Madison Nguyen’s Last Stand

By Erin Sherbert
Madison Nguyen rolls up in a Lexus SUV and parks behind Lighthouse Café, a popular Vietnamese coffee shop off King Road. She greets a handful of volunteers, rattling off a few words in Vietnamese as she unlocks the door to the headquarters of her anti-recall campaign. It’s pure coincidence that this small space next door to the coffee shop is the same spot where Nguyen hosted her 2005 victory party, the night she was elected to San Jose’s City Council.

Her volunteers already know the drill. With almost no direction from Nguyen, the group moves swiftly, pushing furniture and setting up chairs, preparing to turn the grungy room, with its coffee-stained carpet and the stale smell of cigarettes, into a 24/7 operation. Later this month, Nguyen will kick off an aggressive campaign to fight this recall.

“I like it,” she says glancing around the room with her hands on her hips. “I like campaigning.”

Defeating a recall is tough, but Nguyen is a deft campaigner, with a reputation for working nonstop on six hours of sleep a night and many, many cups of tea. She has already called on established donors, who are happily pouring money into her campaign to help save her job. And with almost no notification, she has managed to mobilize a legion of volunteers who have lined up to help call voters and walk the neighborhoods of District 7.

Of equal importance, she also has a list of powerful politicians on her side, some of whom are publicly denouncing the recall, and others who are working to help her raise big money.

And then there are the behind-the-scenes insiders, like Melanie Jimenez, who left her policy analyst position with the mayor’s office to help Nguyen beat the recall.

“Recall elections should be isolated to grave ethical issues,” says Jimenez, who worked with Nguyen on public safety issues and is now serving as her campaign manager. “Madison was being a real leader. I think the recall is unwarranted.”

Regardless, this campaign won’t be about spreading an anti-recall message. Instead, Jimenez, 25, plans to spotlight Nguyen’s accomplishments, most of which she believes have fallen in the shadows of the fiery Little Saigon debacle.

She wants voters to know Nguyen as the council rep who increased affordable housing in her district, preserved weekend library hours and followed through with one of her most ambitious campaign promises—building a community center for San Jose’s Vietnamese-American community, which is expected to open in 2010.

To back these efforts, Nguyen will be spending time and money to tout her message on radio and through other media outlets, making sure to tap into the Spanish-speaking community, a huge voting block in District 7.

“Trust me, you will feel the presence of the No Recall campaign out on the streets of District 7,” Jimenez says.

Golden Child

After casting her vote against naming a stretch of Story Road “Little Saigon” last November, Nguyen had to be escorted out of the doors of City Hall by the mayor’s bodyguard.

The furor had rattled the council chambers, where more than 1,000 mostly Vietnamese-Americans shouted in anger after the council made its final decision to follow Nguyen’s lead and vote “no” on Little Saigon. Police officers and City Hall security lined the steps of the chambers, attempting to control the chaos.

Nguyen shrugged it off, underestimating what lay ahead.

Before that vote, Nguyen, a private and reserved 33-year-old who escaped Communist Vietnam by boat when she was 4, was hardly a contentious character at City Hall, where her efforts won her the backing of both labor and the business community.

In fact, Nguyen was considered the “Golden Child” within the Vietnamese community, recalls Barry Hung Do, a longtime community activist who initiated the Little Saigon protests.

The first Vietnamese-American woman elected to political office in California, her election was historic, an affirmation of the growing political power of Vietnamese-American voters. A moderate on a politically divided body with cross-cultural appeal, Nguyen’s future looked bright. Associates encouraged her to look to higher office, and a run for mayor or Congress down the line seemed to be in the cards.

Do credits Nguyen for her key role in the 2003 protests at City Hall after San Jose police shot and killed a Vietnamese woman in her kitchen. Two years later, when Nguyen was elected to the City Council, she continued advocating on behalf of the woman’s family, pushing the council to award them $1.8 million. Among other things, she has also helped bring in more than 700 affordable homes, a majority of which are occupied by Vietnamese-American families, she says.

As the only Vietnamese-American on the City Council, Nguyen became the political voice for the growing voting force.

But that all changed in the weeks that followed the Little Saigon vote that made her one Silicon Valley’s most controversial figures.

It all started last summer as Nguyen attempted to follow through with one of her campaign promises: to create an official Vietnamese Business District. The initial proposal would have named a stretch of Story Road “Vietnam Town.” As Nguyen moved forward with her plan, Vietnamese-Americans began surfacing, calling on the council to name the retail area “Little Saigon.”

For many Vietnamese-Americans, Little Saigon is a symbolic denunciation of the Communist government that they fled after the fall of Saigon in 1975. Vietnamese-Americans have created “Little Saigon” ethnic enclaves in places like Houston and Orange County.

Despite a strong push from the community for Little Saigon, Nguyen convinced a majority of her councilmembers to go with another less popular name: Saigon Business District. She called it a “compromise name” for her ethnically diverse district.

