Gabriel San Roman
Slingshot: Beyond Pandemic Protests, OC Politicians are the Real Scourge!
Updated: May 5, 2020
It's a tale of two images.
About a hundred protesters gathered in downtown Huntington Beach last Friday to decry California's stay-at-home orders. They held signs reading "Covid-19 is a Lie" and "Social Distancing = Communism." Huntington Beach trended on Twitter as the internet collectively howled in laughter. A woman stood outside Baskin Robbins holding another sign declaring "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!" How's about two scoops of Mint Chocolate Chip, instead? Then, with the first heat wave of the year, another scene descended upon HB this weekend; packed beaches amid a pandemic. According to news reports, crowds flocking to Newport Beach on Friday tallied 40,000. That's a number far outpacing (and far more concerning) the second round of anti-quarantine protests that hit OC. (Quick aside: the Santa Ana protest on Friday straddled the border with Orange and drew a paltry few going to show that these folks are still more afraid of Mexi-19 than coronavirus!) And we have the brain trust on the OC Board of Supervisors to thank for it. Taking one step forward and ten steps back, the Supes finally mandated essential workers wear face coverings (after much pressure spearheaded by Ocean View School District Board President Gina Clayton-Tarvin) while voting to keep OC's beaches open during a special meeting last week. But the Board of Supervisors is far from the only mal gobierno in town. Bringing it back to Huntington Beach, far more overlooked is the city council's steadfast refusal to pass any temporary eviction protections for residential and commercial tenants. (Read John Earl's Surf City Voice recap here). In San Clemente, another OC city where anti-quarantine protesters marched, reopened beaches this weekend may prove a prelude to a push to reopen businesses. City councilman Gene James wants a special meeting on Tuesday to open public parks on May 1 and businesses (with precautions) on May 4. "As the elected officials of San Clemente, we simply cannot stand by and accept this once reasonable and now unconscionable fiat from Sacramento," James chimed on Facebook. "Our businesses are dying and we must take action." Without any coherent approach to mass testing and a lack of reliable protective gear, the question remains: at what cost to human life and suffering? - Gabriel San Román Like what you're reading so far? To keep the Tallest Mexican in OC's slingshot newsletters going Venmo: @Gabriel-SanRoman-2 as readers already have done. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook! Don't forget to tell your friends to join the San Roman syndicate by subscribing! A big gracias to the first 100 folks that have signed up already. Let me know what you'd like to see more of in this newsletter! We're already working on a logo hopefully to be debuted next week!
Mouse Muckraker The Disneyland Resort is a ghost town. A drive around the perimeter of the property reveals the Harbor Boulevard entrance closed to foot traffic. Its massive parking garages are but empty shells. Hotels are coned off. Everything is as quiet as a mouse. Independent analysts are placing a possible re-opening of Disneyland as far away as January 1, 2021. Even that sounds generous. None of this bodes well for Anaheim and its dependency on tourism to generate hotel bed taxes that fund essential city services. But fret not! Anaheim mayor Harry Sidhu and his council majority doled out $6.5 million last month to prop up Visit Anaheim, a nonprofit that promotes resort-area businesses. The move ignited criticism, even more so amid former city manager Chris Zapata's pressured resignation this week. It's speculated that Zapata's exit was hastened by his mildly critical response to the bailout. To the Resort Elite, it's much ado about nada. Visit Anaheim is already declaring victory. A press release by the nonprofit boasts that Anaheim Convention Center bookings have secured a future $475 million economic boost to the area. Upon deeper examination, only two touted bookings are slated for 2020; the other eight are set to arrive sometime later "in future years." One of them is the annual National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), a show that first set up shop in Anaheim back in 1976. What a coup for Visit Anaheim! The lofty numbers are pure public relations spin, only a form of damage control now on Anaheim's dime. By the Bylines The holy month of Ramadan began on Friday for Muslims worldwide. If not for this pandemic, I'd be lining up for the legendary iftar buffet at Olive Tree Restaurant in Anaheim's Little Arabia District this weekend. But instead of piling up my plate with lamb shanks and washing it all down with Qamar Al-Deen, a thick, sweet apricot juice served during Ramadan, I'm ordering takeout. And that's the only real lifeline for the unofficial ethnic enclave along Brookhurst Street. For the Los Angeles Times Food section, I asked "After the pandemic, what will be left of Anaheim's Little Arabia?" by checking in with Olive Tree Restaurant, Knafeh Cafe and Kareem's Restaurant. After all, what good is emerging from quarantine if there are no falafels, lamb shanks or knafeh to enjoy?