‘GTA’ Police Chase Suspect Steals Pickup Truck on Live TV in LA County

A police chase suspect went on a dangerous 2-county crime spree, including breaking into multiple vehicles, backing into a cop car and breaking into someone’s house – all to avoid getting in handcuffs.

The suspect, 32-year-old Johnny Anchondo, who was initially wanted by police in Fullerton led officers on a chase before being cornered into an apartment complex parking lot in the northern part of Anaheim. Despite being cornered in the parking lot, Anchondo refused to surrender as he backed into one of the cop cars and then drove off in a white van.

The dangerous pursuit later became a 2-county chase as the suspect drove through parts of Fullerton, Anaheim and Santa Ana before ditching the white van in Whittier. Viewers commenting on FOX 11’s live streams as the crime spree unraveled compared the police chase to a popular video game series Grand Theft Auto.

After leading police on a brief foot chase, Anchondo went inside a nearby home, was confronted by the people inside, including two dogs, and got inside a white pickup truck that was parked in the drive to once again drive off in a possibly stolen vehicle. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department went on to take over the later parts of the lengthy chase.

FOX 11’s Gina Silva spoke with the carjacking victim. He said he had purchased the pickup truck three weeks before the incident, saying he got the vehicle to aid his family’s landscaping business.

“It was just hard work,” said Andres Benitez, the man whose truck got stolen. “This was my goal since two years ago.”

According to Benitez, the suspect broke into the house trying to evade police. With his mother home, Benitez brandished a knife to escort the suspect out of the home. As the suspect was led out of the house, the suspect snatched Benitez’s car key and ran off with the key and the vehicle.

The dogs who were involved in the tense struggle are OK, Benitez told FOX 11. While devastated after getting his pickup truck stolen, he playfully told FOX’s Gina Silva he was “disappointed” that the family’s pit bull didn’t try to stop the suspect.

Anchondo was eventually cornered by law enforcement at a gas station in San Gabriel Valley. After a brief and tense standoff, he was eventually placed in custody around 6 p.m. Anchondo was being held on a parole violation. 

GoFundMe page has been launched for Benitez after he got his work truck stolen. Those looking to help can click here for more information.

Click here to read the full story at Fox News

An Orange County House race has become an Asian American culture clash

The battle between Democrat Jay Chen and Republican Michelle Steel reveals the nuances of identity

Ngan Nguyen can’t stop, won’t stop dancing. It’s such a joyous Friday night for the 80-year-old retired cosmetologist, a chance to gather with so many friends from so many years of political activism here in a strip mall parking lot in Orange County’s Little Saigon. Tonight’s “Rock and Vote” party,with around three weeks to go before the midterm elections, isa major deal in the largest Vietnamese community outside of Vietnam. Nguyen’s got a jaunty fedoraand two large flags propped on each shoulder, so theyflap behind her like wings. She twirls and twirls, in the glow of signs from a nail salon, two law offices and an acupuncturist.

More than 200 people have shown up to register to vote or meet candidates for local office. There’s a choir singingthe Vietnamese national anthem and “The Star-Spangled Banner”; two crooners who look like Elvis;a troupe of teenagers in colorful silk costumes doing choreographed dances with flags and martial arts sticks; and one heartthrob who belts out a dual-language rendition of “God Bless the U.S.A.” with such passion you’d think he was auditioning for “The Voice.”

In a community of refugees like this, voting is always a celebration. Forty-seven years ago, when Nguyen was 33, she fled the only country she had ever known with her husband and three boys on the last day of the fall of Saigon. She never misses an election. The first ballot she cast as a U.S. citizen was for the president at the time, known for welcoming Vietnamese refugees: Ronald Reagan. Then George H.W. Bush. Then …

“We belong to MAGA group,” she says, proudly. “We vote for Trump and we vote for him again if he runs.”

That yellow-and-red-striped flag she’s carrying, along with an American flag? It’s for the defunctanti-communist country of South Vietnam. It has come to symbolize Vietnamese nationalism, and was spotted at the Capitol during the Jan 6. insurrection.

Nguyen’s also excited to vote again for Rep. Michelle Steel, a Republican whoin 2020 was part of a trio who became the first Korean American women elected to Congress.

What about Steel’s challenger, Jay Chen, the Taiwanese American Democrat and active lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserve? “No!” Nguyen says. “He supports the China communists. Anybody who supports communists, we don’t vote for them.”