This outraged thousands of Vietnamese who felt she was ignoring the desire of her constituents. In early January, hundreds of them circled the grounds of City Hall protesting both Nguyen and the council’s decision.

The protests continued every Tuesday at noon, just before the weekly council meetings, for more than eight weeks. The drama at City Hall increased when, on Feb. 16, Ly Tong, a well-known Vietnamese activist, started a hunger strike on the steps of City Hall, drawing media attention from across the nation.

The Little Saigon ordeal was turning into an international PR nightmare for San Jose. Mayor Chuck Reed seemed to have no choice—he stepped in to clean up the mess, and cut a deal with Little Saigon supporters, in particular Barry Hung Do, allowing them to hang Little Saigon banners along Story Road in exchange for putting an end to the month-long hunger strike. In March, the council held another meeting to officially rescind its vote on Saigon Business District.

“I have some regrets,” Reed now says. “There were things I could have done differently and in hindsight I can see where those opportunities were and things I would have done differently.”

Reed’s move didn’t slow the anti-Madison sentiment, which was growing legs. Her hard-core critics continued to relentlessly blast her in the news media, launching verbal insults and blaming her for letting the Little Saigon debate unnecessarily explode within the Vietnamese-American community.

Little Saigon leaders pushed forward with a malicious campaign punctuated with accusations that Nguyen is a Communist sympathizer—they still bring up the fact that she traveled to Vietnam in 1996, where she taught English through a Stanford University program. They believed that Nguyen’s refusal to support the name Little Saigon suggested that she was sympathetic to the Communist regime.

“It was completely within her power to have that name instantly—she could tell the council, ‘My community likes that name,’ and everything would be over with,” Do said. “But no, she fought it. So we felt something was wrong; people questioned her motive of why.”

As the Little Saigon frenzy continued, Nguyen seemed to almost willingly take these punches from her Vietnamese community. She has remained stoic, even as the emotional debate boiled over into a vicious campaign to remove her from public office.

“People ask me all the time, ‘How come you don’t seemed concerned or you are not angry, or you haven’t said anything that truly embodies your emotions?’” Nguyen says. “I just don’t take it personally.”

But sitting at Starbucks off Curtner Road recently, Nguyen’s darker emotions surfaced, as she unraveled the yearlong fiasco that has led to an all-consuming effort to remove her from the City Council.

“I never thought it would get to this point,” she said, quietly sipping her drink. “I feel very, very, very sad by what is happening. I wish the community can be a little more forgiving.”

No Sympathy

It was a cold, early morning in January; the mood was good inside the meeting room at the McEnery Convention Center, where Mayor Chuck Reed was giving a spirited State of the City Speech addressing a crowd of up to 1,000, including Nguyen and her staff.

Outside the hall, a tense and taciturn group of Vietnamese-American protesters lined the corridors, holding up signs opposing both Nguyen and the council’s November vote.

Nguyen has learned to grin and bear endless moments like these.

She recalls attending a New Year event as a guest. She was there to greet Vietnamese-American senior citizens and wish them well. But it turned sour the moment the councilmember arrived. Her presence hit a nerve among some members in the audience who started shouting at her, telling her to get out and go home.

The same thing happened a few months later when she co-hosted a youth job fair with Councilwoman Nancy Pyle. A boisterous group showed up at the event holding “Little Saigon” signs.

These days, she doesn’t attend as many political events, just to avoid the drama.

“My God, we can’t even go to the supermarket together anymore,” Nguyen says. “You see people and they give you looks like they know who you are, but you can’t really tell if they are supportive. You don’t know if they are going to yell at you.”

The Little Saigon issue and now the recall are tired subjects around the house where Nguyen lives with her husband, Terry Tran. They couple tries not to talk about the topic, but it’s hard, when it’s always on television or in the newspapers. It’s especially difficult when relatives call and want to know the latest development. Her husband almost always takes the call, Nguyen says.

When she was elected to office, Nguyen explained to her husband, who she married last year, that she would be working long hours, but the couple was never prepared for this. Now, the newlyweds have put off plans to start a family, she says. They have to wait until the controversy blows over.

“In terms of living a normal life, it’s just not happening,” Nguyen says with resignation in her voice.

Her critics are hardly sympathetic. The way Barry Hung Do and other Little Saigon supporters see it, she had plenty of chances to change the course and give the community Little Saigon.

Even members of the City Council who initially backed Nguyen have started to turn on her. Vice Mayor Dave Cortese came out publicly to say he felt Nguyen misled the council on the Little Saigon debate.

“I think she deserves to be recalled,” says Do. “If I put myself in her place it would have never reached this far.”

Building the Base

It seems an ironic twist that Nguyen’s career in politics can be traced back to her interest in conflict resolution. As a Ph.D. student at UC–Santa Cruz, Nguyen decided to examine San Jose’s Vietnamese-American population to better understand how the group handled conflicts. At the time, she never thought she would become the center of what has been the neighborhood’s biggest conflict in recent memory.

