Santa Ana’s baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. I just missed that time period – marking me as a member of Gen X. The baby boomers love to point fingers at the up and coming Millennials but a new book suggests that it is the boomers who are to blame for many of today’s societal problems.
Bruce Gibney argues in his new book “A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America,” that the boomers have committed “generational plunder,” pillaging the nation’s economy, repeatedly cutting their own taxes, financing two wars with deficits, ignoring climate change, presiding over the death of America’s manufacturing core, and leaving future generations to clean up the mess they created.
Much of the financial mess that the City of Santa Ana is currently embroiled in can be pinned on the last City Council majority, led by termed out City Councilman Sal Tinajero. They unwisely handed out huge raises to the City’s top executives; overpaid two awful City Managers in a row (who were hired not because they were good at their jobs but rather because they were Latinos); canceled the ICE contract with the Santa Ana Jail (leaving the city no way to pay back millions of dollars in jail bonds); and even arranged to fool the voters into handing the City Council a huge raise.
But you have to go back to the previous City Manager, Dave Ream, to find the roots of today’s financial disaster in Santa Ana. It was Ream who wasted millions of dollars on ill-advised traffic medians (that tied up traffic and are now dry and brown as the city has no water to waste on the medians); who inflated city pensions and benefits that we now cannot afford (click here to see how much we own to Santa Ana city employees); who inflated what we pay for trash collection so the City could deposit the balance in the general fund; who built the posh Santa Ana city jail that is now empty and is bankrupting us; and who ignored our crumbling infrastructure (which is still crumbling).
Please don’t expect our current City Council to save us from ourselves. Their first action as a City Council appears to involve sticking it to the only woman left on the City Council, Cecilia Iglesias. She and her new colleagues have yet to be sworn in but already I am hearing that the City Council is going to put her in a new Ward that has been designed to have an Asian majority – and she will have to run again in two years, not four.
Such pettiness by the new City Council bodes ill for our city particularly when there are so many serious problems that we need them to focus on.
I am glad Iglesias was elected. She is the only fiscal conservative on the City Council. But it is obvious that her colleagues are not going to play ball with her. So who do we look for to lead this new City Council?
Mayor Miguel Pulido is clinging to a tiny victory over Tinajero. His fate is in fact still in the balance. And he is terming out in two years. He will go out on top as he can surely build a four vote City Council majority now Iglesias, Juan Villegas, and new Ward 2 City Councilman David Penaloza.
Penaloza is the youngest City Council member. He is in fact the only elected Millennial. He now has the opportunity to build on his electoral success by engaging this city’s young people to an extent heretofore unseen.
Sure Pulido has been in office for over 20 years but he has NEVER built a vast community coalition. He wins every two years mostly because his competition has been awful and he enjoys high name I.D.
What I saw from Penaloza during this year’s City Council campaign season was that he is a great speaker; he engages easily with the public; he gets along with folks of all ages; and perhaps most importantly he is educated. He is also the son of immigrants.
When you look at our city’s demographics you will see that our city is very young and very under-educated. But the Millennials are more likely to finish college than their parents. Like Penaloza they will lead the way.
This is an exciting time in our city as the developers are building a lot of housing for our Millennials. This can only help as perhaps they will stay in Santa Ana instead of leaving. We are going to need them to stay here if we are to push this city in a better direction. It is no surprise of course that the NIMBY baby boomers are up in arms about the proposed housing developments.
I am told that only 25% of our local voters bothered to vote in the General Election. That is abysmal. However I expect voter turnout will increase as our Millennial population grows. They appear to be more involved in politics than their parents. And in two years many of them will be super-motivated to vote as we get the chance to dump President Donald Trump.
Penaloza by the way is not a registered Democrat. He is a Decline to State Voter. So is Villegas. Iglesias is a Republican – the only one on the City Council. Millennials appear to be leaving both parties – and again in this instance Penaloza can show them the way.
I was by the way very underwhelmed by what the Democratic Party of Orange County did in this last election. They endorsed the very worst City Council candidates (including Paul Gonzales, Roman Reyna and Nelida Mendoza). In fact they only endorsed the candidates who want to distribute needles to local drug users. Fortunately only one of the Democratic Party’s candidates prevailed – Reyna (but ironically the DPOC could not endorse him because he plagiarized his endorsement application – and got caught doing so). He will have no influence on our City Council as part of the new City Council minority.
Santa Ana is a hot mess right now. But Penaloza’s victory is a step in the right direction. If we are to save our City we are going to need this City’s young people to step up to the plate so they can fix the errors made by previous generations. Here’s hoping that Penaloza can lead the way!