By Jim Tortolano/Orange County Tribune
After a long and contentious session, the Westminster City Council decided on Wednesday night to put an end to the controversial Quang Tri Monument project and the committee intended to guide it toward completion.
The vote was three in favor – Mayor Chi Charlie Nguyen, Vice Mayor NamQuan Nguyen (District 4) and Councilmember Amy Phan West (District 1) – with one opposed – Councilmember Kimberly Ho (District 3) – and one abstaining, Councilmember Carlos Manzo (District 2).
Wednesday’s action appears to terminate plans to build and locate in Westminster a memorial monument celebrating the victory of South Vietnamese forces – with American assistance – over Communist forces at the Quang Tri citadel in 1972.
But almost from the start, quarrels arose over the composition of the committee, the language on the proposed monument, its size and design and its location. There was some opposition to the idea of the monument itself.
NamQuan Nguyen who originally proposed the resolution to end the project and committee, laid out the case – as he saw it – for closing the book on Quang Tri.
“This is an ongoing issue that has caused so much division in the community,” he said. The formation of the committee was not representative of the community and was done for political gain, he claimed.
“The city council is at an impasse and there is no popular support for the monument; it is too big in size to be placed in any city park,” he added. He suggested that proponents of the monuments organize privately and without any city financial help.
Ho claimed that West was part of a “tight-knit group” allied with former Assemblymember Van Tran, and accused her of being unethical, dishonest and biased.
“I want you to have a heart and think deeper,” she added.
West then stepped in to respond although it was Manzo’s turn to speak.
Defending some of her actions to shorten council meetings, she replied, “I have always said I wanted to bring respect back to the council, to bring respect back to … the people who call Westminster their home. Saving time and resources is what we need to do.”
Manzo suggested that West needed to be “respectful of others. You’re constantly interrupting other council members, you’re constantly speaking out of turn.”
He said, “The Vietnamese community in this city is divided and it’s been divided for a long time. Everything is political in this city, including this monument.”
Manzo argued that several items placed on recent agendas have “created division” and “added fuel to the fire.”
The mayor spoke last. “We are not going to spend more money on this,” he said. “We are not going to spend more effort on this. We are not going to waste staff time on this.”
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