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Is Jerry Amante Really Il Duce?

Our friend, Dan Chmielewski over at the Liberal OC, has been the subject of hot debate on another blog, The New Santa Ana.

Most readers are probably aware by now that Santa Ana Councilmember, Claudia Alvarez, has been the subject of many articles and news programs concerning her recent anti-Semitic remarks directed at a couple of Santa Ana business owners. In the aftermath, she has apologized to the people of Santa Ana, the Jewish community and the ADL. Of course, the people she hasn’t apologized to are the ones she should have started with, the Chases who were the target of her remarks in a public meeting. The Liberal OC has written a couple of articles concerning the matter and has been vocal about Alvarez and the Santa Ana Council’s failure to act against her on behalf of the citizens of Santa Ana.

Well, that stirred up a hornet’s nest because, as you may also know, Dan frequently writes about Tustin and the antics of our esteemed mayor, Jerry Amante. He often calls Jerry, who is of Italian (Sicilian, really) descent, “Il Duce”. This has rankled the writers of the New Santa Ana blog  who have written a hit piece on Dan for his use of the nickname because it has been attributed in the past to the infamous Benito Mussolini. Their assertion is that Mussolini was a mass murderer and they infer that he was part of the “ethnic cleansing” that took place in that part of the world against the Jews. Well, sort of.

It is true that Mussolini liked to be called “Il Duce”. So, his friends called him that. It has never been shown that it was widely used by the people except maybe in fear of the dictator and his henchmen. It is also true that he was a mass murderer and committed war crimes.

What isn’t true is that he was part of the ethnic cleansing. In fact:

Things began to change in 1938 for Italian Jews. Mussolini, in his craven desire to please the Fuhrer, initiated a comprehensive anti-Semitic campaign at the urging of the Nazis, including miscegenation laws and a media campaign against Jews. Jews were forbidden to teach in schools. Foreign Jews living as refugees in Italy were rounded up and confined in internment camps. However, these camps were a lot more like the Japanese-American internment camps than the Nazi death camps.

Thousands of Jews seeking refuge went to Italy and Italian-occupied territories because they knew that they were likely to be protected rather than persecuted. In general the Italian people did not buy into the government’s anti-Jewish policies, though Italian intellectuals were curiously silent.

To be clear, The Liberal OC wrote and commented on the issue of Alvarez and her anti-Semitic remarks, not on the general state of the Axis during World War II. The name Mussolini, while infamous, does not carry the same historical stigma that the name of Hitler does. When people think of Hitler, they think of the Holocaust. When they think of Mussolini, they think of the dictator of Italy, an Axis member, and the lackey of Hitler. So, the analogy is a bit of a stretch to say the least. Let’s add to this that Dan’s wife is of Italian descent. He asserts that his use of the word is simply as, “the leader”. In fact, Il Duce means “the leader” or “duke”. I seen no reason to take it otherwise. There is also the matter of the legal issues between Dan and Art Pedroza, the owner of the New Santa Ana blog that is probably the real fuel for this unwarranted attack.

Face it. Nowadays, bloggers are not always nice people. We have our opinions and we let them be known, often in not so nice terms. This blog usually refers to Amante as Boss Tweed and refers to his running of the city as Tammany Hall Tustin. It isn’t meant to denigrate the Irish-Americans that made up that era. It is meant to signify the severity and methods Amante uses in imposing his will on the citizens of this city and the employees of city hall. These digs are meant to entice and keep the reader engaged. And, as was said elsewhere in the blogosphere, Alvarez is a public, elected figure who elected to say what she did in a public forum while representing the community. Dan is a businessman and journalist, representing his own views.

So, if you hear any of the right wing noise from the West whining about this, you know it is just hot, blowing wind. Turn on your air conditioner.

Is This a Coincidence?

I am fresh from the meeting of the Recall Amante Committee. A very cohesive group met at the headquarters of the recall effort this evening.  I learned quite a bit from those who attended, including the fact the signature gathering, although having a ways to go, is coming along nicely and for the most part has been a smooth process. Signature gatherers, hampered by a recalcitrant city clerk (who now owes allegiance to Boss Tweed Amante -thanks, voters) who kicked back the petition three times before giving the go ahead after the Chili Cookoff, have spent time in each neighborhood, speaking to residents and explaining the issues. In many cases, it was reported, the petition signers were not signing for reasons stated on the petition but for reasons of their own to recall Jerry. It seems he has made a lot of friends all over town.

As I said, it was a good meeting. Late in the meeting, my good friend Dan Chmielewski of the OC Liberal Blog, rolled in to lend some advice and support. As a group of us were leaving, we observed… this: Tustin Cop Car

So, what are we supposed to think? Here we are, coming out of a meeting with the Recall Amante group and we see this Tustin Police Department canine SUV that has no discernable reason for being there, parked in the industrial park directly across from the meeting location. Is Steve Greenhut right? Have our worst fears about a secret police state evolved? Does Jerry have juice with the PD?

Worse than that, as we went along our business, two other attendees and I stepped out to the street to finish our discussion and to talk about my motorcycle that I had ridden to the meeting. As we talked, the police SUV in question suddenly peels out from the parking lot, flashing by us at high speed while….get this, the dog barks at us. Are we supposed to be intimidated? C’mon, get serious. The least the cop could have done, if he really wanted to intimidate us, was flash his Taser. Then I might be concerned. And, all this after I said such nice things about our cops the other day.

I am sure Dan has something to say about all this. I’ll post his link when he does.

Amante on Amante

We were alerted to a pro-Amante website by our friends over at the Liberal OC. So I took a look at the Save Tustin website. It was…. hmmm, what’s the word I am looking for…….dull.

At first glance, we thought this website was put together by Boss Tweed Amante himself. The only contact information is Jerry’s and the only pictures are of Jerry as well. We wouldn’t blame him if he had put it together and he may have at least had a hand in it. This appears to be a first effort to begin an anti-recall campaign for Jerry, either by him or on his behalf. We say that because, when we checked the registration on the domain, it comes back not to Jerry Amante, but to  Pamela Gooderham in Tustin.

Obviously, Jerry has at least a few friends in town. Some of them even sit on the dais with him. There is no doubt that Jerry was sweating during the election when it looked like he may not maintain the council majority he and Nielsen needed to continue their rein of terror. And, as we said in our previous post, Jerry must be at least a little worried about the recall as he has been a bit nicer lately.

But this website has just the bare information regarding the recall on it. The only statement from Jerry is the official Response to Recall Petition where he, among other things states, “I strive to treat everyone with respect, courtesy and professionalism.” Huh? He also claims a vote of 4-1 to fire the new City Manager, David Biggs. We could have sworn it was 3-2. And, as far as the TUSD lawsuit, well, Jerry just doesn’t get it. He still doesn’t understand that it was the actions and demands of an Amante led council that to the lawsuit to begin with.

There is also a section on what Jerry has done for (rather than to) the citizens of Tustin. Among his claimed accomplishments are having a balanced budget each year of office (municipalities, unlike the federal government, are required to balance the budget each year); the new Tustin Library (but, isn’t that a County library?); Citrus Ranch Park (an effort of the citizens of the community of Tustin Ranch); OCTA Board member (where I hear he is just as arrogant). So, what has he done that is real? According to this website, Amante should be wearing a cape with an A on it.

We’re just not sure what the A would stand for.

For a look at what our friends at the Recall Amante Campaign are doing, stop by their website. While we were against the recall on principle, we do support their effort and urge you to sign the petition.