In fact, she didn’t even view herself as a political creature. But her coursework in conflict resolution brought her closer to the political community. In particular, she began forming ties with Vietnamese-Americans who were getting elected to the school boards. In her quest to better understand conflict in her community, she stumbled across something more appealing and unexpected: their desire for a strong political voice in San Jose.

It inspired a campaign to register Vietnamese-Americans, who now represent 10 percent of the population in San Jose. On July 13, 2002, Nguyen went to Tully fairground and staged an event similar to MTV’s “Rock the Vote,” registering more than 5,000 new voters, the majority of them Vietnamese-Americans. This voter registration effort electrified the community and created what is now one of the most important voting bases in San Jose politics—candidates today must court the Vietnamese vote.

Vietnamese leaders started taking notice of Nguyen’s energy and political acumen, and when a seat on the Franklin-McKinley School Board opened up, they asked her to run. To her surprise, Nguyen won the election.

Another door opened for Nguyen when San Jose Councilman Terry Gregory was forced to resign from office in 2004 after taking gifts and loans without disclosing them in filings. The Vietnamese community saw this as a first-time chance to leap into City Hall. Several local leaders asked Nguyen to run for Gregory’s open seat.

Nguyen says she was apprehensive about running for City Council, but she pushed forward, winning a hard-fought battle with Linda Nguyen, a member of a politically powerful and wealthy family.

Civic-minded members of San Jose’s Vietnamese community say they were proud to finally have a voice at City Hall. They looked to her to bring Vietnamese voters and community leaders into the political fold. One of her campaign promises was to help build a neighborhood center for her community. She followed through with this pledge, but it didn’t exactly work in her favor.

Many Vietnamese-Americans became outraged with Nguyen over the process, saying she left them out when making plans for the community center. The following year, Nguyen followed through with another campaign pledge: to acknowledge the economic success of Vietnamese in San Jose by giving an official name to the retail area around the planned Vietnam Town shopping center.

When the news spread, many Vietnamese-Americans stepped forward, agitated that Nguyen had omitted the community from the naming process. They hammered Nguyen for not considering their input and instead moving ahead with her preferred name, Vietnamese Business District, which they considered too generic.

After several meetings and debates, Nguyen could not be convinced to go with the Little Saigon name, alienating residents like Paul Le, a District 7 resident who says he and his family have always voted for Nguyen. He now feels differently about his council rep because, he says, she ignored her constituents needlessly. Le is now the treasurer for the Committee to Recall Madison Nguyen.

“I thought Madison was someone who the community could trust,” Le says. “The thing that makes me angry, and thousands of others, is she disrespects the process, the democratic way.”

 

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Resign or Recall

 

Last spring, Barry Hung Do delivered a letter to Nguyen asking her to resign or face a recall. Nguyen refused to step down, prodding the county’s human relations office to intervene. The former director, Richard Hobbs, tried to bring the two sides together to hash out their differences and smoothen the relations, hoping to avoid a recall, but it didn’t work.

By summer, many of Nguyen’s opponents had organized, combing every corner of District 7 and getting the required percentage of voters to sign off on placing a recall on the ballot. Nguyen publicly brushed off their efforts. She insisted that the people who wanted her out represented a minority. At the same time, she quietly started fundraising to ward off the potential recall. She blasted the district with literature asking her constituents to resist the recall petition drive. She raked in more than $100,000, which was double what the recall committee had brought in.

It wasn’t enough to stave off the challenge. A week before the petition was due, the recall committee turned over more than 5,000 signatures, almost twice the number they needed to force an election. The committee has since hired a political consultant, Andre Charles, to help spread the recall message.

“I had my doubts they would get the signatures, because I didn’t think this issue was big enough to go out and actually try to recall someone,” Nguyen now says. “But we will beat this. I am very confident we will beat this.”

Nguyen is relying on a circle of donors and supporters for help, including the city’s political leader—Mayor Reed. Reed has already raised more than $10,000 for Nguyen’s campaign. And he has no plans to stop there.

“Some people are upset with my position, but I don’t abandon my allies in the middle of battle,” says Reed, who was heavily supported by the Vietnamese community in his mayoral campaign. “I have endorsed her and I will continue to support her.”

It’s been tempting to quit, Nguyen says, appearing remarkably relaxed for someone associated with igniting one of San Jose’s greatest blowouts.

“Being a pioneer is never an easy task,” she says. “You are the trial and error for everything that happens in that community.”

By day, Nguyen is still talking District 7 issues—crime and housing problems. But by night, she’s running what she promises to be an aggressive campaign to save her job.

If she is recalled March 3? “People tell me to run for my seat again,” Nguyen says chuckling. “I have such huge name recognition that if I ran again, the chances I’d win would be high.”