That’s a falsehood perpetuated by Steel’s campaign against Chen. And it’s apparently sticking.

Never mind that Chen’s paternal grandmother fled from China to Taiwan to escape communism. Or that he’s a U.S. service member who is part of the 7th Fleet, the Naval unit that maintains freedom of navigation in the Taiwan Strait. “So that is part of my job, confronting the threat of communist China,” Chen says the next day when I meet him at his campaign office.

How have charges of communism become a key issue in a House race, 31 years after the fall of the Soviet Union?

The hotly contested race in California’s 45th Congressional District is a microcosm of Asian American identity clashes and how those tie to voting preferences. Here we have two Asian American candidates fighting for one of the only chances Democrats have to flip a seat to blue, in a midterm election cycle where they are predicted to have major losses. And it’s happening in a district where more than a third of the voters are Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) — the largest chunk of whom, by far, are Vietnamese, whose older generationstend to vote conservative, with lingering, traumatic memories of their family’s escape from communism.

Among countless attacks, Steel has distributed a flier showing Chen in front of a group of students, flanked by portraits of communist leaders such as Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh, with a blackboard that reads, in Vietnamese, “Jay Chen invited China into our children’s classes.” There’s also a TV ad in which actors play communist intelligence officials crowing with delight about Chen’s candidacy. “He’s one of us!” says one. “A socialist comrade who even supported Bernie Sanders for supreme leader!”

Steel’s attacks all stem from Chen’s support 12 years ago, on a school board, for a program that would have taught Chinese in public K-12 classes. She accused her 2020 opponent, former congressman Harley Rouda, who is White, of being a communist sympathizer, too — and won, with support from Vietnamese Americans. (She declined The Washington Post’s requests for interviews.)

“If I had told you, without naming any names, that a Korean American was red-baiting a Taiwanese American about being friendly with Chinese communists in order to affect Vietnamese American voters, you’d think I was making it up,” says Tung Nguyen, a doctor and the founder of the Pivot Victory Fund, a SuperPAC that supports liberal AAPI candidates, including Chen. “I think it’s very cynical.”

Back in April, Steel threw the first accusation of racism in a race that has had many on both sides, saying Chen was making fun of her accent. Chen says a comment he said about her needing “an interpreter” was about her policy ideas being incomprehensible, and that she was using the moment as preplanned justification for her communism attacks.

Republicans clearly see Orange County Vietnamese Americans as a constituency worth investing in. Of the 38 “community centers” the Republican National Committee opened this election cycle, the first was in Little Saigon,with prominent party figures attending the launch. It’s in a strip mall office front, not labeled as an RNC hub. “But we all know what it is,” says Katie Nguyen Kalvoda, a board member of the AAPI Victory Fund.

For many Southeast Asian immigrants and their children, labeling someone a pro-China communist can strike incredible fear, especially since Chinese President Xi Jinping recently secured his unprecedented third term, tipping the country as close to one-man rule as it has been since Mao Zedong, analysts say. Several Vietnamese “Rock and Vote” attendees mentioned that China was “trying to take over Vietnam,” referring to ongoing territory and maritime skirmishes, despite Xi’s extravagant welcoming of Vietnam’s Communist Party leader on Tuesday — and that they saw a vote against Chen as a way to stop it.

Like Latinos, AAPI voters are often viewed as a monolith voting bloc, lumped together for both positive reasons (strength in numbers can increase access to attention and funding) and negative ones (i.e., people in power can’t tell us apart). There’s a reason Asian women of different ethnicities often joke that we can swap IDs and no one would notice — and why it almost always works. But anyone who has stared at a demographics survey and been unsure of which box to check knows that AAPI loyalties and divides are more complicated than any poll or census can capture. When your family immigrated, what country they came from and how old you were can all shape political identity. Someone whose family left China before World War II is going to have a different relationship with communism than someone who emigrated from China in the past three years.

CA-45 is a chance to see those dynamics play out in real time.

Steel is 67 and was born in Seoul. According to previous interviews, her parents met in South Korea after leaving communist North Korea during the Korean War. Her father, a diplomat, moved the family to Japan for his job. After his death, Steel came to Los Angeles on her own, followed by her mother, who spoke no English, and Steel’s three siblings. They opened a men’s clothing store and a sandwich shop. She married Shawn Steel, a prominent Republican operative, with whom she has two kids, and has a long history in Orange County government, including the Board of Supervisors.

