What the Hell Was Larry Agran Even Thinking Trying to Befriend a Vietnamese City?

Apparently, a horrible politician

Last night, hundreds of Vietnamese Americans beset Irvine City Hall to voice their distaste at Larry Agran's suggestion that the city of Irvine start a friendship city relationship with Nha Trang, Vietnam. They filled the seats and the parking lot, overflowing around the building as anti-communist Vietnamese Americans in Orange County have done since Vietnamese Americans have been in Orange County.

By the end of the night (really, before the meeting even began), Agran relented, and pulled the Vietnamese city the vote. He still lost his vote to befriend two other cities, one in China and one in Pakistan, 2-3 along party lines.

And so, Larry, a simple question: WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?!

I was born in the United States, and Vietnamese Americans of my generation might be slightly less anti-communist than our elders, but this Orange County political fact is still as true now as it was in 1975: if you propose anything friendly with Vietnam or its communist government, you're going to have a bad time. Repeat: A BAD TIME.

Flying the communist Vietnam flag doesn't even fly in the Pacific Northwest, where the Vietnamese American population is smaller and less organized. Even there, being called a communist is akin to being called a pedophile. There's no way a friendly city relationship could ever work in Orange County--not in my parent's generation, not in my generation, and probably not for a couple more generations.

Agran, who's supposed one of the smartest politicians in Orange County (according to his sycophants), of all people should realize this. Was he asleep during the Westminster anti-Ho Chi Minh protests of 1999? Or when San Jose City Councilwoman Madison Nguyen faced a recall campaign only because she favored the name "Saigon Business District" over "Little Saigon" for a chunk of San Jose?

Has Agran even stepped inside of Little Saigon and seen the flags that hang from nearly every light pole? Does he not remember what happened to UC Irvine grad and current Garden Grove Unified School District board member Bao Nguyen when he tried to protest against John McCain's use of the term "gook?" What did he even think was going to happen with his move: everyone get together for pho and sinh to?

I'd be tempted to call Agran a communist sympathizer after this stunt and the fact that he made his name by inviting a baseball team from Sandinista Nicaragua back in the 1980s, but I know how ruthlessly he plays politics in Irvine.

I understand that immigrant populations is supposed to be one of the Democratic Party's strong suits, but not making eyes at communist Vietnam is such a basic tenant of Orange County politics that I feel like understanding the Vietnamese American community is prioritized somewhere between not running away from DREAMers and spelling things correctly.

Bad move, Larry. Bad move.

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Email: clam@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @charlesnam. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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21 comments
duylam1946
duylam1946

In 1994 I wrote an article published in Saigon Economics Time encouraging a sister-city relation between Ho Chi Minh  and Seattle cities. The Irvine council was intimidated by the ghosts and made short sighted decision.

duylam1946
duylam1946

Right after surviving the cowardly fleeing, the anti-communist old guards - many of them having served the French and religion-oriented rather than country as they boasted- resumed their old strategy. Using influences, threats, propaganda.... to guide the Vietnamese immigrants. As a soldier of South VN, spending time in VC camps, then living with them for years I think the voices by the so-called anti- Communist meetings are bogus, nonsense, with a lot of ugly conspiracies.

khanh
khanh

The Vietnamese-American community is changing, and I found this piece reflected a misreading of the way the community is evolving. The examples that the author provides (the 1999 protests or 2000 "gook" protests) happened over a decade ago, and the recent examples actually demonstrate how new Vietnamese American voices are emerging. Yes, San Jose City Council member Madison Nguyen faced a recall election in 2009, but she beat it, in addition to winning her re-election in 2010. This could only happen WITH the support of some significant portions of the Vietnamese American community that broke from the anti-Communist old guard. The fact that she's now running for Mayor gives me hope that more moderate voices, and just multiple voices in general, will emerge to represent Vietnamese American interests, rather than the stereotype of some monolithic anti-Communist Vietnamese American bloc. 

18usc241
18usc241 topcommenter

What the hell was ex-Anaheim city manager Wingenroth thinking when he tells me over the phone that he "had to trust" his police Chief John Welter - aka not believe me? As if it's the job of the Anaheim city manager to have a love affair with his police Chief.

insp
insp

Wonder anyone has ever go to Nha Trang and ask the population, "how many of you are communists?" And perhaps the whole Vietnam.

Cypress, CA Real Estate by Broker Charles Park
Cypress, CA Real Estate by Broker Charles Park

McDonalds opened in Vietnam. Gucci's been there for a while now. The Vietnam War was a tragedy. The US is engaged with Vietnam as a trade partner. Vietnam is even working with the US on the TPP trade deal.

kinhbui
kinhbui

Larry Agran said his original proposal didn't come without consultation"

So, that mean He already knew Vietnam is the worse country in the world violent of human right (Base on World record of 2013 of Human Rights Watch). Argan cited his work in 1980s when he traveled to Vietnam for?

Now, the question is: Why he still send out stupid proposal?

1- Is the money was the main reason?

2- Is He get "Black mail" from communist government?

We don't know, but we knew a lot communist officer and dictator use money or young girls to control another foreign officer after they record, video, etc.