 

44 Comments

  1. The amount of effort that has been put into this issue on both sides is such a waste.  I wish that 10% of the energy that has gone into this mess had been applied to the things that will really effect San Jose – fighting the increasing gang activity, solving forclosure/economy related problems, infrastructure solutions and fixing the budget mess.

  2. Aside from anything else, could I just put a question out there?

    Didn’t Madison Nguyen make her political bones organziing community protests?

    Isn’t this just poetic justice?

  3. I have to wonder if Madison would be in this mess if she stopped giving the Metro and the Merc interviews that quote her saying arrogant things like,  “I had my doubts they would get the signatures, because I didn’t think this issue was big enough to go out and actually try to recall someone,” Nguyen now says. “But we will beat this. I am very confident we will beat this.” AND “People tell me to run for my seat again,” Nguyen says, “CHUCKLING”, “I have such huge name recognition that if I ran again, the chances I’d win would be high.”  Comments like these just insult the Little Saigon community and fan the flames. 

    If that isn’t bad enough, she boasts about raising over 100K in this really bad economy to fight the recall, money that comes from lobbist and special interest groups of course, but knocks the recall folks for costing taxpayers money for a recall election.
     
    She really needs a professional PR person to teach her when to close her mouth because she really is her own worst enemy.

  4. Wow, Ms. Nguyen rolls up in a Lexus SUV—a real woman of the people.  An allegedly U.S. labor friendly person who drives a non-American-made luxury car with lousy gasoline mileage.  Hhhmmm

    Apparently Ms. Nguyen’s hubris knows no bounds.

    First she made the political mistake of a neophyte by failing to adequately gauge the breadth and depth of the Little Saigon movement.  I guess that could happen to anyone. But she compounds her ignorance when she says “I never thought it would get this far”, when speaking of the recall on the ballot.

    And check out the body language in the picture.  Her facial expression is the picture of smug defiance.  And the folded arms evidence a closed , defensive position, circling the wagons.  Her body language and facial expression just scream “Up yours!”

  5. The writer’s sympathy for Madison’s plight results in the a story that’s missing a major political question:  “is Madison any good?”  Neither she nor Reed handled the controversy well.  Both demonstrated thin skin and a real stubborn streak, a la George W. Bush. Not good for a president, mayor or councilwoman.

  6. #4-What’s your point,
    You asked, “I don’t understand the point.  Are you saying that community organizing is bad?” No he is not saying that. He is saying that no one knew Nguyen until she lead a protest against the Police, after a SJP Officer shot and killed a mentally ill Vietnamese woman for charging them with a large potato peeler that looked like an axe. Apparently, the Police were called out to investigate complaints that a woman was screaming and chasing someone with an axe. After Police continually warned her to drop her weapon, she charged at them wielding the unfamiliar object, and was shot and killed.  (An investigation cleared the Officer of wrongdoing.) After Nguyen got herself known as a champion of the Vietnamese people by leading a protest falsely accusing the Police of wrong doing, and promising them a shopping center named Little Saigon, she ran for Council and won. Get the irony now?

    #6-JMO,
    That sounds about right.

  7. Christian and Kathleen make excellent points.  There would have been no recall with Madison Nguyen holding communnity meetings, and going to her district and trying to make some district wide appeal to get past the entire incident.

    Even today, Macison is referred to around City Hall, and we have emails sent to the Lantern about this, as “Her Royal Highness.”  There are a lot of rumors that two of her own staffers, unknown to Madison, have been sources for a lot of stories about her.

    But I will say two things in her defense.  One, I have also found Ms. Nguyen to be bright, articulate, and quite charming.  Some of us, as Kathleen has said, could help her out of it if she would turn to some very good consulting firms in San Jose.  Two, Stephen Hazel, who routinely screams and threatens our city council in Santa Clara, has been seen with the recall organizers.  The more this wacko can be seen working against Madison, the better she has chance of beating this.

  8. This continues to be an abuse of the recall process. Rather than working together to improve the District and the City, it appears that the recall group is satisfied to “destroy the patient in order to save it.” Not the best way to accomplish positive change.

  9. Certainly, as with any elected official, Madison Nguyen’s effectiveness as an elected official is a debatable issue between her supporters and detractors. However, it’s interesting to note that most neighborhood and business leaders in her district are strongly supporting her in this recall election as they feel that she has been an effective advocate for their issues.

    That being said, I wish this debate was being held in 2010 – the year when the District 7 seat is actually up for election.

    Initiating a costly recall election (during a period of economic crisis in the city) because of a dispute over a single issue just seems reckless. No matter how District 7 voters may feel about Madison Nguyen as
    their elected representative, I hope that they do the right thing and vote NO on this recall.

    Let’s have a vigorous debate in 2010 and let Madison rightfully defend her record against those who believe they could do better.

  10. The Lexus gets about 18 MPG while a Ford Explorer gets about 16. Big Diff.

    Also, look at the local content stickers on the two cars. The Ford has twice the North American content.