Chen is 44 and was born and raised in the United States by immigrant parents. His father’s side came to Taiwan in exilefrom China. His mother’s side is indigenous Taiwanese, going back generations on the island. In the United States, his parents ran an import/export business back when bird cages were all the rage; Chen often talks about how he and his brother grew up assembling the cages, because their fingers were so small. He has the dream résumé to impress AAPI voters: Harvard graduate, active-duty military, cute family with his wife, Karen, and their two boys, 6 and 8. He’s on the board of a community college, has a commercial real estate business and spent a year in Kuwait fighting the Islamic State.

Steel’scommunism charge sticks in partbecause many people read Chen’s last name as “Chinese,” which it is, without understanding that Taiwanese Americans generally come from a lineage that has been in constant conflict with communist China.

“Here’s the thing,” he tells me the next day in his campaign office, “I’m Taiwanese, but even if I was Chinese, that is still not a reason to doubt my loyalty.”

It reminds him, he says, of the persecution of Wen Ho Lee, the Taiwanese American scientist who was accused of being a spy for China by the federal government in 1999. Lee spent nine months in solitary confinement, at times shackled, before President Bill Clinton personally apologized and the New York Times printed a 23-paragraph editor’s note about “flaws” in its coverage. “And that’s exactly what [Steel’s] doingwith these scare tactics,” Chen says, “trying to otherize me based on my perceived heritage.”

Drive down the main drag of Little Saigon and you’ll see a shopping-center-long wall of colorful campaign posters, almost all bearing Asian last names. Tri Ta! Nam Quan! Kimberly Ho! Chi Charlie Nguyen! Mark Nguyen! Lan Nguyen! Duy Nguyen! Some have photos of the candidate in a cross-armed, take-charge pose. Some have Vietnamese translations.

Then, way up high on lamp posts, are a flurry of small signs that are not like the others: bright red with yellow lettering and a yellow star, to mimic the Chinese flag. They read, “China’s Choice JAY CHEN.”

The fine print — too small to read from the street — says “Paid for by Michelle Steel for Congress.”

“Good thing is, from afar, all you see is, ‘JAY CHEN,’ so my name ID is getting up there!” says Chen, getting a laugh from a crowd of 30 supporters on a lawn in Fountain Valley,a suburb lined with $1 million ranch homes that in Orange County qualifies as middle class.

The O.C. is an incongruous setting for a race this ugly. The weather’s perfect. Palm trees abound, as does, arguably, the best pho and bubble tea in America. Disneyland (the happiest place on Earth!), Knott’s Berry Farm and any number of TV-famous beaches (Laguna, Newport, Huntington — take your pick) are no more than 40 minutes away, depending on traffic.

It’s the afternoon before that “Rock and Vote” MAGA rally, and the congressional AAPI A-team has arrived: Judy Chu, who represents parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino; Mark Takano, from Southern California’s Riverside/Inland Empire region; and Grace Meng, who flew in all the way from Queens.

One by one, the representatives, who are Chinese, Japanese and Taiwanese American, respectively, step forward to condemn Steel. Chu calls her tactics “offensive” and “unacceptable.” Takano calls them “despicable.” They all call them “racist.” They talk about Chen’s service record and how the government would never give him top-secret security clearance if he was a communist. (“All those documents at Mar-a-Lago, I can read them,” Chen says.) There are plenty of other reasons they’re opposed to Steel, given that she co-sponsored a bill that would create a federal ban on abortion and voted against gun control, protecting same-sex marriage and lowering the price of insulin.

This strangely C-shaped, entirely inland turf that is causing so much intra-Asian fighting was carved out in a redistricting shuffle last year specifically to empower Asian Americans. At about 37 percent AAPI, it’s about double the percentage in California and more than six times the share of the nation. It’s also about 36 percent White, about 23 percent Latino and about 3 percent Black.

Click here to read the full article at the Washington Post

Orange County Declares Health Emergency Due to Viruses

A health emergency has been declared in Southern California’s Orange County due to rapidly spreading viral infections that are sending more children to the hospital, health officials said Tuesday.

