Gabriel San Roman
Slingshot: Who's Backing Huntington Beach's Kooky Hate Campaigns?
Tito Ortiz, the self-proclaimed "Huntington Beach Bad Boy," recently shared his rambling, incoherent thoughts on the coronavirus pandemic on a podcast not worth mentioning by name. The former UFC light heavyweight champion claimed the virus was "man-made" and a political scam.
"Once again, it's population control by the left," said Ortiz. "They're trying to get rid of all the older people who are getting Social Security."
Of course, the virus is just going to disappear after Election Day in his warped, cauliflower mind.
But since Ortiz is running for a seat on Huntington Beach city council, rational residents are hoping that the celebrity with no prior political experience promising to "Make Huntington Beach Safe Again" will be the one vanishing after November 3.
It's not just pandemic pendejadas, either. When Black Lives Matter protests took place in Huntington Beach this summer, Ortiz rushed to "defend" the city, dialing back to racist rumors that fueled anti-Black pogroms in the past. He recently called Tyron Woodley, a Black UFC fighter, a "terrorist" on social media because he supports Black Lives Matter.
Who would want to cosign a candidate that subscribes to such rank bigotry and whackjob conspiracy theories?
The names might surprise folks--or not.
According to Ortiz's campaign contribution forms, he has $27,000 on hand, enough to be considered a serious campaign. For starters, the former UFC fighter counts among his financial supporters Bear Degidio, the self-proclaimed "Burger God" behind Ground House Burgers in Irvine (the location at Fourth Street Market in SanTana folded before the Rona hit).
Colorado developers Chad and Troy McWhinney also contributed to Ortiz's campaign. The McWhinneys are no strangers to OC, having grown up in Huntington Beach. Their real estate company is also behind Garden Grove's Great Wolf Lodge indoor water park and hotel. Derek McWhinney, their father, was the former mayor of Westminster in the 1970s when he was indicted for bribery and convicted on a pair of theft charges.
Peter Mitchell, a consultant for several OC police unions including Huntington Beach's, pitched in on Ortiz's party. A business entity by the name "Mk. Gates Huntington Beach, LLC" contributed $600 but no such company is readily on file with the California Secretary of State. Hmm. That would be city attorney Michael Gates, would it?
Gates appears on Ortiz's website as an endorser. As does Covid quack Dr. Jeffrey Barke, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes, former Huntington Beach mayor and convicted felon Dave Garofalo. LAW AND ORDER!
Now, HB being HB, Ortiz isn't the only hilarious hater vying for council. Gracey Van Der Mark, a pro-Trump Latina and fellow traveler of the alt-right, is also running for election.
I covered Van Der Mark's antics with the Weeklywhen shecrashed a white privilege workshop in Santa Monica three years ago. Van Der Mark counted among her company the likes of vlogger Baked Alaska and Augustus Invictus, both of whom had been scheduled speakers at the notorious "Unite the Right" white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that summer.
Van Der Mark uploaded video on YouTube and left a few brain droppings in the comments section. She referred to Blacks as "colored people" and suggested they obeyed Jewish commands--anti-Semitic trope, much? It wasn't surprising, then, to find a playlist of videos on her YouTube channel entitled "Holocaust hoax?" Van Der Mark claimed the series of anti-Semitic videos were just for research. Likely story!
Two school districts removed her from panels, but Huntington Beach doubled-down in refusing to bounce her from the city's finance commission.
Given that past track record, who would be pendejo enough to endorse and donate to the cause of electing a known Holocaust denier to council?
Mari Barke, the kooky OC Board of Education trustee that supported opening schools with no masks or social distancing, is chief among Van Der Mark's endorsers. She also counts Huntington Beach councilman Erik Peterson and former councilman Dave Sullivan among the bunch.
Van Der Mark doesn't count many individual supporters in her initial campaign contribution forms. Most of Van Der Mark's money comes by way of a $11,000 loan from her husband. But others are chipping in. Among them is Peterson, who donated $600 to the campaign, and former Ocean View School District trustee Tracey Pellman (Van Der Mark ran for the same school board post in 2018 and lost).
But individual contributions aren't the only stream of support.
Van Der Mark's campaign is benefitting from a small boost in PAC money. According to Independent Expenditure filings, the Lincoln Club of Orange County's PAC has spent $1,492 in support of her candidacy. That's not all together surprising. OC's Lincoln Club loves a good vendida--just ask Teresa Hernandez!
For good measure, the Lincoln Club of OC's PAC gave an equal amount to Ortiz. Maybe Van Der Mark and Ortiz can form a "Hate Slate!"
Still, the real question remains: where's Dana Rohrabacher in all this?
- Gabriel San Román
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Your Mouse Muckraker / Photo by Federico Medina
The Happiest Place on Earth is weeping tears of sorrow.
Last week, Disney announced 28,000 layoffs at its Anaheim and Orlando theme parks, citing the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Josh D'Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, issued a statement while taking a potshot at Governor Gavin Newsom claiming the situation was exacerbated by California's "unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen."
Never mind that senior Disney executives like D'Amaro restored their full paychecks last month after taking a temporary pandemic pay cut.
Still, it's a gut punching epilogue to the living wage battle and contract campaigns two years ago in Anaheim and Orlando. How the layoffs are breaking down locally is beginning to emerge through discussions with Disney.
Workers United Local 50, the largest single union at the Disneyland Resort, is expected to suffer 2,850 layoffs, including hundreds of full-time workers. That's about a third of the union's membership. With Disney's trio of hotels remaining shuttered, Unite Here Local 11 is expecting to lose 950 of its nearly 3,000 members. UFCW Local 324 won't see any layoffs for its full-time workers, but 760 "casual regulars" (part-time workers in Disney parlance) can't say the same.
Disney workers joined others in the hospitality industry in urging Newsom to sign Assembly Bill 3216; the legislation would've allowed for retention and recall rights once businesses safely reopen. But the governor, regrettably, vetoed it.
Disney chairman Bob Iger recently ditched California's Taskforce on Economic Recovery as framework guidelines for reopening theme parks remain strict despite ongoing negotiations.
But who's really to blame?
California isn't doing well in the pandemic, having just crossed the threshold of 16,000 coronavirus deaths in the state. By comparison, Germany has twice the population but 6,500 fewer fatalities. With a coherent national plan, perhaps the summer surge could've been avoided throughout the nation. Had Newsom not caved and reopened California after Memorial Day, the state, presumably, would've had a chance to spare itself the spike.
Reopening Disneyland during a flattened curve makes sense as it has everywhere not named Florida. To welcome guests back to the park on the onset of the flu season when epidemiologists expect the coronavirus to rage? Pure lunacy.
That California hasn't thrown caution to the wind like Florida governor Rick DeSantis is one thing the state's doing right. The only Disney park I'd go to in these times is in Tokyo!
By the Byline
Every spooky season, I dedicate myself to reading horror novels. In the past, I've caught up on old classics like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Bram Stoker's Dracula. This year, I readied to read I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem but, then, so manygreat contemporary works of horror started coming out.
Chief among them was Stephen Graham Jones' The Only Good Indians.
With my "Off the Page" column for LibroMobile due this month, I finished the novel within a week. It's the best work of literature in ANY genre that I've read all year! Jones, a Blackfeet Native American, is nothing short of masterful as he re-appropriates the racist trope of the Indian curse to weave a chilling cautionary tale of revenge.
Now, if only I could follow my dreams and start that horror novel I've always wanted to write!
Lead image: Ortiz's train of thought goes off the rails! / Screenshot "I Only Touch Greatness" podcast.