County but 21.6% in San Jose.  

The data show that Vietnamese and Latino have the lowest turnout of all the major demographics, with the Vietnamese the worse,  trailing over 12 percentage points.   This is not surprising since the numbers from the 2016 and 2020  general elections showed a similar trend.   Only 68% Viet turnout in 2016 vs. a total turnout of 83%.  In 2020, a hotly contested election with Trump driving voters out in drove,  78% of eligible Viet actually turned out in comparison to the overall 85%.  Meanwhile, the Chinese and East Indian had turnout over 90%.

The data speaks for themselves, the myth that Viet voters have unusual high turnout is nothing but a myth. Despite all the raucous and active rallies and events with huge participation, when it is time to cast ballot, the Viet voters are either dead last or in comparable to the Latino, a community that traditionally is known for low turnout.  

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Landslide Victory for Newsom Against the Recall

 With more than 2.1 million Californians signed petitions supporting a recall of  popular governor before his policies to curb the Covid-19 pandemic, the poll over the summer showed Governor Gavin Newson only barely surviving the recall. Now with less than 3 days to go,  he will likely be not only the first California to survive a recall election, but with a possible landslide victory.  

With over 7.5 million votes cast, 52%  Democrats, 27% Republicans and 21% Independents, the chances for the Republican driven recall is unlikely to success.  Little Saigon Inside polling research indicates  59% voting no on recall.  This number will end up to be lower to but still be enough to beat back the recall handily. 

The irony of course is this whether win or lose, the same cast of characters will be running in the 2022 gubernatorial election. It is after all the wild wild west and there is a lot of  much ado nothing elections.

Amassing over $70 million to spend against the recall, Newsom has shifted the momentum and made inroads with his base by focusing on his opponents.  The recall will cost the state about $220 million and this begs the question of it is about time to change the recall election process in California so that it will not be easily manipulated by misguided political operators.

A number of suggestions to stop the inflation of recalls in California have been raised like increase the threshold of signatures to 15% instead of 12%.   Whatever the solution might be, rest assure that we will have more frivolous recalls and ballot measures  than ever since there are so much money pouring into politics nowadays.   In 2020, over $1.1 billion spent in California local elections alone.  And for the record, $14.4 billion for the presidential election.   It is definitely good time to be a political consultant.   

Tuesday, April 13, 2021



                                                                                                                   April 13, 2021

The Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas

Secretary, Department of Homeland Security

245 Murray Lane, S.W.

Washington, DC 20528

The Honorable Tae Johnson

Acting Director

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

20 Massachusetts Avenue, 4th floor

Washington, D.C. 2052

The Honorable Tae Johnson

Acting Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

20 Massachusetts Avenue, 4th floor

Washington, D.C. 20529

Dear Secretary Mayorkas and Acting Director Johnson,

We write to express our deep concern about the detention and deportation of Vietnamese refugees, specifically reports that 33 refugees were deported on March 15, 2021 after a new repatriation agreement was signed between the United States and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. While we await the details of this situation, we want to unequivocally express our opposition to any agreement that would allow the repatriation of Vietnamese refugees who arrived before 1995, as many of us have done before.

In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands of Southeast Asian refugees fled to the U.S. to seek freedom from political persecution and the Communist take-over of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Many of those who fled fought alongside or supported U.S. forces during the war. Others were born in refugee camps and have never set foot in the country to which they currently face deportation.

Upon their arrival in the U.S., these refugees, many of them young children or teenagers, were resettled in struggling neighborhoods without support or resources to cope with significant trauma from the war. As a result, some made mistakes that funneled them into the criminal justice system. However, these individuals have served their time.

In 2008, the United States and Vietnam signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. This longstanding agreement, which was honored by both President George W. Bush and Barack Obama, did not outline a bilateral agreement regarding the deportation of any Vietnamese citizens who arrived in the United States before the two countries reestablished diplomatic relations on July 12, 1995. [Article 2, Para. 2]

Reports have indicated that in February 2021, a new MOU was signed to govern the repatriation of pre-1995 Vietnamese immigrants, and that on March 15, 2021, an Omni Air Charter flight was scheduled at 7:45pm PST to leave Dallas and headed to Hanoi, Vietnam with 33 individuals.