The county health officer issued the declaration Monday due to record numbers of pediatric hospitalizations and daily emergency room visits, the county’s health care agency said in a press release. The move allows the county of 3 million people to access state and federal resources and enlist assistance from non-pediatric hospitals to help care for sick children, said Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, the county’s health officer.

“Our concern here is that it is reaching even record levels,” Chinsio-Kwong told reporters. “We want to make sure we are prepared to care for any sick child in the county who falls ill and requires hospital care.”

The county has seen a growing number of children with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which can cause severe breathing problems for babies, while flu cases are also starting to rise. The situation is similar in much of the country where doctors are bracing for the possibility that RSV, flu and COVID-19 could combine to stress hospitals.

Last week, neighboring San Diego County’s public health agency sounded a similar alarm.

In Orange County, the main children’s hospital and a smaller pediatric hospital facility are operating at or above capacity, and the main campus has obtained waivers to put beds in different areas to handle the influx, said Melanie Patterson, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Children’s Health of Orange County, which reported a spike in RSV cases to 186 last week.

Wait times can range from four to 12 hours, she said. Health care officials urged parents to not let that dissuade them from bringing in children showing signs of respiratory distress and said they’re triaging patients to get the sickest seen quickly while staff keep watch on those waiting in the lobby to ensure they’re safe.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Veterans Cemetery Bill Clears CA Legislature, Reaching Governor’s Desk After Tense Debate

A veterans cemetery in Orange County is one step closer today after state legislators approved legislation that would provide a final resting place for area veterans who for many years have had to drive hours outside county lines to be buried in a veterans cemetery.  

The issue that’s reverberated through Orange County for over a decade now sits on Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk waiting on his approval. 

The bill is the first step toward getting a state veterans cemetery built on a piece of county owned land at Gypsum Canyon in the Anaheim Hills, a site which nearly every elected official and veterans group in Orange County has endorsed. 

“We are thankful to everyone who has worked so hard to achieve this legislative success,” said Nick Berardino, president of the Veterans Alliance of Orange County and one of the leaders of the veterans coalition that lobbied for Gypsum Canyon. “Governor Newsom has been a strong and stellar supporter of California veterans, and we are anxious for his opportunity to sign the bill.”

The cemetery was originally slated to be built on the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Irvine, but after nearly a decade of debate by city leaders stalled the project, many veterans began looking for another option. 

After getting an endorsement from every other city council in Orange County, they brought the proposed Gypsum Canyon site before the Irvine City Council, where city leaders formally renounced their hopes to build a veterans cemetery and gave their blessing to take it out of the city. 

ReadHow Did Irvine Fail to Build a Veterans Cemetery After Nearly a Decade of Debate?

But in order to move forward at Gypsum Canyon, veterans needed the state to study the site, which requires approval by the state legislature. 

The process was initially held up, with State Senator Tom Umberg and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva introducing competing bills at the start of 2022 that were unified in June. 

ReadOC’s First Veterans Cemetery Clears Another Hurdle After State Legislators Unify Bills

After the Senate approved the bill on Wednesday night, the Assembly approved their edits on Thursday morning. 

Quirk-Silva, who introduced the original legislation for the cemetery in 2014, said “it was a lot of emotion,” to see it heading to Newsom’s desk. 

“This has taken a lot of time but slow and steady wins the race,” Quirk-Silva said in an interview with Voice of OC. “We’re confident (Newsom) will support.” 

While the bill leaves an Irvine site open as a potential future option, it also opens up Gypsum Canyon for consideration or any future site that county leaders decide on as long as the land is reviewed by the state first. 

At this point, the biggest voice left still calling for the cemetery to go on the former base is Irvine City Councilman Larry Agran, who has objected frequently to his colleagues’ new plans to build a botanical garden at the proposed site and has shared worries the city could be sued over it. 

ReadIrvine’s Great Park Has Its First Development Plan in Years, Can the City Deliver?

The bill also creates the Southern California Veterans Cemetery Study Donation Fund, a new account for any “local governmental entity or private organization,” to help fund the state’s study of the land, with any excess funds returned to the donor. 

That study will provide the first official price tag for what it would cost to develop the site, and list potential design options and recommendations from state staff. 

So far, the site has picked up $20 million in funding from the county supervisors, which would fully fund the study by the California Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of General Services and help fund the construction of the cemetery further down the road.  

Click here to read the full article in the VofOC

What’s An Incumbent? Redistricting Renders Some Confusion

Incumbent; what’s in a title? During a redistricting year, that’s a great question. 