    So, for a supposed supporter of labor, she is a phony.

  11. I like Madison Nguyen and I liked the article. It would be a refreshing change if people would focus on the positive aspects of her accomplishments and look to what she brings to the table. She’s an immigrant from Vietnam and she’s worked hard. She is articulate and bright. She seems to understand that she represents the whole District and not simply a small faction.

    She gets high marks from me because she gets things done. Her perspective and approach may be different than what folks are used to, and that is the beauty of diversity.

    People like Madison put themselves out there. It’s part of the job, true, and at the same time very often it’s too easy to sit back and take someone’s inventory of their shortcomings instead of cheering their contributions.

    I hope she does well in her effort to fight this expensive and senseless recall.

    Tina

  12. Whatever you may think of this recall process – agree or disagree – I would argue that the will of the people is NEVER a waste of time, or an abuse of the process.  When the City spent millions working with the Hispanic community on public art after a developer gave us the Fallon statue, it was not an abuse of the process or a waste of money (it was also not a waste of money when RDA put it in storage for over 10 years while the City and the Hispanic Community worked out their differences).  When Citizens in District 8 recalled Kathy Cole, it was not an abuse of the process or a waste of money.  When the hispanic community demands a special committee to investigate what they claim is a disproportionate arrest of Latinos, it is not a waste of money, or an abuse of the process.  When the Little Siagon folks get the signatures to put a recall of Councilwoman Madison Nguyen on the ballot, it is not a waste of money, or an abuse of the process. 

    I am suprised to hear Clarke Williams, a former candidate for City Council in District 6, argue otherwise.  Question:  why do you think organized labor and business are involved in a matter that is between the residents of District 7 and their elected representative? Isn’t that an abuse of power, a waste of money, and an abuse of the process?  Isn’t that an attempt to subjugate the will of the people?

  13. I have a few questions:

    Doesn’t anyone think it is odd that a person, who is recalled from Office, can run for the same seat again? What the hell is the point of having a recall policy if it doesn’t keep the person you recall out of Office?

    Do Union folks, members of the Chamber, and the Democratic Party get a say in how their dues and donations are spent, when it comes to dumping thousands of dollars into defeating this recall effort? Couldn’t that money be better spent helping Union members pay their bills? Couldn’t that money be better spent on helping small business owners get through these tough times? Or doesn’t it matter that their members/contributors are suffering huge losses during these difficult economic times? 

    Doesn’t anyone think it is odd that the Little Saigon folks are being singled out for following due process? Look at the many groups that have done the same kinds of things, but were never held to the standard in which this Vietnamese community is. It seems like a double standard to me to bash the Vietnamese community for exercising their right to have a recall election for a politician they feel failed them, they proved violated the Brown Act, misled the Mayor and Council, and broke promises they feel she made to them. 

    Do I think they should have let her finish her term and then put a tough candidate up against her in a 2010 election, and by pass the recall election? Yes, but I also think they are entitled to the Democratic process. And finally Madison has a very big part in why these people took this path. She could have avoided all of this had she used more digression in how she went about all of this, and how she responds publicly in interviews.  Some of what she says comes off as disrespectful, and really quite arrogant. Fanning the flames is not a smart thing to do when you are already in the hot seat.

  14. They have every right to waste money and abuse the process. They are not being singled out. There are appropriate times to use the weapon of recall and inappropriate times—I don’t believe this is an appropriate time to use it.
    There is no comparison between this battle and the recall of Kathy Cole—nice try, though.
    Agreed that Labor’s involvement in this does taint the process but that’s what they do. They simply want votes and more members to pay more dues. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to actually have folks focus city-wide on what would be good for the entire city? I know it won’t happen as long as we have our Districts, but I can wish, can’t I?

  15. Hick Towne,
    If they were abusing the process as you claim, they wouldn’t be allowed to have a recall. Kathy Cole didn’t do anything different than Madison’s doing when her constituents confronted her for her actions. She was as rude and stubborn as Madison is being. There’s an appropriate time to have a recall? I think the policy on recall is pretty clear, and they met the requirements to have one. Exercising a person’s rights is never a waste of time, money, nor is it an abuse of process.

    Agreed, “Wouldn’t it be refreshing to actually have folks focus city-wide on what would be good for the entire city??

  16. “Wow, Ms. Nguyen rolls up in a Lexus SUV—a real woman of the people.  An allegedly U.S. labor friendly person who drives a non-American-made luxury car with lousy gasoline mileage.”

    1. Do you know where we live? Even the “bad” neighborhoods have some decent cars parked on the streets. A Lexus is just a fancy Toyota, anyway.

    2. Most Japanese cars are manufactured in the U.S. Those factory workers are more worthy of support than Detroit CEOs, at least in my eyes.

    3. Lexus SUVs actually get decent mileage as vehicles of that class go.

  17. >> Doesn’t anyone think it is odd that the Little Saigon folks are being singled out for following due process?

