Monday, February 14, 2011

Wherever you see corruption and cronyism in this County, he’ll be there (no, not Tom Joad; Tom Fuentes)



     When I think about Tom Fuentes, I think about Tom Joad. Yes, Tom Joad.
     In particular, I think of Joad’s famous “I’ll be there” speech at the end of John Ford’s “Grapes of Wrath”:
...I'll be everywhere. Wherever you can look, wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad. I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry and they know supper's ready, and when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise and livin' in the houses they build, I'll be there, too.
     Joad’s imagined ubiquity was a “we’re all in this together” kind of thing—something good and noble. Tom Fuentes’s I’ll-be-there-itude, however, is something entirely different. He is the inevitable nexus of all manner of OC Republican shittiness.
     Yes, shittiness. Consider:
     Tom’s there when guys are intimidating Latinos from voting by hiring guards to stand outside polling places. Tom’s there when guys make sure that their political cronies get County jobs and contracts. Tom’s there—to provide moral support and exploit celebrity—when the Sheriff used his office for personal gain and gave cronies important department jobs. Tom’s there when an opportunity for cheap demagoguery cancels a good college program. Tom’s there when a guy who obviously breached his duty for self-gain is promoted as a political star as manager of the county’s assets.
     Well, I could go on. And on. And on.
     Tom was also there when, back in 2006, his advisee Tan Nguyen sent letters to Latino voters in an effort to intimidate them from voting (in Nguyen's bid to secure Loretta Sanchez’s Congressional seat).
     Well, today, Nguyen was finally sentenced—not for sending the letters, but for lying to state investigators about his role in the enterprise.
     So, like Tom’s pals Mike Carona and Chriss Street (whom he endlessly promoted and exploited), Tan Nguyen was brought down by the courts.
     And, like Carona, Nguyen will be spending his immediate future in prison. Yep.
     Read all about it:

A typical Fuentean hero: throwing others under the bus
Former candidate Tan Nguyen: 'It's been hell' (OC Register)
     Dean Steward, Nguyen's attorney, argued that the two-time GOP candidate deserved probation, but [Judge] Carter said people who run for public office should be held to the highest ethical standards, and that Nguyen's conduct showed a "true lack of character.". . .
     After a mistrial last August, Nguyen was convicted in December of one felony count of obstructing a probe into a controversial letter that his campaign sent to 14,000 Latino voters. Sanchez is the longtime Democratic congresswoman whose district includes Garden Grove, Santa Ana and parts of Fullerton and Anaheim.. . .
     At the time, Nguyen denied having anything to do with the letters, and blamed them on a campaign volunteer whom he fired. Nguyen also cast blame on another campaign volunteer who was a close college friend.
Tan Nguyen Gets Prison for Anti-Loretta Sanchez Vote Scheme (OC Weekly)
     A native of South Vietnam and a man who has clearly struggled to understand simple ethical concepts in the U.S., Nguyen has long claimed he had no role in devising a pre-election letter that sought to frighten 14,000 Latino citizens from voting. Multiple investigations proved otherwise, yet Nguyen attempted to convert his status as a convicted felon into a martyrdom. That effort pathetically failed, too….

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