Those interested in running for local offices, from city council to school boards, faced an Aug. 12 deadline to get the required number of signatures collected and paperwork filed in order to qualify for the November ballot. But in races without an incumbent vying for re-election, a five-day filing extension –  Aug. 17 – is triggered by California’s Elections Code.

The state code stipulates the extension should be allowed in races where the incumbent officer does not file. However, it also maintains an extension isn’t applicable if “there is no incumbent eligible to be elected.” 

An incumbent describes a person who currently holds a specific position or office. But redistricting put a metaphorical asterisk next to some officeholders’ incumbent moniker, moving them from one district to another because of where their home falls on the map. 

The Orange County Registrar of Voters initially included Rancho Santiago Community College District Trustee Area 4 and Irvine Unified School District Trustee Area 4 on its list of nearly 20 school and special contests with an extended filing period. 

But it later removed those two. After “additional review,” the Registrar of Voters concluded the current officeholders could not run for re-election in those seats because they now live outside those districts. 

In Placentia, Councilman Craig Green, who was first elected to District 2 in 2014, did not file to run. So Krista Hope, a Wagner Elementary PTA president, attempted to submit her paperwork on Monday, Aug. 15, but it was rejected. 

Green is what’s called an “ineligible incumbent.” He was “districted out” of his council seat when Placentia’s new boundaries were recently drawn.

In an interview, Hope argued city officials should have done more to make it clear this seat was not going to be eligible for an extension, especially when she went to City Hall to pull papers to run. 

“The law favors allowing candidates to run for office. Whenever there is any ambiguity, and where the city clerk did not give any warning that Mr. Green would be declared ineligible, the clerk should find in favor of allowing the candidacy,” Mark Rosen, a Mission Viejo-based attorney, said in a letter sent to Placentia’s city clerk and deputy city administrator this week. 

But Robert McKinnell, Placentia’s city clerk, said the state’s elections code does not allow for any exceptions. 

Hope said she filed on Monday, and not before the Aug. 12 deadline, because she thought she had those extra days to get her paperwork in order. 

“New districts add an element of uncertainty into the process,” said Dan Schnur, a USC politics professor. “So it is a good idea for election officials to make an additional effort to make sure that the relevant parties understand the rules.

“But ultimately, if you’re going to run for office, you need to understand the rules, you need to follow the rules, and it’s not that hard to contact the relevant election officials for clarification if necessary,” Schnur continued. 

Some of that confusion related to incumbents and redistricting has also played out among the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors redrew the lines for the county’s five districts in November and switched to the new boundaries in January — which meant some residents found themselves with a new county representative.

But when a majority of the board tried to tell District 2 Supervisor Katrina Foley to stay in her new district, she argued that until the next election, she should be able to represent the people who put her in office. An opinion from state Attorney General Rob Bonta agreed with Foley.

On Thursday, Rosen said no decision had been made on whether to pursue legal options for securing Hope’s candidacy in the upcoming election. 

But in his letter to city officials, Rosen pointed to Orange which granted a filing extension in its District 4 City Council race even though Councilman Chip Monaco (who is not running for re-election) was voted in as an at-large member and not as that specific district’s representative. Monaco was drawn into what is now District 4 when the city switched from at-large to by-district elections in 2020 and started transitioning to the new election format.

“If somebody wants to challenge (Hope’s) right to run, the burden should be on the person trying to restrict candidates from running, not on the candidate herself,” Rosen said. 

Hope said she will be prepared to run for the Placentia City Council in four years. 

“I found out from some of my neighbors there was going to be an open seat (this year), and I started attending City Council meetings to see what they were all about and started noticing some big discrepancies,” Hope said. “Rather than sit at home and complain about how things are going, why not get out there and do something about that?”

Click here to read the full article at the OC Register

California DA paints Opponent As ‘Gascón clone,’ Vows Not To Let County Become Like Los Angeles

Los Angeles County’s top prosecutor has come under fire over his directives opponents say fail to hold criminals accountable

A Southern California district attorney running for re-election is aiming to portray his opponent as a clone of George Gascón, the top prosecutor in neighboring Los Angeles County who is facing a recall attempt and backlash from elected officials and crime victims over his prosecutorial directives that critics say has contributed to a rise in crime.