    They are NOT being singled out for following due process. They are being singled out for abusing the system and exercising shortsighted judgement.

    Barry Ho does exactly this—misstate the issue and other people’s positions so as to discredit them.

  18. The recall election is going to happen, regardless of how anyone feels about it. Hopefully, the will of the people will be heard, despite outside interests/money being so heavily involved. But don’t fret, if she is recalled I’m sure she’ll run again. wink

  19. I think most people are in favor of the right of due process, voting, and recalls.  However, it is very annoying that the protesters chose not to turn in their signatures in time for the general election in Nov. which would have saved the city a fortune on a special election.  Perhaps they really were not organized yet. Perhaps they realized they would lose in an election with a high voter turn out. Perhaps they wanted Ms Nguyen to have to waste a lot of money and support defending herself.  Perhaps they wanted to motivate the younger Vietnamese Americans to realize that for a few, the politics of their parents history are more important than the politics of their children’s future.

    I know little about the Vietnamese community.  I understand little about what to me is a marketing issue.  However, organizers of this movement have done little to make the rest of San Jose understand why they are not just wasting the time and money of the rest of us.  They are also hurting any future Vietnamese American candidate for this district.  I have overheard people saying that if the recall succeeds, they will not vote for a Vietnamese American candidate because this will just happen again.

  20. Well . . . there is certainly no sensationalism going on here. I mean, you can clearly read my exact words where I write “All city petitions should meet my express approval.” If I were only the pillar of objective journalism that Mr. Rowen and Mr. Galt have done us the honor of demonstrating over the course of eventful 2008, then no one’s opinions would ever be taken out of context and all debate would be civil. Then maybe we wouldn’t actually believe that unnamed citizens are angry at one another for ‘following the law’ or ‘exercising their rights’ (Does anyone honestly think that watching citizens exercise their rights makes someone angry? Methinks there is a misperception here).

    May we all live to see the day where we don’t bend one another’s idealogical positions into radical and extreme contortions for the sake of winning arguments.

  21. The thing that gets me about Barry Hung Do is that he lives by the country club in Evergreen and he has no offices on Story Road. I live in the area and the reason that people in the area are not passionate about any name is that they have more “REAL” issues to deal with. I have gone to community meetings at the Tully road library and the only Vietnamese people that show up are her staff. Where are they when we are dealing with “REAL” issues of gangs, violence, and ordinances.

  22. Whatever the outcome, I just find it crazy that those three words — “Saigon Business District” — might end up being the phrase that defines (and haunts) Madison Nguyen’s political career. That is why Vietnamese never able to hold a politic office because of these retired people. These old folks need to get a life and get it over with. This is American so those VN culture is not apply here. If they want to battle with VC then go back to VN and battle over there. They just speak more than they can do or should I said they are just a bunch of BS retired people. Yes, I am Vietnamese born in VN and grow up in US. That is why I don’t live in the VN community as they can not united to make something useful other than wait till April/30th of each year and bitching about the lost war. So stop bitching or go back to VN and make something useful if they can.

  23. Whatever the outcome, I just find it crazy that those three words – “Saigon Business District” – might end up being the phrase that defines (and haunts) Madison Nguyen’s political career. That is why Vietnamese never able to hold a politic office because of these retired people. These old folks need to get a life and get it over with. This is American so those VN culture is not apply here. If they want to battle with VC then go back to VN and battle over there. They just speak more than they can do or should I said they are just a bunch of BS retired people. Yes, I am Vietnamese born in VN and grow up in US. That is why I don’t live in the VN community as they can not united to make something useful other than wait till April/30th of each year and bitching about the lost war. So stop bitching or go back to VN and make something useful if they can.

  24. #29,#30,
    AnotherPointofView in USA,

    I see you have Americanized quit nicely. Your disrespect for tradition, and for the seniors who fought so hard for your freedoms, and brought you to a country that allows you the freedom to speak like this, is a fine example of what you’ve learned in this country. How very sad that is.

