Backlash Continues Against Garden Grove Mayor Over Sister City Letter

Thy Vo/Voice of OC

Audience members held up South Vietnamese flags and banners, some threatening a recall, at Tuesday's city council meeting.

The backlash against Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen by some Vietnamese American residents continued at a meeting Tuesday night, where more than two dozen people returned to chastise the mayor for refusing to sign a letter urging the city of Riverside to drop its sister city relationship with Can Tho, Vietnam.

At a council meeting two weeks ago, Nguyen voted against signing the letter, saying that Garden Grove shouldn't tell another American city how to conduct its affairs.

Councilman Steve Jones, who abstained from the vote, later added his signature to the letter that was mailed to Riverside City Council members.

This time, Vietnamese residents returned with South Vietnamese flags and small banners with statements like "Bao Nguyen Distorts The Truth" and "Dishonest Bao Nguyen Unfit To Be Our Mayor."

Public comments on the issue lasted more than an hour.

"You have thumbed your nose at us...under the pretext of not interfering with another city's internal affairs. We don't know if it's just an excuse for refusing to do your duty, in representing the voice of 70,000 [Vietnamese]," said Laura Tran.

Tran called Nguyen's call for investigations into an employment deal for the ex-fire chief a "vengeful goal" aimed at his election opponent, Bruce Broadwater.

"We recognize the main reason is that you’re too young, too inexperienced, too arrogant, too naive," said Tran.

Although some opponents have threatened and discussed a recall, so far nothing has materialized.

"If the people of Garden Grove ever recall you, I don't think they'll do it because you signed or didn't sign the letter, they'll do it because you're a dishonest person. You are unfit for public service," said Long Pham, a resident of Fountain Valley and failed candidate for the State Assembly.

Council member Phat Bui, who has organized protests against Riverside and brought the letter before the City Council, said the issue is one of human rights.

"Even with the signature of the mayor, it will not change anything -- I agree," said Bui. "We may not be able to persuade Riverside...but they are wrong and we need to express and stand with the right principle."

Nguyen did not address speakers' comments at the meeting.