By Amir Ghani/Orange County Tribune
After over two years of back and forth, Mayor Tri Ta put his foot down and pushed forward a decision of no further action to be made regarding the Quang Tri Memorial at the most recent Westminster city council meeting.
This discussion about the location of the Quang Tri Memorial was pushed back from a September city council meeting. Talks took place in October between the Quang Tri Memorial committee and the Westminster city council about the new dimensions and location choices. The reduced dimensions total to 880 square feet, for an overall concrete footprint reduction of 17%.
“It’s wrong for Westminster. We don’t need a graveyard of Vietnamese monuments,” said one resident in harsh opposition to the building of the monument, before bringing forward to council a petition signed by 186 residents and veterans.
“My father dedicated his life to service, Westminster, Orange County…I would like to ensure the honor of our veterans is forever insured,” said Debby Johnson, the daughter of Sid Goldstein, a deceased veteran that won the distinguished service cross after the Vietnam War. She also stated that she believed the park named after her father is not an appropriate location for the Quang Tri Memorial.
One resident, a former United States Coast Guard, noted the lack of Coast Guard insignia on the memorial, telling the council that many soldiers that died in the Vietnam War were enlisted in the Coast Guard.
After public comments, the council discussed the revised architectural plans for the monument.
“Up to this point, I’ve heard your concerns, I appreciate that. I think all we want to do is be united…I honestly don’t see any other park,” said Ta, “When we do anything, it is for the community, not just the Vietnamese.”
“We need to move forward…it is very difficult being in our situation…please allow the Vietnamese, everyone, to express themselves,” said Councilmember Kimberly Ho.
She then put forward a proposal for the city attorney to create an ordinance to restrict the future number of monuments on city property except in certain limited circumstances.
“It’s sad this statue has divided our already divided city even further,” said Vice Mayor Carlos Manzo.
“We agreed as a council we are going to pick a public park. That is still my intention, not Sid Goldstein…Let’s just make a decision, the community is so tired,” said Councilmember Tai Do.
Do then proposed that the council approve the smaller dimensions and to place the monument at Westminster Park, with the Quang Tri Commitee being responsible for all costs and upkeep.
During the discussion regarding this proposal, Ho was seen slumped off to the side of her seat, browsing her phone, and had to be asked multiple times for her attention during voting. The proposal failed with one yes, two no votes, and two abstentions.
Public hearings opened back up after this and community members took the chance to direct their comments towards the counsel for their constant delays and their using of the subject for political gain.
One resident called out Ho’s apathetic attitude, saying, “Kimberly, look at me when I’m talking to you.”
“We are now back to round zero,” said Ta after the public hearings closed. He then made a motion to defer the decision to the new year, when a new council would be seated. The motion failed.
Another motion that was brought forward mirrored a previous one that had failed. This one also failed while groans from the audience filled the chambers.
Ta sighed in defeat, bringing up again the need to defer this public hearing to the second meeting in January. He then created a motion based on this which failed.
“We’ve tried everything, we take no action on this item,” said Ta, moving the meeting onto the next item.