As this year’s mayoral campaign drew to a close, Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, in one fell swoop, was able to secure the vote of most Vietnamese Americans in his city. On Nov. 1, Pulido held a press conference on the steps of the Santa Ana City Hall, with Assemblyman Jose Solorio and Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez, and dozens of Vietnamese American community leaders, to announce his support for a city resolution that would discourage visits by Vietnamese government and trade officials.
Tonight Pulido introduced his resolution and the Council majority reluctantly fell in line as it became apparent to them that there future in the Vietnamese community was on the line. At one point during the meeting the community leaders invited Pulido and the Council to come down and take a picture with a giant flag of South Vietnam, the fallen republic. Pulido and Alvarez quickly stood up and the rest of the Council had no choice but to do so as well. They each received a scarf festooned in the colors of the flag of South Vietnam. Pulido and Alvarez kept their scarves on but the rest of the Council took them off.
As the evening wore on Mayor Pulido called for the vote. The Council majority attacked the city’s staff, for some lame reason. They had nothing to do with the resolution, as Pulido pointed out. I know that for a fact as I wrote his press release and helped him with his press conference, with a lot of help from Westminster Councilman Tyler Diep and Santa Ana’s Ambassador to the Vietnamese community, Ken Nguyen – who rewrote the release in Vietnames and sent it to the local Vietnamese press. The city staff had nothing to do with the event.
Pulido prevailed and he knew it as soon as he called on his colleagues to comment and Council Member Sal Tinajero put his scarf back on. That signal was received by the rest of the Council and they quickly followed suit. They all voted with Pulido and Alvarez.
Pulido explained the resolution to the O.C. Register:
“When a visitor from communist Vietnam comes here, it hurts the community,” Pulido said at a press conference outside City Hall earlier this month. “So we have to be in solidarity, and say we stand for freedom, we stand for human rights everywhere in the world without exception.”
It clearly pained the rest of the Santa Ana City Council to have to follow Pulido’s lead again but in the absence of their own leadership, what choice did they have? I suppose they could have stood up and voted no, but then they would have had a lot of explaining to do to the Vietnamese community. So they blinked.
The only other significant action by the Council majority was to delay a major development project, for no good reason. Council Member Vince Sarmiento, who almost lost on Nov. 6, to an opponent who spent no money and did not campaign, said he needed more time to study the development but his action will cost a good developer thousands of dollars – and accomplish nothing. it is ironic that failed mayoral candidate David Benavides argued during his campaign that the city was not friendly to businesses – only to prove tonight that the Council majority is not friendly to businesses – while Mayor Pulido is doing all he can to bring more jobs and opportunities to our city.