By James Tabafunda
Northwest Asian Weekly
Just as voters choose which candidates they want to hold public office during the general election, they also want to hold current office holders accountable for their actions. One city councilwoman faces an upcoming recall election while two other office holders have faced one since August.
What’s in a name? San Jose citizens insist on moniker
Madison Nguyen is the first Vietnamese American elected to serve on the city council of the nation’s 10th largest city, San Jose, Calif. She faces a recall election for voting to rename a one-mile commercial strip east of downtown “Saigon Business District” instead of keeping the more popular name, “Little Saigon.”
When she was elected to the city council on Sept. 13, 2005, Madison Nguyen, a Democrat with a master’s in social science, defeated real-estate lawyer Linda Nguyen (no relation) in a runoff to take over for District 7 Councilman Terry Gregory. Madison Nguyen received 62 percent of the votes – 5,242 votes to Linda’s 3,182 votes. Back then, San Jose had the largest Vietnamese American population of any U.S. city — about 10 percent of its 900,000 citizens.
She voted with the majority of council members — 8 to 3 — for the new name, citing that the strip of 200 Vietnamese-owned businesses near Highway 101 should have its own identity, different from the other Little Saigons.
Several citizens, including the group San Jose Voters for Democracy, viewed her political actions as misleading, accusing her of giving in to special interest groups. She countered saying her vote reflects the majority opinion of the city’s non-Vietnamese residents and business owners.
Madison Nguyen will face recall in a special March 2009 election.
Did Flushing officials form a mob squad?
Residents of Flushing, N.Y. formed a committee last July to recall assemblywoman Ellen Young and New York council member John Liu. Young and Liu, according to the Epoch Times, encouraged pro-communist mobs in interviews and public speeches to assault Falun Gong practitioners on May 19. Falun Gong is a spiritual practice founded in China by Li Hongzhi that has historically been persecuted because it is viewed as being cultish.
The Liu and Young are also alleged to have not provided help to about 100 assault victims at the city’s Service Center for Quitting the Chinese Communist Party.
Following the meetings, on July 4, Flushing residents formed a committee to remove Liu and Young from office: “The Committee to Recall New York City Council Member John Liu and New York State Assemblywoman Ellen Young.” The committee collected over 769 signatures from Flushing residents to remove the two officials from office and the signatures were passed to the New York City Council and State Assembly on Aug. 3.
On Sept. 10, The Epoch Times reported that the U.S. Department of Justice had launched an investigation on John Liu and Ellen Young. No results have been announced.
Politician admits to his folly
Last June, Louisiana’s governor, Bobby Jindal, and several state legislators faced a recall election – by former Jindal supporters Ryan and Kourtney Fournier – over a legislative pay raise from $16,800 to $37,500.
Jindal made statements during his campaign last year to prohibit a pay raise but when in office, let the pay raise pass through, angering many Louisiana citizens.
However, at the end of the month on June 30, Jindal vetoed the pay raise. He released the following statement: “The bottom line is that allowing this excessive legislative pay raise to become law would so significantly undercut our reform agenda and so significantly diminish the people’s confidence in their own government that I cannot let it become law, so I have vetoed the bill.”
Of the public outcry, Jindal said, “The voters have demanded change. I made a mistake by staying out of it.”
Recall efforts against Jindal were dropped soon after. ♦
Information from the San Jose Mercury News, Asianweek, The Times-Picayune and the Sun-Sentinel was used in this report.
James Tabafunda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.