By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
So I'm not a big fan of AssemblymanVan Tran. But it wasn't till his goddamn pancake breakfast Saturday morning, breaking up my perfectly lovely Labor Day weekend when a friend had invited me to Del Mar and the Padres game—"Wanna go with me to Del Mar and then the Padres game?" he'd asked. "Of course I want to go with you to Del Mar and then the Padres game!" I'd answered. But I couldn't because Van Tran was having his goddamn pancake breakfast, so I lay that at Van Tran's doorstep too!—that I realized Van Tran isn't just some schmuck who's gonna beat my friend Paul Lucas, who's running against him, probably 70-30 come November. He's a righteous schmuck, he's oily and ugly, and he's none too bright. Long-winded? Yes, but none too bright.
A group of unfriendlies took over a table at the 8 a.m. breakfast (which hurt, coming after the Friday of Labor Day weekend and all) and glowered through the introductions of various electeds, including fun Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor, and then glowered through Van Tran's speech to the community. The community loved Van Tran, especially when he talked about illegal immigration. "My family immigrated too," he said, "but we did it the right way." According to his Assembly web page, he came to the U.S. in 1975, "evacuated by the U.S. Army a week before the fall of Saigon." Sounds to me like someone "cut to the front of the line." God, I hate Van Tran.
One of our unfriendlies, a truly nice teachers union rep named Kimberly, took him up on his offer to submit a written question. (Every time his aide would read one of our questions, he would paraphrase it instead of reading it straight: "So, uh, basically she's asking . . .") Kimberly had noticed that in Van's brochure Excellence in Education Principle #3, he'd stated, "[D]istrict, school and classroom results, positive or negative, must be made public and must be easy to understand. And administrators and teachers who demonstrate excellence should be rewarded."
Her question? "Regarding public education, what is the 'easy to understand' test that you would use to assess the work of administrators and teachers? What punishments or rewards do you envision for teachers and administrators?"
Van's answer? "That's a really generic question, so I'm going to give a generic answer. [Ed. Note: Dick.] Parents are the most important part of their children's education." Then he brought up Assemblywoman Lynn Daucher to remind him there are in fact graduation exit exams and STAR tests. The second part of Kimberly's question was never read.
So he didn't know shit about education, but he also didn't know shit about the minimum wage, saying ours is the highest in the country (it's not; six states and the District of Columbia beat us, and three more tie us), and the minimum wage is "mostly waitresses and they get tips anyway." Yes. That's why waitresses have a sub-minimum wage of $2.13 an hour. Van Tran makes $109,000 a year. Plus a $153 per diem for every day he's in Sacramento. Plus a $40,000 personal car allowance. Van Tran voted against an increase in the minimum wage. Van Tran is an asshole.
Besides the fact that he had no grasp on policy (and is an asshole), Van Tran's sense of decency was lacking. Speaking of his wish to take the Legislature part-time "so we can do less damage," he talked about a bunch of stupid bills that had been passed. One would distribute condoms in prison, which he called "dangerous." And it was at the taxpayers' expense! AIDS? Hep C? Not nearly as dangerous (or as expensive)—and as we know from abstinence-only education, if we don't give them the love-gloves, they won't have the sex!
The best part was when he talked about AB 2485, which provides a voluntary tax check-off for research into pollution that's killing sea otters. "I hope the governor will veto it," he said, and after he briefly explained the bill, he put on his hilarious sarcastic voice to explain why sea otters don't need any special rights: "Because there's so many sea otters!" (See, he was being sarcastic and meant the opposite: that there aren't very many sea otters, so why have an entire voluntary tax-check-off program devoted to them? That's why, you fucking dunce.) He actually sneered it.
Why would a voluntary tax check-off ignite your wrath? Who the fuck hates sea otters?Help me out here: Is it their immoral lifestyle? Did they not immigrate to our coast the right way? What a nasty cock!
Later, Van Tran would remind us, apropos of nothing, that "freedom isn't free." That's right. Team America says it costs a buck-o-five. Now move the decimal point over five spaces, add $4,000, and we've got your salary. You know, like you like to remind people: at taxpayer expense.
By the way, the pancakes were excellent, and some eggy, cheesy thing had at least five pounds of butter, just the way mama likes. It was all free too—to us. The taxpayer got to pick up the check.