Across the Area

The high costs of having a democracy

THE RECALL election of three members of the Westminster City Council – if it happens – will cost upwards of $350,000 (Shutterstock).

Democracy is the best form of government ever tried, but it certainly isn’t cheap.

The effort to recall the majority of the Westminster City Council – Mayor Tri Ta and councilmembers Kimberly Ho and Chi Charlie Nguyen – is now in the hands of the Orange County Registrar of Voters.

The Registrar is going through the process of verifying the name, signature, address and voter registration status of all the folks who signed the recall petition and has a deadline of Jan. 7 to complete that.

Assuming that results in the required number of proper signatures, the election will likely be held in April or mid-May, according to Christine Cordon, Westminster’s city clerk. That will be a “stand-alone” election because the deadline for the March 3 primary election was missed.

(In an effort to improve California’s influence on the national presidential nominating process, the state legislature moved the primary from June back to March).

The financial result is that Westminster will get to shell out over $350,000 to conduct the balloting. That election will include not just the question of whether to remove those persons from office, but who will be chosen in their place.

Additionally, there will a regular mayoral and council election in November 2020.

One other possible vote will likely not happen. A campaign to recall the other two members of the council – Sergio Contreras and Tai Do – appears to be moribund. Cordon told the Tribune she’s had no recent contact with the group that filed the original petition aimed at Contreras and Do.

We’re all wondering about Willowick

Although no action was taken Tuesday night at the Garden Grove City Council meeting on the selection of a master developer for the Willowick Golf Course, there was a large crowd of people there, nearly all of them opposed to what they believed might happen to the 101.5-acre site.

Most of the dozens of speakers identified themselves as being from Santa Ana. As you might know, Willowick is owned by Garden Grove but located in the City of Santa Ana. Most were were young and convinced that the proposed developer – McWhinney Real Estate Services under the name MWWillowick – would build the site from edge to edge with high-rise, “luxury” housing, the result being to wipe out all local open space and raise living costs in the area to intolerable levels.

This reaction is not without merit, but seems to overlook several key points.

First, any development of Willowick is going to impact the area. A gorgeous new park will also drive up rental costs as the surrounding area becomes more desirable. That’s just the nature of the economics of housing.

Second, there’s no specific plan that’s been advanced for the site. The assumption that it will be Beverly Hills on 5th Street is a bit of a stretch. An enlightened developer would likely include some open space that would improve the economics and esthetics of the project. Don’t holler before you’re hurt.

Third, all land use decisions at Willowick are 100 percent under the control of Santa Ana, since it’s within those city limits. Garden Grove may pick a master developer, but if Santa Ana doesn’t want that development, it dies fast and quiet.

Fourth, some of the speakers were antagonistic and even threatening to council members. We’ll camp outside your house. I’ll make sure you’re never elected to anything again. Maybe saying that felt good to some of the “social justice warriors” in the crowd, but it’s not the way to get what you want. The rhetoric of  “distributive justice” may sound interesting in a college political science class, but it’s going to engender smirks in a world when you only get results if you are taken seriously.

Usually Reliable Sources is posted on alternate Wednesdays, usually.




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