In a campaign video released Thursday, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer paints Los Angeles as a dirty, crime-ridden city besieged by homelessness while criticizing defense attorney Pete Hardin as being soft on criminals. 

“He’s already announced exactly the same lines as George Gascón,” Spitzer is heard saying in the 2-minute video titled “Gotham.” “No bail. No death penalty. No (sentencing) enhancements.”

Amid a nasty campaign in which both sides have engaged in their fair share of mudslinging, Spitzer has vowed to not let coastal Orange County become like Los Angeles County, which has seen an uptick in violent crime since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

LA SHERIFF RIPS PUSH TO FIRE 4,000 UNVACCINATED DEPUTIES AMID CRIME WAVE: ‘IMMORAL POSITION’

To reinforce his point, his campaign prominently features the hashtag #NoLAinOC. The video ad begins with security footage from a smash-and-grab robbery, voiceovers from former and current elected Los Angeles officials criticizing the crime uptick and Gascón and two mothers whose sons were murdered. 

One is heard saying that “George Gascón has abandoned us. It’s important for you to know because another Gascón-type wants Todd’s job.” 

The footage then shows several news clippings accusing Hardin of sexual misconduct during his military service in the Marine Corps and as an Orange County prosecutor while painting him as the “Joker” character from the “Batman” superhero series. Spitzer has repeatedly invoked allegations made against Hardin that he resigned from the military over the crime of adultery, according to the Orange County Register

Denial of alleged wrongdoing

Hardin has denied any wrongdoing related to sexual misconduct.

On how to hold criminals accountable, Hardin, also a former federal prosecutor, has painted himself as a progressive who vows to combat gun violence and address mental health, drug addiction and other underlying issues related to crime. 

Click here to read the full article at FoxNews

How Bad Could Fire Season Get? Emerald Fire Could Be Harbinger For Another Tough Year

The Emerald fire that broke out in the hills west of Laguna Beach on Thursday morning provided a brief scare for residents whose homes were threatened.

Within a few hours, firefighters appeared to be getting the blaze under greater control. But Orange County’s top fire official warned that wildfires burning this quickly near neighborhoods could be a harbinger of a bad fire season for Southern California, and for the entire state.

“If this is a sign of things to come, we’re in for a long year ahead,” said Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy.

The 2021 fire season was historically disastrous for the Western United States.

Last August, the Dixie fire burned up nearly one million acres in Northern California, becoming the second largest fire in state history. At around the same time, Oregon saw one of its largest-ever fires too, with the Bootleg fire destroying around 400,000 acres.

In late December, the Marshall fire near Boulder, Colorado destroyed hundreds of homes in a matter of hours.

By then, storms were drenching much of California and burying some parts of the state in snow, adding to the mountain snow pack. That led to hopes for more wet weather and a healthy snow pack in early 2022. That has not been the case.

After a bone dry January, snow pack levels were nearly 10 percent below normal for much of California, according to the California Department of Water Resources. If the dry trend holds, California could be in for more of the same this year.

“This is going to be a critical next month and a half or so,” said Casey Oswant, a National Weather Service meteorologist in San Diego.

“Depending on how much rain we get, that will determine how dry the fuels are going to be in the summer and fall…Especially in the past couple of years, we have not been getting a lot of rain.”

Oswant said the lack of wet weather, high temperatures and strong winds in 2022 so far are already looking similar to the last few years. Since 2015, what’s supposed to be the greater Los Angeles area’s rainy season each year has instead experienced higher than normal temperatures.

Click here to read the full article at the OC Register

Report Card: What Did Congress Members From Orange County Accomplish In 2021?

Register looks at voting records, legislation, constituent response and attendance for seven House members.

Of the seven U.S. House members who represent portions of Orange County, Rep. Mike Levin had the best attendance record in 2021, as the only local lawmaker not to miss a single vote this year. Reps. Katie Porter and Lou Correa weren’t far behind, missing just one vote each.

Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, also helped recover the most money for constituents from federal agencies, while Rep. Young Kim, R-La Habra, grabbed headlines for breaking with her party in votes on a few high-profile bills. And every local lawmaker communicated with residents through town halls, detailed websites, newsletters and social media.

With this year’s legislative session closed, the Register took a look at what Congress members who represent portions of Orange County got done in 2021.