  25. Kathleen in San Jose
    It is not disrespect for tradition. It is live and learns, as time pass you need to move on and put the pass behind you. Learn the lesson from the past and pick out the good to hold on. These old folks, keep everything regardless good or bad. Tradition does not mean it always rights. That is why American grow so quickly, live and learn from the past and toss out the none sense traditional crap. I will respect elderly if they are right or doing the right thing but I will not go on the same boat if that person is wrong and expect me to do the same. That is what brain is for. Use common sense and think before act goes a long way.  As for VN War, you either win or lose when go to war. Don’t blame this or that. Take the responsibility as a solder and as a commander to accept the lost. Because there were corruption in QLVNCH and no one take responsibility. Why blame on US and pointing finger at someone else and not them. If they uphold the law and take responsibility then they may not lost the war. They lost because they were not united and working as a team. President fled and commander fled when the country men needed them.  Remember this ca dao “mot cay lam chang nen non, ba cay chum lai len hon nui cao”. So quit thinking as for one self benefit and think what they can do for the country.  US can not watch their back forever.  American have to do what is best for their country. Ask yourself and look up the history and see how many American men/women lost their life in VN and the price tag that they paid for VN war. Was that their war? Did they gain anything from that war other than lost their life, time, and deficit?  Why blaming on America when lost the war, if blaming them then why asked them to help out and why reside here in US and not elsewhere? Quote “for the seniors who fought so hard for your freedoms”, you got it wrong; they did not fought for my freedom.  It was my family and I find our path for our freedom. But let say that they fought for my freedoms, is that mean I have to obey them and join them doing the wrong thing? NO, That is a big NO.  As for “freedom of Speak”, that is the privilege and the right in US. Can you do that in VN or do that with the elderly even though they wrong and you’re right? I doubt that you can. These tradition phrases always stuck in them and pass on from generation to generation, “i’m older, I know more than you” or “Tao an muoi nhieu hon may an com.” So because they older they know more????? I doubt that…..

  26. #32- Another Point of View,
    My Father fought in the Vietnam War. He came home after being there for 2 years. When he came home, AMERICAN protesters spit on him and called him a baby killer. Protesters by the way, which had NEVER set foot in Vietnam. You remind me of them. You are placing judgments on something you know absolutely nothing about, and at a young age, have never experienced. You apparently know nothing first hand about communism, or its effects on the Vietnamese people, or you wouldn’t be so disrespectful toward your elders. (Or elders that disagree with you, since you say you’ll respect those who do agree with you. Oh, the arrogance of youth!) Go study the way China is, that should scare you silly and make you appreciate what you have. 

    My Father was deeply hurt by the protesters because he barely survived that war, lost many friends there, had a deep respect for how hard working the Vietnamese people were, and loved the Vietnamese people for their beautiful traditions. He saw what communism did to that country, and fought to change it. Too bad you don’t appreciate the beauty of what your culture brings to many of us. Too bad you don’t get the importance of tradition. You are missing out on a lot.

    Was it our war to fight? Yes and no. Yes because it was about people’s freedoms, and no because it was politically motivated. Any time we (Americans) see injustice, or people’s freedoms, human, and civil rights being abused, we must stand up and fight against it because THAT is what American TRADITION is all about. That tradition is centuries old, yet it has made this the greatest country in the world to live in. I suggest you pick up a History book yourself, as you seem very ignorant about what makes this country so great, and how the beauty of our traditions values free speech, free thought, civil and human rights, and of so much more. Due process is a part of those freedoms, and I’m happy to see the Vietnamese American community exercising their LEGAL right to do what they feel in their heart is right. I wish them much luck win or lose because in my opinion they are true Americans who love this country more than most American born citizens do. My Father would be proud of them.

  27. Kathleen in San Jose
    I’m sorry that you cannot accept the fact. Fact and truth is always hurt.
    “You are placing judgments on something you know absolutely nothing about, and at a young age, have never experienced. You apparently know nothing first hand about communism” that is so funny.  How do you know that I know nothing and I’m a young age? Well, let me give you some hint about what I know and how old I am, I lived in the communist world for over thirteen years then go school here at 6th grades, obtain 3 degrees in university and been working for 15 years since I get out of university. Over thirteen years in communist world is neither a long time nor a short time so I think I know enough about communist. As I said before and I say it again in case you did not get it first time. I will not and would not disrespectful toward any elders if they’re doing the right thing. I am not asking anyone to agree with me so that I respect them.  If you think that is arrogance, then that tell me your personality and how you think.
    Don’t think your father is the only person in QLVNCH. There is always a loss of life in every war so accept that fact and move on. I do love the tradition and other thing that people do and scarified their life for but again, but tradition is not always work or always right. Remember, this is United State of America. This is now your official country, this is not Viet Nam. So analyze the tradition and learn what is right and wrong. Toss out the wrong and keep the right and move on. You seem too stuck with that Tradition and careless whether or not that tradition is right or wrong. Yes, I do miss out on a tradition but only missing the wrong side of tradition so that does hurt me a bit.
    Quote “Was it our war to fight? Yes and no. Yes because it was about people’s freedoms, and no because it was politically motivated” that is great if you and other Vietnamese stand up for the freedoms. I have no comment about that but don’t do it because it was politically motivated. That is so shameful. American standup for what they believe and fought for their freedoms because of human rights not because of politically motivated.  It is great that people do exercise their right to make the different but do for the right thing not because of political motivated.
    That is why you and other cannot see the different because you and other afraid of change and not open mind.  Ignorant or not is belong to the eye of other to judge and that you may want to ask yourself.  Good luck on this recall, regardless whatever the outcome may be….

