Last night, the Westminster City Council held a special meeting to resolve the conflict over the desire of multiple groups to host commemorative ceremonies marking the fall of Saigon 35 years ago in 1975. A group of 38 organizations, led by First District Supervisor Janet Nguyen was the first to pull a permit application to use Sid Goldstein Freedom Park on April 30 for their ceremony. Freedom Park is the location of the Vietnam War Memorial statue in Westminster. That permit application was approved by the Westminster police department, and a permit was issued. That permit was modified by the police department on April 19th to expand the estimated number of attendees, and permit the use of amplified sound.
In the letter to Supervisor Nguyen’s office, Mitchell Walker Chief of Police/Acting City Manager informed Nguyen’s office of the approval of the permit modifications.
Cities are supposed to issue permits without regard to the political affiliations of individuals and community groups who apply for permits in the city. This is a core principle that derives its existence from our First Amendment rights in the US Constitution. The City granted the permit to a coalition of community groups that had gathered under the leadership of Supervisor Nguyen’s office to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the fall of Saigon. They were granted the use of the park for the time period of 5 to 9 pm on April 30, 2010.
There was no cause for the city to further modify the permit time for the approved permit to a different time than what was requested. The simple, and quite blatant, reason for the change was political. The City Council, on a 3 to 1 vote took a permit granted for a 5 pm – 9 pm event and moved it to 9 am – 4 pm. The city then granted the more desirable time of 5 pm to 9 pm to a single group. The vote was along the political lines of defined by the political rivalry of Assemblyman Van Tran and Supervisor Janet Nguyen. The three allies of Assemblyman Tran on the council, members Diep, Quach, and Ta, scored a political victory for their Commander in Chief Van Tran. The losers are the people of Westminster, who know will know that there are two separate permit processes in the city. First, an applicant must achieve approval of Van Tran, or his agents on the council for their application. Then the applicant may apply to the city for a permit without fear that the City Council will overturn the permit. All we need now is a little money changing hands to smooth the process along, and Tran and his buddies will have a real racket going.
This conflict was not resolved in favor of the existing procedure or city policy. It was resolved by political power. Mayor Margie Rice said it best as Deepa Bharath quoted in her storyin the OCRegister today:
“Janet should have got the time she requested in her application. This is simply not right.”
Rice was visibly enraged at the pressure from the mob.
“I will not be controlled by a group of people who think they run this city,” she said. “I will not bend under pressure. This is America, not Vietnam.”
It is already widely rumored that in order to get a conditional use permit in Westminster that an applicant must first get the approval of Van Tran or his allies Councilmember’s Andy Quach or Tyler Diep. The reality of their influence was demonstrated last year with Tyler Diep’s unplugged moment with the Westminster Police department over the violations by Cytrist restaurant of their conditional use permit and the attempted intervention by Councilman Diep to intimidate enforcement of regulations.
The action of the City Council sends that message loud and clear, the corruption of government administration that was so prevalent in Vietnam in the 60’s and 70’s is now alive and well in the Republic of Little Saigon, er Westminster.
The following is the list ofÂ all Political Parties,Â Religious, Military, Youth and FriendlyÂ Organizations, Associations and Societies in Orange County to participate in commemorating the Mourning Day 30/4 in 35th year of the Fall of SaigonÂ at Vietnam War Memorial on April 30th, 2010:
– Forces of Civillians & Militaries of RVN
– Vietnamese Nationalist Party
– Great Viet/Vietnamese Nationalist Party
– Vietnamese Community in Southern California
– Former Vietnamese Political Prisoners Assn in Southern California.
– Former Vietnamese Political Prisoners Assn in Los Angeles.
– Central Hoa Hao Buddhist Congregation
– Alliance for Democracy in Vietnam
– Airborne 81 Special Forces Assn.
– Friendly Assn of RVN Special Forces.
– Solidarity Assembly of the Nationalist Vietnamese Assn.
– Friendly Assn ofÂ RVNAF Ordinance
– Group of Thanh Nien Co Vang
– Group of Pho Duc Chinh Youths
– Group of Hung Viet Youths
– Group of Melinh Women
– Friendly Assn of Long Xuyen – An Giang.
– Struggle Front for Religious Freedom & Human Rights in Vietnam.
– Asian-American Senior Citizen Association.Â
– Elderly People Assn in O.C. Diocese.
– Friendly Assn of Lawyers in S. C.
– Friendly Assn ofÂ Refugee Students in 1954.
– Friendly Assn of Teachers in South West of the U.S.A.
– Friendly Assn of Officials in the Department Open ArmsÂ of RVN.
– Friendly Assn of Hai Duong province.
– Bach Dang Giang Radio Program.
– Vietnam Forum
– Female Ritual Group of Vietnamese Community in Southern California.Â
– Bloc ofÂ Vietnamese People in the common standpoints.
– Thanks America Assn.Â Â
– Forces of Vietnamese People overseas.
– Assn of Former Students of National AdministrationÂ InstituteÂ Â
– Tay Son Binh Äinh Assn
– Lai Giang Family Assn
– Bloc of 8406 in Southern California
– Unified Committee to Oppose Communism in CaliforniaÂ
Total: 38 membersÂ