All those evident will use for Black mail later on.

We have right to know what is the reason behind his action.


DayT
DayT

Why? Money laundering. Next up: "business support" that require millions of dollars.

Doug Elliott
Doug Elliott

Red-baiting? Really, OC Weekly? Nearly 40 years after our futile, foolish war in Vietnam ended, and 25 years after the cold war ended? It's like you're stuck in the 1960s, channeling Jmes B. Utt, John Schmitz and all the other crazy OC John Birchers of that era.

Preston L. Bannister
Preston L. Bannister

First, you could use fewer "-ing". Second, is this feeling really so universal in the Vietnamese community, or only a subset? Among the younger generation this seems to be a non-topic. History best left in the past. We cannot change the past. We can change the future. What purpose is served here?

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

Larry Agran is usually a pretty savy guy when it comes to political manipulaations, so I am also puzzled by this major error in judgement.  Adding in the other two cities from China and Pakistan were not the brightest moves either.  


Adding a City from China is just a repeat of the 2006 sorry episode where Beth Krom fronting for the Agranistas visited China and cut an under the table deal for a Sister City there.  The caveat demanded by the Commies was that Irvine dump it's long standing Sister City in Taiwan.  Beth is still lying through her teeth about that one, which she did again last night.  Krom's management style was not stepping up and accepting the responsibility but rather throwing an innocent City staff member under the bus, blaming her for what Beth had actually negotiated and done.  The staff member fell on her sword for Krom, took the blame, was demoted but managed to keep a job with the City.  When the Sister City Foundation discovered what had happened, we (I was on the Board at the time) refused to go along with the agreement, made it public and the shit hit the fan with the Taiwainese community (much like last night).  Larry, Beth and Sukhee Kang had the last laugh however by destroying the Sister City Program, which was noted as being one of the best in California.  


On Pakistan, I am scratching my head there also.  That is a country where radical Muslim terror groups run freely with government backing, the people for the most part hate us and the State Department has issued a Travel Warning for Americans not to travel there.  Why on earth would we think they had anything in common with Irvine and want a Sister City there?  


Perhaps an answer to the above questions is that it is an election year.  Beth Krom will be running for Mayor against Steven Choi and Larry Agran will be trying to maintain his Council seat.  Without their past power vacumn, the Agranistas are desperate for both money and backing.  I wouldn't be surprised if Agran had not discussed financing and support quid pro quo with Irvine and Orange County groups of Chinese and Pakistani citizens.  This is the only logic I can see for his illogical actions.  I think it is a safe bet to say, both Agran and Krom can forget about the Vietnamese vote.  Just another episode in "As the World Turns in Irvine."    

20ftjesus
20ftjesus topcommenter

"The 3-2 vote also authorized a letter to be written to Vietnam’s Consul General to inform him that “we in Irvine support freedom.”"

If I were the Consul General, I'd send back a one word response, "NSA".

ronnieguyer1
ronnieguyer1

..It was a Great night for FREEDOM last night in the Irvine City Council Chambers..

20ftjesus
20ftjesus topcommenter

"Trying to Befriending" -- the editor must be hungover this morning. 

Brainwashed_in_church
Brainwashed_in_church topcommenter

It's time to Move On. Life is too short to live in the past and hold unhealthy grudges. Besides, there are economic benefits to having relations with other countries.

JBinOC
JBinOC topcommenter

@kinhbui  

"Larry Agran said his original proposal didn't come without "consultation" "

Which, when Larry Agran is involved, means there was a transfer of currency sometime prior.....

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

@Brainwashed_in_church  Turn the other cheek with some of the bad actors in the world and you get your throat cut instead of a slap on the other cheek.  Sorry, but the old "love them to death" philosophy has been tried by Barry Soetoro and you see how much success he has had?  Frankly, America needs to get back to the Teddy Roosevelt philosophy of "walking softly and carrying a big stick."  The enemies of America will understand only one thing, our stick is bigger than theirs and we will not hesitate to use it when neeed.  As far as economic benefits, we haven't been doing all that well there either.  It could well be because our fearless leader is trying to make it up to the world for all those years the bad Americans took advantage of them.  Moral of the story is the old Beatles song, "You can't buy me love."  

20ftjesus
20ftjesus topcommenter

@ltpar These stale, old-hatreds need to die.  I spent several years working with developers in Hanoi and these young people only care about getting rich (and the latest Apple products).  Vietnam is not a threat to us, especially Irvine.

ltpar
ltpar topcommenter

@20ftjesus @ltpar  Some things you can forgive and others you cannot.  I was exiting the Marine Crops just as Viet Nam was starting, but my unit was deployed and I lost some long time friends.  That was War and I can personally move on as you suggested.  At the same time I understand the feelings of the American Vietnamese families who lived throught the take over and loss of their country, loved ones and many who were tortured themselves.  Those kind of things would be hard to deal with, much less forgive.  I agree that Vietnam, China or Pakistan are not direct threats to Irvine, but don't kid yourself thinking any of thse places are our friend.  Until the young people in Viet Nam grow up, take control of their government and change it from Communism, I am afraid their future is bleak.  That is a sad thing in itself.  

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