Notes From Last Night's OC Dem's Truman Awards Dinner, Where They Couldn't Spell “John Perez” or “Barbecue” Right

OC Democrats are planning to do a lot of “building” this year, as evidenced by what transpired at the Democratic Party of Orange County's 19th Annual Truman Awards Dinner, held last night at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim.

The event, traditionally the OC Dem's largest fundraiser of the year, saw multiple references to keynote speaker Joaquin Castro's well-worn slogan, “building an infrastructure of opportunity,” both by the freshman representative from San Antonio and the speakers that preceded him.


Anaheim City Councilmember Jordan Brandman was first to speak at length, following the national anthem and the opening invocation.

Brandman welcomed the party the to city, thanking them for their presence and spotlighting some of the achievements that Anaheim had accomplished recently, including passing a budget, opening more libraries and parks, and breaking ground on the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC)–the $200 million train station for which the city inexplicably hired the OC Register to help find a corporate sponsor for, that no one in the city actually cares for, and which just so happens to be heavily pushed by his political mentor, former Anaheim mayor Curt Pringle.

That new infrastructure is going to be important, as the full California Democratic Party will be holding its 2015 convention in Orange County, as OC Party Chair Henry Vandermeir revealed in his opening remarks.

The Dems will want someone to go over their blue prints, however, as the dinner was pockmarked by several hiccups.

For one, whoever made the PowerPoint presentation misspelled the name of one of the night's honorees.

Speaker of the California Assembly John A. Pérez's name proudly read “John Parez” on the room's projection screens as he was honored. Pérez, the labor leader who represents the 53rd State Assembly District in the heart of Los Angeles and became the United State's first openly gay assembly leader in 2010, was this year's Harry S. Truman Award recipient. Other award winners included Richard J. O'Neill Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient Monika Broome, Samuel Gompers Labor Award Recipient Jim Adams, Social Justice Award Recipient and AFL-CIO Executive (and just-resigned head of the OC Labor Federation) Vice President Tefere Gebre, and William “Gus” Ayer Environmental Award Recipient, former Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook. Ayer, the former Fountain Valley mayor who unexpectedly passed away earlier this year, was honored posthumously.

The a's instead of e's bug struck again during the event's live auction. One of the items up for bid was a “barbaque” dinner prepared by Stanton firemen.

Other points of interest:

* One item was obviously more popular than the rest during the event's silent auction. While most items saw a handful of bids, the basket of wine donated by Planned Parenthood saw by far the most interest, with offers filling the page.

* A second Planned Parenthood basket, complete with condoms, was given to a winner of a surprise drawing.

* Keynote Speaker Joaquin Castro had some entourage — he was introduced by Rep. Raul Ruiz from the IE's 36th congressional district who himself was introduced by Scott Mayer, the chief real estate officer of Orange County.

* Nearly every speaker attacked the GOP specifically on one point: their role in the government shutdown.

* OC Reg Political Reporter Martin Wisckol spent a good chunk of the night on his phone, checking sports scores.

* Wisckol also asked me if I was some random Asian kid in one of the you-should-donate-money videos that the Dems produced. I was not.

Of the speakers, Castro had the broadest and most forward-looking message.

“The beauty of America is that through the generations we've built up what I call an 'infrastructure of opportunity,'” Castro said. “…people come to our country to be a part of that system. The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that we're trying to build it up, and they're trying to destroy it.”

He continued, looking forward to the presidential election in 2016.

“I believe that if we all do our work right, that in 2016, it'll be early in the evening, maybe 7 o'clock,” he said. “You'll turn on Fox News — because you know how much we love Fox News — and you'll see Bret Baier and next to him will be Karl Rove with his papers doing analysis and they'll say 'we're reporting the results now that the next president of the United States will be the Democrat, Hillary Clinton.”

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Email: cl**@oc******.com. Twitter: @charlesnlam. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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