And, the Winner Is….

…John Nielsen by a bushy mustache.

In a not-so-surprising move on the dais, Hizzoner nominated the mayor pro tem, John Nielsen, as mayor for the coming year. We had a bet that Jerry would try for an unprecedented third term but, that didn’t happen. Nielsen was our longshot. It could be that Jerry just couldn’t muster his troops to vote him in for a third time. Nielsen has actually voted against the good mayor on a couple of important issues recently, indicating to me that he was tiring of Amante’s grandstanding self-righteousness. And face it, no one on the left side of the dais had a snowball’s chance in Tustin of becoming mayor or pro tem. That left only Nielsen as the logical candidate.

Nielsen is an interesting choice. While he is solidly aligned with the right, he is not so solidly aligned with Amante’s vision for the city. In fact, as I have said before, he has voted at least twice this year against the good mayor. If there is one piece of advice I would give John, it would be to dispense with the histrionics that he and the mayor have been known for and try to build some consensus from both sides of the dais. This is going to be very important if development of MCAS is to continue in the coming year. One thing that occurred this year under Amante that I support is the city of Tustin taking over as master developer of the base. More has been done in the past few months under their umbrella than has been accomplished in the years prior. If things continue on track, we could see real construction out there in a year or two.

What was really surprising to us was the nomination of Councilmember Al Murray to Mayor Pro Tem. In his first year on the council, Murray has managed to look like the perfect yes man to Amante. Hopefully, he has just been keeping a low profile and will come into his own as he backs up our new mayor. So far, he has demonstrated limited and narrow thinking with almost no regard for the citizens of Tustin at large as he spent most of his time kissing the rear end of Hizzoner. That made him a perfect third vote for the majority on the dais but did little for the residents. Maybe this year one of the other councilmembers will teach him how to say “no” on cue. By the way, Al, you need to take off your police captain’s hat when you are sitting on the dais. We need a councilmember that will do the will of the people, not babysit us with nanny state thinking.

What should have happened is that the Mayor pro tem should have been at least offered to one of the two women on the dais. While we have all but written Deborah Gavello off as a lost cause (she was absent again and the excuses are running thin), Beckie Gomez, for a rookie councilmenber, has shown us that she can think for herself and that she has the best interests of the city at heart. She could have provided that counter-balance for the mayor that has been sorely lacking for many years in the Tustin council chambers. And, while she will remain on the dais, her tenure as a pro tem would have reminded the rest of the councilmembers that they are supposed to be non-partisan. Although Beckie also has the qualifications, there is nothing written in stone that the pro tem must necessarily ascend to the mayoral throne. Lastly, it doesn’t hurt that she appears to have grudging respect from her peers.

Of course, Jerry will continue to be a presence on the council. He has one more year and, as was pointed out during the meeting, the past mayors apparently have a good old boys club that comes out from time to time to welcome the new inductee with cake and ice cream. Their influence may be minimal but they have Jerry as their mouthpiece for awhile longer. Hopefully, John Nielsen will be the kind of mayor that Tustin deserves. Although the mayor’s authority is technically limited to presiding over the council meeting, everyone knows his or her authority extends much further in influence and actual power as committee appointments are made and policy is formed. We think Nielsen, despite his love of Amante, could be a good mayor. Just keep Amante in line and learn how to cut off his mike when he goes into a tirade.

As an aside, today is Pearl Harbor day. I am honored to have served my country during time of war and I have the honor of knowing a few Pearl Harbor survivors from my American Legion post. There are not many of these valiant men left and I am always in awe when I meet up with one of them. Please take a moment out of your day to say a prayer of thank you to those who came home and for those who did not.

About Jeff Gallagher

I am a retired peace officer from the 2nd largest law enforcement agency in Orange County. I live in and love Tustin where my family and I have resided for the past 25 years. I am a highly moderate libertarian that despises hardcore Republicans, Democrats and anyone else who is not willing to compromise for the good of the people.

Posted on December 7, 2011, in Local Government. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Is Nielsen really a winner?

  2. Don’t be fooled— Nielsen is and will always be Jerry’s man. He owes him to many markers. With his re-election in 2012, Nielsen will try to postion himself as being independent from Amante and will cast some token votes against him just to seem like his own man. In any other year, many of his votes would side with Amante but he needs to think of his own skin in 2012. What will be interesting is how Nielsen tries to present himself to the Tustin High School voting block, an area he has taken pride as “his” people but with his gang of three leading the lawsuit against the TUSD and the way he was snubbed by THS people at last year’s teacher of the year event (I was there) it will be something to watch. Look for Amante and gang to really try to force a settlement with TUSD in 2012 to prevent a legit campaign issue.

  3. I’m a parent at Tustin High and I don’t drink the kool-aid that js smith does. Our new science buidling is in use and the big gym isn’t far behind. When will you people stop being the mouthpieces for a school district that never showed an interested in schools in Tustin until they got taxpayer money for improvements? Construction never slowed down and THS families want this stupid fight to stop. Who wins with this fight besides attorneys? If it’s really about the kids, everyone needs to shut up.

    • Kathy,

      Just where was that improvement money supposed to come from, if not the taxpayer? If you are insinuating that Nielsen had anything at all to do with the school construction at THS, I remind you that he was part of the voting bloc that resulted in the lawsuits pending in court. Any way the legal battles end, the taxpayer will still be in the hook. The only ones who win in these cases are the lawyers on both sides.

      • I am not implying Nielsen had anything to do with construction but since construction never stopped it bothers me that the district keeps upsetting our kids on campus by saying it did. The lawsuits are ridiculous but the school district sued first. I don’t know why no one says it except to upset our kids. They had no trouble transfering kids to go to Beckman when it opened and none of us understand why they didn’t do that with the new school. My neighbor says that it is now a continuation school because they wanted new tennis courts at Foothill after they built their gym. The kids on the base go to Benson and Veeh. Check it out on a map and see if that’s fair and then stop thinking the district is good. Certain kids don’t matter in Tustin. Not sure if it’s race based or because they live outside the city. We’re tired of people fanning the flames against the city because we know it’s all about power.

  4. Kathy, I suggest you read the other posts on this blog regarding the lawsuit. TUSD had no choice but to sue the city when the city backed them into a corner on the grading permits that were not required, and that were even specifically exempt by ordinance. When Amante found out about that, he blew a cork and directed staff to draw up a new ordinance rescinding the old ordinance. That did no good as state law pre-empts local law. Truly, this fight has been brought on by the city which, by the way, in the second lawsuit asked for a change of venue because they thought Orange County Courts would not give them a fair shake if it went to trial. So, now it is in Riverside County. The city held out a lame olive branch asking (begging) the school district to call the whole thing off. Only thing is, it now has to be decided by a court in order to sort out the legal issues. Otherwise, TUSD would never dare to turn over another shovel in this town without fear of incurring the wrath of Jerry. It is unfortunate the kids are caught in the middle of this but your anger toward the district is misplaced.

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