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#OccupyTustin?

Isn't Tustin Already Occupied?Few people have not heard of the Occupy (insert city) movement. Fueled by Twitter, Facebook and other social media, the movement has swept the country.  Several weeks ago I saw a Twitter feed that gave an indication that the movement may be coming to Orange County. It has finally arrived.

The so-called “leaderless” movement” began with Occupy Wall Street a couple of months ago when people of all ages and backgrounds flooded Wall Street in peaceful demonstration. The police were overwhelmed. They had no idea what to do with hundreds of protesters who were actually demonstrating in a way that would have made Martin Luther King proud. So, some cops did what cops do best and pepper-sprayed and arrested the demonstrators.

By now though, it was too late, as this has grown into a nationwide grassroots effort by people of nearly every class peacefully demonstrating for the cause. There are no color or religion lines. The people involved are not particularly Republican, Democrat or any other political party (more than one Ron Paul sign has been seen). The message is not even all that clear. It is just people who are tired of the same thing that has been happening in our country. They are tired of their voices being drowned out with money and rhetoric from the far Left and the far Right. They claim they are the 99% that want to be heard and, perhaps, they are right.

The far Right seems to be the most upset with the demonstrations, which have taken place in New York, Chicago, Denver, Washington DC, and dozens of other places across the country (this is actually a worldwide movement, but that is another story). Some have laughed at it. Some have written it off.  Cal Watchdog writer, Katy Grimes, stated the Sacramento Occupy movement has cost the city $13,000. Really? She then goes on to say there she saw the protest dwindle from two hundred to seven “on a park bench”. Hmmm, that’s almost $2,000 per protester. Must be the overtime. Katy would like to write the protest off as inconsequential but she chose to write about it. Thanks for keeping the publicity up, Katy.

Occupy finally wound up on our doorstep about 2 weeks ago when, suddenly, Twitter keywords of #OccupyHuntingtonBeach and #OccupyIrvine began showing up in the time lines. It was almost comical to read Tweets, often accompanied by a photo, of a sole individual in a Guy Fawkes mask standing on a corner in Irvine holding a sign. Twitter feeds started getting busier with keywords relating to Orange County, urging folks to come out and support the movement on October 15th for a “Global Day of Revolution”.

So, October 15th came. The people came to Irvine, about 250 from one report. The cops came, about 5 or 6 from what could be seen. It was peaceful and even semi-organized. The leaders of this leaderless movement are working without compensation or apparent organization. However, I suspect there are a few and at least some of them know each other. The main job of the leaders seems to be keeping the message out there with the public and keeping it fresh. The police advised the group, late last night, they would not be able camp in the park or even stand in the park. In fact, they told them they had to move to the sidewalk until 6 am and had to keep moving or be arrested for loitering. It was clear the cops were worried. They were so concerned, they posted at least 2 officers at the civic center to quell any potential overnight riots that might have happened with the 20 remaining protesters. Well, I guess they can wear them down. Beside, after all, this is Irvine we are talking about.

October 22nd is supposed to move all the individual Orange County Occupiers into The Civic Center area of Santa Ana for one, huge occupation. The police are gearing up by watching old You Tubes of the Wall Street protest. I’m sure Shawn Nelson is polishing his gun and dusting off his CCW permit, just in case.  The homeless will probably join in, if only for the fact that they can get a free meal or two and some much needed hygiene items. The “unorganizers” are calling for assistance with food, hygiene, tents, sleeping bags and other items that will be needed to keep what they expect will be a large encampment or occupation of the Civic Center area. Will the Santa Ana Police let them stay if they protest in a peaceful manner? Some cities have kicked them out, some have allowed them to stay until they tire of them. It should be interesting to see what happens here.

If you want to get an idea of what is going on without actually going to Irvine or Santa Ana, join the Occupy OC Facebook Page or, if you want up to the minute, sometimes blow by blow, reports then join them on Twitter. In the meantime, I hope we don’t #OccupyTustin. I have enough to do getting ready for my daughter’s first homecoming dance.

A $50,000 Party for Cement

It’s too bad we are not in the 4th District for the Orange County Board of Supervisors. It is beginning to look like Shawn Nelson is the only one of the Gang of Five that has any sense at all. Not that I agree with him on everything, but he did get it right on one agenda item on Tuesday.

It seems the Board of Supervisors wants to throw a party to celeberate the opening of a parking lot. OK, it is a big parking lot. In fact, it services a large number of commuters and is a shining exampleSNA New Parking Structure of progress. I am talking, of course, about the newly completed parking structure at the John Wayne Airport. Anyone who has traveled from John Wayne in the past few years knows this parking lot (along with terminal space) was badly needed. But, spending $50,000 for the grand opening? Ridiculous.

Back to Shawn Nelson, he immediately questioned this saying it’s “a ridiculous illusion that people would be fired up about the terminal.” He said it made no sense to reward contractors for doing what they were supposed to do. He also questioned the airport’s use of half their marketing budget for one event. In his weekly email newsletter, Shawn was the only member of the Gang of Five to discuss the event. “…flight prices and availability are stronger measures to increase ridership than a grand opening event. In addition, any event expenses should be the responsibility of the vendors who stand to benefit by showcasing their products and services.” That sounds right to any good conservative.

Not surprisingly, John Moorlach defended the celebration saying that it was important to commemorate an “architectural creation”. Huh? John, it’s a parking lot, not a Frank Lloyd Wright building. It’s not unique. In fact, it looks a lot like the parking lot on the other side of the terminal buildings which looks a lot like parking structures throughout the county. Clearly, it does not take much “creativity” to get John into a partying mood. But then, he is an accountant. Oh, did we mention that the airport is in his district? “You have to have a little pomp and circumstance.” Yeah, now we get to the truth. John probably dreams of a big brass band behind him on the podium as he pontificates about the virtues of using non-union, outsourced labor to build the gleaming monolith and how this parking lot will symbolize the freedom Orange County’s citizens will feel each and every time they drive into it at $2 an hour. Usually the only thing I’m thinking about by that time is whether I’ll get the gentle hands treatment by the TSA folks.

Airport officials weakly pointed out that it was not just about parking. It was about food, too. Presumably, they meant that reporters and the media (I am thinking CNN here) would be touring the new food court we’ve all heard about in recent months. Gosh, that sounds exciting and a real good reason to spend $50,000 of taxpayer money… not. I don’t know about you but, when I am looking for a place to eat, the last place I would think of is the airport terminal with it’s 8 overpriced fastfood joints and 3 overpriced honky tonks peddling authentic Wolfgang Puck fare. I can get Starbucks in 180 other locations around Orange County (6 right here in Tustin alone). So, again, not for food and certainly not when the County is looking at a $48 million dollar shortfall this year due to the shenanigans played in Sacramento during budget season.

In the end, it was suggested that $25,000 be spent in airport (again, read taxpayer) funds, hoping that matching funds from “parking lot gala event sponsors” be found for the other half. Shawn and the Littlest Princess, Janet Nguyen (surprise again) chiming in with “nayes” were outvoted by the majority which, not surprisingly, included Campbell and Bates who, along with Moorlach, seem to have no problem partying on the taxpayer dime.

Oh, and don’t expect to be invited to this gala event unless you are one of Orange County’s beautiful people… or, at least a Republican in good standing.

If you haven’t read enough about this yet, here is an excellent story from our friends at The Voice of Orange County.