We request that you confirm the validity of these reports, and, if true, provide us with a copy of the new agreement. We also request that you confirm the validity of reports that 33 Vietnamese refugees, including some who arrived in the United States prior to July 12, 1995, were deported to Vietnam on March 15th, 2021. If true, we request that you provide us with the names of the deported individuals.

We also encourage you to meet with community organizations, and impacted individuals on the issue of Southeast Asian refugee removal.

Thank you and we look forward to your answers.



Alan Lowenthal


Elizabeth Warren Mazie K. Hirono


Jerrold Nadler Zoe Lofgren


Nikema Williams Barbara Lee


Ritchie Torres Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr.


Seth Moulton Cindy Axne


Adam Smith James P. McGovern


Ayanna Pressley Ro Khanna


Grace Meng Bonnie Watson Coleman


Jan Schakowsky J. Luis Correa


Ilhan Omar Eleanor Holmes Norton


Jake Auchincloss Raul M. Grijalva


Juan Vargas Pramila Jayapal


Scott H. Peters Lori Trahan


Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Shaping of the San Jose Mayoral Race In 2022

 San Jose City Councilmember Raul Peralez recently reached out to a couple of Vietnamese-American organizations asking their supports for his mayoral bid in 2022.   For somebody who has neglected the Vietnamese-American community ever since entered office in 2014, it is quite an interesting buzz in the community.   But all is good, better late than never.

And then there is former Councilmember Madison Nguyen and the release of her video leading a private luncheon with the new San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata at Dynasty Restaurant.  Along for the luncheon were former Councilmember Tam Nguyen and some of her most ardent supporters, the owner of  Lee's Sandwiches franchise, and David Duong & Victor Duong, the owners of California Waste Solutions.  This was her first foray into the local Vietnamese  political limelight since her lost to Ash Kalra in the 2016 assembly race.  And just to make sure that people still pay attention to her in San Jose politics, she has been posting her pictures with then candidate Joe Biden (at his fund raiser hug shot).

Meanwhile,  she is putting out mixed messages about her second attempt for mayor.   Nguyen is hedging her bet waiting to see who are entering in the field.  There will be at least 5 credible candidates throwing their hats in the ring so the threshold to be in the runoff is minimal.   She is confident that she can get most of the Vietnamese votes to carry her into the runoff election.  She can outraise any candidates in the field and if she loses, she would have made enough noises to set the stage to run for county supervisor seat in D2 either in 2022 or 2024.  However, if she runs, she will be forced to step down from her current position from  the tainted Silicon Valley Organization as EVP overseeing its political advocacy and tactics.

If there is such a thing as a front runner, there would be two and not one due to the incredible diversity of the voting demographics.  It is too early to say but  Nguyen and County Supervisor Cindy Chavez are the leading candidates if they decide to run, due to their name recognitions and abilities to raise money.  Chavez has a free run since her supervisor seat is termed out in 2024. 

The voting trends show Latinx had a low turnout in 2020 presidential election and likely will be even  lower in 2022, an off-year election.  The turnout for Latinx was only 64% vs. the overall 72% in 2020. The Vietnamese voting bloc in San Jose is about 13% while the Latinx is about 22%.   Two of  fastest growing segments of voters are from Indian and Chinese communities.   They have the highest turnout in the last 2 elections, averaging 77%,  5 points higher than the city's average in 2020.   

The Vietnamese votes will play an important role in the June 2022 primary with multiple numbers of candidates relying strongly on their bases to carry them to the next round.   Chavez has strong name recognition in the Vietnamese community, whether it will translate into votes, only a strong phone banking effort can determine.   Nguyen has learned her lesson in 2016 where she thought she had the overwhelming support of the Vietnamese community. 

In another month or so, the picture will be clearer who are the candidates since this is big race and money will be the factor.  No matter what, the Vietnamese community is looking forward to have our voices heard.  

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