Did we learn anything about the candidates running for the 74th Assembly District when they debated at the first “Feet to the Fire” forum last Thursday? The event was sponsored by the Daily Pilot, the Orange County Register and Voice of OC, and featured what turned out to be a pretty lame panel, that included Voice of OC Editor-in-Chief Norberto Santana Jr., Register and Daily Pilot columnist Barbara Venezia, Daily Pilot editor John Canalis, Register columnist Jack Wu and Daily Pilot City Editor Alicia Lopez.
The candidates at the forum included several Republican candidates: RINO Newport Beach Councilman Keith Curry; Huntington Beach Mayor Matt Harper, who talks conservative but acts otherwise; Emanuel Patrascu, district director for Assemblyman Travis Allen; and two Democrats – small business owner Karina Onofre and public schoolteacher Anila Ali.
The forum started with an incredibly stupid question as Venezia asked the candidates how much they’ve raised — independent of money they donated to their own campaigns. Um, who cares? Has Venezia already forgotten that incumbent 74th Assemblyman Allan Mansoor beat a better-funded challenger in Newport Beach Councilwoman Leslie Daigle in 2012? Apparently this has already slipped Venezia’s mind.
Then again perhaps Venezia is still sore about losing to Daigle when Venezia challenged her in the 2006 Newport Beach City Council election. Venezia ended up pulling out of that race when Republican lawyer Mark Bucher revealed that Venezia and her husband had an interest in Rainbow Disposal, which was one of nine trash companies contracted by the City of Newport Beach, as reported by the OC Register.
Of course it’s not the money! Not every candidate is as loaded as Venezia is. What matters is what these candidates believe, what they have said and done and what intend to do if elected. This ridiculous question should result in Venezia being removed from the panels of any more candidate forums!
Patrascu by the way had the best line of the night, when he said that Orange County can’t keep voting in “fake conservatives.” I hope he was looking at Harper and Curry when he said that!
Patrascu also ripped into Curry when the candidates were asked about the $140-million Newport Beach Civic Center.
Here is how the Daily Pilot reported this exchange:
Curry touted the merits of the facility, which includes a new library, park, bridge and dog park. The center had its grand opening in May, when Curry was mayor.
“I’m proud of the fact that in Newport Beach, we build infrastructure that will last for the next 80 years,” he said.
Patrascu said the Civic Center project showed Curry’s complacency during escalating costs and the use of taxpayer-subsidized loans.
“You might be able to afford those payments, but you’re not fiscally conservative,” Patrascu said.
Patrascu was of course spot on. Patrascu was also correct when he said that Curry is opposed to the Newport Beach fire pits, just because he doesn’t want any “gangbangers” around Corona del Mar’s bonfires at night. I have been saying that since the fire pit debate started! Curry isn’t just a RINO, he is a NIMBY and that alone should result in an election loss for him in the June Open Primary.
But if that is not enough for you consider that as a rail consultant, Keith Curry proposed tax hikes. As a professional financial adviser to the state’s rail agencies, he recommended a 5-cent hike in the state gas tax and a quarter-cent increase in the state sales tax.
Forum panelist Wu proved to be as useless as Venezia, when he criticized Onofre’s recent party switch. She has returned to the Democratic Party after trying out the OC GOP and finding out it is a good old boy’s club full of jerks like Wu. But he is not just a jerk – he is also a blatant hypocrite and like Venezia he appears to have a memory problem. As we posted previously Wu also flipped from one party to the other!
Wu ran for Irvine Mayor in 1998, as a Democrat according to Smart Voter. He lost. He ran for a Water Board in 2002 and lost again, according to Smart Voter. At some point he moved to Newport Beach where he ran for the City Council in 2006, and lost yet again, according to Smart Voter. Along the way he apparently morphed into a Republican – in fact you can click here to check out his OC GOP page where he lauds departed OC GOP Chairman Tom Fuentes.
Speaking of useless Republicans, Harper got grilled because back when he worked for Orange County’s most corrupt Supervisor, Janet Nguyen, she found him a new job at the County’s Waste Management Agency, get this – as a PR flack for trash!
Harper said that while the waste job didn’t exist by title, someone was performing his duties before and after his departure: “To say those were duties that weren’t performed there before – they were.” Harper also stressed the position wasn’t funded out of the county’s general fund, and said the criticism “isn’t relevant” to his bid for Assembly, as reported by the OC Register.
The other useful tidbit to come out of this forum is proof that Ali cannot be trusted not to vote to raise taxes if she gets elected. Here is how the Daily Pilot reported her mealy-mouthed response to the tax issue:
She said she won’t be raising taxes amid a state budget surplus, though when asked about Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s previous support for voter-approved initiatives that raised taxes to fund education, Ali responded: “That was the need of the day. That was the recession. He brought us back from it.”
So, to recap, Ali is against raising taxes – but only if the state has a budget surplus, otherwise she is all for raising taxes. That is of course to be expected from Ali, who is a dyed in the wool Agranista from Irvine. Democrats in the 74th A.D. fortunately don’t have to vote for Ali. They can vote for Onofre, who as a small business owner is far preferable to the unionized government worker that is Ali.
The 74th District includes Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods and Newport Beach. Mansoor is vacating the seat while he tries to get elected to the OC Board of Supervisors, where he is trying to replace termed out Supervisor John Moorlach.