It’s not a ranking, per se. Simple bills are much easier to get passed, for example, but often don’t create real change in people’s lives. Also, legislation — particularly in the House of Representatives — also often gets wrapped up into other bills, as lawmakers cosponsor or add amendments to colleague’s bills. And there are, at times, legitimate reasons why members miss votes.

But voters should be able to expect attendance, advocacy and communication from the people they pay to represent them in Washington, D.C. So here’s a report card of sorts for how each local House member put your taxpayer dollars to work in 2021.

Keep in mind that most of these lawmakers plan to stand for reelection in 2022. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, already has announced he’s retiring after this term. And for the others, the number and geography of their districts will change at the end of next year, when new political district maps take effect.

Rep. Linda Sánchez, D-Whitter, of CA-38

Sánchez, 52, is in her 10th term representing the 38th District, which includes La Palma and a slice of Cypress, plus southern Los Angeles County cities. She serves on the powerful Ways and Means Committee and on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. She also belongs to the Hispanic, Labor and Working Families, LGBTQ+ Equality and Progressive caucuses.

Legislation: Sánchez sponsored 18 bills and three resolutions this year. So far, none have been signed into law, though figure to be discussed in the second year of the session and others have been incorporated into new legislation. For example, Sanchez was asked by President Joe Biden to author the now-stalled U.S. Citizenship Act, which would reform immigration and create a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented residents. That idea is being debated in the budget reconciliation package. Sánchez also is still pushing bills she reintroduced this year to let family caregivers get a tax credit of up to $5,000 for expenses and to let service members dispute negative credit information that appeared while they were in a combat zone or aboard a U.S. vessel.

Reaching and helping constituents: Sánchez held more than 40 town halls, “Coffees with the Congresswoman” and other events to engage directly with constituents in person or virtually. Her office returned over $1 million to constituents in veterans’ benefits, tax returns, Social Security checks and other federal benefits. They also resolved more than 1,000 cases involving passports, small businesses and immigration-related issues.

Vote record: Sanchez missed 1.1% or five out of 449 votes this year, according to GovTrack. (For context, the median is 2.1% among the lifetime records of representatives currently serving.) Here’s how she voted on seven high-profile bills that passed the House this year:

-Yes on the Build Back Better Act, Biden’s nearly $2 trillion signature social spending bill that would taxes very wealthy individuals and corporations to address climate change, offer universal preschool, expand Medicare and extend the Child Tax Credit. The package is still being debated in the Senate.

-Yes on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will funnel $1 trillion to states and local governments to upgrade outdated roads, bridges, transit systems and more. The bill became law in November.

-Yes on impeaching President Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The Senate voted Trump not guilty.

Click here to read the full article at OC Register

Orange County Supervisors Narrow Down New District Maps

Orange County supervisors Tuesday narrowed down their choices for new district maps from eight to three.

One map is favored by Republicans, another by Democrats and the third is considered more neutral, some political observers say.

The five supervisorial districts are up to be redrawn based on the census, which is conducted every 10 years.

Nicole Walsh of the County Counsel’s Office told the supervisors all the districts need to have roughly equal population and must be “geographically contiguous.”

“We believe that while all of the proposed maps are likely defensible… maps 2, 4 and 5 are the most defensible overall,” Walsh said.

All the maps the board settled on create a Latino majority district and all contain at least one district with nearly more than 30% Asian residents, or what’s known as an “influence district,” Walsh said.

In three of the proposed maps the Latino community would be divided in a way that could lead to a Voting Rights Act challenge, Walsh said.

“Maps 2 and 5 certainly keep communities of interest together,” Walsh said.

For instance in maps 2 and 5 Little Arabia in Anaheim is kept together, Walsh said.

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California Republican Seeks Recount in O.C.


Janet Nguyen1A California state senator who narrowly lost her re-election bid is requesting a partial recount of ballots in Orange County, the county’s elections chief, Neal Kelley, announced Thursday.

Former Republican Sen. Janet Nguyen requested the recount on Tuesday, a day after Democrat Tom Umberg was sworn in to replace her.

A voter in Senate District 34, on behalf of Nguyen, originally requested a complete recount of votes in Orange County, which comprises the vast majority of the district. Kelley said the request was later scaled back to 12 precincts in Santa Ana.

Nguyen lost the district by about 3,100 votes out of 267,000 cast. She did not respond to a request for comment. California Republican Party spokesman Matt Fleming said the party wasn’t involved in the request. …

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