  28. Mai Nguyen has the right to fight for her rights and her future the best way SHE knows how to do so.  We need to encourage our fellow citizens to feel proud and to feel they are willing to work to make their future a bright one.

    Bill

    Ps, I like Kathleen and Greg Howe as well.  It is time we work to support the efforts of San Jose Inside to talk about the broad efforts in our valley to make it a great place to live.

    SJI is a giant among urban bloggers.  Here is our effort to support it.

    http://santaclaravalleypostdispatch.blogspot.com/

  29. Kathleen,
    I thought true Americans, who love this country, do not fight for something that does not belong to them in the first place, they work with their leaders instead of fighting them, they are kind and set examples for the younger generation and do not criticize others at every opportunity. And of course, a true American is not full of him or herself.
    Can’t list all, just some great qualities.

    You can speak for your father if you already checked with him that what you wrote was his idea, but please spare the Vietnamese American community by stopping use of the phrase “Vietnamese American community” which you use deliberately whether intentionally or unintentionally. You can refer to individuals or groups that give you the permission to speak on their behalf, otherwise you violate the free speech, free thoughts, and so much more of individuals in the Vietnamese American community who, like me, wish to belong to the Vietnamese American community that is part of San Jose and have no other leaders besides our leaders that we voted for, the San Jose city officials. 

    You wrote “….Vietnamese American community exercising their LEGAL right to do what they feel in their heart is right…”.  I feel my legal right is stripped away by people like you, who keep making statements about our wishes, our rights, etc. referring to the Vietnamese American community as a whole. It’s bad enough that we escaped the communists for freedom and now again we have people representing us against our will. It is not only wrong, it hurts deeply. Again, as a former Vietnamese refugee who became a Vietnamese American, I am pleading with you to please stop referring to us as the Vietnamese American community unless being asked to. And as of now, no one can legally claim the power to give that permission. Thank you.

  30. #34- Another Point Of View In The US,
    I’m not going to debate this issue with you. We are going to have to agree to disagree on the recall issue. Your original post about recall supporters was very disrespectful, and was intolerant of OTHERS right to their OWN opinion, that is why I responded to you in the first place. You claim to have an open mind, but you do not. Your posts reflect that.

    May I ask you this, do you mean to be coming across in a disrespectful manner, or are you having difficulty translating into English? I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and say that, my mother was German born, and sometimes she said things in a harsher way than she meant to.  Do you understand what “BS retired people”, and “they should get a life” actually means, and how rude it is that you made comments like that?

  31. #36-William Babbitt,
    Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion on this topic. And every opinion should be respected, that is something a few of this no on recall supporters seem to have forgotten. My Father deeply respected the Vietnamese people, and while he is now passed, I know he would be proud to see them fighting for what they believe in. They are American citizens whether pro the recall or not, and hence I will and am proud to call them the Vietnamese American community. I’m as proud of them as I am of the African American, Indian American, and etc. community, AMERICANS, not foreigners, not immigrants, but AMERICAN citizens!

    I completely agree, it is time to move past the hatred and arguing about this recall, it is in the hands of the D7 voters, where it belongs!
    wink

  32. So what’s new – Viets attacking Viets – and that’s why our “community” will get nowheres quick. I’ve always observed that Viets have this love/hate relationship with each other and it’s a very thin line. You’ll see that crimes are almost exclusively committed by Viets on other Viets.

    I hate that anyone who disagrees with the “community” are immediately called commies and I also hate that someone let politics and stubbornness divide a community that should work together for everyone’s betterment. So what do I think about this recall as a moderate Viet, who still believes in tradition and respects elders?  It’s a freaking waste of time, money and effort that should be going towards other, more worthy causes at this time. If you hate her, vote her out at re-election time. I am truly embarrassed for my “community” and this whole fiasco and I think Madison needs some humility (ok maybe A LOT more), to not forget those who gave her a voice in the first place.

  33. If you feel that way then your vote for the recall is a vote for Barry. You can’t have it both ways. Trouble + trouble = trouble.

  34. MADISON NGUYEN IS NOT DESERVED TO STAY ON CITY COUNSEL JOB. WHO SERVED FOR RICH, BUSNESSMANS IN SAN JOSE ONLY. NOT FOR THE PEOPLE DISTRICT 7.  LET INVESTIGATE THE CITY FUND. SHE GAVE AWAY SOME TAX PAYER FUND TO SUPPORT FELLOWS TO KEEP HER STAY ON JOB?

  35. Madison Nguyen is a crook while Barry Hung Do is a loudmouth idiot.  Madison needs to go, but we need to keep Barry away.

    (Now, his brother/cousin (if they are even related), Brian, that is one brilliant kid.  With a bit of time and some luck, that boy is somebody you want to watch.)  Each and every time I hear Barry talks, I am wondering if I am making the right decision to support the recall. 

    Thank God I have been spared of this as I don’t watch as much TV as I used to, but surely, the recall people should have figured it out and tell Barry Hung Do to shut up.